Rants tag

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

"What Kind of D&D Character Would I Be?"

I hope all my readers in the U.S. had a great Thanksgivukkah, and that everyone else enjoyed their Thursday. We had a house full of food, people, and puppies for about four hours, before I settled into a pleasant evening chatting with anyone on the Beyond the Veil crew who had not succumbed to a Tur-coma.

I was listening to a fresh episode of "The Pulse" the other night, and Graydol and Jaysinn brought up an interesting questionaire that supposedly helps answer the question, "What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?" I decided to take the survey and this is what it came up with:
I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (5th Level)
(c) 2004 Niki Harless
Ability Scores:

A Neutral Good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.
One funny thing about questionnaires like this is that I can usually tell what answers will get me what sorts of scores. They're not subtle, in other words. The other thing is that I tend to be fairly moderate in my conscious positions, so I end up with I consider to be muddled results:
Detailed Results:
Lawful NeutralXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
Chaotic NeutralXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
Neutral EvilXXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Lawful EvilXXXXXXXX (8)
Chaotic EvilXXXXXXXX (8)
On the other hand, these scores make perfect sense if each response is weighted, rather than an all or nothing proposition. I am more good than neutral, and more neutral than orderly, chaotic or evil. Scooter might dispute the chaotic part. I'd say the doing-good-without-respecting-authority description may be the defining attribute of my TSW solo character, Samantha Hawthorn, as well as my SWTOR main, "Versteckt." Both characters actively subvert(ed) the aims of their neutral- or lawful-evil organizations.
Law or Chaos:Good or Evil:
ChaosXXXXXX (6)EvilXX (2)
This seems more like a different representation of the information given above. Although having not played D&D (Sacrilege! I know), I have only a cursory understanding of what each of these mean in relation to such characters.
SorcererXXXX (4)ElfXXXXXXXXXX (10)
FighterXX (2)HalfingXXXXXXXXXX (10)
RangerXX (2)Half-ElfXXXXXXXXX (9)
Cleric(0)DwarfXXXXXX (6)
Barbarian(-2)GnomeXXXXXX (6)
Bard(-2)Half-OrcXXXXXX (6)
I wonder what I might have ended up with if I had filled out this questionnaire a decade or two ago. My faith used to be a much bigger part of my life; even now, I tend to lean toward faith-based (Priests/Paladins) classes when they are available in MMOs. The high intelligence/wizard thing is not so surprising either. I totally identified with the intellectual Ravenclaws of Hogwarts.

I also wonder what questions led to the racial scores. For most questions about my physical appearance, I gave "average" answers. For instance, I consider myself reasonably good looking, but I'm no supermodel. I also may also be more physically imposing than I usually perceive myself. That pesky residual self-image at work again, telling me I'm a scrawny nerdling. I was thinking I might have Scooter complete the questionnaire with me in mind, just to see if I fit in different categories from someone else's point view.

I encourage you, Dear Reader, to go take the quiz and see what sort of results you get. Be sure to at least leave the basic "I Am A:" in the comments below, if not a link to your own D&D self-analysis.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Secret Monday: Cast Off Works of Darkness, and Put on the Armor of Light

I wasn't going to write about Secret Monday because I felt like I was barely on last night, but Ten Tentacles and MMO Gamer Chick inspired me. Scooter and I finished two of our last three Issue missions on Dex-y and Dortmunder, just as the rest of the Knights of Mercy were coming online. For Dortmunder, I still needed Darkness War Elite, and both Dex-y and Dort need Slaughterhouse before confronting the Gatekeeper. With Thanksgivukkah this week, our schedules are a little wonky, and Scooter bowed out of the KoM speed-record-breaking trip through Darkness War. I felt a little bad getting help from my friends and then not sticking around, but my departure did make room for Ocho to join the group for a breezy Ankh run.
Hey! That's not my Interface!
According to Tenten and Mogsy, the conversation after I logged off turned to the Augment system and the enormous grind for AP it is. Like me, Mogsy is not really focusing on it right now, because she is not finished with the regular ability wheel either. While I am sure there are obsessive fans who will have their Augments complete before Tokyo opens, I believe the developers' intent is for the Augment system to serve as a point sink for the foreseeable future. That is, player characters will not need to be decked out in full top tier augments and gear to do well in Tokyo. Missions in Tokyo will also be a significant source of points, so players will have the opportunity to fill in their aux and aug wheels organically rather than grind specifically to get them.

Props to Tilty and crew for fixing a few quality of life issues and player requests in the latest patch, including the proper stacking of disassembled mats, weapon skins in the Secret Store, and (ironically) hiding weapons out of combat.
The Power of my Shotgun compels you!
Mon de la mode was not that avant-garde for me, as I spent the evening in Exorcist garb, even though I was not the group healer. Thanks to Mogsy for the top pic, and Tenten for the one directly above. Also, thanks to Maric and Thermic for filling out the DW group.

Tenten promised to tank a Slaughterhouse run next week for me and Scooter. I'll likely heal, rather than DPSing as I did for DW. Then I am planning to do the Healing version of Gatekeeper, since I did DPS on LoneStarBelle. I think I will also research a bit more prior to meeting him, so I can optimize my build and strategy ahead of time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

LoneStarBelle: The Will

Most people go through life on a sort of auto-pilot. Not that they can't make decisions, they just don't—beyond the trivial. They have no problem deciding what shirt to wear this morning, but then simply fall into love affairs, careers . . . parenthood; perhaps even believing they are happy. They lack the Will to do otherwise. They follow instructions, they do what they're told. These are the sort you find are easily turned. They succumb to the Will of other, more powerful, forces, like sheep for the shearing—or cattle to the slaughter—realizing too late that they've never had the option in the first place.
A rare few have the power to exert their Will—their "Anima"—to withstand the influences of forces beyond the capacity of the rest to comprehend, or even perceive. In a population of billions, they perhaps number in the thousands. These few "Animated" individuals are all that stand between the sheep and the long cold night of oblivion.
"It's like shooting fish in a barrel," Xander Hayes quipped. The blond, blue-eyed Canadian took aim at the barnacle encrusted behemoth over the sea wall where he and Sam and taken cover. Whereas Sam's rifle was a up-converted M4 MWS, Hayes sported an Orochi Occultech rifle. ("I like to call it Hard Rain," he'd said.) On semi-auto, he made short work of the incubators that had begun to advance on their position. Sam focused on the big one. The red and gray creature screamed in pain and anger, recoiling briefly before renewing its advance.
Unlike the zombified former residents of Kingsmouth, the beast they fought now was clearly from the depths. It towered at least four meters, with giant lobster claws and a gaping, saw-toothed maw in its torso. And still it advanced, despite Sam emptying a full clip into it. Almost within striking distance, it reared up.
"Time to go," said Hayes, as he dodged to his right, out of the blast wave. Sam wasn't so quick, and the spray of water knocked her on her back. Chunks of seawall went flying. Sputtering, she looked up as the creature raised its claw to impale her. The small hairs on her arms stood on end as a tendril of brilliant white flashed into view, enveloping the creature and causing it to seize up for an instant. Momentarily forgetting Sam, it turned toward the source of its new pain, Xander. As it lumbered toward him, Sam dragged out her own claws and leapt onto the beast's back.
She failed gain purchase and tumbled off. But the Canadian was driving fireballs into the creature's maw. Sam jumped again–more determined this time—and drove her claws into the creature's back, using them to climb higher. The beast screamed in pain and anger, but Sam made it to the shoulders. With one set of claws embedded for leverage, she stabbed into the creature's head. Over and over, she drove in her claws as the beast flailed its pincers, but unable to reach her. Xander kept up his fiery assault as the creature stumbled and fell.
The impact threw Sam clear of the carcass. As she lay there trying to catch her breath, Xander came and stood over her.
"You all right?" he asked, lending a hand to help her up.
"Yeah, I think so." She looked down at her slacks and jacket, formerly so professorial, now drenched in seawater and gore.
"You ever read Harry Potter?"
She looked at the Canadian askance. "Yes, why?"
"Remember what it said about the Killing Curse, Avada Kedrava? You've got to mean it! I don't think you meant it until you got up on that beast's back.
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
Hayes peered at Sam intently. "I'm telling you, when you really mean it, you won't even need bullets in that gun." He then flashed her a grin. "Meanwhile, you'd better reload."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

BtV Double Feature: The Venetian Zone!

Beyond the Veil Takes 66 and 67 are now available for download.

In "The Venetian Agenda," we welcome TSW Lead Designer Tilty and Community Manager Sezmra to the show to discuss Issue 8 and other (upcoming) developments in our favorite Conspiracy.

In "Danger Zone" the BtV crew get down to brass tacks analyzing the Scenarios: what we don't like, what we do like, and what takes our breath away.
You can subscribe to the show through Holosuite Media's RSS feed, through iTunes (with older episodes here), and now through Stitcher. Be sure to catch the live show tonight and every Thursday at about 7p.m. EDT (11p.m. UTC) on Holosuite Excess. Beyond the Veil is produced by "Xander Hayes" and Holosuite Media.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dex-y's Midnight Runners Ride Again

Tag Team Tenten Tossing
Scooter and I are still working through the TSW mission achievements. On Sunday evening, we ran through "All Roads Lead to Rome," from Issue #4, Big Trouble in the Big Apple. The Roman ruins are my nomination for the creepiest place in The Secret World. Running around through pitch black halls with undead familiars suddenly scurrying past (granted, without attacking you) is definitely up there past the Black House and the Nursery in my book.
Dortmunder Creeped Out
Secret Monday was another rousing success, with the Knights of Mercy fielding two full teams in the Venetian Scenario rooms. We decided that Duo Elite is a great way to farm "Oreos." We tried to queue for Nightmares (which had been done successfully by Ocho, who has yet to meet the Gatekeeper), but the Scenario console would not permit it. Meanwhile, Syp may or may not have forgotten something. . .
Yeti: Is it a little drafty in here?
We switched it up slightly this week, with Grace joining Fire Team Bravo (Hey Tenten! how did we end up second string?), and Syp going over to FT Alpha. Knowing the fights (even with variables) shows in our successes, with Scooter and I earning more than enough Oreos to get our Council certification on Dex-y and Dortmunder.
Fireteam Bravo, led by Bret Michaels
Mogsy then swapped with Grace to tank The Facility as Laeyn, with Dex-y, Ocholivis, and Chucho running guns, and Dortmunder healing in the Blood-Fist Way. We had some fun at the end, bouncing off the windows as seen in the pic at the top of the post; though Mogsy got a better shot. As you can also see from the pics, Mon de la mode was a mixed bag of TSW awesome. I didn't get any shots just of Dex-y and Dortmunder, but this way you can get feel for how we roll in KoM. [Edit: I do want to point out Dex-y's Warlock outfit, which she completed just before we started running Scenarios.]
Seconds before the Facility broke into the Harlem Shake
After several wipes, we decided the Contact Core fight required a change of costume, which you can see below. Unlike some recent trips through Elites—including Scenarios earlier in the evening—the Facility proved difficult to get through. But we did finish, sometime after midnight, local; hence the post title. In addition to the above-mentioned window bouncing we did one last pose before returning to Agartha. When I asked for an action pose, this is what Laeyn gave me:
That's how she taunts the boss.
P.S. Like Ocho, if you're not checking my pic mouse-overs, you may miss something.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tiny Death Star

Last Friday, chatter on my Twitter feed turned to a new smartphone game by NimbleBit, the makers of Tiny Tower, called Tiny Death Star. I do not normally play mobile games, I don't even have Angry Birds on my phone, and some other "action RPGs" left me remembering why I never cared for old games with crappy graphics like Zelda. (Don't deny it! You know this to be true!) However, I loved the old SimCity games, including SimTower. That, combined with the Star Wars theming and price (FREE!), led me to download TDS on Friday evening. I didn't really get into it until Saturday morning, when Scooter had installed it on her phone, and proceeded to become engrossed for a couple hours.
As you might expect, it has Astromech droid sound effects and "8-bit" versions of tunes like the Cantina Theme. There are fun little elements like the ever-jogging Nautolan on the Workout Center (see below), and animation humor reminiscent of the Lego series of console games. For collectors, there is an album of species and (in)famous visitors. Most Bitizens get a randomly generated mix of Star-Wars-y names; however, that does occasionally lead to a Duct Worker with a recognizable appellation.
Naturally, she had to go. The memory was just too painful for one poor Sith Lord.

The gameplay is an oddly compelling (not engaging) mix of inventory management, construction planning, and elevator operation. There are micro-transactions, but they mostly involve speeding up some process. With patience, you need not spend a dime. Though I'm sure the developers will appreciate it if you do. As of this writing, I have ten commercial levels seven Imperial levels and seven residential levels including one just under construction with almost NINE hours to go—unless I get a worker in to speed up the process.
Since the weekend, my time with the game has dwindled to fun little breaks between doing other things throughout the day. On Wednesday, Syp put out some strategy tips that would make a Sith Lord proud. But you know what? They're effective. I jettisoned more than two thirds of my Bitizens and now only accept new Bitizens who really want to work at my shops. By the end of the day Wednesday, I'd filled almost all my openings again, with Bitizens that want to be there and are therefore more effective.

Anyway, it's a fun little diversion. I've heard some others have buggy copies, but mine seems to be running just fine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Secret Monday: Just What Are These Venetians Up To?

Ermagerd, 500th Post!!
Fezzik said people in masks can't be trusted.
Because of busy weekend activities, Scooter and I didn't get around to running the new Scenarios until last night. As it was, even though normally we're online quite a bit earlier than the rest of the Knights of Mercy, it didn't work out that way last night, and we basically only had time to organize/empty out inventories before starting the big event. The usual suspects trickled on and we formed like Voltron. Able team consisted of Tenten, Syp, Ocho, Scooter, and me. Baker team was headed up by Mogsy, with Grace, Pagan, Pid, and Mr.Mogsy in tow. LOL We have such awesome Matrix names. We seem to have divided up this way a lot lately, I think Able works well together, and I appreciate them putting up with my occasional noobishness. (Noobality? Noobosity?)
Let's just go with idiocy.
In any event, Able ran through the normal duo version of each Scenario. In case you haven't done them yet, they are roughly the same Scenario in different locales, find and protect two or three groups of survivors from several waves of nasties, at either the Hotel Wahid, the Franklin Mansion or the Castle Dracula. We did OK, getting Silver for the first two, and Gold for the Castle, once we had a better handle on how things flow. As Tenten said last night, "Any Scenario you can walk away from is a success." But considering we were running a group of five through a Scenario supposedly tuned for two, saying the scenarios are difficult is an understatement.

Needless to say, the Scenarios require yet another re-analysis of one's deck and talismans. DPS used to "all attack all the time" in Elites and Nightmares will find their health woefully inadequate, since normal group mechanics don't apply. Tanks won't have too much problem, but may need to up the DPS ante and grab a few self heals. This is definitely where a hybrid "Unity" build will be handy. Healers probably already know they need to switch it up.

But even with that understanding, the Scenarios are difficult. So much so that the forums have blown up with criticism of the design that Joel Bylos himself has seen the need to respond. Unfortunately, his response was tantamount to "L2P nubs," which the playerbase didn't take kindly to. I pondered it a bit after having run through last night, and here's my thought: these Scenarios are supposed to prepare us for Tokyo. Much like Elites, the Gatekeeper, and Nightmares, players will not be able to stroll in and Pwn the content the first time through. Where would be the fun in that? The gear (Augments) and skills necessary to excel in the Scenarios is contained in the scenarios themselves. Purple 10.4 gear would probably help, too. Perhaps a fully augmented team with plenty of experience will have not trouble with it, but folks going through for the first or the tenth time will not be so fortunate. Nor should they be.
I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts!
Not that I don't have issues with the Scenarios. The whole thing reminds me of The Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, a ride touted as a grand new thing with random variable elements that meant no two trips through would be the same. Except that all the random elements were dressing, and some were so complicated that the ride frequently broke down and remained closed for hours and even days. Eventually, the variables were pared down. Not that it's not a fun ride; I go aboard whenever I visit Disneyland. But from a rider's perspective, I don't think it was that innovative, and Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion are still my two favorites.

So far, we only have one basic Scenario: Round up survivors and protect them from the angry hordes. The scenery changes and there are other variables, but it's all the same ride. I have to assume there are more waiting in the wings, because even with random weather and other variables, I can't imagine this holding anyone's interest for long before it turns into an unpleasant—yet unavoidable—grindfest.
Guarding the survivors . .  in STYLE!
For those of us who have not completed the Ability Wheel or the Skill Table, the Scenarios and Augment system present a dilemma: where to devote SP and AP. If my theory of the scenarios requiring Augments for major pwnage is correct, I don't know if it would be better to perfect and Augment a Scenario Deck or continue plugging away at the Wheel. One hundred ten AP can go a long way around. I also have yet to find out if the augments are permanently tied to individual abilities, or if they As Magson elucidates in the comments below, Augments can be swapped in and out like talismans, weapons, and abilities themselves. Of course I prefer the latter case, because 110 AP is also a lot of points to waste on an accidental misapplication.

All in all, though, I think the Scenarios are a great addition to the available activities in The Secret World. I just hope that Funcom quickly builds on this momentum. Again as Tenten has said, "Welcome to Venice, bitches."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Virtual Worlds, Real Friendships

I happen to be listening to "Forever Young" by Alphaville as I write this. It makes me nostalgic for my teen years where the last song of seemingly every dance was this anthem of youth. It reminds me of the great friends I had in high school, having fun, hanging out, talking about love and life.

But I've grown older, and my high school buddies are not as close as they once were. Work associates, even my fellow soldiers when I was in the Army, are just not quite the same. I am lucky that I have managed to marry my best friend. But where do I find the sort of friendships I had in high school?
I'm happy.
Online? Perhaps. One of the topics of the Newbie Blogger Initiative Talkback Challenge was "Guilds: What for?" I have been part of several different guilds over my MMO "career." I don't envy guild leaders. They say it's like herding cats, and I have never aspired to be in a leadership position in a guild. While pretty much every guild I've been part of did some progression group activity (raiding), I never joined any for the express purpose of tackling group content. From my first guild in WoW—that I can't even remember the name of now—to Mercy Gaming, House Stalwart, and Beyond the Veil, I am part of guilds because of friendships. To me, that's what guilds are for.
Even purple cats are hard to herd.
I may not be as close to all the members as I was to my buddies in high school. Heck! I've met less than a handful of online friends in person. But I know a little about them and their lives. I share their joys and sorrows, if only through the strands of copper and fiber-optics between us. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of my closest online friends are fellow bloggers. We can't help but share a little bit more of ourselves than we might intend for a gaming blog. We learn about each other, as we learn a bit about ourselves, typed out in black and white.

I'm not sure how long I've been aware of Big Mikey Ocho of Casual Aggro. He was one of the NBI Class of 2012, but it feels like I've known him longer. What do I know about him? In addition to MMO and Tabletop gaming, he's an avid frisbee golfer. He loves Jimmy Buffet. He's involved in the Special Olympics and other charities, as well as local politics; and I admire him for that. He's one of my favorite bloggers and guildmates. He grew up in southern New Jersey, close to Philadelphia, PA. He also grew up near Rowan University. And one day recently, while passing the school, Ocho decided he would pick up a T-shirt for an online buddy who uses a pseudonym.
Thank you, Ocho. I will wear it proudly.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beyond the Veil Take 65: Monster Mash!!

I had a blast hanging out with my fellow BtV crewmates and fans in front of the Black House on Halloween. If you missed it, the remastered version of Take 65 is now available for Download. During the evening, we gave away treats to attendees and conducted both a Halloween screenshot contest and a live costume contest.
You can subscribe to Beyond the Veil through Holosuite Media's RSS feed, through iTunes (with older episodes here), and now through Stitcher. Be sure to catch the live show every Thursday at about 7p.m. EDT (11p.m. UTC) on Holosuite Excess. Beyond the Veil is produced and hosted by "Xander Hayes" and Holosuite Media.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Becoming Grumpy

Life brings changes. We grow up, establish careers, get married, become parents, get re-married, become grandparents . . .
I'm not the only one who's Grumpy.
Yep, I am officially entitled to tell y'all to get off my lawn. Scooter and I have leveled up. Since mom and dad are staying with us for a couple months before heading off to school so Scooter and I can help with the baby, we'll see how this affects our gameplay. But I'm pretty sure I'll be OK playing one-handed with my Nostromo.

When we started discussing what we wanted to be called relative to this precious addition to our family, I couldn't think of anything better than "Grumpy." Scooter was like "Really? But you're not grumpy. . . usually." And I said, "That's why it's funny." She refuses to be called "Grim," though. She wants to be "Gram"  or "Grams" instead.
Scooterz said we look skeered.
One of my crewmates from Beyond the Veil, the first time he saw me on Google Hangouts, commented that I didn't look like someone he'd want to meet in a dark alley. I said, "Good. Then my job is done." Hehe, hopefully I scare potential boyfriends, too. 

Beyond the Veil Take 64: A Picture Perfect TSW!

Beyond the Veil Take 64 is now available for download. Join the BtV crew as we announce the winner of our Picture Perfect TSW contest, give you an update on the Agartha Event, introduce you to the Ability Search function and tell you about TSW entering the movie screen and give you the news from the Forums!
You can subscribe through Holosuite Media's RSS feed, through iTunes (with older episodes here), and now through Stitcher. Be sure to catch the live show tonight and every Thursday at about 7p.m. EDT (11p.m. UTC) on Holosuite Excess. Funcom Lead Designer Tilty will be joining us live tonight the show to talk about The Secret World's Issue #8, "The Venetian Agenda"! Beyond the Veil is produced by "Xander Hayes" and Holosuite Media.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dex-y's Midnight Runners

"I can't hear anything in this stupid thing!" "What?"
After yesterday's rant, it took Scooter and me almost two hours early yesterday evening running down Incognito for the Head-O-Lantern (shown above) which completed our Samhain 2012 achievements. I found a map online, marked the spots on my own in-game map, and just started running around the circuit. Eventually I found him, not far from where Scooterz had parked Dex-y, actually. On the one hand, it's awesome that Funcom didn't make last year's achievements "feats of strength," and unobtainable to newer players and veterans who were lackadaisical. On the other hand, the costume reward for the Hop-tu-naa, Trol-la-laa meta-achievement is the same Baron Samedi outfit you get for completing the Cat God mission chain, which is part of the meta-achievement. In other words, no reward at all.

As we waited for the usual suspects to log on, we found a few straggling lore pieces in Kingsmouth and Savage Coast (with the help of unfair.co). As detailed by Tententacles, there were again enough folks to split into two groups and run NM Cat God. Our group (Syp, Mogsy, Mr.Mogsy, and us) managed two full runs, in which I obtained the Amethyst Mouser, and Scooterz rounded out Dex-y's weapon set with a 10.1 Assault Rifle (having gotten purple Pistols on a prior run. Unfortunately, on our third run, a major lag spike during the third and final Cat Sidhe phase ended with a server kick, and we were booted to the outer world.

No one from our group was interested in another attempt, so we reorganized the groups into a run at The Ankh Elite and a NM Filth run. Dex-y and Dortmunder still need several Elite instances before we can take a run at Oscar, and our fellow Knights of Mercy were happy to help us out (I think). In any event, it was the smoothest Ankh run I'd ever been through, with only a couple deaths and a couple full wipes. I healed on Dortmunder, with Mogsy tanking. Scooter, Maric, and Grace brought the pain. I picked up a blue Rifle, and a couple tanky talismans.

After that, we split up again, with Maric and Grace joining the Filth run and Mogsy—I'm not sure what Mogsy was doing. Scooter and I returned to Blue Mountain, where we are finishing up achievements; Dex and Dort having skipped out on Solomon Island as soon as we were able. In QL 10+ gear, even the Ak'ab—while a nuisance—are not particularly difficult to deal with.

Several ironies of my post title:
  • The man who came up with it was unable to run with us last night.
  • We fully intended to run past midnight, as we had last week, but only lasted until about 11p.m., our time.
  • Scooterz and I were still the last ones online, which almost never happens.

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.