Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloweekend Follies

After a yummy breakfast together at Cracker Barrel on Saturday, Scooterz went out "gathering" with her daughter for most of the day, which left me ample opportunity to run around Solomon Island and complete achievements for the Secret World Halloween event (a.k.a. Samhain). On LoneStarBelle, I hooked up with Galactrix, EmDash, and Mith to run a couple instances of the Cat God Nightmare (actually fairly easy), and then tried to complete the NM Filth run in Agartha (not so easy).

After Mith and Em took a break, Galactrix and I did the Spooky Stories missions. Try as I might, I can't think of a really efficient way to do those. Regardless of the order in which you pick them up, you'll be running back and forth across the island—multiple times. Perhaps this is by design, but it's a little out of step with the normal mission flow for TSW, in my opinion. Xander and Antida showed up to do some of the missions and spotted Incognito (a miniboss needed for one of the Samhain 2012 achievements), and we jumped in on that. The rest of my 9ish-hour play session was spent with Galactrix and Gigabyte, trying to get that last Bloody Pumpkinhead from one of the Trick or Treat bags for the final achievement LSB needed, but to no avail.
What an excellent day . . .
Over a few posts the past few weeks, I had a discussion with Balkoth about random number generation as a loot delivery system, and am at this point willing to concede that the current raid loot system in World of Warcraft is sufficient for their needs over there; though in the past, it was not nearly so. However, I am still a player in favor of steady, measurable progress in a game that reflects the amount of effort I have put into it. Levels are one way to achieve this. Tokens and other currencies are another. Dice rolls and slot machine mechanics are not. Turning a piece of RNG loot into an "Achievement" that is also part of a "Meta-Achievement" is the worst sort of Skinnerian game "design." And that's exactly what we have here with the Bloody Pumpkinhead—and to a lesser extant, the Incognito Head-O-Lantern. Killing a bunch of NPCs in Blue Mountain does nothing to increase my skill at my current "level" in the game (running Elites and Nightmares). And while there is XP to be had in doing so, it is negligible compared to, say, farming ice creatures or running the Issue 6 and 7 missions.

So there I am, like an addict in a casino, hoping for that rare drop; not even so much for the item, but in order to complete the Achievement—that is not really an achievement. Now, you may be saying, Dear Reader, that the effort I put in to get the bloody pumpkin is the achievement. But I will tell you why it is not, and why I hold the opinions I do regarding RNG loot. Some player, somewhere in TSW, strolled into Blue Mountain after the recent patch that fixed the loot tables to include the bloody pumpkin and got it in the first bag they received. Did they achieve something more than me? Something less? Did their speedy receipt reflect anything about their skill as a player or progress as a character? Would you consider a lottery winner to have achieved anything? No, not any more than the hours I spent and dozens of bags I opened reflect any real achievement. Receiving a randomly generated, low-drop-rate bit of game fluff is not an achievement.

Even when the loot is of practical value, like a weapon or other stat gear, I hate playing for the purpose of acquiring said loot. If it comes to me (or not) during the course of something else I doing that is fun, so be it. Doing something not fun for the purpose of getting loot is a grind. A chore. A job. Not a Game.
The couple that slays together stays together.
How fun is hunting for Trick or Treat bags in Blue Mountain? The second I got the bloody pumpkinhead (as seen above), I stopped actively doing it. Scooterz and I (on Dortmunder and Dex-y) did finish the mission we were on, and did kill more Kitties of Ulthar, and did get more bags. But at the end of our session last night, we passed them all to LoneStarBelle, who also finally got the pumpkin and therefore the meta-achievement. Tonight, we have to track down Incognito, who appears for short intervals in random places throughout Kingsmouth, which means another hour or more of running around, unless we get lucky.


In the meantime, we made actual achievements. I did work through all the Samhain 2012 and 2013 achievements on LSB. In a 5ish-hour play session yesterday night, Scooterz and I completed a mission in the Carpathian Fangs, completed the "Jack-in-the-Box" and "People of the Dawn" achievements, and I managed to complete a Deck: the Exorcist. Scooterz has a couple more abilities to go on her Warlock Deck.

I set out to write about the fun I had this weekend with my friends and my beloved. But that would have been a much shorter post. I did have fun. I enjoy chatting and working together with the folks from BtV and my best friend, Scooterz.


  1. I have to say I'm in almost 100% agreement with you on RNG as a loot mechanic. I say almost because I'm less ranty about it where drops in Events are concerned mostly because the loot and achievements linked to Events tend to be all fluff anyway and, while I am very much an achievement junkie, in the end I can often take them or leave them. To me it's akin to hunting; if I spot that doe after hours of tracking and sitting quietly, sweet, I get venison burgers. If I don't, there's a t-bone in the freezer. But I do know not everyone sees it like I do. I am not married to the RNG system in any way, and would happily see it go the way of the dodo.

    1. The difference with hunting is that, in hunting, there is something to track, and your knowledge and skill makes a difference. I personally have a love-hate relationship with achievement-systems in general. In some cases, they've almost become essential to the game, like tracking missions in TSW for example. In others, they go way overboard with the rewards and it becomes another grind for gear/loot (GW2). All too often, what Devs intend to be a cool extra becomes seen as an essential to the players.

  2. Much as I understand your point of view and your frustration, I see things almost exactly the other way round. I tend to like the way randomness and chance is used in MMOs. I generally find the process exciting, playful or amusing.

    Conversely, doing something to be rewarded with a token or currency that I can then spend at a later stage for goods and service seems to me to be almost the textbook definition of "work" and even if I sometimes do it I generally resent it.

    It would be nice if both options were used routinely as alternatives so we could choose for ourselves, but if I had to choose one or the other I'd go with RNG every time.

    1. I have no problem with RNG as a fight mechanic, or in situations where it is incidental to something more interesting like a mission or a dungeon, especially if the drops are fairly frequent or whatever. It's when it becomes the focus of my game that I begin to notice the problems with it. I'm not much of a gambler by nature, and having to depend on RNG for something I consider necessary (in the context of an admittedly completely unnecessary game) irritates me to no end.

      As you say, if there were two paths to obtain some item, one through RNG and the other through a token system (or crafting, etc.), I would be perfectly happy. I might even run the gauntlet of RNG while working to obtain the tokens.

  3. FWIW, I stumbled across a rotation for the Samhain quests last week with my friend that involved very little backtracking. I described it here.

    Essentially you start with The Hiker and head for Blue Mountain, do everything in the north part of the zone there, then down south, out to SC, back in to BM (there's still *some* backtracking, after all), then back to SC. Do the quest in there, then back to KM. Do the 2 in KM (and kill Jack while at it), then grab Danny's quest to the Man Cave. Do that, head back to the treehouse to complete the book, then back to Danny to finish it all up.

    On repeat, the treehouse part isn't needed, since you ca'nt repeat the treehouse quest.

    1. Yeah, since we started in SC (LSB hadn't gotten the meta-mission), we did Carter's, picked up Kyra's, did most of the ones in BM, headed to KM, did all the local ones, then grabbed Hiker and Krieg, back through BM and SC to assemble the book and back to Danny for turn in. Whew! There was still a bunch of running back and forth within the zones, especially with the meta taking up space on the list. Not having to go back to the Treehouse or Danny makes the circuit much easier.

  4. Ready for this? I discovered the most efficient way to do the Spooky Stories Missions...

    Start in Kingsmouth.
    Pick up Doctor, Pick up Hiker.
    Head to Savage Coast.
    Finish Doctor. Pick up Groundskeeper, Finish Groundskeeper.
    Pick up Hermit.
    Head to Blue Mountain.
    Pick up Lantern, Finish Lantern.
    Pick up Organ, Finish Organ.
    Pick up Email. Finish Hiker, Finish Email.
    Finish Hermit.
    Head Back to Kingsmouth.
    Pick up Gypsy. Pick up Jack.
    Finish Gypsy. Pick up Ellis. Get Pumpkin for Jack.
    Finish Ellis.
    Finish Jack.


    As for Incognito, I only ran across him once, both times in Kingsmouth, and did my civic duty by announcing it in Halloween chat and accepting as many meet-ups as possible to maximize people getting it. As far as I know, hat drops every time, though. And to get the pumpkin head from the green bags, it did take about 100 of them. RNG did not smile down on me, either, but I used the time farming akab to hone different builds, so it wasn't entirely worthless.

    To be fair, though, TSW doesn't have a lot of these RNG situations. You finish a NM, you get bullion. You do the Issues, you get credits. You do the Whispering Tide, you get fragments.

    The important events and items, it seems, Funcom hasn't left to chance. The golems and the fluff events, sure, they throw in some RNG fluff, but the important progression stuff is NOT chance.

    This is a far cry from the days of old WoW, where I ran Scholomance until my eyes bled and still never received that damn armor piece. RNG loot for progression is definitely bad, but still keeping in some RNG isn't the end of the world. :)

    1. You're right, Funcom (at least with TSW) is not the worst offender, by any means.

      And the itinerary looks pretty good, maybe I'll drag Scooterz through it tonight.

    2. I meant to add that you are also right that Incognito always drops the Head-O-Lantern, finding him is the hard part.

    3. Yeah, that looks like a much better plan than mine. Mine just kinda fell in, though -- I didn't plan it out or anything ;-)

  5. Spousal Leveling Contract, really? xD

    Please fill me in on how that works, so I can maybe profit from it when Tiger just keeps on leveling and leveling!

    Also, I totally agree on the grind-gear-for-practical use thing. I really detest that. In LotRO, the grind got so bad that I just ended up with doing endgame raids with suboptimal gear (luckily I wasn't playing a DPS class and it was less important to have perfect gear) - then the challenge is greater too, hurray, I guess...

    1. LOL, I'm not sure how you can rein him in. I have an alt or two that I play when Scooterz isn't available. The term itself was coined by MMOGC, who plays with her husband.