Category Archives: entertainment

Diablo III Season 5 and into Chapter IV

I’ve kept on with Diablo III and my quest for the Season 5 goodies.

Season 5 - All this can be yours

Season 5 – All this can be yours

As I have noted in the past, I am not really all that enthusiastic about Adventure Mode or rifts…  tt least not as a solo pursuit, and since I have only been playing Season 5 solo, it seemed likely that I might run out of steam once I finished the story.

But, while I may find little enthusiasm for slaying large quantities of mobs just to collect gold and sort through equipment drops, actually having a set of goals changes things.  I can immerse myself in checking off boxes for an extended period of time, being a somewhat task oriented in real life.  I like getting things done and the illusion of progress.

And so I have carried on and managed to work my way through the first three chapters of the goals… the journey as it has been spun… without too much problem.  A decent set of discreet tasks, helped along by the fact that if you accomplished any of them before unlocking the list of goals for a specific chapter, you still got credit.

I also notched myself up in difficulty, first to Torment 1 then Torment 2, neither of which made things drastically more difficult.  I do have a lot more gold now though.

And then I unlocked the Chapter IV goals for Season 5. (All the goals for Season 5 are listed out on this Reddit post.)

  • Penchant for Enchants: Replace a property on an item at the Mystic
  • Keeping it Low Key: Slay Xah’Rith the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • The Key to Success: Slay Nekarat the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • Mercy: Kill Zoltun Kulle at lvl 70 on T2 or higher (gives 2nd Haedrig gift)
  • Seeya: Kill the Sigebreaker Assault Beast at lvl 70 on T4 or higher
  • Great Expectations: Reach GR20 solo (gives 3rd Haedrig gift)
  • Set me free: Complete any set dungeon (doesn’t need to be mastered!)
  • Up all night to get lucky: Equip all slots with lvl 70 legendary items
  • Key Decisions: Slay Odeg the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • Key Wee: Slay Sokahr the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher

I actually had two of them done, and most of them seemed doable, so I got stuck in on a couple right away.

Another item from the list...

Another item from the list…

The Zoltun Kulle fight was surprisingly easy, and got me two new pieces from a set, though one of them wasn’t nearly as good as what I already had equipped.  That leads to the age old question of whether or not the bonus for wearing four pieces of the set was worth it or not.

four down, six to go

four down, six to go

I am, however, a bit skeptical of a couple of the items on the list.

Notching up to Torment 4 difficulty for the Siege Breaker ought to be okay.  But getting to the point where I can solo a level 20 Greater Rift might be a challenge, in part because I’ll have to figure out how to do that.  I haven’t been there before and  I imagine it will involve some grind, and grind is the enemy of my attention at this point.

Meanwhile, completing a full dungeon set and equipping level 70 legendary items in every equipment slot both sound like “go grind rifts” which, as noted, is where my interest in playing starts to break down.  Still, I remain a bit surprised I have gotten this far.

Crusader in gold

Crusader in gold

Charming Nonsense about the CSM

There was a bit of internet space drama over the weekend.

My exposure to this was on The Meta Show where The Mittani, head of Goonswarm and a former CSM member, along with Laz and Thoric Frosthammer, head of LAWN and a current CSM member, spoke about the recent changes to the CSM whitepaper which ended up excluding anybody associated from The Mittani dot com from running for CSM, but not any other EVE related sites.  The show isn’t up on YouTube yet, but should be in the Meta Show channel at some point this week, if that is your thing.

I mentioned this whitepaper change in my Friday post, so I won’t retrace my steps too much.  The upshot was that The Mittani and Thoric had a good time spinning a conspiracy theory based on the fact that the rule changes excluded exactly one current CSM XI candidate from running, the restive Sion Kumitomo.

CSM11_logo

It is The Meta show after all, so a perfectly fine meta topic to run with.  CCP Leeloo was already on record, long before the show even started, saying that the rules were not put in place for that purpose and that if CCP wanted to exclude somebody specifically they would just do that and not bother with this sort of rule lawyering.

CCP Falcon though couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt the need to return fire as noted on a number of sites.  Here is the quote that is making the rounds:

Falcon Speaks...

Falcon Speaks…

To be fair to CCP Falcon, The Mittani had taken his conspiracy theory on the road and was trolling other venues with it, so he probably felt some retort was required.

You can spin that however you like.  On Reddit there is a lot of cheering that Mittens got smacked down, though when Gevlon isn’t fully behind some striking out at The Mittani you have to start asking questions.

For me though, that drama isn’t really the interesting bit.  Drama blows over and disappears.  No, I like this line from CCP Falcon’s comment:

…there are areas of the whitepaper that CCP have no control over, such as the rights of a CSM delegate.

What complete nonsense.  I do not believe that at all.  There is no area of the whitepaper over which CCP does not exercise complete and absolute control.  This is literally playing right into my initial analogy about the CSM from back in 2008, when I called it the Galactic Student Council.

You can tell the student council that they get to choose the theme for the homecoming dance, and that will stick right up until the moment they choose something controversial, at which point the school administration will override the decision.

Likewise, CCP can tell the CSM that they have control over some aspect of their existence, right up until the point that the CSM does something CCP doesn’t like, at which point CCP will demonstrate exactly how much control the CSM really has, which is none whatsoever.

Smacking The Mittani… whatever.  Perpetuating this sort of nonsense about the CSM having some actual independent power… that is just too much to swallow.

Anyway, this drama has pretty much ensured that Xenuria will have a top spot on The Imperium’s CSM ballot.  I think that Mittens would send them Gevlon as well if he could arrange it.  I wonder who else will be on the ballot.  There are still a few days left for candidates to register.  Of course, then we will see if CCP decides to weed any of them out.

January in Review

The Site

I was actually warming a bit to WordPress.com’s new stats page, in part to the face that it lets you download the data in CSV format.  I like that.  Not enough to make me give up the old stats page, but at least I have a reason to go to the new one.

So I was afraid I might not have anything to complain about here… and then I noticed that they took away the tool tips from the calendar in the side bar.

Mousing over does no good now...

Mousing over a screen shot does as much now…

You used to be able to mouse over a date and it would show you the titles of the posts that were published on that date, which was a REALLY handy feature for somebody like me who goes back and reviews old posts.  So WordPress.com makes me rage again.  How did this help anything?

Also, in the run up to the 10th anniversary of the blog I am adding a “Ten Years” ago section to the month in review.  Unlike the one and five year sections, this won’t link to posts I made quite yet, but will bring up news and like foundation items related to things I’ve covered here.

Finally, tired of trying to fine a pair of new linking sites every month, something I have managed for all but two months so far during the life of the blog (or 110 time out of 112 tries) I am going to retire that section.  Instead I will feature a couple of sites from our little corner of the internet.  We shall see how that works out.

One Year Ago

The Elder Scrolls Online announced they were ditching their mandatory subscription model.

We bid farewell to Massively and WoW Insider as AOL pared down their web content presence yet again.

At long last Runic was poised to deliver the Mac OS version of Torchlight II.  I just didn’t care any more.

Anet surprised exactly nobody and announced a Guild Wars 2 expansion.

Elite: Dangerous was making me feel like an incompetent boob… well, more so that usual.

Smed took the bait and wrote “money grab” in a tweet, which then became a gaming news headline.  Of course, he was also saying things about disgusting carebears and telling us things were not MMOs when they were clearly labeled as such.

Sony players were told they would get as much as 450 SC for the great downtime of 2011, while the lawyers would pocket $2.75 million.

PlanetSide 2 got a record for what I considered a somewhat dubious achievement.

In EverQuest II I was running a paladin through the same content I just ran through with a berserker including the Palace of the Awakened.

The Lord of the Rings Online Producer’s Letter wasn’t impressing me, to the point I was wondering whether anybody else might create an open world Middle-earth game.

In WoW I got in and did the 10th Anniversary Molten Core event at the last minute.  The instance group was discovering that you had to be level 92 to do just about anything in Gorgrond.  I was also opining about garrisons in Draenor.  I had five after all.

In EVE Online it was time to usher in YC117.  There was also a video about the age range of the New Eden player base, the Proteus expansion, Gevlon was making more friends, and the Reavers deployed again, passing though Thera on the way,

I was muttering about paid early access and that sort of thing again.  Even Blizzard seemed to be in on the act.

And we had to say goodbye to our little Trixie cat.

Five Years Ago

Eschewing the predicting convention, I issued demands for 2011. and then tried to figure out the scale used for the Blog Health-o-Meter that WordPress.com sent out to various sites.

The blog was listed at a Vietnamese gaming site in a top 10 post that looked suspiciously like one from Massively.

TERA was trying to win notice by telling people how they had boars in their game!  BOARS!  Can you imagine?

EuroGamer tried to tell us PlanetSide 2 would be out by Q2 2011.

Rift, on the other hand, gave us a more believable release date.

It was time to start messing with the then new EVE Online character creator.

DC Universe Online launched.  I played in the beta just long enough to remind myself I am not a superhero kind of guy.  Sales of the game were pretty evenly split between Windows and PlayStation 3, but play time seemed to be impacted by American Idol when it came to the console side of the house.

Of course, that was back during the subscription era of MMOs, when Smed was telling us what paying a subscription to lead us to expect.

I used Google to tell me World of Warcraft’s five most pressing issues at the time.

Meanwhile, the Twilight Cadre was back in Azeroth in force and checking out Cataclysm.  We got our first guild achievement.  Our group of new characters, four worgen and a gnome, went through Westfall and all its phasing magic, wailed in the Wailing Caverns, before settling down to a pattern of doing three instances every Saturday night.  I wasn’t sure if we had skilled up a lot or if the game had been dumbed down that much, but clearly the 1-60 game in Cataclysm was proving to be not much of a challenge.

The official World of Warcraft magazine was asking me to renew my subscription, though they weren’t really up to mail merge technology it seems.

There was some cool stuff in Cataclysm.  I like the balloons.  Redridge, never one of my favorite places, got turned into a fun solo experience.  And there was the Murloc combat ability.  But otherwise, the game was starting to lose us.

I was muttering about rebates.  My daughter and I were rounding up LEGO minifigures.

And, finally, Pokemon was coming to town.

Ten Years Ago

SOE announced that they were going to merge EverQuest II servers a little more than a year after the game went live, trimming the server count down by folding 10 low population servers into 10 low to medium population servers.  The reason given is that the world was sooo big that the population was too spread out.  I’m pretty sure most people thought that the game had just lost too many players to WoW to make that many servers viable since MMO populations are rarely evenly spread but tend to form a bubble in the latest content.

Nintendo, which was still selling the GameBoy Advance (and would continue to here until 2008) announced the first major update to their crazy two screen DS handheld platform.  The new Nintendo DS Lite would end up being, in my opinion, one of the finest handheld consoles ever, with sharp screens, a compact form factor, excellent finish, and great battery life along with continuing the backward compatibility with the GBA.  The only problem I ever had with my cobalt blue unit involved me getting old and being unable to read text on the screen without glasses.

Featured Sites of the Month

So for the inaugural run of this, and I am not sure really what I want to do here aside from not go scouring blog rolls every month, I am going to call out a blog:

Bhagpuss, writes about all sort of MMORPGs I no longer, or never will, play.  He is, in his own way, the anti-elite player, being more interested in setting, story, and exploring the corners of things.  And his blogroll side bar makes for a good reading list.

Then for a bigger site I want to mention:

Feldon keeps track of all of the information you need to know about EverQuest II without feeling the need to fill space with a lot of fluff.  Excellent signal to noise ratio.  I wish every game I played had a site like EQ2 Wire dedicated to it.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. Sixteen Predictions for 2016
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Random Thoughts about The Force Awakens – Spoilers
  5. The Demise of BattleClinic
  6. Torn on MMORPGs
  7. Why Did the Hero’s Song Kickstarter Fail?
  8. MMOs on the List of Most Important PC Games
  9. How Much to Play EVE Valkyrie?
  10. Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away
  11. You Play the Hand with the Cards You Have, Not the Cards You May Want…
  12. Smed Goes to Kickstarter for the Hardcore

Search Terms of the Month

lotro serverbpipulatioms
[I think you might have your fingers on the wrong keys]

heir to the empire 20th anniversary audiobook
[Wow, Google has sent you to a relevant result!]

fans unsubscribe wow over flying in draeno
[I think they unsubscribed long before that was an issue]

warcraft conspiracies
[They are many and varied]

Diablo III

With the onset of patch 2.4.0 and Season 5 I found myself playing a lot more Diablo III.  I was previously somewhat indifferent to the whole “seasons” thing, having started out on Season 4 only to give up after an hour or so.  I think I made better choices this time, particularly by picking a class I already liked and upping the difficulty, so I ran through and made it to level cap.  I am in the third chapter of seasonal achievements.  We shall see if I can stick it out through all of them and collect the goodies.

EVE Online

A modest month in New Eden picked up when Reavers and KarmaFleet deployed down to Querious.  Things started out fun, but then locals got in a panic about Goons.  Now we are dodging much larger fleets, which can carry its own sort of satisfaction.  Somewhere along the way we even took sovereignty in a system for a bit, just because.

Minecraft

Minecraft has felt some neglect this month, though mostly because I finished another big project and am thinking about what to do next.  I also have a couple of posts I want to do about what has been up.  Aaron is our most active user of late, and he has built quite an array of devices that I will want to feature at some point.

Coming Up

It will be February tomorrow, but it will still be gray and gloomy… which is fine with me.  Of more bother is the Super Bowl 50, which is happening about 15 minutes up the road from our house.  A zillion fans, press, and hangers on are about to descend on the valley, so it might be a good time to leave.

In EVE Online we have the February update coming up, which will include skill stripping and selling.  Meanwhile, the Reavers/KarmaFleet deployment is expected to last for a while.

It will also be the height of the CSM silly season with many a plea to get out the vote as though there were a candidate one could vote for that would have any effect on anything.   Stabs wrote something about “regulatory capture” when the opposite is actually the case.  This is just CCP co-opting critical player groups so they can pretend like they are listening.  It is all PR and it has been since it the plan was announced back in 2008.

As for other MMORPGs… well… I guess I don’t play any other MMORPGs these days.  Minecraft and Diablo III both scratch bits of that itch I suppose.  I’ll probably have a post about that.

That isn’t much going on in February, but I am sure I am forgetting something.

Friday Bullet Points Roller Coaster

More bits and pieces that I feel like bringing up but which I don’t care enough about to turn into full blog posts.  And I wasn’t really in the mood.  Plus, my office chair was take over by cats.

And the top one gets all frisky if you move him...

And the top one gets all frisky if you move him…

So this is what you get.

Wild Times for WildStar

Fans of WildStar cannot be happy with the news of late.  The F2P conversion was done in hopes of reviving the games fortunes, but Korea’s Daewoo Securities, which keeps a close eye on NCsoft, thinks the game is going to tank in 2016.

Wildstar_logo

And if it wasn’t bad enough that analysts close to NCsoft were down on the game, former employees of Carbine, the studio which created WildStar, were following the long tradition of recriminations, exemplified by EA Louse and that guy from Turbine, have come out to tell people just how screwed up the organization was.  The whole thing was summed up on Reddit.

My take away: In the second decade of the 21st century they chose an old school, price per seat, source control system like Perforce, and then used it badly?  They could have saved a lot of money doing things wrong with any of the equally bad open source options available.

The Force Awakens Many Things

As I often note, timing is everything.  EA released Star Wars: Battlefront into the teeth of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens hype and, hey presto, despite mixed reviews (PC, PS4, Xbox, and Yahtzee) EA says they have made bank on the venture.

And, as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, even the Tortanic it seems.  EA says that, in addition to the above, they also saw a surge in revenue for Star Wars: The Old Republic as well, reporting subscription levels for the four year old game were at their highest level in almost the last three.  Quite a change from the time when John Riccitiello didn’t want to talk about the game on an investor call because it wasn’t a very important property for EA.

As I noted in a previous Friday post, even my daughter was keen to give SWTOR a try… and then the whole Boot Camp drivers issue got in the way.

One wonders how Star Wars Galaxies might have fared in this mood of revival.

Anyway, I hope this doesn’t go to EA’s head.  Not that I had a lot of hope in their plans for a “make nice” campaign plan, but it was something at least.

Paving the Way for Xenuria 2016

As part of the run up to the CSM 11 elections CCP reworked some of the CSM Whitepaper… again… including some updates about who could run for the CSM. The result was vague enough to make people think if the ran a blog they might not be eligible.  After some outcry there was a slightly less ambiguous version that still wasn’t all that clear, so CCP eventually had to come out and just say that if you were affiliated with The Mittani dot com you couldn’t be on the CSM, it being professional gaming media site compared to the fan sites that are EN24 and Crossing Zebras.

Or something like that.  CCP has a couple stories on that front, but I guess they have to put a question like, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Commumittanist Party?” on the CSM application.

This means that Sion Kumitomo, the loudest critic of the relationship between CCP and the CSM, is barred from running for another term.  Funny how that worked out.  A statement from the Church of Siontology expressed both smugness and a sense of relief at the rule change.

Meanwhile, the slate of candidates for The Imperium now looks to be Xenuria, Suzy RC Mudstone, and that KarmaFleet guy who links all those cat videos in local… and I’m not sure about those last two.  Onward the Goon plan for world domination!

Contest

Finally, you still have a chance to win ISK by entering the Signal Cartel anniversary screen shot contest.  Act now.

And that is all I have.  I will have to make my search minions work harder next time.

Same stories in here as the last time I looked...

Same stories in here as the last time I looked…

BB71- Spaceships Make the World Go Round

Well, maybe not the world, but there is no question that ships make New Eden go ’round.  And few things get EVE Online players in general, and me specifically, is new ships being introduced to the game.

Think of how many expansions where the hallmark feature was a new class of ship.

What did we get in the last couple months?  New faction electronic warfare frigates, new tier 2 faction logistics frigates, an ice mining frigate, and that brand new class of command destroyers.  That is a lot of new toys to play with.

Caldari Stork command destroyer lurking

Caldari Stork command destroyer lurking

And these new ships have a great effect on the game, shaking up play styles and fleet tactics and giving people new ways to play the game.  The command destroyers especially have changed things up and, with their AOE MJD, have become a staple of operations already.

But when is it too much?

The question for this month’s EVE Online Blog Banter asks:

We all like important internet spaceships right? The more spaceships the better right? Or are we getting too many to be easily to remember them all. A Mastodon on scan? That the hell is that and what does it do? Oh! Never mind!

Are we getting too many ships. Is it too complicated to remember them all and what their traits are? Do FC’s these days need an encyclopedic knowledge of ship types unless they want their fleet to DIAF. With more and more ships being released each year will we ever reach “too many” or do you think there can never be too many important internet spaceship types?

Are there too many ships in EVE Online? 

There are enough to devote a whole blog to pictures of them I suppose.

Back before the Odyssey expansion, which went live more than two and a half years ago, CCP was talking about reworking and detangling the mess of subcaps they already had on the field because the balance was such that there were a few good choices and a lot of bad ones.

CCP's chart, no is jpeg format

CCP’s Tech I and faction subcap chart before Odyssey

That chart doesn’t have the tech II or the pirate faction variations of those hulls, nor the ships exclusive to some non-empire factions.  And then there are capital ships.

A since then, even more ships have been added to the game, including new skills required to fly some of those ships, while other ships have been revamped and tinkered with.

The ongoing result is, for me at least, confusion and neglect.  I am confused while many a hull suffers from neglect because some newly released ship or re-balance pass makes one ship shine while another seems sub-par.

So if you want to camp gates today, you likely have a Svipul along as your old insta-cane isn’t what it once was.  In The Imperium two doctrines got the axe, one based around the Hawk and the other based around the Harpy because the Jackdaw simply does everything either of them can do better.  I think Clay Hakkari is still weepy about the Harpy doctrine.

And then there are the quirks, like the fact that sometimes the navy faction version of a ship is better at the same role as the regular one and sometimes that are fit only for totally different roles.

I know there are some New Eden grognards out there that live in EFT and Pyfa for whom the fitting game is satisfaction in and of itself.  But for people like me I just want to know what to fly.  Fleet doctrines at least simplify that aspect for me, but that still doesn’t solve every problem.

The skill training aspect still holds sway when a balance pass from CCP hits and you find that those skills you had been focusing on are suddenly no longer needed because there is a new “best” solution.  I am past 150 million skill points and I still run into that problem now and again, finding some skill I never noticed is suddenly required.  For people with less SP breadth than me, and new players especially, this is no doubt frustrating.

For example, with our deployment down south, we have picked up a stealth bomber doctrine.  Two, actually, but don’t get me started on that.  For that doctrine the ideal stealth bomber is the Purifier.  I can fly that.  It is a pretty little ship, and the only one of the lot that looks good with a SKIN. This is it with the Raata sunset SKIN.

That nebula in Khanid is so distinctive

That nebula in Khanid is so distinctive

However, I can fly it because I happen to have all of the racial frigate skills trained up to 5, plus the stealth bomber skill.  I can fly any of the stealth bombers at this point.  But for newer players on our deployment, and we are deploying with KarmaFleet so there are a lot of those, the choice of what to fly is much more limited.  Due to other coalition doctrines, they were encouraged to train up the Caldari skill path, so they likely have Caldari Frigate V as their only gateway into stealth bombers.  And, of course, for our needs the Caldari stealth bomber, the Manticore, is at the bottom of the stack rank of desirability.  The hulls were ranked:

  • Purifier (optimum)
  • Hound (good)
  • Nemesis (OK)
  • Manticore (only if you have no other option)

So we ended up with some Manticores on a fleet op the other night.  Actually, looking at our battle report, we ended up with some of each of the stealth bomber hulls.  If you have a keen eye you can spot them all in this screen shot.

Bomber fleet in action

Bomber fleet in action

Now, it worked out for us.  We melted ten Augoror Navy Issues and their support, including two Guardians, while only losing one bomber.  Yes, we had overwhelming numbers, but stealth bombers are soap bubbles when hit, so they should have taken a lot more of us with them.

That aside, it wasn’t really a unified doctrine.  And, of course, the supply chain for replacements is complicated by the fact that we have to support four different hulls, each with a different fit, while deployed far from home.

(Business tip: Now would be the time to ship Purifiers from Jita to Amarr. There was only one on the market there the other night.)

Now, there is some slop allowed in a doctrine like that.  But if you want to run a more unified fleet where you want a single, mainline DPS ship, as with our Rattlesnake doctrine, you have to provide lower skill  support roles or leave people out.  And if you want to fly the big ship, you may have a lot of training to do.

All of which means what?  That EVE Online is a complicated game?  That ship balancing is hard?  That when CCP introducing a new ship it is often over powered?  That over powered ships are eventually nerfed?

All of that and more I suppose.  This is why a lot of people don’t like the game, and while other people love it.  And I suppose it is a bit of an achievement that some of the oldest hulls in the game can still be viable.  What other MMO has in-game gear more than a decade old that is still viable.  I know somebody will have an answer for that, but it is still a pretty big deal.

I just count myself lucky to be in Reavers, because Asher is one of those savants that likes to play with fittings, so we get to go fly some experimental doctrines built around Typhoons or Claws or Ravens or Caracals or Rokhs now and again.  I’ll throw my ISK at those ventures just to die in a blaze of glory every time.

Anyway, this is a post for Blog Banter #71.  Fortunately, some wiser people than me are writing on the topic, so maybe you’ll find something more on point and less just venting and fist shaking from the list below:

I will add additional posts as they appear.

Quote of the Day – The Paywall Cometh

Ultimately this is a business decision, to best support RIFT moving forward into the future. We’re on the cusp right now of RIFT’s 5th Anniversary, and we’ve got great stuff planned for 2016. But that stuff takes engineers and designers and CS and QA and a whole lot of other folks.

-Trion Worlds, on their voidstone plan

Free to play must really be an incredible pain in the ass as a developer because, if nothing else, players will literally assume you mean “free” when you say “free.”

And, seriously, if you’re going to start in with, “Well, “free” doesn’t really mean “free” because…” just stop right there.  The idea was to provide content that players would feel was worth paying for.  If enough people aren’t paying, maybe it isn’t your player base that is the issue.

Or, maybe it is.

As we saw last year with the PlanetSide 2really struggling” post, some players are just never going to spend a dime on your game, no matter the incentives, if you are giving it away for free.  Some are poor.  Some are cheap.  Some just like the challenge of the limited free mode.  And some, I am sure, just want to take advantage.

You can get angry about this, spit nails, and use words like “entitled” all you want, but it was the company which made the game that set the payment terms, not the player.  If you are going to blame the customer for taking you up on your offer, looking in the mirror for the real guilty party is all I can suggest.

As noted in that “really struggling” post, no amount of incentives will induce some players to pay.  And if you cannot induce people with the carrot, well, there is always the stick.  And so Trion is making a change and removing the ability to unlock new equipment slots introduced with the last expansion through a long but free grind, thus forcing players who want to get the unlock from the cash store or by subscribing.  Sounds like a paywall.

Yes, there is a work around still.  Trion’s statement goes on to make the claim that you could earn the in-game cash to buy a REX, the sort-of Rift version of EVE Online’s PLEX, wherein you can use in-game currency to subscribe, more quickly than you could grind out voidstones in order to unlock those  same slots, all of which makes you wonder why they would bother.

Oh, right, somebody had to pay real world money for a REX for it to get on the market, and creating demand for REX will increase its value in-game, which makes it more likely that paying players will buy more.

So the slot unlocks remain free for some, so long as somebody out there is paying.  A somewhat porous paywall, but a wall all the same, and possibly a harbinger of things to come.

I’m really neither here nor there on whether this change is an outrage or a reasonable adjustment.  Even World of Warcraft has their WoW Token offer which they push vigorously enough. So is the old Rift motto getting more or less true as time goes by?

No, not Azeroth!

No, not Azeroth!

Posting this is more a matter of noting how the F2P MMO market is continuing to evolve as the difference between competing games seems to diminish.  The trend will no doubt continue.

But still, it isn’t like Trion is doing anything really outrageous like, say, putting lock boxes inside of other lock boxes.  That requires a whole different level of “customer focus.”

Addendum: And it looks like Trion is on the same track with Trove.

Through the Story in Season 5 of Diablo III

I kept on with my Season 5 Crusader, whom I posted about last week, moving through the story, saving Adventure Mode and rifts and what not for afterwards.  I like the story, and the waypoints… the places where you can stop and pick up again later without having to redo anything… are fairly well spaced.

There are a couple of points where they feel a bit too close together.   For example why, in Act V, are there waypoints present literally the moment you step outside the Survivor’s Enclave, which has its own waypoint, for a couple of the story threads?

But too close is better than too far.  I rarely felt like I had to slog along forever between waypoints, even if I ventured up every side path I could find.

It was interesting to up the difficulty from Expert to Master as well.  There was clearly a period of time after I made the change that things were much tougher.  I died a couple of times soon after the change, but after a while the gear drops caught up with the difficulty and I could once again just pile into the middle of normal mobs and go to town.  I had to be more careful with elite mobs and bosses, a bit of mobility goes a long way in those cases.  Getting out of all those arcane beams is always a good idea.

The only boss I had any real trouble with was Urzael in Act V.  I died twice, very quickly, once his health dropped by about a third and triggered his second stage of attacks.  But, again, the solution was mobility to avoid his burst damage, then back in close to just tank and out heal the rest of his damage.  I favor gear that heals me some with every hit so beating on things is my general solution to taking damage.  The third run at Urzael was a success.

The change to Master also sped up my level progression and it began to look like a race to see whether I would hit level 70 or finish Act V first.  I went into the final fight with Malthael at level 69 with a few bars of experience left to go.  The question was, would the Malthael give me enough experience to get me there.  Well, this is how it turned out:

Fight finish, level cap hit, achievements achieved

Fight finished, level cap hit, achievements achieved

The race ended in a dead heat.  On slaying Malthael I hit level 70 and finished Act V in one simultaneous flash.  A friend of mine happened to be in game as well and got treated to a splash of achievement notifications in his chat window.  I could not have made these two events happen together on purpose if I had tried.

So the story is done and I now have a character at level cap.  Here is what he looks like, having put on the new pieces he got after the battle. (His profile is here.)

Chadwick the Crusader

Chadwick the Crusader

Now I have to wrap up the last two of the first round of Season 5 goals, which involve bounties and a rift.

First objectives

This hasn’t changed since last week

I should probably also look into what skills I ought to be running with.  So far I have just picked what has looked fun and seems to work, but I am going to guess that, if I want to progress through the various Torment levels, I will have to be a little less ad hoc in my approach.

Of course, that assumes I will make it into the Torment levels.  I must admit that the story drives me much more than the end-game of bounties and rifts.  The reason this is my first level 70 character is because the last time I finished the story I got bored with the end game and wandered off to do something else, leaving my previous Crusader at level 67.

I suppose I will have to see what other rewards Season 5 has to offer.