EQ2: Travels with my frying pan

There’s something pathetic about having early access to a game  expansion and not being able to make use of it. My EQ2 Sentinel’s Fate CE box gazed sadly at me each time I opened the drawer to which I’d consigned it until we could get our internet access sorted out (and our computers here & unpacked). Then, as Sod’s Law* will have it, when the internet & computer thing happened I got real work that chewed up a couple more days.

WTS Conscience. Must offer enough to pay the bills.

But finally, after a weekend spent hearing about people’s experiences in shiny new zones with shiny new quests and shiny new crafting recipes, I got to try it out for myself.

Yea, and it was pretty. And lo, there was lag.

Actually, it was more packet loss than lag, but the net result w-w-w-was v-v-very h-h-h-hitchy gaming. A frame rate of 8-15 will do that to ya.

And I will, at some appropriate time, rant about EQ2’s increasingly huge zones, which I am pretty sure contribute to things running more slowly. But I’m not a developer so I could be talking out of my arse. All the same, when you have a more than reasonable computer with a more than reasonable gfx card, 8 FPS not at max settings is a bit of a pisser. EQ2 has always had this issue, and it’s one of my biggest complaints about the game. A decent computer should be able to run this damn game well all the time, not just some of the time in some places, and with the damned shadows turned on. Maybe Blizzard can give them some tips on how it’s done.

But today is not the day for that rant; the previous paragraph was just foreshadowing. Instead, I’ll post a couple of screenies. Arkenor beat me to it, but have PrtScrn, will snap. First up: Fairuza’s shiny new Collector’s Edition Not-He-Man’s-Tiger-Really cat mount:

They come in two flavours, armoured or not, and each character on the account can pick one. They’ve got a 65% movement bonus, more yay! And they don’t move nearly as stupidly as some of the old-world cats (or character cat-forms), so  triple yay!

Next up a view of the, er, viewer at the Observatory of Dartain’s Eye, just because it was pretty neat. I’d turned my gfx settings down a little by then and you can tell. Well, I can tell, so bummer and mutter mumble whine whinge.

Problem is, Odus is another one of those damned zones that’s been built floating in the sky and I have this perfectly reasonable fear of l-l-lag riding my way over the edge and to certain death. Doesn’t matter that death is pretty meaningless in EQ2 these days, it’s the principle of the thing. I do so hate dying for a lag-missed step. Enough already! Pleeeeease! It’s possible to make perfectly fun zones that are firmly planted on, you know, the ground! My acrophobia hates you all. (Muttley grumbling.)

Sadly there’s some fairly good lore about how this place got to be where it is and how it got to be so blasted. So damn you again, designers. I’ll just have to switch out to my email each time I’m taking one of those little floaty platforms from A to B. And you can totally forget about me taking stupid little rope bridges between stupid little floaty islands with nothing under my feet, m’kay. So there’d better not be any quests that take me there. Or Mort had better be in the house to take over the Fairuza-steering.

Oh, er, sorry — are some of you waiting for a review? I haven’t really seen that much of it. The crafting questline is a lot of fun, at least I thought it was, but then I’m the type of player to enjoy crafting quests. The Paineel part of it (Paineel is the zone’s central city-type place) alone, assuming I’ve even finished it, took Fairuza from 80 to 81, and then doing her new recipes and a couple of crafting writs took her well into 82, all in the space of 3-4 hours of actual play. And I’m not hurrying. The place was crowded with 90s already, who I’m sure were there on Day 2 of the early access, but when levelling is a primary activity in a game it seems a little counterproductive to do it as fast as you possibly can.

Then again, I’ve never held with the idea that the game only becomes interesting when you’re max level, but that is also a (repeated) rant for another day. Regardless, I’ll take my own sweet time getting my wimmin to 90 crafting, especially since the lovely lovely xp bonus for having max characters went poof when the level cap went up. D’oh!

~ ~

In the interests of full disclosure I should note that I now have some characters on Antonia Bayle, too. I cracked and got the Station Pass to get those 5 extra character slots, so now I just have to hold myself in check and not use all those extra slots until Halas goes live, so I can experience the new starting areas.

The main reason I’m server-adultering is that I have some very good friends in Rome– oh wait, I have a very good friend here in NM who’s taken up playing EQ2 and who is far enough down the early levelling road that it would be a pain in the ass for her to start over, at least right now. So what the hell — I’m an altoholic, what’s one more character, eh?

Now where’s my notebook so I can remember what they’re all called and what account they’re all on?

Oh yeah, and here’s the frying pan. It’s on the stove. In case some of you were going to be anal about my title choices.

-_-_-_-

* Sod is Murphy’s English cousin. I suspect he’s from the East End and he’s much less friendly. He’ll nut you just as soon as look at you. And oh, he watches over us all.

Things that make you go glerk

Some of us hate spiders; some of us aren’t too keen on crowds. Me, I hate heights. In recent years it’s got bad enough that even heights in games are liable to make me lose my lunch, and while I may write amusingly about it here, it’s actually anything but funny. And the worst thing? Every game and game expansion in the last 3 years features areas that either hang in space or are precipitously perched right next to — or worse, over — horrifying drops into nothingness, with corresponding quests that take you right to the edge of nausea. EQ2 Kingdom of Sky: bunch of floating islands that you have to ride a little cloud to travel between (oh yeah, like I’m going to do that, ever). WoW The Burning Crusade: bunch of floating landmasses with really nasty eroded frittered edges that are just asking you to fling yourself off. Warhammer Online’s Inevitable City: floating in purple nothingness. Spellborn: bunch of floating landmasses. EQ2 The Shadow Odyssey: towns perched on mile-high cliffs, towns perched on mile-high trees.

Game developers hate acrophobics and they’re laughing their asses off as we hug the floor in our computer rooms, heart triphammering, unable to move. Thank god for recall spells. 

Okay, or stuff high up in the air just happens to be fashionable right now. I guess the next trend will be underwater cities or something.

The thing is, I’ve got bad enough about it that when I land on a giant tree with little gaps here and there to show me just how terror-inducingly high I am and how there is actually nothing but empty air beneath my feet (stupid little tree trunky stuff doesn’t count), I’m unable to do anything but run from the computer and try to avoid a full-blown panic attack. Yes, I know it’s all in my head — knowing that rationally doesn’t help a whole lot irrationally. 

Oddly enough, it’s not just any height, it’s unsupported ones. Sitting at the top of a cliff is not too bad, as long as nobody makes me go right to the edge and look down, and provided there’s a horizon. Lack of a horizon is killer. Knowing there’s nothing solid beneath my feet (or my character’s feet) is also a killer, which is why you’re not going to see me in those building-hugging glass elevators anytime soon. Flying on whatever contraption is used to get from A to B in games (griffon, balloon, carpet) is also fine, as long as there’s solid ground somewhere below — the cloud rides in Kingdom of Sky and the griffon rides in Burning Crusade’s Hellfire Peninsula islets are most assuredly NOT fine and I won’t be doing those again.

heights

I was going to take a “not ok” screenie to compare with the balloon shot above (in which I was fine), but I don’t love you enough to put myself through going to KoS and taking a picture of the edge of nothing. Glerk.

So, when I get quests that take me to these places and make me do these things I absolutely CANNOT do without a lot of expensive therapy… I have to rely on the kindness of the spousal unit. And trust me, those quests are everywhere. Like I said, game designers all around the MMO universe are snickering at those of us with a fear of heights. “I know!” one of them must have said, capering with glee (any resemblence to goblins is purely accidental), “We’ll make them jump over the edge of a waterfall into apparent nothingness! If that doesn’t make them hurl chunks, I don’t know what will! Teehee!” In the last couple of weeks I’ve thrown myself off the waterfall not once, but thrice, partly because of the quest and partly because of my own dumbassishness, been fired out of a cannon (which oddly enough wasn’t too bad, provided I didn’t look down, and it was over quickly), and wandered around on a tree talking to frogs. I say “I” but “I” was actually completely remote from the whole process. I tried to watch the waterfall-fall but after a quick glimpse of my gal floating leisurely down through nothing but empty space, with a distant island to provide stomach-churning perspective, I gave up; now I leave the room and let hubby direct my character.

Yesterday’s cannon/balloon/airship/mile-high tree capers had me damn near to the quivering jelly stage. It’s good blog post material, but it truly, truly sucks and I truly, truly hope the heights fad in MMOs passes soon and I can play games and expansions and do quests that do not involve triggering panic attacks.