Kickstarting stuff

Inspired by Atherne’s recent post, here are a few Kickstarter projects I’ve looked at and/or backed that still have a few (or more) days to go.

First off, a Shadowrun game which I initially backed out of nostalgia but became interested in for its own sake. I didn’t even play that much Shadowrun back in the day, but it was during my personal golden age of tabletop RPGs and I couldn’t not chip in a few bucks. The Kickstarter is doing quite well and closes in a few days. Click the image for the link.

HK final weekend

And then there’s THE MOST EPIC KICKSTARTER EVER, which set out to raise a modest 10k and ended up with Dr. Evil MEEELIONS. It also has a handful of days to go. I’m super glad my initial backing now comes with 8000% extra boxy and arty and cardy goodness, and look forward to getting hammered while playing it. Hopefully not literally.

Exploding kittens

Next is the MassivelyOP Kickstarter. Again, while I didn’t spend a whole lot of time reading Massively, I do respect it as a reporting presence in the gaming world and I’m tired of people in the gaming world losing their jobs. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Daybreak, and I’m sad both because I e-know or at least respect some of the folks involved and because I’ve got some skin in the game with Landmark and EQNext. AND because I should have known better than to believe the whole “this is going to be great for everyone!!!” announcements that were made last week.) I’m such a humble bundle that for the first time I backed a project for none of the rewards; also, the rewards were pretty lame, but that’s exactly NOT why I chipped in, so it’s all good.

I’m eagerly following updates on some older projects I backed. I have no idea if you can get hold of this stuff or not — if you can, yay for you, and if you can’t, ya boo sucks.

The first, Vow of Honor, is an RPG I backed for the above-mentioned nostalgia reasons, but now I’m really looking forward to getting the results into my hot little hands. For several years I’ve been wanting to get some tabletop RPG going again and it’s never really happened, for a number of reasons. (All right, curious Georges, here they are. 1) We only have 2 local players, one of whom is insanely unreliable (but I still love him) (not in a creepy cheating way) (he makes killer martinis – literally). 2) I don’t want to drive into ABQ and play with people I don’t know. That would mean leaving my Mum’s basement. 3) I haven’t yet looked into Virtual Tabletop options with any seriousness. 4) There is no four. The Holy Hand-Grenade taught us that.) On the bright side, I’ve wormed my way into a virtual game which should be starting Real Soon Now™ and can do some field-testing on the VT option he chose; it’s also a group with some dear, dear friends I haven’t seen in 15+ years, so I’m extra-keen.

And last but not least there’s The Breakfast Cult, another RPG I backed for a lark but now cannot wait to get, and for which my enthusiasm should require no explanation. Anything that manages about 8 references just in the title has got to be major win.


breakfast cult

I don’t really browse Kickstarter much, so most of these came to my attention through other people’s posts on Facebook and blogs and elsewhere. In that vein, if my beloved-and-much-abused-and-neglected readers are backing or watching anything interesting, please post a link in the comments below.



Fight and Flight

No, this is not a deeply probing article about the above.

It’s a very short* post about how after much of the former, I achieved the latter – in WoW.

Those are not flames shooting out of my mount's ass. Honest!

As mentioned in the post update on Friday, Blizzard CS very kindly and rapidly sorted my old account out for me. That having been done, it took me all of 12.46 minutes to decide that having all the expansions (bar Cata) was vastly superior to having to buy them all again especially since Blizzard haven’t yet decided to make bundles (that anyone would buy anyway) of their expansions. There’s some freaky Burning Crusade + stuff I can’t remember but it wasn’t useful bundle — when what I was really looking for would be Burning Crusade + Lich King + pound of 20s for $19.99.

Oh all right, I didn’t look very hard. Please do not inundate me with Amazon and New Egg links. I don’t really care whether such bundles exist or not, I care only that I couldn’t find one for $20 the other day. It’s a moot point anyway, my account got fixed and I got resubbed.

So I spent a teeth-grindy hour or two going through all the alts, emptying out and selling pretty much everything they had (most of which was crap anyway). I deleted two or three of them — which still leaves me with half a dozen characters on Icecrown, which was where I started on Hour 1 of Day 1 of Year 1. Well, maybe Hour 3. I seem to recall the servers having stability issues on launch day way back when.

My Rexxar characters are all gone except the Dread Knight I made there when I went back a couple of years ago. I could have sworn I had alts there — it’s not like me not to have alts there. But then why delete the silly alts and leave the DK? As the CS chap said, I was hacked but they didn’t really seem to find much of value on the account and didn’t do much to it. Except delete alts. Weird. (And nice way of saying I’m a noob and don’t raid and don’t own anything useful there, dude!)

Anyway, I cleaned up the Icecrown Assassination of Alts and ended with Eloise, who wasn’t even as high level as I remembered her being. Not even 60! What a noooooob! And her gear! Ewwwww!

Actually I couldn’t care less about her gear, I just wanted to say ewwww. What did bother me a bit is that she seemed to only have one pet, which is very unlike me. I could have sworn she had at least 2 or 3 including one of those winged serpenty things and a bear… but maybe I cleared those out during my brief stint in 2009 in a fit of pet-removing madness. The problem is I make hunters every time I play WoW, so I get a bit confused as to who has what pets, where and on what server. I’m getting old – sue me.

At least she still had her faithful Ozymandias — aka King Bangalash, from the days when he was actually difficult to tame and before you could find white tigers under every bloody rock across Azeroth. I decided to get a white bear — Eloise has this white thing going on, always has had — and figured Winterspring would be as good a place as any to do that. Except I’d lost the Everlook flight master (unless she never had it and it was the Rexxar DK who had it… this gets confusing!), so I had to go get that again — and then there were people offering quests there, and at the mouth of the Felwood/Winterspring tunnel, so I had to do all those quests… And before you know it Eloise was levelling.

Levelling rather fast, actually. I know the pace was upped, but damn! I’ll spare you the details but basically, over a couple of rather leisurely days of pootling around exclusively in Winterspring (and getting the 60-quests achievement there), Eloise went from level 55 to level 59 — all on rest xp. I then took her to Silithus as instructed by some hero board in some town, but Silithus was tedius and full of bugsius. In any case she hit 60 pretty quick there and I suddenly re-discovered the Old-World XP Penalty (-90%), so like it or not it was time to hit Outlands. And all, I should add, with rest xp — which lasted from level 55 to a smidge into level 60. That’s a crazy amount of rest xp — and yes, I know quest turnins don’t count, but that’s five levels. That’s a lot of rest xp and I didn’t turn in that many quests compared to the amount of critters I killed. That’s a LOT of rest xp. Just sayin’.

So Eloise went to the Outlands, which is where I left her last night. I can’t say I’m overjoyed about it. I detest being stuck on a floaty crumbly continent in the middle of the ether with teeny tiny little islands floating on the edge that you have to visit (wanting to hurl throughout) if you want the exploration achievements. But it’s not too bad as long as I stay away from the edges — which isn’t an option when you first start in the aptly named Hellfire Peninsula. Bloody dwarves and their bloody griffon-back bombing runs!**

But that’s not important right now. Thanks to the kindness of some old, rediscovered (and much missed!) friends, Eloise was able to buy her flying skill and a mislabeled ebon griffon. Ebon my ass! Well, mine maybe, but the griffon’s sure isn’t. Nobody said anything about brown backsides! But I’m too cheap to buy another one, at least right now, though the money is starting to come in and I shouldn’t have much trouble paying back the kind flight-school subsidising friend.

WoW is like the Cheers of the MMO world. You may leave for a while, but almost everyone ends up coming back to that same barstool at some point down the line, and there’s always someone else sitting there who remembers (if only vaguely) who you are.

That’s not so bad.


* This is probably a lie, and anyone who reads this blog (when it’s healthy) knows I am incapable of very short posts. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

** Incidentally, flying under my own volition is a lot easier than being hurl-inducingly flown around on rails. I rather suspected it would be. Actually, flying is way cool and a lot of fun. Woohoo! Incoming!

Is this a Grind I see before me?

This “grind” thing is something I think about now and then on my very own, but recent internet teacup storms and my own no-quests experiment in LOTRO have pushed it to the forefront again.

A little context won’t hurt. First there’s the reported “ZOMG I WON”T BE GETTING ANY XP THIS IS FUCKING UNFAIR!!” fatigue system that’s apparently going into FF XIV. Lots of people have commented on that in various places and, for the record, it’s not the first time such a system has been mooted. Just Google it if you want some links. The Shwayder, however — he of Nerfbat fame — wrote something this morning that hit a nerve with me and that I’ll quote here, because I’m more interested in the concept of grinding right now than in whether there will or won’t be an xp-shackle system in FF XIV.

Continue reading

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