Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Wizard of Sanctuary

Between a lot of work and some more work, I've managed to finish Diablo III on a wizard. It was a good choice for a game, given it is easy to just log off and finish later, with the itemization and stats much more simplified when compared to the earlier versions of the game. I'll be quick to list the points of the game that impressed me the most:

The fashion designer of this team is better than WoW's: the gear looks pretty and makes you want to progress. No, really, I enjoyed getting new gear to look pretty in flowing robes as opposed to kill monsters quickly. Believe me, monsters die quick enough with the wizard.

It is not difficult to pick gear: aside from the brainless calculator, stats are easy to figure out and there is no more point distribution drama, to ponder about different builds and not being able to reset.

Runes are more flexible than talent trees: you can change at any point the spells you use. No more buying and regretting latter, no more build a spell just because it is required for the next level like it happened on Diablo 1. Same thing for the companions, you can change their skills at any point.

Gems are not set in stone: believe it or not, the jeweler in this game is so GOOD that he mastered the ability to remove a gem from a setting! So no more drama over socketing gems that are still not fully upgraded.

Everybody's got a journal: there are a lot of pieces of lore throughout the game, like bestiaries and journals that help you catch up with the story or find out what happened between Diablo 1, 2 and finally 3. Some have nice touches of humor, which is always helpful. Dialogues are also nice and to the point, with some humor here and there.

Online gameplay: I haven't tried to join public games, and I don't see myself doing it at any point soon, simply because I have a limited time to play, and would rather just be either by myself or in the company of people who already know my style of playing. With that said, I could have had the game as offline only, but the few times I played with friends, it was fun.

"Replayability": I intend to finish the game again with a different class, just not sure which yet. I'll also play it again on my wizard to reach the spells on the higher levels, and also to play with my friends in the more difficult levels.

Tristram Cathedral still exists: so unexplained. I personally would have imploded the place after the events of the first game, used some good concrete at the entrance and built a shopping mall on top. But these folks just like Tristram I suppose.

Overall, I think the game is too expensive. I finished it way too fast given I don't have much free time right now, and that I am the "explorer" kind of player who'll open all the maps and clear everything before moving on. The story is nice, but some of the plots I was able to guess, while others seemed too familiar with something I had already seen. It is a great game though, I had a lot of fun and know what I'll be able to play it again a couple more times and still be entertained. I suppose the "replayability" is the selling point when looking at the price tag.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Landscapes and inventory heaven (GW2 Beta Weekend)

This past beta weekend I didn't have much time or energy to play, but did spend some time with the game. In the end, I tried some more professions, explored and tried some crafting, and I am glad it was fun to go "the other way", where I did a bunch of miscellaneous things instead of just focusing on leveling up.

Inventory Heaven
In most games I turn off the public channels. Some rare ones won't be too obnoxious and actually have information, and since it is a beta, I keep an eye on it for tips and tricks, and that is when I found this piece of heaven: your bank has dedicated crafting space.

Yes, dedicated crafting space.

Doesn't end there. You can send gathered materials to that "collection" wherever you are, from your adventuring bag to the safety of your account wide bank.

I simply love this. One of the reasons I won't play LotRO somedays is because I know I have a huge game of tetris on my inventory to go through before I can head out into the wilds. The ability to simply send materials instead of having to go on a long trip to deposit precious materials in between adventures will make my hoardy-crafty self very happy.

I love taking pretty screenshots. Sometimes I never visit them back, but I like to take them for some reason. Might be a frustrated photographer inside or me somewhere.

Here are some I'd like to share, each one from one of the different capital cities, which have been a join to explore:

Divinity's Reach
Black Citadel
Hoelbrak and my Elementalist
Character Concepts

So far my favorite race is the human, and favorite profession the elementalist, which of course unite to be the character I played the most. While trying other professions, the ranger, engineer and mesmer were also fun, and I am pretty sure I'll have a norn ranger at some point. The mesmer I still can't think of a race that seems to match nicely, other than another human. As for the engineer, I am wanting a tiny asura.

I did try the Charr, but I just find it hard to have them match a profession other than something melee. It is silly, but I keep thinking they should just use those huge claws and fangs instead of a silly dagger or a gun.


The amazing discovery that bread + butter could create this
The crafting I checked with detail is cooking, because it is the only one that made sense in my mind to try and play around with the "discovery" system. Basically, you can try to mix and match ingredients in order to discover recipes. While a lot of people have been saying that a wiki could kill that, what I say is that it only "kills" it if you read it, and I don't intend to.

Foods give buffs, and I found fun to do the discoveries. Also, some karma vendors (kinda like factions) sell special recipes that might touch the collector side of me. I did think about trying a more gear creation or alchemy oriented tradeskill, but failed at it. Maybe next time.

Final thoughts
I still need a guild! Might join some folks at work that are going to play, but I am not sure yet. The game has been fun, it is beautiful and I feel not only free, but also encouraged to explore freely instead of sticking to a "leveling patch".

What about you guys? Playing some GW2? Just looking and not sure yet about what you see and read?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

LotRO on Steam and picking a new game

A short weekend update: I need to pick between Diablo III, Skyrim or Guild Wars. So far I think I'll get Diablo III: the mindless aspect of the game seems to be a good choice to play after a long day. But then I am very curious to play Skyrim. And Guild Wars' trial was fun, yet lonelly. When I'll have the time to play the game I pick? No idea, it's a gift and I'll take it.

Also this weekend, I'll be playing my GW2 Elementalist in the Norn area. I checked the human area already and loved it, so to avoid spoiling it, I'll just stay clear of it. So far the snowy area of the Norn is not much to my taste in looks, I prefer green pastures and flowers. Their quests have interesting aspects though, with hungry bunnies attacking you and snow ball fighting.

I'd also like to remember Steam users about LotRO being available there now. I'm trying to convert my installation using this "guide". It should be good news for those who have problems with Pando Media, since the download can be done through Steam now.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The books about Tyria

As I move on into another series of books, I am very happy I took the time to read both "Ghosts of Ascalon" and "Destiny's Edge". At first I was unsure, thinking I'd be lost in the story and the world since it is about Tyria, the world of Guild Wars, a game I have not played past my short experience with the trial.

What I found out is that the authors were very skilled to make the books independent from the game. All the details that would have been explained in the game lore are there, and not with pages and pages of boring "let's go back and explain this". No, it is done through the story in very well measured amounts.

"Ghosts of Ascalon" is my favorite. It is dark but with humor, mystery and a good ghost story. A BIG one. It has elements of the typical fantasy book without being cheesy, without the "hey, since everyone is heading east, we are all best friends now". It gets realistic on that point, of how the characters have to "deal" with each other in a point where the races or Tyria are still trying to get used to each other. The events of this book, from what I understood, happen after "Destiny's Edge", and some of the events from that book will appear here, which makes it a book I'll have to read again at some point.

"Destiny's Edge" is a bit more cheesy, on a lighter mood and predictable in many points, until you stumble upon the twists, of course. The "light and dark" moods were put together nicely, and the authors are kind enough to skip parts that would not be interesting (something I've been wanting in books after so many 10-book-long series I've read). The combat is very well written, to me anyway. It never gets so complicated that I just want to skip a page since I got lost after the third somersault and four kicks in two different guys. It is simple, just enough for you to enjoy the book rather then hope it will take long before the next combat "scene". 

It is difficult for me to talk about the books without putting spoilers, so I'll stop. I just wanted to share that they are unique and a very good read if you are wanting to understand the lore in Guild Wars 2 a little better. Even if you are not interested in the game at all, they are two good "standalone" fantasy stories in a same world, Tyria. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thank you NBI!

The month of May has come to an end, and I am very happy I have participated in the Newbie Blogger Initiative as a newbie blog. My blog might be a little "old" but I am not an experienced blogger, and it was fun to post again more regularly and with lots of inspiration.

I also loved to meet new blogs and people. I will highlight three of them as requested by Ambermist's challenge:

I am not sure if this is the author's objective, but I really like his sense of humor and the way he writes, going on about something, then taking a turn somewhere else but being able to come back. Sure keeps me entertained.

Love the diversity on subjects and the easy to read design. This place doesn't help me and the way I'm avoiding to get Diablo 3 before I finish my other games.

The author is able to create long yet "not lost" posts, and as a "newbie", it is impressive. Not many can write long posts and keep me reading.

Special thanks!

Thank you Ambermist for all the challenges. It kept me both thinking and visiting different blogs, it was a ton of fun and inspiring!

Thank you Syp for organizing the whole thing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A year of blogging

Today it marks the one year anniversary of my first blog post here. It feels it has been a much shorter time, and the number of posts also point out to me that I haven't "worked" much on the blog.

Since May 27th 2011, I have posted 70 times (71 with this one), mostly about games I play, and mostly about MMOs. I started with a blog post where I tell a bit about myself and why I was starting the blog. Also, the blog had a different name, "Games for Dessert", but it attracted people looking for recipes, and I didn't like the name that much, so I just changed it to my screen name. It also gave me more freedom to post about something else other than games if I felt like it.

On his defense, he meant centaurs

From that original post on why I started the blog, much has changed in my life, and just a few about my intentions on blogging. It used to be more about not forgetting how to write proper english and less about community, and now it is more about the later. Also, the NBI project helped me re-shape my ideas of posts to write and things to share.

Hopefully in a year I'll be making a similar post. Thank you everyone that joins me talking about games, and all of the folks from the NBI project! You inspired me to retake this blog and continue this hobby of mine to write about games.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

NBI: When you can't be a battle chicken.

Sometimes you just can't, Ambermist. I found that out today.

While doing the Spring Festival quests in LotRO, I found myself at Sandson's Farm, where the famous chicken session starts. It is a series of quests where you play as a level 1 chicken in Middle-Earth.

I thought about giving it a try. The very first quest is simple enough, about gathering some worms... until you notice that the wolves around the farm are "red" and dangerous, able to kill your chicken-self in a nibble.

This made me remember of a guide for Chicken Session that I bookmarked a long time ago, and there I went to search more about it. In a short description, the quests are mostly about the challenge to run around Middle-Earth as a level one and survive to tell the tale. The guide includes chat channel suggestions, tips on how to have someone escort you at some points, and of course the rewards.

Not sure if I'll go through it, but it is nice to know something this different is there in the game.
Made me think of Bill the Pony and his lonelly journey all the way from the gates of Moria to Bree, which of course led me to double check if I remembered the story properly.

The BattleChicken is right, learning is fun and some wiki articles are good reads in between games. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

A game to "hide" in: What to play when too tired to slay?

This is Brazokie, my glitch

I just had a crazy busy week at work. No games at night, just extra work to make sure everything could get done properly. So I saw myself actually going back into games I don't play as often for their "less demanding" aspects. The one that came up the most and won't normally be on that list was Glitch.

It has been a while since I've been playing Glitch's beta. I love how this casual game never punishes me for not playing daily, or weekly. I am always welcome to come back and have fun collecting, exploring and crafting. It is a good break from killing orcs and crazed wildlife, not to mention that some days I just want to play around in an upbeat and cheerful game that has no war in it. That would be Glitch for me.

Exploring and collecting:

The 2D scenarios are cute, full of things to interact with and collect. You can nibble piggies for meat, pet trees and get milk from butterflies. I know it sounds simple, but after having to explore unfriendly territories in other games just to collect herbs for potions, I love how I can just stroll around and not worry about my character's safety if I need to step away for a couple of minutes.


All those things you collect around the maps are used to craft something, or to give you some sort of "buff". Sone will evolve for a long while, and others will be simple. For exmaple, how to make "Very, very stinky cheese". You start by having to gather milk. To gather milk, you have to massage butterfly. Without proper animal handling skills, you'll need to use lotion. Once you get that milk, you have to turn it into butter by shacking the milk. The compressing the "butter" creates the "cheese". Then you age it to create "Stinky Cheese", age it again for "Very Stinky", and once again for "Very, very stinky cheese".

My glitch character has already a lot of the available skills trained, but my focus has been mostly on food and gathering materials for said food. Skills are learned offline, you just have to pick one and wait. Some more advanced levels of skills require that you complete achievements to be able to be unlocked.

Little special things everywhere:

There are secret levels with word games, fox hunting games and race-like activities for when crafting needs a break. Also, the housing system has received improvements and now you have lots of furniture options and more space for farm your veggies, raise your animals and to store all the crazy stuff you collect while exploring.

After a very long week of work, sometimes all I need is a game where what I do is build instead of slaying, explore instead of analyze. Moving forward, I'm thinking of purchasing games I used to have some time ago: "Zeus" and "Pharaoh". They are city-building and management games, but a nice break from the whole "kill 10 boars" feelings some RPGs have. Also, they require much shorter play sessions, just in case I continue to have crazy work weeks.

And with that said, I hope more and more "casual" games pop up for me to enjoy on those out of control weeks where I just can't bother to slay 30 of the same thing.

What about you guys? In which game do you hide when you are too busy or stressed out? I had expected I'd have picked up Diablo 3 and relax killing demons, but I went the opposite way! Anyone getting that same effect?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dahliara is ready for treasure!

Dahliara is ready for the next Treasure Hunt. Even though she was able to score a pony, a fancy looking backpack and other ugly gear she prefers not to show, she still has to capture herself a goat and a masked horse.

This outfit is a combination from her old "adventurer's outfit" and two new pieces I've been able to get, the Yule Scarf and the Treasure Hunter's Pack. I really like the final combination, though I think the Mathom Society House horse would be a better fit.

Dahliara's Treasure Hunter Outfit:
Head: Traveler's Hood (Washed)
Shoulders: Yule Scarf (Olive)
Gloves: none.
Pants: none.
Boots: none.
Horse: Treasure Laden Pony

Friday, May 18, 2012

NBI: The Silly and the Useful

To answer to Ambermist's challenge of the week, I present my favorite characters from games I've played over the years. It's been fun to make posts to answer challenges, and I can't wait for next week!

My Silly Girls

Yes, typo right there, and a way to use the name, way back when I played Ragnarok Online. It was my first character, and I have NO idea why I picked a rogue. On all other MMOs I've played after Ragnarok Online, I never played a rogue. Thing is, Rainny was a sweet girl who just happened to be a thief who evolved into an assassin. Her dream and life goal? To have a cape, for her assassin outfit was quite not appropriate for cold conditions. Turns out she dated guys with long clothing, such as a mage and a templar, in hopes to steal their garments to herself one day.

My gnome mage was the first character I had in World of Warcraft, and where I fell in love with playing ranged characters. I was never able to create a background story for her, but she is the one that got cool outfits done and who everyone loved to do silly RP actions with. A warning though: if you dare put her in your pocket, she'll pee in there.

The functional "mains"

The elf hunter from LotRO. Her background is that as a young elf from Lothlorien, and not being bery wise, she did something stupid I just can't make clear. Anyway, she is invited out to grow up into the world, meeting the challenges of the main quest until she finally reaches Lothlorien again to redeem herself, earn their respect again and move on in live and to help the Grey Company. Or at least that is the only way I could explain the fact she started questing in the Shire and had no reputation at all with Lotlhorien even though she is from there (that is a choice from character creation).

Lindirien is the character I play the most nowadays. It's a fun character with nice tricks and awesome teleportation skills. Yes, play the epic quest in LotRO and you'll wish you were a hunter at some points!

The Priest

A character with two names. It all started when I thought it would be really funny to name an alien character (draenei from WoW) Scully, to mock the agent's name from X-File. The joke grew old quick, but my love for playing a priest didn't. So I was stuck with a draenei with a name I didn't really like. Some years later I break in and pay for race and name change, and Luciny is born!

...and shortly after that I grew tired of WoW.

So here they are, my dear characters. Anyone with some special one(s) to share? I know some people have character they just use in many different games. I am thinking of recreating some of these in other games now. Wonder how that'll feel.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Love and Hate: Roleplaying in MMOs

A long time ago, back in Brazil, back when I was in the first years of college, I started playing Ragnarok Online. It was the first MMO I played for a long while, years to come and on a guild I loved. Great people and atmosphere, but they had this "thing": they were an RP guild, and I was not a roleplayer. Or at least not the regular kind.

I am a "silly" roleplayer. I enjoy roleplaying about a quest, to greet someone casually, to create small situations. I am not fit for big scale events and complex stories, but I still roleplay on my own way, and most of the time it is on my own head, just thinking of my character's stories. So here goes my love and hate list on some RP aspects, and the hope one day I'll find more players like me.

Different moods with different people

One of my RP projects while on Ragnarok Online was to create fanfics with a friend. We'd write some parts separately and then come together. For some reason, I can actually write humor on RP, which is so not like me to be a "humor person". Odd enough, my stories are generally light hearted, cute and to make you at least smile. Not my friend's though, who had a story full of violence. Yeah, the two stories did not match together very well. I tried to adapt and write on a more "dark side" as he did, but then it wasn't as fun anymore, but made me learn to write in a different setting that ended up being interesting and a learning experience.

It is not easy to find a group of people that will play "the same game" as me. Deep drama and violent stories are not my fun point when making up character stories. I want to be silly, to make meta-game comments and joke about the game itself at some points. Needless to say that I can't play along with people who are too serious about RP and won't allow small "slips" here and there.

At the same time, I simply love to read other people's complex stories, because they have such different views of the same "game world". Something that I don't even count on much as a game element ends up being central to someone else, and little pieces of their personalities appear in a story, where while chatting casually, it won't. I end up learning about the player while reading about the character.

"I am the princess!"

Back when I was a kid, playing "imagination games" around the house and backyard, there was the crucial moment all girls would raise their hands and demand to be the princess. I am mocked by my father to this day about his, when he yells "I AM THE PRINCESSSS!" and makes a very silly face whenever I fight over something with my mother and sister. The point here is, it can be difficult to pick heroes when most people actually want to be the hero, or to find a group where nobody wants to be the hero, when at least one leader oriented character is needed. And most impotently, it can be annoying when somebody tries to keep the spotlight focused on them for too long.

The worst thing to me is when somebody's story tries to take too long. I prefer if someone schedules a play session already mentioning that they need to develop a big chunk of story, so I know ahead of time. It is also frustrating when I find out someone has a character in the "same role" as mine, and it gets awkward to develop the character any further.

People who can actually craft their character and make you WANT them to be the spotlight can be priceless. It happened rarely on my short RP life in MMOs, but it was worth participating and would made me wish people would just sit and write it in novel form so I could read later without the game being in the way.

Busy Bees

Another point that takes me a away from both RP (and raids) are the schedules. Since I started working again, I go to bed early and don't play much in the evenings. This makes for a difficult schedule to meet with other players to RP (or raid). My personal solution was to work on fan fics for my characters, but then I lose all the interaction with other people.

Meanwhile, people who are big fans of RP make the time for it, creating complex stories and evolving the characters in ways much more elaborated then what I do. While I appreciate those who do this, not everyone does it in a quality that I appreciate.

Too many events, too little time. Stories that are as long and complex as novels, but lacking the quality. I like to be simple. I like people to know that my character has certain personality traits, a couple of oddities and a vague objective in life, and then I go out into the world questing and roleplaying about what is going on about me. I don't like to sit at an inn and talk about myself, I need to roleplay while I play the rest of the game. It is about lack of time and about wanting to put some story into killing hundreds of orcs daily.

Nobody will notice this purple
and gold hunter in the woods! (yeah that's my hunter)
Some people actually come up with stories worth following, as I mentioned before. Or they are able to organize events where you actually fight a monster and the story goes around that encounter, like in a raid. Those will drag my attention and bring me in.

I am no typical role player. I am not a fan and I just want to have fun. I am there to play around with my character's concept, I won't create a deep story, but I might enjoy someone else's. I enjoy humor more than drama, and most of my friends in the RP world were the opposite, and I still hope to find a group that will appreciate my silliness in RP.

Most of the time nowadays, I am just a "silent roleplayer". I don't share my stories and concepts to anyone, just making them on my head and trying to make choices in the game that go along with such concepts. Same with outfits when a game has them.

So what about you guys? Anyone that is very casual about RP as I am? Or the opposite, who dedicates more time and art to this hobby?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dahliara's Red Outfit

My favorite character to create outfits in LotRO is my female hobbit. Pretty much anything seems to be cute on her. This also makes her the most difficult one to create a very unique look.

For a while now she has been using this read outfit, but with the Anniversaty events, she finally got the perfect matching pony to go with it, so I am posting this outfit again, now with much better pictures thanks to the inspiration of the professionals, Freyjuska, Hymne and Devonna.

The theme of this outfit is to be her "performance" outfit. She enters town and people know she is ready for a show, with all the fireworks packed on her pony and the dashing red hat.

She also got the /toast emote during the festival, which is very fitting to someone who will be traveling from inn to inn in between adventures.

But it is time to work, and she'll start by telling stories of her adventures, what she's seen and what she conquered, of boars bigger then her and of giant bugs who tried to make dinner out of her hobbit bones.

She'll then play songs to cheer up the spirits, and to make all forget when she let it slip how many times she actually had to run of battle. And all will be able to sing:

"Brave, brave lady Dahliara"

(yes, that was Monthly Python)

Dahliara's Red Outfit
Head: Plumed Hat (Red)
Shoulders: Quilted Shoulder Pads (Red)
Back: Cloak of the Falling Leaves (Red)
Chest: Elven Robe (Crimson)
Gloves: none.
Pants: none (oh my!).
Boots: none.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NBI: Why do I do what I do?

Once again I'll take the challenge from Ambermist over at Tastes Like Chicken! This time I should write about "Why do you do what you do?", be it about the games themselves of about blogging.

I'll start saying that I'll be posting in big letters from now on. I use computers all day at work, on a system with tiny evil letters, and I wish my blog to me a refresher to those out there that live that same reality. If it is actually bad, please let me know and I'll just write in big letters and post in small, "tame" ones. So there you go, a first why I'm doing it!

Dahliara, my minstrel hobbit (Lotro)
Customization and games
Sometimes I can stay a whole play session actually killing nothing in an MMO. I'll be decorating a house, developing an outfit or picking new hair styles to go with a new cape. I simply play games with customization options more often then those who don't.  

Basically, some games I go back and play just because they are the best with customization options, and the "quest and kill" part of it I can find anywhere else. I'll highlight Everquest 2 and Lord of the Rings Online as two games I see myself playing for an hour and just customizing and having fun picking outfits.

In the "holy trinity" games, I'm the healer first, DPS second, tank third. While I actually love to play any of those roles, healing is special me. I think it is because of the constant attention I have to give it. Also because rotations are not as efficient, since you are more of a reactive role. And most importantly, because when I met my husband, he played as a tank, and a tank and healer combo was fun to duo on games. Now the plays Everquest (1) and that one is a bit too much on my brain, so I'm just the "what are you doing?" parrot at his shoulder.

As I've said before, it all started as a way to keep english fresh in my brain. Then I found out I could meet great people and that writing about games was a lot of fun. So here I continue, and I want to thank all the NBI folks who are participating, be it giving advice or creating their first blogs.

My one year blogging will be coming soon, and I'll prepare a more detailed post on that then.

Meanwhile, this is why I do it: I love to talk about customization in games, about my adventures, and to meet the blogs of those who visit and leave comments. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Love and Hate: Loot

With my shorter time to play game since I started working again, I found out that I loot administration in games is not as fun as it used to be for me. It is not just sorting though a disastrous amount of random things in a bag, it is also the choice of which new piece of gear is the actual upgrade, which crafting materials I need to keep indefinably and how much my carrying space of virtual items is limited.

Inventory Space

I'll start off with the one that everyone at some point in an MMO has suffered through: lack of space to carry what is thrown at you. I've read many discussions inside games of people pondering just how important the limitation might or might not be. There is the argument that every virtual space does take a server's space somewhere and that is why it is limited. On the other side, some think it would just kill some of the immersion if you could carry infinite amounts of things. 

Lotro and the meaning of "limited inventory space" hate
Many games provide inventory space upgrades that actually make you feel comfortable enough to hoard enough trash useful items and still have more space to continue exploring. Also, when I'm in the right mood for it, I actually enjoy sitting and playing "inventory management", a game where I organize what my characters own and carry around.

Trash Items

Have you ever wondered why your character would ever stop after a mob kill to pick up "viscous goo"? Or a "sand lump"? I have, but I'm greedy and pick them up anyway, just for the coin. Not to feel too guilty, I generally blame the fact that there's actually NPCs out there that buy this kind of trash, and the world feels better. Maybe they can use them for medicinal purpuses, who knows!

The money they give, of course. Also in LOTRO, the task system allowed for the trash items to actually have some sort of meaning and reward since they the drops of repeatable quests. But other then the "hidden" functionality of the trash items, I could probably live without them cluttering my bags (so stop looting them!)

Vindictus. Some enemies will only drop certain items if you hit key areas
Drops not Connected to the Mobs Dropping them

I recall back when I first started playing Diablo that I killed a bat and it dropped a two handed axe. Back then I also pondered why the town villagers still sold me stuff that would help save the world instead of cutting the prices a bit, but I suppose they just didn't trust I'd survive. The point is that I dislike games where the drops make no sense, and the only explanation is that I still RP a bit in my head when I play games. On that logic of mine, gear drops would have to be the rarest of things, since I don't think one size fits all.

Random luck makes me happy. It's fun to be killing some nameless mob during a quest and a very rare and powerful weapon drops from it. No matter if it was a wolf that in no way could fit a Two Handed Mace in its stomach, as long as the random happiness effect is bigger then the lack of immersion detail.

Gear Upgrades

I am not the best person at playing the "stats" part of a game. I don't like having to think about the math behind my character, and this makes gear upgrades a nightmare when the numbers are too close and I still need to make a decision. When I am not sure? The cuter looking piece stays, the ugly one gets sold. 

Dark Hour, a guild where we mostly didn't have loot drama... unless it was a PRETTY robe :)

I also need to mention that Gear Upgrades can be a huge headache when grouping. Drama about loot is so common that I won't even go long about it. I'll just say that a game where I don't have to work on math and not deal with loot addicted individuals would really fit me.

I still want to improve my characters and get the best possible gear so that I progress in group content. Still, I've been guilty to have lesser number just to keep a prettier robe.


The complete mess some games make. Too many items, too much to keep track of, and no dedicated crafting space to just place everything and come back to it to craft. Actually, on most games you have to know exactly what you need to craft something, and then leave it in your bags, and do a lot of traveling to a bank and back to a materials vendor / work bench just to craft some pieces. I am happy Rift did a small fix into this, since I can craft with materials that are actually inside my bank.

It is another game in itself. I love crafting when I am in the mood for it, which is that same mood for when I actually just want to sit and organize character's inventories. It is complicated to explain why crafting is fun, when in fact it is generally much more work then reward. Kinda like a day job.

And to end...
Even though it is trough my lack of free time makes many of the items pointed out here a bit exagerated, truth is most of these points have been in my head for quite a while. Uppon logging today to all my Lotro characters with LOTS of things on their bags, I gave up and came here for a small rant. 

Please forgive me and share if you have a Love and Hate relationship with Loot too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Building My Own Boss

This lovelly idea was given by Ambermist over at Tastes Like Battle Chicken.

I'll start by talking about one of my favorite encounters from the MMOs I've played: Shade of Aran from WoW's Karazhan raid dungeon.

Karazhan's entrance back when it was popular.
Most of my guildies simply hated the encounter, since it is very much random what will be thrown at you. They'd wuote one of Aran's lines right at the beginning: "I want this nightmare to be over!" (which is one of the lines he says when he kills a player). In this fight, nobody can just go into normal rotations: everyone has to move around a lot to avoid spells, or not move at all to avoid some of the same spells. It basically is a fight where you have to survive and pay a lot of attention. 

For some reason, I simply love chaotic fights. A boss fight should never make me feel I am just killing a mob I'd encounter while questing. Also, this particular encounter had both lore and well made voice over lines, which only made it more special.

Now for my very own idea!

The Forgotten Adventurer

Without a name and forgotten through history, the Forgotten Adventurer would be an encounter that starts with a quest. After killing a powerful undead boss, it would drop an item to start a quest. The item would be a special candle, with engravings on it. Curious about its meaning, you take the candle around the world, finding out that nobody really know much, but that it keeps pointing to a far away village and its graveyard.

Upon arriving, you find a ghost town, with spirits that tell you of a horrible mistake one of them made... if only they could remember the name! You explore the graveyard until you find the grave of a "Forgotten Adventurer" and its epitaph:

"Always dreamed of adventuring the world and meeting heroes. His dying wish was to at least lure them into meeting his resting place".

As this sounds friendly enough, you decide to light that candle there. As you do it, all spirits in town howl in terror, and the Forgotten Adventurer arises from its grave. When he/she appears, looking like a normal villager, all the spirits disappear and he tells you a story.

"Finally a hero has come to take me into the world of adventure! I have trained and studied so much about you! I know everything about you! Please let's go, I have everything ready! I prayed so much for this day... even to spirits perhaps I should not have prayed to"

He/she then turns around and sees its own grave and the candle.

"Oh, I see. It took too long. What a fool I was to trust that evil spirit. But in truth he was right. He told me nobody would ever come. This is why I accepted this wicked candle... it would bring me back when you finally came."

He/she turns back at you.

"Actually now I can't really recall your name. Which of the heroes are you?"

He/she lets out a mad laughter

"It matters not! I'll keep guessing until I can slay you and leave you on a grave without a name!"

The fight then starts, with the Forgotten Adventurer summoning a spell to transform him/her into famous heroes from the lore, each with its own spells, an saying lines about that hero's history and achievements. Each transformation has to be defeated, and at the end a little clue about who the Forgotten Hero really is given.

After being defeated a couple of times, he/she finally transforms into the dreamer he has always been about heroes of the past and present, and gives you a key that grants access to a secret library with books he/she wrote on heroes of the game's lore. His/her name is also revealed and the gravestone properly named.

I am not very good at creating mighty spells, but I think it would be fun to battle famous lore heros and know a bit more about them this way. Let me know what you think, and make your own boss too to share with the world. Just don't forget to share it at Tastes Like Battle Chicken.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

NBI: Newbie Blogger Initiative

For some, I might not seem like a newbie blogger, since I have many posts and the blog is almost a year old. But without those stats, things are still just starting over here.

With English as my second language, I decided I had to practice writing skills, which always leads to that old drama: what to write about? With gaming as a hobby and already reading gaming blogs, I decided I'd try and create my own pieces and publish them to whoever might be interested in reading.

I have no experience with professional writing, but I always try my best. I also have a soft spot with screenshots, and sometimes its like I create blog posts just to be able to have and excuse to share them with the world.

If you are interested on who is writing here, please check my introduction post from almost a year ago, here. I'll make a post once I reach the one year updating it with what changed and what didn't. If you are interested on joining the NBI group, please click the banner to the right and read on!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Adventure! My experience in GW2

One of the things that will generally drive me away from a game is when I just don't feel like it is an adventure anymore. My actions become numbers, and I realize how many times I actually repeat the very same thing over and over again.

Of course, if you are a mage/wizard/sorcerer in an MMO, you will cast certain spells countless of times. Many other activities will be repeating themselves, and and MMO can just lose its taste when you realize that.

To me, the trick for an MMO to catch me is to distract me from those points. I need a living world, beautiful landscapes and customization options. I need to feel that I am having an adventure, and those elements, along with story and meaningful actions to be taken within game make that experience to me.

This past weekend I was very glad to realize that GW2 has all of those items in it, or at least at a first look.

A world that feels alive

The very first impression from the human starting area is that things are not static. You start at the gates of the major human city, Divinity's Reach, during a centaur invasion in the houses outside the walls. You are immediately prompted to talk to an NPC, who will ask you to go to the inn, but you don't really have to, even though we are talking about an instanced prologue here. Instead, you can run around the houses, slay centaurs and direct villagers to the safety of the inn. You can test out your character right there, see if the hair is right (my top reason to reroll characters is when I pick the wrong hair style. Yeah I know) and if the animations are to your liking. Also, you feel like roleplaying, which is the most important part for me.

Looking at Divinity's Reach from the outside wall

I am no big roleplayer, at all. I don't share my stories with people. But I do create them on my head. I just can't play a character if it doesn't have a story, a personality and some sort of objective. So right there and then, in between following the directions and saving people, I decided to save people until I decided to move on with the prologue. Similar to this happened on both Norn and Charr areas. 

And that is just one point on the "breathing world" impression. Entering Divinity's Reach was shocking, in the lack of a better word. There are hundreds of NPCs, all doing actions that made me mouse over them to make sure it wasn't a player. Even if no player stood in there, it still felt like a living city. The size of the city itself already helps me to imagine that it is an actual city, unlike on so many games where you are left to wonder where the people that actually work to make the city run are hiding.

Entrance into Divinity's Reach
The Black Citadel, the city of the charr, also have that impression, with a more military approach, in a mix of technology and old ruins. Playing around in the ruins of Ascalon is beautiful and haunting at the same time. While I did not enjoy being a charr, it is as easy as walking to portals to create a character of the race you enjoy the most and choosing another area to quest into.

The Black Citadel
Beautiful Landscapes

I am a big "screenshot taker". I take lots. If I see something pretty, cool or unique, it will get stored on my hard drive. With that said, I'd like to share some of the best ones I took during this beta. They are all on the album you can check here. I also have my favorites around this article.

I have not explored beyond the starting areas of the three available races, but I really enjoyed what I saw so far. My favorite goes to the humans. I love the city and the farm area around Divinity's Reach. It actually feels like that place could exist, with all the farms and hunters to actually help feed a city. The distance between places are also plausible, instead of scaled down like on so many other games. I even caught myself running around instead of using the very simple waypoint travel system.

Norn ranger stopping to enjoy the sights

The Norn have a more cold and wild atmosphere. I didn't like their story much, or their voice over, so it is the area I explored the least. They do have long and beautiful hair for the females, which is a soft spot of mine. If only they would fix the fact that the hair runs through the character's body during certain animations!

The charr are around the Ascalon ruins. I have not played Guild Wars other then the trial, and being in the ruins of Ascalon already felt a bit spooky. It is still so pretty, with autumn colors, but the charr are all there and fighting against the ghosts. I did not enjoy playing as a charr, but I enjoyed the area and will probably revisit it at some point with a character.

Customization Options

The dye system at character selection? Awesome. I lost some time there tailoring my starter outfit. And then, while already inside the game, I found out we have town clothes and that the dye system is just as easy and friendly as the one from character creation.

Human town clothes in black and purple... and bonus different characters in background.

Customization options gain a lot of points with me. I simply love to pick outfits, furnish houses and change my hair style so that my character is not always the same old one. I have still not found a "barber" option in GW2, but I hope they do add it, specially since some hair styles seem to bug and run through the character's body instead of staying in their backs, as I've mentioned already. 

I also decided to test the in game store and tried the outfits they had. They are all cute, with my favorite being the scholar's set.

Scholar's outfit
Chef's outfit
The pirate outfit. It comes with a toy sword, which grants you special skills. You can swing the sword, summon a trusty tropical bird and a cannon that shoots cannon balls.
The overall experience with GW2 beta was awesome to me, and it is a game I will be playing in the future. I just talked here about a few points, of course. The gameplay, the way quests are dynamic (the map is amazing) also all counted into me picking this game to add to my collection of MMOs.

Now to finish "Ghosts of Ascalon" (good book so far), maybe get GW1 for the story and keep learning about Tyria.

...and I almost forgot to share my desktop picture, from GW2 :)

PS: Most pictures have HD versions in the album, here. My resolution is 1366x768.

PS1: I will start posting with big letters. It is easier for me to read, and I assume it would be to others too. Please let me know if this ends up being worst to anyone.

Age of Wonders III

This month I decided to play through the Age of Wonders campaigns again while waiting on Sim City. Progress was going well and I was having ...