One of the neat things about having a long-running blog is that it inadvertently turns into a historical document chronicling major events. In this case, Bio Break has been around since 2008, and I’ve gone through several major MMO launches since then. I thought it might be fun to look up the day one (or day two) posts talking about those experiences to reshare them with you.
“Guild Wars 2. Is incredible.
“Playing it live feels so much different than beta, and I’m so glad I have a character to actually invest in. But even more than that, this is just a game that exists to wow you left and right. I’m sure that there are those who have become immune to in-game beauty and details, and only see the numbers and min-maxing, but that’s missing the point here. It’s a game where I felt fully justified to spend the first hour just gawking around like a tourist instead of killing things, and I’m forever going off the beaten track to explore.”
“As you may have heard/experienced, it was anything but a smooth beginning. Due to a purported DDoS attack and a kajillion people trying to cram through the login servers at the same time, we simply could not log into the game. We got to know the little running hamster, the theme music, and our account passwords very well, however. It was 4:15 before I could log in, and by then going back to sleep wasn’t much of an option.”
“All in all, I’m pretty impressed with the game performance. No crashes for me, and everything flowed just smoothly. I did roll a Dwarf Bard, and I’m pretty pleased with the choice. I’m a Medieval Guitar Hero and proud of it, baby! I splashed in a bit of Riftstalker for the teleportation spell — being able to jump ahead 25 feet every so often is a ton of fun, as well as a helpful escape button if I got over my head.”
“On a lark I tried to see if I could log in at 6:30, and lo and behold I could. Servers were up about ten minutes after that, and I began the process of reserving the eight character names I picked out. When I finally logged in, it was to a ghost town — not a single soul in the zone, not a single voice on the chat screen, nothing. I’m not saying I was the first in game, but it almost felt like it.”
“Framerate issues notwithstanding, I had a great time last night. It was fun to see a lot of friends in the game (and the @name system is growing on me, for sure). I even spent a bit of time learning the ropes of the crafting system, which is pretty useful — you can make your own inventory bags, which is certainly useful.”
“While the character creator is really skimpy and the Foundry reportedly in shambles, the core game itself looks fantastic and is pretty fun to play. It’s more action/arcade-like than a traditional MMO, but for some reason it works here.”
With my original iPad mini starting to creak and groan from age (a shocking four years old!), I have increasingly given thought to upgrading to a newer tablet. The mini, which was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law back in 2012, has served me well in a variety of capacities — being a great distraction while I used my exercise bike, going on trips with me, entertaining my children, etc. But its 16 GB memory, fuzzy screen resolution (no retina here), and general slowness spoke to a limited future.
So I socked away some money and after doing some research, found out that Apple sells refurbished products for less cost than brand-new ones. I’m all on board with refurbished stuff, especially considering that Apple throws in a new battery, runs a bunch of tests, and gives a one-year warranty on it.
Thus I was able to snag the 2015 model iPad mini 4 (64 GB) for around $380. I am a fan of the smaller screen size on the mini; full-sized tablets feel too big to me, and the mini’s size (which is about 2.5 times as big as my iPhone’s screen) is a good fit. I also purchased a nice-looking cover that makes the tablet look like it’s a slim leather-bound book.
It’s definitely a nice upgrade, with a much sharper screen, less weight, better performance, and more memory. I’m hoping that with some more mobile MMOs coming out over the next year (including this week’s AdventureQuest 3D), I’ll be able to put it through its paces. But it does feel a tiny bit extravagant to get, because there’s always overlap with other devices (phone, computer, Kindle) and I don’t like upgrading if there’s still use I can get out of older machines.
I know I will get use out of it, especially to help out more with work. I’m hoping to get a keyboard and dock for Christmas so that I can use it to do more writing.
I am repurposing my original iPad mini to be for my kids. There’s a few apps, such as a nature exploration one, a Bible reading one, and a spelling one, that they greatly enjoy. And having Netflix on it makes for an option if I want to set up a TV session in some other room of the house.
The name’s Syp. Just Syp. And I’m definitely not a super secret agent, nor a covert Russian spy, nor a particularly savvy podcaster. But I do know what I like when it comes to video game music, and 1997’s Goldeneye 007 has probably my favorite Nintendo 64 score. It’s the perfect soundtrack to all of life’s activities, granted that you’re infiltrating Cold War-era bases and blowing away scowling terrorists!
- Intro (feat. “Main Theme” and “Wrist Clock”)
- “Chemical Warfare Facility”
- “Escape from Missile Train”
- “Elevator Music”
- Outro (feat. “Main Theme Acapella” by Triforcefilms)
I was looking for a bit of a different experience this week, something a little more casual and not as learning curve-intensive, so I gave in to a few hearty recommendations from friends and tried out Chronicle: RuneScape Legends. It’s a card game spin-off of RuneScape and has been getting some good word of mouth.
From the get-go, you realize that this isn’t just a Hearthstone/Elder Scrolls Legends-type game. It is a match of sorts, but the idea is that you place cards on the board that are kind of “encounters” for your hero, and depending on the order of placement, your hero could win or lose. Little bit of math involved as you look ahead three or four turns, trying to figure out when your hero will need that extra bit of health or armor reward after getting beaten up. After three or four encounters, you beat the zone and head to the next.
I really dig both the music and presentation. The music is welcoming and contains a lot of environmental noises (babbling brook, chirping birds), but the “board” is actually an open book from which the setting pops out.
As you proceed, your rival goes forward as well on a parallel path with his or her own cards and encounters. Sometimes your paths intersect, with cards striking out at each other and so on.
The idea is that by the time you clear all four or five zones and end up fighting your rival for a winner-takes-all smackdown, you’ve put your hero in the best possible position with full health, lots of armor, a good attack rating, and so on.
It’s a relaxing, cerebral experience, letting you make all of the decisions between rounds and seeing how they play out. While you know exactly how your cards will function, there’s a huge unknown factor with your rival’s cards. So there’s a bit of anticipation and reaction. I like it.
Between bouts is the deck-building portion. Pick a champion, select the cards, and try to balance cost and value. You can train up on PvE fights, unlocking a few free decks, and drinking deep of that freebie well before it dries up and the game makes you pay for the next high. Past that I guess there’s a lot of PvP and Syp losing.
I’ve played quite a few digital card games and I have to say that presentation is pretty important. It’s one thing to slap some cards on an imaginary table with stationary art and descriptions, but it’s a lot more engaging when you see pieces in motion and the cards coming alive, even with minimal animations, moving through a variety of colorful environments. As someone who has not really played much of RuneScape, it’s nice to get a taste of the world and setting through this.
After a few matches, I’m on the fence about Chronicle. Nothing’s wrong with it at all, I’m just not in the market for a card game at the moment. But I think I will keep this installed just in case I do get the urge. Solid product.
Just a brief note to say that I’ve upgraded the Secret Adventures page on Bio Break to flesh it out, mostly by listing each part of the playthrough with its full title. I think it looks a bit more organized and engaging, plus it was fun to flip back through all of my adventures to date.
(Join Syp as he attempts to document a complete playthrough of The Secret World from start to finish. What will The Secret Adventures discover next? Find out in this exciting installment! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)
Considering that my last Secret Adventure installment was back in April, I think it’s safe to say that the City of the Sun God is the dark, bottomless pit where my enthusiasm for The Secret World goes to die. I know it has its defenders, but this is twice now that the zone pretty much put me off the game.
But I will conquer it. Oh yes I will. Arriving in Transylvania with a completed zone at my back will be my greatest accomplishment! So here we go, folks. More sandy deserty goodness.
Behind Every Golem… (side mission)
Easing back into the swing of missions (and continuing my counter-clockwise progression through the zone), I picked up this quest starring a random golem arm and a whole lot of golems with two functional arms waiting to pound me into the dust. No problem at all… save that I took on one at a time. I’m still remembering my rotation here and multiple mobs can flatten me if I’m not careful.
The end boss for this quest was in a cave and covered with flies for some reason (perhaps it was a poop golem instead of a rock golem). What is weird is that nearby there was a clickable dead scarab, but the game simply said that I had to find more of them (or a live one) to figure out what killed it.
Mummy Issues (action mission)
Boy am I a sucker for a really punny quest title. Love this one in particular. Anyway, it’s time to travel over to human-hating Amir, a Jinn who barely tolerates me because the bad guys are somehow even worse. He’s all up in a tizzy because some humans tried to attain immortality by becoming mummies, which kind of drove them insane and made them evil. If I go kill a bunch, perhaps Amir will invite me over for tea and we can become besties.
No? It was worth a shot. Also, what does this say about Said? Dude seems pretty together to me, and even sort of a good guy to boot.
Even though this is labeled as an action mission, it doesn’t mean that it’s mindless. Sometimes The Secret World likes to blend elements of different mission types together, so here there’s a modicum of puzzle-solving as I make my way into temples with progressively tougher mummies. One part has me fighting mobs for tablet pieces to assemble, while the big boss fight against Rib-Hadda (great name, btw!) requires taking out four statues that are supporting his shield — and as a twist, you get knocked down if you go anywhere near those shields. Yay for ranged weapons, I say.
I like mowing down mummies. Great enemy mobs.
At the end of the mission, I learn two things: That Amir is a Jinn prince, apparently, and that Kristen Geary does not like Hugh Jackman. But he’s the Wolverine!
Envoys of Rib-Hadda (side mission)
Following the mummy boss fight with Rib-Hadda, I find one of his reports nearby asking the Black Pharoah for reinforcements. Uh-oh, better head out and stop those envoys from summoning apocalyptic adds!
The first two envoys I find are already dead: one crushed by a falling meteor and the other by the hand of cultists. The third is in fighting condition, although I have to report that this is no longer so following our encounter.
“The closest the Kingdom gets to the danger zone is watching it on TV,” Geary texts me at the conclusion of the mission.
Sparked to Life (side mission)
Near Amir is a strange green brazier that, for some reason, points me toward a nearby temple. Wonder what’s inside! Treasure, perhaps? Another invincible sword? Probably mummies, though. Yeah.
The temple in question is locked, and there’s an object puzzle to unlock it. You have to create a torch somehow, and the process is pretty intuitive, starting with some mummy wrappings and working your way up to AWESOME GREEN FIRE ON A STICK. Then inside you fight some mummies. Darn it. I was really hoping for the sword.
The Way of Things (action mission)
Part of Amir’s supreme unlikability is that every conversation with you starts with three minutes of insults and condescension, after when he then asks for help. I do sometimes wish, greatly, that The Secret World had dialogue options for your character. Taking guff like this mutely chaffs.
So what does Amir want this time around? About the same as last time, to sweep through the area and kill everything corrupted and evil. I guess he’s upset that some of the jinn have gone over to the dark(er) side of the force, so it’s time for some payback.
The Way of Things is an escort mission, although this is the GOOD type of escort mission — the type where the escort functions as a powerful bodyguard instead of a helpless waif. Amir’s manifestation can be summoned from urns littered all over a huge temple, allowing him to show up, douse me in protective magic, and lob fireballs at the enemy. We clean house, top to bottom, stopping several jinn summoning rituals from taking place.
I am quite liking the build on this character as I get to know it once more. It’s pistols/elemental with some nice synergy and utility. My two AOE fields become available every 30 seconds, which is usually good for each fight, and the only skill I don’t have that I want is Hard Reset (which brutally strips buffs from enemies, a necessary skill for some mobs).