Monthly Archives: September 2010

Lamenting Llamania

I’ve tried out Llamania lately; TR’d my Ranger to a Half-Orc, changed one of my favored souls spells to a level 8 summon to check out the new summons and just ran around trying out both Half Orc champion and half elf to get an idea of what the new stuff is.

I noted some changes to quests (cosmetic) and also new effect sounds to things like arrows. Better resolution on the sound with bow and crossbow and also when arrows ‘almost’ hits – it have this buzzing sound to it. Kind of more like bullets buzzing by (if you watch enough war movies) but it’s nice indeed. When fighting Orthons I noticed that their repeater had a much more pronounced metallic sound when  firing and even your own repeater.

Very nice.

I tell you what tho – the greater air ellie summon is pretty much bad @ss – it will smack the siege golems in Amrath on their butt. It’s way more efficient than the Orthon that you can summon. The Orthon went toe to toe with a bearded devil in Amrath and it couldn’t even hurt it, while taking massive amount of damage itself. I’m sure it’ll be helpful for someone who specialize in summoning and can buff it perfectly but it’s not half as good as the air ellie. Although the air ellie won’t really do that much damage it’s supreme at disrupting mobs. It’ll be interesting to see how useful these summons are in Epic.

Same ‘ol samo

Ran a severely undermanned SoS the other day; as a healer that can be quite expensive but I never had that feeling of dread over it. One DPS couldn’t get in for some reason so we we’re down to 5. Somewhere before the fire guardian (as we we’re running around in stinking clouds over by the cold guardian) one DPS had to leave. Some domestic trouble. So we ended up hauling his 2-axed ghost around. I had to eat a cake when a fire elemental turned me into a human torch but other than that we managed to struggle all the way to the end.

I ended up drinking 2 pots (I think) and mostly because with the general lack of DPS it took a great while to grind down the end boss – but that was not nearly as bad as when I drank 10 or more pots the very first time I did this quest. In the end I got earth grab and I now have 2 earth grab guards; one on my GS cloak and one on my armor.

It’s not all bad – I started toying around with a new kind of tactic which involves the dreamspitter, earth grab and energy drain. With a greater chance to proc earth grab (it doesn’t double the chance but give me twice as many chances that it’ll proc) my tactics involves grabbing baddie and hitting it with dreamspitter as grabs are auto crits. And every crit will hit the baddie with a 1-3 levels of drain. It’s a cheap way of draining enough levels to use destruction. I generally start of the rare ‘hunt’ in Amarath by hitting the baddie with a energy drain – normally not enough to use destruction, then go in close and dirty swinging the dreamspitter around. There’s 2 reasons for this; one is to coax the baddie into being hit by a crit and energy drain (on a 20 so very unlikely) and to proc my earth grab guard and get grabbed. After that for about 6 or so seconds every hit will be an automatic energy drain. And after enough hits destruction will work like a charm.

There are of course bosses that don’t give a hoot; take the red named bosses in Amrath. Like the troll, one of the colonel devils, beastmaster and some other devil dude. In those cases it’s more kite through BB’s or slog it out. But it works for a majority of other baddies and it’s quite effective.

I’m also thinking about going over to a vestment with my FvS – I have no way of putting together a meaningful amount of AC so I really don’t see a reason why I should drag around a medium armor since it lowers the effectiveness of me using UMD and some arcane spells such as invisibility scrolls. Plus it would allow me to start fresh with the DT lottery.

For some reason I decided to exchange my crit feat towards heavy repeating crossbow. I use my mineral II rapier for most part so there’s no real reason to have improved crit on it. I went away from dual wielding when they changed TWF. I’m still giving repeaters some thought since it’s a good way for a healer to be useful – only problem being that there’s difficulty in finding REALLY good repeaters. You find a plethora of decent bows. But above 10 the amount of useful repeaters drops off greatly. I’m hoping for something with a lot of decent stat damages or even slowburst – I might even consider making a heavy GS repeater if I ever get enough scales to get my ranger everything he needs. I’ll keep on toying with the idea and perhaps I just do a tier 1 and 2 for now and have something better then the basics. A earth grab guard repeater – now that’s something.

Another run through middle-earth

I didn’t want to give the impression that my 30 minutes introduction to LOTRO somehow summarized my feeling about the game so I leveled all the way through 9 with it including finishing the intro quest line and a bunch other stuff to give it a chance.

And I can say that the crafting system including the large open world is quite different from DDO, much ringer, more involved and the reason why you really need a mount. With things like finding recipes to create armor, weapons and even ‘food’ it’s clear that unlike DDO LOTRO isn’t just about dungeon running. In fact in a way LOTRO have lore and pretty much what all other games have, which is a kill x number, fetch x number kind of quests.

But the initial feeling about the rest pretty much remains the same. There are ‘monsters’ everywhere and they respawn into the same position quite frequently. Combat is quite disjointed. It’s clicking more than interacting. You can’t move and shoot special weapons (I understand that) and it’s more like click this to attack with ranged, then as they get closer click this to attack with melee. Move an inch, attack next monster since I have to kill X of this and X of that to finish quest.

It would be wrong to compare this to DDO in any sense, considering how fluid combat feels in DDO. The critters sense you (or you can sneak up if you like). You shoot while running backwards, attack, stun, trip, mighty blow etc with much more interaction. Critters try to swarm you or sweep you. Mini bosses stun smack you, trip you, snare you or whatever. The whole combat always feels in motion. Not a ‘I want to use this ability, then this, then this, oh hmm, heal myself. Now this.

LOTRO is for people who want a rich system outside combat. It’s for people who enjoy lore, fellowship, cooking, crafting and all that. People who do other things outside walking into danger and coming out heroes.
Not that there are no heroes in LOTRO, but being able to bolster my hero to level 9 without really a sense of accomplishment or even an idea what I really got from each level, makes me feel like I can do something, but nothing especially.

So what do I really like? Lots of armor choices. And with it different looks. Shoulder pads, pants, jackets and mantles (cloaks) that you can see. Buy something that is for show like my hooded cloak instead of the better I get my abilities from. Equipped weapons that show, instead of just in your hands. Bards that play actual music. I watched a minstrel or something playing a ‘bardified’ song I’ve heard on the radio before. It was kind of cool. All of those things could be implemented. Clearly with the different armor it’s a little harder since DDO’s AC system doesn’t really allow for separate pieces of armor in the same sense, but it would be nice to implement a similar system to LOTRO. Where you have 3 tabs – 2 tabs are alternative costumes that add nothing but look. The regular one is the stuff you get your stats from. So you could have alternative looking shoulder pads without actually ‘doing’ something to the overall AC. But it would allow for different looks. Want different pants or a cooler looking cloak instead of bland looking green steel? Want a cloak with your guild symbol on it? Why not?

DDO isn’t LOTRO and shouldn’t be, but I appreciate what it does differently and can see a definite value by adding a little more depth to the overall ‘dressing’ up. That way people can distinct themselves.

I dunno

That’s what I can say about a lot of things. I do have opinions, just like a lot of others have opinions, but I will be quick to admit when I don’t know. My wife don’t understand the difference…when I say it at least. When I say I don’t know I really mean it. Not like – I can’t do it, nor won’t do it, but I don’t know. Because I’m not one to speculate about stuff I can’t even wrap my head around. Sure I can guess; I do that about a lot of things. But that’s stuff I can almost understand.

But I dunno. I downloaded LOTRO, a 10 gig HUGE file. And played it through the intro quest. And I dunno. Maybe I’m not giving it enough time – but having played a interactive game like DDO – where you can run backwards shooting and such – the whole right click to attack and left click just feels awkward. It’s like Not very interactive the way I’m used to it. It feels more like walk up, click buttons, click effect, move on. I almost got my @ss kicked by some fly swarm or something. Felt a little silly. I mean – who am I to try to kill a swarm of insects with a dagger, let alone shoot it with a bow. Bow feels to slow and not that ‘bowish’. So I dunno – I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try it. It’s free. Go ahead. But DDO felt so natural and cool the first time I played it. So automatically naturally cool. Level 1 – in the grotto. Kicking fish people in the guts.

We’ll see – but I have a feeling that I’m not going VIP anytime soon with LOTRO.

Bastion with a vengeance

I don’t like Amrath quests sometimes; it’s either a quick romp through corridors, ambushed by leagues of devil hordes or it’s a corridor by corridor slog until death – lost, backtracking ‘what now?’ kind of thing.

It’s easy to persevere when you’re a fighter. You either live or die – it’s harder as a healer. You have to heal and when the waters runs dry – you suck pots.

This time I played my ranger. It’s something to say about the diversity of multi-arrow and tempest 2 weapon fighting. I just wish I had a straight earth and mineral II Khopesh already to make life easier. And while I’m at it – lightning II bow. And that’s why I run Amrath quests – for the remote chance of large (read scales) mats. So I can get the party started. Ironically – so when I run these quests again it’s even easier. Yeah – it’s that strange.

In the end I blew 30-40 serious pots – died a few times and multi-arrowed two gel cubes while me and a barb tried to locate this far off lost dead paladin. About the same time as the healer and the bard decided that enough was enough.  While I didn’t pull a blood or a mat I finished. And got some basic random loot for 2 hours worth of bone grinding pain. But you know what? It was kind of fun. Fun that every corner had some real danger. Instead of the regular ‘you heal I slay’ kind of run through rooms.

Mission accomplished

My FvS pulled a royal guard mask after probably 10-15 runs and I think he finally pulled it on hard (gholan Fan or whatever the name is). It’s really not that fun of a run – kind of bland – but when there’s no XP involved it’s a matter of running ahead, pull critters through the corridors and drop a BB and then move on.

So in other words; not that big of a deal.

I wanted to get one for my ranger too, since the whole death elevator thingie is kind of boring. While I can certainly get the map maker for the airship, it requires that I complete all explorers first before I can take advantage of it.

So I’ve run it a couple times on hard and with a hireling with haste and GH it’s not that bad. It takes a little longer since I can’t just AOE and destroy; I have to get down and dirty for most part – but it’s not really that big of a deal with GH, haste, displacement and 52 or so in AC. I barely have to use any pots.

I ran it once the other day and didn’t pull anything and since I’m on timer on everything that matters I decided to see if I could get it done in about 20-25 minutes today.

It went pretty smooth – the traps didn’t hurt me whatsoever since I have great evasion and I stopped now and then to have the hireling ‘teleport’ to me to freshen up the shortbuffs.

Then in the final battle I ranged the boss and his guard; multi arrow with adamantine arrows is such a blast and you can easily kill off everything in less than 20 seconds.

Sure enough; opened the end chest and there it was. I ran it 4 or so times with my ranger – most of it on hard and I pulled the right named item for the nice ability to clickie teleport.

One less thing to worry about.

Oldie’ goldie

With dosbox and some old games I’ve managed to try out favorites from the past. Some won’t work at all on 64-bit systems (final liberation) but others work just fine as a dos window (Ascendancy and through Deamon tool Birth of the Federation).

What strikes me though is not the graphics; it’s hard to do 2D games justice on a monitor capable of 1900 in resolution – no it’s just how disruptive turn based game play can be.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind turn based in some cases – but poor interfaces and turn based games can wreak havoc on pacing. I didn’t use to feel that way – back when RTS started emerging out of the dying turn base breed I preferred turn based over anything. Simply because I liked to take my time and ponder solutions. And mostly because real time drama always sucked with the computer being able to control the whole force in real time while poor interface made real time hard for a player.

Today it’s a lot different – here real time rule supreme and mostly because of streamlined interfaces and more options. Pacing has not become some kind of breakneck speed towards building ultimate forces, lasso and send. There are more tactical options now and even in previous turn based kingdoms such as Master of Orion, are overshadowed by new  games like Star Ruler, Sword of the Stars and Sins of a Solar Empire in terms of real time and manageable flow of combat.

One can only hope that moves towards real time (such as in DDO) will eventually penetrate the MMO market completely and remove the ‘walk up and click’ effect that destroys the sense of interaction. I’m not saying that it’s the ultimate solution, but I personally think that MMOs benefits from this interaction in a way that makes gaming fresh and never really boring.