Darek Smart predicted PlanetSide’s future… in 2003!

Stumbled upon this glorious quote by Derek Smart over the then-recent news about Sovereign’s demise in 2003:

“Now, who didn’t see that coming? They’d better tell EB quick.  Can’t wait for the Planetside cancelation announcement – assuming they don’t pull an EA and let it rot for awhile :roll:”

It’s absolutely uncanny how he was able to foresee the future of PlanetSide way back then!  Oh wait, it’s 2014 and PlanetSide is not only still operating, it’s spawned a pretty successful sequel.  But still!  It will fail!  It must fail!  The Derek has spoken!

Starflight: Intergalactic nostalgia trip

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

I may have yammered on a while back about the importance that Starflight held in my life back in the 80s.  It was the confluence of several factors: my obsession with Star Trek, my love of science fiction, and my copious amounts of free time unfettered from a social life.  And yet this game was brutal to me, as a single game over would effectively end that game and require a completely new one (which was compounded by the need to make copies of the game disc to run it on, lest I accidentally auto-save a failed game on the main discs).

And yet I loved being able to make up my own crew, fly my own ship, and set out into the galaxy to find my fortune.  Starflight’s been lurking in my GOG library for a while now, so let’s take it out for a spin — even if it might end up being a short ride.

modeOK, this start-up screen made me laugh, because you have to be pretty old to remember these sorts of menus.  Basically it’s asking me how crappy my monitor is.  Hercules?  I don’t even recall what that is.  I’ll go EGA and thank my lucky stars that I’ll get about four colors.

After a warning screen (games were very heavy-handed about piracy issues and copy protection back then), I get treated to this lovely sight:

titleJust be glad you can’t hear the awful bleeps and bloops that are attempting a main theme but are actually scoring your own personal hell.

stationWithout further ado, the game dumps me into the main space station.  As I recall, this is the central hub of Starflight that functions as a character creator, mission generator, bank, and vendor.

objOperations has an infodump for me, including a few suggestions where to go starting out and these helpful objectives.  Don’t get killed?  Rip off Star Trek as much as possible?  Check!

dodgeOver in personnel, I create my crew.  Once again, I’m going to be pulling names from whoever is currently on my Twitter feed.  Starflight doesn’t give us the best in the graphics department, opting for silhouettes instead of actual art or headshots.  I vividly remember loving the android option because they start with really good navigation and engineering skills, even though they can’t learn anything past that.

Can someone tell me what this human is doing here?  The Egyptian dance?  I mean… I don’t even…

So my crew is (drumroll): Dodge the human, Rubi the android, Pasmith the Velox (big praying mantis), Ardwulf the Elowan (plant-thing), MJ the human, and Ferrel the Thrynn (dinosaur).

crewEveryone gets a spot on the ship based on his/her/its best skill.  Don’t complain to me, it’s a pure numbers game.

gameThe space station bank informs me of two interesting facts: (1) I’m getting a whopping 12% interest, and (2) I apparently spent 200 MUs buying this game.  Guh?  Are we just getting meta and breaking the fourth wall, or did my captain decide to buy some apps before heading out on his journey?

shipAnd finally, it’s time to customize my ship, the ISS Bio Break.  Now, back when I played this as a kid, there weren’t any strategy guides and I didn’t notice that thing in operations basically telling me to stick around this system and mine it to make money.  Instead, I bought engines and spent so much fuel flying to the nearest system that I usually went broke.

This time, I’m being smart.  I load up the Bio Break with 16 cargo pods and nothing else; we’re going to hang around here and mine, mine, mine like I’m a newbie in EVE Online.

It is a good day… to game

cheerAs a gamer, I’m pretty psyched about today.  First up on the docket is RIFT: Nightmare Tide, which should be launching after some downtime this afternoon.  Our guild was properly buzzing about it, especially those who have been sitting comfortably at the level cap for some time now.

While I won’t be jumping right into the plane of water, I do have plans to dive right into the minion system and to hunt down some nightmare rifts to test my combat mettle.  I bought one of the collector’s editions for the goodies and unlocks, since I have no desire to be spending weeks at the new cap grinding currency just so that I can wear earrings.

Then there’s the release of the Dreamfall Chapters on GOG (everyone else got it yesterday).  I signed up for the season, since it had both a discount and included the soundtrack.  And, oh yeah, I’m a huge Longest Journey and Ragnar Tornquist fan.  It’ll be great to have a new adventure game to plunder.

In a couple of days Civilization: Beyond Earth comes out, a 4X strategy game that has several of my friends positively jittering in anticipation.  I’m a little more reserved; Alpha Centauri wasn’t that great, in my opinion, and so I’ll see how the reviews shake out here.  I’m sure it’ll be solid, it’s just that a 4X game isn’t what I’m craving these days.

The Secret Adventures: Bach to the future (Savage Coast #1)

(You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page!)

johnDear John (side mission)

  • We’re in it now!  Our second mission zone in the game: Savage Coast.  SC is a shift from Kingsmouth, away from a more urbanized village and to several thematic areas.  It’s cool but also more than a little nuts to realize that an island of this size has a major academy, a gigantic lighthouse, and an amusement park all together.
  • The first mission is bestowed by a dead courier who has a package for John Wolf.  That’s easy enough, since he’s a mission NPC down the road.
  • An interesting — and unanswered — question is what is the Orochi sending to Wolf?  And why?

copsSend More Cops (side mission)

  • A few steps beyond the Dear John mission is this one, the title of which is another sly call-out to Return of the Living Dead.  Picking this quest up triggers several waves of running zombies, all of which I put down with extreme prejudice.
  • My character is advancing nicely, thank you for asking.  I’m in all QL3s and ready to advance to QL4 when I find them.  I’ve been slowly but surely picking up the skills I need for this particular build, assisted by the double-AP boost from this weekend.
  • I’m going to skip past the Overlook for now, even though the quest sends me there, and stop in with John Wolf real quick to complete the top quest.

overlookHellscape (side mission)

  • And back to the Overlook.  In addition to being a not-so-subtle reference to Stephen King’s famous hotel, the Overlook is at some hell-crossover epicenter.  As if this island needed more supernatural weirdness.  Room 13 even has a doorway to hell in it, although it’s going to be a while before I step through there.
  • TSW’s hell isn’t exactly the stereotypical Christian hell, but superficially it fits the bill — even this foyer of sorts is spot-on with brimstone and lava and swarming… things.  It’s not a vacation spot, let’s just leave it at that.  And my faction wants me to take readings from it.  Oki-dokie.

monstersHell Hath No Vacancy (action mission)

  • The lobby adjacent to the Overlook’s Room 13 holds Daniel Bach, your visiting photojournalist-gone-mad.  Well, at least slightly mad.  He’s taking the whole “hell invasion” angle pretty well, all things considering.
  • “The best thing is,” he says, “we do this to ourselves.  But they cannot wait to show us how to do it properly.”  OK, the world is messed up, I get that.  But at least I’m trying to help instead of getting darkly philosophical while watching the world go to hell.
  • Time to go on a kill-o-quest!  Lots of mobs to fight while closing portals left and right.  Let me say that Funcom really did a bang-up job on hell’s denziens.  They are both terrifying and project an aura of power.  And even though the female demons are effectively nude, it’s so the opposite of sexy.  That’s a mean trick to pull off.  Altogether, these guys look like mobs you’d find at the end of a raid dungeon, not in a relatively early zone of an MMO.
  • The area around and behind the hotel is wrecked — charred beyond recognition, with ash and fire everywhere.  Pleasant.  I’m pleased that my build is growing into a powerhouse, as I’m taking out two, three at-level mobs at a time and crushing their spirits before I crush their bones.

Infernal Vibrations (side mission)

  • There’s yet another side mission near the Overlook, this one giving me the radar again and tasking me with sealing special hellrifts.  Man, let me tell you, the beeping of that radar is like Chinese water torture to me.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  You end up hating that thing.  It mocks you with every beep.  It knows your weakness.  And never goes away until you succeed.
  • At least finding and shutting down the portals goes quickly, as they’re close together and only require a few fights.

cameraBring it Bach (side mission)

  • Another Overlook mission, I find one of Bach’s cameras on the ground, and decide not only to return it, but to take snapshots of these terrifying demons before doing so.  Why?  Because shut up and do as you’re told, that’s why.
  • The action mission plus these side missions overlap nicely and are great to stock up to do all at once.  Because of this, I’d recommend the Overlook as a decent low-level place to run a quick succession of these four missions for AP on repeat.
  • Has anyone at Funcom actually taken a picture with a camera?  Because you don’t usually stick your arm out while holding the camera from the top like it’s a dead animal.

doorHell and Bach (investigation mission)

  • Ugh.  Double ugh.  I hate this mission so much… so much.  First of all, stop it already with the “Bach = back” puns.  You can’t keep doing that for every quest title here.  Second, this investigation mission has a really tedious puzzle sequence that must be done three times in three locales.  It’s incredibly time-consuming.  Well, might as well get it over with.
  • Bach talks about bumping into this guy, Theodore Wicker, who’s been traveling the world looking for hell.  Why?  Well, since every NPC you meet in this game is off his or her rocker, is there a sane answer to that question?  So it’s time to go on a hunt for Mr. Wicker, starting with dreaded Room 13.
  • The first seance circle is hidden under a carpet in this room.  Wicker’s journal provides both the Latin phrase needed to activate it as well as the symbol key.  So the trick here is to not only decode the circle, but to click on it in a very specific order.  It’s.  A.  Pain.  And, I might remind you, it must be done several times.
  • The cool part is that Wicker appears when you do it right.  He talks about the sacrifices made in this room and how the Illuminati cover it up (of course).  And then he offers his heart to the demon.  Well, we all gotta have a hobby, I guess.
  • Now it’s off to the next circle, which is located somewhere in the NYC sewers.  Before I head down there, I treat myself to some plastic surgery at Modern Prometheus.  I accidentally chose a really bad lip option at character creation that gave my character a huge underbite (which wasn’t apparent until I looked at her from the side).  That was driving me crazy, so, yes, I’m this vain.  But it had to be fixed.
  • Back to the sewers, because I live a charmed life!  Oh you, in your fancy MMOs fighting dragons.  Here in TSW, we go sewer diving and we say “thank you!” and “seconds please!”
  • This phrase is a lot harder to do, because Wicker’s journal doesn’t have all of the letter-symbol matches.  So it’s trial-and-error until one figures out which letter doesn’t scrap the whole sequence.  It’s.  A.  Major.  Pain.
  • Then Wicker pops out, presumably earlier in the time frame, talking about his physical issues as he goes on this quest and how he’s having a hard time finding something “fresh” (a heart, I presume) to offer the demon.
  • The next stop is in London, where I get a haircut because, as I’ve said before, I’m vain.  This puzzle is pretty much the same as the last two, and afterward I find a journal page from Wicker in code that suggests he took a room out at Tabula Rasa.  No, not the video game, the extremely odd establishment in London that has several floating cube dimension rooms.  I don’t know much more about the place.
  • Wicker had a little hotel room in one of these cubes that also contains a cassette tape and a briefcase.  It pretty much just confirms that he’s obsessed with demonkind and their history and helping them out.  I’m just as confused as anyone else in regard to Wicker, even after running the hell dungeons dozens of times.
  • A flyer in his briefcase leads me to the now-closed Occult Museum, where a sign mentions that it’s closed.  There’s a scribbled footnote to check out Wicker’s last lecture, which can indeed be found on YouTube.  It’s more sympathy and understanding for demons, which truly is where all of our focus should be.
  • Well that is one “never again” mission for the books.  Glad it’s over!

Battle Bards Episode 37: At the Market Fair

Pack  your coin purse, for the Battle Bards are off to the market!  In this episode, we’ll examine music not only from MMO marketplaces, but tracks that inspire the feeling and atmosphere of bustling towns, harbors with ships being unloaded, and merchants selling exotic wares.  It’s so much happy and uplifting music that you’ll forget to be an internet cynic for at least two days!

Episode 37 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Nightfall Freedom Harbor” from Forsaken World and “Brownie Storehouse” from Vanguard)
  • “Selbina” from Final Fantasy XI
  • “The Town Market” from Elsword Online
  • “Inside the Marketplace Tent” from Dungeons and Dragons Online
  • “Town of Giran” from Lineage II
  • “Draynor Market” from RuneScape
  • “Free Market” from MapleStory
  • “Town of Morvan” from Vindictus
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Mail from Logun
  • Outro

Listen to episode 37 now!

The World of Warcraft zone name generator

For kicks, I broke down some of the generic fantasy mishmash zone names in WoW into a chart so that they could be rearranged to make even MORE generic fantasy mishmash zone names.  Blizzard, you may pay me for this service at any time, as I’ve saved you a small fortune in paying your writers.

wow zone namesComing soon: other MMOs!  Unless I get bored and wander away.

LOTRO: You always take us to the nicest places

deadmWell.   Here we are: the Dead Marshes.  Thanks, Frodo, for encouraging me to get out of that dank, dusty Shire paradise and go to all of these wonderful places.  I would not have had the opportunity to combat foot rot and wake up to screaming long-dead ancestors otherwise.

Thus far, my impressions of the Dead Marshes are high on the atmospherics and low on the actual gameplay.  Killing orcs and bugs is annoying when you can’t see past all of these reeds.  I want to take a lawnmower to this entire place, then drain it, and put like a Costco or something here.  I’m sure that’s what Tolkien would have wanted.

deadm2I know that we should all be grateful and excited about Central Gondor coming with Update 15, and I am, a little.  But it’s a little bit of a bummer that my character won’t be doing any growing through it.  There’s no level cap increase, no new skills or traits (that I know of), and I sincerely doubt that quest rewards will start dropping useful legendary items.  Sometimes I feel like Buffy singing “going through the motions.”  Not that a hero needs a reason beyond saving the world and people for their sake, but useful rewards and enticing goals would be a help.

I’m betting that the allure of the new Beorning class will be stronger than the pull of a new zone, although it is nice to have choices.  I may buy a Beorning, but from what I’ve played of it, it’s not exactly rocking my world.  I did a lot of bear butt tanking in World of Warcraft back in the day, and I think I gained everything possible out of staring at an ursine’s buttocks for hours on end.  Plus, my Lore-master not only can summon bears, but an entire menagerie.