State of the Game: Post-Weekend Coverage

“Content” and “chugging” seem to be the watchwords here, through the weekend.

gw2-sw1

Over in Guild Wars 2, I’m noticing increasing evidence of social loafing in the Silverwastes. More and more, people aren’t bothering to work on the entire zone properly, and are looking for shortcuts to the good stuff.

Taxis advertise 80%, 90%, 95% to Breach maps, possibly out of kindness, possibly from enlightened self-interest where more people = more chance champions die and the pac-man maze succeeds and gets everyone more crests.

I posit that there’s both a lack of transparency / visibility as well as a sense of lack of control at work here.

In the Marionette event, it was in a small localized area with one convenient waypoint leading right to all five paths, and people could quickly run to each path and observe for themselves the distribution of other players and if there were enough people that seemed to be taking the event seriously enough for a chance at success.

In the Silverwastes, you don’t know how many people are at Blue fort if you’re at Indigo, for example, or Red, or Amber. You could always ask on map chat, but chances of getting an answer are unlikely.

The Indigo bosses are also somewhat difficult for a PUG map to defeat, discouraging people who actually want a successful Mordrem part extraction from going there. Ditto Red and the Copper husk sometimes, if not enough conditions or damage are in play, or if someone just keeps AoEing all the poison bubbles, causing massive healing to occur.

I mean, I personally make a point of just hoofing it over to Amber and killing the Iron troll. That seems to be the boss that most PUG maps can manage. Maybe Blue and the Platinum boss IF there are enough people hanging out there. If not, better scram.

This turns into a somewhat depressing self-fulfilling prophecy, where only 1 or 2 bosses succeed.

Not that you can really do anything about it anyway, because the Mordrem faction mostly seem to be on a difficulty scale that the under average cannot manage. In nearly every defence or boss fight, there are nearly always about 3-5 dead bodies lying on the ground at any one time, cheerfully scaling up the fight but reluctant to waypoint because it’s so far away.

I’ve honestly given up any hope of teaching where the Silverwastes and Mordrem is concerned (whereas the Marionette seemed to have an embarrassment factor that whittled out those who couldn’t cut it eventually), mostly because I keep thinking of the couple of people that I’ve seen in my guilds that simply CANNOT manage the Crab Scuttle guild rush.

Mind you, we are standing there right beside them, killing off anything threatening we are allowed to kill, looking at their buffs/conditions status bar while in party, telling them over and over in text and in voice to DODGE (at least once) to REMOVE the RED KARKA DEBUFF (or condition) so that they can actually get out of combat to heal up.

I honestly don’t care if they don’t understand the last three-quarters of that sentence. I just want them to press their dodge key once, or even click the yellow endurance bar over their red health pool.

If they do that, the debuff will go away and they will be able to heal up if they just stop running.

Trust me, they never do.

Do they even stop to ask, “How do I dodge?”

No, they do not.

They continue to press down on their W key, running headlong into every trap and crab along the way.

Three seconds later, they’re dead, having run into something, and they have to start again and again, showing no ability to learn from what they stepped in the last time, or willingness to communicate with those -trying- to guide or help them, until they just sigh and go “this is too hard” (if they even dare to speak) and slink and sneak away, utterly defeated.

(Let’s not even talk about how you try over and over to ask them to come to you, see this secret tunnel here? Press F and you’ll skip all the traps in the tunnel ahead. Guess what? They’re downed, in said tunnel ahead, by the time your say chat disappears, having charged in gungho without, presumably, even attempting to dodge through.)

I honestly cannot imagine how these players would fight Mordrem. One charge by a wolf, terragriff or thrasher, and they’ll be downed, having never found their dodge key.

Whatever.

I’m mostly taking the Silverwastes map very slow and steadily, because I suspect it’s going to be around for a while in a similar fashion to Dry Top, where we will keep revisiting the zone with each Living Story content drop.

After all, there’s a lot more Luminescent and Carapace armor locations left.

On the to-do list are getting two more characters through the storyline to pick up the other two weight classes of Carapace shoulders, because spend 1000 crests sounds prohibitively expensive, given how cruddy cooperative crest-earning opportunities are, with the current zone structure.

(It’s not very obvious, for one, as to the best ways to earn crests. I -think- the crest reward at the end of each defense event either increases with time/zone progress, or with the fort’s defense level going up, but I frankly don’t know which is the right conclusion. The removal of loot from the mobs also just encourage tapping the event, and then running off to tag another event, hoping that there are enough suckers remaining around to finish it. This tends to yield a prisoner’s dilemma where everyone defects and ends up worse off.

To most people, it’s all the stuff at the end that yields the best rewards. The breach. The labyrinth. The shiny obvious loot that fills bags. The significant 8-25 size of bandit crest rewards. So everyone tries to get to the end, preferably by taxi’ing, without doing any of the grunt work at the start.)

I have not gotten a SINGLE fang to drop yet, but have about 6-8 tendons from the attempt. With my crap luck using a green extractor, I suspect that I’ll have better luck just waiting for the next update, then using a white extractor to choose a fang later.

On the bright side, a carapace glove box dropped for me while opening up the Greater Nightmare key chest in the labyrinth, so I’m 2/3 of the way there. I -could- spend 1000 crests to get the last weight class, but I’m sitting on it for now, sorta hoping I’ll get another lucky drop while trying to farm/grind up the other things.

Plus I need to get around to the ‘hardmode’ achievements in the Living Story for the Plague Signet.

Marvel Heroes is putting me into all sorts of interesting dilemmas.

I logged on today, and saw the announcement that they’re doing some kind of Black Friday sales.

Apparently the first sale which I missed, was a 15% or so increase in cash shop currency for the real money you pay. That’s always a nice enough offer to catch, if you want some game’s cash shop currency.

The current sale, takes 25% off the price of all the heroes, and throws in a random hero box to boot. So you get to buy a hero for cheaper, and then get another random hero (or a repeat of your existing one, which has some kind of endgame bonus, I think.)

This was, of course, somewhat tempting, even for miserly old me. Nor would I really begrudge Marvel Heroes 5 bucks. They didn’t pressure me into it, for one thing, making me feel like some kind of second class citizen for not subscribing or whatever.

I did a quick back of the envelope calcuation. $5 plus the 250 free Gs they offer you to sweeten the deal is enough to get pretty much any hero I’m interested in, but with some stuff left over.

$10 is even more interesting, because I can pick up a 325 and 675 point hero, and presumably get two chances at random heroes.

Except I’m not sure if I begrudge Marvel Heroes $10. Is it a $10 game?

At the moment, my experience says no. It’s more a $5 game.

Part of the frustration is that I have just been perpetually moving around trying to find a sweet spot for combat and experience.

The last two days, I’ve been trying to get through the storyline, which is at least mildly interesting in a cartoon plot sort of way, but I’ve been forced t o wade through thousands of grey-con mobs to do so.

This is utterly boring. All I do is press F to Osmium Charge (aka a leap skill) my way through the maps, ignoring all the enemies that do zero damage to me, and give me no experience whatsoever, and tend to just fall over and die if they happen to be under my landing zone. It doesn’t even feel visceral when they die, so it’s just me going “clong clong clong”, leap frogging through 1/4 of the screen at any one time, wandering the map until I find the correct exit to take me to the next stage.

Or until I run out of spirit (aka mana), then I stop being able to leap for a while and have to run for a few seconds while it regenerates. Then clong clong clong again to the next point.

I really really miss GW2’s scaling.

Why am I so outleveled, by the way? Three days before, I was running around in the Midtown Manhattan instance, while there was some kind of double xp thing going on. That felt like an Edge of the Mists map, in the sense that it’s a farm map used by veterans to very quickly power level their alts through.

It was fun for a while, but then got repetitive.

So I tried going back to the storyline, to find everything grey to me.

Gah.

I have yet to figure out the art of matching myself to a zone appropriate for my level. It doesn’t help that I don’t have any waypoints or am gated from it until I finish the prior zone, I suppose.

Still, word is that they will be repeating ALL the Black Friday sales on the actual Black Friday weekend.

Add on an extra 150 Gs from the first sale, to the free 250 Gs, and we’re talking the ability to pick up potentially three heroes, and get three randoms. For 10 bucks. Dayum. That’s pretty tempting, all right.

I… just need to figure out whether there’s actually something fun to DO with all these heroes first.

I am pleased to announce that I have graduated from Prison Electrician to Prison Architect.

For realzies.

prison-architect1

Probably still not a very -good- one, but at least I figured out the art of putting capacitors next to the power supply, and even roughly how to ‘read’ the power supply.

Each capacitor appears to increase the ‘grey’ bar on the power supply, and the red stuff seems to indicate total amount of juice being used by the circuit.

With that finally working, I could actually start making other rooms.

It’s a really cramped canteen and yard for now. And the shower pretty much floods most of the time (had to install wall and doors there in a hurry to at least stave off -some- of the water.)

BUT I managed to finally read my reports and figure out “grants” which are like quest-giving missions to supply you goals and more importantly, advance cash, for accomplishing those goals.

I also figured out how to shut off prisoner intake, so that I didn’t have to deal with an onrush of prisoners every morning while trying to just figure out how it all works.

Slow expansion plans are in the works.

As well as trying to figure out how to get my prisoners busy actually -cleaning- the jail, rather than dirtying it up.

So far I’ve had to hire two janitors as a stopgap measure, but I’d really like to make them clean instead.

At least they’re mostly well-behaved so far, because my prison ain’t very securely built to begin with.

pw-mr-man

I -am- watching Mr. Man rather closely though.

They say he’s a volatile sort.

I’ve also popped my head back into Agrarian Skies.

Earlier on, I took a vacation (of sorts) in the Crash Landing mod, but frankly, didn’t quite know how to share my experiences with it because they mostly consisted of dying in various hardcore permadeath world-delete fashion, until I figured out how to get Sync shells working and make clones of myself…

…which then consisted of me dying in various cheap fashion (usually from spider attack from behind or above) and getting resurrected…

…while manually creeping a basic cobblestone tower/bridge/walkway structure towards the nearest city, because I was scared of walking through the dangerous desert.

(Explored one building or two, after that, found mostly nothing but various causes of death over and over, and got quite tired of the mod. One -was- hoping to find pieces for a smeltery, but it was looking like less effort – if more grind – would be involved in slowly melting down pieces of stone in a crucible for seared stone to pour over brick to make one seared brick.)

Agrarian Skies is a little less brutally hardcore, in that it doesn’t penalize you with multiple deaths, and everything is a lot more under your control, since you pretty much get to design your base and set your light levels and where mobs will or will not spawn. (Mostly “will not.”)

The inspiration has been googling up “modern homes” in Minecraft and seeing some really lovely building designs by people far more talented than I at this building thing.

I’ve always wanted a bigger and prettier house/base in Agrarian Skies – just never quite figured out how to get around to it or where to start.

The concept suddenly came together.

Try to make a modern house exterior, and pair it up with functional insides that use the ME storage system and have room for more industrial/machine/automation expansion.

Much more easily said than done, of course.

Not only do I have to find some nice smooth colored blocks with which to put the exterior walls together, I also need a cobblestone island / foundations -large- enough to support such an expanded base.

I couldn’t take the thought of putting together any more cobblestone islands block by block manually, so I decided it was time to get a Builder’s Wand.

That’s 8 diamonds.

That’s a LOT of gravel to sift.

I ended up digging through all my stuff and sacrificing 6 diamonds to make three more autonomous activators, so that gravel sifting could go faster, increasing my rate of diamond gain in the long run.

I also needed dirt to create grass to put on top of the cobblestone island foundation. Wandering over to my composting barrels, I found zero dirt. Which led to another period of growing oak trees for leaves to put into the barrels once more.

While that was going on automatically, it was rather obvious that all that gravel sifting was causing a backlog in terms of ore starting to clog the hopper and collection chest. So there was a need to start processing ore into metal too.

Before I knew it, a couple hours had gone by again.

Well, that’s Minecraft for you. Maybe some day, I’ll have some semblance of a modern house to share.

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6 thoughts on “State of the Game: Post-Weekend Coverage

  1. bhagpuss says:

    The problem with Silverwastes, and to a much lesser extent Dry Top, is that they are only fun *in their own right* a very few times. I was bored with Dry Top after a week and bored with Silverwastes after a day. All the issues you point out are true but also the maps are plain, ugly, annoying and contain virtually nothing of interest outside of the event chains.

    The huge difference between Silverwastes and the Marionette is that the former is an entire, permanent, open-world exploration map while the latter was a limited duration access event plus instanced fight. It’s depressingly clear to me that ANet’s understanding of an open map is totally at odds with mine (and with most of the original playerbase’s I suspect). Orr, which was supposed to be the original PVE endgame, was the first iteration – linked chains of PvE events that rolled 24/7 to unlock big “raid” events. They followed that with a supposed refinement of the model in Southsun. Both of those were abject failures in terms of attracting any kind of large, happy loyal “end game” attendance.

    Then they went away, sulked for a bit, had a think and came up with The Bazaar of the Four Winds. That went down pretty well so they iterated on that and came up with Dry Top. That, too, went down fairly well and they continue to refine the model further with Silverwaste. Unfortunately they are already running up against diminishing returns (how ironic).

    In the long and even the medium term Dry Top and Silverwaste appeal pretty much only to Achievers. Could say the same for all of GW2 post-launch, true, but the cadence of LS, ease of access to much of the content and the lack of much permanency has done a good job of hiding the worst of the Achiever excesses in the design to date. Now it’s out there in plain sight, unvarnished and boy does it look nasty.

    Compounding the problem are the rewards. If you’re going to go gung ho for acquisitional grindplay you really need to dangle shinies that people can’t resist. Most of what’s on offer so far seems eminently resistible and plenty of people are successfully resisting it.

    The long and the short of it is the gameplay in Silverwastes isn’t fun for very long and the rewards aren’t attractive enough to compensate so people are doing other things. If we do ever get an expansion I hope to god it’s not a dozen maps designed around these principles but I fear that’s exactly what it will be.

  2. nostrom says:

    I get from your text that you think you only get a modrem part if the event succeeds. I alwasy get a part when i’m carrying the buff, even if the event fails. So i mostly try to kill the trasher and hope the map is good enough to kill it fast enough to run to the tegariffs in time. Which nets me another part.

    Thats 50-100 crest right there. I have to add i don’t like taxiing in nearly ready maps. I play the map i get. It’s more fun fo rme to get to the end myself 🙂

  3. j3w3l says:

    It’s funny watching you go through the learning of Prison Architect, reminds me of my own stumbling when I first tried. I won’t give much advice except to say that you can sell your prison and the fund from that carry over to the next bit of land, this lets you increasingly plan more large scale prisons

  4. Ravious says:

    I totally agree with Crash Landing. I’ve been playing, then stopping for fear, then playing. The pressure is getting annoying… Oh, I need water… make more shears, prune some more trees. Oh, I need food.. make more bread (a multistep tiring process now), make more jelly… make PB-sandwiches. I can push through that, but…

    The ruins are just silly. I did get my crucible and the next thing (from Steelworks). The first building I hit had enough seared brick and stuff in the basement to smash with my hammer so I didn’t need to go in far.

    However, the brutality of the city is not fun. You can’t make places safe with torches because then you overheat. They took out glowstone nooks (which I actually agree with because it was too OP). So building basements stay with red X’s and continually spawn mobs.

    I made it to the 3rd salvage quest, that wants to me to salvage computer parts. I am guessing these upgraded parts are in another city, and I think I am done.

    It is a great concept. Beautiful game, but it’s just too intense with all the pressures. I applaud those that figure out systems and means to beat it. I do hope that people see how great a modpack can be without making a kitchen sink modpack. Keep it focused.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Jeromai, I think you grossly underestimate the amount of effort you have put into getting good at GW2. You have played since launch or close to it, you have done all of the content, more or less, you have put thousands of hours into this game. You have done things like kill the revised Tequatl and (IIRC) you have killed the triple trouble worm. You have (just as an example) done a guild activity. You are probably in the top 1% of PvE players worldwide. I know you probably don’t feel like you are — you can see other players that do more, and do better. But I suspect that most players in the game haven’t done any of the things I mentioned. Probably (I have no numbers, this is extrapolation) less than half have ever done map completion on any character. I would not be surprised to find out that a very significant percentage of players have never been to Orr.

    Can you play the piano? Thought experiment — imagine sitting down at one, and pulling out Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. Anyone should be able to do this, right? The tempo isn’t very fast, all you have to do is push the black and white keys in the correct sequence, every note is right on the paper in front of you. Unlike GW2, you don’t even have to react to things anyone else does, and nothing unexpected can happen. It’s really very simple.

    The problem with the current content is that Dry Top and the Silverwastes, though at a nice, fun difficulty level for people that manage Tequatl revised or triple trouble worm, is solidly beyond the skills of people that play casually. You can “keep current” with the living story with about 5 hours a month, and I suspect that many people just play that and then are dumped into these zones, ready to go — but they haven’t developed the skills to do the events. But ANet is making no content at all for anyone in between — the difficulty is either so low that the NPCs you are with can carry you, or so high that many people can’t do it.

    • Jeromai says:

      Honestly, I think my miserable time with the Silverwastes is a timezone issue. I don’t want to be disparaging about my fellow Asiatics, but as you say, most probably do not play long enough to build up much skill, or (and I think this is more important) do they value the game and its community enough to feel a desire to cooperate.

      Silverwastes without cooperation is a train wreck of epic proportions.

      When I switch to EU or NA timezones on the weekends, I notice the culture is a lot more cooperative. You still get the players who don’t play as well, but the cooperation covers up for a lot, as groups are willing to walk supply bulls. (Practically zero supply bulls move during my normal weekday nights.)

      Some of it might be a build issue as well. Without build saving, it’s really hard to pry people out of the builds they’re used to. I tried one or two Silverwastes on a thief alt, and found myself a lot more awkward than usual, and was mostly left thinking that all my gear was outdated and needed relooking at. (My runes, fer example, were set up mix-and-match to maximize bleeds prior to the great rune revamp, and now my current bleed duration was practically nonexistent.)

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