Brass Monkeys

December 31, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

An entertaining afternoon, spent in the company of three delightful companions.

Well, when I say “companions”, I actually mean “MMOs”.  And when I say “delightful”…  Hmm.  Maybe monkeys would be better…

Speak No Evil:  I don’t want to say nasty things about Champions Online.  Cryptic have politely allowed me the chance to play to level 15 with two characters, so the least I can do is talk politely about their game.

I’ve created two characters in the British Expeditionary Space Force; Cpt Dare, a Gadgeteer, and Hawley, a…  umm…  Divineer.  It seems that Gadgeteers shoot rayguns and later on have mechanical pets, whilst Divine Powers allow Hawley to shoot big glowy balls of energy that heal or nuke dependant on target. 

They’re both level 2, and have been through the very basest of the starter missions.  I stopped playing when the second to be created, Hawley, bugged and couldn’t complete a mission because the bug meant I couldn’t interact with mission items.  I was intending to restart the client, but got distracted by thoughts of making a lovely brew, and didn’t feel the urge to go back in.  That should change, as these are starter quests I did at high speed in my first attempt at Champions Online; repeating quest malaise, and all that.

I like the way that I’ve been able to create my characters as if they were part of an Alternate Earth paramilitary organisation tasked with exploring space and defending the Earth from a big-headed green dude intent on destruction of the puuuuny human race, during the 1950s.  Yeah, hardly original of me, but Batman was taken.

Hear No Evil:  Lord of the Rings Online, oh how I love thee.  I logged on at half way through level 63, and logged off when I’d got to level 64, which was when dinner was ready.  Not bad, considering the fact that I was cooking dinner.  I got to explore because I’d run out of quests to solo in the area I was in, and I got to face off against mobs that were higher level than I was, which meant lots of care had to be taken or I’d get added to death.

Best thing was that Lucky has finally got to level 63.  And with that, I’ve started raising his other skills, and he’s beginning to carve stuff up.  Biggest change is in play-style; rather than doing most of the damage and living with the aggro, I can afford to sit back, let him take some aggro thanks to his leet dps skills, and heal him.  And as I can now concentrate on raising his secondary skills, his leet dps will just get leeter.  Solo skirmishes are a little less seat-of-the-pants, and more ordered now.

In fact, when I was questing and fighting mobs two levels higher than I was, I began to miss him.  Curse you, Turbine, for making me care about Lucky!

See No Evil:  I had decided that with Eve Online, I was going to leave any past accounts and characters behind, and start anew.  Fresh start, and all that.  I chose a Caldari, as I’d played Minmatar and Amarr before, and I wanted to see what life was like as a Caldari. 

Well, there’s a happy new skin over the user interface, which seems specifically designed to help new players.  There’s also a new player help chat channel, and the tutorials and starting missions are arranged pretty well.  As a returning player, they help to remind me of what the depths to this game are, even if the tutorial isn’t strictly necessary for me.

One new addition that scores highly on the “That’s Genius!” scale is the new skill queuing system.  Queue up 24 hour’s worth of skills, and have them run one to the next.  It’s a godsend at first, because instead of feeling like I have to log on at 4 in the morning or lose valuable training time, I can just let it run until next time I fancy logging on.  Much appreciated.

And I was reminded of one of the reasons why I love playing Eve; naming my spaceship.  Seeing as I’d decided to fling shields at other ships (Hawley in “Playing a Healer” Shocker!  Full story, page 4), I went for the nom-de-plume of Doktor Hawley (Hawley was taken), so my noob-ship was called Malpractice Suit, and my reward ship was named Clinical Negligence.  Bad taste, I know, but being Caldari ships most people will be too busy gouging their own eyes out due to the sheer ugliness to care about a mere frippery of a name.

It was also lovely being able to hunt down an old mate, have a chat and a catch up, and have 10 meeeeellions of ISK thrown at me.  Twinking of the worst sort, but hey, I’m cheap.  I made my first million the hard way a few years ago, durn it! 

Fallen Earth gets some love tomorrow, I think.  I have an ATV to craft (at some point).  And better pistols.




Free Trials Ahoy!

December 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I’m blaming the weird unexplainable headache I’m suffering from.  And Steam.

Steam is currently selling Eve Online for not very much at all.  It’s so long since I’ve played Eve that I’d have no problem starting a new account/character, and seeing as the price Steam is charging is low enough, it’s the equivalent of a cheap month, and see where I stand with it.

I also couldn’t help noticing that Steam was also tempting me with a free trial of Eve.

Oh, and a free trial of Champions Online.

So, from no free trials to two free trials in a couple of clicks.

Now, I currently don’t think of free trials as being strictly “free”.  At the very least they cost me bandwidth, download allowance, and time.

The decision for Eve is an easy one to make; it has a seductive call, and maybe I’m more in the mood for sandbox play.  14 days of gameplay will tell me whether or not I want to fly around in space shooting stuff.

Champions Online’s trial seems to be one of those new-fangled unlimited trials.  As long as I’m happy with 2 character slots, one starter zone and no more than 15 levels, I can play as much as I want.

Well, seeing as I already had an account, and Steam had kept all the installation files for me (thanks to the fun I’d had with my first experience of a Cryptic free trial), it was only about an hour before I was up to date and ready to create another member of the British Expeditionary Space Force.

So, why swap my hard-earned and sparse free time for time in two free trials when I could be playing Lord of the Rings Online or Fallen Earth, both of which I really enjoy and are more than enough for me, thankyouverymuch(kthxbai)?

Well, first of all, Eve Online is The Daddy.  Boast about achievements in any game you like, Eve Online is the only one where the game world allows you to actually make a difference.  That’s enticing, but I’ve never been able to get to the point where I actually feel like I’m relaxed and happy in game.  Maybe this time I will, and I’ll not leave.

Besides, the views can be amazing.

Champions Online is a different matter entirely.  I felt like I just didn’t get enough time in my first experience of the game, and that given the time that’s elapsed, it’s only fair to take a second look.  Especially since that second look (unlike the first) is letting me take my time.

Furthermore, Star Trek Online is peeking around the door.  And whilst comparing Champions Online and Star Trek Online would be a bit like comparing cheese to the inner workings of the combustion engine, they are both Cryptic games, and I’m pretty sure that this free trial isn’t just about getting Champions Online players, it’s about improving public relations just ahead of the launch of Star Trek Online.

Now, I’m long past the point of caring about a game because of its name or intellectual property.

No, I’m not a Star Trek Fanboy.  I even have the temerity to have really, really enjoyed the franchise reboot.  Heck, I even laughed at the comedy moments.  Yeah, I rate highly on the “Literally Worse Than Hitler” scale.

That doesn’t mean I want the game to fall on its arse.  In fact, I want the opposite.  I’m an MMO fan, and the more fantastic MMOs there are, the better life is (and of course, whilst I *am* a big fat Star Wars fanboy, that doesn’t mean that BioWare have a guaranteed sale of Star Wars: The Old Republic coming their way.  I’ll need them to make a good game too, before I buy it).

So, I’m going into both Champions Online and Eve Online with an open mind.  Of course, that’s a mind that’s currently sat inside a nasty painy head, so I can blame that if it all goes wrong.


Bah Humbug to us, one and all!

December 23, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

When it comes to seasonal events in MMOs, I’m a fully paid-up member of the Bah Humbug society.

I just don’t like them.  I like my gaming to take place in its own world, divorced from the reality that surrounds me.  It’s escapism, a chance to step away from my real life and be someone different.

It’s also tied to my rather grumpy stance on creativity and imagination.  When I pay for a creative endeavour (whether that be a film, music or game) I like to think that I’m paying for (amongst other things) the creativity of the designer.

So something that takes what’s happening in the real world, and just changes names, really disappoints me.  Deciding that because it’s Halloween there *must* be spooky goings on in game just seems really cheep to me.  Create spooky things for the joy of adding content that’s spooky; don’t shoe-horn them in because you want some easily-created content with a timer.

There is a similarity to Syp’s post here about humour in MMOs.

I’ve been more than open in the past about how I hate the humour in World of Warcraft.  In fact, I do believe the phrase I’ve used was along the lines of; “playing despite the sense of humour”.

When I said I was grumpy I wasn’t lying.  I do have a sense of humour, and there have been moments where I have been rendered completely incapable due to laughter.  Tears of laughter have even come from my eyes at such times, and I’ve had to remember to breathe or die.

I love sharp wit, I love slapstick, and I love everything in between.  However, I despise cheap laughs and easy references.

Just taking the name of a real world personage and swapping their initials isn’t comedy.  Haris Pilton just doesn’t make me laugh.  It never will.  It makes a little part of my soul weep, in exactly the same way that watching Spaceballs made a little part of my soul weep.

Galaxy Quest, on the other hand, makes me all happy inside.  And comparing Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest will do quite nicely for this ramble.

Spaceballs was written by someone who didn’t understand the subject of science fiction, who went for the obvious gags of name-changing and piss-taking.  Galaxy Quest was written by someone who not only understood the genre, but loved it.  The gags are all based on tropes and clichés, and the comedy is drawn from these moments and scenes that we recognise so well.

In other words, one was written with an internal consistency born of understanding the nature of the subject, and the other was a turd that couldn’t even float.

I like my games to have that same understanding.  Just as the world is supposed to be a persistant world (in that it doesn’t disappear when you log off) an MMO world is supposed to be more than just a place to stand whilst waiting for instance runs.

They have Lore (cue angelic fanfare), which I suppose means having a history, a background.  So why can’t they have festivals, feast days, and holidays that reflect their own cultures, rather than crude cut’n’paste versions of the real world?

Maybe I’m alone in this.  Maybe I expect too much.  Maybe I should just relax, and realise that Haris Pilton and Hemet Nesingwary are actually fantastically hilarious.

Sometimes I feel like Sam the Eagle made rather portly flesh.  I really do.  In far too many ways, unfortunately, as you’ll see shortly.

I suppose this long and rather rambly rant (it’s not actually a rant, as nowadays I prefer to rant in person.  It’s far more cathartic for me, and usually provides a good show for everyone around me.  But I do appreciate the fact that text is a harsh mistress, and often makes things look angrier than they are) is a bad introduction for what I’m about to write next, because it really does seem like a renunciation of everything written so far.

I’ve been enjoying Fallen Earth’s First Night event.

There, I’ve said it.  The admission makes me feel dirty, but it’s true.  I suppose it was the Dirt Man that first attracted me.  Seeing them made me think that someone at Icarus was being more than a little fast and loose with the Christmas concept, and I wanted to know more.

Fallen Earth, being set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, escapes the referential trap for me.  Azeroth and Middle Earth are fantasy worlds, but the Fallen Earth *is* Earth.  Just a bit messed up.  A bit really messed up.

So references to customs, festivals, and holiday periods don’t jar in the same way that they do in worlds completely divorced from our own.

And there is a part of me that is really impressed with the way that First Night has been set up.  A coalition of in-game factions deciding to restore a little law and order through working out when the year begins and ends, as well as bringing back the customs of the season *is* clever.  Christmas as a military operation is a new one on me, and made me giggle.

As is the way in which so many of their attempts to recreate the past go ever so slightly wrong.  The comedy of errors is well done, and with a deft enough touch to actually engage me.

If you can, try it out.  It’s a lovely ray of sunshine in an otherwise brutal and nasty world.

The only thing that grates is the names of some of the NPCs, but even then, it’s hard to be curmudgeonly when Corporal Claus is sending you out to mercilessly slaughter a bunch of rogue E.L.F.S. who want to ruin the fun for everyone else.

Well, that was all a bit more rambly/ranty-looking than I really wanted it to be, so I do apologise.  But you’ll be spared my rambling for the next few days, as I’ll be off being busily social for the next few days, away from the relative safety of the intarnets.

I believe it’s some badly implemented real world holiday, and my lovely lady is making me take part.  There’s a couple of delivery quests and a repeatable quest involving a turkey, I think.

Happy Bah Humbug, everyone.  Have a great time.


About Last Night

December 22, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Posted in LotRO, Minstrel, Mirkwood | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Last night I went into Dol Guldur.

I’m not sure that I really should have been there.  I started off the night a quarter of the way into level 63, and I am woefully under-geared.

Yes, I know I keep saying that one of the things I love about Lord of the Rings Online is that it isn’t gear dependant (apart from the radiance gated things that make me look like a farty-poo-pants liar) but I don’t think I suffered *too* much from being woefully under-geared.

Apart from being inspected to death upon joining my lovely kin-mates at the entrance, that is.  It was a tad embarrassing being informed that some of the gear I was wearing dated back to level 40s, but in my defence I’d not realised how old some of it was.  It was a useful experience though, and I did get the offer of a new set of assorted geegaws and baubles, which is a bonus.

And I do realise that whilst the game may not be as gear dependant as some, good gear does make a difference, and whilst it may not make hard content a nice stroll through a park on a balmy summers’ day, it does make life easier.

So, yet another reminder to improve my gear.  This time, it was similar to being told by a doting parent to go and put a warm jumper and scarf on, because it’s cold outside.

Kinships.  Sometimes they’re like families.

As to the instance itself?

Well, I don’t want to ruin the sense of discovery for anyone else, so rather than comment on specifics, I’ll try to keep to concepts and themes.  I may well put in a more detailed post some point in the future, when I’m less likely to spoiler the ares off someone else’s fun.

Big fun.  Admittedly, the rest of the group I was with had faced these bosses previously, and had figured out how to defeat them, so I just had to follow instructions and stand in the right places.  But I had big fun. 

Visually, Dol Guldur is dark, gloomy and depressing.  Sort of like Preston but with orcs.  If anyone’s spent any time in Preston, they’d agree with me.  The only thing Preston has of note is a really, really big bus station, and Dol Goldur reminds me of that bus station at 6:30 in the morning. 

I think what surprised me most is that someone had taken the time to make the Trash fights interesting.  I hope that this is a purposeful thing, as opposed to random accident. 

As it was, many of the fights seem to have been designed to be more technically interesting.  Positioning, even as a healer, was more important.  It wasn’t a case of me hiding at the back and spamming the big heal on the tank; there’s a measure of Area Of Effect damage and some fun interrupt abilities being thrown out by the monsties that made life interesting, to put it mildly.

It’s as if Turbine want us to feel like it’s the whole experience of the instance that counts, and that’s more than a little refreshing.  With each fight feeling a little like a mini-boss encounter, it makes travelling through the tower feel like a journey, rather than an exercise in time-wasting thanks to a procession of Tank’N’Spank time-fillers.

We faced off against three bosses.  I’ve no idea how many bosses there are in the 6-man instance, but they were tough challenges.  If I’m completely honest, I’m a little relieved that I wasn’t high enough level to be a part of the learning process, because they are technical fights, where I found myself going through a lot more skills than I did even in The Rift.

It was only at the third Boss that we wiped, and after a second attempt and wipe we called it a night (it was bed-time for Minstrel Hawley), but in that time I’d gained an insight into Dol Goldur.

Maybe it’s the novelty that makes the place seem really cool, and that familiarity will dull that excitement; I’ve been informed that multiple runs will be needed to get armour sets.

But it looks promising.  In a way that Preston Bus Station doesn’t.



Expendable Minions are people too

December 21, 2009 at 10:41 am | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

My Expendable Minion is called Lucky.

I must admit to having been a little surprised to discover that Skirmish Soldiers, as Expendable Minions are sometimes known, came with a generic title rather than a pre-generated name.  And that it was up to us, the players, to name them.

I don’t know why.  Spinks goes through the amount of naming options that there are within Lord of the Rings Online, but I just thought that seeing as the Skirmish Soldier was semi-autonomous, s/he’d be autonomous enough to have chosen his/her own name.

Obviously not.

So, at the start of my first real (but solo) skirmish, there’s Minstrel Hawley and Warrior, eyeing each other up warily, and wondering how this is all going to turn out.  Sort of like dating on the internet, when you wonder if that nice looking lass is going to turn out to be a sociopathic knife-wielding serial killer with a geek fixation. 


That skirmish was not a good experience for Warrior.  It went horribly wrong a number of times, and for the first three fights, the poor lad died every time.  But he was a willing soul, and utterly fearless; he’d just come back and hurl himself into the next fight.

It was as he met his demise in that third fight that the name just sort of popped into my head.  “Lucky”.  It wasn’t so much a post-ironic statement (because I hate them) so much as the first moment of sympathy for my Expendable Minion.  He was such a plucky lad that calling him anything else would be a disservice.  He can have a real name somewhere else in the world, but on the battlefield he is known by his nick-name. 


That very next fight, he survived.  For the first time.  It was probably purest distilled luck, but it seemed like Middle Earth had agreed with the name. 

Of course, poor chap kept dying for every fight after that until the end of the skirmish.

Since then, I’ve been throwing skirmish marks into levelling him up.  Lucky is now level 61, and rising.  And through the skirmishes I’ve been running, I’ve seen him start to… survive.

Part of it is that I’ve learned how to work with him, rather than despite him.  It’s not soloing, it’s working with someone else (who just happens to be fearless and mindlessly optimistic when it comes to managing aggro), and I’m getting better at keeping an eye out for his morale levels.

The other part has been the natural survivability that comes with rising up through levels. 

This has all had a rather strange side-effect, and one which only came to light part-way through a fellowship skirmish.

We were fighting a lieutentant of which sort I cannot remember.  I was healing or slacking or something, and was thus too busy to take note of what was actually going on.  And then, with no warning whatsoever, I get a debuff that tells me, in no uncertain terms, that my Expendable Minion no longer trusts my leadership.

I was gobsmacked.  My first reaction was one of guilt; had Lucky met his doom so many times that he’d realised that maybe he was better off with a different Evil Overlord?  Followed by fatherly pride; Now that Lucky was level 60, was he off to forge his own destiny?  Finally, it was rejection; How can he say that, after all we’ve been through?

I was hurt.  Even after finding out that it was a monsty-debuff that affected everyone, I was hurt.  How could Lucky believe the monsty over me, after all we’d been through?  We’re mates, aren’t we?

So, there you go.  Me and my no-longer Expendable Minion.  Somehow, somewhere, Turbine have made me care about the little fella.  I don’t just heal him because he’s a source of damage, I heal him because he’s my companion in Skirmishes.  He’s my dps pal, and I’m his healer mate.

And it’s all because I called him Lucky.



Banjo-Njub, reporting for duty

December 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I suppose one thing that I really didn’t think about when anticipating Siege of Mirkwood is how best to set up my traits.

Being a slacker, I just assumed I’d set up my traits for maximum damage potential, as I’d be levelling up through 5 level’s worth of questing.  After that I’d change to a healing trait setup for lots of instancing and assorted group usefulness.

Of course, Turbine decided to laugh at my slacking, and threw Skirmishes into the mix.  A dps setup is fine for a minstrel that just wants to solo skirmishes, but I like grouping up for them, and that means needing some healing traits.  I’ve tried healing with a dps setup, and it’s not fun.

Besides, if I’m in a group and chucking out damage rather than healing, that means the Hunter has to heal.  And seeing as my damage is a lot less than a Hunter’s, I’m doing the group a disservice.  See?  I know my meta-gaming.

In a surprising yet welcome development, Skirmishes have been found to be a challenge, rather than a place for me to go for free xp and goodies.  Partly it’s because Lucky, my expendable minion, has been fantastically expendable due to having to level him up.  Now he’s bigger and better, and sometimes even manages to survive a fight (despite my best attempts), but the fact remains that Skirmishes are not the pushover they might have been.

This means that when in a group, healing is needed.  And that means that I’m currently running with a mish-mash of traits, in an attempt to out-think the system, and allow me to solo quest, group heal, and everything in between.  I’m also partaking in some much-needed house-keeping.

For once, it’s not clearing bags and making the vault look all tidy, but making sense of all those unexplored avenues that have appeared as a result of the expansion.

That means new skills, new equipment, new traits and remembering all those skills that got used for a short time, and then forgotten under the weight of Big Heal, Big Damage, Best Buff skills.  Yes, those standards that I use to the exclusion of all others, because they’re generally best for general situations.

One of the great things about MMOs is that they’re so situational.  I may have forgotten that I have more than seven skills, but the game (and most importantly the developers) haven’t.

The upshot is that I’m levelling whilst playing catch-up on all those “Use Shouty Shout of Quite Useful Group Buff” skills, and it’s somewhat of a re-education in how to play a Minstrel.  I’m a big man (that would be all the pies I eat), and I’m not too big to admit I could have been playing a lot more effectively (but in about three pies’ time I will be too big, and probably have to be winched out of bed or something).

Of course, this raises a question, of which I might not like the answer; How am I going to use all of these “forgotten” skills?

I suppose the answer is; “Learn to play, Banjo-Njub”.  It’s an opportunity to get up off my laurels and put some practice in.  And of course now is the perfect opportunity, as there’s a whole new situation, what with a new zone, a new skirmish system, and then new instances and a new raid.

So, I suppose the plan is to stop slacking at the back.  Re-organise my quick-slots (again) and redress my traits, so that I can get the most bang for my buck.  At the same time, it’s beholden to me to sort out my equipment, and maybe even get some of this new-fangled radiance gear.

All of this means that I’ve a new purpose to my Lord of the Rings Online, rather than just going through the motions of levelling, instancing, raiding (in that order).

New purposes are always welcome.


That warm feeling in my tummy defined

December 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I remember reading an interview with some of the developers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (that’s the first one, not the sequel that’s just been released) shortly after it was released.

From a game design theory stand-point it was really interesting.  Yes, I do find that sort of thing interesting, special geek that I am.  What was most revealing was their design philosophy as to player “rewards” during the single-player campaign.  They stated that rather than give a big payoff at the end of a level (most usually done by virtue of the end-of-level boss fight and a cut scene), their aim was to give out a “That was cool!” moment, every thirty seconds of gameplay.

With a constant drip-feed of reward, there are no “dead” parts to the game; parts that you endure, in order to get to the good stuff.

It worked for me; I was hooked, and that game remains one of my favourite gaming experiences.

MMOs are usually all about the big payoff.  Get a new level, and BANG!  New Stuff!  Then there’s instancing and raiding; it’s all about the boss fight, to the extent that anything else in the instance is automatically termed “Trash”.  I suppose that’s how much we care about the bits between boss-fight payoffs.  The trash is there to be endured…

I’ve finally realised what the underlying reason for my enjoying Fallen Earth so much is.

The post-apocalyptic setting, the humour (that just clicks with me in exactly the way that Blizzard’s doesn’t), the crafting, all of these are things that add to the enjoyment, but aren’t the main reason.

I’ve finally figured out that the reason that I really, really like Fallen Earth is that I get rewarded so often, and sometimes it’s over the smallest things.

I don’t need to get to the next level to gain a reward; every time I do something new, or craft something new, or gather from a new node, I get a reward.  Every time I peel back another layer in the fabulous crafting system, I get a reward.  And the best thing is that I feel like I’ve earned it, because Icarus have chosen not to make it easy for me.

I’m being rewarded constantly, and that gives me such a warm feeling in my tummy.


Life on (Fallen) Earth

December 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Posted in General | 5 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Life continues apace in Fallen Earth.  There’s a part of me that wonders if my slacking has lowered itself to new depths; I can’t remember a single game where it’s taken me about a month to get to level 6.

Of course, the gag is that I’m really enjoying my time in game.

Part of it is me taking my time.  Because there are a variety of things I can do when playing, the levelling is suffering.

Nodes are plentiful, and respawn quickly.  It’s as if the game developers actually *want* me to partake in their delightful crafting system, and have done their best to make resource gathering a job in its own right, rather than having resource nodes so infrequent that it’s something to do when the opportunity appears whilst questing.  In fact, I’m so used to navigating from A to B via resource nodes that I find any simple journey takes four times longer than it should, and results in full (and heavy) bags by the time I get there.

All the advice I’ve seen says to spend points on skills before raising stats, but I’m having too much fun crafting and resource gathering, so I’ve been raising my intelligence and perception higher than I probably should.  My crafting skills aren’t as high as I’d want them; so many recipes look so cool, and I can’t wait to make them!
The important thing is that I’ve got past my analysis paralysis when it came to spending Action Points.  Not having the safety net of a respec is still a little daunting, but my attitude is that if I don’t spend them, I may as well stop playing.

I’m definitely living on the bread line.  It’s all my own fault: every time I get some cash, I blow it all on crafting books, or pens and paper, or some ingredients I’ve just not got enough of.  I’m not worrying so much, because a lot of what I’m making vendors well, and I’ll be looking at how the auction house equivalent works in the next few days.

I’m enjoying the quests.  Between Fallen Earth and Siege of Mirkwood, I’m reading quest texts again.  This surprises me, as much as anything, because my attitude to quests has been “Just give me the list” for so long that I’ve forgotten that good quest writing can exist.
In point of fact, I even refused a quest because it involved a spot of light leg-breaking for a loan shark.  It was tantamount to role-playing, and I felt a bit strange and light-headed for a bit, but that cleared up after I had a lovely cup of tea and a rest.

Ah, the bestest bit.  I love it.  I’ve just started the ATV quests, but to be honest I’m not following any particular plan at the moment.  I’ve got my goals of a couple of good pistols and an Interceptor, but I’ve been working on all the crafting skills at the same time, and raising them up.  It’s costly in terms of resources and cash, but I’m enjoying myself.  At some point I’ll start to specialise, but right now it doesn’t matter to me what I’m crafting; it’s scratching an itch that’s been there since I gave up on Star Wars Galaxies.

Still looking for a clan.
I’ve spent some time checking the intarnet, but it’s hard to find a website for any group that isn’t some sort of paramilitary-based group, and that’s not really my bag.  My search continues.

That’s life in my Fallen Earth.  I hope yours is as much fun!


When did I start questing for fun?

December 14, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Skirmishes.  Loves them, I does.

However, I must admit to being vaguely surprised that Minstrel Hawley hasn’t fallen down a big dark Skirmish-shaped hole.  I fully intend to do a scary amount of levelling of alts through skirmishing, but Hawley has been running ‘round Mirkwood’s early areas, solidly questing.

Part of it is spending time grouped up with kin-mates who are running around doing the same quests.

But part of it is that the quests themselves have been calling to me.  And it’s not some sort of Pavlovian response; sounding the Bell of New Zone-y-ness does not make me start barking and running quests as fast as possible.

They’re still pretty much the same Kill Stuff/Get Stuff/Talk To quests, but their dressing is what is attracting me to them.  Almost by accident, I’ve started reading the quest text because there is some good stuff here.

Someone at Turbine has obviously thought about how to put quests into stories, rather than the other way round.  Instead of trying to think about how to fit some sort of story to Kill Ten Rats, this strange Someone has gone out to think about a story, and then fit quests to play through the story.  Find them.  Promote them.

I have decided that this is something I like.  Maybe I’ve just hit an accidental sweet spot; the start of the skirmish tutorial has me (and everyone else, of course) killing multiple orcs in what feels like a pointless time-waster, especially when all I (and every other right-thinking individual) want to do is just dive in there and have fun.  But early Mirkwood questing has so many lovely touches that I don’t want to spoiler out to the intarnet at large.

It’s also the location.  I’ve never been a fan of maze-like zones.  I get lost at the best of times, and I’m worse in video games.  I’m perma-lost.  I also don’t have much time, so spending an hour trying to get to the location of a quest that will take me fifteen minutes to complete can be really frustrating for me.  I hated being a mouse in Moria’s maze, to the extent that I cry whenever I think that Loremaster Herewerd will have to leave Eregion at some point for Moria.

Mirkwood, however, is fantastically evocative.  To the extent that it feels like the first forest zone since Campocorentin Forest to have such an atmospheric feel to it.  I love wandering about the place, and exploring, as well as being able to go to where my quest is without spending half of my available gaming time finding it.

This doesn’t change the fact that I think Skirmishes are fantastic, it just means I’m having fun with the new content as well.

So far, Siege of Mirkwood seems to have been lovingly crafted out of Win.


Fallen Earth: Man with a Plan

December 11, 2009 at 8:15 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Life in the GC is fun.  See what I did there?  I acronymed!  I blame it on watching Tin Man recently.

But what I need is A Plan.  Preferably with multiple bullet-pointed objectives, and done in different colours.  After all, sandbox gaming means I can make my Plans look how I want them to, without needing to follow some developer’s decision on how A Plan should look.

So, in the best tradition of Sticking It To The Man, here are my plans for Fallen Earth:

  • Get some guns
  • Get some fancy footwear
  • Get an interceptor
  • Find a clan
  • Learn a bit more about mutant abilities and suchlike

I can be so acquisitionist!  Look, the first three are all about getting things.  You may be wondering about the footwear, though.  I’ve made some basic armour, but it doesn’t really go with blue not-Converse All-Stars, so I could do with learning how to make some other footwear.  Even if I do love my not-Converse All-Stars.

And I want an interceptor, so I can adopt my awful attempt at an Australian accent whilst saying: “It’s the last of the V8 interceptors” whenever someone looks at it.  And then park it next to all the other Last of the V8 Interceptors.  Yeah, I know they’ll be popular.  But whilst I’ve used attaining a mount as a goal to get me through the level grind in a number of games, to be perfectly honest this is the first time I’ve seen a ground vehicle in an MMO and decided I had to have one.  It looks amazing, and it will let me scratch that Mad Max itch.  Mmmm…  White line fever…

Learning more about mutant abilities and suchlike is part of learning the game, really.  Yes, I’ve taken a few weeks to get to level 5, and I still haven’t learned all of the game.  In my defence, I’ve been learning everything else, and purposely chose to ignore that part of the game until I was more comfortable with everything else.  Now I reckon it’s time to start bumbling around with the mutant abilities, and make more use of them.

Finding a clan is the hardest part, I think.  Everything else is just a matter of time, but finding a clan where I’ll fit in will be a challenge, I feel.  We shall see.  I’m open to recommendations.

See you all in the GC!


p.s.    I noticed late last night (well, late for me.  For anyone else it was probably raid start time) that Steam had Pirates of the Burning Sea for two whole and entire Earth Pounds of Stirling.

It made me sigh.  I remember getting quite excited before Pirates’ launch, as it really looked like Eve-Light, but with pirates (Yarr!) and the ability to get off the boat.

I was really, really close to pre-ordering.  Only to discover that SOE had taken over publishing duties.  Cue one rapid back-pedalling, and when I did get to check it out shortly after launch it just seemed that all that promise hadn’t been realised.

I only comment because I look at Pirates of the Burning Sea, and wonder what could have been; the buzz about it was good, their ideas were fantastic, their setting was wonderful.  Hmm.

It made me sad inside.

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