Weekend Recap and What’s Ahead

•October 10, 2011 • 3 Comments

 I played The Witcher 2 almost exclusively this weekend. No spoilers or anything though, so I’ll just say it’s been great fun, and the plot is awesome. As for FFXIV, I did a few levequests whereby I got my pugilist up to Rank 8. I think some more of the story quest lines come at rank 10, so I expect I’ll accomplish that this week and see where the tale takes me.

 Some additional observations: the controls have really been streamlined from when the game first launched. There is virtually no lag in the interface anymore, something that drove me insane last September. There is now an auto-attack which makes a world of difference in combat. The system is pretty cool, it’s sort of a cross between the Blue Mage from FFXI and Guild Wars. You get a hotbar of 10 actions which each have a “point cost” associated with it. So you can mix and match abilities from the classes you’ve played (some appear to be class-specific, though), but can’t just pick all the heavy-hitters (at least not at lower ranks). I’m liking FFXIV enough to say it will stay on my hard drive. It’s just going to be tough to compete with Fallen Earth, I think. We’ll see.

 Speaking of Fallen Earth, the F2P version launches this Wednesday. I’m sure I’ll log in to see how the landscape (and player base) changes as a result. I expect a busy Help Channel, lots of complaining, and lots of amazement at how different the game really is from your typical MMO.  I hope you all give it a shot!

Gamepad Gaming

•October 7, 2011 • 2 Comments

 I had a couple free hours last night, so I was able to play both Final Fantasy XIV and The Witcher 2. For both games I use a gamepad; they’re just more intuitive to me that way. And in the case of TW2, the only way I can play the game for some reason – even on the lowest settings the mouse drags across the screen far too slowly (I’ve tried the mouse sensitivity settings, too).

 I did some research yesterday and found a pretty active Linkshell to join in FFXIV. I rolled up a new character on the Besaid server and did the tutorial / initial questline. I then sent a tell to the LS leader indicating I’d entered my application on the website and was readily accepted. There were about 30 people online playing last night, and 80 people in the LS overall. I was pretty impressed, and they seem like nice folks who have their stuff together.

 I knocked out a few guildleves and leveled my Pugilist class up to 5. I bought myself a pickaxe so I can do some mining, and I’ll probably get the conjurer weapon so I can work on that side-by-side with the Pugilist. That combination should allow me to do some low-level leves solo and perhaps hold my own in a Behest or similar world events. I’m hopeful the mining will net me some Gil and then I can decide which crafting jobs I’d like to undertake.

 I wanted to hack and slash up some mobs last night, as well, so I popped over to TW2. Exploring the forest near Flotsam I advanced a couple quests – one about a drunken troll guarding a bridge and another about a burned out mansion. I went into the mansion and was instantly impressed (again) by the story-telling and graphics of TW2. I haven’t quite finished that quest yet, but I believe I saved right before the climax of the tale. Good stuff – this is a really, really great game when I don’t have to worry about micro-managing all my alchemy ingredients (thank you, zero weight mod!).

 Someone had a really great post up about that yesterday – I think it was Klep over at trollshaman.blogspot.com – and Nils had a slam-dunk comment to follow.

 So right now my goals are to finish TW2 and Oblivion, and to give FFXIV a fair shake now that I’ve joined a LS. And of course, Fallen Earth’s F2P conversion is next week. Oh man, I need more time to play. :(

Scattered, Continued

•October 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 I am officially all over the place this week. You probably won’t believe me when I tell you what game I re-installed yesterday. Ready? Are you sitting down?

Final Fantasy XIV.

 Now that you’re done laughing, let’s continue. If you’ve read my blog in the past you likely know that my very first MMO was FFXI. (Well, not counting the 3 Kingdoms MUD, I suppose.) I was all over the FFXIV hype-train like no other. I pretty much kept my head down regarding any news of the game during beta, however, because I wanted to pick it up and form my own opinion. I could have saved myself a lot of pain and grief by listening to the detractors – but even if I had listened, I know I would’ve still gone out and picked up the colletor’s edition anyway. I am an unabashed Final Fantasy fan.

 Needless to say, I quickly fell “out of love” with FFXIV. The UI was a clunky, laggy mess. There was no Auction House (still isn’t /sigh), and some of the game mechanics were really questionable – physical levels with attributes for a game that touts being a jack-of-all-trades? Odd call.

But credit to SE, (much like kudos to CCP for yesterday’s announcement) they stepped to the mic and said “we screwed up”. They’re still not charging for FFXIV. They’re still actively looking to improve it. Patch 1.19 dropped on Tuesday with a boatload of fixes (removing physical level being a huge one), so I’m giving it another look.

 There was some good and some bad. We’ll start with the bad.

 Seriously – get a new patcher. I again had to scour the Internet for the patch file because the updater would randomly crap out. That’s annoying. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to find and is easy to do.

 The good. I forgot how beautiful the game is. Even on the lowest settings, FFXIV is absolutely gorgeous. The character model detail, the cities, the landscapes, you name it. Breathtaking. I rolled up a new character to see what has changed and they’ve also added a tutorial. One that is specific to whether you are using a keyboard/mouse or gamepad/keyboard, even. Nice!

 I only played for about an hour, but I think I will leave it on my hard drive and visit periodically. I’m still waiting on a couple big items that are supposedly coming in future patches (and what reason not to believe them at this point? They’ve done a good job delivering fixes thus far) before I would go head-long into it maybe being my “last MMO home” as I declared over a year ago. But I’ll tell you what – they’re a lot closer to that becoming a reality now than they were at launch.

Scattered

•October 3, 2011 • 4 Comments

  So my gaming-ADD kicked in this weekend and as a result I passed on playing Oblivion in favor of The Witcher 2.  Strange things happen to me with single-player games, I can’t even begin to understand it. I can only think of one game in recent memory which I started and completed before attempting to take on another game – that was King’s Bounty: Armored Princess. Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 3, The Witcher, Dragon Age II, Fallout: New Vegas – with all of those I started, stopped, played something different, then came back or started over entirely. So it isn’t greatly surprising that I’ve “paused” Oblivion to tackle The Witcher 2 – a game which I had tremendously high hopes for and failed miserably at launch for me.

 Why did it fail at launch?

 Fortunately I own a game controller, because the game was unplayable for me with a mouse and keyboard, even on the lowest graphical setting. For whatever reason, the keyboard/mouse response was just dreadful. That problem solved, the inventory system was a train wreck. I enjoyed the challenging combat – but I just had other stuff going on at the time, too, and I tossed in the towel early.

 So why now?

 The Witcher 2 has undergone multiple patches since release and ironically enough the most recent patch went into place under a week ago, I believe. I had absolutely no idea. So while I’d like to say that it’s because CD Projekt got their act together, that totally wasn’t it. I just wanted to play a game with an engaging plot, action-combat, and where I wouldn’t have to write down skill level ups. (Yes, I know it’s unnecessary in Oblivion, but I can’t get past doing it. Yes, I’m that peculiar.) Remembering what pissed me off most about TW2 the first time through, I installed a “zero weight patch”. Mercifully, I will not have to run back to town every 5 minutes to sell crap now. (Are we sensing a theme, here? I focused on my Oblivion character to have high-STR for carry weight. I am a packrat.) I am now officially “in love” with The Witcher 2 the way I was with The Witcher the second go-round.

The plot is SO good. The choices are so not black-and-white. The world is believable. The politics are slimy. It’s great. Great, great, great. And the tutorial added in the latest patch was also a nice touch.

Burnout

•September 29, 2011 • 4 Comments

 Have you ever sat down at your PC, looked at the icons and your desktop and been unable to decide which to play? I’m sure most of (my three readers of) you have.

Now, was it because they’re all great choices, or you just didn’t feel like playing?

The latter happened to me last night.

It happens to me from time to time and it’s frustrating because I generally have pretty limited hours to game. Fortunately there was something else I wanted to do – namely watch what ended up being the greatest regular season conclusion in MLB history – so I wonder if subconsciously that wasn’t playing a big part, anyway.

 SynCaine and Tobold have been discussing MMO burnout, and I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter how good a game is, or how long I’ve been playing, that sometimes you’re just not in the mood to play.

 I have a confession to make: it took me two tries to get through the Witcher. I abandoned my first playthrough just a few hours in. It was one of those times where I just wasn’t in the mood to play. However, a couple months later, I was able to sit down and plow through the game on a free weekend and a few more days scattered here and there. I LOVE The Witcher. One of the best games I’ve ever played. Yet, there was just a point in time where I didn’t feel like playing it. Same for Dragon Age: Origins. I was just too busy and pre-occupied when it first came out that I only made it about 10 hours in before taking a hiatus. But once I was able to commit to the time to play it, I loved every minute of it.

 I’m discovering that time isn’t only a boundary for enjoying MMOs, but rather sRPGs, too. I like to get immersed in the game world when playing a single-player game, and that’s tough to do in 20 minute chunks. As I hover over the multitude of icons, I think I manage to stress myself out of the fun by analyzing how to best spend this limited free time.

 So I’ve decided I’ll just spare myself the annoyance of such “burnout” by not flipping on an MMO or sRPG when I know I’ll have less than an hour to play. I’ve got other things I can do in short periods of time – RPGs just aren’t going to be one of them.

Oblivion Update

•September 26, 2011 • 2 Comments

My character is now level 9. I have not yet advanced the main plot beyond talking to the Priory guy – I’m still wandering around from town to town fulfilling quests and striving to become fully accepted by the Mages’ Guild, as well as looking for work from the Fighters’. I’m exploring virtually every nook and cranny of each cave or ruin I pass by. Well, at least until I reach some monsters that are clearly too high for my character (I’m using Oscuro’s mod). So far, I’ve gotten some pretty nifty armor - a chestplate that adds health and protection, and some light-up gauntlets.

  I’m skilling up both blades and blunt weaponry in an attempt to keep from leveling too quickly strictly on blades alone, and I’m at the point now where I’m about capped on strength and endurance. I’m focusing quite a bit on Alchemy at this point – seems to have solid potential as both a money-maker and legitimate combat use.

The world of Oblivion (Cyrodill, I believe it’s spelled) is really great. The NPCs each have little backstories or things they’re seeking that makes them believeable as characters. The landscapes are also well-done and realistic; the world does a great job sucking me in.

I re-upped my sub to Fallen Earth but have spent much more time in Oblivion. I think I get an old-school creeper pet out of the deal, plus some Premium time once the game goes FTP on October 12th, so it’ll have its perks even if I don’t play a whole lot between now and then.

Wednesday Musings

•September 21, 2011 • 5 Comments

 I think I’ve chipped in on enough blog comments at this point that my stance on the current blog-o-sphere debate is pretty clear, so I’ll refrain from posting anything more about that today. Instead, I’ll just talk briefly about my progress in Oblivion which I was able to play for a little bit on Monday night and discuss Fallen Earth.

 My female Nord “Paladin” is now level 7, and for the first time since starting the game I did not get a +5/+5/+5 level up. And I’m totally OK with it. My strength is somewhere around 83 at this point, so I can carry plenty of stuff, so I’m putting much less worry into how I level up and much more emphasis on enjoying the game. I like the alchemy system – it’s always fun to brew up new potions, and even find new ingredients. This shouldn’t, and doesn’t, come as a big surprise to me given that it’s similar to what I like about Fallen Earth – the exploration and crafting.

 Speaking of Fallen Earth, I’m really getting the itch to get back in there and play. The latest dev blog lists the changes that are being made to impact the economy :

* uncommon and rare component node spawns will now be in more “high risk areas” such as PvP zones.

* Finished Gear Merchants are being pulled from the game

This means, essentially, that you’ll want a crafter or be rich enough to use the AH. And if you want to craft, you’ll want to have a competent build so that you can survive PvP if/when it happens or be rich enough to use the AH.

I like these changes, I think it adds a sense of danger to the Wasteland as well as ‘realism’. Vendors shouldn’t just be handing out suits of armor like they’re nothing, right?

Also, recipes are changing to use common components for basic recipes, uncommon components for improved recipes, and rare components for advanced recipes. Also, THANKFULLY, cooking components are being streamlined. Cooking and its 8 ingredients per recipe currently sucks.

I’m ready to get back into the Wasteland. Uh, just as soon as I beat Oblivion.

Man I need more time.

 
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