Saturday, 20 December 2014

Today I Smiled: A Measure of Character (NWO Foundry)

Just spruiking my latest Neverwinter Online foundry creation which I've entered into a contest over there. Not sure if I'll win anything, but decor wise I think I've improved a lot since my first few attempts!

A Measure of Character

You have received a letter from Humberto Boffanart, a representative of the Merchant's Guild, regarding a matter involving Neverwinter City's dock districts. He has invited you to come to his office which is located in the Western part of the city.

Warning: There is a LOT of reading in this quest, a fair bit of traveling, and very, very little fighting. You are still recommended to bring potions though... just for safety.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I only recently finished this game after getting it for free from the GoG site. Initially I was thinking of doing a playthrough for it but since one of this games strongest strengths is it's story (and because Astalnar already did one), I decided against it. Instead I thought I'd do a review! This game follows the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, a "witcher" (monster hunter) of some repute, during a time of crisis for the land of Temeria as someone is going about killing all the kings in the region.

Suffering from magical amnesia might seem a little convoluted but it actually works well here as you slowly uncover more of Geralt's past as you play through the game. As a fan of the TV series (I haven't read the books, nor played the first game) Geralt and everyone in the world around him are portrayed wonderfully. The locations and environments are well detailed and fun and at times scary to explore.

Michal Zebrowski's Geralt is still the best version for me. :P

At the end of chapter 1 you are given a choice between two ways to continue. I've played through both and while you still go through the same maps as the alternate path, the story and plot points are quite different, barely coming together again at the end of the "tree". 

As expected of an RPG, there are many side quests to help gain XP, gold and other resources for crafting and there are three mini-games to break up any tedium from the main plot in the form of QTE brawling, arm wrestling, and my favourite: dice poker. I also quite like the potion system in place, which I'll bring up again in a later MMO Design post.

What I don't like? Well, for starters there is no epic or memorable music. It's just... ok? Even Neverwinter Online, which isn't really known for good music, has my wife humming the main tune every now and then - and she doesn't even play the game! The combat in Witcher 2 can also be quite challenging until you get used to Geralt's hit and run design, and all the abilities he has at his disposal. Perhaps most annoyingly, it suffers from Save Game Glut - where your saves are always put in a new slot. Each game session of mine would therefore begin with a few minutes of clearing some of the old ones out.

It's a pity that those things slightly ruin an otherwise good game. I still recommend it though, and give it four out of five silver swords. If you are only planning on playing one "path" (or are the type to only play through once) then consider it a three and a half silver swords instead.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Vindictus: Sewer Sniping

More tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

The sewers are both an excellent and a horrible place for a Kai. Apart from being tight quarters and home to some agile lizardmen assassins (who are perhaps the only trash melee mob that manage to get up and damage me in a combo), it features very few types of boss chambers. The first is little more than a slightly larger than average square room. This type sucks, and you will have to fight fairly against the usually spry (ratman kung fu dude) or cheating boss within (I'm looking at you Shadow Shaman Ingkara - who summons shadows of other bosses to help him)!

Fortunately the other type of boss room is much more favourable, and is connected by a few passages to a portion that looks like this:

The bosses in those chambers can be lured back here, and then by simply standing on a different level you can snipe them at your leisure. Only the lizard assassin boss I think has means to chase you up and down, but even then it isn't consistent, giving you ample time to displace and snipe him from

There's also one boss, Warrior Chuilin, who has a cliff. You have to be a bit speedy to make sure he is downstairs while you are up, but if you stand at this spot his AI breaks and again you can snipe the otherwise dangerous boss to death.


Lastly, the raid boss Thor - a giant electric frog, is pretty easy for a Kai player in a group. Stay away from the frog. Stay out of the water. Fire at will. Easy peasy.

Monday, 15 December 2014

MMO Design: Gold Denial

[Part of my MMO Design Folder.]

You might recall me mentioning I'd do a post about "Gold Denial" (stop players from gaining gold) a short while back, which is an alternative to a "Gold Sink" (make players spend gold on x) but I was having trouble thinking up of a valid way to do this while still letting players feel they are "improving". Fortunately for me, Cryptic has already answered that question in Neverwinter Online with the introduction of Artifact Equipment. Let's go over the basics first for those who don't play.

In that game, killing enemies gives you items and a pretty small amount of coinage. Selling said items were what really brought in your gold, especially the higher tiered, rarer gear - the rarest of which actually is more profitable to be sold for other currencies on the player market. Like Diablo, some equipment has gem slots where you can enhance various traits or damage, depending on the gem. You can also enhance the gem quality by feeding it other gems to make it stronger and to make the progress meter break through to the next "level" you need special items that cost quite a bit and face an ever increasing chance of destroying them the higher the level is.

Since gems are just commonly dropped by bad guys though you could just be patient getting them and selling the excess gear for money. With Tiamat's arrival, players now have access to potentially powerful Artifact Equipment which doesn't eat gems to advance - it eats other equipment! Specifically it eats other "identified" equipment, since most things that drop are unidentified (and you sell them that way) this also diminishes the stacks and stacks of ID scrolls (another common drop) people are carrying.

This way players still get that feeling of improvement, yet at the same time have their gold income potentially cut down to almost zero. For awhile at least. A long while. Max rank for each artifact item is 60 which counts needs a total of 4,645,200 refinement points to reach. The most common gear gives around 100 points when consumed. Given that people can and will have multiple artifact items (cloak, belt, main hand, off-hand, etc) this acts as an awesome gold prevention method - which coupled by the gold sink that is Tiamat herself (on potions and injury kits) is good design, in my book anyway.

What do you think? Should this sort of system be introduced into more games?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Life of Pi

I had no interest to see this when it first came out and only recently watched it on TV, and wow - I was very impressed. The majority of the movie is a type of flash back as "Pi" is an Indian man who for the whole film is simply recounting his early life to a visiting book writer. The story is heavy on the topic of faith and has more and more fantastic visuals as it goes on, with perhaps some of the best CGI animals that I've seen in a film ever.

The first part of the movie deals with his childhood and only about half way do we reach the iconic and important part depicted by the cover where he eventually ends up stuck in a little life boat with only a non-friendly bengal tiger for company. There are funny parts, sad parts, tense parts, and parts where you wonder what the hell Pi is doing, but it is wrapped up so neatly at the end and makes for a fantastic work of art that has had a lot of thought put into it. It's also made me totally respect Suraj Sharma (teenage Pi) as an actor.

Given that all the things I like such as gory violence, female nudity and explosions are missing from this movie then you will understand when I say I give this movie five out of five flying fish, that you should go see it if you haven't already. Totally recommended!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Vindictus: Oversized Enemies

More tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

Giant, brute type enemies like Shakkar, the Ogre centurion, and Black Hammer always seem scarier, but in a non-raid mission this might actually make things easier for you if you are a patient Kai. Simply sprint away from the bad dude in a circle. They will stomp after you, slowly gaining ground until they think you are in range for an attack. At that point they will do something that looks anything BUT walking and that's your cue to evade. Maybe twice for good measure.

No Benny Hill music plays while doing so.

Turn around, plug the flailing fool full of arrows and run again. Done right he will never hit you while you slowly whittle away his HP. Boring and not very sportsman like, but it works. Not so much against big enemies that still seem agile like gnolls and tall but thin goblins, nor in raids. :P

Friday, 12 December 2014

Today I Smiled: Competition

One thing Tiamat has brought is a small re-kindling of my NWO foundry building and I'm glad to report that the Scribes' Enclave still stands! To try show my appreciation I've joined this months mini-contest which involves making the Best Winter Home. I've made these two for people to enjoy - temporarily anyway. I will be taking them down once the contest is done to give way to actual quests.

Please note: There are no quests, monsters or reward in either of these. Just a house! :P

A Humble Abode - (NW-DTCJS6NS2) 

A Winter Home - (NW-DCBNR2ABC)

Speaking of foundry stuff, this review by Tipa (aka Brenda Holloway) of Arroway Manor also made me smile! No, I didn't win. Far from it, but still got the green level companion reward. That hasn't stopped me from joining another foundry contest, one involving the North Docks District. That one isn't finished yet but I'll be sure to post up my work here when it is!

On to non-Neverwinter stuff... I'm sure most of you have seen the "This is EVE" video by now. I don't play that game but boy that almost, almost made me jump the fence to try it. Another one that I'm on the fence for is Black Desert. Just from the first picture on Steparu's Final Beta test. I first thought it was a shot of tabletop models. Then I have to remind myself its open-pvp so... probably not. :P

Also something that probably no one (in my usual blogging circle) has seen before... female Streetstyle Freestyle final battle: Two chicks showing fantastic control with a soccer ball. Yeah, stuff like that interests me. :P

I guess I should finish off with something more Christmas-sy since it -is- the season, so here's Peter Hollens with a jazzy acapella version of Holy Night. Hope you all have a wonderful day!