Saturday, November 26

Skyrim review: No time

Geeky asked me if I could review Skyrim for here...

I can, I will...

Just not now, too busy playing the game still :-)

It's very, very good. Imagine Age of Conan without Conan, annoying community, grinding but with the whole world one overland map :-)

Here's a slideshow of some screenshots I've made:

The stills don't do the lush countryside justice though.

Yes the Interface is awful. It's bad enough to win a Darwin award when used on a console if you ask me, and the PC version's worse. Also if you're playing the PC version you *NEED* the following MOD that makes Skyrim Large Address Aware (using more than 2 GB of memory). For some reason Bethesda actually released a single patch to the PC game so far which disabled modifying its exe file so it's Large Address Aware. Weird stuff.
Without it the game's very prone to crashing due to a memory leak or two. With LAA it's still there but anyone with more than 2GB of memory (so both 32 bits and 64 bits OSes benefit from this) generally doesn't crash anymore.

Tuesday, November 1

Isn't it Ironic?

That just a week after I pick up my old habit of sharing items I read through Google Reader, Google launches a new an improved (read: stripped of whatever lay-out embellishments it used to have and replace everything with road-sign style buttons) version of Reader which is better integrated with the newfangled Google+ (which as far as I can tell is Google's 5th attempt at doing social network platform thingies?).

The downside to this is that classic sharing appears to have been disabled now.
If I click the new "Share/bookmark" link I get about 30 or 40 sharing options for various likes, digs, probes, pokes and whatnots. By the looks of it I can share an item I like with everything except my old sharing option of creating a Google Reader newsfeed of Interesting Items.

With luck I'll figure out how to keep doing this sometime tonight, the Lani's Interested Item feed still exists, just need to figure out how to (easily) add new items to it.

Wednesday, October 26

Dragon Age: Redemption

Bioware is already blurring the lines between video games and movies. I have just (finally) finished Mass Effect this weekend. Not only is almost half the time spend on listening and watching cut scenes and dialogues. But most of the characters in the game have crossed the uncanny valley in my view. I am really looking forward to see how they manage to even improve on that in ME2, and ME3. And as that was not enough there is Dragon Age (Origins, II, Mark of the Assassin) as well. The near living characters make for me for very compelling game play.

Although I did want to tell the world about my ME1 accomplishments, I actually have a different reason for this post. The folks of The Guild are blurring the lines between game and movie even further with Dragon Age: Redemption. A high production quality web series that is extending the virtual Dragon Age world into a real one.
Hmm, no, not a real world. They are actors running around 21st century California. I can't think of a fitting term for the 'reality' they live in. But it doesn't matter. It is worth watching.

Saturday, October 15

How does this go again?

A multifunctional title there :-)
First of all it's such a long time that I posted something here, I'm having some trouble with some controls.

The same is also true for playing Fallen Earth. Such a simple chore as mining a copper node (Left) took some doing at first. I also haven't recalled yet how to make screenies in this game without telltale UI elements, so you'll have to put up with those for this post at least.

Fallen Earth relaunched as a F2P/P2P hybrid game last Thursday, and since appears to be buckling under its own success. Thursday evening I barely managed to be in game at all. I spent a lot of time in an empty character creation / selection screen waiting for my characters to load in from the old character server or wherever they were stored.

Oddly enough only one of my characters had made it through the original account merge process.
Due to some slight stupidity on my part I unlocked the freebie spiked chopper on this account before checking my old one for leftover characters. I later did go back and discoered that my L20 character and another toon were still there.
Since the account transfer/merge thingy overwrites any toons you may have on the gamerfirst side of things I ended up doing a second account for Olwyn (my L20) and my new toon Arezou which I'm using to get through the "How does this go again" phase of returning to any MMO.

On a side note. Have you noticed how global chat is really the same in any MMO? Regardless of the business model? It always seems to be full of people who are in the wrong game. Bitching about how "was/is/will be" so much better than the one they're currently playing. Either looking at an awesome game through the binoculars of nostalgia (while for some reason *not* playing said game) or with the pinkly tinted glasses of overexpectation at the Next New Thing (to disappoint them). Weirdest of all are the ones compalining how that other current game is so much better. Why aren't these people playing the games they obviously enjoy more? Sure, some comparison chatter is to be expected, and no game compares favourably to every other game on every topic. It's particularly hard to measure up to people's expectations of yet urneleased games, but often the bitching goes way beyond that.
Oh well. Some people just need to be muted.
On that note, the Help channel is really handy. Take a peek every 5 minutes, block everyone who asks questions USING ONLY CAPS and you're golden...

Getting my account sorted out and trying to get into the game e.t.c. took me most of Friday evening. About half the time servers were down and you'd be told to "check your Internet connection" by the client, showing how dangerous that is for a default message... Luckily the transfer service was still up. But due to a *lot* of people returning to the game this week as well as loads of newbie players giving it a go, the single server isn't really handling the load.

The game's tutorial has been revamped since we saw it last so it's about half the original length before you save the day by blowing up. Unfortunately one problem at this time is you get stuck at starting zone selection if you go through the tutorial. Took me a while to figure out I could bypass it at the start of the tutorial after a (possibly therapeutic?) pummeling of some in-the-way tech.

Once I got passed all that and wisely picked a Medium Population spot (Southern Burbs) over the High ones it was smooth sailing all day long. Well, a smooth ride, right up until the US woke up and doubled the load on that single server which promptly went down.

So, is the game worth all this trouble?
I kinda think it is. :-)
One of a studio's greatest fears for a Launch is (should be) being too popular for the infrasturcture to handle. This is clearly what's happening to Gamersfirst and the boys at Reloaded Productions. With eagle eyed hindsight it was probalby better to launch with at least one server each for EU and US.

Despite all that, the game's still very much fun, compulsively harvesting every node I come across and doing every crafting related quest I still managed to get up to Level 5 in about 6-7 hours of play and that's with the supposedly XP-crippled F2P account. I don't know if the feature was added by Fallen Earth LLC or Reloaded Productions who took over the torch, but someone seems to ahve added some nice features for toons having to play catch up. You now have a sleuth of Training Mutations. Abilities that you can sue up to level 15, giving you a little boost levelling up in a possibly rather lonely environment and giving ou a sense of the different ability trees at the same time.

All in all I'm very much enjoying my return to the apocalypse, when I can get in anyway.
My one point of criticism at this point is that Gamerfirst doesn't seem to really 'get' Marketplaces yet. With most of the buyable items over $10,- it's hardly a microtransactions scheme. The succesful F2P projects understand that you should primarily offer items under 5$, preferably around the 1-2$ range. Oh well, we'll see how things unfold.

Not sure if you guys are enjoying Invictus Europealis, I hope so. But if not, come see the Apocalypse (when/if the serverpark allows)

Wednesday, October 12

Vindictus Europealis

More than a year ago fracturedInfinity told us about Vindictus. He described it as 'It's kind of interesting'. I think he had a good time playing it for a while. But for some reason the rest of us were not allowed to play it. And for even more obscure reasons the European website for Vindictus was a static image with the text 'coming soon', and a facebook page that was just as dead (except for players begging for any kind of info). By May I had given up on it. Folks in the US had moved on, and I assumed the game had closed down.

But over the weekend I saw an advertisement for it on Rock,Paper Shotgun. So I followed the link and found out the game is live! Apparently they had been working on it behind the scenes, and it got released sometime in September. I downloaded it yesterday evening, played through the tutorial and wandered around town. It really looks good. Great graphics, easy controls, smooth character animations, and fun combat. When it came out in the US it was hailed as the game that proved that F2P can be high quality. I'm planning to find out if they were right.


I haven't made any screenshots yet, so I am 'borrowing' some screenies from fI. The characters I could chose from in the character creation screen seemd to be quite different. So maybe I'll never get to see the same things. The screenshots came from this post.

Sunday, September 11


Our lovely blog is dead. Maybe we should rename it to Yadmmob. It seems it is not just our blog that died. The entire blogosphere is suffering. No great discussions, adventures, insights, or developments. Could it be the MMO as a genre completely is coming to an end? Perhaps it is.

But personally I am as active in my all time favourite MMO as I have ever been. I am daily popping in, doing research at work, printing out guides, even designed a spreadsheet for it, and generally just have a whole lot of fun.

So much so that this morning Tamera "Lourin" Phare managed to reach level 100! I felt pretty damn good about myself. Although AO is now more than 10 years old I am still at awe at some of the vistas, the atmosphere when walking around Elysium, the busy hubble in Borealis, or the immement danger of running into a nanostorm near the cyborg camps. The game still gives me that feeling of walking in a different world.

I don't think I can ever get bored of playing a game that lets me immerse myself into a virtual world. But unfortunately I have the feeling less and less people think the same as me. Rift shrunk a world into a nice set of quest hubs. Games like League of Legends and World of Tanks abandon the idea of a world completely. I don't know if it can be profitable anymore for any company to make such a wide world. Probably not. But I don't have to worry too much yet. I am not even half way in AO yet.

Friday, July 1


Click here for the video hosted at

If the in-game environments are really as good looking as in the video, and I can roam around freely as that than I am sold. Well, I was sold already. But this video is making me hunger for the release.

And after that they will hopefully finally finish the AO engine update.

Monday, June 13

TSW - GDC Developer Walkthrough

Poor quality video/audio, recorded by a hand held camera rather than direct to drive. Not a lot revealed we didn't already know but some good eye candy (check the beach scenes). One thing is for sure - developers don't always make the best presenters.

'Dynamic' is the buzzword of 2011 :)

Here's a few new screens too.

Saturday, May 21

From fantasy to a fantasy/steampunk hybrid, GW2- the shock of the new.

Guild wars in a lot of ways was a traditional fantasy MMO, as the game progressed and further chapters released the use of technology remained consistent, with the exception of a few anomalies (the giant robotic boss in Sorrows Furnace), the dwarves had their gunpowder while all else relied on the edge of their blade and/or their magic. It was only with the introduction of the Asura in 'Eye of the North' did we start to see any technology beyond the simple explosives of the dwarves. The asura bought with them the manipulation of magical crystals and their Golem creations, creatures fashioned from a magical technology previously alien to the races of Tyria and beyond. Somehow though they still fitted within the world, their technology seemed more magical than industrial, 250 years later the world has changed and with it the technology.

Over that 250 years the Charr has been the race to create the industrial revolution of Tyria, this sat well with the majority of the fanbase, the few minor outcries about the inclusion of what look like steam powered buggies in the Charr homeland video did little to temper its warm welcome.

The inclusion of guns had some fans upset that the world had moved too far away from its fantasy roots, but in my mind the progression from gundpowder to guns over 250 years seems perfectly logical as does progression beyond that. That progression became very real with this weeks profession release, it also marked a significant change in the way we look at the world of Guild Wars 2. Fantasy purists can pick up their coat on the way out of the door, Anet has made a significant statement this week - The world of Tyria is now firmly a fantasy/steampunk hybrid. Say hello to the Engineer.

I don't want to talk about the profession, watch the video and read this interview to get an overview on how the class plays.

What I'm more interested in is how this profession has created a split in what was a pretty consistent and solid fanbase and what your thoughts are.

The biggest gripe from that video has been the inclusion of a beeping/flashing mine, a technology too close to modern times to sit comfortably with a lot of people, more digital than clockwork, something that seems to have been a bad aesthetic choice by Anet, but something that can be easily rectified, get rid of the flashing light and its beeping audio, replace it with something clockwork and it's sorted. The fact that this is still close to the April Fools Commando Profession reveal can't be ignored either, the memory of that has influenced a few fans judgement on the Engineer as too much too far and not far enough away from the Commando to be taken seriously.

How is all this going to affect the fanbase and the future playerbase of the game? There seems to be a small minority who don't like such a sharp shift away from fantasy who are pledging that their interest in the game has now gone and they won't be investing come release, another section simply don't like the class, wish it wasn't there but will still invest and simply won't be playing it. It's hard to say what the majority feeling is right now, we need more information and to see it in action rather than the highly choreographed skill videos before we can judge how it will play, right now it seems OP but I felt that way about the Thief too.

Me? I like the move forward into a more steampunk feel both with it's environments and this new class reveal. I have the feeling this is going to widen the games appeal, the dynamic combat mixed with a gunner class is going to attract FPS and action orientated players from other genres, not a bad thing for Anet but likely we'll see far too many engineers on the playing fields at first. With Anets statement that the further in to profession reveals we get the more difficult and complex their gameplay becomes I figure we will see less as the game progresses as players discover there is more to the class than simply blowing things up.

It's a controversial move from Anet to take this profession so far, it's still a long way until release and as a company that listens to its fans it will be interesting to see how this will develop as more info is revealed, I expect we'll get more info very soon considering the controversy its caused.

I'm embracing the steampunk feel, I'm happy with fantasy but happier when it moves forward and it's a step in a direction I like, what do you folks think?

Wednesday, March 16

Friday, March 11

New Website

The good folks at FunCom have been busy. Not only with moving from Oslo to Montreal, but apparently also with making a new video, website, characters, and other assorted info. The doomsday clock at is no longer there. I am not really sure what means though. I liked the somewhat cryptic, but otherwise cheesy counter. Instead we can now visit I still love the idea of the game. Modern world setting, urban clothed characters, wide variety of locations. It looks all good to me. But the new website makes me a bit worried too. It is a lot of marketing fluff. And the game could just become a hack'n'slash in an urban jacket. The mystery and conspiracy feel that it had in its early days is fast eroding. We'll see.

Monday, February 28

Random Rift Questions

The last post had enough comments so I thought it was time for a new post. A rather boring post since in all excitement I have forgotten to make any screenshots. So it will just be text.

Yesterday (and this morning) I didn't get to play too much. In fact the only thing I managed to do is entering Meridian and trying to figure out what is what in this rather large compound.

After going round three times I finally found the artisan area. I turned all my yew branches into yew planks and then dropped foraging for armorcrafting. I found the quartermaster as well there, and got my first crafting quest. I had to make two boots and deliver them to King's Retreat.

But before I went there I managed to do two more things in Meredian. In the center courtyard I found the soulportal, and bound myself to that place. But I have no idea how that works. I didn't see any recall spell. How can I (if at all possible) zap back to Meridian?

I also traversed the tower of the faceless man. I picked up a big pile of books that I now have somehow permanently on me. Did the defiant invented a Kindle as well?
I also found the two artifacts that completed my first collection. I handed my collection to the artifacts lady and got some xp/coin reward plus an icon that said 'lucky coin'. But after I closed the NPC chat window I couldn't find that lucky coin anywhere. Neither could I find the now completed collection either. Where did they disappear to?

There are about a dozen of quests in Meridian I could pick up. I haven't taken any yet. Did you grab them all while you were there, or should I do them one by one? Is there actually a maximum number of open quests? I saw also two other types of floating icons. One was a white and red icon. They show up on the minimap too. Probably I should just talk to them to find out what they are about, huh? There were also some with grey tick bubbles. I think those are for quests I am almost down with? But I don't really have anything outstanding...

I left everybody in alone for now and ran off to King's Retreat. And there I found the second armorsmith trainer I had missed originally in Kerali Outpost. He was so kind to give me some quests too for more boots and some leather. That went all pretty easy. After that I decided to run back to Meridian for a fresh daily quest. On the way back to Meridian I found another NPC with a grey tick bubble. He was not very chatty but mentioned something about Iron Gate Dungeon. Does grey mean I am too low level maybe?

So back in Meridian I couldn't get a new daily from the quartermaster. What is the time frame for them? 24 hours after you took on the order, or just the next day from when you handed the last order in?

Thanks to my run to King's Retreat and back I got 3 crafting coins (or whatever they are called). The money was just burning in my pocket so I went to talk to the recipe dude. He had to 1 coin recipes I decided to buy right away! Was that a smart move or a waste of coin? Is there a different way to get those recipes? And should I wait till tomorrow to craft anything, or should I just crank out some silly boots to up my skills further?

With all those questions as hand I just stood around a bit lost and decided I better log off and go to work so I have some time to type this up :)

Monday, February 21

Bored of beta shots yet?

Scarlet Gorge

Warm ups for rifting

Somewhere up there be a dungeon

Just before a spider pwned us

Water Rift

Death Rift

Life Rift

My what a big gun you have...

Moonshade Highlands, this place has environmental changes every ten minutes it seems, it's bright, then it's cloudy, then it's foggy. This is a brighter moment.

Abandoned tents in Scarwood Reach

Sums up how Stonefield felt to me

George got a little burned, poor lad.

Crafting district at Meridian, I spent a lot of time there.

The happy family: Vailare, George and John

Sunday, February 20

Rift vistas

For your enjoyment or belittlement, some vista's of the places my newest toon Tuanne, a Telari rogue, visited levelling to 30 (32) during the Open Beta:

Tuanne, Vailare and George in Meridian

Approach of the Titan's prison in the Last Valley

Gazing into Scarlet Gorge

A lovely view of Scarwood Reach
Very near an ancient caern too ;-)

Tuanne at Level 30
(finally wearing a cap that doesn't suck)

Tuanne's Roles which no-one finds interesting but me :-)

Bard (very self sufficient)

(Good AoE build for Rifts)

My 'so-so' Tank build

Saturday, February 19

Once Human

Official 'announcement' trailer for a game called Dead Island. Brave move using a child as the main character. Reminds us that all zombies once had a life lived and loved, found it quite poignant and moving. I doubt very much the game will conjure up such emotions but the trailer is worth a watch as a short piece of movie making that succeeds on it's own, it's pretty gruesome too. So just remember the next time you slash your way through a crowd of zombies (I know Camden on the weekend feels like that...) that face once had a life.

Chronological version:

Thursday, January 27

GW2 - Guardian Revealed

As we knew from the snippet posted on pcgamer last week the fifth profession to be revealed is the Guardian, Anet posted all the info along with skill videos over on the official site.

Shield of Absorption

Faithful Strike

Zealot's Defense

Wall of Deflection

Hammer of Wisdom

onlinewelten have a nice interview with GW2's lead designer Jon Peters who manages to flesh out some more info on the Guardian and come up with this little gem :

"There are no ally targeted skills in Guild Wars 2."

For anyone with any doubts that Anet meant what they said about NO healers in GW2 this proves the point, healing will come from yourself, via AoE and possibly as bonuses from attack skills, it's a step in the right direction for me. Anets still provides a trinity but one that doesn't rely on class set up in teams. As the only obvious support class I have no doubts that to start with teams will want them in, it may well go from 'looking for healer' to 'looking for guardian' as the most repeated cry in group formations, that's a sad thought in a game that I'm hoping will strip away some conventions, says more about players than it does about Anet. When people get used to the idea that classes are capable of fulfilling each role of Anets trinity I hope that will pass.

More RIFT Beta blah blah

Last Beta I switched from Defiant side to Guardian and played with Kettle, a Dwarven Warrior.
Yes I know, technically she should be a Cleric and a Halfling, but a dwarf is close enough and I'd already been playing Naomi as a Cleric and with classes identical across the divide...

I'd gotten her through the Sliverwood (5-20) zone and halfway through Gloamwood and up to level 23. I'd been pretty impressed with Silverwood's general lay-out and how the quest lines were taking you along a tour of 80% or so of the map. Much more subtly than in Freemarch where for some reason I felt led by the nose and didn't feel much like exploring. Whereas on the Guardian side I did and didn't feel stiffled by the guided tour effect either.

There's ample opportunity to step off the beaten path, wander a bit and run into mobs way too high for you to defeat. Coupled with the Invasions this means you have to keep paying attention to your surroundings and I like that. Gloamwood,s a bit darker than Silverwood and the theme is one of Gothic horror. Spiders, zombies, Werewolves, vampires and a Hag to fight. The environment is wonderfully gloomy and made me pull open all registers on my videocard, which happily survived the ordeal. (I didn't try it with raid sized parties).

Gloamwood also is very tightly packed with a complex but comprehensive questline around a central theme / story arc. It also gives my Explorer side more of an itch than did Silverwood. It's a rather vertical place really. Several times I've found myself standing at what I assumed was the quest location judging by the minimap only to discover I was off by 50 meters, vertically. Caves, cliffs, buildings. They all give cause to wander about. I've also spent a fair amount of time figuring different ways to approach locations.

Most of all, I was having fun.
This Beta so far has had me not find a single bug to report, and I keep looking for them.
I have to say this game has the most technically slick Beta I've ever been in. On the other hand, they're adding stuff very late in the development cycle, given the release date. However, I'm not worried much, It's shaping up to be a very solid game. I don't know about longevity as of yet, but it should do well at launch, provided they get people to not all roll on the Shard with an already Heavy load, but even after having to sit in queue for 2 minutes after dinner I encountered little to no server-side lag. And that's a Beta server with highly detailed logs running...

This Beta saw a few new things. Improved Character Sheet. I have to admit I still think Rift has a window or two more than I'm happy with. Collections as a whole could be Character Sheet Tabs if you ask me. Much needed Inventory improvements (mainly taking things out of Inventory) have been added, though I would like to see them take another leaf of EQ-II and add dedicated bags (for Role 2 and 3 kit for example). The new Public Group system works well I think. You can toggle yourself to be a Public or Private Group, which in the case of Public means you'll see a "Join Public Group" button appear whenever you're near likeminded people, usually around an invasion or Rift. Once I found out it was using my Graveyard button's position and I could move it, no problems.

The main issue I encountered with it wasn't technical but player-social. Nobody speaks in this game, except in Regionsay. I actually noticed people commenting on the fight we were in using the regionsay chat. Local and Party are barely used it seems. Oh well, with any luck I'll find more local chatters come launch when I'll roll on a PVE-RP shard. For Trion it might've been a good idea to integrate voice-chat with the game though. Then again, I'm not sure I'd like to try that with the Public Grouping...
Public Grouping got me to see the Raid Group Interface as well. This is probably well engineered, but left me confused for the most part.

Stuff I Missed:
Questing is fun to do. I didn't get around to trying to group dungeons, mostly because the only vitriolic chat I encountered on Guardian side (outside of level 1-9 chat which you should turn off immediately) was revolving around dungeon groups. This did lead me to find an issue though. I'd gotten my last Plate chestpiece when Kettle was Level 20. While it wasn't much of an issue for her during her tweens, throughout her twenties so far she's received two to three armor and weapon upgrades from questing for each piece except chest-armor. Annoyingly, the Level 20 piece is one of those Plate-bikini's (yes, Rift doesn't have chanimail bikini's for Clerics but makes up for it in Plate...). So right now my main armor piece is whoefully behind my level. Not a good situation for a Tank. It's actually ok for soloing, I noticed I was primarily doing quests a level, sometimes two ahead of my own whereas most Mages and Rogues tend to be on same level quests and Clerics one level lower than current. For grouping I'm badly equiped though.

Checking the Auction house I saw the situation echoed. Lots of green drops of every ilk but no chest-pieces. It appears to have been a deliberate choice of Trion to reward chest-pieces through group efforts such as grouped dungeons and warfronts. Meh. It wouldn't be so bad if someone were crafting the bloody stuff. But I couldn't find any crafted gear on the Auction Houses, so either people aren't crafting or trading in Guilds and other private venues. I did notice some Regionsay bartering taking place now and then, which leads me to conclude that one auction house per faction in their main capital maybe isn't the best design choice they made?

Maybe tonight I'll try some grouped dungeons or warfronts :-)
Talking about capitals, they're confusing. The strong vertical element is one thing, but while less confusingly layed out than the Defiant capital, Sanctum is annoying in other ways. It's essentially three concentric rings with one place where you can switch rings. A trip to Sanctum typically requires me to visit all three in order to visit Trainer, Planar Goods/Collections traders, bank and auction house. Mini Map and Major Map both aren't that helpful in cities and for the first time in a long while I found myself missing a Gameamp community (only with better tools) around a game. I'd have absolutely loved being part of an Amp-like community for this game. I just can't stomach the manure piles that are "Official Forums" anymore. So many people giving out plain wrong tech advice, so many people out just to be as nasty as they can be to each other, e.t.c. Ah well. I'm a minority I guess, but I do miss the (mostly) friendly, moderated mayhem of Amp at times like this.

Rifts and Invasions:
Back to the game though. The changes to Invasions/Rifts seem to work out, though we flunked the two Zone Invasions yesterday. The first was simply a case of not enough people bothering with it for some reason. The second one failed for a more interesting reason. We'd completed all but the last objective, slaying the named Boss 'Norima' (I think). People started asking where she was in Regionsay and were directed to one of the last Death Rifts in the deep south of the zone by others. A few minutes later the zone-wide UI overlaid messages were screaming from help at Gnarlwood, a spot roughly North of Center. Most of the defending forces simply ignored repeated pleas for help from the beset Gnarlwood and were stumped when the Invasion Quest failed as Norima achieved her objective with her last squad of baddies. I guess an unsubstantiated rumor fostered by an anonymous source is always more compelling than official notification from the game system itself :-)

Still, people will learn this, eventually, I'm sure. I'm still a bit worried about player population after the first wave though. While Invasions now scale and can be tweaked, the beginnign area's may still end up rather empty after the first big wave. But maybe Trion, who's very good at lending leaves from succesful models and not just WOW's at that, can take a hint from Turbine and make the game partially Free-to-Play after a few monts. While there's still a veneer of FAIL attached to mixed P2P/F2P games in certain loudmouthed sectors, but the way Turbine does it is actually a win-win situation. The early levels (minus high quality gear) are accessible to froobs, which has the huge advantage that your paying customers when rolling an alt aren't faced with that deserted feeling in post-launch starter area's as there's still plenty of people running around. Mostly froobs yes, but I for one consider that a more pleasant experience than having to grind mobs or be forced into a fixed group to level up as the interesting content is too hard or too slow to do alone.
Needless to say, I suspect the Free-to-Play move on Champions Online which got finalised and announced this week has more to do with Damage control on Fail than Win, but they shou;d've done that before launch if you ask me.

Anyhoo. Loving how the game shapes up. Scarlet Gorge, which is a shared zone apparently is shaping up to be as well designed as the previous two and even more vertically challenging. (Spent 20 minutes looking for the way down before I spotted other players using an elevator) I haven't bothered with Gathering or Crafting on Kettle much, when I reroll her post-launch this will change (gathering at least is fun) so I can't really comment on that. Geek's less than happy comments on it have not helped. I'll stay clear of it for now. Kettle's nearly at level cap now, 26.something and I think I'll stop playing her when I reach it. Not that I Must Have XP For My Trouble, but it seems like a good point to switch back to Naomi or roll anew.

Souls and Roles:
I've found I am not very experimentative with Souls.
With both Naomi and Kettle I picked three Souls and somewhere in their tweens decided I didn't like one of them. I'd focus on two out of the three and swap out the third around level 20 then slowly build that one up. I tried switching Kettle from Paladin/Warlord/Void Knight (Tank/Buffer/Anti-Mage) which are all defensive souls to an offensive combination that included a Pet on her second Role. What I found was that it's not much fun to switch Roles at 20 and have to learn its intircacies all anew. My PWV build's got 15-18 buttons to mash (though I keep intending to fiddle with Macro's as there are definite sequences) under specific conditions. I have to know which buttons to mash when, for maximum effect. I'm sure that my second Role (which had more skills on my hotbars) is just as intircate, but I couldn't get into it at all.

Why is this so different from Guild Wars where Build switching is a must?
Well, I think the 8 vs 16+ skills on the bar may have something to do with it. Also Guild Wars Prophecies is one long tutorial in using varied builds. Only the most stubbornly refusing to learn didn't have a grip on Builds by the time they enter the burning isles (they'd be stuck at Thunderhead Keep) but sadly even that F2P game had to dumb down their initial content for rare solo players in an empty landscape. Rift doesn't really tell you to try different Roles. It's not as integrated into the central game system as it was with Guild Wars. It's clearly an added feature to compensate for PVE / PVP builds or solo and grouped/raided builds. But the main game doesn't invite you to experiment, which will feed the FotM Builds I fear. I've already noticed that with dozens of variations possible, a lot of gamers "enforce" the UnHoly Trinity (second generation, so Tank, DPS, Healer rather than Tank, Crowd Control, DPS) onto themselves and others.

Sunday, January 9

Rift pictorial

Nature Rifts look so beautiful at first

That was my Quest Reward giver...

Nice vista in Stonefield

The Guardians have the better weather magic

Fightin' Demons

Fightin' Trolls (I bug reported my trousers)

Kettle arrives at Sanctum to be greeted by fireworks

Defiant invasion of our Quest Hub.

I'm in between the rock-fellas

Vanguard style name-tags have their issues

Charging in!

Victory :-)