Something About Stuff

Not a whole lot going on lately but I’m going to fill a page with drivel anyway.

Oh, I did start watching The Glades. Good show. Kind of reminds me of a cross between House and CSI, though in Florida. Lead is kind of like House but the content is solving homicides. Lots of homicide shows; Castle, The Mentalist and now The Glades. I don’t really watch CSI (in it’s various flavors) or some of the other shows like Criminal Minds or Law and Order.

I’m almost all out of books to read. I devoured the last Feist book in a couple of days. I found it pretty short and not nearly as good as his usual ones. I suspect people who put Feist down once the story shifted away from Pug might like it since he’s focusing a little more on that area. I have a Glen Cook book on pre-order (it’s an old book just released again) which will finish off a sci-fi trilogy (Starfisher trilogy). Until then, I’m reading through a related book; Passage at Arms which takes place in that sort of time frame. It’s interesting.

I haven’t done much in WoW lately. Really, nothing. I don’t think I’ve even logged in for a week. I’m going to try to go to this Ulduar raid Twisted Serenity has planned since I haven’t actually killed the General, Yogg-Saron or Alganon. Or even seen them really – well, I saw Alganon though we didn’t beat him. I think I mentioned I canceled the LittleBigOgre’s WoW account. I think he played it maybe three or four times. He had been asking about playing City of Heroes more and more. This is the first time I’ve seen him actually remember to ask about playing something consistently for several months.

So I bought him the Architect Edition and set up him to play it. He’s been playing it a lot more than he was playing WoW. Though he keeps making new heroes and barely plays them. I was surprised to see he’s got about four characters that use the Assault Rifles power set. “But this guy looks different and uses this different gun!” Gotta love kids.

I caved yesterday and re-enabled my account so I could play along side him for a bit. He was really happy about that. Even the LittleLittleOgre hangs out and watches. If we play tonight, I think I’ll let him push some buttons and stuff (LBO will probably protest to that).

Sibling rivalry is a funny thing. LBO has moments he claims to hate LLO and other times they’re playing together like good friends. LBO will convince LLO to get things that LBO likes instead of what LLO likes – so we’re watching that. LBO will also want to buy things for LLO that LBO wants. Meanwhile, LLO is willing to sacrifice something he wants to get LBO something and when TheWife was out shopping for stuff for LLO with LLO, LLO wanted to buy stuff for LBO. He loves his big brother so much, it’s sickeningly sweet.

I joined an Agency in Global Agenda, it’s HellsGamers. Seems like a good bunch though they’re a gaming group that spans a ton of FPS type games. Vent is about what you’d expect from a bunch of teens to 20 year olds. UFTimmy made me do it. Actually, he knew some people from there and I’d rather go with people that someone I know, knows than throw myself out to the basement-dwelling and unwashed masses. I mucked around with a group on Tuesday, but haven’t been on much since. Maybe later tonight.

UFTimmy is stealing my class.

I decided I wasn’t happy with the way the Recon played after 30 so I flailed around, staying away from Robotics because that was his thing, until I found that I liked the Assault class. After several missions of standing on the point (YES! I’m an Assault that will actually try to take the point!) and mowing down enemies, it was just too much fun. I tried Medic a bit, but it’s not fun to play in PVP since everyone targets you and you’re pretty squishy… even with mods and trying to line the tank up between you and the shooters. Recons get you. heh.

He says he is going to go Assault because everyone else is playing Robotics.

So everyone who reads this and plays GA, go Assault! Maybe that’ll drive him back to Robotics.

Hehe

WYB?

Where You Been?

I’ve been on and off vacation for the last couple of weeks so I’ve been pretty busy with the kids, basically refereeing. If anyone knows a good way to get them to stop picking on each other, let me know.

D&D.

Back to playing D&D on Wednesday – it’s off to a good start, very interesting group with some foreseeable issues in the future. The more immediate one is that one healer (I use the term loosely because it’s a Druid) is in the UK while the other main healer (a Cleric) is possibly not going to be available for the next two sessions.

Ever run a session without healers? It’s sort of like Survivor only no voting.

Best part is we’re in a spot where a NPC healer might not be available. It’s hard to run out and rent a healer from the local inn or church when you’re in the basement of a Mind Flayer’s house.

That’s right.

Those buggers managed to take over the known (surface) area and enslave all sorts of sentients. Remember the language “Common”? Well, it’s “Mind Flayer” now.

So unless we trip over another healer NPC soon we might have to cancel.

Yeah, I said, “another”. We ran into one and immediately smote her. Apparently she was an evil squid worshiper. Of course, we didn’t really give her the chance to talk. I have no idea who did that…

Oh did I mention I decided to go with the Ogre character and name it Smaken?

Yeah, I did it. Hard to be diplomatic with the business end of a morningstar.

WoW.

I haven’t played much of WoW lately, been a little too tired and busy around the times I usually play. I did have some time earlier today so I popped on and sent the brother-in-law some stuff to help with tanking. They hit level 80 and are interested in raiding.

I gave them a laundry list of things they needed to do before most people would consider bringing them to raids. Stuff like get rep with Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade so you can get the helm enchantments and Sons of Hodir too, get those shoulder inscriptions.

Oh, and try to get rid of the greens in the gear. Work towards 535 Defense so you can get into tanking heroics otherwise a lot of healers won’t be able to keep you standing. They’re working on it.

Pugophobia is another challenge they’ll have to over come. That or get into a guild that is more active with running instances and heroics so they can get some worthwhile upgrades there.

Global Agenda

Otherwise, I made a push to get my Recon in Global Agenda up to level 30. I did some investigating about specs and stuff. For the most part I was flipping between Bomb/Sniper Recon for PVP/PVE and got most of the specs close – I didn’t really delve into the Balanced tree, I mainly went Infiltration or Sniper (I think they call it Marksman). Now I mix a little of both.

I only just got into the crafting. You buy a recipe (which unfortunately sits in your inventory… Hello Hi-Res! Need to get some sort of recipe book or something) that lets you create that type of object. So far there are armor mods (I think repair kits fall into that one), device mods and consumables. There are some other ones that seem to be related to the persistent PVP (Conquest) stuff.

Oh! I got to try a Raid out. Not in the sense of a WoW raid, instead this is defending a location from waves of enemies. It failed. Somehow the tail end of the third wave over came our defenses and ate our core.

I poked around looking at Agencies for a bit but none really stood out. I’m not sure I want to get involved in any depth with another online play group – though it might be nice to have Medics/Assaults that realize they’re not snipers and actually get into the control points to take them.

And people thing WoW PUGs can be bad? Heh. I found myself yelling at the screen, “GET ON THE FUCKEN POINT!” Good thing I didn’t have my mic on and the kids . It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about people understanding what each of the game types are which is pretty damn easy I can’t fathom why people don’t get it.

Breach? Get on the point until you capture it.
Control? Get on the point and hold it. If you have 2/3 points you advance your progress bar towards winning.
Payload? Get on the point (which is the bomb) that moves. If you’re on it, it moves towards the place you need it to go so stay on it.
Scramble? Get on the point that appears at a random location.
Demolition? Okay… I know, it’s confusing – you don’t stand on the point here. Instead you either protect/heal your robot or try to take down theirs.

Bottom line, if there are no robots on the map, chances are you need to be on the point.

If you’re Recon maybe you clear out some turrets and stuff (though I often have to take a point because every Recon seems to think they are godly snipers…). Personally, I switched to more of a Bombercon (not quite a Minercon) where I dip in and out of the points dropping bombs to clear out the enemy. I make use of my stealth to get behind turrets and take them out. Other times I’ll try to defend a point using my mines and bombs, sometimes standing on the bloody point as Medics heal me because the Assault thinks that big thing that fires rockets is actually a sniper rifle.

If you’re Robotics? Set up shop to protect a given point or delay the enemy robot. Use your energy walls to help mitigate some damage the gang on the point is taking. Drop some med stations to help with helping. Set up the beacon in a good spot (I find dropping it between the enemy’s spawn point and the objective works well because you catch people rushing back into the battle or people trying to get out of the hotspot to safety.) Don’t be shy about helping Recon’s break up turrets and nests. If your devices don’t need healing, you should probably be shooting your gun.

If you’re a Medic (bless you!), heal away! Cure, heal, launch little grenades of healing goodness (or poison nastiness if there is a bunch of people in a clump). Shoot when you can. You’re the difference between life and death on the field. By the way, if you right click instead of left click on the healing gun you’ll do more heals at a higher energy cost – but that’s not a problem – right? You did take the extra energy pool and faster energy regen from the Balanced tree right?

If you’re an Assault, cuddling with a Medic and get on the bloody point! If the point looks good, stay there and protect it. If you charge into the point and die, don’t scream at the one poor Medic trying to heal everyone, take another route and help the Recons take out the nests of Robotics with their turrets then take the point. If you want to PVP (or PVE for that matter) you will want to get all the protection type spec stuff from Balanced and the Tank tree (oh and the extra healing). Medics and all the other players will love you for it.

I also bought LittleBigOgre a copy of that game and we played a little together. We just got our two Robotics through the Open PVE stuff they added. The last mission was pretty fun and funny to play with him. I did it solo with my Recon so I knew what was coming. The boss fires rockets that knock you back if they hit, he shoots from a machine gun, has a big sword that he’ll swing if he gets close and sometimes charges you, stunning you. I ended up dying and because he got me with a charge (I was trying to lure him away from LBO) but quickly made my way back as my son was panicking as he popped from side to side playing keep-away with the boss. He was so proud at the end of it and we were laughing pretty hard.

They need a little more work on the grouping and Open PVE – especially the grouping thing. They have an issue where you sometimes zone into different zones (I load up in the desert instance 5, my son is in city instance 3, I invite him to group, he accepts and zones out to the desert ending up in desert instance 12… wth?). They also seem to lock you out of a sub-instance if you have already done it – that’s okay if you’re alone, but not so okay when you’re trying to do something with a friend.

I was pleased to see /bug works for them. I sent them some feedback.

LBO is up to level 18 now with that Robotics. He also has a Recon (which he was meh about) and an Assault guy (which I had my Medic helping out), but then went back to the Robotics. Oh we actually won one of the mercenary missions we tried. Again, he was quite pleased about that.

That’s right, you guys were beat by a 7 year old!

A big plus about the game, it’s not graphically gory by any stretch. No blood splatters or decapitations or anything like that. For the most part, everything looks mostly normal. By which I mean the content doesn’t have violent items depicted on the walls or anything like that.

Best part?

No monthly fees. If he puts the game down for a couple of months, it’ll have only cost me the purchase of the game. Not the game, several expansions and several months subscriptions.

Wizard 101

I was a little surprised to see he was still subscribed to Wizard 101 despite not touching the game for months. I discovered this when the boys wanted to play it a little (three weeks ago) so the LBO had the family computer, LLO had my computer and I was using my laptop. I quickly learned that LBO could access subscription areas – sure enough, he was still subscribed. Oops.

When the interest waned, I unsubscribed him.It’s kind of nice only having one subscription.

So that’s where I’ve been.

Because you cared.

Really.

Assault, Robotics, Medic and Recon – Oh My!

I had a weird night. I was dead tired and crashed around 7:30pm. The kids woke me up at 9:30pm when they snuck into my bed and asked to help finish reading a book. Poking and pinching and pushing and punching ensued.

Little buggers.

I chased them off to their rooms then headed downstairs to see what the wife was up to.

She was watching crap (America’s Got Talent… indeed).

The little buggers came downstairs again. We chased them back up to bed. The big guy snuck back into my room – at this point I was trying to read and fall asleep. No luck. He crashed pretty quickly though.

The wife came to bed so I moved the big guy to his room and crawled back into bed.

Couldn’t sleep. Damn it. I was now wide awake and somewhat rejuvenated with having had two hours sleep.

So I went downstairs. Hopped onto WoW, did my daily transmutation (Blizzard, you need to separate gems and eternals onto different timers), did my JC daily and considered running a random. I didn’t have it in me so I logged.

Popped into Global Agenda for a little and balked at the loading screen I looked at the characters. What to play?

Assault? Meh, not self-sufficient enough.

Robotics? Really powerful, lots of choices and great survivability but, according to the GA Forums, it’s the choice of unskilled players.

Medic? I figured I’d dust this off, see if I can get him to 10th so I can run some Mercenary (PVP) missions. Maybe if I play a useful healer it’ll go easier.

I almost bailed on the class after the first couple of Special OPs PUGs. Seems people think they’re invulnerable when a Medic is in the group. I’ve got news for you, I can only target one of you ‘tards so stop rushing through thinking I’m going to keep you alive.

I managed to make it to 10 and fired up a Breach type game (where you have to advance from point to point while the other team defends). I got a Payload game type.

WTH?

I think the UI is a little misleading. There seems to be a check box for each of the game types or something. I guess I queued for the first one that came up because I selected Breach (it was highlighted) then clicked Join.

Either way, the other team had a better grip on how to play Payload so it felt sort of like Breach and we were a poor defense. I have to admit, I felt a little more useful than I did with the Robotics guy.

I started feeling selfish.

Recon? Yeah, I’m going to give it a shot. Played that one through a few Mercenary missions PUGs. Got some cash worked out. Got the ‘sniper’ rifle and started using that weapon.

Yes!

It can only be fired while viewing through the scope but it does worthy damage. I like. I’m just short of 10, picked up the Decoy offhand device (creates a second me that taunts targets).

Damn. It’s 2am.

Head upstairs, grab a book. About 3am now and I finally fall asleep.

6am TheWife wakes me up saying, “Look at the raccoon family in our backyard!” A big fat momma raccoon and two little ones and rooting around in the grass looking for grubs (I’m guessing). That or they’re little robots built by the local lawn care company and they’re actually planting grubs so we’ll have to buy the latest ‘grub control’.

Oddly enough, I feel better than I did the last couple of days. Despite the paranoia about robotic raccoons.

Auction House

Wow. I bought the Global Agenda game which opens up a lot of features without needing to subscribe (subscription opens of the Conquest mode, ability to create Agencies, and a couple of other things).

The most game changing thing it opened up for me?

The Auction House.

Previously I was struggling to put together money to buy the armor and helmet ‘decorative’ items. Let alone dyes. Along came the Auction House and suddenly I’ve got tons of credits to waste of silly frill.

Those scrap parts that sell to a vendor for only 2 creds? Well, you can sell them for 400-2000 creds each. I actually had a couple of items that sold for nearly 11k.

Apparently gaining credits becomes a little trivial after awhile so the higher ups pay well for lower end parts.

Now if only I could find the bank or figure out how to share creds between toons.

I also slipped in some time to play in the Mercenary type missions (PVP). I gave Control a go which I believe we won. You control locations and that gets you points, the first team to reach the cap wins the map.

The other one I tried was Payload (though I thought I had clicked Breach) where you have to escort a hovering bomb towards your opponents side. You have to stand close to it to make it move and it won’t move unless there are no enemies in the range of it. It moves along a set track so it’s not like Bombing Run in UT where someone can take an obscure path.

I had less success there than in Control.

The cash rewards and XP were actually better than the Special OPs missions. I didn’t notice any loot drops though so I bounced into some PVE missions to get some more materials to sell.

There doesn’t seem to be very many Medics in the Mercenary missions while there did seem to be a lot of Robotics, Recon and Assault types. That made me wonder if I shouldn’t focus more on the Medic.

Hmm…

Global Agenda?

I admit I have little to keep me amused at the moment in WoW. I’ve done most of the content aside from the Lick King (who I’ve beaten on time after time) so outside of raiding there is little else for me to do but level alts, gear up alts or work on the achievements of my main.

I took a bit of a run at grinding some of the older reputations for factions I haven’t really maxed out on – Burning Crusade was just a speed bump on the way to WotLK – but that really isn’t all that exciting.

So I took a poke around to see what demos for MMOs were available on Steam. There were four; Star Trek Online (zomg no), Champions Online (meh sorta mucked around with it) something else I can’t remember because I dismissed it immediately and Global Agenda.

I figured I’d give Global Agenda a try.

First thoughts? It was really shallow. It’s a glorified FPS ‘MMO’ that is a hybrid between DAoC, City of Heroes and Guild Wars… and Tribes. It vaguely reminds me of Tabula Rasa only without the Logos or ammo… or outdoors. At first it really just seems to be a tutorial mission the leads you into a hub where you can buy, sell, recruit, get dyes, build stuff (very limited stuff). You don’t get quests or missions other than by pressing ‘M’ and picking a limited set of options.* (see Progression paragraph below)

The PVE aspect (so far) has been pretty lacking. You need to solo or team up on ‘Espionage’ missions which involve rushing into some futuristic mining site (I saw about 4 or 5 different maps) that is filled with androids (I wish I could say, ‘of varying types’ but I can’t – in 11 levels of play, I’ve seen three types and one of those isn’t even hostile) to kill some boss at the end. You have a 15 minute timer and if you do it without 4 people dying you get some bonus credits (cash).

I wish I could say the rewards are worthwhile but they’re not really. Creds are hard to come by at the start. I’d recommend not going the Solo route because the Team route has more drops (which only seem to be raw materials) and the reward at the end seems to be better than what you get as a solo player. You also cannot seem to sell off weapons – which is really weird because I can sell off armor pieces and other ‘offhand’ items. I don’t understand why this is.

Progression appears to be limited to getting to level 10 before you can do Mercenary missions. These appear to be Capture and Hold, Bombing Run, Escort, Defense and one other type of FPS like game styles. I haven’t had a chance to do one of these yet, but I suspect it could be a lot of fun.

Each of PVE missions come in Solo and Team (4 players) flavors. The Team versions tend to have more and aren’t as easy as the Solo missions. The Solo missions on the lower tier (5-9) are trivial if you’ve ever played a FPS. Once you step beyond that it gets far more challenging (mileage will vary based on the class you’re playing). Same with the Team missions, you’ll start facing more enemies, some of the ‘bosses’ you fought in the lower Tier will now be in the actual map as enemies (though they’re not frequent).

I should add that there is nothing preventing you from running lower level missions other than the fact that you get no end reward bonus item for doing so.

Advancement presents you with some talent tree where one is a common tree that everyone has access to but the middle one seems very class specific while the far right most one seems to be more about doing damage. You don’t appear to get ‘abilities’ instead you get access to more powerful weapons or simply different weapons in some cases. For example my level 10 Assault dude (supposed to be tank-like) has access to a big axe for melee, a Maser Rifle, and then one of three heavy weapons: minigun, rocket launcher and grenade launcher. This adds a little for preparing for what you’re going to do.

Gear advancements do not appear to be visible, the armor pieces don’t change your look unless you buy ‘apparel’ type armor and helmets – these really just seem to change how your character looks, they don’t appear to have any stats. I can understand why they do this, it’s based on the FPS element of everyone having pretty much the same health (oh, I didn’t mention that your health doesn’t increase every level – fortunately they give you enough to start to make you last) or same damage from the same weapons.

A part way through the mission map is a Checkpoint which, once activate, allows you to teleport there from the landing ship or respawn area. This is a testament to the ‘Now Generation’ because the maps are pretty damn small. When you respawn, you just have to run to the glowing floor pod thing and it’ll teleport you to that checkpoint.

There is still a lot of the game to see; Mercenary missions, Conquest Missions and there were Raids and one other type that was disabled. Some of these have level limitations.

On to the classes – all classes are able to dish out damage so I’m going to note their ‘role’ aside from damage dealing. Much like in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, each class has a ‘morale’ ability. This is the white bar in the upper left. When it gets full, this ability unlocks. As you kill more or heal or generally succeed, you gain morale until it is full. This is depleted when you use the ability or when you die.

Assault – Tank like, heavy weapons. This one was amusing, but it doesn’t seem to get any self sustaining abilities early (at least not that I found). This means it may have some issues soloing late, or so I found. I believe the boost ability is an increase in protection for those around (like all gear slots, this appears to be possible to replace).

Recon – Stealth type, has some mines, explosives and can stealth around which is neat. Weaponry is much the same as others, you can shoot or chop stuff. I haven’t played this one at length and I’m not sure what their boost ability is.

Medic – Healer type. This one heals by using a healing gun which chains to others nearby like a Shaman’s heals do in WoW. It also has a self heal option and a healing grenade it can toss. Aside from that it also has a poison grenade it can use on enemies. The boost ability seems to be a PBAE heal.

Robotics – Support type. This one sort of does it all. You have a Force Field you can drop and hide behind, you can repair things, drop turrets (somewhat ineffective in PVE because they’re so short range), launch drones to see stealthers or fight for you and drop healing stations which are pretty useful (I also found a Power Station which regens your power faster). The boost ability is a PBAE force field globe. This class was my favorite because of the versatility of it.

Just from looking at the missions I was running, there was a healthy mix of the classes though most people shied away from Medic and towards Recon types. Robotics was another really popular one.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to running more of the Espionage missions, but I am curious to trying the Mercenary missions.

By the way, there are three currencies; Credits (cash), Mercenary and Conquest badges. You can use these if various stores for class, general (armor looks and dyes) or specific items. There is also an Auction House available for use.

The Guild (a.k.a. Agency) mechanics seem interesting, though I’m currently a free Agent though they have a recruiting tool much like SOE put into EQ2. You can do a search for Agencies with a bunch of parameters and request to join one. I might give that a shot tonight and see what happens there.

Agencies also have Alliances which are identified immediately; you see character name (you only have one character name per account for all your characters), Agency name and then the Alliance they are in (if they are in one). I’m not sure how this is used but I can imagine some nifty uses if this is all built into the game.

Agencies and Alliances seem to play a big role in the Conquest aspect of the game where you control hexes on the map. There also appears to be some sort of HQ building options as I noted some of the Agencies had HQs in various sectors.

I am really curious to give this a try.

I also set the LittleBigOgre up on a trial account and he was playing it with me for a bit. It was kind of fun though the jump from solo to team got pretty tough. That and he just wants to charge in and shoot everything hehe.

Bottom line? It’s fun so far, but very shallow. They seem to have completed a checklist of standard features but I have to question why they force you to run the PVE missions before hopping into the PVP ones. Maybe it’s just a trial account thing? Either way, it’s a mistake because those PVE missions are pretty damn weak.

The jury is still out on this one.

UPDATE: I had completely forgotten to look up the pricing model for this. It appears you can gain access, without subscription, to the entire game aside from the Conquest gameplay just with the regular purchase of the game. To access the Conquest type game play requires a subscription. Details here.