Friday, July 29, 2011

Hunter's Lodge

The new housing options are now available on the Marketplace in EQ2.  Anyone who knows me will know that I have been getting a little bit excited about the ‘blank canvass’ islands that are going to be available to purchase. I had heard that they were going to be based upon Temple Isle in Tenebrous Tangle, and was pretty made up about that. Even if they had removed all of the temples and ruins, it would still be an awesome place to create some structures. But when my Bro shouted up the other night to let me know he was checking them out and “it’s just a big flat island really with a waterfall”, I was a little perplexed. Where was my Tenebrous Tangle island? Wishing to see this with my own eyes I hopped over to South Freeport to take a gander. And he was right!

Yup, that’s all it is. A big flat grassy island that looks like it is flat enough for a ball pitch. There is a waterfall too, coming from an island way way above your head in to a tiny pool. That’s your lot. There is nothing more. So, my enthusiasm well and truly deflated I put away my hopes of having a cool island of my own and Mere and I decided to head off and quest some.

I was disappointed with the islands truth be told. As Mere and I discussed at the time we are absolutely sure there will be some amazing creations on these islands and in just a short space of time we came up with some great ideas. A Country Club & Spa, A Football Pitch, Mini Golf & amusements are just a few. There is a huge amount of potential there for development and perhaps moving out to the other very distant islands you can see. But, it’s not for me. I wanted nooks and crannies, little valleys and tranquil pools. Woods and streams. So, I decided I wasn’t going to move house. I am keeping Voltaans Gorowyn home but am revamping the outside area. Out goes the under construction ‘Fort Brakkarg’ with just the Wall of Bone remaining to protect my little property and in comes the new falling down cottage I am building for Voltaans home. Well, it’s not falling down just yet, but it has got a tree growing in to the construction somewhere! I’ll add piccies of the building site later. It’s going to be a labour of love and will probably take me some time as I dislike using the layout editor for anything further than changing the angle of an item which I have had to do already to get the slope of the roof tiles. Piccies and more after the jump..

Monday, July 25, 2011

Who's a clever little asshat?

This weekend saw the completion of the Wizard Spire event in Eastern Wastes and the Dragon Ring event in Great Divide. I didn’t take part in the Dragon Ring event, but I was lucky enough to be about when the Wizard Spire final quest popped at 99.7% completion of the Spires. At the time I was just standing around and Jahf (on his Ranger I think) happened to be stood near me and we ended up grouping in preparation for the final event quest.

I cannot explain how many player characters were there at the Spires in Eastern Wastes, but it sure as hell caused some devilish server/instance lag. At one point the dude you have to speak to (Researcher Kilat I think) was not to be found anywhere, and masses upon masses of PC toons hovering all in the same area waiting for the NPC that would be buried under all of the PCs meant that for about 20 minutes I couldn’t even see him let alone target him. As it happens, when Jahf and I popped off to gather some crystals to help hurry up the progression of the event and all of a sudden it moved forward pretty damn fast and we had to make the hop back to the Spires quickly. Jahf very cleverly warned me to delete the quest originally given to me for those Teleportation coin thingies (tokens) and as we approached the Spires, I automatically got offered Researcher Kilats quest for the final epic battle and a very nice 500 tokens.

So, Jahf and I were sat under the tent, waxing lyrical about the benefits of pulling in a tent to negate knockback, when we both moved forward as it seemed the many raids present were gathering ready for the start of the event. It wasn’t until we got closer to the crowd that we realised it had already started, but the lag was so so bad, we could only see the combat text “Soandso is stunned!” and so on. It was quite clear the battle was taking place, but absolutely no NPC mobs were to be seen to actually try and hit. It was that way for the whole fight. It was clear a battle was going on around us, but I could not see one mob, just lots of damage being done and heals going on. I was concerned about not getting enough credit to get the quest update to I ran around like a crazed idiot spamming my area effect spells. But still nothing. After the fight had ended my quest thankfully updated, even though I hadn’t hit one mob. Strangest thing though. After the battle to see what the hell happened I switched windows to my ACT which had been bubbling away in the background and it hadn’t even registered the battle. The list was empty. As far as it was concerned I may as well had been sunning myself on Antonica Beaches.

What Jahf pointed out to me a little later was pretty cool though. One of the GMs (I can’t recall his name, Jahf help me! Think it was Gnil...something or other) had been in chat channels checking that all those present had gotten the quest updates/rewards as they were aware of the laggy bug that was happening when the fight was taking place and they just wished to make sure that no one who was there got left out, which I thought was pretty darn cool of them. Anyhow, I got my update and my many Tokens. Which I promptly spent on two replica Wizard Spires, a couple bags of teleporters and plenty of shards. It was only after I had done this though that I realised that there was a merchant at the Dragon Ring event too and I had perhaps missed out on some cool loots.

I headed over there straight away to find out and to my dismay there was a really cool replica of the Dragon Ring available for 25 tokens. I only had two left! Because both the Spires and the Dragon Ring events had been completed, the only way to get more tokens was from the shiny like collectables found around the event areas as ground spawns. So, I spent the next hour scouring the area and gathering enough until I could buy a replica of the Ring event. Mostly when I was harvesting these collectables, the PCs were gracious and I tried to do the same where if I saw another near a shiny token collectable, I stayed away. Mostly they did the same for me too. However, as always there was this one particularly inspiring individual who had either an excellent connection, amazing reflexes, or a hack of some sort. He would run up to a node and even if I had started harvesting it, my green progression bar would conclude only to be told, ‘There is a lottery for that loot already in progress’. He did this to me numerous times. I was going to report him, but then realised I could not be bothered to waste more of my time on such a well rounded and obviously highly educated individual and just sent him a /tell. “You’re a clever little fukker eh?”, I got a standard “I guess” answer and I just left it. I only needed two more spawns at that point anyhow and as I said, my time is too precious to be spending with those of such higher social standing than me. I could name him, but then again, I can’t be bothered. Those who deal with him will already know of his sterling quality as a human being.

Is it just me or is my English sarcasm taking a real royal outing today?

Right –o, that’s me done for the minute. Thanks to Jahf for the Spire event fun and help whilst there. I’ll be back soon with an update on Mere’s and my progression through Kunark.

Be well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Warrior & The Warden

 I had fun making it. Hope you have fun boring yourselves stupid for 5 minutes !

Be well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A look in to the looking glass

Thanks to the guys over at EQ2Wire, I have a nice list of things that we can expect from the Devs in Eq2 from now until the new expansion has hit and beyond. GU -61 promises to be one of the biggest updates we have had for some time and sees some truly game-play changing items on it’s agenda. I have supplemented the full list below,. My initial thoughts / comments on each section can be found in red.

Game Update 61 – The War of Zek

Dynamic Dungeons
* New versions of Silent City and Djinn Master’s Prism.
* Encounters are randomized when you enter
* Dungeons scale dynamically 60-90
* Test bed for a new flavour of content creation.

- Sounds interesting. I’m intrigued by how they will achieve a correct balance to a dungeon when they will be randomised. I guess they will not be totally randomised but probably more like, operating within set parameters.

The War of Zek
* Plane of War content
* New dungeon (normal and hard)
* New raid (normal and hard)
- New stuff is good, as long as it is good

Itemization Changes
* Stats revision
* Increase # of stats
* Add auto attack for casters and priests
* increasing headroom on old stats
* Re-itemize 20-90
* Major AA revamp
* Class focus revision

- WHY WHY WHY??? The rest of the suggestions are great, but there is no need to mess with the level 20 to say 75 itemisation. It just isn’t worth it and messing about with that could have some pretty nasty knock on effects. Leave the re-itemisation alone and concentrate on some of the other decent and required stuff in the above list.

Tradeskill Crafting AAs
* 3 rows of abilities — 10 points each row. max 25 points for crafting AAs
* Progress, Durability, Double Harvest Chance
* Crafting Stats Progress, Durability, Success Chance
* Increase chance of harvesting a rare

- Me no tradeskilly really, although I can see how this would be like mega useful, so gets a thumbs up from me.

House Rating System
* Decorate your house, publish it for others to see
* Leaderboard (48 hour falloff)
* Awards for staying on leaderboard
* Hall of Fame system
* 5 star rating system

- This is going to be fantastic. Those of you who know me know I love to decorate and create. Already I have some rather special ideas about what I am going to create.

Dungeon Finder System
* Any size group can queue up
* Matchmaker system. you can disband if you want.
* Any Dungeon
* Get XP boost for being flexible
* Initially same-server only, cross-server later

- I’m really liking this. I love what they are doing with dungeon design too (see later). This should make PuGs pretty darn easy to get balanced and should see an end to that horrible moment when you realise there’s a Zerker, Pally and Brawler in your group...and you’re an SK. Things should be a lot more balanced with this matchmaker system where PuGs are concerned..

GU61 More stuff
* Fae/Arasai Flying (level 85, must complete a quest)
* New content in Eastern Wastes
* Beastlord prelude event
* Velious signature line update

- Arasai / Faes get to fly. About time really imho.

Game Update 61 is released in AugustVery soon really, since latest expansion. Not sure if that’s good, or if SoE rushed things.

Freeport — Lucan Gets Serious
* Lucan’s Lore — Lucan was kidnapped
* His captor was killed
* Lucan crushed his usurpers, levied a new army, and now seeks to dominate and control
* Freeport revamp will have a ton of lore related to it

All (Evil) Roads Lead to Freeport
* Evil starter areas lead to Freeport, not Butcherblock Mts
* Multi-level questing hub
* Race and Class specific quest lines
* Instances within the city (hoods, sewers) — some quests will cause NPCs to attack
* Public quests in Commonlands
* Special Guards watching the area around Freeport (leapers and gliders, juggernauts)
* Exploratory content

Freeport Unification (in progress)
* Entire Freeport city can be explored without zoning, excluding the suburbs

- I’m really liking all of the Freeport ideas. I generally play evil toons and as such I know the zones well and have a particular fondness for them. Pièce de résistance will be the new quest hub and hopefully smooth running of the now BIG instance. Freeport should be a buzzing city once more! Check out the design differences expected after the revamp...

The Age of Discovery expansion

Chock Full of Features
* The Age of Discovery focuses on features that open up new ways to play the game.
* Game Updates is where the content/zones are.


GU61: BYOD (August 2010)
GU62: Freeport (November 2010)
GU63: Velious (February 2011)
GU64: Velious (May 2011)
GU65: Qeynos (August 2011)

Tradeskill Apprentices
* Acquire an apprentice via quest at level 30
* Customizable (race, name, gender, clothing)
* Set tasks, the longer the task the greater the reward
* Train your apprentice over time
* Able to make best-in-slot items over time but Heirloom

Item Reforging and AA Limit Increase
* Reforge your powerful items and a shift stat bonuses around
* Allow player customization of particle effects on powerful weapons
* Additional the AA limit gets boosted to add more AA choices

- Liking this very much. It’s a discussion I have had previously with Jahf. We both thought this should be approached. Let’s just hope they get the setup right and don’t unbalance everything once again, I’m not holding my breath.

* Hired help for small group or soloing situations
* You pay them gold/platinum
* They help you destroy stuff
* They take a small cut of coin and XP gained
* One mercenary per character
* Choose from any of four combat types
* Healer, tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS
* But here’s where it gets fun….

Mercenaries are Varied
* Just because there’s only 4 merc types doesn’t mean the variety stops there
* Different AI brains
* Different stats
* Different spells
* A healer you get in Neriak may think differently, have different spells, even different stat emphasis than one * you get in Qeynos.
* And you can assign them behaviors (like pets).
* Mercenaries are Visual.
* Races are city-specific.
* Customize appearance.
* Some are merchant bought.
* They’re your Perma-Pals.
* They level up, you never outgrow them.

- So, Mercenaries are an awesome idea. I’m particularly impressed in that they have not just launched Mercs on their own. If you think about the dynamic they are addressing here, it’s solo, vs. group content. But more importantly the gap in between the two. Those situations when you and your duoing partner really could do with being a Quattro rather than a Duo. SoE are aware and have long been so, concerning the fact that most folks solo their way to at least 80 and sometimes 90th level. This was, using the Mercs and in addition, using the Dungeon Finder System above a great great idea. One of the big bugbears of the game (solo play and the lonesome feeling!) has been addressed. No longer are you alone! More options have opened up to fill your nights with pseudo company!

World Lore Mercenaries
* Some mercenaries aren’t available from merchants
* You might be able to hire Lucan for 1000p per hour
* Hirable for a time
* Characters from Norrath
* Extremely rare spawns

- Ohhh, this could be good. I would love to have someone famous cruising around with me. Imagine that! “Hi, how you doing. Let me introduce you to my friend, Fippy Darkpaw”....”This is my buddy, goes by the name of Mayong...”

* Vintage character class with new emerging gameplay
**What you are about to hear about the Beastlord is subject to change!!!**

* Beastlord Lore
* The Truespirit retreated when the gods did
* Beastlords faded away, unable to bond with spirits
* Beastlords are Scouts
* Leather wearers
* Brawler like weapons
* Melee DPS class, on par with other top-tier DPS
* Beastlords are a Pet Class (Warders)
* Pet class on Steroids
* Should always use a Warder to be effective
* Can collect and use many different types of Warders

Beastlord Warders (pets)
* Different Warders have different abilities, hotbars, AA lines
* More utility, damage, combat
* Use stances to affect what abilities become important

- I’m keeping my opinion closed at the moment on Beastlords. I really do need to have more of a look at them when they go live to get a proper impression of gameplay and how they will fit in with the rest of the EQ2 clan. I left EQ1 just before they were released and never did get to play one.

Design Your Own Dungeon
– a feature so powerful, it deserves its own presentation
DISCLAIMER — Mock-up art, this is work in progress

Be a Builder
* Dungeon Maps, Creater Spawners, Traps, Decorations you have to go out and quest, raid, tradeskill to get them
*Come back and build with the enhanced housing system. You teleport into the dungeon and you get an extremely advanced housing interface. Housing will eventually get the new design system.
*Intuitive UI and experimentation modes

So you’ve built it, now publish it!
* Publish your dungeon
* Watch your NPC minions slaughter real players in real time
* Compete against other Builders on leaderboards for player ratings
* Earn builder tokens redeemable for builder-only items. BYOD items only available for Tokens

Builders get Reputation
* Ready to Play? Find your Dungeon
* Shows up in the Dungeon Finder System
* Review leaderboards, screenshots, player ratings
* Play solo, or woith a group. all part of the dungeon finder system
* When you enter a dungeon, you are collecting adventurer NPCs to run the Dungeon. The NPCs have a limited set of abilities. You cannot play a player-made dungeon as your own character. (groan)
* Tokens to buy loot for your real characters.
* How do you keep from exploiting these zones by making an easy zone with just mobs?
* When we launch, there will be one game type, Survive through the dungeon and kill boss at the end.
* Automated Challenge Rating system to determine rewards for finishing the dungeon. Difficult to exploit. The creator script detects the difficulty of the zone by determining the shortest path in the dungeon.

DYOD has Fringe Benefits for the rest of the game:
* House rating system
* Dungeon Finder for regular dungeons

- Design your own dungeon is so funky. I’m looking forward to this a great deal. It can add an element of uniqueness and obviously lets those who are good at this sort of thing create genuinely fun content. In games such as Company of Heroes, map design has long been a part of the fun. If they can make it work here, there are bound to be some wonderful creations. Think of all the creations that will be based on fun genres/franchises and other fun stuff that we already know. Fancy a Star Ship Enterprise? A copy of the Alien vrs Predator Pyramid? Jabba the Hutts Palace? Sounds like fun anyhow. having said all of that, there is one huge huge thing I have failed to mention. Roleplayers. How amazing will it be to create your own little instances to back up the roleplay story you are running for your guild. The Dungeon where your guild leader has been imprisoned, the Tower where the antidote to the poison that your guild strategist has been given! this has the opportunity to really open things up for those who like to R.P and will add some real substance to the ongoing in guild storylines out there. Great stuff.

Be well!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Been a while huh?

So, yeah, been a while. Lot's been going on, but mainly a week off with the family taking it easy and enjoying the Summer here in southern Spain. Plenty of time in coffee shops, walking along the beach front and melting in the heat. Back to work now though and it's amazing how quickly you forget you were off. I've only been back three days and already my break seems as though it was an age ago.  Of course one of the good things about having some time off work is the late gaming nights! I have had my fair share this last week and I'll share soon what's been going on.

Talking of late nights, it's midnight here and an early start tomorrow. Until then, it's about time I caught up on posting some screenies. Enjoy and see you very soon.

We'll start with Voltaans photoshoot for Men's Health

My Komodo gets friendly with an Iksar Statue

Voltaan's photoshoot for Urban Protection Monthly

Velious, first session. Great Divide

A big Tortoise with a village on it's back. Curious.

Velious flight

Eastern Wastes

Acolytes of Valor, Deathtoll

To An Ancient Time!

Back to Voltaan's Men's Health photoshoot

Be well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Net Connection Update

Technician came round this afternoon. Reckons he should have us up and running online by Friday. Not getting my hopes up, but it's more promising than it was. See you all soon.

Be well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Classic Kunark

So, it’s been pretty damn tough without the net at home. You really don’t realise how much you use it until it’s gone. Just the other day I was watching a movie and couldn’t place one of the support actor’s names that I had seen in a different movie the week before. Usually, it’s straight to for some info, but not this time. I was shockingly left wondering! I have not missed the ‘phone that much, in fact not at all. But the ‘net? Wow, that one is stinging real bad.

So, what have I been doing? I’d be remiss if I said I had been working hard, filling the time with lot’s of chores. I haven’t done those things, well much anyway. Mega Summer has started here and already we are pushing crazy temperatures. So, what to do in this wonderful weather? Would you do chores? Well, you might if you were more diligent than I am. I have been spending much time with the little rug rats. Although I’m not so sure my nine year old would like being called a rug rat. I’ve also been spending some very important time nursing cold beers by the pool. Yes, it’s a tough life. Not sure how I cope with it to be honest.

It sounds like my Bro is having fun in EQ2 still testing the new mounts, although he does say that he’s not had the impetus to log in as much without ye’olde Voltaan. I must admit, it is my gaming sessions with my Bro that I am really missing. Was looking forward to getting in to some Rise of Kunark fun with him. That’s my fave expansion and have many happy memories of those questlines, both solo and grouped and of course the RoK raiding. So, in anticipation of our RoK sessions (fingers crossed on t’internets solutions), I thought I would highlight the things I find most desirable about the Kunark expansion.

I played Everquest and when I first visited Kunark in that game, I was in awe. From the crazy boat trip over there to the wonderful scenery on arrival. It was an epic expansion and held so much fun for many a year, even when it was superceded by new expansions. I have found RoK in EQ2 to be very similar indeed. I still head back there from time to time and always enjoy my stay.

When you start in Rise of Kunark, you catch the boat from Antonica or Commonlands docks and it gracefully bobs up and down until you reach Dreg’s Landing in Kylong Plains. Immediately you are greeted with a pretty vista and lots of little feathers floating above NPC heads. I love this part. It is the start of what I think was the best set of linear questlines for some time. They led you neatly through Kylong Plains from Dregs Landing to the snowy peaks of Teren’s Grasp, on to Brakthyr’s Post, Kunzars Edge and then Highton with the Bees. Some of the main locations in the zone are awe inspiring. From the sprawling mass of Karnor’s Castle to the spires of Teren’s Grasp, from the lofty heights of Varis to the deep canyons of The Gash of T’Thelin and from the Tunnels of Charnax to the devilishly evil and well populated Chardok. Kylong seems to have it all. The zones you move in to after Kylong (Fens of Nathsar, Kunzar’s Jungle and Jarsath Wastes) tell the same story. Excellent questlines leading you neatly through each and every area of the zone, guiding you through faction gain and very interesting zones and instances. Oh, and there is the great questline given by Anda too, starting with ‘Fistful of Metal’ and in to ‘A Few Coins More’ (Carries on in Fens of Nathsar with ‘An Ugly Bounty’). Anda is fun to reach too. I first saw him on my first trip back from Teren’s Grasp on the Sokokar, half way up a mountain with a little quest feather above his head. I couldn’t help but think that I must go and speak to the guy (is Anda a guy? I don’t recall) who hangs around on his own half way up a mountain, and I am glad I did. The questline is great fun.

So, on to instances, well, there are just so many that I think are quality. In fact pretty much all of them are. In this expansion, they seem to have go the mix just right. What’s more the instances have a nice amount of quests linked to them which means that the first few times you go in there, you are actually achieving stuff and not just going through the motions. This expansion was also (imho) the last one where truly fun shared dungeon zones could be found. Yes, later expansions had them, but I personally feel that RoK was the last time they were done well. Even the Hole doesn’t live up to Sebilis or Chardok. OK, so moving on. I’m going off memory here, but here are my fave instances to be found in the RoK expansion. I reckon the Crypt of Agony (CoA) is one of my faves. Sharing some of the layout of the Protector’s Realm raid zone with the entrance to be found in Sebilis, it really is a fun zone.

We also have the two Charisis’s, Vault of Eternal Sleep (VoES) and Maidens Chamber (both great dungeons with linked Legendary weapon quest), The Court of Korocust and Chelsith the gooey yucky zone inhabited by funny fishmen and horrid wurms and gooey floaty blobs.

Aside from the zones, of course this expansion saw the introduction of our Epic weapons. The level 80 quests to gain the weapons were huge and depending upon your class, pretty damn tough, especially not long after release. When you have finished the weapon questline you get the fabled version of the weapon,), then you could indulge in RoK raids to make your weapon a Mythical weapon. Nowadays, you can do the ‘Enervated’ quest line from the Sentinels Fate expansion to side step this part, but the weapon remains fabled (with the Myth stats) and the special class specific ability you get now comes as a spell not as an effect on the weapon (allowing you to upgrade the weapon but keep the buff). Personally, I like having the Mythical version before I trade it over to the newer enervated version because there is nothing quite like the server wide message stating that you are awesome (see below - note the different guild tag. Clan Werre was the raid group I was in during TSO expansion).

Adurj is awesome. Look, it says so on the screen...kinda.
I know it’s an old, used and rather baggy questline by now, but it still feels good to do it properly. Oh, one hinter before you start the Kunark expansion, research your Epic Weapon timeline as you will most likely need to watch your faction for when you come to do the quest. It's handy to know so you can start to build the required faction early as some of it is a right ole bugger to get.

On top of all this, the raiding in RoK is damn fun indeed. The first of what appeared to be the tiered raids, there was a nice linear progression and your Mythical questline led you nicely through the tiers also. The equipment was nicely balanced, so the further you progressed through the raid zones, the better the fabled equipment you gained. It was all nicely thought out and very interesting indeed, with some cracking scripts for fights, especially in the final raid zones in Veeshans Peak (I’m including Trakanon’s Lair in that).

To sum it up, the Rise of Kunark expansion is probably the most fun I have had for a sustained period in game, not just because of the great company I kept, but because of the amazing and varied content too. I love the expansion and am chomping at the bit to have another go at it with my Bro. Just need internets to start complying now.

Oh, you can check out my original thoughts (amongst others) under the 'kunark' tag on my old webby ' Revenants', here. You'll need to scroll down for my first impressions, or just click here and here.

Be well.