Wow… anyone in here?

Ahem. Well. Hiya blog, it’s been a long time. Hope you’re not mad at me for bailing out for like…oh… more than a year. I’m sure it went by in a flash, no hard feelings?

Anyway… I’m still alive, unless the blog evolved A.I. while waiting for me to log back in. And strangely enough, in the great big migratory cycle of Currently Played Games, I find myself back in EVE, which is where I left off last time.

What’s been happening

In real life, I’m still trucking along in my PhD studies. Right now I’m coming up on my third year and have mostly finished my classes and will be concentrating on research and writing that pesky formality known as a thesis. In fact that’s part of the reason why I’m here, I thought it would be a good idea to get used to doing a bit more writing again to try to get the brain cells working.

Spaceships

Dakka dakka dakka

Dakka dakka dakka

Shiny gold space tick

Shiny gold space tick

During the hiatus I stopped playing EVE for a while, for a couple of reasons. I was in a great corp, but unfortunately corp operations were not really very regular and a lot of them were in an awkward time zone (since they are mostly Aussies). I kinda really feel bad about not telling them though, since I basically just stopped logging in. As a matter of fact I think they demonstrated enormous patience by only just kicking me from the corp in July (one month before I resubscribed…) I’m going to try to reapply but they have a rule saying even returning players need to play EVE for a month before reapplying, which understandably helps to cut down on the number of applications from people who just want to come in and see what’s new (*cough* not like me at all, uh huh). Part of it was also that I got ganked moving 1.5 billion ISK worth of modules from Jita to Amarr in a T1 hauler. First time I’ve been ganked, and probably a story I will tell later. The monetary loss wasn’t a big deal, but I felt bad about it nonetheless especially as it greatly impacted the corp’s killboards. Lastly, a large part of the fun in EVE is based on having some kind of goal or plan. I felt kinda aimless at the time and was basically just spending time updating orders and training skills again, and so eventually I just let my sub lapse.

Tanks

I started playing World of Tanks again for a period of time, but ultimately stopped as well. I ground up the German heavy line to the Tier 9 E-75, expecting to be a bulletproof monster romping on the battlefields (based on my own experience from the other end of the 128mm cannon). I also ground up to the Tier 9 Russian tank destroyer Object 704, a.k.a Boomstick. Unfortunately, I came to the realization that I mostly just suck at higher tier matches. Also, I got into a streak of incredible losses where my win rate just plummeted drastically and I felt that I was just spending my evenings grinding out my daily doubles while getting aggravated. Part of it could be that I got too caught up in my stats, but at the same time I didn’t want to be one of the facerollers that present a bigger obstacle to their own team than the enemies.

Cute rabbit-eared things with big swords

Ferociously cute

Ferociously cute

I believe it was around December 2012 that I bought Guild Wars 2, after hearing so much hype about it. Some delicate negotiation had to be handled with the wife, the tight-fisted Scrooge McDuck in charge of finances. Mostly she just wanted me to concentrate on my work and stop playing so much, but eventually my devastating charm (or maybe the pathetic puppy dog eyes) managed to secure the go-ahead.

Guild Wars 2 is pretty fun, especially for a title which only requires a box purchase. I think I tend to have pretty positive impressions of any cash-shop game which allows you to trade cash shop currency for game currency. This is probably no surprise to any reader (hah!) who has read some of my earlier posts, especially since Scrooge McDuck also got interested in the game and predictably proceeded to amass a gold stockpile to fill her swimming pool with. I’ve converted gold into diamonds to buy 2 more character slots and a pack of miniatures. I’m generally pretty indifferent to any sort of cosmetic upgrade, so most of our gold just sits there looking sparkly. It does make me snigger whenever I see anyone in chat talking about how they earned 2 GOLD OMG I’M RICH, but at the same time I’m pretty sure that there are people out there with tens of thousands of gold so yeah best not to feel too snide. So far we have a level 80 warrior, necro, ranger, mesmer, a mid-level (and abandoned) elementalist and now I’m leveling a guardian. We participated in World vs World quite a bit early on, but nowadays I just PVE and my wife has stopped playing.

Mining and crafting

Wow, I did a lot of things didn’t I. I also started (and stopped) playing Minecraft for quite a bit. Maybe it’s a sign of my old age that my interests tend to drift around a lot more nowadays, at least compared to when I played WoW for what, 6 years? Minecraft has grown quite a lot since I first tried it out, and the modding community is amazing. Mods really add so much more to the game. I tried out quite a few of them and had quite a lot of fun, even going to the Nether this time and building a base inside a stronghold I found there. Ultimately though, I’m not a very creative type and most of the fun I had was in setting up a home in a new place. Once it was actually set up though I start feeling aimless, and eventually I felt that there was no point exploring for resources to obtain if I never build anything with those resources.

Back to spaceships

Which brings me back to EVE… again. Even though I wasn’t playing EVE, I still maintained a distant interest through reading blogs like Jester’s Trek or The Ancient Gaming Noob who basically is 80% of the reason I even started to play EVE anyway. After the Odyssey patch, I realised that there was a bunch of new stuff in EVE (ship rebalancing, hacking mini-game, salvage drones) and decided to resubscribe to check it out (hope my corp doesn’t read this…). So far I’m pretty happy in space, getting back in the flow of things and blowing stuff up with my two accounts, which shall be detailed in further posts since this is getting way too long. And of course, part of the joy of EVE is new shinies.

Slayer of evil pirates everywhere

Slayer of evil pirates everywhere

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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.