That makes my Kickstarter record 2 for 2. Defence Grid delivered on their expansion, and so did Reaper.
I got the email a week ago saying Reaper’d finally shipped out my package.
As I was one of those international nutcases who got nearly one of everything extra, I was fully expecting the late ship date. I much rather they pack my stuff well and not miss out a thing, rather than face a longer process of back-and-forth emailing and shipping to get replacements.
USPS performed admirably and got the box here in one piece in a rather timely fashion.
(I’ve had the odd Amazon shipment go awry and take a month or two to arrive. Credit to them, they do send replacements quickly and generally, 95% of the shipments make it in 7-10 days or less. A wandering package gone walkabout is rare.)
My first priority was to take inventory.
This was a little tricky as I’d bought a LOT of dragons. I couldn’t remember offhand which one was Red Dragon versus There Be Dragons, fer instance.
It ended up a rather high-tech low-tech crossover with iPad in one hand as picture reference and receipt in the other, sorting one pile of white from another.
The first thing I was rather taken aback by was the heft. For plastic minis, they have a very nice solid feel to them. (Note, these are the larger “extras” minis I was sorting, so I presume there was quite a lot of resin/plastic that went into making them.)
I couldn’t resist cracking some bags open and test fitting parts. Again, to my surprise, about two thirds of the parts fit together very well and even stayed in place without any kind of adhesive whatsoever. The rest (like some heads) were a little light to lock in place securely, so I used some Blu-Tac as temporary sticky putty for the test fit.
I don’t really forsee a problem supergluing them in place later, but there’s always “green stuff” epoxy putty if it doesn’t work. Most of the joins fit together decently well, though if you’re picky, some puttying to smooth things over would be necessary. I was only not too pleased with one sculpt, which I will describe later.
The detail level was also very satisfactory for me, factoring in the material they are made out of. Fine lines like that on the dragon wing membranes have actually been picked up. Examining an elf showed that even the eyeball sockets were there. The caveat is that the details do seem a bit shallower than that on metal minis, so I suspect thin layers of paint will be in order here to not accidentally remove that detail.
For the following photos, please bear in mind that I just grabbed a camera in my excitement and mostly snapped on automatic before I ran out of charge. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to get a proper macro mode going, so stuff will be blurry and lack detail. I’ll work it out later when I get to painting.
The Hydra, Frost Wyrm and Forces of Nature sculpts were very good. Everything fit together with barely any need to resort to Blu-Tac (except the earth elemental’s head.) Everything stands upright, they have a good heft to them, and one probably won’t even need to base these guys unless one wants to.
There Be Dragons are also a nice pair of “small” dragons (compared to all the other big stuff, that is) that fit together well for the most part. You might be able to make out a bit of the black Blu-Tac (only color I had to hand) peeking out of one wing seam, but that’s about it.
I simply had to assemble this one half of the Demon pair. This guy’s wing span is incredible, dwarfing even some of the dragon’s. All the parts fit together smoothly as silk. Wings, tail, sword arms, only the head needed some Tac help staying in place.
The undead giant was impressive as all get out. I could have sworn those thin arms would not have stuck on to the sockets, but they slid in and did. And the entire torso sits snugly on a waist joint. The only thing is the hammer is a little wobbly, since the arm is quite thin.
These two, Deathsleet and Red Dragon, are slight problem children. Don’t get me wrong, the sculpts are beautiful, the wings fit (with the help of a little temporary Tac) but they have a slight balance problem. Deathsleet tends to lean over sideways and threatens to fall over. Red Dragon leans backward and the front of the base lifts off the surface.
I suspect this is the materials change causing a change in the center of gravity as compared to one made out of metal. Red Dragon could probably still be used as is (but look unsightly, I was tempted to glue a washer or two to the front underside of its base) but Deathsleet will fall over with a faint breeze. These two would definitely benefit from a nice hefty solid base.
Of this lot, the only one I struggled with and thus was not immediately thrilled by was Ebonwraith. He looks cool, no doubt about it. His wings have a fitting problem.
They also look rather identical, so I was sitting there for a while trying out both wings on each socket in different configurations, squinting at the socket joins to see which fit the best. No smooth fit like the rest of the minis had spoiled me with.
It’s not extreme, in the sense that you won’t be cutting anything in order to fit them, but it is major enough that you’ll be filling the gaps with quite a bit of putty.
On the bright side, I suppose this allows you to adjust the wings at different angles according to your preference this way.
All in all, am happy to report that everything was as it should be and none of the extras were missing. As for the Vampire box stock-take though:
Yeah, that’s going to have to wait for another night.
The 10/10 project was a dream, given form. Its goal: to broaden one’s horizons, by dedicating the short space of one evening to sample a new MMO.
The idea was to at least give MMOs you may not have cared about before a second look. Perhaps you’ll find some interesting concepts, or even a new dream MMO. Worse case scenario: the better part of a night (or two, in the case of crappy installation problems) is lost.
I got about three games in before GW2 turned me into a one MMO player, leaving the next 10/10 project MMO waiting in the wings for nearly six months.
Finding out Runes of Magic was hogging 9GB of my disk space was a good kick in the pants to give up GW2 for one night.
The good news is that it was pretty flawless.
Googled up “Runes of Magic,” registered on the first website that popped up, got the client download. That installed GameForge Live or some such, a launcher which then took care of all the Runes of Magic installation nitty gritty without me having to google for patches and esoteric ways to apply them ad nauseam.
The bad news is that it is slow. Takes a hell of a long time to download each presumably humongous patch, and then apply it, and then download yet another, and apply that, and on and on.
It’s all automated though, so you can just leave the computer running and walk away, or browse in another window. Traditional MMO players are no doubt very used to the process.
The problem with fire and forget is, one can forget it. And I did, for half a year.
Which necessitated another long evening of adding on more patches to get up to the current version.
Here, I encountered the first and only major stumbling block. My account simply wasn’t recognized.
Type in username and password, no go, no such account exists on our servers or some such error message popped up.
Ehhh… Revisiting the website and account logging in there worked just fine. I DO so have an account. WTF?
Some googling later, it turns out that if you visit the http://www.runesofmagic.com website and not the us.runesofmagic.com one, you have automatically signed yourself up for EU servers instead of NA ones.
Doh! How would a completely new player be expected to know that?
I briefly considered making a new account for the US website, on the presumption that my country’s link to North America usually gives better ping (in the 200-300 range) than to the European Union (350+), then couldn’t be bothered.
Switching servers was a simple, fairly effortless, matter of backing out to the launcher, and selecting a tiny flag option at the bottom from the American flag to the UK one. Thank you for no offensive as hell region locking.
Fairly basic. So basic I didn’t bother taking any screenshots of it.
Three races to pick from, elf, dwarf, human. (And dwarves look ugly as hell, which made the limited choice option even easier.)
A decent but not staggering selection of faces and hairstyles to choose from via slider. i didn’t count, but I got the impression there were around 10-15 of ’em or so.
There were also some body sliders that I’d classify in the “very odd and rather pointless” category. You can literally change the height of your character by what seemed to be a colossal amount. I stared at my giant elf for two seconds, then brought him back down to a more normal-looking range.
The head slider enlarges and shrinks just the head alone to ludicrous amounts. Want chibi anime head proportions? I think you can just about attain them. Literal pinhead? No problem.
There was also a breast slider. Yep, you read that right. Breast, not chest, slider.
Except I was on a male elf, so moving it about did nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. I didn’t feel like switching genders and possibly erasing my previous selections, but I think one’s imagination can probably fill in the blanks for the female characters.
Hip slider made one’s character anorexically slim or ridiculously plump. While I’d normally congratulate a game for moving beyond idealized body standards, the overall impression I got was more of plain no-finesse laziness, leaving the player in charge of making a character of non-absurd proportions.
Seriously, if my memory serves, you can change the size of upper arms, lower arms, hands, legs and feet individually to ridiculous degrees. Casually moving around sliders yields a high chance of a severely malformed and out of proportion avatar.
So one ends up with very little choice after all, imagining something of realistic proportions and then gingerly moving the sliders and eyeballing it until it vaguely looks right.
Class selection was a lot more interesting.
There were four general classes – warrior, scout, rogue and mage – and two race-specific ones for each race. The wiki gives a nice breakdown of all of them, and they seem to offer a good range of roles, following the (of course) ubiquitous holy trinity system.
The unique spin and main schtick of Runes of Magic is that you later get to pick a secondary class to go along with this primary class. This pairing, along with the later unique combination specific elite skills, presumably creates different playstyles and group roles from the class synergy.
This may have been a good selling point once, but these days, there are plenty of other MMOs around with some form of dual-classes or multi-classing: RIFT, GW1, DDO, the Final Fantasies, etc.
It’s an interesting system nonetheless, and I am given to understand that they recently made it possible to select a third class, so you can have three classes to pick from and swap around when creating your primary/secondary hybrid class blend. Which leads to slightly greater flexibility of options to play different roles down the line.
I went with an elf scout.
This was mostly to have a change from my usual melee dps/tank preference, and because I’m leery of trying to level tank or healer roles in a ye olde traditional style MMO. Not interested in prolonging fights when I’m just here for one night. Gimme dps, baby, and preferably do it before I even have to walk up to a mob.
I really like that they have a tutorial.
You are given the option to skip it, but with a big warning that you might miss out on some very cool stuff – which is, I think, a good blend to hit between always offering the option to skip (forced tutorials that are uber long are generally not cool) and enticing new players to sit through it.
I usually do tutorials. They help to orientate me to each new MMO’s little quirks and I like to see what the new player experience is like for say, someone who may never have played an MMO in their life before.
To be honest, my first reaction on seeing the tutorial was, OH GOD MY EYES.
This is a GW2 carry over though. Traditional MMO UIs are just so… cluttered now.
I didn’t have a major issue with the graphics level or aesthetics, I found it pleasant if basic, and the look all vaguely reminded me of Guild Wars 1 in a general sense.
It even had click-to-move, along with the usual WASD movement.
I found the controls and camera slightly sluggish, but not unplayable. I’m not sure how much of that slowed responsiveness was the game engine itself or just my ping to EU servers, so won’t comment further. I got by. It wasn’t game-breaking.
Targeting was a lot more annoying. I’m used to having a target nearest key to lock on to the nearest mob, and a target next that acts like tab targeting. These two functions were blended into the same key, so your first press ostensibly grabs the nearest (assuming your camera is positioned correctly) and then subsequent presses scroll to the next, following some slightly bizarre logic that it’s never quite the one you actually want to hit.
Mouse clicking to select usually ended up a lot faster. Again, I got by. Presumably you get used to each MMO’s little quirks if you play ’em long enough.
The Game Proper – Starter Area Elven Island
The whole thing gave me a very oldschool vibe.
The chat window had a lot of informative text scrolling in, reminiscent of MUDs and older MMOs that impart a lot of information via that channel.
I got a newbie pet, a glowing fairy, who sent me text whispers in the tutorial and each level up to give me tips – an extremely MUD-like carry over.
Yes, there were traditional quests. A lot of them.
You know the sort. See NPC with exclamation mark over head. Click NPC.
Skim read through gigantic pile of text that rambles on, as the quest writer valiantly tries to be entertaining but take up as much space as possible while coming up with excuse #1423812 for why you need to go over yonder and kill 10 rats or fed-ex [quest item] to NPC B because NPC A is too lazy to walk or has some other crippling reason why they cannot move.
When done with your little errand, run all the way back to the first NPC and click, so you get another text popup and experience, money and item rewards, some of which you can pick.
For extra player infuriation points, make the player do the same thing again. Because you’re trying to kill time and make the player stay longer in the zone, or are just morbidly curious to see how long they put up with it.
For bonus points, write a cheesy love story saga where the player has to take messages from boy to girl and girl to boy because they’re too shy to ever look each other in the face and talk. How they’re ever going to consummate that love, I don’t know. (*has LOTRO flashbacks*)
Or when you’re bored of that, try the rejection letter schtick around the same theme:
Most of the quest text writing is like that.
On the plus side, there was a lot of lavish attention paid to trying to give you a mini story/reason around killing yet another 6-10 mobs of something or other. Or clicking on them. Or picking things up.
On the other hand, it feels like the lavish attention was spent by someone a little grammatically off with English (I think RoM’s developer roots are Taiwanese and German?), trying to tell me a long saga about nothing terribly important.
Even the lore quests were long and convoluted ramblings about some elven champions and kings of one sort of another, having wars, having babies, begatting so-and-so, who had yet more wars, mixed in with some strange rabid obsession about proper elven Etiquette and Honor and being all Champion-y. Capitals included.
If there was one thing that impressed me (for good AND for ill) about the very traditional quests in the Elven Island, it was the ludicrous density of them, and how much they criss-crossed each other. Especially in the newbie area.
Talk to one NPC and he sends you on a chain that leads you across other NPCs with exclamation marks, who will send you to other locations and back again that you end up criss-crossing to the point where you essentially memorize the layout.
Swimming causing you to lose your starter mount and having an elven starter area surrounded by a circular river, a lake and waterfalls did not help.
Re-mounting took ages of wait time. Nothing as smooth as World of Warcraft’s, and worse than LOTRO’s, imo. The slightest twitch of movement before the whole thing was done would cancel the horse and make you sit through the mount animation again. One was almost convinced it might be faster to walk. You could talk to quest NPCs while mounted, which was good, but combat canceled the mount and there would be that horrible mounting time again.
There were also dailies that confused the picture even further. If the map tracked my footsteps, I think it would have looked like a spider’s web.
I did them all eventually, mostly out of sheer masochism and wondering if the deluge and insistence on backtracking would ever stop. It eventually did, though by that time I was done with the whole island except for repeat dailies and had hit level 13 when I think a good level to leave is supposed to be 10.
Once I moved beyond the gates of the immediate newbie area, it got back to a more traditional quest hub format where you can talk to a bunch of NPCs then go somewhere and crank out a whole bunch of quests, killing mobs and picking up items and so on until done, then return for turn ins. Not as polished or efficient as something like WoW though. a lot of distance sometimes separated NPCs and there was a great deal of backtracking.
Combat and Skills
Actual combat didn’t take very long and felt decent for traditional MMO hotbar combat. minus the targeting issues and actually getting in range and camera positioned correctly with the sluggish responsiveness.
Shoot vampiric arrows that did DoT damage to initiate, hit the autocast range attack for autoattack, mash arrow skill buttons that depleted focus. Finish up mob that has closed to melee by this time with a sword autoattack or two if needed. Over in 2-3 seconds.
If anything, the fight may have ended too quickly. But when you gotta kill 6-10 of something or other each quest, you’re not complaining.
There was a fair amount of developer-enabled twinking of newbies, I get the feeling, with the stuff I got out of the newbie bag. There was one magic stone that enabled me to buff up a weapon to +8 enchantment level. Which I gather is fairly ludicrously overpowered.
Other stones I got later demonstrated an Aion-like RNG system of enchantment. Click stone, click weapon to enchant, cue RNG roll. If you’re lucky, it increments by +1. If you’re unlucky, the thing fails and lowers the enchantment level. So the whole thing devolves into an RNG lottery of using up plenty of stones while striving for best stats and raging when the enchantment fails and resets your progress.
I did manage to “cleverly” +8 my melee sword rather than my bow, mostly because it was the most current weapon I had at the time. I got lucky as the enchantment was a massive increase to physical attack which I think affected both bow and sword as a scout.
Some skills were incremented via use. Weapon skills and some kind of defensive skill seemed to do this. And capped at your level.
Class skills were incremented via a skill panel (hit K) and upgrading with TP, talent points, I think – some form of experience currency that you also get rewarded from quests and mob kills.
Presumably one may later have enough only for essential skills that make up a build and need to TP grind to make more skills accessible and fully upgraded. At the newbie level, the skills were limited enough in number that I could upgrade everything without running out of TP.
The bottomless bag of newbie rewards was cool.
After each level, you get to open up this bag, which drops some helpful items and yet another bag with a level requirement that is incremented by one.
Some helpful tips are included in the pop-up text, though they started getting way off in their assumptions as to where I was, talking about the next city Varanas while I was still criss-crossing madly on the starter island.
They have a housing system. You apply for your own personal house instance. Get a number which you can give to other players for them to visit your house. (I wouldn’t bother to visit mine, it has an empty storage chest and a plant pot, period.)
You can place furniture into special slots within your house, and then drag and place them anywhere and rotate at any angle. No z axis that I saw, though. Stuff went on the floor.
They have a planting system. I dunno what you would call this. Crafting? A minigame? Non-combat activity?
You stick some manner of pot furniture into your house. You stick a seed in the pot.
You can choose to put different kinds of irrigation water and fertilizer into other slots, and then click the respective buttons to add those ingredients to adjust the slider to the optimum levels for that seed.
Those optimum levels will slowly drop over time. And there is an overall plant growth time before you get to harvest the plant with a button.
Here, the newbie plant tutorial takes 30 minutes. I leave it to your imagination to extrapolate how long high-level plants might take and how often you might want to revisit your house to water them. Or just go read the wiki – I don’t care – it looks elaborate at first glance with a whole bunch of different materials for different level ranges.
I’m not a fan of waiting games, personally, but hey, some people might like this sort of thing.
If anything, I’ll give Runes of Magic points for having crafting systems that seem fairly elaborate and oldschool (a ton of different crafts you can pick up, but you can only level to near max a few and max out one.) It sort of reminded me of Wurm Online slightly.
They streamlined out gathering a bit, which I thought was nice. Clicking on a node lets you harvest, and it automatically repeats the harvest action until the node runs dry.
Each harvest increments your bar by a certain percentage, depending on what you’re harvesting and what level your skill is. This is described in an oldschool text message sending you percentage numbers 40.00%, 36.78%, and so on.
As you gather, you gather stacks of a 10 minute buff that pile up and renew. This buff is supposed to increase your chances for rare successes and what not. I did manage to pull some level 46 blue herb out at one point. Ooh boy.
The major pain was the progress bar. It took 5 seconds per action. Sounds minor, but I dare you to count one mississippi, two mississippi up to five, and keep repeating that. Each node kept going for 5+ harvests or more. There was a high density of nodes in the newbie zone.
That’s A LOT OF STANDING AROUND DOING NOTHING. In my suddenly free time while locked in the gathering animation, I entertained thoughts of how people would likely endeavor to bot this because no enterprising human is going to put up with this for long.
The crafting UI looks fairly elaborate too.
Standard stuff. Refine gathered materials into usable crafting ingredients, usually taking two of those into one item. Stand by proper tool to have the option available.
The one basic weapon I managed to make from the basic ingredients revealed it made white items, with a chance of creating a green or blue rare success with better stats. I did manage to get one blue success, out of 5 created. Sadly, I’d way outleveled the weapon by that time.
Same problem. Each bar took five long seconds to progress. I was a blithering idiot by the time I processed 10 pieces of ash wood into 5 ash timber. LOTRO crafting felt quicker by comparison, and you know I am already dreadfully spoiled by GW2’s automatic super-speed up of large stacks.
You know what kept me doing the quests, rather than throwing my hands up, not being bothered to locate weirdly named NPC #8 and quitting from being totally lost at the start?
This unique follow / move to right-click context menu.
Move to, when it worked, triggered an automated running route to the named NPC. This was context sensitive via the quest text, so you could right click on the blue name, select move-to and have a free trip there to the NPC whose location you didn’t have an initial clue of.
The pathfinding wasn’t great. It slammed one into walls now and then and one had to manually move around those obstacles, but even buggy, it took some of the tedium away.
I was very sad when move to stopped working once I got out of the initial newbie area.
Fortunately, the follow function did. This was like a basic built-in in-game version of a WoW add-on like Questhelper or something similar. Right-clicking an NPC to follow marked it in red on your map, and provided a helpful little red arrow to follow until you got to him.
A decent traditional MMO. Fantastic intro music (I hear the soundtrack is awesome and often overlooked.) Oldschool in nature. Some neat and interesting ideas with their class system and their non-combat activities – crafting/gathering/housing/planting, etc.
WHICH TAKES TOO FUCKING LONG.
Personally, I have neither the time nor patience to go through a whole bunch of traditional quests of merely passable quality.
I did not do any instances or see any raids (though I did see announcements scrolling across my screen announcing stuff that looked like public zone quests or siege castle warfare of some kind), the 10/10 project being only a one night stand sort of deal.
With a holy trinity system, I can only imagine that dungeons and raids would follow the same kind of style and structure – some guys tank, some guys heal, the rest pile on DPS. I doubt there’s anything really surprising or revolutionary waiting in the wings, maybe some neat ideas, is it.
Thanks for letting me visit, Runes of Magic. I’ll take my 9GB free space back now. No hard feelings. We’re just not compatible.
Though much of economic theory revolves around money, I had one college professor eloquently refer to it as the Study of Choice in the face of Scarcity. This is what fascinates me about it, why do we make the choices we do? It doesn’t have to be choice involving money. For instance, do I spend all morning researching and writing a blog post, or exploring the town and country I am sojourning in, or play a video game?
And that has gotten my mind down a similar track. Opportunity cost is just as fascinating to me.
I have just spent most of this Saturday forgoing the opportunity to rabidly play Guild Wars 2 (and thereby make further choices over what I actually do in-game:
spend an hour on invasions earning gold
use that same hour to run a dungeon instead which might produce cores/lodestones
meander around the world harvesting resources to sell and hoard
most of which slooowly works towards my first legendary…)
…and instead spent it with a file folder/disk space management utility open in one screen and web browsing on the other monitor, struggling to tidy up my hard disks and pondering deep economic and emotional decisions about games to keep and games to get rid of.
This dire disk space emergency was prompted by me trying to start up Guild Wars 1 in the morning and having it stall at the Connecting to ArenaNet server window.
After some Googling, it turns out my .dat file may have been corrupted, the solution for which was to delete and re-download.
Got past the stall point, got to character screen, logged in or tried to- as the computer began downloading the whole of Marhan’s Grotto again (you pretty much download each zone bit by bit in GW1, something that usually makes the wait time less annoying) and the whole system kind. of. slowed. down. and. was. like. wading. in. molasses…
Then I realized that there were only 746MB free space left on the C:\ drive and the download was barely 25% done.
Plans to peek back in GW1 rapidly went out the window and I started looking for stuff to delete instead.
This just as quickly escalated down an entire afternoon and evening of Adventures in Freeing Disk Space and musing about my gaming habits, economy and psychology all rolled into one.
For instance, the biggest hog of my disk space is The Secret World.
I usually try to leave MMOs that I -might- have an urge to go back to installed, since it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever casually pop in again if I have to sit through a whole day’s download to do so.
You may note that the other two space-hogging culprits are also MMOs, also not being currently played, and all now using a free-to-log-in-and-play-casually model.
Subscription MMOs? Gone.
I simply have TOO MANY other games I could be spending my time and disk space on, to say nothing of having to specially log in to a website, re-enable my account and resubscribe for a month, just to check on what has changed.
Economically, if I had to pick just one of those three MMOs, I’d probably keep LOTRO since I’m still in love in the lore and landscapes, and do check back once a year for Weatherstock. Even if I don’t think I could ever bear to level again, be it a new character or try to push out of Moria.
I was tempted to kill off The Secret World, if only to reclaim the most space back and rationally knowing my toaster struggles to handle it graphically and memory-wise. But the way it presents its quests, and the flexible AP/SP skill system promises an intriguing basic solo leveling experience if I ever felt the urge for modern conspiracy again.
RIFT would be the loser if I really needed one to go. Despite the flexible roles each class can take, I was left uncomfortable with how cookie cutter it ended up as there were distinctly mathematically optimal ways of speccing talent trees for different purposes, and I felt I had no future in an MMO with raids as a primary focus. Still, I can’t shake off the clingy feeling that maaybe one day I might want to log in just to look around.
Which is neither probable nor sensible, to be brutally honest.
Dawn of War 1 and expansions takes up the next 11 gb. Terribly old game now. Have I ever gone back to it after finishing a campaign or two or three with some races? No. But nothing matches it (not even its sequel) in terms of being able to put out so many visually awesome Warhammer 40k models in all their racial variety, and I just can’t get rid of it.
KOTOR2 and the GoG directories (containing Arcanum, Stonekeep and Beneath a Steel Sky among others) naggily remind me that there were some old games I wanted to get around to playing. *sigh*
Doom 3? I’m positive I was almost 3/4 of the way through or nearly to the end, but those levels just kept going and going and I got tired. But the sunk cost fallacy induced me to keep it around. I really should just dedicate an hour or two and FINISH it, just to put closure on it after… (checks the folder date) 6 years. Dayum.
City of Heroes got a massive trimming some time back since I saw no reason to keep the client to a defunct game around. I wasn’t going to reverse engineer anything anytime soon. Most of the folder went into an external hard disk backup. That one gigabyte left is mostly screenshots. Thanks to this blog, I love having a whole bundle of screenshots available on demand.
It’s kinda sad that my Adobe and Microsoft Office folders barely compare.
I ended up nabbing the disk space from other folders, temporary downloads, music/videos that I won’t bother you with.
Though it did come as a bit of a shock to realize that iTunes was hogging 15 gb of space just from backing up my iPad. (Yes, that ancient 16gb device is just as crammed.)
On a bit of a curiosity roll now, I checked out my other drive:
There’s ~2.7 gb worth of screenshots in the GW2 folder (and I’ve been moving them periodically out to backup) if you’re wondering why my GW2 directory is bigger than yours.
The next 9.3 gb are reminding me that I should continue the 10/10 project for at least one more day and so get rid of Runes of Magic that way. I really need to stop being one MMO obsessed for a while.
Black Isle and BaldursGateTutu? Because Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment are classics. I did intend to play them again some day, but even if I never do, they can be enshrined forever for all I care.
Yes, I have two copies of A Tale in the Desert. I dual-accounted it. Some games you dual account for a better experience. I am given to understand Eve Online swings that way too. (Though in both games, this can be offset through being massively good at socializing and joining player organizations. Extroverts network. Introverts multi-box.)
The elephant in the room that we are trying not to talk about is naturally, the Steam folder…
There’s more but I wouldn’t want to scare you all. Or have my account stolen.
Suffice to say, of the 44 games shown here, 6 have not been tried yet (Nuclear Dawn, The Walking Dead, Psychonauts, Forge, Sacred Gold, Sol Exodus demo) and the remaining 38 have been at least been sampled.
Of the sampled games:
3 had a very surface sampling before I put the game down, unable to go on for one reason or another – steep learning curve or didn’t like the setting or never found the time to go on.
(X3, SWKOTOR, Divinity 2 respectively)
25 were played 1/4 – 1/2 of the way through or played lightly but not a game you can complete
(Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, The Last Remnant, Civ 5, Borderlands 2, Dungeon Defenders, DOTA 2, Morrowind, LEGO Lord of the Rings, Killing Floor, Men of War Assault Squad, Overlord, Culpa Innata, Worms Reloaded, Tropico 3, Titan Quest, Silent Hunter 3, Mark of the Ninja, Amnesia, Mafia, Sins of a Solar Empire, Frozen Synapse, From Dust, Civ 4, Sanctum.)
6 were played 3/4 of the way through or played heavily but not a game you can complete
(Left 4 Dead, Dawn of War 2, Skyrim, Blood Bowl, Orcs Must Die, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines,)
4 were played “and completed” at least to one’s satisfaction, but usually with holes in DLC/expansion content
I dunno. I’ve been staring at it all trying to see if there were any patterns as to why I chose to play some games but not others, and for longer periods.
There’s no real relation as to whether they’re GOOD games or not (as considered by either me or the community at large.)
I’ll tell you right now that I enjoyed most of the lightly played games just as much. Left 4 Dead 2, TF2, Civ 4 and 5, Borderlands 2, DOTA 2, Morrowind, Mark of the Ninja, and Frozen Synapse are all excellent games in my book, and very highly polished. The poorer games are From Dust and Culpa Innata, and I consider the rest decently good in their own way.
The only thing I can vaguely think of is that the more completed ones were short enough that one can get to the end in a very reasonable amount of time, or had a compelling narrative that I wanted to see the end of, or had interesting game mechanics at an easy enough to progress but steadily ramping up difficulty level or some combination thereof.
I do want to get to the end of Mark of the Ninja, Frozen Synapse and The Last Remnant – I may get around to the first as it’s a very recently bought game but I’m not terribly good at stealth, the second is -very- compelling tactically but time-consuming, and the third is a Japanese RPG, you know how long those things take?!)
For many of the others, I seem to have played them long enough to get the hang of the mechanics but got bored with the repetition or grew disinterested in the story and then got distracted by a new shiny.
Well, it was worth a reminder of all the other things I could be doing instead of playing just one game out of habit.
(And yes, I am aware Psychonauts and The Walking Dead come highly recommended. They’re now on the to-do list.)
P.S. If you’re interested in doing something similar with your own system, the program I was using to scan directory sizes is TreeSize Free.
It’s me again, back to share another “down the rabbit tunnel” trail of maybe-lore with you all!
This one is more of a foggy could-be, mostly via neat visual thematic links that were -probably- done on purpose (and also convenient in terms of saving development assets.)
As serendipity would have it, while cycling through the fractals by my lonesome to get to the Uncategorized fractal to take the last post’s screenshots, I got into the Aquatic Ruins fractal.
Yeah, yeah, we know, fisherfolk, krait, slaves, dime a dozen, seen it before. Whatever, glowing plants, dolphins, big freaking jellyfish, generic aquatic environment, no?
Then I stopped.
Self, I said. I have seen this style of wooden architecture before.
In fact, come to think of it, I think I’ve seen this sort of grey cliff terrain before, with these kinds of plants… as I looked -up- at my surroundings.
Come on, haven’t we all seen this sort of glow before? (Or after. I get so confused with time, damn fractals…)
Ok, this is a night time pic, but yeah. Towering grey cliffs, bushy trees, wooden bridge architecture.
It’s obviously not at the same point in time, of course.
Let’s hold off for the moment on trying to track down their origins, besides a faint nagging suspicion that these fisherfolk (a sea-faring people? their architecture seems to suggest it) could be the proto-Zephyrites of today.
I dived into the aquatic fractal for fun and to look around a bit since I was alone.
Oh man, more of these guys.
If you look up to the first two pictures, you’ll see that the folk in the aquatic fractal have been both busy using these statues as part of their impromptu raised platforms and trawling them out of the water with makeshift cranes.
We all know who these statues depict, right?
Yep, him again.
Self, said I.
I HAVE SEEN THESE GREY CLIFFS BEFORE.
And this freaking type of plant.
And the wooden scaffolding, for that matter.
All right. Assuming these aren’t just all a lazy reuse of assets, they all have to be linked in some manner. Just… possibly at very different points in time.
Let’s get ourselves geographically located.
Whyever did they dump the Labyrinthine Cliffs all the way over here?
Where is here and what was around here way back in the past?
Also, this is a beautiful fan-made one by Redditor that_shaman circling around the intarwebs that overlays GW1 landmarks over a GW2 map – I embed a copy here for your reference.
It doesn’t include the Labyrinthine Cliffs, but we can use the prior map pic to fit it in along the coastline of Tyria, just north of the continent of Elona, sorta southeast of Kryta and south of Ascalon.
All that surrounds this place is a bunch of dwarf-related missions in Guild Wars 1. That doesn’t seem related at all. Dead end, perhaps.
There’s a surprising amount of lore about the krait in the above link, which I think we’ll see more of when we start exploring Bubbles and underwater-related stuff, but the wiki doesn’t say much about their past history:
Krait history, especially prior to fifty years ago, is still mostly unknown. During this time all that’s known is their activities of enslaving shipwrecked sailors and that in 1078 AE, they already had a presence on the Tarnished Coast. Fifty years ago, however, they were forced out of the Unending Ocean’s deepest trenches, their former homeland, by the deep sea dragon‘s forces.
Well, that doesn’t help us very much, especially since we know krait were present in Guild Wars 1 too, so they’ve always been around being nasty slavers. But hang on, what and where is the Unending Ocean? Says the Guild Wars 1 wiki:
The Unending Ocean, also known as the Great Sea and the Clashing Seas, is the giant body of water that separates the continents of Tyria and Elona from the continent of Cantha. The island chain known as the Battle Isles resides within the Unending Ocean, between the three continents. In ancient days before the Exodus of the Gods and the distribution of magic, the Margonites ruled this ocean before they lost their humanity.
The Krait are known to live on the ocean floor of the Unending Ocean.
The Unending Ocean proper is marked on the GW2 map as being southwest of the Ring of Fire island chain. Cantha, in the lore, is southwest of that.
It’s a bit of a stretch, but technically, the Unending Ocean could maybe touch the Labyrinthine Cliff area since it’s all one big patch of water. The Elon River flows into the sea, but that sea seems to be unnamed.
But hang on, what’s this reference about the Margonites?
They were a bunch of demonic followers of Abaddon that we fought in Guild Wars 1. They were apparently previously humans before Abaddon transformed them, and my jaw dropped as I read further:
Before the Exodus of the Gods, the Margonites were a seafaring people who chose to worship Abaddon exclusively, rather than all six gods. In 175 BE, they ruled over the Unending Ocean and they began to create settlements on the coastlines north and west of Elona.
Settlements on the coastline north of Elona?!
Reading further still:
Finally, at an unknown point in time, but presumably after the Exodus, Margonites who were still human reached the Crystal Desert by sailing over the Unending Ocean, and built the structures in the Thirsty River and everywhere around the Mesa.
The fisherfolk may be the ancestors of our modern day Zephyrites of Canthan or Elonian descent and may have also been the descendants of a culture of seafaring humans.
Some of those seafaring humans may have been Margonites who worshipped Abaddon and got sucked into the Realm of Torment with him, and some of whom (who probably did not worship Abaddon) survived and turned southeast across the Crystal Desert/Sea (or were there to begin with.)
According to An Empire Divided, historians believe the Luxons once sailed in the Crystal Sea over a thousand years ago. Incidentally, this may be where the Margonites sailed. Due to the removal of knowledge of Abaddon, some knowledge of the Margonites has been removed, leading scholars to view them as myths, thus possibly causing a confusing between the two sea-faring people.
Maybe there aren’t two sea-faring peoples. But the very one and the same.
How about the Cliffside fractal? At what point of time is this situated in?
“The idea was that that particular fractal was that it reflected something that happened in the distant past. Something that happened in Tyria’s beginnings where there was this kind of colossus around.”
So we know it took place in very early history, possibly even prehistory.
We know that there was an Age of Giants very early on before the Age of Humans, though different tellers differ on the specifics since it’s sooo far back in time. Giganticus Lupicus was one of the giant races that may have roamed the land around this time.
The Colossus most probably isn’t a Giganticus Lupicus, since those have dog-like heads and the Colossus doesn’t. It’s possible it was a Giant of some other sort that was trapped and chained by the early humans of this period.
But here’s where it gets really interesting, it has been suggested that this fractal was inspired by the myth of Prometheus, or at least one of the designers makes reference to it in a podcast.
What is the myth of Prometheus?
Prometheus was a god who brought fire down to man. And for his hubris, he was chained up as punishment.
Is there a parallel myth in Guild Wars lore?
I bring your attention back to the GW2 timeline, coincidentally at the beginning of one era of history, where the very tame description awaits:
0 AE The Exodus of the Human Gods.
1 BE The Human Gods give magic to the races of Tyria.
Really? The human gods, plural?
The Guild Wars 1 wiki (and further links off the GW2 wiki) tell the real story:
Abaddon was the God of Water and Secrets, though has since fallen. Like the other gods, Abaddon’s origins are shrouded in mystery. The Apostate speaks of Abaddon gaining his power from an older, deposed god, however nothing more is known about this. Abaddon was once fanatically worshiped by the Margonites, a nation of sea-faring humans. The phrase “act with magic, act within reason, act without mercy” is attributed to Abaddon’s teachings. He also had a temple in Orr, the Cathedral of Hidden Depths.
In 1 BE, he spread magic to the races of Tyria, and thus indirectly responsible for the wars that came afterward. King Doric pleaded to the gods and they rendered magic into the five Bloodstones, diluting their gift. Abaddon was incensed and went to war with the others, and he was eventually struck down at the Mouth of Torment, in a blow that turned the Crystal Sea into a desert. There, Abaddon was sealed within the Realm of Torment and the city of Morah was established to watch over the spot where he fell. Shortly after his defeat, the gods left the world in an act that came to be known as the Exodus.
ABADDON gave magic to the humans. And eventually, he was attacked by the other five gods and locked in the Realm of Torment. Is he our sad Prometheus?
This is how The Colossus looks at the beginning of the fractal. Sad, tired, head lowered, staring at the Archdiviner kneeling at his feet.
The Margonites are said to have fanatically worshipped Abaddon to the exclusion of all other gods. This particular group of humans has also (eventually) fanatically constructed a ton of Colossus statues.
The GW1 wiki provides us with another intriguing drip of lore:
And so it came to pass that Jadoth, being persecuted by the horrific Forgotten armies, and hounded from his home, did seek refuge among the cooling mists of the Crystal Sea. Untold weeks passed as Jadoth huddled in his sanctuary, with nothing to see save the endless ripples of the boundless ocean.
On the 51st day of his exodus, a frightful sight manifested before Jadoth’s eyes: the unmistakable shape of Forgotten warships upon the horizon’s shimmering edge.
And prayed Jadoth, “Abaddon! Lord of the Everlasting Depths, Keeper of Secrets, open mine eyes and bestow upon me the knowledge of the Abyss that I might smite mine enemies and send them to the watery depths!”
An unsettling silence swept across the waves. The twilight sky shattered and stars streaked down upon the Forgotten armada. The seas boiled and ruptured, and gave birth to a maelstrom from which not even light could escape, and transforming the sky above into a midnight void.
And thus was magic gifted to Jadoth, chosen of Abaddon, the first of the Margonites.
Did he, in fact, trick or fool an initially well-meaning Giant by name of Abaddon into gifting him with magic, and then turn around and entrap the Colossus into becoming a living idol for his people? And for a whole new fanatical religion that would later be the basis of the Margonites?
The Margonites of GW1 have a purple glow about their demonic form. The Archdiviner of the Cliffside fractal shoots purple magic bolts (and he’s certainly no mesmer.)
Those seals/chains are purple and demonic.
History, after all, is often rewritten by the victors.
Good lord, you say. Look at his face. That’s not anything like the Colossus. Surely you’re not going to tell me he’s just wearing a mask or helmet? How about them clawed hands?
Remember, he was imprisoned within the Realm of Torment, which probably twists anything residing within after some time.
And it would be quite possible for him to have descended into madness and desire revenge for what the Five Gods did to him, pre- or post-imprisonment, and to have eventually welcomed the role his fanatic followers thrust upon him.
How about a GW2 source? Also from the wiki, Abaddon has one temple, the Cathedral of Hidden Depths, accessible via one personal story chapter:
I dunno. But there seems to be some resemblance.
A more tame version would be that the Colossus is the older, deposed god that Abaddon and his followers obtained power from. Which would make the Archdiviner Abaddon and the fractal an echo of him conducting a ritual to steal that power, except we get to set the Colossus free in the fractal.
Still, if the Human Gods were actually Giants with magic that the human race worshipped once upon a time, that might explain why all statues of them are so bloody huge.
She says she is the krewe chief of the fractals project. And there’s a lot about her that seems “off.”
First of all, she assumes you’re here as volunteers and she’ll be your experiment manager. She makes reference to something she calls “Mistlock” which seems to be some kind of process to stabilize bits of the Mists. In fact, that seems to be her dream and ambition:
“I can’t believe I made explorable chunks of reality from the Mists. I’ve dreamed of doing it for so long. Now, it’s real.”
“We can now lock down and enter any point in the Mists. The legacy code of Tyria is ours to explore, assuming it doesn’t collapse.”
Hang on, let’s backtrack a bit. What the hell are the Mists to begin with?
Well, in the lore of Guild Wars (1 and 2), the Mists appear to be the fabric of space/time themselves.
“The Mists are the building blocks of reality, the proto-reality that exists between the worlds. It is where we find afterlifes and the homes of the various gods and other powerful entities. The Mists also resonate from the worlds around them, such that they form bits of their own reality – islands of existence that reflect the histories of their worlds.”
According to the wiki, the Mists are further described as only being accessible via portals.
Previously these portals seem to be created by vast expenditures of magic and link to only one place (see history as described by wiki) but Dessa seems to have the magi-technology to target different parts of the Mists.
But hang on again, WHOSE past are we talking about?
My google-fu isn’t strong enough to locate any other links, but surely someone has commented on the futuristic style of clothing that Dessa is wearing?
Even the rest of her krewe look like miniature stormtroopers.
I leave this as an exercise for my readers (mostly because I haven’t taken screenshots yet) but we may want to compare these guys’ helmets to the Steam mechataur creatures. To me, they look suspiciously similar in style.
Are there any other asura in our present day Tyria that look like these guys?
Where the hell do they really come from? Or WHEN?
Could they be from that alternate future reality that we are positing exists? The one that has magi-tech and steampunk styles all over the place, is probably full of Aetherblade pirates and Steam creatures, likely contains a money-grubbing group known as the Consortium, and very possibly contains a Conclave and a Grand High Sovereign?
Dessa certainly recognizes the name Consortium. “Those money-grubbing connivers? It’s bad enough I lost my boyfriend to those shady “businessmen.” Take my advice: reject their advances. Nothing good will come of their machinations.”
In our reality, they still seem pretty harmless, just creating gift shops and tourist attractions. They don’t seem to have gotten that sort of “corporate evil” vibe that I may be reading too much into what Dessa says.
And she says one more thing. When asked about how they got connected to the gate in Lion’s Arch, where we entered from, she exhibits confusion. “Lion’s Arch? No, there must be a misunderstanding. We’d never launch this lab from that pirate haven.”
Well, yes, our Lion’s Arch is a united gathering of pirate captains forming a peaceful haven of trade and diplomacy to go fight dragons.
But could LA be an Aetherblade pirate haven in Dessa’s reality?
Let’s go look at the portal gates in Lion’s Arch.
Normal tame asura gates look like this. They shimmer with magical energy and transport us from place to place.
The fractals gate looks like this.
Seriously, go -look- at it yourself. There’s VIOLENT lightning strikes crackling across its surface every couple of seconds. (And I’ve been jumping into this thing all the while with nary a care. Aieeee.)
If you talk to the Lionguard guarding the gate, he tells you that this… doorway appeared instead when some asura tried to open a gate to an island. (Presumably a reference to Consortium/Southsun, but I’m not chasing down that rabbit tunnel just yet.)
When we go through, we end up in the Fractals of the Mists. OF THE MISTS.
The crackly lightning gate appears to symbolize getting access to The Mists, where little pockets of various realities/pasts/reflections of worlds are floating like islands, unstuck in time.
Let’s take a trip to Metrica Province and go look at the Thaumanova Reactor.
We’ve all seen it before. It’s a gigantic sprawling dark stone structure that is suspiciously (to me anyway) open to the elements.
Full of asuran architecture and Inquest-y technological trappings, sections of it echo the Elder Dragons’ elemental magic, though it’s unclear if these existed pre or post explosion. Chaos magic is raging all around, displaced monsters are popping in unstuck in space or time, and most importantly for this post, there is also a honking big portal if you amble over to the center and look up.
No, I mean it. Go there yourself and look up. The camera angle is really tough to screenshot, and those animated lightning flashes are tricky to capture in a still image, but there is as much violent lightning energy crackling across the surface of the portal over Thaumanova as the… doorway in Lion’s Arch.
Probably more because this portal is fucking huge.
How huge? Well, it’s like covering the roof of where a second floor might have once been…
…Could the Thaumanova Reactor have been a LOT bigger than it is now?
Could a chunk of it have actually been broken and hurled through the… doorway now hovering above the reactor and ended up in The Mists?
Raving Asura: “I couldn’t save them. I heard them all. Pleading. All gone. All on my watch!”
Could something have breached the security of the reactor?
Could something (or someones) have broken an important part of the reactor?
There would naturally be a lot of falling, screaming and dying as a result.
The clothing style of the raving asura unfortunately doesn’t give anything away. He’s using a standard for our time asura style staff, he’s in what seems like dark brown medium armor and has a monocle/eyepatch thingy, and has poofy grey hair – which might be his usual hairstyle, or just overall meant to simulate a Rip Van Winkle hermit look.
Another possible link:
There are holding cells in the Uncategorized fractal – containing a Flame Shaman charr, a human bandit saboteur, an ettin and a rabbit. Holding cells, we know, are the main purview of the Inquest.
Dessa, too, has some kind of reaction on seeing this fractal. It’s just not very clear what because she doesn’t reveal much of any emotion over the line she’s using. She just needed to leave for a while, and then comes back later and apologizes for her absence.
It’s possible that’s an indication she recognizes it, but possibly not in this configuration and can’t quite put two and two together as to what happened.
The name for this fractal is Uncategorized, after all.
Maybe in her reality, the Thaumanova Reactor never blew up.
Seeing it in pieces in what is supposed to be Tyria’s past is perhaps a paradox that floors her for long enough to shut off communication with her lab rats and try to puzzle it out.
We leave now the shores of plausible theory to venture further into speculation.
I started scouring the Guild Wars timeline because I suddenly realized there are actually documented yearly dates attached to some of these historical events.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any documented source on when exactly the Thaumanova Reactor blew up. We know it’s pretty recent an event, but not exactly how recent.
It’s recent enough that they’re still dealing with the fallout in the present day, but far back in the past for the Inquest to have built replacement facilities.
I’m going to assume the explosion caused realities to diverge somehow – in one reality, the reactor never blew and we enter our future world of magitech steampunk villainy, in another reality – ours – the tragedy happened but yielded our present-day racially united renaissance fantasy heroic world.
Dessa recognizes the name Lion’s Arch. Now LA has existed since GW1, so that doesn’t tell us very much, but it’s a pirate haven for her.
She doesn’t go, oh the capital of Kryta (GW1), oh that flooded ruins? (circa 1219 AE)
Lion’s Arch slowly became a haven for pirates and the LA we know today was founded by Cobiah Marriner somewhen around 1230-1231 AE… I think. I haven’t read the Sea of Sorrows novel yet. That is probably our lowest bounds for when Thaumanova blew up in our day, and my personal guess is that it’s a lot more recent than that.
This rather nixes the part of my theory that the explosion could have released/formed the Elder Dragons themselves because those bad boys were operating way before that. In hindsight, they had servants dating back to GW1 and were perplexing the ancient races like mursaat and what not, so yeah, the Elder Dragons long existed, they’re forces of nature/magic and that bit of speculation is all hogwash, forget it.
But we need another piece of baseless speculation to replace it now, don’t we?
Let’s look at the timeline at very recent historical events. Two events stand out rather prominently to me:
If the Thaumanova Reactor blew up anywhere from 23-45 years ago, could the wave of chaotic magical energy have fueled the possibly premature rousing of what are speculated to be the jungle dragon Mordremoth’s minions? Except with him still snoozing, they have no guidance except to turn to this convenient guidebook lying at the foot of their tree, producing Tyria’s youngest and most recent race.
In Dessa’s reality, this would not have happened. Sylvari might still be evil servants of the jungle dragon. And of course, we’re now dealing with a lunatic sylvari by name of Scarlet Briar that exhibits some very strange abilities and seems to have some familiarity with alternate realities/portals/stuff.
I’d talk about Mad King Thorn and all the jungle-bramble-plant-death theme that seems to be happening here, but that’s just reaching now, even for me.