Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Typical MMO Gaming Session

I haven't been posting on here much, in between school work, regular work, and trying to squeeze in time for gaming and writing. However, I've been playing a ton of Elder Scrolls Online lately and was searching for a topic, finding no posts about it whatsoever. My question was this: What does your typical MMO gaming session look like?

Maybe this has to do with my long-held fascination with organization, but I think that it originates from the same drive min-maxers have to get the most out of their time and their character. (It has also led to me developing a book of spreadsheets devoted to quest tracking, researching, hunting, looting, and delving: I am a firm believer in tracking information.)

My typical weekend gaming session is thus: Log in to my alt Riade Wolfrider, who is a crafting alt; choose new traits to research in her three areas of Woodworking, Blacksmithing, and Carpentry. I'll update my spreadsheets with my new choices, then swing by the stables to develop my riding skill, then log out.

Next, I'll probably switch immediately to my main character Keah and choose a quest to work on if I'm not in the city. If I am in the city, I'll spend a few minutes deconstructing equipment too high level for Riade, and go to the Outlaw's Refuge for fencing my stolen goods and banking, then swing by the stables before fast traveling out. I'll spend anywhere between 1/2 an hour to 3-4 hours on Keah, then log out. I might log back in sporadically for 30 minute play times.

If I've gotten a ton of recipes and glyphs, I'll log in to my enchanting alt, Lyn Sparrowheart, and deconstruct, read the recipe, then log out. By the end of the day, I'll usually log in for a couple minutes to Riade to switch what she's researching if I know the timer will be up and I can reassign.

Inventory/resource management probably takes about half an hour for me, and then I'll usually spend another half an hour to-- more likely-- an hour or more with Keah on questing. If I can pull myself away from her, I'll work on leveling up an alt, usually Riade.

Gaming sessions during the week are more likely to just be upkeep: researching armor/weapon traits and riding skill on as many characters as I can, then logging out. I might slip in a quest here or there depending on my schedule and how attached I am to fixing dinner that night.

I wonder what other players sessions look like. Do you spend a lot of time in inventory/resource? Questing? Raiding? Delving? Crafting?

Friday, November 13, 2015

[Day Three] Fallout 4: Red Rocket and Concord

On Day Two, I managed to only do a brief exploration of the local Red Rocket gas station, discovering a cave underneath and managing to get mildly irradiated.

On Day Three, I extensively explored Sanctuary, managing to discover that one of my former neighbors (may he rest in peace) was a drug dealer, with extensive contacts throughout my pleasant suburban town and a few neighboring towns. Huh. He had some hot tips about where they were keeping their valuables too-- good job, long-dead neighbor!

After I ended my intense search of Sanctuary, I walked down the road to explore Concord. Concord is infested with Raiders, which naturally means-- gear! Crafting materials! Experience points! I also progressed in the main quest by helping the settlers here (protected by a Minuteman, launching a Minuteman quest line). After snagging a power suit and killing a Deathclaw, the settlers all headed back to my formerly peaceful Sanctuary. Now, Sanctuary is full of a woman who constantly complains, a man who barely says a word, Garvey-- tolerable, reliable, pleasant-- a drug-addicted fortune teller, and a robot. Oh, and a dog, but the dog's usually with me because I love him. I tried to bring Codsworth with me, but the dog whimpered sadly in response so I immediately ran after the dog to travel with him again. (I <3 you, Dogmeat!)

After this, I ran up to the USAF Satellite Station (a Raider nest), cleared it and its named Raider queen (Ach-Ach), and stopped by Tenpines Bluff to further my Minuteman quest. I headed back to Sanctuary to drop off some junk and rearrange my inventory before heading back out into the wild wastes. Now if only I could figure out how to build beds for my new settlers so they don't complain as much!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

[Day One] Fallout 4: Character Creation

Last night, I had work, then a grad class until 7:30 at night. I barely managed to run home in between to save my Fallout 4 package from the downpour that had chosen November 10th, of all days, to let itself loose on the Connecticut shoreline, where I currently make my lair.

After I finally got home, I put food in my mouth (a hastily slapped together bagel and Italian sausage, thank you very much-- no wasted time in the kitchen on Fallout 4 day for me!) while flipping through the game guide and loading the game, which was a fun deluge of of S.P.E.C.I.A.L informational trailers put together by Vault-Tec for the purposes of educating me before the game started-- all hail Vault-Tec.

I decided to make an agile and perceptive character, with also a fair number of points invested in intelligence. The ideal is to have a character who can basically ninja her way through any situation. I'm going to want to put enough points into intelligence that I will be able to hack terminals when necessary, and I'm also going to want to lockpick and get the awesome guns when possible. (Note: There is a killer-looking gun in Vault 111 that is master-level. If this is normal Bethesda lockpicking, I can probably get it as soon as I find some bobby pins.)

Armed with her wits and a 10mm, Edie leaves the surburbia she has grown up in to walk the wasteland. You are forced as a player with a specific backstory and what that entails-- husband, child-- which I'm not sure I like, even though I did manage to form some affection for the two the short time we spent together. The monologue in the beginning-- male only, because game creators apparently didn't want to give you a gender option in enough time to save you from feeling like the female option was tacked on-- says that your character was in the war as a soldier before the detonation that caused apocalyptica. I think that applies to the female character as well as the male, anyway. I'm gonna go with it, so it explains my suburban housewife's ability to survive in the Commonwealth at all-- she was a soldier with PTSD who never thought she'd be happy and isn't surprised that this has happened. Trusting no one, she badasses her way through the Wasteland.

I'm trying to conserve bullets where I can, since I remember always running out Fallout 3, and I only had a couple minutes of actual combat, so I haven't been able to figure out the button-mapping for VATS since I'm playing on Xbox One.

As a whole, my major complaint about the intro was that I was basically forced into the male character's shoes and had to force-change to the female, shoving him aside in the bathroom mirror in character creation to get my own space. Maybe that's okay-- maybe I met him in the army and he thinks I should take a backseat role to him now that we're civilians again-- but I shouldn't have to make up a story to justify it to myself.

This is obviously a tiny, tiny part of the game, but it was so obviously geared toward the male character that it bothers me. A tiny part of the game should be able to be handled better than this.

Looking forward to more gaming this afternoon-- I have five glorious days off from work as my Fallout Vacation!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

[First Impressions] Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One)

I've been playing a lot of Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. It's strange to play on Xbox One, which is what I'm currently doing-- it obviously works much better as a PC game, and not having a hot key for a map is driving me insane. And makes it hard to explore, I'm just saying.

I've naturally gone the route of a Dark Elf named Keah (again). In sort of vague story-telling terms, I've decided she's the ancestress of my Keah in Skyrim, and the family line was transported there due to the events in ESOTU.  My gamertag is grohiik07, so for the purposes of simplicity, I'm probably going to end up referring to my gamertag and character names together at some point.

The map has to be my biggest complaint about the game, though, since it's so very hard to navigate it on Xbox One. A mini-map would 100% help, even if they didn't want to "clutter" the UI. (I am very tired of their belief in a lack of clutter disrupting my ability to play their game.) Beyond that, the differences between ESO and Skyrim are very interesting. Making money in ESO is hard, a full-time job. Any gold drops or found gold are only in small amounts. You have to really have a profession to make any money. Or, you could do as a Nightblade sneak-thief does and steal everything that's not nailed down from houses... pockets... the market.... You can gather materials-- which themselves are only slightly more common than gold sometimes-- and craft them through an extensive and interesting crafting system to make money. Not being that committed, and with a character that can actually become invisible when necessary, I generally steal, and sometimes make potions. So do a lot of other people. The marketplaces are literally crawling with thieves, crouching behind the stalls, stealing whenever the stall merchant isn't looking their way. I've been playing for several hours and still only have a bit less than 3000 gold-- and it was hard won let me tell you. The cheapest horse is 14K unless you buy it in the Crown Store, which feels a bit like cheating. And I should probably start playing every night to make money if nothing else, if I want to get a horse.

Nightblade is an interesting class, especially when you combine the abilities with your choice of any kind of weapon. The Nightblade abilities give you some magic daggers for close-up moves, and pairing it with my love of ranged weaponry works perfectly. Health-draining moves alleviate the need for heavy armor. I can shadow walk across the map if I can get a target to lock onto, making it so I can shortcut the map in interesting ways at times.  Outlaws refuges in most cities make it so I can fence my goods (limit of 50 per day) and launder any items I want to use myself, making switching up my weaponry a breeze. The vast crafting system makes it easy to change the way your bow looks as well. I have a nice Nordic style bow with curved dragon heads on the ends, as well as a lovely Altmer-style bow covered in gold wing patterns.

One complaint, which I think might end up fixed by the Imperial City DLC, is the lack of a Thieves' Guild. The only guilds as yet present in the game are the Mages and the Fighters. But I'm willing to wait for the Imperial City and see if it provides me with either Thieves' or Assassins' Guilds. OR BOTH. I would also like more of the different countries unlocked, if possible. Currently you can only get into Eastmarch and the Rift in Skyrim, for example, and after running all the way across Morrowind at level 7it was very disappointing that I couldn't reach Markarth. And it was already irritating enough to be level 7 in an area where the enemies are level 42. (Irritating/terrifying/holy shit what.)

I'm going to leave this here for now like this, in the hopes of adding another post today if I get a chance to play after work. Screenshots to come when I'm no longer hidden behind my work computer's firewall!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[First Impressions] Pokémon X and Y

I've not been on a gaming hiatus by any means, but I have been setting up new Xbox One and Wii systems, gathering up some new games for review, and then actually playing those games so I had some things to say. So new content will be coming soon (Story of Seasons just came out, for example; I've almost finished Sunset Overdrive for Xbox One; I've been playing Destiny on the weekends; Tamriel Unlimited is out soon; and I still need to play more Inquisition).

For now, though, I'd like to revisit Pokémon X and Y.

I originally bought my 3DS system solely because X and Y were coming out and for me, they were the must-have that made me bite the bullet and buy a 3DS.

I ended up not playing them very much. I played 30 hours, but somehow ended up with only two badges, and I burnt out. I've now restarted, with a much more select team (see my post on ORAS for how I ported over all my Pokémon so I could restart). I have a few stumbling blocks that prevent me from really getting into X and Y. The new list of Pokémon is kind of alien to me, and I don't want to just use the same Pokémon all over again. So this time, I'm trying out training some new Pokémon. I'm taking advantage of the EXP Share as much as I can let myself. I would really like to actually finish a Pokémon game for the first time since... well, before Black and White, actually.

A Quilladin named Teddy was my Starter and choice for Grass type this time around. He's a bit troll-looking, but has a good amount of power, and makes a pretty cheery travelling companion.

My choice for next permanent-training Pokémon was a bit harder, since I always capture a Flying type next for the permanent part of my team. Having both Pidgey-- yes, one of my favorite Pokémon-- and the adorable firebird that is Fletchling, made the choice difficult. But I've trained at least twenty Pidgey over the course of my life (they were once part of a breeding project for me), and this is only my second Fletchling, so I found a cute little girl that I named Arrow.

Besides that, I'm currently rocking a Psyduck (I've wanted a Golduck since Red, but somehow never managed to get one), a Rhyhorn, Mienfoo, and a Helioptile. (I'm not sure about the Helioptile.)

I like the Pokémon well enough, but I'm still not really drawn into the game. Like always, I'm compelled to train the Pokémon, but something about the layout of the towns irritates me-- maybe the metropolis setting?-- and I haven't really liked the Pokémon well enough to search out every one in each area to capture.

I'll have more thoughts on it later. Perhaps I still need to get back into the Pokémon groove. However, Etrian Mystery Dungeon and Story of Seasons were just released, and I have lots to do there as well!

Ah, the gaming life.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

[DAI] Dragon Age: Inquisition, the First Ten Hours

I've been playing Dragon Age II. People so love to hate DA2, but it actually reminds me quite a bit of JRPGs-- a hub town, fast travel from one neighborhood of town to another, companions with narrow storylines and intense dialogue, and angsty love interests. That might be my own personal choice of attempting to make the very hard decision between guilt-wracked Anders and ex-slave Fenris, but they are both so very pretty. Of course, the combat is ridiculously easy and I can't seem to decide whether I should turn the difficulty up or not; the side quests are almost too numerous; etc. The story, though. The story is intense, and all the side quests support it. If Dragon Age: Origins was the beginning of the overarching epic, Dragon Age II is almost a side-story, focusing on one hero trying to deal with the problems in one city, and often failing.

I just received Dragon Age: Inquisition a couple weeks ago, and have played it far less than I would like. A lot of talk has gone on about how expansive DAI is, the story, what people love, what they hate, and a number of broad generalities. People don't seem to be talking much about what the game actually is, how the game actually works, and what you spend your time doing.

DAI draws on a number of sources. Skyrim was an obvious one, but it also takes some hints from Far Cry and similar shooters, action RPGs like Dark Souls, and a healthy dose from the MMO format. Skyrim is largely present in the aesthetics in the beginning-- namely, the wintery mountain landscape. That's where the similarity tends to end. You journey with companions somewhat quieter than they were in DA2, but they do still talk, unlike in Skyrim, where the sporadic sentences were never enough to make you feel like you weren't discovering new lands on your own-- and that was what Skyrim was about, so that was fine.

The entire "rift" storyline has been played out in numerous MMOs (i.e. Rift, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, etc.), and the game starts by dumping you out of one and informing you that you're now marked as the only one that can close them. You can decide this is providence, that it's some weird twist of fate, or that all these people who think that you're their Herald are high. Whatever you want. But you still have to do it, because otherwise these people are going to imprison you as as suspect in the destruction of the peace meeting between the mages and the Chantry.

The game operates from a base town, but no more are the JRPG-style fast travels from DA2. You can travel to a number of large territories. Each territory has an expansive map, which isn't all the way filled in. Your inquisition has outposts to start, and, similar to Far Cry, you have to reclaim areas and form camps, since the maps are taken over by the fighting. When you gain influence by diplomatic treaties formed in the War Room, new lands open up and you are able to establish your first camp there, thus opening more maps to you.

Health potions are restocked every time you rest at camp again, and a limited supply of health potions is your only way to heal, since healing magic is gone from the game. (I don't mind it being gone so much as I wonder about the lore behind it being gone. Granted, maybe if you're a mage you never studied it, and your other mages are a Tevinter-- a country known for pain, not healing-- and Solas, who very distictly has his own specializations and agenda. The Knight Enchanter specialization for a mage Inquisitor does have some heailing abilities. Someone did mention that healers are in short supply because of the war. I would kill pretty much anything to have Anders and Merrill join my Inquisition.)

Your enemies are the rogue Templars who have split off from the Chantry, the rebel Mages who have turned to dealing with demons in their desperation, and the demons themselves, pouring out of the Rifts from the Fade. There are also various fauna that you can kill for the hides or other crafting materials, numerous metal deposits, flora, and houses to loot that have been abandoned due to the conflict.

Weapons and armor can be crafted and customized. Potions can be crafted as well. Each character has their own skill trees and abilities. Abilities are accessed through the hot keys on the bottom of the screen, and repeated clicking will do a standard attack.

A typical gaming session might begin with leaving your current camp location and venturing out to explore and fulfill nearby quests in your current territory. Your Inquisition army might need some supplies, and you keep on the lookout for the necessary materials to fulfill the requisition. You acquire materials as you make your way around, and establish a new camp along the way. You'll run into a few quests, find a few glowing shards, and solve a few dilemmas. You'll doubtless kill some things along the way.

There's definitely a lot to do, which provides a kind of complete world immersion, similar to but very different from Skyrim. In Skyrim, you were struggling up from your bootstraps. In DAI, you already have an army. There are civil wars in both, but DAI's is better implemented-- if only Skyrim had done it this way, with battles raging in certain areas... but civil war hadn't quite broken out in Skyrim yet.

Regardless, I am looking forward to playing more of this game, which is polished and compelling.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

[First Impressions] Pokémon Omega Ruby, P1

Oh hey, it's that time again. You're going cross-eyed, you're practically glued to the screen of your handheld-- yup, the new Pokémon game is out, and this time, it's Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire.

My two favorite Pokémon games were Silver/Gold and Sapphire/Ruby. I loved those games. I played the shit out of those games. I did intense breeding experiments in Sapphire/Ruby, which is one of the reasons that I'm so unhappy they changed Mauville's layout - too many loading screens in the hub town right next to the Day Care Center, and also it's just stupid looking, like a giant mall. Silver/Gold I was just flat out in love with. I still remember entering the forest at night and seeing my first HootHoot. It was magical.

I'm just getting back from the volcanic wastes of Fallarbor and need to go pursue my next Gym Badge at Lavaridge. I've reached the point where I'm about ready to murder if I don't get Fly ASAP. I'd kill to have a decent Electric Pokémon on my team, since I refuse to use that ridiculous Cosplay Pikachu. (Seriously, what the hell is wrong with that thing?) Fortunately, Flannery, the Gym Leader of Lavaridge, uses Fire Pokémon, which is going to be fairly easy, given that two of my Pokémon in my current team are part Water, and only one of the rest are weak against Fire.

Current Battling Team:

Ricardo (Marshtomp, L23)
Ability: Torrent

Mud Shot
Water Gun
Mud Bomb

I've never used Swampert before, so picking Mudkip as my starter was a new experience for me. I was very impressed by how the Water/Ground combo played out, meaning that he is completely immune to Electricity-- color me impressed! I will probably leave him as my Water choice for the game, but I'm not convinced yet. His current attacks deal some damage while also draining stats, which can be an interesting play-style.

Sinatra (Nuzleaf, L21)
Ability: Early Bird

Beat Up
Razor Wind
Razor Leaf

I had Sapphire originally, so getting access to Seedot/Nuzleaf/Shiftry couldn't have made me happier. I immediately fell in love when I started using this little guy. His Beat Up move deals a decent amount of damage, despite taking a long time since it has to hit 6 times. Razor Wind and Razor Leaf are both great moves as well, and overall, Sinatra deals a decent amount of straight damage. I'm still trying to pick my parties for both first and second run-throughs on the Elite 4, but I like this guy so much I might build one party or the other around him entirely.

Lucille (Kirlia)
Ability: Trace

Heal Pulse
Magical Leaf
Double Team

Here's the thing. I prefer Kadabra/Alakazam. Don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but this Kirlia was a bitch and a half to raise. It dies one shot most of the time, and isn't quite powerful enough to one-hit KO, which is what you need in a Psychic. The Heal Pulse is only useful in Doubles and it can't heal itself, but Lucille is always the one that needs the healing, since it's so weak. I think it could make a great Doubles Pokémon, if its partner has a move that can draw attacks away from it (essentially making it a healer/magic unit guarded by a tank). Unless some things change, I can't see taking this one with  me to the League. (Note for later-- if I can get a Riolu and breed it to a male Clefairy with Follow Me, I could use Riolu as the tank; chance of male Clefairy is 1:4)

Gable (Mightyena, L22)
Ability: Quick Feet

Fire Fang

I've always loved Mightyena. Mightyena was part of the breeding program I ran in the original Sapphire/Ruby. I have some grudges against this particular Mightyena, since I neglected leveling it, and then had a tough time and just expected it to rock with opponents the same level or higher than itself. That might be part of my problem with my Kirlia as well. This Mightyena, Gable, has served me well, since it had Fire Fang when I caught it. Fire moves are damn hard to come by, and I don't know what I would have done sometimes without it.

Makit (Hariyama)
Ability: Guts

Force Palm
Vital Throw
Fake Out
Arm Thrust

I can't say I've ever used Hariyama. I had a Torchic in the originals for my fighting type, and when I don't have Torchic, Machop tends to be my go-to. Hariyama is great, though. Makit is an in-game trade, meaning it gets a nice boost for EXP, and Mariyama has one of the highest HP stats in the game. Fighting Pokémon require a lot of strategy and planning to use, since all of their attacks are fighting moves that do damage based on different things (the weight of your opponent, your own weight, whether you go first or last, etc). I really like using them for this reason. Definitely taking this one with me to end-game.

007 (Wingull, L23)
Ability: Keen Eye

Water Pulse
Air Cutter
Wing Attack

This is the fun thing about sneaking in ORAS (Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire): you can occasionally get a dud. This happened a few times for me, actually, before I figured out how the DexNav feature worked. I would normally use the pure Flying Taillow, since it's the first Flying type you can catch. Pidgey is my preference, and I love Starly as well, but in this game, it would be Taillow. Instead, the Taillow I caught had no offensive moves, meaning I had to level it way slower than my other Pokémon, and Wingull ended up way outstripping it. Water Pulse is a great attack with a Confused side-effect, Supersonic can aid that confusion, and Wing Attack is a great Flying move. This one is going to stick with me for a while until I find my perfect Zubat. Pelipper is unfortunately too slow to be adequate in the long-run, but I am pretty fond of 007 regardless. I expect to drop it shortly after I gain access to Fly, and can easily train a lower-level Pokémon up, potentially Skarmory.