Big Dumb Broforce

Happy Friday

At the very least, Happy Friday to me!  This is the last day of my week as we have Good Friday off tomorrow.  I plan on spending the day in a near vegetative state playing Elder Scrolls Online and likely streaming quite a bit of it.  It seemed like today was going to be a day I could wrap up the loose ends.  I have a bunch of projects that each need a few hours of undivided attention to finish up the last bits of coding.  The problem is I am constantly getting interrupted at work by “fly bys” when some random person comes by to ask a question.  Looking at my calendar it was completely clear, so I thought I would be leisurely listening to the ESO soundtrack and working through the last bits of these projects.

WRONG! I generally check my work email a few times a night, and right before bedtime I noticed I had been invited to a meeting to discuss hopefully the technical details of a new project.  Then I panned down and noticed the time.  There is a special place in hell for people who schedule 12 am to 1 pm meetings.  Sure enough this damned vendor had done just that, so now I have to give up my lunch hour to listen to some vendor do a sloppy job of trying to explain the technical requirements of their product.  I hate vendors…  mostly because where I work the relationship of vendor and customer seems to be completely backwards.  We always end up having to jump through hoops to meet vendor needs… when it should be the other way around.

Big Dumb Broforce

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-13-57-71 One of the things that I lament about modern video game design… is the attempt to make them feel like interactive movies.  While I can appreciate the craftsmanship of the Mass Effect series, it is not the type of game I want to play every single day.  I like blowing things up, gibbing bad guys and generally saving the day.  I have massive amounts of notalgia over the big dumb games of my childhood.  Nobody really gave a shit about the storyline in Double Dragon, because mostly it was completely incoherent.  However we did know the bad guys by name and enjoyed punching them repeatedly.  The name Abobo still sends an irrational amount of fear through me.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-16-34-23 Broforce is basically one of these games with a storyline that is basically an excuse to blow a bunch of stuff up.  The game is very reminiscent of Metal Slug, another title that I absolutely love, with a few significant tweaks.  The gameplay is very similar, go through the map rescuing prisoners of war.  The twist is each time you rescue another prisoner, you gain an extra life and then transform into that prisoner.  This gives the game a huge cast of characters, all of which have extremely unique abilities.  In the above shot I ended up playing as J from Men in Black… known in this game as “Bro in Black”.  All of the various characters have been given bro names like “Brobocop” or “B.A. Broracus”.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-18-41-32 At the end of each sequence of levels there is a boss fight, this one is a helicopter that alternates between dropping bombs and firing a chain gun at you.  What makes it difficult is that both NPC weapons and your weapons can destroy terrain.  Meaning pretty quickly you are running out of places to stand.  One nifty tip that I have noticed is that the platforms the flags spawn on are indestructible, meaning you can use them as a shield when the bomb phase starts.  All of this said the gameplay is just infectious.  I’ve played roughly an hour so far, and am really enjoying myself.  The only thing that I find frustrating is that not all of the “bros” are created equal.  Some of them like the MacGyver clone are extremely situational.  It reminds me of playing Castlevania and getting stuck with the wrong alternate attack right before a boss fight.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-14-48-16  The one thing that would greatly improve the experience for me is the ability to swap back and forth between the bros you have rescued.  That would make the gameplay feel more strategic and less random.  Even in the modern Castlevania games you got a second chance to swap back to the weapon you had before.  It is bad enough that if I get MacGyver I tend to just suicide out to swap to a new character.  Playing mad bomber is just not as fun as it seems… even though his bombed turkey attack is hilarious to watch.  The game is available through steam early release, but it feels pretty damned complete to me.  If you like mindless shoot-em-up game play, I highly suggest you give it a look.

Wandering Rivenspire

Screenshot_20140416_220811 The rest of the night I ended up working on the various quests in Rivenspire.  This zone might be my nemesis, not because I don’t like it… but maybe that I like it too much.  I find it nearly impossible to focus while wandering around a landscape full of vampires.  I end up falling into vampire hunter mode and spending large amounts of time slaughtering the undead without really knowing I have done it again.  I desperately tried to stay focused last night and follow the quest chains.  I managed to ding 32 and at this point I am no longer getting drops from most of the encounters around me.  It seems like if you are not within five levels of the encounter it becomes trivial and stops dropping anything meaningful.

I am however using the opportunity to loot everything I see, and feed the cooking mats to Kodra and Sylladora depending on the level of the material.  I hit a lucky streak last night and managed to get both the Breton and Argonian racial motif books.  The Argonian one is still looking for a home by the way if any of my guildies need or want it.  A few days ago I managed to get an Imperial motif book, so they do apparently exist for everyone concerned the only way to get imperial gear was through the collectors edition.  I managed to find a buyer for it and got 10,000g… which I figured was pretty damned good considering that the other motif books started out around 2,000 and have quickly dropped to 500 as the market has become flooded.

For awhile I was trying to broker a trade for either the Barbarian or Primal racial motif, however I have heard they are pretty common drops in the veteran levels.  That ancient elves and daedra are far more difficult to find.  I figure getting the gold while I can for the imperial book was the best course of order.  Like always I am in a relative state of poor in this game, but I need to begin saving up for my fast pony.  I might have to give up on deconstructing everything I see and just start selling it to make a profit.  My biggest concern right now is that I am several levels ahead of the zone I am in… and this just seems to keep getting worse as I move upwards.  I just find it impossible to move on past a zone until I think I have gotten everything out of it.

Interesting Footnote

It seems as though I am going to be on two podcasts this weekend.  I will of course be recording the second episode of AggroChat… which I am looking forward to.  We have several topics that we may or may not get around to discussing.  It should be a fun time for me at least either way.  The second however is that I will be guesting on the Multplaying.net podcast.  So keep watching their site for the file because I am sure it will be a fun time.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #BroForce #AggroChat #Multiplaying

Groupcraft Revisited

Dusting Off Skills

One of the very first features that got my blog noticed years ago was a series I called Groupcraft.  In it I outlined the general theory I take when trying to make a group happen out of thin air.  This was a process I had streamlined since when I first started trying to make groups happen back in Burning Crusade, and still continue to do this today.  This advice predates the existence of the dungeon finder tools, and even in a world where you can push a button and get a group… I still find most of it extremely useful.  Based on a discussion over on twitter yesterday, I feel like it might be time to dust off this topic and revisit it.  The Elder Scrolls online has grouping tools, but once again I find that a custom built group is far more successful as the queue times seem to be pretty extreme for anyone who is not a tank or a healer.

Taking Responsibility

Screenshot_20140404_220734 The very first step in the process is to take responsibility for your own happiness.  You can sit around in guild chat hoping a group will happen upon you and whisk you away to a dream land of epic loot…  or you can make one happen yourself.  Massively Multiplayer games are the refuge of introverts, and since I believe it or not am one of them…  this was a hard step for me to move past.  In other games I have hung out hoping things would evolve into a group… and then wound up disappointed when I pissed my night away waiting for it to happen.  In games like Everquest it was easier, simply going to a specific place in the world meant it was pretty easy for you to get into a group.  However in the post wow world this is just not something that works.

Be Specific

Screenshot_20140407_183815 It is simply unrealistic for you to expect that someone will form a group for you.  As a result you need to be the catalyst that makes sure the groups happen, and it really isn’t as hard as you might think.  Once you’ve decided you are going to step up to the plate and form a group…  you need to know what you intend to do.  This can be a pretty flexible mission of “run a dungeon”, but in doing so you need to know which one and what the requirements for that dungeon are.  The first dungeon you are likely to run in the Daggerfall Covenant is Spindleclutch.  It requires some kind of sturdy tank, some form of a healer, and then the rest of the party is pretty flexible.  By healer and tank, there are many different things that can work but they need to be able to take some damage and heal some damage.  Simply throwing a few points into healing staff is generally sufficient at least for the first tier of dungeons.

Surveying the Scene

Screenshot_20140416_060055 Now that you know what you want to do you need to lock down some people.  With the goal being Spindleclutch the sweet spot seems to be around level 14 with it technically being able to support people in the 12-18 range generally speaking.  While I took this screenshot from my own guild this morning when nobody much was on, you would hopefully see some names lit up and available.  What we are focusing on is the 12-17 section of the screen.  For example in Stalwart we have an entire screen worth of people to choose from.  If you can find at least four people on in the list then bam you likely have the makings of a group.  If you can find two or more, then you can shift focus and go do a public dungeon since those tend to be design for two or more players and are loaded with all sorts of goodies similar to instanced dungeons.

Communication

Screenshot_20140405_224903 This step is absolutely key to making your group work.  So many people simply broadcast to guild a message similar to “anyone want to do something?”.  These are NEVER successful, or moreso are only successful if the person on the other end is also trying to build a group.  Saying “I need one more person for Spindleclutch” is a bit more successful, but that still requires that someone is watching guild chat and comfortable in their own abilities to speak up and sign up for your mission.  What I find instead works so much better is to directly message players.  So if I were to be building this hypothetical group I would start pinging folks in the sweet spot with something like this. “Hey noticed you were in the level range for Spindle Clutch, going to be pulling together a group.  What roles can you fill?”.

At this point the player is going to do one of two things either say they cannot go, which is perfectly cool… or respond back with a list of roles they can provide.  You are already one step closer to a group than you were a few minutes ago.  I tend to just assume players want to run dungeons, and I skip the step of even asking if they want to go.  It might seem presumptuous but over the years I have come to realize that most players are waiting for something interesting to happen.  If you give them the opportunity, they more than likely will jump at the chance… unless they simply do not have the time to do “whatever” that night.

Lock Down the Required Roles

Screenshot_20140405_210040 Now comes the trickiest part.  We know that we need players between the levels of 12 to 18 with a sweet spot being around 14.  We know that we need a tank of some sort and a healer of some sort.  If you are yourself a tank or healer, it becomes a lot easier… as you need to only find the other half of the required roles.  As a more dpsy player you need to find two people before you have a viable group.  An instanced dungeon group cannot really happy before you’ve found both a tank and a healer, so those are the slots I tend to fill first.  Once you have locked down both positions, you have a viable dungeon group and can fill the last slots.  If you cannot find a tank or a healer remember you still have a perfectly viable public dungeon group.  Public dungeons are pretty awesome, and every one I have gone too has been a loot bonanza quickly filling my inventory.

Start Up the Group

Screenshot_20140408_195314 So at this point you’ve locked down the required roles, and identified a three other players who are ready to dungeon together.  One of the nice things about Elder Scrolls Online is that all that really needs to happen now is for a single player to zone into the dungeon.  At that point all of the other players can choose the “teleport to player” option which will pop them into the dungeon as well.  Hopefully your custom group will go smoothly.  However inevitably you will hit a snag, or a boss encounter you simply were not ready for.  I believe in a blame free dungeon environment, where you assess what is going wrong and try and fix it however you can.  Dungeons are hard, and they require complex skills.  Try and be open to assistance and provide blameless advise for what might be going on in the dungeon.  If you do all of these things, I think you are pretty much guaranteed an enjoyable night of dungeoning.

The fringe benefit of all of this is you begin to know more members of the guild, and what each player can bring to the table.  The more you do this, the easier it becomes to pull together groups on the spur of the moment.  You shift from feeling like you are forced to only solo, to being someone who has control over their own destiny.  The truth of multiplayer games is that the players generally would like to group up and do big things.  Not everyone has the time to do this all of the time, but folks come into this genre with at least the intent to do things larger than they can do on their own.  You just have to be willing to take your fate into your own hands and start the ball rolling.  Even today I get super self conscious at times when I step out into a new social environment that I did not bring with me a ton of familiar faces.  But this basic framework for making groups happen has never failed me.

Better than Dungeon Tools

Screenshot_20140414_195115 So I will throw out a final thought for the day before closing this up.  I first outlined my process for making groups happen in an era when we did not really have the grouping tools that exist today.  So this is the way you HAD to get groups, and relied heavily on social channels and guilds.  Now that we have role based dungeon tools… quite simply we have gotten lazy.  Building a group like this means you have to communicate with other players to make it happen.  The one thing that makes “pugging” so generally terrible is that players simply do not communicate freely.  How many times have you been in a pug and it is a silent train careening off the tracks?  No one is talking, and no one is trying to discuss what is going wrong.  The only time anything is said is when it is to curse out the tank or the healer for being “fail” at the game.  By talking to the players to form the group you have already broken down that crucial barrier to success…  communication.

Almost every game that has a “push a button, get a group” type tool also has other tools for you to try and build groups around.  So I always try and fill my groups the “old fashioned” way, and then if we are a single person short go ahead and queue us all together for the dungeon filling that last slot.  Even absolute assholes tend to behave better when they are out numbered in a guild group.  I feel like the modern grouping tools are best used to augment building a group from scratch.  Get as close as you possibly can to a full team, and then use the tool to fill the rest.  You can always pop into a public dungeon while you wait in the queue.  While I have mostly focused on Elder Scrolls Online, this general theory pretty much applies to every game I have played.  The most critical step is really telling yourself that you can do this.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #GroupCraft #Dungeons

Crypt of Revenge

Cold Snap

badweatherbrewin The above photo is from this past Sunday evening, taken right before a massive line of storms blew in.  During the day on Sunday it was around 80* outside and Monday morning it was 35 out.  Over the night last night it dipped back down into freezing temperatures.  One of the problems with living in Oklahoma is the constant and ever changing weather patterns.  At this point I just wish it would realize we are in spring and not winter.  When I went out to lunch yesterday… it was snowing.  Not the occasional snowflake drifting down from above, but enough that I had to use my windshield wipers on a pretty high setting.  It was of course melting the moment it touched anything, but it was more than enough to be annoying.

Down the road from Tulsa in Porter they are extremely concerned about this years Peach harvest.  They had been talking on the news about planning on using helicopters to push warmer air down into the fields to keep the crops safe.  That didn’t seem terribly cost effective but I am sure it would at the very least be interesting to watch.  We actually had to turn on the heat again last night, and even this morning in my office that is normally the warmest part of the house it is really freaking chilly.  Can it be spring yet please?

Crypt of Revenge

Screenshot_20140414_200714 When I last stepped foot in the Crypt of Hearts I was level 26, and since then I have dinged 30 and upgraded a good chunk of my gear.  Similarly the healer that was also 26 is now 31 and during the day yesterday we plotted our revenge on the dungeon.  While it was enjoyable to get our asses handed to us the first time, this time around we wanted to wreck the place for taking our candy.  I have to say the levels and the gear helped massively.  In fact there were several moments last night where I ignored proper elder scrolls dungeon etiquette and just charged into the packs pulling everything at once.  For the most part we could mitigate the combat with the fact that we had a 37 and 38 dps with us.  The fights all still required us to pay attention to what was going on, and the mechanics were still very punishing, but they were not impassible.

Screenshot_20140414_202848 The boss encounter above was probably the most brutal thing we had experienced to date.  Even with the slightly overpowered damage it took us a few tries to get through it.  Essentially the skeletal juggernaut alternated between two attacks, the first being a linear charge across the room, and the second being quite possibly the largest AOE attack I have seen to date.  You have to avoid both successfully or you end up getting wrecked.  The area of effect is so large that you have to be running in the right direction AND then dodge out to clear it.  This means you have to save plenty of stamina in reserve to always have a dodge available.  The damage you take seemed to lessen depending on how close to the edge you managed to get before the attack fired off.  While punishing, it was still a really cool encounter to experience.

City of Ash

Screenshot_20140414_203939 After defeating the Crypt we decided to continue our journey into the City of Ash.  This dungeon represents and entirely new kind of dungeon crawl from the other ones we had experienced in Elder Scrolls Online.  The back story for the dungeon is that you are trying to save a Bosmer city that is being assaulted by the forces of Mehunes Dagon.  For those not familiar with the name, he was the big baddie that you were fighting during the course of Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion.  His plane of oblivion is one of fire and demons… and not surprisingly you end up fighting a lot of flame based Dremora inside the City of Ash.  What makes the encounters interesting is when you reach the city and start the quest proper… you are given the choice of a healer npc or an archer npc to guide you.

Screenshot_20140414_205238 We took the healer, because we assumed that any game that would offer you a healer… means you are just about to start taking massive amounts of damage.  We were for the most part right as the encounters mostly pulled themselves for large chunks of the dungeon.  I am not entirely certain if the mobs were actually linked, or if the healer bot was instead pulling for us.  In either way the crawl through the burning “Ewok Village” was fast paced and frenetic.  Bosmer architecture is really interesting, as they seem to be able to convince the trees to grow in shapes that support their city.  Considering how seriously they take the Green Pact the inhabitants had to be freaking out when the first started around them.

Screenshot_20140414_210056 This is probably going to go down as one of my favorite dungeons, in part because the zone looked amazing… but more importantly because there was a giant burning oblivion gate at the very end.  Oblivion is probably the Elder Scrolls game that I have spent the most hours playing, and gave us the amazing Shivering Isles campaign.  You could drop an oblivion gate in an otherwise boring dungeon and I would still have to go there just to defeat it.  Fortunately the City of Ash is not a boring dungeon, and had some of the more interesting boss fights I had experienced to date.  The games dungeons honestly just keep getting better.  Each of them has a very unique feel and vastly unique mechanics.  What I find amazing is how nothing really feels “recycled”.  The bosses do what you would expect them to do based on how they are and what their environment is.

Arx Corinium

Screenshot_20140414_211149 So during the course of the night, we had started in a skeletal crypt, moved to a burning bosmer city… and finished it in the Black Marsh.  At each tier so far the different dungeon environments have been extremely varied which is a good thing.  At this point in the evening I was starting to get a bit drowsy so might recount of the tales might be a bit spotty at best.  The main mission here at Arx Corinium is to help a Nereid save her sisters from the Naga that control the dungeon.  What this means to the players is that you are going to have to fight a ton of things at the same time.  One of the more interesting things is that there are also huge Lurchers lumbering about the dungeon.  These are not connected to the Naga packs and seem to be non-social.  It gives them the feeling of a Big Daddy from the original Bioshock.  Throughout the night we tried our best to either pull them before or after the rest of the pull.  At one point one of them just wandered up from somewhere unseen, so they seem to have pretty long paths.

Screenshot_20140414_213219 There are many of these “leap of faith” moments where you have to jump off cliffs and waterfalls hoping that you survive the drop.  While we managed to survive each, there definitely seems to be a high chance that you might bounce enough on the rocks to kill yourself.  There were fights in the dungeon that reminded me more than a little bit of Polaris from The Secret World… and not really in a good way.  I am sure that over time we would be able to adapt to the encounters, but there were a few fights that we only made it through because Shiana is 38… and really good at kiting.  On at least two of the encounters he was the last person standing and managed to drag us over the finish line.  I felt bad for Waren and Shiana… because they were essentially just along for the ride and the repair bill.  In Elder Scrolls Online you need to be within five levels of the encounters you are fighting or you no longer get loot.  That said Tam and I managed to walk away with a lot of nice things and I think it was a great night overall for all of us.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #CryptofHearts #CityofAsh #ArxCorinium

Life in Castlevania

Keep Progress

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-04-18-30 Last night I popped into Landmark for a bit and continued work on Belgarde Keep.  At this point I have burned through around 1 million stone and still have so much more to do.  One of my friends chastised me for building with stone.  He said that I could do this much more easily with dirt and then come back over and paint in the stone texture.  For whatever reason that just feels like cheating.  Right now I can carve out bits of detail as I so choose and I still have stone underneath.  With dirt I feel like I would be playing a constant game of trying to keep the facade looking right.  The irony of my structure is that in a game with a pretty prolific smooth tool… I go out of my way to try and keep from anything getting smoothed.  I don’t like the way it mushes up the textures to be honest.

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-03-23-53 I was feeling pretty good about my progress until I saw this picture…  it looks like maybe my structure is a voxel off somewhere when it comes to what is currently the upper tier.  So that means I will likely have to rip it out and start over from scratch placing stuff up there.  However for the time being I think I will leave it as is until I get the “oomph” to go on another massive stone farming mission.  The section I am standing on in this above photo… I am thinking about removing large chunks of it and making it a low balcony.  Giving it more of a ramparts feel to it.  Right now I am pretty pleased with how things are going, I just need to pull myself away from Elder Scrolls Online more often to do more work on it.

Life in Castlevania

Screenshot_20140413_230742 I spent most of yesterday faffing about in Rivenspire, and as was my expectation from yesterday… it is very much Castlevania.  Stuff is going horribly wrong in zone, and it is mostly due to the fact that we have free roaming vampires everywhere.  There are few things I like more than slaughtering malformed vampires, but apparently one of them is killing Trolls.  I remember in Skyrim the first time I was attacked by an Ice Troll.  It felt completely epic seeing this lumbering shape charging at me through the blowing snow.  That feeling apparently never gets old because I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday avoiding finishing a quest just so I could kill loads more trolls.  Fire is traditionally the weakness, and I am not sure if that is still the case…  but I as a Dragon Knight I applied loads of it just in case.

Rivenspire in the way it is laid out seems to be designed to keep me moving around in circles.  There are so many things I still have to do in the zone to be able to move on… and I have already dinged 30.  I am afraid I will be at least 35 before I manage to gather up the presence of mind to focus on the task at hand.  This game for whatever reason is almost my kryptonite.  There are so many shinnies and rabbit trails that I cannot keep from following.  One minute I will be on task riding towards an objective, then a dark tear will open up from the sky and dump things down onto me…  then I spend the next forty minutes on a mindless rampage across the country side only to realize I am back where I started and no closer to my objective.  Thing is… I might get frustrated over my constant state of distraction, but I am enjoying each and every minute of it.

Faffing About Bleakrock

In an attempt to let people catch up a bit I decided to run around on my little Bosmer Nightblade in the Ebonheart Pact.  Nothing terribly exciting but I thought I would stream my adventures.  I had not streamed in awhile, and I end up joined by my friend Pazz.  Over the course of an hour I make my way through the Bleakrock quests.  If you’ve already played through Bleakrock there is nothing terribly exciting to see here, other than me roaming around aimlessly with a big sword.  I really like the Bosmer for some reason, they feel more “feral”.  In a way I am purposefully rolling things that would not be seen natively in an area.  I plan on making an Argonian when I roll a character in the Aldmeri Dominion.  You can listen to Pazz and I rattle on for awhile, and since he apparently does not understand how to make a push to talk key you get to listen to his inane water bottle noises that sound rather “questionable”.

You Apparently Like Us?

I am absolutely floored over the support we have gotten so far on the podcast.  Embedding it again because it seems like the thing to do.  Honestly I expected to post the podcast and then maybe have a dozen listeners that took pity on us enough to download it.  Instead I have gotten some pretty positive comments.  I know that it is currently pretty low quality, but that is something we can improve on over time.  I had a friend ask me what bitrate we encoded at… and I literally had no answer.  I just saved it out without really paying attention what I chose.  I also want to fiddle a bit with the actual recording next time around.  The positive is that I do believe there will be a next time.  We all had fun doing it, and even if no one else was listening I think we would still continue recording.

I had a few people offer to be guests, and another few people offer to have us on their podcasts for some cross pollination.  I think for the short term we need to lock down exactly what it is that we are doing before changing the mix significantly.  I think it would be fun to record a show where we completely open things up similar to my podcasts, but then again that might be a little odd fighting to stay on task with people constantly popping in and out.  For the time being what we did works, so I expect to keep tweaking that a little bit to improve the quality.  I’ve already worked on a new version of the intro, and hopefully by next week Rae will have our awesome Chibis finished.  This is starting to feel like a “real” thing… and while that is odd, it is also pretty damned cool.

#Landmark #ElderScrollsOnline #AggroChat #RIvenspire #Bleakrock

A Wild Podcast Appears!

The Birth of AggroChat

aggrochat_obnoxious_placeholder This mornings blog post is going to be heavily related to what we did yesterday.  Firstly… I have long thought that some of the conversations we had on the House Stalwart mumble sounded pretty damned close to many of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.    While I did not think we would ever be as polished as Alternative Chat, or as awesomely thematically focused as the Battle Bards…  I thought our people had something interesting to add to the mix.  This is happening super fast to be honest, but that is probably a good thing.  I was afraid that this would end up being yet another idea we had, that we never quite capitalized on.

We first talked about doing this on April 9th, and here it is the 13th and we have our first show up.  I am sure at this point it is somewhat awkward of a recording but we will get better.  Additionally at some point I will lean how the hell to use audacity and make a better sounding introduction.  We have a super ghetto libsyn page up right now, and that will also be changing hopefully over the coming weeks.  Rae is working on some really awesome chibi versions of the co-hosts and she would likely kill me if I posted the pencil versions before she has time to pretty them up.  If you guys did not know it was Rae that drew the original Belghast chibi that adorns this blog, so the new ones are truly awesome.  Since libsyn needed a 1400×1400 square image I threw together a truly obnoxious placeholder image.

A Wild Podcast Appears!

As I alluded to above… last night at 8pm EST we did our very first recording.  It was a little awkward starting out, but as the night went on things felt more natural.  There was a point at the end where I finally looked at the clock and noticed we had been rambling on for an hour and decided to cut things off.  In truth we hang out on mumble damned near every night, so I knew that once we got over the hump of doing this “for real” things would begin to flow again.  We covered a pretty wide gamut of topics from ESO Craglorn Adventure Zone, to Heroes of the Storm, to My Little Pony Card game and many many stops in-between.  I will leave it up to you guys to determine if it is a worthy pursuit.  I am pretty happy with the way things turned out, for it being our very first podcast… and none of us really know what the hell we are doing.  Leave a comment and tell us what you think of the end result.

Right now we are very much in a “finding our format” mode.  Functionally we have been keeping things really simple.  We all share access to a google doc that is a running show topics of sorts.  In this first episode we barely scratched the surface of all the things we ended up brainstorming.  Mostly I would like to see us keep things pretty lose, but we might start doing a section for news after the what we are playing bit.  While the “what everyone is playing” thing is pretty generic, it seems to work really well to break the ice and get things rolling.  I’ve seen numerous podcasts and video casts do that one… so I felt not shame in blatantly stealing it.

Rivenspire is Serious Business

eso 2014-04-13 11-41-51-01 Yesterday morning pretty early I finished up the content in Stormhaven and moved up into the Rivenspire area.  The transition between Glenumbra and Stormhaven was pretty extreme, but there seems to be an equally steep divide between Stormhaven and Rivenspire.  Single pulls are pretty much a thing of the past, and it is very unlikely that I now find smaller than a three pull when I am running around.  As a result of this and a result of the fact that I have a really awesome onehander right now… I am back to mostly playing as sword and shield instead of two hander.  I am still really enjoying the content, and if you played through SWTOR at all…  Rivenspire feels a lot like Alderaan.

You have these competing families vying for control of the land, with one of them having gone completely off the deep end.  Additionally there is a very “Castlevania” feel to the zone, which tells me as I get deeper in I will like the content even more.  Few things make me happier than slaying Werewolves and Vampires….  and the zone also has a pretty heavy contingent of Daedra to boot.  In fact one of the public dungeons I ventured into thinking I could solo it… and ended up getting bailed out by my friend Warenwolf.  It easily had to have a dozen different bosses in it including the ones associated with the quest chain.  It is truly insane the amount of loot you get in a group public dungeon like that.   We both had to resort to “mail banking” where we mail the items to a friend and they return it back to us later.

Tag Team Farming

Landmark64 2014-04-13 11-50-04-84 While recording the podcast last night, Rae and I spend most of it faffing about in Landmark.  The thing that has had me high center in my building project is a complete and total lack of stone.  My structure is almost entirely made of stone and it took over 200,000 to get to the point at which it is today.  Last night I went out into the desert and dug down, as underneath sand is generally a solid bed of stone as far as you can possibly dig.  Before I knew it Rae had joined me and we were carving out a massive swath of stone beneath the ground.  While recording we managed to harvest up over 300,000 and as a result I went back and added in floors/ceilings to my stone superstructure.  This makes me happy as I was getting tired of seeing the grass growing up in the middle of my keep.  From here I am not quite sure where I am going next but I have a few ideas.

Landmark64 2014-04-13 11-52-59-18 If you are in game you should totally swing by Liberation/Levee and check out Rae’s adjoining claims.  They are located on a hill southeast of the spire, and the low settings I have to run the game on for my laptop to not completely die… are not doing it justice.  She has this really awesome garden area, and then down the hill she has a guest house.  Her main house is carved out of the hillside and a subterranean area.  If you are in need of a crafting hub she also has pretty much all of the machines.  She has another super secret project, but I won’t be showing it since i think she is going to try and enter it in the “Landmark’s Landmarks” contest.  Here is hoping she does well because it is looking really cool.

Finishing Stormhaven

2048: Sign of the Beast

2048isevil For those of you who are not currently playing this game, I suggest you skip ahead to the next section.  I feel like a crack peddler by even mentioning it, and this is from someone who is “lovingly” referred to as the “games pusher” by some of his friends.  It was a few months ago when one of my game developer friends stumbled across this simple but deeply nuanced game and it made the gamut of my friends.  I suck at number puzzles and even I played it quite a bit.  The problem is each time I started down the path towards the mythical 2048 I would get to the point where I wanted to throw my phone across the room.  I managed to get 1024 numerous times but could never seal the deal and get the other half of that equation.

It was much to my horror that I awoke this morning to find my wife laying in bed beside me playing this game on her phone.  As a math teacher I was honestly surprised how long it took for this craze to cycle around to her, but apparently it is now infecting her “community” as well.  The only cure is to NOT play, but that seems to be harder than it sounds.  She said some of her students have actually lost sleep trying to reason out how to get to the magical 2048.  As a result I have now decided to dub this the devils game…  I am sure that Advanced Dungeons and Dragons will be disappointed that it has lost the title.  I realize this is just a rework of the existing threes game, but there is something inherently more addicting about it.  We NEVER count in 3s, but each time we sit down at a computer everything we do is based around binary… so 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc etc are all numbers we are so damned used to looking at in terms of memory or whatever we happen to be doing on a computer.  Threes just looked at the problem from the wrong angle, and this little freeware version is better than it in every possible way.

Finishing Stormhaven

Screenshot_20140411_223404 I was absolutely taken aback at just how gorgeous this screenshot came out.  Anyone who says something negative about the graphics in Elder Scrolls Online has likely not actually played it.  Last night I dinged 27 and am still finishing up the last few things in Stormhaven.  I technically should have moved on around 25, but I have a hard time leaving a zone until I have at least made an attempt to turn all of the black icons on the map to white ones.  I got the last Skyshard last night, and now I think I just have one quest line to follow before I can happily move on to Rivenspire.

The above armor I am wearing is the tier 3 Imperial heavy armor, and I have to say it looks pretty damned awesome.  Right now I am trying to gather up enough orichalcum to craft a new onehander, but I upgraded my two hander last night.  I have reached a point where I desperately need Orichalcum, but can’t seem to find much in Stormhaven… whereas before I couldn’t find the High Iron I needed.  I have literally dumped a few 100 bar stacks into the guild bank since I don’t really need them.  Hopefully it will help out some of the up and coming smiths in the guild.  What I am desperately in need of is tempers… especially Dwarven Oil.  I feel like I need to farm some of the world bosses in an attempt to get items to deconstruct.

Getting our Asses Kicked

Screenshot_20140411_223848 Up until this point my friends and I had managed to make our way through the six dungeons to this point on a mixture of luck, skill and determination.  However last night we hit a hard and absolute wall.  The Crypt of Hearts is a dungeon in the next zone up… Rivenspire.  It is scaled for level 30, and last night we had two at 31, and two at 26.  We just did not have enough healing, damage, survival…. to push through the content.  We managed to down the first encounter, but got completely gummed up on the second.  We put in a bunch of attempts on Archmaster Siniel, and while we improved we always seemed to hit a point where we just could not survive the damage.

There is a lot of stuff going on in that zone, and it involves a lot of adjusting to what is happening.  I think we finally had the right way to handle the fight, but just were hitting a gear wall.  Can I tell you how damned refreshing it is to completely fail at a dungeon?  That might sound odd, but to have a game with dungeons that can absolutely break our group is pretty damned impressive.  Normally we steamroll content in these games, and after a few deaths we have figured out whatever “trick” there is to a fight and then from that point on have mastered it.  To have our asses handed to us so thoroughly gives us a mission to figure out how to beat the place.  This dungeon is going to become our new “sand giant” and we are going to want revenge.

#ElderScrollsOnline #StormHaven #CryptofHearts #2048 #RivenSpire

Cyrodil Bound

Prouds, I has them

fitbitdashboard_10k

Yesterday was the second day in a row I managed to hit the default goal of 10,000 steps since I got my fitbit.  While I normally clock in at the 8,000 steps range I have actually hit 10,000 four times so far.  As I wrote when I got my fitbit, it makes interesting tweaks in the way you look at the world.  These last two days I mostly performed a simple tweak to my routine.  I spend most of my life pushing as many things as possible to autopilot, and as such… unless it is super important I try and make things absolute routine.  As a result I prefer to park in exactly the same place every day, so I don’t have to think about where I parked.  The only place that is reliably open is the roof of the parking garage, and while I do try and find a covered place when there is bad weather… it works for me.

Normally speaking I have been going up and down the stairs from the roof for a while now, but I opted to make a slight tweak in this routine.  Instead of walking the stairs, I decided to walk the long winding ramp between the 6th and 4th floor.  This is a large number of new steps to add to my routine, and I think is really the difference between consistently having 8,000 days and 10,000 days.  My other friends that are also using the fitbit tend to skew the results by walking in place at night or pacing the halls to try and finish off their steps.  I however wanted to try and tweak my routine to a point at which it was sustainable and repeatable, and slowly over time I am getting there.

A new thing my wife and I have been doing in the evenings is attempting to walk to dinner.  Granted we live in the suburbs and it is not exactly designed for walkability… but we are making it function.  There are a number of restaurants that are within a mile of the house and Wednesday night we walked a grand total of 4200 steps to RibCrib and back.  Last night she got home super late so we didn’t do this, but instead walked around the corner to the grocery store to buy a ream of paper and some advil.  It seems that if we are walking someplace with a purpose in mind, it is easier.  This is still very new to us, but so far we both seem to be adjusting well.  The only negative is that I seem to have developed shin splints which hurt like hell, but hopefully they will lessen over time.

Cyrodil Bound

Screenshot_20140410_210456 If you remember some weeks back there was a question as to which campaign to choose.  After much discussion we ended up picking Wabbajack, and apparently this was a very good choice.  It seems as though the Daggerfall Covenant is doing extremely well there, and when I logged in last night we had the faction wide buff indicating that we had crowned an Emperor.  In addition we managed to hold all of the elder scrolls, but as my friend Kodra reported it looked like we were about to lose one of the keeps holding a scroll.  I feel a little bad that as cool as Cyrodil seems, last night was the first night since the mandatory pvp testing weekends that I had set foot in it.  I completely skipped the tutorial quests, which are apparently really good, and worth a lot of skill points… and jumped straight into combat.  I had more fun than I have really had in PVP ever… or at least since Dark Age of Camelot.

We successfully defended the keep, and took several objectives around the keep.  What was nice about defending the keep is that we were able to consistently push Ebonheart Pact away from the siege weapons and destroy them, giving our keep time to repair.  I died a ton, but also managed to get in my fair share of killing blows thanks to being able to shield charge into targets.  I pvp’d as sword and shield and overall I was pretty pleased with the results.  I might tweak things up a bit, to add a bit more annoyance to my toolbar.  I managed to get three skill points and at the end of the night was halfway through realm rank two.  All in all it was a fun little outing and something I could see doing again in the near future.

Podcast In the Air

For some time I have been streaming in the evenings from time to time, and in doing so I hop on mumble and join a channel called “Bel is Streaming”.  Folks pop into the channel and we end up chatting about damned near everything but the thing we happen to be playing.  When I went back and listened to some of the videos…  they almost sounded like impromptu podcasts.  This started a discussion among a few of my friends and is slowly working its way towards a real podcast.  There is a group of friends that I have been hanging out on mumble with on an almost nightly basis.  Over this time we have developed a really good chemistry, and the goal is to take that same chemistry to a podcast.

So sometime in the very near future we will be recording our inaugural episode.  I will be joined by my good friends Rae, Kodra and Ashgar.  Between us we each have just enough overlap of tastes to make it work, and just enough divergence to hopefully make for differing points of view.  Rae is currently working on some really amazing Chibis of us to eventually become a logo.  Special thanks to Sypster to answering some questions and helping me pick a libsyn package.  We don’t really know what we are doing…  but that is okay, we all have to start out not knowing what we are doing.  Right now the gameplay is to keep a google doc going with potential topics, and then just see what happens on air.  Hopefully it will be something worth listening to.

Elder Dungeons

H1Z1 Preview

h1n1 Yesterday was the big reveal of the new SOE game H1Z1.  While it should surprise no one… this is a zombie survival MMO.  With the name there is literally nothing else that it could have been.  Right now the details are pretty sketchy, but details are being collected on the official reddit.  It really looks like it is going to take what Rust and DayZ are doing, to the next level and make it massive and persistent.  While all of this intrigues me…  I think it is pretty much in the “not for me” camp.  I am amped about exploring a zombie filled world, and building bases with my friends to protect against the hordes.  Dealing with additional players in a PVP scenario in that same world… pretty much destroys my enjoyment.  Ultimately I am all about community and working together, and unless there is some unofficial co-operative server there really isn’t much pull for me.

I played quite a bit of the DayZ mod for Arma 2, but the thing that ultimately stopped me from playing it more was the fact that I didn’t need to worry about the zombies, but instead worry about getting sniped from a massive distance by other players.  I realize that it is more realistic to have players be fighting other players for survival, but in these games there are often times far more players in the world than zombies.  I feel like ultimately what I am looking for is State of Decay co-operative mode… which sadly is not in the cards.  I want to explore a purely PVE world with my friends, and scavenge from potentially NPC factions.  I guess the proof will be in the pudding and how things are set up.  What would really kill the game for me is if other players can loot your corpse, similar to DayZ.

So long as if I die to players I get to keep my progression and my inventory, I might be okay with this.  The other big concern is, that Smedley already talks about players coming along and burning down the bases of other players.  As a kid I loved to build with blocks, but it would piss me off when another kid would come along and knock down my intricate structure.  That is precisely what it feels like to me, when you have a base building game… that allows other players to come destroy yours.  Some time ago Smedley said there was another game on the horizon that SWG players would love.  I keep wondering if this is it, because it is supposed to have the whole player created town aspect.  Knowing what I know about the SWG community however, I don’t really see them being terribly enthralled by this.

The Evil Within

A game I have been watching with some interest for some time is The Evil Within.  Essentially it brings the world famous Shinji Mikami, creator of Resident Evil.  During the early days of the playstation, I absolutely ate up survival horror titles.  I played the shit out of Resident Evil, its sequel, Parasite Eve, and even Dino Crisis.  However for me the genre reached its peak with the release of the original Silent Hill.  There was something so perfect about that game and the way it blended between the relatively sedate “normal” world, and the absolutely twisted “nightmare” world.  The game absolutely blew me away from the opening chords of its theme song.  As the Resident Evil series wore on, it became ever repetitive and boring, as you rehashed the same old t-virus saga again and again.

What The Evil Within does is pair the mind of Shinji Mikami with the publishing might of Bethesda Softworks.  Now granted this is not the same team that brought us the Elder Scrolls, or even Fallout…  but so far they have managed to prove that when one of the Zenimax studios creates a title…  I am ultimately going to be interested in it.  The above trailer is brand new for Pax and I have to say I am super interested.  It feels far more like Silent Hill than Resident Evil, and this is an awesome thing to me.  I want another game where I wander around a nightmarish landscape that I can’t quite wrap my head around.  The title is slotted to ship at the end of August, and I am super excited about it.  If you loved the original Silent Hill as much as I did, I figure you have reason to be excited as well.  If nothing else the trailer is really freakin cool.

Elder Dungeons

Screenshot_20140408_195314 I finally put my finger on what exactly I am loving about the dungeons in Elder Scrolls Online.  In many ways it feels like a return to the dungeons of Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot.  World of Warcraft did something to MMOs that has seemed unrepairable until now.  It was really the first game to begin to treat dungeons as though they were wholly separate from the rest of the world.  It walled the dungeons off in instances, filled them with special dungeon mobs, and applied abilities to them that you would see in no place OTHER than a dungeon.  The dungeon became its own unique game, that required a completely different set of skills than play out in the world did.  Every game since the launch of World of Warcraft has taken this lead and filled their dungeons with “elites” that for the most part require players to focus fire them down, since an individual player could not possibly solo one at level.

This was not always the case, dungeons used to be filled with the same kinds of mobs you might encounter out in the “real” world, just in larger numbers and higher frequency.  So stepping into Elder Scrolls Online, I admit I was freaked out when we first encountered and 8 to 10 mob pull.  I am only now realizing that this is essentially the same 8 to 10 mobs you would encounter while roaming around the world.  What makes this challenging and not just “trash packs” is the fact that these mobs fight smarter.  From the moment you step into the dungeon, you encounter “group tactics”.  Healers will heal the lowest target, including other healers…  Necromancers will raise the dead, melee will go after your squishiest party members.  The mobs are treating you like dungeon encounters, and trying to take you down as a team.

What makes this so refreshing is that these tactics are not solely reserved for “dungeons” but the same kind of thing you start encountering as the game ramps up difficulty.  In Stormhaven it is getting rare that I am not involved in three or more mobs at a time.  Almost always this will include a healer of some sort, a “tank” of some sort and a “dps” of some sort.  The first time a mob tried to kite me, it was a really cool moment.  Why this is great is because Elder Scrolls is somehow managing to teach players the skills that they will need for later content, in the content they are actually playing.  So while yes, there is a massive learning curve… I feel like we will not have the same problems we have with the PUG scene in World of Warcraft in the eventual Elder Scrolls Online end game.  If you can make it through the veteran content, you likely can make it through any of the content in the game.

It is refreshing to have a game that does not try to coddle the player.  Shit happens, and if you do not react appropriately to it… you get punished and punished hard.  The game is not some brutal Dark Souls type experience, it plays fair and within a set of established rules… but even after playing it as long as I have… I still die, and die often.  I really look forward to the adventure zone combat, because it feels like it is going to be something akin to the old Everquest planes.  I loved breaking the plane of hate and the plane of fear, both of which were unforgiving and brutal… but also immensely rewarding.  While Craglorn sounds like it is much more structured than the planes were, it feels like it might offer a similar style of gameplay.  It will be a long while before I am Veteran Rank 10, but hopefully when I get there we will be able to wander about the zone finding adventure.

#H1Z1 #TheEvilWithin #CragLorn #ESO #ElderScrollsOnline

Bloodlust Pays Off

What’s Wrong with TSW?

TheSecretWorld 2013-06-04 22-55-41-12 There are a couple of really interesting posts by Sypster and Rowanblaze that talk about the problems with The Secret World combat system.  Mostly Syp’s post is him trying to articulate the way he feels about it, and then Rowan breaks down those points and tries to speak to each.  Combined they provide a really nice bookend and are extremely worth reading.  It is really nice to see someone try and put into words what is wrong with the combat other than “it’s clunky”.  I have my own love/hate relationship with the combat in The Secret World.  For the good I love how flexible the character build system is especially at lower levels, but there seems to be a point where all of that breaks down.

Like always, my little circle of regularly group mates rushed headlong into the content of The Secret World, and were starting in on Nightmare content only a few weeks after launch.  For the most part we found normal and elite content in The Secret World to be overly easy.  However facing nightmare content felt like slamming our faces into a brick wall at 60 miles per hour.  The transition was brutal and unforgiving and seemingly unfairly stacked against melee players.  I had managed to stubbornly limp my way through the Gatekeeper encounter with my Shotgun/Blades build, but when it came to nightmares I abandoned it quickly in favor of a pure ranged Shotgun/Pistol build.

The game went from being super forgiving and open to any build you could dream up, to being extremely punishing and narrow focused over night.  So yes while the combat is essentially an overly repetitive use of “wow rogue” tactics over and over until you finish the battle, it was the fact that playing melee was a detriment to my groups survival that ultimately did the game in for me.  We all return to the game to play the new content every now and then, but Nightmares were the point at which the game stopped being fun for many of us.  Our creative builds that were super personalized were force culled into the few builds that “worked well” for nightmare level content.

Bloodlust Pays Off

Screenshot_20140408_202457 Last night I had every intention of just quietly questing away in Elder Scrolls Online.  However I logged in to a message from my friend Tam, wanting to know if I was down for running some dungeons.  What can I say…  I am a sucker for spelunking my way through bad guys.  At the beginning of the night we were trying to figure out why I was a level ahead of them with the “dungeon” faction… aka the Undaunted.  We ended up sifting through our achievements and found that I had already hit the “kill 1000 monsters in dungeons” achievement and they had not.  I may or may not have issues with bloodlust, and as a result I have been tanking pretty much any dungeon someone asked me to.  We started off the night with Wayrest Sewers again, and honestly I was expecting a rough time.  However I found that I was able to split the packs much the same as I did the very first time I had run the dungeon.

I am guessing maybe in the previous group I had someone “helping” me by pulling something other than the one I was yanking with my chain.  This is a super important point that needs to be addressed, and while I covered it in my tanking post… I figure it bears underlining here.  When you are running these dungeons, let your tank pull and do not touch ANYTHING until you see the mobs run up at the group.  The way combat packs work in Elder Scrolls Online is that all of the mobs in a pack will aggro you, but not all of them will actually engage you in combat.  Touching them, means they will be doing so and you can quickly get overwhelmed.  Let the tank pull and watch to see what actually starts attacking you.  Then do not touch the ones that are just standing around cheering on the fighters.

I was not feeling like streaming last night, but I wish I had been… because after finishing off Wayrest Sewers we also ran the other two dungeons in the level 20 range.  Darkshade Caverns and Elden Hollow were both really awesome.  However in the case of Darkshade Caverns there is a bit of a surprise involved with running the dungeon that I really don’t want to spoil.  Darkshade had some of the coolest fights to date, and I look forward to running it again.  The loot seems to be improving as well as we go up.  Granted it is still fully luck based, but several of us managed to pull out blue set pieces from the dungeon, as well as the normal unique loot drops.  The lighting and effects in the dungeons are just superb.  Final Fantasy XIV had some really amazing dungeon encounters, but I have to say so far at least Elder Scrolls Online trumps them.

Oddly Oblivious

I guess right now I am simply preoccupied with Elder Scrolls Online, but right now I am pretty oblivious to the news coming out about Warlords of Draenor.  I still very much care what happens there, because even though we have this insane guild right now in ESO, there are still a batch of diehard Stalwarts that will likely never leave WoW.  I want the expansion to be awesome for them as much as anything else.  I have to say that the new Draenei female is nice… but not really the night and day difference that you see with the Vanilla model makeovers.  I guess the Draenei and Bloodelves were in a better state already than the previous models, so they were not quite so primitive looking.

I have been phenomenally bad at keeping up with my RSS feed since coming back from my grandmothers funeral.  I guess I rushed headlong into ESO, and have simply not come up for air.  Things have just been going so well over there that I have not needed additional diversions.  I am still listening however, and occasionally things creep into my consciousness about Warlords.  Story from yesterday was that MMO Champion got DDoS’d for not giving credit to the folks running the private servers where he collected the alpha zone screenshots.  Now all of those shots are down from the site, with a disclaimer saying that Blizzard had asked them to take them down.  While I can’t confirm anything about the DDoS, I am guessing the image take down is more related to that instead.

At this point I will be far more interested when someone I know actually gets into Alpha or Beta.  The rumors that I am hearing about the garrison sound intriguing and a fun minigame to keep me engaged in the expansion content long after I have finished leveling.  My real hope  however was that the garrison would be shared among all of your characters.  I have an army of tradeskillers, and it would be nice to have access to ANY of their trades, from ANY of my characters.  It feels like Blizzard is always one step away from making something really awesome.  For whatever reason they always stop just short of what I would like to see from them.  Hopefully we will continue to get more official news, since really at this stage in the alpha…  anything that gets datamined is mostly bullshit and likely to change before beta.

#ElderScrollsOnline #TheSecretWorld #WoW #TSW #ESO

Back to the Sewers

Jonquils say so

jonquils Here in Oklahoma we have had more than our fair share of ping pong weather of late.  This weekend I was happily running around in shorts, however when I went for my walk last night that same choice was rather chilly.  I wish the world would make up its damned mind to be honest, and preferably warm up.  I am afraid that once again we will go from cold to hot without much of a middle ground like we did last year.  We have a patch of Jonquils on the side of the house and they seem to think spring time has arrived as they are in full bloom and gorgeous as always.  We had these growing up as well, and they were always the heralds of springtime.  When they bloomed things were going to start warming up significantly.  I really hope the weather gods are watching my flowers, because seriously I am tired of the cold.

This morning I am more nervous than normal, and for good reason.  Our eldest cat has a thyroid problem, and today she is supposed to go into surgery to have hers removed.  This is supposedly going to fix the imbalance that is causing her to be sick all of the time.  For awhile now we’ve done a practice I like to refer to as “greasing her ears”, where I rub some thyroid cream (while wearing latex gloves) into her ears.  This was all to get her thyroid levels stabilized enough to have the surgery.  However I am wondering if this is something we can just do indefinitely now.  I don’t really mind doing it, at least not as bad as trying to feed her a pill.  She doesn’t really like it but she tolerates it well enough.  I am just wondering since she is a fifteen year old cat, if doing this a few times a day would be better for her quality of life than a surgery.

Back to the Sewers


Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Yesterday evening some friends and I decided to delve back into the Wayrest Sewers in search of loot, glory… and attempting to avoid the mess.  We had run the dungeon Saturday evening and it seemed much easier than the others we had run.  Thing is apparently this was not the intent of the dungeon, and seemingly in an effort to break the trend of chain running the place… yesterdays patch changed several things about the place.  Firstly there were a large number of packs that previously could be split, this is no longer the case.  There were instances where you had a Rat Feeder human npc in a pack of rats… and you could fiery grip the human out by himself then deal with the rats.  Now when you yoink the human the rats properly come with him, no longer trivializing the encounter.  Similarly there were humanoid pack mobs that you could single pull, or pull without engaging the boss they were attached to.

All of this lead for a much more difficult run than we were expecting.  The above video is still uploading to youtube, so I’ve embedded the twitch broadcast instead.  Several things were happening… firstly I am generally horrible at explaining fights.  Secondly for everyone but myself, this was their first time into the instance.  Thirdly two of our members were slightly under level for the dungeon.  The result meant that at least one of the boss fights seemed far more difficult than it really should have been.  The Garron encounter is rough, but it involves figuring out how best to deal with the adds… and it took us several tries to arrive at a strategy that was working.  Namely killing things in the same order as not to break the CC.  It was a good time had by all, and we got our youngins specifically some tasty loot.

It Runs on a Toaster

ESO_MInimumSettings My friends and I have joked for some time, that the Elder Scrolls Online engine is so damned optimized that it could probably run on a toaster.  I posted this a few days ago on twitter, but I still find it insanely amusing.  This is from the ESO Reddit, and is apparently Elder Scrolls Online running at the absolute minimum settings which is 320×200.  The game looks oddly playable, even if you can’t really make out who exactly you are interacting with.  It looks oddly similar to a super pixilated adventure game from the 1990s.  Thankfully my machine will run the game in its full Ultra setting 1080p glory…  but I do find it awesome that the game can technically be run on some pretty ancient hardware and perform just as well.  I honestly don’t notice much of a difference running it on my laptop as I do running it on my more serious gaming desktop.

Screenshot_20140407_183815 The thing is… so many companies overlook this as an issue.  One of the reasons why World of Warcraft has been so easy to spread as a game, is that it has super minimal requirements.  You can dial back the settings and run it comfortably on a netbook.  I feel like more than likely you could do the same thing with Elder Scrolls Online.  I’ve heard rumors of it running through a virtual pc emulator on various tablets, as well as natively on the Microsoft surface.  The important thing is, since the client is that optimized, it means when you have friends that want to join you… you can likely get them into the experience without them needing to shell out for a dedicated gaming machine.  At the end of the day this is a social experience, and being able to play with your friends will ultimately be the key to longevity.

One of my good friends, Scarybooster is having some real life stuff going on, and as a result he doesn’t expect to be able to play the game again until June.  He jokingly said that he hoped we would all still be playing by the time June rolls around.  Considering the longevity most of us tend to have with games…  that is a fair question.  I really hope that this title is not another in a long line of “three monthers”.  I would love this game to be a much longer lived title, because I feel like it has what so many of them have been lacking…  depth.  The world is deep and nuanced and almost strangles you with lore.  The thing that I have always loved about Elder Scrolls is that it works much like our own world.  There is no one clean lore path through the setting… but instead it is told through little tidbits spread across thousands of books… some of which are directly contradictory.  History is a messy thing, full of partial accounts and factual inaccuracies… and the world of Tamriel gets this right.  Here is hoping we will all still find the world compelling a year from now, let alone a few months from now.

#ElderScrollsOnline #WayrestSewers