Archive for July, 2012

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Creatures Of Darkness, Prepare Thyselves For a Merciless Thrashing

July 31, 2012

Me in my long-coveted outfit from the Witch Hunter deck, which I finally completed last night in The Secret World. The hubby is in his Exorcist outfit which he says makes him look a little like Father Guido Sarducci. Wait, who? Oh, old SNL references.

Of course, the irony is that while I’ll be sporting the Witch Hunter get-up, I don’t actually know how much I’ll use the deck itself. The abilities seem tailored to a high-DPS play style which shines when dealing with single targets, but doesn’t have much in the way of survival. It also appears built around quite a lot of impair effects. This has implications for its usefulness.

As you know, there are a ton of options in the ability system in TSW. The idea is that given time, any player can gain access to all of them. What I find interesting is how the game is also always encouraging you to tinker with your deck, throwing tough fights and other obstacles your way to make you think about your current build and how you can tweak it to increase your potential. Effectively, you have to constantly adapt to the environment in order to survive.

As to why I probably won’t be using my Witch Hunter deck (much), I’m finding a lot of mobs in Egypt to be impervious to impair effects. Most bosses also are. Thus I’m still currently running around in a Blades/Chaos burst damage self-build that relies heavily on penetration, but this weapons combo also has a lot of synergy in the defense and survival department which means I also have a set-up for tanking on the fly.

I really should be branching out into firearms for some ranged damage (as I discovered being melee only has landed me in a few precarious situations) but the next deck I’ll chase is probably the one with Hammers and Chaos (Templar Warlock). Heck, with where my current points are right now, I’m already halfway there.

Speaking of which, when it comes to point allocation I’ll admit I’m sometimes driven more by the clothing items they reward. However, I’m sure the Witch Hunter deck will get some use as it’ll most likely be my go-to PvP build when I do Fusang.

In other news, “Unleashed” patch 1.1 was released today, adding more missions (seven in all, five of which are investigation quests) and new fashions – not to mention that completing all the new missions unlocks “a new achievement and unique clothing rewards.” Looking forward to the brain work out and the hats and glasses and handwraps, oh my.

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Gotta Cap ‘Em All

July 30, 2012

I’m making it no secret that this September you’ll be seeing me in World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia. Yes, I’ll play it. I’ll play the hell out of it. Still, I have to say I’m feeling a marked difference in my attitude this time around, compared to the last time we found ourselves ramping up towards another WoW expansion.

I faced Cataclysm with a sort of fresh-faced sanguineness; it was a new WoW, a new Azeroth, a new expansion full of untold changes. I looked forward to playing the game for as long it would take for me to experience it all. However, when all was said and done, as always, my favorite part of it was the leveling process. I hit a personal roadblock after that, knowing I could not afford to be sucked in again by WoW’s endgame.

In contrast, I will head into MoP knowing full well how long I’ll be playing — as long as it will take to get to the new level cap and not much longer.

I’m interested and quite excited about the expansion, but I’ll freely admit that I’ll be playing MoP mostly due to an emotional compulsion — as most of my readers know, my main (a Night Elf Druid) holds a special place in my heart. It struck me the other day, that the idea of not getting her to the new level cap just feels…wrong. But then, it occurred to me that there’s also the possibility that I am simply being held hostage by my obsession to keep up and maintain my stable of level capped characters, even if I don’t stay playing.

Let’s too look at Rift as an example. Don’t get me wrong; its upcoming expansion Storm Legion looks amazing on its own merits, but I have to wonder if the fact a new level cap is also a big part of what’s driving my desire to play the game.

I can’t help it, it almost feels like an obligation. I wonder if anyone besides myself has felt this way. When I view a list of my games and level-capped characters, there’s the feeling of satisfaction but also a weird, awkward and ever-present sensation that I’m looking at a collection like any other — one that needs constant upkeep and to be maintained.

What is this, just a symptom of my sense of completionism? Another manifestation of my OCD? ARRGH!

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Sims 3: “Family Man” Challenge

July 28, 2012

Note: One thing you have to know about me is, it is impossible for me to play Sims games “properly” like a normal person.

Time for a non-MMO post. This usually happens whenever my husband goes out of town, barring me from playing online games without him due to the clauses in our Spousal Leveling Contract, leading me to seek other gaming avenues for my entertainment. Coincidentally, I’ve also been looking for an interesting yet easy single-player game to amuse me for all those times I can’t sleep after a middle-of-the-night baby feeding.

Apparently Sims 3 was the answer, thanks to some recent chatter on Twitter taunting me, teasing me, tempting me ARRRGGGH! reminding me what a great game it is. Besides, every few months or so I tend to get into control freak mode and the irresistible urge to dig up my Sims and play them rises. It was time.

Anyway, the last time I went full throttle on Sims 3 was probably a few years ago, when it occurred to me what an excellent idea it would be to take my single male Sim and see how many children I can father on all the women in the neighborhood. At the time, I was patting myself on the back for being oh so naughty! Little did I know, there actually exists entire Sims 3 challenges built around this very concept. Only recently did I stumble upon the rules and guidelines for the ironically named “Family Man” challenge.

And indeed, a challenge it was. It’s all coming back to me now: the never-ending cycle of trying to meet new Sims, juggling multiple relationships, always waiting for that elusive “WooHoo!” option to show up — all the while having to remind myself to eat, sleep, take showers and go to the bathroom. As I recall, though, it did lead to some rather comical results. After a couple generations, none of my Sims could find girlfriends or boyfriends and get married because all of them were related to each other in some way or another. My family tree was a hilarious mess.

Last time I did this, I think I ended up with around 37 children.

I plan on doing better this time.

To be continued?

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Pic Of The Day

July 26, 2012

I’ve been continuing to make my way through The Secret World and am currently now in Egypt, where I’m getting some major Indiana Jones vibes. Funcom, all I have to say is…I approve.

For the last couple of days questing in the Scorched Desert, I found that the main story missions have suddenly taken a turn for the more puzzle-ly. These are just a fraction of my lulz-inducing notes from a string of mind-benders last night:

By the way, you know how we’re always poo-pooing over “kill ten rats” quests? They’re not always so bad. It just made me smile to myself a little, because you have NO IDEA how nice and refreshing it was to finally give my brain a rest and let loose during a “kill X ghouls” mission after all of that.

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What Do You Consider Content?

July 25, 2012

Yesterday, while browsing for some news on MMOs I must have suffered some sort of brain fart, because I don’t know how else to explain how I ended up in The Secret World forums. While there, a particular thread caught my eye — someone new to MMOs was expressing concern over the several “lack of content” complaint threads that were starting to crop up, and they were wondering just how well TSW holds up in this area compared to other games at launch. Oh dear. To be a newcomer and to find themselves in the general discussion section of an MMO forum. But anyway, I digress.

I think the answer depends. Firstly, I believe anyone should be able to play a game however they want without being crapped on for it. Whether you prefer to chisel away at the content slowly versus holding marathon gaming sessions is no one’s business but your own. But those gaming habits will determine your experience. If a game has 200 hours of content, someone playing 2-3 hours will probably never lack for things to do, as opposed to someone who plays 10 hours a day who will probably tap out that content in about three weeks. Players run all over the spectrum and there will always be some at both extremes, so these “There is not enough content!” threads at MMO launches are nothing new.

But I think the more important question is, what do people consider as content? Is it just quests and dungeons? Or is it more?

It occurred to me that what I may consider content, some people don’t. Speaking for myself, I consider “content” as generally anything I would actively need to put aside time to do. Last night, I calculated my /played to come up to about 105 hours and I’m only about halfway through the Scorched Desert in Egypt. That works out to about 30 hours per zone. It seems like quite a lot, but I’m afraid it might lead people to believe there is an abundance of missions or quests to do in TSW.

The thing to keep in mind is, I tend to try and do everything before moving on to the next zone. “Everything” includes missions, both main and side quests, but also activities like exploration, lore hunting, achievements, the whole shebang. It could mean running instances to PvPing to simply standing around “doing nothing” but cycling through each NPC’s dialogue options.

On the other hand, some players who are ambivalent towards things collecting lore items or talking to NPCs and who partake in those activities casually or only when they come across them incidentally, can argue that stuff like that adds flavor, not true content. Fair enough. Others will point out that repetitive activities don’t count, like dailies or dungeon grinds, and there I might even have to agree.

In the end, it comes down to the kind of gamer you are. Granted, I’m nowhere near the end of the game so I don’t know for sure, but I’d say if the number of zones plus the quests and instances they contain are all you’re willing to consider content, then TSW probably does not have as much as other MMOs like World of Warcraft, or Rift, or Star Wars: The Old Republic at release. That said, TSW isn’t for everyone. The more I play the game, the more I get a “niche” vibe pouring off of it.

So if on the other hand you’re the type of gamer who likes to poke their nose into everything, there will be lore items to find and read, NPC monologues to listen to, rare mobs to hunt down, outfits to collect, achievements to complete, nooks and crannies to explore, weapons and talismans to craft, and the list goes on. I’m aware that not everyone will agree, but that’s all content to me. TSW is about more than just a quest and dungeon grind and there’s really no reason to rush to a “cap”; I believe they made it so every aspect of the game is meant to be savored, a special treat for those who enjoy delving completely into unexplored worlds.

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Steam Summer Sale: Damage Report

July 23, 2012

Real life obligations over the last year or so have made me miss out on the last few big Steam sales, so it came as no surprise that the one this summer has raised its wallet-assaulting head to bite me in the ass. Barely two days into it, and I knew I had to put my foot down or my family was going to end up living in a cardboard box by the end of the week. So, I gave myself a new rule: thou shall refrain from purchasing anything more than $5.00.

After that, it was easier to resist the temptations. Realistically speaking anyway, there’s really no wiggle room in my gaming schedule right now to play big games like Witcher 2, even at the very sweet price of about $10 and change. Instead, with my new rule in place I found myself mostly picking up games at about $2.50 to $3.75, many of which were classics, casual, or indies. This works much better for me. It also helps that I told myself some people spend more on a cup of coffee every day.

Of course, while my wallet may be spared this summer, my games list has expanded by almost a dozen games since the beginning of the sale. So unless someone invents one of those nifty remote controls like the one from “Click” or I can get my hands on a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, time is ever going to remain the limiting factor.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on to the damage:

Back to the Future: The Game

Speaking of time traveling DeLoreans, this was the first title I fell victim to in this Steam sale. Picked it up when it was one of those flash deals, and the only game I was willing to drop a bit more than the agreed upon five dollar limit to buy. I’ve enjoyed other Telltale games in the past, and anyway, HUGE BttF fan here. HUGE.

From Dust

Who knew this little sandbox god game could be so addictive? Gorgeous too.

As the user, you can control certain types of matter (soil, water, lava), manipulating the environment to help your nomadic tribe accomplish goals or survive natural disasters like tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.

It was surprisingly challenging; I played until I got stuck, and also because I didn’t think my sense of decency could take watching any more of my poor little villagers get washed out to sea.

The Longest Journey + Dreamfall

I totally blame my The Secret World guildies for this one. While talking in-game about the great writing and dialogue of TSW, someone’s comment about it all being reminiscent of TLJ pretty much sold me. That and my new found gamer crush on Ragnar Tornquist led me to pick up this Funcom classic I’ve always known about but never played.

World of Goo

See, I love casual games like World of Goo or Plants vs. Zombies.

Thing is, I just can’t freakin’ stand playing them on a small screen like on a smartphone or even a tablet. On the other hand, on my computer with a mouse, I can do.

S.P.A.Z.

I’ve wanted to own Space Pirates and Zombies ever since I learned about it last year. Really love the gameplay, and the space setting.

Seeing as it was the final day of the sale, I decided to grab it. Also, I knew if I didn’t, I would have to live with the regret for the rest of my life until the next Steam sale.

LIMBO

By they way, I’m pissed off at all of you now. Why has no one told me about LIMBO before this?

This game makes me feel lucky. I mean, you can go through life fantasizing about the satisfying experience of one day spending $2.50 on a gem of an indie game which can keep you entertained for hours, and then one day BAM! it actually happens.

You play a boy in this puzzle-platformer, traversing dangerous environments and traps as he searches for his sister. I love the black-and-white film noire type presentation, and at times the game can get pretty creepy and just downright disturbing. I finished this game in about 5-6 hours, as some of the puzzles can be really frustrating, but always brilliant.

Torchlight

What can I say? Couldn’t resist (hmm, just how many times have I said this during the sale, now? Dangerous last words.)

Another one of those classics that I’ve never had the pleasure or joy of owning for myself, so I snapped it up the first chance I got. And just in time before Torchlight 2.

Dear Esther

I wish I could plaster my blog with screenshots from this game. Beautiful. Just, beautiful.

Gameplay-wise, I don’t even know if you can call Dear Esther a game. Completely story and exploration driven, you walk around this island in the Hebrides picking up fragments of the story whenever you hit a checkpoint and trigger a narration. There are no puzzles, no activities, and in fact you barely interact with the environment at all. The whole thing takes no more than two hours. Still, it is very atmospheric. Lonely and haunting, but in the good way. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery and the eargasm inducing music.

That said, of course I bought the game and soundtrack package for like $3-something. Considering Amazon sells the soundtrack alone for $7, I was quite happy with the deal.

Audiosurf

This was very rough (as in unpolished), but I can see it being a fantastic time waster. Has high risk of becoming a dangerous obsession.

Still, in my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever found myself sitting in front of the computer doing nothing else but listening to my music. But hey, if I ever find myself in that situation, I’ll be sure to keep this game in mind.

Bastion

And here’s where I get to the part about how I love being part of this gaming community. Bastion was a gift from the very awesome and talented blogger Stargrace, who surprised me one day with the game and soundtrack pack.

Yep, the soundtrack too. She totally gets me! Thanks again, Stargrace <3

Legend of Grimrock

Another surprise gift from another member of the gaming community. Thank you, Grey! Opening my inbox and seeing this brought me such joy and made my day. I am so very looking forward to playing this one.

These little gestures are just so unexpected, and it leaves me feeling so touched.

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Screenshot Of The Day: Kill Him, Mr. Bubbles, Kill Him!

July 21, 2012

Starring Kysha my Asura Guardian and DoubleUnder, my own, er, “pocket” Charr Big Daddy.

So is it just me, or are the Asura just so ridiculously adorable? Like, deadly adorable.

For many, the highlight of Guild Wars 2’s third and final beta test weekend which started yesterday is of course the ability to create Asura and Sylvari characters. I always figured that when the game officially launches, it’s going to come down to either one of these races for me.

However, last night as I was fiddling with the character creator, it occurred to me that due to my husband’s dislike for any and all cute, diminutive and “puntable” races in MMOs, playing an Asura with him might very well lead to some, ah, irreconcilable differences.

So that’s it, folks. Asura for beta, Sylvari for launch.

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