Battle Bards Episode 36: The Many MMOs of Tracy W. Bush

This week we welcome Composer Tracy W. Bush onto the show to talk about his vast experience in the MMO industry.  His body of work includes World of Warcraft, DCUO, Dungeon Runners, Tabula Rasa, Free Realms, and City of Heroes.  He’s also quite the talker, so if you want to get some insight into how the creative process works on a deadline, this will be the episode for you!  Also, you’ll hear Tracy recreate his Murloc voice — yup, this is the guy who created that iconic sound.

Unfortunately, this week Steff was AFK, so it was up to Syl and Syp to grill Tracy.  Don’t worry, Steff will be back for episode 37!

Episode 36 show notes

  • Interview with Tracy W. Bush
  • “Darnassus” from World of Warcraft
  • “Radio Free Zerg” from StarCraft
  • “Darnassus” from World of Warcraft
  • “Tanaris” from World of Warcraft
  • “Cimmora Main Theme” from City of Heroes
  • Tracy’s Murloc demo
  • “Townston Theme” from Dungeon Runners
  • “Rattletooth’s Lair” from Dungeon Runners
  • “Townston Theme” from Dungeon Runners
  • “Blue Turns to Grey” from Tabula Rasa
  • “AFS Outpost” from Tabula Rasa
  • “Checkers” from Free Realms
  • “Gotham City BGM” from DC Universe Online
  • “Cooking” from Free Realms
  • Mail from JadenK
  • Outro (“Radio Free Zerg” from StarCraft)

Listen to episode 36 now!

RIFT: Pile up on the poor Dwarf, why don’t you

ironEven though RIFT utilizes the older tab-targeting, global cooldown combat system, I’ve been enjoying it as though having a long conversation with an old friend.  Action combat is well and good, but sometimes you want to think during combat and not be simply slamming a whole ton of keys at once just to activate everything.

EV-REY-THIIIIING

And even though RIFT’s combat is a little slower pace, it can get really exhilerating.  One thing I’ve been doing a lot of lately is seeing how my at-level mobs I can pull at once and take down.  The tactician’s flamethrower (and icethrower… and deaththrower…) is perfect for this, since it has a wide cone with a long distance that spits out a string of damage.

Of course, with the mass pulling game, sometimes I get overconfident or I misjudge the mobs’ strength and end up in a world of trouble.  I’ve had more than a few fights where it comes down to the wire — I have no “oh crap” emergency buttons left and it’s simply a matter of DPSing them down before they do the same to me.  And I’ve had several encounters that ends up with me taking a jog back to my corpse.

As of late I’ve been trying out a Bladedancer build with a little bit of Assassin (which gives me a health leech).  For a melee class, it’s kind of outstanding.  I have a huge amount of flexibility with a set of 24-second buffs to apply, single- and multiple-target attacks, and pretty decent survivability (dodge + some health regen).

Iron Pines Peak took longer than I had anticipated to wrap up, as there are several different storylines going on in that zone.  Since this zone was reworked to be a mid-level questing area a while back so that players could get an earlier introduction into the Storm Legion content, I was definitely interested to see how the changes sat.  It’s not bad, in retrospect, although I’m wondering if the level 30-40 corridor is a little too cluttered with zones.  I liked how the quests slowly built up to the mystery of the necklaces and didn’t try to resolve that within one or two completions.  At least I got to spend some quality time in a nice snowy zone, beating up bandits, wolves, and swirly whirly air elementals.

Now it’s on to Moonshade Highlands, one of my favorite old world locations due to its beauty (it’s like spring right before/after a heavy rainstorm) and to connect back up with Scotty the Dwarf.  We’ll see how many fae I can get to pile on me here before I break out my blades like a teed-off porcupine.

The Secret Adventures: Hippies go home (Kingsmouth #6)

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

tunnelsDigging Deeper (investigation mission)

  • Henry Hawthorne’s newest and last mission is to investigate the tunnels that he claims “riddles” the island.  His weird urge to keep digging deeper, “always deeper,” makes me think of the folly of the Blue Mountain mine and the Ankh excavation.  There’s bad things in this here earth, y’understand?
  • The trapdoor to the underground tunnels is under the sidewalk in front of the town hall (walking over it makes a hollow sound).  I like how clicking on the sidewalk makes it magically vanish, perhaps representing the off-screen work of my characters hereto-unseen jackhammer in the midst of a zombie outbreak.  “DON’T MIND ME!” she bellows, concrete chips flying everywhere.  “JUST PASSING THE TIME BY FOLLOWING THE NUTTY ADVICE OF AN ILLUMINATI FANBOY!”
  • The key to the tunnel is upstairs in town hall, so no sweat there.
  • Down here are the tunnels that Solomon Priest and his pal made.  There are locked rooms requiring the items you get at the end of Kingsmouth Code, although for some reason this time I got stuck.  I needed the phoenix symbol, but it said I didn’t have it.  Instead, it was already in the slot at one of the other doors.
  • The first door leads to Priest’s tomb… which is empty, save for another artifact and a note saying that the body was moved.  Because that’s what you do with corpses, right?  Take them for a stroll!
  • Past the second door is a series of elaborate room puzzles, each with their own hook.  The first room has letter tiles you have to jump on to spell a specific word — in this case, one of the words from Psalms.  Of course, the clue refers to the Latin version of the Bible, so you need to find the original Latin word here.  Clever.
  • Anytime I see gorgeous hidden rooms like these, I always think that it’s such a waste nobody really uses them.  Lots of books here, too!
  • The second room has probably the hardest puzzle of the bunch, especially if you’re musically ignorant like me.  The third room is a simpler emote puzzle, although you have to find the clue back early on in the tunnels.
  • All of this puzzle-solving ultimately leads to the new (and less ornate) tomb of Solomon Priest and his killer, Isaac Fletcher.  Fletcher penned a confession of poisoning him, and mentions something of a “Third” that Geary advises me to forget.

Idol of Nergal (side mission)

  • Some missions and side missions in TSW are locked until you do prerequisite ones, such as this idol that’s tucked away in a cave.  It becomes available once I finish the Kingsmouth Code.
  • It’s a simple FedEx quest, just run the idol over to Henry at the church.  Geary says that the warded church should keep the idol’s habit of attracting hell gods at bay.  Good to know!

harryRolls Downhill (action mission)

  • With all of the main mission givers in the town done, I jogged up north to the hippie camp, AKA Morninglight.  Here’s a quick tip for this game: If you encounter anyone or any group that uses sun imagery or worships the sun, they are bad, bad news.
  • The hippie leader, Che, hands off a package to what looks like a muscular Harry Potter to deliver.  My character overhears this (along with Che’s pot-infused rantings) and heads after Harry.  Maybe it’s a pack of every flavor beans!
  • About two steps outside of the camp and I see Harry mauled by a very frisky wendigo.  You’d think someone from the camp would have heard this, but no.  So it’s up to me to follow the blood trail and retrieve the package.
  • This entire mission, start to finish, is incredibly quick.  You just have to kill the one wendigo, get the package, and drop it off at a door in the nearby tunnel.  Harry would do it, but, y’know, he’s bleeding out on the ground nearby.  Man, I can’t catch a break.

pickup The Pick-Up (sabotage mission)

  • Che’s second and final mission is one of the easier sabotage missions in the game (we are, after all, still in the first zone).  He introduces me to Cassie, a camp floozie who isn’t quite what she first appears to be.  Cassie’s doing some sort of pick-up for a guy named “B” and Che asks me to escort her.  There’s some funny bantering between the two and I always get a kick out of Cassie’s wink to me at the end of the intro scene.
  • I head through the door where I dropped Harry’s package off from before.  It’s a series of maintenance tunnels, and like everywhere else in TSW, it’s booby-trapped to the extreme.  Hard-to-see laser tripwires, motion sensors, C4 all over the place.  Good times.
  • We round the corner to spot our first sighting of another one of the game’s factions: the purple-clad Phoenicians.  By rewiring the nearby control box, I blow their butts up and we proceed.
  • The next environmental puzzles include picking a door (the wrong one — and it’s random — delivers an enemy), crossing an electrified floor grid, and throwing switches to deactivate security around the mysterious package.
  • When I finally do all of this, Cassie reveals that she isn’t with the Morninglight, but has infiltrated them and wants to keep the package from them.  She then stuns me with a debuff called “Black Kiss” and takes off.  We don’t see much more of Cassie past this other than a scene in the main storyline, but both she and the Geary suggest that I’ll bump into her again.  Sometime.  There are a lot of theories about her but nothing definite yet.

Bringing Sexy Back (side mission)

  • The only thing left to do at the hippie camp is to check out a broken R.C. plane on the picnic table.  Cassie’s left a note on it addressed to a teenage boy, teasing him with pictures she’s left on the plane’s webcam.  Well then.  Time to go FedEx this across the water to the skate park, where the town’s last Leage of Monster Hunters member resides.
  • You actually do get to see the webcam pics, and no, I’m not going to share them.  They’re pretty tame, although Cassie hugging the giant teddy bear in the last picture makes me think of a certain teddy bear in Transylvania…

Flame Away (side mission)

  • On the picnic table at the skate park is a “half-finished flamethrower” — alas, not the one we get to keep as an auxilary weapon.  The mission is to repair and test it, which I can definitely get behind.
  • To fix it, I dash over to nearby Edgar’s scrapyard and root around in the trash to find parts for it.  Then, all I have to do is equip it and let out a fun burst of napalm at nothing in particular.
  • I actually do get to keep the flamethrower, but since it only has two charges remaining, it’s not going to be useful to me unless I find more fuel.  So, something I just learned: once you get this, you can click on fuel cans all over Kingsmouth to get more charges.  I honestly did not know that before looking it up now.  That’s kind of neat!  I’ve noticed cans at the sherriff’s office and the hippie camp, and I’m sure there are more.

Friday Fluff: WildStar, RIFT, and TSW

mordeshMy new graphics card should be arriving today, and not a moment too soon!  I’m not overly thrilled having to use my laptop for everything, although it’s performed admirably well in the meantime.  If I can get it up and running today, I can continue with my Secret World series, which has sadly languished due to real life this week.

RIFT

After hinting heavily about it during the livestream earlier this week, Trion announced yesterday that RIFT’s Nightmare Tide expansion is not quite ready for prime time and will be pushed from October 8th to the 22nd.  While that should be a downer, I’m fairly okay with the news.  For one thing, I’m nowhere near the level cap nor through all of the content (at my pace, it’ll probably be at least two more months), so the expansion wasn’t going to be a major game-changer for me in what I’m doing.  For another thing, it did sound like the beta’s been rough and that it needed some more work.  Trion does not need another rocky launch so soon after ArcheAge.

Last night I plowed through a large chunk of Iron Pines Peak.  Some of my quests there have to do with the Cult Saga, of which I’m largely ignorant.  I vaguely know that there are these large mission chains with the “saga” label, but past that I haven’t done much research.  Actually, I feel as though there is so much about RIFT that I don’t know, especially with all of its changes and additions since I left it during the early Storm Legion period.  I’m going to need to carve out some time to read up, I guess.

WildStar

My laptop ran WildStar surprisingly well, and last night was the first time this week I was able to get in some time.  I didn’t do anything super-special, just chatted with guildies, tended to my garden, and worked on a few quests in Bio-Dome 3.  I’m actually toying with the idea of pulling my spellslinger out of retirement for another go, just for some class variety sake.  Perhaps my subconscious is plotting against my ever hitting the level cap.  Oh well, no rush nor reason to rush — it’s not as if I’m going to be attuning for raids or anything.

I do want to be better about engaging in more guild activities.  We’ve got an active leadership that has several events planned each week, and I haven’t been the best at participating in those.  That should change.

The Secret World

Now that we’re in October, we’re starting to head into the best MMO holiday season there is: Halloween!  And this is where The Secret World shines, since it’s already a very Halloweeny game (especially in Kingsmouth, where it’s always October).

It was great to get the new TSW newsletter yesterday and hear about a new mission being added to the two existing ones for Halloween.  My goal is to do all of these missions with my new playthrough character, so I’m going to have to work hard to get her to the point that she can at least run through Blue Mountain without being insta-gibbed.  At least there’s a double-AP weekend next week, so maybe a marathon should be planned.  Yes.  Yes, that will do nicely.

Poll: What do you like to read on Bio Break?

This poll is more for curiosity’s sake than a serious research tool to modify my future posts.  I’m just wonder what you, as a reader, like to see on Bio Break.  Check any and all that apply!