IntPiPoMo – Warhammer Online

I have to do some Warhammer Online screenies, because getting into that beta and joining Casualties of War (a guild by bloggers for bloggers (and anyone else)) was what started this blog. And through this blog I’ve met millions and millions of new people — okay, a couple hundred maybe. And a few dozen of those I like a lot and am friends with (is it YOU? Is it not you? And if it isn’t you, why isn’t it you?!). And a handful of those I am now good friends with, some of them even IRL. So yeah, definite turning point that was.

Besides, it was an excruciating amount of fun, if only for a little while. It’s also the only MMO ever where I played a healer as a healer (as opposed to playing a Shadow Priest or a Feral Druid) and had fun doing it. I don’t seem to have many screenshots of Amariel the Archmage, but that’s probably because I was too busy spamming heals in scenarios to actually stop and take pictures. The pix below are therefore from Ysharros, my solo char.

Kaltlauf 1900

I don’t remember what all the places are, but that’s ok. I remember the fun. And as a little nostalgia kick for anyone else who played, here’s a link to THE DUDE WITH THE THING. It actually applies to pretty much any PvP carry-the-thing scenario. There is one rule: KILL THE DUDE WITH THE THING.

Ysh and big skelly

Ysh and the Big Nasty

 

Tabletop gaming — Fate and why I love it

FATE

So after I finally got my act together, a few of us made characters and played the first session of the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtest. I’ll write more about that later, but today I want to deal with a comment one of the players made on the G+ community we have going. I was going to respond in the G+ group, but since it’s something I hear a lot about Fate and because it’s about tabletop systems and paradigms in general, I figured I would post my response here instead.

(Plus it gives me a blog post and those have been rather nonexistent sparse of late. Scotchtober has yet to happen, for instance. Maybe we’ll have to do Vodkember instead.)

Note that my response applies more to Fate Core than it does to the Accelerated editions, but since the latter is derived from and intended to fit in with the former, what applies to Core applies just as much to Accelerated versions.*

The Comment

Here’s the comment, with apologies to Eric for quoting him without permission. My lawyers will be in touch with your lawyers.

Had a blast – even if my brane wasn’t firing on all cylinders! I’m still not sure I get the system as a whole. I feel it’s designed to be so different from any other RPG on the market that it obfuscates a lot of stuff that could be put in much plainer language. I’ll soldier on though because it was fun if confusing. [My emphasis.]

Yay for having a blast, btw! I felt my pacing was off but we’ll get to that in the session post.

Eric makes a valid point when he questions whether the Fate system is just a shtick to differentiate it from the more crunch-heavy systems out there. I don’t agree, but rather than keep telling you all how good I think it is, here are a few resources that might help make my point.

Wikipedia’s Fate article – a decent starting point

A D&D lover’s guide to other RPGs: Fate Core

Stackexchange forums: Approaching Fate systems from a d20 background

Paizo forums – Fate Core: Tried it, didn’t like it (Because dissenting opinions matter. Also because the poster makes a valid point, albeit not all that well, and because some of the responses are worth reading.)

But, but… it’s awesome because I said so!

And now I’m going to tell you again why I think it’s so good.

Eric – note that our group and the players we know have played narratively and collaboratively for decades; hell, we played (A)D&D collaboratively back in the 80s. This is apparently not the norm for tabletop gaming (maybe especially in the US), even moreso with the rise of the later D&D/Pathfinder editions where how far you can walk in a given span of time is painstakingly represented on a game map. In that light, I think Fate is an attempt to ‘formalise’ (ironically) the more free-form nature of cooperative and narrative-driven games. Yes, you and I & the NWO crew did this for years and actually wrote “Freeform” games for 20-100 players where they got a character sheet each and we sat back to watch the mayhem, but that’s not the norm for tabletop or LARP/-adjacent experiences.

As I see it, Fate is intended to be a) a generic system usable with any setting and b) a system that promotes player/GM narrative collaboration (and starts that right from the get-go with collaborative character and setting design). Mostly though I believe it’s designed to encourage players to let loose with their ideas and to make them understand that they can exert creative direction in the game. The GM already knows she can because GMs have been doing this since forever, but players need to be shown they can do it – and then, helpfully, shown how they can do it.

I’ve run Fate now with 6 Fate-newb players in several different games, and most (all?) of them have had a hard time getting their heads around it. As a Fate-newb GM, *I* had a hard time getting my head around it, and I was more than ready for a formalized representation of the way I prefer to play. For many players, the idea that they can and in fact should exert a measure of narrative control in a Fate game is difficult to a) get their heads around, and b) actually do.

If that doesn’t happen, the group might as well go back to playing anything other than Fate, because Fate doesn’t work nearly as well if the players don’t commit to an active engagement with (and development of, as ideas strike them) the scene, the scenario, and the world.

I’m emphasising that because I think it’s the living beating heart of the Fate paradigm. I might be entirely wrong (and the Fate folks can come over and tell me so), but I suspect I’m not.

As a GM, I am so freaking ready for this kind of system I can’t express it properly without excessive and enthusiastic swearing. Benefitting from the table’s ideas makes the GM’s job a lot easier and lets her concentrate on lesser jobs like pacing, dramatic tension, saying MUAHAHA a lot and organising the mechanical bits. Because the plain fact is that 3, 4, or 5 brains are always better than one, and not just if you’re a zombie.

All the times when players in our groups suggested something way better than what the GM had come up with (and the GM instantly adopted it)? That’s what Fate encourages or even mandates. And while we’ve had the benefit of a closely-knit, trusting and collaborative gaming group, this allows people who haven’t known each other since college to experience the same kind of creative cooperation.

Those funky-ass aspects and why they’re cool

And that’s where aspects come in, that traditionally OMGWTF hard-to-understand part of Fate systems. In the context of the argument I’m making here, aspects are the levers the players and the GM use to exert their control over the world, the NPCs, the action or themselves. It’s a way of saying “OK, we know you’re not used to having this level of control/input in a tabletop game, but it’s fine really, you’re supposed to, and this is one way in which you do it.”

Example: A character has the Always in the right place at the wrong time aspect. The player can leverage (aka invoke) that aspect in order to show up, quite by ‘accident’, at the super-seekrit take over the world board meeting. Or at the invitation-only Bad Guys Inc., fundraiser. Or to come out of the mall into the parking lot where one of his buddies is currently being kidnapped by Ninjas. Note that this in no way decides whether those scenes will go well for the character – it just means the character gets to show up and in that way affect the course of events.

Similarly, the GM can leverage (aka compel) that aspect to have the character be passing by the isolated park clearing in which the We’re Really Nasty Witches coven is having its monthly esbat. Or to make him decide whether to attend his child’s talent show (after missing the previous three and making a solemn pinkie-swear promise)… or save said kidnapped buddy before he’s loaded onto a plane bound for who-knows-where.

It’s something Eric, Dave and I have been doing for years even if we didn’t call them aspects, but it may be a paradigm very few RPG groups are comfortable with. One of the things Fate does so well is to provide a framework for playing cooperatively even if you’re not initially that way inclined. (To quote another friend who shall remain anonymous: “I’ve never dared play a tabletop game because all the people I know who play are ridiculously competitive and that’s never struck me as fun.”)

Eric, I hope that helped. As for the rest of you – there will be more Fate games going on once the Dresden Files Accelerated playtest is done (end November). I’ve been in a tabletop drought for over a decade, I’m quite willing to jump back in at the deep end.

A few more links for interest & further reading

(Dev post) Fate misconceptions and aspect spamming

Rick Neal — Birthing Pains: High Concepts, Templates, and Troubles (Dresden Files)

Rick Neal — The Lightning Bug and the Lightning: Aspects in Dresden Files RPG

Or just read all of Rick Neal’s articles on the Dresden Files RPG (not the Accelerated version): http://www.rickneal.ca/?page_id=842

… and on Fate in general

– – –

* For what it’s worth, I’m fairly sure I prefer the full-on Core versions to the Accelerated version. That said, the Accelerated versions are excellent for pickup games or for inexperienced and/or young players. They definitely have a place in the Fate universe. It just turns out that I like my rules a little crunchier than I expected (though not as crunchy as, say, Pathfinder).

Dresden Files Accelerated RPG

Eeeeee, we’re in we’re in we’re in! I haven’t been this excited about a beta for ages. And we must be super-ultra-mega special (okay, or just lucky with the RNG) because according to Mr. Hicks himself,

… with 50 slots for 850 applicants, even if everyone’s equally awesome (a possibility), there’s a less than 6% chance of getting in.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

I will be posting about this because it’s not only allowed but actually encouraged. What I can’t do, obviously, is discuss rules-y stuff and other stuff that’s in the materials we use to play. I’m sure that leaves a TON of room for frothing madly about how much fun we’re having. Because we will have fun. OR ELSE.

DFRPGA beta two

Now to make sure I can actually round up enough players at the right time to get some sessions going. If you’re reading this and interested, leave your contact email or G+ handle in the comments below so I can invite you to the Google+ community we made. Or mail me at ysharros -at- gmail -dot- com, or circle me on G+ and post on my wall or whatever it is the cool kidz do to hit each other up on G+. I am totally prepared to run multiple groups. I am only mildly manic at the prospect of not only running again, but running a game for an IP for which I am a self-admitted rabid fangirl.

HOW I plan to do this with work and the maternal unit here for the next month is a bridge I’ll burn when I get to it. I don’t have the super-seekrit rulez dokument yet anyway.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

 

Blaugust Day 26 – LFG PNP RPG

TL;DR: #Blaugust-ians, don’t give up! The end is nigh! (And this is a good thing for once.) Zen is tough. Cute red panda. Call for tabletop RPG players. Poll results = CHEESE WINS.

As #Blaugust wanes, so does the energy of the, err, at least 460(ish)* bloggers. I’m judging this from my traffic stats, which have taken a modest downward turn this week. Others have noted the same.

I can tell you from my own behaviour that I am browsing fewer blogs this week than I was through the first three weeks of the month, not because they’ve become any less interesting — quite the contrary in fact! — but because I am running out of energy. Social energy, for the most part, which is the part of me that reads and comments on blogs, writes and comments on my own (and cares about the comments), and posts/comments on social media. My social energy bucket is damn near empty, and conversely my introvert AUUGGHOTHERPEOPLE bucket is almost overflowing.

full bucket

[/tangent: re: traffic stats, even that’s not the whole story. I think I have people who are coming back more regularly — and who are more than welcome to keep doing so past Blaugust, ohai regular folks! — and who aren’t browsing several pages and/or posts every time. In the first two weeks of the month I had about twice the number of views as visitors, which I assume is partly people browsing and partly the usual dreaded bots.]

But we’re in the home stretch. Go team #Blaugust! And since I had to edit it into yesterday’s post, here’s a mo’ better proper-like link to Belghast’s post from yesterday. It resonated quite strongly with me.

As time passed, the guilt that I felt grew and the measure of that “epic comeback post” kept growing as well ultimately leading me to wait longer before posting it.

Yup. Hopefully Blaugust will have taught me that there is no epic comeback post. There’s just posting or not posting. I’m still trying to learn — beyond my rational mind, that is, which knows all sorts of things my less conscious mind just ignores — that guilt is entirely counter-productive and definitely destructive. But whole empires have been built on guilt, so it’s a tough one to shake. My mind struggles with the concept that I am not a perfect unique snowflake (forever falling short of the pinnacle of said perfection!) but rather a work in progress. Journey not destination, uphill in the snow, etc. and so on.

Zen is tough. That’s the whole point.

[Insert graceful segue to next section. Um. -mindblank- Ack! Quick, cute animal picture!]

redpanda

LFG PNP RPG

I am on the Evil Hat mailing list. Evil Hat are, among other things, responsible for the FATE Core tabletop RPG system and for the Dreaden Files rules, which are based on the eponymous series by Jim Butcher.

[/tangent: I am a rabid Dresden Files fangirl and will turn upon you the full weight of my two literature degrees – though even I fail to see how a French Lit. degree will help in this case – if you so much as cast an iota of the shadow of an aspersion upon those books. I am not rabid about many things. YHBW.]

Just as there is a FATE Accelerated ruleset, which is a slightly different, streamlined, more immediately accessible (‘grab & go’) version of the FATE Core rules, there will soon be a Dresden Files Accelerated ruleset. There has been an announcement. Said announcement includes a call for playtesters.

I AM SO THERE. I have already applied.

pickme

Unfortunately, it turns out that the spousal unit doesn’t have the head-space for tabletop RPGs at the moment. My single other player is, while a wonderful player, at best unreliable and at worst impossible to pin down for a facetime play session.

So I am left with an application in which I claim to have players I don’t, in fact, have (I should probably have checked with them first, huh?), and a tabletop gaming itch that hasn’t been properly scratched in a decade and a half.

I figure the quandary can be solved by finally selecting one of those newfangled virtual tabletop programs (as opposed to merely farting around with the idea as I did a year or two ago) and calling for players.

I am terrified of this. I like playing with people I know. I haven’t played tabletop games with strangers since Euro GenCon in 1993 or 4. But I figure most people here aren’t entirely strangers and some of them might actually be fellow Dresden fans, or players, or simply interested in the idea.

On the bright side, a) I likely won’t be picked anyway because there will be more applications than they need, and b) the decision isn’t made until the end of September, which gives me a little time. Playtesting would occur — I assume — during October and November (ish? guessing) and would require committing to 4-6 sessions over an 8-week period.

Deadlands

I’ve been wanting to run and/or play (but mostly run, I’ll admit, because I’m jonesing to write another campaign or three) for ages and have done nothing about it. I have a number of RL and e-friends in the same boat, some of whom read this. Let’s do something about it. Whether anything comes of the Dresden Files Accelerated testing or not, I have or can acquire any number of game systems including but not limited to FATE, Ars Magica (I’m a 2/3/4E + many house flanges girl for the most part), Deadlands (which I have never played but picked up on the Bundle of Holding a month or two ago and would love to try), Vampire and clones, AD&D, Shadowrun, Cthulhu etc. etc. etc.

As a GM I tend more towards cooperative story-telling than GM/Player competition. I heartily endorse this essential LOOK ROBOT post on being a great player, which applies just as much to GMs; here’s another very worthwhile post.

This is starting to sound rather painfully like I’m filling out an online dating site profile, so we’ll stop here.

And now for something completely different.

CHEESE

Cheese wins the poll so far, by a landslide 6 votes over 5 for pie. I knew I could count on the Dirty Half-Dozen. Yes, of course I forgot all about the poll until now. It’s not like it was important or anything. I live in a pie- and cake-tolerant world.

See you tomorrow, folks. (Also known as: Shooting Yourself In The Foot or Asking to Roll A Natural 1.)

– – – – – – – – –

* AKA I have no idea. It’s at least 60 based on counting new posts in my reader, and I still haven’t managed to add everyone.

Blaugust Day 19 – ARK: lazy blogging day pix

It’s my turn to claim that if a picture is worth 1000 words, you’re about to get way more than I should need to write in a single day. That’s because a) it’s already late in the day and the later it gets, the less I want to write and b) there’s only so many different ways I can say “…and a dinosaur killed me and devoured my corpse.”

I did do and learn a few things yesterday though, the first being that for all my maniacal crowing (here’s a reminder:)

quoting myself

the server options shockingly only affect server-based games and not single-player games.

Bummer.

The second was that telling literally the whole freaking world (well, Twitter), first thing in the morning, how you’re going to spend the entire day in a blissed-out gaming state is guara-fucking-teed to screw up said day.

Third: Setting up a server for myself and the spousal unit to play on wasn’t as easy as it looked, until I found better instructions and this handy-dandy utility: ARK Server Manager. Get it. Use it. I spent a couple of hours faffing around with firewall and router settings and didn’t even need to since it’ll do that for you. I was wrong. You DO have to open those ports on your router but the walkthrough you’re pointed to is excellent.

ARK server manager 2
Click for larger version

Just be sure to point your “Installation Location:” to your existing ARK install (generally SteamSteamAppscommonARK) and not some other folder — I thought it was asking for something else until I realised it was redownloading the whole bloody game (not on my internet connection, you don’t!). And if it doesn’t enter the required ports (orange boxes above), make sure those are entered.

The utility lets you set ALL the variables for the server and then some – the screenie below is just the first quarter of them.

ARK server manager
Click for larger version

Also, if you run your own server, know that it takes a while to get up and running — especially the first time. Mine currently takes about 2 minutes to get going but that’ll vary depending on your rig. Finally, if you find you’re getting timed out a lot once you’re playing on your server, set the client bandwidth to lower than epic — which you have to do from within the game since I assume it’s a local setting; worked like a charm for us.

Fourth: When you brag about how you’re going to play all day, you should know that there will be a patch. It’s a law of gaming. And lo, as soon as the server was set up, there was a patch.

And because I was running the server, my patch was corrupt. So here’s another thing about running a server: shut the server down before you patch. If you get a corruption, shut down the server and just let Steam run the validation; it’ll redo the patch and things will be fine. And if you have a decent internet connection you won’t have to get so mad that you have to clean a parrot cage (no, this is not a euphemism) just to channel your fury into something more constructive than whining on Twitter.

When I finally did get on it was kinda late in the day. The spousal unit and Ysh 3.0 spawned into South Zone 1 to see a brontosaurus happily clomping around crushing every tree in sight. Then we got repeatedly killed by a (to quote him) dildosaurus but was in fact a dilophosaur — yes, the same wee bastards that killed me before. He left to go watch TV but I persevered and have a few screenshots to prove it.

Turns out third time might be the charm — I did not get killed (after the first 3 times), I got revenge on the wee bastard, and I made a house!!11oneone!! There. You may now switch channels, the rest is just pix.

bronto invader
Not a dino you can easily push out of the way.
Note: do not light its foot on fire by mistake while demonstrating a torch to the SO

A quick note: Ysharros 3.0 does not have Thunder-butt, to quote @Wolfy. Men can be so judgy! Maybe just Minor Tremor Butt, because I refuse to make females who look like stick-figures with hot-air balloons stuck to their chests. (Only men make female characters like that in games, BTW.)

Take THAT, dildodocus!
Take THAT, dildodocus!
very very dark
This is what night is like without a torch or fire nearby
fire good
Fire good! And house half-built
ill cut you
If you get near my house I’ll CUT you!
house 1 done
House 1 done. And fancy Indy hat.

I promise I will write about something other than ARK tomorrow.

Maybe.

PS: See how what I’m playing right now fits really well into my Gaming To-Do List? That’s my 6% conscientiousness showing its true colours right there.

Blaugust S -15 – Lost in the ARKger Games

I passed on ARK when it was on the Steam Summer Sale, and then regretted it — but regretting missed Steam Sale opportunities is like a twice-yearly ritual for me anyway — so when it was on sale again yesterday I went ahead and picked it up.

One of the reasons I passed on it before was the vast amount of ZOMGPVPganked stuff I read about it, until I realised that ZOMGPVPgank mode isn’t the only one available for the game. You can play solo, on a restricted server, or on other people’s servers. Which at least gave me the chance to dip my toes in the water (metaphorically – you want to be careful about actually doing that in ARK) yesterday and see what all the fuss has been about.

In case you live under a rock like I mostly do, ARK: Survival Evolved, as it’s officially called (because it’s not a real game these days if it doesn’t have a colon somewhere in its name) is… a survival game. In which you try to avoid dying from: heat, dinosaurs, cold, exhaustion, dinosaurs, lack of oxygen, dinosaurs, starvation, dehydration, swimming dinosaurs, the weather, dinosaurs, and (if you want) other players. And that’s only the methods I’ve discovered so far.

It’s less One Million Years B.C. and more LOST or The Land That Time Forgot, though given the costume similarity some confusion is understandable.

ARK_million years
Does my bum look bigger than hers in this?

Aside from the basic premise — don’t die — which is a fairly important one, there are more extended goals. Escape from the Island is the obvious one, though I’m not sure how achievable it’s meant to be and since I haven’t even left the beach I started on, it’s hardly a priority for me yet. Tame dinosaurs!! is another and yes, it must always be spoken or written with exclamation marks. Duh. I haven’t got to that yet either.

Heeere, dino dino dino!
Heeere, dino dino dino!

You’ll also find the standard game goals of exploration, character levelling and skills, building (so that you don’t die from being stomped on by a distracted brontosaurus), and killing shit so you can take its loot (so you can make more shit and aren’t so easy to kill when stomped on by a distracted brontosaurus). And last but not least, there’s finding out what the giant glowy towers are all about, which I suspect ties in with the whole survive-and-escape goal. Unless it opens up a Master Of The Dinosaur Island option, which I’d be okay with too.

Click for larger version
Click for larger version

For my trial run I decided to play in single-player mode, which means you can pause the game and the world doesn’t persist when you’re not ‘logged in’. After getting my ass handed to me a bunch of times by dodos, pteranodons*, some kind of giant turtle-thing and a whole freaking school of blood-frenzied megalodons before I’d even made a pair of shorts, I played in dumbed-way-the-hell-down-for-21st-century-slickers mode. In fact, the game lets you customise all manner of things from how tough you are, how tough the dinos are, how long the day/night cycle is (or how long day and night last individually), how quickly you go through food, and so on. You get 24 sliders to play with, not counting the basic ‘game difficulty’ one which I set to jeez-why’d-you-even-bother-buying-the-game?! Because death gets boring after a few run-throughs.

Thanks to Dracosaurian and the ARK wiki
Thanks to Dracosaurian and the ARK wiki

The very first thing you notice — other than being almost naked and definitely not alone on a beach – is that the game is stupdendously beautiful, at least on my spanky not-quite-new-anymore machine. I can’t run in ultra settings because I only have a ‘lowly’ GTX970, but the high settings weren’t bad at all.

Brontosaurus

The next thing you notice is that everything that isn’t you either wants to kill you or won’t hesitate to kill you if you are foolish enough to attack it — even the trees. Since you start with nothing, you literally have to bang your head fists against a few trees in order to get some basic materials and yes, you take damage every time.

After that you realise that time is passing, tick-tick-tick, that you’re near-naked, surrounded by dinosaurs, dinosaur-infested jungle and dinosaur-infested waters, observed by ominous structures in the distance (which almost certainly have something to do with the glowy carbuncle on the inside of your left wrist), and that you’re probably about to die quickly and unpleasantly (chomp!) or slowly and unpleasantly (brrr!) if you don’t start doing something about it. And all you have is your hands.

Which is fine, because it’s enough to start pulling up berries, leaves, rocks and whatever else you can fit into your capacious and invisible pockets. And soon enough you have enough to cobble together an axe-like thing, which makes you more efficient at getting more stuff to make more stuff to oh shit it’s dark and cold and raining and I don’t have a fire and I’m dyyyyyyiiinnngggg….

Dark night 1
The night *is* dark and full of terrors

So you find a tutorial, because it’s one thing to admire the landscape and quite another to realise that sundown will likely kill you. This one (written) and this one (YouTube) were both basic enough and helpful enough to get me past that first half-hour of frustration. If you’re more used to this kind of game and its UI/controls than I am, you might not even need those. I kept banging my head on the desk because I couldn’t move the mouse to the icons on the right-hand side of the screen (until I realised they’re status icons, not menu icons…). It was just a happy coincidence that the YouTuber chap started in the same spot as I did – or vice versa. But I can tell you that the S1 spawn (I think) on Footloose island, or some such name, is a good, relatively safe spot to start. Yes, even with all the dying I did, because most of that dying was self-inflicted.

Rebuilding
Rebuilding after yet another death

And so you make yourself a couple of tools, eat a couple of berries, kill a couple of dodos, and become cocky enough to investigate the actinic shaft of light shouting Oi! Come check me out! to every gamer within miles. Fortunately I’m the only one on this version of The Island, and when I investigate my first one I get a few goodies like a sling and a flare gun. A little while later (after having levelled, gained some new crafting recipes, and become engrossed enough to totally forget about screenshots) I spot another one a little ways around a headland to the south-west, and I hurry to investigate it before sundown. Being careful of my megalodon nemeses, who mostly avoid the shallow channel between my spawn spot and that other headland apart from the occasional foray, I swim and scuttle over and am rewarded with a thatch foundation, 3 walls, a doorframe and a door. Since I’d already built and placed four foundations at my starting point I was stoked, as this would be the start of a proper house…

Supply cache!
Supply cache!

And then the sun went down, the rain started, the temperature plummeted, and as soon as I stepped into the water to get back to my side of the channel the game warned me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t just cold, I was about to freeze to death. So — disappointed but smarter — I quickly placed my single-foundation hut just off the sand, closed the door behind me, lit a torch, and stood there waiting for daylight.

And that’s where I left it. Tune in next week for another episode of LOST in the ARK!

After a few hours of play, my basic impressions are that it’s definitely a fun game, if you like that sort of thing, which I do — and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I also think it’s probably a lot more fun with friends, so Mort and I may try running a local two-player version when we can find the time (and if I can drag him away from his renewed love-affair with EVE). After that, once we’re not as likely to be a drag on whoever takes me/us in, I may try to see if anyone is running a more-people server, because joining a tribe probably opens up a whole new dimension of fun, and who doesn’t want to be an Ooga-Booga? I probably won’t touch the PvP side of things but that’s ok, I don’t have to.

I even got used to the insanely annoying non-MMO controls pretty quick, though I’m sure I will suck at combat until the end of time. But that’s ok. I’ll find a dino or something to protect me.

– – – – – – – – –

* I’m lying about those. They actually flew away from me before I could hit them, with or without an axe-type-thing — which was probably the only thing that prevented me from impaling myself on their claws.

 

Blaugust Day 15 – Dying is Educational

In Project: Gorgon*, you get xp every time you die in a new and interesting way. Which, given the name of this blog, really means I should play this game from now until the end of time, or at least until I give up on the blog. Though in all honesty my corpses aren’t particularly stylish yet since I’m wearing the noob stuff you get just for showing up.

I did not get a play much in my first session — an hour or so — but that was fun nonetheless. Bhagpuss did a much more comprehensive and entertaining post about it a few days ago, and I find I agree with him on the humour though it seemed to tickle me a bit more than it did him. A lot of descriptions and dialogue snippets in Project: Garden are quite silly, but intentionally so, and I happen to be a big fan of silly things, silly people and silly places (Camelot, for instance).

My plan to log in at the crack of dawn this morning and PLAY ALL DAMN DAY BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE ON MY DAY OFF (and all caps makes me sound more mature)… did not work out. I was called on by that Real Life game again, and then, quite unexpectedly, I got sucked into a time loop where I ended up playing Loot & Legends for *coughcough* hours. (I think it’s only an iDevice thing right now.)

You have to understand, I’m new to this whole mobile games thing. I didn’t get a smartphone until last year, not from any Luddite leanings but because we lived in an area with no signal to speak of and why for should I spend $100+ a month for nothing? And I didn’t get a tablet till this year (I don’t count the Kindle, even the Fire), because reasons. Then I got an iPad and now I’m discovering what I’ve been missing, which is how to totally waste my life on things that want to suck my real-life money every second I play them.

I spent several years translating a number of these mobile games and, believe it or not, that’s a really good incentive to not play them much because you get to see the graspy underbelly even more clearly than while you’re playing them. But still, I had fun.

Anyway, I will be doing the Project: Gecko thing now, assuming an unexpected divine cartoon hand doesn’t reach down from above and make me do something else. It happens.

Gilliam_handVeering back to Project: Gumball**, I managed to die entertainingly twice (+100XP, yay!). This was after making an Elf, whose racial superskill seems to be sex-addiction and a strong preference for double-entendres, which I thought I could run with if and when I RP (or even talk to another player). Here she is.

Ysharros the Annoyed

Her name is Ysharros. I don’t know if there’s a friends list yet and I don’t even know how to speak in /say, but we can always gesture and grunt if we run into each other. And here she is dying the first time to a wolf so weak he could barely stand up. I’m pretty sure he died of starvation right after he killed me.

PG death 1I made it out of the tutorial cave (having picked up a couple of levels of Mycology skill in the process — see mushroom, will harvest) and to the nearest village. I have no idea if it has a name, but there were quite a few newbies there aside from me. I assume they were newbies because we were all wearing the freebie armour you get so that chickens don’t kill you. It’s very RED.

I almost got killed by some… psychic mantises? They were like mantises and they stunlocked me and almost chewed off my face before I managed to run away — and that was just one of the random houses in the village. After that I proceeded a little more cautiously and set the bar a great deal lower. I killed a couple of chickens (for feathers, to help out a local NPC), killed a couple of pigs (for snouts, ditto, which I didn’t get because I forgot you need the skinning skill, which you get by using a butchering knife, which I hasn’t bought), and killed a named pig whom I didn’t remember to immortalise in a screenie so we’re going to say he was called Mr. Snouty. He didn’t drop much of interest, certainly no pants yearning for the sea.

And that’s where I had to leave it. I’d be back there now if I didn’t have to write this blog post. Or play just one more round of Loot & Legends; I owe some troglodytes a rematch.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Can we please rename it Project: Gordon already? It’s all my fingers know how to type. Maybe I should set up auto-correct… but then, every time I write to my good buddy the Commish, I’ll call him Gorgon… sigh.

** This is almost as entertaining as getting Benedict Cumberbatch’s name wrong. If not as eye-candyish.

Blaugust Day 13 – the Dreaded Doldrums

TL;DR – Much soul-searching as to why I’m ‘meh’ about games. Need people. Don’t want dungeons. Insoluble. Inconceivable!

I keep calling them that, but I think it’s more than the usual “I’d rather be outside reading a book” summer thing. I have a million games I could be playing and yet, as I have lamented more than once of late, I’m not really playing any of them. Not to any degree of involvement, anyway. Actually, when looking for posts to link in that previous sentence, I realised that those two “what shall I play?” posts were in fact not weeks, but rather months apart (January and July). Which means I’ve been feeling this ‘meh-ness’ about gaming for some time.

meh_catFirst I wondered if it might be that I’ve simply grown tired of MMOs or, *gasp* gaming in general. I still have fun playing Sims 4 now and then, though admittedly that’s not a particularly demanding game; but I don’t play for ‘demanding’ so that’s not an issue. I log into WoW more out of duty than any particular desire to do so, but I am paying a sub (and have been for the last 5 years – I might want to rethink that) so I might as well use it. I haven’t logged into EQ2 for almost a year now, even though I love that game. I check in on The Secret World now and then, but that game is demanding, specifically in a theory-crafting kind of way which doesn’t particularly motivate me. (More on TSW some other time.) I’m not logging in to SWGEmu much and if my vendors burn up, I’m not really bothered. Aside from those there’s The Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar and Project: Gorgon, and that’s just all the MMOs I have I’m not playing. And I really want to play Project: Gorgon. I’ve backed the Kickstarter and all. But… meh.

And it’s MMOs I want to talk about in particular because I think I know what’s going on.

I don’t really have anyone to play with anymore.

It galls me vaguely to even say that. I’m an introvert. I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I don’t mind — in fact I very much enjoy — bimbling around by myself in games… provided there are other people to chat with. And there’s the rub. While I’m an introvert, I’m also a sociable player and I like to share the experience with people I know. Which means I’m not counting General Chat in any game as an acceptable alternative. Taking part in general chat is like bathing in a sewer — and not the clean, clearly lemon-scented sewers Baghpuss mentions.

Part of the problem is that I play odd hours. I’m not much of an evening player for one, and I’m in a weird time zone for another — 2 hours behind the US East Coast and an hour ahead of the West. (Granted I’m not playing from Australia or Thailand, which I’m sure presents even greater challenges.) I play during the day, which means I tend to interface most with Euro times — and that’s fine, when it works.

Another issue is that while I know eleventy-thousand gamers through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and just general gaming, we’re all playing different games — so even if they’re online when I’m online, chances are we’re not online in the same virtual world or server. And while I am acquainted with many, I don’t really know who they are in the various games; my occasional attempts to hook up with folks in games tend to fall flat because of issue 1 above.

Then there’s the fact that I am primarily a solo player. I did game with bloggers and e-friends at one point, and we even made guilds together, but because I am not particularly keen on the group thing, I don’t really fit in. So I slip out of touch. And then everyone moves on to another (usually different) game and/or stops playing, etc. etc. etc.

I’m beginning to think I’ll have to embrace the group thing in games. I don’t mind grouping at all (ask my SWG buds, if you can find them), but the primary purpose of grouping in most games is to run dungeons and I would really rather not. I’m certain I’ve explained why elsewhere but I can’t find a link, so in 10 words or less: dungeons = too much visual / auditory input for me. I’ve tried the whole desensitisation thing (thanks to friends who kept telling me that if I did lots of dungeons, I’d start to like them), I’ve tried running them with friends (helps because no PUGs, doesn’t help with the whole input-excess thing), I’ve tried running them in different games (and some are less bad, e.g. FFXIV, while some are awful, e.g. WoW). I’ve tried turning off the particles and turning down the sound, but then what exactly is the point? Oh, right — items.

GWdungeon
Makes my eyes bleed (From the GW2 forums)

I am not motivated by items. So the absolute primary reason to run dungeons, which is to obtain stuff so you can run the next dungeon and get even more stuff… just doesn’t matter to me. The only items I care about are my crafting tools, my housing deco, pets, and the occasional piece of clothing. And even then I’m not always motivated enough to get those that I’d crawl over broken glass to get them (i.e. do long & boring quest lines and/or dungeons).

So while I do occasionally run through dungeons by myself when I’m high enough to not get my ass kicked, it’s not something I make a habit of. And it’s not something that really floats my boat or rocks my world.

I have the uneasy feeling that what I really want — which is to be in an MMO for more than 2 months at a time, to have a couple of dozen folks I can hang out with, and to feel at home again in an MMO rather than like a visitor — may not be available to me right now.

Well then. I shall just have to stop whingeing, pull my socks up, and pick a game. Then *I* can be the one player that’s always there even when everyone else ups and wanders off.

Eenie-meenie-minney-mo… PROJECT: GORGON it is! On with the download! And if you decide to join me, chances are you’ll find me as Ysharros*.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Except in all the games where I’m Eloise or Heloise or Alouette or – yeah, whatevs.

The Repopulation – Hour 1

It’s on sale on Steam for a few more days. Find out more about the game here, or do a Google search you lazy bastards. Here are my very brief first impressions.

  • It’s in alpha. Read it again: ALPHA. Repeat after me: Aaaaalllph-aaaaaa. So stop crying about the bugs, the disconnects, the crashes, the bugs. (And it’s running very stably for me so QQ bitches.) If you don’t want that experience, wait a few months. It’ll be on sale again and it doesn’t launch till Q4 (that’s dev-speak, so I’m guessing May 2016).
  • It’s a sandbox. There’s a basic “here’s how you walk, talk and shoot things” tutorial and then you’re dumped in Mos Eisley one of the two faction starter-cities to sink or swim. However, NPCs are literally spamming your inbox with mission offers and the rest is pretty self-explanatory for anyone with a working braincell. Want to harvest? Find some nodes, swing that axe. Want to fight? Find some mobs, pewpew that pistol.
  • It feels a lot like SWG and the UI elements borrowed all the nastiest, clunkiest, screen-hoggingest crappy bits of the SWG UI (of all the things to copy), but it is most definitely not SWG or UO, so don’t go buying it because someone said it was. It’s ‘inspired by’ — and that’s definitely true. It’s not a clone. Your character may be, but it isn’t.
  • I’m not a huge fan of the graphics or even the art style, but that’s highly subjective. Bodies are reasonably well-proportioned and fairly realistic (moreso than in most games). The buildings in the starter cities are suitably grimy. The outside bits are suitably tree-y and rock-y… But somehow it leaves me cold. I’d almost rather SWG’s cartoonish art than this gritty, realistic and ultimately unpoetic view. So far the landscapes haven’t made me catch my breath, but I haven’t gone far. AND it’s alpha. Always remember alpha.

2015-06-19_00004 2015-06-19_00002

  • The crafting system looks complex. It may still  depend on grinding 1000 craft-foozles to master, but there’s very little way around that in an MMO – at least no fair way. I haven’t really crafted anything but I have chopped down some trees and harvested some flowers and ore. Oddly enough if it reminds me of anything, it’s Anarchy Online, simply because it’s so freaking complex and there are so many recipes and Recipe 1 depends on subcomponents A – M each of which is made by a different crafting profession…
  • However, the game does have a Work Order system, which is the only way you can make genuine crafting interdependence work. I have already sold little bits and pieces to people who needed them for whatever mysterious purpose they needed them for. I’m guessing grinding.
  • I have no idea what combat is like, other than a bit buggy. I pewpew-ed shit with my trusty handgun as needed to reach nodes. I don’t care about combat.

I have a feeling there is a LOT to discover under the surface, especially with harvesting and crafting and perhaps even housing. I will probably carry on discovering, but I doubt it’ll pull me away from SWG or WoW or my main games, not for a while.

Steam – It's a Monster!

The Steam Monster Summer Sale, that is. Go forth and find some games!

steam summer sale 2015

It’s possible my finger slipped and I purchased The Repopulation; I don’t know much about it but I have an old friend very much involved with it and a few other friends have said nice things and hey, new MMO with SWG and UO flavour, TAKE MY MONEY I’M IN!

The spousal unit purchased the entire collection of Heroes of Might & Magic games, which I stopped caring about around number 5 (or 6, whichever one was the amazing disappointment) and got us hooked up on the family dealy so now he’s trying out games I bought on other amazing sales and have *cough* never even tried, like LA Noire.

Meanwhile the SWG honeymoon continues, perhaps fanned by the fact that there’s never enough time to play it. Absence, heart, fonder, etc. I’m logged in a lot, but mostly I’m AFK sampling which doesn’t really count as playing. When I do get to play I have fun — but not in the way I expected. Crafting is entertaining, yes, but there’s very little impetus to get up and running because the server is choking on a surplus of great crafters, largely because everyone can make 10 characters so everyone can have all the crafts. I know, waaahmbulance.

So I’ve been doing combat here and there – initially to pay the bills (which still strikes me as backasswards – I made a fortune as a crafter back in the day), and now because it’s rather fun even though the SWG combat system is probably one of the clunkiest ever. 2003 and all that.

Publish 7 went in the weekend before last and now you can no longer disrespect Imperial soldiers without having to pay for it:

poke a stormieYay! I used to slap at least one stormie a day with my Sword/Doc/Rebel back on Shadowfire, just because.

Oh yeah, and there are working droids now too. And Bio-Engineer got an Image Design makeover by a Rodian hopped-up on Skooma or something because it’s just… weird, now. It’s being tweaked, thank goodness. In the meantime master BEs are producing CL10 non-CH creatures with 9k HAM – which means nothing to anyone not playing SWG and should make SWG-players’ eyes bug out.

That’s it. I’m off to try The Repopulation since SWGEMU-Basilisk just took a nosedive. Ah, post-patch weeks. Gotta love em!