Category Archives: Play Log

Breaking the Funk

Things have been quiet around here, eerily quiet. Has a fog come in and taken me away? Have I been fighting a zombie uprising? Not quite, I’ve just been in a bit of a MMO funk for the past month.

In early July I entered waiting-on-Guild-Wars mode. It might be the hype, I might have been spoiled by the the GW2 beta weekend events (specifically GW2’s action bar/combat system), or it might be something completely different; but I found myself not only bored with SWTOR but also having lost the desire to return to Rift (or any other past MMO).

So what have I been playing? A little bit of World of Tanks: I finished the AMX 40 grind and unlocked the AMX 12t  before the release of  patch 7.5, while reconnecting with my German tier V mediums (I’ve missed you Panzer III/IV). I’ve also played some World of Warplanes beta, but can’t share anything other than it’s really fun but I’m a horrible pilot. Steam summer sale: I finally played Portal 2 and also picked up a copy of Quantum Conundrum.

But then this past weekend I broke the MMO funk. As you may have guessed from the first paragraph, I’ve joined The Secret World. I’ve been interested in TSW for quite some time but was leery for two main reasons: I’m not much of a horror fan and I kept getting flash-backs of the buggy, but fun, mess that was Age of Conan at launch. At first I wanted to take a wait-and-see approach but as more and more positive word-of-mouth crossed my Google Reader I started looked into the game more and became enticed at the thought of playing it. The class-less skill advancement, the deck system, the modern setting, investigative missions. They all called to me.

By the end of July I had decided that I was going to pick up TSW, at some point. I was all ready to buy it but one question held me back. Is it wise to buy a new subscription game only one month before the release of, an already paid-for, Guild Wars 2? I said “no, I’ll wait until that new-game-smell wears off of GW2 before jumping into TSW,” and was satisfied with my decision. That was until Funcom went ahead and threw a free-trial/celebration weekend into the mix.

I installed the client, logged in, created Chester “Cheka” Kasorski, and entered London. My first thought was that the game runs significantly better than I had expected from my experience in one of the beta weekends and AoC. I picked my starting weapon and, taking some “I wish I knew this when I started” advice from the forums, I then grabbed one of each weapon from the Crucible and headed off the Kingsmouth.

TSW has really impressed me. All of the little things that enticed me are there but what really makes the difference is the quest log/system. I enjoy the investigative missions; I didn’t think I’d like googling clues to solve puzzels but it feels very organic and natural. I’ve found that the one story, one dungeon, one active and three side mission quest log encourages exploration and makes you focus more on the mission at hand, which greatly adds to immersion. The mission system is truly new and different, it gives the game a very unique feel and I can’t but to think that this is what MMO vets must have felt when WoW was fresh and new with the great innovation of quest-based gameplay.

I was sold. While it may be a little stupid to pick up a new MMO only weeks before I’ll be starting another one, TSW is offering me a unique enough experience that I feel comfortable being able to get the most out of both TSW and GW2 at the same time. So, with my MMO funk broken, Sunday night I bought a game key and subscribed to The Secret World.

So the question left now is “what is an altoholic to do in such a single-character centric game?” Well, that’s a post for another day.

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Rumors of my Demise

Yeah, so there aren’t any rumors but it has been a while since I’ve posted. The past month has been rough but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Without getting into the gory details: the problem I’ve been having at work has been fixed and I’m happy with the solution, a family incident that occurred recently will never be resolved but at least there’s some closure now, and my home improvement project is now on track to be completed next week. Soon enough I’ll be back to a normal gaming schedule.

So what has the schedule looked like lately?

Goodbye Yellow Lightsaber

I’ve officially cancelled my SWTOR account. I don’t hate the game or anything, I just haven’t been having much as much fun and wasn’t logging in. I’ve got a couple of weeks left in  my sub so I’ll give the LFG tool a try before leaving but it’s time for a break. I hope to give it another try sometime in the near future, and would still highly recommend it to anyone considering giving it a try.

Bioware sent me a survey asking why I was leaving and what it would take to get me back. Two of my reasons are thing I’m sure they’ll never “fix”: playable Yodas and Wookies, damn you Lucas! Other than that I stated my disappointment in the Legacy system: I was really hoping for an alternative advancement for altoholics rather than a credit-sink and incentive for bored 50s to re-roll. I also requested that they add my favorite GW2 feature: downranking. At the end of the day I kept burning out on characters because I was out-leveling content faster than I could complete it so any kind of downranking or mentoring system would be much appreciated.

Roll Out (How did I never before notice that WoT stole the Autobot’s catchphrase?)

I’ve adjusted my focus in World of Tanks yet again. Mediums, with a side of TDs. I’ve got my M4, PzIII/IV, PzIV, and AMX40 all in rotation along with a T82, M8A1 and Hetzer. As soon as I elite the T82 I’m going to pick up a BT-2 and start on the Soviet medium line.

I dread the AMX40 every time I login. It has replaced the M3 Lee as my most hated tank. Even fully upgraded it’s slow and can barely damage anything, it doesn’t help that most of the time I’m matched up against high tier tanks as the tier IV light. The big difference between the two tanks for me is that somehow I actually did pretty well in the Lee. It seemed that I would get at least one metal in every match, even getting a Billotte’s Metal on my last match with it (my only epic metal to date). So even though I wasn’t having much fun with the Lee there was some consolation in the fact that I was at least doing well, not so much with the AMX40. I’ll just keep plugging along until I can trade up to that AMX 12t and the reasons why I’m playing the French line.

Which Road?

I’ve been interested in getting back into Rift and have even been playing Rift Lite lately. I’m still enjoying my little forays into Rift but keep finding that I’m really not enjoying the Cleric. My old main was a Cleric and I’d like to get him ready for Storm Legion but every time I try playing a Cleric I find myself logging out with little-to-no desire to log back into Rift at all. If I go back to Rift I’ll probably be playing a warrior and trying to get him to 50 before the expansion comes out but I’m a little weary about my feelings toward the Cleric right now. The experience has me thinking about another game I’d like to get back into and get ready for the up coming expansion.

I like to start by saying: I like Pandas; I didn’t see the Mists of Pandera announcement and think “oh, Kung Fu Panda in WoW,” I saw Kung Fu Panda and thought “oh a movie about Pandaren, I wish they were playable in WoW.”

The primary reason I stopped playing WoW and have had little desire to return was that the design direction of the Druid class had hit the tipping point, for me, from the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” type of hybrid to the “can specialize in any role” hybrid. I even missed having spell power and intellect on my feral gear. While they’re not turning the ship around, MoP is seeming to re-introduce some of that overlap between specs that I used to enjoy so much. It’s worth a look and that has me wanting to give the game another try, level my Druid to 85 (and see how things stand with my Shaman, Warlock and DK), mess around a little at 85 (since I never did that) and get prepped for MoP.

I do want to pick both games back up sometime this year but the question is “which one now?”. I want to return to Rift as a more long-term gaming plan, something I will play until GW2 releases (and maybe continue after since there’s no sub for GW2). I just want get back into WoW to prep for the next expansion with no intention of staying long-term.

So does it make more sense to take care of my business in WoW and then move onto Rift to stay there comfortably, or should I just jump back into Rift, with all the cool stuff in 1.9, and then get my WoW house in order when the pre-expansion world events start happening?


Big Bada Boom

Tanks, turrets and flame throwers; that seems to have been the theme last week. As anticipated, I didn’t get much gaming in but that’s not to say I didn’t get any in. Even though my feed reader keeps filling up faster than I can go through it I did get some game time in. Though no WvW for the BWE.

Didn’t I have an empty garage slot?

I started my garage cleaning in World of Tanks, and immediately started filling it back up. USA TDs, here I come. I’ve been seeing a lot M8A1s zipping around and think that might be fun thing to try so I bought a T82 and started at it. But that’s not my main focus right now. The hit-and-run flanker play-style of the French lights and mediums appeals to me. That’s how I play my PzIII and M4 so the prospect of a tank actually designed for that play style is enticing. Last week I moved from the AMX38 to the AMX40 so it’s just one more tier to go. I have heard that there are many people out there who assume that French lights are the same as the other nations and berate players who use their French lights as force multipliers instead of scouts. Hell, I even got called a noob for the crapy radio (that was fully upgraded) and slow speed of my AMX40.

Rift Wars: Knights of Telara.

Yeah, I didn’t get a single chance to login to either SWTOR or Rift. This week I’d like to finish up Nar Shaddaa on my Assassin and, since I’ve been itching to play them, dust off my 37 Shield Spec Vanguard and 22 Sawbones Scoundrel. I’m still interested in going back to Rift for a little while in July so I’d like to roll up a Warrior and see where that takes me.

Go to plan B.

BWE 2 Score Board

A typical WvW score board during BWE 2.

First the bad news, none of my plans for Guild Wars 2’s second BWE came to fruition. Now the good news, I got to play more than anticipated and had a lot of fun with something I wasn’t expecting.

As I posted on Saturday, there wasn’t much WvW to be had on my shard: Tarnished Coast. We dominated WvW by what I can only assume was shear force of numbers, since the one time I saw action there it was just a zerg, and every time I opened the WvW pannel it was all us.

So Instead of jumping into WvW I ended up just running around and PvE-ing most of the time. During the first weekend I created one each of the four professions that I was most interested: Guardian, Mesmer, Engineer and Warrior. My intention from the start was to play a Guardian and I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. I also greatly enjoyed the Mesmer and decided that would be one of my day-1 professions. The Warrior and Engineer didn’t impress me as much. I enjoyed both but walked away thinking that neither would be a big focus for me.

My Engineer running through Divinity's Reach

My Engineer running through Divinity’s Reach

But there was something about the Engineer that called me back. In other games I’ve always been turned off by engineer type classes but then enjoy them if I try so I thought I’d give Engineer another shot. I’m glad I did. Once I started to get the hang of switching between kits while fighting and choosing the right kit to complement my weapon and situation everything started to fall into place. I found myself ignoring the hearts and just fighting stuff for the fun of it. It was one of the few times I’ve ever grinded just for the fun of combat.

Things were a little different in sPvP. On Sunday afternoon I got around to playing some structured PvP and could not get into the grove with the Engineer. I fumbled around and got destroyed, contributing virtually nothing to the group. The Warrior was just the opposite, everything just clicked once I entered the Mists. I had a blast and did well with the Guardian too, even if I did get a little cocky when I tried to take on half the enemy team by myself. So a tentative plan for the next BWE event is to figure out the Engineer in PvP and give the Warrior a shot in PvE.

Being a beta still one would expect a certain level of roughness but the game was running incredibly smooth. The only hitch I encountered was connection issues on Sunday evening. Based on general chat it seemed that I wasn’t the only one. Over the course of a half hour or so the problems not only persisted but expanded, culminating in a crash to desktop. After the crash I started the client back up and everything was smooth again. Hopefully they’ll get that issued ironed out.

Looking back it seems that I played a lot more than I thought I did last week. But maybe it wasn’t the quantity of gaming, just the quality.


When it rains, it pours…

I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for regular posts and the first one, and as of yet the only one implemented, is that my first post of the week should be a review of what I did the previous week and weekend. Real life, of the most serious variety, stepped in last week and made that first post of the week also my last. I was also unable to play much: my Sith Assassin gained half a level, I created but didn’t play a Dwarf Rogue in Rift and I got a handful of World of Tanks matches in. Since I don’t have anything to share about what I’ve been playing I thought I’d share what I’m planning.

Is that a Marder II on cinder blocks?

I got an okay session of World of Tanks in yesterday, only a handful of matches but I felt good about it afterward. I did realize one thing though: my garage is a fucking mess. When I first started last summer I gave each nation’s tier I tank a try and then decided to attempt to elite the entire German tree, with a focus on the tanks. I’m currently sitting with a Wespe, Hetzer, Panzer III/IV, Panzer IV, Leopard, and various old tanks from the journey (the Panzer III being the only old one I actually ever play). And of course being the altoholic that I am I branched out: I “needed” a Sherman, wanted to give Soviet heavies a try, and their lights, and when I started back up I wanted to try the French tanks. So now I’m just a tank pack rat with a full garage.

Time for some cleaning.

Step one: sell all of the old tanks I’m saving “in case I want to play them again later.” I play the Panzer III, and even bought a camo skin for it, so I’ll keep that one but the rest have to go.

Step two: decide my goal tanks and the progression paths I want to follow. Elite-ing the entire German tree is a fool’s errand, especially when I’m not running a premium account. I don’t even like playing arty and although I enjoy TDs, I have to be in the right mood for them and I’m more interested in the US tree. The the new plan for the German tree is to get a Tiger. I’m going to elite and then sell my Wespe, Leopard and Hetzer, shelf my Panzer III/IV (until I later come back to work toward a Panther) and focus on my Panzer IV to progress toward the Tiger. I haven’t progressed far in the Soviet tree (just a T-46 and a T-50) so i’m just going to stop it for now. I’ve barely progressed on the T-50 so I’ll sell it to free up the space while I’ll unlock everything for the T-46 before selling it. I’ve come to really enjoy the Sherman so I’m going to stick it out with the US mediums and continue down that path. I’ve started on the French medium tree and plan to continue to try and get a feel of them.

So my goals for World of Tanks are: (1) clean shop, (2) get a Tiger, (3) progress all the way down the US medium tree and (4) give French mediums a fair shake.

I can taste the freedom.

As much as I’ve been enjoying my little sabbatical into Rift Lite, and am excited about the upcoming expansion, I’m trying not to get hooked. My SWTOR sub is up in July and I’m finding myself excited about being liberated from a subscription. I’ve had at least one active MMO subscription running constantly since I started playing WoW in July of 2005. The big reason I’m excited is for the freedom from feeling like I have to play game X to get my money’s worth. Then again I might just wait for Guild Wars 2 to go subscription free.

Stepping into the Mists

I already know I’m not going to have much, if any, gaming time next weekend. I originally had some grandiose plans for the second Guild Wars 2 BWE but have paired them back, maybe next time. Instead, if I get some time to play, I’ve got a very short list of what I want to see: PvP.

I never got around to PvP during the first BWE and only stepped into the Mist for about 1/2 an hour during the stress test. This time I’d like to try taking my Guardian and/or Engineer into both sPvP and WvW. We’ll see how things pan out.

So that’s about it for now. I’ve got a couple of plans for the blog this week: take more screen shots for posts (I know I’m horrible about that), complete the blogroll (lots of NBI blogs to add), add podcasts to the blogroll, and follow my desired basic post schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


The Feral Assassin

What a beautiful holiday weekend. Great weather, good food, wonderful company and tasty beverages (every grocery store in town had New Belgian beers on sale, now available in cans!). The only hitch was two little thunderstorms that both miraculously timed themselves perfectly for when I was grilling dinner on two separate nights, but at least they helped keep me cool. Between the holiday and coming off a busy week at work I didn’t have time to blog, hell I’m even behind on reading blogs right now, but I did get some gaming time in.

Khem Val Hates Me

So my Assassin has crossed level 20, 22 to be exact at this point, and moved onto Nar Shaddaa. Belsavis was fun, slow to start but I enjoyed it in the end. I got to “enjoy” the greatest affection change I’ve yet to see from a companion: -160 Khem Val for a light side choice, and that was right after we had a little chat about mercy. Sure I could have just dismissed him and avoided the lost but that breaks immersion and cheapens the experience.

Leveling has been proceeding well. I’m still not doing Flashpoints and Warzones, skipping Heroics and Bonus series, and not exploring and I’m almost not out leveling content faster than I can complete it. I still had a quest log full of greens when I finished Belsavis but I’m sitting with proper-leveled quests right now. I still think it’s absurd that I have to skip so much content just to not out level zones; I can’t wait for Guild Wars 2 and their downranking system.

I think I’ve also figured out why the Assassin is clicking so well with me: it plays a lot like a feral Druid. Sure there’s no “John Madden rotation” but the same “feel” is there. I realized it one day when I was thinking: “it’s so nice to have a pocket tank so I can actually shred instead of mangle.” Yeah, so there’s that.

I also gave Commando a try. I had leveled another Trooper through Ord Mantel a while ago and stopped after picking Commando as an AC. I picked it back up last week but it just wasn’t working for me. I’ve always been more of a melee player but can enjoy ranged classes if they’re very mobile, the Commando seems to be just the opposite of that. I’m not deleting this character just yet but I won’t be playing a commando as my healer.

Defying The Cleric

We are go on Rift Lite. I patched up my client and jumped into Rift Lite. Picked a new shard and then created a Defiant Mage and a Guardian Cleric. With the cleric I instantly started falling into my old Cleric ways: Shamicar. The Mage captured my attention though. I never got far with a Mage when I subscribed so I just picked one of the soul templates and went with the flow. My limited previous experience with a Mage was as a Chloromancer so I chose one of the DPS templates, the mobile one, and just fell into it. I was shooting lightning left and right and the next thing I knew a couple of hours had flown by.

The soul templates are a great idea. I was able to just pick it up go without having to worry about exactly how I’m going to spec my character from the start. I can get the feeling of the class first and then take it from there. Sure I’m missing out on the “accomplishment” of unlocking the different souls but that felt more like a grind rather than an accomplishment, especially after they removed the quests in favor of purchasing them.

I’m looking forward to playing some more of the Mage but I might be rerolling the Cleric as a rogue: the other class I have little experience with. My desire to come back with a subscription is only being fueled by the news of a possible expansion, but that’s a discussion for another time.

On A Second Thought…

I miss how all the TV channels used to play old war movies all Memorial Weekend long. It was nice being able to turn on the TV at any time and find either The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape or Kelly’s Heroes on, but no more. So I decided to jump into some World of Tanks for a WWII fix. And then I looked at my garage: German, German, German, US, German, German, etc. Yeah, maybe rolling around in a panzer isn’t the best way to celebrate Memorial Day. So one match in my Panzer III and I was out.

So that’s about it for last week. Now time to start planning what to do in the recently announced Guild Wars 2 BWE.


Temptations of the Dark Side

Sith Assassin aboard his Fury

Done with Dromund Kaas, off to Belsavis.

Things have been going well for my little Sith Assassin. I’ve actually stuck with just playing him for the past week. Sure I was tempted to bounce around some, I had an itch to play a Smuggler, but I just reminded myself that if I stick it out with this guy then I can roll a Sith Pureblood Smuggler (and Jedi, and Bounty Hunter, and …).

I’ve been having the most fun in SWTOR since I started playing. I’ve previously stuck with Republic characters so everything Empire feels new. I’ve also been doing something a little out of character for myself: skipping stuff. I typically take my time through zones, exploring, searching for datacrons and generally making sure that I do and see everything. I’ve been a little more laid back this time around. I’ve been skipping heroics and flashpoints, I’ve only run a couple of Warzones and the only datacrons I’ve found have been the ones I passed along the way. It feels weird to be skipping so much but I’m enjoying it. Most of all because I’m not outpacing content. I finished Dromund Kaas at level 16, where all my Republic characters finished Coruscant around level 22. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable the game is when the content isn’t so far below me that it’s trivial, I might not have to skip multiple planets before finishing Act 1 this time.

I’ve stuck with light side but have found that there are few conversation choices for a Sith that cares little for the Empire or the institution of the Sith. The way I’m handling the situation is to be all nice and friendly when civilians or slaves are involved and and evil bastard if the focus is military, political or Sith. It worked well on Dromund Kaas but I’m finding that it’s leading me to a lot of dark side choices on Belsavis. I’ve also decided that my activities on Dromund Kaas have gone to my character’s head. He’s becoming more power hungry and arrogant; the dark side is tempting him. We’ll see if he can fight that temptation and stay on the light side of things.


Finding The Right Fit

I’ve hit something of a rut in SWTOR recently. It would be easy to say that it’s just burnout or GW2 anticipation building from the BWE but I think it’s something else.

More so than other MMOs, I find that SWTOR is really feeding my altoholism. The class stories and the distinct “feel” of each class lends well to this affliction, all making me want to jump from character to character constantly. That’s precisely what I’ve been doing for the past couple of months. Ever since I finished act 1 on my Vanguard I’ve been bouncing around with a little of this and a little of that. It seems that at least once a week I’m getting a “Welcome to level 10, here’s what you can do now…” email from Bioware. But nothing has been clicking.

Then I realized that there was one thing that I was avoiding: Inquisitors. I’ve been shying away from Inquisitors but the class was the tipping point of my interest in SWTOR. You see, before the open beta weekend I had no interest in playing SWTOR but I got an invite so I gave it a try. At first I logged in and rolled a Trooper, hated it and logged out. The next day I tried again and created an Inquisitor; I was hooked and placed my pre-order a few days later. I ended up deciding to go Republic at launch, I usually lean toward the underdog faction (player population wise), and didn’t look back at the Inquisitor.

Until last night that is. I picked up a little level 2 Inquisitor I created a while ago and the next thing I knew I was heading out for my final set of quests on Korriban. I think I’m going to stick with this one for a while, go Assassin for my AC and see where it takes me. I’ve decided on a general attitude to guide dialog choices. He’s bitter from his experience as a slave and doesn’t want to see others suffer as he did so he’s going lightside. He has no love for the Empire, the Sith in general or his superiors but will placate them if (1) they treat him like a person and (2) can offer him an avenue toward more power. My primary goal in lightside/darkside is seeing how/if the game lets me explore the option of playing a Sith who taps into all emotions rather than just hate.

It was a fun start and we’ll see where it goes. I won’t be logging on to play him tonight but I’m looking forward to seeing where things go from Korriban.