State of the Game: Shadowgate and More

This Blaugust thing is still trudging along, but judging by the amount of people that started it at the beginning of the month (somewhere around 50 people) it seems that the numbers are dropping. Many predicted they wouldn’t make it the whole time. I figured I wouldn’t have a problem with it, and though sometimes I really have to dig deep to come up with something to write, most of the time I haven’t had much of a problem. I guess I just always have something to say, whether  you want to listen or not 😉

So what have I been up to this week? Having a regular podcast where I have to talk about what I’ve been playing and/or what’s been going on in the gaming world, sometimes it feels like I’m becoming repetitive. I’ve gotten into the habit of trying to split up what I do early in the week and put that on the podcast, and leave the latter portion of the week for this weekly post. It seems many people in my circle of friends have picked up the weekly round-up habit, so I’m not alone in doing so, and it’s become something I enjoy writing (along with reading their posts).

Alright, so this week I bought/received a few new titles. I bought Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for my PS3 which I mentioned previously. I haven’t been back to it since, but that’s partly due to the other pick-ups. Steam had a sale, and the expansions for Civilization V were included. As a result, I picked up Gods & Kings and Brave New World. It’s amazing the amount of depth that those two expansions add to the game. Right after I picked them up, I told Doone about it, and he wanted to play. We had already started a multiplayer match a while ago, but that was just the base game, and he was full of complaints about the “shitty AI.” I didn’t know any better at that point, and now having played against the new and improved AI, he was absolutely right. The new puts the old to shame. So we started up a new game, and not really knowing the new Civs I had to choose from, I just picked the Celts, because heritage. He rolled with the Shoshone who actually have some great starting benefits. We progressed a bit and then he had to go. We’ll pick it back up soon.

I also started my own single player game last night and marathoned it for a number of hours. I liked what I saw from the Shoshone, so I picked them. I unfortunately didn’t think to take any screenshots, so I’ll just say that things are going good. With the starting options I picked a world with a huge lake in the center, and I spawned near the southern-most part of the map. I slowly expanded and now stretch from the edge to the bottom of the lake. Trade routes are set up, and I’m spreading my religion pretty swiftly. I’m not sure what sort of victory I’m going for at this point, but I will get there. I’m just loving all of the new options.

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Another game I was gifted was a copy of the new Shadowgate remake (it’s on sale on Steam right now). I’ve been watching this one for a while, as I remember the game from my childhood. I know that when my Dad used to play it on his computer it scared the shit out of me, but I know I ended up getting over that enough to try it. It also was ported to the NES and a few other systems, so I saw it pop up a time or two over the years. This remake is supposed to add more stuff and also change around some of the puzzles throughout, although so far it seems much like what I remember, just graphically superior.

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The game is rather unforgiving. Most puzzles involve clicking on various items to find keys and spells and use the items you find elsewhere. There are bits where you need particular items equipped, like a shield to block an incoming arrow from a creature waiting to ambush you. In the above picture, I thought a shield might protect me from the drake’s flames, but I was wrong. Death finds you at every turn. I’ve died more times than I’d like to count, and some of the puzzles are rather difficult to figure out. Being the age of the Internet, I know that guides will pop up eventually, but at this point they don’t exist. Not remembering enough from the original has proven to be my downfall, cause I have basically become stuck.

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There’s the map that I’ve explored. There are several places where I know progression is possible, I just haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to do. I found a spell that enabled me to open a sealed grate, which contained a lever puzzle. After messing with that, I was told I could hear a rush of water elsewhere. Returning to a previously flooded room saw the water level lowered, but that didn’t seem to do much else. It’s rather frustrating after a while, so I’ve left it at that for now. More on this later when I get it figured out.

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Hearthstone saw the last wing of the Naxxramas expansion release this week as well. I think it was last weekend that I went back and cleared up what I hadn’t finished to that point, and then I finished the last wing the other day. Kel’Thuzad, the final boss was a cheating bastard! There’s a point where he straight steals your turn from you, no matter how much time you actually had left. Overall, the bosses ramped up their difficulty as time went on, but normal mode was fairly easy to finish. Having all of the cards also meant that there was some deck tweaking to do. Kel’Thuzad the Legendary card was a nice addition to my Zoo deck, as his ability brings all of your minions that died that turn back to life. I’m sure people will find ways to counter that, but it worked wonders the couple times I got to use it. But now it’s back to the normal play, and I’ll probably slow down now, because outside of finishing the original card set, I don’t have a lot to do. It has already been said that the next expansion will be pack based, so there will be plenty of grinding in the future.

Last on my list was the ArcheAge CB4 event that’s still going right now. I picked up where I left off and kept on the traditional quest grind. At one point I came across an Elite quest, which seems to be meant for a group, and is a timed event. At 2 am and 2 pm this group of mobs spawns, along with a boss of sorts at this fortress. One problem with the sheer volume of people playing is that when you have these types of quests where you have to kill a particular named mob you often have to stand where it spawns and hope you’re the first person that hits it. You always manage to get the quest done eventually, but it’s kind of annoying. This quest was no different. However, a huge group of people started forming waiting for this quest’s target to spawn, and we formed a raid. Raids in ArcheAge are huge, and before you knew it we were full up at 50.

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While we were waiting people were talking about the game and endlessly answering “what are you guys waiting for?” I inadvertently started a dance party. ArcheAge has a number of different dance moves you can use, and I was toying around with those, and before you knew it people started joining in.

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I thought it was pretty funny. We also get a good look at a sampling of the different mounts in this picture. Later I found myself doing a quest to get my very own glider, and though they don’t look as cool as gliding in Firefall does, it is still a neat mode of transportation.

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I still haven’t made it to 30 yet, and I’m not sure how many more of these closed beta things there’s going to be. Given enough of them, I’ll get to 30 and finally see what the other bits of the game are like. If not, open beta should be the time where I get there. Then I can decide if I’ll actually put the time in to do it all over again when the game goes live.

That’s about all for this week. Catch ya later.

#blaugust #stateofthegame #archeage #hearthstone #shadowgate

State of the Game: RPG-a-thon

It’s funny how we go in waves. Well, maybe you don’t, but I surely do.

Just a few months ago I got my hands on a better PC, so a whole world of gaming possibilities was opened up to me. In the interim, I’ve played a ton of games. Some were more time-intensive, like MMOs and RPGs, others were more session-based like MOBAs and FPS’s. With so many titles (not counting the consistent stream of free content via Playstation Plus) it’s easy to see how one could jump from game to game and spend little time in any. This has been the case with me, but there are some stand-out titles that I completed before moving on. Like I said, I go in waves. One week I’ll play a game straight through before moving on, and the next week I’ll merely sample a smattering of them.

Diablo 3:

Back in March is when I got this PC, and my first purchase was Diablo 3. Loot 2.0 had just occurred, and I had already rolled a Demon Hunter and Wizard on my Dad’s account (while I was visiting). Those characters obviously didn’t transfer over, so when I started anew, I played the Wizard from 1-60(ish). Shortly thereafter, Reaper of Souls came out, and there was a new bit of content to explore. By the time I finished Act V, I was level 68, and put the game down again.

On the back burner it sat until just a few nights ago. I finally decided it was time to at least get my Wizard to 70. In the process, I ended up falling back in love with the game and have had a few sessions. Now he’s level 70 with 7 paragon levels. Thought it’s not traditional, he’s now wielding a giant two-handed axe, and that’s something I love about the new loot system (and in general, how combat works in D3). The stats on the axe are very much class-appropriate, and since your basic attacks tend to be special abilities, the weapon tends to serve as a stats-booster.

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A bunch of my friends are playing the game more regularly as well, so that lead into me playing a Hardcore character with J3w3l last night. Soon enough we were level 10, and things were going well. I made a Demon Hunter (as I never made a new one after getting my own account) and J3w3l rolled a Witch Doctor. I like the Witch Doctor more now having seen it in action, having not really played the one that I initially rolled.

Little Red Izzy Hood
Little Red Izzy Hood

By the time we were both level ten we were really starting to mow things down. Things were hairy for a while, but we got to the point that we meshed pretty well. Luckily Eri tends to have a similar playstyle to my own, though I think most people play D3 in a similar way. By the end of the night I had earned a few new Hardcore achievements, but I’m sure my overall score is sad to most people who have played the game for any length of time.

How far have you made it on Hardcore?
How far have you made it on Hardcore?

ArcheAge:

So I made it into the second closed beta event for ArcheAge. I’m torn about playing in these beta events because I know that upon launch the servers will be wiped and any progress made will be lost. Still, the meat and podtatoes (I see what you did there!) of the game lies beyond level 30. That’s the part of the game I really want to see, and unfortunately it will take longer than the time I have remaining to get there. This is due in part to me not wanting to spoil much of it, but also not wanting to grind to 30 so quickly. I think during the open beta (whenever that happens) I might actually play to 30 to get a grip on what happens at that threshold, so I can decide if the game is truly for me or not. So far I really like it, but that’s because my imagination tells me that post-30 content is going to be cool and different. My cynical side tells me that I’ll probably be disappointed. So this time around I only really played it for a few hours on Thursday. I might try to squeeze some more time in today, but I know it won’t include getting to 30, so I might just not bother.

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This is one mechanic I like that I haven’t really seen since EQ2 – climbing. They have a few spots where this is possible, and I meant to mention that before. It’s really not something you’d find on a feature list, but it adds to immersion, because who can’t climb things? But how many games include it? Exactly. Another thing I will mention is that ArcheAge might be the flavor of the week now that ESO and Wildstar have died down, but man, there sure are a shitload of people playing it. I was getting bogged down at times by the sheer number of people wandering around the starting areas. I did officially clear the starting portion of the map, and as soon as I hit the next bit of civilization, more people. I haven’t seen a population like that in any game in a long time, but that’s probably due to my never partaking in MMO launches.

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This is just a small sample of the people I’ve seen

Guild Wars 2:

I absolutely love the art direction of this game. It’s seriously pretty, but stylistic at the same time. Running around, seeing the chat bubbles pop up and feeling like a comic book, not to mention the painted-on style of the map. It’s just right up my alley.

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I also love the cutscenes for more important story-related material. It reminds me a lot of SWTOR, and I’m unaware at this moment which game came first. I’ve just been a bigger fan of High Fantasy than Sci-Fi for as long as I can remember (but don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars/Star Trek like a good nerd should) so it appeals to me more in this game. Plus the lore is interesting because I really know nothing about it, whereas playing through EQ2 I already knew stuff from EQ1, and the same with Warcraft(RTS)/WoW.

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I don’t get why these cat people have 4 ears though…

Another neat feature is the vantage points or whatever they’re called, in which you find a marker on the map, and when you get to the appropriate location, a small cutscene shows you the lay of the surrounding land. It’s beautiful.

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I still haven’t progressed much farther at this point, but I believe I’m going to main the Thief, and try to start moving forward this week. More as it develops.

#diablo3 #archeage #guildwars2 #blaugust #stateofthegame

 

State of the Game: Blaugust Edition

Here we are again with another State of the Game roundup. I don’t know why I ended up stopping this ever so briefly, because it’s a great way to touch on the little things, bits and pieces from my week that I don’t necessarily talk about until the round-up post. I’ve grown accustomed to reading other’s round-ups as well, and it’s fun to see how each person does theirs. If you need more examples, try J3w3l’s Progress Report and Link Dead Radio series, or Murf’s Weekly Encore. Blaugust is growing in scope, from ~30 posts per day to more like ~40. Belghast is pleased, as he should be. I’m pleased because this community we have all helped to build is coming together once again, just like we did for the NBI.

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One thing I hadn’t mentioned that came as a result of Blaugust, was getting signed up for Anook. It’s a new-ish social media site that is currently in beta, and it’s focused on gamers. This means that all of the pages on the site are either gamer’s profiles or pages for actual games. You can see my profile by clicking the link that says “follow me on Anook” on the sidebar (scroll down a bit). The remainder of the site is for Nooks that users create, be it for their gaming clan, blog, or just to have a forum for a particular game. I got to thinking about it, and decided that it would be a good idea to start up a Couch Podtatoes Nook, just to get our name out there among another community. I might also make a Twitter for it as well, but I haven’t decided. So far Anook feels a lot like a mixture between existing social networks, though I am partial to the dark tones used in its design, and I like the fact that you can set up blogs, forums, and other bits for your nook on the fly. It has some other cool integration features as well, though I wish there were more “gaming identities” to choose from.

So this week my gaming was a bit more focused than most weeks. Of course I got started with the new wing in Hearthstone’s Naxxramas expansion, the Plague Quarter. This one felt a bit more challenging than the last, but rather than bore  you with more screenshots of cards that I picked up (which you probably already have by now), I’ll just let you know that I beat all of the new bosses on normal, beat the class challenges (yay new Hunter card!) and stumbled on the Heroics. I also mentioned in my last post about the expansion that I wasn’t sure what was going on with the Heroics, as in why there wasn’t a reward for beating them all. Turns out, beating all of the bosses on Heroic for each wing will ultimately net you with a new card back. That’s cool and all, and the completionist in me will see me doing that, but I don’t feel the pressure to beat the bosses as quickly as I did last week. As a result I have turned my focus back to dailies and will just attempt to beat all the Heroics before this whole thing is over. So rather than doing the play by play, I thought I’d share some of the decks that have benefited from the new cards:

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My Zoo deck changed ever so slightly, dropping the golems and lone defender of argus for 2 Sludge Belchers and Loatheb. Loatheb is a great legendary, and found a spot in multiple decks right away, it’s a great counter to damn near any deck except for zoo, and in that case it’s still a solid 5/5 5-drop. The Belchers are good for defense and spawn a new minion with taunt once they die, so that helps to slow down aggro decks.

The new Hunter card, Webspinner came out with this wing, so I threw it into my existing deck. I feel that it’s a decent 1-drop, but the random effect of the card can sometimes be detrimental. Getting a Captain’s Parrot or a Crab when you could have just about any other beast sucks. But it does open up the possibility of getting beasts not found in your deck, and that’s a good thing in my book. Just have to pray to RNGesus.

I’ve been running this Coldlight Rogue variant for a while, since I lack some of the cards needed for miracle to really work (and I prefer decks based around minions rather than mostly spells). Loatheb is the only card added in, but that card is nice and will help for mirror matches against miracle.

Lastly, I don’t usually work with Warrior all that much, but that deck seems to always be stuck with Rogue when it comes to dailies. As a result, I saw some of the new cards as viable with Warrior, and have been playing with this deck a bit. The deck I had prior to Naxx was basically the same, but it had a few different minions. I decided that it would be fun to try out the weblord, so I stripped out any minions with battlecry except for Loatheb. I also added in the unstable ghoul, cause his deathrattle can benefit me if certain minions are on the board. I also went with the Sludge Belchers, cause reasons. And before you say it, I know Gruul is pretty crappy, but he’s actually won me a day or two, and I’m not disenchanting legendaries for next to nothing.

My dad gifted me a copy of a pretty cool game called Pool Nation. I remember hearing about it before, but honestly, who jumps up and down with excitement over a pool game? Still, this ended up being the absolute best pool game I have ever played. It feels more like a simulator, despite the menus and “dude-bro” attitude being a lot more arcadey. The game play is where this game really shines. The physics feel spot on, the controls are smooth, and it’s nice to have the option to play either 8 or 9-ball. It’s also super pretty:

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On the MMO front, I picked up Firefall on Steam and it has officially released. I haven’t spent as much time with it as I would like, but if you want a super detailed rundown of things that you can do in the game — a getting started guide, if you will — head over to Healing the Masses. J3w3l wrote a post that explains things better than I could. This game is a bit different than the traditonal MMO, in that the game just starts — there’s no character creation at the start. You get some cinematics and are thrust into combat almost immediately. You can choose to roll around in 1st or 3rd person, but I prefer the game played as an FPS. You’ll get new skills as you go, and your “frame” will level as you play.

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I chose to start with an Engineer, because turrets. I ended up not liking his normal weaponry though, and ended up switching to Recon after I got out of the tutorial, and that made a big difference. I liked having the range of a sniper rifle, and having an SMG as a sidearm.

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It’s also really cool that you get a jetpack (though its use is limited) and later get hang gliders to get around easier.

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J3w3l has been talking about the game for a while now, and we got together and ran amok for a while, and that was fun as well. I love the fact that once you’re done with the tutorial there really isn’t any hand-holding, and though there are job-boards that you can get quests from, it’s completely optional. I spent more time gaining xp from just killing stuff than worrying about quests. The world feels pretty large as well, so I felt like there was plenty to do outside of themepark amusements. Overall I like the game and will continue to play it.

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Last up, I got into the closed beta event for ArcheAge (probably because I played Rift not so long ago). I immediately see some correlations to Rift in this game, especially with skill sets being much like souls, and graphically it feels like a similar art direction. I started off the game by creating Haranya Firran. Basically I took that as the “evil” side, and I have always liked cat-people (Vah-shir, Kerran, Khajit). I decided to go with what my usual class choice is this time around, and rolled Shadowplay which is basically like an assassin.

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It appears that all classes have access to ranged and melee combat, along with the differing skillset combinations, so it feels rather free-form, but it takes a while to get to that point. There’s also a neat mechanic where you play your instrument to regen health/mana while out of combat, and you don’t even have to be a bard! (though there is a bard-like skill set) I ended up playing this character up to level ten, and though the graphics are great and the game play is smooth (animations are nice, world is detailed) I was still getting an overall themepark feel, when we were all arguing about this being a PvP sandbox last week. Apparently that doesn’t start until you are post level 30, and that felt like a bad decision to me on my first day with the game. I logged out dejected, and felt that I wouldn’t give it any more of my time. Then I fired it up again last night and tried the opposing faction.

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I created a Nuian, from the continent Nuia. They’re essentially Human, but with only Human and Elf to choose from, the choice was obvious (who plays elves, really?). I decided to go with a more spell-oriented character, and started off with Occultism. This class reminded me a lot of my Warlock from WoW (minus pets) with curses and DOTs. I then added in Witchcraft and Auramancy and ended up with a special class name that I can’t remember at the moment.

So what sets this game apart from other games out there? There are certain features that feel completely unique, like raising your mount from a baby to full fledged horse:

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Also, boats:

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And then there’s the ability to build a house and PvP is supposedly pretty involved with naval combat. I haven’t gotten to that point, and don’t know that I will before tomorrow when the beta ends. Maybe I’ll get into another beta later, and can report more about it.

ArcheAge feels like a step in the right direction, as does Firefall. They might not be the perfect examples of the game I’m looking for, but they just might do the trick in the meantime.

#blaugust #stateofthegame #hearthstone #archeage #firefall