GW2: Schooled by the Super Adventure Box Update

  • Dig locations in World 1 seem to have been nerfed, yielding only chests containing 5 or 20 baubles where they used to produce 30 or 40. The ending chest of World 1-1 and 1-2 yielded only a continue coin instead of a Bauble Bubble in normal mode.
  • I used up the 5 free continue coins I got in the mail, trying to get through Infantile Mode in World 2.
  • Even in that mode, I got a little taste of arbitrary death, what with the accidental slips into rushing rapids (“Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”) and sampling a dart trap sequence on purpose (since presumably some day I might try normal mode.)
  • At 0 coins and 0 lives left, near the start of World 2-3, my rainbow ended at a frozen ice wall with an NPC telling me my candle was too weak. A shopkeeper nearby sold a torch for 400 baubles.

I logged out in disgust.

I just couldn’t face the grind tonight.

Grind baubles, grind continue coins, grind for this and that to buy such-and-such and unlock whatever. *sigh*

I lost about 100% magic find from the patch too. So that’s a lot of blues and greens to grind and salvage.

Don’t even talk to me about crafting to 500.

This whole update feels like someone just shifted the goal posts and chucked them a lot further away.

Took the words right outta my mouth.
Took the words right outta my mouth.

GW2: If You Can’t Beat Them…

Today, I’m grumpy.

I checked Guild Wars 2 Reddit only to find that a ton of sites had -major spoilers- for the Sky Pirates of Tyria patch, which hasn’t even landed yet.

We already had an egregious example of this turn up on the front page of the Guild Wars 2 website for the noir mystery – which spelled out in crystal clear detail exactly where to go, on which day and so on.

I kinda skim read it very quickly, shying away the moment I realized it was a spoiler in order not to ruin my sense of discovery and fun later playing through the story instance, but forgave it as I figured a lot more achievement and progress oriented players would appreciate that sort of crystal clear direction and guidance.

It took 15 seconds of moral dilemma debating, but I eventually decided to read the fucking guide on Dulfy’s website regarding the Aetherblade Retreat dungeon.

Mostly because I was majorly alarmed by her description that said it was like Molten Facility, IF NOT HARDER. (Emphasis mine.)

Because you know folks who want to complete this sort of thing in an efficient and optimal manner have a higher chance of actually making it than your random casual putz that wanders in without a clue.

Because if you’re going to do a fucking raid complete with shitty complex mechanics, you’d better have read the fucking manual and watched the freakin’ video guide beforehand.

(Or at least, that’s what the elitist folks -who will have completed this sort of thing a lot more times than the casuals – will tell you.)

I immediately got a headache on reading the guide, with all the multiple phase mechanics that were going to be in play. This is going to be some learning curve when actually doing it.

And I’m a little freaked out at the thought that they:

a) decided to spell everything out and release it to the online media hounds early, suggesting that trial-and-error discovery is not the way they’d want you to attempt this dungeon (possibly because it may involve a great deal of rage and frustration)

b) are rewarding a rare and a gold piece on completing the dungeon, which hints at the difficulty level that they tuned it at

To be honest, I’m beginning to heavily reconsider trying to PUG this. It sounds like it may be a massive crapshoot of whether you’re going to get good party members or not. It makes me want to run back screaming to guildies only, who will at least be patient as everyone learns the dungeon and works through it together.

The one good thing that might come out of this is that this may be a dungeon that rewards control and support group-oriented builds. I’m not 100% sure of that. If the leet berserkers can find a way to bypass all the trash, I’m sure they will. And some of it may be a dps race.

But I’m seriously wondering how I may be able to fit Stand Your Ground and Hallowed Ground in my utility bar, along with Wall of Reflection and Hold the Line (something’s gotta give) and if I should be wearing my PVT gear with soldier runes to cleanse more conditions on shouts instead of the crit-focused knight’s. And hoping any warriors that come along have soldier runes and shake it off.

Maybe this may actually be a chance for necros and engineers and classes that can deal well with conditions to shine.

I’m going to apologize now to the one PUG that I will be squeezing my spirit weapon guardian in at an early stage to attempt. YOU NEVER KNOW, maybe the bow will come in handy removing your conditions, and the hammer interrupting, and maybe you’ll like the projectile absorption of the shield. And there will be blinds to interrupt things. I will just NOT BE TANKING on him, deal without your anchor guardian crutch.

Then as usual, once I’ve gotten that worked out of my system, and seen if 50% extra damage helps the poor glowing minions any, it’ll be back to the asura rocking cookie cutter.

If it really turns out too horrible, I may simply just give up and decide this kind of content is not for me.

Fortunately, I’m not at all attracted to the monocle – though I suspect a lot of engineers might be. (Please bring your utilities and support and show the leet jerks what you guys can really do besides chuck grenades around.)

I admit to being a lot more greedy for the guaranteed rare and 1 gold on dungeon completion. Between Dragon Bash and trying to get my new warrior in basic exotic gear, I’m somehow down to 15 gold in the bank, near broke.

If all else fails, I guess I can go hog the dragon timers like lots of other people are doing for rares instead.

10/10 Project: Mabinogi

This is starting to become a pattern.

Went to the website – selected the “old fashioned” way download because I am old fashioned and like my setup files as one big chunk.

Downloaded it at a speedy 1.4MB/sec.

Double-clicked it to install and received this intriguing error:

But but... I haven't even selected a path for you to install the program to!
But but… I haven’t even selected a path for you to install the program to!

One quick Google search reveals that this is not an uncommon problem.

Fuck you, Mabinogi.

Now I really wanted to delete this and end the post here, but this is starting to turn into a series of blog haikus about shit I can’t install.

So I gritted my teeth, and clicked on the big obvious button to get their propietary downloader, which insisted I sign my soul away and agree to downloading Pando Media Booster (something I earlier spent time scrubbing my computer free of, thanks to LOTRO and Aion), which sped up my download speed to oh… a blazing 300-400 kb/sec.

If you were paying attention, I downloaded 3x as fast from the direct download earlier.
If you were paying attention, I downloaded 3x as fast from the direct download earlier.

Queerly enough, the direct download was a mere 2 gb, and the identically named setup file that this downloader downloaded was 2.5 gb.

On double-clicking this one, the hard disk ground a bit but absolutely nothing happened.

No, I lied. Task Manager showed that the 2.5 gb MabinogiSetup133R.exe file was taking up a dinky 392k of memory.

Feeling very weirded out, I ended the process and did my best to delete all the exe files – something that took a little while as Windows insisted one of them was “in use” at the time.

You know, it’s not as if I downloaded this from a possibly contaminated torrent here. This is straight off the official website…

Official conclusion from me:

Mabinogi may also be a good game, but I’ll never know. It’s a good thing I added a baker’s dozen worth of MMOs to try, because I’m running out of them fast even before hitting character creation.

Now please excuse me while I go and scrub my computer off and run it through several gazillion virus scans because I’m paranoid and hate this type of weird behavior from exe files.


10/10 Project: Maplestory SEA

I’m going to rip Maplestory a new one from the beginning simply because it’s region-locked.

I don’t know about you, but part of the reason why I play MMOs is because I enjoy the massively multiplayer aspect of meeting people from all over the globe.

I enjoy playing with folks from North America, Europe (and the UK), Australia, alongside contingents from places like Brazil, South Africa, the Phillipines and Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China (some of those in the middle do fall under South East Asia, but not those in the front or back) and though I haven’t met anybody yet who has identified themselves as playing from Eastern Europe and Russia, I’m sure some are representing in our global MMOs.

(And other games: My best Alien Swarm experience and uber-hard difficulty badge was knocked out with two Ukrainians. It was awesome.)

Instead corporate greed and game farming out to localized developers ends up isolating players in multiple tiny regions, most of which trail behind at various stages of updates from the main game.

Philosophically, I have issues playing region-locked games. Now I understand the argument for, which mostly boils down to less lag and latency from a more nearby server farm. (The companies will also try to sell you the idea that you’re getting better customer support, but my personal experience of that makes me laugh derisively – I’d prefer a cut-and-paste response from someone in India following rules set out by whoever wrote the guidebook.)

I think this is easily solved by offering choice back to the players. The Singapore version of Starcraft 2 had an interesting twist. Players could choose to play on either NA or the SEA region. (I don’t know if this still exists or works, I haven’t bought the game yet, but having the choice offered at least doesn’t dissuade me immediately from getting it. Unfortunately, it only worked for folks in our tiny little dot of a country and everyone else in the regions around were locked into one by default. I call foul.)

Locking players out by default means only one thing. Licensing rights and issues. Corporate greed. Stupid legal stuff about publishers and developers and distributors following an archaic boxed game system that is slowly but surely being supplanted by digital distribution.

And as much as I’d love to support local games industry, licensing a franchise and running it (oftentimes badly) just… smacks of lacking in creativity and corporate continuance at the expense of customer experience.

On the bright side, what I’ve heard is that Maplestory SEA has a fairly good reputation in that it is pretty popular in this region, possibly among schoolkids, (and in the sense that it wasn’t a flagshipped Hellgate: London disaster, which really pissed me off when I received the nasty shock that my $80 game was only locked to one region, updated poorly, and then crashed alongside the main game. And no, they didn’t offer refunds nor any excuse at good customer service either. You may be able to tell that I am NEVER giving that company – IAHgames – any money ever again. As far as I can tell, Asiasoft has a slightly less godawful reputation, which isn’t saying much, but well…)

Still, in the interests of at least trying out the game and letting it stand on its own merits (as well as be a freeloading bandwidth drain,) I downloaded the SEA version to give it a shot.

At version 1.27, I gather that it’s behind by four patches, as the ironically named Maplestory Global website seems to indicate that it’s up to 1.31 by now. (I hear Maplestory Global region locks out by IP any person from a country whom they have a local agreement with, at 10+ regions, I assume it’s a LOT of people locked out. I couldn’t be arsed to download 3 gigabytes just to try it out and screenshot the error message though.)

At least it isn’t TERA though, whom I’m still amazed had the gall to lock people out of a game while not even HAVING an alternate region for them to go to. And tarring everyone east of, oh, I dunno, London, with the Chinese gold farmer brush. Xenophobia, much?

On downloading, the game started up in full screen and offered me a choice between two gateways: one apparently preferred for Singapore Maplestory players, and the other for Philipines/Malaysia players.

Looking promising... until it didn't.
Looking promising… until it didn’t.

Upon selecting option A, the game crashed.


Trying it one more time, led to the same result. Client up and closed of its own accord.

This isn’t starting out well already.

Just a hint, if I have to start googling for solutions to technical problems even before I make a character, that’s a pretty damn big entry barrier for your game already.

So apparently, according to one year ago forums, this wordless error-message-less crash is indicative of one’s client being not fully updated to the most recent patch, because one is missing the auto-patching Patcher.exe from one’s main game folder.

I really would have thought that something labeled “FULL CLIENT” would come with, oh, I dunno, the full set of game files?

Turns out I missed the other button, labeled “Manual Patch” which I would have to download manually and patch up version 1.27 to 1.28.

So I guess we’re only three patches behind, not four.

While waiting for the manual patch to download and install and do whatever else it is doing (no doubt installing extra bloatware in an attempt to prevent hacks as well,) I just want to rant about my personal pet peeve – MMOs that take forever to get a player into the game. Games that don’t are few and far between (the two Guild Wars and Puzzle Pirates come to mind), but no doubt get a lot more people trying them out before losing patience at the installation stage.

On trying to launch the game after installing the manual patch, the game promptly hangs and gives me a black screen of death (complete with outsized cursor) and refuses to respond to ALT-TAB or indeed CTRL+ALT+DELETE. Had to hit the reset button to get the PC going again.


Now it could be that something that I haven’t yet given Zonealarm permission for is stalling this out, but I’m unable to figure out what. Nor do I see an easily configurable option to bring this client into windowed mode so that I can actually get at the Zonealarm pop up if there is one.

If there’s one thing I detest, it’s a game fails to function properly, locks up my entire system and can’t be ended via Task Manager.

Maplestory may be a good game, but it’s a shame, I’ll never know.

Just wasted two hours that could have been spent playing something a lot more fun than “Diagnose-Your-System-Incompatability-Problems.”

Seriously, fuck this.


Let’s hope the next 10/10 game has better luck.

SWTOR: How Not To Run Your Cash Shop

1) Remind Free2Play players what idiots they are for not subscribing at every juncture


Treating Free 2 Play customers like they are second class citizens makes it obvious that you want them to subscribe. Some may, just so they don’t have to endure all this nonsense. Others will simply give up, not bother, not feel valued enough and voila, you lose the long tail – those who might have kept buying in small amounts and those who just don’t believe in sub games these days but will spend big money on microtransactions.


Constructive solution? Instead of bashing F2P people with a stick to tell them how horribly -penalized- they are in -reduced- xp because they aren’t subscribers, sing the praises of a subscription BOOST or BONUS. F2P is the baseline and paying customers get it FASTER, doubled, twice as good and so on.

The hardcore will bite, guaranteed. No matter how fast things are, they’ll always want it faster.

2) Promise things your shop doesn’t deliver


Yeah, well, I really don’t see this item in the shop right now, no matter how hard I look.

This one specifically annoys me because SWTOR feels built to be slow and inconvenient to get around at the default sluggish run speed. I do not really approve of the stick and peer pressure method of getting people to pay up, but I was indeed considering making a token payment of 5 or 10 bucks to get Preferred Customer status and sprint at level 1 instead of level 15 – since it is taking eons to get to 15 and I feel bad that my friend is always waiting up for me.

However, if I am going to give them real money in exchange for shop tokens, I’d like to be able to buy something -attractive- and -desirable- in the shop with them.

Since convenience and speed is a priority for me in this game, so as to get to the quest givers and cutscenes more speedily without endless jogging, I asked myself, “What is the thing I would love to unlock the most?” The answer: Faster recharging Quick Travel.

The Free 2 Play default is 2 hours, and it is way too long for me, being used to zipping around maps with Guild Wars 2. Even at a one hour recharge, rather than the 30min cooldown that subscribers get, this would be a desirable item for me.

Except said permanent reduction time item does not exist, despite the website saying it does.

What does exist is a one-off consumable that costs about 90 cents a pop.


Screw that.

I don’t do consumables, unless they’re really really cheap. Permanent unlocks for me.

Constructive solution? Well, the ideal would be to offer said item in the shop. If the design decision was made to not offer this and there’s no way it will ever come in, then… for goodness’ sakes, proofread and edit the marketing copy on your website to reflect reality.

3) Offer bundles that contain the same item so that it is not worth it to buy both

OR Confuse customers with lack of clarity and shady tricks of omission

This one confuses me greatly. I have been looking at the two currently discounted bundles that appear to be designed to tempt new players into dropping some cash.

One of these things is just like the others...
One of these things is just like the others…

The Newcomer’s Bundle includes a Quick Travel Pass (I assume this means the 90 CC single use consumable), a Czerka Cruiser Speeder (that I have serious difficulty researching but appears to be a cheap basic mount that costs 8000 credits in-game), 5 minor XP boosts (60CC x 5 each) and the Legacy Perk: Improved Speeder Piloting I (475CC.) Total Discounted Cost of the Bundle – 405 CC.

One of these things is... exactly the same?
One of these things is… exactly the same?!

The Preferred Access Bundle includes one helping of the Inventory unlock of 10 slots (175 CC), a crew skill unlock (420 CC), Legacy Perk: Improved Speeder Piloting I (475CC), and Customization unlocks of Display Title (100CC), Display Legacy Name (100CC) and Unify Colors (350CC.) Total Discounted Cost of Bundle – 972CC.

I note the repeated Legacy Perk: Improved Speeder Piloting I in both packs.

Now one possibility that occurs to me is that this particular item is not account-wide, but only character-wide. But it is certainly not stated in the shop that way and seems rather like selling stuff under false pretenses or convenient omission.

Which then immediately rings alarm bells and makes me wonder which of the other items are only also character-wide, instead of account-wide? I had -assumed- that the crew skill unlock would apply to all characters. The inventory unlock becomes significantly more questionable then as well.

Which results in universal confusion and worry that one is being cheated somehow, and reluctance to buy anything for fear of it being a lemon, rather than temptation to buy both packs and be done with it and get maximum bonuses that way.

Constructive solution? Consistent clarity in your store descriptions please. State clearly if this applies account-wide or character-wide.

What makes it even more confusing, I have discovered, is that each server’s character slots appear to share one Legacy, so in addition to account-wide and character-wide, we need to stick the term server-wide somewhere in there too.

Finding forum posts like these dating back just three months ago, expressing serious confusion over the Improved Speeder Piloting Legacy and its account-wideness (or lack of), does NOT build confidence or trust.

No, seriously, if I buy this thing, how many characters of mine are going to have this? I need the clarity of information in order to make an informed decision to buy or not to buy.

(I’ve bought character-only stuff before, my main in GW2 has easily got four extra bag slots because I use him for high-level farming and dungeons and got tired of my bags constantly filling before I was done. I just need it made clear. This is clear. Just Google it and the second link confirms it. As for this, every webpage I click on gives me conflicting information on whether it is account-wide, legacy-wide, server-wide, character-wide or whatever.)

Update: On re-logging in to check the store ONCE more, I have JUST noticed two teensy tiny icons in the lower left picture of each respective unlock in the bundle. Mousing over those brings up the tooltips that the item can be bought for one character or for all characters in your account.

Ditto mousing over the actual blue or purple item itself, which brings up another tooltip that states it is for the player character only.

So my rant is not quite accurate, but it took me around eight very long fueled-by-suspicion-and-paranoia scrutinies at the store to finally find the very small print. It’s still very deceptive UI. And confusing to new players.

(Nor do I understand yet how to buy it for all characters should I want to. Clicking on the icons doesn’t seem to change the price around any. I guess I will have to Google again at some point.)

4) Give them problems logging into your website, after they’ve decided they may want to buy something off you anyway

Even after maximum confusion, I was still game enough to convince myself that a smoother game experience for five bucks (despite knowing very well the game was designed to be un-smooth so as to part you from your money just to make it nice-to-play) was not really worth agonizing over, cheap cash shop tactics notwithstanding.

After all, the quality of the cutscenes and entertainment value I was deriving out of SWTOR was worth putting down an initial outlay of a Starbucks coffee.

Except when I tried to click on the Add Coins button in-game, it assured me that it would open a browser window.


But it didn’t.

I switched to Windowed Fullscreen, thinking that Fullscreen might have given the game some trouble. No go. Browser remained closed.

I helpfully opened the browser (Firefox) and clicked the button again. No new tab. No redirect. No nothing.

Um, okay. Nevermind.

I went to the website itself and clicked on the “Buy Cartel Coins” option and got looped back to the same page. Nada.

Oh, maybe I have to be logged into my account. Makes sense, right?

So I click on the Log-In and type in my username (I have no email linked to the account, the free-to-play page here never asked for one) and my password and…


…This happens.

Again and again. I switch browsers and try Chrome. Then Internet Explorer. Still nothing.


Why won’t you let me log in to my account on the website, using the exact same password I just copied and pasted, which worked -fine- in the launcher to get me into the game itself?

No system maintenance or alert messages to suggest the website was under maintenance. The Customer Service FAQ and the forums made no reference of this particular problem I was having, leaving me just staring at the webpage thinking that like it or not, I would remain stuck as an SWTOR free-to-play status player for good.

I got no constructive suggestions for this one – only a semi-snide remark that if you make it difficult for customers to buy anything from you, a good lot of them would be much less persistent than me.


Because I love a good mystery, I sat there trying out various configurations, thinking some of the special characters in my password might have been throwing the website form off.

The irony of this is that when you sign up on their uber-easy free to play page, the tooltip says that some special characters are not allowed, but never tells you which ones. I figured that if I typed in the password and it was accepted, it would be fine. And certainly the launcher accepted my password just fine too.

I did eventually figure out exactly what was perplexing the website.

The sign-up page stated that the password had to be 8-16 characters in length – among other qualifications. Being somewhat paranoid, I entered a pretty long password without counting how many characters were actually in it. I’d assumed that if I exceeded the requirements, it would spit it back out at me as an invalid entry.

Turns out that my password had 18 characters in it.

Sign-up form accepted it just fine. Launcher accepted it just fine. (Perhaps they truncated it automatically.)

Website log-in, on the other hand, was NOT happy.

But typing in the first 16 characters of the password sent me right into the account page.

Go figure.

I just don’t know if I want to give them money anymore.