Asuran Madness!

When the playable races for Guild Wars 2 were first announced, I was a bit “meh” about Asuras at first. I usually like playing the tiny races. In this case, it took a while until I really loved the Asuras. Their quirky attitude might be responsible for that. However, I started loving them, especially after seeing one jump (and squeal?) in the “Races of Tyria” trailer, reading about them in the two books and seeing the one Asuran thief in one of the thief’s videos.

As written in Twitter yesterday, I feel like a complete n00b in Guild Wars because I hadn’t realised until then that Rata Sum was in the game already! Of course, I know that Asuras are – Vekk has been on quite a lot of adventures with my Tenedra already! But that there’s Asuran territory in Eye of the North was news to me. I had only ever played in the icy region of the addon, so I hadn’t realised you could travel elsewhere. ;)

Bookahnerk and I started the game and played till Rata Sum where I started screenshotting all the Asuras while he played a bit of polymock.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve put a few of them onto a collage.

I would very much love to see Asura Week start for Guild Wars 2 because what I’ve seen so far about the Asuras seemed… flatter somehow. Their faces especially. While those in Guild Wars seem to have more depths and shadows. But I can’t be sure about that until I’ve seen some more.

As a side info: If you want to know whether an Asura is male or female, look at their ears. Males have pointed ears and females have round ears, although there are some exceptions.

Character Design: Star Trek Online

I bought Star Trek Online about a week ago for 3,50€ at Amazon. Yesterday, it was on sale at Steam for 2,75€. A friend and bookahnerk both bought this version and I was a bit jealous when I saw that it came with 500 Atari Tokens and the costumes from TOS (The Original Series – Kirk etc. ;) ). TOS is what got me hooked to Star Trek when I was a little girl. So it always has a special place in my heart. Also, those skirts are sexy! ;)

Then I found out that I could buy this special edition from Steam and add it to my current account. What I hadn’t known until then was that the paid time also stacks! So far, whenever I added a second key (if it worked at all), I only got the extra goodies but never the paid time. So now I got TOS costumes, 500 Atari Tokens and 60 days of paid time for not even 6,50€. That’s what I call a great deal… although, only if Cryptic doesn’t get closed within the next few days. ;)

I know that Cryptic doesn’t have a good reputation with their games Champions Online and Star Trek Online. Too early release, not enough content, bugs, crashes? I’ve read a lot of bad things about those games. By the way, Star Trek Online has been very stable and bug free so far. I also can’t complain about a lack of content which is probably because my character is still small (Starfleet Lieutenant – level 8). I especially love that players can design missions and even though I’ve only done three so far, I enjoyed one very much, another one was also good and the third was a bit boring. Still, it’s great to see what players come up with!

But above all, I love the customisation. At the same time, I hate how a lot of options have to be bought first – for real money! It just lets me hope that STO will maybe go down the freemium way like Champions Online did (and LotRO and Global Agenda and soon Age of Conan,…).

You can create the look of your character and can later change it in the game! Only the most basic decisions will stick (if you decided for a human, you can’t become a vulcan later on). You can also choose “alien” which gives you every option available apparently. My Paeroka started as a blonde. Then I decided that I didn’t like her hair. So the ended up taking off her wig and stopped filing her little horns. She’s also a kind of reptile-like alien who switches skin colour every now and then (especially when I decide to redo her costume and change the colours… can’t have her skin colour and clothing colours clash, right?).

Here are a few more samples. Some are “human”. The rest is alien. Pretty easy to distinguish, I’d assume. ;)

But that’s not everything. You can also change the design of your spaceship – and get different spaceships later in the game. But I don’t think I’m far enough into the game for that. I’m also much too confused about skills and how to decide for which skills and which spaceship and how to spend your skill points for your space ship abilities etc. I am just happy I have a spaceship whose design I like. That’s all I need for now. ;) So here’s my slightly pinkish spaceship:

There are Klingons as well, of course. Federation Klingons have to be bought from Cryptic’s item shop (I actually really dislike Cryptic for designing their game that way. You need to pay a monthly fee and on top of that, half of their customisation has to be paid for. Add that to the critics of not having enough content and launching too early and you get very bad business decisions if you ask me! Also, it’s annoying to see those Atari Token signs next to every other option when you just want to make your character or spaceship look pretty). Klingons that belong to the second faction (“Klingon Empire” consisting of Klingon, Gorn, Lethean, Nausicaan, Orion, Joined Trill and Liberated Borg) are free, thankfully! You just have to reach a certain level (I think it was the 6th) and get the second faction unlocked then. I haven’t played my Klingon much yet. I just played with the customisation feature (she’s blood-pink, of course! Makes her look more vicious ;) – the character in the picture below isn’t my Klingon, I forgot to screenshot her. This is just a Klingon I got by clicking on “randomise”).

Last but not least: Tribbles! Made me squeal. You can even breed them. I accidentally created another one by putting food into the same container and then forgetting it in there.

This entry’s gotten rather long now. In the end, I can only say that I adore their character design and the vast amount of options to choose from! Of course, I’d prefer not having to buy half of the options (mostly costumes, though)… unless they were f2p. Which they aren’t. So boo to them for that!

I’d really like to ask ArenaNet whether Guild Wars 2 will have a character customization like STO. When asked if it’s more like Aion or Guild Wars, they said that it’s not going to be like Aion (where you could create horribly distorted characters and there, you don’t even have aliens!), so more like Guild Wars. But Guild Wars is really restricted and it’d be a shame if GW2 was like that. But well, that’s a topic for another day. ;)

“Convenience, not advantage” – still the LotRO Freemium-model?

When Turbine changed its subscription model to “free to play” (I like calling it “freemium” to differentiate it from the usual “f2p” models which only have item shops but no way to pay a subscription) players were worried about the kind of items we would see in their shop. Patience, back then Community Manager at Turbine, reassured us that the shop would offer “convenience, not advantage”. That was on June 5, 2010. When you’re now searching for that thread in the official forums, you will not find anything. It seems this thread was deleted (or “moved”, I think. If I remember correctly, Turbine doesn’t delete threads but instead moves them to an area that’s not publicly accessible).

Fortunately, Google Cache helps us out here: Convenience, not advantage.

With Update 3 came six new relics. Three of them can be “produced” in-game (by “melding” which can be done by every high level player). Three other relics are shop-exclusive. One of those relics is arguably one of the best for tanks. Of course, just buying this relic isn’t enough. You can’t get it out of the weapon once it’s in there. So if you ever want to switch your weapon, you’d either have to buy the relic again or buy the relic-removal scroll from their shop in order to remove said relic. Clever, eh? ;) Players are not too happy about that. Of course, you can argue whether you really need to buy this relic or not. The same goes for weapons, though! You don’t need to buy the better weapon from an item shop in f2p-game XYZ. You can just play with a weaker weapon. No problem, right? But when it was promised to the player community that there wouldn’t be an “advantage” in the shop and then they add something which is an advantage… well, not nice.

The inofficial EU LotRO community talks about it as well. – By the way, the community also always welcomes US LotRO players, of course! Critical comments on LotRO and Turbine won’t be deleted there either. ;) Well, unless they’re flaming or trolling. But common sense should tell you that. ^^

Edit on January 21, 2012: I just saw that this posting was linked to in Justin’s recent “Road to Mordor” on Massively. :) Unfortunately, I realised that I hadn’t actually put up the screenshot from Patience here. I thought I had. There’s only the link to Google’s Cache up there and it’s not valid anymore. Valandir sent me the screenshot in its original size which you can see on the left now.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (May 25)!

Pirate Asura

Welcome to Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place mainly about LotRO, Guild Wars 2 and any other interesting things related to gaming (hopefully weekly… depending on whether we’ll actually have some interesting links to share).

Age of Conan is adopting a hybrid payment model (like LotRO and DDO). There’s already an overview of what you get for free and a FAQ. In short: 2 character slots, 4 out of their 12 classes, some dungeons, some raids. Doesn’t sound bad to try to get a feeling for it. And there’s stuff you can buy (like access to certain dungeons) which means that again, there’s no subscription necessary. But you can subscribe if you want to, of course! This also seems to be the only way to get access to the remaining 8 classes.

Guild Wars 2 has announced its 7th class, the engineer. I’ve heard people speculate about such a class before so it didn’t really come as a surprise to me. Having played an engineer in Warhammer Online, I was also looking forward to playing this class. After watching the videos, I’m a bit disappointed, though. For me, it’s not a problem that there are grenades and guns in the game. In my mind, it fits perfectly to a fantasy setting and I think steampunk etc. makes it more interesting. What I don’t like is the feeling I got from watching the videos. It reminded me too much of FPS shooters and the land-mine really is over the top, I think. I am ready for technical advancement but this was a bit too much for me. I’d rather have some more traps and all that old-fashioned stuff. Of course, before I make a final judgment, I’ll have to see the class in the game. If you want to know more about the engineer, have a look at ArenaNet’s engineer link roundup.

Then there’s Lord of the Rings Online. The merge of the European servers with Turbine’s service is coming closer. Please make sure not to have any auctions running when the merge starts (servers will go down at some point between May 31 and June 1, I assume) and empty your mailbox! There’s nothing definite about them deleting auctions or mail but it’s safer to empty everything to make sure you don’t lose anything. Codemasters have also added a nice screen saying “goodbye” when logging into the game. Watch the Dev tracker on the EU forums for Sapience’s postings. He might have useful information about the merge!

Guild Wars Screenshot

So how many of our readers have already noticed our new background image? And furthermore: How many people can tell me where this picture was taken? Unfortunately, we have nothing to hand out for a potential winner this time. ;) Although… what about a gold or 50 on Evernight in LotRO? Ah yes right, wrong game. ^^

I can’t wait to see Guild Wars 2! Although they won’t have the Factions and Nightfall regions in it in the beginning, I do hope they – or other interesting regions – will be added with content updates. :)