Posts Tagged ‘Exploration’

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ESO: Happy Launch Day

April 4, 2014

launch

While those who preordered have been playing in headstart, today is the official launch day of Elder Scrolls Online for PC. If you’re already in the game, I hope you’ve been enjoying the experience as much as I have.

Despite some server down times which is to be expected, the game has nevertheless been always up during prime time evenings and nights which is when I usually game. I wouldn’t say launch has been perfect; there were a couple instances of major quests bugging out, but thus far ESO has been one of the smoothest launches I’ve personally experienced. Maybe it’s because it’s high time we’ve had another major MMO launch again, or the fact I refrained from going anywhere near beta in the weeks leading up to the release date, but starting out in ESO these past few days felt fresh, exciting, and even more fun than I anticipated.

I’ve rolled a Dragonknight, because for all the flexibility in the classes available in game, I always have a soft spot for the warrior archetype. Imperial race, Daggerfall faction. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve tentatively decided on a tanky-type route when it comes to leveling and allotting my points. At this time, House Stalwart the new guild I’ve joined is almost 90 members strong and it’s been kickin’ every night!

dragonknight

Things I’ve been enjoying so far: questing and exploring — now that the game is live, I’m taking my time to poke around in every nook and cranny, loot every crate or barrel, talk to every NPC. Barging into people’s houses and stealing all their crap has always been one of my favorite things to do in Elder Scrolls games (oh god, you should have seen the way I hoarded in Skyrim) and I won’t even go into how often I get distracted in my adventuring by a lone trunk or urn sitting by the side of the road that I just have to stop and check out. Even if all it holds is thin broth, pathetic drippings or a bunch of stupid grapes.

And another thing I love: CRAFTING! Who would have thought? ME! The person who has always thought crafting in games was a pain in the ass, who always leaves it until level cap because before that it’s just a hindrance to questing and progressing. I don’t know why, but there’s just something about the crafting in ESO that appeals to me. It’s so layered and complex, but not so challenging either that I couldn’t be bothered to gather materials and actually try my hand at all the professions.

I love that expression...

I love that expression…

So, those are my opening thoughts. If you’re playing, how have you been feeling about it so far? I hope to get more time into the game later this month; because of my lack of time and my dawdling, I haven’t gotten very far yet. Currently my Dragonknight is at level 8 but I’m hoping to share more of my experiences as I progress further into the game and see more of its world.

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TSW Screenshots: New York, New York

February 18, 2014

You’ll have to pardon the wall of pictures, but after fighting Flappy last night our Monday Secret World group decided to jump into the New York raid just for the hell of it. Of course, we were only seven people and knew we had no chance of success, but none of us are against simply poking around and exploring the place.

And I did my exploring, all right…I explored the inner workings of the Inutterable Monster’s gullet. But this may have just become my absolute favorite screenshots of all time:

raid

Anyway, the whole “fight” with him really just involved us running up to him and snapping as many pictures as possible before he roflstomped us.

But still. Funcom has seriously outdone themselves. Gotta love a raid that takes place in an urban setting. The atmosphere down in the subway station was also positively chilling with the survivors trapped on the platforms. Check out the details in this place. And they totally nailed Times Square. Just take the giant tentacled monster out of the equation and you are practically right there.

subway

I missed my stop…

train

A “real” tank:

tanksSome group shots featuring Ochoclivis, Dortmunder, Dex-y, Solaris, Thermic, Chucho:

parking

Hey, we’re on the news!

camera

Holy crap, an explosion of tentacles! I’m blaming Maric for this:

what did you do

On the ground level with the big baddie. Um, yeah, we can totally do this! But Imma letting you go first.

go get him

Fun times!

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The Pet Hunter Diaries: Special Events

October 15, 2012

Dear Diary,

New Acquisitions: 54
Current Total: 363

I have to say seasonal and special events are one of my favorite things about collecting vanity pets in World of Warcraft. Whether it’s midsummer sparks or flying cats in witches’ hats, many of them possess a unique flair and are often available only for a limited time each year and therefore you’ll want to put aside some time to obtain them. Speaking of which, Brewfest has just now come and gone, so I hope all my fellow collectors have grabbed their pink elephants and Wolpertingers if they hadn’t already gotten them in the previous years.

What do people do while waiting for the Wanderer’s Festival to start? Fish, of course!

I also want to mention that Mists of Pandaria has also added a new weekly event called the Wanderer’s Festival to their calendars. Every Sunday night from 9pm-11pm server time, lanterns appear in the water at Turtle Beach in the Krasarang Wilds, and special NPCs and Pandaren loremasters show up to set up bonfires, fireworks and a beer keg for all in attendance. I’d missed the festivities the last few weeks — in fact, I didn’t even know about them until I saw this blog post by Anexxia so I have her to thank for clueing me in.

So last night, a few minutes before midnight my time (I’m on a west coast server) I made the journey to Krasarang Wilds, flying along the strip of beach in order to find the right location. It wasn’t difficult to spot; many players were already there and waiting for the arrival of the wandering pilgrims. Aside from wanting to see the event for the first time, I had another reason for being there. If you guessed pet hunting, you’d be correct. A wild pet, called the Wanderer’s Festival Hatchling, is only available for capture during this event, and I wanted to bag one for myself before the night was out.

Speaking of special events, I feel I have to mention the Darkmoon Faire as well, since this past weekend also marked the end of the week-long carnival. I was able to purchase all the Darkmoon pets available from the vendor, thanks to the new account-wide pet journal feature consolidating pets on all your characters.

Otherwise, the safari continues. I’m still hunting in Cataclysm zones and sometimes in Pandaria, usually between questing sessions and while waiting for instance groups to pop. I’ve had little luck with obtaining some of the harder-to-find pets in Northrend, Outland, or Azeroth even though I’ve gone back on occasion to check for them, though I did do some “night hunts” and managed to add a couple nocturnal pets to my collection.

As usual, happy hunting and until next time,

MMOGC

Latest field notes and recently hunted pets:

Showcasing some of the more unique pets I’ve captured on my travels:

Wanderer’s Festival Hatchling

Wanderer’s Festival Hatchling is…a turtle! Around 9pm server and immediately after everyone got their achievement for witnessing opening ceremonies, these little guys began to pop up all along beach. I grabbed the first one I saw, battled it and caught it. Not sure if more respawn during the two hour event or how often they do, but when I came out of the fight they were ALL gone, snapped up by other pet battlers. My advice, get there early.

Darkmoon Zeppelin

I should hate this pet, I really should, considering how many times it has blown me up in quest Tonk Commander, but it’s just so cool! Flying mechanical pet! Other Darkmoon pets I obtained all at once include Darkmoon Cub, Darkmoon Tonk, Darkmoon Balloon and Darkmoon Turtle, because I already got the monkey. All I had to do was grind dailies every day on a bunch of characters until my eyes bled out. Can’t complain, otherwise at 90 tickets a pop it would have taken my main almost a year to get them all.

Flayer Youngling

One of those hard-to-find pets in Outland. They can only be found high in the strip of bramble forest between Terrokar and Hellfire Peninsula and they don’t seem to spawn very often. Every time I showed up there before there were none and someone was always camping. But one day, during one of my rare flyovers I happened to catch the lone sight of a single spawn! As a bonus, capturing this little guy also completed my Outland Safari achievement.

Restless Shadeling

Interesting pet, as it only spawns early morning in the Master’s Cellar below Karazhan. Ugh, remember that place? “Early morning” apparently means 12am server time. During late night gaming weekend (2am my time, because on my server Deadwind Pass seems to be on Mountain time), I showed up there just to see what would happen and at 12:01am on the dot, these guys just automagically appeared all over my mini-map. It was actually kind of anti-climatic. But again, other hunters started showing up and 2min later they were all gone.

Stone Armadillo

Easy one to get, just show up at night in Desolace and these little guys are literally crawling all over the place! Don’t know why I didn’t get this one earlier, just hardly ever find myself in Kalimdor especially at night. Very cute and actually looks like a hunk of rock. There should be no trouble finding one, though trying to catch uncommon or rare quality will probably be the bigger challenge.

 

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Vistas = Pretty Wallpaper

August 29, 2012

Step 1: Find Vista point on map.

Step 2: Jump, jump, jump, fall, swear a blue streak, jump, jump, jump, repeat as necessary until arrival at said Vista.

Step 3: Press F

Step 4: Spam PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn…

Am I the only one who does this? Somehow, I don’t think so. Here are some of my favorites. It’s too hard to choose just one for my wallpaper, so I just have them all on rotate at the moment.

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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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Datacron Tours Of The Galaxy

January 23, 2012

One month later, still have my sub to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Still working on leveling to 50. Still having a ball.

I’ve been meaning to save some of the specific content for levelcap. Mostly stuff not related to leveling like crafting, companion-management, and of course, the big one — datacron hunting. That and filling out my codex was something I’d anticipated doing at level 50, as it seems like it’ll be the most time-consuming goal on my SWTOR to-do list.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way. For the last two weekends, Republic Mercy Corps has been organizing datacron hunting tours. Curse my guild for being so fun and social. My fellow guildies can be so inconsiderate sometimes with their involvement and helpfulness.

The exercise is definitely an opportunity to foster communication and cooperation for any guild. It’s just like a corporate workplace team-building outing, except it’s fun and you don’t get the urge to kill yourself during and afterward. Admittedly, hunting for datacrons with close to twenty other people is infinitely more enjoyable than doing it by yourself (especially when clumsy-footed old me is always requiring rescue from Jedi Sages whenever I fail a jump or fall off some ledge).

The addition of datacrons is probably one of the better decisions BioWare has made in this regard. Whether you choose to hunt for the elusive shiny little cubes alone or with a group, it’s something I applaud because it’s an activity you can do anytime, even at endgame, that doesn’t involve grinding instances and repeating dailies to a disgusting and ridiculous degree.

The reason leveling has always been my favorite part of playing any MMO is simply because in most themepark-type games the first time through from 1 to levelcap is a process you can experience only once (for the sake of the argument, I’m ignoring my time beta). For example, I always remember the awe and wonder of stepping into a new zone for the first time, as subsequent visits will never be the same again. The other reason I like to take it nice and slow is because I never expect a new game’s endgame to be robust and I don’t usually see a pressing reason to get there until at least after the first big update. And speaking of updates, as much as I like doing flashpoints and am looking forward to doing ops, I wouldn’t mind if the future encompasses more than just instances and raids — say, stuff like datacrons and more content of that nature. With a good mix, I think I could be very happy.

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SWTOR: Massively Yours

November 21, 2011

Gathering for a world boss.

Now that the gag order has lifted from the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta test, I want to get something off my chest. This is something I’ve wanted to talk about for the past few months, but every time the topic comes up I’ve had to hold my tongue because of the NDA. Well, no longer.

For a while now, it’s made me very uncomfortable whenever I go on Twitter, the forums, or other gaming community websites and see people apply the term “single-player MMO” to SWTOR in a deprecatory way. I’m sure we’ve all seen the type of comments. You know, the kind that imply SWTOR isn’t a real MMO, or that it’s just a single-player RPG pretending to be one, or something along those lines. It was so far-reaching at one point, that I began having my own reservations when I first got my invite to general testing, and wondered if SWTOR would not turn out to be the MMORPG I’ve been looking for.

Looking back now, I was crazy to have been worried. Even after just a week with The Old Republic, it was clear to me that this is a gen-u-wine, bonafide massively multiplayer online game, with all the delicious goodness that comes with a very large number of players interacting with one another within a persistent virtual world.

So I got to thinking, out of all the recent MMOs currently on the market and in development, why does SWTOR get singled out like this (pun intended) more than any of them? I mean, yes, it is possible in the game to level from the beginning to level cap solo, but if that’s the definition of a single-player MMO then a lot of current games would fall into that category as well. But I just don’t feel any game gets abused with the “single-player” label as much as SWTOR does.

I have a few theories, but I do believe the single most important factor that leads people to this misconception about SWTOR is the fact that it boasts story, companions, and a quest line unique to a player’s class. Well, if I’m correct, then this has proven to be a double-edged sword. Arguably, these features are the biggest draw about the game, but they may have also given some people the impression that SWTOR is merely a single-player experience disguised as an MMO.

Perhaps it is also BioWare’s reputation as a developer of AAA single-player RPGs. When people hear the name, no doubt their recent successes like the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series spring immediately to mind. And yet, it is true that SWTOR is their first venture into the MMO space, so it’s only natural to to be curious whether or not BioWare can break from their long history of developing single-player games in order to make this monumental leap.

The thing is, it is highly likely that BioWare knew full well from the beginning that proving they can handle an MMO was going to be an uphill battle. I say this, because I’ve seen the way their game goes above and beyond to encourage interaction and socialization between players, as well as provide plenty of opportunities for group play:

  • Group Quests – Around half a dozen of these on each planet, intended to be completed with 2+ or 4+ players. The former are sometimes soloable, but the latter are definitely not. They mostly reward commendations or very nice blues.
  • Flashpoints – SWTOR’s version of instances, designed to be experienced by a full group of four players. In addition, some FPs have bonus objectives within them that require the involvement or cooperation of two or more people to complete.
  • PvP Warzones – Success in a SWTOR WZ often requires strategy and understanding of the rules and objectives, e.g. Huttball (dear lord, don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve seen a player who doesn’t know how to pass, or run a ball back to their own end zone). A group of random players will likely be at a marked disadvantage against a premade whose members are coordinated and knowledgeable
  • World Bosses – Most planets have one or two that I’ve seen. If the live game will be anything like testing, world bosses will also drop some very rare loot. For example, the boss droid on Alderaan has a chance of dropping a white crystal that as far as I know, you can’t get anywhere else in the game (at least in that build at the time). I’ve defeated world bosses with as few as four players, while others take more. The aforementioned Alderaan killer droid, for instance, took ten of us including a few high 40s to just barely take him down.
  • Crew Skills – Sometimes, crafting will require getting necessary materials from crew skills you may not have. While the Galactic Trade Network was still being tweaked in testing, many of us turned to direct trade with our friends and fellow players.
  • Datacrons – Here we get to the activities that are more specific to SWTOR. Datacrons are an optional element of the game, and are objects placed throughout the worlds for enthusiastic explorers to find. A few are easily stumbled upon, but most require some poking around the entire planet. Once you located them, however, the true challenge is figuring out how to get to them. I’ve encountered DCs that require everything from creative thinking, solving logic puzzles, finding unconventional paths, or yes, even grouping.
  • Social System – As I’ve mentioned before in an earlier post, I love this feature in SWTOR and it’s the only MMO I’ve ever played with something like this. It is completely optional once again, but it’s a nice perk. To gain social points, all you have to do is group up and participate in group conversations. Every time you win a convo-loot roll you gain the maximum number of points for that roll. Even if you lose the roll you gain points, just less. Racking up social points will help you gain social ranks (I, II, III, etc.) and each time you go up one you get a nifty little title. And the best part of all, rare cosmetic and vanity items from social vendors become available to you!
  • Bonus XP – Thanks to my guildies for helping me confirm this, but I believe that unlike most MMOs, experience is not as reduced per mob kill for group members who are at a similar level, so you’ll be progressing faster. In addition, there are ways to gain bonus XP in groups — completing a class quest with your buddy will reward you with some XP when he or she completes it even if you don’t have it in your log, for example. Doing “bonus” type quests with others will also reward you some extra XP if you complete it in a group. It is a HUGE incentive, making it in a player’s best interest to group up whenever possible.

Thinking about it now, throughout my journey from 1 to 50, if I had seized upon every single opportunity presented to me during my time testing in order to take advantage of the above, I would have easily spent 25-33% of my time grouped up. Maybe even more. So you’ll forgive me if I really don’t see SWTOR as a “single-player MMO”, or at least not any more “single-player” than the bulk of what’s out there.

Solo-oriented players need not fret though! You can still play the game and complete your entire class story by yourself — nothing in your personal storyline will require a group. And as you can see, much of what I listed above is completely optional, and the advantages you gain are extra perks but definitely not of the game-breaking variety. But SWTOR is a huge game, and your class story will only be a fraction of the content — I do urge everyone to participate in group activities once in a while. If you’re a hardcore solo-er you’ll still have a lot of fun without ever having to group up with another player, but be forewarned you may also be missing a lot of good stuff!