Monthly Archives: February 2014

Getting ready and getting done

I’m ready for DDO and patch 21. This is the first time that I did visit Lam and get my play spoiled. I don’t think that will change what I finally think about everything or my opinion I have through reading others – but it helps me not to spoil the first look. Plus I never played the original Haunted halls so maybe I’m about to have a nice aha feeling. My understanding (haunted might be a dead giveaway) that I’m about to run into lots of undead, but that it’s a very layered experience with a few different ‘endings’ or rather options.

My hope is of course that I don’t burn too much time – am all for extended experiences but I prefer to break them up in the public space rather than burning potions and the like for over an hour – trust me, it’s not the unwillingness to play for hours, it’s the whole husband and kids thing. There’s always someone that comes in after x hours and asks if I can do y.

And as for the raid – I’ll see for myself. I don’t care for lots of puzzles and it adds a lot of stand around time for some and extended raid time for others. I’m not keen on another 2+ hour experience that ends in failure. Failure is okay; you learn from it. But I rather have it happen after 30 minutes than 1.5 hours. I’ve done both and one is like a shrug and doing it tomorrow. The other is like pft – screw this boring stuff. Again – when you have limited time you start trying to squeeze something better out of it. So the good thing about being somewhat oblivious about it is that I now can form a better opinion by experiencing it. The bad part is that I’m going in face first – like so many others. Whatever is the case it’s good that I’m getting my DDO pants on because I’ve been slow burning content and ready to jump back in.

In the case of World of Tanks I feel done. When you’re tier 8 you end up in tier 10 games a lot and those are just full of stupid. If it’s not a bunch of people steamrolling flanks with high DPS it’s a bunch of idiots getting blunted doing the same but stupidly. Like the other day when I had 4-5 teams leaving one flank weak and moved everything another just to stop, do the whole peek and snipe and get stomped. After 2 times it gets very boring – especially since you see what’s going on, you know the problem and playing a match for 10 minutes knowing the outcome other makes you want to plow your tank into a lake and be done with it or just run right into a bunch of enemy tanks and let them get one for free.

And once you start feeling like that you need you’re about done. It’s the same problem, visibility, high dps and the idea that armor is near worthless. It gets played over in every match where bad players get pitched against good. The outcome writes itself. So I’m not entirely sure I even want to run out 17 days of premium. Maybe DDO will be so good once I get back in this weekend (release March 10th) and that’ll be it. Sometimes you cut your losses, count your blessings and realize that while you ‘wasted’ something you saved your sanity.

Plus it’s time to take advantage of VON 3 daily runs before patch 21 puts a hatchet to its XP.

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Hitting 20, again

Hitting 20 is not hard per say. Never was. Just dreary on your third+ life. But now with iconic races starting at 15 and removal of repeat XP penalty over time and a lowering of XP required for subsequent TRs it’s even easier than before. Personally I never found the second or third life the worst, it wasn’t the XP ramp that made it bad – it was the lack of quests in a certain range. And not only that – a lot of the upper end quests are meant for groups rather than soloing – depending on some mechanics that favor grouping. Like all the Macabre quests. Or for that matter, some of the Shavarath quests. So this time I decided to check out the Eveningstar ones instead – since the new xpack (cursed be thy name) also comes in heroic flavoring. That didn’t stop me from doing all Vale, the Madness level 17 and Sinister level 15. There was no shortage of those quests and I even did the Lordmarch at level 15. I ended up doing all of the Stormhorn except for the last quest (lousy on xp for such a long quest – but that’s going to change when the next patch drops). In the end I did a explorer run in Shavarath and hit 20 about midway.
I thought about finishing everything (since I was there) but some strange lag hit and I could barely move. So I got out of there and returned a few hours later to get all the level 20 gear and stuff setup so I could start the long walk to 28.

On the World of Tank front I’m pretty much fed up. Weekends are the worst. The server population hits about 40k people and half of them like to run straight ahead and die. Not to attack players but when you have such poor visi rules and such high dps on sniper tanks those battles are over after about 3-4 minutes. And with 20 days left of premium I’m pretty much counting down the days. It was fun for a while but each patch continue the inevitable breakdown.

Just as we find them in DDO, WoT have lots of elite players arguing that if you don’t like it, leave. Which is a terrible message to give average players. That more or less cement the end of a game. Personally my message to anyone wanting to play DDO is to try to lobby Turbine to see it their way instead of leaving (and it looks like Turbine is getting the message) and stick around. The more the merrier. Never argue for people to leave, it’s always better to argue for the developers to get their act together. Sure; don’t feed the machinery. Stop spending money above the basics. It’s important that players realize that you can’t ever promote change until a company also see some pain.

In other words; back to DDO and see you later WoT. Hopefully you’ll figure out what ails you and hopefully DDO will return to some kind of half golden years. I’m rotting for them.

Going back to the mill stone

All gripes aside; the next patch will deliver a lot of bug fixes, 2 raids with some interesting items and a new ‘greensteel2’ system. I say GS 2 – but it is a lot more limited and only for weapons. Plus the damage part is primarily fire and negative with a bunch of other things added. But there’s no denying that it both covers melee and casters – something that has not always been true (even including orbs).

The downside is of course no items but there are some in addition to the new crafting. A few things with various effects such as shields, ring(s) and a helmet and there’s also the shadow armor, where you can bake an effect onto them. It was first to be a specific effect dependent on what type it was. So DR for heavy, repair amp for docents etc but I think they’re now done so you pick type and then effect.

However it’s strictly limited as far as I can tell to the one thing, making the armor pretty lackluster compared to Gianthold armor and it doesn’t really feel worth pursuing, other then for tanks and the DR armor.

The draw back, at least for me is that one raid is almost entirely puzzles. And puzzles done wrong adds lots of wait time – and a raid that hits over an hour is not going to draw a huge following. Sure – there are always those who love puzzles and want more of it and that don’t mind wasting time in quests, but I have a feeling that a lot of players are like me with limited game time and don’t feel like spending time filling groups and then wasting an hour or more running a raid that can fail.

And that’s really the big crux – a raid should be able to fail. In fact success should never be given – but failing after wasting an hour plus just turns people off. And this is suppose to me shroud 2. If it turns into another Lord of Blades it’ll simply be another ghost raid, seldom run and DDO will lose even more players that feel there is very little to do once you hit cap.
Perhaps the greatest flaw right now is that the items and the crafted weapons will cap at ML 28. And that is unfortunate. One of the reasons people still play shroud is because you can equip the items at 11 and the weapons at 12. That gives you 8 levels to 20 (and even beyond that for some) where you get a great use of these gold standard items. At ML 28 the weapons will be used for a tiny amount of time for people who TR a lot and it feels kinda pointless to get on the raid train for these new ones if you’ll end up TRing every so often.

It’s hard to understand why Turbine don’t get this, especially since they asked players what they wanted and it was overwhelmingly a new greensteel system with a similar ‘lower’ ML for longevity.

On the World of tank front I’m about 20 days from saying goodbye until they get their act together. When I started there was a semblance of balance. Then arty became the power broker and turned of a lot of people that left. Then WG made the mistake of letting people get premium rounds for credit and thereafter started releasing a bunch of fantasy tanks with enormous DPS that could 2 shoot other tanks. The result was that armor didn’t matter; everyone could pen anything with premium rounds and autoloading fantasy tanks started tearing apart the balance. Especially when the T57 American top autoloader came on the scene but definitely after the release of the new German line with the ‘waffentrucks’. The top one being a highly accurate, great pen autoloading tank destroyer with incredible hide rate.

Worst of all, these had turrets. See the basic drawback were always that most TDs come turret less. So while they had better guns, they also didn’t have the traverse. A good light or medium tanker could outmaneuver a tank destroyer and then flank and rear shoot them. That was the deal. Then came the American TD line with turrets, but most of them couldn’t turn 260 degrees and they were slow loading – so they still had weak points. Plus their hide rating were abysmal – large tanks, large caliber guns and bulky hard to hide tanks.
Waffle tanks are different. Sure – very little if any armor but armor at this stage is pointless. They instead are low profile, great at hiding and with horridly accurate and great penetrating guns.

In general your average player does much better in these fire and forget monsters and skilled players are making a killing. Which brings us back to balance. Since so many things are no longer important, like armor – most people are leaving the game since it’s more like playing one of those Japanese fantasy games with huge walking monsters. It’s no longer a good ‘tank game’.
Adding to that is also the wonky and disastrous visibility system. Back in the day it was still ever present – but since there were no super deathstars around it wasn’t that great of an issue. The best TD was the Jagdtiger but it was a large, slow and clumsy TD that could be easily spotted once it fired.
Now you can have one light tank spotting while the deathstars sit back and nail everyone with highly accurate fire. There’s no drawback anymore to having these big guns and abusing the horrid visibility system with tanks blinking in and out of visibility and where tanks can sit in the open and spam premium rounds, games quickly turn into 15-3 routs. Sure, it’s fun for the winning team, but people leave because it’s no longer balanced.

And I’m right there. I’m good, but sometimes you end up with 10 terrible teams in a row and that blows away any entertainment value you might be looking for. And yes – some elite players don’t mind. They figure that once all the ‘bad’ players are gone it’ll be all fun and games – but the reality is like with DDO – ones regular players with money is gone, you have a few elite collecting dust until the servers turn off.

And unfortunately WG can’t undo what they broke; you can’t suddenly remove these deathstars, but they could fix the wonky visibility system and remove the hidden super snipers ability to sit and spam and they could remove premium rounds for credit. It won’t fix everything, but it will fix some. And most of all – add a system that balance good and bad players equally, right now most good can end up on one team and most bad on the other and that’s almost an automatic loss.

I hate to take a break, but it’s hard to stomach losing 10-15 times in a row for the odd chance of winning a few, it sours the entire day and especially with one team lose 2-3 tanks while obliterating the other. It’s not only demoralizing but it is after all a game. And it’s hard to be interested in something so savage if the reason you lose has to do with poor design, rather then overwhelming skills of the other team.

A sputter

I finally made myself login, dump some coin on more large jewels, run a shroud quest, bank 22k and log off. Maybe I picked the wrong quest but I my gut I didn’t have fun. Right now there’s about 3 things you can do – TR, try a different toon or start a complete new one. I’ve tried all 3 and I feel like the pond is getting smaller and smaller. Each time when I do one of the 3 it holds me for less and less time. That’s not me saying I want or should leave. It’s me trying to find a reason not too.

We’ve seen things together, DDO and I. The first stumbling steps in Khortos. The first failures. Dying ontop of the beams against that undead skeleton magician. Running from rats. Exploring sewers. Fried my lighting when there were no Ship buffs. Hitting 14 and dying lost in the Macabre. Ambushed by 2 assassins. Making 2 green steel rapiers for my FvS, then they changed how 2 weapons fighting works – couldn’t afford the feats – put them in the bank. TR’d, created more toons. Ranger, Horc fighter, 2 Arti’s, Horc Monk, Human sorc. Grew, TR’d bled, fought, improved, got cool stuff, did Epic, beat a god and finally saw the end. Lost faith among pine trees and against wolves. Fought fungal zombies and got bored. Rotated my guys, got them better, did backward peddling in off destiny and felt frustrated. Daily VON3s made me dizzy and tired.
Fell off, played something else and came back. Xpack again, dumbfounded.

We’ve seen things.

Together. From the first dripping severs and gray oozes to the howling wind blowing of the sharp edge of a cliff. From the unknown purple dead trees in a land of undead and devouring rats to the crunch of branches fighting poachers. Years. Sun drenched beaches, crystals in caves, kobolds in ethereal castles. Stealing books, destroying boxes, lost in steam tunnels and fighting a guardian elemental for some thing. Stopping a war hungry Orc boss and gathering material to make better acid improving boots. Jumping for Coins to add cold damage to weapons. Fighting pirates to make cooler hats.

Seen my guild grow and lost friends. One after one – people we laughed with, played with, raided with and was lead by. Walked off into a sunset, never to be seen. Boat grew, money sunk into buffs – changed name and kept on running. And now. Am I one of the ones walking into the sunset? Do I feel like I’ve completed my story yet? There was a time when hours flex by and I felt I hadn’t accomplished anything.

When early morning turned into a growling stomach around lunch time and light faded outside my window.

It’s Dark outside.

And I haven’t played once today.