The year 2011 has ended and we have started with 2012. The past year has been interesting in a few ways for me, but perhaps more in areas outside of MMO gaming. While I have been writing a couple of blog posts the past year (123 according to WordPress) I must say that I have felt less inspired when writing posts for large chunks of time.
I used to hop around quite a bit in different MMOs, but this year it has settled down a bit – the past few months I have been pretty much exclusively playing City of Heroes. The year started out with a few other titles though:
This game in theory had a lot of promise, or at least there was a picture painted that this could be an interesting and fun sandbox-style SciFi MMO. Closer to launch it showed many signs that this was a potential train wreck to be launched. I bought the game knowing that very well though, mainly because I wanted to support a non-mainstream developer, in case they had some good ideas.
The launch was indeed a train wreck and I was a bit disappointed looking more into detail of some actual gameplay elements – not as inspired as I had hoped it would be, not in areas I liked anyway. Even if the performance and bugs were sorted out I do not think I would have enjoyed the game anyway, so that was it for me.
The current state of the game seems to be that the game still has some quality issues and that they have started a transition to a “free-to-play” model – no new accounts can be created from December 1st and this will be in effect until the “F2P” revamp is completed some time in 2012.
Played this in the early parts of 2011. The open sandbox world was quite fascinating, but also consumed a lot of time. In the end I decided I did not have the desire to invest enough time in this game/world for it to feel worthwhile. Not sure if I will fo back to this particular game, but would definitely want to try something in the same sandbox spirit as Wurm.
Not a big fan of the Star Trek Universe, but I did enjoy creating my own races to play and making up some background and story for my characters. I played STO primarily a bit in the first couple of months of the year and also ended up playing on the Klingon side mainly – very much enjoyed playing my Klingon-sided engineer type (but my own race). I was very enthusiastic about creating missions with the Foundry also initially, but ended up now being anything completed. My inspiration for creating soemthign for the Star Trek universe ended up a bit lacking, although I did look into Klingon material (including the language) a bit as part of the research.
I will probably revisit the game when it changes its payment model.
Visited the geme a couple of times, mainly playing one character. I am a life-time subscriber, so the cryptic points keep piling up in the game. It has been ok to visit a few times, but for my spandex fix City of Heroes works so much better. At some point I should try out the content I have not treied out yet, but I have had difficulty building up enthusiasm to do so. Which is a shame perhaps.
A very hyped game in the early part of the year, which also is a well executed and polished game. I did avoid reading about the game consciously precisely because of all the hype and in late April/early May jumped in and tried the game. I liked many things with it, although I found the combat a bit annoying with the global cooldown timer and the skill trees which quickly cluttered up multiple hotbars. The soul system was nice, but I would have liked a different skill progression model within these souls.
Unfortunately for me, I signed up with a 6 month subscription. In June, after around 1 1/2 month of playing the game I quite quickly lost all interest in logging in and playing the game anymore. I had a brief attempt later in July to get back into the game, but could not muster up enough interest to keep playing. This was very similar to my play experience with LOTRO, which played out quite similar – although in that case I had pre-ordered and played in beta also. Lesson learned – do not sign up for a long payment period initially with a subscription-based fantasy game.
My only major visit into mobile MMO gaming and this on my Eee Pad – the screen is too small for my taste on a phone for these games. Was very fun to play for short periods of time, but after a while I lost interest. Still have the game installed, but rarely visit it any longer.
Bought this game for PS3 shortly after launch, primarily to see if there could finally be something MMOish to play on the household PS3 – which primarily is used to watch blu-ray movies. Dropped it quite quickly – not a DC fan and it felt like you had to be that to appreciate the content. The controls were really awkward to use also.
Reinstalled the game again on the PS3 after the “F2P” revamp and I thought the game was better now from a UI/control perspective – but could not find that much enthusiasm for the DC content. Maybe I will play it more – maybe.
My very first MMO. I jumped back into the game just prior to its 10th anniversary and I have had a pretty good time in the game, with some nice people. Still, the combat mechanics are quite different from what I appreciate nowadays, being too much auto-attack dependent. Funcom does not seem to spend much resources on the game currently, but have indicated that when the conversion to new engine for the game (same one that Age of Conan and The Secret World uses) is done _and_ they have done a profession revamp, they will do a relaunch effort for the game.
The graphics engine revamp is what mainly has been talked about, but I think the profession/combat revamp is just as important for the game, if they get it right. A new graphics engine can get people to come back or to try the game, but it is a profession gameplay revamp that may potentially keep them in the game. I have not played AO since I decided to focus on City of Heroes, but I hope to get back into the game at some point – hopefully Funcom gets to the point where the new engine and the revamp will be done during 2012.
A quite polished fantasy/steampunk title from big Chinese MMO maker Perfect World. Same as Rift, this game is very well executed – just not something I could muster up continued interest for.
A SciFi space shooter kind of MMO. The initial PvE storyline part of the game had me hooked and the space combat is very well executed and fun. But the story part ended abruptly and then it was mission grinding and/or PvP. While some mission were quite enjoyable it became a bit too repetitive for my taste, so lost some interest here. Should get back into the game again at some point – if they have more of the story-oriented content that the game started with I would love to play that.
Signed up for SWG again when I heard the announcement that they were going to shut down the game. Manged to play a bit in the game, primarily with some new characters I created. Really loved some parts which I remembered from the old days when i played the game, but also remembered why I ended up playing my particular combination of professions originally (ranger/creature handler) – that was one combination that did not feel grindy to me and which also supported scratching my exploration itch back then. It was not quite now.
I would have played the game longer, but a credit card related issue stopped my access to the game prematurely. I do not like the way SOE handled the shut down of my access; but at least my memory of the game is less coloured by what its current state was.
Bought this when it was on sale from Steam, after a brief visit in beta. Looking at what Heatwave had eleased before Gods & Heroes I am not quite sure why they decided to with a traditional MMO route, perhaps someone thought they might be able to make some easy money on a game that was in beta when the original game company went belly-up. This was another of those game where I really could not muster up enough interest to keep playing (and paying).
This is my main game and in the past few months my only game, pretty much. This part will be very brief here; most posts end up being about this game anyway. For good and bad, City of Heroes has evolved quite a bit over the years and at the same time been the same as well. The community aspect is important here, it is a game that feels like “home” to me more than any other MMO. It is the one game that I can be fairly sure to get a happy greeting from someone else when I log in and where most people I end up interacting with (friends or strangers) are for the most part friendly and nice to each other.
Other stuff, not gaming
A lot of other things has happened in this year, but not related to MMOs. In August I changed employer, after working for more than 12 years for an American software company. I really liked my actual job there and the collegues I worked with, but it was also a position that required a lot of travelling to other parts of Europe, and a few times to Middle East. During very long periods I only saw my home area/town/country on weekends and impacted how I my non-work life was handled.
With my new employer I can do a similar job to what did before and enjoyed, but also pretty much work so I can get home every day, instead of staying in a hotel room. It is a great company and a great group of new collegues.
My general fitness have had its ups and downs in recent years, but not stayed at a good level. In the past 11 months I have done a better job though with continued improvement and am in better shape now than a year ago, and also lost perhaps 17-18 kg. Still more to be done, but feels quite good.
This Sunday I decided to write few short notes about things I do not do, instead of writing about the MMO gaming I did (that is saved for another post). So on to a list of things I did not do..
Play Wurm Online
I like the sandbox approach of Wurm, I really do. But I realized it will take me ages to accomplish things I want to do, plus for some tasks I would need somewhat long game sessions. This would mean sacrificing more play time in the other MMOs also and I am already stretching my time. So Wurm will have to go on hold for a while.
I actually downloaded the game client and set up an account, while doing some other things on the computer – but no time yet to play the actual game. Will see if there will be time another weekend.
I actually logged in and tried to play, for a short bit. Masthead had a server maintenance break on February 17th that was said to last for about 8 hours. I logged in afterward that to see if I noticed any difference. I saw fewer people and same performance issues as before. Since I had logged off a bit out in the wilderness I had to fight my way back to some inhabited area, was not a fast process. I was attecked by another player though a bit closer to the northern camp, so I decided to just let him kill me – I was tired of struggling through mobs with horribly unresponsive controls. Resurrected in camp and logged off. Will wait until they actually provide some patch or anything else that will improve the game – there has been no updates so far since the release.
Read blog posts about Rift and World of Warcraft
I typically avoid pure World of Warcraft blog posts; be it people who are positive or negative about the game – I am not interested in either. Rift is also a game that I have started to avoid blog posts about. I am sure there are lots of intersting things to say about the game prior to its release. Personally I am more interested in seeing what the discussion will be some months/weeks after release – then I might start to look at posts again.
Complete Demonflame adventure pack
I started to play the Demonflame adventure pack in Champions Online for the first time. I like it and will write something more about it after completion.
Use the same graphics card all weekend
My Nvidia Geforce 9800 GTX+ had an identity crisis and a partial breakdown. It still displayed a picture, but was no longer recognized as an Nvidia device. After various attempts of jogging its identity back to normal I gave up and bought a new Nvidia card instead, a Geforce 560 Ti this time instead.
The number of MMOs I am playing right now have been piling up – currently I have been swapping between five different ones in the past two weeks or so:
- Fallen Earth
- Star Trek Online
- City of Heroes
- Wurm Online
- DC Universe Online
Each one have only had a small chunk of time (maybe a bit more for Fallen Earth), but for most of them it has worked out pretty well.
A couple of weeks ago Icarus Studios sent out an email with a come-back-and-play offer, giving a slightly reduced initial fee. I played Fallen Earth from release, but did not end up playing paticularly much, even though I really liked the crafting part. There were a few other things that annoyed me with the game and I dropped the subscription. I do not remember exactly when I left, but it seemed anyway that there had gone enough time to merit a look again.
So I jumped in and started a new character – and I have had a blast so far! While I do not remember all the details of the previous time in the game, I do have a feeling that there has been a few changes. The tutorial might have been shortened or changed a bit, I have a feeling there were some more pieces which were not there. The starting area for focus on crafting was also different. Now it was a place called Midway, before I think it was South Burb, if I recall correctly.
During the past week most of my game time went into Wurm Online. As I started the previous weekend with some exploring of Wurm, this was also what I continued to do initially.
Travelling in Wurm is a slow affair; you run/walk on the roads, unless you have a mount and are skilled enough to use it. On water you can swim short distances, or go by boat. Since everything is player-made, you either have a boat of your own, or you get a ride with someone who has a boat.
One also needs to keep up with food and drinks – if your water level drops low your stamina regeneration will decrease significantly; this also happens to some extent if you are hungry. Running all the time consumes a fair amount of stamina, but it also regenerates fast if you are not thirsty. And you can get thirsty somewhat quick by all the running, so I learned to try to plan my routes and exploration so that it was not too far between places of fresh water.
The danger of water
At one time I was very thirsty when I arrived to a harbour area. Trying to get the water I initially could not reach it, because the ledge was somewhat steep. Moving a bit further I fell into the water and this was when the trouble started. Since my stamina was low and did not regen fast I was not able to climb up from the water – not enough stamina. And swimming is a quite stamina intensive exercise, so I could not swim fast and I could not get stamina to climb up and I saw my health bar drop in big chunks as I was starting to drown.
If you die in Wurm you will respawn at a respawn point available to you, which in my case would be the default spawn point – not a short travel from where I was. A number of the items will still be at the corpse and one would have to do a corpse run to get all of it back. I was not sure if I would be able to get to the corpse in the water if I drowned, so I was not keen on dying…
As I splashed in the water and saw my health drop, I realized there were some boats nearby. To embark a boat you do not need to climb, you just use the embark command – provided that you are allowed to do that for the boat in question. The first boat I tried did not allow me to embark. I swam (painfully slow) towards another boat and to my relief it did allow to embark! With just a sliver of health left I was on the boat. I waited there to recover some health and stamina and them moved on – after I got that drink I was looking for in the first place.
Dangers come not just from falling in the water though – while one does not necessarily see much of the wildlife while travelling on the road, it is certainly there. And for a new player with no fighting experience there is a lot of things out there that can kill you. I have walked a bit off the road and at one time noticed a huge spider (and a starving one) in front of me – the spider saw me as well and started to bite to get some chunks of newbie flesh, although I managed to run away from it. Apparently there was also a bear who also wanted a bite of me right after, but I did not notice it until I saw the chat logs that one of the NPC guards in a nearby guard tower had taken care of it.
I have encountered a number of corpses of spiders, giant scorpions, bears, wolves etc – all of them most likely killed by someone more skilled in fighting. Some roads to not have that much traffic though – one road which had a lake on one side and a steep mountain on the other side had a bear who had decided to park there. I managed to swim past him the first time. The second time I came through that route there was another bear on that road also and a mountain lion. The bears were somewhat close to each other, and one of them spotted me as a I swam, so I took a longer route swimming – one which lead to another drowning/near death experience. This time I managed to survive by dropping a couple of non-essential items from the inventory, which allowed me to swim a little bit faster and reach the shore before my health evaporated.
It would certainly be painful if I had died. But these were also experiences that I certainly will remember and that I learned something from – because I managed to survive it was kind of a rush instead.
In the back of my head when I was exploring was also to find some spot to settle down. However, whenever one found a somewhat scenic spot with att the good stuff (forest, mountains, lake) it was bound to already have been settled and many times quite a bit of effort had been put into these settlements. So this was not something I would want to disturb, even if it had been possible (in some cases it is).
Eventually I decided to settle down in a spot which is not scenic, but rather a bit cosy. A place a bit off the roads, but still not too far from some settled areas and a manageable distance from a lake.
Here I decided to practive some of my building skills. First I built a small cart so I could transport some extra material around without slowing me down to a complete stop. Then I made some barrels and travelled to the lake to fill them up with water, so I could have some to drink if needed. Then I started to build my first house.
In order to build a house one first needs to have a flat piece of land. Most land in Wurm is not flat, but with some digging skills it is possible to flatten pieces of land (tiles) so that they can be built on. I misunderstood the digging & flattening description in the Wurmpedia wiki initially and it was perhaps more luck than anything that I managed to get one flat tile to build my first house on. Later on the light turned on in my head and I realized how it worked. It was actaully a bit fun to do the flattening of a larger
When you build a house you first need to plan the building, which is to mark which (flat) areas of land that will be part of the building. When this is finalized a skeleton of a building structure appears and you can start adding the planks and nails needed to complete the house. For the smallest possible building 80 planks and 4 packs of large nails are needed – 20 planks and one pack of nails per wall piece (one tile). Add another set of planks and nails if you also want a wooden floor.
Creating some of the planks (cutting down trees, chopping up trees into logs and then making planks from the logs) raised my carpentry enough so that I could create the building in the firts place – the minimum carpentry skill needed is <# of floor tiles> + <# of wall tiles>. For a minimal building, that is 1 + 4 = 5 in carpentry.
With my low skills I did initially now have a high success rate in creating those planks and it took some hours to complete the building. But I did feel that I reached a milesone – my first own house! …or rather a shed, as the game referred to it. When you have a house one can also control access to it, although one also needs to put a lock on the door to make sure that access is somewhat restricted.
Being a bit concerned about the warnings about the wildlife in the area (spiders, scorpions, bears, trolls etc) I decided to see if I could improve my fighting skill a bit. In the low skill levels it is possible to increase fighting skill a bit (to skill level 20) by fighting with a practice doll. To make a practice doll one needs some planks and shafts. These can easily be made from the trees. But a pumpkin is also needed for the head.
Since I had picked up some pumpkin seeds while foraging and botanizing (to make food), I decided to start try out farming. I set up a small piece of land to sow on and used the pumpkin seeds. It will take a few real life days for it to grow enough to be harvested and in the meantime it will also need some love and care every now and then, to remove weeds and keep it in shape. I think this is needed about once per day from what I can tell so far, which should be doable I hope.
I have also started to extend my area with more buildings, a bit larger since my carpentry skill has gone up a bit. Further down the line there may be a bit more elaborate plans, but I am taking it a few steps at a time and I am happy to log in a bit every now and then to build and improve my place. I am certainly not aiming to become some über skilled character which can do and deal with anything and build some big mansion. As long as I learn new things about how Wurm works and I can step-by-step build my parts here, I am good.
This first weekend of 2011 my gaming consisted of 4 different games: City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, Wurm Online and Minecraft. All pictures in this post are from Wurm Online.
City of Heroes
One of my short term goals in the game here was to bring my level 50 scrapper to the villain side and into my villain supergroup, Shadows of Ankh-Morpork. This was accomplished during the weekend and thus I now have all of my 11 level 50 characters on the villain side – 2 of them are heroes gone bad.
To switch side one has to do alignment missions, 10 hero -> vigilante and 10 vigilante -> villain missions, plus also two missions to switch faction from hero to vigilante first and then from vigilante to villain.
I started this path a long time ago, but have not been in a rush to complete it. In the weekend I did the last remaining alignment missions. With Issue 19 there were a number of new alignment missions introduced, specifically focused on those character that are changing alignment. Thus doing villain alignment missions as a vigilante will provide you different missions than if you do villain alignment missions as a villain (i.e. stay in alignment).
For this the new missions are brilliant – the storyline of each mission really works on capturing the view of the player character as an individual who in their own mind is a hero making the tough decisions, but in the end turn out to be just as brutal as any proper villain – and the character still thinks they do the right thing. I very much enjoyed playing through those missions.
Star Trek Online
In STO another small goal was reached as well – my current character just passed my old character on the leveling path. He is now Commander 3 as well, but a bit closer to Commander 4 than my old character. I have also reached the point where all of the missions I pick up are mission that are completely new to me – never done them before.
I tried to complete episode 4 of Series 1: The Breen also, but it turns out there is a bug in one mission that does not update the objectives properly, so I am currently stuck on that one until they fix it.
I have had on my to do list for quite a while now to try out Minecraft, but never gotten around to it. A truly brilliant game. One can notice that the developer of Minecraft was one of the founders of Wurm Online; the sandbox philosophy is similar, but Minecrafte is simpler and quicker to get into.
Wurm Online was the game I spent most time with during this weekend. The game is very much a sandbox MMO in its purest sense, in a fantasy setting. No classes, no xp, just a number of skills to progress in and basically everything player-created from the world itself.
I have generally been a bit cautious of some sandbox:ish MMO offerings, partly because they have had a somewhat heavy emphasis on PvP. I consider PvP an optional activity in a virtual world and I prefer where the mindset is more towards building/creating something than bash each others head and loot their corpses.
For Wurm you have both options – the game provides both PvP and non-PvP servers and one can choose whichever server suites best. Even that decision is not final as I understand it – it is possible to change servers through portals in the game.