Posted in Gaming Goals

Syp’s gaming goals for May 2023

April 2023 in review

  • Life spring cleaning went into effect this month, and as I talked about last week, I decided to cut down a bit on both gaming and games blogging to shake up my schedule. So Bio Break is on a three-posts-per-week format until further notice.
  • April was another random casting about for entertainment without any seriously passionate pursuits. I had a bit of fun in both WoW Classic’s permadeath challenge and Dragonflight, but I didn’t keep up the sub, so that’s going onto the backburner.
  • Other smaller experiences included a bit of time in Star Trek Online, New World, and Elder Scrolls Online.
  • Started up a new Fallout 76 run and felt my enthusiasm flow into this game. Definitely think I’ll be sticking with this for a while.
  • Lord of the Rings Online remained my MMO gaming staple, as it has been for a while now. I finished up Gondor on my Minstrel, starting her on the long road of Mordor content. But I kept things spicy by resurrecting my Hobbit Lore-master and doing some anniversary content as well.

Gaming goals for May

  • I was hoping to get into Wayfinder this month, but since that’s been moved to “summer 2023,” I’ll have to make my own fun elsewhere. It’s not as if I’m bereft of options, only options that strongly appeal at the moment.
  • I’m on a bit of a Star Trek kick right now, so I want to dig deeper into Star Trek Online and see if I can find my groove once again in that game.
  • Possible side MMOs this month include Neverwinter, possibly finally pulling the trigger on that Bard that I’ve wanted to experience for a while now. Hey, that Dungeons & Dragons movie had a positive effect after all! If that doesn’t pan out, well, SWTOR may be next on my list. It’s really not been getting the best of development cycles as of late, but it’s trucking on, and I wouldn’t mind another romp through a galaxy far, far away.
  • I’ve also been recommended Last Epoch so many times that I may break down and buy a copy. Feeling that itch for a good ARPG anyway!
  • For LOTRO, I’ll keep flipping between characters. I’d like to get maybe half of Mordor done on my Minnie, work on shoring up my Captain’s virtues, and deciding which Lore-master I want to actually keep.
  • And more Fallout 76 romping. For a goal? Let’s see. I want to get a better backpack and gain about 10 more levels so I can get the start to a nice build.
  • I really want to get back into writing fiction, and so for starters, I’m going to do a full editing pass of the novel that I wrote back in 2018 and never published. I’d like to get that out — probably self-publishing — and then start on a new book this summer.
Posted in Fallout

Fallout 76: Everyone trusts a person who lives in an ice cream cone shack, yes?

Time for another stint in Fallout 76! There’s no big patch drawing me back so much as the desire for some good comfort survival gaming in this great universe. Sure, I wish that there would be better social tools by this point, but I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that it’s only marginally social and mostly single-player.

Starting over, I spent a good half-hour struggling with Bethesda’s always-infuriating character creator to make a toon that wouldn’t give me nightmares. As secondary task was to make a look that I hadn’t gone with before. I think I accomplished both quite handily. This wastelander looks fashionable and absolutely deadly.

Starting all over again comes with a huge list of first-month checklist items. Mostly it involves building up a bank account of caps, stocking up with resources, getting a nice CAMP going, pushing through those first dozen levels to get some nice perks, and settling on a weapon or two. I did buy a little prefab house (well, ice cream shack) from the Atomic Shop with some tokens I had lying around, so I need to find some concrete to make that a reality.

I’ve also got to decide how much I’m going to try to kill myself to do the scoreboard. Probably not much. In the past, I would log on, take a look at the daily challenges, and then decide which ones were the low-hanging fruit and go after them.

Headed down to Flatwoods for a careful house-by-house search, during which I listened to all of the survivor holotapes left behind by this hopeful community.

After a lot of searching, I scrounged up enough concrete to help build my dream house — a giant ice cream cone. Hey, it’s pretty cool and all prefab! I got some lights and a bed set up, put my workbenches around the perimeter, and counted myself fortunate to have a cozy home at last.

Hey, I always wanted a captive audience!

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: To dark and terrible places

While there are some things I definitely don’t like about the Mordor region — mob density, gloominess mostly — I can’t deny that it’s here that SSG really stepped up its storytelling game. I think that moving to the end of the book and beyond was a shot in the arm, allowing for more impactful moments and some creative freedom that wasn’t present before. And it’s always surreal to get to the end of the War of the Ring, too… kind of like transitioning from LOTRO 1 to LOTRO 2.

I felt like it was time to take a little break from non-stop Minstrel wanderings, however. My initial thought was to roll up a new character, perhaps another run on a Hobbit lore-master because I ended up hating the leveling approach I took last time (basically, got to level 30 and then ran nonstop missions while ignoring all the zones in an effort to get to Moria). So I have this level 52 character I’m not that attached to as a result.

Was tempted to delete her outright to start over again, but after taking a long look at her, I realized this was supreme foolishness. For starters, I have invested a lot of resources into her — three milestones, all the milestone cooldowns, a premium house, a tundra-guardian pet, a slew of outfits. And 52 levels isn’t anything to sneeze away on a whim.

Besides, I realized that my main gripe — that I wanted her to quest and deed out zones — could easily be accomplished even still. Nothing was getting in my way of backtracking to do that. So after starting to decorate my house with a ton of legacy items imported from my old character on Anor (yay for shared housing storage), I got to work with Cardolan and Swanfleet deeds.

This was a pleasant surprise — doing all of the Cardolan deeds rewarded me with a rather cool steed. Anything with a lot of pouches and bags gives it a hearty adventuring vibe.

One of my favorite weird MMO tropes is “The Ludicrously Enormous Pile ‘O Bones” that’s supposed to signify that you’re in a dangerous place but makes me think that the inhabitants ordered several thousand orders of BBQ ribs and garbage day hasn’t come yet.

It’s a fine day for an adventure, don’t you think?

Yes, yes it is.

“I want to be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.”

Posted in General

It’s the APOCALYPSE for Bio Break!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post about this site itself, because usually there isn’t a need. But today I am going to announce a pretty big change for me and for Bio Break: I’m going to cut back on posting from five days a week to three days (Mon-Wed-Fri). Plus music posts as needed.

OK, so maybe it isn’t the apocalypse, but it’s a significant shift for this blog. I remember when I started it in 2008, I only intended to write two or three times a week on it… and instead made it pretty much an every day kind of thing. I wrote as the passion took me, and that was usually daily.

But as I’ve expressed in a few posts over the past few months, I’ve had a hard winter in terms of my mood and interest. Sometimes that happens when I build up so much of a routine that I fall deep into ruts and feel trapped by the obligation of meeting deadlines. And my life has been incredibly busy this year, with a lot of other responsibilities and family focus.

The long and the short of it is that I’m adjusting several smaller things in my life — partially to shake things up, bump myself out of the routine; partially to cut down on unnecessary time sinks to make room for other things I’m more excited about. And while I still do love to write and talk about MMOs, games, and other nerdy interests, it’s been a bit of a push to get to five posts every week (on top of my duties at Massively OP, which always get first priority in this field).

Another reason for the change is that at any given time, I’m really just playing about three games. Three games, three posts a week, that fits well. And I’ve also been pouring more of my time and writing interest into my cult movie review blog, Mutant Reviewers, along with a growing team.

I’ll still be playing games. I’ll still be blogging about them. It’s just going to be two fewer posts a week, and I think that’ll help me out a great deal. Thanks for reading, and have fun playing wherever you find yourself this week!

Posted in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: The call of the ninja

As I go through the Azure Span in Dragonflight this week, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about my Death Knight’s look. While sometimes I naturally allow a theme to develop with my characters, other times I specifically mold a character’s cosmetics around an intended theme. In Photopsia’s case, I wanted to push back against the look of WoW’s Death Knights as these large, chunky, metal-heavy bruisers.

To go down a different path, I’ve elected to make her almost the opposite. She wears very little armor, and what she does is streamlined, form fitting, and minimalistic. Dark tones, for the most part. Then I plunked a curved katana on her back — another change from the traditional thick broadswords — and let it draw the eye without any other distractions. Seeing her leap about and fight doesn’t feel like a DK at all. It feels agile and nimble, as befits her ninja-like style.

And not that levels matter THAT much these days in retail, but I dinged 70 on my first character. At least it’s not like previous expansions where it didn’t matter that much — at least I get a talent point! Probably should start running the occasional dungeon now, start getting geared up a bit. Speaking of talent trees, shout-out to the designers of this UI for letting us take points OFF the tree to re-spend without having to start completely over. That’s a nice and appreciated touch.

In running the reworked Ulda dungeon, I got a chuckle out of seeing the antics of the Lost Vikings. I remember playing this back in the SNES days. It’s nice to see the legacy continued.

The reuse of the tuskarr is always welcome — and, like this zone, another shot of that Wrath of the Lich King nostalgia. I do find that most of WoW’s exotic races feel kind of similar in tone. That “super spiritual and connected to nature and very noble indeed” without differentiating themselves much.

Posted in EverQuest, Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 224: A return to EverQuest II

It’s been an almost egregiously long time since the Battle Bards turned their attention to the EverQuest II soundtrack — but now that wait is over. Join Syp and Syl as they comb through the expansions for all sorts of delightful musical morsels to enjoy!

Episode 224 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Main Theme,” “Landing Zone,” and “Darkpaw”)
  • “Artisan Theme”

  • “Qeynos Rises”

  • “Stonewood”

  • “Dreadcutter”

  • “Visions of Vetrovia”

  • “Enchanted Lands”

  • Which one did we like best?

  • Listener notes: Zinn
  • Jukebox Picks: “Big Apple 3PM” from TMNT Shredder’s Revenge and “A New Land Awaits” from Going Medieval

  • Outro (feat. “Gnomeland Security Headquarters”)
Posted in World of Warcraft

Dying with indignity in WoW Classic’s hardcore scene

And here I am again with another stint in Hardcore Classic. Foolish, probably. Pointless, maybe. Addicting, definitely.

I’m still on my second hardcore character, a Dwarf Rogue going through Dun Morogh. If I continue with HC, then the plan is to rotate through different races and classes as I die, just to experiment and add some variety. I’m already level 8, which is as high as my Warlock got before she bit it. Let’s see if I can get to 10 and some dual wielding!

Cue a whole lot of grinding from level 8 to 9, mostly on boars — for quests and for cooking. Drops are abysmal from these guys, definitely nothing in the way of gear or weapons. As I do this, I keep entertained by watching both guild and general chat. Everyone is typically in high spirits, celebrating the small gains and collectively groaning when someone bites the big one.

Ding, level 9. This is officially the highest I’ve gone on a hardcore character. Yay me. There have been too many close calls already to make me think I’m going to make it far, though. I really need to figure out a way to gear up better.

It was around this level that I realized I had kind of messed my run up. I guess I picked an achievement option that disabled ALL vendors, including crafting ones and ones I needed for certain quests. This simply wasn’t going to work for the long haul, so I ran my Rogue into a cave, made best friends with three yetis. Dun dun DUN.

Delete. Rolled up a Paladin and got to Trogg-smacking again. Pain and experience is the best teacher, and I feel I’m starting to figure out how to get a better start, at least. I won’t even leave the newbie area until I’ve done all the quests, gotten a full set of the starter armor, trained up skills, gotten a bag or two, and built up a bit of a bank account.

So what happens when you’re not allowed to group — hardcore rules — and everyone needs a quest mob? LINES, BABY.

While nobody would ever accuse the Paladin of being the most exciting combat class, it’s lovely to have all of the extra protection that it provides. I feel a lot more sturdy with several “oh crap” buttons ready to go at any moment. I spent the better part of two levels grinding out cave yetis and raking in the loot. Even got a new mace to help with that DPS.

Before long, I dinged 10 — my first on this challenge, and I’m not even breathing that hard(core). I am, however, starting to get quite annoyed with having to compete for basic quest mobs by the locust horde of new characters that sweep across these maps.

Ding 12. I’d say that I’m doing about 20% questing and 80% grinding during any given play session. Grinding is more relaxing, and if I find a good camp full of humanoid mobs, it turns into a treasure trove of gear. I even got my first green in a troll cave, a one-handed mace that goes well with my protection spec. Prot spec? You best believe it for this challenge.

Posted in Books

The Gutter Prayer book review

Hey, look at that, I’m actually making some progress on reading this year… imagine that. Actually, I have read a few other novels in 2023, just nothing worth talking about. That’s not the case for The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan. It’s not a perfect fantasy novel, it truly excels in worldbuilding and surprises.

The core crew of thieves — it’s a fantasy novel so of COURSE it’s about thieves — is a trio of weirdoes. There’s a rich girl-turned-cutpurse, a ghoul, and a “stone man” who’s been infected with a plague that’s turning him into unliving rock. After being betrayed during a particularly lethal job, these few find themselves caught up in a conspiracy that extends far beyond their social circles and to the entire world.

Probably my favorite feature of The Gutter Prayer is its masterful use of language. The first (and last) chapter is in the rarely used second-person voice, and the rest of the novel comes up with great descriptions and turns of phrase. I particularly liked the coarse saint who isn’t having any of diplomacy or tact, just stomping her way through wild situations while cussing left and right.

There’s a nice marriage between traditional fantasy, weird fantasy, and steampunk that makes for delightful exploration. The tallow-men are particularly cool, being former people who are remade into ruthless wax candles that go hunting and stabbing for lawbreakers. There are “god bombs,” deep underground warrens, sorcerers made out of mind-eating worms, teleportation, and so much more.

The Gutter Prayer was a good read, although perhaps a tad on the long side for my interest. By the last 30 pages, I wanted it to be done… and it just kept going. While, like every fantasy novel these days, it sets up a series, I’m content to make this a one-and-done effort.