Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Secret World and Legends

     We won't even talk about how long it's been since I posted anything to this blog. I could write a catch up post but I'd rather jump into what's been eating at my head for a few weeks.
     I was a latecomer to The Secret World. The game had been on my radar for some time before I finally picked it up, but it was a sub game and I could not justify paying more than one sub at a time and everybody I knew was in WoW. Then it was buy to play but I kept talking myself out of spending the money even though The Secret World very much sounded like my kind of game. It was a steam sale that did the trick. And I'll admit that what finally made it stick was a friend who had the game and volunteered to join me. I had a character ready-made, translated from some of my own urban fantasy tales. The screenshot above is my first from the game, my character Roland in the foreground and my friend's with the white hair there behind him. The coffee shop and the actual cups of coffee the character drank was one of the first things I got really excited about.
     Little details matter. And The Secret World is a game full of little details. Both in the environments and the story and in the system for weapons and combat.
      I started out with a blade and blood build. At the time I had picked it for character reasons and with no real idea what I was doing. It worked well enough in Kingsmouth and though neither of us particularly liked parts of the first zone we did like the game. A lot. Sometime in Savage Coast I swapped my blood for pistols, and started working on a starter deck. It fit the character even better than blood had and I never looked back, though I appreciated the ability to simply make that change.
     My one quibble at this point (and to the present) was that in a game I was enjoying as a duo there were the odd solo instances that force me to play alone and took us a little bit out of the story we were making alongside the one given to us. This isn't a complaint limited to The Secret World by any means, and while I understand it for reasons of balance I will always find it frustrating when a game that by its nature is a social one forces me to play alone. Still, we enjoyed Egypt even more than we'd enjoyed Savage Coast and Blue Mountain, and Transylvania even more.
     Tokyo's Aegis System is one that feels interesting, but annoying and it slowed our progress through the main storyline very considerably as we suddenly felt not just weak but underpowered and set about working back through achievements and issues to see if we could improve the feeling. But wasn't Aegis that brought our progress finally to a halt. That was the news of Secret World Legends.
     I have mixed feelings about the announcement. On the one hand I have a growing liking for action combat and if the new system is put together well I think it might make for a more fun playstyle when it comes to the battles. I don't mind the idea of starting over terribly since our progress had been slow and spotty with other games in the mix and neither of us was ever playing for end game or gear chasing or for any reason other than story and the world.
     I love this world and I wish there was far more of it. Any world where I can play my kilted Templar and let my RP work in bits of fae lore and legend that aren't explicitly in the game's canon without feeling like I am breaking a single 'rule' is a win for me. I love this game and the stories and the investigation missions that make me think and google demon names and latin phrases. I love the secret passages and the secret societies and that this is a game that not only gives excellent story but feels like it screams out to have my own stories added in.
     And I'm afraid. I'm afraid that the new game will be simpler in the ways I least want it to be. I'm afraid that the limited size of the zones might complicate our grouping together. I'm afraid it won't be as good as I want it to be. I want it to be wonderful and I want it to thrive.
     I'm excited a bit by the idea of starting again and making more stories as we level through it again (though I'm still not sure I feel the level part is necessary). I am excited to see the changes, and hopeful that it will mean more in time. More story, more zones to explore, more of everything I like.
     But I can't help feeling a bit worried too. The announcement had to be made, but the waiting is hard. We had been working our way through Tokyo again, making real progress and the announcement yanked the rug from under us both a little. Why keep progressing and working on achievements when we'd have to start it all over soon? And that's my worry. We've moved to another game to play and wait in the meantime. I know we'll both be there to try Secret World Legends as soon as the doors open. But how many people who had played much longer than my 330 hours (according to Steam) will feel that same let down and just stop playing as I did... and not come back?
     It's a nice cushion that they're leaving the old game where it is, that they're transferring over at least most of the things we bought. But that doesn't quite fix all the things that they're taking from long time players. I just really hope Legends is good enough to more than make up for it so that it can thrive.
     I'm very much looking forward to Roland's new adventures. I just really hope they won't leave me wishing for his old ones.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I went to Auroria once...

But all I got were these lousy screenshots.
     In all seriousness. I was one of the lucky people who was actually able to get into the game shortly after the Auroria launch. Three of my guildies had managed it as well so as soon as I logged in I got invited to a party and told to get over to Solzreed. So off I went by worldgate and gallop to Desireen (since I'd never been there to have the location.) Then I glided onto the guild clipper just offshore, Aelithar landing with a flourish square in the middle of the deck. (I'd never manage to do that again if I tried it.) And off we went. It was a long ship ride north, with plenty of time for chatting and speculation and worries about running into the Kraken or the Oran'thul. I'm not sure which would have been scarier but we avoided both.
     The lag hit just offshore and the clipper and everybody on it started lurching in slow motion. But we eventually made it to land and mounted up to ride. I don't have patron so there was no land dreams for me, but the guildies had some hopes. So we rode around to have a look. It was chaos. We died once to a large group of mobs and again to a massive pvp group. The castles got claimed... but there was no land at all to be had. It all seemed gone in seconds, even with so much of the playerbase unable to even get into the game.
     My husband and best friend ran into the glitch that locked them out and after I logged off for my raid in WoW that night I was unable to get in again either. And there are no roll-backs. The problems didn't really cause me any trouble, but for those people who were pinning their last hope of land on Auroria and couldn't even get into the game... I feel awful for you. I think the entire thing was handled pretty shoddily. There was no way it could have been handled that would have made everybody happy, but it seems like something could have been done better.
     The next day when all was said and done I logged back in. I'd logged off near a shrine in Marcala so I took advantage of being there to do a long exploration ride while it was a little less chaotic. It's a pretty continent with its own eerie music. There are floating motes of ash and lots of large scary undead monsters. The East has three Castles at the moment (Sinister, The Oran'thul, Meowcenaries) and the Arcadian Guard claimed one for the west. None of the Eastern Castles had started going up when I was there, but the Arcadian Guard had already build a nice sturdy looking structure.
     Much sturdier than these ruins I found during the exploration. I was happy to finally find one area of Auroria with some ruins. It seemed to me like it should be full of ruins, but perhaps most of them are in the large part of the continent that's still not open.
     When I'd finished looking around I recalled back to Marianople so Aelithar could go about the more prosaic business of planting and harvesting and running trade packs. No land for me, No Archeum trees, no reason for joining the current pvp insanity that is Auroria. And you know... I'm still having a really good time in this game.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time warp

     The night (I think) after Rift's Nightmare Tides expansion had launched I logged into Daethrys for a bit for the first time in a while. I oohed and aaahhhhed over the pretty graphics on my new computer and then got down to doing a few things. I emptied his bags, put a lot of things on the auction house and then went out and did enough quests to hit level 39 and move on to the next hub. In the process of one of the quests a neat dimension item had dropped and I installed it in Falharan's workshop dimension because it fit the theme. Then satisfied with my hour or so of work I put Daethrys in his dimension and logged off.
     A few days were spent hitting 50 in Archeage and then the next day I decided to pop onto Daethrys and finally have a look at the minions system I'd missed before. My first confusion was wondering why I was sitting in Lantern Hook. I was sure I'd left him in his dimension which should have popped him out at the next hub. My next confusion was that my bags were full of the leather gear and things I remembered putting on the auction house. Then I noticed his experience bar. He'd been barely into 39 why was it so full?
     Because he was level 38 again. I looked through his things... all the quests were back in his logs, unfinished. Everything was as it had been when I first logged in that other night. It was as though my hour or so of playing had never happened at all. I couldn't understand it. I didn't see anything in the chat about it... had there been some sort of bug? Would they fix it? Should I put in a ticket?
     When in doubt I've learned, always turn to the forums. WoW's are usually a cesspit of crazy... but if something has gone wonky in the game it'll be on the forums in very short order. Rift's forums too had an answer for me. Apparently several servers had crashed probably very shortly after I logged off. And Faeblight, which is Daethrys' server was the one without a recent back up. They had to basically restore it from a point 24 hours back. So... effectively my hour or so of playtime -hadn't- happened. Only it had. I'd done it. I'd taken screenshots to prove it. But for Daethrys' purpose they were just gone.
     It didn't take me long to empty his bags onto the auction house again or quest through to the next hub where I'd been. I'm sad to have lost the dimension item drop but it's a minor thing compared to all the maxed characters who lost their levels and their crafting and apparently the things they'd used during that time as well. Still it was such a strange feeling. Oddly surreal and for a moment I doubted myself. Had I really played for a while that night?
     I can't help wondering from an RP standpoint what Daethrys would think if he remembered both times he did all those things. As it was I can only imagine him having a rather intense feeling of deja vu.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Level 50!

     Today, only partway through questing in Hasla, Aelithar hit level 50. This is a huge thing for me. This is only the second MMO that I've ever leveled a character entirely to cap. It's also the first MMO I've played since Beta. Perhaps it's silly that I get warm fuzzies in addition to a feeling of accomplishment. It's not like it hasn't taken me ages longer than many others after all. Still there he is, my level 50 paladin, fresh and new in his level. He's got a lot left to do. Needs to get to Karkasse to pick up the lower part of the last set of questing armor, needs to figure out what he's doing after that. So many quests handed to me at level 50 that I felt a little overwhelmed and wasn't sure what to do or where to start.
   So I went first with something simple. I wanted more hereafter stones, so I needed raw stone. Went over to Cinderstone and rowed out into the ocean so I could mine the stone along with Starshards to make into jewelry later. A simple thing I didn't have to be max level to do, but it was something simple and relaxing to let me figure out my center. And mining Starshard isn't -that- simple. After all Aelithar doesn't have any breathing tools, so as an elf with the swimming racial he has just enough breath to swim straight down, mine the node, and swim straight back up before drowning. Three nodes got me enough stone for three hereafter stones, enough Starshard for three ingots and burned through a LOT of labor in very short order.
    But he has enough hereafter stones to make me comfortable in heading back to Hasla later and I proved to myself that playing my paladin doesn't end at 50. I don't know if I'll shoot for the ArcheMaster title. I'm not sure I even want all the skillsets at 50. But after much debating I think Aelithar might take a short break from being called a paladin to be an Abolisher while he finishes up the Hasla quests. Why? Because that lets him level Auramancy to 50 on the backs of his Battlerage and Defense sets... and that means that if his guild needs a healer he can be a Templar (Defense, Auramancy, Vitalism) for them. And a Templar's also a pretty awesome thing to be.
     Another interesting thing happened when I hit 50. I noticed the guards started doing this:
     I'd seen them refer to other players by name before but I guess I hadn't paid attention. I thought it was something they did for the Founders and such. But I guess it's for max level characters. And I won't lie... it feels a little good to see it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nightmare Tides and things and I'm still here in Droughtlands

     Rift's new expansion dropped today? Yesterday? I've been getting emails about it anyhow but since Daethrys was only level 38 this isn't so exciting for me. Still I couldn't resist logging on to see if there'd been any basic changes that would make a difference for my slowly progressing Huntsman. Not really, though I'd swear there'd been a graphics change. Only I'm not really sure if it was anything the game did or just that I'd barely poked my head in since getting the new computer. What I do know is... wow the new computer lets me play with things turned all the way up and it's gorgeous. It was beautiful on my old machine, it's even better on this one.
     Just look at how pretty Daethrys is. (Have I mentioned I love Kelari men?) I played with my graphics settings some, emptied his bags onto the auction house, and then quested long enough to hit level 39. It wasn't far. Quests and killing things seemed a bit easier. Not sure if there have been changes or just reacquainting myself. Daethrys definitely makes faster work of murder in Rift than Aelithar does in Archeage.
     Archeage definitely hasn't been supplanted. I spent the morning in Erenor(I think that's the name of that world) though Aelithar's reached the rather sloggy grind stage of questing. 47 last night and maybe a quarter of the way to 48 this morning. He's left Windscour Savannah now for Perinoor Ruins which so far is an interestingly creepy sort of zone.
     My goal for myself is that if I can manage it I'd like to hit 50 before Auroria is released. Definitely before Warlords of Draenor if I can. I'm miles behind most people at leveling, I guess I'm slow at it. I don't think of myself that way in WoW where I can slog through things I've done before at a pretty good clip if I put my mind to it. Other MMOs where I'm reading every last quest and exploring things I haven't seen before, well the leveling slows down. I get distracted by random things.
     I love Archeage. This is an MMO that feels almost like it was made for me. It's got so many things I've always wanted in an MMO and even if in Free to Play I can't take part in all of them I love it for that. The PvP end game is not really my favorite thing, but oddly I find that when I'm not drastically outnumbered I'm much less terrible at it than I thought I was. I'm... actually almost having fun with the PvP sometimes. I'm not sure what to think about that. I do know that Rift will be seeing me back  at some point too, but I think it's Archeage that's my second MMO home.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Maybe PvP is okay even if I'm still terrible at it

    Level 44. Very slowly making his way there. The patch dropped in WoW. First new content in over a year so that's taken up a bit of time, but I have still been finding time to sneak into Archeage for a bit every day. Last night I logged onto a War in Rookborne Basin where he's been questing and got killed by a couple of level 50s in very short order. At the shrine there was a whole group of people from OTG and as I started to run back up to die on my quest again one of them whispered me and invited me to run with them.
     Turns out they were running around in a small warband fighting all the reds they could find. All of them were level 50 to Aelithar's 43 at that time, but I managed to stunlock a few enemies and help down them. And it was fun, though I think part of the reason I'm bad at pvp is that I can't help feeling guilty for doing the same thing to people that they've done to me. So I feel bad running with a group and help slaughtering people. Though when big groups showed up to fight us it felt pretty good. There was some dying and some getting lost and falling in rivers, but I had a lot of fun.
     I logged off for real life stuff and logged on a bit later when the war was over and quested to 44 in peacetime before calling it a night. Aelithar keeps taking his mounts into tents and inns and noble's houses. He doesn't see why not. So he and Blackthorn camped last night in a Firran tent inn.
     This morning I logged onto a zone in level four conflict/unrest and did a bit of questing alone anyhow. It was misty and beautiful but reduced the view distance a bit which made me feel both safer and more nervous at the same time. Harder for enemies to see me... but harder for me to see them too. And I have to admit that even knowing I'm going to die, there is something about questing in enemy territory in the mist that appeals to the same part of me that likes horror movies. In the screenshot above Aelithar and Blackthorn both look like they hear something, but it was a false alarm. The hour or so I was on this morning was mostly a good day not to die.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Flying High: Archeage

     Gliding high over Sandeep. I think I technically did this quest a bit wrong, but I don't care. Long glider flights are fun and that is all there is to it. I didn't realize how much I was going to enjoy the glider until I upgraded it and started using it a lot. It's fun. I'm not always very good at it, but it's fun. Flying will never not be fun. (Blizzard take notice. I don't think anybody actually wants flight taken out of WoW no matter what they say on the forums.)
      Aelithar has reached level 43. I think he might have reached 44 today if the Tahyang server hadn't been down so much of yesterday that I didn't get very much done. In fact it was down so long that I finally used the last character slot I'd been sitting on for another independent character on Calleil.
     I knew I'd be wanting a Firran. They and the elves are the races in Archeage I was most interested in playing, so this is Vahyarr. I didn't do much besides make him and level him to 5. I don't know what he'll be yet, just that archery and songcraft are involved. He won't be seeing much, if any leveling or anything until Aelithar is at least level 50, if then, or if Tahyang's down for ages again, but I'm happy to have him. He's cute.
     I don't really like the female Firran at all. Their faces are too childlike for my taste and look creepily like little girl faces stuck on adult Firran bodies. I just can't warm up to them. The male Firran on the other hand look just as they should, like fierce cat people. I like the feline cast to their faces which is very lacking in the females.
     Last night when Tahyang was finally behaving the hubby and I gave our Harani some love. Some of that included getting mentored through Palace Cellar and then riding over to Falcorth Plains to get ourselves Snowlions for that handy riding double function so Kiranai can carry Mirzai around while I exercise my google-fu occasionally. And questing, lots of questing. Mirzai is a cultist  so very much a stand in the back, cloth wearing caster which is a very unusual thing for me to be playing. I'm very much enjoying it though, even if I can't decide whether or not I like his new robes. Redheads shouldn't really wear red, I think. But the quest guys missed that memo and didn't make special blue robes for him.
     After that, last night and this morning it was back to Aelithar who finished up Sandeep and mystified poor Blackthorn with his dancing. Hey, he needed something to do while his mana regenerated and the flute hadn't cut it. Paladins use a lot of mana I'm discovering. I gave him a mana regenerating passive talent from vitalism and made a new flute this morning to help out but he still drains his mana bar like it's going out of style during anything sustained. Blackthorn's level 30 now, twenty more levels to get him to max and somewhere during the course of that Aelithar needs to make about 500 more gold. That should be a project.
     Finishing Sandeep gave me a surprise when one of the quest givers promptly sent me off through a worldgate to Rookborne Basin. Aelithar's in Haranya, which is I'll admit, a little nerve-wracking. So many red names. The local Firran don't seem to mind an elf paladin at all but those traveling adventurer types keep looking at Aelithar in ways that make him very nervous.
     I'm not very far into it, but the zone is pretty and I like the concept of the questing so far. Hoping to catch it in peace later in the day so questing can be a little less unnerving for a bit. Steadily working his way toward 50, and then I'll have to figure out what to do. If there was land available on Tahyang I'd be ever so tempted to put at least one month of patron in and try to use that time to earn the gold to buy more months with Apex. But without land available it seems like even the labor regeneration wouldn't make it entirely worth it. One of my guildies showed me his manor last night. I have to admit I've got a little bit of house envy. Maybe someday.