RotMG: Lvl 20 in 20 Minutes

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be fast at leveling. Pros probably do it faster. And if you haven’t seen all the other zones, it is a shame to skip them until you’ve explored them.

But when you just want to get back to lvl 20 after a sudden death without a convenient train chugging along kiling everything in sight, this is how I do it.

1) Quick vault stop with new character. Pick up weapon, armor and ring to twink it out.

(This only works well after you’ve gotten a character to 20 long enough to kill enough mobs for good drops. But keep saving. I have a bunch of Staffs of Destruction and Robes of the Invoker that I keep on hand for the next wizard to be born. More advanced players likely have better stuff to twink their characters with. This is what I have at my present stage. *shrugs* I didn’t have many rings, but I found a ring of Defence which couldn’t hurt in keeping me alive.)

2) Head into a server. Make a beeline for the first quest mob that pops up in your radar. Shoot ’em.

(Quest mobs give higher xp than ordinary mobs. Something we will make use of in leveling. Recognize the quest mobs and always mow them down, chasing down the last 1-2 of their satellite mobs is less important if they’re being dodgy.)

Confirm that all your keys are working, and you can kill stuff and are fairly survivable, and probably hit level 2 while doing that.

3) Turn and head towards sand and the desert. Shoot anything in your way.

(Like these bandits. The big one is the quest mob.)

4) Go nuts shooting things.

Try to find these guys. The giant crabs and the sandsman kings. They always like to clump up in big groups in the desert. Each crab and king is a quest mob that gives 44-50 xp or so, they don’t hurt a lot, and tend to rush into you and your bullets.

Keep along the road to maintain the level of the mobs, and wander off to the sides into desert sand when you think there’s a big clump lurking just beyond your radar.

5) Profit. Level.

It’s fine to shoot anything else that is moving when you run out of crabs and kings. Be an equal-opportunity death dealer.

6) Keep shooting. Keep profiting.

I still like them kings and crabs, even at lvl 9 and higher. The cylones are a bit annoying with their confuses, but heck, you don’t need to move to shoot them dead.

7a) Now you can continue along in this vein, and/or start wandering into higher tier territory looking for quest mobs if you’re playing it safe.

7b) Or you can get bored like me at lvl 11 and decide to risk it where it’s really interesting risk-reward. The Godlands.

Now since I am out to go leech xp, I don’t want to find a quiet server where I can solo the Gods as I would when farming. I go find the most crowded server and check for a big yellow pack of lvl 20 players in the approximate centre of the map, where the Godlands should be.

Teleport in.

Hang around the pack, try not to die, watch the 100-200xp numbers roll in. Don’t die.

Hell, don’t shoot if you think you’ll die. Plenty of time to farm and dodge after you’re nearer to lvl 20 and have higher stats.

I wouldn’t do this at lvl 1 though. Some people do. Some people make it, but some people also die. Like that guy in the last screenshot. You just don’t have high enough speed to dodge well, and too low hp to eat too many bullets. And there’s some kind of xp cap that makes it so you’ll only get a fraction of the xp. Not worth it, imo, unless you just want the adrenaline challenge.

8) Continue to not die. Profit. Max level.

Ok, that’s only lvl 18 in the screenshot, but shortly after that, lvl 20 was hit.

Nexus’ed out to take a break. Back to farming potions in the next RotMG spurt I play. And I will give all the dang stat potions to the archer this time. Sheesh.

Commentary: This is how to do permadeath properly, in my opinion. Or at least the only kind I am liable to play. Make it quick enough to recover from, rather than serve as something that will disrupt a player’s MMO experience and encourage quitting. And put the locus of control back onto the player. It wasn’t some other guy’s fault that killed me. It was mine. I’ll take my lumps cos it was my own bad play, my mistake, that caused the death.

RotMG: Oops #1 – Snakes in a Pit

You just KNEW that was coming after I quaffed those 2 speed potions, eh?

In the vein of all Roguelikes, Realm of the Mad God celebrates YASD, Yet Another Stupid Death, with a big summary screen of all your exploits before you bite the big one, as well as the mistake and the mob that got you.

I’m nowhere near the leaderboards of dead characters, whose fame runs in the tens of thousands. But frankly, I’m relieved not to have one of those to lose yet. Losing those would probably hurt quite a bit. This guy? I can treat as just a throwaway, marked for inevitable death.

On the bright side, I did get some more Gods dead before that death, yielding 1 more defence, and an Oryx run, which yielded 1 attack and 1 defense and all that was safely ensconced into the belly of the archer recipient.

Then I dived into the Snake Pit dungeon on a whim, started musing on a blog post I was going to write about the pit, got more and more forward when I should have been playing safe, and dug myself into a corner literally. One long tunnel with nowhere to run out, and two greater pit vipers decided to camp the entrance with a hail of bullets before I could dig the exit hole.

Sighs. Next time, we will -try- not to panic and dig some shelter down, or dig out, anything but running towards certain death trying to kill it. Didn’t work.

I do have some screens from the last time I went into Snake Pit with a little more success… So we will use those instead to illustrate the fiendishness of this dungeon.

The Snake Pit is entered through a portal entrance dropped by various Lesser Gods, Ghost Kings, Ogre Kings and Liches.

You can always exit from the entrance, with the amusingly named Portal of Cowardice, or just decide to Nexus out. (Which I really should have done when cornered, but my brain froze and I didn’t react appropriately in time. Pretty much the cause of all RotMG deaths…)

Rooms are circular, and joined to each other by these filled in tunnels. You dig them out with bullets. Normally I dig a two or three square wide tunnel, and often skew it in the middle to provide a sheltering wall. (But obviously NOT in the case where I died. I went for one square, trying to be fast, and got caught out badly. *grumbles*)

You see, in most dungeons that I’ve tried so far, you can take your time when you’re solo and clear out room by room. You push for speed when you’re very comfortable with the place, statted out enough to do so, and want to go for maximum efficiency getting to the end boss and end reward.  But you CAN take your time and wait for all your hp to regen back before moving to the next room, it’ll still get you there, etc.

But Snake Pit has a design that tangles up this philosophy of slow and steady.

In these rooms with grates, the tiny snakes keep respawning. You will -never- clear the room permanently. If you shoot fast and deadly enough, you might gain a couple seconds breather, but then the snakes come back.

Now they do about 10-20 a shot. If you’ve got defence over 20, then they simply do 2-3 damage (I think) and are a fairly ignorable threat. If you are like my farming wizard and only have 9 defence, then they can do up to 11 hp a shot and a little less laughably ignored.

So there’s this weird back and forth balance you try to manage. Back enough not to get blown apart, forward enough to shoot them up, and forward enough to push into the next room, or you’re never going to get anywhere.

One of the tricks is to just push ahead and run around in a big circle in the room, shooting down enough snakes to create enough breathing room to dig into the next room…

Except there are bigger snakes.

And the bigger snakes hurt. So you run back away from them… into the smaller snakes, which shoot you, and forward into the bigger snakes to shoot them while not getting shot (thankfully, the big snakes can be killed and not respawn) and all the while trying to make it into the next room.

Which will hopefully get you closer to the end boss, Stheno the Snake Queen, assuming you didn’t guess the direction wrong and take a wrong turn and dead end somewhere.

If you’re lucky or good enough, you’ll get past a chain of snake rooms into a room with no grates, in which case you can have a slight breather once the room is cleared. But watch out for the neighboring rooms’ tiny snakes, who -will- eventually wander their way into your room to harass you.

And then you reach the dungeon boss Stheno. My still picture looks very calm, but trust me, it’s not. She has a number of fast circling snake guardians (one of whom you can see in the picture) making it most inconvenient to stay within a good firing range of her.

She has a number of phases and is only vulnerable during certain periods, which are often the most dangerous and hectic to get up close. Diagonal dagger spam, spawning of snake mobs, and an AoE bomb attack. Personally I’m still trying to learn and get comfortable with her phases, so I can’t say much beyond that. There are some walls at far away range to hide behind and regain hp, so there’s that at least. You can patiently wear her down while trying to get used to her phases, and she drops a speed potion (plus some rarer drops if you’re lucky.)

Well, in the second case, I never even got there. New farming wizard, here we come.

RotMG: Moar Pew Pew

Got in two quick interludes of Realm of the Mad God over the past few days. More Gods farming.

2 attack potions dropped the first time, and that went to the archer I am hoping to max stats with.

2 speed pots dropped the second, and temptation led me to quaffing them on the farming wizard, I find his current speed a bit on the slow side still. Let’s hope that actually aids my survivability in the future, before the inevitable “Dangit, my wizard died” post.

ROTMG servers were way way crowded this week. It’s the school holidays here in South East Asia, and it shows. I suppose it’s a game that suits kids pretty well, quick spurts, lots of action.

One of the most crowded Castle Oryx runs I’ve been on in a while. I suppose playing at local 3pm time on a weekend does have a difference from sneaking in games at 2am. 🙂

I didn’t get in sufficient damage on Oryx to drop anything this time, I was playing it safe and running off from anything that looked remotely dangerous.

On the other hand, if you risk too much, this is what can happen:

This poor guy, Tomatocan, bit it during the Oryx kill. One of the larger gravestones (Tier 7, means he had maxed 4 stats) which less people had seen, hence the explanation in chat from other vets.

RotMG: The Godlands

…And I’m right smack in the middle of playing Realm of the Mad God.

Realm of the Mad God is one of those games that defies conventional classification. It’s sorta kinda an MMO (in that there’s lots of people playing it at one time), and it’s also a Flash game (which follows the pattern of quick bouts of gameplay snuck in whenever you want), and it’s definitely in the bullet hell arcade shooter genre (plenty of projectiles flying about, but not too extreme.) It has Roguelike permadeath. But you know, it has classes and levels and grinding over and over for better stats and gear in order to get buff enough to kill bigger bads, and that’s gotta make it an MMO, right?

I really like the game. Steam says I’ve got 44 hours logged in it, and before that, I was playing it a fair bit on Kongregate.

I also probably suck at it. Because I’m nowhere near to being “expert,” “pro” or “hardcore” at this game, going by the level of all the leetspeaking folk on the game’s forums who seem to wander around casually in maxed out stats and amazingly good gear. But you know what? I don’t really care. I like playing the game and learning it on my own time.

What is definite is that I’ve moved on from the newbie stage. The newbie stage, imo, is when getting from level 1 to 20 is an adventure in itself, wandering the roads and rivers encountering all the various monsters is a big surprise, and picking up lower tier equipment is an exercise in glee because you sure don’t own anything better yet.

I’ll call myself in the “learning” stage. After you play for a bit and start regularly killing the Gods (monsters) in the Godlands, you start to accumulate a decent amount of T7-T8 gear. To the pros, this is probably still trash to be thrown into the chipper, but it’s enough for my new characters to walk around fairly unmolested and do slightly more twinked out damage, speeding up the process of getting to the max level of 20.

After having wandered the world sufficiently, one also starts to recognize the various areas and various monsters expected to be found in the various terrains. My favorite spot to level really fast is to meander off solo and walk around in the desert until one encounters the huge morass of Giant Crabs and Sandsman Kings that always seems to over-spawn in there. Some people join XP trains, but it seems slower to me – it’s a preference, I hate waiting around for other people before getting moving, I feel more constructive just regularly killing stuff.

So I’m at the stage where I can field level 20s regularly. The next stage is “potting up” or stat-grinding. By killing Gods in the Godlands, there is the rare chance that they’ll drop a potion with which to raise one stat by one point. (Some other event or boss mobs in dungeons also drop potions, but I still find them fairly rough going.)

Some really skilled guy made this video series where he records himself “potting up” a wizard from scratch. Me, I am nowhere near that confident of my skills dodging bullets. I think I went through 4+ wizards and a couple necromancers by taking silly risks in dungeons trying to learn boss fights, getting accidentally shotgunned by Oryx in the end-of-realm fights, and just lagging or being careless a couple seconds too much.

Having sated most of my curiosity (as I’ve ventured into most dungeons, only to Nexus out screaming from most of them when I find myself low on health, and seen most event mob fights), I’m determined to properly pot up a character.

I’m fondest of the wizard class, it’s the simplest to play (hence why everyone starts with it first), long ranged (giving more time to dodge and react), straight firing (easier to aim) and does a fair bit of dps (enough to qualify for soulbound drops on Gods, aka a good farmer!)

Now, general advice is that you earn pots for one character with another farmer – because hey, characters in active play can have shitty things happen to them – accidentally kicking the bucket and losing all your gear is already bad enough, losing all your stat potion progress would be even more irritating. Ideally, in order to get a truly badass wizard, I’d have another wizard on the side farming the pots for him.

Alas, my altholism also has me nurturing a lvl 20 rogue and lvl 20 archer on the side, and I’m unwilling to kill them off at present, nor buy any more character slots. So I’ve decided to try potting up the archer. He has higher defence than wizards, but slightly shorter range and a wider spread of fire. It’s not my best playstyle, but I get by. I also think his performance might get better if his stats improve, so I’m determined to give it a shot.

I had a bad accident with a lvl 20 huntress just a few days ago, which lost me T9 Roc Leather Armor that was from Oryx, a T4 Demonhunter trap that I had been hoarding up for some time and a free T10 Bow of Fey Magic that a nice random player gave me after seeing me plink away at Gods with a measly T5 Fire Bow. Ah well, easy come, easy go. That’s Roguelikes and permadeath for you.

The silver lining to the accident was that it freed up a slot for a dedicated wizard potion farmer, which I resolved to make, and keep re-making when it eventually bites the dust from another accident.

So… enter episode 1: In Which My Wizard Farmer Goes to the Godlands Again and Shoots up Gods in the Hope of Potions Dropping

Well, no, I lied. A couple careless deaths will teach one the value of proper preparation. I’ve made it a habit to always carry health potions before going to any risky areas. This gives me some reaction buffer time in case my health drops too low in a hurry, and lets me stay around longer before I’m forced to Nexus and leave the server and the fight. Oddly enough, the higher tier mobs seem to drop health potions rarely at best, and most of them are a pain in the ass to fight because they’ve got quite a hail of bullets.

So I wander around for a few minutes one-shotting mobs meant for level 1s. Conveniently, they still drop health potions. Sumos are a good source of health and mana potions when you find them. Well stocked, I teleport over to a group of lvl 20s in the Godlands. (This is always just a little bit risky because they could be in the middle of flaming bullet death, but you know, the 1% risk of inevitable death beats walking over.)

One thing I immediately found out is that it is really hard to get any viable screenshots from this game. It’s an arcade shooter with bullet hell wannabe pretensions. Stuff moves FAST. You must dodge FAST.

My left hand is on WASD. My right hand is aiming the cursor and my firing arc with the mouse. There is an auto-fire toggle key in this game, your own bullets can shoot helluva fast, especially once you increase your dex stat. Taking the hand off the mouse long enough to hit Print Screen is an exercise in significant risk. To make matters more interesting, my wizard farmer has pretty decent dps, so Gods evaporate in a couple seconds of being hit square on by my stream of bullets. Many times, I ended up taking pictures of Gods that weren’t there anymore.

Still, it’s interesting to note how far I’ve come. When I first started the game and got to the Godlands, I found it a very confusing, scary place with all kinds of unrecognizable monsters shooting all many of chaotic colors. I ended up huddling with the big pack of players that like to shoot up Gods together – most of them are looking for free XP, I suspect, though it is actually faster to kill stuff at one’s level range. It’s a big risk to go too low leveled into the Godlands because your speed stats are slower, so you dodge slower, you have less defence, and that means when you accidentally eat a faceful of bullets, you earn yourself a happy death announcement notice to the server – like that guy in the screenshot killed by a Djinn at lvl 5.

Between reading the wiki and just plain old experience, I can now tell apart the various Gods, and recognize all their firing patterns and colors.

Medusas are fairly nasty in that they have a red AoE attack they like to throw in front of them. The green stuff they fire starts close together, but spreads out, so keeping at range and dodging a couple milimetres works. White Demons are very easy, with the three ball pattern.

Treants shoot an orange shotgun spread too, they do it fairly fast and are a bit annoying.

Yes, there’s Gods in the snow fields as well. White on white, very tricky when you first encounter it, but really, it’s about knowing their patterns when you saw them on the grey rock already. Djinns used to confuse me with their flower like bullets, I couldn’t quite figure out where to dodge them at first. It’s still hard to describe in words now, but there’s a little gap between the fourth and fifth bullets that I usually just strafe left and right a little between, and one can maintain firing on the Djinn pretty much constantly. Djinn also release a circular ring of bullets when they die, so when you see that, you know they’re dead, even if you’ve dodged off-screen from them. Ghost Gods are nothing special, a spread of bullets as in the picture above, just stay in the gaps.

Stuff gets more confusing when there is more than one God at a time. It’s still about anticipating the patterns and knowing where to dodge. There’s a Flying Brain behind the Treant, they like to shoot very fast pink bolts. I’m not terribly good at dodging them but I try. Two Beholders shooting their star shaped pattern. Some of the Gods also shoot those asterisks, which all tend to be nasty debuffs like blinds and slows. I try not to get hit by any of them, period.

The Leviathan is one of the harder Gods. It appears to have higher hp than most, and it has a really complex bolt pattern it fires. Up close, it’s a horrible shotgun that can wipe out a careless character, so I just stay the hell away from the bullet spread and plink it from afar until it dies.

Eventually, you can even tell what Gods are beyond your visual sight range just by looking at the bullet patterns. In this case, at least 2-3 Treants, and a Flying Brain.

Interestingly, I find it easier soloing Gods because you pull them away one at a time or in manageable numbers, and you’re always backing away into a previously cleared safe zone, so blasts are more predictable.

My initial urge to huddle in a big group was actually counterproductive in more ways than one. For one thing, other people can do more damage to the God than you, killing it too fast for you to do sufficient damage to qualify for a soulbound loot drop. For another, various people are attracting more Gods and they are backing toward the big huddle from various directions, causing overlapping fire from different angles, and there’s all these people running about and shooting producing even more visual chaos.

I didn’t expect there to be much more to the story. I killed a lot of Gods. Had a meditative flow experience slightly broken up by the panic of trying to capture screenshots. Alt-tabbing to keep pasting Print Screens into a paint program is more than a little scary when you’re afraid some random guy will drag a horde of Gods into you while you’re not able to react and dodge in time. A few of them dropped stat potions – two defences that I recall. Yeah, miserable drop rates. Brought them back to my bank Vault to give to the proper character. Went back and fought the Gods some more.

Then serendipity happened:

I teleported into a group of lvl 20s who were attempting to break the Mysterious Crystal in the Godlands. Do enough damage, and it releases a special boss. I joined in. The crystal eventually gave way.

The Crystal Prisoner boss was released. I joined in, not really expecting much because I tend to get very hurt and have to back away and lose my damage on the boss or else bite the dust. Turned out there were sufficient priests in the mix that were shooting off heals, and I managed to actually get by and dodge properly. And to my immense surprise, when the prisoner boss died, a white soulbound bag (the rarest kind of soulbound bag, I am given to understand) dropped for me.

Jumping on it in glee, I pulled out my greatest haul yet. A Crystal Wand and an dexterity stat potion.

That’s the RNG for you. Into the bank vault it goes, until I have an open slot for a priest. (Which would, of course, mean me losing the current wizard to permadeath.)