Saturday 29 November 2014

Today I Smiled: The Golem City

I have a big reason to smile today, as a good friend and guildmate of mine has made a preview trailer for his new young adult action/adventure novel. I've never actually heard of anyone making a video trailer to a book but I found it pretty damn neat! Please give "The Golem City" a look on youtube, and if sounds interesting to you please follow the links to get the rest of the book! :)

'The Golem City' by writer Timothy Andrews.

Friday 28 November 2014

MMOs: Cosmetic "Tax" Gold Sinks

[Added to my MMO Design Folder.]

Getting gold out of the game is always a challenge for MMOs, given the amount generated by often times simply killing critters. Or killing critters and then selling their junk to NPCs who never run out of gold to hand out (outside of some early shards of Ultima Online from personal experience). While I put aside the "gold denial" topic for another time, you are probably familiar with the usual gold sinks already present such as fast travel, goods only purchasable from NPCs (often consumables), and maybe even death tax (which seems to be phasing out).

Well, while playing Vindictus I struck upon a silly notion. Cosmetic gold sinks! "That's not new," I hear you say. Yes you can already buy haircuts or name changes or dye to color your clothes, but all of those are one off purchases, at least until you decide to change your look, name, or attire which isn't all that often in MMOs.

Gear that eventually goes *poof* or simply deteriorates to being worthless stat-wise has never been popular when I've brought it up here before but what about gear that frays, rusts, discolors, tears and chips? Even if it is the same powerful item it once was, would you still be ok wearing it if there were growing splotches of flashing pink and green? Or if all your armor slowly turned into a turd brown color with sploches of yellow, full of scratches, ding marks and holes?

Hair is a good one too. Just let it grow every x days spent in-game and the longer you don't tidy it up via NPC barber then the longer and more unkempt it goes. Male characters would have facial hair growing as well. I suppose you could opt to be bald at the start though. Leave it long enough and maybe flies even start buzzing around.

Would this simply lead to a world of bald and/or shaggily bearded hobos running around with rusty looking weapons or do you think people would pay to keep their character looking "good" (keeping in mind that regardless of looks, no stats/usability changes for players)? What do you think?

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Vindictus: Newbie Guide

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

So you've just started Vindictus, made a character, maybe fought a giant spider already, and are now in the town of Colhen wondering what is next? Here are some tips that hopefully help someone out there. Note: The information here is based on the US servers.

Don't Use Steam
This is dependent on your setup of course but I find that Steam lags me. Playing through Steam might be convenient, but you will get a more enjoyable experience if you play the game without it. If you installed it via Steam, have no fear. You can go to \Steam\steamapps\common\Vindictus\en-US and run Vindictus.exe from there. Moves that make you travel big distances are more likely to disconnect you than any other (like Kai's dodge grapple), so if latency is an issue for you keep this in mind.

Free Gear
You will notice pretty quick that gold is pretty hard to come by. Indeed, apart from the loose change you might pick up in missions you won't be getting paid for your work until you reach level 20. This is an intentional anti-bot method applied to the game. To balance it out, you can "shop" with Ceara at the Mercenary Outpost to get free equipment - as much as you want! Make the most of it because once you reach level 20, all of it becomes unusable to you. Not to worry though because at that stage the gold starts flowing in.

Go Questing
All quests are a good source of EXP and Gold. Some just involve talking to people to complete. Press "M" to view the list of what you have to do. I strongly recommend doing all the optional quests too. Most are collection quests for items that you can simply buy at the Marketplace. Obviously use your best judgement but most are a good trade off for gold vs time loss and EXP gain.

Use the Marketplace
All items have two values, a sell price (the price if sold to the NPC) and a market price (the average price on the market). Many items have a higher market price than the NPC sell price so make use of it! As mentioned before, also use it to buy quest items to save you some time and effort. You won't be able to do this in Season 2, where you are forced to farm all quest items yourself. Don't worry about the gold. It will come on its own. Unless you intend to craft yourself, then you might need to be more clever than I am here. 

You will eventually come to areas that require "jumping". While there actually used to be a Jump function that has been removed. Instead just use your evade (Space) or sprint (double tap direction) in the direction of the gap and hopefully you will clear it. Of course this will only work if you are starting from a higher ledge than the one you are aiming for. As there is falling damage you should practice this early on. Later gaps will be fatal if you fail to clear them.

Check your inventory ("I" key) for an Honorbound event ticket. If you have one, use it! It will ask you to name someone who introduced you to Vindictus. The named person and yourself will recieve very useful bonuses every level you gain. If you are playing with a partner then name each other, or a friend you play with. If you have no one else to name then please name me "Josephsky" (if you are on US East)!

Carraige Driver is a Liar
The path to Rocheste is -NOT- dangerous and is only home to sheep. Feel free to run it on foot.

That's it for now! More tips, especially for archer characters, will be coming up soon! :)

Monday 24 November 2014


For the past month I've been playing the free to play action MMO "Vindictus" a fair bit and obviously find it quite cool. That said it I also see that it has its fair share of problems. The town hubs really serve as the main MMO aspect of the game, where players can interact and pick up quests. All the action itself is packed away into segmented instances hosted by the party leader, so two parties adventuring in the same place will never meet by chance for example.

You will also be stuck with whatever class restrictions you chose at the start. For instance, I made a Kai (bow wielder), and while I can customize his appearance to be slightly more unique, I am restricted to bows as my primary weapon and can never use weapons or armor of the other classes. As expected, the story is quite linear too and the side quests while being optional and grindy, are really optimal places to get EXP and gold from. While most battles are repeatable, none of the quests are. Much like the action, the story starts pretty slow but ramps up very nicely as you go through the game.

The combat itself is one of the big highlights for me, specifically the numerous boss fights. Really, none of the regular mobs have caused me any problems but the bosses require some good timing, concentration and on the later ones (season 2) some light planning. These are made more awesome by the fantastic sound track in the game. I like that they opted to not play any background music while actually running a mission and only to turn on the awesomeness once you reach a boss.

You can find the music under Vindictus/en-US/sound/bgm/

I do take issue that they put mandatory raids as part of the main story which is a bit of a downer since I absolutely hate the whole notion of raids to begin with. These also serve as pseudo walls to my enjoyment as it is very dependent on other people taking part. Given that the story is the my main reason for playing it, having stupid blocks like this only serve to drive players like me away. There's also a very tangible "pay to win" factor in the game in that people with NX cash can pay to be revived (or to revive the entire party) within mission.

I think Mabinogi (to which it is related) also beats it in one aspect: the "Life" part. The question of "after you finish the story, what is there to do" leaves a bit of a blank for me in Vindictus. It's the reverse in Mabinogi, where there seems to always be too much to do! Anyway, Vindictus is my "flavor" at the moment so you can expect more posts related to it coming up!

Sunday 23 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Aftermath

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

With no one on the throne again, Queen Anora quickly claimed it as her own and held a celebration to honor our victory. I also convince her to strip all lands and titles from the Howe family and give them all to the restored Cousland line, namely to Lord Ferghus Cousland. Yup, my big brother somehow survived and sat out of everything but is a-ok now. I bid him and Oghren, who decided to become a general in the Queen's army, farewell to continue my travels elsewhere with Quickly and Leliana.

In the months that followed the Queen proved to be a good ruler for the people, even providing the Dalish with new lands to settle in but the untrusting elves remained restless there. King Harrowmont didn't fare as well, isolating the dwarves further from the surface. He tried rebuild the Anvil of the Void to catastrophic results and was under threat of an exalted march by the Templars for harbouring free mages. Eventually he was killed by poisoning.

Knight-Commander Greagoir retired and died of old age while Arl Eamon had another gifted child. This one he gave to the newly built Circle of Mages as his wife Isolde died during the birth. As for Ferghus I heard he didn't make such a good lord at all, hitting the drink pretty hard and breaking things left and right. Eventually he left for a different land to become a blacksmith of all things! Well it's been awhile since I've seen him. Maybe I should go pay him a visit?

90%(?) chance of repairs! :P

Here ends the Tales of this Blight. Maybe it will continue it one day.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: The Price of War

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

With 50 Redcliffe Soldiers, 50 Dalish elf archers, 50 Dwarven Warriors and 16 Templars behind me I decide to try clear as much of the city as I can before chasing down the archdemon. The darkspawn on the firey streets are all pretty tough, numerous and later on well entrenched, but we persevere - slaying two enemy commanders before marching up to Fort Drakon, the top of which was where the archdemon was last spotted crash landing after Riordan managed to wound the creature. Alas, the Grey Warden himself did not survive the attempt.

Somehow Leliana managed to squirrel herself back to the entry gate too, just as darkspawn reinforcements were coming in but between her, the handful of Denerim soldiers and Quickly, who had transformed into a mighty beast during his long down time, they are no match and are easily driven back. Leliana then magically made it back to the rest of us in time to storm the fort itself, fighting our way past elite darkspawn until finally reaching the roof.

The archdemon was a beast to combat, but thanks to Arl Eamon, Knight-Commander Greagoir, my archers and emplaced ballista it was brought down easily enough even with darkspawn reinforcements coming to its aid. King Alistair, being the "older" Grey Warden and not actually wanting to be king anyway opted to end the beast by stabbing it in the face. An effective move against pretty much everything! With a big explosion, he and the archdemon died and the remaining darkspawn - now leaderless - fled the city. Victory was ours!

Everyone else up there somehow survived.

Friendly losses incurred were: Riordan, King Alistair, 13 of his Templar brothers, 28 elves, 28 dwarves and all the soldiers from Redcliffe.

*Sorry Rakuno: That was a very short summary to eat popcorn to. :P

Friday 21 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Beginning of the End

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Riordan shares with Alistair and myself why Grey Wardens are needed to stop the blight. It is specifically because to ultimately kill an archdemon, the last blow must be struck by a Grey Warden or the fiend will simply reform itself elsewhere. Ultimately, whoever does that also dies due to some absurd magical reason. Morrigan claims that she knows of a blood ritual spell that can save one of us from dying, it just requires sex. Man that sounds like an awesome spell.

However it also turns out that this will result in an "old god" being reborn so I'm not keen on it. Especially the "blood magic" part. Despite my best negotiation attempts, Morrigan gets upset by me not letting her do her ritual and leaves on the eve of the battle. Oh well. It's not like mages are a necessity anyway.

Not willing to be making any more "old gods" thank you very much!

The next day sees the army march forth to Denerim which is already in flames. After rushing the gates and defeating the outer most of the darkspawn horde it is clear the army is badly out numbered. Riordan suggests the only way to win is to go after the archdemon directly and advises I take a small team with me to try do so.

It falls upon Quickly to defend the gates, though Leliana claims she can command the defense there to prevent darkspawn reinforcements from appearing while at the same time joining me deeper in the city. That will be an interesting feat!

Thursday 20 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Ye Olde Rope-a-dope

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Since Anora will serve as another divider among the lords which cannot be dealt with right now, King Alistair orders her locked away in a tower for the time being while we deal with the blight. We make one last detour though to rob the Tears of Andraste from the pompous lord who set up an ambush for us last time - a pretty easy task. After anonymously donating the artifact to the chantry we head to Redcliffe to fight the darkspawn horde.

Sure enough the village has already fallen by the time we get there. Despite the numerous enemies present they are all lowish level making it a joy to wade through and slaughter. Clearing the castle courtyard is also just as easy. Fortunately the soldiers stationed there kept them out of the castle proper and soon, all the darkspawn are defeated! It is too early to rejoice though as Riordan, a visiting Grey Warden who I previously rescued from Arl Howe's dungeon, arrives to tell us that the main bulk of the horde is heading towards Denerim and there's no way we'll reach it with our forces in time to defend the walls.

We be clever!

That doesn't mean we're not going to try though, and plan to march at first light. This would be the last night before the great battle. Sharing a drink with Oghren, I learn he loves the surface and intends to find some old flame after our victory. At least he's optimistic!

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Matters of Leadership

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Before returning to Arl Eamon's estate I sort out a few other leadership issues first for the local thieves guild and the Blackstone Irregulars, killing the upstart faction leaders. I also decide to hand in all the evidence of the Mages Collective who previously were enjoying freedom from non monitored magic to Knight-Commander Tavish who is overjoyed at having someone to hunt and destroy.

I also make a pit stop at the local tavern where many of the visiting lords are relaxing, handing in tokens of their relations that I had freed from Howe's prison to earn their favor before letting Arl Eamon officially beginning the Landsmeet at the palace. It is a big event with lots of people in attendance and Loghain at every turn trying to win votes to his side. Too bad for him I'm simply better and win 5/1. El Presidente would be proud.

Loghain doesn't take defeat lightly and chooses to have a duel against me which I allow. Too bad the supposedly "great" general cannot detect stealth so it is easy for me to take him down, finishing him with a strong nut-shot kick. Humiliated, he surrenders himself for punishment and despite my best efforts to please Anora by not executing her dad, Alistair decides to claim the crown for himself (which I support) and as his first act - beheads the traitorous Loghain.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Alien Export

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Talking to Queen Anora at Arl Eamon's estate I am convinced she genuinely wants to stop the madness of her father. After easily proposing a marriage between her and Alistair as that would be the strongest candidate against Loghain at the Landsmeet, she first sends us to the elven alienage (slums) to find out what sort of schemes Loghain had going in there and why things got so bad that it had to be closed for so long.

Apart from meeting a hilarious group of beggars and assisting a near blind templar to cleanse a number of buildings of evil spirits and demons, I can focus all my attention on the supposed plague within, as well as group of Tevinter Imperium troops (overseas empire) who claim to be helping cleanse the sick via magic. With a bribe and a bit of snooping it becomes clear that is not what they are doing at all. They are slavers!

As expected, I carefully annihilate them all - especially the ones that try talk to me to stop the madness. Their leader ultimately reveals they are there legitimately as they struck a bargain with Loghain. He tries to make all sorts of deals too to spare himself at the end, and once more to Morrigan's disapproval I decline all of them - opting instead to eradicate such scum from existence.

Monday 17 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Break in Bad

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Soon after settling in at Eamon's estate, a handmaiden of Queen Anora - Loghain's daughter and widow of King Cailan, arrives asking us to free her from her imprisonment at Arl Howe's estate. I agree to it but get side tracked in robbing someone else's mansion first - only that whole job is a trap forcing a pretty big fight against the ambushing guardsmen to escape. Of course I make sure to kill -all- guardsmen before escaping just to make a point.

After the warm up round we go to Arl Howe's estate and initially are very cautious about killing anyone, using guard disguises and everything. Unfortunately Queen Anora's room is sealed magically which means having to kill Howe's magician who is currently with him in the dungeons below. The guards there see right through the ruse too, and put up a decent fight but are ultimately all killed like the scum they are. It helps that Morrigan's AOE blizzard hits through walls. Their boss, Arl Howe, dies as unceremoniously as the rest which leaves my thirst for vengeance quite strong.

Blood lust activated!

There are a few prisoners down there too, most with political ties so I free all but one who seems like a scum anyway. That one I execute on the spot. Before freeing Anora I also meticulously go through the top floor, not just raiding Howe's treasury but killing ALL the guards who worked for him (apart from the 2 non combat ones) both inside and outside the mansion before freeing the Queen.

Loghain's female bodyguard, Ser Cauthrien, shows up with a good number of soldiers at that point and tries to arrest me. Stupid bitch, only pussies surrender! She and all her minions are easily torn to pieces with good tactics that exploit their flawed "stand here and guard, no matter what" AI. Rescue complete.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: People of Importance

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

The assembly of lords at Orzammar listen to the tale of how I sort of killed two of their Paragons and destroyed one of their legendary artifacts and are then forced to swallow that I get to pick who their next king is, regardless of their previous voting. Obviously I chose Harrowmont and Bhelen and his supporters get so upset that they are moved to violence right there and then! After all of them violently die, Harrowmont agrees to assist in the war against the darkspawn. I even convince the Dead Legion commander to do the same.

Damn this thing is heavy!

I take a tour of the palace afterwards and find a poisoned noble lady within. Fortunately she doesn't need some hard to get holy ashes, just reagents and herbalism to sort her out. With nothing left to do here I decide to first visit Denerim again to try finish up any out standing side quests such as getting drake and dragon scale armor constructed, as well as meeting a boss figure of the Antivan Crows assassin group who tries to hire me. Needless to say I make sure he and his cronies do not leave the encounter alive.

Since lots of areas are still closed off to me, I decide to ultimately return to Arl Eamon and get him to call for the Landsmeet and travel with him to his estate back in Denerim. Lots of back and forth, I know! Loghain, his female body guard, and Arl Howe come to welcome us right away in person. After exchanging a few, not so polite or subtle words they leave and it's time to work on uniting the land!

Saturday 15 November 2014

Today I Smiled: Music to my Ears

Hi all! Just another short break from the Tales of the Blight story. Don't worry, it will be back tomorrow!

What has me smiling today are a few things, the first of which is something my cousin sent me... Terry Crews and the Power of Music, which is just as WTF as the rest of his Old Spice commercials. If you actually listened to all of that and had an earfull of Mr. Crews yelling at you then I have the best thing to heal your ears: Malukah's rendition of Pippin's Song - The Edge of Night.

On top of that, I've just discovered the music folder of a particular game that has awesome music. The name of the game? Vindictus. I'll be talking about that more after I finish the Tales of the Blight, but for those who actually have it and are not aware - you can access all the cool mp3 tunes under the Vindictus/en-US/sound/bgm folder. A similar folder exists for Mabinogi namely Nexon/Mabinogi/Mp3 if you wanted to hear those ones.

Lastly, I did a second board game attempt and it was a dismal failure! Mechanics all wrong, boring game play, and too many moving pieces. Back to the drawing board for me! :P

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Friday 14 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: I'll be Back

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Back at Orzammar we have to execute a few of Jarvia's supporters before finding our way back to the Deep Roads. Thankfully with most of the darkspawn heading topside, nothing here has respawned and it is just a simple task of jogging all the way back to that Brood Mother who stopped us last time. She has no such luck now as we are higher level, better equipped, and literally are exploding with health potions. Morrigan even has a group healing spell now so that fat tentacled thing is toast in no time!

Eventually we find Paragon Branka who is still alive, having spend all this time using her own clan to test the traps Paragon Caridin left to guard the Anvil of the Void, which Branka is obsessed about. She forcefully enlists us too, and after fighting through a ton more darkspawn (because that's not getting old *ironic voice*) I finally reach the easily disarmable traps (for our level) and find said anvil and Paragon Caridin who has now had his soul put into a golem.

For the Emperor?

Turns out this anvil requires the death of dwarves to be put into golems and that doesn't sit well with Caridin or myself, which makes us ally against Branka when she comes bouncing along to try claim it for herself. After she is killed by her ex-husband Oghren, I help caridin to destroy the device by... hammering it? Um. Ok. But not before he fashions a fancy crown to help me sort out the dwarf king issue back at the city. Caridin then offs himself by jumping into some lava. Very terminator.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Not so Simple

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

The only thing left between us and the Urn of Andraste's Sacred ashes is a gauntlet meant to test pilgrims who have come to pay tribute, and boy what scummy tests they are. The first room is one of riddles which is solved easily enough if you listen to the question enough times. Then there's a part where you fight your doppelganger (because Andraste is a sadist I guess) followed by an irritating bridge building puzzle that took me ages to solve.

I hate you, logic puzzle!

Only after all of that do we finally get to our objective, and with a pinch of the sacred ashes in hand we return immediately to Redcliffe and cure Arl Eamon who is brought up to speed rather quickly about all the events that transpired while he was in his coma. He's a pretty cool dude, and is not too upset about me hacking up his demon possessed kid earlier. He even suggests calling a Landsmeet at Denerim to get all the lords to rally together and put an end to Loghain's civil war, as well as putting Alistair forward as king.

I say that's all well and good and to go call it, but he refuses until I use up all the treaties I'm carrying to get more allies. Damn, he means the dwarves doesn't he? Oh well. Without any choice we head back to Orzammar, dealing with random darkspawn forces on the road AND in camp on the way. Looks like the archdemon is starting to think we're a threat if he's sending monstrous assassins after us.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Cult of the Dragon

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Our next stop is the small mountain village of Haven, following a lead to find some holy ashes to cure Arl Eamon. I decided to bring Alistair and Leliana for their chantry background and Morrigan for her spells on this mission. The villagers are outright weird and unfriendly and it isn't long before they turn to trying to murder us just like they've been doing to some others. I find one brother Genitivi a prisoner in their chantry and after learning that the ashes are close in a nearby ruin, I send the injured man back to Denerim for his own safety.

After purging the village of all life we do find more cultists and their pet dragon kin in the ruin and do the same. Turns out this cult worships dragons and believes one particularly powerful one to be a resurrected prophet. Sounds like a different group I've heard of before elsewhere...

Wonder if they are related?

Anyway, I end all of them which angers Morrigan a little bit, including their "worshipped" dragon. That turned out to be a pretty lengthy but fun optional boss fight. Alistair eventually slays the beast, leaving the way clear to reach the higher sanctum where the urn full of ashes are meant to be.

Slightly off topic: For those who play Neverwinter Online, now is a good time to remind you that the Cult of the Dragon are raising/summoning Tiamat on November 18th! :)

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Friend Zoned

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Not wanting to run out of supplies again we made a quick pit stop back with the elves after fighting past a bunch of ents to buy over 1000 units of elfroot and blowing the rest of our gold on other reagents for Morrigan to make a LOT of health poultices. While there we also violently deal with a few elves still angry at the ex-werewolves and a bunch of mercenaries from Denerim.

That reminds me to visit Denerim next where we pay a visit to Alistair's sister, Goldanna who is not too receptive of her half-brother. While I'm out doing party related quests I also decide to head over to Flemeth's hut to try make heads or tails if she is a daughter snatcher heart eater thing. She certainly gives nothing away and since she doesn't defend herself about Morrigan's accusations I can only assume they are true and face her in combat.

Oh crap.

What I didn't realize is that she could shape shift into a dragon! That at least explains how she saved us from the tower near the start. It's a pretty decent fight and though our resident mage was unavailable for this fight as she didn't want to face her mother, the numerous health salves already came in handy as the entire team survived the battle until Oghren finally finished the old hag off.

Morrigan was very pleased when I gave her Flemeth's real grimmoire but for some reason suddenly friend zoned me. Can't work out why (other than the "social butterfly" nature of my character) but at least Leliana hasn't done the same.

Monday 10 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Drama Camp

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Back at camp the girls are giving me issues and forcing me to pick one over the other ever since I gave that special spell book (earlier found in the mage tower) to Morrigan. Having forced my hand, I pick Morrigan over Leliana because she is simply more useful. The witch is delighted and asks me to slay her mother, Flemeth, next because apparently Flemeth likes taking the bodies of her daughters as a form of immortality. That's nice.

Alistair also shares that Grey Wardens have around 30 years to live after ingesting the darkspawn juice, because well... its poison. The older wardens feel the taint get stronger and thus are drawn to the deep roads to go out killing as many dark spawn as possible. While on the subject he mentions he has a sister in Denerim that he wants to visit before things go bad.

I'm the pretty one!

Meanwhile Oghren is so drunk that he hasn't realized he's no longer in the Deep Roads, and Leliana is broken up for the shortest time before she decides to share an elven song with the party, and then continues to bed me. Wait what? Did I break the game or something? Oh well, not complaining! ;P 

Quickly doesn't care. He's a dog, and he's always happy. :D

Sunday 9 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Sod the Dwarves

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Kinda getting sick of all these tunnels and darkspawn now, and as we come across the great bridge of the Dead Trenches where we assist a handful of Dead Legion dwarves cross into the enemy line we see the staggering number of darkspawn marching below - following the call of the "archdemon" dragon (who luckily doesn't notice us despite having some sort of psychic link). The dwarves aren't that keen on helping us find Branka, whose trail leads deeper into enemy territory so it's soon just my squad again making slow progress through the irritating zig zag path.

The design also lends itself to cheap traps like spawning enemies out of thin air to flank you. Fortunately all are triggered harmlessly by my solo stealth scouting. After a lot of effort we finally reach the end and find a crazed dwarf (second crazy one we meet down here) who is going loony from not just eating darkspawn but also her fellow kin. She blames all of this on paragon Branka whose trail leads deeper still. Only one problem, there's a hideous tentacled broodmother boss in the way.

Come to mamma!

Try as we might, we simply don't have the firepower or health potions to shave off the last 5% of her life. Eventually I simply throw my hands up in the air and yell "Sod the dwarves!" and take my team not just back to Orzammar, but elsewhere entirely. I'll just let the short folk vote for their next king and force him to acknowledge the treaty, surely that would be less work.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Into the Deep

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

While Lord Harrowmont was happy with the result he needed to swing more voters to him and tasked me to next take down Jarvia's crime syndicate which operated out of dust town. It took a little while to find the entry to her secret lair, not helped by getting attacked by Prince Bhelen supporters, and an even longer while to clear the whole place before finally finding the crime lord and defeating her in what was a pretty decent showdown thanks to her hard to detect/disarm traps.

Harrowmont still needed more though and next tasked me to find Paragon Branka who took her entire clan into the Deep Roads two years ago. The same Deep Roads that the darkspawn are always in... great. Approaching the entrance we are stopped by a drunk warrior named Oghren, Branka's ex-husband, who demands to come along as he has been waiting for the day to search for her. He also claims his knowledge can help track her down so I accept, sending Quickly back to camp to keep Leliana company - and to keep an eye on Schmooples!

Just look at that fiendish face!

It's not long before we run into decently tough darkspawn, shrieks, and raptor like deep stalkers in the winding maze of claustrophobic tunnels. We also start finding bagged body parts which is a bit unsettling. At Carradin's Cross we also run into some of Prince Bhelen's cronies who are a nice change from the numerous darkspawn we've been fighting on the way. Deeper in, the giant spiders, stone golems and dwarven spirits also help break the monotony a little but it still feels really grindy. Actually the spider queen down here puts up a very tough fight, and only through throwing blizzards around the corner do we manage to beat it!

Friday 7 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Gladiator

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Next stop was the Frostback Mountains and the gateway to the dwarven city of Orzammar. After eliminating some bounty hunters on the road we find the gates to the city closed due to the death of their king. There's also a small group of Loghain's men trying to get in to gain favour but while they are denied, my team bearing the Grey Warden treaties are accepted. This causes some dispute and the deaths of Loghain's men.

Upon entering Orzammar I quickly learn about the caste structure of the dwarves, and find that in the dirt district dwarven thugs are just as pathetic as thugs of any other race. After offing a smuggler and catching a strange rabbit-pig for Leliana which she names Schmooples, it's time to get down to the business of sorting out an alliance here and that means expediting putting a king on the throne.

The candidates are Lord Harrowmont, who the previous king expicitly wanted to reign after him, and Prince Bhelen, the actual son of the former king. I'm not really sure at first who to support until I find out that Bhelen's camp wants me to lie for him. By default this means I support Harrowmont and to prove it I take part in the "Proving" arena tournament on his behalf and win the entire contest, including the optional "lesser games" (which are actually harder).

How to beat dwarf warriors: Stand a little to the side. :P

Thursday 6 November 2014

Warframe: Archwing

Time for a little break from my Dragon Age: Origins story. It will be back shortly!

"Ninjas in space" took it to another level with the release of the Archwing patch a couple of weeks back. Players are now able to take their Warframes into full space combat on select missions. To give you a better taste of it, watch this trailer.

Giant swords are more effective in space!

Yes, the Archwing is very cool - but how does it actually play? The short answer is like a space simulator. A very challenging and/or non-rewarding space simulator. In space, your warframe has none of its normal abilities. It is all dependent on the archwing type you have, and these (unlike other equipment in game) are currently unmodifiable as far as I know. The only two choices so far are the general type Odonata and the more bomber-class Elytron.

In my experience it's been a curb stomp one way or another, ranging from press "E" to win (melee is surprisingly effective) to you being alive for a mere few seconds if a swarm of enemies gets to you. That said I'm not a very good pilot, and as usual having team mates / wing men makes things a fair bit easier. One thing I'd definitely like to add is a "lock-on" alarm and missile radar to better know when to use those flares/chaff. Currently you need to eyeball that and use best guess and that's pretty tough to do when you have bogies in all directions.

All up the Archwing stuff is pretty cool, but still has a lot of room for improvement. The Archwing update also included a new type of warframe and have also put in six syndicate factions players can support / piss off. If there's anything Digital Extremes (the producers of the game) have proven, its that they LOVE updating and improving their game, and one of the main reasons I think Warframe is pretty successful. Definitely worth a try, though maybe wait a bit for the Archwing segment to improve. I have no doubt it will. ;P

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Ruined the Game

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

Urgh. Ruins. So. Stupid. Filled with spiders, undead and traps galore I learned quickly to stealth scout ahead at each room. There are also spirits speaking some sort of dead language, but none of it matters because everything is hostile. Pointless, stupidly long with the only highlight being a small dragon at one section who came with a small dragon hoard.

Eventually we managed to swim into the lair of the werewolves where we had to fight even more of the furry scum. Really? I'm thinking of just wiping them out because of how annoying it was to get here, and how annoying their entire attitude is in general. Just as I kill my, I don't know - hundredth werewolf they finally want to talk. OMG. Fine. I opt to parley and are finally taken to their leader who reveals Zathrien is the one who cursed them. All he needs to do is lift the curse to cure them and his own people.

Conveniently, Zathrien appears nearby to "check on our progress" so we bring him down to talk to the wolves. His lust for revenge is insatiable so I end up fighting him and his foresty summoned allies before he finally concedes. He lifts the curse which kills him AND the alpha wolf, but cures all the infected and returns them to normal. Really? He could have just done that from the start? WTF. Stupid, waste of time mission. Even the random Spider Queen forest encounter on the way back was more exciting.

My reaction through most of this.

Anyway the replacement elf leader agrees to honor the treaty and promises their forces against the darkspawn. Man that was annoying though. It's one of those segments that seemed to be long just for the sake of being long, and that is never a good thing.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Sit! Stay! Bad Dog!?

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

With the majority of the city still closed to us we traveled next to the to the forest to meet the Dalish elves. They are quite stand offish from the get go so I bring Leliana along for peace keeping duty, at least in the camp. Seems they have a werewolf problem and their mysterious and ancient leader Zathrien tasks us with killing the alpha wolf and get its heart to help cure his infected people. After talking to a few other elves I strongly suspect Zathrien -is- the wolf but whatever.

More importantly I find this place to be an unending supply of the healing herb elf root and spend a bit of money on it. Soon it is time to enter the woods so I task Leliana with keeping an eye on the elves while Morrigan comes along for the action. It's a decent sized zone full of werewolves, ents, some maleficar and a few undead who are really the only ones who give us any grief. Those revenants are mean! The poet tree and the mad hermit who talks in questions were pretty cool though.

Almost as cool as this fellow.

After learning they could speak early on, I tried my best to talk to the werewolves but they were only interested in trying to kill us, or running away. Eventually we tracked them to some ancient ruins where they locked themselves behind an unopenable door. Sigh. Of course there would be a way around, but it would be somewhere deep within those ruins huh?

Monday 3 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Stronger! Faster! Harder!

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

We return to Denerim and easily find Marjolaine, Leliana's ex-teacher, ex-lover and current person trying to kill her. I guide the conversation to ensure combat and while Marjolane has some cool bard based stun tricks, she's not so clever in the moving department being quite helpless as we fill her full of arrows. The rest of her cronies are easily put down without her gimmicks.

While in town and now at the highest rank lockpicking (I've been busy) I also decide to do some jobs for the fence, Slim Couldry - mainly because his targets are related to Arl Howe. The first being Howe's mistress and the second raiding a warehouse with Howe's goods. While in the vicinity I also discover a flyer about Grey Warden supporters at the Pearl. This turns out to be a trap with more of Howe's men waiting to kill anyone lured to them. He sure lost a lot of stuff today! Hehehehe!

Finally I revisit that blood mage hideout with Morrigan. The patient scum didn't change anything the whole time we were away, so it is easy to pick up where we left off. Now that the team is in better gear and higher level we manage to finally clear it out fully. To celebrate, both ladies in the party shared my tent that night, though one after the other. Not sure if you can get them at the same time?

He likes me better!

Sunday 2 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: Assassins

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

With the castle clear we were finally free to see Arl Eamon, still in a coma thanks to Loghain's poison. His wife Isolde was obviously not on speaking terms with me, so it was up to Ban Teagan to suggest I go look for some sacred ashes that might be able to cure him. That was actually the reason most of his knights were away, they were all on a grail ... erm... ash quest. Deciding that maybe one of their knights can do that we go off to do other things (small skirmishes) first like helping some refugees against darkspawn, templars against undead, and Bannorn soldiers against Loghain's troops. Then we walk into an ambush!

Look out for the counter-kills!

A pretty decent ambush with a pretty lure, a good number of skilled enemies and a bunch of well placed traps. Unfortunately for them, my party was simply better. After beating them up I question their leader, an elf assassin named Zevran about who sent him. He openly admits that it was Loghain. Actually he's a pretty funny guy. I decide to let him live by offering him a different job - assassinating Loghain. He refuses because he's scared. Pity. That means he is also useless. After many hours of torture I feed what's left of him and his buddies to Quickly then continue on.

That night Leliana confides that she is actually being hunted by a past acquaintance in Orlais (France?) and that she was an assassin. She also kisses me, despite knowing what Morrigan and I get up to. The next day, what a surprise! Another ambush. Those hunters from Orlais are kind of annoying, so despite Leliana's protests I execute the captives after we get all the information we need from them. The important one being that their employer is in Denerim.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Tales of the Blight: The Solution to Everything

[Part of my Dragon Age: Origins play through. Spoilers ahead!]

We found ourselves infiltrating the Redcliffe dungeon underneath the castle proper and immediately encounter Loghain's imprisoned man, some blood mage tutor Isolde had secretly hired to teach her son, Connor. Already knowing where this is going I decide to execute him on the spot, much to Morrigan's disdain. Then begins the arduous room by room clearing of various undead and rescuing of still trapped civilians. We also open the castle gates to let in Ser Perth and his handful of knights to assist in the rest of the cleanup though only the named knight actually survives.

In the main hall we find the possesed Connor having turned Ban Teagan into a crazed fool while his mother helplessly looks on. It's not long before he turns all the remaining guards on us before fleeing himself and in the end it is my team, Ser Perth, and Lady Isolde still standing. Ban Teagan while downed, actually survived and was back to normal. The "hard" discussion of what to do came next.

Roll against Paralyzation!

I already knew what I wanted to do. Besides the only other option according to Morrigan required a Circle of Magi - just like the one I had purged. Up the stairs we went killing off more scum and finally facing the demon in combat. When it came time to finally kill it (and the child) Isolde interrupted again, asking for another way.

I reminded her that this was her fault for hiding him from the Circle of Magi to begin with then punched her as strong as I could in the face. Lucky for her I knocked her out. She might have gone insane watching me dismembering the demon child. Alistair certainly lost it. I asked him what he would have done, and how many others would have had to die for the life of one. That shut him up, but he was definitely not happy.