The Instance Group… Under the Sea December 4, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Cataclysm, Mounts, Vashj'ir
Under the sea,
Under the sea,
There’ll be no accusations,
Just friendly crustaceans,
Under the sea!
Homer Simpson, Homer Badman episode
Unless you go to Vashj’ir, in which case the crustaceans and often pretty hostile, along with the sharks and the sea goblins and the naga.
Did you know that the naga are, in fact, mutated highborn elves? True story.
Anyway, we were headed back to Vashj’ir, the zone under the sea.
We finished up Wrath of the Lich King last week and dipped our collective toes into Cataclysm. Our plan is to see some of the overland (or under water) content, find whatever dungeon there is along the way, and basically avoid using tools like Dungeon Finder to speed things along.
Not that the Dungeon Finder isn’t a fine thing. It removes almost all the pain of forming a PUG so you can get straight to hating the rest of your group in the shortest possible time. But for us, travel is part of the adventure.
And, for the second week running, all of us were together and online. The group was:
- Earlthecat – Level 81 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 81 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 81 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 82 Gnome Mage DPS
We got ourselves back into Vashj’ir. I took the bird to the island flight point and jumped in the water. Others found the portal in Stormwind and came via that route. Somehow we all managed to get in same general area, which sounds easy but which can be surprisingly difficult in an under water environment where everybody isn’t necessarily on the same horizontal plane. Up and down are a factor.
More after the cut because I run off at the keyboard as usual.
The Lich King? We Could Have Taken Him November 26, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Cataclysm, Forge of Souls, Halls of Reflection, Pit of Saron, Wrath of the Lich King
I think it is a sign that the team is happy being back in Azeroth when we all show up for group night nearly an hour early.
Or maybe we all just felt we needed some additional warm up time.
Either way, our normal meetup time is 9pm and we were all in-game by 8:10pm. All five of us and not just the three or four who could make it. It was on like some sort of plumber vs. ape event. Our official group lineup for the night was:
- Earlthecat – Level 80 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 80 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 80 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 81 Gnome Mage DPS
And the first item on our agenda was to finish up the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Last week four of us delved into the final chain of three instances that wraps up the five person content in Icecrown Citadel. We managed two out of three, with the second one being a bit of a trial for us. This time around we would go for all three.
Ula, Skronk, and I got out to Icecrown Citadel and used the summoning stone to bring Bung and Earl to us. Somewhere along the line I guess the summoning stone requirements got reduced to just two people in your group being required to summon. And so, for the first time in at least two years, we were all together in a group and ready to do an instance in Azeroth.
(Humanoids in the picture above: Skronk, Alioto, Bung, Ula, Earl, Jaina Proudmoore)
We planned to run through all three. We wanted Earl to get the whole show and we figured that since we only had trouble with the final bosses on the first two as a foursome, that being a full group would speed things along. There was a thought given to trying it at the Heroic setting, but we opted for Nomal given that this was our return venture.
More after the cut due the usual verbosity and over use of screen shots in place of narrative. Plus I totally spoil the ending if you haven’t done it yet.
The Instance Group Returns to Northrend November 19, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, Wrath of the Lich King
As has been the case for much of 2013, we could only muster four out of five of the group. Still, everybody has successfully resubscribed, patched, and logged into the game in the last week, so everybody is on board with the idea if not able to be present. We are going to take another run at Azeroth.
So it was time to get the old team out, our original level 1 to 80 instance group, and do some warm-up exercises. The planned group was:
- Earlthecat – Level 80 Human Warrior Tank (missing)
- Bungholio – Level 80 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 80 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Ula – Level 81 Gnome Mage DPS
However, as Earl was out of town, we had to make do.
Alioto the druid is my latest character substitution into the group. I had to change out because I ran ahead in levels with Vikund, my paladin.
Alioto is named after the former mayor of San Francisco because… well… I needed a name and that popped into my head and, more importantly on a very old WoW server, was actually available. He is one of a selection of druids in WoW that have exactly the same dual spec options and professions. I always seem to go feral for solo, healing for random instances, herbalism for harvesting, and inscription for a trade. I actually have more such druids than hunters.
But now I had a chance to change this pattern. I cleared out my healing spec on Alioto and picked up the new… well, new to me… Guardian druid spec, which is for durids wat is bare. Or bear. I pretty much had to do that because, if you look at our line up, there are not a lot of other realistic tanking options. Though, as things will turn out, the cloth wearing priest healer will do in a pinch.
The plan was a warm-up exercise to see if we could actually work as a team with the somewhat changed classes of WoW. Our target was to scout out the three final 5 player instances in Wrath of the Lich King. Those were added after we had “finished” the last instance… Utgarde Pinnacle… in the expansion.
Time to finish off what we started.
More after the break due to an excess of verbiage and screen shots.
The Rush Back to Azeroth November 13, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, One of those summing up posts, Warlords of Draenor, Wrath of the Lich King
There may be crit mass to return to wow pre expansion. FYI
That was the content of a text message on my phone from Potshot on Friday. And while I don’t want to over play the significance of the medium, in our general level of communication, email is the default, instant message is for more immediate issues, and text messages to phones tend to be more akin to picking up the hotline to the Kremlin during the Cold War.
Past text messages from him on my phone… I never clear them out because I so rarely even get text messages… in part because it isn’t a smart phone, but just a cheap old mobile… tend to be about needing to find each other at places like GDC or the train station. And while it turned out that the medium for the message was chosen mostly because that was all that was available to him at the moment, I still think it says something that he opted for that at the moment rather than waiting for other avenues of communication to become available.
And by the end of the text exchange, it was clear that four out of five of the instance group was on board for an early return to World of Warcraft, thanks to the Warlords of Draenor announcement. And it seems likely that all five of us will be heading back to Azeroth. Mike was just out of town for the weekend so couldn’t jump on the bandwagon, but he had been expressing interest in WoW when I mentioned I was back and playing it.
So we have circled around back to our game of origin. As a group we kicked off in WoW back in late 2006 with the intent of going through as much of the five person group content as possible. Our first instance run was just over seven years ago. We completed the Deadmines on our third attempt.
We hit most of the dungeons in vanilla WoW, foundered a bit in Burning Crusade, and hit our peak in WoW during Wrath of the Lich King. But eventually we hit the last instance in Lich King. While waiting for Cataclysm we re-rolled as Horde on a PVP-RP server just to change things up. Somewhere in there we stepped out and played Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online. But after Cataclysm dropped, we felt unsatisfied with the game, so we decided to leave Azeroth and ventured into the wilderness.
We wandered far and wide. Runes of Magic got a test run. Guild Wars was tried on for size. We staged another return to Lord of the Rings Online. We attempted to play as a group in EverQuest II until we had enough of struggling against the game. There have been a couple of prods at Dungeons & Dragons Online. We threw ourselves into Rift. We dabbled in Need for Speed World. Three of us spent a bit of time in Neverwinter Nights 2 and Diablo III. A part of the group ran together in World of Tanks, even forming a clan. And, most recently, we have worked on getting into Neverwinter.
The story of our group, or at least the parts that I have written down, has been traced on this blog. You can read it by selecting the Instance Group category. The tale stands at 247 posts as of this one, or just over 8% of the total posts on the blog.
And that does not even count the scouting trips some of us have taken in search of the next game for the group. Champions Online was touched on, as was Star Trek Online. I know a couple of us tried Fallen Earth, and three of us tried the original Guild Wars for a couple weeks. Earl jumped into Star Wars: The Old Republic and, like so many people, hit level cap and cancelled. Potshot went into Age of Conan and The Secret World to explore. We have tossed around EverQuest as an idea on several occasions. I think as many as four of us tried Guild Wars 2 at various stages. TorilMUD and the idea of text held a glimmer at one point. Even the possibility of EVE Online has been discussed, though it clearly does not work with the varied play budget of our group. I have even asked for suggestions on this front in the past.
Of all of those games, I think only Rift got anywhere close to the same sort of interest from the whole group as WoW did back in the day. Of course, since Rift is also the game most like WoW on that list, I suppose it is not hard to understand why. And we could return to Rift. It has been a good game for us, becoming as close to a second home outside of Azeroth as we have managed.
But the Storm Legion expansion did not thrill any of us. And for a game to succeed with the group, at least a couple members of the group need to be excited about it, need to be playing during the rest of the week, and need to be mapping out what we do and where we go next. Nobody took that role with Storm Legion, and so Rift foundered.
So now, just over two and a half years after we last ran an instance as a group in World of Warcraft, we are jumping back in. I had already been been back and playing some WoW for a while. Ula was in game with me on Saturday morning, Potshot by Saturday afternoon, and Earl was loaded back in and had already purchased Pandaria by Sunday. And we were online a lot. The guild hadn’t even been looted or otherwise compromised. We even managed to get a level guild level in our initial flurry.
There was a burst of excitement and activity and joy at just being back in Azeroth.
And, of course, some confusion. A lot has changed since we last played. I had a bit of a head start, having played on Garona for a while, but even I was a bit puzzled at how to play my retribution paladin after all of this time. Fortunately Blizzard has some help for that. In the spells and skill book, there is now a tab devoted to the core abilities of your class.
That isn’t exactly an Elitist Jerks level of class detail, but it seemed to be a good refresher course on how to deal with the class.
So there we were back and happy and running around figuring out where we left off.
Which, of course, should lead to a pretty obvious question. Didn’t we leave WoW for a reason? And has anything changed that might make us think that things will be different after we come back?
Clearly we need a plan.
Part of the problem was that, at Cataclysm launch, we went back to character creation and rolled up a whole new set of characters with an eye to seeing the changes to the old world and all the various features. That was our plan.
Unfortunately, the old world had changed a lot, the old instances… or the updated versions thereof… seemed too easy, and the new tools, like Dungeon Finder, trivialized travel. Add in the fact that after a few years of playing the game we actually picked up some game skills, and the whole thing seemed too easy. Even at our normal plodding pace in instances… compared to the “run, run, run!” method that Dungeon Finder groups seem to follow these days… we were able to knock out three instances an evening and still get to bed before midnight.
Meanwhile, the original group of characters was still sitting there. They still had three instances… added after we were done… in WotLK to finish.
So Potshot put forth what we will call “The Plan,” which is to pick up where we left off with the original group and continue their story. First, we warm up by knocking off those last WotLK instances, actually finishing the content we declared done about four years back. Then we move into the Cataclysm 80 to 85 content, trying to do whatever we can as a group and taking on the instances there as we find them. And we also plan to avoid the Dungeon Finder, insisting on actual travel to whatever instances we may need to run. See the world and all that.
Easy enough I suppose.
But the plan also calls for us to come back to the same character in the same roles, where I may have cocked things up a bit. The original group, as it stands now, is:
- 80 Warrior – Earlthecat
- 80 Warlock – Bungholio
- 81 Priest – Skronk
- 81 Mage – Ula
- 87 Paladin – Vikund
Earl and Bung have both been good. Bung just doesn’t play outside of group time, while Earl has a warrior alt he drove through Cataclysm on his own time. Skronk and Ula have both edged over the level 80 line. And I have clearly said “see ya!” to the rest of the group, running off ahead and into Pandaria.
Vikund is clearly out of the band for now. I will be running him up to level 90 through the Pandaria content on my own.
Fortunately, I have a backup plan.
When we left off WoW back in the day, I had druid mired in the middle of the WotLK content. I took a chunk of the weekend getting him from 77 to 80 so that he can replace Vikund in the lineup. The only question will be, how to play him. He will be taking Vikund’s old DPS slot, so do I go feral and be the cat, or do I go whatever the other spec is… balance I think… and be the boomkin crap owl?
So we have the lineup. We are all excited as we get settled back into the comfortable setting of Azeroth. And we have a plan.
Now will it stick? Can we revive the old group, carry on, and have fun?
And, of course, can we get all five of us online at the same time? That has been the main issue so far this year.
Four for the Foundry Please October 24, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Neverwinter.
Finally, back to a post about actually playing a game.
Saturday night was upon us again and we actually had four of us online. There was what has become the Saturday night core group at this point, Potshot, Mike, and myself, along with Ula… or Mrs. Potshot… or Chris.
Since I referred to people by their characters for so long, when they change character names I am sometimes at a loss at how to keep continuity. I probably need a cast of characters page or some such.
Anyway, we had four of us, basically minus Earl. Some day all five of us will log on and we will create another guild to add to my list.
The three of us had been poking our noses into the game… I think we did a Saturday night run the week before and I simply forgot to post about it… and had gotten ourselves up to level 16. This left Chris in a character choice situation. She had a level 11 trickster rogue and a level 23 guardian fighter to choose between, neither of which were really felt like they were in the right level range. She opted for the guardian fighter.
Meanwhile, the three of us were figuring out how to invoke and running down the initial companion quest. By the end of the night I think we all hand companions out, which explains the profusion of individuals in any screen shots. Some of the companions look like just another player at our state of equipment. I opted for the healing companion and gave it the name “Eddie Haskell” before I realized it was female. I tried to rename her to “Edie Haskell,” thinking to stay with the theme, but that actually costs more RMT currency than I had at the moment, so renaming has be deferred for now.
Potshot pick an likely suspect from the Foundry and shared it with all of us and, after a bit of running around because our sparkly path guides seemed to be in disagreement where to go, we ended up together for another dungeon crawl. Or sewer crawl.
Sewers seem to be an very popular location for adventure in Forgotten Realms these days. But then whoever designed the sewers of Neverwinter clearly had some sort of occupancy in mind. The ceilings are high, the corridors are wide, locations are well lit, and the whole thing is remarkably bereft of… well… sewage. It made me want to rework that early line from Holy Grail about how you could tell Arthur was a king. In our case it was more like “How can you tell this is a group of sewer adventurers? They haven’t got shit all over them.”
Still, the tile set from the Foundry was quite impressive. That represents some of Cryptic’s finest work. It just isn’t quite what I picture a sewer being like. Maybe they should call something like the catacombs, or an underground wain-based subway system, or a shelter for the masses in case of godly wrath, or some sort of “parent’s basement” location writ large for evil societies that are not quite ready to strike out on their own.
Anyway, we were there chasing down wererats in search of some cheese and a spoon… or whatever our excuse was to go crash into somebody’s living area, slaughter beings, and seize stuff without a warrant. If we could call in drone strikes it would be just like today.
One thing we did notice was that the mob levels in the instance were all keyed off of Chris’ character. Basically, everything was level 23, which worried us a bit at the start, with three of us being level 16. We made Chris go first and be the tank. In the end though, we seemed to do okay, and merrily slaughtered all who gave us a sideways look while we searched for the missing cheese. Eventually that lead us to an even bigger, taller, and more well lit area of the sewers.
There we faced a series of “build up to the boss” fights where the level gap began to tell. I was actually knocked out and then killed during one fight, which I think was a first for the group. We certainly did not seem ready for that to happen and fumbled about wondering if our cleric had anything that would bring me back and such. Eventually I just released, which put me back at the last campfire with some injuries. These, the system reported, would impact my fighting ability until I spent enough time (3 minutes per) standing by the campfire to be healed.
But who is going to let a bump on the noggin stop them? I ran back and we took on the boss, ending up with another one of us getting slain. Actual danger, of a sort!
We wrapped that up and checked out what we had gained.
On the bright side, the rewards at the end of the instance were geared towards higher levels, so three of us got items that we could grow into. On the downside, the experience gain did not seem to go as we expected. We thought that, in grouping with a higher level, we would be more likely to catch up if experience was handed out equally. Instead, Chris’s level 24 character seemed to be getting a lot more experience relative to her level than we were. She leveled up while we did not see much progress.
Still, that was where we stood and we had enough time for another run. So back to the Foundry and another roll of the dice.
This time we were out in the open again in one of those chain of events quests where you need A, but to get A you need B, and you find that to even get B, you must first run off and do C, with the subtasks D, E, and F thrown in along the way.
The whole thing started off modestly, go find an antidote for a poison, which required getting the help of a shaman who had some tasks. The first few were of the slaughter variety. But then he sent us off on a spirit quest which turned out to have some interesting turns and use of the Foundry tool set. And Efreeti. Well, one of them anyway.
Back in TorilMUD, also based on Forgotten Realms, the City of Brass, the capital city of the Efreeti in the elemental plane of fire, used to be one of our regular raids. And I always had a vision of the Efreeti that was… different than the one that the Monster Manual put forth.
But the vision of the Efreeti in Neverwinter, comes much closer to my own mental image of a planar being made up of basalt, bronze, and congealed flames. Plus, a set of armor inhabited by flames is pretty cool just by itself. Let’s see him again.
Yeah, that’s what I am talking about.
Anyway, this all took place in a series of floating islands and strange invisible platforms that was really well done.
And, because we are who we are, we did find out that there are no invisible safety rails on platforms, invisible or otherwise. First Potshot went over the edge, then my, and then Mike. Time was spend running around on the forest floor below… we all survived the fall… until we found a portal to bring us back up. The author of the instance clearly figured out that people would drop off the various high points in his creation.
After our spirit journey, the antidote was obtain, the poison victim saved, and our rewards granted.
As before, it seemed that Chris got the lions share of the experience. The three of us did make it up to level 17, but she ended up level 25.
So, another exploration of what the Foundry has to offer came to an end. I remain impressed with the quality of the tools that Cryptic has provided and some of the innovations that people are trying our with them. But as a whole, things are still not all that engaging. There is no sense yet of an ongoing tale, just a bunch of random encounters really. Things in the Foundry hint at longer term connections. Most of the Foundry encounters we have tried list themselves as the first or second in a series, but in almost every cases the series seems to incomplete at this point.
However, we will continue on in Neverwinter, as there are no other games calling out to us at this point.
In the Quiet of Deklein October 17, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Instance Group.
Tags: Deklein, Mining, Null Sec
1 comment so far
The instance group continues to garner a very small turnout these days. This past week it was, again, just Potshot and I.
Which, in a way, is kind of liberating. Of the group, he and I play the largest spread of games. So we have a lot of options.
On the flip side of that, we also have a long tradition, going back to high school, of “what should we do tonight?” Having a wide range of possibilities has never been our friend in that situation. It has generally lead to the paralysis of choice.
Fortunately, we have adapted our own way around that, which is somebody suggests exactly one idea for the nights plan. If we like it, we go with it and do not bring up any alternative plans. This adheres to the ABC theory of selling, “Always Be Closing.” When you have agreement, you don’t muddy the water with further choices. If you don’t get agreement, you then move to other options.
We happened to be in EVE Online already and chatting on coms when the “what to do” part of the discussion came up. I happened to be on with my alt who was back up in our home region of Deklein where systems were surprisingly empty.
The deployment down to Curse has had its impact. I flew threw several systems and never saw more than one or two blues. More importantly, I saw no hostiles.
For the few weeks between the fall of Delve and the Curse deployment, Pandemic Legion was apparently at loose ends and so decided to set up an around the clock hot drop operation on our part of the region. There were any number of nights where I logged on and found two or three cloaked hostiles… either PL members or easily pegged as PL alts… in just about every system in our area. And lest you think that they were AFK cloaking just to annoy people, I saw them drop on people foolish enough to attempt to run anomalies or otherwise expose themselves in-system.
Basically, if you see a hostile in your system in null sec when you were planning to do something in that system, you just change your plans. You should rat or mine or put up a tower or otherwise linger in space or you may find a hostile blackops fleet suddenly on top of you. Welcome to ~elite PvP~ in null sec. They do it. We do it. It is the way of things. You cannot scan them down unless they screw up badly and cyno jammers do not block covert cynos used by blackops fleets, so you are just stuck.
But it also meant that the deployment to Curse, as awkward as getting down there tended to be, at least gave us something to do. In the week before that I was logging on every time, checking to see that our systems were still cloaky camped, finding that they were, and then logging off. Having another game to play when EVE isn’t cooperating with your plans remains a good idea.
However, since the Curse deployment, and the subsequent population drop in the cluster of systems I tend to think of as home, the cloaky camping has ceased. It is like nature took its course, and with the absence of prey, the predators moved on. They, it seems, also moved on to Curse, where they too are sitting on gates and otherwise engaging in more ~elite PvP~ in its various forms.
In the absence of conflict in our home region, I suggest that we could try mining.
How odd was that?
Potshot agreed to that option, probably for the same reason I suggested it: I wanted to see where I stood on that front, equipment-wise, and what we could accomplish in a few hours of burning down rocks.
So both of got our mains and our alts (one each) into Deklein to sort out what we had. I had a barely fit Hulk and a Mackinaw fit for ice mining and completely lacking in a tank. The latter was a setup left over from our last corp day when were were out working ice in order to get the raw materials for the fuel blocks needed by our towers, while the former has just sat in the hanger since the last time I tried mining out in null.
The first problem out of the gate was just equipping the ships with what was available in the immediate area and could be accommodated by the skills of each character. The second bit was a real sticker. While I had both characters trained up for mining in high sec, I had not invested much training time in the null sec ore varieties. So I ended up with a Mackinaw fit with tier I strip miners, which could mine anything, and a Hulk fit with modulated strip miners, but which could only mount crystals for a couple of the juicer asteroid options.
The Mackinaw was ready first, so I put my alt in it and sent him out to the belts. With the huge ore hold of the Mackinaw… being the exhumer with the big capacity its post-rebalance role… I figured my alt could mine away for a bit while I sorted out the Hulk. Potshot likewise had a Mackinaw ready, and soon we were out in the belts.
And the first thing I noticed was that all the asteroids were a long ways away from where I had landed… to the point that I was wondering if I accidentally warped in at an extended range. But Potshot reported the same thing upon warping to the belt at zero, so that is just the way things are I guess.
We began slowly motoring out to some likely looking spots in the belt while I considered the viability of strapping a microwarp drive to the Mackinaw. Moving 30km or so at ~100m/s takes a while when you are just staring at the screen.
Meanwhile, I managed to scrape together a minimal tank for the Hulk and had just landed in the field when some rats spawned. Tech II scout drones and a sketchy tank turned out to not be up to the task and we all ended up warping back to the station.
There I pulled out Wil’s ratting Tengu and went to go sit on the belt and pop rats while others mined and hauled. Potshot and I flew our Mackinaws back out to the belt. As it turned out, the 1MN microwarp drive I had handy did not improve the velocity of the Mackinaw all that much, boosting it to all of 130m/s. But it was something.
And then we burned rocks.
I hit a patch of Dark Ochre, which seemed like a good idea until I realized that it was the only type for which I had no refining skill whatsoever. Potshot went after some rocks near by while pulling out his cloaked Mammoth to haul for us. When the Dark Ochre ran out, I hit the close by Hemorphite and then Jaspet.
Once you are settled in to the mining routine, it is relaxing. We spent time chatting and planning what we ought to have on hand to make this go better. Doing this sort of off-the-cuff meant making do. There is some equipment I should ship out for next time.
Among the things that I had forgotten about was that I had trained up Wil in the mining boss leadership skills. Just sitting there he was boosting yield per cycle by 10%. I probably could have mounted a mining foreman link on the Tengu if I had had one handy.
So we ground away for a while, then collected our ore together, paid the corp tax on mining (by contracting 5% of the yield to the corp), and called it a night.
The next day, with the area still quiet, I brought out the Tengu and ran a Guristas Forsaken Hub anomaly.
That netted me about twice as much ISK in about a quarter the time as the previous night’s mining operation. Of course, the Tengu is optimized for that and the Guristas Forsaken Hub is the best time/money yield.
But with some planning our next mining op should be more profitable. We were well aware we were doing things badly, but it gave us a chance to at least enumerate all the things we could do better.
The Dreadmines and the Scarlet Something or Other September 26, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Neverwinter.
Tags: Deadmines, Dreadmines, Scarlet Monastery
Not a World of Warcraft post.
Saturday night rolled around again, as is its habit, and it found three of us online and looking for adventure. I think we might be ready for a game like Borderlands 2 or such at this point. Needing to accommodate five people is slipping as a requirement.
So there we were. I think we have actually settled on characters now, so I will start listing them out. We had:
- Fergorin Ironhelm – Level 12 Guardian Fighter
- Regulos – Level 12 Devote Cleric
- Sans Serif – Level 12 Trickster Rogue
I actually went and played some Neverwinter on a weeknight to catch up, which I suppose is a good sign for the game. Though, in doing so, I ran a quest that gave me another bag, thus removing from immediate contention possibly the only item in their store I would consider buying. Nice move Cryptic. I was this close *holds up two fingers very close together* to pulling the trigger on a buying some Zen, and then you handed me an out.
I also gained my stealth skill, another attack, and some upgraded equipment. I was ready… or more ready… to go.
After our previous venture into Neverwinter, where the Foundry came through for us, we chatted a bit afterwards about the Foundry tool set and what it was possible to build. During that conversation I demonstrated what an unoriginal hack I was by declaring that if I was going to make dungeons in Neverwinter, I would just remake the good ones from WoW.
That got a chuckle and few comments before we logged off for the night.
This past weekend however Potshot, who is our Foundry expert and scout, said he had a special surprise for us. He had been exploring the Foundry and had a couple of dungeons lined up for us.
More after the cut because of too many pictures which I probably think are more amusing than they really are. My apologies in advance.
Neverwinter – The Foundry Comes Through September 10, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Neverwinter.
Saturday rolled around and, for a brief period of time, it looked like we might have the whole group online. Everybody reported in. So we had to figure out what to play.
By default, all five of us online should mean Rift. However, Rift seems to be fading from the interest of the group. Plus, by the time we were about ready to get into a game, we found out that Mike has only patched Neverwinter, so that seemed to dictate the choice.
Of course, I had been playing WoW all afternoon and hadn’t bothered to patch anything, so I had to hurry up and get the Neverwinter patcher going. Fortunately, it seemed to be pretty efficient and I was able to get half a gig of updates secured without delaying the party too much.
Then I got on and there was no Earl. He was not responding to pings, so the guess was that he fell asleep. After nearly seven years of the group, none of us is quite as able to stay up late as easily as we once were. And with Earl on the East coast and starting at midnight… well… it is understandable. We might have to look into a Sunday brunch instance group at some point.
Anyway, there were four of us, my level 6 rogue, Potshot’s level 10 guardian, Mike’s level 10 cleric, and Ula’s level 23 wizard.
That did not seem like the ideal group. Clearly one of us is much more into the game.
We got Ula to trade out for a level 12 rogue and then started poking around for something to do.
Potshot went to the Foundry listing and started looking through the recommended and highly rated modules in the hope that we would draw something better than our last attempt. He found a likely candidate that was chapter one of a series, shared it with us, and off we went.
More words along with pictures after the cut.
Delve on a Saturday Night September 2, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Instance Group.
Tags: Delve, Null Sec
1 comment so far
There is the plan, and then there is what actually happens.
-As true in EVE Online as anywhere.
It was, as the title no doubt gives away, Saturday night. The regular group was opting out, one by one, until it was just Potshot and I wondering what to do.
His latest passion is War Thunder, which I have totally told myself I need to download and try. But I haven’t gotten around to it and, with my internet connection, it wasn’t going to happen on short notice. Meanwhile I have been off in Middle-earth on yet-another-server. So the points of overlap (and current interest) for the moment were Neverwinter and EVE Online.
We chose space.
We had things to do in EVE. There are always things to be done in EVE.
For us, there was a need to move more stuff down to the staging station in Delve. While it was still fat city up in 4-EP station up in Fountain, the logistical tail of war had not caught up to the new deployment. It seems to take about two weeks to get that sort of thing sorted out. And until that is put in place, you cannot count on being able to buy anything you need. You fight with what you have brought with you.
Our plan, which I called “plan dumb” even as I was proposing it, was to get back up to 4-EP and haul some more stuff down to 1DH. Safe travel through null sec on a Saturday night, when everybody is on and looking for someone to kill, seemed unlikely. But we both figured we might as well have an adventure. I only had a Megathron and a Harpy moved down to 1DH so far… convoys south seemed to have wrapped up pretty quickly after the deployment order… along with a Rifter left over from the last Delve deployment. Potshot was already up at 4-EP, while I was in 1DH. So I would clone jump up to join him and we would attempt to make our way south.
As we logged on, I found that a defense fleet was still up and active and was actually using a fleet doctrine for which I had a ship. Dingo had a Harpy fleet out chasing around a Pandemic Legion Talwar fleet. I got into fleet and on voice coms and joined the fun as we jumped around 1DH trying to force the elusive Talwar fleet to battle. PL bolted after about 10 minutes and we headed back to station. However, Dingo was in communication with the PL FC and was told they were going to come back for another round.
This seemed like more fun moving ships from Fountain, so I told Potshot to just clone jump down for the pending fight. He did not have an appropriate ship, so I gave him my Rifter. That seemed perfect, as we were totally lacking in tackling ability in the fleet, so I told Potshot he could be a hero if he could just get a point on a hostile Talwar.
And then about 10 minutes later Dingo told us on coms that PL was not going to come back and that the fleet op was over for now. It was reported that PL, who had also just deployed to the area, was experiencing the same sort of supply problems we were and couldn’t get their act together for another fight. Potshot never got his chance to be a hero, though I told him to be sure and click on the participation link. They also server, who only sit and wait for the FC.
So not only was fun cancelled, but our original plan was pooched, as Potshot’s jump clone timer was now sitting at 23:45:00. And I am not sure either of us relished a round trip to 4-EP. We began to do the little things. I undocked to go set some bookmarks. We talked about how nice it would be to just be able to set a hotkey to “bookmark my current position.” I wapred out to the safe POS and was there when a cyno went up and a stealth bomber siege fleet jumped into the system, which was neat to watch. I wish I had been a bit closer, so I could have gotten some screen shots. The black ops jump effects are different colors.
Then I warped back to the station, landing 100km off, only to find that PL had returned. They were sitting on the undock in a Gila fleet. Unfortunately for them, our previous fleet, plus the siege fleet, appeared to have mostly docked up and logged off. Nobody came out to fight them and I just turned around and hid in the safe POS until they got tired and went elsewhere.
One pilot stayed behind in a Heretic and proceeded to undock, bubble, and dock up for a stretch until he managed to get caught up in his own scheme and got killed.
So, with our plan for the night scrubbed and no further fleets called, we ended up talking about overviews, skill training, other games, and life in general until the hour grew late enough that we decided to call it a night.
Neverwinter – Enormous Red Tape in the Bush August 29, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Lord of the Rings Online, Neverwinter.
In theory Neverwinter ought to be a slam dunk winner for me.
It is based on Forgotten Realms, my favorite D&D campaign setting. It has beautiful scenery. Classes are distinct and have a limited number of skills available at any given time. The UI is responsive. While being free to play, it does not remind me every minute of the day that I should visit the cash shop. And the game includes a good deal of instanced, small group content so our regular group can go off and do a dungeon crawl whenever we get together.
And yet this past weekend I spent nearly every available gaming moment playing Lord of the Rings Online. While LOTRO does have perhaps the one setting that trumps Forgotten Realms in my book… Middle-earth… and the scenery is good, objectively you could conclude that Neverwinter is a better game for me. If nothing else, LOTRO seems absolutely determined to remind me that it has a cash shop at every possible moment. It is like a small child with a new toy, every conversation must be turned to discuss it. I am sure Neverwinter will get there as well… it seems to be the way of things… but for the moment I can play for long stretches of time without being asked for a buck.
But I have kept Neverwinter patched up all the same. It is part of the matrix of possible games for Saturday night, the choice of which is driven by who happens to be online and available to play. And I have put my nose into the game a few times since I was last there with the group.
One of the first things I did was trade in my great weapon fighter, Sven Sverdsk for a trickster rogue. I named him Sans Serif.
I rolled him up, got him through the tutorial and well into level 4 before leaving him be for a while. But last Saturday when the “who’s online” came up with me, Potshot, and Mike (the guy in our group without a consistent character naming pattern who is not me), Neverwinter was the pick.
They had both been playing a bit more than I had and were up to level 8, though that did not seem to be an impediment really. We first ran through a couple of quests that Mike had, and I had no problem keeping up, doing damage, or surviving any hostile intent from mobs. He was able to share them and we all go credit. Then we turned towards the quests I had, which I was able to share with everybody and which we blazed through. That the whole thing was designed to be soloable no doubt helped speed our progress.
After basically blitzing through four different quests, we decided to roll the dice with some user created content. Last time around this worked out well for us. We ended up with a connected series of a few adventures that at least showed off the potential for the foundry tool. This time around we were less fortunate.
The first choice sent us off to an inn because… well… D&D!
And a fine looking inn it was. However, from there the adventure seemed to be broken. Our first attempt to advance beyond the “hanging about” stage of things dropped us from the game. And upon returning, things did not recover well. I was still at the inn but Mike was not and couldn’t get back. We all dropped the quest, went back to where we started, and tried again. This time we all got to the inn, but then could not activate whatever was required to move things forward. After a bit more poking around we gave up.
The second one we tried was created by somebody who clearly felt that actually getting to your destination in these adventures was far too easy. And, admittedly, things are often on a pretty clear
set of rails path. This person had a solution though.
This was an outdoor instance where the author went nuts with nature in an attempt to simulate crossing a dense forest. At night. I had to lighten these screen shots up a bit so you could see what we were facing. Then imagine that you couldn’t really see it because it was dark and there was no path, and you immediately got separated from the rest of your group.
And it was just “okay, we’ll hide the trail underneath bushes.” There were some serious log jams where it took a lot of jumping and turning and trying to find the right perch to get through. I fell into a pit and one point and spent several minutes trying to get myself unstuck. And I don’t mean that in the “GuildWars 2 jumping puzzle” way, where you know you have to hit the space bar at just the right moment to get to that next ledge. This was “it’s dark, I can’t see shit, so I am just spamming the space bar and turning in hopes that I will land on something that will help me move forward.”
We would occasionally reach a quest objective, or fight a couple of mobs.
But for the most part the whole thing seemed be designed around the premise, “Make movement difficult.” After what seemed like a long time of fighting foliage… but which was probably only about 20 minutes… a motion was made and seconded to “fuck this shit” and we left.
We decided to move back to the quests that were part of the game, which lead us to chasing a series of glowy lined in search of sludge samples.
That moved us back into a path of very little resistance as the three of us jumped on and destroyed anything that happened to cross our path with very few mouse clicks. More satisfying that being stuck in a bush, granted, but still not quite as fulfilling as one might hope. After a bit of that, which wasn’t all that engaging, I declared myself the party pooper and called it a night. It was past 11pm, so I wasn’t parking the bus too early, but I was clearly the first one who wanted out.
So another night in Neverwinter and I remain unconvinced.
Now clearly part of the problem is I have not invested all that much in the game. Expecting to find great challenges in a group with a level 5 and two level 8 characters in a game where the level cap is 60 is probably asking a bit much. Judgement should probably be withheld until we get further along.
Still, everything killed was very very fast. Fast enough to make Diablo III battles seem like protracted combat. My rogue was clearly Mister Click-Click, Kill-Kill. Nothing offered anything like a fight, even what I was levels down.
Except, of course, all of that foliage. Defeated by plants.