Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

ArcheAge: Loving Jury Duty

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On Jury Duty in ArcheAge

I got called to Jury Duty and I’m so excited! 

Wait… no. I mean in ArcheAge. Not in real life.

ArcheAge Justice System for Criminals

AA has a rudimentary justice system built into the game. If you’ve done something bad (murder, attacking same faction, uprooting, theft) and get reported for it, you earn crime points. After earning so many crime points, after your next death in PvP, you can stand trial.

You will stand before a jury of your peers who will judge you based on your crimes and sentence you accordingly. If you can prove that you are innocent (for whatever reason), the jury may let you off the hook. Or, they can choose your sentence and send you to jail for a certain number of minutes. After you’ve done your time in jail, your record will be cleared of crime points, and you are released upon the world again.

Unlocking Jury Duty

So how does this work for someone on the jury?

I unlocked Jury Duty through a questline, and have served about 4 different times already. I really enjoy the system (even if I don’t think justice is really served), and wanted to explain how it works in detail.

Once you reach level 30, you must have 0 crime and infamy points to have access to the quest that opens Jury Duty. You receieve this from an Honor Point Collector. He will send you to your faction’s courthouse – the Nuian courthouse is in Marianople, and the Haranian is in Austera. I won’t go into the quests because they’re pretty standard.

Serving on the Jury

The Jury Queue
The Jury Queue

Once you unlock the ability to serve on the Jury, you are placed in the jury queue. Yes. Another queue. In the game, this time.

You can see your position in the queue by pressing the “C” button to view your character profile. There, you will see a new stat called Trials Served. Next to that is a Standby box. Mousing over that box will tell you your position in the queue. This counts down over time until you are finally prompted to join the jury for a trial.

This will be a pop-up box. You have so much time to respond to the pop-up before the trial begins. If you don’t respond, or respond too late, you’ll be tossed back into the queue.

Once you respond to the prompt, you are teleported to the courthouse and placed up on the jury platform. Yes, you do get to see the other 4 other people in the Jury, as well as the criminal that you’re passing judgement on. The trial is carried out over the trial interface and the Trial chat channel.

The jury has 5 mins to look over the list of crimes. This gives you a record of what crimes were reported, who reported them and the reporter’s comments.

When you’re ready, you can click the Give Verdict button. Once all jury members click that, or time runs out, it will progress to the Plead stage.

The defendant is given one minute to plead the case. They’ve probably already been pleading since the case started. Sometimes, the defendant has good reasons for what they do, such as proving they were killing bots. Sometimes, the goal is for the defendant to charm or amuse the Jury into a lower sentence. Sometimes, I’ve even seen defendants trying to bribe the jury to an innocent verdict. Don’t know how well that works, though.

After the Plead stage, it’s time to judge the criminal. The interface changes, providing five boxes to click. The first is Innocent, while the rest are Guilty, with a range of sentence times. These can be anywhere from 2 minutes to over 100 minutes. I think this varies depending on the number of crime points and reports.

My first case - this guy got 183 mins in jail for all of this!
My first case – this guy got 183 mins in jail for all of this!

For example, the guy above had an option a max of 183 mins in jail. While, someone who threw a few assaults, a few thefts and had a much lower crime point score may only have a max of 13 mins in jail.

I’m not sure if everyone must come to a consensus of Innocent for the defendant to be innocent. That’s happened on on of my trials, though, so it’s not impossible.

Once all the judgments are placed, the Judge NPC announces the sentence. Then, you are transported right back to where you were in the world before the trial began.

Pretty simple! A neat system. A lot of fun!

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

Another Weekend in ArcheAge

The night view of Arcum Iris.
The night view of Arcum Iris.

Note: I preface by saying I’m not a PvPer. I’m only playing AA for sandboxy reasons. 

I dedicated a lot more time to ArcheAge this weekend. I leveled from 19 to 31 on my Lucius kitty during this time, which by-passed my original Tahyang launch character.

This was what I was hoping for...
This was what I was hoping for…

This makes me a little sad, because I’d have loved to stay and play on Tahyang, being that is the RP server and all, but there’s simply no land at all in the safe areas. Not even land for one small scarecrow, much less anything more grand like a farmhouse. The moment I realized that both labor points (LP) and loyalty points are shared across all characters on my account, I have almost quit logging into Tahyang all together. I spent a little while running around in futility, hoping to find some tiny bit of land open for my tiny farm. No luck = return to Lucius.

There’s nothing wrong with Lucius. I just feel that the community aspect of Tahyang is stronger and would have liked to remain there. I’m coming to peace with the fact that it’s going to be a long time before land opens up on the founding servers. Especially since my Lucius kitty is now higher level, far richer and I’ve come to enjoy the Outrider build more than the Blighter.

Having a Plan

So, I spent some time figuring out my overall plan of action for ArcheAge. I’m currently guildless (looking for a guild on Lucius East that fits my style and philosophy), not a PvPer, and eventually, I’d like to fish, and maybe work up to a fishing barge of my own (long term plan).

I set down some stepping stones this weekend that went like this:

  1. Earn 50 Gilda Stars
  2. Buy Thatched Farmhouse
  3. Find somewhere to place the farmhouse
  4. Gather and craft materials to make the farmhouse
  5. Transform the small scarecrow farm into a Farmer’s Workbench
  6. Make my own worms for fishing
  7. Farm and gather materials to keep my fishing rods working
  8. Fish, and in the meantime, work up Gilda Stars for the Fishing Barge (ultimate goal)

That’s an awful lot of hoops to jump through simply to become a fisher. Ah well.

State of the Game

Bots! Bots! Bots!
Bots! Bots! Bots!

I want to note that on Lucius, prices of items such as Worker’s Comp potions and APEX are through the roof now. There’s no little 5-6 gold for a LP potion anymore. They’re pushing closer to 15 gold each, which is not a price I want to pay. APEX was ranging up to 70-80 gold each on the low side. Prices were a bit cheaper on Tahyang, but still more steep than I’d want to pay. This all means that F2P characters are going to have a even harder time reaching that APEX goal, if they can at all.

Bots have become a huge problem. In one of the early level mining areas, I reported over 20 auto-mining bots. They just stand around, defying the AFK timer, and mine a node when it pops. Myself, and other miners in the area, have taken to nudging them off the nodes, hoping to put them out of the reach of their goal. Since there’s collision in the game, a few good shoves with a mount pushes them back and usually does the trick for a little while. Still, it’s a real shame to see, especially since reporting costs 25 LP each time. I reported using the support website… I don’t have that kind of LP to blow.

My Progress

My first goal of the weekend was to earn 50 Gilda Stars so I could purchase my farmhouse. This was slow going because you only earn these as part of the main quest line, which is a linear progression throughout the zones every few levels. Other quests are scattered along the same path to help you work through the zones and level.

By the time I got to level 25, I was fed up with doing all the side quests and just made a straight beeline for the main quest points instead. Luckily, level 25 was enough to face the enemy at the end of this quest line.

I have to ask, is that really the end of the main quests? At level 25ish? I expected something that would carry me through to level cap. However, I do remember them saying that these quests are nothing more than a tutorial, which I can believe.

Anyhow, I had exactly 50 Gilda Stars at the end of it all, and I bought my farmhouse. Two goals down.

Now, comes the fun one… find land to actually put the farm on. I knew one thing for certain — I was not willing to compromise my safety and pleasure by building in war zones. So, my search was on all across the East for a spot large enough for a farmhouse. Seems the areas that are actually marked as areas for farmhouses are bugged. There’s tons of land there just wasting away, with lovely views, much to my frustration.

I searched every area I came across, and slowly my hopes began to fail. The very last area I searched was in Arcum Iris, which is the starting area for the Harani. It’s a desert/savannah type area, and is by far NOT my idea of a place to settle. However, I found a lot of open area in the very last place I looked – south of the Parchsun Settlement.

This was the best I could get.
This was the best I could get.

Not the most visually pleasing place, I understood why it was passed over. But I also knew if I didn’t grab a spot, then I may not get one. So I placed my farm on the eastmost edge of the settlement and began the long, long process of gathering materials to make it. I’m thankful I did place the farmhouse now, because a day or so later, most of the open area in Parchsun has been taken. There’s enough room here and there for small gardens, but very little room (if any) for houses.

The one good thing about this location is that it’s near a quarry. Unlike smaller houses, the Thatched Farmhouse requires 10 Stone Packs, 5 Iron Packs and 5 Lumber Packs. That’s 3,000 units of raw stone and 1,500 units of raw lumber. The iron I’m not worried about.

Now, if this was a normal game, this wouldn’t be a problem beyond just time. But in this game, once your labor points run out, you literally can’t do anything. Seeing to the fact that I’m refusing to pay out the nose for LP potions (aside from what I can buy with loyalty points in a few days), I’m limited by the regen, even with a Patron sub. Then, not only do I need to have LP to mine the nodes, I need more LP to process them into the stone packs.

So yet again, I burned through close to all the LP I had stored up over the week. I’m also trying to save some LP for harvesting the trees I’m going to need by the time I get to the lumber part of the building.

Yes, I do realize that the farmhouse is supposed to be more challenging to build than a normal small house, and I accept that. I also know I should “get a guild” and work with other people on this… but I’m stubborn and want to do it on my own until I find a guild that matches what I’m looking for. Maybe I never will, in which case, I’ll just continue solo on this server.

However, I still feel the pinch of the lack of LPs, even as a paying customer. This is super annoying — there’ll be a point where all I can do is idle AFK to regen the points because I simply can’t do anything else (aside from quests) until I earn more LPs.  Again, this aspect feels like a Facebook style game that requires you to go away a while before you can play again.

I’m not sure if this going to be a game breaker for me in the long run. I do acknowledge that building the Thatched Farmhouse is a labor intensive project, so it may get better once this is completed (if I can).

On the bright side, I also unlocked the ability to serve on a jury last night. But I’ll save that for another post.

I'll leave you with this boat I saw in the harbor...
I’ll leave you with this boat I saw in the harbor…
Posted in Gaming

Gauntlet 2014 – An OldSkooler’s Review

Gauntlet-2014

I have fond childhood memories of my sister and I multi-playing Gauntlet and Gauntlet II on our NES. I was Red Warrior. She was Blue Elf. We always needed food badly.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

So when we discovered that Gauntlet was getting a remake for the PC, we were both stoked and curious to see how it would turn out. Would the game have the same dungeon-crawling charm (if you could use that word) as the original? Would we still “Need food badly” and get chided for shooting the food? Would it also have enough of a modern feel to it that it would bring the classic alive to current-day gamers?

After 4 hours of playing, I can safely answer these questions with a solid and emphatic “yes!”

The remake went out of its way to capture the essence of the original Gauntlet, right down to the announcer narrating characters’ actions. I think those who are familiar with the old games will find a lot to like. Everywhere you look, the team makes nods to all the things that made the original so awesome.

There’s a lot of new, too, but done in ways that I feel enhances the original concepts. Not to mention all done in good humor. This game likes to laugh at itself… and at you… while encouraging you to laugh about your own mistakes (that probably got someone else on your team killed).

Perfect! Let's play on this mode!
Perfect! Let’s play on this mode!

The first time you play, the game tosses you into a tutorial where you get to try out the four different characters and learn how they play. My companions were playing with mouse and keyboard while I was trying out my game pad. I found the game pad to be an excellent choice for Warrior and Valkyrie, a bit more tricky for the Elf, and somewhat annoying (but doable) for the Wizard.

In the end, I chose my standard Warrior, while my sister chose her Elf and Syn tackled the Wizard quite skillfully. We decided to start out on Easy mode just to learn the game, which we found was probably a good idea.

Gotta love when the warrior has something to say!
Gotta love when the warrior has something to say!

Before I go further, I want to note that each character has his or her own personality, which is really cool. During cutscenes, they’ll often talk to each other and to the “antagonist,” Morak.  While playing, if one character does something cool, shoots the food, dies, revives from death, or something like that, one of the other characters will often comment on it. You can also use the arrow keys to make your character speak different phrases like “Thanks,” “Help,” or “Magnificient!” This all just adds to the fun and character of the game.

The Game

There isn’t a ton of story to the game. You’re a team of adventurers challenged to brave the dangers of the gauntlet in the quest to find three shards. You can play with up to four people – one for each class – by setting up a private game, or getting teamed up over Steam on public games.

While Gauntlet can be fun on its own, the real fun is when you’re playing with other people. That’s where some strategy comes into play… since if one of your team members gets stuck behind a wall, or starts walking the the opposite direction, no one is going anywhere.

2014-09-25_00002Each class has its own skills and play style. The more that you use the character’s skills, the stronger they get. For example, as the elf kills enemies with his skills, such as dropping bombs on the ground, he can eventually upgrade to sticking that bomb on an arrow and firing into enemies. I noticed as we slowly began unlocking these kinds of skills, and began to understand the mechanics, Easy mode got a whole lot easier.

As you make your way through the levels, you’ll also earn treasure which you can use to purchase Runes. These are special skills that you equip, two at a time, and can only be used through the potions that you find in the dungeons.

You can also purchase upgraded equipment for your character, once you complete certain modes of the game. This mostly seems like stuff for Hard mode and above, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever see that far up.

Everything you do — from dropping the crown to shooting the food — works up towards some unlockable reward. At first, I thought these were you standard Steam achievements. But when I sat down and actually read them, I realized this was much more! It’s a strong nudge to keep you coming back for future sessions.

I like that some of the rooms have small puzzle elements to them, but nothing that was frustrating or brain-breaking. At the end of the night, the game is a fun, chaotic romp through the dungeons with friends. That’s all it needs to be.

Video below: not mine.

Posted in ArcheAge, MMORPGs

ArcheAge – F2P is NOT for the Casuals

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Note: This article is aimed towards F2P folks who want to play the sandbox elements of the game, and not for those who are playing to PVP. 

I spent pretty much all weekend playing ArcheAge — mostly afraid to log out due to queues. Also, needing as much labor points as possible. I worked my main up to level 21 and completed several of the trading quests in order to get my donkey (such a loooong quest for a F2P player). I also rolled an alt on one of the new servers to experience life on the East side.

In all of this, I’ve come to one conclusion: If you’re a casual player who has only a few hours to give this game here or there, the F2P model may not be for you. If all you want to do is quest and PvP, you’ll probably be fine. If you’re interested in the sandboxy crafting, gathering, farming, building, fishing, etc… you’re going to have a much more difficult time. This is all due to the labor system.

The Labor System

In AA, everything revolves around the labor system.

Want to open that loot bag? Costs labor.

Want to feed your animals? Costs labor.

Want to harvest your crops? Costs labor.

Want to make and turn in a trade pack? Costs labor.

Want to report that bot? Yeah. That costs labor. (Though I heard you get labor back if it’s a legit report.)

About the only thing that doesn’t cost labor is questing and PvP. But to me, questing is just a way to gain experience while I wait for my labor to regenerate.

How do you get labor? It replenishes over time.

If you’re a Patron (paying player), you earn 10 labor points every 5 mins while you’re logged in, and 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged out.

If you’re F2P… you get nothing when you’re not logged in. You get 5 labor points every 5 mins when you’re logged in.

You can also purchase Worker Compensation potions from the in-game store for real cash, or spend your gold to buy it in the auction house from someone who bought it for real cash. You can only use one of these every 12 hours per character, and this can get really costly over time if you’re income is low (which it may be due to the fact that labor is capped at 2000 points and only replenishes when you’re online).

That part of it left a bad taste in my mouth being obviously Pay to Win, and going against the idea of playing this game for free. Again, it follows the Farmville or mobile app mentality of wait for points to replenish, or pay money not to have to wait.

What does that mean for the causal player?

My new donkey, Zemi. :)
My new donkey, Zemi. 🙂

If you only have an hour or two to toss at this game, and you’re F2P, you’re not going to have squat when it comes to labor points. I was logged in for as much as I could be over this weekend, because I started to feel the squeeze on my points when I began my trading quests. At first, I didn’t realize how fast it was going. Oh… mining a node? That’s 10 points here or there. Looting a bag? That’s 2 points here or there. Crafting that armor, which is part of a quest… that was 100 points a pop!

At the end of the night, I crafted up my trading pack for my donkey quest… made it all the way to my destination and found out I didn’t have enough points to turn it in! So… all I could do was stand around and wait for them to regen (about 20 mins for me), so I could simply complete a quest. That was frustrating!

I quickly saw how this works. I wanted to craft some hereafter stones so I could warp around rather than spend so much time on the road. Only… that would cost me at least 50 points… which is 50 mins of waiting. That means I have to travel everywhere by mount, which takes much, much longer. I stopped mining nodes and looting bags because I just didn’t have the extra labor points. I needed to save it for harvesting my crops and animals… and then make sure I have the 60 to make my next trade pack and 60 more for the turn in.

The trade pack alone is 2 hours worth of being logged in.

I decided I wanted to try my hand at fishing. Except, to fish I need worms. You’d think this would be a simple thing, but no. To get worms, you have to process seed packs on the farmer’s workbench. A farmer’s workbench requires you to own land. Can’t own land if you’re F2P. Yes… I could pay the extraorinarly high fee to buy them from the auction house, but I’m hardly making the gold as it is.

So no fishing for me, either! (Each time you cast the rod, that’s 5 labor points, btw…)

This whole labor point system feels like a glorified MMO version of Farmville. Yes. I said it. But it’s the truth.

I’m enjoying the game… but the F2P aspect is crippling to me based on the way I’d like to play it. No land for a personal farm means running all over the continent to use public farms (if they have room), and being limited in how much I can grow. No teleportation means I spend most of my time running around taking care of crops for trade packs and not leveling. Low labor means I’m limited in what I can do unless I try to stay logged in as long as I can. Over the weekdays, that’s not viable for me.

My solution (the only solution I can see): I splurged for a month of Patron status. Yes… yes, I did. I figured if I’m going to play this game and give it a fair shake, I need to not feel crippled by the limitations it places on me with F2P. I’m giving Trion a month to capture me. If I progress and feel like there’s just not much to it later on, then I’ll at least know I tried it out to the fullest.

Queues are still a pain… I’m sitting in one right now after switching from one server to another. But they’re working on getting them under control. They opened new servers (I actually got a garden plot on Lucius!) and they locked down character creation in most of the original servers. We’ll see if Patron status gets me in more quickly or not.

Update on My ArcheAge Progress, And Why I Eventually Left

Posted in ArcheAge, Gaming, MMORPGs

Trying to ArcheAge

My new AA character
My new AA character

So, ArcheAge launched this week for the F2P folks (like me). You may have known that. Here’s where I try to play this game… try being the key word.

What’s My Number?

You’ve probably heard the stories of long, frustrating server queues. They are not an exaggeration. I’m trying to play ArcheAge, but it’s been difficult enough just to get on a server, much less make progress here.

On launch night, I waited in a 2 hour queue… which wasn’t terrible, I suppose. Not good, either. I came home last night to log in, thinking the 2 hour queue would be lessened by the slowing of the first day rush. Nope.

Last night, I faced a 6 hour queue. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a 6 hour queue at any launch… ever. I spent more time doing webcomic art and playing Sims 4 than I did playing AA due to that. And when I did get in, I only had half an hour to play before I needed to hit bed.

6 Hour Queue
This = 6 Hour Queue

I’m not writing this to complain about it (I realize I choose to sit in a 6 hour queue), but more to warn folks… this is the state of the game. And, so far, I’m not seeing any signs that new servers are being released to fix this issue. They did update servers to increase max capacity by 20%. We’ll see how this works tonight.

In fact, the community rep on the forums responded to a player by saying folks with Patron status are only seeing wait times of 60 to 120 mins on the most populous servers at peak time. As if that’s pretty acceptable. And those are the folks who paid to have a faster queue.

When I Could Play…

So I rolled a new character (Aywren) on the Tahyang sever, West faction on Tuesday night. Having a shorter queue then, I was actually able to get some stuff done. I chose Tahyang because I heard that was the unofficial RP server, and I’ve learned that when I don’t roll on the RP sever, I usually regret it later (like in GW2).

Got my horse back!
Got my horse back!

I spent most the time on Tuesday speed-running the content that I finished during beta so that I could get to something new that I hadn’t done. I was able to do this easily, and was level 11 before the first night was done. So, now I’m working through content that’s completely new to me — glad that I held some back for launch.

I also spent a long time agonizing over what skill combinations to play. I knew I wanted to try melee DPS, but wanted something that would work for a solo player. I ended up going with Blighter (hate the name), due to the ability to DPS along with the hope that invisibility will help get me out of tight spots later in the game (such as unwanted PVP). I’m open to tweaking this later, since I don’t know how comfortable I am playing rouge-like characters. For now, I just wanted to end my search for a class… because there are so many choices that it’s maddening.

I also joined a large, growing guild, who seemed to have the same gaming temperament as I do. As a F2P player, I’m hoping I might get to experience farming and such with the help of the guild — I know there’s already guild plots in world for us to use if needed. I also wanted to offer my time and skills to bettering something in the game, and joining a larger guild seems like a good move.

I managed to get my guild invite last night, so now I’m set up for gaming this weekend. Hope that the queues will be kinder and actually give me some time in world to flesh out my experience and help me decide if this is going to be an on-going game for me.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV Player Housing Fiasco

ffxivhousingWhile I have been generally positive when posting about FFXIV over the months, I’m also not afraid to talk about where I think the game has tripped up. This is a sad post to make, especially since I just praised FFXIV for doing fluff right in a previous post. The newest patch 2.38, has me changing my thoughts on this, at least in the housing department.

A Little Background

Personal housing has been a hot topic for FFXIV players since probably even before the game’s re-launch. A year ago, many promises were made that we’d see housing, both for Free Companies and for individuals in game. I’m not sure what’s snagging them up about all this — I hear a lot about the dev’s concerns with server optimization and needing server expansions for housing. I’m not real clear on why this is difficult and expensive for them to balance out. I just know every time they talk about housing, they mention the servers and the server load.

So, late last year, they introduced FC housing. This included a handful of wards (neighborhoods) that all looked the same (depending on the starter city) and contained the same number of plots. There are three sizes of plots – small, medium, and large. To be honest, there’s not a whole lot of plots in each ward (I read there’s about 30 plots each).

So think about housing being released with about 9 wards total across the whole server, to pacify all the FCs on that server. Depending on the server population, prices started out differently. Over time, the prices of unpurchased plots dropped until they all hit the same lowest cost across all servers. Keep in mind, this is only the cost of the plot. To place a house, you have to pay even more for a house permit.

Starting housing prices on large servers.
Starting housing prices on large servers.

Players threw a fit when they saw these prices, naturally. Here was something FCs had been waiting for, mostly for socialization at the time, and the cost was seriously out the roof.

Of course, the devs told us this was considered end game type content that FCs needed to work towards. It wasn’t intended to be something easy to get. This didn’t sit well with everyone, but I found it acceptable since I feel a FC should work together to save for their social hangouts.

When more features were introduced, such as farming, chocobo training, and now chocobo dyeing, they became tied to the FC house. Also, if you want your own personal room, that is tied to the FC house. So now, the FC house is more than just a place of meeting, decorating and socialization. It’s a gateway to other desired fluff content. If your FC doesn’t have a house, you can’t stable a chocobo, train it or dye it. Sure, it’s not mandatory, but that kinda sucks.

History of Personal Housing

We were told that FC housing was the first stage of housing in general. Personal housing was coming, though we were never specifically informed how it would come. We were given a brief idea of what it would look like from this official post (which was originally complaining about the outrageous cost of the original FC prices).

housingffxiv

From that quote, myself, and many others imagined that personal housing would be a completely separate system from the wards the FC housing used. We imagined neighborhoods of player houses, perhaps not quite as fancy as the FC houses, that would be more in line with the savings of a normal individual (I remember something about the price of 800K gil being tossed around).

With these ideas in mind, I set about saving up for personal housing months ago.

When they released personal rooms that were attached to the FC house, I hesitated. Did I want to plunk down 300K for a room, or save it for a few more months of that imagined personal house with a full yard and garden? I didn’t pick up my room right away, but eventually I did (partially due to having a boat load of decoration items clogging my inventory).

With the announcement of patch 2.38, I’m glad I did. There’s no way I’ll see personal housing given the system they’ve implemented.

Housing Dreams Out the Window

So, the real deal launched with patch 2.38 yesterday. And boy, was it a huge disappointment for those, like myself, who have waited the arrival of full personal housing for over a year. Instead of the personal housing ward we imagined, a separate system priced separately from the existing FC housing system, we get…

The exact same housing system, just with houses unlocked for purchase to individuals. You read that right. Personal housing is just FC housing, at the same price, in the same wards. This causes several issues including:

  • Shortage of housing for both FC and individuals — there’s no way the paultry couple of wards released with this patch will meet the demand of both FCs who need a home and individuals who want one.
  • FCs now compete with wealthy individuals for this meager space.
  • Outrageous costs that were originally meant as a challenge for a full FC of people to obtain…  even if there are lots open to purchase, it’s stupid-expensive for casuals and non-wealthy folks.

No matter how you look at it, a LOT of people are going to be left out of this housing system. Either due to cost, competition or shortage, it continues to cut FCs out of features tied to the houses and disappoint individuals who hoped for that little cottage with a yard and a garden.

The Response

The response, as you might guess, has not been favorable among the players. Then, Yoshi-P got on the forums yesterday to address the reason why things ended up the way they did.

My thoughts – he spouted a bunch of PR speak to try to cover his butt when confronted with his own quotes from previous threads. I’m not content with this response at all.

The statement I said was from a post made last December.
http://forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/t…=1#post1685344
At that time, we were correcting the economic disparity between legacy players and new players with regards to Free Company land prices in Patch 2.1. As we were hoping to implement World Transfers as quickly as possible, we set Free Company plot prices on the high side. Due to this, we received a lot of feedback mentioning that even though there were plans for personal housing, there would be no way that players would be able to pay that high of a cost. In my reply, I wrote: “I can say that prices will be completely separate from Free Company housing, and, naturally, far more affordable.”

What this meant was the following:

  • The prices will be completely separate from Free Company land prices (At the time of Patch 2.1)
  • We’ll be making the prices much cheaper than what they are currently (At the time of Patch 2.1)

However, reading this again, I realize that this statement is extremely unclear. Also, because I wrote this quickly to try to quell the uneasiness at the time, I ended up causing even more problems for everyone. I sincerely apologize for this.

Um, no. I’m sorry. You said something that was pretty simple and it meant something pretty simple. Never did you say in the original post that it was “in relation to Patch 2.1” in any way.

“Completely separate” means… well… absolutely set apart from the original. And “far more affordable” also means… well… not the same price, but much cheaper.

Yet what we got were the exact same FC houses at the exact same prices.

I… don’t even know where to begin with this response. It’s full of so much twisty communication that it boggles the mind.

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Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming, MMORPGs, Sims 4, The Secret World

Game Deluge! Sims 4, The Secret World & 7 Days to Die

If I’ve been silent here on the blog, that means one thing — I’ve been busy playing games! I’ve been heavy into Sims 4, and dabbling in TSW and 7D2D. Today is the ArcheAge launch, which I’m going to attempt to join casually, and next Tuesday sees the launch of the new Gauntlet, which my gaming group has already pre-purchased.

It’s a game deluge!

Sims 4

Want some Final fantasy shirts? Click the picture above!

I continue to enjoy my time with Sims 4, watching the amount of mods and custom content slowly growing. I’m plotting up a full storyline for my Sygnus Sims. I’ve also experimented with modding hair colors and making my own geeky line of custom content clothes.

I’m planning what CC I’m going to make to give away for Simblrween — the Halloween celebration for Sims players on Tumblr. I’ve clocked in over 50 hours in this game, and I don’t see myself putting it down any time soon.

I’ve been pleased with how the development team for the Sims 4 has handled the concerns and often biting comments from the gaming community. I may not agree with all their choices, but working in the software industry myself, I understand that sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to put the product out the door on time, or in favor of a completely different feature. But that’s a discussion for another time and place.

The Secret World – City of the Sun God

Syn and I picked up TSW for the first time in many months. I don’t know what it is about the oncoming change of seasons that always makes me get the urge to play this game. Maybe I associate TSW with Halloween, or maybe I associate it with late summer and early fall since that was when I first played the game the year it launched.

Despite picking up the game at launch, and playing only one character, I’m still only in Egypt. I can happily say, however, I’ve graduated from the Scorched Desert to the City of the Sun God now! I’ve been somewhat stalled in the Scorched Desert for over two years now. Part of this was due to helping other folks through the earlier content rather than pushing ahead through the story. Seeing this is one game I’ve never rushed, I always have just as much fun going back through old missions with friends as I do seeing new content.

Rocking the City of the Sun God
Rocking the City of the Sun God with Hemitneter and my Kellas Kitty

I heard a lot of rough things about the City of the the Sun God – how it had a poor, claustrophobic layout with far too dense an enemy spawn. How most people just want to get in and out of that area… or they skip it and head to Transylvania instead. So I was kinda balking the idea when I realized we’d finished all our quests in the previous area, and were being ushered head-first into the city. Especially so, since we haven’t played in forever and were quite rusty.

Instead, I found we were caught up in some of the most enjoyable and cohesive storylines that I’ve experienced since Kingsmouth. Here we have the lost city of Amarna, the site of the prison for the Black Pharaoh, Akhenaten, who seeks to restore his dark god, Aten. Note all those links head off to Wikipedia, since all this “lore” is in fact based on real historical events of our own world. This always delights me… so often we feel like we have to delve into a fantasy world for amazing stories. Our own world has so much “lore” we don’t even know about! TSW always open doors to our amazing history for me.

What is most gripping to me about this area is that the vizier Ptahmose and his children (some who were/are literally just children) act as your allies. For all this time, they have watched over this city, sealing the darkness and kept it secret away from the world. The vizier’s children, the first of the Marya, are young spirits sealed within statues placed throughout the city. They now act as eternal Sentiles who struggle to maintain their watch and keep the darkness sealed away.

As we came to learn about each statue, they took on lives of their own, with their own personalities and well-acted voice-overs. All of them were young, some only children, who never knew a life outside of this eternal servitude, and it shows through their character and the quests you carry out for them. Some have grown weary of their tasks, some impatient, while others carry their burden without complaint.

These stories connect the zone as a whole in a way that’s pleasing to a story lover. This is no old city of dust, stone and mere statues once you understand the plight of this family and invest in their emotions.

The Secret World never disappoints when it comes to holding my imagination through powerful writing and characters. I’m looking forward to making more progress through this zone.

7 Days to Die – Patch 9.3

Checking the Damage After the Feral Horde
Checking the Damage After the Feral Horde

When our group is in the mood for zombies, we’ve been playing and testing through the newest patch in 7D2D. Update 9 brought the amazing randomly generated worlds. Patches after have done a lot to address bugs, balance spawning, fix issues with farming, and overall make the game even more amazing to play.

The other night, our team finally played long enough to experience our first Day 7 Feral Night Horde. Yes, that’s in caps. It needs to be in caps. Our little bunker build held out really well against the massive swarm of zombies. They came from everywhere and they were relentless! We had a few player fatalities, but overall, defending our base was a lot of fun!

With over 200 hours sunk into this game since July, I highly recommend this to zombie survivalists who enjoy their zombies with a side of building. I’ve got more than my money’s worth out of this game, for certain.

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Bonus Picture! Dead zombie with a stake through the butt. You know you needed that! 🙂
Posted in Gaming, Sims 4

Sims 4 Review: A List of Impressions

 

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I’ve been playing The Sims 4 since the midnight EST release on September 2… and despite the negativity it’s earned from some gaming circles, I’ve really enjoyed my time with it. I started by creating a Sygnus Sim neighborhood — you can see my gameplay story on my Tumblr blog here. I may compact the posts into a storyline here as well, seeing how many people enjoyed the Into the Future Sims 3 story line!

I started writing a much longer in depth review of the game when I realized I have way too much to say about it. So rather than overwhelm folks with a huge first review, I decided to write up a list of my impressions. I’ve sunk quite a few hours into the game, so I feel like I have enough of a feel for it to offer my personal opinions.

Your mileage may vary.

LIKES

Things that won me over.

  • Responsive Gameplay: This is my biggest plus. The game runs fast, smooth and with very few issues for me — that’s not something you can say about Sims games usually. Keep in mind, I already have a couple mods and over 200 pieces of custom content installed. I also run on Ultra settings. I haven’t seen a hit in performance even when there’s several sims on the screen.
  • Art Style: I like the way the sims look (aside from some of the hair). I really like the way the world looks – colors are very vibrant and inviting. I’m always admiring the art direction of objects and landscapes in this game (even if some of the stuff you see is backdrops). It has great ambiance.
  • Sims Creation: Once I got used to the sim scuplty style of the CAS, I appreciate what it can do.
  • Minimal UI: I hear some folks like this, others don’t. I like it. It takes some getting used to, but it’s far less obtrusive than the UI in previous games. It’s also sleek and responsive.
  • Exchange: I wasn’t sure how I’d like the Origin-connected game at first. But now that I’ve experienced the amazing new exchange first-hand, I have nothing but joy for it. No longer do I have to search through an external website exchange, find a house I want to import, wait for it to download, then pray the install launcher doesn’t trip out while trying to stick it in the game. Nope. It’s all right there in the game. Find the house from the gallery. Click install. Boom! It’s there! No fuss, no muss.
  • Emotions and Whims: Not just a gimmick, I really enjoy the challenges the emotion system brings. I also like how emotions change whims, which keeps you on your toes to fill them throughout the day.
  • Multi-tasking Sims: This seems to work really well. It’s great to have sims chatting and doing other things all at the same time!
  • Harvesting, Collecting, Gardening: I rarely messed with collecting in Sims 3 because the things you had to find were so small and hard to find. I really like the improvements to these systems, especially working to complete collections.
  • Career Challenges and Promotion Bonuses: I like the career system and how it challenges you to increase your skills and fill objectives. When you get promotions at work, you unlock items and are gifted things that actually provide useful emotional boosts towards your particular job.
  • Children: They’re far cuter and more engaging than in previous Sims games. They’re also more challenging to play if you want to work them towards the honor roll!
  • Testingcheats True: I love the ability to use a cheat to pull sims back into the CAS any time. This had to be modded into previous games, but this one gives it to you out of the box!
  • Building: I’m a very minimalist builder/designer/decorator. I could never do all those fancy things other builders could. But this new system of building is amazing! Dragging walls, picking up rooms… picking up the whole house! This makes building so much more intuitive for me. I can see myself experimenting with this much more than previous versions.
  • Upgrade System: At first, it annoyed me how often things break in this game. But once I realized fixing things provided upgrade parts that you could use to make your existing appliances better, I warmed up to it. I like how you can choose several different types of upgrades for one item now. That means your dreams of creating the utra-potty is within reach!

ON THE FENCE

Things that either don’t matter to me, I don’t have an opinion on, or I feel lukewarm towards.

  • No Story Progression: I’ll miss seeing a neighborhood growing and changing around me, even when I didn’t play it. But sometimes, such as with my Sygnus neighborhood, I didn’t want them to quit their jobs, move out, break up, have kids, etc. So I’d shut off the Story Progression for my most important worlds, anyhow. It’s obvious that the Sims 3 progression bogged down the game significantly and often caused more performance issues than perks (IMHO).
  • No Color Wheel in CAS and CASt: This is a big deal to some people. I do miss it, especially when it comes to hair and eyes — those itty bitty swatch selections are sad. But, I can do without it if it means the game performance increases to this level.
  • No Open World: This is another big debate in the Sims community. Again, I can see why they went towards the smaller contained areas — it allows for a lot to happen on a lot, but with better performance. I don’t care that much about a few seconds of loading screens. It honestly takes less time now than it did for me to tell a Sim to go somewhere in the town in Sims 3, and wait for them to get there by their chosen mode of transportation.
  • No Toddlers/Pools: A big debate in the Sims community. For me, it’s not a huge deal. Honestly, I’d often age right through toddlers when I could. Pools I can wait for. I’m sure these things will be included later.
  • Babies: I’m… not sure what to think about the baby system. On one hand, I’m glad we don’t have babies just strewn about on the floor like in Sims 3. Babies are meant to be an annoyance, I suppose, because that’s what they are — thankfully we can choose to age them up instantly if we want. But for those who enjoy playing out babyhood, having them locked into an object is probably annoying. Don’t even mention how they age up into a full-grown child. That’s just… weird.
  • No Dishwashers/Trash Compacter/ Other Missing Objects: There’s a number of objects, such as dishwashers, that are missing. It doesn’t break the game for me, but I noticed they were gone, and had to wonder why. I hate washing dishes by hand (since I don’t own a dishwasher IRL), so for a more modern sim lifestyle, I find it hard to believe these sims have smart phones but not dishwashers!
  • Can’t See Needs of Off-Screen Sims: When your sim is at work, at school, or off the focused lot, you can’t see what their needs are.

DISLIKES

Things I flat out didn’t like.

  • Missing Careers: I’m struggling to find careers that “fit” my sim’s personalities. Sure, we have things like Space Ranger and Game Programmer… but where are the standards like medicine, politics, athletic, science, and military? I understand that the jobs are somewhat meant to mix and match skills. But really, what’s out there for my outgoing/charismatic sim (who doesn’t want to be an entertainer) or an athletic sim who just wants to play sports?
  • Small Worlds: I love the way the worlds look. But they seem awful small. There’s only a certain number of lots supported in each world. And though you can travel between the worlds without issue, I wonder if it’s going to become a problem once I start expanding to all the different households I want to play. I don’t quite understand why the worlds are small given the way they are segmented. Couldn’t they just add more segments without taking a performance hit? Maybe we’ll see world expansions in the future — I hope!
  • Hair Choices: Maybe I’m just spoiled by the amazing modded hairs in Sims 3, but the style of hair for Sims 4 wasn’t exciting to me. Male long hair had no really long hair. While some of it looks okay given the style, some of it just looks too play-dohy for my liking. I’ve seen better hair in recent MMOs… and that says a lot.
  • Baby Gender: Folks who have the official Sims 4 guides have noted there’s no real way to influence a baby’s gender. This is a super pain for someone like me (who is trying to build a specific family line), and I hope there’s a mod for it soon. I shouldn’t have to use a cheat to make a child the proper gender.
  • No Family Trees: This disappointed me. While sims still recognize family, it’s hard to tell who is related to whom without family trees. I enjoyed looking through family trees and creating my own in previous sims games. It was always very important that I had the proper family structure! I hope this will be patched in or modded in somehow.
  • Lack of Traits: While you can earn more “traits” through points you earn with whims, the number of traits you can choose at creation is sadly lacking.
  • Cost: Pricey as the way games run these days. I paid the price to have it at launch and I don’t regret it. I still think it’s costly, though, considering the amount of anticipated content that will be coming in add-ons and DLC. Hopefully it doesn’t get as ridiculous as the Sims 3 store was — I never bought a thing out of it because it was just too expensive for what they were trying to sell.

This pretty much sums up my basic thoughts on the game. I’ll give my more in-depth thoughts in a future post!