Project: Wildstar Housing

I did it! I managed to get my second character to level 14 which is where you unlock your housing plot. In case you’re now sitting there in front of your monitor pondering the amount of effort it needs to get to 14 – don’t bother. It’s fast. I’m just slow. ;)

My Rift housing project has been put on hiatus for the time being. This is mostly due to lacking the items I actually want. If you can’t get regular dishes except for once a year during a special holiday, it’s just very discouraging. In this case, I wanted to build a second shower with a shower head and the dishes are the perfect items. But I would have to take it away in one dimension and rebuild it in the second as I’m lacking dishes. So… yeah. It’s a tiny thing, but annoyed me, so I decided to have a more thorough look at Wildstar’s housing first. Since I really like the concept of having a little “oasis”, I figured this would be a nice theme for my little one’s housing plot.

The general system of placing items is very similar to the one in Rift. You can freely place items, rotate them, scale them and so on. You can also just place “whole items” in there or try to build things yourself. I read a post some time ago where they were talking about which of the bigger houses is best to build a second floor in. That sounded very similar to what I had done in my first dimension in Rift!

You can change the ground and the sky according to your needs and you can choose a house to build on there. Since Tenedra is still so small, she couldn’t get the bigger houses yet. I chose the cozy exile house for the time being. I like its interior, so it’s perfect for me now. Then I placed a single palm and two enhancements. One gives me a crafting area and the other gives me relic items to mine every day. Relics is what I need for my crafting profession. Other than that, it’s a huge empty land waiting for me to fill it with life. :D

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Posted in Housing, Other, Wildstar

Sunken – First Impressions Review

Sunken Start ScreenIn general, I really despise permadeath in games and stay away from games where I am forced to play with this feature. With my playtime being limited due to my job and other stuff I also want to do in my free time, it just seems so frustrating having to start all over again because I made one single mistake. There is no way I would ever play a game with permadeath. And while I love action RPGs, I never even considered playing in “hardcore” mode which usually means permadeath for your character. Having to run all over the zones again? No way!

And yet here I am: in “Sunken“. Sunken is made by a very small developer team consisting of only two people. Now, to be honest, “permadeath” isn’t 100 % permanent here. Yes, your character dies and you have to start at the beginning again. Your levels, your items together with your inventory and your learned recipes are gone upon death. But when you die, you get to keep your unlocked abilities, so there is some sort of progression, after all.

This of course means that your character will be stronger than before. You get a wider choice of abilities or upgrades to your already known abilities. Since there is no character customization at all, you won’t really feel like you just lost your character. But you cannot customize the look of your character, so he (yes, you can only play with a male character) always looks exactly the same. So it actually feels a bit like “respawning”. But since you lost all your possessions, it comes with a hefty price! So it’s in between permadeath and death-then-respawn as you know from MMOs. Since there are no options to change the look of your character, this also means that I am not that attached to my character and don’t really care when he dies. On the other hand, from a storytelling aspect, this isn’t good either. I would like to feel more connected to my character. I would at least hope that there would be some sort of customization later on like choosing a hair style or hair colour (granted he ever does get hair).

In order to learn new abilities, you will have to unlock them first. It’s a multiple-steps process: You first need to drop the recipe book for an ability. You can learn that recipe by right-clicking the recipe book. Then you need to find a crafting station (an anvil). So far – and really, I didn’t get far when it comes to the maps – I found them right before the entrance to the next level. You need to get there first, obviously, then you can craft the recipe when you’ve also got the materials for it. The recipe then disappears from your list of known recipes. Use the item you crafted to unlock the ability permanently. Once unlocked, the next dropped recipe book for the same ability will give you the unlock for the higher tier of that ability. But if you die before you reach the end of the level, then that recipe book and all learned recipes are lost. Only the crafted and unlocked ability itself counts.

The game also has a story which unfolds not via quests but through books which you can find on the different floors of the maps. Those books aren’t drops. They are quite big books standing around. Yes, this means you have to read a lot… or wait for the voice-over to read it to you. I usually read much faster myself, though. There is also background music which has an eerie tone to it and fits quite nicely to the whole atmosphere and the graphics. But over time, I imagine the music could get a bit boring, unless it changes when you get to different maps in the game… did I already mention I didn’t get far yet? ;)

If you are like me and lack the skills needed to orientate yourself, then you will feel just as lost as I did. In the beginning there was a point where I did not even notice that I had run back towards the beginning of the level instead of progressing further to the next one. There are no maps or minimaps here, no compass for orientation either. When you die, you start at the very beginning of level 1 again, though. So sooner or later, you will most certainly recognize at least level 1. :p Also, when you log back into the game, you start at the beginning of a map with respawned mobs. Come to think of it, this is actually quite nice. For one, it lets you grind some more experience (although I am not certain whether mobs scale with your level) and maybe you even find a nice recipe book. And if you ever do get lost, that’s how you find the beginning again. :p Each level is identical, meaning that level 1 will always look the same. But the mobs you encounter will be random. Some structures can be destroyed, but so far, I did not find any use for it other than that it looks nice.

I am not sure yet whether all mobs drop aggro after a while and how that works. Some did not follow me all the way back to the entrance of the level while others did chase me until there. It may also be that “special” mobs (with names or elite mobs) chase you all the way down the hall while normal mobs won’t. Thankfully, my regeneration rate was high enough to survive the battle that followed. But yeah, here’s a warning: If you get low on health and don’t have health potions anymore, you may have to run and hope your health bar regenerates in the meantime.

Last but not least, at the end of a level, you will encounter a boss. This is on an extra map, so you can’t run away or hide. The first boss was no problem while the second one caused my first death in this game. I had run out of healing potions before I had learned the mechanics of the boss. To be honest, I am still not 100 % sure I understood them. But I’m willing to give it another try… once I actually get to the end of level 2, that is. Yes, you may laugh now. Loud and long. I am a n00b. :p

But as you may be able to infer here, I actually quite enjoy this game so far! The regular price is $9.99€ and it’s in Steam Early Access. The price was certainly cheap enough for me to risk getting another early access game and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Sometimes, it feels a bit fiddly, though. I once accidentally dropped a stack of materials on the ground instead of putting them into the crafting window (it lands on the floor as a loot bag, so no harm done!). And I quite often misclick when trying to pick up loot bags. Other than that, it seemed to run smoothly.

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Posted in First Impression Review, Indie developer, Other Games

The future of The Repopulation

Rather exciting news appeared while I was sleeping: The Repopulation will come back*! The developers (Above and Beyond Technologies) decided to leave the Hero Engine behind and port the game to the Unreal Engine.

Screenshot of the scenery in the new tutorial of The Repopulation

“This is not a decision that we have taken lightly. While many of our assets will convert over easily to Unreal Engine, the game’s code will need to be rewritten from scratch.”

Of course, this means the game will not get released any time soon. On the contrary, development will take quite a bit longer than we had anticipated. But that’s just how it is and I think overall, the decision may be for the better. With the Unreal Engine, they are no longer dependent on the Hero Cloud services. You can read more about their anticipated advantages of porting in the original article. For me, the most interesting bit is the “improved harvesting system”. Although they also said something about “graphical upgrades” and “eye candy”. I already thought the game was very pretty (see screenshot above), so I am very curious to see the what exactly will look better or different, at least.

Back in November when the problems first emerged, they started working on “Fragmented“, an online 1st person/3rd person shooter with RPG elements, as they now announced. I am not a huge fan of the shooter genre. There are two main reasons for this: for my personal taste, some of them focus too much on violence and on showing that violence (I highly praise Team Fortress 2 with its rubber duckies instead of blood, for example) and then there is my really bad motion sickness for anything with 1st person view. So, being able to play with 3rd person view is great news! The camera is still very close to the character, so I probably won’t be able to play it excessively. Not a bad thing either, though. ;) Healthy amounts of gaming time is much better for me anyway. However, this is a side project to help fund The Repopulation, to give us something to play while we wait and both games will share assets. Additionally, those of us who already own The Repopulation will get Fragmented for free!

“Players are expected to create their own goals in game though. This could include raising a stable of pets, building cities, killing, crafting, or competing with other humans for domination of the new planet.”

This is the part that really got me interested! Fragmented will not be about killing and violence and nothing else.  Instead, I can also help build a city or focus on crafting and pets. So far, I am not really sure how exactly this will work, but I guess I will see soon enough!

Altogether, I am very positive about what they have announced now and I hope they will succeed. My thumbs are pressed and I hope we will get to see Fragmented very soon (it sounds like parts will be available in February already) and the next alpha version of The Repopulation in a few months (I admit, I have no idea how long development would probably take in this case and how soon is realistic here).

*Follow this link to read what had happened and what had forced the developers to pause the current development. Massively also tried to summarize the situation back at that point.

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Posted in Indie developer, Other Games, The Repopulation

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Spending money in Trion’s games

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnA side note first: I am very late with continuing the “Blogging 101” challenges, as I did not have any good ideas for some of the last tasks. Blogging 101 asked me to make a regular column, but I just did not have a good idea until now. I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them. So I will try to give my rants a place in this blog with “Paeroka’s Ponderings”!

Today’s topic is the recent shift in how Trion wants to monetize Rift and Trove. It started with Rift – if you ask me, several months ago already. I already complained about the prizing of the Primalist, a profession I am interested in, but won’t buy because I think it’s too expensive. Yes, I know that by paying I support Trion in developing Rift and that the few who are willing to pay something are financing the game for those who do not want to or are unable to. But let’s be honest here: I am not rich at all and I need to see where I am at the end of the month as well. If I want to feel generous, I rather donate money to charity. So when I do spend money on a game, I also ask myself: Do I get what I’m paying for? And in this case, it just feels too expensive. They also increased the price Europeans pay for credits (the currency you use in their cash shop) just a few months ago.

Rift Store

A couple of days ago, Rift’s community manager announced a change that came with very short notice (2 days). The earring slot and the unlock to wear water-based items would no longer be able to be unlocked with in-game currency, but with credits only. To elaborate: With the last expansion, character sheets also got two slots for earrings. Those earrings can add quite a bit to your stats (Rift is very much a stat-based game)! And then there are some items that can only be worn if your character is attuned to water (the element the expansion focuses on). So, without spending real money, you either have a weaker character than everybody else and sometimes drop items that your character cannot equip or you save all your gold (“platinum” in Rift) to spend on a REX. REX is an item bought with real money by a player. That player can then sell this REX in the game and receive platinum for it. With that REX, the player who bought it can exchange it for credits, the cash shop’s currency, and buy those earrings slots. Long story short: Every unlocked earring slot was paid with real money from now on. In other words, unless somebody pays money, your characters are weaker than other people’s characters. What was the definition of “pay to win” again?

Again, I do get that they need to earn money. And what I really like about Trion, despite all this, is how open they are in their communication. At least, they’re not waiting until the “shitstorm” dies down, and reply to the community. But at the end of the day, I still strongly disagree with what Trion is doing and it will reflect in my willingness to spend money on their game.

Trove_Mounts in the store

Not long after that announcement, Trove also announced a shift in how they are earning money. Some of those changes are minor, I would say. You get fewer initial cubits, but the amount you get in the beginning isn’t that huge anyway. And since this is one of the in-game currencies, I think it’s okay. Yes, cubits are used to pay for some items which can be paid with either this in-game currency or real money, but I still don’t think it’s too bad. Additionally, I actually thought some items were rather cheap on the store and wondered why I should pay with credits (the real money currency) if I can also pay with cubits. The much more controversial part is that classes will no longer be unlockable with cubits! In order to get a new class, you will have to pay. But they also said that there will be ways to randomly get a class coin which can be spent on any class in the cash shop and that you will be able to unlock a few classes for free. In fact, you will be able to unlock more classes for free than you are now, but if you want all of the classes, you will have to spend at least some money.

On top of that, they are considering hiding features behind the Patron status (monthly sub). While I understand the first two parts, I am scared of what will come out of this change! I do not pay monthly subs, because I just don’t play most games often enough to justify one. The only exception being Wildstar right now, but I do not intend to keep my sub running once it expires. Instead, I plan on spending some money to buy a few costumes or mounts and unlocks. I would really hate to see features that I like being hidden behind a paywall. What’s worse is that since patron is a monthly fee, the minute I stop paying, I lose access. Unless I decide to pay the monthly fee again, of course. But once again – and even stronger here than in Rift – I get the feeling that they want to communicate with us and maybe reduce the negative reactions both games are facing now. They also stated that patron benefits will not include playable content. So maybe, those changes won’t be that bad, after all. Maybe.

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Posted in Paeroka's Ponderings, Rift, Trove

Blogging 101: A little fly on the wall…

Day 11 of “Blogging 101” asked me to take a daily prompt and make it fit to my blog’s content. The first prompt was boring as I had more or less just written about it anyway. I opted for the “try another” option and was shown a prompt from March 2015.

If you could be a “fly on the wall” anywhere and at any time in history, where and when would you choose?

This is a very nice question which, of course, I will turn into a game-related one. Let’s see… if I could be a fly in a development studio, which one would it be – and which department. They don’t all make games in their basements, after all. :p I would probably choose ArenaNet, because they are the most secretive of them all. I would try not to look over the shoulders of the ones working on the living story, though. I don’t want to spoil that for me! But I think I’d fly around trying to find out whether anybody is currently working on SAB or anything other “activity-related”. Hey, a fly can dream, right? And before I had to leave, I would stop by their food/candy corner! Alternatively, Wildstar’s developers Carbine would be nice, too! They did recently say that they cannot yet tell us what they have been working on since the game went free to play. But they are working on new things to come…

Charr Rytlock using a new ability he gained in Heart of Thorns

Or let’s try this: If I could be a fly on a wall of any “famous” gaming character, which one would it be? Thrall from World of Warcraft maybe? To me, he has always been the most powerful of the Warcraft characters. Ready to set aside the hatred between men and orcs and strive towards peace – or a truce, at least. I don’t know enough about the story in Wildstar to choose any character and Rift’s lore is too confusing for me, so I’ll pass. Rytlock in Guild Wars 2 would be awesome, though. I want to know what he saw and experienced in the Mists! If it could be any time, I could even be the fly in the mists watching Rytlock! This little fly is starting to think big here!

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Posted in Blogging Months, Fun!, Paeroka's Ponderings
"Nerdy Bookahs" is a blog written by Paeroka and bookahnerk. We started it back in March 2011 and usually write about MMOs. Find out more about us here.
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