Posted in Fallout, No Man's Sky, Project Gorgon, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Villagers and Heroes

Six MMOs that want my attention in 2021

Boy do I feel like I’m in a weird place with MMO gaming right now. Call it a summer malaise or what have you, but it’s that mixture of guilt, restlessness, and a hunger for fresh blogging material that keeps turning my mind to MMOs I’m not playing — but kind of feel that I should. Or might. Perhaps. Maybe at some point later this year.

The delay of New World really threw my summer plans into disarray. Now I’ve got over a month before gearing up for that, so I have some extra time that I could be using elsewhere. Not that LOTRO or FFXIV doesn’t offer enough content to fill those hours, but… restlessness. Freshness. I don’t like getting too stale.

In any case, here are six MMOs that I’ve been contemplating as titles that I want to get to sooner or later:

No Man’s Sky

The recent fifth anniversary thrust this title back in front of my eyes. It always seems like a game that I should like and stick with more than I have in the past, and so it’s always on the docket for another go. I think this might actually be a really fun blog series if I wanted to do a journal run of it.

Fallout 76

It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious F76 play, and this is a good contender for bite-sized explorative play. I’ve never hit level 50 on a character, and I would like to see how the level scaling works from the start. I’m still kind of holding out for a guild and chat system, but that’s not on the immediate horizon, so my feelings are more lukewarm than “MUST PLAY NOW.”

Star Trek Online

My daughter and I have been watching through some Star Trek: The Next Generation — she’s kind of interested in Trek, so I’m low-key encouraging it — and it’s certainly having the result of making me want to head back into the MMO… at some point. Probably in about six episodes, if my track record is a witness.

Project Gorgon

Label this one under a big, all-caps “GUILT,” because boy do I feel guilty that I’m not actually playing this. Allegedly, I’m waiting for a bonafide launch, but that’s just an excuse. The truth is that I know I’m going to have to learn a whole bunch of new systems and figure out what to do, and that takes mental energy I’m not super-willing to expend. Right now. But I should.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

New expansion will come with new hype. But the appeal for me, right now, would be that SWTOR is a good MMO substitute for when I’m craving WoW again. I’m not quite at that point — LOTRO is probably helping, here — but it’s quite possible that I’ll be blasting my way through this during the holiday season.

Guild Wars 2

Another case of “new expansion news brings actual hope that this game has a future instead of stagnation.” I genuinely hope it does. I don’t really care for GW2’s story, but I love so much about this game and want to see it pull out of this nose-dive it’s been in the past few years. Considering that I’m reinstalling it as I’m typing this, there’s a better-than-average chance I’ll be puttering around doing map completion before too long.

Posted in Music, Podcast, Project Gorgon

Battle Bards Episode 196: Project Gorgon

Battle Bards Episode 202: Silkroad Online Battle Bards

Piggybacking on a historical lifeline, Silkroad Online has enjoyed a long run in the MMORPG market. But how is its music? To find this out, the Battle Bards begin a long trek through desert and rainforest to discover the truth of Silkroad's soundtrack. Episode 202 show notes Intro (feat. "Karakorum," "Roc Battle," and "Donwhang Cave") "Jangan Town" "Togui Village" "Constantinople Town" "Samarkand" "Festival Event" "Alexandria/Egypt Field Delta" "Jupiter Temple" Which one did we like best? Listener notes from Katriana and Bullwraith Jukebox picks: "The Finest Scenery" from Behind the Frame, "Security Breach" from Angry Video Game Nerd II, and "Befriending Spirits" from Kena: Bridge of Spirits Outro (feat. "Hotan Kingdom") Talk to the Battle Bards on Twitter! Follow Battle Bards on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts! This podcast is produced using copyrighted material according to Fair Use practices as stated under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  1. Battle Bards Episode 202: Silkroad Online
  2. Battle Bards Episode 201: Don't stand in the fire!
  3. Battle Bards Episode 200: Battle Bards Bicentennial!

This time around, the Battle Bards cruise into the indie MMO known as “Project Gorgon” to see what musical landscape is being concocted in this usual realm. From dark dungeon crawls to dusty deserts, it’s a trip around a world of fantasy, mystery, and deliberate old school musical cues!

Episode 196 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Fae Forest,” “SunVale,” and “The Spider Crypt”)
  • “Overture Theme”
  • “Quiet Countryside”
  • “Eltibule”
  • “Delving for Forgotten Secrets”
  • “Rakshasa City”
  • “Anagoge Magical Island”
  • “The Deep Desert” 
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener notes from Katriana and Mark
  • Jukebox picks: “Galaxy Map” from Mass Effect, “Main Theme” from Ratchet and Clank, and “Lich is Unbreakable” from Loop Hero
  • Outro (feat. “Bard Music”)
Posted in Project Gorgon

Project Gorgon: All the cool kids milk cows

All right, time to escape this prison island, recover my memories, and get sweet revenge upon the world as a whole!

Welcome back to the weirdness of Project Gorgon, where merely getting out of the newbie zone requires more work and brainpower than you’d think. The traditional way out is to learn teleportation (which is, obviously, a very useful skill to have). The skill itself is easy to learn, but finding out the coordinates of my destination requires some scouting around the island.

Before I leave, the game gives me this choice and plants a seed for future plot points. Very cool! I like how our characters are amnesic yet so many people know us and allude to extensive relationships and histories.

YAEEH! The second I teleport off the island, I’m greeting by this holographic crone. She’s one of the four that killed me on the character creation screen (seriously), but said that we were friends (sure) and I was a demon hunter (okay) and that a demon was taking me down and wiping my brain was the only way they could save me (I’ll buy that). Anyway, she tells me to investigate some stuff as a main questline and then fades out.

I go kill packs of pigs for a while by talking smack about their mothers. It’s relaxing.

Project Gorgon really does just… dump you into this zone with very little instruction. Welcome to Serbule Hills, which is sort of pretty if you squint just right. It’s quite big, especially if you’re slowly trotting around like I am.

The site of a walled town invites investigation, and so I head into Serbule proper. It’s here that the game’s performance took a steep nosedive. I wasn’t able to move or turn the camera without horrific rubberbanding and stuttering. It almost made it impossible to move around. I had a suspicion that a recent server restart had something to do with it.

Naturally, within one minute of arriving in town, I’m slaughtered by a pair of psychic mantises wearing bowler hats. Then I milked a player cow. And drank that milk. This game is Odd for Everyone.

At the local tavern is a poetry podium, which I assumed tied into one of the more interesting-sounding skills in the game: poetry appreciation. You can read how this skill can interact with crowds, presumably to bring players together to share skill points and bad limericks.

I want to remind everyone that this is an MMORPG that just came out in 2018. It has poetry appreciation. If this game would run for president, I would vote for it.

I bumped up my lore skill by admiring a painting that’s about the death of half the elves in a country. It’s now my MOST FAVORITE PAINTING EVER.

And it’s not a visit to Project Gorgon if you don’t see a player cow wearing a sun hat and standing on a sign.

As much as the stuttering performance would allow, I explored the town a bit and tried to figure out what I wanted to do first. The game and some friends pointed me toward Marna as a starting point. She outright taught me first aid as a skill, gave me some storage space (you spread your stuff around various vendors instead of a single central bank, for some reason), and bought my excess inventory. I picked up a couple of quests from her and will see what I can do to level up favor with her so that I can buy poison arrows and get more first aid kits, as well as gain more storage space and vendor gold (each merchant only has a certain amount of gold and will buy certain things, although Marna is special in that she’ll buy most anything but has less gold than other NPCs).

Next time? Quests for Marna. Marna forever!

Posted in Project Gorgon

Project Gorgon: Early access, fresh start

I have long held the position that I would finally commit to playing Project Gorgon when it reached a certain point of stability and development — namely, early access. Normally I’m not incredibly enthusiastic about early access, but Gorgon is different in that it’s been letting us play the alpha for years now and allowing us to retain our characters. Even now through launch will be character — but not item — persistence. So it’s as good of a time as any to start.

One thing I noticed from my previous brief excursions in the game is Project Gorgon’s new user interface. It’s sharp, my friends, and a lot better looking than the old functional but extremely crude-looking setup. I appreciated how easily I could resize the UI, resize windows, and reposition everything. It’s slick and money well spent.

While merging my new Steam account with my old Gorgon account allowed me to continue with one of the two previous characters I made (including one that had been stuck as a cow for a couple of years now), in the spirit of the moment I decided that it would be best to delete everything and start fresh. Alas, the faeries still aren’t in the game, and as soon as they are I know I’ll be rolling one. Until then, I’ll be boring human trotting around on the tutorial island.

As I previously — as in, 2016 — spent a lot of time on the tutorial island creating a guide for it, this early part of the game came back to me quite quickly. There wasn’t any linear path to follow but rather a series of self-ascribed quests, mostly to get all of the skills that I could unlock here. Anatomy, psychology, mycology, unarmed, bow, teleportation, and so on.

I wasn’t in a great rush. It was certainly nice to be back, and I didn’t have to wait long before I was invited into a welcoming guild.

While the new user interface was a wonderful addition since my last stint in the game, Project Gorgon still suffers from a couple of issues I hoped would have been fixed. No, not the graphics — I’m OK with the graphics. My two primary issues are the floaty jumping and the loose, disconnected combat. Both don’t feel as snappy and responsive as they should, with the former not seeming to operate in any gravity well that I’m familiar with and the latter featuring little bits of lag from input commands so that combat felt disassociated from my actions.

Another big change — BIG one, this time — was the newbie island dungeon. Previously there was a dungeon, but it was pretty small. Now we have this three-floor monstrosity of a public dungeon which was actually pretty fun to explore. There’s a lot of lore and little story bits here, and if Gorgon has taught me nothing else, it’s that you really do have to slow down and soak in this game’s details. Plus there are rats to tame (I love my rat pets!) and brain bugs for some reason and a dead tree that makes it snow.

The bottom floor is a somewhat frustrating maze that isn’t helped by the minimap. There is a treasure room in the back for those who persevere and light all of the torches, so it’s worth doing. Plus, I found out that there’s a sort of click-to-move auto-pathing system in PG, so if I was getting turned around and couldn’t figure out how to get on the other side of a gate, I would right-click the ground outside of it and my character would figure out the optimal path to get there.

Project Gorgon: Being snarky for a half-decade now.

Probably the most surprising part of this dungeon was that it connected to a HUGE spider cave. I definitely don’t remember this, and I was assuming that this cave was just a small little place to explore. Nope, it’s extensive and these spiders don’t mess around. I got killed a half-dozen times trying to map out this place, and at the end I found out that the exit actually dumps you into the game’s first main zone. So I guess there are two ways to get off the island now?

But I didn’t WANT to get off, because I had unfinished business. So I had to backtrack through the spider cave, figure out how to open back up the door (hidden switch, thanks general chat!), and crawl back through the dungeon to the top. It took me far longer than I would have liked.

I love this game.

Anyway, I’m about done on the tutorial island and ready to make my way in the game proper. I’m going to avoid guides for a while and just explore and see where the game leads me. I’ll probably turn into some hideous animal. I’m crossing my finger for bat.

Posted in Project Gorgon

Project Gorgon: Coming soon?

One of the smaller resolutions that I have this year for Bio Break is to work on my posting balance a bit. I enjoy delivering “experience reports” of games that I’m currently playing, but I also want to get back to doing more topical posts on MMOs and posts on games I’m looking forward to playing. I used to do a lot of forward-looking posts back in the day, but then I started to tamp that down along the line, and now I feel like I am breaking some sort of weird oath to do it. Never mind that; talking about such things can be a joy in and of themselves.

So in that spirit, let’s talk Project Gorgon. The good news that we got last week from the creators is that this indie MMO is coming to Steam early access soon — within a month or so. And that is a Big Deal for me, since I’ve restrained myself for years from seriously playing this title until it got to this point. I’m a little leery on wipes and whatnot, even with some assurances to the contrary, but I think I heard it said that early access will mark the beginning of Gorgon’s next phase and a more stable run. Kind of like an early launch.

I’m going to wait and see what early access here entails, particularly if more details are going to be given about this build, the state of the game, and future plans. Project Gorgon is the type of game that I don’t want to have to restart over and over again — I just want to dive into it and explore it once without worrying about doing everything again. I’m also hoping to hear if playable fairies are coming soon. If they are, I’m willing to wait past early access to main one of those, but if not, well then, I think it’s high time to just game up and play already.

I’m totally going to be nerdy about it, too. I envision keeping a notepad file or a written notebook with clues and notes, and I’m trying not to spoil myself with the in-game hints or the out-of-game wiki for the first few weeks or months. PG is all about discovery, and since it’s an MMO, there’s always a way to circle back and get what you’ve missed. Probably going to play as an animal for a while too, because Death Armor Bovine was written on my birth certificate well before the doctors ever knew what it meant.

I hope that Gorgon is getting some more funds and will find this with early access. I worry about the financial state of this game, especially since it’s not really taking in any cash flow that I see and can only skate by on the rather meagre Kickstarter funds for so long. How the lead devs manage to eat and keep a house is beyond me. Maybe they moonlight on the Star Citizen team and come home with pockets full of cash. Who knows.

So Gorgon in a month… who’s with me? Anyone excited about this?

Posted in Project Gorgon, Sea of Thieves, World of Warcraft

6 games that I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

Well, this is it. The last Bio Break post of 2017 and the final list for this week (apologies if you hate lists, but I wanted to both wrap up the year and prep a bunch of posts in advance so I could enjoy a week of downtime without other concerns). As we turn into 2018, what am I looking forward to playing? Here are the six games that I anticipate taking up my game time:

1. Sea of Thieves

March is going to be something else, especially if I can sign on to a pirate crew. Rare’s Sea of Thieves is scheduled to finally release, bringing this sort-of-MMO to the public after years of gleeful anticipation. With a nonstandard RPG progression system, group pirate antics, and a gorgeous looking world, I can’t wait to jump on board and live out my buccaneer fantasies.

2. Project Gorgon

Geez, I feel like I say this every year, but that doesn’t change the fact that I really hope this game at least gets to a semi-launch point and I can start my adventures in this clever and intricate game world. The skill system is definitely the crown jewel here, but I won’t complain if I get to play as a murderous fairy.

3. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

WoW’s next expansion is high on my list, although there are still many unknowns about it and the quality it might or might not bring. At the very least, it’ll be more wonderfully designed zones and enjoyable questing to enjoy. I think that there are some surprises in store and that this expansion isn’t quite what everyone thinks it’s going to be — which is Blizzard’s doing, of course.

4. Pillars of Eternity 2

I feel a little hypocritical putting this on the list, considering that I haven’t ever beaten the first one, but I really did like what Obsidian did with that game and am hearing some very nice things about the sequel and how it’s shaping up. It definitely belongs on this list.

5. Walking Dead Season 4 and Wolf Among Us Season 2

I am way, way, way behind on my Telltale Games, but still I am quite pleased to see that both Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us are getting new games next year. Now to finish the ones I have so that I can feel less guilty about picking up the new ones!

6. Several mobile games

OK, this is a total cheat, but the truth is that I’m more excited about many mobile games coming out than what’s on the immediate horizon for PC. Among the titles I’m tracking that I’m most anticipating are

  • Pocket City
  • The Sims Mobile
  • RuneScape and Villagers and Heroes
  • Battleheart 2

See you in 2018!

Posted in AdventureQuest 3D, Elder Scrolls Online, Master X Master, Neverwinter, Project Gorgon

Six MMOs I’m considering playing this fall

We’re now deep into September, which means many things for my life. It’s the start of the school year for my job, what I always see as the MMO expansion season, and the onset of the fall and preparation for winter. As I settle comfortably into both World of Warcraft and RIFT right now, I’ve been considering what I might add to my roster for the remainder of 2016. I have several options in front of me, and if things calm down a bit more, I might be playing one or more in the near future. So what’s being considered?

1. Project Gorgon

It’s not a question of whether or not to play Project Gorgon, it’s just a matter of when. I hate this whole early access nonsense, because you never really know when to leap on board, even when the games go into quasi-persistence. There’s three thoughts here: Just play it already and roll with the changes that are sure to come, wait for the Steam early access release that should come by the end of the year, or really hold out for the official launch in late 2017.

I have to weigh waiting for more features and less chance of partial wipes with the fact that it’s more-or-less persistent now and there’s already lots to do. My thinking is to hold out for the Steam release and then take it casual from there.

2. Master X Master

Not technically an MMO — yet people keep calling it more of an MMO than almost any MOBA that came before it. I took a look at some previews and really found myself warming up to its PvE side, various characters, and fun gameplay. I’ll definitely take a look when it releases, but how long I’ll stay is a huge question mark.

3. Neverwinter

Yeah, I might go back to Neverwinter. I always have a soft spot for Cryptic games, and Neverwinter is actually doing huge right now. Loads of players, lots of content added, several platforms — and the assurance that this is a game that has a long future ahead of it. Would like to try a new character and perhaps make it further than I did in the past.

4. AdventureQuest 3D

Currently this title is eyeing an October release, and while it’s most assuredly going to be very content light when that happens, I’ll be putting it on my phone as my go-to mobile MMO. I want a pocket MMORPG and this one, given enough time and care and affection, could blossom into one worth playing. The enthusiasm of its devs and community is downright infectious — and there is no cure.

5. Elder Scrolls Online

I picked up a very cheap copy of this a while back and it’s been sitting on my shelf like, “Play meeeee!” And I’ve been ignoring it because I’m a jerk to video games like that. It’s a case of a game that I really haven’t spent a lot of time in, has shored up its weaknesses with a lot of content, has a promising future, and could be a potential if I want to give it a go.

6. The Unknown Dark Horse Underdog

And then there’s always the possibility that moods and whims might lead me somewhere else entirely. Oh, at times I’ve looked at RuneScape, Trove, WildStar, Marvel Heroes, and even Guild Wars 2 as possible fall entries, but most of those might be best left alone… for now.

I have a separate list for 2017, although that’s much more in flux at the moment. Fingers crossed for a better year for new and upcoming MMOs!

Posted in Project Gorgon

The great Gorgon compromise

gorg1

After watching a few Project Gorgon videos last week, I couldn’t stand to not be playing this game. I’d been pretty good for a while there, steadfastly ignoring it while alpha development continued and the wait for the Steam release (whenever that’s supposed to be) drew near. I figure that the Steam release should represent the game at an… established point of development and a good place to start playing in earnest.

But you know how it is when you start hearing about something and then get to thinking about it a lot and then start obsessing about it. You find yourself devoid of all willpower and logging in anyway.

So that’s what happened this past weekend: I logged in and created a new Project Gorgon character. The compromise that I established with myself (ahaha) was that I would only explore the newbie island for now, which would accomplish two things:

  1. Giving me a taste of the game to satisfy without diving in fully
  2. Artificially pacing myself so that I genuinely explore the island without trying to rush through it

I feel like this is a good approach, at least for now. The starter island is brand-new to me, as the last time I was playing the beginner experience was confined to a notoriously ugly and somewhat confusing cave. This is… so much better, friends. So much better.

gorg2

It’s not all completely new, as the cave’s various mechanics have been spread out over the island. There’s still an Elf in need of cheering up, there’s still a boss that makes your head super-sized, and there is still the option to collect 10 or so starter skills. However, having it spread out over a fully-explorable (and strangely square) island offers players a lot more freedom and is much more in line with Project Gorgon’s vision of being an exploration-centered game. Besides, it doesn’t really matter where you start exploring, because sooner or later you’re going to need to comb the entire island to figure out how to get off.

I’m loving my little bite-sized Gorgon sessions. I log in, putter around in a particular area, take notes (particularly if there does end up being a wipe — I know he said not, but devs do change their minds in the pre-launch environment), fight, loot, and see what there is to see. My quest log is made up of my own objectives: I need ingredients to make a pick-me-up potion for the Elf, I need to raise favor with a beach girl, I want to level up my unarmed skill, I want to collect all of the crafting recipes that I can, and I need to kill that boss to get a small head again. Stuff like that.

The loot is surprisingly fun, too. I’ve gotten a few really great drops for armor, and my favorite trinket is this orb that floats around my head to provide extra light for dark environments. I can see that being helpful.

This past weekend the dev triggered one of the new “events” — in this case, a bonus health/first aid effectiveness buff for everyone. That was certainly helpful, as some of the mobs can take a player down quickly. I got tag-teamed by a wizard skeleton and a raptor at one point, panicked and died without putting up much of a fight at all. Good times. So happy to be back.