Archive for April, 2010

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Hyborian Survival Guide – Part III

April 21, 2010

Welcome to this third installment, where I continue to catalog even more lessons learned from my journeys through the treacherous lands of Age of Conan. Here’s Part I and Part II.

8. Those who work the safest way, live to see another day!

Crafting and gathering — I haven’t done a lot of it. But now that I’m level 80, I have no excuse to put it off anymore. Time to stop being a useless layabout and become a working, contributing member of society. The other day, I picked up my tools and went looking for useful materials to harvest. Mining nodes are plentiful in the Lacheish Plains, so that’s where I chose to get to work. So there I was, mining, mining, mining — you’ve picked up some copper! Mining, mining, mining — you’ve picked up some copper! Mining, mining, mining — you’ve picked up so–OH MY GOD,YOU’VE JUST SPAWNED A RAGING HALF-NAKED LUNATIC! It happens, so always be on your guard. On the bright side, you are carrying a pick axe. Use it to put a hole through the skull of anyone who dares interrupt you while you’re trying to make an honest living.

9. Someone is always watching.

Life sucks when you’re not nobility. That much is clear to anyone standing outside the Tarantia Commons, watching the guards at the gate hold back the dregs of society as they shout lewd profanities and hurl rotten fruit. They have a right to be upset. After all, the slums within are filled to the brim with the desperate and the needy, yet no one does a thing about it. But take heart, common denizens of Tarantia, I assure you there is hope yet for us all! One just needs to look up in the sky to see that the very gods of this land are watching over us. Wait, what’s that you say? That’s actually the shadow of Thoth-Amon up there in the sun? Um, isn’t he that evil sorcerer guy and the arch nemesis of Conan? Never mind then, we’re all doomed.

10. Everywhere you turn, there’s another horrible way to die.

This lesson comes to us from Breawyn, my Bear Shaman, whose curiosity and exploratory nature brought her face-to-face with a half-eaten corpse. To any Star Trek Online captains who are reading this and are thinking about venturing into Hyboria — as you can see from the above screenshot, space isn’t the only place where you have to worry about wormholes. I actually gasped out loud when I angled the camera and saw what was inside. But I should have known — if you ever get the urge to poke your nose into some hidden nook or cranny, chances are you’ll just find the dead body of an adventurer who has gone to meet his maker in some grisly way or another. This one entry alone could probably be expanded into a whole new blog feature, but I’m just not that morbid.

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Out Of The Shire — Finally!

April 20, 2010

It’s been a while since we last heard from Kiskadee, so I think it’s high time to check in on her and see what she’s been up to. I remember someone telling me that it doesn’t take long to get a Lord of the Rings Online character to level 20, at the most a day or two. Well, it’s taking me longer than that. A LOT longer.

Granted, I haven’t been spending every waking moment in LOTRO on account of 1) the great weather we’ve been having, 2) playing an Age of Conan alt with my husband and 3) Star Trek Online dailies. But over the last week I’ve put in a good three of four evenings into leveling my Hobbit Minstrel, and am still just now at level 16. Am I doing something wrong? Or has playing postman and carrying spoiled pies all over the damn zone been messing with my sense of time?

The hero shot: standing alone in a field of flowers with a determined, faraway look in my eyes.

Despite my slow progress, I did enjoy my time in The Shire. It’s beautiful, and even the most annoying of delivery quests was charming in its own little way. But it’s time to move on. Tonight, I’ll be getting ready to leave the the cozy bosom of the Shire to venture into the bigger world beyond. My next stop is Bree, and I for one am looking forward to meeting Strider at the Prancing Pony inn. Ugh, I was 16 years old during the lead-up to the Fellowship of the Ring movie craze, and I remember having like the maddest crush on Aragorn. Gotta love it when games bring back embarrassing memories like that. Well, at least it wasn’t Legolas.

Anyway, it’s been jolly good fun, fellow hobbits! But while I’d love to stay and play and do all your other cutesy activities, I, Kiskadee, have got more important things to take care of. Adventure awaits!

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Report To The Bridge

April 19, 2010

Cryptic was kind enough to have a “Tax Day Discount” sale this weekend, offering players 25% off everything in their Star Trek Online and Champions Online stores. I saw that a couple of my fellow fleetmates had taken advantage of the sale — Tipa is now flying around in her spiffy new Nimbus-class Deep Space Science Vessel, and Adventurer Historian is rocking his Klingon and Fed bridges. I mulled over it for a while until finally, I too decided to purchase something from the STO store. I was still sitting on 240 Cryptic points from the time I did their survey, after all…and those new Science bridges did look awfully tempting.

So, I swooped in this morning before the sale ended, and snagged myself the Federation Bridge Pack III. I gotta say, I like it. I like it a lot. Here, why don’t I let our fearless leader show you around?

This particular interior is called the “Compassion Bridge”. I know — compassion isn’t exactly the first thing I think of when I look at my Vulcan tactical officer either, but I simply adore the color scheme. It’s spacious, though no where near as large as my last bridge, which I swear was roomy enough to hold a U2 concert. At least, this one is a more realistically sized bridge for my compact little fleet escort.

These are “Research Science Vessel” bridges, but really, they can be used in any type of ship as long as it’s on a Federation character. The description for this pack states that all of them were “designed with the needs of medical and research missions in mind,” so why don’t we check in on our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronbua and see what he thinks.

I recently realized that after giving each bridge officer their own biography, I’ve neglected to assign them their roles aboard my starship (beyond labeling them as “away” or “space”, that is). This oversight has since been amended and The U.S.S. Taiga now has senior staff! Let’s check out what some of them are up to. Like our Chief Engineering Officer for instance, the very talented Commander Donald C. Landsberry. 

Followed by a visit to the Senior Armory Officer, Lieutenant Ytap Onseriv, to check in on the state of our tactical systems and security staff.

And of course, no tour is complete without a look in on Mr. Sleer, the U.S.S. Taiga’s First Officer and Chief Science Officer. As you can see, despite his secret involvement with the captain, Commander Sleer is held to the same high standards as everyone else and is extended no preferential treatment or favoritism of any kind (Vulcans are waaaaaay too logical for that sort of drama, anyway).

One thing I do like about large bridges is that all my officers get to have a place on it; it just doesn’t feel right when any of them gets left out. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my new bridge as well as the update on some of the crew! I’ll come up with roles for the others soon enough. Until then…

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Good Weather = No Gaming and Kick-Ass

April 18, 2010

It was such a beautiful day out today, it didn’t feel right to stay in and play games. I’m just so happy the weather’s getting better, because it’s been a really crappy Canadian winter (seriously, is there any other kind?) and I was getting pretty sick of spending my weekends being cooped up inside. Seeing the sun out today made the outdoors simply irresistible, and so my husband and I spent our day out enjoying the sights and sounds of Toronto on this warm spring day.

We wrapped up our day with a trip to the movie theater tonight, where we ended up watching Kick-Ass, parts of which were filmed right here in the city, so in a way we got to enjoy Toronto onscreen as well. In fact, one scene in the movie was shot right outside the very theater we were sitting in, which made for a pretty surreal experience (ooh, I think I can see my house in that aerial shot!)

I’d been looking forward to this movie, since I’ve read and enjoyed the comic. For those who have also read it, I’m happy to say that the movie is quite different, so it would still be worth watching. I had a pretty good time with it, though I have to say I haven’t seen such ridiculousness and this many bullets fly in a movie since Shoot ‘Em Up. Can’t say I wasn’t thoroughly entertained though, once I threw all notions of reality out the window and just sat back and enjoyed the ride. In about 50 years I’m sure I’ll be looking back at this movie thinking, “Wow, what a loud, stupid waste of time this was!” but until then, I’m not going to feel bad about laughing my ass off.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve touched my PC all day until now, and I have to say it feels great! I’ve noticed in the past that as the weather gets better, my gaming time tends to go down. Gotta enjoy these nice days whenever they come around, after all. I hope all my fellow gamers also had a fun and geek-tastic weekend.

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Spouse Aggro Through A Mirror, Darkly: The Dreaded Leveling Contract

April 17, 2010

I think most people who play MMORPGs are familiar with the concept of spouse aggro. We’ve all either read about it or have experienced the dangers of it first hand. I’m happy to say that Mr. MMOGC and I are fortunate enough to live our lives relatively spouse aggro-free, because we’re both avid gamers.

Nonetheless, we never let our games get in the way of real life obligations like dinner dates, important chores, appointments or outings with friends. We both agree that real life stuff should always take priority. Even so, there are times when one of us will allow the other a certain degree of leniency. For example, if we had a grocery shopping trip planned in the afternoon but he tells me he’s still in the middle of a heroic instance (“I swear, I just need fifteen more minutes to get one more little badge so I can buy epic shoulders!”) I’d be like, no problem, we’ll delay our trip for another half hour or so, it’s not a big deal. It’s because I’ve been there, and I get it. He would be affording me the same courtesy if it was the other way around. There’s no badgering at each other to log off, or grumbling about how video games are nothing but a time suck.

To be signed in blood!

That’s not to say that our gaming habits never cause problems in our relationship. My husband and I were joking about this last night over dinner and had a good laugh over it, but there’s some truth to what I’m about to say. Basically, we do our share of gaming-related bickering, but every time it happens, it’s always about one dreaded thing (cue ominous music) — the “Spousal Leveling Contract”.

Or more specifically, it’s when someone is in breach of it.

Simply stated, the terms of Spousal Level Contract are:

Both parties must maintain at least one character for the purposes of concurrent leveling in each MMORPG applicable to this agreement. Under no circumstances may either party advance said character without the presence of the other, unless prior consent has been conferred. A failure to abide by the terms of this contract will result in reparations in the form of back rubs or any other method of compensation deemed appropriate by the aggrieved party.

We’ve both been quite good at honoring the contract, though I won’t deny it, once in a while someone slips up…and it’s usually me. I acquired a number of infractions with Star Trek Online, for instance, and I blew it big time when I went back to level my old character in Age of Conan, though to be fair I still don’t think that was my fault (I gave plenty of notice, as per the agreement, yet I’m still paying for it big time). Yes, I’ll admit it, between the two of us, I guess I’m the more hardcore one when it comes to gaming. After all, my husband relies on me to pick out his Xbox 360 games for him, he’s usually the one to come to me for gaming advice, he’s always the one who follows me to new games and — ah hell, I have a game blog, enough said.

Anyway, you’ll never catch either of us telling each other “I think you spend too much time gaming and not enough time with me!” but sheesh, say an innocent little thing like, “Sweetie, just so you know I logged in the other day to train my skills and had to kill a few things to get there, so don’t be surprised if I’m ahead of you by a few bars” and boy, do I get an earful!

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The New SW:TOR Timeline – Cliffs Notes Version

April 16, 2010

I’ve become somewhat accustomed to writing about the Star Wars: The Old Republic Friday Updates every week, so I’m not going to stop now even though the update happens to be a new holonet timeline (as usual narrated by the very talented Lance Henriksen). I know most people don’t typically find timelines to be too interesting, but those who are familiar with Star Wars lore or are into the stories behind the upcoming game will find plenty of information hidden in this new entry.

As always, the lesson here is that the Republic and the Jedi Council are brainless idiots who have never heard of a simple thing called a background check. Seriously, they appear to have more moles than CTU has had in all eight seasons of 24.

Other things I got from the timeline video:

1. Yavin 4 may be a future planet (surely, you didn’t think Bioware was done with revealing planets?)

2. The mysterious Sith Emperor is NOT Naga Sadow.

3. That is indeed a Star Forge at the end there, Knights of the Old Republic fans.

Anyway, thanks for letting me indulge in my weekly Star Wars fix. Now join me in a little head-bobbing as I share with you all a picture of something I received earlier this week, as a belated birthday gift.

Ah, yes…happiness is a Star Wars “Boba”-head.

Yar, I know I have a dusty shelf. But it'll have to do, until I find a proper home for him, like on an office desk or a dashboard or something.

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The Call Of The WoW Pets

April 16, 2010

Everyone’s going insane over the new additions in the Blizzard Store. I’m going to talk about them too, but with a little spin on things. My topic may be slightly different from the usual complaints, but it’s also a bit more personal.

People who game with me know that I’m a collector. I like to play my games the way they’re meant to be played, but I’m also attracted to the little frivolities in my MMOs like holiday events and vanity pets. In fact, I think I may enjoy collecting special in-game items more then I like getting epic loot! As silly as it sounds, that’s what really gnawed at me when I left World of Warcraft — I didn’t miss the instances, the boss fights, or the purple gear…but I did miss my mini-pet collection. I always thought I’d go back to collecting them when I return to WoW once Cataclysm hits, but I don’t think I will anymore. I’ve lost the drive, because the Blizzard pet store has killed it for me.

While some people might think vanity pets are pointless, they weren’t for me. I put a lot of time into my collection, which numbered around 100 pets at the time of my departure about 6 months ago. It’s nowhere near complete, and I know there are some pets I’ll never be able to obtain, but I’m still quite proud of what I’ve managed to collect. I still like looking at my collection on my WarcraftPets.com page sometimes, because it’s full of so many cool stories and good memories from my time in WoW. My Phoenix Hatchling, for example, I got just days after the Magister’s Terrace instance first came out, because when it dropped my wonderful guildies all passed so I could have it, since they knew how much I liked vanity pets. Another example was my Magical Crawdad. I still remember the hours spent fishing in Terrokar Forest until that heart-stopping moment when I finally hooked the elusive Mr. Pinchy. And speaking of heart-stopping moments, nothing beats a good old-fashioned pet hunt. I hardly ever bought pets off the auction house, as I did all the farming myself — it’s how I got my Firefly, the Disgusting Oozling and the Azure Whelpling, among many others. It’s such a great feeling when you’ve killed what feels like your 1,145th mob and then you open up that loot window, and BAM! there it is!

It didn’t matter if the pet was a rep grind, random drop, quest-related or whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that obtaining each pet was a rewarding process, in some cases more than others. The best ones were always the toughest to get, and each of them was a challenge I couldn’t wait to tackle. I was bouncing up and down with excitement when I first heard that the Pandaren Monk pet would be added in-game, but was immediately disappointed when I found out it was to be sold in the online Blizzard store. I was already a little irked by the fact that certain pets were only available through the trading card game, but this just made it worse.

I still wanted to be able to collect as many pets as possible, but having to spend real-life money to make that happen just takes some of that exhilaration away. Not to mention Blizzard can potentially make hundreds of dollars off of pet collectors like me by simply adding more and more items to their pet store as time goes by. On that front, it doesn’t bode well at all — in just the last few months, in addition to the Pandaren Monk they’ve already added Lil’ K.T., the Gryphon Hatchling, the Wind Rider Cub and now Lil’ XT. Uh yeah, the price tags on these have definitely made me rethink my collection. I also can’t help but feel pain for any mount collectors out there. I mean, $25 a pop when it comes to the new Celestial Steed? Ouch.

Anyway, this isn’t a post whining about RMTs in MMORPGs. I’ve never had a problem with them, actually. In most cases, they are a choice; no one is forcing players to purchase anything and items like vanity pets are obviously not required to play the game. I still believe in this, but while I certainly have much better things to do with my cash than to drop $80+ on pretty pixels, not buying pets off the Blizzard store has less to do with a conscious choice but more to do with my increasingly waning interest in pet collecting. What’s the point now, when having to maintain an up-to-date collection involves shelling out real dollars? And somehow, I doubt I would continue my collection even if I happen to strike it rich and get to sleep on a huge pile of money every night.

The thrill of the hunt is dead and gone, now that the coolest pets are the easiest (and most boring) ones to get, with just a credit card and a few clicks of a mouse.