ArcheAge: We don’t serve your kind in here!

aaThere’s no doubt that the ArcheAge beta is some kind of popular right now, and I have no reason to think that the launch won’t be a big event.  Whether or not I’ll be playing is still up for debate, however, as it’s dependant on two factors: If free players will be able to obtain housing (last I heard Trion was talking about this) and if the studio will create a PvE-only server.

Because frankly I do not want to roll on one of the current servers.  The community is downright toxic from many reports that I’ve been hearing, and I think that the griefing potential of PvP activities is contributing greatly to that.  The downside to sandboxes: there are just so many more ways you can screw with other players than kill them in mindless combat.  In alpha — where you had to pay $150 to get in, I might remind you — there have been stories of jerks trying to outdo each other and chat channels that must be moderated by Satan, or at least Jerry Springer.

I don’t want to be a part of that.  If I’m going to play the game, I want to be able to explore the entire world without worry that someone would think it was funny to sink my trade ship an hour into a journey.  So I went on the official forums (I know, I broke Syp Rule #1) to see if there was any movement for a PvE server.  What I found was pretty illuminating in regard to the current ArcheAge culture as a whole.

You would think that a request for a PvE server would be met with a reasonable “why not?” from the community, but nope.  There’s sheer hostility and panicked entreaties for the studio to do no such thing.  It would ruin the spirit of the game!  It’s not how ArcheAge is meant to be played!  Don’t cater to those stupid carebears, we don’t want their kind in here — or if we do, they should be fair game!

“Let the people who like the pvp play on a pvp server and the people who like pve enjoy the immersive world of Archeage peacefully,” the original poster said.

The responses?

  • “In my opinion, ‘PVE server’ goes against everything that AA stands for.”
  • “I am sure you can enjoy the game without actually PvPing as well. However, you’ll just have to be very careful and cautious. But hey, if you are in dire need of protection and don’t fancy fighting players yourself, you can always hire someone to protect you!”
  • “Just hope not, the game is all about PvP, so Carebaears just don’t join ArcheAge”
  • “PvP is integral part of the game and removing it makes the game pointless.”
  • “TRION already knows it has a niche player base and will likely not deviate from PvP, which is what the majority wants.”
  • “We need people who do not want to play on a PVP server on a PVP server, that way the ‘good guys’ will have someone to protect.”
  • “If you’re in a sandbox, you should damn well be able to kick down sand castles in every area, rather than be unable to in certain areas.”
  • “However, the core of the game is designed with the threat of PVP in mind. Without that element, you will be playing a broken game and you will end up getting bored of it very fast.”
  • “They won’t create PVE servers even it that could give them 1000% more revenue because they don’t want the game to have PVE servers. Believe me when i say, if you hate your gameplay being interrupted by gankers, then don’t bother with this or any game that was created with PVP as its essence.”
  • “It’s frustrating to be doing trade runs to get ganked by 5 higher level people. I can understand that. But it’s what this game is practically built on. The PvE aspect of the game isn’t very strong. “

It keeps going with all kinds of conflicting logic.  I love the “we need you carebears to protect!” line because when have you ever seen “heroic” players defend those just trying to play the game they want?  I’ll be ganked by both groups, morelike.

What I get from the anti-PvE crowd is that they are definitely threatened by the notion of a PvE server because that will take the gankees away from them.  I mean, if your PvP server is so wonderful and contains the full ArcheAge experience, wouldn’t people WANT to play on it if given the choice?  No, you know that they’ll choose to cut PvP out of their sandbox experience as when Trammel went live for Ultima Online.  Having a PvE server isn’t threatening unless you know that it will be more popular and suck sheep away from your hunting grounds.  I think these posters know that and fear it.

“Sandbox” doesn’t have to mean “always containing the threat of PvP.”  If you like player conflict, it’s cool, and I am all for you having a place to do it.  But I’d love to play in a sandbox world that doesn’t have it.  So I’m holding out hope that Trion will evaluate the beta culture and create a server for PvErs.  At least in my case, it will be a major deciding factor whether or not I’ll play, and I’m OK with saying that.

System Shock 2: Fun and games

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

rec1Holy crud, there’s another non-mutated human left alive on this ship?  Hey man!  How’s it going!  Wish you could be over on this side of the glass, but oh well — I wish you the best of luck!

Today we’ve arrived on deck 6, recreation.  At first I thought it was kind of weird to have a full deck devoted to what amounts to a playpark on a company scientific vessel, but then I realized that they probably expected to be in deep space for some time and would need a place for the crew to blow off steam.  Now, of course, they’re all horribly dead or coopted by the Many, but it was a good intention on behalf of Tri-Optimum.

rec2The goal of this deck isn’t all fun and games, unfortunately.  SHODAN tasks me with turning on a transmitter that will send a distress call to Earth (which will do… what with that information, exactly?  This is Earth’s first FTL ship, so a S&R mission is out of the question.) and will also weaken Xerxes (which is SHODAN’s primary concern).  Easy enough, right?

Nope.  Not only is the transmitter behind several locked doors, but it requires a code.  To find this code, you first have to pick up a particular PDA that mentions how a guy hid the code in the electronic paintings on the level.  So then you have to find every… last… painting and click on each several times to hopefully get part of the code.  Then when you have them all, you have to try every combination of the numbers to see what works.  It’s really annoying.

rec3Happily, it’s a fun deck to explore since it has a bunch of stuff that the Enterprise only wishes it had.  Here’s a movie theater (please stand by).

rec4Wait, there are KIDS on this ship?  Why?  What?  Huh?  Is the Von Braun rented out on the weekends to birthday parties so that Tri-Optimum can make a few bucks back?  This sign really puzzled me.

rec5There’s also a casino…

rec6…and a holo-brothel.  I can just imagine the teenage boys finding this part of the game and being all excited, only to discover that there isn’t a shred of nudity in the place.  Decapitated heads, sure, but holographic prostitutes?  I guess they’re offline for the day.

rec7The mall is another disappointment.  I mean, points for having a space mall and for entertaining me with a couple of the signs, but most of the stores are closed up and what is there is pretty dull.  But hey, why not buy a robot maid for your 8×6 crew quarters?

rec8I got a laugh out of the “gardens” that have, tops, two plants and a big hole.  Underneath is a scary set of tunnels with eggs and dead bodies galore, so I guess we know what’s fertilizing the lawn.

rec9Unlike many of the space ghosts on the Von Braun, this lady isn’t grieving or freaking out, but quietly getting drunk while swaying to the music.

rec10My questing eventually gets me to the basketball court, where I first meet Mr. Big and Muscley here.  While he takes some good ol’ fashioned bullets to put down, most of the mobs on this deck were handled with the EMP rifle.  That’s my new favorite for any mechanized foe (cyborg, mech, droid) — a couple of shots from that rechargable weapon and they’re toast.

rec11The pool is another nice touch, although I wouldn’t want to be in this room if the gravity cut out.  Reach for that life preserver, dude!  You can do it!

So I find the transmitter, enter the code, and generally feel good about my state in the world.  SHODAN gets freakier than ever after it, telling me that while the message didn’t get to Earth (I don’t think) she was able to beat Xerxes down some more.  Yay?  Victories in this game do not often feel so much.

LOTRO: Echoes of the past

qqIt never ceases to amaze me how a little sabbatical can bring back my appreciation for LOTRO.  Affection can go dormant, like embers after a burning fire, but can always return after a time.

I was thinking about this last night when I was roaming around Gondor.  There’s something about this game and its world that always felt more real to me than many others, and perhaps that’s a feeling that’s earned only after an extensive history with a game.  My Captain isn’t merely going through the paces.  She’s been on such a long journey but still has the fire to see it through.

So it was comforting to get back into the groove of questing, exploring, and smacking bears with my two-hander.  Kin chat was hopping, mostly with a discussion over a semi-farcical male calendar that we debated making.  Short hairy men would be spot-on for a Middle-earth spread, don’t you think?

And even as I realize that the heyday of LOTRO is probably past (but one never knows about a future renaissance), it certainly doesn’t mean that everyone’s left or lost passion for this game.  For some folks that I see, LOTRO is all they play, and they are ears-deep in Update 14 with glee.

Even with the new class coming out this fall, I can’t imagine going through all of the leveling process again in the current climate.  Maybe back when I hadn’t done it so often and when more of my friends were playing, sure, but I don’t think I have it in me (or have the time) to do it all again.  I’m grateful that I’ve kept one character at the level cap so that I can see the journey through.

Every so often I engage in a pointless fantasy where I can return to a game at a specific point in time, usually around its launch, instead of playing it in the here and now.  Maybe it’s the atmosphere of newness and potential that only exists in those first months and the first year, or the fact that the community is leveling up together and discovering things at roughly the same time.  For example, I’ve been feeling a yearning to return to DDO as of late, but I would have no idea where to get plugged in to the current scene.  The present is unknown, but how it used to be in the past — when we had regular groups and I knew the content well — is familiar.  Again, there’s comfort in that.  Maybe I’m just a big comfort hog.

I miss LOTRO being on the tip of the daily tongues.  It still is in some quarters, but the store, the age, and the new shinies have pulled people away.  What used to be a family road trip has become a mostly solo adventure for me.  So I yearn for what was even as I go forward.

WildStar: All hail Lord Cheese!

lordcheeseEvery time I visit Thayd in WildStar, I must go and pay homage to Lord Cheese.  I kneel, I salute, I stare in awe.  He is so much greater than I could ever be.

Even though he says little, Lord Cheese is a legend.  He is a cheese of refined tastes, dressed in finery and sipping from the best of wines while tearing into a steak.  He is well-read and honored by the peasants that visit his throne to beg a favor.

Lord Cheese rose above what we thought curds could ever be possible of, and showed the world how a self-made rind can come to a position of power and fame.

All hail Lord Cheese!  May your reign be long and prosperous!

System Shock 2: Bronson’s last stand

(This is part of my journey playing through System Shock 2. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

b1I have to say, I am not overly fond of these new cyborg assassins.  Not only are they pretty annoying to take down, what with their running like scared chickens and all (just like real assassins!) but they are a huge strain on the believability factor.  Someone made these limber robots and then equipped them with ninja throwing stars?  Because… why?

b2Oh Tau Ceti V, I wish that we had never gone to visit you.  I hear Ceti Alpha VI is so much nicer this time a year.

b3Even though Xerxes is bad and the Many are bad, I still feel profoundly uncomfortable helping SHODAN take over the ship.  Hands up if you think this is a good idea.  No, I didn’t think so.  Oh well, I have precious little choice I suppose.

invHere’s a quick peek into my inventory on the Ops level.  Ammo continues to be in incredibly short supply, so I use the laser pistol if at all possible, my pistol next, and the shotgun after that.  Even though I now have enough skill to use the assault rifle, I’m going to keep that in reserve.

b4This gave me a jump — I got into the security armory, and there was a giant mech waiting to blast my head off right inside the door.  Thank you whoever invented armor-piercing rounds!

b5Over a couple of decks I had been picking up PDAs about and from Bronson, the female security chief of the Von Braun.  The tale of a no-nonsense chief trying to keep control over a ship infiltrated by the Many is sad and, naturally, tragic.  Even though she doesn’t come across as a likable person, at least she was trying to resist all the way up to the bitter end.

So it was bittersweet when I came upon this console room and found her and the last members of her staff gunned down.  Even though we never met in life, I feel that I got to know her anyway.  So why bittersweet?  Because security chiefs have the best ammo and weapons in their private stock.  Thanks, ma’am!

With all three terminals reprogrammed, SHODAN opens the way to the recreation deck.  Recreation?  I am totally crossing my fingers for space tetherball!

The Secret World: We are the song that reminds demons to tremble

doraHey, Dora the Explorer is plenty smart.  I learn from her every morning, thanks to my kids!

Our weekly Secret World group assembled last night to run a couple of the new action missions from Tokyo.  One of the missions was borked and wouldn’t progress, so we left that to a future week, but we were able to do the ones from Gozen and Daimon.  Hey, any chance to get another Daimon cutscene is good enough reason for a quest in my book!  The guy is looneybins, but he’s entertaining looneybins… and he might be more Dragon than most Dragons.

clawThe quests themselves were adequate but nothing that blew up my skirt.  The first had us hopping from Tokyo to Hell and back in an effort to track down a demon, while the second was more complex, with a series of challenges to protect various folks in the region (including — yes! — an escort mission).  The latter did have a very interesting segment in a graveyard where we had to set up a shrine all while trying to handle these ghosts that couldn’t be permanently killed.  Instead, if you aggroed one you had to demolish its AEGIS shield and then slap on some item that put them back into a trance.  We had a couple bad moments when we got too many of the mobs on us in such a tight confined space.

Unfortunately, I think we’re coming to the end of the Tokyo missions, even having strung them out as long as we have.  I hope the next issue will come sooner rather than later, but I haven’t heard much on that front lately.

gearyKirsten Geary is what now?  I’m not sure how to interpret this.

I was thinking last night how much I wish that Funcom would have made rolling alts in this game more of a compelling factor.  I’d love to have a good reason to go back through much of this again (the writer says, conveniently forgetting the quests that made him tear his hair out), but as it stands, there would be scant new experiences with an alt.  You could create another build, true, but there’s no build I can’t create right now anyway — and doing quests on an alt would be robbing me of the AP I could be putting into my ever-hungry main.  Faction choice is pretty much only there for a slight change of flavor, and that’s the end of any alt argument.

I don’t know what Funcom could do to encourage alting.  Considering the slow roll-out of the new issues, it’s something that could be very useful in retaining players.  What if you could recycle your character in a DDO/Kingdom of Loathing-style reset?  You agree to start your character over in exchange for more powerful stats or some other exclusive perks.  That would be pretty cool.

Maybe if there was a new game+ system in place that would open up access to new weapon sets only for veterans going back through it.  Maybe quests with alternative challenges.  I dunno.  But it’s a sad to me how little I’m motivated to ever roll an alt in TSW, because the journey is why I play.

Guild Wars 2: Life and death after 80

necroAs I mentioned yesterday, I dug my Necromancer out of long-term storage this weekend and quickly got her to 80 (my third 80, in fact).  It’s been a joyous reunion; I’ve had a great time playing her once again, especially after feeling a little blah with my Engineer and Ranger.

I hadn’t spent any money on her prior to 80, knowing that I’d be doing a huge shopping trip when that happened, so this event heralded a huge jump for her in stats, build, and prestige.  Here’s what I went with:

Build

After a lot of experimentation, I’ve found that I like both the staff and dagger/dagger with my Necro.  I frequently switch between them depending on the situation.  D/D is great at quickly dispatching a single foe, but the staff is far superior for groups and ranged attacks.  So without consulting any online guides, I chose traits that I felt lined up with that playstyle.

For skills, I have two pets — blood fiend and flesh golem — to both satisfy my craving for pets and provide good healing and additional DPS.  The other pets feel very “eh” to me, so the remaining three skills are a signet for movement speed and two AoE wells.  Wells are great in any fight and go oh-so-swimmingly with staff AoE marks.

For traits, I’m 2 curse (for more/better bleeds), 6 death (all minion-related, including summoning little jagged horrors when I kill something), and 6 blood (a mixture of health siphoning and well buffs).  Those traits work just fine no matter which weapon I’m wielding, at least from where I’m sitting.

Gear

I probably spent about 45 gold altogether on new armor, accessories, and upgrades, not to mention about 90 laurels for three ascended pieces.  There have been finer points of gear upgrades that have passed on by me, so this time around I actually read up on the different types of upgrades and figured out a good set for me.

My new exotic armor set is completely Norgu, which features the three stats I wanted the most: power, precision, and condition damage.  In addition, I slapped on a rather cheap set of six Superior Runes of the Dead to throw on some toughness and added condition damage.

I had a nice exotic staff (Imryldyeen) waiting in my bank that I looted a long time ago, and I’m thrilled to actually get to use it.  For my two sigils, I went Malice (longer conditions) and Water (for, why not, a little aoe healing — keep my minions up!).  I purchased a set of power/vitality/condition damage daggers, going for a little bit more health since I’d be up close and personal using them.  The two daggers got a bleed bonus and a quickness buff, both chance on critical, which I find procs quite often.

Probably the most expensive thing I purchased was a rare aquabreather at around 7 gold.  I did save a little bit of money by using a back piece that I’ve had sitting around in my bank since one of the earlier season 1 episodes.

The cool thing is that I not only am really happy with my stats now, but the look of the Norgu set quickly grew on me.  I didn’t swap out any of the visuals, not even those bandaged eyes, but did fiddle around with the dyes some.  It’s a blend of black and midnight purple for the background with white piping.

I still have around 75 gold, so I might go shopping at the human cultural armor to see if there’s anything worth picking up, but for the most part I’m good to go.  I’ve jumped her right into season 2 in an attempt to catch up, but she still has several maps to complete along with a good chunk of her personal story.  Hopefully all of this will be much easier with a fleshed-out build and up-geared character.