State of the Game: Requires Further Study

It’s funny, but I’ve been playing three games lately that I’m struggling to find something to say about them.

I just feel like I haven’t played them long enough to really get a handle on them to talk intelligently about.

Guild Wars 2

The latest content drop has been criticized for being short.

I can’t help but think that some of that is possibly intentional, in a “I notice that they’re tending to have each phase of the Living Story extend out to a month” fashion, so something big happens in the first two weeks, and then a smaller change occurs in the third and forth weeks to keep the more active players’ attention, while giving those that can only sporadically log in some chance to catch up with the content.

Then again, to me, each Living Story patch doesn’t -just- consist of one ez-mode play through of the instances for the storyline. That’s the first thing I do, yes, but not the last.

There’s the open world content.

Just like in Dry Top, each patch needs to have some kind of impetus pushing players to keep doing the zone of the month, so that other slower people still have a chance to see that zone active. Putting the carapace glove reward in the zone itself does that, despite cries from people who’d rather have the easier option of running through the story multiple times to get it.

Personally, I still haven’t got enough of Silverwastes yet. I’m still craving -organized- Silverwastes. I managed to catch a TTS run on the very first day the content dropped and I was so happy with the whole experience. Folks divided out quite naturally to each fort, supply bulls got run, and yes, all five bosses died.

There was even time for hilarity and a little more unoptimal behavior by getting an entire bunch of players to turn into mechanical devourers and tour each fort killing stuff as a giant scorpion army.

It was kind of surprisingly effective, -when- we finally got to a location (the damage on both the melee and range attacks are pretty sick), though travel time was somewhat prohibitive when trundling around as a big zerg of scorpions. I can easily see that a few mechanical devourers stationed at each fort would really help with the defence.

Plus, since gold and silver terragriffs usually end up running short on dps, they managed to coordinate the portaling of a bunch of devourers into the breach. I wasn’t there, but I hear that was pretty much the fastest anyone had seen the two terragriffs go down.

However, general PUG interest in Silverwastes seems to be slowing down somewhat, given the emptier zones I end up randomly zoning into. Organized attempts at Silverwastes are few and far between (during the times I’ve been playing anyway. SEA to EU prime times, which might unfortunately be the not so great times) and it’s been kind of depressing to see zones that do badly, when doing well is a little more rewarding.

(I suspect that many have not even seen the successful reward, so they have no motivation to care or try. Killing 5 bosses, by the way, gets you a greater nightmare key right off the bat. Running around to assemble one from 25 smaller pieces in the maze is just a supplement.)

Probably like everyone else, I end up comforting myself with the fact that the maze will open up regardless of how cruddy players are at the bosses, since that’s beyond my control anyway, and I just go in and run around and play pac-man. Which at least solely relies on my individual capacity of observation and reaction to get some loot rewards.

The players with lesser skill end up paying more in terms of waypoint fees, and time penalties from death and respawning (though at least repair costs are free now, and so the death penalty hurts a lot less), while the savvy figure out strategies to extend their survival time. In a way, it’s nice to see stealth valued in an activity, just like healing (of dumb crippled NPCs) and control/interrupts (of nastier enemy NPCs) had their time in the sun.

I’ve been playing on my guardian, which unfortunately doesn’t have that ability (though I did manage to jump with perfect timing into a thief’s shadow refuge once, just a split second before it went down) so one has been forced to develop other tricks. Been getting a lot of mileage out of my standard swiftness-prioritized open world build – reduced recharge on shouts, retreat and save yourselves always on the bar. It’s not constant swiftness uptime, I’d need to swap a staff in for that – which I maybe should – but it’s certainly quite a lot of speed for those times in between glowing ball form.

Then there’s actual observation of the minimap to see where the wolves and the next glowing ball are going to be, and impromptu planning of which direction to head towards, and even -pausing- to let a wolf run past, or hiding out in a corner for a moment, or changing Z-axis by hopping up or down a ledge, forcing a wolf to run the long way around. All little movement and positioning tricks to let one get a headstart on a wolf, long enough to get to the next glowing ball for safety.

Then in times of desperation, there’s the dodge roll evade. Wolf is on a heading straight for you. Keeping your absolute cool, you head straight on for it, and with perfect timing, you dodge roll forward and time it such that it will lunge at you right when you’re in the invincibility frame and get an “evaded” message. By the time the wolf finishes up its animation, you’ve already swiftness jogged past it and are just a few feet ahead, just barely enough time to grab a glowing ball and be safe once more.

And you know, there’s an old survival of the fittest joke that says you don’t have to be faster than the bear, or the sabre tooth tiger. You just have to be faster than the last guy that’s also running away from it. Happens in the maze over and over. 😛

Sorry, bud, no hard feelings, but the time the wolf is spending gnawing on your guts is valuable time for me to scoot. (You’ll benefit in the end when we all hit Tier 3 and get the shared group reward.)

Finally, there’s also the hardmode achievements for the storyline that I also would like to do before making a judgement on the patch entirely. I hear that the flying boss fight becomes rather challenging indeed in challenge mote form. Haven’t had the time to get around to it yet. Until that’s done, I can’t say I’m done with -all- the content of the patch, to be honest.

Marvel Heroes 2015

On a whim, I’ve gone and installed this freebie on Steam.

I’m like level 25 now, and I -still- don’t know what to make of this game.

If people think the new player experience for Guild Wars 2 is confusing, they should maybe have a look at some other MMOs on the market these days.

Oh, the gameplay in MH2015 itself is ridiculously straightforward. It’s a Diablo-lite. Move around by clicking with a mouse. Left click to attack, right click to strong attack, use some MOBA-like bound keys to do different skill attacks. You can swap them around and customize your skill and keybindings, though I still haven’t settled on or decided on a good arrangement yet.

Part of the trouble is the default difficulty level. On the storyline, at any rate. It’s piss-easy. It’s so easy that you can pretty much get away with left-clicking and things die. It’s so brain-dead, I’m left wondering, people actually like to play games like this? Just to get a sense of pretend-butt-kicking, I suppose?

I finally unlocked heroic difficulty at level 25 the other day, but haven’t figured out if it’s advisable to swap over for a better experience or not. Or whether one is expected to run through every difficulty level, like Diablo or some such, in order to get all the “required” rewards.

I poked my head into some challenge instances, and wow, those felt a little more different. I was actually getting hurt, for example, and needing to heal up. Things took more damage to kill.

However, the difficulty seems to be of the numerical variety. As in more hitpoints to punching bag away. Need more and better stats in order to be able to withstand the damage dealt.

That sort of difficulty is mostly combated through a) theorycrafting of builds – which I don’t really have the motivation for right now – and b) an endless search for better stats through loot drops. Such hamster-wheeling has always seemed a little shallow to me. I’m not really much of a vertical progression person.

I’m left with rather awkward feeling combat. You get rooted while firing off certain skills to let the animations finish, which produce a start-and-stop effect that doesn’t feel as good as your regular fast-paced action RPGs like, fer instance, Path of Exile (and I presume, Diablo and Torchlight too, though I haven’t played either in recent experience to say for sure.)

Then there’s the loot and presentation of content itself. Now -that’s- confusing to a new player. What are all these game-specific terminology? What’s Team-Up somethingamig for? What are these relics I need to collect a thousand of for? (Boy that seems grindy, a 1000 of something.) Credits, Gs, eternity splinters and more. What the hell are all these currencies for?

I get crafting material drops mixed in with gear drops. The crafting quest is a super simple basic one that just leads you to the NPC and makes you do one thing, and I haven’t had the patience to look over the rest of the vendor yet.

I get all rainbow colors of gear, white, green, blue, purple, yellow and even a brown unique. I presume the yellow and browns are keepers, and maybe the purple is decent enough. There’s a million and one different kinds of stats on them, affecting skills and other things, all of which I don’t actually grok what they’re for or what I should be prioritizing.

And what am I supposed to be doing with the rest of the ‘junk’ items? Leave ’em on the floor like standard Diablo-likes? Or do I cart them over and sell them to a vendor for credits? Do I even need credits? Do I “donate” them instead to raise the vendor level? Which vendors are important to raise first? (I eventually ended up skim-reading a guide which pointed me to unloading this stuff on the crafter and enchanter.)

I suppose learning these things come with time. I suppose Guild Wars 2 jargon might be just as confusing to a new player. (Though in GW2, you can’t permanently fuck up anything by just trying it out.)

I’m not really complaining about any of it, just commenting on the first impression experience. I mean, I’m still logging into Marvel Heroes daily, since they have a very cute reward system for encouraging daily log-ins, and it’s moderately amusing to just jump into the Midtown Manhattan instance and hit stuff for a bit. Very nice rate of experience gain and loot, and sort of recreates a street-sweeping experience I’ve missed since CoH was shut down (though the same instance gets really repetitive after a while.)

It’s perplexing to me that the new Industry City patrol zone that they’ve been promoting, doesn’t have the same experience gain or fun factor as MM. How are you going to persuade players to leave the ‘farm’ zone otherwise? (I hear they just patched it yesterday, so maybe they’ve tweaked a few things since, but… yeah.)

I just keep plodding on for now, wondering if it’s ever going to get any better. And whether I’ll actually be able to learn/experience anything significant to blog about. Or if it’s just going to be something along the lines of Neverwinter – click to hit stuff, see stuff die, get artificial number increments and pretend-shiny loot drops and rank up in “tier” or “gearscore” sufficiently to hit other stuff and see those die.

Prison Architect

I bought this a while back.

Started the game, went, OMG, it looks like something out of the Dwarf Fortress genre where you’re going to have to build and plan an entire building/base from scratch… looks interesting as hell, but I don’t have the time right now, and then quit right out.

Tried it again recently, and I haven’t got much furfther than the very basic tutorial and struggling on a basic base.

At the moment, I’m more playing Prison Electrician, as the entire electrical circuit / power supply aspect is causing me a massive headache.

My prisoners are just hanging around in pitch darkness while the Power Stations trip a fuse every time I start them up.

There’s just not enough proper feedback as to what I’m doing wrong with them at the moment.

This is something I personally think they need to work on eventually, though I’m aware it’s still in perpetual Alpha or whatever.

Through a lot of wiki’ing and reading, I finally figured out that connecting two power stations on the same circuit is a no-no. So is having the electrical current take two paths and run into each other, producing a short of some kind. Or something of that ilk.

So I tried to make just one Power Station supply one part of the prison and just one straight line electrical cable extension or two, at most.

Except now I’m running out of juice from the Power Station itself, apparently, and have to add on capacitors for more juice.

Except I didn’t give enough adjacent room to put capacitors all around, and can’t figure out how to move the Power Station beyond just destroying it and building a new one in place.

And apparently kitchen equipment like a fridge and cooker take up an extreme amount of juice, and this is causing my Power Station to flip out and trip back into darkness. Like I would be able to tell, since there is absolutely no numerical feedback of any kind as to how much juice the Power Station is producing and how much the other equipment is taking up. (I thought stuff like this was basic to games like SimCity and so on.)

And apparently, I just learned from reading a guide that the capacitors shut off and have to be manually turned on the moment the power trips.

Which maybe explains why I don’t have enough juice in my previous attempts.

I’ve still yet to try this new strategy out, but man, talk about a whole lot of unnecessary busywork.

Due to this little hitch, I haven’t even had enough gameplay time to actually go about playing with the prisoner and other aspects of Prison Architect yet. I’m sure there’s plenty of depth and fun stuff to talk about… assuming I can get through the basics eventually.

Time to read and watch more wikis and guides, I guess.

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5 thoughts on “State of the Game: Requires Further Study

  1. Izlain says:

    I’ve hit this wall with GW2 where I want to play it but find myself zoning out in MOBAs for the whole night and then not actually playing it. My trouble with MMOs these days is that there are features I like in each different game, but not a cohesive package that makes me want to play that one game and that game alone.

    I tried Marvel Heroes and aside from the coolness of being super heroes (and ones I care about, rather than DC characters from DC Universe or nondescript ones from Champions Online) it is a rather generic action RPG that they’ve called an MMO. I felt very much like I was “playing alone together” with the random passerbys. There is a lot of confusing stuff to figure out too and I just didn’t want to devote the time to it. If I’m going to devote the time to an ARPG, I’d be better off grinding out more characters in D3 (or getting my main geared enough to go through torment levels) or finally going through the whole story of PoE, or hell, finishing off Torchlight 2 or Van Helsing, both of which have been on my hard drive for a long time, unfinished.

    I felt like Prison Architect was a good game, but it’s not finished yet. I’m kind of holding off until it gets out of Early Access and is a more complete product. Actually, I have quite a few games in that same spot, where I’m just waiting for full release so I can actually give them a fair go. Otherwise you’re basically just testing an alpha or beta version that could change drastically between now and then.

    Gaming is such a fickle thing. Sometimes I stick to my guns and complete games or get in a routine of playing a single persistent game (like an MMO) for long periods of time. Then I usually find myself bouncing around for a while before settling again. You’ll work through this and find a good spot to be.

    By the way, when do you play GW2? I haven’t seen you since I’ve swapped servers, though I did see you are on my friends list now.

    • Jeromai says:

      I suspect it’s because L.A. and Singapore are currently about 16 hours apart. 😉

      I generally play every night, and most of the weekend unless some other real life priority comes up. I’ll send ya a more detailed timezone converted list over Steam in a bit, probably have greater chances meeting on the weekend, aka American Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday mornings.

  2. Isey says:

    As silly as it may sound my biggest beef with Marvel Superheroes was the duplication. Oh look, 7 Spiderman (men?) here in the same area. That isn’t immersion breaking…

    The best code they could have wrote was to phase out players by hero (where possible) so instead of 7 captain americas in one zone, they are split betwenn 7 instances – and same with each – this way you would still have people/heroes but just far less duplication.

    That is the hurdle I couldn’t get over in that one!

  3. Pam says:

    Prison Architect was way more in-depth than I expected it to be. I enjoyed the tutorial because it had a story and I clearly needed to have my hand held, but getting dumped onto an empty plot of land, with no context, and told to just build stuff was a bit too aimless for me. I’m also not particularly interested in having to build a power grid, or any of the other systems since they aren’t very intuitive.

    Honestly, when I bought Prison Architect I was really hoping for something very similar to Theme Hospital, which I’ve spent many, many hours playing. I don’t think I have the desire or patience to learn the minutiae of the game.

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