Havoc in hearthstone

The first event planned for the Newbie Blogger Initiative is starting soon. Havoc in Hearthstone: a competition to test your card playing prowess that will involve fun, friends and fantastic prizes. Starting next weekend and running until we have crowned a blogging champion. Check out the Forum post to sign up and for more info.

hscomp_rv

A Myriad of Mods: ESO

I’ve been tinkering with a lot of different parts of ESO this week, just streamlining the areas I want and adding a few quality of life mechanics. Some I’ve kept on even after but some I think will be more situational as they detract from my usually meandering ways.

Anyway here’s a list of great mods to check out

Foundry Tactical combat – Pretty much the go to mod for your combat number based needs. tracks the stats of the target reasonably well, scroll down text of your own damage and healing as well as showing up buffs and debuffs. Some buffs may not work correctly, it assumes their connection and doesn’t account for resist.

Wykkards framework - good all round changes. Nifty toolbar for showing basics of bags, currency time, location and such. Also has macros, loot notification and npc subtitles

Skyshards - Shows a map indicator for where they are and tracks there completion

Harvest Map Markers – Tracks gathering points you’ve visited and shows them on map. Last time I used it it was crashing and didn’t work though

Wykkyds Outfitter – Ability to create gear sets and skill bar sets, connecting them into a macro key with Wykkyrds Framework. One interesting way to use this is to create an alternate gear and skill set you particularly want to level up but not use in combat and switch to this when turning in quests.

Loot Filter – Shows up in chat the loot you’re picking up but also has a few management options like selling trash and repairing automatically when at a vendor.

Inventory Grid – does what it says

Guild store search – search options for finding items in a guild store

Research assistant – adding a symbol next to items in inventory that you haven’t researched yet

Soft Cap Info – showing where the soft caps are on stats in your character sheet as well as how far over and how much has been lost

War Legend Group Frame – one of the better group frame mods although I really don’t like the style of it

Alchemist - Brilliant addon for exploring alchemy and revealing the specific bonuses

 

And now for some silly ones

Khajit speak – Turns all text responses into something more appropriate for khajit, this on enjoys such a thing

Librarian Book Manager – Tracks the books you’ve seen and catalogues for later viewing

 

A Kill la kill Critique

The woefully idiocentric and completely crazy amine, kill la Kill finally ended its season a few weeks back and I’m still trying to determine whether the show is the most blatantly sexist, otaku pandering bullshit or some sort of brilliant parody of the genre and it’s culture. The one thing I know is that the creators feel comfortable with their show in such a way that it does reflect so well on the culture surrounding. So is it genius that deserves to be a new cult classic or a perverse, and often times intelligible sexist dribble that needs to be buried.

Oh, and holy shit I just wrote a tonne of word spam

Continue reading

ESO Report: Worldly Ways

I seriously can’t wait for my upcoming holiday as it will be the first really break I’ve had in quite a while. I had a little time off over Christmas but as is the case during that period it’s usually quite busy for me with seeing family as well as having family over at my own house. I really can’t wait.

I’ve just been so exhausted lately and I think this is why I’ve enjoyed the levelling pace of ESO more than I usually would. Being able to sleep in for a while and just relax a bit more will be great. Plus, I might just make it up to level cap after. It won’t just be gaming, there will be a nice weekend away with the hubby but most of it will hopefully involve me, the laptop and a comfy couch.

I’m looking forward to that mostly so I can catch up a little to everyone else I regularly play with. It seems most of the guild has been racing forward in their lust for the end game in order to be more competitive in PvP but also because of that draw towards powaaah! I feel that more than ever but I just don’t want to resort to the all too common activity of grinding mob spawns. It seems so soulless.

I'll just sit here and relax instead

I’ll just sit here and relax instead

Now I’m ok with grinding dungeons, areas and even spawn points but that’s once I get to cap and are more filling out my character in the way that I want and with the customisation options I like. Before that I actually like questing, even the terrible stuff as it’s the main way you really get a sense of the world, the characters and become more engaged in it. Your actions after that have a greater meaning, whatever they may be. If I don’t have that well, any treadmill would really suffice.

With the large amount of lore and the effort that’s gone into creating this world it really is becoming a world I’m more attached too now, something I may just want to stick around to explore further. I’m finding many of the stories you come across rather engrossing and really engaging characters you begin to understand and form a bond with. Razum-dar is a great character to take you around the world, The story of Queen Ayrenn and her trials around the crown and beyond. Even characters like Abnur Tharn have some interesting and often times witty dialogue that you can’t help but laugh and cringe over. There are a lot of really wonderful and well fleshed out personalities here.

avada kedavra

avada kedavra

I even find the story of the world itself and its daily life and troubles rather interesting. There is a sense of purpose there and human, or not so human failings all around. In the case of everything not to do with Daedric lords there really isn’t an absolute evil. Evil things are often done but the parties doing such acts usually have an underlying purpose there. The bandits that ravish the landscape have their reasons; the tenuous balance between the guards and thieves at Redfurn Trading camp; the battle for leadership at Barkbite Stronghold. There is always this overarching reasoning behind the actions, even terrible ones that do in a way make sense and I feel more connected because of it.

Robin Hood Role Play

Robin Hood Role Play

Now it seems I just want to feel more connected to my own character and this has been a little harder. I really haven’t decided on what I want my Dragonknight to be. Not in any role play, vast background kind of way, just what I want my basic role to be with it. I originally had the idea to be some sort of aoe damage and support character and I think that’s still one of my plans but so far I’ve more been filling out, and enjoying a more tank kind of role. I mostly quest around with the sword and board, I have more of the tanking skills filled out and have even put points into more of the tanking passives than I thought I would.

Generally it was a tough role for me, to get used too. I’ve done a little tanking here and there so am familiar with the role but its a far more flexible position here and I neither have the forcefulness to lead nor the inclination too and that’s a defining point. As for the gameplay itself I am kind of getting the hang of that role I’m trying to fill. I’m getting less anxious with diving in and more attentive to picking out and peeling key mobs. I’m also getting more used to relying on others in those key moments for those heals rather than defensively backing off.

eso

Mission Successful however I should have walked away from the explosion

As I level I’m definitely liking the look of my character more and more. Their armor designs are quite good and at every level there is a lot of diversity because of the various racial styles and armor types. Each look seems very different although, I am starting to think armor is produced in one of those spray tan machines where you spin around to get a good coat. Then obviously peeled off like a lycra suit. It still looks pretty good but heavy armor lacks that imposing feel because of it.

Aztec Guardian

Aztec Guardian

 

Overall I’m very impressed with what Zenimax have accomplished here. I never expected to feel this connected and engaged towards ESO and was more just expecting a good PvP game to suck up all my available time. I am pleasantly surprised at the ch:ange though as I think this more relaxed and worldly approach to an mmo is what I needed after the focused PvP play of GW2. I can get to all that again eventually, and will enjoy it immensely but for now I’m content with just exploring the world in a relaxed way.

#ESO #ESODiary

There can only be one WoD: FRV

For Realsies Version

Yes and it’s blizzard that gets to keep the acronym now apparently. World of darkness, the mmo being created by CCP has been shuttered in order to focus on its other products. It’s one of those decisions that you kind of knew would and was going to happen but hadn’t really recognised that fact just yet. The signs were there all along but only a few really seemed to notice. It sounded like an interesting premise and CCP seem to know how to create a sandbox and grow a large and dedicated playerbase from smaller beginnings so it seemed to be a good idea for them to pursue it so finally axing this project is a little confusing.

In CCP’s recent ratings report, that The Ancient Gaming Noob gives an excellent round up of, there main loss was caused by the devaluing of assets that were no longer predicted to earn. The optimist in me too thought that was dust 514, a project that should have been burned alive long ago. It is, by all accounts a terrible game but it’s connected to their precious eve universe they’re so infatuated with. Instead they kill, what I thought to be, CCP’s one actually hope for the future.

I know they have eve there but does anyone actually believe it will last forever. It has created a dynamic player created style of gameplay that obviously extends player interest but this will falter in time. The game will bore people, the corps will get eventually tire of the relative stability and predictability in events and how the systems are controlled and, as it is the growth of new players has always been relatively minimal so the numbers won’t replenish. Even though Eve obviously fills it’s particular niche perfectly it was always a game that had a certain shelf life.

I have no idea when that will be, it might be one or another 5 but it is going to happen eventually and I’m guessing when it does it will be a defining event followed by a quick decline. Then there is whether any other company or game will draw away the players from eve in the mean time. CCP have faced very minimal competition over the years and have benefited strongly from that. Its their main earner and it seems a good idea to develop and implement a project that can take over from it before that eventual time comes.

Now they do have a few projects, one released and the other in development but I don’t think either would be able to fill the loss of Eve. Firstly Dust 514 is a connected project in the same universe and would obviously suffer from Eve’s failure. Second it’s a terrible game in a crowded genre of incredible polished and free multi-player experiences so I doubt it is, or is going to be the earner they expected.

Valkyrie does sound like an interesting premise but at it’s stage of development and that of VR technology it’s little more than a tech demo. Virtual reality is still very much in it’s infancy in terms of the hardware and software. What you can do with it is still reasonable limited and the limitations of the tech in regards to the processing power needed means it is really only for the dedicated. It will also be quite buggy for some time while they figure out the system and connection to the client as well as how programs render the images.

Then there is the cost itself. Your adding on a large cost on top of an already large outlay for gaming and your adding an extremely expensive headset on top of that. Then the peripherals themselves will cost a lot extra as well. It’s creating an initial market that will be incredibly restricted and this is the market CCP is going to be selling too. Sure there are some benefits from being one of the founding games of a new technology but unless the funding has been particular good from Occulus, or will be from Facebook and sony I really don’t see them recouping their cost from the development.

forgot about it’s PS4 release

As a company CCP doesn’t seem to be in the greatest shape of late, yes, when taking it account the devaluing of digital assets they did make a profit but when you factor in the many layoffs, the poor performance of dust and a new project that is unlikely to recoup development this leaves the pressure on EVE to sustain the company. If that stalwart community and game should falter though they need another project there to regain what they once had. In my mind that was World of Darkness.. now, I truly wonder what the companies future will hold.

#WorldofDarkness #CCP

Link Dead Radio: Will Beg for Games edition

The links

  • The Ancient Gaming Noob Takes a look at the features of the next zombie game, the MMO H1Z1 as well as round up other recent Blog posts
  • Casual Aggro asks if we really want difficullty in games and outlines a few major points of difficulty with their mechanics and failings

The Vids

Hotline Miami 2

Secret Ponchos – looks pretty awesome

Below

Child of Light Art

The Crew Gameplay trailer

Civilization:Beyond Earth

Always Sometimes Monsters – looks like a really weird, but intriguing take on many aspects of relationships

Black Desert Combat – or alternatively, Motion Blur Simulator. Seriously, watching it made me nauseous

#Gaming

NBI 2014: Blogger Battles

Let this be a lesson to you all.. giving ideas to Doone about the NBI means you officially volunteer for organising such ideas. To me, connecting game blogggers was more about enjoying games and gaming together. To make occasions where we can break boundaries and interact together, have fun and more importantly, share ideas and connections.

So meet your Executive Entertainment Director for our first ever, annual BLOGGER BATTLE *cue awesome music and fireworks*. Just need a cool info-graphic

Anyway, I have a few ideas for events and such to run over the month of May and maybe even beyond that hopefully everyone will enjoy. To start off with I urge everyone to enrol in the NBI forums and follow the Web Page and twitter to learn about events, articles and give feedback.. Also check out the NBI Steam group, it is a great way to connect and will be a point of info for the events too.

Lofty Ambitions

The aim of these events is for everyone to be engaged more as a community. To talk to each other, learn more about our backgrounds and interests and just discuss the medium and games we love. Yes we do that but in a more informal way, pure conversation can be far more important for building connection and community and that’s what i want to foster here. I also think that a lot of us a more stuck in our own little cliques, not talking much out of them and maybe this can bridge that gap.

Most of those games are more just a social occasion but if we can all get involved and laughing in voice and whatever then I consider it a positive. A lot of us are anti social, me included and often need that first step or reason to branch out and this could be it. For any newbie bloggers that come along hopefully this might also prove to be a quicker method of connecting and getting your name known around the community.

The other aim with these first ever BLOGGER BATTLE is to get that NBI name out there even further. There is something about games that unifies us all, more so than a conversation point at times and maybe this can get people discussing the events throughout social media and on their blogs. Maybe it can even get those outside of our blogging community, or those wanting to get into it.

Logistics

There are many things that I need some input on though. The time to run some of these events is rather important to take into account different time zones and such. I was thinking probably 7pm PST Saturday.. maybe Friday if that is better but am welcoming other suggestions.

The other part was a way to communicate. There are a lot of voice programs out there and even free alternatives like google hangout and skyp. I actually have an Aussie mumble server that came with my Starbound thingy I’m not using at all so that could be ok. Up to the community really but I feel it would be nice to have a place to talk while these events are going on, or just having one there for other times as well if people want to play together.

I also haven’t figured out the exact games to play for some as of yet. What games everyone owns is important but I’m more looking at free alternatives that most people will enjoy playing in.

 

Let the Games BEGIN!!

Havoc in Hearthstone

The first event going into May, starting the 28th of April will be a Hearthstone Competition. We will be organising a knock out tournament to determine the master of cards and Ruler of RNG. It’s the new blizzard beast that everyone seems to be playing that a lot, including myself enjoy. Now a few people might be more advanced than others and we don’t want to give an advantage this large so decks will only be based on basic class cards and other common, white crystal cards.

PRIZES… the winner and maybe runner up (to be decided) will receive some steam credit to put towards whatever their gaming heart desires. I would give Hearthstone or blizzard credit but their support is terrible soooo…

More details will be coming and I will be setting up a page on the steam group and NBI forums for enrolments. Please put your names in as soon as possible so that way we can organise the groupings and timing of contests in advance.

 

Indie Blogger Battle

Running throughout May and Beyond there will be a muti-week league where we vie for the top score in some amazing and extremely addictive web based games. Each week there will be a new game to obsess over, endlessly without sleep where you work up to your best high score. The winners of these rounds will receive points based on their position that will go towards their weekly, and total score. The player/s with the top scores at the end of the league will be crowned the Best Blogger Battler (seriously, someone make a badge for that because my art skills are rather terrible)

A fun side attraction to run throughout the NBI event that will hopefully serve as a nice conversation point. Tweet your high score pictures to me @ausj3w3l in order to get it counted and others to encourage further interest and healthy competition.

More details will be coming and I will be setting up a page on the steam group and NBI forums for enrolments. I might just keep the games a secret until the event starts just to add that mystery and excitement to it.

PRIIIIIZZES!! I am Offering up both Guacamelee and Monaco, two amazing indie games to the winner although, I might be persuaded to gift an indie game of your choice.

 

Fun and Frivolity

The rest of the events are not so serious or competitive, just a few genres that I believe might be fun to play together and talk while doing so. Running over an hour or as long as people want really to make a day of fun, playing games together that we are used to or maybe haven’t tried before. These will run in May as well, maybe further and the timing off them will be decided based on any input

MOBA Madness

I, personally have never played that much simply because I don’t like the community and don’t have anyone to play with. If we get enough people being able to fill our own matches would be fun and if not, a silly game of aram together would be far more enjoyable. It is much more fun to learn and play together in these games and it might prove as a break out event for people like myself that have never really tried as a way of getting into the genre.

There are many MOBA’s out there with the ones I was thinking being LoL, DotA, Infinite Crisis, and Smite… oh and there’s Magicka wizard wars now too

MMOpocalypse

Pick an mmo, any mmo and we can enjoy the initial experience together or just have a day of running dungeons and such for the higher ones. My first pick would be Lotro but there are many great ftp mmo’s out there.

Buddy Building

One idea I was thinking about was a cooperative building project in whatever sandbox gets picked. It’s a very popular medium at the moment and it would be fun to see what people can create together in small or large groups, or maybe just side by side.

Friendly FPS

Another event pending community input an interest focusing on multiplayer FPS fun. I love a bit of pew pew now and then and there are a lot of amazing options out there. Some ideas I had were Team Fortress 2, Planetside, Warframe, warface, Hawken or, one of my personal favourites, the top down cooperative shooter Alien Swarm.

 

I Hope, during the coming weeks of the NBI that we can all join together for some of these events, to talk to people we haven’t before and engage further with those we do. It’s about bridging the gaps between us all and creating enjoyable experiences that I hope you all out there take the time to at least join in as much as you can. Then moving on from the events I hope to see the continuation of more social occasions between us and our community.

I’ll be putting up a post in the NBI forums about the events shortly and welcome any and all input.

Sincerely, your Executive Entertainment Director Eri, aka j3w3l

#NBI #Events #Gaming

Exploration in ESO

I’ve always had a certain attraction to exploration in games. Mostly it’s a side attraction attached on to the main focus of the quest train, stopping at all stations, which I usually hop onto and then promptly forget the rest. Everything is but a mere glance through the windows while you pass by on your trip to the end game grind. Most mmo’s have a certain amount of exploration there, but the content focused on actual discovery keeps lessening or becomes warped by the achievement focus.

It’s weird then to now be in an mmo wherein exploration has become the foundation as it’s mostly a focus of play that died out long ago. ESO still has that path to the top but it’s no longer a guided train, plowing forward along tracks it can never leave but more a path through some ancient abandoned forest. The end point is still the same but at least here I can pick and choose my direction, explore my surroundings and be excited at my own discoveries.

This matters, so much so that I think this is what the genre has so badly been needing. There are definitely elements her in ESO that need improving, elements to omit, encourage or add but that foundation, the lure of being the adventurer is alive once more. I was trying to think about the elements that encourage this shift and how they make the feeling of exploration so strong and came up with a few points.

Quest Structure

First I think it’s the quest structure itself. It isn’t as defined in that normal themepark way of going from point to point, picking up a load of quests at the next quest hub then going out to complete them all as they take you too the next quest hub. Here it does have that sense of guidance in trying to push you towards more of the map points, the other quests and dungeons but it certainly isn’t exact. After finishing one you might see the next marker off in the distance, or have passed one on the way. There might have been a public dungeon nearby or a few other points. It’s also not a guide you’re forced to follow and, while the zones do have level ranges within them you can still go, explore and complete whatever you might find.

Levelling isn’t just some achiever check-list, i guess there is still a check-list but it’s one you seem to make up as you go with what you personally find interesting. The same quests are still there but the way in which you approach and complete them is remarkable open.. and that’s rather freeing.

Powaaah 

One thing that I think aids in the lure of exploration is that the power differences aren’t that big between levels and gear. It definitely improves you but not in the way that completely invalidates content. Going a few levels down and you’re still going to have to be careful pulling enemies. You still have that challenge level with certain key quests as well. While exploring it’s even ok to take on enemies above you, and quite dramatically as long as you play it safe. I’ve come across a level 23 paart when i was only 18 and was still able to complete a  mission and make my way around quite comfortably, with a group it’s even more open.

Map Design

The map design seems to help in a lot of zones as they aren’t just one funnel along the level range. The levels do tend to have a gradual movement to a higher point in one direction but the zones are rather open to accommodate exploration. There are many paths around the zones, in between valleys and along beaches and some parts are just large open areas to cross. To its benefit they’ve also been rather restrained in their addition of enemies to the map. There are certain areas where they are more dense but the pathways themselves and the zone in general is rather light so your not having to go around or back track. To be annoyed as you gather or search for interesting things. You’re not punished for just wanting to look around somewhere your too low for yet.

There is a great variety of things to do and find out there as well. Quests seem to be the main component but they are an interesting addition as some of the stories are quite interesting and flesh out the world, environment and experience. Many offer a lot of in depth lore discussions if you want to understand more as well.

There are the public dungeon spaces that are really quite easy but interesting to complete. Usually one mission and a straight flow through as well as one harder mob near the end. Then there are the many other smaller but equally engaging points that reward exploration like chests, skyshards, rifts…. anchors, gathering nodes, zone bosses, lorebooks and a few other things. Just finding these interesting points would be incentive enough but they are rewarding as well.

Everything is very well tied into character development and to compliment parts you might have been missing. You gain more skills, more gearing options and a couple of the points are tied into advancing a particular skill line (mage = lorebooks, fighter = rifts, undaunted = dungeons). This is the kind of horizontal progression system as I really enjoy as it allows further charcater growth yet doesn’t detract from playing how you want.

Screen

While a lot of people seem to dislike the minimal ui approach I think it really tends to help in that feeling of immersion and exploration. You don’t have a number of brightly coloured bars all over your screen, or flashy effects and numbers sprayed across the screen. It takes you out of that optimisation and numbers obsession that so often takes over until your worried more about the ui then the world around.

The fact the ui, the compass and map are designed to obscure your surroundings adds that level of mystery to the world that makes you want to unveil what’s there. And then it’s also how a lot of the interactables give no real overt indication that they are nearby. They are part of the world and it’s up to you to explore and be aware in order to find them.

All of this adds up to an experience that focuses on the world and exploration of it, to uncover the mysteries and grow as a character. Personally I think the one design principle that binds all these parts together is that the developers haven’t been afraid this time for players to miss content. To not find it or not play it and that their development time will go to waste. Developers have been trying to optimise this content delivery enough that they killed a lot of the joy these world’s used to have and it’s great that we now seem to be getting some of that back.

link dead radio: Interesting, Interviews, Ideas and Interests, and #ESO Overload

NO progress report this week only links. I really haven’t played much except for ESO and have more to write about it.

The Links

  • A lot of the gdc 2014 panels are now available to watch online including 1 reason and Manveer Heir’s diversity presentation.
  • There was an great follow on interview with Manveer after his presentation over at Pixel Hearts
  • Indie Statik gives a rundown of Game-Jam and the series of events that led to this colossal failure. Also some blog posts linked from the participants.
  • Inventory Full, The last bastion of hope for gw2 blogging gives a rundown of the updates coming out with the feature pack… and now I haz sad.
  • Cogitationes Astalnaris ventures ‘into the land of Hyperbole when he debates the merits of immersion within the WoW no-fly zone debate…. I kind of like the suggestions.

ESO Blog round-up

  • MMO Fallout gives an overview and thanks about the feedback that has elicited change
  • Levelcapped has been having some discussions regarding difficulty and character build options
  • Werit focuses on certain parts of crafting

The Vids

Age of Wonders 3 creation tools

Black Desert Character Creation – I don’t think anyone will ever beat the Character creation boss

Amazon Game Studios

Transformers Universe

Otherworld procedural generated land

Neverwinter April Fools

Eso Craglorn Update

ESO siege cinematic