EVE – Return to New Eden

I played EVE Online for about 18 months, quitting in early 2010. I didn’t leave angry or disgruntled (i.e. as a so-called “bittervet”), it was more that with the limited time I had available to play, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I still don’t have a ton of time to play, so what changed?

Well… my coworker helped to talk me into resubbing. That plus EVE went on sale on Steam ($9.99 for the game; 30 days included). He’s also busy so we’re not going to storm New Eden or anything. Indeed, my personal goal is quite modest – if we can regularly meetup and play 2 hours a week, that’s good enough for me and I’ll play. The monthly fee doesn’t bother me, for a fun and very unique game. $15/month is less than what I play for Netflix and I spend way more time computer gaming that watches TV and movies.

Anyway, the only drawback to the Steam sale was that it only applies to new accounts. It would mean giving up my previous account and a character that had 18 months of skill training. On the other hand, due to the changes over the last 3 years, plus the steep learning curve and similarly steep forgetting curve, I decided I could start over and not really miss much from my previous account.

After a few hours setting up EVE on my Mac and PC, I was ready to play again!

Welcome

You are about to become what all men should fear.
You will roam the heavens, commanding the most powerful machines ever built.
So unbound, that not even death itself can claim you.
For you are immortal, with all eternity to seize a destiny that is yours to define.
But you are not alone with such power.
Other demi gods roam these stars as well, and they are no less driven to succeeed or to rule, as you.
There are more paths than one to greatness.
If you have intellect, you will survive the darkest days.
If you have courage, you will claim the bounties of man and nature.
If you have patience, you will amass the wealth of empires.
And if you can lead, there is no limit to what you can become.
What you dare to become rests on your will to be bold…
Dare to be bold, pilot.
Forge your own path to greatness.

With that inspiring welcome, EVE takes you straight into character creation. I fiddled around there and eventually created several characters, just to see art and ship styles. EVE’s character creation is quite detailed and lets you tweak many aspects of your character appearance. It’s ironic you’re the only person that can see your character, other than as a mini-portrait. I believe avatar interaction in space stations is coming up… but for now, the ship you fly is really your avatar.

Anyway, soon I found myself in an all-new (to me) view: the captain’s quarters.

Brand New
Brand New

Tutorial

The tutorial doesn’t waste much time getting you out into space, and within a minute, I had completed the earliest tutorial steps where I picked up my starter ship. Since I made a Gallente, that ship is the Velator.

Velator
Velator

One of my goals next time I play will be to figure out how to disable the UI. I was swamped enough doing the tutorial to explore the config options too much, sorry!

The new tutorial is pretty nice. It contains step-by-step instructions, with the game pointing out where to look for click or where to look for information.

Combat Tutorial
Combat Tutorial

In the screenshot above, what I am describing is the “You can interact with your missions here” floating text in the upper left. Or in the Captain’s Quarters screenshot, the textbox on the right that says “Agents can be contacted through this menu”. What I remember of 3 years ago was blinking to call attention; that was OK but this is even more noticeable. For that matter, I don’t remember your current mission overlayed on the UI at all, I always remember having to click the journal to find info. So that’s a nice leap in friendliness!

The game even highlights the mission goal (probably only for the tutorial missions):

Highlighting in a mission
Highlighting in a mission

The combat mission was straightforward – blow up a fuel tank then fight two NPCs. The fuel tank explosion caused ship damage, which provided a quick introduction into using the armor repairer, and a brief overview of shield, armor, structure as the 3 layers of your ship’s defenses. I thought the tutorial was very good, covering fitting modules (the tutorial provides an armor repairer and gun), targeting enemies, using the armor repairer plus needed navigation skills such as interacting with acceleration gates and spaceports, talking to agents and accepting missions, how to loot items, and skill training.

From what I remember of doing the tutorial in 2008, this new tutorial is much better. CCP has put in a lot of effort to smooth out the initial shock of playing EVE. It covers a lot and if anybody is starting up, I heartily suggest only doing the tutorial at such a time that you will not be interrupted.

I only did the newbie mistake of undocking from the station without accepting the mission one time. I saw my error and redocked fairly quickly to fix that problem. I also screwed up and set my destination to the mission start, but rectified the error (without the correct destination, the overview doesn’t display the correct waypoint you need to fly to). And I did find one minor problem in the tutorial – in the section about skill training, it tells you to right-click and select “train after current queue”. That option has been replaced by the simpler option “Add”.

Tutorial End
Tutorial End, 5 more agents to work for

The tutorial ended with me flying to a nearby station and meeting 5 more agents, each with a mission covering various possible aspects of gameplay. Those areas are Explorer, Military, Advanced Military, Business, and Industry. I will play through each of these, gathering knowledge and hopefully more rewards, and then I’ll see if my coworker and I can meet up sometime.

Before logging off I made sure my skill queue has at least a day of skills queued up, so I don’t waste any precious time.

More Screenies

I figured out how to hide the UI, and took more screenshots. I gotta say, the graphics in EVE always look good to me!

Acceleration Gate
Acceleration Gate
Minmatar Space Station
Minmatar Space Station

If you look at the ships, most aren’t symmetrical. I’m not sure what it is, perhaps years of expectation built up from TV and movies, but a spaceship that doesn’t have at least one axis of symmetry looks weird to me. Modern cars and planes have one axis of symmetry, usually vertical (minus minor things like side mirrors). Horizontal symmetry isn’t typically present here, but then we have gravity and so forth to deal with (i.e. vehicles need wheels on the ground).

But it is refreshing in a way. Here’s a Minmatar rookie ship, the Hull, noticeably lopsided.:

Minmatar Hull
Minmatar Hull

Now that I look closer, perhaps the axis of symmetry here is horizontal. In any case, I think the ships all look pretty good!

SWTOR – Lowbie Adventures

I dabbled in SWTOR one free weekend during the summer, and looked forward to its free-to-play conversion. I heard there was controversy over the actual implementation – specifically what free players would have to pay for (cosmetics, quests, more than 2 hotbars, etc.) – but avoided all the drama and decided to check it out for myself.

Lost Security Key

So I reinstalled SWTOR and logged in… oops. The login screen wanted my security code. I had enabled the security key option, configured the iOS app, and it worked well. But when I stopped SWTOR, I deleted the app from my phone. No biggie, I can just put it back on, so I did.

I ran it and was greeted with this screen:

SWTOR Security Key
SWTOR Security Key

Argh! Deleting the app wiped out configuration info (serial number), needed to seed the random number generator. Without that, I can’t log in; without logging in, I can’t configure the security key (again) or take it off the login process.

Basically, I screwed myself by deleting the app from my phone. My only option is to contact customer service to get it reset.

I’m not sure that hassle is worth it for one level 5 character I played for a few hours. I’m not exactly giving up a heap of Cartel Coins or whatever the giveaway is, if I even qualify for them.

I’m not down on these two-factor authentication schemes, I think they are great! I enabled it on my GW2 account (but it isn’t asking me for it ever since I reinstalled under Windows 8) and I wish LoTRO would do it too.

Zabrak

Instead, I made another account and plunged ahead to create a new character. I picked Ebon Hawk, the RP server. I’m not a really an RP-er, this is more about hoping for an average player base that enjoys the game for what it is, and of course, ideally avoiding the most egregious meatheads.

After the opening cinematic, the race selection screen appeared. As a F2P player, I could only pick Human or Zabrak – the rest were locked for purchase in the store. I think Bioware is missing out by not letting me pick a “locked” race to preview it at least. A non Star Wars geek might not happen to know what the Mirialan or Chiss or whatever actually look like. As an example of this mechanism, DDO lets you pick a “premium” class or race to at least see what they look like.

F2P Char Creation
F2P Char Creation. Not too many choices.
DDO Char Creation
DDO Char Creation. I don’t qualify for Artificier, but I can check out their looks and steampunk pet thingy. Same thing with premium races.

I went with Zabrak. I would have picked Mirialan as I did before since I think they look awesome, but that isn’t an option for me right now. I didn’t have much time to play due to the login issues and holidays. I got to the Jedi Temple and decided I didn’t like Zabrak looks after all.

Cyborg

Thus, I went to the Empire Side, and made a Cyborg Bounty Hunter. The story seems more interesting, even at this early level, but I’m not all that excited about the combat. I’ll reserve judgement until I get more more skills.

Bounty Hunter Combat
Bounty Hunter Combat

Questing boils down to delivery quests, or kill X bad guys or recover Y items. Not ground breaking, but fun enough.

3D globe
I’ve always found this kind of 3D globe graphic to look really cool

Near the end of my time on Hutta, I picked up a companion, Kaliyo. She looks pretty tough and her additional DPS helps out in combat. I made heavy use of henchman and heroes in Guild Wars, so having an extra character to adventure with me is fantastic.

Me and Kaliyo
Me and Kaliyo

Advanced Class

I played to level 10, at which point I could pick an advanced class, either Operative or Sniper. However, I couldn’t figure out where to go to do that. I read through the popup help but it still wasn’t clicking, so I resorted to the all-knowing Google. I turned up a nice reference on this exact subject: Advanced Class Selection Walkthrough Guide.

What happened was this: I left Hutta early, less than 10th level, so the quest wasn’t available when I passed through the Fleet Area. Instead, I followed the storyline and was about 3 loading screens past this area, into Dromund Kaas. I would never have guessed that the trainer was back there, and in fact, I didn’t believe the walkthrough at first because there wasn’t a quest indicator (triangle). However, it appeared as I got closer to the quest giver.

I think that this is a bad play experience. Either the in-game directions need to be even more explicit about where to go (maybe give you a quest to find the guy that starts your advanced class quest, so there is a quest green highlight to follow), or the game should not let you pass through the Fleet Area, and 2 or 3 loads past that to another planet entirely, without letting you get the quest. Or maybe something like sending an in-game mail, “Hey, you’ve hit level 10 so go visit X at the Y (click to accept quest) to pick an advanced class”. It would be worded better of course.

Anyway, I found the quest giver and soon faced a decision: Operative or Sniper.

Advanced Class Choice
Advanced Class Choice. Flip a coin?

I mulled over the options for a bit, and decided to go with Operative. I haven’t spent my single skill point yet, wanting to do a little research first.

Impressions

Honestly, so far I am enjoying the game. I’ve read all sorts of stuff where a billion players are screaming mad at EA/Bioware, but that seems par for the course when something displeases the playerbase of an MMO. I haven’t been significantly impacted by my free-to-play status yet… however we shall see. I suppose it would be a very bad sign if I already were feeling the limits, since I’m only level 10! So far I’ve gotten several quest rewards that boil down to “subscribe to pick this” choices, and have a large number of game mechanics, from rest experience to certain gear modifications to crafting to choosing a legacy (?) to crew skills to inventory slots to… apparently there is a lot left out for free-to-play folks. The game helpfully points these out all the time.

I enjoy the storyline too, but that is always a big draw for me, from single player RPGs (Fallout, Skyrim, etc.) to other MMOs with storylines (Guild Wars, LoTRO).

Combat is kinda so-so. I’ve been able to fight everything by essentially mashing skills on cooldown, and I wish the choices were more strategic. My favorite MMO for this was Guild Wars – timing/usage plus skills chosen mattered a lot. Next best is LoTRO, due to skill mechanics from reactive procs, side-effects, and cooldowns (get max effect from usage, plus not wasting a good skill at the wrong time). SWTOR is like GW2 in this respect, towards the “just use it on cooldown” side of the spectrum, but worse as class mechanics in GW2 can alter this (attunements for eles, belts for engineers, etc). However I realize that at level 10 in SWTOR, maybe I haven’t seen that much of the skill tree or of the available skills.

The graphics are also so-so: functional, decent, but definitely on the simple side. Similar to what I remember of WoW, except with a sci-fi design motif. Maybe that is good as the game works and is speedy, and I don’t have issues with my video drivers like I do when I play GW2. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m moving through a tile-set everywhere I go so far – kind of like in earlier RPGs from Bioware such as NWN. It is especially bad with back and forth travel, because major chunks look repetitive, and there seem to be several stretched out areas (hallways in particular) that only serve the purpose of running longer to get somewhere.

I also enjoy the fully voiced quests. Unfortunately I believe it is partly responsible for the massive cost of developing the game, and contributes to its enormous disk footprint (~21 GB on my system), but I can’t deny I do enjoy the interactiveness of receiving quests. Especially the dialog trees and minor branches within.

As for continuing to play, that’s a tough call. Part of that depends on how much another game grabs me. I would like to see more of the storyline, especially now that I picked an Advanced Class, but there are some obstacles. First, I’m really not that much of a Star Wars fan. I mean yeah, I enjoy the IP and all, but there isn’t the same thrill for me as I feel discovering a lore-heavy area in LoTRO. Second, I don’t intend to raid or group much in SWTOR – because that would mean spending a lot of lift various restrictions – which in turn means that if all that is drawing me is the story… well I could be just as well off playing KOTOR or finishing the various RPGs I also have, from Fallout: New Vegas to Skyrim.

For now, I’ll keep the game around (remember, I’m tight on disk space) and play it now and then, see how it goes.

Misc Games on Windows 8

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to try out a few miscellaneous games in my Steam Library. It didn’t go so well.

Avernum: Escape From the Pit

Runs fine.

Civilization 5

My favorite Civ was Civ 2, but that was also the one I played the most. I played a bit just to check, and it seems to run fine.

Defense Grid: The Awakening

This game ran just fine on Windows 8. Good news since I’m a fan of Tower Defense games and this is a pretty good one.

Fallout 3

I just peeked in, and this also runs fine.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Lots of people talked about how this game is really good, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, it is unplayable for me. Not sure if that is a Windows 8 thing or not. The problem is that the mouse movement is terribly slow and very erratic. I googled around and see many others reporting this problem, which apparently has to do with mouse drivers. Nothing I tried fixed it.

I do have a backup plan: see if this game plays better on my Mac.

DEFCON

Has the same problem as FTL does: unusable mouse.

HOARD

This bombs out almost immediately, before displaying the splash screen:

Error launching HOARD
Error launching HOARD

A quick google shows this happens to others, and the general advice is “update your video drivers”. Well that’s interesting, my OS is even newer than the most recent WHQL drivers on the nVidia site. But what the heck, I downloaded and tried to install the GeForce 306.97 drivers.

And that didn’t work! Yes, the nVidia drivers failed to find compatible graphics hardware. That’s funny, except it really is annoying as heck.

nVidia error
nVidia error

You can see that I’m installing the notebook, Windows 8, 64 bit drivers – the name of the freaking binary – yet it can’t find my video card. Or more likely, the detection is messed up. Argh, video drivers, the bane of PC gaming.

(I’m a LoTRO fan at heart, I use their calendar wallpapers for my background!)

Psychonauts

Runs just fine.

Skyrim

Also runs fine on Windows 8. It’s been a while since I played. My first char was a “pure” archer, but I found that pretty tough going. Next char was a dual sword wielding Redguard. That’s going better but I think I’d rather play a single sword char, since freeing up the other hand would allow for a shield or magic use. Anyway, things to ponder if I restart. It wasn’t like I was far along anyway. 😉

SpaceChem

A favorite puzzler of mine. Glad to see if runs fine on Windows 8.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP

I bought this for my iPhone, played it a little and really liked the music. It was part of an Indie Humble Bundle I bought, so I get it through Steam as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t run properly – it shows the main loading page (“record” circle and 3 small triangles) but nothing else. I had to kill the game via Task Manager, and I noticed it was a 32-bit executable. Maybe it isn’t handling a 64-bit OS and/or Windows 8 well. Same backup plan as FTL – see if it works better on my Mac.

SWTOR

This game runs fine. I’ve been playing a little bit since it went F2P and plan on a post later to give my impressions.

Overall

Overall, most games run fine on Windows 8. The ones that gave the problems were the indie games, but I have a bunch of those due to Humble Bundle purchases, plus the occasional recommendation I catch from other blogs. At least I can retry FTL, HOARD, DEFCON, Superbrothers over on my Mac.

The one game I did not get around to trying was XCOM: Enemy Unknown. That’s mostly because I didn’t have a good time block available and I knew I’d want to play a few hours. I’m sure that over the upcoming weeks I’ll find some time!

The most annoying thing was the nVidia driver problem, the fact that the supposedly correct package, straight from nVidia, wouldn’t even install. Grrrr. That is my hope for playing GW2 again (I’m still hitting the video timeout issues that plagued me before under Windows 7. It isn’t worse or better under Windows 8 thus pointing to video drivers at fault).

P.S. Mac quick check

I popped over to my Mac and tried out the games that failed to run properly on Windows 8.

DEFCON – runs fine, no jerky mouse movement
FTL – runs fine, no jerky mouse movement
HOARD – launches and plays without OpenGL errors
Superbrothers – launches and runs fine. I’m so glad the soundtrack came with the Humble Bundle purchase!

Glad that my Mac is able to play the games that don’t work on Windows 8! I’m considering a Mac upgrade soon. If that does happen, I’ll be able to try the LoTRO and GW2 Mac clients! That could also be my ultimate solution to my GW2 problems.

Session Play – Garth Lotheg

My burglar Dhrun has been marooned at Echad Dagoras for a long time, and I decided to take a break from Rohan and move him along. Since he’s level 65 already, I also decided to “bee-line” the Epic Quests for a bit – focus on the epic storyline until it outlevels me. At the very least, that would get Dhrun into Dunland somewhere. I could kick myself for letting him get so far behind but that’s OK, I can peck away at it.

Anyway, I worked on Vol 3 Book 3, Echoes of the Dead. While doing a session play quest that covered the history of Oath-breakers and the Paths of the Dead, I got a task to find some evidence of why Garth Lotheg was attacked. I found this:

Idol of Sauron
Idol of Sauron

Ah of course, so obvious.

I’m just going to put this out there, as a general rule – if I am ever in the position of becoming an evil overlord bent on dominating the world, my very first instructions to my loyal minions will be this: do NOT, under any circumstances, build an idol of me. That’s just going to warn the enemy we’re on the way.

😉

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

When I heard Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (V:SOH) went free to play, I mentally added it to my list of games to check out. The only things I heard about this game brought to mind various disasters. Since it is on Steam, free to play, and runs fine on Windows 8, I decided to try it out.

The character creation screen contains a button for each race on the left, a button for each class on the right, and a simple naming dialog in the middle. There is hover text as well, listing various racial benefits. I was excited to see that “Monk” was a class, since my favorite DDO class is the monk. Unarmored (I hope) kung-fu combat, woot!

But as I looked at the various character options, I noticed something. Perhaps you will see it too.

This is a typical screen for a male character:

Male character creation
Male character creation

This is a typical screen for a female character:

Female character creation
Female character creation

In case you didn’t notice, the striking difference is the male humanoid characters are dressed, while the female humanoid characters are sporting bare midriffs and large racks. Nice! Oh wait… REALLY? Come on!

Anyway, I opted for a female Varanjar Monk, typed in a name, and clicked next. The next screen asked what city I wanted to start in, either Isle of Dawn or my hometown. Not sure if it matters, but given the text (Isle of Dawn – help people, nothing for hometown) I am guessing the Isle of Dawn is the tutorial area, so I should do that. Click Isle of Dawn.

Then I was asked what server: Telon or Halgar. Halgar was marked EU so I went with Telon. Click Next.

Then I got an error, “That first name is already taken”.

WTF?! How about reordering the creation sequence so I pick my name last, and don’t have to cancel and redo a bunch of clicks. Basically I had to click through a bunch of screens to do a name check. That is kind of frustrating.

Anyway, I tried “Aurora Tian” – error, first name is taken.
I tried “AuroraTian” and no last name – error invalid characters in name.
I tried “AutumnTian” and no last name – error invalid characters in name.
I tried “AuroraTian Tian” – error invalid characters in name.

For the love of all that is sane, these people need to borrow ArenaNet’s system where it tells you as you type, whether or not the name is at least legal. Whether it is taken or not is another matter. Looking back, I think the issue was the 2nd capital letter in the first name. Argh!

After finally finding a name that was OK (“Melancthe”) I advanced to the char designer, where I picked the hair color and other cosmetic stuff. I just took what was there, not really caring too much.

Then I found myself standing in the game! Check it out:

New Arrival
New Arrival

I got the typical intro quest to find somebody else, and they had me find someone else, who gave me a “kill 5 rats gataro podlings” and “collect 10 flowers” kind of quest. Along the way I leveled up. That got me a quest to see my class trainer and pick up a new skill (“Crescent Kick”) and then return to find out the gataro podling infestation was more serious than previously thought. Maybe I can help…

First combat quest
First combat quest
Picking Seeds
Picking Seeds. They don’t glow like gather items do in LoTRO.

But first, I tried another class, the sorcerer. Soon, I was needing to kill 5 gataro podlings again. I looked over the skills on my hotbar, and I had 3: Auto-attack, Force Barrier 1, and Arcane Balance. Force Barrier was a defensive skill, Arcane Balance was a racial skill that distributes energy among a group, and… Auto-Attack with my staff. I’m a sorcerer and I don’t start off with a way to fight with magic?

I attacked, but with my staff damage being terrible, and having no way to heal, I was killed. This can’t be right, so I dug around in various dialogs and discovered I did have an offensive spell: Taqmir’s Bolts 1. It’s just that it wasn’t placed on my skillbar so I didn’t know it existed until I went looking. Grrrr.

Taqmir's Bolts I
Taqmir’s Bolts 1 – my hidden combat skill

This time, using Taqmir’s Bolts 1, I crush the gataro podlings and finish picking seeds. After meeting my trainer, my new skill is “Frostbite 1”.

It was late and I decided to call it a night, taking one scenic screenshot from across a bridge, looking back at the starting village. In addition, I finally figured out how to hide the UI.

Village
Village

So the big question is, will I keep playing. Honestly, probably not, and I feel bad only trying it for about 90 minutes total. It just didn’t grab me right off the bat, and I don’t want to invest too much time into leveling up (to get a few more skills) and seeing if the game grows on me. I’ve got a bunch of other games I’d like to try out so I think I’ll just set this one aside for a bit. I would at least like to finish the starter area, and then finish the Diplomacy quest sequence, since one thing I did hear about Vanguard was how great the Diplomacy system (mini-game?) is.

The graphics and animations do look dated, especially compared to Vanguard’s modern competition. It should be the gameplay that matters the most, and with only a bit of time invested, it didn’t seem that different from the usual formula. The game released in Jan 2007 so if you consider the bulk of the graphics assets and animations were done a year or two before that… yeah the game does stretch back quite a ways! It’ll be six years old in two more months.

Ready for Rohan!

I’ve been questing furiously trying to finish up the Brown Lands, Rushgore, Stangard, and so on. I just feel bad about leaving an area “unfinished” on my main character.

Now, after reaching kindred rep with Stangard, I have crafted my Great River armor, bought the Return to Stangard travel skill, leveled up my Level 75 Legendary Club and Belt (as a hobbit guardian, I regard any weapon other than a Club, or Great Club for you 2-handers out there, to be barbaric ;)), and am now finally ready for Rohan!

Great River Armor
Great River Armor

OK, small disclosure, I didn’t earn Kindred rep with Théodred’s Riders. In fact, I have a few Nan Curunír quests left to do. But dang it, I can’t hold off going to Rohan anymore. The anticipation is overwhelming me. I’ll come back to get kindred with Théodred, I promise.

Yes, only 4-5 weeks after all of Landroval is off riding their War Horses, Naerys finally crossed the river south of Ost Celebrant into Rohan. I haven’t done much, just a few quests in Langhold, but I also worked on the epic quest line and reached 3.7.8, Reading the Signs.

I believe that 3.8.1, War-steeds from the Wold, is where I get my war-horse, and I am really looking forward to that!

Windows 8

Something as terrifying as the Eye of Sauron was released recently… duh duh duhnnn… Windows 8!

Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic. A few weeks ago I decided to make some minor upgrades to my gaming notebook. I bought a 256 GB SSD, and Windows 8. They arrived and I did the SSD swap, and then plunged ahead and installed Windows 8. I like some of the enhancements (mostly under the hood improvements to the system) especially the newer file copy dialog and task manager. However, my gaming notebook isn’t touch-screen so I lose about half of the design benefit. That’s OK because I spend 99% in desktop mode where it is pretty much like Windows 7, just with a very different Start Menu.

The first thing I installed was Google Chrome. Next was Steam, and I started the download of LoTRO. Then I installed Guild Wars 2 and started it downloading. I took an overnight of downloading to get the bare minimum games from my Steam Library installed. Other than a handful of games, that’s gonna be it except for (maybe) Virtual Box. I’m going to be crazy fascist about keeping this system “clean”, to the point of setting up a VM to contain other stuff, like Adobe Reader, Flash, java anything, compilers/debuggers and so on. This is my gaming system!

After LoTRO installed, I fired it up and it ran just fine. WHEW! I was worried about that actually. Some other games I wanted to try (after all, this blog is MMO Juggler, whereby I dabble amongst the many MMOs) didn’t fare so well.

Vindictus locked up big time, and even after I managed to terminate the process, it left a thread in the System process pounding my disk at 100%. Yes I have an SSD now, but 100% disk activity still drags the system down. Since this system has none of my usual triage tools, such as the SysInterals suite, or a debugger of any kind, I couldn’t see what was going on. Not that it would have told me much anyway, other than “yep, busted on Windows 8”. I had to restart my notebook so for now, bye bye Vindictus.

Vindictus Lock Up
Vindictus Lock Up

I also tried cranking up Everquest II. Back in the day, when the “big three” were UO, EQ, and AC, I played Asheron’s Call. I never did play EQ so when I saw that EQ2 went free-to-play I thought, hey I’ll check it out. Unfortunately, EQ2 did not start either. More specifically, it never exited the first time install “setting up DirectX” portion after launching from Steam. It just sat there, claiming to be installing DX9. I guess the detection method is confused on Windows 8. I’m not sure if this is a Steam thing or a app thing – LoTRO popped up the same “installing DX9” dialog, but it moved on. Another uninstall. Sorry but I’m a little tighter on disk space now (currently ~90 GB free) and I’m not going to have an MMO that doesn’t even run sucking up disk space.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes had no problems – it installed, launched, and popped up the Login screen. I don’t have an account, so I just exited and will make one later.

Star Trek Online hasn’t completed the download yet.

Other MMOs I have also run fine: Guild Wars 2, DDO, and Fallen Earth. I logged into both and played a little bit of each. I also fired up other games I enjoy (Defense Grid: The Awakening, Skyrim, SpaceChem, a few others) just to see if they ran on Windows 8, and they also had no problems. Overall Windows 8 works for the games most important to me. I gave most games a cursory play, but I’ve played LoTRO several hours on Windows 8 at this point and it is fine. If LoTRO didn’t work, that’s a 100% deal breaker and I would have wiped the disk, dug out my Windows 7 DVD, and installed that instead.

One odd thing with GW2 – I linked my account with the mobile authenticator, an app from Google that implements two-factor authentication. I’m not asked for the authentication code when I log in, but still have it enabled according to my account profile. Not sure what is going on there, maybe I need to unlink/relink to get that working again (due to my reinstall)?

In conclusion, most my games are working fine under Windows 8. I’m sure the issues that prevent EQ2 and Vindictus from running are straightfoward, so if those are your top games, don’t worry just be patient. Besides, only crazy people jump on an OS upgrade so soon after release. 😉

EDIT (Mon Nov 12):

STO finally downloaded (I guess the servers were busy) and I went to install it. It hit the same “Installing DirectX” dialog that EQ2 appeared hung at, but I decided to let to go because I had some other minor errands I could finish up. About 10-15 minutes later (seriously, it was about that long), it finally continued on and I got the splash screen.

Now I couldn’t actually start the game, due to an issue obtaining an account. That’s just the usual “create an account vs send me password reminder” thing so I anticipate having that squared away soon.

Since EQ2 looked stuck at the same point, I thought I would give it another chance too. I gave up after about 5 minutes the previous time, maybe there is some quirk that makes it take so long. So I re-downloaded EQ2, went to run it… and boom it zipped through the dialog in seconds. I already have a SOE account, and EQ2 launched just fine.

Since letting the DirectX setup take its own sweet time for STO somehow corrected the issue for EQ2, I think the most likely explanation is that DirectX version check isn’t matching what Steam or the game expects, so it goes to download it. The download is the unusually long delay.

I ran EQ2 long enough to create two characters and do the combat training, so it seems to work under Windows 8 as well. As soon as I get my account info straightened out for STO I’ll try there as well.