Archive for February 21st, 2011

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It’s The Little Things That Thrill

February 21, 2011

Open beta comes to an end for Rift, and I just found out from Levelcapped that the beta client will not be usable for the head-start later this week. So just now, I made a copy of my beta screenshot folder so I won’t accidentally erase it when I do my uninstalling. Given how many screenshots I take, it would be a shame to lose them all.

While I was going through them, I am reminded once again how much I appreciate the little things in our MMOs, the kinda stuff that will barely affect my gameplay, but will still put a smile on my face nonetheless.

This is a screenie I took recently, remembering a post on Pix’led Life I saw the other day about the little details in Rift. I have a tendency to want to explore and stick my nose in little corners as well, whenever I see something in the game environment that catches my eye. My attention was drawn to this open chest I glimpsed, placed on the top of the scaffolding in the picture above. As you can see though, there’s no stairway up there. What there is, however, is a rope tied to one of the posts connecting it to the ground.

So I brush up on my tightrope walking skills and do some pokin’ around!

If you’ve read my earlier post about artifact finding, you’ll know that some of the rarest artifacts I’ve discovered were always in the most out of the way places — like high up in the side of a cliff or in a hole in a tree somewhere. I honestly thought I was going to find a rare artifact in that chest up there, thinking, “If I was a game dev, what better place to hide something like that?”

Here’s what I actually found:

What the hell, Trion? Suffice to say, I wasn’t that disappointed in that there was no rare artifact waiting for me. I was more baffled and amused, not to mention shocked, by the complete randomness of finding a dead dwarf in a chest, up here in the middle of nowhere in a place one would have to tightrope to reach. It was obviously placed here purposely, and while I don’t exactly get the joke, oh well, I still laughed at the little detail.

Here’s another one of those little things in Rift that make me smile, and if you play I’m sure you must have noticed it too — the fact when you target someone in the game, your character will actually turn his or head to look at the person. Rowan mentioned how it made for a more immersive experience when he was in town having dinner and Mr. MMOGC and I last week, and I agreed with him. Well, maybe not so much when you find yourself awkwardly craning your neck in one direction towards a vendor while running about in town. But on the other hand, say when you’re fighting a 50-foot titan and throwing your head back to stare him in the eye, it does make for a more realistic and heroic picture than simply ogling at his toes.

Or even check out the following screenshot of my husband’s and my characters quietly regarding each other, and the big difference a little eye contact makes. Can’t you just feel the love? Here, I am glaring at him for being 8 levels below me and already having way cooler-looking armor, while I’m still stuck running around in a grungy potato sack looking like a rice-farming peasant.

Ugh, the downside of being a clothie.

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STO: Burned, Blasted, Frozen

February 21, 2011

Happy Monday, folks, which means I bring you all another review of the latest Star Trek Online feature episode!

Note: Spoilers in the text and screenshots.

Episode 3 of the current Romulan arc “Frozen” takes the crew of the Taiga to a hidden Reman rebel base, which we discovered thanks to our efforts last week in decoding the secret message.

I am always wary whenever I get a mission warning me not to “antagonize” anyone, in this case the Remans or the Romulans. Pissing people off is what T’Androma does best, but okay, for the sake of galactic peace, I shall try my darndest.

The first map we enter upon reaching the Dera system is a short space encounter involving some subterfuge. First we set ourselves up as bait by advertising our signal, then we go scurrying back to hide in a nebula. Word of advice, if you’re like me and enjoy flying around to explore a bit, just remember where you parked your cloud of gas. Yes, I lost my nebula. Not too often you get to say something like that. It’s only a small little area of gas and radiation you can hide in, and silly me, when I flew around I dipped too low and took me a while to locate it again even within the marked area.

Here, I recalled the first episode “The Vault” and the encounter near the end where we had to fight a space battle in an area which disrupted our shields and signals, and a static-y effect would literally “snow” across your screen. In “Frozen”, the nebula we hide in pretty much does the same thing graphically. It’s a rather cool effect, though I have to admit it’s a little freaky at first, knee-jerk reaction to anything that messes with my screen and all.

Our patient stake-out in the nebula is rewarded with a very dramatic cutscene. Most of the ones I’ve seen so far involve NPCs in conversation, so it was a refreshing to see a space encounter fold out this time, with one my bridge officers narrating. When a huge Romulan warship decloaked, I was like, oooooh. But then they started attacking the Reman scout, so I knew I had to do something about that. They had to be destroyed at once! At once, I say!

Hey, don’t look at me, my tactical officer told me to do it.

Our fight allowed the Reman scout to get away, and after I took care of the Romulans, we tracked them to a frozen planet. I normally groan at escort quests, but when you’re both flying in ships, it’s a little different. It’s actually kinda fun.

We beamed down to a cavern system which would lead us into the Reman’s secret base. Here, I boggled at the frozen tableau.

More and more, I look forward to the ground portion of each FE. Ground combat mechanics are what they are, but even if you don’t like them, at least you can still be blown away by the environment. It’s like a surprise every time.

And the creatures are a surprise too. I think I remember reading somewhere that this arc would feature more new creatures than ever before. Here I fight some ugly jackal mastiff thingies…among other things.

“Why does every new species we encounter try to kill us?” Um, Lieutenant Jaime, dear, you’re talking about spiders here.

How you get into the actual base itself depends on your class. As far as I can tell though, they all involve a giant, mining laser. As a tactical officer, I had to go around collecting power packs, fusing them together in order to give the malfunctioning laser that extra oomph to blast apart the gate keeping us out. I got a tactical accolade for it in the end, and if you have other classes with you, you have the opportunity to win those accolades too. Needless to say, that may provide a very good incentive for people to group up.

Inside, we meet the Reman rebels, who seem to have been expecting us. Seriously, we really could have just knocked.

Way to pull at my heartstrings, Cryptic. They’re really ramping up the emotional factor with this arc. I remember feeling bad for the down-trodden Romulans in the first two episodes, and now I can’t help but feel bad for the Remans as well. Especially that story with that one guy’s innocent wife who died alone and screaming in a Tal Shiar prison? Ouch.

I swore I’d break Obisek’s neck the next time I saw him, but after listening to the sad plight of his people, how could I? Being a rebel at heart herself, T’Androma could do no less but to sympathize. I let him go, and his people helped me fight my way out against the Romulans who invade the base.

Ahh, choice. We’re beginning to see Cryptic give us more and more of those, with each passing FE arc and episode. There will be consequences to whatever you choose, but the scope remains to be seen. Check out Tipa’s write-up of the mission if you want a good rundown of what you can expect from each choice you make in “Frozen”, and even how to get yourself another accolade if you’re into that kind of thing. The episode itself won’t end too differently either you choose to arrest Obisek or let him go; he still escapes and you end up reporting to Admiral T’Nae about the Remans regardless. I hear, however, that it is possible our decisions may lead to more lasting effects in future episodes.

Overall, this was a short and straightforward mission. I found out it took me 1 hour and 8 minutes to complete it (courtesy of Raptr) but I’m sure if I wasn’t using up all that time dithering around taking screenshots and exploring, it would probably have taken me a quarter of that time or less. I am enjoying these episodes that are putting a heavier focus on the context and leading me to become more emotionally invested in the story.