New Story Based Blog

Posted May 24, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Let's Play, manifest tale

Tags: , ,

I’ve started up a new mini-blog. It’s basically the a continuation of the “Let’s Play” ideas where I take a character in an MMO, and give him a story. You get to follow along with text and pictures. Anyway, give it a look through if you’re bored.

http://manifesttale.wordpress.com/

I REALLY Want To Like Vanguard

Posted May 23, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Ranting, Review, Vanguard

Tags: , , , , , ,

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Flying around the Isle of Dawn on a pegasus. Good times.

Due to the recent problems with SOE they gave me a free 45 days of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Before this I had only ever played the demo, and never gave it a serious try. Well, after just over a week of gameplay I think I’m done with the game. Is it because it’s a bad game? Nope. So what’s the problem? Well, first why don’t we cover the reasons why I want to love Vanguard.

-Things I Love About Vanguard-

Three Spheres: Character progression in Vanguard is split into three spheres. Adventuring includes your usual questing/killing mobs. Crafting is just what it sounds like, and Diplomacy is a collectable card game. Each of these spheres levels independently, and theoretically you could get to the level cap in Diplomacy without ever attacking a mob. You’ll get quests for all three spheres, depending on your level, and each sphere can be a lot of fun.

Leveling Speed: The leveling in Vanguard is MUCH slower than something like WoW, and I play MMOs to level. Once I get to end game I get bored quickly and start a new alt, so making the initial leveling take longer is something I can really get behind. When you consider the fact that each character has three spheres to get to level cap, this increases the leveling time exponentially, and really sends you out to explore the world.

Interesting Classes: Oftentimes MMOs have only a handful of classes, and they usually are pretty standard fair. A warrior, paladin, some kind of rogue, a non-magic ranged dps and a mage and priest. Vanguard has some truly unique and interesting classes, like the Psionicist.

Crafting is Amazing: Seriously, I used to think Everquest II had the best crafting in the MMO space, but I’ve changed my mind after delving into it on Vanguard. Not only can you level crafting completely independent of adventuring, including gear that looks cool and has stats effecting crafting, but each time you craft anything you gain skill. Once you’ve gained enough skill new abilities become available to use, if you have the right tools that is.

The Isle of Dawn Story: I can’t speak for the entirety of the outside world, but the story inside the Isle of Dawn was interesting, much more so than any MMO story I’ve run into yet. It had surprise twists that changed how things were playing out, especially if you read the information you get from the Diplomacy quests and Diplomacy itself.

Size of the World: The outside world, once you leave the Isle of Dawn, is vast. I mean, seriously you aren’t going to get across it anytime soon. It’s so big you’re given a mount right away in order to allow you to get from place to place in a good amount of time.

Different Places Are Different: What the heck does that mean? Simply that when you go to a new country in this game it really is a different country. You’ll have to learn entirely different crafting styles appropriate to the region you are in.

Defensive Target: I’ve loved this in every game I’ve ever seen it in. There is something amazing about being able to target an enemy while also keeping a friendly targeted for heals, hots, buffs etc. There’s no excuse not to have it in this day and age, and Vanguard has it.

Multiple ‘Energy’ Bars: Each class I tried had two energy bars, mana and stamina. When I use a melee ability it drains stamina, but if I cast it drains mana. It makes a lot of sense, but I haven’t seen it in many other games. Usually you get one type of energy, often mana, and that’s used for all of your abilities.

-What I Dislike About Vanguard-

Graphics: First off I know some people like this style of graphics, but I find anything with the ‘SOE style’ atrocious and just ugly as sin. The character models are a mix between EQ and EQII, both of which have some terrible character models, and that makes Vanguards characters truly awful to behold. From their massive shoulders to the odd stance they are always in, from the textures to the animations the characters in Vanguard are FUGLY. The landscape isn’t much better. It’s well designed to be sure, but the art department apparently couldn’t afford anything but fired SOE terribad artists. The worst part about the graphics is what I like to call “PS2” lighting. Many SOE games, including EQ, EQII and Vanguard, have what I like to think of as early PS2 lighting. It’s flat and does nothing to warm the world. It leaves everything 2 dimensional and boring, and I hope it doesn’t invade “EQ Next”.

Diplomacy is Frustrating: I’m OK with failing sometimes. I don’t like to, but it makes the winning so much sweeter. My ideal form of diplomacy in Vanguard would be designing a deck out of hundreds of cards and having it used in ALL diplomacy missions, with maybe a backup deck or two for those few types of battles my deck just can’t handle. Instead you are given a handful of cards, and every parley starts the same: Click diplomacy option, start match, get smoked while observing what types of cards they use and what their Bullshit cards take to fuel, then building a deck around that, then failing and refining until you win, then doing the same for the next parley. Imagine having to spend twenty minutes, and several deaths, for every mob you fought in a game. It’s horrible, and it’s designed horribly. A good idea that just wasn’t implemented well.

It’s Dying: I know people throw that around a lot in the world of MMOs, but Vanguard really is. According to the official website, the last update was over a year ago, and that was a hotfix. They simply aren’t developing ANYTHING new for the game, and while that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the content already there, it does make it feel like my achievements are less permanent.

The Combat Feels…Off: I can’t really explain this one too well. The basic idea is that it feels floaty. I’ll kill mobs, only to have them finish whatever animation they were doing, even a long casting animation, before falling to the ground. You press the button for attacks and it doesn’t feel responsive, and sometimes the graphic shows your cooldown as over, but the button won’t press for another few seconds.  The running and jumping feels just as floaty, but it’s the odd lag in the combat that gets me most. It reminds me of the same laggy feeling LOTRO first had with it’s combat, which has since been improved, if not fixed completely. At least in EverQuest II the combat feels gratifying and forceful, especially when you complete a combo and get a big animation for your spell. Vanguard just falls flat in this area.

-What Does This Mean?-

Well the three biggest parts of the game, Adventuring, Crafting and Diplomacy, are great ideas. I just don’t happen to like the implementation of two of them. I really enjoy the crafting, but that’s simply not enough to keep me involved, especially without an Ultima Online style economy. I wanted to enjoy Vanguard and play it till end game, but I couldn’t last more than a week. Sure, it might pick up, but the core of the experience isn’t going to change anytime soon, and I’m not going to keep playing a game I’m just not really enjoying in the hopes that it will magically become enjoyable for me.

I won’t get rid of the game from my hardrive, at least for the rest of the 45 days I got free, and I may give it another go as I try to get farther in the game, but I simply doubt it. I’ve got other games to play, and other MMOs to play if that’s what I feel like. For instance, I’m currently re-downloading EQII for my free 45 days of that game. Let me know what you think/thought of the game in the comments.

See you all around.

WoW Premium Content Dungeon Finder

Posted May 19, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Ranting, World of Warcraft

Tags: , , , ,

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Mike Morhaime in the Blizzard offices.

This will be a relatively quick post. I just wanted to address the idea that Blizzard put out on their official forums, this premium content dungeon finder. In case you haven’t heard you would get the ability to invite Real ID friends to party with you, even if they are on another server. That way you and your friends can all go dungeon running together.

That’s a great idea, and something the forums have apparently been clamoring for. What’s the problem? Well it’s going to be premium. That means you will need to pay extra for the ability every month. You might think “well, $2 a month isn’t bad for something this great!” and you’d be sort of right. The problem is that Blizzard hasn’t announced the price yet and if they are willing to sell a sparkle pony for more than a monthly subscription fee, well you might be seeing an extra $10 charge a month if you want to play with your friends.

Still don’t think it’s THAT bad? Well, maybe you’re right, everyone needs to make money. I certainly don’t begrudge any company doing what it has to do to stay in business. So why don’t I like it? If Blizzard came out and said “Look guys, I know you think that we make a ton of money with this game, but in truth look at all these bills associated with running the game, and in the end we’re barely holding on, so we need something to make some extra money.” If that happened I’d be the first person to resub to WoW and pay the extra, just to help out a company that has given me countless hours of enjoyment over the last 10 years.

That however is not what is happening. What is happening is Activision-Blizzard making more money than any ten people could count in a month. WoW alone makes them enough money to probably give their entire staff a million dollar bonus every year and still be rolling in it. So what’s going on? Well they know you’ll pay for it, and greed has always run capitalism. They’re making trillions, and they’d like to make trillions plus $10, just to add to that profit margin, and that’s disgusting and greedy.

I know some people will defend it by saying that it’s just how businesses are, and that every business wants to make as much money as possible. To them I have one thing to say: WHY IS THAT AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER? I don’t want to live in a world where my life and the lives of my children are meaningless to our faceless corporate masters, and neither should you. Now is Blizzard going to create a dystopia? No. But is it ok to just accept outright greed and the obvious hatred big corporations have for their customers just because “that’s how it is”? No. I for one am glad I have unsubscribed from WoW, and I don’t think I’ll ever be going back.

See you all in whatever game I happen to be playing at the time! (As of this writing I am currently enjoying the MMOs: Vanguard, Rift and Champions Online).

Assassin’s Creed:Brotherhood Review

Posted April 25, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Assassin's Creed, Review

Tags: , , , , ,

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Talk to the hands gentlemen.

I’ve been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series since  I heard that the first game would be set in the ancient middle east. Once I got the game and experienced the setting for the first time I was hooked, and not on the ancient setting. The story of Desmond Miles is much more interesting to me than either Altair or Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, and I had decided that while I liked the AC series, I was probably going to skip Brotherhood due to it’s multiplayer heavy nature and what I assumed would be a lackluster story of Ezio just tacked on.

Boy was I wrong. Brotherhood is just as much a standalone game as Assassin’s Creed II is, even more in some cases. The truth is that they should have called the game Assassin’s Creed III. Sure, it’s still Ezio and the overarching Desmond plot isn’t moved forward as much as I had hoped, but the story was enjoyable and more importantly Brotherhood showed me that they weren’t going to keep the series stale gameplay wise.

While the controls are mostly unchanged from II there are some minor changes, a few major ones, and some multiplayer specific cntrols that I am hoping they port over to the single player campaign. Specifically the targeting control. In the multiplayer you can press the middle mouse button and move your cursor to your target,. When you let go the target will be locked. In the single player game you have to face a target, hope it guesses the right one, then press the lock button. It will then decide to lock on to other enemies for no apparent reason, especially if you are trying to shoot someone with the gun for a 100% sync.

The single most important change between II and Brotherhood is the fact that you are put in charge of recruiting and ‘training’ new assassins. This takes the form of rescuing potential recruits from the Borgia’s men, then inviting them into the Assassin’s Guild. After that you can call them in at any time to help kill your targets, or use them to distract enemies while you get away. Keep an eye on them though as they can be killed. Your other option for getting your recruits more XP is to send them on missions in other cities around Europe. This is mostly a fire and forget scenario but it really drew me in, from the stories to the personalization of each recruit. I had a special recruit who had been with me much longer than the others, so I gave him a nice dye job for his robes.

Eventually your recruits, if you spend enough time on them, will graduate to full on Assassins. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them anymore, in fact they become killing machines that will help you whenever you need them. This is especially helpful when you get in over your head and are surrounded by dozens of guards. There is nothing more satisfying than looking out over a wave of Borgia men, pressing a simple button three times and seeing five badass Assassins come flying down from the rooftops to help eliminate your foes.

The graphics are starting to show their age, though I still couldn’t run it at full settings due to my new interim graphics card being crap. Still, even when I turned the settings to full they weren’t the best, even of console ports. It’s still a pretty game, just not breathtaking like the first Assassin’s Creed was. The sound is still good, just nothing amazing. You won’t be immersed in the setting like you would with a game like Bioshock, but the sound effects and music are still enjoyable enough.

The multiplayer is, next to the Assassin recruits, the breakout of the series. I wish there were more people playing it, as it’s sometimes hard to find a game on the PC, but the gameplay is much more interesting and unique than any other multiplayer I have ever experienced. There is NOTHING like the feeling of being hunted by half the people in the match, and knowing they are closing in, all the while you are trying to find that one person you are hunting. You can slip into a group of NPCs that look like your character, walk around a bit and when one of your hunters tackles the man next to you, you can punch him in the back of the head and knock him out, giving you time to slip away into the crowded streets.

Your kill to death ratio probably won’t be as high in Brotherhood as it would be in say, Black Ops, but it’s more about HOW you kill your target. You’ll get a measly 100 points if you sprint after your target through the crowded streets, but if you manage to blend into a crowd and wait patiently for your target to walk past and stab him without breaking cover you’ll get 500 points, but you need to pay attention to the time left, as well as the people hunting you.

It’s a constant give and take, choosing when to go for your kills, and knowing when your target is going to get away. It also feels amazing once you’ve leveled up enough to get the pistol. Then you can know your target is going to get away and drop all pretense. You can then take them out at range as a last “F You” before they escape over the rooftops.

All in all I think that Brotherhood is by far the best of the series. I hope they include the recruits and multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed III, but even if they don’t all they have to do is continue where Desmond leaves off at the last moments of Brotherhood for me to buy it as soon as it comes to PC.

http://raptr.com/badges/playing/amuntoth

Still Rifting

Posted April 18, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Rift

Tags: , , , ,

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Amun looks ready for war at level 26

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated. I could tell you that it’s been a busy time, which it has, but that’s not really the reason. I just haven’t had much to say recently, at least not important enough that I really wanted to get it out there. Truth is, I still don’t, I just felt like I wanted to make a post and here we are.

I’m still playing Rift, though not nearly as much as I’d like to due to my schedule. Me and the wife are level 33 now and it still feels like the levels are coming extremely quickly whenever we find the time to play. We would probably have been level 50 by now, but my account was hacked a while ago and it took a couple of weeks to get my gear back.

I haven’t messed too much with alts, though the little I have tells me that I’m going to need to concentrate on one char until I get them to the level cap before starting a new one, since the single starting zone per faction really limits replay value. So far I’m still really enjoying the game, aside from the terrible 10 level PVP brackets. I love when a zone suddenly goes into mass invasion mode and me and the wife can ride around slaughtering everything in sight while gaining some serious XP.

The biggest snafoo recently with Rift was the terrible way they handled their first world event. You may have noticed that it’s over. That’s right, the second and third phases lasted about an hour, while the first phase lasted weeks. It would have been nice if I’d have known about that, but it wouldn’t have mattered. You see, Trion Worlds decided to have this weekend be a free to play weekend, and apparently when subscribers tried to log on to see the last two phases of the world event they were greeted with que’s. This means that very few paying customers say any part of the second and third phases, which presumably were a lot cooler than phase one.

Other than that Rift has done amazingly well for me. It hasn’t drawn me in like WoW did, or UO before it, but I think that’s simply because at this point in my life I don’t have 8 hours a day to play.  Still, I have no interest in going back to WoW at this point in time, or even in playing another MMO. Of course I’ll try Guild Wars 2 when it comes out, and The Old Republic, but as of right now I’m pretty content in my MMO game of choice.

I’ve also been playing a lot of single player games, and you’ll hear about them soon. Whenever I get off my butt and write some more that is.

Rift…Set…Go!

Posted February 26, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: MMO, PC, Ranting, Rift

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Amun is my tanking Warrior on the PvE Deepwood server.

As anyone who is even remotely interested in this blog already knows, Rift launched on the 24th and I’ve spent every moment of my free time playing. In fact, the only reason you’re getting a post is because they’ve brought the shards down again to do some quick fixes. I love that Trion is willing to fix things quickly.

Both me and the wife are sitting at level 17. She’s a healing Cleric, human style, while I am a tanking Warrior of the Dwarven persuasion. We’re having a blast, and it’s a great combo for any MMO. If we run into a Rift, a Greater Rift, or an Invasion we have no problems. I throw down some initial AOE aggro moves, then settle into alt smacking everything around me while she heals. He constantly add people as well, so if you are on the Deepwood server we’ve probably already grouped together once.

I haven’t had a chance to do any dungeons yet. They start at 17, so we are waiting until 18 to go, in order to give ourselves some leeway. I did try the Warfronts, and just as I feared being level 10, you are utterly useless. I chased this level 19 Cleric around the map, he never even healed, just let me whack and miss the entire match. So we haven’t gone back, but being level 17 we’re ready to take the plunge. I just really wish Trion has taken a que from WoW and made the PVP brackets 5 levels instead of 10. That is the best change to WoW PVP I’ve seen since the game launched, and I had hoped Rift would follow suit.

I did however have a pretty epic moment. Due to the massive amount of people in the 10-20 zone there are tons of invasions and rifts going off all the time. This WILL clear up as you level higher and the population thins out, which is good because at the moment it’s almost TOO much. Almost. Anyway, we were participating in one of the zone wide mass invasions, and we never get to help take out the final boss. He’s always too far away for us to get it. This time he spawned nearly on my head. He was a level 20 elite raid style boss, and I was only level 16. I managed to tank him for the entire 15 minute fight, only loosing aggro a dozen or so times throughout. I managed to get it back, and even got a couple of people in zone chat telling me I did a great job tanking, which felt pretty damn good.

One thing I’m furious with though is the racial abilities. Every race gets some kind of movement increase, such as the group aoe sprint humans get, or the 15 second cooldown short duration FLIGHT that the High Elves get. What did Dwarves get? I can fall a bit farther than everyone else. Gee, that’d be fair if the entire game was played on a cliffside. Jumping off a slightly taller cliff and almost dying is only slightly better than doing it and dying, and it’s far behind an AOE sprint or a quick cooldown flight option.

The other race that got screwed, but to a lesser extent, is the Kelari. They basically get to turn into ghost foxes. This doesn’t increase movement speed, which sucks, but it does allow them to walk almost on top of aggroable mobs and not have them aggro. This does increase the speed with which you arrive at your destination by allowing you to bypass a ton of fights, but it’s still only slightly better than nothing.

All in all, I’m having a friggin blast playing, and I can’t wait to get another level and get some dungeons under my belt. I did manage to get my Mining to 75, and my Armorsmithing to 75 as well before logging off. My Runecrafting is only at 51, so that’s not that good, but it’s not too bad.

Deepwood–Rift Server

Posted February 24, 2011 by Amuntoth
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve officially chosen the server Deepwood, a PVE server. Since all of the servers are FULL, and the wait for Wolfsbane is six hours, and the fact that even if I wait and finally get in I probably won’t be able to quest for several days due to so many people, I just went with Deepwood, a server that will probably have a medium pop when the big rush is over with.

I’ll post my character name when the que finally ends.