Saturday, January 25, 2014

General Winter has been invading my MMOs

"Nothing but snow for kilometers either way, and I already can’t feel my toes. Whose idea was it to come here again?"  --Andronikos Revel, upon reaching Hoth

On a day like today, where we got about 6 in/15 cm of snow and the winds are gusting over 30 mph/50 kph, it certainly does feel like Hoth outside.*  You shovel the driveway, and less than three hours later the winds have covered the concrete again in the powdery white stuff.

In that respect, the artists' job of rendering Hoth was spot on.  The equipment is usually kinked to one side courtesy of the winds, and the "roads" are barely there at all.  Hoth has that beaten down, worn out look to it.

Compare Hoth to Ilum, and Ilum has the brilliant stars in the sky as well as a dearth of story incorporating the icy surroundings.  Ilum is beautiful, not beaten down.

Turning to WoW, there's Winterspring.  It's more an idyllic winter scene --complete with monsters, naturally-- but the hot springs and the snow formations make for an inviting journey in the snow.  Hitch up the team to the cart and head on to Everlook, but just keep an eye out for the wolvar.

Storm Peaks is akin to Ilum, starkly beautiful, while Icecrown Glacier suffers under the yoke of the Lich King.  Nowhere else is Arthas so reflected in the scenery than in Icecrown.

The Cimmerian winter areas of Age of Conan, such as Conall's Valley and Eiglophian Mountains, skew toward the Winterspring end in terms of scenery, but the weather is second banana to the foes found there, such as the Vanir and Ymir.  The AoC regions don't have the omnipresent nature of a Lich King, but the sheer volume of enemy encampments dominate the landscape.

But only in Hoth do you see winter rein supreme as the central figure in the zone.

*I can hear the laughter from my Canadian friends all the way down here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hey, You Got a PROBLEM wit' Dat?

With all of the snow and colder weather than usual, you'd think that I'd be able to play MMOs a bit more. Well, that's what I thought, anyway, but I was wrong.

Seems that I've spent even more time than in the Fall being the family taxi, which boils down to schlepping kids to and from activities/friends' houses, etc.  And when the day is over, I swear that their clothes must breed in the laundry bin like some bizarre ooze or something.*

And naturally the SWTOR Rakghoul event is starting just as my workload is going up, too.


For the first time in a long time, I've begun hanging around an area to protect my faction.

As I'd mentioned in the last post, I've begun hanging around Hellfire Peninsula to protect the Alliance from Horde PvPers.  While I'm technically on a PvE server, the wave of PvP gankers has been on the rise the past few months.  I figured that since I'm not doing much, just waiting around between BGs, the least I could do was flip the PvP switch and protect some fellow Alliance members.

And that first week, I'm glad I did.

Somehow, somewhere, the CRZ for Hellfire Peninsula now includes Area 52.

You know, the large server where Neve and Q can be found.  And the Horde:Alliance ratio is something like 10:1.

So.  That means there's a swarm of A-52 Hordies all over Hellfire, basically raising some hell for the Alliance toons there.  In my informal scans of the area, the Horde outnumbers the Alliance between 2:1 and 3:1. While some Horde toons play nice, others, well, don't.  I've seen L90 toons gank L60 toons, Tarren Mill style, and I've seen Ganklethorn Vale behavior of an L90 toon trailing along at a distance from an L60 toon, just waiting to step in when an Alliance L60 toon swoops in for some PvP action.

I don't go for ganking the low level toons, but I do believe in fairness. And if I see you picking on my faction, I'm going to retaliate. Want to slaughter NPCs at Expedition Point? Fine, Reaver's Fall doesn't need that many questgivers. Trying to torment that L61 Mage working on quests around the Path of Glory? A few judicious sappings will convince you otherwise.  Ganking that L60 DK trying to take the Stadium with your L90 Warlock?  You might want to look behind you, someone just might be there.

*Whenever I venture into the laundry room, I keep expecting to hear Brann Bronzebeard yell "Incoming!!" like he does in the last boss of Halls of Stone.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Miscellaneous Thoughts on the New Year

One thing I dislike about getting back to work after a vacation is that the sheer volume of work awaiting you can be overwhelming.  And, like the polar vortex that brought Canadian weather to the Midwest*, my workload blew me over for several days.

I did, however, get a little bit of gaming in that didn't involve losing at Mario Kart or bricking 3-point shots in Wii Sports Resort.**

I spent one evening as Azshandra, loitering around Hellfire Peninsula to keep the Horde gankers away from the L60 toons.  I'd finished a game of Eye of the Storm and gotten up to get something to drink, and came back to find a Hunter assaulting Honor Hold.  A DK was keeping the Hunter busy, but the Hunter was skilled enough to keep the DK at arm's length.  I jumped into the fray, forcing the Hunter to retreat by air. Meanwhile, a Lock was bothering people at the Stadium, so a Worgen Hunter and I went over there and dealt with that threat.

"The guy isn't very skilled at PvP," I said in Gen Chat after we dispatched him.  "I've seen a single Demo Lock hold off 3-4 people in BGs."

"Yeah," the Worgen replied. "I don't think he feared us once."

"Well, maybe this will attract that Troll Hunter.  I want another crack at him."

"Pains me to say it," the DK added, "but I couldn't DPS him down."

I scouted around, including a foray into Thrallmar, but that Troll Hunter never came back.  (Good riddance.)

But still, I never used to have to worry about this sort of thing very much in a PvE game.  Occasionally there would be some asshat who would slice through a town and kill all the NPCs, but when the auto-leveling of guards to L90 was put in place in the Old World, that sort of thing disappeared.***  I guess it's migrated to Outland, where the lure of ganking new DKs is a powerful attraction.


In non-WoW news, I finally finished Makeb, just about catching me up to the current story.  Ironically enough, my Sith Sorcerer is the toon who made it to L55 (and the end of Makeb) first.  In some respects, the Sorcerer (with Lightning Spec) reminds me of my Rogue.  Oh, not with stealth, I'd have had to spec myself differently for that, but with the issues of constantly finding myself undergeared for fights toward the end of a questline.

When I had issues with the elites in the final questline for Makeb, I had to abandon the quest for a while and go run some flashpoints to gear myself up properly.  Then I was able to make some inroads on that last quest, until I met the final boss.

I suspect that a Sorcerer with the right companion would be able to solo the Hutt Boss, but I had Andronikos with me.  I didn't want to waste time gearing up a separate companion for this boss, so I ended up teaming up with a Sith Assassin and working through the boss that way.  Even though I'm specced Lightning (read:  glass cannon), I ended up spending a lot of my time during the fight healing.  The assassin dropped about 2/3 of the way through the fight, but I was able to battle rez him and heal him back up before we wiped.

That last boss fight on Makeb saw me do more healing than I've done in a long while.  I think I have to go back to some of the early instances that I ran with Tomakan as a Holy Spec Pally to match the amount of healing that I did.  Of course, that wasn't a good situation to be in given that I was specced DPS, so I guess you'd have to go back to Wrath-era WoW when I was still playing Quintalan (Ret Spec) to something that was an equivalent.

Still, courtesy of gear repair and a bit of luck, I survived another day.

Oh, and apparently my Sorcerer is married to Andronikos now.  Not sure what the other members of the Dark Council will say about that, but for now they're not saying much of anything.


I watched my oldest play LOTRO for a bit the other day and I got the urge to login to my old L16 toon there.  The only thing that's keeping me from doing it is the LOTRO interface.  I have issues reading the interface --and the map in particular-- and I don't want to end up with a headache over something pretty basic.

This is the one place where WoW and SWTOR have an advantage over LOTRO:  the ability to tweak the interface in a meaningful fashion and improve legibility.  WoW allows add-ons which completely revamp the entire interface, and SWTOR's interface adjustments do exactly what I want to improve legibility without sacrificing screen space.  Oh, and the coloring in WoW and SWTOR are much easier on my mumblety-mumble aged eyes.  I may not have color blindness, but I can only imagine the UI coloring in LOTRO playing hell with people who do.

Still, the LOTRO UI interface is better than that in Age of Conan, which often leaves me frustrated when I try to tweak it.

EtA:  Before anyone asks, I know that you can mod the UI in LOTRO.  However, the mods I've found a) keep the same text font, which still isn't the easiest thing for me to read, and b) the map mods don't really replace the current map with quest info into something I can more easily read.

*I've got a new respect for my Canadian friends who deal with -10F/23C temperatures on a regular basis.  Of course, having a home that's insulated for that weather helps too, which the homes in the Ohio Valley sadly aren't. I wonder if Mike Holmes does housecalls.

**If there's one thing that Wii Sports Resort has right with their simulation, it's that I can't shoot worth a damn in basketball, whether it be real life or in the game.

***I once sat, stealthed, on the entrance to Nijel's Point in Desolace and watched an L50 Troll Hunter slowly work their way up the path.  (See a pattern here?)  Once they got close enough, the guards aggroed to L90 and carved him up like he was a rib roast.  I'll confess I did the "/point  /laugh" at him.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What a way to start the new year

I wasn't planning on making this my first post of the year, but I see being an ass in video gamer space is reaching the level of interfering with emergency calls:

Hackers Harass League of Legends Livestreamer with DDOS Attacks

Calling 911 on somebody?  Really?  Just how old are these people, 10?