Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I kept fiddling with Ryzom (SoR) just for something to do, and cause I knew I was doing /something/ wrong. Well I was ...

I found a spot that had good mobs for my skill level, and proceeded to grind up a few levels over a couple days. I probably could have got more, but it got old quick. I usually ended up going off to play FEAR MP some more.

Anyway, SoR has some more bizarre features that I don't get. And it's become quite pointless to play. Today I noticed lvl 40 mobs near the region border (it's seemless, BTW) and lvl 100+ mobs a few meters away. How is that good game design? There wasn't even a noticeable shift in the environment, nor a bottleneck or anything to keep the areas separate. All some new player needs to do is move a little too far, and they've aggroed a mob that will easily kill them, and quite possibly wipe their whole team. It seems the people at Nevrax need to take a few courses on game design at a college or something.

I'm also bored with SoR cause I tried to explore a bit, but because the areas are soooo freaking huge, it takes forever to get anywhere. A mount isn't too expensive (I think I can afford one now), but it can get killed, easily. And you just lose your money. Another bone-headed mistake when it comes to game design. But, since the mobs are 60+ lvls higher than me in the adjacent areas, I'm stuck where I am. The only way out is if some fellow high lvl players come and escort me out. And the population of the game is so small, that's not going to be an easy task.

My account expires for SoR in less than a week, I believe. I'm not re-subscribing (I already had cancelled it a few days after I activated it), so it'll be another MMO I've tried and quit. It's too bad too. It has some cool features, but overall the game is lacking in a lot of core areas.


As for WoW (which I've also been fiddling with, just cause I'm bored), I don't think I'll play it again either. That subscription ends on Sunday, so there's not much time left. I never got a character above lvl 10, cause I got bored so quick. I've played it all before, and done all the races starting areas (some multiple times) so there's nothing I haven't seen already. The only cool things were the times it rained in the Tirisfal Glades (Undead starter area), and the addons I found to change the game's UI and stuff. I think I actually spent as much time fiddling with different UI mods than I did actually playing.

I've made some acquaintances already on my server, as some of them are from my old server, and came to this one cause it was new (less than a month old). But I don't really interact with them much, aside from the sporadic chatting in the OOC channel.

I was thinking about joining an RP guild, and getting into the RP aspects of WoW. I played solo the entire time I played WoW before (6 months), I simply chatted with the people in the OOC channel for fun while questing. My RL friend and I did team up a few times, but our disparate lvling rates fucked that up in no time. And my alt-itis didn't help either. Anyway, I was thinking about RPing in WoW, but I found I couldn't get into my character at all. I don't really understand fantasy RP, as my tabletop DnD group probably figured out already ( I rarely talk in-character. Mostly I just crack the odd OOC joke). I'm also a sci-fi/comic book lover at heart.

Don't get me wrong, I love things like LotR and some of the fantasy books I've read (Song of Ice and Fire series comes to mind), but that's different, as they are narratives. I don't have to interact at all, I simply observe/read what's going on. I like the story and the characters, but I have no real idea how to RP them myself.

In tabletop, I've only GMed one session of a fantasy campaign, and it didn't go very well. The PCs were poorly skilled for the foes I put them up against, and everyone didn't really seem to understand my homegrown fantasy world.

But when I've GMed sci-fi stuff, my friends all seem to have a great time, and I can /easily/ slip into character with the NPCs, talking as them, rather than talking about them like a novel. e.g.. "The innkeeper asks you where you are from and why you've come to this small village." compared with "You folks don't seem to be from around here. Where do you hail from, and what business brings you here to our little hamlet?" I've noticed my tabletop group sometimes plays this way though, referring to everything and everyone as third person. They don't always act in-character. It's quite jarring. But then again, we are playing DnD 3.5, which is more like a fucking computer/board game than it is like a roleplaying game. The whole thing revolves around stats, numbers, tables, etc. There's little room for any character to show though.

I've been hoping my one friend and I can convince the rest of the group to try out GURPS 4th edition, as it's insanely more flexible, characters are skill-based rather than stuck in a cookie-cutter class, the rewards for playing are based on actually /role-playing/, not what level you are vs. what lvl the monster was, etc. It's a lot more realistic though, so you can't have the "high fantasy" setting as easily. But I have always found it far more interesting. Even Cyberpunk 2020 was a hell of a lot more fun than DnD 3.5.


I think that's it for now. Time for some sleep. I'll rant about something else later. Perhaps Oblivion.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I just recently finished all the missions/quests in the Ruins of Silan for The Saga of Ryzom (SoR). I figured since I was enjoying myself, that I should subscribe, at least for one month. You don't pay for SoR, you simply pay the $14.99 US a month to play. 15 bucks isn't a lot to see what the "true game" is like, as the newbie island isn't a true representation of the game.

Man ... let me say this first: It's fucking HARD.

I tried continuing on with my newbie island mission reward gear, and got my ass quickly handed to me. But I also found the mobs aren't leveled for the area at all. There are major variations on mob level all within a small area. I found yubos, and other herbivores mostly to be lvls 1-10 (the mobs in SoR are /conned by lvl ranges, not exact lvl), and the carnivores to be mostly 20-30 or 30-40. There were some 10-20 ones, but they travel in packs with the 30-40 ones.

Now, I don't have a problem with packs of carnivores, as it's more realistic for creatures to do that, and the whole predator/prey cycle of SoR mobs is cool. But the problem I do have is that the aggro sticks with you for so long, that if I accidentally aggro the 30-40 mob, I'm effectively dead. No chance I'm going to survive. No possibility to run away, as the speed boost last 10 secs, and they can easily catch you after that. No way I can kill it, unless it's the only thing I fight, and I'm at full health, with my Self Heal recharged.

I've died to the "pack leader" mobs a number of times now. It just pisses me off, cause they are almost impossible to avoid, as they patrol the roads, and range all over the place, cause of the predator/prey cycle. It wouldn't be so bad if I had some other way to heal myself, even if it was potions with a delay between uses. But the Self Heal Life ability is every /2 minutes/. So, it's not that useful at all.

So, okay, ignoring all that. I died. Big deal, right? With SoR's "coma slowly leading to death and XP debt" system, I can ask for a rezz and some nice soul may come and heal me, sparing me the XP debt. But the problem is, there's no one around. Not for miles. I did a /who in my region, and there was about 12 people. The region is fucking massive for this number of people. I ran around for over a half hour and found no one. All the people seem to be in the main city. The only people I found were two Trykers in the bar building, and after reading my chat window later on cause I didn't notice it at the time, it looks like they were cybering or something.

Himiko is excited by Nikopol.
Nikopol loves Himiko.
Nikopol knows what he wants, and it happens to be Himiko.
Nikopol mentally undresses Himiko.
Himiko acts with dignity, regardless of the situation.

These two were standing in the corner of the bar, almost up against each other. Also, the fact that Tryker look like little kids from some anime, disturbs me a little.

Another thing about SoR that I found annoying: Now that I'm on the mainland, and trying to solo (cause there's such a low server population, and I like it better), I've found I have to use specific types of gear, otherwise I've gimped myself. I can't use my Medium armour and dual wield, or even use my sword and shield. To be at all effective, I have to use Heavy armour, a 2-handed weapon, and purchase a bunch of jewelry to up my resistances and HPs. Now, the 20-30 carnivore mobs are a couple easy swings to kill, but the "pack leader" ones still kick my ass.

The whole idea of SoR is with the classless system, you can be anything you want to be. That's not true exactly. You have more options with a single character, but for each option, you are pigeon-holed. Meleers must use a 2-handed weapon and heavy armour. Mages must use light armour/no armour (i.e.. naked) and magic amplifiers. Crafters and Harvesters aren't a part of combat at all, so what they use is immaterial.

I was hoping to make a character that could be agile, wield 2 weapons, and possibly toss some spells around. Like a jack-of-all-trades. He wouldn't be great at any one of those things (taking damage, dealing melee damage, casting spells), but I could do any number of things. Sadly, that's an impossibility in SoR. I can be a Mage, or a straight up stereotypical Fighter (heavy armour, big weapon). Lots of choice there.

I did get to see some of the spell effects, and man .... they are sweeeeeeet. I can see if you had a big group of people, that your framerate would go down the toilet though.

Little irks about SoR:
- There are waaaaay too many NPCs wandering around the city, all with names you can't turn off, so your screen gets cluttered with overlapping, unreadable names.

- The names of people overlap, and become unreadable. Even if you select someone, it won't move the position of their name (up higher) so you can see it better.

- There are multiple NPC vendors, and they all have different inventories. There's no point to this, as it simply causes you to run between them, checking for different things, and wasting precious time.

- There are no chairs, tables, or any other kind of furniture in any of the NPC houses. I think the odd city leader has a desk, maybe. Just big round rooms with a single NPC standing in it.

- The population of the mainland is sooo small, that it forces you to either:
1) wait around to see if more people show up to group,
2) try and solo, most likely doing very poorly and having lots of downtime,
3) craft in town (boring),
4) harvest in the wilderness, hoping to avoid the insta-death "pack leader" mobs (boring again), or
5) RP/chat.
Since I don't really find 3 or 4 fun, and I'll be damned if I wait to group (1), I'm left with: soloing or RP/chatting. Since RP/chatting isn't something I'm going to pay $15/month for, all I have is soloing. And like I said before, it's not very easy at all.

I think I'll just fiddle with SoR for the remainder of my month (I already canceled my subscription) and see if it gets any better. But I doubt it will. I'd like to see some other areas though, as I like exploring.


So now SoR and WoW are no more for me. I even tried CoH again the other day, using a 14 day trial code from my CoV box. I ended up uninstalling it within 30 minutes. There's nothing there anymore. It's not fun like it used to be. I've just screwed around with WoW recently for something to do. Sad, isn't it? My one co-worker is almost as bored as me. He and I were debating having a race to see how fast we could level our WoW characters before our subscriptions run out. At least he has Shogun: Total War to keep him occupied. Too bad I'm not an RTS/strategy games fan.

I think I'm back to playing the odd MP game of FEAR, fiddling with Oblivion (it has it's moments), and surfing the web for fun. Maybe I can start watching TV again. I've got full cable for the price of the basic package, cause the installation guy didn't want to go back up on the roof in the rain, so there might actually be something good I can watch. Like something on the Space channel, History channel or Discovery. Perhaps I'll go to the store and buy some FPS games for something interesting. I still haven't played Far Cry, Call of Duty 1 or 2, and a couple other ones. Only thing is I tend to finish them in the span of /days/ so they won't keep me busy for long.

I really need a good SP RPG game to come out. Where the hell are you Neverwinter Nights 2?

Monday, August 7, 2006

Okay ... continuing the Saga of Ryzom bit:

Some of the quests on the newbie island are bizarre. They don't seem properly translated, as the original source is in French, and some of them have almost no information at all in your Missions window. I had one mission that wanted me to "Get the bandits to tell you their plans". Except it didn't specify which bandits, where, or if they had the info, or it was something I had to loot from a crate. I ended up wasting a bunch of my time, and unfortunately a bunch of someone else's time, just to find out the mob I need to kill is on the other side of the lake. It was some randomly spawning mob called "Specialist Bandit", and after killing him /4 times/ it finally updated my mission status.

Some of the other missions have been fine, but others are just a pain in the ass. Fortunately, SoR doesn't have missions as it's main focus, cause I don't think the developers have a good grasp how to make them anyway.

I've also got a better idea on why soloing was so hard for me. I was fighting in Melee, with mage armour on, and fighting mobs tougher than I should have. No wonder I was getting my ass kicked.

I upgraded to Medium armour, added the shield I got from a mission, and started to try other mobs, as mobs of the same level range can give different amounts of XP. Plus, some are vulnerable to different attacks. So far, it's been /waaaaay/ easier than before. But, what sucks though is that I can't effectively use my Magic skills at all during combat. I can toss a spell to start the fight, and pull the mob to me, but while in melee, casting pretty much equals a death wish. I think there are Attacks of Opportunity while casting, just like in DnD 3.5. Either that, or it lowers your Parry/Dodge chances while casting. Most likely the second one.

It sucks cause I was hoping to make a Fighter/Mage combo of sorts, but the way that SoR is designed, you can do both, just not at the same time. It was similar in SWG to an extent. You couldn't use your Pistol abilities while firing a rifle, nor could you use any melee abilities while firing a blaster. I'm guessing it's just easier to balance, and easier to code, since if people could do both at the same time, everyone would be a "Tank-Mage". For those who don't know, A "Tank-Mage" is the MMO equivalent of playing a game with /godmode on. You can take huge damage and deal huge damage, there's no counter balance.

CoH was originally designed to allow people to select whatever powers they wanted, rather than the class/Archetype system they have now. It was much cooler, as you could make your character be the exact superhero you wanted, with whatever abilities you wanted. But it was too easy for people who didn't know what they were doing to gimp themselves. And it was equally too easy for those who knew the system to exploit it and build a Tank-Mage. Hence, Cryptic went with the current system to allow for better balance and make it easier for players to understand. It sucks, cause if you've ever played Freedom Force, you will understand how cool it is to make your own superhero, with whatever bizarre combo of powers you want.

Anyway, back to SoR.

Not being able to use both Magic and Fighting at the same time, unless you're in Light Armour and maybe only wielding 2 daggers, isn't a huge issue with me. There has to be some restrictions there or things will be too easy to exploit. I was just hoping it would be like Oblivion, where I can create my own class and have them do whatever I want. Like a thief character who can also throw Destruction spells. Or a fighter in Heavy Armour who can also heal, like a Paladin.

[Aside: Now, some of the combos I thought of for Oblivion would be cool, but they're much more suited to a multiplayer environment, than a single-player game. There's a mod that some guys are developing that will allow people to play Oblivion /multiplayer/ though. I've seen a video of it. It's still in Alpha, but they've got the basics going. ]

Since Magic and Fighting are basically separated in SoR, you can still do both, you just have to pick one or the other for a specific moment. I can easily swap out my sword and shield for my Magic Amplifiers, and switch my armour from Medium to Light, then go be a Mage. It's that easy. Though you have to carry around both outfits, and that can take up lots of space in your inventory.


There's some stuff in the previous post that I need to clarify/fix.

1) The community of SoR is by far, the very best in any MMO I've ever played. People are genuinely helpful and friendly. True, there are a few people who come across as arrogant, but I think they were like this as I had effectively "insulted their game". It's like telling someone their favourite TV show/movie is utter crap. Just see how long they are friendly to you. After I kind of realized this, as it didn't cross my mind before for some odd reason, I changed the way I posted on the SoR forums, etc. I only used facts, no "this sucks" type of responses, and I tried my best to be impartial and logical in my posts. I noticed a marked improvement compared to before. People were once again helpful and friendly.

2) When I said the Fighting stanzas were limited, I didn't know that some of them aren't available until you go to the mainland. Plus, I found out that things like Pierce Armour, are usable on certain mobs, like ones with a chitinous shell. There are more when you get up to higher skill levels, but right now I'm only level 32 out of a possible 250 in Fighting. And it branches out again at 51, 76, etc. It's still pretty limited, but not as bad as what I originally thought.

3) I also was told by another player that they can't hear their character make any battle cries in combat, but only when they use certain weapons. So I'm thinking this is some kind of bug with the sword I'm using. I might try a different weapon and see.

4) I understand the con system a bit better now. When it says something is between 21 and 30 in skill, you can almost bet it's basically level 30. So, fighting something that's between 31 and 40 when you're 31 yourself isn't a great idea.

5) Soloing has become a lot easier for me now, as I have figured out a better way to get XP. Easier mobs may give 1/2 the XP, but I can kill them non-stop for a couple minutes, and they don't hit near as hard. I've taken out a herd of herbivore creatures, that look like a weird Buffalo, in no time, where I would almost die killing one harder mob, then have to sit and regen my HPs for a minute or two.


Basically, I don't think I was informed enough when I was first playing SoR to really understand the game. Nor am I now. I'm still learning how to play, just like when I was playing EVE Online. It's not like WoW where it takes you about 10-15 mins to figure out how to best play your class, and the rest is cake.

Speaking of WoW ...

I've grown tired of WoW already, and I had only played the trial for a few days, and reactivated my old account for a few more. In less than 2 weeks I'm back to where I was when I left WoW. The classes aren't all that interesting, and since I deleted my old characters, I'm stuck in the lower level areas that I remember vividly. I can remember where everything is, which quests I have to do, what mobs are hard/easy to kill and their abilities, etc. Nothing is new. Even playing a Warlock, which I had never gone above lvl 6 maybe, doesn't hold anything truly interesting anymore. You get your basic abilities so early on, and they simply get better as you level.

But for the most part, I can't get into WoW cause there's nothing for me to explore. About the only thing I haven't seen are the areas for levels 50+, and a lot of the higher level instances. But I don't want to grind to get to that point, as I remember it took me over 5 days of /played to get my Paladin to 41 (i.e.. that's 120 hours). I don't think I ever RPed with him extensively, and I do remember the trip from 20-30 being very quick, as I had a overpowered 2-handed weapon from a Paladin-only quest.

Another thing that's caused me to lose interest is I saw some of the higher level items again. I had forgot how god-awful they looked, and how silly people appeared with their multi-coloured clown armour. I like the appearance of the low-level items, and the NPCs all look cool, but for some reason the player armour looks like shit.

I've been lucky so far on the Sentinels server as, apart from Goldshire (the Human starting area and "asshole of Azeroth"), the community has been good. General chat, which is usually filled with inane babble and l33t speak, has been oddly silent. I keep checking to see if I turned it off or something. There hasn't been any RPing that I can see, other than one warrior I teamed with in the Human areas.

WoW is an okay game, I think it's just I've had my time there, and there's no going back. I need something new to explore. Exploration is my biggest reason for playing an MMO, as I scored 86% in Explorer for the Bartle test of MMO player types. I'll probably keep playing SoR for a while, as I haven't seen the entire newbie island and it's free. I'll probably fiddle with Oblivion some more. There's a few mods out there that fix some of the annoying things about the game. Like the way levels and random mobs works.