Mini break

I had some out of town visitors last week, so I didn’t do much gaming. It is interesting to me what games I thought about and was eager to get back to, and which ones were bucketed into “eh, I can wait”.

BDO – I just can’t get into. It offers a lot to do, but it turns out I’m not all that interested in lifestyle skills, simulating a trade empire, fishing or raising horses. What it does have going for it is exploration…

…which brings me to EVE. One goal there is to wander the universe in a cloaked ship, exploring relic/data sites as I come across them. This playstyle doesn’t have a direct analogy to other games with exploration (GW2 for instance) so EVE bumped up on my interest list. Of course, while away with my visitors I kept my skill queue full and working on my behalf. ūüôā I probably still can’t reliable make corp/fleet activity, but I think I can get my monthly sub fee’s worth of a few hours on the weekends.

GW2 moved back into interest. I saw a giant patch containing tons of fixes, most of which probably don’t effect me. However, one thing did – a level 80 boost. Earlier I mentioned the one thing I’d change about my char is switching races Norn to Asura. Well, this is my chance! I have a level 80 elementalist, guardian, ranger, level 60 mesmer, and I’ve tried thief and necromancer and didn’t really like them. That’s fine, there isn’t a game out where EVERY class appeals to me. Closest would be GW1 where I did actually play all classes through all storylines except one… the elementalist. That’s because my GW1 elementalist was my mesmer, who freely swapped skills between professions, and had fast casting instead of energy storage.

I used some level 30 boosts on an engineer and revenant, and a level 20 boost on a warrior. So basically, I have a level 80 boost to use on either a ranger, which I know I like but would like to switch races on, or on an engineer, revenant, or warrior, which are fun but unknown. I’ll think about this and maybe play through the first chapter of the storyline on the engineer and revenant and see before going with another ranger.

LoTRO also moved back into interest. I’ve taken breaks from the game, none lasting too long. My guardian Naerys can level from 100 to 105 now, but I had another project in mind: starting a new minstrel. Which I did and puttered around a bit. I’ll post on that later.

ESO also remained of interest. Zenimax is adding some really interesting DLC (the recent Thieves Guild and upcoming Dark Brotherhood); the game is fun and has beautiful graphics; I like the skill system which lets every class train every weapon, armor, and crafting skills, while retaining 3 skill lines unique to the class.

TSW as well, I want to press along in the desert and not spend ~2 years wandering very slowly around before the next new zones, like I did with Kingsmouth – Blue Mountain.

What fell out of interest was FF14. It isn’t a bad game game at all; I’ve enjoyed all 5 mandatory dungeons I’ve done; the class system is the best. The playerbase seems friendly, the storyline is bizarre but fun to follow. It comes down to the sub fee – given my rather haphazard play schedule, it doesn’t make sense to sub to multiple subscription games. So in the contest between EVE and FF14, right now EVE wins since the play style EVE offers, that of the stealth explorer in dangerous territory, well that doesn’t exist elsewhere. The others are B2P or F2P, and I do support them by making store purchases from time to time. I like this model since whatever I buy doesn’t come with a time limit like game-time with a sub fee does, and I don’t feel as much pressure to play to a¬†quota each month.

There is probably a “fantasy game overload” thing going on as well – EVE is a sci-fi universe while LoTRO/GW2/ESO are fantasy. So FF14 as a 4th direct fantasy game, let’s just put TSW into a different category, is maybe too much for me.

I’m subbed for another cycle under FF14 so I’m not vanishing instantly, but I’ll be thinking about whether or not I want to keep working on my summoner/monk versus exploring null sec in EVE.

Anyway, I’ll see how ESO, TSW, ramping back up in GW2 and LoTRO, and EVE go. 5 games is still 3 too many. ūüėČ

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BDO – Velia

I arrived at the city of Velia and reached level 11… so, poking along and mostly enjoying it.

After exploring the Olvia and Western Guard Camp areas, I followed the quest line and visited the Ancient Stone Chamber the explorers you meet very early in the game speak of.

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There wasn’t any fighting but I suppose you do pass near fields of animals on the way there.

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The game provides a strange cutscene which advances the quirky story a bit… and then you can pick up a quest to learn more about the tree spirits nearby.

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I put that off and decided to play the conversation mini-game with a few NPCs in the Western Guard area, and just mill around mostly.

I found some dwarf workers that gave me a quest to bring beef jerky to a solider – the catch is I had to kill some wolves and process the meat into jerky. I suppose this was an intro to crafting.

The game provides most of the info you need. It tells you to kill wolves, press R to gather the meat, and press L to open crafting, select “dry” (from the various options available), right click from¬†inventory to select the wolf meat, and then start processing. What it neglects to mention is that you need to have a butcher knife equipped in your tool slot. I happened to have a tanning knife equipped, so instead of getting meat, I was getting fur. It took me a few wolves to realize what was happening and then I switched out, after buying a butcher knife. Granted, this isn’t a huge oversight, but I think it might trip some players up especially if they hadn’t talked to as many merchants as possible to see the other crafting tools for sale. I bet if you didn’t have any tool equipped you probably don’t even get the “R to gather…” option.

Speaking of crafting, I wasn’t able to tan my hides because I kept getting errors. One of them was something like “processing step failed” – this one seems harmless, you can just sit there and keep crafting and perhaps the next one will work. Maybe this is merely the working of an invisible success percentage other games are more up front about displaying to the player.

The other hitch was getting an error something like “insufficient materials available”. I kept getting this error while trying to dry a single fur. Apparently, and the UI doesn’t really tell you this, but you need an even number of furs to tan – I guess the crafting takes 2 furs and gives 1 hide. When I tried my pile of wolf furs, it worked because I had more than 2 of them.¬†Perhaps that ratio changes depending on what you are trying to make, but if you see this error the solution may simply be: farm more items and try again.

Anyway, I’m slowly figuring stuff out! And that is important to me – not to puzzle everything out, I’m happy to watch some videos or read a nice guide – no, what’s important is figuring out the crafting options and non-combat activities, because that is my long term end-game here, if I keep playing. I’m having fun and all, but I don’t want to do PvP especially non-consensual, nor do I want to be a full-time crafter.

If I understand how PvP works correctly, at level 45+ of the US release (50 in the Korean release, so the cutoff seems to vary), you are eligible for “non consensual” PvP. As in, other players can flag you and fight you, whereas when you are lower than that level, you can’t be flagged (but you can voluntarily flag). Since I’m really not interested in open world PvP, the only kind I enjoy is zoned battleground style, I’m going to stop leveling in the low 40s so by then I’ll need to have some other stuff to do figured out.

Every time I get frustrated about the lack of information the game provides, I think of EVE Online and how tough it must have been for the early adopters. I first tried EVE in 2008, and by that time the game had been out 5+ years, EVE University was up and running and had an excellent wiki with great information. I see Black Desert Online in that “early adopter” phase right now (ok, the game has been out for 2 years in Korea so I’m assuming there is some great info out there, in Korean!) where the current batch of players is in a game with a large¬†amount of content available, but it isn’t always easy/straightforward to figure out how to do it. Several in-game “get help” buttons open up pages on the¬† Black Desert Tome, so over time I think more and more information will be available. Plus there are even in-game videos to view.

In the meantime, now that I’m in Velia, I withdrew all my contribution points from the Olvia area. Next time I’ll speak to all the NPCs and try to figure out node investment, workers, and all that other stuff.

Getting to Velia is important for two reasons: it is the first big city you come across, and at level 11 it really isn’t that far away, time-wise. Velia has various quests that introduce you to crafting systems: fishing, cooking, etc. The second is that two quests along the way (the Ancient Ruins exploration and another that sends you to Velia to speak to Eileen ) expand your inventory by a few slots, which is huge this early in the game.

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One activity I tried was fishing – you can pick up a fishing quest at the docks and witness dozens of players standing on the pier, fishing. I moved over to one side so I could actually see my character, and started it up.

I tried 5 or 6 times, and only got one success, and it wasn’t even the kind of fish I need to finish the quest. It takes some precise spacebar-hitting and apparently I don’t have the reflexes required.

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My future as a fisherman isn’t looking to bright. I’d just like to clear out the quest from my log so I’ll probably try again when I’ve got a few spare minutes.

So for now, I’ll¬†stay in the area for a while and explore around Velia. It is fun to explore since the game is really scenic in every direction!

BDO – Minor Progress

A quick note about FF14 – I saw that goobue plushies are¬†available for pre-order. I’m not a doll or collector person, but I will make an exception for this!

OK, now onto recent Black Desert playtime:

Black Desert seems to be having some problems with its servers – I triedto play but I get booted out within 5 minutes. I tried a half dozen times and am going to give up tonight and do something else.

I did manage to play a bit over the weekend and reached level 9 on my tamer and also hit level 9 on my valkyrie. Combat is a bit different even though similar key presses are involved – eventually I’ll need to study the skills for whatever class I like more and figure out skill synergies and so on.

I reached level 9 following the quest line given to me by the black spirit helper. It starts off showing you how to move, then introduces you to a few townspeople, the trainer, and then gives a series of combat challenges: foxes, wolves, imps, steel imps, etc.

During that, you learn some attacks and the game suggests you try a combo attack.

Let me pause and describe how combat works. It’s pretty fun, action based, and revolves around key presses and mouse button presses. You can set some attacks to hotkeys, but there are dozens more skills than hotkeys so to use “everything” I think you’ll need to use your memory. Plus, the chart specifically says “can use with quickslot” so that leads me to believe some skills cannot be placed in a quickslot.

So far I have the following skills:

  • leaf slash – LMB
  • soaring kick – E
  • tree climb – ‚ÜĎF
  • flurry of kicks – hold F
  • flash –¬†‚Üď LMB
  • heilang: whiplash – RMB
  • heilang: lightning of earth –¬† ‚ÜĎ RMB
  • heilang: upward claw –¬†‚Üď RMB

BDO is a “WASD” movement kind of game, so those arrows actually mean W for¬†‚ÜĎ, S for¬†‚Üď, etc. But that’s how it appears in the skill chart (K hotkey).

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Soon the black spirit told me to try a combo: ‚ÜĎ leaf flash / whiplash; so I did those two back to back, finishing it but unsure of what extra¬†goodies come along with doing a combo (I’m expecting extra damage or something along those lines). In the skill chart, the lower right corner shows videos of combos for each class, but those look like 4 step ones.

Anyway, combat is fast and fun, there is some kind of cooldown because after defeating the enemy, I’ll get a floating “XYZ skill is ready again”. But given the number of skills still to unlock, I can see high level combat being chains of attacks with ideally useful side effects – maybe like the Warden in LoTRO builds combos out of three basic skills but without the slightly sluggish building phase.

Combat in this game is a lot different feeling that FF14 with its long cooldowns; this is more fast and fluid especially with the ability to unleash 3+ different skills by changing the order you press the keys involved. I’m not high enough level to know if this carries forward and I hope it does, rather that boil down to random button mashing – I’m hoping higher level skills and combos have secondary effects that are important to use tactically.¬†Actually I have a feeling this will be true; one current skill (tree climb) is a jump forward, attack, jump back – so that’s useful for closing a gap and then getting a bit of¬†distance.

It got dark in game, and I read that mobs get tougher at night (very cool game mechanism) so I spent some time wandering the starter town of Olvia, talking to each merchant/NPC, to start unlocking conversations and build “knowledge”, which I’m unsure what that specifically does.

I haven’t touched any of the other game systems I read about players swooning over, such as crafting, trading, housing, fishing, cooking, horse taming, etc – can a game have all this stuff? (Answer: yes, look at EVE Online for a working example of dozens of in-game activities). I know there is a ton more to do and as much as I hate to just sit and read about a game rather than play it, I might watch a few helper videos to get an idea of what else is available. Noarey makes a series of “two minute guides” that look ideal.

BDO – Curiosity

I almost had my MMO gaming down to a nice balance: taking a bit of a hiatus from LoTRO and GW2, backburnering Wildstar, and switching off between FF14 and TSW. I find that I tend to split 2 games 80-20 (playing time wise) rather than 50-50… nevertheless I was optimistic I could get to 60-40 and perhaps even do something crazy like work ESO back into the mix.

But then, I read all sorts of posts about Black Desert Online. Many are conveniently linked in a MassivelyOP post.

I was apprehensive at first, because I understood¬†Black Desert Online is a PvP endgame MMO. After researching this more, reading about the karma system and other various posts on reddit, I decided it is probably avoidable enough for me to deal with. For now I’m playing¬†under¬†two assumptions: PvP is voluntary if your character is lower than level 45/50 (reports differ from US/KR versions of the game);¬†a PvP main doesn’t auto-flag alts (a lower level crafting alt on an account isn’t forced into PvP due to a high level main char).

So I said what the heck and bought the game. After all, the only real way to find out if you like a game is to play it. With no sub fee, I’m willing to give it a shot.

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It took 3 hours to download, so by the time I was able to log in (to a world where every server was “overrun”) I didn’t have much time at all.

The character creation went smoothly, except for the naming portion. This game requires a unique family (last) name, and unique given (first) names. WTF?! It’s difficult to get a reasonable name in an MMO, much less essentially two unique names for the¬†first char.¬†I don’t see the point of requiring unique first AND last names – a unique last name should be all that is required, with no duplicate first names with the same last name.

I ended up creating a ranger and a valkyrie, and literally spent more time naming those two characters than I spent creating those two characters. It was kind of frustrating.

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I logged in real quick and all I did was advance to a quest giver, and then log off. That’s the screenshot above – I’m the yellow arrow, the pillar of light is the quest objective, the glowing line is the auto-route your character will take if you hit ‘T’.

A day later I read that¬†MassivelyOP plans a Black Desert Online guild on the Orwen server… great!¬†I think this game is one I’ll definitely want to join a guild in, as early as possible. Unfortunately¬†I didn’t create my characters on the Orwen server, so rather than go through the naming gyrations again, I deleted those characters in order to reuse the names on Orwen.

Except the deletion process takes 24 hours to complete (!).

I get it, ESO makes you wait a few hours, EVE Online does the same Рa restriction meant to prevent an exploit: create characters, strip them bare, delete and repeat, as a way of building up some initial resources. But a 1 day hold is long and annoying.

In summary,¬†I’ve spent an evening and got shockingly little done besides install the game and create two characters. Just those two tasks took more time than typical. Two chars which I have to delete to re-create on another server. After sitting out a long ass deletion hold.

It has not been the greatest start.