Quest for Glory III: Removing the disguise

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(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Still dithering around Tarna. Truth be told, feeling a little bored of this whole scene. Can we move the plot along here?

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I go back to the bazaar once the sun goes down and have a heart-to-heart with the thief. He’s truly in a bad way: Declared without honor, nobody will give him the time of day, employ him, allow him to shop, house him, or anything. He’s essentially broke and homeless and stuck in the city as long as the threat of war keeps the caravans away.

I give him some dried jerky. #makingadifference

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Speaking of dried jerky, meet Khatib here. He was the leader of the peace mission to the Leopardmen and is now the only survivor. His story, fragmented as it is, is pretty strange. He was attacked by something with claws that wanted his soul, but he was saved by Rakeesh’s daughter. He came to his senses covered in blood and wallowing in a river, where the locals called him a demon.

I’m just going to call it here (without any prior knowledge of this game’s storyline) and say that he was transformed into some sort of demonic beast that killed everyone. Bad guy by proxy right here.

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Hippy apothecary gives me a couple of dispel potions for “free,” even though I supplied all of the rare ingredients. He’s still pining after Julanar, which is totally healthy. I mean, what would you say about someone who is in “love” with a girl who (a) he’s never met, (b) only heard about in stories and dreams, and (c) is technically a tree?

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Because Quest for Glory is both an adventure game and an RPG, there are twice as many avenues for narrative advancement triggers. Sometimes you only need to have a certain item or talk to someone, but other times the game leans on its stats as thresholds for you to pass. So apparently my throwing skill needs to be a LOT higher before the story advances, and thus I spent a good half-hour doing nothing but throwing spears, retrieving spears, and sleeping off the exhaustion from doing this.

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It took so long, in fact, that when Uhura popped in from out of nowhere, I was so deep in a spear-throwing trance that I was actually startled. ARGH! Where’d you come from, warrior woman?

She challenged me to a contest, and while I thought I did well, the game gave her the win and she left. So… does that mean we’re not advancing the plot? Do I have to do this again? I JUST WANT TO GET PAST THIS PART OF THE GAME.

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Oh! I guess that did something, because now there’s a prisoner in the cage back there. Makes me wonder what the long-term thinking is with prisoners in this village, because that’s not a very well-protected cage.

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I threw one of my two precious bottles of dispel potion on the Leopardman and… lo and behold, it turned into a rather attractive lady posing for a swimsuit calendar. So the Leopardmen are just normal tribesmen with a transformer setting? Sure, why not.

I wait until nightfall to go talk to Uhura about chained heat there, and she says that now that the prisoner looks like an attractive girl, there’s no more talk of savagely beating her. Um… yay for progress? Now there’s just talk of who is going to marry her. So, no talk about letting her go or something? Just straight to marriage? OK then.

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For those who learn from video games, here’s how you get a wife according to Quest for Glory 3:

  1. Find a prisoner
  2. Throw a beaker of chemicals in her face
  3. Buy her like property
  4. Woo her
  5. Set her free and hope for the best

You can’t see me, but my eyebrows are so high right now.

Quest for Glory III: Tarnashed reputation

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(This is part of my journey going checking out Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Woo! Nothing like having a corrupt save file and being forced to backtrack over the past hour of play! Yay me! Yay for this game! (and it’s the second time this has happened with QFG3, so I’m starting to get more paranoid about my saves)

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At least I have all of these amusing sign posts to keep me entertained as I trek back to Tarna through four screens of jungle. Again.

After a good while and plenty of reloads, I make it back to Tarna, stumble into my bed, and hope that I don’t die from giant ant poison. With the dawning of a new day, I embark on perhaps my most important mission of all…

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Flirting with the waitress. WHAT. I am a single prince and I’m three games into this series without a single date so far. The centaur girl from the first game and the money changer from the second weren’t biting at royalty, so why not Cleopatra here? DO NOT JUDGE ME.

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Since I have the gem of the guardian, I’m finally able to turn in a quest to the tippy-top temple (as I call it). Apparently my soul is to be weighed against the Feather of Truth, and if you think that the devs were grasping at narrative straws here, you are absolutely right. Nothing conjures up the concept of truth like a feather, after all!

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I get conked out after drinking something in the temple and enter this weird screensaver trance. During this section, I’m repeatedly asked to pick symbols and then answer an ethical dilemma. I’m sincerely tempted to go with the jerk answers, but hey, I’m a paladin now, so I guess I have to make an effort.

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Surprisingly, “Stab them all and become a supervillain” isn’t on the list of answers. I’m curious why.

Ultimately, the feather finds me worthy (of… something) and I wake back up in my room in the inn, wondering if they drew on my face with magic marker and took embarrassing pictures while I was unconscious.

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Back at the apothecary, the hippie is still obsessed with the tree-woman from Quest for Glory 2. Dude, if you love her so much, why don’t you buy that game? It’s pretty cheap these days, I got all five in a bundle.

I trade in a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve been collecting from my travels in exchange for some healing potions and the promise of a dispel potion… later. Yeah, this guy just screams “fly by night operator.”

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Out in the bazaar, the disgraced thief from Act One accosts me and asks me to meet him at night. You see, boys and girls, when a shady convicted criminal asks you to meet up in the dead of the night, you should always say yes and never, ever tell anyone where you are going or who you are seeing. That’s just common sense.

Also, now I have “Call Me” stuck in my head after that greeting. Thanks thiefie.

Syp’s four-point organizational system

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As fall gets rolling here, I’m finally feeling as if my new(ish) organization system is starting to click into place. It’s been a process trying to figure out how to best balance all of my goals, daily activities, kids’ schedules, projects, and whatnot, and after some experimentation and refinement, I’ve come upon a system that works pretty well for me.

I call it Syp’s Four-Point system, because I use four elements to help structure my day.

Point One: Routine

Routine isn’t actually bad — If every day was completely different, my life would be chaos and I’d spend most of my time trying to adjust to whatever was happening. Instead, I rely on a personal routine from wake up to bedtime that takes care of most mundane or repeatable tasks. Exercise, writing, going here, going there, family time, play time, most of what I do outside of work is handled by the capital-R Routine.

Sure, some days veer off from that, and that’s OK, but this keeps me on track.

Point Two: Evernote

As I mentioned before, I use Evernote’s synced notepad between computers and my phone to track dates. Basically, anything further out than a week gets put into here, including important dates, reminders to do something on particular dates, tasks that repeat on a monthly or biweekly schedule, reminders to get my wife flowers/notes, notes about interesting things happening on a date, and so on. Sometimes this contains to-do items, particularly when they’re important. I check this when I first wake up to make sure I’m not forgetting something about the day and then update it as need be.

Right now, my Evernote calendar stretches through next June, to give you an idea of how far out I’ve been scheduling dates.

Point Three: My work task list

So I’ve always had a list of to-do items at work next to my computer, but it never seemed to go well. It was just a big lump of chores and I’d procrastinate on about half of them, kicking the can to the next week.

It’s a small change, but now at the start of my church week (Sunday), I make a list of every day through Friday and then assign tasks to specific days. This way I can spread out the harder or more time-consuming tasks and remind myself to make progress on some work projects. It’s kind of like my quest log, in MMO parlance, and it’s been working so very well for me thus far. I’ve stopped making excuses about tasks and gotten invested in wiping clean a slate for that day before I leave.

Point Four: Phone reminders

My phone helps me when it comes to sending myself reminders on the spot (“set a reminder for 6:30 p.m., put screwdriver kit in the car”) and in setting recurring alarms so that I don’t forget to pick up the kids from school (we have kids in two schools right now, each on different schedules). I know it sounds silly, but this helps a lot when I’m talking to someone and they ask me to do something, and I can just take my phone out and set a reminder right then and there so I don’t forget later on.

This all may sound cumbersome or overly complex, but it actually isn’t. I’ve been kicking butt and getting stuff done over the past two months because of it, and I enjoy not feeling like I’m forgetting something, or falling behind, or scrambling at the last minute. Just wanted to share it with you.

And if you’re looking for other ideas for personal organization, Liore has a few words she’d like to say about bullet journaling (I tried it and it was too time-consuming for me, but it could be great for you!).

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!

Screenshots from Legion

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As expected with any new game or expansion, my screenshot folder is filling up with random snaps of my adventures around World of Warcraft: Legion. So let’s purge them into a blog post (that’s how purging works, right?), starting with this pic of my Death Knight chilling in Highmountain before a boss mob spawns on top of my head.

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I don’t know if these are a new design, but I love the look of these deep undersea-style murlocs. Again, I would totally play a murloc character if given the chance. MAKE THAT HAPPEN BLIZZARD.

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Highmountain was a fun zone, reminded me a lot visually of summer camp (a Native American-slash-cow themed one, at least). I thought this was a cool shot looking down the hill at the center lodge.

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Me on the right, getting to play one exciting mission as a murloc… before the game cruelly took that away from me. MRGGHHBBBLLEE!

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This big bad villain does not approve of any life choices that you have made to date.

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There’s a wee bit of a height difference between Highmountain and its neighboring zone. I got a smidge of vertigo looking down at all of this. And yes, of course I jumped off, because why not? Wish I had a glider, that would have been epic.

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Taking a rope bridge up to the highest peak in the zone. I just liked the perspective on this one and the blowing snow across the summit.

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Moved on to Val’Sharah last night. Very lush and lots of great opportunities for picture-taking. Here’s me peeking out from inside a cave.

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Lonely elf, all alone. Nobody likes you, elf! Nobody will eat with you! Because you’re an elf!

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I love how blasé everyone is in this world about the transportation system. I’m riding a druid who turned himself into a stag, passing by a player riding a T. Rex. Totally normal.

unicorn

Oooh, the majestic unicorns. How graceful… they will look, stuffed and mounted in my undead lair.

cub

I am not a total monster, of course. I came upon this bear cub sitting in the remains of its slaughtered family and saved it. It’s now my best friend. I call him Elf-Eater.

RIFT: Trivial pursuits

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Believe it or not, right now my MMO gaming time has pretty much been whittled down to just two titles, which may be an all-year low for me. It’s about 70% Legion and 30% RIFT these days, with Star Trek Online, SWTOR, and even The Secret World heading to the backburner (although release a new issue for the last one and I’ll be all over it). I am considering some other titles for replacements, but… why rush? I have one expansion to prep for and one to explore.

Today, let’s talk RIFT then.

When last we spoke, I was having some frustrating issues with trying to head into Planetouched Wilds. Namely, I was dying left and right, couldn’t figure out a build, couldn’t get my gear good enough, etc. A little whining in a blog post and a mention on twitter and…

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One of the things I’ve always loved about RIFT is that it’s one of the most engaging teams on social media. Not many MMOs at all respond to my blog posts, but RIFT often does, and in this case, the devs handed out some helpful advice.

I obviously didn’t realize that Planetouched Wilds was Ember Isle 2.0, so yeah, I’m not ready for it. And that’s a shame, as I would like to get back to traditional questing here at some point. But for now, it’s all about gearing up, and since my stats are too low for Nightmare Tide experts (sigh), I’m resigned to queuing up for normal dungeons while moonlighting in Intrepid Adventures. I did get one solid upgrade so far, but it’s been slow going.

I mean, if they released Starfall Prophecy today? I wouldn’t be complaining too much.

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I did have a great night last night with my new guild. Apparently every Wednesday evening they get together for a trivia night, which I found to be half game and half let’s-all-post-silly-replies. Perfect for me! I tied for second place and won some money and a new vanity pet, but the real prize was the growing friendships.

No, just kidding, it was all about the pet.

I also ran a new dungeon (for me), Citadel of Insanity. We kind of blitzed through it, so I didn’t get a lot of screenshots, but I loved the scenery and the voice work. RIFT’s boss conversations always amuse me for some reason. And I find healing to be rather soothing as gameplay — at least until everything starts falling apart and I panic and hit every key at once. I imagine my character exploding like a water balloon full of heal juice when this happens.

World of Warcraft: An alt vacation

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Disapproving eagle disapproves of my life’s choices to date.

So the nice thing about having a raft of alts on your character select screen is that when you feel a little too much in a rut with your main character or you simply need a small break, you can take what I call an alt vacation. For me, alt vacations are when I blow off my normal plans for working on Big Projects and Serious Goals with my main and simply spend an evening exploring a different playstyle and class.

Sometimes I just need to experience and affirm that these other alts aren’t better or more compelling (personally) than what I’m playing as a main, because I’m always wracked with self-doubt over a main selection. And often I come out of my little alt vacations more charged than ever to play my main — perhaps with a few changes.

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Over the past week, I took a night here and there to experience the intro quests for my Hunter and Warlock in Legion. Nothing super-fancy or involved; I simply wanted to get their artifact weapon and see their halls.

Both intro quest lines were actually pretty great. The Hunter involved tomb raiding, some Gnomish invention antics, and a showdown at what looked like Zeus’ throne room. That all culminated with being sworn in to the super-secret Hunter society in the Broken Isles — so secret, in fact, that nobody had heard of it before now, which totally isn’t because the devs made it up for this expansion.

The Warlock’s story was more cohesive and actually pretty epic, sending me and a party into a demonic dimension and having to perform a jailbreak and then a full-on revolution. I totally love the idea of getting a talking skull as a companion (Morte from Planescape Torment, anyone?), although I highly doubt it’s going to say much over the course of the expansion past this intro.

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Both alts had something that interested me and let me down, as I discovered during these vacations.

The Hunter was really disappointing in the combat department. I was hoping that the expansion would make Beast Mastery somehow more interesting, but nope, it’s a whole lot of waiting for cooldowns and unsatisfying attacks. To make matters worse, the second pet you get (Hati) constantly has this annoying, scratching static sound going on — and there’s no easy way to disable it. Who thought this was a good idea? Who?

On the plus side, the Hunter’s lodge is extremely cozy and fits the class like a glove, and I liked seeing my pets again and blasting things with a rifle.

It was almost the opposite experience with the Warlock. The combat as a Demo is actually pretty fantastic. Even though it’s a lot of casting time and whatnot, it’s pretty enjoyable to ramp up a whole crowd of pets that pile on bad guys. Plus, floating skull.

It’s just a shame that the class hall is so incredibly off-putting — and poorly designed, to boot. It’s not a place that I want to spend one more second than necessary, let’s just leave it at that.

At the end of all of these, I was definitely affirmed that I’m getting more out of an Unholy DK than what I would get elsewhere, and so I shall forge on! I just hit 108 and finished the main Highmountain questlines, although the map shows some more hubs to go. I am trying to once again level up Engineering on her (and cursing myself for getting rid of a 700 Engineering skill in WoD for Herbalism — what was *I* thinking?), because I do want some of these little perks that come with the trinkets and toys. I also want to see the quests in Legion for them, and I figure I’ll have enough time and resources to pursue it in the future.

If I ever do invest more into an alt, I think my Druid could be a strong prospect. But I am pretty content with what I’m doing right now. After all, one must come home at the end of any vacation and resume normal life, right?