Frrrrriday

It’s another end of the week at the end of the year. I’m just sitting around watching the twitter stream scroll by while listening to some last.fm and thinking to myself. It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. Well here you go, for your pleasure I’ll ramble on about what’s been going down in the past month or so for me and my gaming addiction. Working about 100 miles from home sure as hell doesn’t do me any good when it comes to blogging. Usually I’ll be able to practice my wordsmithery during downtime at work. Being on-site working directly with the CTO of the company that is outsourcing you for contract work, well, there’s not a lot of downtime. This is cutting into my gaming time goddammit, so be happy.

Here Be Dragons
I did intend at one point to do a follow-up on Skyrim. To be fair, I started one, but it sounded like we were in a sex crazed relationship at the time, so I let it go. It’s been about a week or so since I fired up the game so I think the awesome shiny has worn off and it’s been reduced to a slightly less pure form of awesome. Skyrim did win a bunch of awards at the VGA’s, and they’re certainly deserved. I think all I can really do is reaffirm that yes, after 100 hours, the game is still entertaining. The depth shallows out a bit due to the tediousness of always having someone finding work for you to do, but it’s never the same work, which is what makes the game deceptively deep.

Being a Bethesda production it has a handful of weird bugs. Dragons flying backwards was an interesting trip. Some of the broken quests are more prominent. I would occasionally find late in the game that jobs you were sent on to places that were already cleared out would be broken. Killing a bandit chief that was already dead had to simply be resolved by using console commands to skip that chain in the quest. This happened more than once, so it seems like a systemic issue. Then there’s the UI and menu system, ugh. Spit in the face of the PC gaming master race, it’s a console wank job at best. If it weren’t designed for controller from the outset, or if an entirely different UI was designed for the PC (seeing as how we have keyboard instead of buttons) that’d be great. Thankfully there’s a handful of creative masterminds that have modded the piss out of the existing UI into something more useful. Thank you modding, you make all the pain stop hurting.

Magic is probably the most challenging aspect of the game to get powerful in, followed closely by melee combat. I recall starting out the game running around with a shitty iron sword and a handful of fire. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out which was more rewarding. However, once I started nailing people in the back of the head with arrows from 300′ or so, the magic lost its luster. Yeah, it’s funny to watch them burn, but they don’t react to it quite how I would imagine being on fire would make me feel. Once I hit ~35 or so I decided that this would be a good time to put my 100 Sneak to good use and start flipping around a dagger with that sexy x15 multiplier damage on backstabbery. Let me tell you, if you want to develop any skill in combat and be useful, do it really early in the game. When I hit with the backstab it usually just pisses them off, causes all their buddies in a 3 mile radius to come running to assist, and has me on my heels backpedaling like a bitch. It’s worse if I miss, because then I’m not taking a big satisfying chunk of their hp with me. The game is unforgiving at higher levels. You’re good at what you’re doing, and anything else will make you weep with regret.

You all know the high points of the game, and I didn’t want to cover those again. Plenty of other people have. Let me just say that the downside to Skyrim is a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer awesomeness of its vast open world. Don’t have it yet? Go buy it.

MMO of the Year
Rift has come out with some new stuff with one of its latest patches. I don’t know if you heard but they’ve added this big ass island to the east of the mainland. I consider this brave new land a sort of hardcore mode. Everything is higher than lv50 and most of them are elites as well. If you have friends and want to be challenged to a moderate degree, Ember Isle will accomodate. There’s the standard zone events that get people flowing out of the woodwork that brings the difficulty level way down. Also with the new lands comes some interesting dynamic outposts that you can build up turrets and healing pods at. Building them up however invites the denizens of the island to wander over and crush the shit out of your face. Fancy trade-off I suppose.

There’s a pile of new dungeons to be had as well, although I haven’t yet made my way into Cadaceus Rise, I have done Rise of the Phoenix in Stonefield. Well, we attempted it. RotP is the new 10-man sliver with gear requirements/rewards on par with the first half of Hammerknell. That’s the top end of the raiding game if you’re not paying attention. The guild has been in there a few times unsuccessfully, but we’ve made some decent progress on the first boss. Lately the Iniquity crew has been crushing GSB and RoS at will while working on post-Murdantix bosses in HK. One might imagine Rift to have also lost it’s luster, but the fellows at Trion Worlds are really keeping on the ball about content generation. I hope their subs stay at a high level for a long time to come and this little SWTOR business is a little bump in the road. From what I’ve seen so far, Trion is highly committed to building worlds, and EA, who has the ability to dump tons of money into the onset of games, is not. Maybe that’ll change with Bioware pulling the strings. Who knows?

Oh yeah, and Instant Adventures are the new hotness that keeps you grinding without realizing you’re grinding at all with people you might have never played with otherwise. I would be amiss to not mention this. Basically you can queue up for small zone quests. Kill 15 of these, free 16 of those, eat some mushrooms, whatever. It’s busy work with reasonably decent rewards for the effort, and a boss every handful or so. If you need immeadiate action and don’t want to wait you can queue for an IA (which has popped immediately whenever I’ve tried) and run around with handful of people cleaning up the wild lands of Rift. I think the IA’s are the next logical progression from Public Quests, but need a bit more reward and risk to really polish them off. They scale well for the amount of people involved too. I’ve run IA’s with full raids of people that had larger bosses and tiny 4-man groups with smaller and more manageable bosses. They also never end. You can get a quest at your capital city that will require you to do 7 IA’s, but often you end up doing a handful more just because they’re immediately engaging and never lack action.

Rift is still my MMO of choice. Until they stop doing things that define how I think MMO companies should act, they will continue to be my MMO of choice. Pretty simple.

New Addiction
League of Legends! This is the latest game on the docket for me. One of my regular dudes has gotten me hooked and I’ve probably dumped about 20$ into buying up a handful of champions at full price before I realized that not only do they go on sale periodically. I’m about two weeks deep into the game, halfway to the level cap for my summoner, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Most of my time has been spent in bot matches getting used to the flow of the game and practicing not-dying. This is a very valuable skill to have as the more deaths you incur causes you to gain less xp and gold, which in turn causes you to fall behind quickly, and unless your team can carry your ass, permanently. I like how unforgiving the combat is to the loser, it makes sense. I’m tired of the PvP games out there where everythi
ng needs to be perfectly balanced all the time. If you’re getting your ass kicked and you can’t adjust to the pace of the game, I see no reason why the game should mechancially adjust to your failures.

I get my ass kicked most of the time. Being an aggressive player in LoL is hard to do, most of my game consists of poking people from range and waiting until they do something stupid. Bot matches are great for this because of how uniformly programmed the AI is. They rarely push deep and get themselves into trouble which is great practice for learning when to run away and how often it’s needed. LoL is a faster paced strategy game where you’re hyper-focused on the immediate surroundings. Getting on voice chat makes things so much easier as communication is what will make or break games. There’s a lot of terminology to learn about LoL, but once it clicks you step up to a new level. I might be giving the game a bit too much credit. From the outside it looks like a top-down isometric single-character RTS, which admittedly is crap compared to commanding armies of units in other RTS’s. Coming from a background in WAR however, it serves a specific part of me that needs that fast paced high-risk battle that get’s your blood flowing. Be it adrenaline or rage, LoL can get it going and it’s something that’s growing on me.

Probably more posts to come in the new year. Don’t worry you people following the blog, I’ll announce when I’m ready to close up shop if you’re trying to clean out blogrolls and whatnot. Also, don’t feel shy about emailing me to get tossed onto mine. I haven’t updated that thing in a while anyway. It’s probably due for it. Cheers!

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