Wherein A Certain Game Is Mentioned

August 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

It is the rainy end of a bank holiday Monday, I’ve got a sausage sandwich-shaped hole in my tum, and tomorrow is A Certain Game’s official launch day.

Aye, the beast that is Guild Wars 2 is upon us.  I have not been involved in the head-start launch as anything other than a spectator, but I still got to hear about issues with accounts, logging in, and general server evil.  All in all, an MMO launch.

My sole participation in the head-start was to Not Help Very Much by installing the game.  My game box arrived on Saturday morning from the Shop of the Amazon, so I installed it and created a game account.  It took a few attempts to get an account created, but that’s both understandable, and no means rare for a new game launch.  It was then a short while the game patched itself.

In a way, it’s been a bit of a strange feeling.  This is the first MMO in a long time where I’ve not been in any way before launch.  Nowadays a game pre-order comes with head-start access at the very least, and quite often some open-beta.  And as the sort of gamer that enjoys an MMO launch, I tend to pre-order.

This time, not.  ArenaNet’s choice of Pre-*Purchase* rather than Pre-*Order* came at a time when I just couldn’t afford to hand over the funds for something that I might not enjoy that much.  At best, I’m a beta scratcher; I can’t invest in a beta so all I do is log on, check out the character creation, the combat, and maybe a bit of hunter-gathering, and then call it quits.  Paying for a few hour’s testing seems counter-intuitive, when there are so many cool toys that I *need*.

But I’m really glad for all those people who did go on; it’s because of their blogging and tweeting that I shall be having a go at Guild Wars 2.  You are all too numerous to mention, but Scarybooster gets a nod for the most in-depth analysis of the game so far, which did in fact prove to be the tipping point between indecision and life-long fandom.

A hearty congratulation to ArenaNet on the launch of their new game.





April 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

You might have noticed that posting here has all but dried up recently.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, far from it, but the time in which I’ve been able to say it has somewhat disappeared into a haze of working, socialising, and gaming.

As a result, some activities have suffered, and me rambling into the abyss that is the internets is one of them.  So, rather than just post with something half-arsed and a bit rubbish when I notice my poor neglected blog, I’m going to put the dust-covers over the place, close the doors, and when I can devote some proper time to rambling about MMOs, I’ll come back and open the place up again.

Thanks for visiting, I’ve really appreciated you stopping by.



Could Try Harder

March 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Some, and now heading towards Many, players have levelled characters up to level 50 in Rift.

I am not one of them.

There are many reasons for this, but I think the first and foremost reason is that I really haven’t been looking to level at speed.  Having learned my lesson with ‘Clysm, I’m desperately doing my best not to burn myself out during the levelling process.

I am also sharing my time between four alts.  Oh yes, I have one of each of the four major food groups thoughtfully provided by Trion.

And right now, I’m finding that I’m really enjoying one or more aspect to each of the classes.

What I like most is that all of the souls I’ve encountered seem cool.  Bear in mind that this is largely due to the way *I* play, but I’ve yet to come across one and have “Bah humbug!” thoughts.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that I’m the sort of player who gets pathetically grateful when in groups, so always goes for utility over the personal satisfaction of damage.  That and it’s hard to see when someone’s slacking with a utility role.  Sue me.

These are the classes and soul constructs I’ve been using most:

Cleric: Mostly Sentinal, some Warden, less Inquisitor.

I am DOT boy.  See me DOT.  It’s surprisingly survivable having two healing souls, and having three instant DOTs and a two-second cast on the fourth DOT means taking on multiple mobs is easier than I imagined.  There are also a plethora of heals, with a scarily expensive group heal, a few single hit heals, and a few HOTs.  The Inquisitor also brings a few extra punchy options, for the times when I need a mob dead *soon as*.

It’s a good instance healing build.  There is only one fight so far where I’ve found mana an issue, and that’s the end of Deepstrike Mine which is long and almost raid-like.  For straight healing output it’s fine, but sometimes a backup healer really helps with those damage-spike moments; lacking shields makes it difficult to deal with a nasty crit.

Rifts are also fun.  I can heal when it’s a small group, switching to damage when there’s enough people there, and it’s all fun.  I’ve heard that healing contributions are much less than damage contributions, but to be perfectly honest I don’t care; I have more fun healing rifts with my cleric than chucking damage, and fun is what I play for.

Mage:  Mostly Dominator, some Archon, some Chloromancer

I set out to create a Loremaster from Lord of the Rings Online, just without the annoying animal slaves, and I’m pretty happy with this combination.  The Dominator soul means I can turn things into a squirrel (and being threatened by a squirrel makes me girly-giggle every time it happens) but not much else because the character is going through that difficult teen period, but it should soon open out.  Archon has some useful buff-debuff action, and I like the fact that most of them will debuff a mob *and* buff the party as part of the same spell.  Nice.

Chloromancer was added as I wanted more utility over straight damage potential, but it’s combination of damage-to-heal abilities means it’s quite nice and punchy.

I’m looking forward to getting to higher levels with the mage; whilst breaky, it does have a rather splendid “toolkit” set up, rather than just spamming three or so buttons to win fights.

Warrior:  Mostly Warlord and Reaver, some Paladin.

I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying the Reaver.  I took it as “the third soul”, but it’s now a joint primary with Warlord.  It reminds me of World of Warcraft’s Death Knight, but with an understandable mechanic as opposed to something that seemed wilfully obtuse and unworkable (yes, I just clicked on skills as they became available, rather than actually intending to do anything).  Warlord’s group utility should mean some fun off-tanking as well as tanking support, and that seems like fun enough for me.

Rogue:  Mostly Saboteur, some Riftstalker, some Marksman.

Now this *has* surprised me most.  I started the Rogue because I had one of everything else, so decided to go for a full set.  I’d spent a little time with one or two ideas in the beta, but without thinking much of it.  I’d spent all of half an hour with Saboteur, and decided it was bobbins.  Utter, unadulterated bobbins (for those unaware of the terminology, “Bobbins” is not a positive term.  Guess who’s trying to swear less?).

Yet for some reason, I decided to give it another go; after all, as the unwanted runt of the litter, who was to care if Rogue-boy was better known as Limpy the Rogue?The surprise was on me.  Charges are hilarious fun.  The fact that they do nothing but add combo points until detonated means that a fight goes something like this:

No damage.  No damage.  No damage.  Still no damage.  No damage.  BOOM!  You’re dead!

Add in charges that do other things than *just* damage, and it’s hilarious fun.  I’ve even found that you can get all five charges on a Squirrel’d enemy, and it won’t break the Squirrel until detonated.  Now *that* is a lovely synergy.  It makes me feel all Mad Harry, really it does.

Riftstalker just gives a little tankiness, and marksman gives me an immediate-damage ranged ability, for those times when a little preparation isn’t necessary.

All in all, I’m more than happy with my character options.  The ability to go and get the other souls has meant I can collect them at my leisure, and when I fancy a change just set up my alternate spec and have a lookee.  Yes, I am poor as a result, but I like that freedom.

Of course, it also means that I’m not levelling as fast as I could be.  I should try harder.


Momento Mori, Hawley.

March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Posted in General | 3 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

When successful Romans were paraded through cheering throngs, laurel wreath on head in danger of being knocked off by the amout of underwear thrown by Roman ladies (the last one is possibly inaccurate.  Must check Wikipedia more thoroughly), a slave was employed to constantly whisper in the ear of aforementioned Roman; “Remember that you are only a man”.

Now he didn’t whisper it in modern English.  That would be foolish; not every Roman spoke modern English.  But he’d say it in Latin; “Momento Mori”, literally translated as; “Remember you will die”.

The Romans, as a mob, loved their heroes but hated it when they started to think they were gods, or even worse; kings.  Hence the whispering slave, who was no doubt taken ‘round the back and thrashed after the parade for being really, really annoying.

My headbrain is dwelling on this concept at the moment because, for the first time as an MMO player, I have been promoted from the ranks, and into the realm of the Officer.

Heady heights, me.  Positive nose-bleed territory.

I’m no stranger to being an authoritarian (I use the term lightly) figure in my chosen areas of geekery, as I’ve been involved in the creation, organisation and running of various groups, clubs and what-have-you in the dim and distant past when I was younger, dafter, and had a lot more spare time.  But these were face-time social structures, where contact was far more through face to face conversation than it was through a forum and a chat box in a game.

And I am wary of text-based communication.  I am aware that I have a strange, dry sense of humour that does not translate well into text, so I’m always wary of inadvertently offending someone.  Or anyone.

Recently, I’ve been involved in the forum-based discussions regarding the setup and running of a community based around Rift.  A bunch of the current The Silent Minorty Lord of the Rings Online players and old/ex Insult to Injury Warhammer Online players got together and decided to see about creating a forum community, mainly because some players wanted to be Guardian and others Defiant.

Rather than deciding in the time-honoured way (two geeks, a mouse cable’s length apart, throwing the contents of their flask of weak lemon drink at each other until one gets enough in their eye that they can’t stand the pain any more) , it was decided to have two guilds.  One Guardian, one Defiant (this would have been my second choice.  Weak lemon drink stains can ruin a good anorak), both within the same community/forums.

Sometimes, compromise is good.

Being the sort who constantly has an opinion, I was of course my usual gobby self, willing to hold forth on any subject that caught my eye (so most of them, to be perfectly honest).

Now, in the past I have been more than willing to hold forth on guild forums to the same amount, but always shied away from being an officer.  It’s easy to comment on anything from talent specs to how raids should be organised when I don’t have any responsibility to do anything other than keep on playing, and keep on posting.  I am, at heart, a slacker after all.

But since I have been badgering our Fearless Leader on the Defiant side “a bit” (more than one too many times for himself, I feel), when the call went up on the forums for officers, I put my mark there.

So, here I am, officer and everything.

For those of an inquisitive nature, the guild is called Spiritus Machinae, and is a Defiant guild on the Argent server.  The community is based at insulttoinjury.eu.  If you’d like to come and join us, feel free.  There are rules and suchlike, but we’re pretty casual and I’d hope welcoming at the very least.

And if you’re someone who is of a Guardian nature, then you’ll find Insult to Injury at the same forum address, on the same server.  Give them a shout; they’re lovely too.

Of course, I’m now terrified I shall arse it all up right royally.  I would like this to be a successful endeavour, and that doesn’t mean top-tier raiding, server firsts, and what-have-you.  Just that all members of the guild have a good time, able to experience the content they want, in an atmosphere of drama-less fun.

Most of all, I don’t want to kill the guild with my stupid sense of humour and inability to Just.  Shut.  Up.

I suppose the next few weeks will be the test.  The first month of an MMO launch is always busy; it’s after the first month that the server population starts to settle down into those here for the mid-long term, and those who just wanted to see what all the fuss is about.  We may get people in and out during that time; I shall try not to take it personally.

I’m also doing my best to remember that it’s not just my place as a guild member to play and have fun; it’s also my duty to ensure that other guild members are there to play and have fun.  It is not my duty to treat the guild as my own personal plaything, neither is it to expect nor accept the fawning admiration of those around me.  I am here to include, and enable.

At the same time, I look forward to the challenge.  I’ve been a part of many guilds, some of which I’ve really enjoyed being a part of, others less so.  Now it’s my turn to see if I can help create the sort of guild that not only I would enjoy being a member of, but everyone else too.



July 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I’ve been quiet recently, but that’s because I’ve not had much to say.  It’s not writer’s block, it’s just that I’ve been pootling along quite happily, and nothing comment-worthy has reared its ugly head.  Or any other ugly anatomical parts.

So other ugly things with ugly heads decided to rear.

First ugly rising was my pc, or more specifically the ram in my pc.  It would occasionally decide to blue-screen my pc when it was doing a lot, but now it seems to like hitting me at random points when playing Fallen Earth, especially when Britain decides to be like the rest of the world, and have a warm day.

It’s annoying, but in a: “Dun die, pc!” sort of way, rather than a: “Grr!  Fallen Earth, your kung-fu is pig-dung!” sort of way.  So that would make it worrying more than annoying.

Second ugly rising is my router versus the heatwave.  My router is not a fan of the heat.  It’s a tough little fella, but even so I’ve not been able to put eggs near it for a few weeks for fear of a frying incident.  So I’ve been very wary of signing up for group activity for fear of router-implosion at the worst possible time.

Of course, this is nothing compared to the biggie.  The mighty C’thulhu of ugly risings:

My beloved G1 has died.

It’s hardly surprising, seeing as that phone has been muchly battered from day one.  It’s held all my contacts, it’s organised my social life, it’s been my constant companion.  It has survived camping out in fields, being dropped in the mud, being caught in the wind, the hail, and the odd snow-storm.  It has spent days at a stretch in constant use, and has spent more than a few occasions making speedy and close acquaintance with the floor.  With all the associated bouncing you might expect from a ‘phone-floor rapid interfacing.

Quite frankly, it has been my rock.

It has also been my way of connecting to my little slice of MMO gaming heaven, and not just because of the Fallen Earth Mobile Companion.  It’s being able to read blogs whilst out and about, check forums, and even just IM and text fellow gamers that has allowed me to keep in touch, when I should have been out of reach.

Well, that umbilical has been cut, and I am feeling it.

This is without the fact that my mobile phone also had the Blizzard Authenticator on it.  This means I can’t get into World of Warcraft until I’ve managed to get past Blizzard’s phone system and they’ve detached the authenticator from my account.  This is rather harder than it sounds.  I went through the battery on the house phone trying to get through to them.  The battery gave out before they did.

What next, for Hawley?

Well, the phone can wait a couple of days.  The internal debate for me when choosing a new mobile phone can rage for weeks, and only when I feel happy in the device I’m going to be stuck with for the next 18 moths will I decide.

The ram can wait.  The weather will pass, as will the number of worthy causes requiring huge chunks of my salary.  Come December, there will probably be new ram in the pc, and all will be well in the state of PC.

World of Warcraft will have to wait.  Unless Blizzard’s Customer Care start to.

And finally, I might well start to do more interesting things than just level characters, which will prompt actual posts.


Sunday Madness

May 24, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Posted in General | 4 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Every so often, I have a head-brain malfunction.

For some completely unfathomable reason, I decided that what Herewerd really needed was a proto-drake.  I’m not sure why, as I was flying around Ice Crown on my lovely armoured (fast) griffon, and I’m really not a mount collector.  The griffon does me proud, and that’s enough for me.


So I went on to Wowhead, and started a short bit of research on Proto-Drakes.  But bear in mind I was on a slacker’s flight of fancy; I wanted a Proto-Drake, but I didn’t want to grind for one.  Earning my ride?  No thanks; I wanted it now.

After a checking out a couple of entries, I was already getting bored.  But then I found that one drops from a rare elite that flies around Ice Crown; the Time-Lost Proto Drake.

Yay!  Just check out the handily-provided map, find mob, kill mob, loot mob, drink celebratory cup of tea, fly proto-drake!

So I flew around Ice Crown, farming herbs and ore whilst keeping an eye open for a rare-elite drrrrrragin.  And whilst I did, I started noticing something I’d never noticed before…

Dotted about, in suspiciously strategic positions, were a number of other players.  They looked far too much like they were…  waiting.

I could have asked them why they were… waiting.  Or even if they were after the same drrrrragin I was, but were even more of a slacker than I was (waiting for it to come to you is the course of action only a cad and a bounder would choose, never mind being a slacker).  But I was too embarrassed, and it was a bit late, and I’d just spent 45 minutes chasing a ghost around a zone.

Still, I did get to fill a bag with herbs and ore.


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.


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