Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Most Difficult Boss Mechanic Yet

From /u/Crimsonsette on Reddit, a description of a mechanic in Construct 7, a boss in FFXIV's latest 24-man raid:
Super quick and dirty guide on math for Construct 7. 
When he casts 'Subtract', he'll bring your HP down to a single digit - make a note of what this number is. He'll also spawn 4 puddles on the ground in a line that are denoted with either 1, 2, 3 or 4 dots. Going into the puddle area will ADD that the dot amount to your HP. The main mechanic is to math and make sure that your HP will match the mechanic he's doing. 
'Divide by 3'. You need to make sure that your HP is divisible by 3, so 3, 6, 9 or 12. Go into the puddle that will add points to your HP to hit one of those numbers. 
'Divide by 4' - Your HP needs to be an even number, 4, 8, 12, 16 etc. 
'Divide by 5' Your HP needs to end in a 5 or 0. 
If you do it correctly, you'll see the check mark on your head and you'll get a damage up buff. 
After the cyclone, you'll be doing advanced math. He'll cast 'Indivisible', which means your HP needs to be a number that cannot be divided (aka a prime number). 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13.
The FFXIV playerbase does not hold out much hope for this fight. It's amusing that this is a mechanic which would be completely ineffective in WoW. An add-on would be immediately made which gives you the correct answer right away.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Knights of the Eternal Throne

This post contains significant spoilers for The Old Republic.

I played through the latest expansion of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Eternal Throne. Actually, apparently I left halfway through the previous expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, so first I finished that off.

I feel the same way about KotET as I about The Last Jedi. The initial setting is absurd, and is a drag on the entire story. Vitiate and Valkorion being the same entity and having two empires doesn't really fit in with the rest of the game, or the way Vitiate has been presented previously. But if you just accept that premise, the rest of the story is pretty decent.

I liked a lot of the small touches, the way SCORPIO gave the Gemini droids free will, and how Vaylin took it away from them. The ending was quite strong as well, being a family affair just as the entire story had been. Bioware made a good attempt at reconciling Vitiate and Valkorion, invoking Nathema.

It was also interesting the way the Empire, under Acina, was the faction willing to ally with you, while the Republic chose to stand aside. At first glance, it looks a little odd, but it actually fits well that the Sith would chafe more under Zakuul's rule.

The "Virmire" choice between two companions was done well. It was obvious that the companion you didn't chose was going to die, but they delayed and faked it out to create enough doubt that it was still a bit of a shock.

I did play it through on my Agent, and it was decent enough. It still felt like it would have been a better story for a force user though. Of the non-force users, though, I think the Agent is the best option, as much of that story revolves around mind control.

Speaking of the Agent, I loved the reunion with Vector. Vector was my companion of choice up until companions were taken away at the start of KotFE. The reunion was done perfectly, and it's so good to have him back.

The Traitor story that came after was a little obvious and silly (Theron's haircut!) but it was done well, and did a pretty good of resetting the setting closer to the Republic vs Empire state. It was insightful of Bioware to see that the Eternal Fleet was the only element which needed to be removed to restore the balance.

I did like how the instances had a story mode tuned for you and a companion. It's much better than the instances with the "Jesus" droid.

All in all, Knights of the Eternal Throne was a good expansion for the TOR. The story ended quite well. The real problem, though, is that I played through it in two weeks, going relatively slowly. I'm not sure there was enough content for a steady subscriber. It will be interesting to see what Bioware is going to do next.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Rift Prime

I've been playing Rift Prime for the last month or so.  I originally tried Rift back when first launched, and a lot of what I posted then still applies:

Some things have changed. Rift now has a Dungeon Finder, which makes doing dungeons a lot easier. As well, Rift got rid of spell ranks, which makes leveling much smoother. They also give you several optional "automatic" builds, which you can choose and the game will guide you where the points in the build goes.

Level 20 Eth Ranger in Stonefield
A lot of things are the same as well. Warrior armor is still sketchy, the macro system is still excessive, and that third soul still does not feel quite right. I still think that Rift builds should have been two souls only.

Requires People

Rift is a game which really needs a lot of people. When Invasions pop and there are many groups running around, it's a lot of fun. But as you level, the number of people drop off, and higher level zones are a lot less interesting and lack the same energy that the lower zones have. Rift tries to encourage people to go back to old zones, and there is some level scaling, but it feels less and less effective as you level.

It's also possible that the large wave of people has gone ahead of me and has already reached the level cap.

I kind of wonder if Rift could have worked without instanced dungeons and raids. If everything was in the main world, and better gear and armor were earned through doing rifts and invasions, would that have been better in the end?

Story

Rift's story is really lackluster. It's odd, because it does feel like they put a lot of effort into it. Named NPCs pop up from zone to zone, plotlines generally make sense. It's kind of hard to put a finger on just what is wrong with the story.

I think the main problem are the villains. They're elemental invaders from another plane, as such, they're very faceless, interchangeable, and have very surface-level motivations. They just don't seem to lend themselves to good stories.

I do think there's a few missed opportunities. For example, if you character is a Defiant, you come from a future where the bad guys have won. The major villain then is a sorceress named Alsabeth. However, when go back to the past, Alsabeth is already a villain. I think there's a lot which could have been done if Alsabeth had started as a hero, as you'd be constantly waiting for her to fall.

Wardrobe

There is one system in Rift which is best-in-class. That is the game's wardrobe system.

Wardrobe system on my warrior
The wardrobe is simple and intuitive. It is extremely easy to understand and use, but it is also thorough. Every option is available, you can easily show or hide items, choose a new look, or dye gear. You can store many sets (though you have to pay to unlock them).

It's also built into the character pane, so it's always available, which is especially useful when you get a new piece of gear. You can put it on, and fix your looks right away, rather than having to go back to a vendor.

Rift also has armor "sets" for every piece in the game, from the very first pieces you wear. That adds to the whole collection aspect.

If I was making a cosmetic armor system for an MMO, I would use Rift's system as a model.

Final thoughts

I'm probably going to stop playing Rift Prime when my current time runs out. It just hasn't grabbed me. Rift isn't a bad game. It's just a "decent, not great" game. Unfortunately, that really isn't enough in this genre. To survive, I think an MMO has to offer at least one "special" thing, something it does best, and something worth falling in love with, even if other elements are subpar. Sadly, Rift lacks that one unique "special" element.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Updates

This is probably the longest I've gone between posts. I really should just sit down and write, instead of thinking about writing.

Warcraft

We're clearing Antorus every week. I guess now we're just waiting for the next expansion. The officers are trying to get a taste of Mythic, but we just don't have the numbers.  Even our heroic runs usually only have around 18 people.

Rift Prime

I finally got Trion's website to work. The adblocker I run was interfering with their payment provider. I signed up for a package, and have been leveling a Guardian Warrior. Hopefully I will go into it in more detail in a future post. But by and large, pretty much everything I said when I first tried Rift still holds. 

Which does make sense, as it is a Prime server. But that also means that the reasons I stopped playing Rift before are going to cause me to stop playing Rift now.

Other

Otherwise I'm not really playing anything. I guess Bless Online is coming out shortly, maybe I will give that a whirl.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ahead of the Curve: Argus the Unmaker!

Yes, my screenshot skills are very rusty. This is better than the shots where I have my back to the camera.
My guild downed Heroic Argus the Unmaker this weekend!  We spent an hour trying to get our fifth kill on Aggramar, so it wasn't looking very promising.  However, our first attempt was a heart-breaking 0% wipe, so we knew it was in our grasp.

The next couple of pulls were odd wipes, including one where Argus decided to walk away from the tanks, turn around, and Cone of Death them. Finally we got a good pull where everything went well, went into the last phase, got Titanforging early, and everyone stayed alive longer than normal.

Argus is an interesting fight in that the last phase completely resets the board. Everyone who's dead comes back to life with the rest of the group and you start again cleanly. In some ways it's kind of nice, because once you've mastered the first phases, you don't have to do them perfectly while learning the last phase. A death or two here or there is perfectly survivable, and you can save battle resses for the last phase.

Now we just have to fix our issues with Aggramar. I'm not sure what's going on. I think we made some small changes which is making the fight more fragile for us.

Still, that's Legion pretty much done and dusted for us. I doubt we will try Mythic, just due to avoiding the roster hassle.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Paystyles

Imagine that there are two MMO players: Sally and Lucy. Both of them regularly play the same four MMOs: Game A, B, C, and D. However, they don't play each game equally, but for different amounts of time. Sally and Lucy spend 50% of their time in A, 25% in B, 15% in C, and 10% in D.

Both players have the same entertainment budget of $60 per month.  However, how each spends that budget is different.  Sally prefers to spend $15 on each game. Lucy, on the other hand, spends all $60 on game A, and $0 in the other three games.

GameTime SpentSallyLucy
A
50%
$15
$60
B
25%
$15
$0
C
15%
$15
$0
D
10%
$15
$0

My contention is that Lucy is a more accurate model of how most gamers want to spend their money. She doesn't mind spending a significant amount of money on her hobby. However, there is a threshold which a game has to surpass to be considered worth spending money, and all the money goes to those games which surpass the threshold (usually only one game). Even though Lucy spends 50% of her time in other games, they don't get any money at all.

Of course, if next month Lucy spends most of her time in game B, she will spend the $60 in game B.

There is a minority of gamers who are like Sally, though. Who prefer subscriptions and spreading the spending around.

I think the reason lockboxes are so popular is that they more closely match how Lucy wants to pay for her games. I think the game companies would prefer Sally and subscriptions. Witness how many games attempt to start with subscriptions but have to convert to F2P and lockboxes. The game companies are stuck with a audience of Lucys.

The common refrain in the community lately is that lockboxes are evil and predatory. The vocal community, though, tends to be Sallys. Perhaps lockboxes are empowering for Lucy instead, allowing her to spend her money exactly as she would prefer, even if Sally thinks that way is illogical and foolish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Updates

I haven't posted in a while, so here's an update on how things are going.

Rift Prime

There's a fair amount of hype and nostalgia going around for Rift Prime. I decided to give it a whirl and downloaded the Glyph launcher again.

Unfortunately Trion's website won't let me add my credit card as a payment method for some reason. It just stalls with no errors or response. So that's the end of that plan.

World of Warcraft

My guild has cleaned up our act on Coven, even one-shotting it a week ago. Unfortunately, this has also been accompanied by serious regression on Aggrammar in the last two weeks. We've been wiping much more than we did on our first two kills, making it very hard to actually get attempts in on Argus.

We did finally get a chance to make three or four serious attempts on Argus last raid. We even had a 1% wipe.  We just have to clean up that last phase and reliably get the Titanforging buff early.  Hopefully Coven and Aggrammar will go well next week, and give us enough time to down Argus.

I also got the Lightbringer title from Argus (the zone) last week. For some reason, I could not get the hang of the goblin glider, as this was the first time I've really used it. Normally I just bubble when I need to fall a long distance. I fell off the edges of Argus and died numerous times while trying to get the hidden treasures. I finally got them all, and got a nice title for my paladin.