Saturday, June 28, 2014

Leveling in Aion

     Suddenly very aware that his Legion needs him Tirasiel looked at the massive pile of quests in his log, picked the few in Altgard that were nearest to complete and sounded most lucrative and went off to finish them up. When that was done he cleared the rest from the tracker and set off for Morheim, which is where he probably should have been back at level 19.
     It's cold in Morheim and Aion never fails to amaze me with the little emotes that have your character responding to their environment. When he stood still too long Tirasiel rubbed his arms for warmth and blew on his hands and then did little warm ups to keep the blood going. 
    He'd picked up some new and imposing looking armor from quests and coins awarded from quests, but I think one of my favorite parts is the very classy looking legion cape. It's not an actual item, it's just a graphic on your character showing they're part of their legion and I kind of love that.
     I also loved how welcomed and needed I felt when I logged on and everybody seemed shocked to see a Templar and wanted to know where I'd come from. Now if only I can get some real momentum going and churn those quests out to level for them. It felt like slow going today getting from 22 to 24 but I'll try and squeeze in enough time to hit 25 if I can later.
     A better shot of Tirasiel in his fancy new armor, all ready for trouble. He went to the fortress and picked up the quests, trying to be a bit more choosy this time and then headed out to handle some of them, gradually working his way toward the story ones. Hopefully this time more of those will get done and less of the sidetracked distracting ones that keep happening. Combat is fun to watch and fun to do and I'm practicing my abilities and their placement.
     But maybe my favorite thing today was running into an NPC that made me giggle.
     He's a pretty obvious reference, and what makes it even funnier is he gives you a couple of very egotistical quests to try to live up to his greatness. 
     I couldn't resist a few screenshots.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tirasiel Joins a Legion

     Even though I pop into my side MMOs mostly to play solo it seems, it also does get lonely sometimes. And sometimes I desperately wish I knew somebody to ask questions about things. But with the off and on nature of my play I usually can't bring myself to hunt for a guild or legion or fellowship, even if the lack of one probably contributes to that off and on play. I hadn't looked for one in Aion. Tirasiel was briefly invited into one with about 7 people about half of whom spoke English but after a while I dropped it.
     Then today as Tirasiel was wandering around Pandaemonium, sorting his bags I got recruited. I've been invited to things like the fellowship in LOTRO and nicely given a home in them like Daethrys' guild on Rift but I'd never actually been recruited until today. I got whispered even though my character was below Rebonds' character level requirement, because apparently Templars are in demand. The Brigade General had a lovely little chat for me and gave me a home and requests to level quickly. I might surprise myself and end up focusing on Aion for a while because Tirasiel and his shield are needed!
     It's funny. I'd been debating with myself off and on if I wanted to stick with him as my apparent main because even though I love his character design and have fun playing him it seemed like it would be tough to do anything later on or to do group content. Tanking in MMOs is something I have a love/hate relationship with. I love doing it, I love the feel of being the plate clad hero with the shield at the front of the line holding the monster's attention. I'm also a little terrified of that responsibility I'm so fond of. It's so easy to mess up and things can go bad so quickly if the tank messes up. But the adrenaline is fun, the feel of doing everything in your power to keep the attention on you and off of your more fragile teammates.
     And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it was at least partly for the love of big plate armor and fancy shields. You can take the 'paladin' out of the game but you can't take it out of the player, I guess. Guess now I really have to work on getting Tirasiel to 65.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tirasiel gets an apartment

     I'd been meaning to get the last level, I thought, I needed in Aion to get level 20 and get some housing. Turns out when I hit 20 I found out that the housing thing happens at level 21. Luckily when I was looking that up I also found there was a solo instance about Tirasiel's level that sounded interesting. So off he went. 21 halfway through and several pieces of new gear later he finally headed back to Pandaemonium to get his apartment.
     I was so curious about what the housing system would be like. Turns out it's sort of a happy medium between Lord of the Rings Online and Rift. I like it. It's not quite as open to creativity as Rift but Definitely isn't as confined as LOTRO.  The studio you get for free is just that, a studio and it was bare bones and empty of all but the butler and relationship orb when Tirasiel went to check it out. Luckily a few quests award you a table, a cabinet, wallpaper and a plant and then he blew a bit too much Kinah picking up a decent bed, and a shelf, chairs and a picture for the wall. It still looks quite spartan, but it'll improve.
     The view from the front porch is nice.
     The bed seems a little too big for him, but it's got to be more comfortable than loitering on the streets of Pandaemonium all night. There's a 5% increase in the speed the rested XP regenerates when you log out in a studio, I think that's pretty neat.
     A table and chair. If he ever makes any friends he might have to get a second chair.
     Bed, cabinet, and shelf. The studio is surprisingly spacious... and free, which is a nice change from LOTRO. If you want a bigger house later you have to buy it and pay upkeep but the studio apparently is always free, and for now it looks huge and empty so Tirasiel is quite content with just  studio size home. Maybe later if he levels a lot and makes loads of kinah he'll upgrade to something else. In the meantime, though I'm just looking forward to finding more furniture here and there and making it look a bit less bare.
     Another shot on the porch. He picked up a second earring and a necklace in the solo instance and I still can't help being ridiculously thrilled about being able to see them on him in game instead of just as stats icons on his character sheet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Swordsman Beta. More thoughts.

     The world is pretty. I poked into it a bit more last night. Got to I think Level 14 very quickly and easily and developed a few more thoughts on it. I like the world... It's got a very in a movie feel to it. A few quests in you're just very unceremoniously given a horse of your own. I like that.  It's a pretty ugly horse but then I'm overly picky about what horses look like in MMOs anyhow.
     I think I like the combat, though I'll admit I'm still sort of confused at figuring it out and kind of just flail around occasionally as a result. I like the animations and the graphics a lot. I am not sure this would be a game for me. On the one hand the fact that it feels a bit like being in a kung fu movie is pretty amazing and I'm curious to figure out what happens next.
     On the one hand at the moment at least this feels easily like it could have been a single player game perhaps better than an MMO. There's a very linear storyline that progresses in a very straight line and all these other guys are doing right now is crowding stuff up... and insuring that world chat is filled with announcements like: Myballs has killed Yourmom and taken such and such off of their still warm corpse. -.- Okay it's pvp, I get that. People will name their characters stupid things. I get that too, but ugh.
     The other thing that bothers me a lot that may or may not bother other people at all. Lots of epic battles most of them end in a really nifty cut scene. Thing is: If most of the gameplay gets taken out of my hands and put into gorgeous cut scenes at the end. Can I please AT LEAST have the option of screenshotting my character doing all this badass shiznit during the cut scenes that I am not playing in anyhow? That would be nice. Lots of screenshots I'd have loved to have... super clunky camera mode function that you can't use during cut scenes anyhow...ugh.
     I will try to stick it out a few more levels, find some bugs I can coherently point out so they can hammer them down and see if it stays a straight line story where all the coolest stuff happens in cut scenes that I just watch, but I am not sure that even Free to Play this one would be a game for me. I think end game is almost entirely pvp and I am not a fan of pvp. If you were though... seems like it might be pretty epic at end game for that.
     The world, though, like I said. Is gorgeous. Quilian got a new costume as a beta prize while joining his school and though I didn't end up really liking the hairstyle it changed his to, I do like the robe part and so he's keeping that for now. I forgot to screenshot him after I realized that it was a costume item and I could take the hair part off and have him look more like  made him but in the neat robes. Maybe when I pop on again.
     Some other gameplay stuff that I both like and don't like. The quest stuff on the map isn't very easy to figure out sometimes. Doesn't matter because you can just click on the name in your log and your character will automatically run there. If it's far enough they'll even mount up on the run (which is pretty nifty.) This is a great feature for when people are twenty deep on the quest NPC and clicking on their name in the log lets you interact with them anyhow. But I'm not convince it's engaging gameplay. I kept trying to get myself to not just click to run there, but you know... why would I do that when it accomplishes nothing the game won't do for me and when I can stop at any point if I want to spend five minutes wrestling with the interface for a screenshot.
     The cut scenes are still really amazing. I like that they kept the original voice acting and just subbed it. I love the costumes and the character designs.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Swordsman Beta

     When I went to load Neverwinter a few weeks ago it popped up a window at me asking if I wanted to sign up for the Swordsman Beta. Eh, why not? It's an MMO with martial arts and a quick glance over it looked interesting enough so I clicked the button to sign up and then promptly forgot about it. Until they sent me a beta key two days ago. Beta started today, and I was mostly excited to spend time in the character creation screen, which is seriously one of my favorite things in a new MMO.
     Not bad. Don't like it quite as well as Aion's which is the best I've seen but it beats most of the others I play in some ways. I made two characters before I actually got around to...clicking the enter world button and actually seeing what the game was about. I haven't done much. It's a beta. It just launched and is very very crowded. But since I double checked and there is no NDA here are some initial impressions.
     This is Quilian. A website assures me that this name means Autumn Lotus in Mandarin. (It's probably a girl's name if the site is actually correct. Oh well. Still a better name than most I see in Betas.) Quilian belongs to the Zephyr school. Martial arts school where he gets to dance around hitting people with a fan and being ridiculously pretty? Yes, please. The other character can be the tough, manly one.
     The game is pretty. Unfortunately, remember me complaining that Neverwinter is obnoxious to take screenshots in? Swordsman is oddly much much worse for me. There's a lot more freedom with them, a lot more control but to me the controls for them feel very counter-intuitive and worst of all they can't be taken without entering a special camera mode and using an on screen button rather than the keyboard one. To make this even worse, my keyboard, which I love for fitting onto my very small tray with room for my mouse is a media one. so Buttons F9 to F12 are functionally useless for most MMOs. F9 is supposed to be the quick camera mode toggle... so to enter the fabled camera mode I have to hit escape, select it from the menu then try to figure it out before I can take the screenshot.
     I feel like the universe heard me complain about Neverwinter screenshots and said: Want to see how it could be worse? Maybe it won't be worse when I get the hang of it... and if I can ever find a free hotkey to bind the camera mode to. Won't recognize my mouse buttons for keybinds, so I can't use the one I use to clear the interface in Aion either. First world screenshot addict problems.
     Now onto gameplay. There are three control mode set ups. I've tried two of them. Right now I'm using the 'action' one... which is... interesting and I don't really like it but it's similar-ish to Neverwinter so at least I'm not utterly lost. I'm still very much figuring things out.

    The world is pretty so far. Not eye-popping spectacular, never seen this before yet. But then maybe I've been too annoyed with the screenshots. Quilian has a fan. He beats people up with it.
He also periodically takes time out from beating people with his fan to dance around the battlefield making himself feel healthier. I freely admit that I love the dancing around healing. Makes my day.
     So far... at the exalted and experienced level of 6. (Level ups are incredibly unobtrusive and I keep missing that they happen) this is where he got left until more playtime happens. So far the story modes are my favorite part of the game, but I think only because they are not crowded with other players. Still this little area I left him in is really pretty lovely. (And I think he's about to learn more sword techniques or something.)
     I'm definitely not sold on this yet. But I will be fair and give it more than a few minutes and six levels before I drop it. More thoughts to come.

Alts and Screenshot Spam

      I hadn't really meant to make an alt on my main server in Rift (Faeblight) unless another friend came to play there with me. But then I saw Kaozz at ECTmmo had a post on Dimensions and the Dreamweaver profession which had mildly intrigued me but which I can't really looked into enough to realize what it actually did. When I found out... I really wanted one. But Daethrys has put a fair amount of work into keeping his Outfitting, Butchering and Foraging leveled so I didn't want to drop any of them. Well, there's an alt for that. At least there is now.
     Meet Falharan. He's a Silenus Cleric for the sole reason that I wanted the fae pets. Turns out that so far it's also a lot of fun. He's a Dreamweaver, Daethrys is dumping all the artifacts at him to salvage now and he's set up his default Dimension as a workshop from which to make lovely things and dole them out to Daethrys first and foremost but also to the two rl friends I got to poke into Rift a bit with me.
     I love the idea of the Dreamweaver profession. It got me all enthused over Rift professions and over playing in Rift again, just as I am having a big slump in WoW. So Daethrys has gone from level 34-37 in the last couple of days and Falharan's already level 13 (mostly as a side effect of trying to get more burlap.)
    And because Rift is one of my very favorite games to screenshot in... there are lots of screenshots.
Falharan and his Satyr, Silaun.
Falharan and Alarie look like they hear something.

I don't usually leave the helms showing, but I'm kind of getting a kick out of this one, so for now it stays.

Some of my favorite shots of Daethrys are in moonlight. Shortly before he left Scarwood Reach.
Managed a half decent archery shot finally. Poor Friend sometimes dies because I dropped the UI and stopped paying any attention to anything but screenshotting :P

I don't think I was supposed to really get up here. But looking for the way up to a quest that I couldn't find I climbed way up on Lantern Hook. So of course. Screenshots.

Nice break on the hammock between killing things. I seem to have a thing for nighttime shots of Daethrys.

One of the many shots I took attempting a decent archery one... kept because the bloodspatter was too much fun to pass up.

I love going into new zones in Rift. Or in any MMO really. That feeling of exploring all over again. Didn't think I was a fan of desert zones really, but I love Droughtlands (and Uldum for that matter.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

MMO Housing

     This wasn't a feature I thought I'd be super into. WoW doesn't have it and I'd never thought about it being necessary. But then I tried a few other things that did and...I really like housing. In my head all of my characters have a home anyhow, a place they go to rest after a long day's journey, to lick their wounds and sleep. I never realized how excited I could get about having something like that in game. Then I tried Rift.
     They give you a free dimension pretty early on. It's not much, just a shrine on a hill, but it's mine. Daethrys has picked up a few things in his journeys beyond what he was given to fill it and they've all found a home there. A few more things I bought for it because I wanted him to have a home that looked like one. It isn't much, someday I want to make an alt and try the Dreamweaving profession and maybe make something bigger. But for now:
      The whole thing pretty much. It's really not big or impressive. You can't see the gravestone he added off to one side, or the weird makeshift hammock bed under the tree that he got from some quest mobs, but it's an overview.
     Standing in the doorway. It's cozy enough for a hunter who just wants a place to keep the rain off for a while.
     A closer view of the interior. It's amazing to me what you can actually do in terms of customizing. I haven't done a whole lot here, but everything can be moved and rotated and scaled and left where you like it. The two planks in the past of goodies he got with the dimension became shelving. I bought a bed, some flowers, an inkwell, a journal and scaled down a vase to fit on the shelves and suddenly it looks like somebody lives there. It's not spectacular, but it could be.
     Lord of the Rings Online has housing too, though it's a bit more annoying needing to pay an upkeep on it. You don't get to really own it, just rent. Still as soon as Sadrondir had the coin he had to have one in the Elven neighborhoods.
     It's lovely on the outside, especially at night with all the windows lit. And rather small on the inside. The customization isn't nearly as impressive or freeform as Rift. There are set slots and certain types of things that can fit in them, and you can rotated them, but other than that, they are as they are. Still his house has music... and a story. When I had first got it I didn't have much gold so I was sparing with it. He bought the music and a piece or two of furniture. I had picked up a wall coloring somewhere and there was a painting in his leveling box.
     Furnished mostly with quest things and with a changed floor it looked a bit like this downstairs.
     And this upstairs. Cozy enough but not really very attractive. Still it was a work in progress. Well then one evening at the Prancing Pony I met an elf looking for a Kinship. Mine was kind enough to invite him but while they were busy in an instance I ran around with him. He bought a house... and then we ended up traipsing all over so he could buy lots of furniture and then spent an hour furnishing the place. He asked for my opinion a lot. Joking comments were almost made about everybody assuming Minstrels were good interior decorators, but I bit my tongue.
    And then he gave me -all- of his leftover and extra furniture along with some pieces he'd picked up deliberately for me.
     The downstairs now looks like this from one angle, much cozier and more attractive.
     The upstairs has a bed and pictures now. It looks like a place he can get some rest after a long day in the Barrow Downs.
     From the bed, the door leading downstairs. I've since used up every last interior slot. Nothing more can be placed in his house and though things could be changed some... it's done. And I wish there was a bit more I could do with it. Still it's got pretty green walls and a nice tile floor and down stairs there's a bookcase.
     What more could a simple Minstrel really want when he can't afford a bigger house? I did change the music and add a bit more in the yard. But it's done. And though it might not be Rift's Dimensions... it's a whole lot better than nothing. I'm anxiously waiting on time to get Tirasiel his last two or three necessary levels so I can see what housing is like in Aion.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Change of Opinion?

     I'd sort of decided I didn't like Neverwinter. The controls feel weird compared to what I'm used to and I don't like the character models as well as I want to. The lack of ability to 'interact' with my character for screenshots as easily as I do in other MMOs makes it a bit harder for me to get attached to them. But I'd seen a few blog posts on it and in a bit of WoW doldrums I'd been poking around a considerable amount in every other MMO I'm currently poking around in, so I thought... maybe at level 10 you haven't given Neverwinter a very fair shake. So in I went.
     Maybe it was partly the combat in Wildstar, maybe it's just practice but the combat doesn't feel quite as annoying as before, though I do still keep trying to run with the mouse and getting yelled at for not having a target. It's just that drastically distant from the other MMOs I play control wise. I got invocation. That's pretty neat. I leveled a bit more and got a companion! I started opening up features of the game.
     Daily Foundry quests and Daily Dungeons. A cute little puppy companion. Forgotten Realms, which is my favorite D&D setting. And Drazek. He was my very first MMO character and I do like having him again in Neverwinter. I'm enjoying this a bit. The professions feel sort of hard to understand but you can work on them in a browser without even going into the game?! There's a silly little rolling dice game on the side to level your companions?! Okay maybe I do like it a little.
     I tried one foundry quest last night, and atmospheric creepy story one. It was not bad, but not great. I'd have liked a little more of the story somehow... not sure how they'd have done it though. Didn't leave constructive feedback for that reason, just gave them a good rating. Did another today for my daily foundry.

     Wow. I loved it. Maybe part of it was because I know Forgotten Realms so the lore is familiar. I knew what the 'end boss' would be before I got there... but I didn't anticipate how they had set up the final battle. It was awesome. I won't spoiler it here, but  this was part of it.
     The hard to see guy up there 'tanking' is Drazek's Man-at-Arms companion, Randon. The dog in the earlier pictures is his Damaran Shepherd, Kerith. I left a five star rating and a tip for that Foundry quest... and then when I finally talked myself into logging off...clicked on Foundry to see what the editor looked like. I don't understand it at all, but I want to learn. I'd love to translate some of the favorite campaigns I've DMed into it as best I can.
     I've tried the daily dungeon as well. The dungeon was interesting but if I had thought there was a lack of communication in WoW dungeons, I had my eyes opened. Nobody talked. Everybody needed on everything they could. I joined in after the first roll. Combat was more roflstomp than complex but I suspect that changes at higher levels. I wasn't overly impressed or displeased by the dungeons. It's a means to a shiny reward end.
I do have a slightly more favorable review of the game this time.
Things I like: 
Companions. (Though it does seem like I would possible need to shell out real currency for anything better than white quality. :/ Still the system is fun.)
Foundry: OMG I love this idea. I may not do daily dungeons every day or every time I log in, but I do foresee doing the daily Foundry quest fairly often. And providing I can figure out the editor... I'd try writing at least one myself.
Story: (with caveats) At this level the story is very very linear. It's interesting and enjoyable, though unless I wait a bit I'm not sure about replayability.
Invocation: My God loves me and gives me presents. Nice.
Things I'm less impressed with: 
Screenshotting: It's a favorite hobby of mine and Neverwinter definitely lacks versatility in that respect.
Vendors: Holy cow there are so many vendors, one for pretty much everything and right now it's so confusing trying to figure out where to go for what.
No paladins: Seriously? Definitely a core D&D class. Definitely my favorite and just not an option. I won't complain about class variety, they covered the gamut decently well and I didn't expect 20 options or anything. But the fact that I can't be a paladin still rankles. (Even if hunter ranger, my second choice, is amazing and fun)
Overall: For me this -is- a fun game. I love Forgotten Realms and I am definitely finding it inspiring when it comes to maybe helping me break out of my DMing slump as well. There isn't an open world so much as a map you can travel here and there on. The controls feel strange, but overall in a way that works for it. It's like D&D translated as best they could to an MMO. And I am glad to have Drazek back.
The closest to a candid screenshot I can manage.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I'm a noob.

     Aion seems to be my game for making really stupid mistakes. Tirasiel has been slowly but steadily questing his way around Basfelt Village, with a few side trips around the zone. Very simple rotation, I'd been thinking, this Templar one. Sure lots of down time, but that's okay, he's a tank, it gets the job done. But then after dying to two successive quests where he got swarmed by groups of mobs and just couldn't take the damage I started to wonder... shouldn't he have an AoE ability or something?
     So since my obelisk is bound to the Great Temple and that's where I popped up when I died I strolled over to the warrior preceptor to have a look see. Picked up a few upgrade abilities... not much... slotted those, flipped over to look at my chains... and that's when I wondered... why don't I have these abilities I was supposed to learn at level ten or anything. Not in my skill list. Check back with the preceptor... he doesn't have them for me... And that was when I looked up at the top and realized there were two little tabs. Templar and Gladiator. It apparently defaults to the Gladiator tab. I switched the Templar one and lo and behold several abilities I should have had ages ago.
     Redoing of the action bar commenced. Still no AoE, though. But the good news is I took him out to hit a quest this morning to try out the new action bars and suddenly he is much less squishy and hits things harder and faster and is far more fun to play. It's amazing what a difference not completely gimping yourself by skipping out on all your spec specific skills makes. Progress should speed up significantly now. And I'm just going to be over here... feeling sheepish... and checking the priest vendor for Malieth. I wonder how many Chanter spells he's missing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Little Moments of Delight

     Just a minipost of screenshot spam of little things that delighted me in my various games. Saving the thinking post for later.

     I LOVE this hairstyle. Love it. It looks like something I'd design myself and it makes me happy. Also... Tirasiel got an earring as a quest reward. I noticed on the character screen that he's now wearing one! I've never seen this in any other game. It makes me grin.

     I have no idea what this guy is. His name is Mantigar and he makes you kill stuff that is beneath him. That I do know and am amused by.

     Neat ruins in the background, but mostly the Karnif, what a nifty looking critter. I like it. Tirasiel on the other hand killed loads of them.

     I love this house. Daethrys couldn't go there because there were loads of Guardians around it who didn't like him, but it was fun to look at from afar.

      Rifts look really cool. This one's all creepy and tentacle-y and Daethrys looks like he's checking to make sure Friend is coming to help out.

     I love weather effects in game. Rift's are beautiful. The color of the air, the sounds that go with them, but best of all, my kirin's scales sparkle like their wet and Daethrys too looks just a bit wet and uncomfortable. I should feel bad for keeping him out in the rain to take screenshots.

Lord of the Rings Online:
     Night sky. I love it and a new mount. Horse of the Jester which Sadrondir has christened Laughter. I love horses, and for all its other minor graphical flaws Lord of the Rings Online has some of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen.