Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Super Amazing Wagon Adventure (Turbo)

-Welcome to this series where I resolve to play my Steam games backlog! Here are my discoveries!-

super-amazing-wagon-adventure_title

Game: Super Amazing Wagon Adventure
Time Played: 1.1 hours

I picked this up as an impulse buy during the Steam Summer Sale 2014. It was only $1.01 when I bought it, so with the Steam currency in my account, it was practically free. It had a lot of good reviews, and I had an idea of what I was getting into when I picked it up.

What Is It?

You can customize your group
You can customize your group

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure (SAWA) is a retro style shooter/adventure game that parodies old skool games, such as Oregon Trail. To be honest, it’s nothing like Oregon Trail. But since you come into the game with that expectation, you’re instantly smacked in the face by the humor that keeps you coming back for more brutal deaths.

You know how when your best friend dies of dysentery in Oregon Trail, it’s more funny than sad? Well this game hits on that and takes it up… many, many notches. It brags that each time you play the adventure mode, you’ll experience a series of random events, most so ridiculous that you have to laugh. This is more or less true, though the game follows a pattern, so it’s not truly random. It’s only when you play through the game as many times as I have (due to death) that you come to expect the same sort of events each time.

Gameplay

I like the sense of humor and the random events. I understand what the game is trying to do and I appreciate it. It’s really the gameplay, which is as unforgiving as retro arcade games, that keeps me from fully enjoying all it has to offer. Namely, because (for me), it was so difficult that I couldn’t get halfway through without dying, so I could never really experience the game without starting over and over again.

Tai picked mushrooms. Then ate one on the way back to the wagon. He then tripped out and had to battle his inner demons, which killed him.
Tai picked mushrooms. Then ate one on the way back to the wagon. He then tripped out and had to battle his inner demons, which killed him.

I think this is by design. The game is made to make you laugh when you die… over and over and over again. But after about 30 mins of fighting the same random bandits, I wanted to see what was beyond the buffalo level.

I discovered the game was much easier for me when I tried to play it with a game pad. However, in scenarios when you are on foot, the targeting and shooting controls change, and are really not intuitive with the game pad. So I was practically juggling game pad and mouse/keyboard to progress through certain parts.

In the end, I resorted to looking for cheats (there are none), and learning how to use Cheat Engine to give at least one character infinite lives just so I could play through the game to the end. Seeing the difficulty of the game, I doubt I would have been able to beat it without a cheat — I guess I just suck at these kinds of games in my older age. 😀

Given this, I find myself on the fence when recommending the game to my friends. The price is right, the game is full of plenty of random silliness. I’m sure it’ll make people smile. However, if you’re not good at this kind of game, you may find yourself stuck playing the intro areas over and over again, which will quickly turn humor into annoyance.

Recommended: 

question

This game really needs a gallery to display what makes it so special. So here you are!

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Banished Experience

-Welcome to this series where I resolve to play my Steam games backlog! Here are my discoveries!-

banished1

 

Game: Banished
Time Played: 10.6 hours

While not technically a part of the Steam Challenge, as I started playing the night before I resolved to do this, I want to start with a quick review of the game Banished. I just wanted to note before I start that this game is incredible just with the fact that it was created by one person!

What Is It?

Some people call this a brutal and deceptively peaceful city builder. I’d say they are completely right. In Banished, you oversee a city of refugees who must build a new life in new lands. While there’s no warfare with other nations, it is a game that pits you and your ability to balance resources (both natural and labor) against nature. This is a city builder where defeat is very real.

Just starting out, so full of hope. Oblivious to the DEATH that awaits...
Just starting out, so full of hope. Oblivious to the DEATH that awaits…

You can choose your difficulty setting, the type of land you start in, the type of weather conditions and things like that from the start. It doesn’t matter though, you’re still going to lose. In fact, you’ll probably have to restart several times just to get through the third or so winter.

Then, once you think you have control over the situation, and you’ve learned how to balance food, labor and population expansion, if you accidentally tip that delicate balance in any way, it all goes south. And when it goes south, it goes fast with little hope to salvage the situation.

Despite the difficulty, I find myself having fun and drawn to try again. Maybe this time, I’ll have closer access to water (lands are generated by seeds). Maybe this time I won’t concentrate so much on farming — is that where I went wrong? This time, I’ll make sure I have enough tools to keep efficient production rates up so that we don’t all starve and freeze to death. Yes, this time, I will beat this!

I got to a population of nearly 100 when everything fell apart for me. Not quite sure what tipped it – maybe it was accepting that one extra family of nomads? Ah, well. 70-something years of keeping the settlement going isn’ t too shabby for a fourth try!

Oh, and I want to note that the game tutorials are excellent to start you off, if you’ve been scared by this review already. The game is easy to play and the UI is pretty intuitive.

Really, all that stands between your people and death is your own tactical thinking. While I agree there’s still room for some improvement (sometimes I don’t understand why people starved to death, and I do think there needs to be some sort of achievements to work towards other than just keeping the town functioning), it’s a fun game that kept me coming back for the challenge.

All in all, I’m keeping this one on my hard drive. I can see myself putting some more time into this on down the line.

Recommended?

yes

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

The Steam Personal Challenge

steamsale

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Play the Steam games that you buy! 

Ah, yes. Summer is here, and that means the Steam sales are blazing (or smoldering, depending on your viewpoint) yet again. I’ve seen a number of posts out there by various bloggers who are reflecting on the whole Steam sale system, how it encourages people to impulse buy and purchase way more games than they’d ever play.

It’s been a topic on my mind for a while, so this is as good a time as any to talk about it.

My Steam History

steampokemon
Comic Source: Dorkly

I was slow to adopt Steam. I created my Steam account in February 2009. I didn’t do anything with it until May 2010 (based on my account records), and that was only because they were giving away Portal for free. I still haven’t played Portal (I know… I know…), and after installing the client and looking around, I uninstalled and didn’t mess with Steam again for two more years. That’s when I purchased Skyrim, and the game suggested I link it to my Steam account. So I did.

I also didn’t play Skyrim a whole lot (I know… I know…), but that was the first game that I linked with Steam. My first actual Steam purchases (or maybe they were bundle purchases that I activated on Steam) were The Path and Limbo – both of which I completed (yay!). I can see where I took part of my first Steam summer sale in 2012, where I picked up a modest number of games.

It wasn’t until 2013 that my Steam account started to get out of control, however.

What took me so long to get around to using Steam? I simply didn’t trust the platform at the time. Here I was, a gamer who always bought the box (and has kept 99% of boxes bought). The idea of buying digital copies of games, stored on some server somewhere else, without a physical copy made me nervous at first.

I mean, what if something happens to Steam? What happens to our games?

This is still a valid question, however, as Steam picked up in popularity and more people used it, I eventually accepted it as something safe. Once I did, I was doomed to an ever inflating games list, just like many people have.

My Steam Stats

This post over at Herding Cats introduced me to the Steam Calculator. I plunked in my details and was pretty dismayed by what I saw.

steaminfo

First of all, in my defense, I know I didn’t spend over $1,000 on those games. I’m sure that it calculates based on full price, and doesn’t take into account that I bought many for very cheap in bundles or during Steam sales.

Second of all, I have no excuse for the number of games I haven’t played. None. Some games may have been part of bundles where I really just wanted one game, but activated all the rest on my account anyway. But, still. That’s pretty bad.

So, I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to challenge myself to play what I purchased! 

My Steam Challenge

I actually thought about this back during the Steam winter sale last year, when I realized that I was buying way more than I was playing. I started a similar challenge, which led me to completing Alan Wake, which was just a random game I picked off my list to start with. But then, I got caught up with Starbound, and totally forgot about the challenge as I sunk more hours into that than I have most MMOs I’ve ever played. XD

So, here I am, back to challenging myself to try out games that I’ve bought.

My Personal Steam Challenge Guidelines

  • Choose one single-player game to concentrate on at a time.
  • Play that game a minimum of 1 hour. Anything less isn’t really giving a game it’s due.
  • Really try to get into the game before dismissing it. Make a true effort… don’t just play it and say “done” to check it off a list. This is supposed to be a discovery experience!
  • If it’s still fun after the first hour or so, keep playing it until it’s complete, or until you’ve had your fill of the game. There’s no reason to push yourself to complete a game once you’ve reached that point, especially not when there’s so many to choose from.
  • There’s no time limit on how long you can spend with a game, but do be aware there are other games waiting their turn.
  • If the game has no end (strategy, sandbox, etc.), and you really love it, it’s okay to pick up a second game to play while still playing the first on the side. Just don’t get too distracted (like I did with Starbound).
  • Come back and blog about it! There’s sure to be something to write about. 🙂

My Steam Summer Sale

No Steam article would be complete without discussing what I’ve splurged on this year. So far, most of them have been deals on my Wishlist items — games I wanted but held out on until I saw them on sale. Most of them have been under $5, with the exception of Banished (but I really wanted it, and started playing it last night).

Other Thoughts on Steam Sales

Here’s some other blog posts about the Steam sale and what people like, dislike or just meh about.

What about you? Do you need to undertake your own Steam challenge?

Let’s see how far I get with this! 🙂

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

Guild Wars 2: Looking for that White Mantle on the Horizon

givemantle

Here’s something interesting. In my previous post about my concerns over the direction of GW2 Living Story Season 2, I noticed comments about plot consistently moving towards the hope of seeing the White Mantle return in GW2. And why wouldn’t it, really — GW2 is teasing a Maguuma area, which is historically tied to White Mantle in the minds of GW1 players.

I started thinking about this, and find it interesting that much more “mundane” enemies (compared to Scarlet) remain the most hoped for. I’m in complete agreement with this, and hope ANet will listen to their long-time fans.

They don’t need to go and invent some insane Sylvari mastermind, all these off-the-wall alliances, and giant mecha marionettes that drop from the sky. I mean… look at all that. It just got more and more silly as they tried to impress the player with Scarlet’s amazing knowledge and creations. Or something.

But why? They have all the lore and tools they need to design awesome villains right there already. They don’t have to keep trying so hard. They could find a way to put a new spin on old shadows, such as the White Mantle and the Mursaat.

Why the Mantle?

But, aren’t the Mantle old news? Why would anyone want to revisit old enemies from an old game? I think it’s a testament to GW1 that fans still look back to those inspirations in hope to see new stories that carry on the flavor of the original.

Warning: Guild Wars 1 Spoilers

The first time I played through GW1, the Mantle left their impression. So, here I am, a part of the group of Ascalonian refugees, who are now homeless and leaderless. The kind White Mantle are offering a safe haven in Kryta — that’s the only light these people have in all the world. Get through the Shiverpeaks. Get to somewhere safe and warm.

dismantleWhen I arrive in Kryta, I find it’s not all kittens and rainbows. In fact, it’s undead and undead. So, being the hero I am, I assist the White Mantle in fighting off the undead. I mean, these guys are trying to protect their people. And yeah, they’re dressed like white knights and all. So what could really go wrong?

I’m rewarded for my assistance, inducted into the order, and set out on missions. I get to lead around this cool floating eye artifact and search for Chosen Ones among the villagers to bring back to the Mantle in honor.

Only… that’s not what was really going on. In fact, White Mantle are some really bad dudes, offering up sacrifices to their Unseen Ones and taking control over the people of Kryta. And here I was, all that time, working with them.

Me, the good hero. I was helping the bad guys. I was one of them. I had no clue I was leading the Chosen Ones to their death.

Oh, crap!

What a bomb to drop! What a way to take that struggle and make it personal! Not only are the Mantle doing really bad things, but now the blood is on my hands if I don’t stop this. Suddenly, I’m invested and dead-set on taking down the Mantle, even if it’s one Justicar at a time.

And it didn’t need flashy explosions, destruction of cities or ships, ridiculous giant drills… or even dragons (though dragons do make everything better). Even after all these years, I remember this story because it connected me to the lore and the world on an individual level.

This is kind of thing people are looking for when they hope to see the White Mantle return. We don’t need hype and flash. We just need compelling stories, villains we struggle against for a reason, and a world that changes because the player’s hero (and not a bunch of chatty NPC “friends”) stepped up to make it change.

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs

Guild Wars 2: Season 2 Thoughts and Annoyances

I know what you’re thinking. Every time I post something about Guild Wars 2, I’m always grouchy and annoyed. That’s because they keep giving me reasons to be!

A few weeks back, GW2 announced their plans for the Living Story Journal. I really like this idea! There, that’s one nice thing to say in this post.

It seems a good balance between pushing content at the pace they’re trying to while not forcing people to rush to play it. It gives the ability for this content to be permanent, for story-lovers to do their story and achievement-lovers to do their achievements without stepping on each other’s toes. Overall, it sounded like a good development, and I almost… almost posted a hopeful post about the future of GW2, but didn’t get around to writing it for whatever reason.

Then, today, the announcement of of Gates of Maguuma was released. Yes! Info on season two, which is launching a week from today! So I rush to view the video and what do I get?

zsanctum1

Oh, yes. Lovely Zephyr Sanctum, one of my favorite places in the game. Peaceful music… Peaceful Cantha-teasing residents…

zsanctum2

But then, my internal warning sensors went off. Since when did Anet show us a pretty, peaceful scene in one of these trailers without…

zsanctum3

Yeah… that. Blowing it up, Michael Bay style.

zsanctum4

Mmmhmm…

zsanctum5

Until nothing’s left but a smoking pile of what was once another favorite place in this game. Here’s to hoping that it was only one ship and not all of them. I could deal with that a bit more.

Still, for what? To try to motivate me to be angry at whatever enemy did this? Really… what’s the point to all this? It’s like GW2 is trying to be Game of Thrones, except it constantly destroys heart-felt places and cultures rather than slaughtering characters right and left.

Did it rile me up? Well, I’m posting this here, so I’m feeling something. But rather than going “Whoa! Flames! Death! Destruction! Let’s take out the bad guy who did this!”… I’m feeling resent towards the writers who are stringing me along. Pretty soon, I’m going to stop investing myself in the lore, culture and places of this game because they keep trying to use the things I like against me, just to earn cheap ire at whatever enemies they’re cooking up.

They’ve already done it with Lion’s Arch, and I was annoyed about it then. While some of the scenario (maybe for the first week) was interesting and fun to farm, I look at the rubble of the city, and I feel like it just wasn’t worth it. I don’t think that’s the reaction ANet is trying to get, but it’s what they’re earning from me — I know I can’t be alone in that feeling.

So, while opening the Maguuma gates — which should have been what this story focuses on… they have a dragon to write about for light’s sake! — is a cool and exciting prospect, all this needless destruction has really put a damper on it for me.

All I’ll have to say is, I’ll play it. I’ll try to keep an open mind, like I did with the destruction of Lion’s Arch. They better have a really, really good reason for what they’re doing, though. I mean they better blow me away with a good, solid plot, and not just blow up places for no other reason than to call attention to their enemies and make them feel intimidating. I think I’d be much more accepting of this if I felt like everything leading up to it was worth it story-wise.

Full video here:

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming

Final Fantasy XIV E3 Excitement: Rogue/Ninja, Chocobos & Personal Housing

ffxive3While the big new class reveal happened on the opening day at E3, I wanted to wait until today to write a post about it because I knew more information would be released. While some folks are most concerned with the news of new Crystal Tower, Frontlines, the marriage system (including same sex and interracial marriage) and primal fights, my interest is in other areas — Chocobo Raising, Personal Housing and the new Rogue/Ninja class.

Chocobo Raising

Sadly, we didn’t get a whole lot of information about Chocobo raising. I did find a few details from the interview at Massively:

The current system that we have for release will be about your current companion with a focus on powering up and raising that chocobo companion, giving him different types of food and raising him, and changing his behavior in certain ways. In the future, maybe [we’ll] offer some different types of options. We’re going to have the Gold Saucer, and maybe there are going to be some events with chocobos and gold saucers, and players are going to need certain things… and that’s all we can say about that right now. We’ll just leave you with that.

Aw, comeon, Yoshida. You know you meant chocobo racing. What’s the Golden Saucer without chocobo racing?

Anyhow, this sounds like a neat system for those who love their chocobo companion (like I do). I just hope they’ll allow us to reset our attribute points so I can fix the hybrid mess I made on Zuri’s chocobo.

Oh, wait. More information just dropped (I posted too soon):

  • By setting up a stable in your free company garden, you’ll be able to take care of and train your chocobo.
  • There will be a way to break the rank cap in the chocobo raising system. By doing this, you’ll be able to surpass rank 10. By increasing your companion’s rank, you’ll be able to increase the number of points for acquiring skills, so with this, you’ll be able to acquire all of the skills.
  • This is an expansion to housing content so if you do not have a house you will not be able to participate in it. In the future we are planning to add certain features you can utilize from the chocobo porters in each of the three city-states.
  • Since this is for companions, just one for now. We are planning to expand content in phases, and in the future when the Gold*ahem* and the Chocobo*ahem* are implemented, you’ll be able to raise more. (I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!)
  •  We’ll be implementing a feature in patch 2.35 where your chocobos will be able to ‘re-grow’ their features and that’s when they’ll be able to change their feathers. It should be possible to change to all the different colors of dyes that are available. (WOOT!  Blue chocobo!!)

Personal Housing

While this probably doesn’t hold a candle to WildStar’s housing, at least it’s a place for me to stash all those housing items my retainer keeps dropping on me from ventures! They still haven’t finalized the cost, but they’re tossing around the number 300K gil. I couldn’t understand the Japanese in the video, so I can’t confirm.

The first personal housing will be a room you can purchase that is attached to your FC house. Seems the room will be a bit larger than the first floor of the small FC house – maybe the size of our inn room, perhaps. You can place any type of housing item there, as well as craft there if you wish. The size of the room and number of rooms available will be the same, no matter the size of the FC house.

New Rogue/Ninja Class

This reminds me of someone I've seen before... hmmm... :)
This reminds me of someone I’ve seen before… hmmm… 🙂

Many people were waiting on this announcement, so there were lots of happy folks who will be jumping on the Ninja bandwagon. Me included. While I leveled Dragoon for Tai, the class doesn’t fully match his style or what I was hoping for with melee DPS. I’m hesitant to hope that Ninja might.

It seems like a faster-paced, combo-dealing mystic arts type DD. It’s confirmed that Ninja won’t be as annoyingly positional as Monk, but that it will be “unique.” You know how that goes — unique classes can be awesome… or they can fall terribly flat from being built around a gimmick that doesn’t play or scale well. So, while I’m happy about this announcement, I hope the class plays well, and will try it out before judging it my new main for Tai.

Rogue characters are always hit and miss for me. Sometimes, depending on how they are designed, they’re wonderful. I love my EQ2 Swashie, and it will forever be my favorite class. Most the time, I just die quick and horrible deaths — such as my GW2 Thief. Ugh… I just suck at it.

Can’t deny that it LOOKS like it’ll be fun though…

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

WildStar Launch Feedback Confirms It’s Not the Game for Me

 

wildstar_background_wallpaper-HD

So I’ve been keeping an eye on the WildStar launch, especially blogger reactions to the game. Seems like aside from the DDOS attacks (sucky move by whomever), it’s been fairly smooth. I heard plenty of happy things about the game, especially if you enjoy the housing and such. I wish those players tons of fun, and hope it’s all they want it to be.

But then I hear things that only strengthen my resolve to stay away from the game. I had an itchy feeling during beta that WildStar didn’t appeal to me. It seemed too flashy, a bit too quirky, a game that was trying too hard to set itself apart… which aren’t bad things in moderation. Something about it as a total package just didn’t mesh with my gaming personality.

Maybe I’m getting old. Or maybe there’s something to my beta assessment.

I’m reading bloggers who are playing right now to get a sense of the feedback. It’s a hot topic, and even Tumblr has a strong WildStar community rolling (much the same as the GW2 community was back at release). It’s good to hear different thoughts on what’s fun and not so fun. Much of it confirms my early impressions.

wildstarbright
Bright battles are bright!

About Grouping: 

The questing content is difficult — not impossible to solo, but difficult — enough to make grouping up attractive.

Even tradeskills have a high level of interdependence, which means it will be a lot easier to craft if you have friends who can help out with parts.

Source: Herding Cats

I see how this can be a positive for those who enjoy the oldskool need-to-group MMO mentality. I’ve never been one of those people. I get this group anxiety, which prevents me from tackling most content that is forced grouping (something I’m learning to overcome in FFXIV). If I’m not playing with friends, I’ll solo content in games about 98% of the time.

Games like GW2 that allow casual grouping/not grouping to complete events are wonderful for someone like me. I enjoy helping people and working with people, I just get really nervous in a group of strangers. Groups with friends are okay, so if I were to play WildStar, sounds like I’d need friends to enjoy it.

About Adventures and Dungeons: 

The result was that I still don’t like the “hardcore” Wildstar adventures and dungeons. They are simply too fast and twitchy for me to be enjoyable. There is even less tactical thinking involved than in a WoW dungeon. For example as dps warrior I had very little control over who I was hitting when the enemies were bunched together, and no way to check aggro.

…Ranged dps have a huge advantage of having a much easier time avoiding the area attacks of the enemies, as melee it was nearly impossible to fight a group of enemies without getting hit as there were telegraphs everywhere. So in the end the whole thing played like a long firework of flashing lights and button mashing with very little feeling of having control over the situation.

I like the Wildstar combat in the solo version, because it is less trivial than the WoW equivalent. But I find it scales up badly to 5 players fighting half a dozen mobs. And the absence of a “normal” dungeon mode for more casual players annoys me, I don’t want to play heroic all the time.

Source: Tobold’s Blog

This was something I sensed the moment I understood how battle worked. Even solo play in WildStar was a bit too flashy with too many projections on the ground for me. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like when you get into a group with that kind of play.

wildstartelegraphs
Where do you even… do anything in this mess?

I’m also seeing a sad trend where ranged DPS is king. I think it’s the nature of these action battle systems. It sucks because I love melee DPS. I feel it even in FFXIV where Dragoons are looked down upon and Bard has become my favorite DPS class for ease of use.

More about Dungeons:

I’m not sure I’m going to like dungeons and group play in WildStar. It’s hard to tell from just one Adventure, but there are so many colorful flashing things happening on the screen that it’s damn near impossible to see what’s going on. It’s like GW2 on steroids. I’m hoping that the more you play, the more you’ll be able to key on specific visuals and filter out the useless noise (and/or that some Addon will come out that makes it better). And also I’m hoping there are some settings to tone down other players’ effects. (This is something that FFXIV got exactly right, incidentally.)

Source: Endgame Viable 

Sounds like more folks agree with the color, flash and overwhelmed feeling. What seemed pretty crazy solo must be mindmelting in dungeons. Sounds like a combination (twitchy gameplay + overwhelming graphics + grouping) that would be everything I’d dislike.

About Game Style:

Simply put, this game is just not ideal for the casual player. Doesn’t matter if you want to attach the term casual to a player who doesn’t have the requisite skill or interest or time.

If you suck at moving from plainly obvious telegraphed markings on the ground, you will die.

If you suck at timing your key presses, you will not be able to take advantage of certain bonuses.

If you can’t invest the necessary time to grind out the cash or develop your character, you won’t be very effective.

Source: World of Matticus 

I’ll wrap this up by restating that this doesn’t mean WildStar is a bad game. It’s just sounding less and less like the game for me. Which I pretty much already knew. Thanks to bloggers for giving the honest reports!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

New Free Company Responsibilities in FFXIV

responsibilitiesTL;DR: I’ve been promoted to Free Company leader in FFXIV, and I’m thinking about what it means to take on social responsibilities in an MMO. 

I’ve organized a few small guilds in the past, mostly Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 guilds that included RL or online friends. In a lot of games I’ve played, however, guilds haven’t really been a requirement for me. There are plenty of games that I never joined a guild in… mostly because I was stranger-shy.

Because I’m a casual player who has tons of other RL stuff to keep up with (full time job, art and writing projects), I’m not always a good choice to run a guild. While I’m good at organizing and communicating, I’m also group-shy and I don’t PVP or raid. Sometimes I can be anti-social all together — I have days when I just log in, pretend I don’t exist, don’t feel like talking to anyone, and run my dailies before logging off.

The Conundrum

So, in FFXIV, I decided that I wanted to be a follower (and supporter) rather than a leader. I still feel that there’s so much about the game I don’t know. How can I possibly lead others when I’m still trying to learn these things for myself?

But the problem is… finding the right fit of people and leadership to match my playstyle and personality. That’s not always an easy thing unless you go about building what you want for yourself. At this point in FFXIV, creating a FC isn’t just a “If you build it, they will come” thing anymore, either. The game is settling into its rhythms and many people, aside from newcomers, have already found their place.

Finding My Place

I was stressed about my FC situation quite a bit — I had a hard time finding one that fit me. I joined Link Shells to help fill that social void. What I really wanted was a place where I could contribute with the skills I had, and feel like I could offer something meaningful. I couldn’t do that with an established guild who had a focus on raiding and high level content, which seems like what you find most of the time.

One night, Syn and I ran a dungeon and met a Black Mage who we thought was really cool. He was about our level, seemed nice, and was a good player. Syn looked him up after the run and discovered he was on our server. After chatting, we also discovered that he and his friends were about to found their own FC that had a philosophy similar to what we were looking for.

So, we said goodbye to our previous FC and helped to found <Guard>.

I’m still learning about people in the FC, but I’ve met and befriended a number of good folks there. The FC is casual, aimed at people who are still progressing through story, and some who like doing the more soft-core end game content. But most of all, it’s a social FC that tries to assist the members and other players any way possible. I know that without them, I would still be floundering up the courage to earn my Relic weapon!

Taking Responsibility

Still working on Zuri's armor, but getting closer!
Still working on Zuri’s armor, but getting closer!

Though I was more or less a stranger to the other members at the time we founded the guild, I saw the promise and wanted to take initiative. So, the first thing I did was create a FC website, and offered it to the FC leader. She and the members were very happy with it, and she asked if I wanted to continue the upkeep of the site. I agreed, and settled into the position of the Site Knight.

Aside from running the site, I didn’t go out of my way to seek a position in the FC. I wasn’t sure I wanted that responsibility, especially since I didn’t know everyone, and we were getting new members coming in. I focused on developing Zuri to be a stronger Bard, and in turn, found it much easier to help out lower level FC members with what they needed.

Weeks went by. We saved to buy our FC house. I was also saving for personal housing, so I had a good stash of gil on hand. I ended up giving most of this to the FC in order to complete the purchase of the land and the housing deed (it really sucks that you have to plunk down nearly half a million gil for the deed, even after purchasing the very expensive land). Due to that, and my previous activity in the FC, the leader offered me an officer position, which I took.

Stepping Up

So a bit of time’s went by since I became an officer. The FC leader came to me last night, detailing her real life worries. It’s summer. And summer means folks are travelling, the WildStar release, and people not being around as much in general. It’s just the way it rolls on the Internet. Due to these RL responsibilities, the leader asks if I will step up as third in command, with basically the same privileges as herself and the other guild leader.

I was pretty surprised, and also quite honored. I’ve enjoyed our FC and like the direction it’s going, so I really don’t want to see it fall by the wayside due to possible inactivity. But I also don’t take the responsibility lightly, and wonder if I really have the gaming knowledge and time to assist in leading the FC properly.

Despite my concerns, I did accept the position. I figure that I always have two other leaders to turn to if any trouble pops up in the FC. I want to do a good job, even if this means I have to come out of my shell even more, and find the courage to help people through content that still intimidates me. Maybe that’s a good thing?

All I know is that FFXIV has been a game that’s facilitated personal growth as I’ve become more comfortable in online group situations and confident in my own gaming performance. Running dungeons with strangers was not something I would have ever done a year ago. But last night: Titan Low Level Roulette… fastest 100 myth ever! And it was fun. 🙂

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

Wurm Online: It’s the Little Successes

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Newspring City Under a Rainbow

I wanted to follow up on my experiences in Wurm Online after yesterday’s initial noob confusion post. Thanks so much to folks who offered suggestions and information! I spent a lot more time with the wiki before attempting the game again. Finally, one of the articles described what I was doing wrong: you don’t equip a shovel to dig… you double-click to “activate” the item for use. This isn’t super intuitive, but it does allow you to use tools without removing your weapons, so I understand the logic behind it.

So, taking this new information, I logged in, activated my shovel and… it’s a success! I’m in ur field, diggin ur grass!

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I’ve never been so excited to dig in a game before.

Alright! I’m digging now! I’ve got this! 

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Yes! Glorious dirt!
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Skill List in Wurm Online

So I just kept digging, watching as my skills slowly go up with each attempt. I also notice that my tool is wearing down as I use it and that I can’t dig up a storm without resting from time to time to restore stamina.

Eventually, I get thirsty. The game warns me that this reduces my regeneration rate. So I set out to find Newspring’s spawning point to ask for my free refreshments from the bartender. I was happy to find a road that lead me in the right direction. Seems players in the area are busy setting down this road, which I noticed lead back to the settlement I discovered yesterday.

Once I get my refreshments, I head back out to dig some more, watching my skills creep up. This is quite slow… and I can see how it could be tedious if you are only digging to skill and not for a purpose. That’s where the village comes in.

Village Life

Yesterday, I thought I had a random invite from a village that I accepted. Seemed in my noob way, I accidentally declined. That was why I couldn’t talk to anyone on village chat (my bad). Not a big deal, because I saw the very same village, Newspring City, recruiting openly again.

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Tents in Newspring City

So I contacted them and got an invite. They’re looking to make a really big settlement just outside of Newspring. They didn’t mind that I was a complete noob at the game, so I accepted the warp to the settlement. Ironically, this is the very same settlement I’ve been lurking around and admiring since yesterday. They’ve already set up houses, captured horses, and are working on settling in and expanding.

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Horses at Newspring City

I’m quite impressed, but also a little intimidated. They all seem nice, but they also seem very experienced — I’m not sure how much good I can be to them as a casual who can’t play all hours of the day. They’re already much, much more advanced than I am!

So I ask if I can help with something. They need diggers. “I can dig!” I offer with excitement.

Only, what they need is for people to level the land, not to dig up dirt heaps. So, one patiently attempts to teach me about leveling the land. This is somewhat difficult in text chat, and while I somewhat grasp the idea, it mostly goes over my head. I know that I’ve seen a wiki post (with diagrams) about this somewhere, so it’s not as easy as it sounds.

After not quite getting it, I decide I need to spend some more wiki time before I do more damage than good to the ground. So I wander off somewhere alone and spend time digging a little hole in shame. But hey, at least I’m digging now.

Other Successes

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Eww… that’s my default look? Time to change it!

I discovered the mirror in my inventory! Apparently, you can use this item (once) to adjust your character’s appearance… even if you can’t actually see that appearance. I did hear that third-person view was something in testing, so that’s a good bit of hope for this gaming experience.

Anyhow, there’s not a ton of customization, but at least my character doesn’t look like a deranged granny with a sword anymore. I’m getting somewhere, right?

I haven’t tried chopping down trees yet. I might have more success with that than with digging… who knows. But I did find a log someone left behind. I picked it up and practiced making kindling with it. I could also see where I could make a plank from the wood. Maybe once I get my digging up to snuff, I’ll move in that direction.

Oh, and I’m not quite sure why other reviews I’ve read have been really harsh on the graphics in this game. They’re not revolutionary by far, especially not avatar graphics, but the game can be lovely in its own way. It started raining and a really nice rainbow spread across the sky. I appreciate details like that. I took more than a moment to stop and admire it.

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Rainbow!

Update: Though I find the world of Wurm Online very interesting, and I know I fell into the best possible starting situation, I’m sadly going to have to end my journey in this game here. I’ve earned a FC status in FFXIV that is going to require more time, and I don’t think I’ll have the time to offer this game due to that. 

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

Wurm Online: Player Failure (Help Welcome)

wurmLogoLargeDisclaimer: This is in no way an article meant to dismiss Wurm Online as a game. These are just my honest, completely noob experiences with the game for the first hour or two of play time.

I’ve heard of Wurm Online in passing, but didn’t take a real look at it until yesterday. I saw an advertisement for a new server and a land rush, and followed the banner link to see what it was all about. So, it’s a sandbox game with a long-term F2P trial, and skill-based leveling.

Instantly, I got flashbacks to MUDs of old and UO from days past. In a good way. So, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve played old skool games. And while I read a lot of reviews that ripped it for the graphics, they say the gameplay is all there.

Starting Out

First thing I did was read up on wiki guides. Wurm Online has an extensive wiki… it needs one. So, I had already grasped the basics of the game before I installed it.

Installation is kinda funky in a Java sort of way. I had some troubles at first, but once I ensured Java was updated, it installed and ran without trouble.

The first thing I noticed was that the game was running in this tiny windowed screen. I tried to find an Options setting in game with no luck. So, giving up on that, I proceeded through the tutorial (which I’ve heard has been recently revamped).

I quickly realized that stepping on white sparklies caused notifications to pop up. The tutorial space is a bunch of signs that provide information on how to interact, equip yourself, and the very basics of movement and survival. It took me back to my MUD days when Look Sign was the way you learned how to Take All Corpse.

I got through the tutorial quickly (I seemed to earn an achievement for it). During this experience, I saw other folks wandering around, some obviously as new as I was. One of them asked the question that was hovering on my mind: “How do I change to third person view?”

The answer: “You can’t.”

Okay, so Wurm Online is forced first person perspective. Don’t care for that much as I like seeing my character and how they’re positioned compared to things that are beating on them. But I could deal, and continued to the portal that took me to Xanadu.

Exploring the World

The starting "town" looks a lot like this.
The starting “town” looks a lot like this.

So I choose a spawning town, which is really not much of a town, and begin the real adventure. I hear all sorts of hammering and sawing around me, but I don’t actually see anyone working on stuff. I also see a ton of dead bodies lying around the spawn point. Hm…

I start walking around, looking for stuff to do. I knew from guides I read, it’s a good idea to work up foraging, cooking, and digging. I have all the tools I need in my beginner’s pack, which is good. I also know that even basic animals can slaughter you dead until you’ve raised your battle skill.

I’m not sure if it’s because everyone was making a land rush on this server but… aside from bears, wolves and scorpions, I never ran across another living animal to try my skill against. I heard other folks asking about it in help, and people told them to look harder — they’re out there. I couldn’t find them, either. I know I get free food for the first 24 hours, but if my livelihood relies on finding little critters to skin and cook, I’m not going to last long.

I finally got annoyed enough about the small window size to go to the wiki for help. I found out that the settings are selected at the launcher before you log in. So I log out, fixed my settings, improved my graphic settings, logged back in and readjusted my UI. Much better.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 0

Sandbox Troubles

I run across a few newly created settlements being made. Tents are pitched, folks are obviously working on crafting, skilling and creating things… though I only actually saw a few other people in my area.

After wandering for a while, I decided to put my time to use and work on skills, too. So the guide said digging was a good skill to start with.

Okay. I equip my shovel.

The guide says right-click and examine the ground — apparently you can’t dig on too great a slope until you work your skill up.

I right-click and see that the ground is within the spawning town’s territory. I’m guessing this means I can’t dig there, so I wander further away.

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Wandering… wandering…

As I wander, I hear the sound of a bear attacking. I spin around, looking for the source of the trouble, but I can’t find it. It’s not attacking me. I see another player in chat shouting about bears, and I assume it’s attacking them. But I don’t see player nor bear.

Just how far do sound effects carry in this game? No matter where I walked, I couldn’t tell how close or far away this bear attack was happening. I couldn’t see it, nor could I get away from the sound of  it. Eventually, I guess the guards took care of it, because when I wandered back towards the town, I saw a dead bear lying there.

Hm…

Well, back to trying to dig. I guess you can’t dig on grass, because no matter where I walked, I never got a dig option.

I got tired of not finding anywhere to dig, so, seeing a lot of trees, I decided maybe I could learn to chop lumber. So I equip my hatchet and… no option to cut down trees?

I could harvest and botanize trees (got lots of mushrooms and berries), but never did I find a single tree I could chop. I knew there had to be a way — I saw other trees chopped down around me and people building in the distance.

So what was I doing wrong?

Wiki time.

I got a lot of guides that just told me to go out and dig and chop to earn skill. I had the right item equipped, was right-clicking. But nothing, no matter what I did. I kept wandering further, thinking I was within community limits, with no luck.

Oh, wait. There was a time I found a dirt plot… and got really excited… only to discover it was within a community’s borders and so I couldn’t do anything with it. 😦

I Googled “How to dig Wurm Online.” “Can’t chop trees Wurm Online.” I searched the wiki with no luck.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 1

I’m a shy player, so I’m not going to shout out in help chat “I’m a noob who can’t figure out how to do something as simple as dig.” On the other hand, shouldn’t this be a bit more intuitive? What’s the point of trees I can’t chop and ground I can’t dig? There’s plenty of both, can I can’t do anything with any of it. *mindboggles*

Arrrg!

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I just want a place to dig… 😥

Eventually, I wandered so far, and got nervous about not knowing how to get back to town (there’s no maps and the compass seems to work sporadically). So I purposely walked up to a scorpion and got myself killed to respawn.

Somewhere along the line, an invitation to join a township popped up. I thought to myself, “Really?” But, well, I’m a noob and that might mean help — as long as they don’t mind I’m a noob. So I join, hoping I might find folks to chat and ask questions with.

Well, if there’s a community/village/whatever chat, I couldn’t find it. I see the chat tabs that were pre-made — the system reminds me somewhat of Istaria’s chat tabs. So I went looking to find a way to create a new chat tab to meet these folks. No luck.

I turn to the wiki. Still no luck. Sigh in frustration and keep looking for a digging spot.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 2

Eventually, I realize all I’m going to do is wander because I can’t figure out how to do anything else. And while the graphics aren’t as terrible as some people made them out to be, and I could get use to first person view, playing a sandbox where I can’t find the sand was just too annoying to continue. So I logged out with furrowed brows.

Maybe I’ll spend time looking for help online. But again, I’m a shy person, and I hate to be that confused noob on forums that people point and laugh at. I really did make attempts to find information on my own — I spent more time in the wiki than in the game. I don’t consider myself a dumb or totally unskilled player…. I got along in games like UO and MUDS just fine.

What am I doing wrong? If anyone out there can point me in the right direction, I’ll happily give digging another shot! XD

Follow Up

Now that I have a bit more time to search the wiki, I think I have some ideas on what to try next time I log in.

To chop or dig, you have to activate a hatchet or shovel. That isn’t the same as equipping it. Odd… but that’s probably what I was doing wrong.

To create a village chat tab, you have to type something in /village first. Awkward for a shy player, but I’ll see if it works.

Will provide a follow up article to report my discoveries!