Happy 2011!

In a few hours, anyway – or, depending where you may be, happy 2011 already.

Let us hope the crop of games is good! Aside from that I wouldn’t mind a pony, great health, pots of cash and undying love. You know, the easy stuff, and not necessarily in that order (though the pony ALWAYS comes first).

Was pondering doing a recap of 2010 but really, my gaming year was pretty boring. I don’t own a console right now (can’t decide between Xbox and PS3), so I didn’t play any of those. I didn’t play any of the Dragon Age expansion thingies either. I did briefly play Assassin’s Creed in preparation for buying and playing AC2, but not for long and I never did buy the new game.

MMO-wise, I started the year with EQ2 in the firm belief (isn’t it always?) that I wouldn’t be playing anything else for positively aeons. Predictably, I got sucked into Fallen Earth in May-ish, partly because of a free offer that was too good to pass up and partly to show solidarity for what appeared to be a struggling studio with not a bad little MMO.

That lasted all of two months, I think. I then hopped into the LOTRO F2P beta and thence into LOTRO paid-up non-beta, which I’m technically still subscribed to (I think). We played that for a few months and then, a few weeks ago, somehow got sucked back in to WoW, where I’ve been having far more fun than I ever expected. The excellent company of friends I’ve recovered there doesn’t hurt one bit, either — it’s been half a decade and then some since I played with some of those people, and it’s been great to catch up over a drink or seven.

Side note: good tequila apparently does not give you hangovers.

Side note 2: good tequila seems to evaporate out of the bottle really fast. I’ll have to make sure the cap’s on tight. *cough*

The month in games – July 2010

One month, three games — that’s probably some sort of record for me.

When June ended I was playing Fallen Earth, and then from one day to the next I went back to EVE and shortly thereafter started Guild Wars. If you’d told me that four months ago, when I was still perfectly happily playing EQ2, I’d have snorted at you in disbelief.

Fallen Earth

Thanks to the frenzy surrounding layoffs at Icarus and the subsequent issue of 1000 (more?) free game codes, I was able to come back to Fallen Earth for the first time since my stint in the beta back in late 2008.

Fallen Earth is a lovely game and quite a lot of fun, but a couple of things did put me off. The factions stuff… eh. I wasn’t looking forward to having to putz about with that faction wheel, and I would have had to in order to do and get the stuff I wanted to do and get. On the bright side the whole faction system is being rethought and hopefully revamped, so we’ll see what’s what when they’ve had a chance to develop and implement that.

But at the end of the day — and I’m a little annoyed with myself about this — it was the trekking that did me in. Travelling around sector 1 isn’t much of a problem. Travelling around sector 2 isn’t much of a problem. But travelling from one Sector to another — even with a biodiesel bike (the Willie Nelson I) — it got a bit yawnsome. Again though, this is something that has already been addressed with the bus stop system.

Still. Part of me wants travel to be meaningful and I certainly understand why devs and designers want it to be meaningful — but 10-30 minutes of uninterrupted going from A to B along an empty road is not meaningful and it’s not interesting.

The other straw for this camel’s back was that if you wanted to be able to make the really good stuff for char/skill/level X, you had to get books and harvestables from way higher up the skill/level/whatever chain. Some of the recipe books for items that would primarily be used in sector 1 could only be obtained from vendors in sector 2, and that only after you’d obtained the requisite amount of faction (which admittedly isn’t much).

Which means MyChar1 would be in crap gear and using crap stuff but MyChars2-4 could be twinked out the wazoo thanks to MyChar1 being able to get the stuff.

Of course that’s the case in pretty much every MMO out there these days, and I have nothing against twinking per se — not at all, in fact I rather enjoy doing it myself up to a point — but for some reason in Fallen Earth it was like a little bit of salt rubbed in daily.

All that being said I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with Fallen Earth — it’s a fun game, it’s come a hell of a long way from beta that’s for sure, and it’s definitely worth the price of admission if you don’t object to the setting. (Just don’t think you can turn it into YAFMMO in your head. It’s not fantasy, even if the “orcs” can set you on fire.) I definitely recommend it — it’s just not the game for me right now, and as it’s subscription-based I have to be picky and choosy.

EVE Online

This was another freebie, at least as far as reactivation for a few days went. I first played EVE for a month or two waaaay back in 2004, but ended up moving on to something else for reasons I now can’t recall — probably the lure of another new shiny game and the unlure of my ongoing issues with EVE itself. I played again in 2006, also for only a month or two, this time with the spousal unit, and the big problem I had back then was that space makes me RL sick. There’s nothing quite like wanting to yack up your dinner when you’re playing to make you reconsider a subscription!

Anyway, since then we’d got new machines and much larger new monitors, so we figured we’d give it another go just for shits’n’giggles. The good news is that I don’t get quite so sick in space anymore, though moving the camera around too fast in space can still make me feel like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. Combat is still a bit of a problem, chunks-wise.

The bad news is that I’m just not cut out for full on world-PvP.

Back in 2006 you could stick to safe space and pretty much pretend there was no PvP, but these days it’s everywhere. People try to warp-scramble you just because they’re there and you’re there and what the hell, right? — And this in 0.9 space no less. I’m starting to think that finding a nice quiet corner of 0.0 is probably less of a pain in the ass than trying to navigate through the newbie systems.

Anyway, other than the PvP the game does have quite a few elements to recommend it to me. The market/trading game is fascinating, though as with all trading you’ll make more money if you have more money to invest up-front — but it’s still possible to make money and indeed I have been (albeit modestly) this last month. The manufacturing game isn’t much of one at the moment, at least not at my newbie levels: ore and mineral prices seem to have dropped considerably since I last played and right now the profit margin on manufactured items is tiny — you’re almost better off just mining and selling the raw materials. I’ve experienced this in pretty much every MMO that has crafting based on harvested raw materials: sooner or later, the raws will be as valuable if not moreso than the stuff you can make with them.

Then there’s Planetary Interaction, which has been fun but is limited in the amount of playtime it takes. I’m further limited in my unwillingness to leave safe space — the chancier the system, the more likely you are to strike gold, so to speak. But again, it’s not impossible and I’m managing; I’m making a profit, just not as much and not as fast as I might be.

In EVE, the risk-reward ratio is very obvious — but even with minimal risk there is still a chance of getting some reward.

Right now the only reason I’m still subscribed is because Mort is playing and enjoying the game, and I figure that whatever money I can make can help fuel his more active ambitions in the game. He’s running missions, hopping around in low-sec space, getting stuff done — generally he’s just not as much of a chicken as I am.

Again, EVE is not a bad game at all. There have been a slew of improvements and the basic game itself is fun, for the right player. Hardcore you need to be, grasshopper, and prepared to overlook the godawful interface with its godawful font — but at least everyone else has to use the same godawful UI so in that sense it’s even.

I’m just not the right player. I keep telling myself I can hide in the corner in PvP games and still have fun, but at the end of the day it’s just too stressful for me. I don’t like adrenaline, you see. So people can tell me I’ll get to like it if I just get killed enough times — till they’re blue in the face — but it’ll never be true. Much though I would like to be a cool kid and more Die Hard than Disney, the fact is I’m Disney and always will be. Hell, I used to get stressed out playing Tomb Raider for cripes’ sake.

So yeah… I don’t see EVE lasting so well for me. I’ll probably stay subbed up a few months to do some training and work on my PIs but if Mort decides he’s had enough it’ll be about 3 seconds before I hit the unsub button. I’m not cut out for the Wild West and lurking from one safe-space station to the next doesn’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

Guild Wars

Oh look, another freebie — well, no sub to playbie anyway.

I’ve been intrigued by GW for some time now, mostly thanks to comments by and conversations with people like (the still blog-less) @longasc and Dusty. (There are many more and apologies for not crediting you all. You’ll have to bask in the warm glow of knowing who you are.) This is another game I played briefly in beta, though only in the open beta phase, and the only thing I remember about it from back then is that it was pretty and that it didn’t quite work the way I expected. Limited skills! Instances! No jumping!!11oneone!

Which just goes to show that first impressions aren’t always as reliable as people like to think. As a long-time believer in the uselessness of first impressions, I should have known better.

Of the three games I’ve played this month this one seems to fit my playing requirements best right now, and there are several reasons for that.

It’s light — I can pick it up, play 15 minutes or 5 hours, and put it down. No lengthy inventory and bank sorting sessions. No massive amounts of things to craft or sell or craft-then-sell. Just log in, go somewhere with my trusty heroes/henchmen/pets/spousal unit, kill some shit, log out. That is such a relief — and one I’d not expected.

It’s pretty. Sure, some of the graphical elements are a little dated (like the faces on Prophecies chars), but for the most part it’s a really good-looking game. Many of the environments are colourful without being over-saturated (thanks Tesh!), and the brown environments are… not too bad. Besides, I have characters in every campaign so if post-Searing Ascalon gets too much for me I can just play someone in the jungles of Nightfall for a while and get my fill of palm trees and giant ferns.

It’s easy. The initial learning curve is a little weird, partly because one has to unlearn a few MMO habits, but it doesn’t take very long at all to be comfortable with the way the controls work. Learning the intricacies of skills and choices can take a little longer, but that’s part of the fun of the game.

NO TREADMILLS. That deserved capitalisation. From what I’ve seen so far, armour is something you’ll upgrade maybe 3 or 4 times and that’s it — any other sets you obtain will  be mostly for the looks. Yippee-frickin-kay-yay! There’s a little more variation in weapons but so far I haven’t seen The One Weapon To Rule Them All that I’d have to strive for like a hamster on a wheel. Double yay.

Sure, there may be reputation or faction or something-else treadmills, but I can ignore those and not feel like I’m fighting sub-par. This is a joy beyond imagining for someone like me who isn’t particularly motivated by the chase for the next great gear-item.

Instant travel. This can be a double-edged sword but given how Guild Wars is built, anything else would have been idiotic in the extreme. You adventure in solo (or with friends) instances, and you do everything else in towns and outposts. Having you slog through multiple instances just to get back to a town/outpost would be truly irritating — this way you can jump into the action and jump back out of it just as fast when you’ve had enough or dinner’s ready or whatever. It works. I like it.

I’ve already got a slew of characters, not all of whom are likely to survive as I try out this profession and that one. My highest is currently a 14 Ranger/Paragon combo whose Paragon skills are sadly underused, but she’s fun all the same. The Necromancer/Ranger (see a theme here?) is stuck at 9 because I’m overdosing on post-Searing destro-Ascalon browniness.  I also just started a Mesmer/(currently)Necro combo to play with the spousal unit, and she’s a LOT of fun. There’s nothing like messing with mob minds from behind a sturdy meatshield.

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m glad there’s no crafting in Guild Wars. I’m tired of managing my inventories and having a million crafter alts. Maybe I’m just bloated from the bounteous crafting goodness that is EQ2 these days (largely thanks to its crafting dev, Domino) — there is, after all, such a thing as too much of a good thing.

And maybe in a month or three or six I’ll want to go back to that kind of crafting — and then I will. In the meantime, I’m (mostly) unshackled from monthly subscription fees and that, too, is quite a relief.

Long month, long post

And then there’s my self-challenge to post daily on this blog for the month of July, which I’ve mostly managed to do. I did give myself weekends off, partly for the sake of my sanity and partly because nobody reads weekend posts anyway — and while I do write mostly for myself, I guess I’m not entirely immune to what Rivs calls being an attention whore. Though I prefer to think of myself as an attention high-class-escort, thank you very much.

I shall make no promises for August, that’s for sure!

Fallen Earth – Say hello to my little friend

This is just for Harbinger Zero, who appears to believe I am not sufficiently geared up. Those screenies were a few weeks old — neener neener!

Airgun this!

Now I have an assault rifle too. Ho Ho Ho!

On a totally different note, I mourn the loss of Spyder’s top hat. I had this whole native American thing going and the top hat was very Josey Wales.

Not the hat!


Sadly, those bastard developers chose to be realistic and I can’t get a steel- or kevlar-lined, top-hat shaped piece of really good protective headgear. So instead I’m wearing some stupid padded helmet that was unfashionable 200 years ago when Ike was president. T-shirts and pants don’t go above 30 skill (ish) either. It actually makes perfect sense but dammit, I so wanted to be badass in Daisy Dukes*! (Ok maybe not, but definitely in a Grateful Dead T-shirt.)

Sheesh. The things I do for uberitude, eh? On the bright side, soon I get to wear a shiny blue batter’s helmet! Be still my heart.

* One day there will be a Secret World beta and I shall be in it. What, you thought I’d forgotten? Oh no! /sacrifice chicken

Fallin’ for Fallen (Earth)

So what’s with the deafening silence these last few weeks, I hear you all ask? Well for one thing, I’ve had real life stuff going on; other than that, most of my playtime has been taken up with Fallen Earth.

Yeah, I’m a fickle MMO-abandoning byotch. I wouldn’t have thought so 6 weeks ago, but there you have it. I dumped EQ2 without a second thought — well, actually, it’s more like we agreed to see other people. I met this hot, modern, just flaky enough to be interesting other MMO so me and EQ2, we’re on a break. It’s mutually agreed. Honest.

Which isn’t to say EQ2 suddenly sucks — it’s still a lovely game and I’d still be having a lot of fun playing it (if I were playing it). But Fallen Earth is filling a gap in my gaming needs that I didn’t even realise was there. For one thing, obviously, it’s not fantasy, and in many ways that’s really refreshing after a steady diet of YAFMMO* in the last half-decade or so. SWG is the only other game I can think of offhand that wasn’t fantasy, not counting various short stints in various betas (like Pirates of the Burning Sea). Oh wait, City of Heroes isn’t really fantasy either — except that it sort of is, with all the caped/flying/vampire/mage/greenarrow crusaders out there; and City of Heroes had one thing that really ended up getting to me, which was the awful sameitude of the various mission styles.

Moving on. FE isn’t the only non-fantasy game out there, but it’s a pretty good one. It’s occasionally very funny, and best of all it’s not in-your-face see-what-I-did-there funny. I almost missed a conversation between two NPCs in Midway about whether bullets are better than ninjas — you had to be there but trust me, I LOLed. It’s also gritty, and sometimes even grim — and sometimes it’s grim and funny at the same time. Some screenies will illustrate:

Zombie apocalypse is no joke!

It’s definitely a game for grown-ups — hence its M rating — and while it’s not full of sugars and fudges, it does have grown up dialogue and at my age that’s oddly refreshing. When a quest NPC is being a dick, the other NPCs call him on it:

On the downside, the blood splatters are really quite silly in first person, but I’m hardly ever in first person unless forced to by cramped quarters so I don’t really care. In third person it’s either not there or not noticeable — I couldn’t tell you since I don’t notice it. I’m usually too busy noticing stuff trying to bite my face off. (Sandworms are now on my forever-Shit-list, as are all kinds of creepers.)

The gameplay has been both better and worse than I expected or remembered from beta. The reticle thing hasn’t been an issue at all after the first few days, which is ironic because it’s one of the main reasons I didn’t try FE at release. As it turns out, if that’s the only way you can fight and you actually want to fight stuff, you’ll get used to using it. I’ll probably be all confused not to have one when I log in to EQ2 or some other non-reticle game now.

The UI, however, is primitive enough to make an etch-a-sketch drawing of a UI look almost sophisticated in comparison. Let me count the ways.

Let’s start with the hotkey bank that can’t be split up in any way and can only ever be a monolithic block. Sure, you can expand it to 18 slots across — errrr, 18? Who uses 18?! 12, yep, we all know that from every MMO on the planet. 24, sure, I’ll take it instead of two distinct hotbars (or hotbar banks) — but 18? That means my second line of icons would start at shift-6 — oh yeaaaah, I’m totally going to remember that when some creeper or sandworm or zombie is chewing on the back of my head.

Second, the chat interface. You can’t change the colour of text channels (and yes, SOE games — EQ2 and SWG included — have rather spoiled me for that kind of functionality), which is a pain in the ass when Help channel text is the same colour as Clan channel text. In any case what the colours are doesn’t matter, it’s the lack of user customisation that bugs me. This is 2010, not 2000, and I expect EQ2 kind of functionality from my UI rather than what we used to get in Asheron’s Call. I don’t think it’s rocket science — though I’m sure that kind of thing takes resources. (Yes, I complain and critique. No, I never make the mistake of thinking things are “easy” to fix or implement. But just because they’re not easy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t notice their absence or ask for their inclusion.)

Oh and back with the hotkeys — the icons are pretty rudimentary and not very well differentiated. It doesn’t help that you’ll have 483,2956 skills by level 5, and I hear the end game (not that I’m ever likely to see it) is a mash-fest. In that respect it’s very similar to many other MMOs, EQ2 included, and it does bug me generally that we somehow end up doing more keyboard-staring and -mashing than we do looking at what’s happening on the screen itself.

I have to admit to being quite unreasonably irked by the fact that cooldowns appear to be up before the ability is actually ready for use, so I’m constantly getting “This ability is in cooldown!” or “This ability isn’t ready for use!” If it’s not bloody ready for use, don’t show it as ready, and if that means you have to add some kind of tiny delay so it’s actually ready a split-second before it appears to be, that’s fine by me. I’d rather lose a tenth of a second than waste 2 seconds trying to use an action that isn’t as ready as the UI tells me it is.

And inventory… yeah… um. I don’t have much good to say about it except for the fact that the single monolithic “pack” can be filtered into several user-customisable tabs. That’s pretty cool, though I’d have preferred separate bags. And the downside of the tabbing system is that the inventory “boxes” you see onscreen will shrink and expand as your inventory gains and loses items. It’s not elegant. It’s messy and a pain in the ass and apparently it makes it very hard to hotbar stuff from inventory and have it reliably stay on the item you want hotkeyed.

End of UI rant. If you know me, you know I’m a UI … very-intolerant-person, and pretty blunt (though hopefully fair) in my criticisms. Obviously it’s not a game-breakingly bad UI or I wouldn’t be playing, but that’s mostly because it’s so rudimentary and does so little. Oh well. Moving on.

The Ability Points, Levels and Skills system confused me somewhat at first but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of. Once you do understand it, the problem isn’t so much getting the AP and levels as figuring out where to spend said AP. You can literally build any kind of character you want — but one thing you won’t be able to do is build a character that’s good at everything. Great at one thing, no problem. Good at several, easily done. Good at everything — not going to happen. Just as well really or we’d have a little army of post-apocalyptic Supermen running around and how boring would that be?

It is of course scary and engrossing in equal measure trying to figure out what you’re going to do with a given character, especially when you have no respec option. I’ve done a little research, though not much, and I’ve found this handy-dandy build calculator thingy. In any case I’m not even out of sector 1 yet so fortunately I don’t have to decide just yet what I want to be when I grow up. It’s very interesting to note that although I have 3 characters that are essentially the same base “class” — crafter — they all play very differently from each other. Maybe it’s all in my head, but whatever it is, it’s working and I’m having a blast.

Right now my characters range from 12 to 17, and three of the four can craft. What can I say? Initially I thought I’d have to specialise my crafters (and yeah, I’m an altoholic), though as it turns out since every crafting and gathering skill is based off the same INT/PER attribute combo, a single character can in theory master all the crafts. It takes a while, but time is the only restriction.

I could have rerolled but what the hell, I like crafting — and the nice thing is you can make a character who can craft but also fight stuff, so it’ll probably all come out in the wash in the end. And you know what? For all the little flaws I mentioned above, FE is an extremely compelling and entertaining game, provided you like its quirks and don’t hate the genre. If you’re looking for fantasy, move along. If you’re looking for something a little different (and yes, complete with Monty Python references here and there), then Fallen Earth might be just the ticket. It’s all one server, so do say hello if you decide to play!

Wordage is creeping up, so I’ll wrap this up with a few screenies. If anyone reading this wants any particular info on FE and how it plays, just ask.


More creepy corpses


Creepy in a whole different way (aka the world may end but MJ endures)


External Combustion (for science!)


It's a LONG way to Sector 2 (and back again)

* Yet Another Fantasy MMO

Fallen Earth – snowflakitude and decisions

Fallen Earth continues to be so much fun I’ve a) not logged in to anything else this week and b) come perilously close to not logging in to work either. Ahem.

Oh and better yet, it’s allowed me to reconnect with someone I played Vanguard with and haven’t seen (you know, virtually) in almost 3 years. Shoutout to Capricious! (She doesn’t have a blog. I know, what’s the world coming to?)

I’m still not quite sure what to do with all my characters; I suspect one of them will either be rerolled or be kept and just repurposed. Right now I’m trying to see if you can make a decent rifle char who can also craft — I’m told yes, so we’ll see. Problem is I now have 3 potential crafters and another thing I want to try is to see if you can make a good melee char that also has some ranged skills. Or maybe some charisma (better vendor prices). Or maybe first aid. Gah! Decisions!

Anyway, they’re not really high enough yet for anything to be set. They are however already fairly different from each other, as the screenie below shows. Altair currently has an Elvis Costello thing going on and Spyder is supposed to be my nod to native americans — it was nice to see that several of the face types you can pick are distinctly non-caucasian.

There’s a plethora of gear out there — armour and weapons — and sure, while for the most part you’ll want to wear the most up-to-skill-date stuff you can, that’s never been a major concern of mine. The gals are relatively well-armoured. Ironically, Ysharros the fighty type currently has the least armor use skill if memory serves — I bumped up her melee skill so she could wield the big honkin’ sledgehammer and boy has that been fun. Nothing quite like the smell of sledgehammered zombie brains in the morning, let me tell you!

Headmash, baby!

Each a unique snowflake. With a gun.

And look! I has Flattr button (on right —>). See this post for more info. It’s just a beta right now, but it could be interesting.

Fallen Earth – Head Shot, Baby!

It’s been ten days or so since the spousal unit and I started playing Fallen Earth, and it’s been engrossing enough so far that I haven’t logged in to anything else (read: EQ2) even once. I don’t think I’m abandoning EQ2, but in these last few days I’ve realised a couple of things: one, that I’ve missed games with more sandboxy elements; and two, that I’m a little overstuffed with fantasy MMO fare.

Which means Fallen Earth came along just at the right time — synchronicity, if you will.

Regular readers will know what a raging altoholic I am, and newer readers will just have to take it on faith. My name is Ysharros and I am an inveterate altoholic. This means my progress through games is generally much slower than most, and it also means that my concept of that progress itself isn’t really the norm. I don’t care about reaching the level cap. I don’t care about making a name for myself as El Grande Adventurer or El Mucho Raider. I do care about experiencing as many playstyles as a game will offer, which is partly why EQ2 has been such an enduring draw.

With respect to Fallen Earth it’s a little different. There aren’t a million different classes, for one, since there aren’t really any classes. The game is level- and skill-based, and is deceptively simple. You have attributes (Strength, Endurance, Charisma etc.) from which skills (rifle, armour use, cooking) are derived. Both are capped at a certain maximum value depending on your level. As you gain experience points you also gain Ability Points (AP) which can be spent to raise attributes and/or skills — and in fact should be.

Fallen Earth stats/skills - click to enlarge

So essentially the attributes and skills you choose to raise determine your “class” — if you put tons of points into rifles instead of pistols or melee, you’re a Rifleperson, and so on. The tough thing about that right now in Fallen Earth is that there’s no such thing as a respec*, so you have to decide fairly early on what your character is going to be when they grow up. If you’re a min/maxer this decision is life or death; if you’re a slacker like me it’s less of a headache, but even then I would prefer not to gimp my character into unplayability. (That said, my best Asheron’s Call memories come from my ridiculously gimped starting character and not from the zomgwtfbbquber character I made later on when I knew what I was doing. A little gimpitude builds character. (Geddit?))

Right now Ysharros — the designated smacketeer — is level 7. Altair — one of the crafters — is level 9 and not sure where she’s going, and Eloise — now the main crafter — is level 10. We realised something over the weekend, which is that if you can master all crafts on a single character (and you can, though it’s a lengthy process, since all crafting skills depend on the same 2 attributes) there’s no real need to have two or even *cough* three. Especially when your other half also has a crafter, and your old college friend who picked up a free key also has a crafter and you’re all in the same clan.

Oh yeah, we made a clan. Say hello to the South Burb Trading Company when you’re in Embry! (We might recruit. More anon.)

What this means for my chars is that, ahem, I have too many of them. Altair makes horses and food and languishes by the bank in Embry otherwise, having been pushed out of the top crafting spot by Eloise. (There was hair-pulling.) Ysharros is waiting for all this supposedly super-spanky gear the crafters can make her, except they keep offering her stuff she doesn’t have high enough skill for — though I’m really looking forward to using my new machete. And Spyder Leggz hasn’t even made it out of the tutorial yet.

Which reminds me — I apparently have a bloodthirsty sniper streak. Mort made Eloise (a crafter with rifle skills) a kickass rifle and she’s been shooting… well, just about everything that moves — in the head. Most of the time it doesn’t take more than a few shots. Pop-pop goes the air rifle, crumple goes the distant Blade Dancer. YEEHAH! goes the player at her keyboard. I think I’m going to want “Head shot baby!” on my Tombstone.

Resources have been an issue, but they’re fun to get if you can elbow your way past the crowds. Forget beaches — junkyards are where it’s at in post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon province! Scrap fasteners are used in everything from holding your pants up to holding your gun together. And ants have a really long aggro range.

Got crabs?

Last but not least – the clan. Mort and I almost always make a guild in games we play — assuming one of our older/larger guilds isn’t already present — and this time was no exception. It’s a friends and family guild, literally: there’s us, my old college buddy (and his significant other soon, or so I gather), and a couple of our oldest & best Asheron’s Call buddies. If you’re playing Fallen Earth and you want to join it you need to know a couple of things:

— Dickness won’t be tolerated unless your name actually is Dick.

— If you steal from the clan vaults (which have all the resources) or otherwise act in a dickish manner, we’ll hunt you down, cover you in honey (yes, there’s honey in FE) and feed you to the 3′ ants. Just sayin’.

— My decision is final. I get to be the Despot for this one and I’m going to make use of my Despot stick.

— If you’re a raging achiever you might not like this guild.

Oh and the socials window … isn’t. It consistently fails to notice when your friends are online, or even guildies for that matter. If you want to say hi in game it’s worth trying a tell just in case. Tell syntax is as follows: /tell Singlenamechar Blah blah — or /tell Two Namechar, {see the comma?} Blah blah. My characters are: Ysharros, Eloise Solclaim, Altair Jones and Spyder Leggz.

I’ll leave you with this somewhat disturbing image of Eloise doing the /breakdance emote. There’s a ton of silly dance emotes including /timewarp, /chickendance, /disco, /thriller and many many more. Hours of mindless entertainment! Any game that takes the time to do silly emotes has an edge over the “I’m too fucking serious to do emotes!” ones.

Embry's a tough crowd. Nobody cares about breakdancing!

* There is a respec item for chars created prior to the 1.4 patch, which substantially changed the way buffs and mutations worked. But in general and right now — no do-overs. Get it right the first time, noob!

Falling for Free

So a few days ago Massively did a masseev offer of free keys for Fallen Earth — initially one lot of 500 keys and when those vanished faster than a capybara in piranha country, they did another 500. I was lucky enough to snag a couple, one for me and one for the spousal unit; and so, almost a year and a half after our initial visit to post-Shiva virus Grand Canyon country, we went back for a visit. You can’t beat a free game and a free 30-day subscription, so EQ2 is likely to be on the sidelines for a few weeks.

Fallen Earth is very different, and yet it hasn’t changed a bit. It still looks and feels like the Fallen Earth we knew in beta, but it’s stable (yay!) and much, much prettier.

Civilizations fall, but people continue

(Ignore the jaggies, I haven’t figure out how to make anti-aliasing work yet. It’s untickable in the options and my changing it in the .ini file doesn’t seem to have done anything. There must be a trick to it.)

For those who don’t know anything about Fallen Earth, it’s the Wild West meets Hobo Chic meets Mad Max meets any movie with mutants and mad scientists in. It’s set in the Grand Canyon a century or so in the future, after most of the planet has been ravaged by a virus that either kills people or turns them into various kinds of weird. Underneath the veneer of post-apocalyptic “we’re just trying to rebuild” normality you’ll see buggy-eyed creeper things that try to eat you, slavering zombie things that try to eat you, mad coyotes/rats/scorpions that try to eat you… and so on.

Being the confirmed — and unrepentant — altoholic that I am, I’ve already got 3 characters. The fighty one is Ysharros; she hasn’t really done anything yet. Then I’ve got a crafty one to play with Mort — Eloise Solclaim (a nod to my Asheron’s Call roots) — and another crafty one to play alone — Altair Jones (a nod to CJ Cherryh’s Merovingen books). The screenie below shows Ysharros; I was initially going to take out the UI bits but actually it gives a pretty good idea of what the UI looks like, so there it is.

Ysh is riding the “Old Nag” you get very early on if you do the extended tutorial, and it’s worth doing just for that reason. That said, being the craftaholics we are, Altair is already in the process of making Improved Riding Horses so within the next few hours we should have a couple of those that the alts are going to get to fight over. Old Nags are all well and good but they’re about as fuel efficient as a 1966 Cadillac.

Fighting in FE is a little awkward for someone like me. You have to get into fighting-mode (by hitting a key) and then you have a targeting circle on your screen and that’s what you use to aim at stuff, whether it’s from a distance or — like me — with a lead pipe from so close you can smell their carrion breath. I’m not so comfortable with that kind of FPS type fighting, but on the other hand it does allow for targeted hits and I guess I’m as excitable as the next person when it works. (Head shot! take that Blade Dancer bitch!)

Most of the combat I’ve engaged in has been small-fry stuff, but the occasional tougher fight has reminded me that shit can go pear-shaped really quickly in post-apoc fights. And even then it’s fun — just before she got ripped to shreds by a bunch of aggro mine creepers, Eloise yelled “Oh fuck!”, which had me laughing so hard I died sooner than I should have from not being able to run properly.

The crafting is… interesting. There’s no actual process where you sit at a crafting station and mash buttons, as in EQ2. Stuff takes a varying amount of time to make (from a few seconds to hours) and once selected it gets put into a production queue and just counts down till it’s ready. I think you can queue up something like 20 items. Production continues regardless of what you’re doing, whether you’re offline or on, and in that sense it reminds me of running factories in SWG or manufacturing orders in EVE, except that it’s based out of your inventory and not a hangar.

Eloise, shortly before being eaten by creepers for showing too much thong

The newbie experience has been streamlined, though I was interested to see that South Burbs (one of the crafter starting spots) hasn’t really changed all that much in 18 months. It’s much more polished and much less buggy, but I remembered a lot of the NPCs and many of the quests as we were going through them.

So far it’s been a lot of fun. Whether we’ll sub at the end of the 30 days remains to be seen, but you’ll all be the first to know.

Linkage — Fallen Earth for free

But they’re going fast so HURRY THE FUCK UP!

From Syp at BioBreak (and Massively) – just read and follow the links and destructions! You’ll get an email with download links and whatnot.

Note that I think this requires you to create a new account, though I’m not 100%. I didn’t want to waste time faffing around with it telling me I couldn’t use my old account (which was from beta and didn’t have any chars on it anyway).

EDIT — am in, have char. Look up Ysharros if you’re in game sometime. I thought I would use a cunning name nobody would ever expect. Sort of like the Spanish Inquisition, minus the fanatical devotion to the Pope.