Buzzing around

I’ve realised that lately I seem to keep getting distracted easily when it comes to games. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of playing mostly WoW for a few years, but now I seem to flit in between games very quickly. Some people tend to do this naturally anyway, but for me its not a good thing because I find it difficult to pick up where I left off.

Case in point, I still haven’t finished Dragon Age:Origins and actually haven’t played it in almost a year. I was having a good time playing it too, not like it was a boring or unenjoyable experience. Somehow or the other I got distracted (I think it was by EVE, not too sure…) and it just ended up sitting there. Before that I was starting a replay of FF7 as well, and again while I enjoyed it I simply wandered off at some point.

The list goes on and on. I was playing a bit of Mass Effect on those days when the EVE server was down, and I think I’m halfway through the game. Another great game with gorgeous graphics and a pretty good story, but I think the fact that I was playing it together with EVE kind of made me feel kinda ho-hum about it. I didn’t feel that push to reach the ending that I used to feel with games in the past.

I’m kind of at the same point with EVE now as well. I haven’t done anything in game for a couple of weeks other than updating my orders and skill training queues every day. On the bright side, Noork has now almost finished with his Rifter skill plan with most Gunnery skills up to at least 4. There’s still a lot for him to train up, including Tech 2 Heavy and Sentry drones as well as better battleship and cruiser skills. Yannie on the other hand has finished almost every missile skill to at least 4 and I’m not so sure what else to train her in. She’s quite specialised as a missile lobbing Caldari pilot so there’s no real reason for me to train Gunnery or Armor Tanking on her. I will probably go for T2 cruise and heavy missiles, which will take a long while anyway.

On the other hand, that’s the beauty of EVE’s subscription plan. My trading activities are still generating more than enough ISK to support 2 PLEXes a month, even with me only logging in once a day. So I don’t feel like I’m wasting my money and my characters are always there, improving their options for the time when I feel like returning for some spaceship pewpew.

Ironically, the game that distracted me from EVE in the first place, EQ2 Extended, is now slowly taking a backburner as well. EQ2 Extended is the Free-to-Play version of Sony’s Everquest 2, and I must say it’s the first F2P game that has really impressed me…. if I disregard the horrible technical issues with their client and launcher. The game itself has a huge amount of content that is absolutely free, although the restriction against equipping legendary or fabled gear is a big downer. On the other hand, I haven’t even seen any such gear yet anyway and mastercrafted gear is supposed to be perfectly viable. Most people obsess over getting the “best-in-slot” gear for their characters when in actual fact 1% extra stats does very very little. In the end I did pay SOE 10 bucks to upgrade to Silver from the free Bronze level, mainly for the ability to have more quests in the journal. I also got a few extra bag spaces and an extra character slot, which are nice-to-haves on their own. I guess I also felt that SOE deserved a bit of money from me, and it’s a one-time payment so not a big deal.

The name “Everquest” is really apt as there are really a HUGE amount of quests in the game. I have to keep reminding myself to get rid of my WoW mindset since I was quite a completionist and would try to finish all of the quests in every zone before moving on (except for the group quests cos I usually couldn’t be arsed to get a random group of failures together). In EQ2X this is like trying to dig a tunnel using a teaspoon, there’s just so much to do that it’s inevitable that your character outlevels the quests in the zone. Fortunately there’s a pretty nice mentoring system which lets you “level down” your character and still get some exp, so you can always go back later and experience the content.

I’ve seen advice that you should disable combat experience to slow down your levelling speed and experience more content to get more AAs (Alternate Advancement points, which are a separate form of experience used to put into talents). However, this doesn’t seem to make sense to me because disabling combat experience means I lose out on the AAs from combat too. I still get full AAs from quests, but I get those anyway even if the quest is grey. Disabling combat exp means I am able to do more quests while they give experience, but doesn’t that just end up giving me back the exp anyway?

Anyway, while I’ve been playing EQ2X for the most part now I have been distracted by yet another shiny, which is kind of the whole point of this rambling post. Minecraft! This little game has been the talk of the town recently, and is actually really cool given that it’s basically a one-man project that some Swede (I think) came up with. I’ve only played it one night so far, but it’s quite entertaining. For a little preview of what Minecraft is like, I’d recommend Ark’s videopost series on Minecraft. Hilarious commentary makes it even better. I thought my wife might enjoy this since she was playing Theme Hospital recently, but her reaction from seeing me playing it seemed decidedly meh.

Anyway, no clue how long it’ll be before I flit off to something new yet again. Maybe I’m just getting old and becoming cranky, perpetually thinking about how “games were better in my time”. I suspect that part of it is that I quickly feel jaded nowadays. There’s always an initial rush of excitement when I just start out a new game, since everything is new. Once I start to get the hang of it and become better and more powerful, the rush goes away and it becomes kinda ho-hum time to grind again.


Quiet time

Crickets in space

It’s been a very quiet time in EVE for me. I haven’t really logged in more than a couple of times to run some missions. Of course I still do my usual twice a day updating of trade orders (once for the morning peak and once for the evening before downtime) and to check on the skill training queues.

Part of the reason is that our kid has been extra fussy recently and takes a really long time to fall asleep. Another reason is that both my characters are old enough now that most of the skills they have to train are of the really really long variety. I used to think 4 days was OMG SO LONG but now I barely blink at 8 day timers for level 5s. Without the incentive of getting new skills to play with, I feel less of an urge to log in.

Noork is finishing up Electronic Upgrades V as a prerequisite for Covert Ops ships. He still doesn’t have the racial Frigate skill up to V yet either, so that’s another 8 days. I was originally planning on doing Caldari, but now I’m having second thoughts since most Caldari frigates aren’t that awesome with the exception of the Manticore stealth bomber. I read a great guide by Hallan Turek covering all the various stealth bombers and the differences between them. Turns out that the Minmatar Hound isn’t that bad either, and Minmatar Frigate V is much more useful since I will probably try out PVP in Rifters or the T2 versions at some point in time. The other account continues to train up all the skills to make her a better missile spewing battleship pilot, and is currently doing Caldari Battleship IV, which will probably be followed by more support skills.

I’ll still do Caldari Cruiser V though since I want to try out the Tengu. I started buying some of the parts on buy orders, but now I’m holding off since it looks to be a fairly long time before I commit to training those skills and the prices might drop in the meantime. So now I have a Tengu hull, a Accelerated Ejection Bay offensive subsystem, and a Amplification Node defensive subsystem sitting in my hangar gathering dust.

One of the things I’m thinking about is to get into Faction Warfare to try out PVP in the kiddie pool, or so I hope. But I need to read up more on Faction Warfare first to see what it involves, any tips from readers are welcome. I don’t even know whether I should join with my main or specifically roll up a alt for the purpose, although I hesitate to take skill training time away from my other characters. I think my standings with the opposing factions will take a hit, which I’m not too hot on but what the heck the Gallente are Frenchies anyway.

EverQuest 2 Extended

Since EVE is a bit on the backburner, I decided to try out the new Free-to-play version of EverQuest 2. I’ve never played EQ2 before and was curious to see how it stacked up against it’s more famous sibling WoW. First off it was a major pain to even get it installed. I can’t stand all the new fancy ways that developers are coming up with to download their client. I mean geez just give me the option to download the thing in a chunk, I don’t care if it’s 13 gigs. That’s much better than screwing around with streaming launchers that don’t work or generate weird error codes or get stuck at random screens with no indication that it’s still alive. I understand that the vast majority of gamers nowadays are completely clueless and don’t even know how to navigate past their “My Documents” folder but come on how hard is it to provide competent people with a means to download patches manually.

I have to admit that part of the problem could be the fact that our operating system is like… 10 years old. I am reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars installing a new OS from Microsoft unless something really important gets broken. Windows Vista is just utter, complete rubbish and I’m not impressed with Windows 7 either. There’s no reason why Win XP can’t run this streaming client, but there’s no other explanation since I’ve tried everything in the tech support forums.

In the end I managed to download it by streaming it on a laptop (also running XP…) and then transferring all 13 gigs over to my desktop. Seems to work decently now though I have to run the executable directly rather than using that bloody streaming launcher. Although how long this will last is anyone’s guess… maybe the next patch will break it and I’ll give up in frustration.

On the bright side EQ2X is quite fun, once I got past the technical issues. Not as polished as WoW, but there’s a lot of character in their quest texts and there’s quite a lot of depth to the crafting system. The restrictions for Bronze players are slightly annoying, with the worst being the lack of broker access. Storage space isn’t a huge issue so far and I’m way way below the coin cap, but I’m only level 23 so that may change in the future.

I didn’t pay to unlock any of the other races or classes, so I’m playing a Half-elf Inquisitor which is one of the best free race/class combinations I think. EQ2 is really solo friendly now, so I haven’t had any problems so far. I think they’ve learnt a lot from WoW’s design… previously I believe you could hardly kill anything without a group.

Amazingly even though the game is still in beta I’ve seen countless numbers of players who obviously paid for a lot of stuff like mounts or races. Guess it shows that the F2P model really does have a lot of supporters, although personally I’m not a big fan. I suppose if it’s done well and the item shop isn’t blatantly required to experience the content it’s not a big deal. I’ve never believed that players really NEED the best gear anyway, any benefit from items is marginal compared to being an intelligent player who’s not watching TV while randomly pressing buttons. While Lord of the Rings Online has also gone F2P this week, I’m not that keen to try it out because you have to buy quest packs or be restricted to purely grinding. Whereas the vast majority of the content in EQ2X is accessible to Bronze players right from the start.