Monday, February 28, 2011

Velious Flyby

I feel like a kid again. A kid who has been given a new toy. Whilst I'm still a little under enthused I am enjoying Velious a little more, mainly down to two reasons. Firstly I'm getting in to the Velious and currently Othmir timeline and back story. It's not to bad a tale and I find myself warming to the cute little Othmir. They remind me (especially Nipik) of a cross between faithful little beavers and an Irish Terrier. Secondly, I now have my flyable mount and I absolutely love it.  I have found myself travelling the long way round just so I get to fly to where I'm heading, even shunning in zone teleportation/travel devices at all costs just so I can mess about a bit in the air. One of the things I love about it so much is the different perspective you can get of some of the truly great locations.

Anyhow, progression and gathering of equipment this expansion so far has been zilch. I haven't replaced any of my Tier 2 yet, but I am storing my quest rewards and drops just in case I start to understand the mechanics changes better and realise the kit is actually really good. I have only done one instance so far (Tower of Frozen Shadow) and even then I was half asleep and not really concentrating, so I have a huge way to go before I become comfortable in knowing all the mechanics, routes and nameds. But finding out is half the fun, so when I have progressed the quest timeline a bit more I think I'll actively try and get involved in doing some more.
I don't have much time today, so I'm going to have to leave it there. Before I do, a quick shout out to our boys from Hereford. A stirling job well done. Keep your powder dry fellas.

One last thing, before I go it's about time I added some Velious media. There should be another to follow. Enjoy..

Be well.

Friday, February 25, 2011

419 baiter

A bit of a departure from gaming today, and a little bit of light heartedness. Well kind of. Some may know, some may not, but I work in an anti crime role, focussing on financial crime, international organised crime amongst many other things.  One scam that seems to have been around forever is the Nigerian 419 scam. For those who do not know what it is, it is basically an advanced fee fraud. There are many types of this and many names for it, but the premise stays exactly the same. The perp contacts someone, promising a rather hefty cut of some cash (usually many many millions), if they will just help the person move the money. Basically they end up scamming you out of funds, obtaining your bank details and you never collect the promised millions. It's a simple scam but many many folks fall for this still. It is something we should all make ourselves aware of and we should educate our family members, especially the older and generally more trusting generations, or those who are vulnerable through debt or hard times. It usually starts off with a letter or email.

One guy who I have the hugest respect for has pretty much dedicated his life to messing with and scamming the perps himself. You can find his website 419eater here. The guy is a diamond and you really should spend a long time looking at his website for many laughs on how he has scammed and baited the scammers. Pure genius.

Here is an example of how he deals with these fraudulent thieving scum. It's a very long and funnny post, and contains absolutely terrible language/cursing, so if you are easily offended, it might be best to stop reading now. If you like to see scum get frustrated and have a real good laugh, please read on. Keep up the great work 419 eater. You're a genuine hero for the people and their cash.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Destiny of Velious: Day 2

So. I got to try out some more stuff last night in the new Velious expansion. Before I go in to full detail I’ll sum up my experience last night with four words, “more of the same”. Discussion will follow!

I didn’t get to log in until a little later than usual as I had lots of real life fun to explore first. OK, so that’s not right, I had chores, nothing exciting. When I did log, the first order of the day was to complete one of my griffons training exercises. It seems my Griff had dry scales and feathers yesterday so I had to go smack about some big wyrms then rub the oil gained from those in to my Bird. This is sounding more and more like a bad ‘carry on’ flick. At one point I actually stopped and went off a la ‘J.D’ from Scrubs in to my own imagination. I couldn’t help but think that one of the reasons we play games like this is to enjoy a fantastic world and live through our avatars a ‘fantasy’ life. Well, I guess roleplayers think like that. Then I got to thinking about the quest I had just done and how ridiculous it was. I had just pummelled eight wyrms into bloody pulps, then using my bare hands I ripped open the huge stinky carcass (imagine the mess! I bet Volt looked like something from a slasher movie) and proceeded to rub oils from the carcass on to my small pet griffon an animal that is half eagle, half lion. It’s all a bit weird. I know it’s a world where fantastical things happen, but that’s just gross. Kinda like Lion Man, meets Vets in Practice, meets snuff movie. Weird choice for a quest in my opinion. At least my kinky little bird has healthy skin/feathers now.

I headed back to the starting part of The Great Divide, Fina’s Retreat and knocked out a few quests, which were the usual ‘go here, fetch that, click on this, move that’ type of quests. Not bad, but certainly nothing new. Whilst I was questing away and chatting to my Bro, my old raid leader Irja popped a shout out across our raid chat channel saying that we would be heading out to the x2 version of The Tower of Frozen Shadow (“ToFS”) in GD. I was excited. My first mini raid on day two of the expansion. We grouped up and headed to the zone in, but it seems not all of us had the mirrors to gain entry to the raid zone, so we had to split in to two groups to head in to the single instance of ToFS and get some quests completed to get the mirrors to give us access. The zone itself was, well, an EQ2 zone. There were a few quirky new things in there, like you had to use mirrors to get between the levels of the tower, do some crafting of potions to weaken mobs and so on. In fact the most innovative thing about the zone is that one of the named seem to drop legendary, appearance only items from their Ornate Chests.

The zone itself was OK, and that’s it, just OK. The mobs took a little more beating down that usual, but really not too much at all, hardly noticable. I had quite a few issues trying to control my hate. It didn’t help that I had swapped some of my hotbars around to have all like type skills together that are not in my normal casting order and had placed my detaunt next to my snap taunt tools (on my hate hotbar) as I hit those a couple of times and the mob snapped to me, but it really was a pain. The main tank was not too happy about it I don’t think and had been studying the parse to see what was happening and said I had climbed 13 hate positions in one fight. I didn’t quite know how I did that as I was using my detaunt whenever I saw it was up (probably not as much as I should have but recent AA changes mean the recast is less so I wasn’t used to it being available so much). But even so. I was watching the hate meter and even though I was using my detaunt, my anti-taunt buff and yes as stated a couple of times had hiccups clicking my snap by accident, I just kept watching the hate meter climb. When it reached around 95% if my detaunt was up I’d hit it, and I’d see the meter plummet to anywhere between 45% and 65% hate. But, as soon as I started to hit the mob again my hate rocketed, and I mean rocketed right back up there. I don’t really know what was going on with that. I need to check my equipment and buffs properly since the expansion in case I have a hate generating proc or something going off.

I know what it’s like when someone constantly rips from you as a tank and I understand why our tank wasn’t too chuffed. It’s not much fun when someone doesn’t control their aggro well, but the point is I was trying and trying to figure out what the hell was happening. I wasn’t doing anything unusual or out of line with what I usually did, but hate was definitely a huge issue for me last night. So much so, in the end the only way I could stop grabbing aggro was by feign deathing when I got too high on the meter. It wasn’t even if I was top of the parse, I was mostly behind the Necro and the Assassin. Yup I really was in the dark with what was happening and why. I must admit I was a little peeved when I apologised and stated I had been using my detaunt and was told by our tank that I couldn’t have been using them because I had climbed so many hate positions. If I didn’t know the guy I wouldn’t have been so miffed, but I have known him for a while and anyone who knows me will attest to this, I don’t lie. Like ever. The only time I will lie is to try and prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt and even then I try not to do it if there is another way. Yeah, when I was a kid I used to lie and wax lyrical like a Politician, but since I have grown up, for the last 18 years my morality is something I pride myself on. I don’t like being called a liar. Not one little bit. But I swallowed my pride after a brief "I don't lie bud" and just kept my mouth shut from then on and tried to figure out what the hell was going on with my hate. I never did get to the bottom of it.

We got a few nameds down and even though there was ok’ish mechanics making the fights just a little more than run of the mill dps fights, but I couldn’t help but feeling ‘I have been here before’. Not that particular instance of course, but in general. I have been playing EQ2 since release and I guess it just may be that there are only so many expansions you can take where the same old same old happens. I didn’t feel stimulated. In fact if you asked me now if I wanted to go questing and doing some instances in Velious, or hooking up with my Bro to bash Sanctum of Scaleborn, I know I would choose the latter in a heartbeat. Yes, there are new locations, slight twists and new ideas on the puzzles you have to solve with this expansion, but at the end of the day it’s still just another instance, killing trash, solving problems and killing nameds. I’m starting to think the thing that interests me now in EQ2 has nothing to do with the game itself, but rather my family and friends who are there.

My wife hasn’t even bothered getting the expansion. In the down time of a few weeks that she had before expansion she has made the decision not to return and has stuck by that. I’m not so sure how long I will hold on before I follow. I will give Velious more time in the interest of giving those who beavered away at making the new content for us a fair try, but I have the feeling I may be logging on soon just to hang with my Bro and guildies.

So, Destiny of Velious: Day 2 = “More of the same”

Be well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Destiny of Velious

It’s been a little while huh? Well, real life has been taking over a bit recently and until last night I have only been logging on for about an hour here and there. Then last night after a huge amount of downtime it was time to try out Velious. I’ll come to that in a little while. Pretty much all of the other times I have been online I’ve been mentoring down with Voltaan and helping Merecraft with the heroic part of the Peacock questline in Sinking Sands and Maj Dul. I must say it’s been rather a lot of fun. Hanging around with my Bro that is. One thing that does get a little too easy is the fact that mentored down to 58/59 Voltaan annihilates everything in his path. In a zone like Living Tombs where there are sooooo many trash mobs wandering around on quite quick respawns, it does save a massive amount of time whilst questing and being sent all around the zone multiple times for updates, but after a while it becomes a bit of a quest in itself to find something challenging to fight. I know if we had the time to go through the zone properly as a full level relevant group we would both perhaps find more of a challenge, but when there are so many quests to do, and it really is the difference of spending hours doing the quest or ten minutes, simply down to the amount of adds everywhere that you have to wade through.

So, although there isn’t much of a challenge it is really really nice to see how quickly my AAs are going up when mentoring Mere. There really has been some serious AA xp gain there and is just what I needed with Velious and the new AA lines coming in to play. More please! Mostly though it’s just been great to hang with me Bro in zones I enjoy very much.

So, Destiny of Velious. First impressions? Well, I only spent about an hour playing there last night. Patching seemed to take an eternity and I must not forget the false hope given by the sick minds at SoE where for 30 seconds or so the server light for Antonia Bayle went green, only to be greeted by the server being locked again when my account had logged in. Eventually however, I did manage to get in the game. The first thing I was pleased about was the fact that my AA tree hadn’t been reset. I don’t recall if when they last messed or added more AA lines if the tree reset, but it seems like they used to quite a bit on patch day and as someone who doesn’t really use AA mirrors (yup too lazy to sort that) it was always a pain having to go through and repack them. But, that wasn’t an issue this time. I figured that it would likely be Sinking Sands docks where entry could be gained to Velious as that is where I completed the pre-expansion quest but a quick check in guild chat confirmed and off I toddled to SS.

I was greeted by one of the first changes I noticed when I zoned through. I was on the ramped dock and I noticed my mount wasn’t sitting flat like he used to on a slope, he was actually standing correctly on the ramp. A small change, but cool. Seeing this reminded me that there are other graphical changes and I hopped straight away in to my options to check what they are. Firstly there is Depth of Field. This apparently makes things mega close a little blurred and things far away hazy, to create a more realistic environment. It looked OK I guess, but to be honest I didn’t notice too much of a difference. Secondly there is something called Ambient Occlusion. This basically means where light cannot get it adds depth and deeper shadows to again create a more realistic environment. I haven’t really been anywhere to check this yet, although I did spend some time in a crevasse and I must admit, I really didn’t notice. Thirdly, there is something called Sun Shafts. I think that one’s pretty self explanatory. Oh, I nearly forgot, they did something with water reflections too, but I haven’t looked in to that yet. Overall with the above three on, I did notice a drop in FPS of about 10 and currently no massive difference in appearance. I think the one I found most apparent was the Depth of Field option and I’ll probably leave that on. The others I will turn off for the moment.

So, to get to Velious you need to either speak to one of the Othmir on SS docks and he transports you there, or you can utilise one of the free portal paintings you get with the expansion and are house items. Basically each teleports you to a different location, one of which is the Great Divide (I think. I actually haven’t checked those out yet and am acting on info I have received there). So I arrived in the Great Divide on Voltaan and my very first impression was that it was very mountainous. The mountains in the distance (towards Thurgardin) looked massive. It was where I was heading too. I decided that the first thing I would do, seeing as I didn’t buy the collectors addition and get a free griffon egg or something, I knew I would head straight to Goahmari Village high in the mountains to start the flying mount questline. It was not too bad a questline, a bit of running around, a bit of killing and collecting. I now find myself in the position of having to summon my baby griffon every day to get a quest to train him. Once I have completed five of those then I’ll get my flying mount. The quests can only be picked up from your baby mount every 18 hours and once you have done one it tells you that you will have to wait as you have done all your training for one day. So, by the end of the weekend I should have my brand new private jet/griffon.

The scenery of the new expansion does look great, albeit a bit barren so far. Lots of snowy mountains, valleys, small encampments. That’s only the middle part of the Great Divide map I am on though. As I jumped straight in to a quest timeline in the middle of the zone I guess I haven’t seen the starting/landing area too much at the moment. I’ll probably be exploring that tonight. As for the game mechanics, i haven’t really noticed a difference in the DPS I am doing. A bit less perhaps but not by too much. However, this is on normal mobs and arrow down or one arrow up mobs. I haven’t had any heroic encounters yet, so I am not sure how I will fare against those. I do seem to be getting damaged more though. At one point I was actually taken out by a named yellow one arrow up spider. It really surprised me and got me to thinking how others who don’t have raid armour from SF (mine is totally tier2 and fully adorned) will survive. The fights do seem to go on for longer too but without too much decrease in DPS, I can only imagine they have seriously upped the amount of HPs level cons have. I guess a true test will be when I do my first Velious heroic instance. Maybe I’ll try and find one tonight. I am looking forward to the challenge, but by the same token hope I don’t find that all my efforts to gain raid gear have been completely wasted. Again, time will tell. Once I have completed my first instance I’ll let you know what I think of the game mechanics in full.

So first overall impressions? Kinda fun, some neat tweeks (like the Guild calendar) but not yet blown away. However, I still have a lot more exploring of content to go yet and am going to withhold my overall opinion until I have seen more. I guess it must be kinda popular though as when I zoned in to The Great Divide it was instance number 5. I think the highest I saw in SF was 3 instances of a zone. We’ll see how things go. Oh, I almost forgot. During the first twelve days of Velious there are going to be different bonus features each day. We have had the general double xp, today is double xp for guilds and tomorrow is free transfers for up to 5 toons on your account. So if you want to be moving toons, hold off until tomorrow and get the service for free.

I’ll add some piccies when I get home tonight.

Be well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Curious, not excited?

Velious is almost upon us. I have been doing some digging since the NDA has been lifted and the screenshots and information seems to have flooded on to the web. There are some new stuff that I am liking. One is quite a small update really and to be honest I don’t know if it even forms part of the expansion or is simply a general update. But I’m most definitely loving the in game calendar for guild use. That thing is going to be invaluable to me. Mainly because I cannot tell you how much of a struggle it is to get folks in my guild to head to the website to sign up for events and as such attendance really does end up being a lotto of who is online at the time and willing to join in. With the calendar option I really do think it will boost attendance to our events massively. We are a large guild and most of the members are keen to get involved with such events, but as they generally don’t use the website and therefore don’t know when they are, a lot miss out the events offered.

New Events Calendar
Other screenshots I have been looking at look pretty good and one of the things that interests me the most is the fact that the flying mounts can be used in pre-Velious zones. Apparently some lend themselves well to flying around, like the KoS zones, but others like smaller restricted zones such as Everfrost will apparently be a bit more useless EQ2Wire tells us. Whatever they are like I must admit I am curious to give the flying mount a go. Some have told me it is tough to control though, although admittedly others seem to have got the hang of things rather quickly. I am most definitely looking forward to exploring the SF expansion on flying mount.

Back to EQ2Wire! They have really been coming up with the goods to prepare those of us who weren’t on beta for the expansion. Click here to get access to their DoV AA Calculator, so you can get a good look at the new lines you will have available. I must say from a Bruiser point of view, I’m looking forward to getting enough AAs to hook up the Combat Mastery skill. That thing looks awesome! All combat arts hit for max damage for the whole group. Lasts 18 seconds with a recast of 3 minutes. I bet that’s pretty darn useful and I reckon will guarantee me a spot in my raid force in the melee group. Predators and Rogues are gonna love me. Gonna have to hit the questing hard to get Volts AAs up though. He will need another 49 points to be able to get and use Combat Mastery. You need 275 spent overall and 40 spent within the new ‘Heroic’ tree. A few AA potions whilst questing and grinding will do that quite easily I’m sure. Tag Team and Stone Cold seem very nice too for Brawlers.

The lethargy I have been experiencing with the game usually goes away for a time after a new expansion is released, although normally when an expansion comes out there isn’t so much change within the equipment stats and the mechanics of the game. Having said that with SF we did get quite a few changes in itemisation and procs I guess. I just hope it doesn’t affect gameplay too much and not having experienced Beta, I only have info passed to me to go on. Here’s a list of the expansions so far and a few brief thoughts on each.

Desert of Flames: Great expansion, but not so much on release. A lot of good content added later. Fun exploring Deserts. My first great title ‘The Ebon Dragon’. Court faction intensive.

Kingdom of Sky: Not so much fun apart from in TT. I did like the raiding in this expansion though. Deathtoll was an amazing zone.

Echoes of Faydwer: Too flowery for me. I did like the raids although Emerald halls was a bit too large.

Rise of Kunark: One of my faves. The many many new overland zones and some great instances made this a really meaty expansion for me.

The Shadow Odyssey: Loads of good quests and some cracking instanced zones. Heralded the start of ‘shards’ and sub currencies making item progression a bit more linear and easier for thickies like me to understand. Moors way way too dreary.

Sentinel’s Fate: Good content, not enough of it in contested overland zones. The Hole was OK, but didn’t light my fire. Raiding was fun but became repetitive.

Destiny of Velious: High hopes for locations, but shame there are only two overland zones. A little concerned as to how the mechanics / itemisation changes will affect gameplay.

I guess we’ll see what happens come 22nd February!

Be well.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Velious this way comes

So, the first bit of information is starting to filter through about Velious from official sources. There is an interesting snippet of Lore to be found on the EQ2 website here and a couple of screenshots. In addition you can find some great stuff on Velious including an interview and exclusive screenshots over at Massively  and . Well worth checking out. I must say I really am impressed as usual by the look and feel of the place, I’m just hoping the game mechanics fiddling hasn’t done too much damage to an already fragile system. I really need to get my pre-order sorted for this, I don’t want to miss out on the nice goodies that usually comes with pre-ordering. To be honest I haven’t looked what they are yet. Wonder if one is a flying mount. You can get your pre-orders here.

Apologies for the short post. Busy busy busy!

Be well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's nearly time..

It’s been a quiet few days for me really. Sunday night saw me lead two and a half groups in to Veeshans Peak Raid zone from Ruins of Kunark with Acolytes of Valor. It was a fun night, albeit a little frustrating at times, especially the Nexona fight. We just didn’t have enough of the right classes to do that which really surprised me. I mean this is content from two expansions ago and we were all pretty much level 90, yet we still struggled. I think it must be because that fight is so technical and to win you simply have to get all the jobs that are required perfected. We got a few other nameds down though, and most of all we had a lot of fun.

Monday night was good fun too. We hit the Palace of Rohan Theer and cleared up to Maalus who we attempted to do in hard mode again. We got close but to be honest our time there did seem to be marred by quite a few problems. I’m really not sure what they were though, despite a few setup changes the results were always the same. It didn’t help we kept having quite a few ninja afks from important folks in the raid. I think there is a kind of lethargy too that has crept in, with Velious on the doorstep and further progression of our raid force unlikely at this late stage. I guess whether folks realise it or not, they have become less enthused about running the same raid zones every week with all this other stuff about to happen.

Aside from that I haven’t really spent much time online. I seem to be losing a bit of interest again in EQ2, part of which is the upcoming expansion and the fact that there is no point pushing for further upgrades as they will be defunct soon and I am struggling to find the excitement in the game at the moment as I have so much going on with work and home life. In addition I have really found the flavour for moving my novel forward and have been spending a considerable amount of time developing plot and characters.

I really need to pre-book Velious. I’ve been tempted not to bother with the new expansion and perhaps take a break from the game, but having invested 6 years of my life to EQ2 I feel I owe it to myself and my lost spare time to give it a go. I know there will be the hard core crew hitting content they know how to beat from having done Beta and before you know it there will be folks who have completed everything, have 300 AA and progressed nicely through the raid zones. I don’t think I’ll be doing that. yeah, I’ll be doing the quest lines and instances but I certainly won’t be rushing them and I have a feeling initially they will be harder than we think they are going to be, until of course we all get some great kit.

One thing I am unsure on is flying mounts. I really don’t know what to think about this. I guess it will be kinda fun flying over zones and seeing them from a new perspective, but some zones we already get to do that, albeit we cannot control the flight paths. But is this yet another thing that will shrink the world of Norrath? I really do miss the old days of having to trudge everywhere. I know that wouldn’t work these days as getting a group to wait 20 minutes for you to get there just wouldn’t wash and you would lose your spot in the group most likely, but I guess after 6 years I can call myself old school, and change always makes one a little apprehensive.

All I can say for now, is that Velious needs to be something really special to keep me in the game.

Be well

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Majesty of a Memory

Had some sad news yesterday, it looks like my long time friend and confidant Jahf may well be leaving EQ2 having finally lost faith in the game and how it is progressing. I can’t tell you how much he will be missed, even though I will stay in contact out of game. I felt that such a moment cannot just be left to fade to black, so have decided to document the occasion with the respect it deserves. There is some artistic license here, so bear with me. Go grab a brew and settle in. I dedicate this short story to Jahf, Jahfster, Jaffacakes et al.


The Majesty of a Memory

Moonlight danced across the pool in slight ripples. Moving in ever increasing circles from the waterfall to eventually brush against the mossy bank. The dappled shadows cast by the bright moonlight almost hid the huge figure sat crossed legged by the pools edge, his head bowed, deep in meditation unaware he was being watched. Master Long Shan of the Whirling Fist Clan stood silently, not wishing to disturb the otherwise occupied Barbarian and with no other particular place to be decided to wait for his old friend to finish his meditation. Setting a small fire close by, the Master pulled a small copper kettle from his pack and filling it in the pool, placed it on the flames, then sat back to wait. A short time later the kettle began to whistle and Long Shen wrapped a thick cloth around the handle and removed it from the heat, pouring a small amount in to each of the two small china cups he had placed, both containing a light tea. Leaving the mix to stew he put the kettle down next to the fire. Movement to his left caught his eye and he saw Voltaan starting to stand from his meditation. Seeing Long Shen he gave a slight smile then came to the fire, sitting opposite the master in the same fashion, crossed legged.

“It is unusual to see you here so often my friend” Long Shen stated, looking in to the Barbarians pale blue eyes. “Indeed, you have been here meditating every night for the last three nights. What troubles you my friend?” he asked.

Silent, Voltaan looked down and sighed. His shoulders usually sharp and broad looked rounded and slumped. He reached for the offered tea cup, dwarfed in his huge hands and drank the hot bitter sweet drink. When no answer was forth coming, Long Shen simply waited and filled Voltaans cup once more. “I have all night too friend Voltaan. I can see something troubles you deeply. Your soul screams for attention and yet you ignore it. I ask again, what ails you? Long Shen is a friend. You know this, and I am always willing to listen.” He finished.

Again his questioning was met by silence and just as Long Shen was about to stand and leave Voltaan to his musings, the big man spoke. “I’m not sure I will ever see him again Shen. He was a man without equal. A bright light in this dark world, a beacon of hope. Yet he is gone, I can feel it. I feel it in here” he said prodding his own chest. “He’s gone.” Shen said nothing initially, simply nodding his head slightly as if he understood. After a few moments, when it was clear Voltaan would share no more, he asked, “A close friend of yours? A Battle partner? Share with me big man. It is said that those we lose live on in our memory and the stories we tell of them. Share Voltaan my friend, let me witness the passing of this beacon of hope you speak of”.

Voltaan, still looking down at his boots was quiet for a short while, then Shen heard him take a deep breath as if to calm his thoughts and slowly raising his eyes to meet Long Shens, he spoke.

“The first time I saw him it was an innocuous meeting. Without note really, but even then I knew. I have a sense amongst men Shen, a good eye and I knew immediately this was a Lion amongst the kittens. Hard and unrelenting in resolve and compassionate of soul. It was silly really our first meeting and to gain all this from it seems perhaps farfetched, but it was there. It was in Kylong Plains, dusk and I was making way from the icy tunnels of Terens Grasp towards Karatun Hold with business to take up with the Giants there. My eyes are not so good anymore Shen and in the half light I struggled to see what happened. There was a hunting party. About six or seven of them. They were chasing down some poor creature, a Gorilla infant perhaps. They had it cornered by some rocks and it had caught itself in some thornbriar, unable to escape. The party were taunting it and playing with it. A cruel act and an act of torture certainly not a hunt. The screaming it was making in desperation and fear was a terrible sound to hear. I felt my anger rising at the display of weak humanoids desperate for recognition from their peers within their group. It was a cruel sight to see.”

Shaking his head at the memory Voltaan continued. “I headed straight towards them and as I did I could feel my heckles rising. It made me angry to see grown men taunting an infant animal, impressed with their own pomp. I knew what I was to do and how I would achieve that when I reached them. I would show them the error of their ways”. Smiling at the memory and gentle shaking his head Voltaan went on.

“I was almost upon them when the rider at the front seemed to flinch a moment then disappeared off the back of his mount to land on his rump”. Voltaans story was interrupted by a resounding “Yes!” coming from beyond the firelight and Voltaan raised his gaze past Master Long Shen to the now gathered Whistling Fists Clan, obviously enjoying the tale. Voltaan resumed his telling, “The chaos that followed was awe inspiring and most definitely hilarious to watch. I simply stood by whilst this shadow seemed to dart all round them cutting saddle straps, slapping horses on the arse, disarming and pulling riders from the saddles. Shen my friend it was a sight to behold. In under a minute all of those bully hunters were either writhing around on the ground in pain or disappearing off in to the distance. At the crowning moment this slight shadow of a figure dragged the lead rider into the thornbriar and left him there whilst gently freeing the trapped creature. Then the shadow spoke, it said, and I remember this clearly, “There are hunters and there are killers. You are neither. Just a fat pompous lump in a briar bush. That animal is worth ten of you. May you rejoice in your worthlessness”, and then it just left him there trapped in the briar. The shadow then stood and walked away from the downed bully, towards me and as it came closer I realised it was a man, moving with power and grace, as he walked past me, heading back to Terens Grasp, he just looked at me and said, “Enjoy the show? Thanks for your help old man” then went on his way. I knew there was something special about this youth Shen, he had shown power and resolve and most definitely compassion. To risk his life for a scared infant creature, well he understood. He knew we are all equal, all goodly living creatures on this world and was unafraid to challenge a wrongdoing, despite being hideously outnumbered. I knew this was a man to walk with the Gods, a being of righteousness and power. I ran after him and fell into step alongside him. He didn’t even look at me, we just walked for a while, then he offered his hand and said “Jahf. And who might you be old timer?”

Voltaan looked up at Shen and his now gathered clan, then bowed his head once more. Master Long Shen  stood then indicated for his clan to disperse and before he walked away, he placed his hand on Voltaans shoulder. “Keep telling these stories Voltaan. Such tales bear the birth of legend. Your friend wherever he may be will walk this world still, in the Taphouses, Faires and around campfires. Jahf will not be forgotten". With this Master Long Shen turned and headed back to Shin. As he looked over his shoulder, he saw the huge Barbarian staring in to the fire, lost in thought.

Thanks for all the fun times in EQ2 matey. You know I'll be in touch soon.

Be well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Mixed Bag of Thoughts

Been a little while since I posted huh. Never enough time in the day this time of year for me. Crazy busy at work, throw in a bit of illness in the family and me sticking to my new years resolution to spend more time writing my novel and it all means less pen time for old bloggy.

To be honest I haven’t been playing EQ2 that much recently. Yeah, I log in most days, but this last week or so I’ve been on usually only for 30 to 45 minutes really. A quick instance run or some questing in Sinking Sands with Merecraft, then it’s off to do dome more stuff. I don’t think I am going to play with Voltaan much now until the expansion comes out. Yeah I’ll still raid so I don’t let down my fellow raiders and so I don’t lose my spot on the raid force but other than that I’ll probably spend what time I have online on Uddy.

I had a riot with Merecraft in SS. To be honest it has been so long since I’ve actually done the quest lines there I really don’t remember them at all. In fact I think I have only ever done them once and I am sure they have been changed about a bit since then. Although I did spot the bug zapper lady on the ramp upto the desert just like old times. We haven’t started those yet as they are a bit repetitive and there are other quests to complete.

Last night we spent about 45 mins knocking out some more quests and pretty soon we should be ready to head in to Maj Dul and pick up some of the quests there. I think from what I recall that we are going for Coin faction at the moment. Previously I have only ever done blades, so it will be interesting to see if there are many differences in the quests.

One of the things I am enjoying immensely is the fact that the last time I adventured with gusto in SS I was on a crappy computer, graphics were set a minimum and things were pretty bland. This time though with the game running just below extreme it’s like SS is a completely different zone from what I remember. I seriously feel like heading out all over Norrath again in the nooby and lower end stuff just to re-experience all the zones with a fresh new eye. I can’t tell you the difference it makes having a good graphics setup on that game. It quite literally transforms it. Yeah, I still lower my settings when raiding as I get a little fed up of just watching a screen full of constant and crazy disco like particle effects all the time as 24 people bash it out. But, I used to knock my graphics down for instances too but I've been doing some testing recently and even set damn high my FPS doesn’t drop below 40 or so which is easily playable for me in instances. To be honest the FPS doesn’t drop too much when raiding either, but it’s just a pain not being able see anything aside from flashes and bangs, so raiding is still minimum.

I’ve recently been having mixed feelings about Velious. As always I’m looking forward to experiencing the new content but at the same time there is a feeling of 'man, I have to do it all over again’. This feeling is compounded by the fact I have been getting a few rumours popping through and it seems stuff like raid armour is pretty useless in Velious. Now I have no idea what changes have been made, but dammit I have worked hard on my kit. I mean when SF came out, T4 TSO gear was still ok’ish at level 90. Ten levels higher than the previous expansion. This time round the level remains the same but the kit is apparently rubbish. I don’t know for sure but it seems from the rumours there are a lot of changes coming. I just hope they work out and it’s not another GU13.

How good it is, or how quickly I come to terms with the changes will probably determine if I continue to play EQ2 or not. I think I have mentioned before that Velious was the expansion I quit EQ1 on. It’d be a bit spooky if it was the same this time round. It needs to be really good and captivating as I’m already trying to cut down my play time and SoE won’t need to give me many excuses to move on to spending even more time writing. On top of that we are only a couple of months or so off the start of the really nice weather here on the southern coast of Spain and that naturally brings playtime down when I’m sat by the pool with the kids until 9 at night. So yup, the expansion will need to be something special to keep me around. Well. At the moment I still don’t have a replacement for EQ2 and I guess I may keep one account open for those rare occasions I had time to play and catch up with my mates even if I don’t like the expansion.

Right that’s about all I have time for. Work beckons once more. For this week I don’t have too much planned, but this coming Sunday I am running an old RoK raid for Acolytes of Valor, probably Veeshans Peak to get AA off the Dragons not already dead for some in our guild. Should be fun.

Be well.