28Mar '14
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Cave Clutter: MMOs, RPGs, and lots of building

So the whole posting-once-a-week idea…not really working out as you can see. This is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, because I’d probably just break them within 24 hours.

Things have been busy with work and personal life. Sometimes I don’t want to write in my free time, just play some games and relax. Other times I’m too tired even for that and will just spend the evening reading and go to bed early. I know, I lead such an exciting life.

I’m also making an attempt to get out of the house more. By more, I mean once a week for about an hour to take archery lessons. It’s kind of strange to be the only female AND to the only one over the age of 15 in the group but I still had fun. I haven’t done any archery since high school where we spent a week in the gym with cheap plastic longbows and the techniques consisted of “aim in the direction of the target and hope it hits”. At this place, we get fancy compound bows with sights and everything. I think I may be in love with the bow they’re letting me use.

Now I shall move on to the games I’ve been playing:

World of Warcraft

Yeah, I got back into WoW for a couple months. I spent my time leveling a bunch of characters to 90 (was it 6 or 7 of them? I can’t remember) and doing dailies. But then I ran out of things to do and lost interest in playing. I would grudging log in to do dailies near the end. I never enjoyed PvP very much and pet battles seemed silly (if I wanted to play Pokemon, I’d play Pokemon). Raiding was out of the picture, which gave me little reason to do heroics or LFR. I am quite done with the gear treadmill, thank you. This pretty much left dailies (which really were a chore) and leveling alts. After getting 6 or 7 of them to max level, I had no interest in that anymore. If I had to go through the Pandaria leveling zones one more time, I was going to scream. So once I abandoned doing dailies, I didn’t have much of a reason to log in anymore. On my last day of time, I simply checked all my characters to see if they had any mail and I haven’t logged in since.

I have nothing against WoW but I think I’m done with it now. The times I’ve quit before were mostly the result of drama but this time, I just wasn’t having any fun by the end. It doesn’t really have much to offer me anymore and the upcoming expansion doesn’t intrigue me very much. Which is freeing in a way. Now I have time to play other games that I have sitting around. I can just do whatever my heart wants and not feel compelled to stomp on gophers for the Pandaren farmers YET AGAIN.

Wurm Online

I disbanded my Pristine deed a while ago because it was just too much for me to handle (and terraforming by myself was not fun).  So my Pristine alt is currently logged off in her rowboat with all her items, just waiting for the new Freedom cluster to be connected to the old one.

On Independence, I haven’t made any major changes to Ravenstone lately. I built a wagon and some large crates when they came out but they haven’t been used much. There’s now a large marble brazier standing in the middle of the village, and a smaller copper one in the gazebo. They both look amazing, I’ll have to take screenshots and post them here. I also made/scavenged more furniture for the inn so it looks more homey and less bare. I’m debating whether I want to use fur rugs or meditation rugs for something to put on the floors. Maybe I’ll do some of each. Oh, and I set up a trader on deed to get coins from. They cost 50 silver but mine has already paid for himself. Anything after that is gravy.

Mostly I log in to tend to my fields, breed my animals, and do jobs for other players. I sell horses, cattle, and bison, and most buyers take me up on my delivery option so I can do a lot of traveling in a day. I also do Strongwall casts on my priest and enchant grass for a fee which can bring in a fair amount of coins. Between those jobs and my trader, I am not wanting for coins now.

I am waiting with bated breath for bridges to be added to the game. Once they are, there will be a flurry of activity as I terraform the land bridge across from my deed and make it into a real damn bridge. I have this idea for two arched bridges spanning across the water, connected by a small island in the middle. But we’ll have to see how that turns out. I really, really hope that the deed that falls over just the end of the land bridge disbands before bridges come out. I haven’t seen anyone there in months and plenty of things have already decayed away on it.

The Elder Scrolls Online Beta

My beta invitation for ESO came back in January but the NDA meant that I couldn’t talk about it. I was able to participate in 4 of the beta weekends and had quite a lot of fun. I tried out each of the four classes and while I liked the templar and nightblade the best, I still had quite a lot of fun with the sorceror casting class. That’s a change for me because I generally shy away from casters. Of course, if you’ve read anything about the game, you’ll know that you can wear any armor and wield any weapon regardless of class. While I was initially disappointed in that I thought it would be another class based MMO, it was really nice to see that was not the case. It is more like Skyrim where using a weapon, spell, or armor gives you levels in that skill, which then unlocks abilities. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you can play and I hope no one ever works out a “right” way to do something, because mixing it up is just too fun and interesting.

I was really impressed by the character creator and the variety of options there. My only complaint on the female models (I didn’t create any males) is that the “thin” side of the scale looked positively anorexic and the “plumper” side appeared more normal to me.

The style of the armor and weapons…I loved them. They looked realistic and protective and there wasn’t a plate bikini in sight. Whoever designed them has my everlasting love. Yes, there was lots of boob plate, but I can definitely handle that. At least everyone’s skin was covered, thank god. There were some gorgeous designs too.

The crafting isn’t like what they have in Skyrim and it was rather confusing at first. I’ve gotten a handle on it now but I still like the crafting system in Skyrim better.

Exploring, questing, and fighting were all fun. I almost wish there was more space between the different quest hubs and more random things to stumble across. The mob ability cues took a little while for me to get used to but I believe I have a good handle on them now. And the abilities were really neat and interesting.

But the bugs…good god, the bugs. In the first three weekends, I managed to not get terribly frustrated with them because logging in and out would often put you in another virtual instance where things were not bugged and you could move on. But the last weekend was just brutal. If you had a quest where a particular mob had to spawn, you were screwed. In every instance were people standing around, waiting/hoping that the mob would spawn. Or you’d come across a bug like the one where you return to Coldharbour and Lyris swings her axe to remove from rocks blocking your path…only for the rocks to stay right in your way. Logging in and out only meant that you had to go through all the rooms again and Lyris would still bug out. After the first day of that beta weekend, I couldn’t take it anymore and gave up trying to play, which made me sad because I had been looking forward to playing since the last beta weekend.

Regardless, I’ve pre-ordered the Imperial Edition and I’m optimistic for the early access starting on Sunday. I’m very much hoping that they have all the bugs fixed by then, because otherwise I will be a very unhappy gamer.

Mass Effect 2

FemShep, you are my freaking hero. I absolutely love playing her. If I ever picked a role model for my life, it would be her. Her attitude, her commanding abilities…she is just one kickass woman. (I also have a crush on Garrus but that’s another story.) I bought ME1 after hearing everyone gush over FemShep and before I was even finished playing, I understood why. I bought ME2 and 3 before I even finished playing the first one. I finally resolved to playing them now that I have the extra gaming time on my hands.

I’ve always been meh about shooting games but I’m enjoying playing ME a lot. The storyline is fantastic, the characters are amazing, and I will admit to a certain sense of smugness when I can kill an enemy with a well-placed headshot. I preferred the unlimited ammo/overheating in ME1 to the clips in ME2 but it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game too much. I don’t believe I quite enjoy the minute distinction between the different types of guns because I’m not a gun person but I do have my favorite types picked out (sniper rifle and assault rifle). As long as geth and husks are dying, I’m a happy camper. Especially husks. *shudders* Damn space zombies trying to eat me.

I think I’m about halfway through the game at this point. I’ve completed all the loyalty quests and I’m just finishing up other sidequests and scanning planets for materials before continuing along the main storyline. The descriptions of each of the planets are actually quite interesting (and someone had to put a lot of work into them). I’ve learned things from them like what “tidal locking” and “retrograde orbit” mean. There’s also how certain types of planets develop in different areas of a solar system, and if a planet is out of place, it probably means it came from outside the system. Science is awesome!

Banished

My brother pointed out Banished to me shortly after it was released on Steam last month. I was skeptical but I bought it and tried it out anyways. He was right, it’s a great game for me and I’ve had a lot of fun on it.

Whenever I’ve played city builders in the past, I liked to pick the largest freestyle map and just build as much as I could. It was usually too easy and I’d get bored after a while. Banished really satisfies that itch while balancing the difficulty with micromanagement. You don’t influence your villagers directly, you just assign them jobs and indicate where buildings will go. There are quite a few resources to manage and your villagers’s needs are more in-depth than in other games. If you try to increase your population too fast, you’ll run out of food and people will begin to starve. Not fast enough and the elders will begin to die off faster than you can repleace them. If you don’t have enough firewood, your villagers could freeze to death. Coats let them work outside longer in the cold, especially the higher quality ones. You’ll want to have a variety of food collected/harvested every year because variety makes them happy. So do churches and graveyards, and happy people mean productive people. Better tools require more materials to make but increase productivity. Schools mean it takes longer before kids start working but being educated means they work faster.

It’s all a great balancing act and you’re constantly managing jobs and expanding your settlement. There’s no storyline and no end to strive for, you just play on a map as long as you want. There are some achievements to shoot for which can give you some goals to reach. I’ve already completed 7 of them and I hope to eventually get all 36. I’m not usually an achievement hunter but these ones look like a lot of fun.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I never really got into The Elder Scrolls games before Skyrim. I played both Morrowind and Oblivion for maybe an hour each. I’ve fairly certain I quit Morrowind after I fell into some lake and couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to get out. But Skyrim has been a lot of fun for me.

The lore is quite interesting and extensive, and I love being able to just wander around, always curious to see what’s over the next hill. I usually start off intending to complete a quest and then end up exploring the area, poking into any cave or castle I’ve never visited before. It would only make sense to clear them out too, right? I have over 130 hours in the game and I haven’t even picked sides in the civil war. My personal goal in the game is to find every landmark and clear it out. I have no idea how I’ll know when I’m done, but who cares as long as I’m having fun?

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

I love me some RPGs so every once in a while, I jump into this one. It’s heavier on the action side than the storytelling side, but sometimes you just want to kill a bunch of monsters. Especially with flaming chakrams. You can’t really go wrong with those. It’s somewhat of an open world, although not on the scale that Skyrim is.

My only real complaint about this game is that you can’t change your camera view. You’re stuck at a fixed distance behind your character’s shoulder with no way to zoom in or out. I keep using my mouse scroll wheel while playing and all it does is accidentally switch between weapons. Which come to think of it is a lot like the Mass Effect controls. It just seems strange because just about every other fantasy RPG will let you zoom in and out. Ah well.

Craft The World

This game was on sale on Steam so I picked it up because it had a lot of elements I like in games: crafting, exploration, building, sandbox, simulation, and light RPG. It’s a 2-D world with destructible blocks like Terraria, but without the 8-bit graphics. Instead of controlling a single character, you give directions to a group of dwarves (vaguely reminiscent of Gnomoria). You can take control of a single dwarf if you like but mostly they do the jobs on their own. They can be equipped with a variety of armor, weapons, and tools, and have skills that can be increased. Oh, and of course there’s undead, goblins, and various other monsters that want to murder your dwarves in new and horrific ways. So you use your crafting and building skills to make them a safe place to live in and unlock more recipes on the skill tree.

One of the really nice things about the crafting is that you don’t need to constantly refer to a wiki to find what you can build and how. You can just select a recipe in the crafting window and it will show you the ingredients needed and how to arrange them on the crafting table.

The AI for the dwarves can be rather poor at times, like when a drowning dwarf seems incapable of climbing onto a bridge RIGHT NEXT TO HIM and stopping himself from, you know, drowning. However, it is still in development so I’m certain it will only improve over time.

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