RotMG: Oops #3 – Death by Greed and Confusion

Fuck.

Lasted all of two days. And it was going -so- well.

Fame was accruing and I was getting a decent amount of attack and speed and defence potions to drop. I was getting quite comfy with switching between a +7 dexterity ring for additional pew pew and a +7 vitality ring to regen hp back quickly.

Then I got greedy and joined in on a group that was busting up the Mysterious Crystal. You know the one that contains a Mysterious Prisoner that I got a crystal wand from some time ago?

Big group, priests that were healing, what could go wrong?

1) Catch a few too many bullets and get quite badly wounded.

2) Panic and run while confused.

As in literally, debuffed with the Confusion effect.

For all the time I spend confused by cylones, I have not actively striven to remember the proper keys to press when confused to move appropriately – the switched keys remain constant, and I really should go learn it and ingrain it in my muscle memory some day.

So instead in a panic, I spam my normal keys and I somehow manage to run AWAY from the group (ie. away from any potential heals) and THROUGH at least two of those stupid guardian mobs that the boss spawns – which are these horse-like dark steeds.

Watching my health bar plummet in a panic while forgetting to Nexus out because the mind, still tuned towards and focused on greed, says, “Keep firing at the Crystal Prisoner, you might get another loop drop if you maintain the damage!”

Stupid, stupid. I will never learn.

From a distance, it’s amusingly ironic that these games’ permadeaths are predicated on the inevitability of human error. Split seconds of brainfreeze where you just don’t do what is sensibly logical.

Sighs.

Hello, Farming Wizard #4.

RotMG: Oops #2 – Expected Expiration and a Variety Break

I’ve been getting in bouts of Realm of the Mad God over the last week. More godlands farming for stat pots. Nothing exciting to post about. It might help if I actually counted the stat pots that drop per session, but I’m a failure at OCD planning where that is concerned.

I just shoot stuff, see nothing drop most of the time, shoot more stuff, check the purple bag, shoot even more stuff, hey, a stat pot. Pick it up. And when I’m sitting on 2-3 of them, head back to the Nexus, put it in the Vault, switch characters, chug the potions down, and switch characters back to shoot some more.

Count? What count? That would break the flow.

So it was inevitable that this would happen one day. (About seven days to the last wizard, says the news postings on the game.)

A couple milliseconds too late to absorb the fact that the squishy glass cannon had absorbed one too many ghost god bullets.

Ah well, easy come, easy go.

Got a bit tired of the endless farming, so I decided to switch it up a bit. My Steam RotMG account hadn’t unlocked all the character classes yet (though my Kongregate one had, so I didn’t find it a rush to do so for the Steam one.)

Still, Steam has Steam Achievements! Nothing like a few popups to raise the spirits.

I had Assassin and Paladin left to take to 20 and unlock the rest. Should be easy since I figured out how to get to lvl 20 in 20-30 minutes.

Lucked into a massive quest mob spawn on the assassin. Fairly insane hordes, but amusing.

Also discovered I don’t really have much skill at playing the shorter range classes. Often can’t dodge in time. I like the higher base speeds of the dagger using rogue classes, and I think the dagger range is decent – playing it well can probably be learnt some day.

I suspect I didn’t have a good enough ability item for the assassin – I couldn’t find any higher tier poisons to twink him out with (I think I chucked the one or two I had on the Kongregate account, and I was too lazy to log in on that) so no decent aoe damage.

Worth trying again some day. As is, I got tired of him failing to kill gods efficiently once he hit lvl 20, so I put back all his gear into the vault, and hurled him into the mouth of random death.

Paladin time.

I was missing a sword, so he started out really slow with the base sword. Just kept grabbing any sword upgrades that fell off the mobs, making sure not to push him too fast beyond his killing ability (he was decked out in 20 def armor and +6 def ring, so fairly impervious to anything lowbie).

At level 10, he found a Giant Snake quest mob. On death, it dropped a Jungle portal, so in he went.

The Jungle is a pretty fun dungeon for level 10s, nothing too hard, just some annoying mobs that like to hide behind the trees.

One of the mobs has this cool debuff bullet effect called “Hallucination” which turns everything on your screen into… well… see for yourself 🙂

Got him to level 20, unlocked the class and the achievement, and also decided to kill him off. I can’t manage melee at present. I’m sure it’s fun to stand around impervious to most things, but to do it at high levels means I’d have to farm enough defence first, and we’re still having problems on that avenue 😛

As of now, range is too short to do anything without eating some very painful shotguns and risking death every god mob, so off went his gear and into the lava he went.

Their total lifespans, about an hour for the assassin and half an hour for the pally.

For the hell of it, I took a mystic to 20 next to try out the stasis ability. Unfortunately, players are so well trained to ignore the three orbiting golem gods that even if you stasis, they walk away and don’t help you to kill them. And I was dismayed by her lack of base attack and dex, which made god farming slightly more tedious than on the wizard.

Commit harakiri, she did too.

So I guess it’s back to farming wizards again. (Priests and necromancers I also like, but we’ll save that for the next time I get bored.)

CoH: WTB Clarity

Let’s play a game of compare and contrast!

Behavior Adjustment Facility (BAF) Trial – Some Praetorian Clockwork Elite-ish bosses with an air to ground rocket attack

Can anyone tell me where the AoE damage will be coming down in 2-3 seconds from now?

Rhetorical question, I suspect.

This picture is a little messier. Can you tell me where one should be wary of standing, in case some kind of cage forms?

Behavior Adjustment Facility (BAF) Trial – Nightstar’s sequestration warnings

In the above case, the mechanic gives you two chances and a long interval to react as well. The player’s name appears in a pop up “Player Name: First Sequestration Warning!”

Then “Second Sequestration Warning!” And if you haven’t moved out of range by then, then this happens:

You’re held. It says so in bright red. You can’t move. There’s awful red fencing everywhere on your screen, and it’s a really clear indication that you don’t want to have this keep happening, and you’ll do better next time when you see the warning circles come up. That’s a fair gimmick.

Now, how about this picture?

Magisterium (MAG) Trial – Tyrant’s Fist

I’m going to have to break this down for you. And probably this image is best expanded to digest properly…

From the Paragon Wiki’s still incomplete breakdown of the trial:

Hammer of Justice is another attack to watch out for due to the 60ft range PBAoE which does not display any warning and deals severe Smashing/Energy damage. Unlike Statesman’s version, Tyrant is able to use his in midair.

I’m going to guess this fist attack is what they’re referring to. I’m not entirely sure, it’s not as if he says “EAT MY HAMMER OF JUSTICE” before he does it.

What Tyrant does do, is raise his fist in the air. This fist raise appears to be mildly more vertical than his other fist raise which just does a normal attack on the tank. About 0.5 seconds later, his fist comes down, and that cracked ground effect shows up. At the same time, no delay, no nothing, everyone near him (apparently a 60ft range if we trust the wiki) eats an attack which does 1000-4000 hp damage, presumably depending on your resistances and your current level shift at the time.

That’s likely to one-shot anyone not a brute or a tank with high hp. So what cue are we supposed to look out for here? The damage extends beyond the cracked ground effect, so you can’t even use that as a judgement of where not to stand. I’m directly behind him and I still got demolished.

I guess everyone just needs to read the wiki and know exactly how large 60ft is in their heads.

And when do we back away from him anyhow? If we spend the whole trial 60ft away to avoid this attack, all melee is screwed. 0.5 seconds is not enough time to move when you see his fist raise – assuming that you aren’t locked in an attack animation to begin with.

I suppose we just need to count to 30 in our heads per fist attack and hope that’s the interval at which he attacks – assuming it’s not random.

Conclusion: Bad bad design

(I will get around to explaining why I have UI splashed across my entire screen when dealing with this trial, so hang tight.)

I will grant that Tyrant has two other gimmicks which skirt the edge of clarity fairness into ‘acceptable’ territory.

Tyrant, as an incarnation of Marcus Cole/Statesman, has a signature Zeus lightning style kind of attack. This is cued by a red letter splash warning: “The air around Tyrant crackles!”

1-2 seconds later, if you are within a radius of Tyrant approximately the size of the crater he spawns in, a lightning patch will be summoned at your feet – which steadily trickles in 100-200 hp damage per tick for a period of time. Paragon Wiki says 12 ticks, I’ve never bothered to stand in one long enough to count, cos I’ll be dead before all the ticks hit.

This applies to all players, so your screen sort of looks like this every 35 odd seconds. Don’t stand in any of the bright patches, kthxbai.

It’s moderately fair. 1-2 seconds is a pretty short time interval to react, given the preponderance of long rooting animations in CoH, but it is doable. And even if you don’t have time to completely dodge all the way, you can survive one or two ticks of the lightning patch with not too much harm, as long as you don’t get trapped in overlapping patches.

On the other paw, they -are- awfully bright and it’s not like the exact radius of the patch is demarcated clearly. People have crashed out when their graphics cards can no longer manage to draw the intense lightning strikes (or a memory leak of some kind, most often seen when playing for too long in big groups with too much particle effects.)

His other gimmick can be seen cued in the trial UI, and the bright yellowish-white cylindrical pillars of light (as contrasted with the bright purple-white jaggly pillars of light). Those are his Lights of the Well, and they can be taken down with a temporary power all players get when doing the trial, called the Quills of Jocas.

The trial UI indicates the Time until Light of the Well. When it ticks down to 0, all the Lights respawn. It’s about 38 seconds or thereabouts per interval. At least it is cued in the UI. This is fair.

In this way, the people assigned to managing the Lights can anticipate roughly when they will spawn, backing away from Tyrant maybe 3-5 seconds before they spawn, hit their Quills temp power and destroy the Lights quickly. Never mind that the players had to figure out how to use the Quills – it’s an AoE attack, standing near or in the pillar of light works, no need to target the Lights like previous temp powers used in another trial. The animation is a quill burst – players can figure it out from there.

Again, the number of Lights (Connections to the Well – why the different terminology, eh?) existing at any time are cued in the UI. This is fair. Bad design would be not indicating the number of Lights in the UI and forcing people to rotate their screens to keep track and count manually. This is a key gimmick, a key mechanic, it -should- be cued.

But guess what, it’s not ENTIRELY cued. The result of taking down all the lights is NOT indicated to everyone. It is supposed to level shift everyone in the league upwards 1 level per light destroyed. Level shifts are usually only indicated in one place in the normal CoH UI – by highlighting another player and checking their levels in the target window.

How do you see if you yourself are level shifted? You don’t glow or anything. You’d think someone might have thought about adding that as a visual indicator.

Or even, write BRIGHT BLUE LETTERS across players’ screens going “YOU HAVE SEVERED TYRANT’S CONNECTIONS TO THE WELL AND STOLEN HIS POWER” (it’s not like there isn’t prior use of this) or have Tyrant curse out loud, “How dare you take my power from me? You will still die!”

No, what you have to do, assuming you read forum boards and pay attention to this sort of thing, is click on your Powers button, then enable Combat Attributes. This brings up the advanced Combat Attributes in the middle of your window. Click on the +Base to expand and scroll down the long list:

Right at the bottom, you see those tiny words “Level Shift?”

Right-click on that. Select “Monitor Level Shift”. And your level shift will finally appear in smaller form in your Attribute Monitor window. Which for me, I smashed to the right of my screen real estate to keep an eye on.

With that up, one can -finally- keep track of one’s level shifting while in the Magisterium Trial fighting Tyrant.

That’s where you find out that the level shifting only appears to happen:

a) in between the short interval that the lights are taken down and the lights come up again

b) possibly when Tyrant’s favor of the well is 50% or less (that’s just my personal guess from observations made – it’s not like the UI explains what the favor of the well is for, besides the cryptic message “The Well will favor the stronger combatant” nor does it explain how exactly to affect Tyrant’s favor anywhere)

c) and only to maybe 16 people out of a 24 member max trial, possibly within a certain radius of Tyrant or Tyrant and/or the players may have to remain in the vicinity of an invisible mob that does the level shifting, no one really knows for effing sure

Should players really have to guess at why or why not this key mechanic is or isn’t working?

In one of my above screenshots, a leaguemate asks, “What does it mean your soul will be trapped if you die?”

That’s the message the cryptic UI reports. I have no clue what it means. Neither does anyone else, if the lack of explanation is any indicator. Does that mean if you die, you won’t be able to level shift for a while? Does that mean your avatar is thrown into some secret dungeon to fight their way out if you die? (Apparently not, though I’ve never hit the hospital button – willpower comes with a handy self-recharging rez. I could not have cherry picked a better self-sufficient class on these irritating trials.) Does that mean Tyrant regains health or gets better regen if people die near him? (Some people say yea, some say nay.)

We’re also supposed to “Keep Olympian Guards away from Tyrant.” I suppose that’s clear enough. But how near is near? And what does he do in conjunction with the Olympian Guards that we should be keeping him away from them? (My current theory is that he kills them to heal himself, but I don’t actually -know-. It’s not like you can see him do any animation with regards to them, nor is there any message. O_o)

Here’s a minor nitpick with the phase 2 Magisterium fight. We’re supposed to fight three Arch-Villains, Shadowhunter, Chimera, and Nega-Pendragon. All of them have a gimmick of some sort. One gets stronger if not fighting. One gets stronger and shields up as he continues fighting. One teleports all over the place, and also does a variant of “Marks For Death” that he uses to target a rain of arrows.

“Marks for Death” is a gimmick originally used by the Arch-Villain Maelstrom in the TPN Campus Trial.

As you fight him, a red target may appear above your head.

In case you are blinded by everything happening in your vicinity, because oh…I don’t know, particle effects, melee combat?

Helpfully, “Marked For Death” letters also appear on your buff/debuff status bar indicator, so you don’t have to squint at the sea of red targets to see if maybe one of those is above your head.

You have about 3-5 seconds to hop out of range, or get out of line of sight. Then this announcement happens:

Shortly after that, anyone still within range or LOS bites the dust. Note the many cues and set time interval to get away.

Now in the Magisterium trial, Chimera does this:

See the red targets? Ok. I’m targeted. I think. Note the lack of “Marked for Death” red letters in the status bar? What gives? You can do it in one trial, why not do it for the other?

So anyway, I know I am targeted because I can see the red target above my head, because I am not dumb. So I intuitively move away because the trial UI says “Chimera will rain arrows down upon marked targets!”

About 5-6 seconds later of cooling my heels, feeling uncomfortable because when I’m not in melee range, I’m not contributing, and feeling extremely dumb because no one else has moved away and nothing has happened, I realize that the trial UI is missing one very important cue. Just WHEN is this rain of arrows supposed to take place? You have timers for all sorts of things happening in trials, why did you forget this one?

So anyhow, feeling sheepish for trying to avoid a stacked rain of arrows, I move back in to join the others. THEN Chimera decides to shower down his rain of arrows, presumably one centered around each targeted player, and 7 out of 8 members of the team (including myself) fall over dead.

Right.

So much for partial cues.

You know, what really upsets me about this is the lack of consistency. It’s not like they don’t know how to do it. Look at the same trial UI for Shadow Hunter and Nega-Pendragon. Their gimmick is explained crystal clearly in words. “Shadow Hunter’s strength grows if out of combat!”- Translation: Keep him in combat. Ok, I understand that, let’s do it, done.

“Nega-Pendragon’s strength grows with each attack!” And they even bothered to show us his shielding come up, and his rage. (Though what use it serves, I’m not sure. It’s not like we can do very much about it besides pile on and kill as fast as possible, which we were already doing.)

For the record, I’ve managed the Magisterium trial successfully once. There were about 4 kinetics on the team, and everyone’s damage was buffed to gills. I was hovering at 200-400% damage bonus the entire trial. The lights came down very quickly, and we consistently level shifted for about 15-20 seconds. The length of time level shifted is critical to being able to do enough damage to Tyrant to defeat him, as his favor with the well appears to jump up as he loses health for whatever reason.

At all other times, and I think I’ve got 5 other attempts under my belt by now, the level shifts have not been consistently applied, due to some unknown reason. Lights either didn’t come down fast due to players not reacting fast enough – or there was some badly timed lowering of the lights (level shifts reset when the light timer ticks down to respawn) – or the level shifts are buggy and not working properly – I don’t know the actual reason, but there have been trials where my level shifts jump from 3 to 9 for 2 seconds, and then flicker back to 3, over and over. Two seconds is not a long enough interval to do any damage to Tyrant. And others where a level shift simply doesn’t happen at all.

This sort of guesswork can actually be mitigated with clear UI and in-trial explanations. We should not have to rely on wikis, and player spading, and player gossip/rumor/lectures in order to successfully understand what to do.

These two concepts are not the same thing: a fair and challenging trial, and one that is unfair in order to be challenging.

I think it’s pretty clear where my opinion stands on the current Magisterium trial.

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.