Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Craglorn may be the nail in the coffin...

I've been faltering with ESO as of late. In my post The Dissapointment of the ESO AMA, I asked how long would I be able to keep playing. And it's been hitting me.

The individual zone exploration is great, but it finishes. I'm nearly done the Rift and have no reason to return to previous areas. No alternate leveling paths to go back too. At any time there is only ever the one zone appropriate to my level, and once I'm in veteran ranks it won't even be a zone for my faction. Morrowind, my favorite province of Tamriel, was finished at level 30.

Actually a small correction, there are two reasons to go back to previous zones. If you want to craft something with a specific set bonus, and because Shadowfen has the best laid out crafting area. Say what you will about WoW dailies, there continues to be reasons to visit every corner of Pandaria.

City of Heroes had missions that sent you back to various zones all the time. Level scaling and the ouroboros time travel missions could keep any local relevant at any time.

The upcoming Craglorn, a place meant for Veteran 10 players (Players who have already completed every zone in the game), raises the Veteran cap to 12. We now have precedent to treadmill content philosophy as opposed to horizontal content philosophy for the future of the game. Where now areas released will be the only relevant areas. Windhelm, capitol of the Ebonheart Pact may well never have a reason to return to other then a pick up quest for the next new patch added area.

The writing past the 2nd zone of a faction changes style to you're the only one who can do anything of worth to stop current issues. It's a writing style I don't enjoy, and so I have little interest in continuing the narrative in the game overall. That's a giant shame as until level 20 I had done nothing but praise the writing, and in most MMOs the introductory style of the early level writings are usually the worst.

I still enjoy the pvp when I find it, but is that enough? I'm not big on dungeons, I'm no longer a fan of this story, and RP is hard or impossible to find outside select groups. No world pvp in the pve areas to keep things interesting, no tension standing on roads or safe pockets where NPCs don't patrol.

This perhaps is a bit fragmented I suppose, the gist of it is the parts that impressed me no longer do. The first half of Deshaan is probably my favorite writing in any MMO at the moment but ESO seems dead set on no, only YOU can solve this. This not being the huge main story, but each individual zone story. I don't mind the hero of a thing, but when I'm the special hero of ALL THE THINGS, it's lazy. At the same time, the parts that kept disappointing me keep doing so. Combined now with the treadmill attitude to future content I just feel done.

The rp/server communities aren't there. I'm no longer interested in the pve world. Pve players will continue to level faster to dominate the pvp areas which hurts motivation. I just don't want to log in anymore...

City of Heroes would have been 10 this week....

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Hard to believe... Also Titanfall!

I'm still new to the blogging thing, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.

What ever I did last week worked!

April 11th I posted that I had reached 500 views, April 19th I made the werewolf post and within the next week, that post alone reached +200 views. I am shocked, but would be lying if I said I didn't smile every time I checked my blog stats.

As I'm finally working again, game time was a bit low but I tried two new games.

The first is The Last Federation. An indie game on Steam that's difficult to explain. Total Biscuit can do that better then I. A fun game that breeds interesting stories, a watercooler game like Skyrim. I've achieved one victory so far, where only 2 of the 10ish alien races survived. My computer mocked me with 'You win... I think.... did you mean to kill everyone?'. I have much to learn, and probably still focus too much on trying to befriend one to two races at a time.

The other was Titanfall, I know, I know, I'm a month late to that party. All the blogs said their small peice on it and unless you actively avoided all the hype like I did, (I try to distance myself from advertising and videos that have nothing to do with the actual gameplay, but that's another post) you probably know all about it already.

I'll say I liked it better then expected, and at the same time, Origin is a bigger pain then I remember. All the generic statements are true. "it's fun" "I has a mech" "Enemies are weak to theses bullets I just so  happen to have" BUT, what really sets the game apart for me is the minions. Those little lovable minions! You run beside them and they're like "Oh man it's a PILOT! I mean I wish we had a better name for them but MAN, game on!" You find them pulling their injured friends to safety. You hear the captain shouting into the radio for back up when his team is wiped out. This is no generic cry of 'need backup', no, he's crying out 'My team is dead, my whole team is dead!'. HIS team. He has a history with them! THESE ARE PEOPLE. PEOPLE WITH LIVES! Not the enemy though, I take them out 6 at a time with a smart pistol because reasons and also it is a game.

Still, that is my favorite thing of the game. The narrative of the overall story sucks opposite to a hole in the airlock (because that technically and figuratively blows) but the narrative of each battle is strong. Each battle I feel committed, in the fray with those minions and the drop ship extraction is a genius idea. THE BATTLE IS OVER. THERE IS ALREADY A WINNER. IT MEANS NOTHING. And yet the drop ship extraction is suddenly EVERYTHING when it happens.

Progress in ESO has slowed due to Titanfall. I've had little interest in continuing the narrative of the Rift and the story missions requiring a tanky survival build has ticked me off after how much the game wanted to push the 'play as you want' mantra. As I've only been able to PVP in the off times it's been harder to find action. At which point, I play Titanfall!

Say what you want about battlegrounds and pvp without consequence, sometimes a guy just wants to fight. I care not what it 'means' or how much it 'matters'. I don't want arena rating. I just want the rush of the fight. But that's yet another post for yet another day.


PS: I need to take more screenshots.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Werewolf post.

There are a few things I wanted to talk about. How ho-hum Shadowfen was, the writing quality improving again in Eastmarch, despite how boring and one dimensional Nords are, and how I don't think an editor even glanced at the Rift. (Voice acting doesn't match text, missing words, breadcrumbs for quests I've already completed, never actually informing people the deed is done before a ghost sends me elsewhere in the same quest line. I could go on, and eventually will... likely)

Ok, a while ago I teased with this picture...
Combined with that and how I don't black out my text box and the amount for chatter from a guild called "Creatures of the Night", also combined with previous posts detailing my goal of being a werewolf, one could probably guess what I was up too.

It's exactly what you guessed! Creatures of the Night is a guild about providing Werewolf and Vampire bites to those who want them. There's a weird thing going on right now in the game, it stands out to a point where even IGN had an article about it. The "Underworld Economy".

Many people out there want to be one of these things, the NPCs that can turn you are super rare. As you can turn another player into one of these once a week, players have begun selling their weekly bites for upwards of 40,000 gold. These same players also camp the spawn points of werewolves and vampires to keep their prices up.

Not Creatures of the Night, weekly bites are raffled off when available and I happened to win one of these raffles. I have in turn, raffled off my bites thus far.

However, I have since stopped being a werewolf. No longer a Creature of the Night, I have since also left said guild, but recommend them to anyone who aspires to be either wolf or vamp.

Dropping werewolf was not a choice made lightly. I had worked towards it, pre-built my stats for it, leveled the skill line to the max of 10 and tried for days to find a way to use it effectively.

As of right now, it is my current opinion, that there is no use or point to the werewolf form beyond RP, novelty, and cool factor.

First is the cost of the ultimate ability, it starts at 1000 but degrades to 900 as you level it. This takes 15-20minutes to build up. As a dungeon is roughly 20minutes on a clean run, you can think of it as a 'once per storyline' or 'once per dungeon' ability. Must be a good one eh?

Not quite. Even with a focus on Stamina, which is what werewolf damage scales off of, I didn't actually deal any increased damage. To which I have to think of the effect of those who didn't focus on stamina as much as I did.The abilities given are a leap and an area of effect fear. The leap has a minimum range and deals less damage then my normal assassin Telestrike. The AoE fear has a slugish 1 second cast time that requires you stop attacking for it to register, lagging it longer as you mash the button after letting go of the mouse. I can get the same fear from the shadow line of my Nightblade abilities. Only it's instant. And it can be morphed to lower the enemy's attack power...

The trade off for these things that I could have anyway? 50% more poison damage taken at all times. Losing the ability to interrupt and dodge. Additional weakness to players who invested into the fighter's guild skills. Oh! I also lose all other abilities for the duration of the transformation.

Ah yes, the transformation. All that stuff I gained (but not really), available once every 20minutes or so, lasts about.... 30 seconds. Now to be fair, I can extend that by devouring corpses and a morphed version of the leap. The 3-4 second devour animation grants a few extra seconds. The description says it can be used on 'humanoids' but I need to get a Zenimax to English dictionary. 'Humanoid' does not include goblins but includes wolves, spiders and bats in their context.

I will bring up that devour is currently bugged. It provides the extra time at the beginning of the animation as opposed to the end, can be interrupted still providing the time, and, having not finished the animation, allows the devouring of the same corpse again.  While this can provide infinite transformation time, it does not weigh in my decision to drop the form as it is a bug that will surely be fixed. Or perhaps helps illustrate my decision as even with this bug, I dropped the form.

It feels like I don't actually gain anything. From groups of minions to bosses, it's easier to just use my class abilities, to which I can guess it would be even easier if I had an ultimate other then werewolf and didn't have a weakness to poison. For these reasons, I gave it up.

Perhaps later they will fix it, I did not repec my skill points so it's still fully leveled up if I ever regain the infection. I did however respec my attributes to be more Magika focused and now use mostly Nightblade class abilities. The transition period of leveling the skills was hard, but overall things have gotten easier then my stamina weapon build.

I have no current plans to become a Vampire, but I may give it a try later. Until then, I'm alright not being supernatural.


Friday, 11 April 2014

500 already!?

So I knew I was going to hit 500 hits sometime this week. But a random spike in hits has made me surpass it by quite a bit. 500 hits and more then 250 just in the past month. I'm going to thank Bhagpuss of Inventory Full for that, landing a spot on his blog roll has done wonders.

I started this in late January and I'm glad I did. It's been a great ride so far and I'm looking forward to more.

In more good news, I've found employment again. Back in the saddle next week. My game time may take a hit, but you know what? After 5 months on the job hunt, it'll be nice to turn on a game and not feel as if I should just be doing more job hunting.

Next post I'll touch on the Shadowfen, what's happening in pvp and a goal I hit. Here's a hint...


Monday, 7 April 2014

Some ESO fun, pvp and a spoiler post on the rest of Deshaan.

Servers were going down for maintenance so I had some fun in zone chat.

 Let it be known I never claim to not be a troll at times, that, and I greatly enjoyed the good mannered response.

I've spent quite a bit of time in Cyrodil PVP lately, Dawnbreaker NA campaign. At least I must have compared to most. I don't claim to know the mechanics of the leader boards but 2 sessions of defending the South Morrowind gate have placed me in the top 50. Aldmeri Dominion hold every single objective of the map, they outnumber us 4:1 at the best of times. You can't capture the gates but Aldmeri sometimes likes going through to collect the skyshards in our lands. A group of 4 of us defending that gate has, multiple times, earned a response of 20 or more AD.

Owning the entire map, how starved for action they must be to zerg people defending an objective that can't actually be captured. But I've loved it.

Some history, apparently the AD guild of a popular beta streamer chose the campaign. Being the pro-try hard types they power leveled and quickly dominated the entire map. Other AD players saw this and went 'yeah I want in on that!' while players on the other two factions went 'no way!' Since early access began they have held everything. Us Pact members and the Daggers have pushed for some keeps on occasion, even at the same time but AD has the numbers to outnumber the both of us at once. The Daggers made a great push one night and over 4 hours took 4 keeps. Within an hour AD retook all 4. As many Pact and Dagger players gave up, the Dominion has been pretty bored and so the guild of that streamer has since changed campaigns. What remains is a zerg of followers, ones we easily outplay.

Playing smart, we can kill A TON of Dominion players, the problem being is that playing smart only gets you so far against EXCESSIVE numbers. When 20 of us take a keep and 80-100 AD show up to stop us, hungry to see action, there just isn't much left to do. Hold them off as we may try, we get 50 assaulting the keep and 30 roaming to kill our reinforcements. Forget trying to hold a second keep or defending the small objectives around the keep.

I love defending the south gate, it's been a great source of fun, but when 25-40 show up to bust down us 6, even I can get a bit discouraged.

Our Guild will not leave though, we will not be part of the problem. The Dominion are bored, and they are getting lazy. They have EVERY keep bonus, EVERY elder scroll bonus and the Emperor bonus, and yet we're still winning general combat. Our players are getting better because we have to play harder. The leader boards are filling up with names of the Ebonheart Pact and when the tide finally turns it is going to be satisfying.

And now the section on the second half of Deshaan. There will be spoilers.



I made an entire post to how well your story was laid out and you throw it all away in the 2nd half! I caught up with one ally in Mournhold. Not a part of the assassin's guild as I thought. I continued to meet a member of the Tribunal, a fun enough segment, I enjoyed working with a major lore figure. To bad it went downhill from there...

Up to the point of receiving Almalexia's blessing, I still felt as though I was a part of a bigger picture. After that point? Nope, chosen one. From that point on for the rest of the zone it was just me doing work, things happened because I was there. I even got to the cliche town that was just wiped out. WHAT!? What's with the 180!? Instead of an ongoing story working with others it turned into WoW style quest hubs where a new person (usually a ghost only there because I was) handed me tasks at every location. The overall feel of the zone being one big connected puzzle faded into following the trail of  single villain apparently only I could beat. How utterly disappointing. If the writing had been that way from the start, I'd have been bored of questing by now. Even the final climax of Stonefalls had me be part of a team, a part of something. With me were the people I had know for the whole zone. For the finale of Deshaan, I simply was that something, alone.

I'm just starting my time in the Blackmarsh, I'm staying at an interesting town that's a Dunmer city built on top of an Argonian village that's built on top of an Alyied ruin. Hopefully the writing returns to it's previous style, because if I'm the chosen one to yet another unrelated problem I'll be about set to throw the writing of the game our the window as a lost cause.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

A spoilery post on Deshaan and it's storytelling.

If the title didn't give it away for you, this will contain SPOILERS to Deshaan, the zone after Stonefalls for the Ebonheat Pact in ESO.

Writing story for video games is hard. Any interactive media holds challenges in telling a story but who ever wrote Deshaan has hit the nail on the head!

To put it simply, a group called the Malbournes is trying to help stop a plague moving through the area. The plague is scary, lethal and the rumors of it turning people into beasts has everyone scared. What's really going on is the Malbournes are engineering and spreading the plague themselves. The rumors of beasts are true, they are trying to create a zombie outbreak.

The entire zone makes me feel uneasy, but you know what the best part is?

It's entirely story based! It's not an 'undead' zone, there's NOT zombies everywhere. It's the people talking about the disappearances. The presence of the Malbourne group, the fact the assassin's guild is now present (or so I think). If you just walked around and talked to no one it would seem like a normal area but the PEOPLE make the area seem filled with dread and despair. There are Nords so depressed they sit in the gutter waiting to catch the plague. I've found myself in the middle of 4 different factions trying to find their own best course of action in the area and made some hard choices as to which ones I would help.

Again ESO shows it's strength, I'm deep in the MIDDLE of it but I'm not in the CENTRE of it. I'm working with other characters who are doing their own fair share of the work. In WoW, you'd do everything. Every single step of the investigation would be yours. In ESO, I truely feel these other characters are doing something. We compare notes, they get their own information. They have their own goals and we cooperate when our goals overlap. I was looking for a missing person when I found him tied up, an assassin was torturing him for information. I scared her off but she left behind evidence that the tied up man was actually the bad one in connection with the Malbournes and the other disappearances. I could have freed the man but instead I continued the interrogation myself. Later I ran into this assassin again, we confirmed being on the same side shared information from our interrogations. We started working together on a loose basis, she's not following me around. But we continue to meet up. Evidence points that she is from the assassin's guild, the fact they are in the area further unsettles me. I had to choose between whether or not to help a civilian revolt against the guards who had the town locked down. A civilian revolt would have made my job easier but I sabotaged their efforts to spare innocent lives.

I don't know if I'm making the right choices. There is no morality system. I don't know where else the story will lead, there's no person who will obviously betray me, I don't know what characters will follow me to the city of Mournhold. I know the how's of the plague right now, but not yet who or why. I think I know who the assassin's guild is after (if it is them), and frankly, given assassin's guild lore in the Elder Scrolls universe, they're the ones I trust MOST in all this.

I'm blown away. I'm drawn in, I want more! Let's hope the rest of the zone's writing keep up.


Friday, 4 April 2014

Just a quick ESO thought...

It just has to be said...

/lute is the best downtime emote ever.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

ESO Thoughts

Who would have thought the big topic this week across the blogosphere would be ESO?
Now that I'm not in the beta mind set, I'm really liking it. It's also the first time since City of Heroes so many of my real life friends have been in the same MMO. I spent more time on character creation this time around, still a dunmer of the Ebonheart pact though.

The first thing I want to bring up is related to a previous post of mine titled What Happened to Fitting In? Well I'm happy to say everything in ESO seems to fit!

It fits, it's stylish and in the low levels it's NOT RAGS! (Ok, you start in prison rags like EVERY Elder Scrolls Game, but your first real armour isn't rags.)

Second thing, what a smooth launch! Granted, Stonefalls is buggiest zone in the game right now. 4 quests I've had major trouble trying to complete but the important thing is that I'm IN GAME. I'm not waiting in server ques, I'm not lagging out, I'm not disconnecting. As much as I hated the 90 minutes and 6 tries to complete the Balreth quest I was IN GAME.  The notes for the patch currently being applied also list all 4 quests I have had issues with.

I'm actually really liking the crafting in this game. I've put every skill point I could in the clothing line so far. I've been able to use the 2nd tier of materials to craft level 15 armor since I was level 12. I'm focusing my research on leather chest armour and currently know of two areas to gain special crafting set bonuses. While I can still only craft in the Dark Elf style, that's fine, I love the dark elf style. The other motif's I'd like to learn are Breton and Nord.

They nailed the storytelling in my opinion. Voice acting in MMOs has been something I've largely been against. WoW has too much dry text for full acting to be of any use. GW2 took me out of the immersion with the stage set up, SWTOR drew me out of my character and constantly reminded me the NPC was talking to my character. ESO places you in first person for conversation where the NPC is looking at YOU and talking at YOU.  Your character has no voice and so no words feel placed in your mouth like how I felt in SWTOR. I can even read the text and just hit next those times I'm rushed or impatient.

Granted, this could still be infatuation. It's new, it's possible my mind on this could change.

I'm really enjoying the mix of reactions my character gets. In the tutorial, I'm just another prisoner until singled out by the prophet. On Bleakrock, I'm just some survivor helping out proving his worth. The people from Bleakrock remember you from there on out, and while you continue to prove yourself, I'm still not the chosen one or the elite general. In the fight against the Daggers, I'm just another solider. A cog in the war. Battles happen whether or not I'm there and I am a part of the story. The feel throughout the whole zone of Stonefalls is things are continuously happening. Sometimes it feels in WoW like nothing happens unless my character is there. They story itself hinges on the presence of my character while in ESO I just happen to be there. Perhaps a fine line in the sand, but I appreciate 'we're attacking the enemy and could use your help' over 'great, you're here, we can attack the enemey!'. The flip side of that is I AM the chosen one in the fight against Molag Bal. Or, one of. I'll try avoid spoilers but this story does hinge on you specifically a lot more when it comes to that. Even while that's the 'main story', it's not what you spend the most time in.  I'm the chosen one against Molag Bal but those missions tend to be every 5 levels or so, while being a cog in the war against the Daggers goes across the entire zone.

It feels like the best of both worlds, and it's not buckling under the weight of being 'the 4th pillar'. Zenimax advertised there would be a story, but didn't blow it out of proportion. I didn't expect much but have loved it. If you happen to be in the Ebonheart Pact, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the story missions in Fort Virak.  To me the way the rest of the zone all came together there was great, and it wasn't even the climax of the zone.

There's much more to say, but this is already becoming a wall of text. My issues/worries with the game haven't changed since the AMA, but I think the rest may well make up for it until they're resolved.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

3HG ESO Impressions

ESO deserves a larger post, when I have more time, that will be a thing.

But for now, we've posted our 3 Headed Gamer first impressions.

Comments? Issues? Questions? Fisty-cuffs?