Sneakin’ Around: King of the Road

Ahh, life on the road.

I knew this is what life would be like when I started down this path, but the reality of it smacks you in the face sometimes.  I crawled all over Westfall, uncovering the entire map, and managed to only find maybe four or five quests I could complete.  Redridge Mountains proved to be better with nearly a dozen quests.  And then it’s off to Darkshore, where there were a few quests to do and then the majority of the zone is locked behind kill tasks.

The daily quests help, of course, being able to earn 2k exp every day keeps my spirits up.  And then there is the Valentine’s Day event… which unfortunately includes killing, so I can’t participate fully. *sigh*  Time to head back to dwarf-land and goat-town, I suppose.

However, my decision not to kill for cash leaves me plenty of time to study the markets, buying goods from people who just want quick cash and reselling them to people willing to pay more.  I can sell copper bars for 7 gold a stack, but people will put them up for anywhere from 3 to 5 gold.  When you add in the market manipulation with my own mining and herbing, it totals out to over a hundred gold in my pocket – and that’s after I bought myself one of those engineered tackle boxes and a couple other nice bags.

I also managed to fish up one of those books that taught me how to find schools of fish, so that will be a lot easier from here on out.  Level 16 and moving…

Once more unto the Rift

Last beta I didn’t get much chance to play.  I messed around the character creator and read up on the base classes and logged in.  The game informed me that my graphics drivers were out of date and I spent what little time I was in game chugging along in a partial slide show.  This past weekend’s beta was much better.  I logged in my already created character, I ran through the introduction area, and I made it through the first few quest hubs.

Most of the game is fairly standard, and that’s not a bad thing.  The UI is familiar without cloning (it doesn’t look like the World of Warcraft interface even though it mostly functions like it), and the game play follows suit.  Others have praised the soul system, and I will too.  I really enjoy crafting my character from three parts and controlling how he forms as he advances.  To me, the simple genius of it is astounding: you climb up the tree adding passive traits (damage bonuses, spell modifiers, etc) and the number of points spent there determines which active abilities you unlock.  It is the best part of a class system melded with the best parts of a skill system.  Add in that you can build several specs on a single character and you come very close to what I’ve always wanted in a game: the ability to play a single character in multiple roles without having to resort to creating alts.  And even if you did decide to create alts, you really only need to make 4 characters – one of each base: warrior, cleric, mage, rogue.

The public group and rift mechanics are also fantastic.  While they can get repetitive if that’s all you do, mixed in with the traditional quest grind it makes the game feel fresh without feeling alien.  Last night on Shadefallen, Freemarch came under heavy attack from Death, with foot holds in every town and all the players banding together in groups to beat them back.  For soloing, I had been playing a Justicar/Shaman/Druid with a fairly balanced build to focus on making me a better fighter and increasing my 1-on-1 survivability.  But once the giant assault began, I bought a second role, used the same souls but spent more points on the Justicar to reduce my threat and utilize my area heals to assist the raid.  It worked out pretty well.  I spent the bulk of the evening switching between those roles, the solo build for the early waves of any rift and then to the raid build for the later waves.  From the builds to the rifts to the raids, it was much more exciting that any other MMO I’ve played.  Even my precious EverQuest.

I really enjoy the Justicar and Shaman aspects of what I’ve played so far, the fighting cleric appeals to me in so many ways.  If I so buy the game, I can easily see myself playing that for the long haul, though I may ditch the Druid in favor of a different third.  The fairy pet annoys me.

Now I just need to convince the wife and all my friends to switch to Rift.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-02-06

  • RT @Shakefire: Welcome our new writer Jason Pace (@Jhaer) with his first review of BODYFACE's new album #
  • Fill in the blank: "______ sneak" #
  • "Yes, we advertise a persistent connection, but we didn't mean you could keep it open all the time." #
  • You do a little dance and then you drink a little water. #giveitaway #

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Opinions are like…

Everyone has opinions on stuff.  It is pretty much the basis of all blogging.  I use mine to post my opinions on game design, movies, music, TV and other random stuff.  As of this week, however, I’m not putting some of my opinions somewhere more visible.


Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten a lot of free passes to movie screenings from them, and I’ve enjoyed participating in their message boards and reading their site.  So when I saw a call for writers I decided to give it a shot.  At this point, I’ve only posted one assigned review for Bias, the debut album of Bodyface, and I’ve got another review on the way for next week.

I’ll try to remember to cross post (at least by way of linking) but sometimes may forget.  At the very least, you’ll see them in the weekly tweet posts on Sundays.

The Great Divide

So, I’ve started playing World of Warcraft again.  In large part to play with a couple of friends.  The wife and I have been playing a couple of weeks now, but we’ve yet to actually play with the friends we came to join.  You see, they started before us and as such they are about ten or so levels ahead.  We have been trying to catch up, but since they keep playing also we essentially only succeed in keep the gap consistent.

Another friend of ours decided to join us too.  A little later than us.  He’s about ten or so levels behind us and in similar fashion he is trying to catch up but is really only keeping the gap consistent.

People keep telling me that it’ll be okay when we hit the level cap, which will only take a couple of months (or so they tell me).  For the moment, the wife and I are splitting our time between some characters to try and slow ourselves down a bit, which will let the man behind us catch up but lets the people in front of us get further away.

I really dislike this, and it happens in every game.  Well, not in EVE.  Whenever I get into discussions about class based or skill based systems, after going back and forth for a long while I always end up settling on the fact that either system works and either can be better and that it all depends on the quality of the system.  But one tangent that always emerges is that I wish less MMOs were level based.

I understand that, in general, people like levels, because it’s an easy way to measure progress and be rewarded.  Ding! But levels divide your players, which can be good (spreading them out over different level appropriate areas) and bad (you now have to deal with special coding for any PvP interactions around the power increases levels provide and prevention of power leveling, etc).  In my opinion, games need to find other ways to reward people, and to separate power from what is essentially time played.  In EVE, it doesn’t matter if you’ve played for 5 years or 5 months, once you get into a ship the only thing that matters are the skills related to that ship.  And a 5 month player can kick the ass of a 5 year player given the right ships and situation.  But when was the last time a level 15 killed a level 80 in WoW?  Never?  Is it because the level 80 is better or because he’s been around longer?  Neither actually, it’s because the game doesn’t allow people of that sort of disparity to fight in most cases because they are well aware of the futility of the position of the level 15 player.

We need an alternative to levels/time defining power in fantasy games.  And we need ways for people to play together no matter how long they’ve been playing without starting over.

Old Men’s Brains

A lovely little tune to get you through the cold winter…

Sneakin’ Around: Flowers, Fish, Ore and You

Gone Fishing

I'm no mage, but look at me cast.

One of the main reasons I returned to the idea of leveling without fighting was because Blizzard added experience rewards to mining and herbalism.  That isn’t to say that I gain exp entirely from those activities…

Each race in the game has a progression.  Humans do their starter area, then Goldshire, then the logging camp area, and then they move on either East or West.  Night Elves move through Teldrassil toward Darnassus and then they’ll hop the boat to Darkshore.  And so on.  Being that I’m skipping every quest that requires killing, I have to keep rotating through the progressions and picking up the handful of delivery, exploration and true collection quests (true collection being where you get items off the ground or out of boxes and not from the lifeless corpses of your enemies).  And since I’m traveling a lot, I pick plenty of flowers and mine a bit of ore as I go.

The quests that I do get are quite exciting.  And dare I say, more exciting than when I do them with other characters.  For example, in Dolanaar a night elf asks for me to retrieve an Emerald Dreamcatcher from the Starbreeze village.  The village is swarming with furbolgs, and I have to sneak my way into the building where it is, and then wait for just the right moment to retrieve it.  There’s no time to hide again because I’ve been spotted, so I make a run for it.  With furbolgs right on my heels I dash through the village and onto the path and eventually they give up hope of catching me.  Later, I would pull a similar trick to deliver hearthstones to trapped miners and dig relics from the ice for the dwarves of Dun Morogh.

Of course, I don’t spend all my time picking flowers, mining ore and sneaking into buildings.  Sometimes I go fishing.  In Stormwind there are even people kind enough to have a couple of quests for me that involve catching fish.  And I also spent some time tracking down people for the Lunar Festival.

Level 12 and climbing…

The Pig And Whistle.

Forget it, Jake. It's Old Town.

While bumming around in Stormwind, I decided to ask a guard what inns I could stay out in the city.  They gave me two fine choices, one in the trade district and one in the dwarven district.  Neither of those was what I was looking for.  Both locations are extremely crowded, being near the auction houses and all.  Lots of foot traffic and spell casting at all hours of the night.  I needed something quiet, away from the action, so I headed to Old Town and there I stumbled across a lovely little place called the “Pig and Whistle Tavern” and while not strictly an inn, and clearly not considered one by the guards of Stormwind, they were willing to let me hang my hat there, and with some fine brews on tap and good food from the kitchen, I think it will do quite nicely.  It helps that it’s a stones throw from just about everything I want out of Stormwind.  And even though I’m not overly fond of WoW’s in-your-face puns and pop culture, this one I like.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

This probably explains why I’m always less than satisfied with dinner when I pick, and feel better when the wife chooses what to eat.

And if you didn’t know already, TED talks are usually pretty interesting.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-01-30

  • Never call me on speaker phone. Call first, then inform me you are going to put me on speaker. Really, it's safer for both of us. #
  • Tuesday. A day for doing things in pairs, or doing something because someone else is doing it. #
  • Today is going to be too long by far because the RIFT beta is waiting for me at home. #
  • Thanks to the song, I can always spell Mississippi, but there is no song for Masachewsits. #
  • Really need to see about setting up Artemis at Dragon*Con this year. #
  • Cr-48 showed up at the house yesterday. I can see why many people dislike it, but for a web browser with a full keyboard, it's pretty nifty. #
  • It puts the lotion in the basket. #

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Atom Zombie Smasher

Check this out…

No, I haven’t played Atom Zombie Smasher myself yet, but I plan to pick it up after I do the taxes and figure out if I can afford the $15.  Hopefully I can.