TSW – More Savage Coast

Thanks to the recent Golden Weekend, I earned enough ability points to finish the Blade/Fist progression deck. The chief benefit of the weekend was gaining an additional ability point whenever receiving one… to maximize ability points I also bought a potion from the store which did the same thing, since it stacked.

I’d like to fiddle around with builds and skill combos, but having a “known good” deck to fall back on is important to me – if I find out something isn’t working then I can return to my good deck while earning ability points to unlock other skills.

One thing to keep in mind is the important of AoE damage.

AoE Damage
AoE Damage

I find myself fighting 3-4 mobs all the time, except for bigger tougher mobs and even then, moving the wrong way might aggro a second one.

Single Fight
Single Fight

I’ve done most of the quests in Savage Coast, and will now focus on advancing in the storyline. I inched forward slightly to step 11/18 by visiting the Innsmouth Academy during another quest, and speaking to the staff trapped there.

I’ve been able to upgrade my weapons as well, to the QL5 versions sold by the vendors in the NW corner. I’d like to branch out into other weapons as well (I’ve spent a few skill points in Chaos and Blood too) and that will take more skill points.

Every time I look at the skill chart and ability wheel I feel like I have barely unlocked anything… I remind myself I’m only in the 2nd zone so yeah, that’s expected. After all, ability and skill points replace levels in this game. I’d be the equivalent of a low level char in the 1st or 2nd racial areas in GW2, still unlocking all the skills of various weapons.

From reading various forums I see that eventually there are plenty of skill points and ability points to unlock the whole thing. I’m just impatient, haha.

Soon I’ll advance to the next zone, Blue Mountain!

TSW – Savage Coast Exploring

Well it has been a long long time since I played TSW, so I decided to remedy that issue. Plus, it is “golden week” so I am more efficient in earning ability points! According to the webpage, that ability stacks with boosts from the store so I bought one of those too.

It’s a great game featuring questing and exploration, with the ability to train everything and switch classes on the fly.

I resumed in Savage Coast, where I left off. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not very far along at all, something like 10/18 in the Savage Coast storyline mission, which is one zone out of newbie land. Now that the revamped new player experience patch is up, combat promises to be a bit faster. But the really nice feature was a map that displays mission locations.

My currently active mission was for Daniel Bach in the Overlook Motel. It turns out demons and hell beasts and portals opened up on the beach, so I went to help fix that by slaying monsters and closing rifts.

Beach Battle
Beach Battle

Once that was done, I followed the road and discovered groups of zombies feasting on corpses. The mission I took and completed involved burning 5 bodies, which of course were all surrounded by zombies.

About this time, I decided to research some and change up my build. I had been using various starter decks, which were all pretty decent, but after a bit of searching I settled on a suggested build from the forums, the “Blade Fist Progression Deck” which has some nice features. It is flexible, with a bit of tanking and healing, an AoE impair (putting conditions on mobs is key and part of making skills decks is picking skills that synergize well: place a condition with one skill, exploit it with another). It builds up to more powerful decks which is nice – I know that with enough play, I’ll get enough ability points to learn all the skills… but in the meantime I’d like a little guidance so I can spend my ability points well. While building towards the final deck I can experiment a bit as well.

TSW rewards the player that completes the suggested skills decks with a cosmetic outfit. For example, by learning the skills that make up the beginner “Trickster” deck, you unlock the corresponding uniform. So part of my motivation for learning the skills for the starter decks was to get a variety of outfits (all cosmetic) to wear, and also learn skills that were part of suggested decks. I do want to research and build my own skill combos, but starting out I also didn’t want to spend all my points towards a (temporary) dead-end.

For now, I had enough skills unlocks to use most of the Blue Mountain Deck active skills – I believe I need to purchase Brandish and Surgical Steel, so those are what I will be saving ability points for.

With my new skill deck, I went off to a creepy wooded area to destroy large insects (mission: The Exterminator).

Creepy Woods
Creepy Woods

In the middle of this area was a treehouse – aha but I knew that because of the awesome new map which shows mission locations! – so I climbed up and grabbed another side mission, to kill some wandering named zombies in the amusement park to the south.

On the way to the location for that mission, I ran across another one (Stranger than Fiction), which eventually led me to kill a monster roaming the park that was attacking people. Tier 2 of the quest is to investigate the lighthouse to the south-east.

That’s where I left off… to return soon.

Anyway, I do enjoy the interweaving of exploration and questing in TSW and ESO – both are similar in that you might run across another quest or two while out trying to finish another one, and both have quests that are multi-stage and update as you accomplish intermediate milestone.

On Being Social

Well I got busy recently, and was out of town over the weekend, so I haven’t done much in any game. What I have done is open up Steam and have been going through my collection of games with the goal of playing every one at least an hour and then either keeping or uninstalling.

I’m guilty of grabbing games during a sale, and then ignoring them. I don’t feel too bad, since those sales can be spectacular, but all the same I don’t need dozens of games taking up space or cluttering up my library. What I’ve done is make a category called “hidden”, and when I uninstall a game I set its category to “hidden” and just keep that folder (tree view) closed. So I don’t see those games listed unless I click the “hidden” category. It helps me organize a little bit. πŸ˜‰

So far I’ve played and recategorized about 10 games, with a few more to check out in the near future.

EVE

I finally applied to a corporation in EVE. There are various well known benefits so it is time to stop being a solo player and get a little more involved. I’ll write more when I hear one way or the other… I figure I can’t really say too much right now. EVE is just different with respect to joining others due to the possibilities of spying and theft or even providing info on where they are located.

So I trained the suggested minimum skills and sent off an application with an API key. I guess I’ll hear back sometime…

As a side note, several recent blog posts discuss a related topic: group content and the ability of a “new” player to enjoy game content:

All in all, lots to think about and some great point about what EVE does do right (i.e. the design of the game allows it).

I’ll say that for me, I fall squarely in Mabrick’s description of things; the idea that Jelly Knight’s experience is what a new player will have is almost unbelievable. More like maybe 10% of new players are lucky enough to get that and probably a lot less.

EDIT: Wilhelm replied and I wanted to add a clarification. The above posts focus on different aspects of EVE. Wilhelm and Syncaine are pointing out that new players can get to “end game” content in EVE, right off the bat. EVE doesn’t prevent that; a new player can contribute immediately. Mabrick points out (and I agree) that this is atypical; the average new player doesn’t get that experience. CCP’s own data on player retention supports that – see Jester’s post in the next paragraph.

Just in case you skipped those linked posts above, CCP itself mentions new player retention issues. I’ll just link to Jester’s post with additional info including the chart of interest. I get my 10% number from CCPs stats on new player retention, 50% quit, 40% solo, and only 10% group/diverse. So I’m guessing that at best roughly 10% of players that hang around for a month get to see stuff as cool as Jelly Knight did on his first day.

When I first started, it took a while to figure out what to do and eventually I joined EVE University. Everything I was able to learn about EVE came from outside EVE – websites, even what corporations were good for beginners to join – and not within the game. EVE prides itself on allowing various play styles and latitude on what is acceptable, which happens to include scamming and ganking. Newbies are the lowest hanging fruit to pick on so they make the easiest victims. This in turn makes it tough to encourage grouping or joining a corporation, due to a vast array of choices that are out of the game’s control (specifically, what player corporations form and how those players act) and the fact that a certain percentage of new players aren’t going to have a good experience. No matter how awesome Jelly Knight’s first day was, that simply isn’t typical.

It’s a tricky problem but I know this: it is up to CCP and/or the playerbase in general to fix it, because the new player doesn’t have the knowledge or information to figure it out. CCP can encourage group content, but if the game funnels new players to PvP or grouping (i.e. to other players), then be assured the scammers/gankers will also note this and figure out a way to be there with open arms to victimize the steady stream of easy pickings.

LoTRO

There isn’t an easy way to say this, but the kinship I’m in is dying. Well more like atrophying. Over the last several months, the active membership has dwindled away to 4-5 people, as far as I can tell.

LoTRO is very solo-friendly and I haven’t been stopped trying to do any content, but looking at the guild roster and seeing that only 3-4 others log in on a weekly basis makes me think of looking for a more active kinship.

After I get settled in EVE, where being in a corporation is more important for stuff I want to do in-game, I’ll probably do some looking in Middle Earth.

Nothing against my kinship – back in the day it was a ton of fun to raid, run dungeons in Moria, help with epic quests – it is only that the level of activity has almost disappeared.

Guild Wars 2

I kind of ran out of gas in the 70s with my ranger. The completionist in me is bothered by this and I want to get back and level that char to 80, and do some stuff I liked such as jump puzzles and slowly work on map completion. If I can do that, I’ll have two level 80s to adventure in Tyria with.

When GW2 came out, my old guild from Guild Wars went to Kaineng. Meanwhile, a RL friend started up on Maguuma, so that’s where I went. After a few months, everybody in that Maguuma guild drifted away except me, dabbling on in an apparently dead guild on Maguuma. Due to ANET’s curious design of not being able to tell when the last time somebody in a guild logged on, I had no idea of players were still around and I was just missing them, or if everyone actually stopped playing. My RL friend stopped so he didn’t know if others did as well.

A few weeks ago ANET allowed free transfers between realms, in an effort to balance competitiveness is WvW (I think). It just so happens that Kaineng was available for free transfer, because it was near the bottom in WvW rankings, but I didn’t care. I took it and transferred from Maguuma to Kaineng. The way I see it, if I do any WvW at all and Kaineng rises from the bottom of the rankings, I can claim some credit for helping out. πŸ˜‰ haha

However, I haven’t contacted anyone from my old guild just yet. Not that I don’t want to say hi and rejoin, I just don’t want to do that and then not be reasonably active. So I’ll wait until I’m sure I’ll be somewhat active before contacting anybody.

The GW guild used to have a core of 5 or so players that were active, including myself, so if that holds up in GW2, that would be just fine. I know that if the same group is even half as active as we were in the GW days, I’d be able to do a bunch of the group content, all the dungeons in quest and story mode, WvW, etc.

Secret World

I hate to mention this game only because of the lack of playtime I’ve put in.

This game has great, challenging quests, an interesting storyline to follow, a unique skill system, all classes available to a character… I just need to find a consistent amount of time each week to play.

I enjoyed the time I’ve spent, but haven’t made it very far at all. One RL friend picked it up but we haven’t met up in game yet. Maybe that would help if we could set up 2-3 hours a week to meet and play.

I think it would be ideal to play this game (modern world horror/conspiracy setting), EVE Online (sci-fi setting) and LoTRO or GW2 (fantasy setting), to balance out different game mechanics and designs, so as to not overload on fantasy MMOs for example.

Social

Anyway, I mostly solo in MMOs, but that’s just for convenience – being able to hop in/out whenever, set my own schedule, play as long or as short as I want, take long break, come back, etc. There are lots of advantages. But it would be fun to group up occasionally, that’s a lot of fun as well. So I’m eyeing changing things up in EVE and LoTRO, maybe in GW2, and figuring how to get some TSW in there as well. Whew!

TSW – Leaving Kingsmouth

After nearly 30 hours in game, I’m finally leaving Kingsmouth for the Savage Coast. For those of you keeping score, that’s the 2nd zone in the game… I’m basically behind the entire player base. However, I am still very much enjoying myself.

I’ve unlocked 4 starter decks now, Maverick was the latest, and am now concentrating on Chaos Theorist. I did appreciate trying various weapon combos out, but the one I like the most is fist/chaos so I’m saving up my ability points for higher level skills in those areas. Or inner circle skills, given the TSW skill circle. πŸ˜‰

Before leaving, I went to check my quest log and lore log to see what I missed. I also checked on the wiki… I think of myself as a reasonable explorer, so imagine my shock when I found that I had missed around a dozen of the side missions in Kingsmouth! I went on a spree to hunt them down and finish them off.

My last quest was the Idol of Nergal, in which I had to deliver the idol to the local church. While the quest was active, my aggro range was larger than normal, plus some extra zombies would spawn and follow me. I stopped occasionally to fight them off…

Reanimated Warrior
Reanimated Warrior

and eventually made it to the church and sent in my report (TSW lingo for completing the quest – many of them involve calling your faction’s HQ and reporting in).

I’ve crafted my own Quality Level 3 weapons, and have a set of QL 3 talismans. In TSW, talismans take the place of armor – the talismans have various buffs and stat bonuses and can generally be categorized as tanking, healing, or DPS. Ideally players would have a set of each, allowing them to swap talismans and weapons and change group roles. I’m not that well off and kinda take what I can get.

I really like the mission variety in TSW. Some missions require some stealthy action (infiltrate base, access computers while staying away from guards), some are outright puzzles (one requires solving a morse code message to get the next coords to visit), others are typical combat missions (kill X number of mobs, build up to a boss fight).

TSW – Finishing up Kingsmouth

I’ve spent my last few play sessions attempting to wrap up Kingsmouth quests. I thought I was almost done, yet by visiting each of the various quest givers, I’ve found most still have a quest (or two) for me to do!

I’ve been experimenting with decks, and have spent my ability points buying skills so I’ve now unlocked 3 starter decks: Trickster, Cagemaster, and Champion, and as a by-product have also unlocked more clothing options (the uniforms associated with each of those starter decks). I like the look of the Trickster the most so I end up wearing that the majority of the time.

Next up will be unlocking the Maverick deck, and then I’ll just accumulate ability points for purchasing “inner circle” abilities. For one, getting decent weapons to cover all these decks take resources, and two, spreading my ability points all over probably isn’t too wise. However, I do like build variety so have 4 starter ones to choose from and switch between is worth it to me.

Quest wise, I’m finding them still fun and the puzzles challenging and mostly fair. OK, I cheat a little by reading along if I’m stuck, but a lot of guides will avoid direct spoilers and give a hint – for example there was a quest the involved a password to log onto a computer. The hint in-game was “my wife’s name” and the hint on the wiki said “check the bodies on the beach”. Sure enough, I found an id card and then, in a leap that doesn’t exist in many other games, I opened a webpage for the fictional corporation (the Orochi Group) and searched around and found the scientist’s wife’s name. Thumbs up!

I also stepped into the next zone, the Savage Coast. I did a quest or two, and soon found myself facing a bigger fight:

Savage Coast Welcome
Savage Coast Welcome

I was able to defeat this monster and wrap up a quest before zipping off to New York to continue my storyline.

TSW – Illuminati Tunnels

It’s been a while since I played TSW, and since this is double ability point weekend, I put aside some time. I hope to unlock the Trickster starter deck and get a new costume, and for that I need to earn 14 more ability points, and then buy the two elite skills: Domino Effect, and Probability.

Illuminati Tunnels

Wayness was at the Digger Deeper mission for a while, and I finally tackled it. The mission given by Henry Hawthorne was to locate and explore the Illuminati Tunnels beneath Kingsmouth.

Unlike many other MMOs, in The Secret World, many missions require you to figure out how to start them. Or in this case, how to find them! I mean actually find the starting location, not counting the start as getting the mission from the quest giver.

Some would find this frustrating, but I kind of like it. Especially because I’m behind the initial wave of players, which means there are spoilers available if I choose to go that route. But I always spend a few minutes searching and trying to use the in-game clues to make an honest attempt to figure stuff out.

After carefully following the quest instructions, I did find the start, but didn’t figure out how to open the door, so to speak. I punted and googled for some help – here is a bit of a spoiler on what I found:

The Key I Needed
The Key I Needed

With that, I entered and found myself facing several more puzzles – no combat at all in the tunnels. I do like this kind of variety in missions!

I eventually made it to a puzzle that immediately reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

Spelling Puzzle
Spelling Puzzle

Remember that scene where they had to jump letter to letter across a hidden chasm? But the word had one letter different in the original language? Heh, no jumping across chasms here, but not spelling the answer correctly leads to poison gas release.

Further in, I finally access the Illuminati sanctum. I gotta say, this is decorated exactly how I’d picture a real Illuminati hidden lair would be. πŸ™‚

Statue Puzzle
Statue Puzzle

I eventually completed the mission and exited.

If I haven’t mentioned it already, I am really enjoying my time in TSW – I think it’s a great game. Nice mission variety, huge skill system with unique mechanics, etc. I know some people would blanch at the theme parkiness, but I like well done theme parks and so far (granted I’m still in the first area) it has been a fun time for me. Well worth the price.

Juggling MMO’s

Despite my blog name, I’m lousy and dividing up my time evenly. I find that playing 2 MMOs doesn’t result in a 50-50 split, it is more like 80-20. Similarly, trying to split time between 3 doesn’t come out as 33-33-33 (ok… 34-33-33 haha); for me it would likely be 70-20-10 or 60-20-20 at best. 4 MMO’s would probably be 70-10-10-10 rather than anything remotely close to 25% time devoted to each.

Basically, at any given time, there is one dominant MMO that I’m inspired to “get further” in and play more of. Which I suppose is fine, although I’m going to see if I can force a slightly better balance.

TSW – Illuminati Investigation

I took a quest from Henry Hawthorne to investigate Kingsmouth for clues and traces the Illuminati left. So I headed out the church door and noticed a highlighted manhole cover… on closer examination there was some info and further clues. In general, this quest was a follow-the-trail to a fight to get a clue to a secondary location kind of quest. Good times!

Journal
Journal

I like how the mission journal can hold pictures, for easy reference. Many quests in the game require noticing clues in drawings or diagrams, solving puzzles, and so on. Having a picture in the quest journal is fantastic and saves me from making all kinds of sketches or notes on pieces of paper.

A cool thing I recently discovered is the Chronicle, which is similar to WoW’s armory or LoTRO’s lorebook. It’s a character page, and you can see my character Wayness Tamm and marvel at my meager progress. πŸ˜‰

Working on Trickster
Working on Trickster

One sub-goal I have is unlocking some of the starter decks. I began with fist weapons, dabbled around a bit with pistols too, but decided to focus on unlocking starter decks to get decent builds, variety, and some extra outfits (I think). Right now I’m working on Trickster, which is a Dragon clan fist/chaos deck. I’m short 3 skills: Probability, Domino Effect, Chaos Adept.

I’m really enjoying TSW so far, and I’m not even out of the initial area. However, I also need to concentrate on making some good progress. I’m also willing to spend money in the store and support the buy-to-play model.

TSW – Kingsmouth

I’ve been enjoying more zombie killing in the first area of The Secret World, Kingsmouth. So far the unique skill tree and build mechanics have drawn me in, and I’m just barely outside the tutorial!

I started with a Fist weapon, and paired it with Chaos magic. But I eventually shifted to pistols, partly because they are a range weapon, and partly because I decided to try a “low/no” magic route at first. I’ve only unlocked a few dozen skills, active and passive, but have a decent rotation that involves building resources with Fist attacks, then using a big Fist closer for extra damage. I’m nearly done buying the first tier of Fist skills (Feral and Primarl) and am looking forward to getting the initial elite skill, Go For The Throat.

One exciting thing was figuring out the crafting mechanism, which is also uniquely done. I particularly like the streamlined ingredients and layout-based recipes. Below I am wielding QL2 weapons that I made myself. πŸ™‚

My claws
My claws

This initial zone has good atmospheric dread. And I also like the layout. For example, the city blocks have stores and homes on the street side, with an enclosed courtyard with playgrounds and backyards. It would be a nice place to live except for the zombie apocalypse.

Courtyard
Courtyard

They’ve also made an effort to change up the missions away from the usual formula of killing X guys or looting Y items. Quest givers have sent me out to retrieve survival items, which makes sense given the threat the city faces. I rounded up security cameras and redeployed them for protection. Some quests have been to track down missing people and either verify they are safe or… well you know, zombie invasion and all. πŸ˜‰

One mission that was a little frustrating was a stealth mission, where I ultimately had to make my way through a room, avoiding two moving spotlights. The frustration came from me being caught in the light when I thought I was fine. That’s OK, there didn’t seem to be a harsh penalty for retries!

Avoiding the Spotlight
Avoiding the Spotlight

Anyway, I’m looking forward to wrapping up the initial side of the Kingsmouth map, and moving a bit deeper in. As well as opening up more Pistol skills and fiddling around with my deck (TSW terms for skill loadout).

TSW – Zombies

My curiosity got the better of me and I bought The Secret World. Several other bloggers are generally positive about it, so I figured even at $30 from Steam, it was a good deal (I missed that big sale in December when Amazon had it for super cheap. Missed it by an hour or so I think.) I could have waited, hoping for this title to go back on sale again, but I said what the heck and grabbed it.

Training Dojo
Training Dojo

The game is set in the modern world, amidst various conspiracy theories, myths, and legends. I created a character and joined the Dragons, and made my way through the tutorial. After beating up on various training dummies, I decided to leave with Fist and Chaos weapons equipped.

Agartha
Agartha

The intro mission led me to Agartha, which is a nexus between worlds. In game terms, it seems to be the travel hub where your character branches out to various locations for further exploration and adventure. My first destination was Kingsmouth, overrun by zombies. I battled my way in, followed the mission instructions (kill zombies, investigate bodies, etc.) and made it to the police station.

Ready to Fight
Ready to Fight

I didn’t get a chance to play for long, so I blew through everything up to this point, skimming over tutorial tips and so forth. My real goal was just to get a taste of the game and quick intro to the mechanics, and at a later time (ideally over the weekend when I can get a few uninterrupted hours) possibly redo with a bit more care.

I did enjoy the bit I played, and am looking forward to more! For one thing, the skill system looks really interesting: equip 7 active and 7 passive skills from hundreds, divided between various weapons and magic. I’m resisting the urge to read up on everything, and thus trend towards min/maxing, and would like to instead just kinda go with the flow and discover stuff in-game.

I do know from reading other blogs that the mission system is quite different as well – many missions require careful reading of the instructions or searching to discover the proper trigger point to advance. This all sounds good to me!