State of the Game: Post-Weekend Coverage

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.