We All Lift Together?

tacticalalert

Warframe finally succeeded in pushing me out of my comfort zone and flipping the little matchmaking icon from “Solo” to “Public” by dropping a surprise Tactical Alert over the weekend.

The rewards on offer made my jaw drop; that’s a sizeable amount of credits for someone presently engaged in 5 min easy dark sector solos on Ceres for 23k and the other stuff would come in handy for pushing my warframes to greater heights.

Apparently, as I gathered from Reddit, the Rift Sigil was something fairly rare and prestigious that hasn’t been sighted for several years and this was a good chance to let newer players have a shot of nabbing it (kinda like GW2’s current ongoing festival, come to think about it.)

Greed made me resolve to try and complete as many missions as I could. After all, I managing level 30-40 missions on my own, so the first three level ranges looked doable; only the last with level 50+ enemies might be questionable.

Apparently, as I also later gathered from Reddit, when it comes to Tactical Alerts, the level ranges are a lie.

I popped into the first one marked 15-20 with my best kit – Rhino with Dex Sybaris, Dex Furis, Broken War, all max rank and as highly modded as possible with my current limited mod selection.

Realized there were Corpus in the mission, popped out again to switch weapon configurations to ‘Vs Corpus’ to make sure I was doing the most damage I could possibly do to them, restarted the mission.

There were 20 waves to defend against. Uh oh. That’s a pretty long time. While I was pretty confident of my Rhino surviving, prior painful experience has taught me to be much less confident of the -object- surviving at any missions past newbie levels without coating it in a Frost bubble.

Then the Hyenas started appearing. OMG. These are boss enemies that I’d been killing on Neptune, are you serious, they’re going to come at me (and the object) in waves… with presumably higher frequency as the wave counter drops?

I could more or less iron skin tank and kill one or two of them, but I was having visions of 2-4 of them running amok in later waves and going ham on the object ostensibly being defended while I engaged against 1-2.

About 7-8 waves into the 20 wave encounter, a little bit of extrapolation of the object’s health suggested there was no way it was going to make it to the end (unless I got lucky and cheesed it with leaving a stuck enemy alive at the later waves which would let the object regen. But that’s a lot of wait time and not a fair amount of luck to count on.)

Well, that’s a wrap. I aborted to pace around my ship pondering my options…

I -could- bring my Frost Prime to defend the object… except it was currently at rank 27 – just shy of the 3rd rank of Snow Globe. It was also obviously not at all well slotted with mods that would make it powerful. I had sincere doubts of myself surviving with Frost, though the object would survive as long as I stayed alive and had some energy to renew the globe.

Yep, this was definitely going to be a “group up (and hope to get carried)” affair. *sigh*

Many Warframe players will rush to assure new players that this state of affairs is fine – sometimes you get carried, sometimes you are the one carrying. As long as you -try- and don’t leech and aren’t an unnecessary burden on your group (ie. dying every 30 seconds), they’re fine with carrying a low mastery rank player kicking and screaming through enemies that they can mass murder while your weapons barely scratch ’em.

I decided to put on my big boy pants and deal with the vagaries of PUGs. I’d bring Rhino to be relatively tanky and my Roar is an offensive buff – something I like doing in GW2 anyway, with my warrior and banners and Empower Allies – I make the group stronger and kill more things just by being there.

I suspected my first public match experience was going to be somewhat similar to that of the “100 days of Warframe” cartoon video – mass chaos and either glorious failure with similarly inexperienced noobs or getting carried by warframes at much higher progression levels than I.

Pragmatically, we were hoping for the latter just long enough to succeed at each Tactical Alert mission. With the amount of people playing Warframe, this didn’t seem terribly bad a gamble.

This guess wasn’t terribly far off the mark. There was some kind of unrecognizable warframe in bright colors chilling by the defending object, which I spent most of my time near to, taking potshots at nearby moas that had escaped the depredations of the other two warframes zipping around the periphery at high speeds and even brighter colors that ended in explosions and xp/affinity numbers.

I eventually decided that the unrecognizable warframe was probably a Trinity variant since every time I got near it, some kind of blue wavy line linked me to it, and trial and error revealed I had no energy when far away from it (yea, no energy orbs drop in this mission – another reason to group up) and my energy would steadily creep up when standing near it.

Things were going relatively well. Once, one of the rampaging warframes dropped and I went over to attempt picking it up – something I’m not sure I 100% figured out as I only got the All For One achievement on a later mission. But anyway, someone else revived him while I humped them to look like I was helping.

Alas, with 4 waves left on the counter, I had started to get braver and venture out to the periphery to help and roar a bit (my Dex Sybaris was quite capable of killing these enemies one by one, after all, and I was trying not to look like a leech)… when the mission suddenly faded to black and mission failure.

I can only presume we’d all put on some blinders and forgot to look back at the object and check on its health while engaged in a glory of slaughter. RIP.

Well, that’s not good. If you want the object to survive, looks like you’re going to have to do it yourself… But my Frost Prime wasn’t anywhere near ready… *urgh*

I compromised by telling myself I’d get to rank 28 for at least a level 3 Snow Globe, and then give it a shot. So I popped into the Ceres Seimeni Dark Sector that was fast becoming a comfortable second home… except that I forgot I still had public matchmaking on.

Oh. Well.

Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot as I ended up looking like the most overequipped warframe in the group with even lower MR than I and presumably barely leveled or modded weapons. Someone died here and I got to him fast enough to figure out how to hold my X key down long enough to revive him. “All For One” chievo get.

We got through 5 waves with me mostly killing everything – one extracted (maybe I wasn’t killing fast enough for him, maybe he was the one that had died and decided pushing it would be the deaths of him literally) and I drug the other two through another 5 waves where they were noticeably not doing much damage because I just wanted enough affinity to push my Frost to 28.

That occurred.

And I went back to first Tactical Alert… where -of course- matchmaking puts me into a group with ANOTHER Frost whose bubble was about double the size of mine. I made my dinky little bubble inside the big bubble, lol’ed to myself and tried to make myself somewhat useful…

…except now there was no Trinity and shortly thereafter everyone was out of energy. The other Frost dropped out after a wave, presumably having rapidly assessed our team composition to be really bad and likely a waste of time failure. I was also lagging pretty heavily in this mission. I am not sure if a second person dropped. Turns out either that guy or the Frost was the host, because there was some kind of “Host Migration” load screen shortly thereafter.

The two remaining stubborn stragglers (me and some other person) ended up with a new pair of strangers. One was a Trinity, the other was some sort of mass murdering warframe. Oh goodie. That’s what I was looking for. I stuck onto the Trinity like a magnet (or at least a very adorable puppy) and every time I had enough energy, I refreshed my cute lil’ tiny Snow Globe on the object. Hey, I’m helping, OK!

That and shooting random things the mobile mass murderers missed. This time, I stuck closer to the object, keeping it bubbled, determined not to have a repeat of the prior mission.

This worked great. Except after killing what seemed like a good many numbers of Corpus, some player asked in team chat, “Uhhh, is the wave counter stuck?”

I looked, and sure enough, the number was frozen at 14, even though the wave cleared messages and sound were coming up, and new waves were arriving.

Uhhhh… Yeah, I think the counter is stuck. But maybe it’s just a visual bug?

No one answered him. They just kept killing.

I’d learned through a lucky browse through the Warframe reddit that the key to bring up chat is T – something that is quite quite nonobvious to most people, me included, had I not read said post. So I could have said something, except I was, tbh, not experienced enough to even have an opinion.

Nevermind, everyone is continuing to kill things. The waves are popping up. In fact, bursas are starting to show up, which seems to be a later wave thing. Let’s just keep going and hope for the best.

I resolved to make a mental count down, and if we’d been killing for 14+ waves from the time I started, then I’d admit defeat and a bugged mission and abort…

Miraculously, barely a few waves from the time I started counting, the mission ended in success, with the wave counter still at 14.

OK. WHATEVER. WE’LL TAKE IT.

I went for the Interception mission next, wondering if the accepted PUG strategy was all four warframes to go to one point each and hold it, or to wander in a group or something else…

Seeing three of them branch out to A, B and C, I decided to at least give the first plan a shot and went by myself to D. After all, I do have a dinky little snow globe to help me defend.

I got a little lost along the way, finding myself underneath D for a while, before eventually blundering out and up to where it was, and capturing it a little later than the rest. Everyone seemed to be chilling where they were, so I did the same, under my icy dome.

Every now and then, a nearby door opened, and one or two corpus moas would emerge and then I’d shoot them dead with my Dex Sybaris.

Some time passed.

I looked over at my compatriots. One guy had made his way over to another warframe and the pair was chilling out at C. Every minute or so, there would be maybe one affinity number popping up where they were.

Hrm. Some more time passed.

The fourth guy had wandered up to near me at D, and I saw some affinity numbers pop up deeper in the tunnel leading to the door I was camping. I had nothing else to shoot. The rest of the capture points stayed intact despite no one at them.

Huh. Looks like we found the source of the NPC interceptors and weren’t leaving them alive long enough to attempt any captures. First capture done without incident. Rinse and repeat for the other two required captures. Most effortless mission ever. Someone may have forgotten to push an upscaling lever.

WHATEVER. I’LL TAKE IT. 50K CREDITS AND EXILUS ADAPTER, THANK YOU.

The third mission was a Survival mission. This went about as expected. There was a great deal of mass murdering and warframes jumping around. Mostly not by me. I ran around, looking like a lost sheep newbie, shooting a few things here and there, opening some containers for the heck of it, revived someone who died, watched warframes run around soloing things.

Someone took care of clicking the life support when it reached 40%, I contributed by not touching anything and mucking up the grand plan, and followed the group as they vaguely migrated from room to room.

Someone team chatted “Find a place”

A most obscure set of instructions, presumably bearing meaning to those in the know and English words linked nonsensically to those who aren’t  – much like most of Warframe, actually.

Do you mean each warframe “finds a place” individually by themselves to kill things, and in so doing contribute to the life support counter?

Do you mean we should all “find a place” as a team to hold and let the enemies come to us?

As usual, there was no answer and more mass murdering.

Somewhere close to the end of the mission, the team found themselves in quite a hilariously cozy place indeed.

There was some kind of warframe that was putting up frontal shields like an Overwatch Reinhardt, and doing most of the killing. He’d decided to shield off one end of the corridor we found ourselves in, and was mass murdering everything on that end.

The other two had made their way to the other end of the corridor and were basically holding off everything in that direction. Oh look, the group is actually staying STILL. I have a place to put up a dome! So I domed that other end of the corridor and we made ourselves an excessively defended, cozy little corridor shelter to while out the remaining minutes.

Then the extraction popped up and I focused on trying to bullet jump out fast enough to not look like a straggling noob. I made it at number 3, so hey, I wasn’t the last guy. Yay.

The fourth mission was less important to me, since it was just a sigil that presumably has a lot more meaning to those in the know and the only conceivable way I might score it is by getting carried through the mission without really earning it.

But you know, in for a penny, in for a pound. Why not? We’re all getting carried together anyway. So I joined yet another random public match.

This had some kind of shiny green diamond object pulsing music next to the ostensibly to-be-defended object. There may or may not have been a warframe dancing or chilling on a pillar next to the object. All that music probably meant Octavia? Who knows.

Things were dying far away by some guy doing most of the work. I made my cute little bubble on the defend objective, not so much to look helpful or protect the object but more to protect my squishy little hiney. Someone else was in O mode, they came over to chill out in my dinky little bubble for a while. Presumably their Excalibur Umbra was off doing something. I shot a couple of level 50 corpus, marveling that I could actually sorta kill ’em. Someone died, I ran over to pick them up and shoot a few more things.

When the levels got nearer to 60 though, that was a no go. I ventured out long enough to find my shields (all of 1000+ of them) disappearing in a few blasts, ran back to the safety of my bubble. Misjudged long enough one time to get caught by a pack of Corpus and blown to smithereens. Guy doing most of the work came over to kindly pick my MR 7 ass up. I ran back under my bubble to not annoy him further. There’s a good boi.

Some time and no more deaths later, mission ends in success. Huzzah!

THANK YOU FOR THE CARRY. I’LL TAKE IT FOR NOW. I REALLY WANTED IT ALL DONE AND YOU HELPED ME GET IT DONE. WHOEVER YOU ARE.

THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE, APPARENTLY.

And no, that’s not sarcasm. Mostly positive bewilderment. It’s a bit strange that the game lets a player effectively leech or get carried by much stronger players.

I feel like I learned a lot more about how to play the game by doing it myself soloing and basically being backed into a corner to learn or face mission failure. I much prefer the pace of soloing too. I can go as slow as I like without feeling like a burden to others.

It’s a load better than toxicity though. Imagine if you were constantly ridiculed as a noob for trying to play together. Soon, no one would want to party up.

Instead, this creates a net positive experience of helping others and being helped – grateful newbies and kindly veterans paying their own experiences of getting carried forward. Yes, one has to suffer the odd lazy freeloader living off the system, but a negative and toxic vicious cycle is even less sustainable for anyone.

Frankly, I still don’t really find PUG grouping super fun because of the disparity in contribution. I don’t use a microphone or have the time to play as a coordinated team in Warframe either. So I’m still happy soloing my way through most things…

… but it’s nice to know that if I really need the help to get past something, I have an option to group up for progress without facing a page of spammed expletives and negativity.

There are also some interesting correlations to Guild Wars 2.

Presently, I’m quite enjoying pugging the Boss Blitz in the current festival. Sometimes there is exceptional coordination and we get the Gold reward. Sometimes there are issues and we wind up with Silver or Bronze.

Some guys take the responsibility of organizing; I just need to join in with my CC skills and usual main kitted out in a raid-ready build. I run arcdps these days, and can see that I’m usually in the top 3 dps (2nd is normal) of whichever boss I’ve picked.

Is my contribution a lot higher theoretically than the 10 others also plinking away at the boss? Yes, but they are also playing their part and trying at their own current levels of  skill (let’s not use that word anymore) capability.

And if I make a mistake and go down, they are also being helpful to the group effort if they pick me back up and let me continue my stream of high damage.

I assume eventually the populace will learn and adapt (especially since we haven’t had a Living Story-esque group event for quite some time) and things will subside into an accepted meta – or with the introduction of added elitism from high level fractals and raids, we run out of interest from players to self-organize (at which point, we know that’s truly the beginning of the end.)

Are there leeches in the Boss Blitz event that don’t contribute a thing? Yes, they are there too. But if it’s still within our capability to lift them all together, why not?

The alternative is a stream of angry toxic blame all over mapchat and people bailing to find greener pastures – another more organized map; another more chill activity; or another more pleasant-to-play game.

Advertisements

Warframe: Thoughts on Story and the War Within (non-spoiler edition)

warwithin1

Finished the War Within questline.

Immensely enjoyable.

I find myself reflecting on why I feel Warframe’s storytelling is better than Guild Wars 2’s, and somewhat reminiscent of what I enjoyed in Guild Wars 1.

I think it boils down to elegant simplicity and personal, emotional impact.

It doesn’t try to be overly clever; you don’t need a summary of 1000 words broken up into various sections to help you track the plotline and where the hell it’s going; it’s content merely to hint at lore and leave a lot of things unexplained. Ultimately, it leaves you wanting more.

There’s usually one beat going through the main line – find something, track someone, one main goal to focus on. As a character, you know what you’re aiming to do.

When the game throws you a curveball, it impacts you directly, there are in-game consequences and even changes to the game’s mechanics to accentuate the point.

To pull a GW1 example, you work through several quest chapters to Ascend and that Ascension significantly changes your character in permanent ways – the Mursaat’s spectral agony no longer melts you.

To pull a GW2 could-have-been example, it’s as if Blish’s arm conveniently falling off and setting up an elaborate stealth mechanic game wasn’t just treated as “funny ha ha convenient, no?” and a milestone to hit along the plotline of multiple steps to take an outpost to build an army to storm a fortress to defeat Joko – but more along the lines of what-if the portal takes you and Blish into the depths of Joko’s fortress and just before he’s dragged off for questioning by Joko, he divests himself of the arm for you to stealth escape your way out (rescuing him in the process.)

Even better if Joko cuts off your arm during your own questioning and you have to replace it with Blish’s gift arm and get that skillset permanently (but that’s not happening since GW2 is allergic to imposing restrictions and consequences on player characters.)

But at least it would be slightly higher and more personally impactful stakes.

At the end of Warframe’s quests, something always changes. Your ship expands, develops, gains new additions. You, and the story of you, expands, develops, becomes more than you once knew.

warwithin3

Warframe’s story does not hesitate to take some very dramatic steps.

It is helped along by some of the best video game music I’ve ever heard. They accompany the story beats, accentuating wordlessly the emotion behind what you witness.

 

Gives me chills just listening to it.

That’s a soundtrack sale right there.

warwithin2

I’m hooked and definitely down for the Warframe ride.

Fan Outrage Impels Company CEO to Fire Dev Over “Hateful” Twitter Posts

https://kotaku.com/subnautica-dev-fired-over-hateful-statements-1822746373

Why it’s Not Surprising That the Subnautica Developer Was Fired

Oh, wait. Did you think I was talking about ArenaNet?

That’s old news.

So I brought up even older news to make a point.

Please remember to remain consistent with your stances.

Personally, my stance is: if you make the company look bad by being stupid on social media AND are personally identifiable to boot, don’t be surprised if the consequences come back to bite you in the ass and if the company no longer wants to be associated with you.

Oh, and don’t identify as an apache attack helicopter.

I recommend wolves of no specified gender.

All of geekdom will be so distracted teasing you as a furry that they will forget any more politically charged issues and unite under one meme banner.

Warframe: Of All The Things to Find in a Sci-Fi Not-Quite-MMO

Sorry bout that; it took a little bit of doing to wrest back keyboard control from the big lug determined to turn my blog into his fishing Instagram.

But wow, I should have checked out all these non-combat side activities in the Plains of Eidolon a long time ago.

Then again, maybe not, as it is somewhat confusing to get started.

First, I had to realize that there was a Fast Travel option to the various NPCs in Cetus (and some of the other relays) before I started getting comfortable with the “town” lobby.

Second, I had to understand Syndicates and Standing – something that going through The New Strange quest and scanning for Cephalon Simaris managed to teach me step-wise, rather than getting bludgeoned with strangeness all at once (ie. the first time stepping into Cetus.)

Lastly, I had to know how to craft and equip (and locate again to use) items that weren’t straight up weapons. Mostly this involves equipping them in the Arsenal and bringing up the radial gear menu (or keybinds that I haven’t gotten around to yet) in actual instanced missions.

However, if you can somehow wade your way through the unfamiliarity (with plentiful wiki or Google help if needed), Warframe really goes the one step further that one sometimes hopes to see from MMO professions/non-combat skill systems – something a little more advanced and skill-based than “press F / click button and wait.”

spearfishing

Fishing in Warframe is spear-fishing.

(Wow, that’s a little different from rod-and-line fishing already.)

The basic gameplay is simple – you wait by a body of water, and look out for fish. Bubbles and ripples provide some clues, but ultimately you have to be sharp eyed enough to see the fish under the water (or at least move your target cursor close enough to see its nameplate.)

Then clicking the mouse button throws your spear out, and it automatically reels in a short while later. If you aimed well and hit the fish, you’ll see a damage number and you’ll get the successful fish caught screen, where you can admire its size.

If not, well, you missed. And you probably scared the fish a little, who are now swimming more erratically.

There are more advanced fishing spears to craft as based on your overall faction standing; there is bait I haven’t tried yet but supposedly helps you control/encourage the type of fish that spawns in, if thrown at a demarcated area; and there is dye that you can craft to make the fish glow and thus easier to see and spear.

spearfishing2

It’s a simple enough minigame, and a little different from the standard “press a button to throw out a line, wait for a float to bob, and press button again to reel fish in” fishing gameplay.

Then there’s mining.

Wow.

While it might not rival the complexity of A Tale in the Desert’s mining – which practically makes you solve color or shape-based puzzles every time you attempt a strike – it’s certainly more simulationist than “Press F to mine.”

First, you buy a Cutter from an NPC in Cetus.

This Cutter is a combination mining laser and ore scanner.

Obviously, you find metal ore or gems in rock formations, so you have to physically get near a rock and check your Cutter.

If it detects something, it will have a little metal icon indicator on the left side, a distance indicator on the right, and the game will start chiming and pinging in an audible version of the “hotter/colder” children’s game as you spin in circles looking for the deposit.

Once you spy the red (metal) or blue (gems) indicator and zoom in, a white outline shows up around it.

warframemining1

This is your cue to attempt tracing the outline with your mining laser. A task slightly easier said than done.

Take too long and the white outline disappears, leaving you to trace the remainder from memory – or zoom in and out again to bring back the outline with a penalty to the yield.

warframemining2

Naturally, how accurate your trace is impacts how much of the final product one gets at the end. 10 appears to be the best (with the basic Nosam Cutter anyway) and I’ve screwed it up to the point of getting only 5 now and then.

warframemining3

Still, ’tis remarkably refreshing to find such innovative takes on ye olde staples of mining and fishing.

I might come to dread it if I ever find out I -need- to grind 300-500 of some resource or other over and over, but for now, it’s a pretty darned fun change of pace from running through metal clad hallways slicing things to bits at breakneck speed.