The One Where He Totally Geeked Out Like a Mid-1980s Gamer Nerd ((Hacking DnD 4 into Lord of the Rings))

I noticed early on that LotRO’s main conceit about their “Health Bar” really really works in DnD 4th with regards to healing.
Lord of the Rings refers to your ‘health bar’ as Morale — so it’s mostly representative of your will to continue the fight — the rest of the game works in similar ways — where death =’s ‘retreat’ and so forth. This makes ‘healers’ in Lord of the Rings (which is really quite a low-magic setting) make sense — they are the minstrels with their uplifting songs (VERY Tolkein), the Captains with the rallying crys and bold words, and even the Lore Masters with their quietly whispered words (or sometimes taking your worries on their own shoulders to ease your burden).
That idea really works in 4th edition DnD, especially when you look at the Healing Surges everyone has (accessible in combat as Second Wind) and the names of the healing-type abilities for the Warlord (Captain), which indicate that they’re really just boosting your will to continue the fight.
Mike Mearls was saying in an interview that it changes nothing in the game if a player wants to take all his mage spells and switch them to ‘cold’ damage instead of, say, fire; it’s the kind of customization hacking he expects from players in the game as they make their character their own.
Then I thought: it would be a pretty simple thing indeed to hack the Cleric into a sort of lore-master and/or minstrel (or both, depending on which path you took at creation) simply by changing the names of the powers and changing their “implement” from a holy symbol to either a wizards staff or a musical instrument. Do that, drop Mages and Warlocks from the game (or leave them for the bad guys), and you’re pretty much ready to play in Middle Earth in LotRO style.
So, to sum up…
– Drop Dragonborn and Tieflings. Duh.
– Elladrin are the elves of Lothlorien and Rivendell.
– Sylvan elves are the elves of Mirkwood.
– Fighters: unchanged. Depending on build, they are either Champions or Guardians.
– Rogues: rogues are more melee damage dealers than the LotRO Burglars, and their benefit to the group is slightly different, but it’s still similar enough. Halfling rogues should favor trickster builds, probably, with the other type being more common with sylvan elves and the like.
– Rangers: virtually no changes.
– Warlord: call em Captains and you’re done, though I think a lot of them would be multiclassed.
– Cleric: the ‘sit-in-the-back’ build (whatever the name) you tweak in Power names and Implements to be Minstrels, and the ‘up-in-your-face’ build you likewise tweak to be Loremasters.
– Warlocks: probably only bad guys — infernal types serve Sauron entirely, I’d guess. Fey types work alright with the High elves, and Star-pact warlocks would make an interesting type of Loremaster, maybe.
– Mages: too overt to be anything but bad guys, really.
This would simulate LotRO pretty well, would work for a game setting like Midnight quite well, but still be too much magic for true Tolkein.
If you really wanted to be totally hardcore Tolkein, not LotRO, you remove Clerics and Mages. Healing would fall entirely to the use of Healing Surges and any Captains you had with you. Warlocks stay in the setting in very particular instances. Infernal Warlocks are bad guys, Fey Warlocks are the Elf Lords, and Star Pact Warlocks are Gandalf and Sauruman. (Keep the Ritual List, from which you’d likewise remove things like passwall and the Portal magic, but keep the ‘rezzes’ for when Frodo gets insta-gibbed a ringwraith on Weathertop. Only the various Warlocks would get such Rituals automatically — anyone else would need a Feat to learn a few — Aragorn did so.)

Technical Difficulties

A staff writer on writes a bit about how he really got into Age of Conan, and then stopped playing in favor of Guild Wars.

Now I know that AoC puts much higher graphic demands on your system and that Guild Wars has had years to eliminate the performance bugs that still plague the early days of AoC, but none of that mattered. Playing Guild Wars made something instantly apparent to me. Age of Conan is an enjoyable game with a great deal of potential but after a month of intensive play I’d gotten to the point where it just wasn’t worth the consistent and mundane technical hassles involved in playing it. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t frustrated, but at that moment in time I’d found something better to do and so I just stopped playing.

This is the problem I’m currently having with Lord of the Rings Online. My poor old desktop is five years old and, while it’s pretty much tweaked out as far as the hardware will withstand, it can’t get any better, and when I start up Lord of the Rings, the machine’s old bones really start to show. Graphics issues. Lock-ups, some of them system-wide. Horrible horrible lag.
In order to combat this problem (which, rather than getting better over time and bug-fixing on LotRO’s part, has gotten progressively worse as they add newer content and cooler graphics — the problems aren’t bugs, they’re just the way things are), I’ve had to dial my game settings down to the lowest possible. The gorgeous LotRO panoramic views? I don’t see much of them when I have my graphics set to “Low”, to avoid lag — I dial up to “high” to take screenshots, then back to “low” to actually, you know… move. I have a dual monitor system, but one of them is now simply taking up space on my desk, unplugged, because running both at the same time, with LotRO, causes heat problems on my video card, thanks to the strain that the game puts on my card. Don’t even get me started about the hiccuping sound during any of the justly-vaunted cinematics within the game.
I love the game, I really do — I think they’re doing a fantastic job on it, and I acknowledge that the problems I’m having are largely due to trying to run the thing on an old, loyal golden retriever of a PC that really needs to be put out of his misery. Hell, Kate’s laptop is only a few years old and IT struggles with all the rendering it has to do in a busy town.
But, you see… there’s this thing. WoW doesn’t cause me any of those problems. I might have a night of lag, due to a server issue, and when that happens I’m glad to be able to do something else, but that’s a known server issue, easily fixed, not an inability of my Hardware to run the Software. When it comes down to it, I spent many evenings choosing to play WoW over LotRO this last month (even when LotRO can include Kate) because I knew that when I logged into WoW, the game would RUN.
I appreciate that games traditionally push the envelope of what PCs can accomplish — more than any other kind of software, GAMES push hardware developers to climb to the next plateau, and that’s great.
But if you want to really be a huge success? You need to remember that you can’t be so cutting edge that the playerbase spends more time trying to balance on that cutting-knife-edge than they do ACTUALLY PLAYING YOUR GAME.
I mean, it’s not just LotRO. I bought Tabula Rasa because the idea of a good Sci-fi MMO excited me — and couldn’t get the game to play, at all. I made it halfway through the tutorial before I gave up.
I have a copy of Age of Conan gathering dust in my office closet because if I deleted everything but the operating system off my PC, I still wouldn’t have the harddrive space to INSTALL IT — forget about whether or not my other system specs would be up to speed.
It doesn’t matter if your game is awesome if people can’t run it. WoW graphics are comic-book in style (On purpose – comic-book-style imagery has successfully sold for five decades – uncanny valley CGI? Not so much.) and requires what is now low-end hardware to run quite well. That’s at least part of the reason they have retained 10 million active subscribers. Ten. Million. No one seems to know what it is they they’re doing to enjoy the kind of grade-curve-breaking success, but I’ll tell you what they aren’t doing — they aren’t pushing the hardware envelope — that is not, in any way, where they garner their win.
I had a great, really fun time playing Lord of the Rings last night. Kate and I led a group of heroes (total strangers) into the ruins of Fornost, the last, ruined, capitol of the Kingdom of the North, now thick with wights and orcs and wargs and their horrible leaders, bound to life by the morgul blades they wielded. We fought our first Nemesis-level foe, and defeated him only when Kate figured out that we had to light the old Kingdom’s signal fires mounted on the rooftop where we faced him, in order to weaken him enough to win.
It was epic.
But you know what I enjoyed the most? It was the second night in a month where my PC hadn’t locked up while playing the game.
“Not locking up” shouldn’t be the thing I liked the best out of the whole night; that should be assumed.
My one regret of the evening shouldn’t have been “the screenshot I took from the top of the tallest towers of Fornost was pretty boring, because I forgot to dial my graphics back up from the setting where I can play to the setting where it looks good.”

The Sound of Silence

The internets are pretty darned quiet today… at least the areas I listen to. This is, I think, almost entirely due to the release of the Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures on Friday — all those folks who normally blog about WoW stuff are creeping through the jungle, watching the branches above for Stygian assassins. Seriously: I mean it. WoWInsider posts maybe 50 to 70 news items a day, and yesterday a bunch of new information on the upcoming and much-looked-for Expansion was leaked out.. and today, there have been seven posts.
It’s set up to be a big hit.
* Huge potential fan base. A major fantasy property. A million subscribers in the beta, alone. That would be, as a point of reference, three times more than the best numbers CoH has ever put out for a quarter, and larger just in the BETA than all but the truly huge players in the US and Euro market are doing with their production models right now. Their BETA had twice as many player accounts as LotRO — a successful game by any measure, representing possibly the most definitive fantasy setting in the world — does right now.
* Beautiful, evocative, machine-straining gameplay. I’ve known I’ve needed to upgrade my desktop machine for a while now — it’s … (checks Dells site) … wow… it’s over FIVE YEARS old, and although I have tweaked and upgraded and pushed and prodded and squeezed additional performance out of that box until it damn near vibrates with the strain, the very very best I can get out the old horse today is less than the cheapest desktop models Dell is selling today as factory refurbs. Age of Conan knows it — their bare minimum requirements to run the game are beyond anything I have.
* A combat system that’s actually… you know… different.
* A crafting system that you don’t have to screw with for 40 levels, if at all.
* Acknowledgment of the growing-older playerbase with an “M” rating that it works HARD to deserve. Bloody, violent, grown-up fun. That alone will put it in the shopping cart of another 500 thousand folks.
I’ll be honest — it’s not the only reason I want to replace my home computer, but it’s one of em.

Greetings from Shell Beach Eriador!

Again, look at these as snapshots from a recent vacation.
The first shot is from a few weeks ago, taken a few hundred miles northeast of the Shire, in the easternmost reaches of the north downs. It’s one of the passes into the mountains that leads (after quite a lot of winding and ambushes and scary dragon kin) into the southernmost reaches of Angmar, the Witch King’s seat of power. The statues framing the pass look a lot like Nazgul to me. The dark trail on the ground marks the passage of a massive army that went through not too long ago (now occupying the valley of Dol Dinen to the south).

“… but the trees are actually quite lovely…”

This one isn’t really a screen shot — it’s just the current map for the game. As you can see, a lot of the ‘world’ isn’t in play yet — really it’s just the section of the map connected to the areas that the Fellowship ‘touched’ or referred to just during the first half of the first book. Click on the picture to go to an annotated version of the map.

Rivendell. What more do you need to say? In this shot, Geiri pauses on the steep, steep path leading down into Imladris to take in The Last Homely House. At this point in the game’s timeline, the Fellowship is resting up after all the misadventures that got the hobbits there from the Shire; Gandalf and Elrond are in deep council; Aragorn ponders the reforging of Narsil; Boromir remains as far from Elrond as he can; Gloin hasn’t arrived yet, nor has Legolas; Frodo mopes; Samwise worries about him; Bilbo spends his time in the Hall of Flame, telling riddles… and Merry and Pippin smoke barrels of Old Toby don’t pay much attention to anyone else.

Geiri and Tiranor, somewhere in the inhospitable reaches between the northern Shire and Lake Evendim.

Geiri, at Tinundir — Dunedain-held ruins along the shores of Evendim, at sunset.

Geiri, facing off against one of the bestial gauradan, LotRO’s nod to werewolves while staying true to Tolkein. They’re very beast-like in movement and appearance (I had to work at getting a screenshot that showed me their human face under the wolf head for several minutes and numerous fights), and their tribal areas are very cool. I particularly like their facial characteristics; that lantern jaw and heavy brow really sets them apart from other Men.
In this shot, I’m doing what I usually do: smashing my shield into the bad guy’s face until Tiranor gets a couple arrows into them and they decide to have a lie-down.

And that’s it, for now. I tried to get a shot that captured us on our (new!) horses, riding through frozen Forochel, with the northern lights in the sky and our breath coming out in white puffs, but I never quite got it all in a good shot at the same time, so that will have to wait.

A couple screenshots from World of Warcraft

Really, what is an MMO but a mini-vacation? And what should you do on a vacation? You take pictures.
I’ll have some screenies from LotRO soon as well, because they are much prettier. WoW is much more comic-book style, but pretty in it’s own way… or maybe I’m just a nerd.
WoW_Prince Action
This image is from a Karazhan run that, judging from the gear I’m wearing and who I’m grouped with, was probably about 2 or 3 months ago. First, I like this picture because it’s kind of a heroic action shot: Grezzk has just released an arrow at Prince Malcheezar, Octan’s water elemental is blasting an ice bolt over my head at the target… it’s cool.
Second, it’s a pretty good shot of my customized user interface in action. I’ve tweaked the look of the game a lot from the default (thanks to Blizzard making the UI pretty much open-source for developers to mess with at will and release addons for). If you click on the picture above, it links to the Flickr page where I’ve made a bunch of notes on the elements in the picture, just because I’ve never done that before, and it was pretty fun to do.
Whoops. I killed Dr. Boom.
Who’s Dr. Boom? Officially, he’s a guy you’re supposed to kill in this one quest in Netherstorm — a mad goblin who specializes in making exploding robots or something. The thing is, the guy has like like a million-zillion hit points, so in the quest you get some special bombs that you can chuck at him if you can get close enough — hit him with like four of them and he goes down. Unofficially, his stupidly high health and the fact that he never aggros on you — just surrounds himself with bombs — means that ranged DPS like mages and hunters can use him to test out new shot rotations with a DPS-meter running to see what options do more damage, without worrying about (a) killing your target or (b) dying.
I had cause to use him for that purpose last weekend.
Turns out, you will eventually have to worry about (a).

So how did that “interview” raid go?

You know, the first time I went to Karazhan with Grezzk, I was geared up appropriately, ready to go, and yet… I didn’t outperform anyone.
I mean, I did my job, and I didn’t screw up (too much: I saved that for my second run), and I filled a role that needed filled and did the damage that needed to be done. But that was it. I wasn’t posting chart-topping numbers, I wasn’t three-times higher than the next higher damage-class, and I wasn’t doing as much damage as all the other teammates put together.
Eventually, I manage all those things in Karazhan and Heroic-level dungeon teams, but not that time. I was the new guy. I was decently geared for entry-level, but that was it.
And that stage… being the new guy with “good-enough” but not actually “good” gear, and not knowing what I was doing and actually gimping my performance simply because I was focusing so hard on just not screwing up? That stage was a LONG, LONG TIME AGO.
Note that I say “was” a long time ago. As of last night, I’m back in that same place again. I’m the guy with “good enough, but not *good*” gear — the one who needs to learn the fights before he relaxes enough to really open the throttle up — the one who died about 2/3rds of the way through every boss fight. I did the job I was brought in to do, but it wasn’t A+… it was … maybe a B-, maybe a C. “Shows promise, needs to focus” writes the teacher in my new class — not nearly as ‘easy’ as my old class.
A friend from my old guild who convinced me to join him in this new guild told me that he really wanted me to come in and just blow the doors off some of the cockier members of the guild. That didn’t happen last night.
But it will.
I like this new pond. It’s a lot bigger.

Not-a-job job hunt

Hmm. I wrote a really really long post that didn’t go anywhere. Let’s start over.
Playing Grezzk, I’ve been working on the new event in World of Warcraft — the introduction of the Shattered Sun Offensive and all the heroic behind the scenes effort (read: repeatable quests) that go into it — as you complete quests, you and all the other folks doing those quests on the server help the ‘progress’ of the war effort move along — over time, you gain a foothold on the island, then expand it, get logistical support, et cetera, et cetera.
I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Offensive. This can be shown numerically, because the quests themselves pay pretty well and advance your reputation with the Shattered Sun faction — in the short time since this faction was introduced, I’ve gone from 500 gold to the almsot 5200 I need to get an epic-speed flying mount and because Exalted with the faction weeks ago… all without trying… just ENJOYING my small part in the war effort. Good stuff.
But I’m kind of done with that. I enjoy my alt characters a lot, but at the same time I like playing GREZZ: I’ve got more play-time on him AT level 70 than the play time I have on all his other 69 levels combined (a tribute both to the character and to the piles of stuff there is to do in the end game), and there is a lot more stuff to see in the game that I haven’t yet — ‘end game’ stuff that no one will run come Halloween/Thanksgiving when the new expansion comes out. There are seven 25-man dungeons in the end-game, and I’ve seen one of them. I’d really like to fix that.
I was in a guild that was gearing up to hit that content really hard, and it melted down. Scholomance Debate Team went from a really quirky family to a truly poisonous environment in a matter of weeks. In Lee’s words, “it was like dating a really pretty, smart, sexy girl for six months… and then finding out that she was in a mental institution for the three years just before she met you… and then escaped.”
When all the happened, I just didn’t have time to deal with it; I wasn’t an officer or a class lead, and frankly between Kate moving out here and looking for a new job, I just had more important stuff to think about.
So I moved into a casual guild of people I knew who were thinking about doing a little more raiding then they had been. What they were moving up and in to was stuff I’d already done a bunch, but it was still fun to see it again through new eyes. I wasn’t sure it was the right fit for what I wanted, but the GL talked to me about what he wanted to do in the future, and convinced me to stay. That was just before the wedding.
While I was off getting married, the guild leader quit the game during a firestorm of a guild meltdown that I’m pretty glad I missed.
Right. Guildless again. Farstriders is a small server (note: still 5 times higher population than the average CoH server), and there are really only about three guilds who are doing the content I’d like to see, and they’re all kind of ‘hardcore’ raiding guilds; to use an amateur-sports analogy, I was playing with my friends, out in the park, on weekends. These guys are trying to win their division the sponsored league play.
But seriously? It’s that or doing a paid transfer to another, much bigger server and looking for a ‘responsible, but casual’ guild that would take in a stranger.
So I’m basically trying out for one of the local Big Names this week. It’s a series of job interviews all over again.
Honestly? I’m pretty excited.

And in the meantime, i get to play Lord of the Rings with Kate, one which we’ve really picked out our ‘mains’ and started some serious exploration of the higher-end areas. People want us to get to Rivendell in time to give Aragorn a message! We’ve seen Angmar! (Well, we snuck into the southernmost passes leading into angmar and saw a really terrifyingly big dragon go by overhead.)
Pretty heady stuff for a steadfast dwarven guardian and his adorable elven hunting companion. (It’s my blog, so she’s his companion. πŸ™‚

No, there haven’t been a lot of updates

… that’s largely because there hasn’t been a lot of gaming going on.
Sometime last month, Dave ran a session of Ill Met by Gaslight, and that was good.
A little while before that, I ran a session of In a Wicked Age down at Lee and De’s, and that was good too.
I haven’t run Spirit of the Century this year… maybe since last November.
I haven’t run a session of Galactic since mid-December.
Which would leave me posting mostly about World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings online (which, unlike my local playerbase/social calendar, is always available). I don’t really want to do that (though I may have a “WTB: PvE Hordeside Raiding Guild that won’t Melt Down” post coming up at some point), so that has left me with not a lot to write at the moment.
In lieu of slew of WoW/LotRO-centric posts, I’ve installed two twitter feeds into the sidebar to let me natter on, in a constrained fashion, regarding whatever bit of digital-adventure minutia I’m currently obsessing over.
And seriously?
“Skilled Orc Hunter WTB: Hordeside raiding guild that won’t melt down. Will transfer servers for new content and good group of players.”

Week in Review

Not a ton to say, really. Kate might disagree, but it doesn’t feel as though a lot’s been going on with Gaming-stuff.
* No Galactic or Spirit of the Century. *sad panda*
* I led a Kara raid up through the Opera event on Wednesday. That was fun in a wacky way; more stress, but we had a weird group and ended up doing stuff like taking out Moroes and company with no priests, chain-traps, and a lot of shooting things in the face.
* One of the other Raids on a ‘free’ night fell through, which left me with nothing to do, so I hopped on Syncerus the Drood and chewed up Strangethorn Vale and Duskwallow Marsh for awhile, dinging both 40 (hellooooo Dire Bear form) and 41.
* I didn’t really want to watch the Oscars, so I played during that while Kate watched and filed a bunch of her books on our now-full shelves. This led to FINALLY getting Kayti done with the huge Zul Farrak dungeon for which I’ve been gathering quests and prepatory gear for… three months? A long time. During the run I dinged 47, and turning in the (eight!) quests afterwards took her all through 47 tp 48. Tanking the run was fun, though the paladin threat generation isn’t as easy as I recall (partly due to trigger-happy pug-teammates).
Grezzk’s guild is struggling to recreate itself in an active-raiding mold. Consequently, raid schedules are in flux, the officer corp is in flux, the guild charter… you get the picture. Old officers unhappy with the changes are leaving, etc. etc.
Y’know what I’m doing about it? Nothing. I went to the (vent-based) meeting to vote on various changes, and offered my two cents and a reality check or two on some of the rules, but volunteer to be a raid leader? No. Volunteer to be an officer? No.
Thanks. I’ve done that. I have the t-shirt and the “die in a fire” emails from former guildmates.
I log on. I play. If I’m really lucky, I get in a group with some folks and we have a good time. If not, I still get to blow stuff up and mess with my little characters and play a game.
A second job (unpaid, that is) I do not need.

“Let’s not create a WoW-widow before we even get married, hmm?”

… or, to be fair, a Gaming-widow in general.
I’ve been giving my Google-calendar a workout for the last couple days, because although I am a gamer of many different colors and stripes, I have traveled down the road of life-imbalance quite a few times since the early 90s (oh, those early MUDs and MUSHes; oh those hours of Space Hulk and Battletech map creation), mid-90s, and far far more recently… and I’d just rather not go back there, thanks.
So: I raid in WoW (though I could wish for a little more progression-status and a little less farm-status — I did my farming in my youth :P), and I have some alts I really enjoy, and I play LotRO, and a have a copy of Tabula Rasa winging its way to me for a practically criminal discount, and I have table top games I’m running and even more that I want to run, and then there’s writing stuff, and reading stuff… the question before me is “how do I get enough time to ‘blow stuff up’, without ensuring that I have “ALL THE TIME YOU COULD EVER WANT, AND THEN SOME, YOU BASTARD”?
I’m not an expert, but these are the guidelines I’m working with right now.
1. Schedule my time. I don’t mean just my play time, but just flat out schedule the Big Stuff that needs doing during the next week. Note: I use the word “needs” advisedly, and not without some irony; leveling my druid does not “need” doing… it’s just one of those things I’d enjoy getting to do.
2. Kate and Kaylee first. The time I will, without fail, spend with My Girls during the week goes on the calendar first. Everything else bends to adapt. Non-negotiable. This is fairly easy for Kaylee-time, as Jackie and I already have a set schedule that pretty much ensures I see her every day (barring the off-weekend). Kate and I — not habitually that detail-oriented — are working on actually scheduling stuff, too: weekly date nights and the Regular Tuesday Night Activity (currently swing dancing). This also (happily) includes some activities like LotRO and watching geeky shows like Avatar, so… Win/Win!
3. Limited ‘play commitments’. I have a limited amount of time to be online and playing stuff. Call it 15 to 20 hours a week. My guild has planned activities that take about 15 to 20 hours a week. I do ****NOT**** want to spend all my online time on those planned activities. Therefore, I need to strictly limit my raiding commitments. This basically boils down to (selfishly, very selfishly) signing up only for stuff *I* really want to do, and NOT signing up for things just to ‘help folks out’. I’ve prioritized my time helping online-people out before, and it always means I spend too much time online with an exponentially decreasing amount of personal enjoyment. I play so *I* can have fun; bugger off, internets. This rule means I get to spend a good portion of ‘me’ time completely unstructured. I approve.
4. Vetoes Unless I am currently involved in some kind of group activity in which my sudden departure will result in screwing over a bunch of other people. (I’m GMing a game, a central player in a game, or in some kind of group, online), Kate (and, to a lesser degree, Kaylee) can ask me to drop what I’m doing. ((Emergencies, of COURSE, mean that I say “sorry guys, gotta go” and I f-ing GO. Duh. Obviously.)) Conversely, I reserve the right to go kill stuff instead of watching a third hour of Trading Spaces… or Little Einsteins.
There are unspoken parts of this, like the assumption that there will be lots of ‘white space’ on my calendar that will get filled in naturally with the “sand” of honey-dos, chores, random acts of laziness, and especially impromptu fun stuff involving either The Girls, or Games, or both.
But you have to lay out the Big Stuff first, before the whole area fills in with sand and leaves no room for them.
Or so it seems to me. I’ll report back, maybe, on how it all works in practice.

Fiddling with my global cooldown

Cooldown: n. MMO-related. A period of wait time before a spell, ability or power can be used after that same spell, ability, or power has been used.

Example: In World of Warcraft, a character’s hearthstone has a one hour cooldown. Once you use it to teleport back to your ‘home’ location, the stone cannot be used again for an hour.

Global Cooldown: n. MMO-related. A period of wait time before any spell, ability or power can be used after ANY OTHER spell, ability, or power has been used.

Example 1: In World of Warcraft, any attack power triggers the ‘global cooldown’. At the moment that an attack power occurs, all other special abilities become unavailable for 1.5 seconds. This is to prevent players from stacking up skill uses at an unrealistic or game-breaking rate.

Example 2: In City of Heroes and Lord of the Rings online, the Global Cooldown is actually ‘front loaded’ into each power — there is a (often uninterruptible) delay between activating an attack and that attack actually happening. The end result is the same as WoWs global cooldown, but allows players to queue their next attack while the current attack is still ‘going’.

Global Cooldown: n. Doyce-related. A period of time during which I need to decompress at the end of the day. Cooldown times vary, depending on what has been happening that day. Cooldowns often include use of an MMO, but might also involve reading, watching videos, or various other activities; however, many people adopt specific activities that they prefer, and are reluctant to change.
Failure to observe the the Global Cooldown can be game-breaking.
Global Cooldowns (as defined here) are strongly affected by who else is in your adventuring party, as other players can aid the GCD, extend the time required, or even interrupt the GCD unknowingly, resulting in a number of system errors.
Communicating with the other members of your team about the GCD is highly recommended, especially when you have recently added a new member to your party.

Almost suspiciously perfect

A job opening posted by Blizzard Entertainment. I’ll boldface the requirements I meet.

* Contribute to the written development of Blizzard Entertainment’s intellectual properties.
* Write copy text for use by other Blizzard Entertainment teams.
* Write technical information for game manuals.
* Author original short stories that showcase Blizzard Entertainment’s rich and diverse intellectual properties.
* Contribute in the research, gathering, and documentation of source materials from Blizzard Entertainment’s intellectual properties.
* Work with business partners in the development of our intellectual properties through the creation of ancillary products
* Perform editing tasks when needed by creative development.
* Perform other duties that may be assigned by creative development management and producers.
* 2+ years of industry or related industry experience as a writer
* Successfully published writing work, preferably in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres
* Working knowledge and understanding of technical writing and editing
* Excellent written and oral business communication skills
* Working knowledge of Blizzard Entertainment’s intellectual properties, and a vast knowledge of current successful intellectual properties in today’s popular culture
* Ability to work and thrive in a team environment
* Ability to produce writing without constant supervision
* Excellent organizational skills and ability to work well under deadlines
* Experience creating and running pen and paper RPG campaigns and/or live-action RPGs
* Experience in playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games, especially World of Warcraft
* Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
* Experience in designing and playing computer games (finally, my years buildings and running those text-based MMOs, written in LISP, pays off!)

Could this possibly be for real?

This is a full-time position in Irvine, California.

Ahh, there it is. The sting of verisimilitude.

Week in Review

Got everyone together for the third installment of our Galactic semi-playtest this Sunday. Despite horrendous paint fumes and a cuddle-needy munchkin underfoot, we still got a lot done and… MAN I need to write up an actual play report for the whole three sessions so far.
This game delivers. Wow. Seriously. Unlike a lot of other games I really really like (Heroquest, Dogs in the Vineyard) Galactic is not the kind of game you can easily kitbash to work in some other genre. it’s hard to explain, but it’s designed very specifically to play several science fiction ship captains, with their crews, working independently to stop the destruction of humanity. It is really NOT the kind of game that twists and bends into some other genre very well.
However, the stories that you get OUT of the game will be very different, even with repeated replays, so in that way, it’s different every time. It does one thing, but it does it very well. More later.
After a two-month break from progression raiding for the holidays, the guild I’m in has started fast-tracking some raiding work. To this end, the officers have been recruiting and we took our single, over-populated, weekend Karazhan team and split it into one weekend and one weekday Karazhan team, which lets us gear more people up, more quickly.
The challenge there is that we’re then working with much leaner ‘rosters’ for both teams — we no longer have the luxury that we had over the holidays of swapping people in and out to create the perfect team to annihilate whatever boss we were about to fight. If we don’t have ‘enough’ priests to handle the undead guys in Fight B, then … well, we have to deal. If we don’t have “enough” rogues for the Aran fight? Tough. This has forced us to be a little more resourceful, coordinated, and willing to use some unconventional tactics to win what are sometimes ugly fights.
But win we have: three weeks running, both teams have had full clears of Karazhan from front to back. Cool.
Also: after our almost two month break from progression raiding, we took a brand new raid group back to Gruul’s Lair. With a significant number of new raiders in key roles, the result might have been tough to handle, but instead we handed High King Maulgar a flawless, one-shot kill. Seven days later, the guild downed Gruul himself for the first time in the history of the guild, which is awesome. (I wasn’t there to see it, but hopefully I’ll be in on the next one.)
The most notable thing about our first Gruul kill is that they took him down much more quickly than a first-time guild would. We’ve recently adopted a new strategy that verified what many have suggested all along — once we learned the fight, we would prove to have *more* than enough Damage, Healing, and Tanking to immediately start looking at the next challenge after Gruul.
In non-progression news: I’m leveling up a druid and a paladin. Grezzk is Damage, so one of these new guys will be a Tank, and the other will be a healer. Don’t yet know which will be which, though.
Hey: those folks who play LotRO and read this: we should set up a time to log in and do some stuff.

Week in Review: Done with PvP

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I like WoW battlegrounds. I like WoW Arena. I even like flagging myself for PvP and going after various PvP “world objectives.”
I especially like the way they implemented PvMP in Lord of the Rings Online.
So how exactly am I done with PvP? I’m done with PvP-servers in WoW. I transfered the last of my characters from a PvP server to a ‘carebear’ server last night.
Here are the things with the PvP that I like: It is challenging and it is a very different kind of game than the typical PvE “Kill Ten Rats” missions that you run over and over and over again with gradually improving special effects budgets. Playing against other players is fun.
It’s also NOT what I want to do ALL THE TIME. If I sign up for a battleground or an arena — that’s what I want to do. If I flag myself PvP so I can take back the town of Halaa — fantastic — that’s what I want to do.
If I’m riding around the open plains of Nagrand, hunting clefthoof bulls for their hides and meat while I get caught up on my newsreader, then PvP is NOT what I want to do. Setting up a game so that anyone who wants to be a jerk can interrupt what I’m doing just for the hell of it is not fun for me. It’s like reading a book on the edge of the playground and having some other idiot decide that — whether you want to or not — you’re playing Dodgeball.
Right. Now.
So the deal with the WoW “PvP” servers is that, if you’re in a ‘safe’ zone, you can’t be attacked unless you specifically say you can, and if you’re in any of the ‘contested’ areas (read: 85% of the landmass in the game, and almost 100% of the area you’ll be in for 96% of your character lifespan) it’s automatically Duck Season.
Switching from a PvE server to a PvP server is like learning how to play an arcade game in a regular video arcade, and then visiting an arcade where all the other players are allowed and in fact REWARDED for walking over while you’re playing your game and SCREWING WITH YOUR CONTROLS. Nevermind that they could just wait until you got in line to play one of the player vs. player games there — they want to screw with you while you’re doing one of the solo race car games.
Thank you, no.
What bugs me the most about the PvP-server-players’ attitudes is that it’s more realistic to play in a setting like that.
Because, well… no. No it isn’t. If ‘realistic’ means ‘like real life’, then I disagree. The two major factions in WoW are currently observing a TRUCE. Moreover, both sides are being assaulted by other, more powerful forces. The SAME ones. Enemy of my enemy? Hello?
Secondly, people don’t just randomly see another hunter on the open plains and say “he’s not bothering me, but I want to engage in a life-or-death struggle with him RIGHT NOW.” Why? Because they might DIE. And, realistically, DEATH IS PERMANENT, and not to be engaged in between two people over who gets to kill the next clefthoof cow down the road (when both the people in question have thousands of gold in their pocket to buy food).
People go PvP for objectives. Important ones. Otherwise, realistically, it’s not worth the risk.
Or, coming back to the game, it’s not worth the TIME WASTED. Having some level 40 guy following my level 20 character around to kill her over and over again, then /dance, /spit, and run off? That’s now how I want to spend my 15 bucks or my time.
You want to get me in a battleground with that guy?
Bring it on.

Week in Review

Just a quickie.
This was kind of an exciting week with the guild, as we expanded our raid schedule a bit to accommodate more people.
Normally, we do the (10-man) Karazhan instance on the weekends (most of the real progress is on Saturday and Sunday for a couple hours, though we do sometimes get started with a drunken Friday night ‘run’ for laughs).
This last week, we ran a Kara raid on the weeknights as well. This is a pretty big deal, because you can’t be saved to two instances at the same time, which means we had 20+ different people (or at least different characters) participating, and two runs means more gear upgrades for everyone. Both teams pretty much cleared the whole instance. (I believe the weekday team did it in three nights, and the weekend group did everything but Maiden in two runs and just decided to skip the Maiden of Virtue, as there was no benefit for anyone to doing the fight.)
That was cool, but even better was fielding a full 25-man group to take a shot a High King Maulgar (and his court of Ogres) on Friday night, followed by Gruul the Dragonkiller.
This was a pretty momentous thing. The last time we took a serious stab at that fight was in November, and we didn’t really get enough people: we didn’t actually even beat Maulgar, and we’ve had that fight pretty much worked out for awhile.
Now… this time… okay, the signs weren’t great. We took maybe an hour to get started, and we have a LOT, and I mean a LOT of new people. The guy who usually magetanks Krosh Firehand was on his healer, so Lee was magetanking with Wyrmeyed. We had a new guy tanking Kiggler the Crazed who’d never done it before. We had a new guy who doesn’t speak English very well tanking the Warlock. Probably half our healers were new. We brought a level 68 guy along just to fill out to 25 people. It was crazy.
So we fight through the trash to get to the High King, we explain the fight to the new people, and how complicated the five-simultaneous-pulls start is, and we say “go” and we go…
… and we one-shot it. Damn near perfect fight. After not doing it for months and then bringing a bunch of new people. That was cool. I was up around 900 damage-per-second, and another guy broke 1000 dps. Insane. In-sane.
So it’s on to Gruuls. The Raid Leader announces that we’re going to do three tries and be done with the fight, no matter how it’s going. No building frustration: we have a lot of new people (we swapped in a 70 for the 68 at this point, with no hard feelings), and a brand new strategy to learn.
Let me explain what kills people in this fight. It’s not really the Boss. Gruul is an incredibly big guy in a very big cavern, and he does this thing every so often where he smashes the ground. Again, this guy is BIG: when he smashes the ground, it jumps like a trampoline and everyone goes flying in the air in random directions. When you land, you are slowed… slowed… slowed, and six seconds after you land, you’re frozen for a few seconds, and then SHATTERED. Everyone who’s within 15 feet of you at that point will cause you (a lot of) damage, then you can move again, if you aren’t dead. Around four people or so around you, and you stand a good chance of dying. If no one is close to you, you take no damage.
The problem is, even with a big room, there are 25 people in there. The chance of you landing too close to too many people is HIGH, and it’s hard to get away when you’re slowed. So we have a strategy now where everyone but the healers and the tanks run to the walls before the slam, so we don’t fly around anywhere — just the healers and tanks do. Less people flying around means less damage from the Shatter.
And it works. Damn it works. We did not get Gruul down, but we got him lower than we ever have in the past (again, with a lot of new people and no practice in two months). We had some bad luck where all our healers got silenced at a very bad point in the fight, so the tanks died… and on another attempt, sheer bad luck bounced all the healers and the tanks on top of each other, so the whole healing and tanking groups Shattered each other to death.
But that’s just bad luck. We can beat bad luck. We totally have the damage-dealers we need (I broke 1000dps on one attempt, and another guy broke an unheard-of 1200) and we have the method we need to beat that bastard. It might even be this Friday night.
… when I will be on a plane to New York, which I’m very happy about… so I wish them luck.
ANYWAY: it was a very fun series of runs, and Grezzk got the last of the gear he can get from either of the instances (pretty much — I’ve given up on getting the Wolfslayer Rifle or Nightbane’s mail leggings, and that’s okay) — Curator in Karazhan dropped my Demon Hunter (Tier 4) shoulderguards and I got the matching gloves off High King Maulgaur, so not only are my stats pretty damn good, I *match* — at this point, I’m going along on the runs to help the rest of the guild gear up and to have a good time (which it almost always is). My last two major equipment upgrades until we get past Gruul and start doing the later 25-man raids are going to come through Arena pvp.
Syncerus and Thienedera
I’m leveling up two Horde alts right now. Syncerus the tauren druid (the bearcat cow), and Thienedera the paladin. Last week, they got a lot of love. This week, I’m leaving them logged out in Inns to build up their rested rating for that lovely double XP bonus. I’ve seen the low and mid-game content already — I’m not interested in dwelling on it this time, so I’m focusing on flying up to 70 as fast as I can with both of them. Thie is a little lower level than Syn at this point (she’s on a PvP server for now, so I’m a little more cautious), but I expect they’ll get a lot of playtime soon.
My grand scheme is to have one Damage dealer, one Tank, and one Healer at level 70 and reasonably well-geared by the time the next expansion hits. I don’t have much interest in alts past that point.
I have, really, one alliance character. I finally dusted off Kayti and took her for a spin this week, and it was a lot of fun. Spell casters are a total pain in the ass on a paladin, but if I avoid them it’s a nice relaxing solo grind. I’m taking my time on her because there’s stuff on the Alliance side of the mid-game that I HAVEN’T seen.

Kate was available to play this week, so we got on Geiri and Tiranor. We had a lot of Fellowship quests to do, so I got on the Looking for Fellowship channel and asked around for some more people. A guy sent me a tell and pretty quick we were in a group with a bunch of guys who all know each other in real life and were all on voicechat.
Two hours later, all those Fellowship quests were done, Kate had gotten hooked up with some new crafted loot from one of the other players, and I had built up a pretty good start on a “DPS” set of equipment to put on when I’m not tanking — something that will become a lot more useful when Book Twelve opens up new options for Guardians, and we had some new people in our Friends list. It was another good run with a random group of strangers — in that arena, I believe LotRO is the Best MMO on the market, bar NONE.

No gaming this week, but here’s what I having coming up:
* Galactic: We still have a lot of game left to do there.
* Spirit of the Century: Need to get those sessions started up again.
* I have Savage Donjon Squad ready for our next pick-up game session.
* Once Galactic is done, I want to take a stab at Bliss Stage with Dave and De and whoever else I can get in.
* I have the pre-order copy of In a Wicked Age, a sword and sorcery bit of genius from the guy who did Dogs in the Vineyard. Totally new system. Totally new kind of Awesome.
* Don’t think I’ve forgotten about our characters for Breaking the Ice, Kate. I haven’t. Also, I have been challenged to play a Paranoia-set game using Breaking the Ice, and I don’t intend to back down from that. That’s a two-person game — anyone out there want to learn a new game set in a familiar, crazy setting?

WoW, that’s a big number

WoW breaks 10-million subscribers.

Blizzard also explicitly defined who it counted as subscribers, clarifying that the 10 million number (2.5 in the U.S and Europe each, 5 million in Asia; currently available in 7 languages and coming soon to Russian) refers to those who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access.
The count does not include free promotional subscriptions, expired or canceled subscriptions or prepaid cards.

For the purposes of comparison, CoH has about 120 to 150 thousand active subscribers at any given time. LotRO has, at last report, 300k and rising.
People need to stop comparing WoW to other US-developed MMOs in terms of subscribers or size or ‘who wil be the WoW-killer’. 10 MILLION people isn’t a game, it’s a city. Comparing WoW to something like DnD Online is like comparing CoH’s playerbase to the population of Chicago.

Week in Review

What can Brown do for you?MMO – WoW
Grezzk – level 70 (effective level: 117)
Most of my time on Grezzk has been spent on (1) Kara runs (2) getting folks qualified for Karazhan runs and (3) getting together supplies for the Kara runs. Which isn’t to say that they’re terribly time consuming, just that that’s all the time I’ve spent on him in the last couple weeks. Just a few updates:
Team Stuff:
I’m the default “caller” for the Infernal ‘bombs’ during the fight with Prince. Basically, while fighting the boss, these bombs fall out of the sky at regular intervals, flying in at and angle, change direction one time in the sky, then hit the ground. If they land near or on the team, the team probably wipes, and we all start over. The caller’s job is to figure out where they’re going to land, and get people out of the way. One of the members of the guild calls the fight “Grezzk vs. the Prince”, due to the way the fight tends to play out — everyone is doing their job, but it pretty much comes down to whether or not we can stay out of the Infernals long enough to kill the Prince. Some of it is just luck, unfortunately, but alot of it is good calling a group who follows instructions well, and quickly. It’s a tricky thing to judge when you don’t have anything else going on, which of course I do. As ranged DPS, I’m in a position where I can pan my camera around to watch for the Infernals as they fly in from the sky behind us, while still doing my primary job (kill the boss) and keeping my pet fighting and alive.
I’ve called the fights for about a month now, and we’ve been pretty successful. The raid leaders have been pretty vocal about my ability with the calling. Feels good.
I’ve pulled in quite a lot of heroic badges commemorating boss kills, which you can then use to acquire some nice loot, so I’ve upgrade quite a lot of stuff (my new leggings aren’t on yet, since I’m still waiting to get an enchant on them from a guy in the guild. I also got a really really sweet bow off that Prince fight last week, so right now my gear is pretty strong.
There’s really nothing I can ‘buy’ with honor from the battlegrounds right now that would be an upgrade for me as near as I can tell, so after I got a very nice ring, I’ve been giving them a pass for now.
HOWEVER, there is a very nice hunter’s axe I can probably pick up with a few more weeks of doing arenas. The “noob” 3v3 team I was on kind of dissolved, but another guy got a 5v5 team started this week, featuring some pretty major DPS guys from our Kara runs. I like 5v5 a bit more because I’m not ALWAYS the “first kill priority” target in the bigger group. In our first series of matches, we won something like 8-of-12, and we were actually short a healer for that run, so that group looks really promising, and they’re fun to chat in Vent with as we play. I like doing arena as a fun break from the typical activities in WoW — it’s fast, furious, and over quickly — you can get your 10 matches in in about 20 minutes and have the rest of the week to do other stuff.
Honestly, I think my favorite part of the raiding isn’t the gear (whatever) or the boss fights (though they are fun), it’s having everyone in Vent and talking while we play. It’s a very laid back, fun, social kind of thing, and I’m less interested in being on Grezzk just to make some gold and do solo quests than I used to be, simply because I’d RATHER be doing something that involves running Ventrilo. I probably end up doing more Instance runs because of that, since it usually means having vent to chat on.
MMOs — a social activity. Who’da thunk it.
Syncerus (level 31)
My tauren (minotaur) druid is a ton of fun, and that’s reflected in the time I’ve spent on him — I think I was level 22 or 24 about a week ago. For you CoH people, druids work a bit like a Kheldian. You can stay in your ‘native’ form and heal/cast damaging spells, shift into bear form to tank (or when you pull way more aggro than you meant to), and claw the crap out of stuff in a “cat” (read: lion) form when you want to sneak around and kill stuff super quick (read: scrapper). Basically, whatever mood I’m in, there’s probably some way to scratch that itch with this character. Right now, all his talents are going into stuff that makes his Bear/Cat forms stronger, but I have a pretty decent set of “healer/caster” gear that I switch into when that sort of thing is called for — I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with him at level 70, but he’ll be either a tank or a healer. (I already have a ranged DPS character, so as cool as the Moonkin (read: spellcasting, facemelting Owlbear form) is, that won’t be what I do.
My current project with him is doing the quest chain to give him the ‘water’ form — a kind of manatee — cuz I need a lot of stranglekelp for my alchemy right now. I have a non-combat ‘cheetah’ form for hauling ass on land and let me tell you — it actually makes gathering up herbs fun — looking forward to the same ability underwater. πŸ™‚
Herbalism aside, I’m not really stopping to smell the roses on Syn, though; I want to get him to 70 and join in all the big-reindeer games. Ultimately, I’d like to have one DPS, one CC/Tank, and one Healer available in the end game. Since I don’t know whether Syn will be a tank or healer, my ‘third’ guy should probably be someone who can go either way as well — that probably means Paladin, so I might be talking more about Theinedera in the future.
Kate’s been MIA for a couple weeks to get her company rolling and wrap up things in NYC, so I haven’t really been on LotRO much. I did get a chance to play a bit with Dave and Margie’s trial-characters last night, and I hope they decide to give the game a run; Dave geeks out on the lore like I do, and Margie seems to really enjoy the ‘mini games’ hidden within the crafting system and auction house, as well as the nuances of the skills and traits. They’re both adaptive and smart (obviously) and have quickly figured out the changes to gameplay that you need for different quests.
I leveled my little armorsmith a bit with them — one more level and he can actually wear the heavy armor he’s been making for other people. Really do like that game, and I look forward to some more time spent there once things settle down for Kate and myself.
face to face
No joy in mudville. We were going to run another session of galactic on Sunday, but I’ve been sick (not really feeling better even today), so I called it off and took a long nap. Hopefully we’ll get something going soon.

Aggro and You (and you… and you… and you)

I really enjoy Lord of the Rings Online as a game and as an immersive Tolkien-geek experience, both because of its similarities to games like CoH and WoW, and for its differences.
One of the BIG differences in LotRO is Aggro Management and handling big fights in the game. I’m going to illustrate how Aggro generally works in most MMOs that I’ve played, even for only a few days.
Aggro: Aggression. The amount of “hate” that a computer-controlled bad guy has toward a player’s character. It’s summarized (behind the scenes) as a numeric score.
The BASIC mechanics of aggro work something like this, in most games:

Continue reading “Aggro and You (and you… and you… and you)”

Week in Review: Online

Didn’t have any face to face RPG goodness going on this week (and yes, I know I have yet to deliver an actual play for Galactic — it’s just that it’s going to be SO LONG… *whine*), so here’s what went down in the world of Online Heroics.
MMOG: Lord of the Rings, Online
Tyelaf (hunter) and Tirawyn (captain) are level 25 and working with Radagast the Brown in investigating Things Gone Wrong in the eastern Lone Lands around the ruins of Ost Guruth. (the lands between Weathertop and the Trollshaws, for those soaking in lore-geekery). Throw in an encampment of Dourhand Dwarves, wights, more evil spiders than you can shake a flaming arrow at, and some sort of neeker breekers soaking in the waters of a swamp filled with the dead, and you’ve got some good times.
Geiri (guardian) and Tiranor (hunter) are in the North Downs past Trestlebridge (up the Green way from Bree a fair hike). They are also level 25, and the main thrust of the storyline in that region seems to be around a Ranger and a few organized Men who are trying to unite the free peoples of the North before the whole region falls to lawlessness and orc raiders out of Angmar. Baddies so far are mostly the aforementioned goblinkin, or are bestial in nature — lots of wargs, maddened bears and wolves, et cetera.
When they aren’t directly on the front lines, Geiri keeps working on the fine art of jewelcrafting — gold necklaces, intricate silver rings and so forth. Interesting, fun, with lots of benefits for those wearing the finished products.
Aside from a weird disconnect in my head where it feels like Geiri and Tiranor should be the ones fighting the evil dwarves, while Tye and Tirawyn help unite the Men of the north… it’s going pretty well.
Finnras (captain) is also in the Lone Lands, but a bit closer to the Forsaken Inn, so he can travel back to Bree and the Old Forest more easily when he’s working with Tirathien (minstrel). He’s closing in on level 20, which will give him access to a cooler man-at-arms, heavier armor, and… well… other stuff, but that’s what I’m focusing on at the moment.
Grezzk had a pretty good week. Early on in the week, the hunter class boss decided to spend a night farming up the materials he needed to give (give!) me a couple nice if minor upgrades to my gear.
Me: Did I mention how much I appreciate this?
Him: Did I mention hos much you deserve it?
So that was a good feeling. The guild had a Karazhan run scheduled on Saturday, but I had some stuff to do, so I wasn’t around for the first part. When I did get on, they had already taken out Attumen the Huntsman, Moroes, Maiden of Virtue, and were just starting on the Opera Event, which turned out to be Big Bad Wolf. The raid leader (who was that same hunter leader) got me into the group in his place (passing the leader rains to another guy) after that, and I stayed in for the rest of the run.
Result: total clear of all thirteen boss fights in about six hours, which is pretty awesome. I was in for… the Shade of Aran (1-shot), Chess, Curator (1-shot), Terestian Illhoof (1-shot, during which I disconnected and got logged back in in time for the last half of the fight), Prince Malchezzar (three attempts, due to some bad luck on the Infernal bombs), Netherspite (1-shot), and Nightbane (1-shot).
My personal performance was (I feel) pretty damn good. Aran went damn near flawlessly. Curator involves me a lot, since I’m pulling all the patrols prior to the boss, I did a LOT better on Netherspite and really kind of helped communicate the ‘rotations’ that have to happen during the fight, and Nightbane was okay — I got killed just before the last phase, but I wasn’t the only one, so I don’t feel that bad.
Prince? On the Prince fight, which I’ve only done twice, they put me in charge of Calling Out the Infernal Bombs.
How to explain this fight? Basically, there’s a big boss who knocks the tank all over, so he has to be fought with the tank’s back against a wall to prevent that. It’s a big open courtyard, and every minute or so, a big demonic stone golem thing drops out of the sky AT AN ANGLE and hits the ground. It doesn’t MOVE, but it it sends out an Area Burst of fire that ticks for damage every second. The damage will kill you in three seconds, or one, if you’re currently weakened by the Prince.
So it’s one guy’s job to watch them as they fall, figure out where they’re going to hit, and tell everyone where to move BEFORE it lands.
And they change direction in mid-flight.
Sometimes twice.
And you have to keep FIGHTING while you’re watching these things… while you have the camera swung around to look ABOVE and BEHIND you. The job always falls to a ranged DPS person, cuz healers and melee guys just can’t do it.
And when the Prince gets down to about 33% health, they drop every 30 seconds, instead of every minute, so you start running out of places to stand that are safe.
I’m happy to say that our first two fails weren’t due to my screw ups, but just bad luck on placement of the infernals or silly things like the tank getting bounced away from Prince and dying. I was kept on the Infernal calling for each try, being told by the raid leader “you’re doing a good job, and you’re getting better every time” and by the end I was moving people a lot more confidently. The third try was very clean.
Best of all, the loot off Prince included the hunter’s Kara-level (tier four, if you speak WoW) helm, so I really felt like I EARNED that sucker — it was very nice upgrade for me. (Picked up the Badge of Justice trinket, and I’ll have the T4 pvp shoulders this week some time.)
Best of all is the feeling that I’ve gone from the noob guy on the teams to someone folks feel like they can count on to do well. “Grezzk is going to keep calling the Infernal drops” is worth a lot more to me than a shiny new helmet.
We were going to try to down Gruul on Sunday (we totally have the DPS, Tanking and healing for this fight, we just need to manage the Slams and Shatters better), but with the holidays, we just can’t get 25 people on. It sucks, cuz I KNOW we’re ready to beat that big bastard.
And that’s it. Got another post coming up about Aggro and the fighting style in different games.

Week in Review

No face to face gaming this last weekend (pretty much everyone was gone or busy), but a fair bit of online stuff going on.
Play by Post Galactic
Captain Finnras of the Binturong is shaping up to be a great, interesting, fun character… that I’ll probably never get a chance to really play.
Face to Face Galactic
Trying to use email to get done with the last bits of campaign generation, prior to our game this coming Sunday. Some silence from the players on this point, but at least one has really stepped up and given me a fun cliffhanger to start his story off with. Woooot.
Looking at the calendar, I feel a bit of mope. We get a game in this weekend, then I’m gone the weekend of the 30th, then we have the 7th and 14th weekends… one of which is probably iffy… so maybe we’ll get three sessions in. Maybe. If only we had more TIME. Eh. A noble effort, either way, and maybe we’ll get a chance to keep going after the holidays with the folks who aren’t off to another acting gig in some other part of the country.
Pretty much everything I’ve done on WoW in the last week has been Grezzk. It’s not because I don’t enjoy playing Kayti, or Theinedera (who I’d LOVE to level up with the speeded up leveling they put in), but Kayti’s Alliance-side in a guild I don’t know that well and who aren’t my level, and Theinedera is on another server entirely (really should move her to Farstriders).
Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Furnance (fail), Shattered Halls, Steamvaults (twice), and Arcatraz.
We one-shot High King Maulgar, AND the guy that “the hunters” are assigned to (Kiggler the Crazed) dies so fast that we have time to switch targets and help the melee dps guys kill their first guy. That has never happened before (granted, it’s only our third Maulgar kill, but whatever). The guild Hunter leader is VERY happy about this and personally compliments me on the damage I was putting out.
We don’t beat Gruul the Dragonkiller, but MAN it feels like we COULD, if we could just figure out where NOT to be when he shatters us.
We take down half the bosses. Attumen the Huntsman (an epic for Grezzk), Moroes, Maiden of Virtue, Curator… and the random “Opera” event, which was Wizard of Oz… so we actually beat Tinman, Dorothee, Lion, Strawman, and Toto all at once, and then Wicked Witch. They’re all one-shot kills with no one dying. I am in for every part of this run. (10 people can be inside, but your group can actually be bigger than 10, with back-up people outside to swap in on certain fights where their skills are needed or they need gear — they keep me in for everything, to teach me the instance. I *did* screw up one pull on the trash before Curator and wipe everyone, and died a few times early on as I figured out what was what, but otherwise it was good.)
At the end of the day, I go to repair my gear… and I notice that I have been given access to a guild-funded repair allowance.
We one-shot all but one boss (they have to do Nethersprite twice — I wasn’t in that fight), and I do well in everything I’m involved in — we nine-man Prince, which was cool.
At the end of this week of stuff, Grezzk has a two-piece “Beast Lord” set from the Heroic runs (which helps me trap stuff better), THREE epic pieces of gear from Kara (when you’re the worst-geared guy in the run, you want lots of stuff that no one else has an interest in), hundreds of gold worth of enchants and ‘nice to haves’ from the Guild Bank… and some personal compliments from the hunter leader and the Guild leader. A couple more heroic runs, and I’ll have some more pretty gear from cashing in Heroic Dungeon badges.
Plus, as I already blogged, it really feels like he’s part of the guild now. Especially when people can just BS on Ventrilo while we run instances.
It’s been a good week. πŸ™‚
I haven’t done much with Tyelaf since the epic battle with the Cave Troll on top of Weathertop. He’s level 23…
… and now, so is Gieri, my dwarven Guardian (tank!). This is where all my LotRO time has been going this week, and it shows — I’ve gotten some really nice tanking “Deeds” completed that are increasing the amount of threat he generates, AND the number of enemies he can keep locked on him simultaneously. It’s HARD to hold aggro in Lord of the Rings, and there’s some assumption that any but the truly crazy/dedicated tanks are simply going to let some of the enemies hit other characters.
I aim to be one of the crazy tanks. No one gets hit but me. Dem’s the rules. Generally, it works pretty well, though we have had a setback here and there. By and large, Geiri + Tiranor the hunter = EZ Mode. πŸ™‚
Finally, Finnras, who is my ‘third main’ character. The captain is level 17.9, and will be the next person I work on catching up with the other two. Once Kate and I have a pile of people all the same level, we’re going to play around with the team ups to see what different ones might be fun.

Getting over the New-guy Wall

After a long dry spell, I feel pretty good with the guild Grezzk joined a couple months ago.
MMOG is Massive MULTIPlAYER Online Game, and if you’re solo for everything… well, play Halflife 2, it’s really good.
But if you’re in and MMOG, It’s like that song from Cheers, y’know? It’s nice when everyone knows your name. That’s where you want to go when you have some free time.
Especially when getting to that point was a lot of work.
So here’s Grezzk’s play history in a nutshell.

Continue reading “Getting over the New-guy Wall”

“I got Girl Cooties” (Weekend in Review, the MMO post)

Figured I’d split this up into two posts, since I have a lot to post about the face to face Galactic game.
If you want to know why the post has the title it does, you’ll have to read to the end.
Right then.
Who’s this? I haven’t mentioned her before. This is my level 20 blood elf paladin on Kel’Thuzad — a full-PvP server. I’ve been wanting to level up a tank on the Horde side, and while I’m still trying to get into playing a bear-form druid, I still REALLY LIKE paladins, and I already have a lot of experience playing a protection-specced pally on Alliance, so I’m working on Thienedera now.
The patch coming out on Tuesday is cutting the XP required to level from level 20 to 60 by 20%, and increased the XP from quest rewards, so I wanted to get her to level 20 to really set her up to smoke through the levels in a hurry. That meant getting her up 3 levels this weekend, which… I pretty much did just on Friday night — there’s a reason they didn’t speed up leveling from level 1 to 20. πŸ™‚ In the process I was invited into a Guild and … was really really surprised by a very supportive group. There are no 70s in the guild, but they’re a very good-sized group and the leadership seems really really focused on helping out everyone and really helping the group progress as a whole. That’s neat. I’m pleased I’ll be part of a guild like that as try to her up.
Also, I might have to make use of WoW new renaming service (which take all of 2 minutes, apparently). Kaylee informed me that Thie’s name is “Casey”, so I might have to rename her. πŸ™‚
After a couple weeks of fairly light play, I got Grezzk on and did some fun stuff. Said fun stuff included a run of not one or two but THREE five-man dungeons that I’ve actually seen before, and participating in Gruul’s lair, which is the first of the 25-man raid-dungeons in the game — a pretty short one that only takes an hour or so to do successfully, or longer if you’re still trying to beat the last boss.
The first instance was done as a favor to a friend of mine who is not in my Guild. He’s a tank, and a nice guy, and needed someone to provide damage in the Auchenai Crypts which, to put it simply, is my least favorite instance on Grezzk (I think I’ll LOVE it on Kayti — it’s MADE for AoE tanking). He talked up his guild a lot to me, how smart and quick they run things, and I’m at least five levels too high for it, so I figured I’d come help out.
Yeah, we team wiped probably 8 or 9 times. It was awful. I was pulling aggro off the tank with just my autoshot running, and … ugh. It’s a miserable mid-level-60 instance and they didn’t have the people they needed for it. Sucked.
The second instance was with my Guild in one of the wings of Tempest Keep known as Arcatraz. “Wings” is a particularly-apt name for it in this case, as Tempest Keep is actually a series of ornate palaces floating in open space — you can’t even get there without a flying mount. Arcatraz is essentially a prison for horrific critters that some bad people are keeping locked up, and whom someone is now releasing to wreak havoc — you must stop them, yadda yadda. I’m not sure, but I believe Arc is considered the hardest wing of Tempest Keep, which would then presumably make it the hardest five-man instance in the game (Again, the Crypts have my vote for MOST ANNOYING, but it’s not even a level-70 dungeon).
This is a particular FUN and FUNNY dungeon to run — there are two bosses in about the middle of the instance that have been working together so long that they really really HATE each other and each actually cheers you one as you kill the other one. The bickering and the cheering is done with some FANTASTIC voice acting. Also, the last guy in the run — a kind of powermad toady — is voiced beautifully by Curtis Armstrong, and always cracks me up.
This run went really well — it was a good group and everyone was guildies and on Vent together, so while we were a little tired and not too talkative, it still went really well. I found I was STILL pulling aggro off the tank (who is geared very very well and knows his job), so I’m not sure what happened there. Normally I don’t have aggro management issues like that, but maybe I’m starting to get into the DPS range where I churn out so much damage I have to routinely pull back a little. Would be nice if that’s so.
In any case, I was EASILY the top damage dealer in the group according to the DPS readouts which, considering I was running with some serious Guild vets, made me feel good. I also did a little chain trapping, which makes me happy when I can contribute in that way.
Saturday, the Guild was running the 25 man raid-dungeon Gruul’s lair. How to explain this…
There’s a giant that the Ogre tribes worship as a god. (For good reason.)
You go to his lair. You beat through his elite guards to the first main room. In it is the High King of the Ogres, and four of his closest advisors. These advisors are also full-on raid bosses in their own right. They are all standing in a pack AND HAVE TO BE PULLED, TANKED, AND KILLED SIMULTANEOUSLY BY FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
Kiggler the Crazed uses ranged magic attacks on whoever he’s fighting, and doesn’t hit too hard — anyone with decent health and a healer along for the ride can tank them — you just need DPS to kill him.
There’s a warlock who summons demonic pets the size of a bus and fears his tank all the time, so that’s a total pain. The fear is an AoE, also, so he has to be fought FAR AWAY from all other groups.
There’s a mage who keeps up a fire aura so nasty that it will kill ANYONE in melee range in a few seconds, so you have to take him down with nothing but ranged attacks.
There’s a priest who, unless interrupted by rogue stuns or silences or something, heals everyone ELSE, a LOT.
And there’s the High King, who just hits really frigging hard.
So you need
1. Someone to pull the High King off in to a hallway and basically solo tank him (with a healer or two to keep you standing, until everyone else is dead).
2. Someone to keep the fire-mage guy busy.
3. All the rogues and other melee guys killing the priest as fast as possible.
4. A tank (or two) on the fear-spamming demon-summoning warlock.
5. A five-man team of hunters, mages, and one priest to keep Kiggler the Crazed busy, and then make him dead.
It is one of the most complicated pulls around, and if the pull is good, and you kill everyone in a smart order, the fight is easy — if the pull is bad, the fight is very… short.
I got picked to pull and tank Kiggler the crazed this time — my second time in the run. Then when he (hopefully) dies, I’m to send my pet after the priest or warlock while simultaneous attack a different guy (the fire mage) and, when everything else is dead, join the whole raid in killing the King.
How’d it go? We killed everything on the first pull, and all 24 or 23 of us were standing at the end. We’re getting pretty good at this. I was really happy to be the guy in charge of pulling and at least initially tanking Kiggler, and really pleased to be in what is, so far, our best fight against the High King and crew.
Then we went on through another hallway full of tough guards to Gruul. This was really tricky and actually raid-wiped us once. Then we got to Gruul. People were told where to stand once we got inside. People were warned not to linger at the doorway when the fight started, or you’d be locked outside the chamber of this huge bastard…
… and I walked in a step too far, Gruul triggered, came over, and wiped us all out. &**&#$(&*@# . Dammit. Wiped out the raid. @#$@#%.
Anyway, we tried one more time, but folks had to go after the one try — we have yet to beat this guy, so I’m not going into all the stuff that happens in the fight, but suffice it to say it makes the fight with High King Maulgar look like a summer cotillion.
Peole were still on Vent after the raid was done, and some of us needed a run of another instance, so five of us reformed and ran and did that instance. I dunno if we were overgeared or what, but I’ve run The Black Morass before, and won… and this was a breeze by comparison. A BREEZE. 18 waves of dragonkin coming in through randomly spawning portals and trying to kill this guy behind us… with waves 6, 12, and 18 bringing along a full on Boss as well… and we smoked it. It was good and, again, among a group of vet characters, I was WELL in front on damage-dealt. I feel like I’m ready to sign up to participate in the (10-person raid, 13-boss, “task force in a box”) raid dungeon “Karazhan”.
I feel like I can contribute. I think I might do that this Saturday.

Saturday night (yes, after running Gruul AND the Black Morass instance), I got onto LotRO and Kate and I were running around the Lone Lands (the uninhabited region all around around Weathertop for miles and miles. We’re in a tricky place with Tyelaf and Tirawyn — lots of “need a fellowship” missions in both the Barrowdowns and Lone Lands, and not much else — in short, we’ve hit a wall we need some help to get over.
We were on no more than 10 minutes when Kate spotted someone on the Looking for Fellowship channel asking if people wanted to join them for “Clearing Weathertop” (which involves exactly what it sounds like — defeating the orcs and … OTHERS… that infested the area Weathertop after the Ringwraiths recently visited there.
We joined, and found out there was another player who also had the in-game voice chat enabled (a built-in push-to-talk tool that we use instead of Gtalk). We started chatting and coordinating that way, and eventually got the whole group on the tool, so we could get really teamed up well.
This was a GREAT group — one of those once-in-a-hundred pugs that just clicks. We had a great tank, some decent damage, and two Captains who, although not healers as such, do an excellent job of healing “morale” as long as you keep WINNING.
This was where I was really glad that I’ve played most of the classes by this point. The thing with the Captain-class heals is that they only become available when you DEFEAT AN ENEMY. If you just look at the skill list for the class, you see a bunch of heals and think “okay, they can heal, we’re fine.”
And that works great when you’re fighting packs of five or six orcs — bad guys are dying all the time, so their heals (and a number of defeat-dependent buffs) are available much of the time.
As I said, they’re really good when you’re WINNING.
BOSS fights, when you’re fighting one BIG thing, for a LONG time — they loose access to a LOT of those abilities, and become, basically, a mid-range damage dealer, which is bad.
And we had to kill a number of bosses.
So I’ve come off several hours playing WoW, where hunters can’t shoot things from too close in, and LotRO hunters have a HUGE range on their bows, so I’m WAY WAY WAY back.
And we fight our first boss, and I see that health levels are starting to drop all over, and finally the boss dies, and a heal goes up, and then his minions die, and we’re fine again.
So… the next boss guy… I switch to a minion. Hunters are like well-armored Blasters in CoH — we hit FRIGGING HARD. So I start on a minion, pull him to me, beat him up, and he dies in the middle of the boss fight.
And… I see a heal go up. I hear the other captain on voicechat say, six seconds after the kill, and one second after the “heal power” opportunity has dropped “dang, missed it.” She wasn’t expecting the kill, so she didn’t know all those buff powers were going to come available all of a sudden.
I kill another minion right about when the boss dies… so that doesn’t matter so much.
We get to the top of Weathertop.
There’s the big boss guy. None of us have ever been here before, but we’re ROLLING through the thing, so we (read: they) all charge in. It’s a toughish fight, but we win.
This guy has half-again as many hit points as the boss we just killed, we’re already down on power, and his had more minions. ACK!
So I shoot him a bit, and we’re getting POUNDED on. He smashes the whole group and everyone but me (who is WAY WAY back) is stunned. I switch targets off him so he doesn’t decide I’m his new target while the tank is knocked silly.
I’m on a minion. A HA!
I shoot the minion a lot. In the face. Health scores are plummeting and NO heals are going up, cuz nothing’s dying.
Just as I’m about to kill the minion, I get on Voicechat and shout “Captain! Heal opportunity is coming up… NOW!”
The minion dies. Beautiful green light floats up from everyone.
So. Damn. Cool.
We had such a good time with that we all just stayed in group all night and cleared Fellowship-only missions the rest of the evening. Good stuff.

So what’s with the post title?
I was in voicechat a lot this weekend. By and large? Everyone in charge was female, which I think is just unspeakably cool.
The leader for the Tempest Keep run? Female, as was the main melee DPS.
The Raid Leader, one of the tanks, and main healer on Gruuls? Female.
Pretty much the whole damn fellowship in LotRO were female — both Captains, the Tank… (And as much more of LotRO are 35 and up, it was a good group for that reason also.)
It was just a neat thing… and really made me appreciate the mental energy that that brings to a group.

Week in Review

So here’s what’s been going on.
Face to Face
Ran a murder mystery for the most recent Spirit of the Century game on Friday night. “Doctor Brightman is dead.” Good stuff, for all that I suck at doing mysteries. It was “Margie’s session,” so I gave it a college try, anyway. There were investigations, autopsies, some wonderfully fun characterizations, a seance, and a whole lot of laughing. Present were Chris, Tim, Dave and Margie; again, I have to give a nod to Kate’s observation that I run better games when I’m NOT close friends with everyone at the table — we just generally focus more on the game and less on everything else.
Didn’t even seem to get too sidetracked by having Kaylee around for the first part of the game.
This Thursday, it’s Zombies at(e) my Homecoming Dance 2: The Revenge of the Hickey.
Online, not MMO
I’m going to be playing in (not running) a play-by-forum game of Galactic(!), using the ashcan edition that Matt did up for Gencon this year. That should be fun. No character information or even links yet — we’re juuuust getting rolling.
Grezzk is still level 70. I’ve actually being getting into some fun dungeon runs lately (there are only about… five or so in the later game that I haven’t done even once, if you only count the five-mans). I’m not UBER geared or anything, but at this stage my ‘effective level’ is 108, taking my gear into account. (Taking gear into account, the maximum level in WoW is somewhere around 150, while perhaps 125 is as high as I’m likely to get with the Guild I’m part of.) Anyway, I’m still having a lot of fun with Grezzk.
Hit 45 on Kayti. Nothing terribly exciting to report on her. People keep stopping in mid-run to ask me what kind of weapon I’m using, cuz they can’t figure out how a tanking paladin is topping the damage reports. I try to explain that the damage is all from the paladin abilities, and that I would do pretty much the same damage if i were naked, but no one seems to get it. Eh. In a few more levels, I can hurl an “Avenger’s Shield” (think Captain America-esque energy contruct) at enemies to pull them, and tanking is going to get a LOT easier. Woot.
I tanked a run into Scarlet Monastery’s Cathedral a few days ago and it went really smoothly. We obliterated everything and aside from one jackass who screwed up the boss-looting at the end, it was a great run.
There was one point where I TOTALLY “pulled a Hype” with her as well (which is a tactic that *I*, personally, have never seen work in WoW, that I used to do all the time in CoH). We were clearing out a big chapel area, one clump of guys at a time… like 3 or 4 guys at a time — it was SAFE, but it wasn’t particularly hard. About halfway through I told the other paladin “heal me, I want to try something” (I didn’t really tell the priest ahead of time. oops πŸ™‚ and I just ran through a couple (or three πŸ™‚ clusters at once and pulled them all back to the group — something like 8 to 10 guys. Got em all nice and pissed at me and the group just burned em down. I think most of them were JUST about out of mana when the fight ended.
The group’s response: “That was fun. Do it again.”
Tyelaf is level 21. We (he tends to work with Tirawyn the Captain) have done most of the quests around the town of Bree, and now have two BIG GROUP things to deal with — spying on the Witch King himself, and a foray into the Great Barrows that house the last ruler of Cardolan. Yikes. After that… folks need a lot of help in the Lone Lands, and a lot of that involves shooting Orcs, so I’m THERE.
Geiri remains my toughest character. I don’t know if he’s my FAVORITE, but he’s definitely tied for first. At level 16 (17?) he’s got considerably higher morale (read: health) than Tye, and he and Tiranor the elven hunter TEAR through quests that I recall being a pretty big pain in the tuchas with Tye. We were on last night for a few hours and finished up all the storyline in Ered Luin (the Blue Mountains and Celondim) and headed East through the Shire and into Bree, where we met up with Strider and continued to harass the kinda-sorta undead dwarf Skorgrim — that dude HAS to be tired of seeing use show up and mess with his plans over and over. It’s been like… well, for Tiranor, it’s going on 600 years, now. (God I love how the time-instanced storyline in LotRO works.)
Downside to Geiri: he takes half a coon’s age to kill anything on his own. However, this rarely comes up. πŸ™‚
His personal bane: creban. Friggin’ evil birds.
Oh, and elves that go running off of cliffs and break his damn ankles.
I haven’t played Yarren much, but she’s also wrapped up all the quests in the Shire and has headed to Bree to see what this “Strider” guy wants (something about heading into the Old Forest to look for some hobbits he’s supposed to meet up with in Bree). She’s also going to give up the plain-jane professions of farming and cooking. Poking at old scrolls and bits of lost lore from the Second Age is SO much more interesting (and likely to get her face melted off, but THAT’S FUN TOO.)

Wish Fulfillment

Last night, Kate and I were running around the edge of this orc camp up the Greenway a few miles from Bree. We’re leaving, but one of the guards spots her and takes off after her. She ignores him, figuring (correctly) that she can outrun him and he’ll give up the chase in a little bit.
Me? I stop.
“You stopped you shoot him, didn’t you?”
But let me clarify.
It’s not because I’m bloodthirsty or need the xp or anything.
I (a dyed in the wool Tolkien fanboy) am given the opportunity to plant an arrow fletching-deep into the back of a fleeing orc.
It is going to be a long, long, LONG time before that gets old.

Playing to win

I actually had two points for my “serious gamer” post, but the thing was getting too long, so here’s the rest of it.
Let me pick out the bits in the first post that had to do with my second point.

Player B can have an extremely productive 90 minutes online and then go to a movie with local friends.

Productive. Getting stuff done.

Cleaned up some old quests, and started collecting some materials I need for the next ‘big’ dungeon I want to do with her.

How did I know I’d need them? I looked up dungeon instances for the basic level I’m at, focusing on stuff that was higher level by a little bit, because (a) it’s better rewards and (b) I’m a pretty good player, so I want to push myself.

Also, following some research on the “maintankadin” forums, I respecced her for a stronger tanking build, which cost me a ton of gold, but the results of which I liked.

I don’t just research what there is to do — I read about how to do it. Yeah, most of the posts are about playing at 70, and if I’m only level 40, that’s not entirely relevant, but it does tell me what to aim for, what to expect, and most importantly, what I will be expected to do if I want to team up with other people.

… spent some time in the afternoon doing more work on game-prep for that face to face game, and reading up on LotRO quests and appropriate surnames for Men of Gondor.

Prep, prep, prep. I want the face to face game to come off well, and while I don’t prep scenarios as such, I *do* prep by getting familiar with the rules. For this game coming up, I’m researching:
1. Half-life
2. Horror movies of the 80s
3. Mullets
And I’m looking up surnames of the Men of Gondor (note: they don’t use them) because at level 15 your LotRO character can pick a surname, and with the server I’m on, it’s important to me that it’s accurate. I’m a fan-boy.

Kate and did a little LotRO stuff, which mostly amounted to us running around the Old Forest in fear for our very lives.

Why do I prep? Why do I look stuff up? Because eventually the shit is going to hit the fan in whatever game you’re playing, and you want to continue to have fun — not have a frustrating night.
That’s the same reason I aim to do things that push my play ability. If my ‘safe’ play has more instances where I’ve pushed the limit and had to really work to succeed, then I’m ready for the times when I have to redline when I’m NOT expecting it.
Yes, we ran around all over, yes we scrambled — the only time I didn’t have fun was when I was defeated and had to retreat from some wild critters that really shouldn’t have been that much of a challenge — they WERE, because Kate and I got separated, which also shouldn’t have happened.
Saturday, I was on my paladin and teamed up with another one. I tank on my paladin, and I’ve done a LOT of reading on how to do well as a tank on WoW, because it is a LOT different than tanking on City of Heroes.
1. You don’t get any kind of front-loaded aggro. Most tanks in WoW only have a piddly little ranged attack — some (most paladins) don’t have any, and they have to build it by getting beat on for a good ten seconds. 2. Their aggro is FRAGILE. It is no challenge at all for a damage-dealing class to decide they want to pull the bad guy’s aggro from me onto themselves… the CHALLENGE in play is to do as much damage as they can WITHOUT getting aggro. (You can run an aggro meter to tell you were you are in relation to the tank.)
In CoH, Tanks get a ranged taunt that affects up to five enemies at the same time, and, once you start hitting them, pretty much guarantees you will never lose their attention that fight.
The only thing like that in WoW is dynamite, and I can’t MAKE dynamite.
So I was out with this other paladin, and while I’m still running up to the baddie, they throw off a holy smite — a ranged spell they get, because of their build, that I don’t have. Before you could say “What the…” I was running back the way I came, chasing the thing down as it went after the other character.
After the fight, I asked them to wait and let me build aggro on the mob first. “Five seconds,” I said, “during which you can even hit them with your basic attack if you want, just don’t use that Smite.”
“Why worry about it?” They said. “I can tank these little guys.”
Sure, but that’s not the point.
There’s something my football coach used to say. “You play like you practice.” Only into my mid-thirties do I really start to understand that.

Continue reading “Playing to win”

Casual/Hardcore vs. the Serious Gamer

Okay. This is going to seem like it has a lot to do with MMO gaming, but at it’s heart it’s about gaming in general — even just about social commitments as a whole.
In the MMO world (and in gaming in general, in a much less formalized/articulated way) there are two labels for players that can tossed around: “Casual” and “Hardcore”.
Definitions of these two terms vary, but in a nutshell, the two might mean any or all of the following, depending on the speaker:

  • Casual – Doesn’t take the game that seriously. Doesn’t play much (less than 20 hours a week, let’s say). Isn’t reliable in terms of showing up for planned activities. Automatically drops game-related activities if something ‘better’ comes up. Isn’t a particularly good player. Isn’t a particularly ‘advanced’ player (has good gear — progresses through game content). Just isn’t very serious about it. Might say they’re showing up for something and just… won’t. Has a life.
  • Hardcore – Takes the game WAY TOO seriously. Plays more per week than they spend at work. Never misses, and usually organizes, planned game activities. Automatically drops other activities if something comes up in game. Is a ‘leet’ player with great gear, ultra-fast progression into end-game content, know the math of the game backwards and forwards, knows the Lore by heart. Is the attendance-nazi for in-game events. Lives the ‘life’ of a Basement Dwelling Virgin Troglodyte.

Clearly, the generalizations above are filled with statements from one side, talking about the OTHER side. In MMOs (and online forums in general) it’s a lot more obvious, but it happens in face to face games, too. We all know the guy who keeps the spreadsheet of all the treasure accumulated at last weeks game — who’s got the best gear so far — who the group has beaten, what the xp-per-session is, and who’s missed the most sessions.
We also know the guy who says they’ll show up to the game, doesn’t for three weeks running, and when he does, arrives with his second six-pack of the day and proceeds to drunk (yes, “drunk”, not “drink”) his way through the game. The other players shake their head at this ‘casual’ person, the casual person wonders about those other five at the table who showed up on time, and clearly have no life.
So… which one are you?

Continue reading “Casual/Hardcore vs. the Serious Gamer”

Gaming in review

A mix of gaming this weekend.
((Blogging bitching: it really should be possible to just hit Ctrl-B in Moveabletype to Boldface something. It worked in 2.0 for pete’s sake — you mean to tell me you can’t do it NOW?))
Played Spirit of the Century on Friday night. I pretty much went in with a scenario ‘aimed’ at two player characters who bailed out at the last moment, so I had to wing it.
Luckly, SotC is good at winging it. I had:
– The Daring Magpie – burglar and dilettante faceman, who has done a couple sessions already.
– Rami Samiti – East Indian psychic: ditto.
– Trent McCoy – new character for a player who’s been at all the games — a driver and ‘gun man’.
– Beau Brass – a musician and smooth talker.
My basic method with these games is to ‘focus’ on one or two characters in each session — specifically, I’ll pick someone who’s already been at the game a couple times, and make this ‘their’ session. I was going to game at the retired character for Trent’s player, but he was, as I said, retired, so that indicated The Daring Magpie and/or Rami as the focal point.
Those two characters are different enough, and I’m lazy enough, that I didn’t want to screw around with working out a story that featured both of them equally. Rami had a lot of stuff going on in “The Ape Soldier of Teyawasu”, so that mean The Daring Magpie.
Therefore: social situations, schmoozing, and possibly some sneaking about and stealing stuff. Main focus: something both urban and urbane (based on player comment).
Then, if we have new players, I try to throw something in for them. Trents a drive and shooter. Beau is also new.
So… I opened with a car chase, moved to New York City for the main action (since we’d already ‘done’ L.A.), and set the whole thing around a music festival at the Woolworth Building, to give Beau some musical spotlight.
The heroes started out in mid-chase, trying to stop the bad guys from delivering something to NYC for Doctor Methuselah. They stop them, open the crate with the MacGuffin inside, and find a note from Doctor M himself that reads:

Hello Century Club,
If you’re reading this, you’ve stopped my witless minions from delivering a key piece of equipment I require for my current project.
However, this puts you in a dilemma.
While the project in question would be a brilliant step forward for mankind, it also requires certain sacrifices you would likely find objectionable. You have, probably unknowingly, stopped that plan by acquiring the object in this box. Bravo.
However, the device that requires this object is already in place and will be activated on [date two days hence], regardless. Without this object in place, as a focus for the devices power, well over ninety percent of the population of Manhattan will perish.
So: Do you keep the object, foil my plans, but doom a city, or deliver the object and complete the device (and with it, my original plan)?
Either way, it is now your problem. Good luck, god speed, etc.

Then I just sat back and watched the fireworks.
We had a lot of digressions and such, simply because we hadn’t played or seen each other in a month, but all in all it was a good session and lots of fun.

Grezzk joined the Scholomance Debate Team on the Farstriders server a few weeks back. Since then, I haven’t done a LOT with the guild members, but the stuff I have done has been both fun and a good learning experience. I’ve also got a lot of good loot recently, but frankly that’s been mostly all my own doing.

  • Ran Mana Tombs, and tanked it with Tusker the wonder pig. Would like to do that again, as we didn’t finish the last boss.
  • Ran Auchenai Crypts with some of the SDT members. That went just fine, although the Tank… should play his other mains.
  • Pet-tanked the Coilfang Underbog. A competent healer that knew how to watch my pet and keep him standing meant that we cleared this with no problems.
  • Pet-tanked the Coilfang Slave Pens. Ditto here, though the healer was different. Tusker has tanked about a quarter of the high-level instances in the game now.
  • Ran “The Mechanar” instance with the guildies, and got a really nice gun that, unfortunately, I need to get some better gear to go along with it before it will be as good as my bow, despite the fact that it has better stats — basically, I’m just in better shape to use a bow right now than a gun.
  • Ran the 25-man raid “Gruul’s Lair.” Big group, but a short instance — just two big rooms with some trash mobs in between — takes about an hour. We downed High King Maulgar and his 4 Boss-level buddies (think fighting Statesman, Back Alley Brawler, Synapse, Positron, and Numina, all at once), but couldn’t quite take down Gruul himself — the Guild hasn’t been able to take him yet. Crazy fight. Crazy.

Heck, all the boss fights in WoW are crazy at some level. The easiest boss fights in WoW make the hardest boss fights in CoH look like a game of air hockey at Chuck E. Cheese… I have a lot to learn about most of those fights, but I didn’t screw up too bad (except for siccing Tusker on the wrong boss at one point in the Maulgar fight and feeling like a moronic “huntard” when someone on vent said “Grezzk, where’s your pet?”
Kayti the Paladin-tank
Got to level 43 with her, and continue to plow forward. I like tanking, and of the tank classes, I still like tanking with Paladins the best.
Syncerus the bear-cow
Played Syncerus the tauren (bull) druid (bear form!) with Lee’s little priest for awhile on… Sunday? Saturday? Got about 3 levels and most of a fourth, cleared all my missions for the first low-level Dungeon in the game, and got a bunch of new gear and abilities. Druids are like CoH Kheldians, except the nature forms they take (Tank, Melee DPS, Healing, Ranged DPS) are actually AS GOOD AS their equivalent counterparts, with different mechanics for every form. Very challenging class.

Lord of the Rings Online
Tyelaf the Hunter joined the Council of the Secret Flame, an Kinship. Good group of folks, and helpful. He’s level 14.
Yarren Heatherfoot the hobbit burglar passed Tye as my highest level character, thanks to lots of Bounders-related misadventures with her cousin Tirra. I don’t know that she’s my favorite character — I really like all of my characters on that server (Hunter, Burglar, Champion, GUARDIAN) — but with the neat crowd-control ability and funny situational stuff, she and Tirra (who’s also a burglar) are a LOT of fun to play.
Geiri the dwarf Guardian. Yeah. Stop me if you’ve heard this one — I get in front and do a lot of shield-meet-goblin-face-bashing goodness, and Tiranor the Elf Hunter shoots things until they are very very dead. It’s a match made in Valar. Although they are not our highest level pair, they are very likely our most deadly. Tiranor frequently kills stuff before it even gets to me. No oliphaunts, yet, but she’s getting there.

He’s not pretty, but I like ‘im.

“What are YOU looking at?”
I’ve had a couple pretty good runs with Grezzk lately, and he’s looking pretty badass: the Shoulderpads-of-self-impalement (not actual name) are new, as are the badass spear and the eyepatch. Not pictured, the insanely ornate, gorgeous, kick-ass bow “of the Torn Heart” that he was given by the ghost of its previous owner, as a reward for saving the world. Again.

The economy in an MMO

Here is a simple fact about MMO economies: every “value” in a MMORPG boils down to time investment.
In short, a thing becomes more valuable to the player-base in any game, in direct relation to the time required to make the thing.
CoH Example, since that’s what most people reading here know:
The really valuable invention recipes in CoH are valuable not because they’re uber powerful (a “tech wings” costume-piece recipe doesn’t do ANYTHING for your character stat-wise), but because they represent an investment of TIME that pretty much EVERYONE has agreed they’d rather pay ridiculous amounts of influence (which everyone earns just by playing) to get rather than spend the time (multiple Task Force runs) to get.
Right now, is MARGINALLY worth more to sell a completed Invention Enhancement (which you acquired the recipe and materials for, then made), than it is to just sell the rare recipe.
That will probably change. I say that based solely on my experience on other games that have a ‘one-click creation’ system for “production” of cool stuff… the fact that ‘making’ the thing required virtually no time at all will devalue the finished product to the point where people will actually not be willing to pay as much for the finished product as they would for the component ingredients, sold separately.
This is, anyway, what I’ve seen in games with both gathering and crafting components: gathering takes time (in WoW or LotRO, stopping on your way to somewhere else to chop wood or mine or whatever — in CoH, doing the rare bosses or Task Forces that yield the cool inventions), while Crafting a Cool Thing out of the gathered stuff is just one button click. Because the one-click-crafting is easy and requires no time, but the gathering process takes time and effort, the raw materials are (usually) worth more on the Auction House than the product you make with it, even if the thing you make is inarguably a ‘good’ item.
Which is why I tend to focus on ‘gathering’ stuff on MMOs — so far, I’ve found that you can do better, financially, simply by gathering stuff, selling it to people willing to pay for it, and just BUYING the finished products you want, rather than making it yourself… and you’ll still have ‘money’ left over.
The single exception to this I’ve found is WoW’s Herbalism/Alchemy pairing — by dumb luck, the time required to gather (herbalism) matches the time needed to Produce (Alchemy) so well that the final product (lovely potions for health, mana, good stats and smooth skin) are worth more in the live economy of the playerbase than the component parts.
Also, making potions is fun. πŸ™‚ I dunno why, but it is. πŸ™‚

Demonstrating Learning Behavior

Three MMO mistakes I’ll never make again
“I do not need to level tonight.”
For “level,” also insert “get the pretty new item,” “finish this mission,” or do ANYTHING when the whole point of staying on is just to accomplish some virtual goal. If I stay on too late some night because I’m having a great time (either just doing a good storyline, or playing with friends, or even soaking up some testosterone in a PvP battleground), that’s one thing — that’s fun — that’s adding a smile to the ledger of your life. If I’m blearily trying to pound out that last 150 hellboars I need to get the XP to level up? Log out — the boars will be there TOMORROW.
“I do not need to help people run things.”
I don’t need to be a class leader. I don’t need to be a guild leader. I especially don’t need (or want) to spend any online PLAY time having meetings, discussing some kind of inter-player drama, or conducting interviews with new members. I can do it — and I’m for damn sure GOOD at it — but I will eventually resent it, and that will cause me to burn out, with fiery, painful consequences.
“I do not need to play a healer.”
This one is somewhat tongue in cheek — what I need to do in any game is make up (a) a ranged damage dealer and (b) a tank. Judging from both CoH and WoW, I’ll make them (and level them up) in that order. That is what I enjoy. Anything beyond that… will probably have to wait until I’m done with those two.
Bonus: “People are only rarely as reliable when you are an online friend as they are when you are a face-to-face friend.”
That’s just the simple truth. Note that I did not say “virtual” versus “real life” friends: inasmuch as the time I spend online is REAL time, and I am talking to REAL people in other parts of the world, and spending time doing activities and having REAL fun — the people I know online are just as “real life” as anyone.
But they aren’t a face to face friend to me, and I am not a face to face friend to them, and no matter how good a person you are, that makes a huge difference. Raise your hand if you have NOT been burned by assuming otherwise in the past.

A little note for Battleground players

If you have a nifty little macro/code/addon widget that, when you’re down to 20% or 10% health, automatically has you do something like “[Yourname] calls out for healing!”…
Shut it off when you go to the PvP battleground.
Yes, it’s probably useful when you’re grouped up in a quest or dungeon or something (though any healer doing their job well would find it insulting)… it may even be useful to hear your character (or the voice actor they hired) shout “HEAL ME!” when you’re solo and not paying attention to your health…
But in the battleground? When it’s just your and me, and I’m trying to pound your helmet back into your face? Calling out for healing at that point… it’s really just kind of sad.
And funny. I shouldn’t forget funny.


Hmm. I was planning on a basic week in review post, but I realized pretty much everything I have to say boils down to whining.
In summary, it’s more interesting and fun when I have people to play with, be it on CoH or WoW or LotRO, and the large part of my current problem is, I don’t (most of the time, with exception to the rule specifically granted to the obvious people it should be granted to).
That’s it. Five page itemization deleted. I’ve accepted it and plan to get some editing and revision work done this week. I’m online too much right now anyway.

Grezzk: Ding 70

Because it is late, simply a brief screenshot summary of some of the better moments from the last 10 levels or so, including (thanks to the magic of photo editing, to cover up my mistimed click) the simultaneous Level 70 ding of Grezzk and Lee’s warlock, Blynd.

Week in Review

Here’s what’s been going on in the last week or so:
Grezzk Level 69 orcish hunter. Farstriders server. Blood and Thunder Guild
Ran the first Hellfire Peninsula instance twice, and got some phat loot from that. Cleared all the non-dungeon-group quests in Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh, and I’m through MOST of the stuff in Nagrand, except for the stuff that *really* requires a group (to differentiate between that and quests that say they require a group and really just require a hunter and his pet. πŸ™‚
Also got a nice new ranged weapon, and should get a real elephant gun of a weapon pretty soon.
Level 69 right now. 10% done on the way to 70. If things continue at their current pace (and there’s no reason to think they won’t), I’ll probably ding 70 on either Wednesday or Thursday this week, maybe Friday, and I should have enough money for the riding lessons and manticore flying mount at almost exactly the same time as I level. (No point in getting it earlier, since you can’t get the mount until level 70 anyway.)
I can’t wait to ding 70, simply because it’s going to open up so much more stuff to do without thinking about ‘is this getting me xp’ anymore. I’ve spent lots of time on little ‘non-earning’ side projects in the past, but now?
* I’m going to run all the Outlands instances.
* I’m going to go to Mulgore and run all the newbie starting-zone missions for the Tauren to finally get my rep with them up to Exalted, so I can get a war kodo.
* I’m going to get a dragon (fine: netherdrake. whatever) for a flying mount.
* I’m going to figure out where the quest line is that lets me walk up to Garrosh Hellscream, kick him in the nuts, and say “man UP, for chrissake — you’re an embarrassment — you give ‘mamas boy’ a bad name.”
* And aside from all that, there’s 3 more regions in the Outlands that I haven’t even touched yet, in terms of doing the quests and checking out all the cool content. πŸ™‚ That’s fine: I really like Nagrand — it’s a hunter’s paradise — so I think this will be a good place to ding 70.
Haven’t done a ton in the last week or so, but the Brightsides have gotten a lot of play recently, and they’re lots of fun to play, so that’s good. I think the last thing we did on them was the “Cape” mission… by which I mean “find a hero in Paragon City, beat them up, and take their cape.” Funny.
Lord of the Rings Online continues to impress me with the evocative setting. The interface is a little unfamiliar to me, still, but it’s getting better. Pretty sure I have one of every class and probably two of every race, just to play around with different stuff until I find the stuff I really like. Also, it takes a lot of work in the character creator to come up with a halfling male who doesn’t look dumpy as all get out.
Tabletop -Spirit of the Century
Kate was in town and I finally got to run session of Spirit of the Century with her in attendance. I asked her earlier that week to pick a good town for a pulp adventure and she said Hollywood… she was, unbeknownst to me, thinking “Noir” and not “Pulp,” but it worked out. The story opened at the grand opening of the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, with a big display of Egyptian antiquities that turned up missing…
… cue a car-chase (our first real use of the change mechanics that I like so much), a mook fight, the first use of the incredibly deadly explosion/grenade rules… and a MUMMY! Woot.

Warhammer Online

The Human Side of WAR — this is an easy to ready two-page interview, and I recommend it. Lots of great quotes, and exciting descriptions of the ‘living world’ they’re working on with Warhammer Online, but this is the one that got me:

WoW is The Beatles, who changed music forever. You can’t be the Beatles; they already exist. You can’t copy them. If you try, you become The Monkees. You’ve got no chance. We’re not The Beatles. We’re Led Zeppelin.

Having played a lot of Warhammer back in college, both on battlemats and as an RPG, that stuff got me excited. That’s always been Warhammer — heavy metal.
Heavy, sharp, slightly rusted metal.
Check out the trailer at their website ( See if the orc and the catapult make you laugh. If so, this might be your kinda game.
((If WoW = the Beatles, what’s CoH? Shinier, with a smaller, much more niche-oriented fanbase, and more system resource requirements… I’m going to say something like the Cure. πŸ™‚

LOTRO Review

Tempted in by Avocet, and as a long-time Tolkein Fanboy (let’s not talk about how many times I’ve read the Hobbit, LortR, and even the Silmarillion), I gave Lord of the Rings Online a try last night.
Overall review: Very very good. Visually appealing, very intuitive “explain it all” interface, very evocative of the setting. A little buggy during scene transitions. Not beta-level buggy, but a bit — I’m encouraged to upgrade my video card drivers.
More beneath the cut.

Continue reading “LOTRO Review”


(Here’s a cunning scheme from NCSoft…)

Any and all Superpowered individuals are needed immediately to stave off the Rikti Invasion that threatens all of humanity! To support the fight against this ruinous alien invasion, all former players in good standing have their accounts reactivated from Thursday, August 2nd through late Sunday night (August 5th, 8:59PM PST / 11:59PM EST).
Anyone who has previously played City of Heroes or City of Villains is able to log in get into the fight! Spread the word to your supergroup or guild mates and online friends who might not be playing CoH that now is the time to come back and check out the great new Issue 10, for FREE!
Welcome back to these Heroes and Villains! Join the fight against the Rikti Invasion Force and have a great “City of” weekend!

City of Heroes Official Forums

Random Additional MMO Thoughts

My GOD I’ve missed having Fly on a regular toon I play. Slow, but still the best move power ever.
We need some kind of bulletin board to post up rare Invention Salvage we need. πŸ˜›
We should run Statesman’s TF, and the Rikti one, soon, but I’d like to wait on the Rikti one until I’ve got someone through the zone content.

Week in Review

Played a little Spirit of the Century this last weekend. It wasn’t the session I’d dreamed up for the game I had to abort last week, since that would have been totally inappropriate for the group we’d assembled, but it was still fun. We had…
Mob Mooks
Mysterious Vanishing Zeppelins
Mushrooms, Giant
Mushrooms, Glowing
A lost civilization of cannibals (sorry, ran out of M’s)
… and a whole lot of fire.
Best of all, the most “turtle-up” player got drawn right into the middle of the story, which I think both startled and pleased him. He habitually makes people who are kind of distant from everyone else he’s working with, and hard to socket in, and with very little work on my part (and thanks to a great idea from Randy) he was right in the middle of the whole story. It was ABOUT him, really, which was cool.
I think the best part was when he rescued the starlet of his favorite Radio program — Esperanza Kittredge — and she threw her arms around his neck and said ‘get me out of here!’
And… see… he has this Aspect about how he loves this radio show…
And he has this OTHER aspect of “No one touches the Master of Shinanju!”
So I held up a Fate point and said “She’s sobbing into your shoulder, and her voice is even more amazing than it is on the radio, but No One Touches the Master of Shinanju…”
And he could either take the Fate point and shove her rudely away, or
let her cling and instead pay ME a Fate point (and it’s not like he had a ton at that point).
Does he comfort his idol, or stick with the hard line, elite attitude?
Bang, baby. πŸ™‚
And he thought about it a bit, and paid me the point, and let her cling to him as he carried them away from the giant burning mushroom on the rope ladder dangling from the escaping zeppelin.
It was cool.
MMO stuff after the cut.

Continue reading “Week in Review”

Fiddly Bits

One post before I hit the paving stones of the work-street… possibly with my face.
Hmm. I was going to make this a long, drawn out thing, but instead I’m going to boil it down to a few bullet points.
I’ve played CoH a long time. I like it.
I’ve played WoW not as long, but also like it a lot. Possibly more than CoH, but that’s an apples to oranges thing — CoH is not WoW, nor vice versa.
One of the things I DO NOT like about CoH is that leveling takes ages. This is a design choice from NCSoft, because there’s no end-game content in CoH — once you hit the top level, there is, in short, f#ck-all to do.
Compounding this is the fact that, between leveling dings, there’s nothing HAPPENING to your character. Except for the dings, there’s just nothing going on. When you get to a new level, you either get a new power, get a few points to improve a power, and can maybe upgrade the effectiveness of all your powers (with new enhancements for said powers).
But that’s it, and it all happens when you ding. Other than that, you just slog slog through the same 50-odd, random mission maps, reading the story-lines in depth because those stories are the only things differentiating the missions.
I think that’s why RP is so much bigger on CoH than WoW (in my experience) — adding your own personal stories to the characters is the only way to have new things happening to your characters with more frequency.
Contrast this with WoW. When you level, you ALWAYS get at least a new Talent point, which at the least is going to improve you character, maybe give you a whole new ability that not everyone has. Plus, you get new skills, et cetera. That’s all pretty much like CoH.
However, you level faster, MUCH faster, because there’s LOADS of stuff to do at the max level for the game — many folks actually think of getting to 70 as “the first part” of the game, while the stuff you do once you get there as “the rest of the game.”
But then there’s all the other things you have going on BETWEEN levels. Skill-ups as you’re moving around, doing stuff, be it for defense, weapons, fighting, or a profession. New gear that might possibly be an upgrade to the stuff you’ve got… maybe an obvious one, or more of a lateral promotion that emphasizes a different strength of the character… either way, something to look at and ponder.
In other words, fiddly bits.
Some folks don’t like fiddly bits. For myself, the fiddly bits that fill in the ‘in between leveling’ is what keeps the game INTERESTING, long-term.
No where near a level? That’s fine, I’m working on getting my Alchemy skill up — I wanna be able to make water-breathing potions! Plus, I’m working with the forces in Thrallmar a lot right now, and they have a lot of cool stuff that they’ll give you… IF you reputation is high enough with them, so I’m doing missions specifically for them, to get up to Honored, then Revered, then Exalted with them, cuz look at that fancy bow they ha–
Oh, I dinged? Wow, I didn’t even notice I was getting close — I was busy playing THE REST OF THE GAME.
There’s always something to do, and I really, really love that.
CoH folks are starting to get a taste of this with the Inventions system — now, in between those leveling dings, you can keep an eye out for cool inventions that fall your way — stuff that, just like cool new gear in WoW, tweaks, changes, and improves your guy without a ding — stuff that, in some cases, is really worth CELEBRATING.
Hell, Pummelcite make 2 million influence yesterday, just selling off stuff he had no use for — that damn near made back all the money I spent on upgrading him this weekend. That right there is a cool thing — between missions and leveling, I’ve got something to DO.
It made me really enjoy CoH more. It improved my experience, so kudos, design team.
Now let’s take it to the next level.
How about a series of missions you can do (like the police-band missions, yeah… tie it into that) that raise your rep with certain groups in the city, allowing you to get your hands on inventions, recipes, and enhancements that you can only get if you’re on their good side?
I’m not talking about a single mission to get you a Nemesis staff for three days, I’m talking about working SERIOUSLY with the Kings Row Police until they give you access to their “Riot Gear” inventions and craftable temp powers.
How about the idea that if you work your rep up really high with certain groups (Brickstown Police), it drops ESPECIALLY low with other groups (Crey Corp), who then randomly ambush you, because you’re on their most-hated list? Boom, you have a NEMESIS!
Repeat throughout the city. Repeat for the 35+ factions and groups around town. Wanna bet i wouldn’t dust off my level 50’s to ‘grind reputation’ with some of those groups? HELL yes.
Fiddly bits.
I think there’s an appeal here that goes beyond MMOs as well. Some games really attract their following through all the little fiddly bits that you get to tweak and play with on you character. DnD is definitely this way (and, to a comment De made, maybe so complicated it’s better handled by a computer), but also Champs, Tombstone, even Heroquest (little constant improvements), and maybe even Dogs (again, little constant improvements and character changes). Compare to other RPGs with few changes and ‘dings’ that are few and far between (AmberDRPG, even PTA).
Very interesting way to examine and evaluate some of the games on my shelf, and understand why I like some of them more than others.

Multiple Choice

The invention system on CoH gives me:
a) A way to improve my non-50 characters beyond the glacially slow leveling process.
b) A way to improve my 50s, at all, and in very neat and interesting ways (5% chance to heal 15% of my health every time I fire an energy blast? Psychic damage added to my holds? Yes please!)
c) Something useful and cool for my level 50’s to work on — dangerously like actual end-game content.
d) The ability to save and maybe even make money on these improvements through a little research, diligence, and personal effort, by making the stuff myself and selling off the good stuff I don’t need. (CoH develops its own Loot and Crafting system which, like the rest of the game, is a comic-book-simplified/streamlined version of that found on other MMOs — unfortunately with a much crappier interface.)
e) A slight headache.
f) All of the above.
Prompted by a few good drops Slip and Markov got last weekend during our TF run, I hopped onto CoH yesterday and poked around the Auction House for the first time. Got some new inventions. Picked up the ingredients for same. Made them. Slotted them. Found myself poorer, but quite pleased.
Logged in Hyperthermian. Repeat (though foolishly buying stuff made by other folks instead of stuff I made myself).
Logged in Hangtime… repeat… Bear Claws… Strategist… Pummelcite…
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Wiped out the bank accounts on a couple of them, but generally improved most of them and spotted a few REALLY WANT TO HAVES for each one. Good stuff. Actually made the utterly static level 50’s interesting to me again, and opened a world of fun for the mid-20 to mid-30 toons. Still need to check out Kethos, I think, though he’s not quite in the sweet-spot range (32 and up) where inventions are better than the stuff you can just buy from the store.
Anyway. Was finishing up Pummelcite (which involved a quick respec to move his slots around juuust a touch to really max the HELL out of Granite armor and take full advantage of his main attack powers) when I got a tell inviting him to a level 35 group-up.
Pumm’s level 34, and I really wanted to get him to 35 in time for Issue 10, so that he can run that new content and spend some quality time with the other folks who’ll be logging back in to run the TF — dude doesn’t even have the ATLAS MEDALLION, for pete’s sake.
Anyway. Joined the group. I wasn’t too optimistic of my leveling chances — he was BARELY 34, and solo leveling takes an age in CoH — more than any other MMO, they really reward you for group, and grouping BIG.
Lordy, does it ever. The group ran between 6 to 8 players for 2.5 hours. Pumm was the only tank, there were three defenders, and everything still dropped so fast I could barely establish aggro before everything dropped. Yowsa.
More importantly, I dinged level 35 and THEN some in the short time playing, picking up a new Area Effect attack (Tremor) and a couple fun inventions enhancements I could actually use.
Most importantly, it was fun. I miss playing the big guy — the amount of punishment he can absorb while in Granite Armor is positively unbelievable. I wanted a guy who could tank anything for a group of eight, at the cost of some soloability, and by god I’ve got it — he’s incredible.
Anyway. I also spotted Statesman standing around in Independence Port. Something about a Task Force? We should do that.


"City of Heroes" champions virtual queer prom

Hundreds of super-powered lesbians and gays let their magical hair down at a new LGBT prom recently. They danced, flirted, elected a prom king and (drag) queen, played outdoors in their underwear at a mountain ski resort, and levitated with robotic boots and angels’ wings until they crashed the server. Yes, they were in a virtual online world called “City of Heroes.”

It’s about friggin’ time, Batman.

Starting on Tuesday, July 17th, the Training Room Test Server will have two new game features enabled for testing: Character Transfer and Character Rename.
* Character Transfer will allow customers to move characters from one server to another.
* Character Rename will allow customers to rename a selected character.
Both of these features are not part of Issue 10: Invasion. Although we are beginning to test them now, we anticipate that they will not be enabled on the live service until after the launch of Issue 10.
We estimate that both features, Character Transfer and Character Rename, will carry a transaction fee of $9.99 each per use (there will be no fee for transfers to or renames on the Training Room). Should a Character Transfer have a name conflict on the destination server, a free Character Rename will be made available to resolve the conflict and rename the moving character.
These new features exemplify our commitment to improve the quality of the City of Heroes experience. We feel the price of these features is enough to prevent potential abuse, but also reasonable enough to not be prohibitive for those who want to improve their gaming experience by moving servers or changing a character name.
IMPORTANT! Customers who are interested in taking advantage of the Character Transfer service should know that it is possible in the future that we may make changes to the game that would remove the need to Transfer servers. One example of such a change would be a β€œserver-less” game configuration where all players can group with anyone, without the restriction of which server they play on. We are not committing to this β€œserver-less” configuration, and in fact there are no plans to implement a β€œserver-less” environment this calendar year, but because we are charging a fee for these services, it is important that our players understand that the possibility exists. We want to be very clear in this regard so that those who do decide to make use of a Server Transfer, when it becomes available, understand that they may not need it in the future.
For those interested in assisting with the testing efforts of Character Transfer and Character Rename, keep your eye on the Official City of Heroes Announcement Forum for further details. Thank you for your continued support!

Game reflects Life

Although it’s ostensibly about WoW, this post from Terra Nova: “Our avatars, ourselves”, makes some great observations how we relate to (and interact with) stimuli in virtual worlds in general, specifically our and others’ avatars.
In brief, research to this point indicates we react to virtual stimuli exactly the same way as if it were real — for example, we don’t want our characters standing too close to other characters, because it’s a social convention in the real world that we all have our own individual space. ((This is particularly notable in WoW, where there is no “body buffer” as there is in CoH, and it’s possible to actually stand ‘inside’ or walk through people, but people go to GREAT (if unconscious) effort to prevent that from happening if at all possible.))
Also (and obviously) we react positively to attractive avatars, more ‘upbeat’ locales, environment conditions, and surroundings. Again, I’ve seen this. The avatar example is easy to see — there are toons whose abilities I really like, but whom I don’t play simply because I don’t like looking at them much (Zero at the Bone, or any undead WoW character) — but I know there are areas in both CoH and WoW I just won’t want to linger for long (they’re DEPRESSING), while others I enjoy (Talos waterfalls are neat, and there’s something very relaxing about doing some deep sea hunting with a potion of water breathing for a few hours.
As they say in the post, “You can take the person out of the real, but not the real out of the person.”

The new Holy (long, with a smile at the end)

Okay, so a few days ago, just for my own lazy-bookmarking, I linked to a guide on making a “AoE”-specced Paladin. The reason for this was because the instructions on that post (and here )revitalized my enjoyment of playing my sub-main, a dwarf paladin who’s been gathering dust for awhile now.
I’m going to talk about that in more detail in this post, because I keep thinking about it.
It was a great, fun day of playing with her, and since she was unceremoniously booted from her guild a month or so back for not being logged in enough (writing a book, helloooooo), those moments of enjoyment with this character have been few and far between.
So anyway, it’s Tuesday. I’ve hit level 59 with Grezz’k and I’m 1001 points from 60 (in one-third the play time it took me to hit 50 with Hangtime, and half the time it took me with Hype. *coff*), and I don’t want to level any further with him just yet — there were some lower-level quests I wanted to finish with him before dinging, so I left him sitting.
I’d been reading the paladin thing, so I logged on Kayti and followed Ze Instructions.

Continue reading “The new Holy (long, with a smile at the end)”

A game within a game

Last weekend, the WoW Insider guild on Zangarmarsh “It Came from the Blog” (200+ low-level alts and going strong) ran a scavenger hunt. The idea was to get screenshots of the following items:
1. A parrot
2. A Wanted Poster
3. An Ogre
4. A Yeti
5. A Well (water-type)
6. A Waterfall
7. A Kodo
8. A chemistry set
9. Lava
10. Dragonkin
11. An Outhouse
12. An Armor stand
13. A Tapestry
14. A Tiki mask
15. A zombie
16. A Boat
17. A gate
18. Hanging boxes
19. A Coffin
20. A fountain
21. A siege engine
22. Intestines
23. A Dead tree
24. A crashed flying machine
25. The rez angel
You don’t have to know WoW to (a) see how that could be pretty fun and (b) how such an idea could be ported easily to other games.
The results? I did horribly — and after looking at the collections from the two guys who tied for first with 24 of 25 — realized I should LOOK at the landscape more.
Cool idea. I think I might rip it off later. πŸ™‚

*blows some dust off*

I’m finally done with all the stuff that’s been keeping me from playing any WoW or CoH — I’ve been offline so long (coming up on 5 or 6 weeks?) I’m not sure I remember how to log in.

Not-so WoW

WoW PvP Frustration — not coming from where you’d expect.
There’s some pretty cool stuff you can get for your character by gaining honor in the various PvP Battlegrounds in WoW. The battlegrounds work a bit like an Arena match in CoH, except you pretty much just sign up to play in ‘the next one available’ and get teleported there (with a confirm window in case you’re no longer interested) when it comes up. Everyone getting sorted into similar-level matches broken up as 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, et cetera.
So… these rewards you can sort of bank on your honor to get from the battle masters? There’s a really cool mount I’d like to get at level 60. To get it, I need 30 ‘honor tokens’ — denoting participation — from each of the three battlegrounds that someone who’s level 60 can participate in. The three BGs are Warsong Gulch (the first BG: a bog-standard capture the flag game on a smallish map), Arathi Basin (a really neat one where you try to capture and hold as many of the five resource-generating spots on the map as you can, for as long as you can, until one side or the other racks up 2000 resource-points), and Alterac Valley (which I know nothing about, since I can’t get there until level 51).
And honestly? I’m enjoying myself — otherwise not even the cool mount could keep me in their — playing against live players makes me a better player in PvE as well (and vice versa, I’ve found), and it’s actually really fun to fight people for awhile before going back to the content-driven quests. Also, I just I like seeing my ‘lifetime kills’ number go up. πŸ™‚
So… where am I on the quest for the cool mount? I have all the 30 chits I need from Arathi Basin — it was the first Battleground I tried, and I liked it a lot, so I kept doing it. Each “win” got me 3 chits, so 10 runs in there got me all the chits I needed.
I have about a third of the chits I need from Warsong’s capture-the-flag. I started doing this BG later, plus it’s not as much fun, but I’m doing it. This part is also taking longer because Horde doesn’t WIN as much in this battleground (we tend to win most of the time in AB), and each match, which should be fast, instead takes AGES, and Losing only gets me one chit instead of three. πŸ˜›
Lee assures me that Alterac Valley is even cooler, combining the best parts of both previous Battlegrounds, so I don’t worry that I can get all the chits I need from there, before sixty.
The problem?
I just hit level Fifty, which means I get sorted into the next highest tier of combatants (levels 50-59). This has caused me two problems:
1. It takes ages for a Warsong match to start up in my new tier. I assume this is because people in the fifties are instead running in the AB or AV battlegrounds, having already gotten all the Warsong battle honors they need, and also probably fed up with running those matches.
2. At fifty, I’m the lowest level guy in any given match, while my average opponent is 8 or 9 levels higher than me and doing commensurately more damage (and taking less from me) — this means that even when I do get into a match, I’m getting wiped out in seconds when I actually go up against someone, and spend a lot of time running back to the fight from the resurrection point.
What I need to do is just wait until I get about five more levels, and then go back in. What I WANT to do is run Warsong until I get the 30 chits, so I never have to do it again, but at this stage, that could take as many as 20 more matches. πŸ˜›


Grezzk (my first/main character in World of Warcraft) dinged level fifty a few nights ago. Almost simultaneously, he achieved Exalted relationship status with his first faction (and I’m closing in with a couple others). He has his Skinning skill maxed out, my First Aid skill (invaluable for solo pet- and self-repair) is nearly maxed as well (284 of 300), and I’m finally making decent headway on Leatherworking — cranking out some pretty neat magical bits.
That’s all nice, but more important are my play-time stats. WoW lists them in Weeks, Days, Hours, et cetera, but it boils down to 256 hours of playtime to get to level fifty. That’s less than a third of the time I spent on CoH getting Hang Time to 50. I’d have to log in to check, but it’s less than half the online time (at least) that it took me to get Hyperthermian to 50. This has been rewarding time spent, as well: I can’t think of a night of ‘serious play time’ (where I’d play from say seven to bedtime) where I haven’t either dinged or made some really significant headway on some skill or talent or side project or something. In general, every good night of play = a level up or some equivalent. That’s fun. Best of all, there’s a PILE of stuff to do after you hit 70 (which is why they didn’t make leveling progressively harder), and also good: I know I only hit about half of the content available to Horde players during my time playing Grezzk, which means I could level another Hordie up and see very little redundant content… and that doesn’t even address Alliance characters.
All that’s nice, but here’s the important part: those 256 hours of online time with Grezzk were spread out from mid-December (starting the weekend of the First Big Blizzard) to mid-April, which works out to about sixteen hours a week. Sixteen. I can’t even begin to convey what a change in time-involvement that is for me compared to my time on CoH (where something closer to 40 hours was a low week for me), especially since on any given week I’ve got one day that accounts for a big chunk of time. I’m very very pleased with myself about that.
Even if you factor in my other characters (one at level 34 whom I haven’t touched in at least a month), and five characters between levels 10 to 16 that amount to a net effort of maybe 20 hours, total for all five of them… I’m controlling my MMO time pretty damn well.
And having fun with the time I spend.

Week in review.

In brief:
No face to face gaming.
No CoH.
A little progress on Mountain Witch, but I’m still working to get the momentum back up to the pre-holiday level, but for myself and the players.
Did some WoW stuff with Grezzk (who’s now level 30 and was ‘halfway’ for about three days… until the new expansion came out and made the ‘halfway’ point level 35.) Ran Blackfathoms Deep with him and the guys from NYC, using Ventrilo, which was really really cool — sped things up tremendously, allowed for quite complex tactics, and really eased the delivery of good smack talk.
Also played some on Kayti the dwarven paladin. She’s level 26 now and heading into the same zones as Grezzk, but from the Alliance side of things — it’s really impressive how much the contested areas of the world really FEEL contested — I’m told that on a true PvP server the areas I’m in now with both these characters are effectively non-stop killing fields… feels plenty dangerous to me anyway.
Anyway, The Burning Crusade expansion came out today, so I took all my characters and moved them to Inns and/or major towns so that they will accumulate Double XP time for being well rested, so that when I get back on they’ll get all ‘caught up’ to where they will be.
Subject change: that double-xp system for logging your guy out in ‘safe’ areas is just genius. To put it in CoH terms — if you log out in your Supergroup Base — assuming that was possible — and each chunk of time your there, online or offline, you’ve got X amount of ‘combat’ xp that will double when you get back on. Instead of ‘double xp weekends’ when you feel like you HAVE to log on, you can take a week off to get other stuff done, knowing that when you DO get back on, you’ll ‘catch up’ super fast because you’re xp will be doubled — that means you’re leveling faster, per hour spent playing, getting more quality out of your play time, and DON’T feel compelled to be on every single minute.
It’s so smart — Blizzard gets paid the same amount of money whether I’m on every single day or two days a week, so why not give me (almost) the same amount of leveling progression, either way, provided that my character was resting up somewhere safe between adventures? Contrast that with “It’s a double XP weekend… On Valentines!” and I think there’s a clear marketing winner there for people with grownup stuff to do.
ANYWAY: I’ve got two major and one minor writing project that I either MUST or really want to get done by the end of this month, and since the WoW servers will be getting hammered for a week or two thanks to the Burning Crusade, with level 60’s trying to get to 70 and a slew of brand new characters of the two new races (available via an expansion pack that I’m not getting right away), I’m taking a break and writing writing writing.
… and reading Odd Thomas. *Creepy* book.

Week in Review

Again, no Face to Face gaming, due to no faces to face with. Holidays are Suck.
In the Digital realms:
The Mountain With game continues apace. (A slow pace, but apace, nonetheless.)
Got Aeric (Bored/WalkingAbout Prince of Niffleheim Ice/Storm Controller) up to level 16. Ran the holy ice crystals out of the Winter Event, finally ran the King’s Row Bank/Safeguard mission successfully, got flight, got 15, started the shiny new Faultline Story Arcs with Sophie, and dinged 16, picking up Freezing Rain. (I respecced him somewhere in there to get closer to Stamina, sooner, and the loss of an Area Attack isn’t… TOO annoying. Just kinda.) Clearly, he’s gotten all my CoH time. I’m still working out the Controller-with-Scrapper dynamic (I think it’s funny that I have a Controller/Tank mindset that really finds scrappers annoying, and a Scrapper/Blaster mindset where I do ALL THE SAME STUFF I HATE.)
I would like to get Damosel Distress, Zero at the Bone, Dolmen, and Strat through the restarted winter event — Anyone else past that… like Gilly… is a bonus.
Grezzk (orc hunter resurrected from my time on Forest’s Edge) is about level 27 on the Kirin Tor server. I’m playing him mostly solo (inasmuch as a Hunter is ever truly solo), then teaming up with the NYC guys for running Instances (think CoH Task Forces with multiple goals that all take place in a single, large location — a mission map the size of a small city zone, maybe — it’s essenitally that kind of time involvement). Last weekend, we annihilated the Wailing Caverns (except for one TPK that my pet might or might not have inadvertently caused), and I think we’re doing Blackfathom Deep this weekend — I’m a few levels ahead of everyone else, so the instances are pretty easy, but with cool stories and good fun.
Kayti (dwarven paladin) is level 21 and has her sites set on the Deadmines dungeon instance. Due to the situation with her, this will be a PuG group, so I’m a little leery. I’m also working her through a paladin-only quest that teaches her a few new powers and gets her a cool shield and a positively FANTASTIC main weapon (which quest in turn will take her into two more instanced dungeons). I’m in a really good guild (a casual-player-friendly, RP-friendly-but-not-mandatory, we’re-all-grownups-with-lives-who-like-to-play, with a massive playerbase and smart people — called “Knights and Weekends”), but most of the players are higher level than Kayti, so I can’t get a lot of help on these missions from them at this point. And I really WANT to get into group things with her, because large fights in the middle of melee are a LOT more difficult to do than Grezzk’s “stand back and shoot them to ribbons while Tusker the Super Pig tanks”.
it’s very interesting comparing the two games — there’s stuff that each game does better than the other — though both are very interesting, fun games. I think the most impressive thing is how different the power levels feel on the game — I’ve gotten two characters into the 20’s on WoW MUCH faster than I could on CoH, and with less experience, but “one, maybe two, enemies at a time” is still VERY much the rule to live and die by in that game — it’s very harshly realistic in that way. If you don’t feel ‘super’ in CoH (where I routinely bypass large parts of a mission even with my wimpy controller by just running by guys and ignoring their attacks), then play WoW for a bit — you WILL. πŸ™‚ Both games capture their genre (comics, versus gritty ‘every fight is a fight to the DEATH that could go wrong and kill you’ fantasy) extremely well.

Once more, with feeling

City of Heroes Official Forums: Winter Event returns.

A cold front on the horizon brings back winter to the streets of Paragon and outlying Rogue Isles! On Monday the 8th of January, the Winter Event returns! Cold weather is expected to last through the week, ending on Monday the 15th.
So put on your scarves and gloves back on! Old Father Time will be back with presents galore, and there’s plenty of opportunity to collect the winter badges you might have missed!

Here’s your chance to get badges for the last couple of your toons that might have missed it (or given it a mistaken pass).


I haven’t posted any screenies from CoH in awhile, so before I get into a bunch of costume changes with the i8 stuff (Bear is SO getting a kilt), here’s some older ones I’d been meaning to share:

Continue reading “Screenies!”

Snow! It was the Snow! I swear!

This has nothing to do with why I’m working from home today. Seriously. It’s because of the snow. I didn’t even hear about this until after I got like… whole HOURS worth of work done. I swear.

Uneventful weekend

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.”
— Mary Wilson Little
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much to do this long weekend, and was kind of mobility impaired with Kaylee, so when I wasn’t watching Baby Einstein or playing with wooden blocks, I did something I haven’t done in a long while, and played a lot of CoH.
How many characters can you ding in one solid day of playing? Seven (or 10, if you count actual dings). Granted, one of those dings led to getting the Dark Melee version of Assassin Strike, finding out it was the same stupid, constipated-looking pose as most of the rest of the ATs (except claws and Ninja blade) and deleting the toon, but it still counts. Other than that, played around with the base builder alot, and read. Not a big gaming weekend.

Week in Review

Marginally frustrating week, in that I keep trying to get some games going, and the combination of everyone’s schedules and the holidays continues to confound my efforts.
Said frustration was countered by a couple fun sessions of CoH, which hasn’t happened in awhile.

Continue reading “Week in Review”


Took a minute to go look at the CoH forums and take stock of all the crap I’ve written up there and have yet to move.
Eh. Wondering if it’s worth it. Much as I like some of the Epitaph stuff (amnesia — what is it about amnesia stories?), and being moderately impressed with the… sheer MASS of the Hang Time stuff…
I mean, the writing (when I was actually writing and not just grabbing logs of online rp) was decent, but it’s not as though I can’t write something else just as good or better that hasn’t got sticky little ‘legal use’ issues glommed onto it.
Well. We’ll see.

Super in a non-supers way

It occured to me a few days ago that I have very very few character City of Heroes or City of Villains that actually fit into the mold of a superhero comic book. Out of the (vast) stable of characters at my disposal, Hang Time, Strategist, and maybe Hyperthermian are the only characters I’ve got that could be dropped into a silver- or modern-age super hero comic with no one noticing. I think one of the reasons those three characters have gotten the lion’s share of my play time and roleplay and fiction-creation (still true, even now when I’ve got a lot of other toons at high-ish levels) is BECAUSE they fit the genre the best.
No great revelation there, but I think it’s interesting none the less.
I wonder if some of those other characters would be more compelling to me in the context of Paragon City if I tweaked their concepts a bit — would ToonX be more playable for me if I altered him to the point where he’d be a good Teen Titan or Avengers fit?

Random CoX Character Updates

Haven’t done one of these in awhile, and they will, I don’t doubt, tail off as time goes on. Updates continue here, when necessary.
Hang Time participated in the 4th Shadow Shard TF — the last AV went down with shocking, almost laughable speed, especially considering that he’s the 3-times-harder version of the guy that TPK’d Hype’s team six or seven times. Good group of toons and players. Also moved him into the Storm Knights, which has some in-character reasoning that might be fun to play around with.
Strat hit 35 and picked up some decent AoE defense, finally. Moved him into the Boomtown Saints.
Bear Claws is 28th. I still enjoy playing him a ton, and the core group of the Munchies is all in that same level range, but with shifting and such, I don’t know how much longer the momentum will last. I really really hope we all make it through Croatoa.
Markov’s about five bubbles from a proper travel power (at level 28) — up to this point he’s been making do just fine with Siphon Speed and a plethora of stolen rocket packs, but I’ve almost used up all the fuel on those — I think the last one will sputter out and die right about when I hit 28th. I like the “Invis-stealth-kill boss-end mission” fun of Markov and Slip. Good stuff.
Mister Brightside is at about 14th, but opted to put off a ‘real’ travel power for a few more levels (working on the Stamina chain), since he’s already got a pair of Jump Boots and a rocket pack that should see him through another 4 or 6 levels (the Jump Boots are particularly great — he burns much less fuel getting around, since Superjump is so much faster. I’m really enjoying playing Brightside and Lady Optimism — they’re a good match power-wise and a lot of fun on the Broadcast Channel on Virtue… “They put the ‘personal’ in ‘personal injury.'”
That’s pretty much it, really — I’m doing a lot of gaming prep stuff, and which I might play CoH to blow off some steam after a long day, there’s a lot of other stuff I can do to accomplish the same thing. I enjoy it the most when I use it to spend time with my friends, so doing that is when I tend to log on.
And as for the kind of… quaint uproar amongst the remnants of the Alliance, I’ll thank WIST for this quote:

It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our
power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.
— C.W. Leadbeater (1846-1934)

Anyone who thinks that that business affected me beyond the time it took to log in a couple characters and switch to different SGs… well, yah don’t know me.
But that fact should be self-evident. πŸ™‚

Shadow Shard TF #4

What? Shadow Shard Task Force 4
Where? Shadow Shaaaard
When? This weekend, prolly eveninks
Why? We wants it, precious
How? cf. Hook, crook.
Who’s in(terested)?
(Note: War Bones is unavailable — we’ll need a tank.)

“Time to look on the Brightside!”

We actually got back down from the mountains on Sunday, had lunch, had a nap, and STILL had time to take some small advantage of the CoX Double-XP Weekend by leveling up Torrance and Matthew Bright, a.k.a Lady Optimism and Mister Brightside. The goal was to get from level 1 to level 14 (and movement powers) in five hours. We didn’t quite manage that (got to level 9.75), due to Virtue server going down for about an hour in the middle of the timeframe we had, but it was still a good run in which we hit all new content (by running Matthew Burke and Doctor Creed instead of Kalinda and Mongoose). Good stuff, good time, and really fun characters.
It turns out (I didn’t know this ahead of time) that Mister Brightside has a few verbal patterns, the most notable of which is “You put the ______ in ______!” Frex: “You put the ‘personal’ in ‘personal assault’!” or “You put the ‘fun’ in ‘functional insanity’!”
As a said, a lot of fun. πŸ™‚ Screenshots to follow.

Monday in review

Briefly: Logged into play with the Hostess Heroes on Monday Munchies last night. As it turned out, only about five people total were able to make it on, but not all at once (Divine Chu was on early for a bit, Cheesy Poof hooked up with Brownie Points right as I (Bear Claws) and Ginger Snap left for the night). During the time on, we ran around Croatoa a bit, saw “Sally”, the monster of Lake Salamanca, and ACTUALLY DEFEATED THE “KEEP 30 FIR BOLG OUT OF THE GATE” mission. (Which makes me something like 2 for 4 on that mission — Pummelcite and Epitaph failed, it Strategist and now Bear Claws were on winning teams.)
So this win? Ginger Snap, Bear, and Brownie Points: two scrappers and a blaster. One single-target hold between the lot of us. Guaranteed loss turned into AWESOME.
Boo-yah. πŸ™‚
After that, Bear hit level 28 from the (*massive* Croatoa) end-of-arc xp, and I logged for the night.

CoH Character updates

Updates to my City Of Characters. A few brief highlights:
Pushed through last week and got him to 32, got Granite armor and respecced him to drop the vs.Energy armor and pick up Stone Skin and three-slotted swift. I love Granite Armor’s upsides — tanked the Kronos Titan for 30 minutes and didn’t die — don’t mind the slow-down to attack rate: it keeps the endurance consumption VERY manageable; but really hate the (lack of) movement speed with that and Rooted running. Need to get better at teleporting in mid-fight and taunting alot.
Granite is a GREAT team-tanking power, and decent for oh-crap moments when soloing, but because of the lowered mobility I’m really going to have to beg teams on on to give me a few seconds to pull the bad guys in tight, cuz if they’re all over the room it’s really going to be tough to cover everyone.
Still, I really really like how Pumm plays and how his powers have worked out. Very good guy to play when you want some good old fashioned ass-kicking.
Dinged 30. 2/3rds of the way to Stamina. Added like five more people to Devil’s Night, which makes me really happy. Tried to run the respec trial, but the AV at the end makes the thing friggin’ impossible right now.
Ran few mayhem missions, which have been surprisingly sucessful. Respecced to make him a bit more survivable, which seems to have actually worked. Dinged 23 and slotted a little more damage into his two main attacks — MUCH happier with the damage he’s doing. Shadowslip and Markov have been working really hard on tactics to increase survivability, and that seems to be working much better.
I *hate* Tsoo with Markov. Hhhhhhate. There’s just no frigging mez protection on a Corruptor, and unlike HT, Tsoo missions are really hard to simply avoid in the mid-20’s.

“Kronos Sighted!”

Couldn’t agree with this poster more: I’d like to take a moment to promote the current state of giant monsters.

…and then, as my team fills out to eight and yet another group starts forming, we see the health bar on Kronos budge. And then, as the fourth team fills and a fifth starts, it starts falling in a definite manner. Cheers start to rise from those skilled enough to type and attack at the same time. Down, down, down goes the health… and then, finally, the mighty droid falls!
35 heroes, half an hour from when word went out. That was the most excitement I’ve ever had playing CoH. I’d love to do it all over again.
Mind you, none of this applies to archvillains.

I love fighting giant monsters on CoH. LOVE it. I loved the Winterlord event not for the xp (I limited myself to one fight a day), but for the BIG GIANT MONSTER TO FIGHT! The change to GM’s has been great fun, a zone-assembling event (it took three teams to take out Deathsurge in Cap au Diablo this weekend, but Dolmen was the leader of Team One), and I like that, a LOT.
AVs? Hell, I don’t think the change itself is a bad one… if the AVs were built to a STANDARD, but they aren’t, which makes some of them impossible to beat with an 8-person team which, at least on a task force, is all yah got.
For example: did the first Villain Strike force… rolled it… got to Infernal — he’s unbeatable.
Synapse Task Force: you can get help on Babbage… but the Clockwork King… with the AV patch in, he’s not beatable right now.
Some AVs are… some aren’t… no standards.

Not Impossible. Not completely.

Someone beat the Lord Recluse Strike Force.
Yeah, the one with Four level 50 heroes all standing together.
Yeah, the one with Five MORE level 51 heroes all standing in the same room.
Yeah, the one with EIGHT level 54 heroes all standing together in the same room, including every major name in the Freedom Phanlanx.
The cunning plan for taking on that final pack of the Earth’s Paragon’s Mightest Heroes?

Continue reading “Not Impossible. Not completely.”

“Impossible” ArchVillains

So I ran into one of those ‘impossible’ AVs last night — the ones that are supposed to be made more palatable with the next patch.
Now, up to this point, I was starting to think the Impossible AV thing was a bit of an Cityof urban legend. Since i7 went in, I’ve been on a team that took out Rudalak the Strong (4000+ hit points), and another one that took out Clamor.
Now… the main thing they’re fixing with AV’s is the regen rate, and I can sort of see why — they’ve basically amped up the regen rates right now to about 10 or 11 times what they used to be, and said they’ll dial back to about 3 times what they used to be. Fine.
But like I said… we’ve done a couple, and the dectupled regen rates didn’t make them undoable, and one of THEM was given as an EXAMPLE of un unbeatable AV.
Last night, I ran into an AV that was TOTALLY unbeatable…
Why? It was his (Infernal from the Tarikoss SF) regen rate, yeah, but it’s the same boosted rate as everyone else, and the team wasn’t totally retarded, so why did it matter this time?
Hit points.
Lemme lay this out. Regen in the game doesn’t work as a set number. There’s no healing or regen power in the game that’s written as “You will heal 52 points,” or “you will regen 3 points a second”; they are all written as a percentage of your total hit points: “this power will heal everyone nearby a number of points equal to 25% of the healer’s total hit points” or “you will heal 1% of your hit points every second.”
That’s why Dull Pain is cool: by raising your max hit points, it also raises the amount you heal from second to second.
So… why were those other AV’s beatable and the guy last night impossible?
Rudalak: ~4000 hit points, with a big regen rate.
Result: Eh. That’s a lot, sure, but, compared to the heroes fighting him… not A LOT. Hype (who wasn’t there, but I know his stats) has around 2300 hit points himself. Rudalak has less than double that, a really good regen rate, and something like seven maxed-out level 50 characters pounding the snot out of him. Yeah. He drops.
Clamor: ~???? hit points (didn’t look), with a big regen rate, but whose healing rate was, in turn, DEBUFFED by a Radiation power.
Result: We cleaned her clock. If you have a power that slows down a regen rate by half, and they have a HUGE regen rate, the debuff is, likewise, going to be HUGE. Honestly, the fight versus Clamor didn’t feel any different than an “old” arch-Villain fight, which I take to mean that we (and by “we” I mean “Peep”) had her debuffed down to nearly her old numbers.
Infernal: ~5300(!!!) hit points, with a big regen rate.
Result: Utterly unable to dent him. Why? Duh. He’s got more hit points and, thus a BETTER regen rate than an AV who’s been DESIGNED to take on a group of EIGHT level-50 characters. Sure, he’s not hitting as hard as Rudalak (no 600-point Area attacks), but when your health bar never drops more than 75 points out of THOUSANDS before you tap back up to full… well, you don’t need to work fast.
7 level 50’s beat on Rudalak for about 10 minutes to take him down. What possible chance does a group of unmaxed character ranging from 18 to 20 have against a guy who heals faster than that and has more hit points to start with?
So… three hours or so, messing around on a Strike Force last night, and good End of Mission XP for the missions, but in the end… no joy. The guy was simply impossible.
But the problem isn’t the regen rate. I’ve been on teams that have demonstrated that it’s not really the hit points that are the problem; it’s that there appear to be no standards or guidelines for how tough an AV should be for a given level — designers are just pulling hit point totals out of their ascii and plunking them in.
Regen rate or note, if the guy was a similar power level to OTHER level-20 AVs, we could have taken him.
As it was? No chance.

The only CoH-related thing that happened last weekend:

Coming out of my cage
And I’ve been doin’ just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all

— The Killers, Mister Brightside
Paragon City, Brickstown (AP) Officials are, reportedly, baffled at the recent successful Ziggurat escape affected by criminals Torrance and Matthew Bright, a.k.a Lady Optimism and Mister Brightside.
“It’s not that they couldn’t have escaped — they’re both really smart folks,” commented one anonymous guard. “But that’s just it — being a criminal mastermind isn’t enough — to get out of the Zig, you need connections on the outside, and these two didn’t have any. They’ve done too many bad things for a hero to help them, and most of the guys in the Rogue Isles… even inside the Zig think they’re really… annoying.”
“Hell yeah,” a passing prisoner added, “I was going to break out that night too, but when I heard those two were getting out, I figured I’d stay. A guy needs a break more than a break-out, y’know?”
Notorious in Paragon City for their upbeat attitude, steadfast smiles, and constantly climbing bodycount, the two Ph.D criminals may have failed to make many friends with Arachnos, but their escape in night proves that someone wanted them free and unleashing their own personal brand of bright-eyed mayhem.
“It’s been really, really super staying here,” reads the perfectly handwritten note on Torrance Bright’s cot. “Thanks SO MUCH for having us, and remember what I suggested about the new window treatments and some wake-up yoga for Cell Block E. E is for Exercise!

– <3, Torrie."

It’s simply difficult to imagine who.

Lady Optimism and Mister Brightside: the kind of villainy that Virtue shard deserves. Go team!

AV’s, Rudalak, Munchies, and YOU

Current chatter about how difficult AVs are to beat in i7 is making me a bit nervous about the end of the Rudalak TF on Sunday…
And… as the post listed above is about the Sister Psyche TF, and I wanted to do that TF during Monday Munchies this week… yeah.
BTW, who wants to do Sister Psyche during the Monday Munchies this week? Seems like all the active folks are in the 20-25 range for it.

SS TF #2 : Ze Plan

Planning Stage for the Second Shadow Shard Task Force
When: Thursday evening, 6/8, 8pm Eastern til whenever. Wrap-up on Sunday, 6/11, at around 5pm eastern.
Where: Cascade Archipelago

  • Hang Testerman (BLASTer)
  • Kate Frost (conTROLLer)
  • Sam of Asgard (sharp, pointy things)
  • LeeBones (meat puppet)
  • Dave-Clone (hand-waver)
  • Amargiepha (A.F.R)
  • TeH Balnk
  • Teh Utehr Balnk

Anyone willing to help us filling Balnks (I’ve been on a lot of PuGs lately), comment below.


From the CoV LJ community: Mayhem Missions — YES!
Sounds like a friggin’ ball — though I’m not sure Markov may not be much good at it, but Dolmen, Kethos and …. “MB” will love it.

This explains a few things…

The officially-listed boosts given for Defense, Acc, Resist, and Damage inspirations (25, 33, and 55%, by size) are, generally, nowhere near the ‘real’ numbers.
Arcanaville (who figured it out and pointed it out to the Devs, who hadn’t realized it:)

Although I cannot say she was the first to put it this way, it was Kali’s multiple reports of lucks “not working until enough of them were used” that got me thinking that they might not have been broken, just weaker than advertised. Which caused me to run specific tests looking for the ramp up/ramp down behavior, which I was able to reproduce consistently in at least one instance.
The question I posed to pohsyb was this (paraphrased): are lucks modified by the AT scale modifiers, in such a way to reduce their strength, because they appear to me to be working at lower than their advertised numerical value.

The real numbers?
S – 12.5%
M – 25%
L – 33%
S – 7.5%
M – 18.75%
L – 37.5%
S – 10%
M – 15%
L – 20%
S – 25%
M – 33%
L – 50%

New High-level CoV Strike Force

So the Devs put up a contest for the Test server: they give you six days to finish the new level 40+ strike force, as it exists on Test. The reward? If you’re the first group to finish it, they’ll give you year’s subscription for free.
No one won.
Some folks tried it, and the spoileriffic results are here.
Here’s a non-plot-spoiler bit that I liked:

The SF team was [subjected to] a strange cycling phase-shift on each player because of the temporal disruption. We never quite figured out the pattern or timer – people would phase in and out uncontrollably.
The mission objective was simple: Manticore, Sister Psyche, Numina, and Back Alley Brawler were standing on City Hall. Together. Defeat these 4 level 50 Heroes, while your teammates are randomly phasing in and out, and the mission is over.

It looks incredibly hard. It looks incredibly cool. It SOUNDS like the kind of epic smack-down you’d expect for a level-50 TF.

Test Server Hijinx

Logged into the Test Server last night for the little event thing they had going on — half to get a look at the new zones, and half to check out how a villain character would play at level 40.
Did up Kethos, rearranging powers based on stuff I’ve noticed in the last few weeks of play with him — rolled him out of the garage and ran a quick newspaper mission. Verah verah nice. Still required some endurance management stuff, even with stamina, due to the way I slotted things, but having -acc in everything and five-slotted Touch of Fear meant his health bar was a loverly shade of green.
Grandville is COOL-looking. I want someone with fly over there, so I can explore, cuz the thing goes straight. up.
Ran over to Recluse’s Victory for a bit. Came across a hero-scrapper with a big sword. Made him cry like a tubby kid who dropped his ice-cream on the sidewalk, then pounded on him until he finally got himself together enough to run — had him down to a third health in that time, and I was untouched.
Took a couple pillboxes for the baddies side — redlined a few times, but never dropped.
Things started to tip in the favor of the Villains pretty heavily, and the Freedom Phalanx sent in reinforcements.
Positron. No one else was around — just me and him and a pillbox he wanted control of.
I got about two hits in, screaming something like “THAT’S FOR THAT STINKING CoT MISSION IN THE FEMA BUILDING, YAH RAT BASTA–”
And then he dropped me. Hard. My dignity requires that I claim it took two shots.
DAMN… I tell you what, I am going to approach Arch-villains and/or Signature Heroes with a LOT of caution when i7 goes live.
Other than that? Lots of cool little improvements. Daddy like.

Just screwing around…

… with, not coincidentally, nothing but melee characters.
Got Kethos to 24. Got Touch of Fear. Holy Emmert, that’s an awesome power. Having gotten that, I’ve found I can leave Keth on Relentless. I can’t wait to get this on Gavin (except I’m going to do exactly that — wait — level 20, where I can use his second costume slot for his ‘game face’).
Got Dolmen to 16 and picked up Dark Armor’s healing power. Great numbers, fast recycle time… and HUGE endurance cost. Damn. Got him to 17 and fiddled with slots to help that out some.
Pummelcite’s so much fun to play. And roleplay. I’m doing most of both of these things solo, but … well, there it is. Damn I wish he had a controller to play with.
Got Zero at the Bone to 8th level and picked up Cold Snap or Flash Freeze or whatever the heck the PBAoE bite-me aura is — it auto-hits and slows everyone’s move and attack rate. In fact, the damn thing cuts attack rates by HALF, unslotted. By HALF. Turn this on, and at a BARE MINIMUM, you are reducing incoming damage by HALF; it is effectively 50% damage reduction vs. melee. Oh. My. God.
Bear Claws has passed Markov Chain. That’s like Keanu Reeves (or, better, Jack Black, who would play BC in a HH movie) getting the Oscar nod over Ewan Mcgregor.
I finally found a stalker build that (mostly) doesn’t annoy me.
That is all.

Portal Smasher TF

… which sounds so much better than “that really long, level-limited, shadow shard TF.”
Okay, come hell or high water, I’m going to get the First !$#!#*@#$^-ing Shadow Shard Task Force done (it didn’t work out on the second attempt — we dropped team in order to do the Valentine’s Day Stuff).
* I tentatively have (possibly) eight people who want to do it all the way through.
* I need maybe one or two people at least level 41 to log in this THURSDAY, at 11pm EST, just to get the group to eight people so we can start it — and then you can drop team if you want.
Anyone? Bueller?
Second Edit:
For those of you who wanted to join up and continue through to the end (Sword, Dave, Margie) — please be advised that most of the work of the TF is going to take place on Sunday, not Thursday — on Thursday, we’re just getting it started and maybe doing a few of the prelim missions (would be nice to get through those miserable Rularuu missions, but whatever).
((Edited to change the start-up to Thursday.))

Now Testing in the Training Room – 5/08/06

Among other things:
* Glue Arrow now has a -Fly component. For real this time.
* Fixed an issue where Entangling arrow could be escaped, despite its -Fly component by jumping/flying out of it.
* Modified sprint fx to only play while running. Not Flying. Not swimming. Not jumping. Just running on the ground
* Fixed fx for Dark Regeneration power
* Fixed fx for Unyielding Stance power
* Fixed phone booths to prevent players from getting stuck inside
* Increased Dominator Melee damage modifier to 0.75 — this increases their melee damage by 6.7%
Also, a rumor out there that click on a glowy destealths you — so… you can click on the filing cabinet while invis, but searching through the thing means you can’t hide. Sucks, yes, but much more realistic than what they were going to do before.

The Family Dynamic

I keep thinking about doing a “super-family” Supergroup for CoH, along the lines of The First Family from Astro City… multiple generations… uncles, aunts… the people married to family members, the kids. All that lot.
I’d really like to do something like this, following the same basic practices that seem to be working so darn well with Hostess Heroes.
Then last night, it occured to me that it was also work to do a super-eeeeeevil-family. The two problem I see there is that, while potentially fun, it has to run a balancing act between too-dark-revenge-hate-dysfunctional-family, and the Addams Family.
I like the idea of a Fantastic Four-like shared origin, or common backgroun (all mutants), or just a generational ‘grandpa did it with gizmos, and now I do it, and thanks to my exposure to the radiation of Alpha Ceti Five, you’ll be doing it to, but without gizmos’ — where pretty much any sort of background can be mixed in.
I dunno. Thoughts?

CoH summary

Due to messing around with retro costumes during my free time last week (ha!), I actually had pretty much everyone logged in at some point, recently. Let’s review:
Hang Time (50)
Planned on doing stuff with him yesterday. Didn’t quite happen.
Hyperthermian (50)
Working through an old Carnie arc with him — pretty much a waste of time, but at least it’ll be done. Also, respecced him, keeping all the powers he had, but rearranging them a bit so that he has Stamina, Acrobatics, and his first Ice Hold by level 30, so I can screw around in Siren’s Call more effectively.
Strategist (34)
Did a bunch of missions on him, solo. First time I’ve had him logged on in a looooong time. He’s still fun to play, and MA looks fun with the flared boots on his “flash gordon approaching” outfit. That is is all.
Epitaph (33 — new)
Holy hell — I actually played him, roleplayed him, got the Boomtown Saints into the Coalition, and ran some missions with him (with help, cuz the Crey Protectors own him).
Fun to play. Not the uber-AT, by any means (slow animations on the attacks are annoying), but fun to play.
Pummelcite (24 — new)
I friggin’ love this guy. BIG BOOM attacks, and now with Fault from the stone attack set to keep everyone flopping around… it’s just good smashing tank fun. Ran the respec trial, which was good, but while I really want to get teleport (or any move power), I just don’t want to give anything UP to get it.
Kethos (23)
Ran a couple missions. Good build. Not nearly as much ‘boom’ as Dolmen, to compare my other brute, but he’s pretty tough. Might need to dial down off the red/purple con missions.
Markov Chain (21)
Haven’t played him. This makes me sad.
Gilly (20)
Silly Gilly. If she weren’t my second oldest toon I’d remake her as an energy melee tank — I’m hamstringing the build by not taking footstomp.
Also… I just don’t play her that much.
Bear Claws (21)
Unlike Bear, who gets weekly lovin’. Love the build, and pretty much expecting to like it even more when I7 speeds up the animations on the attacks.
Dolmen (14)
Haven’t been able to play him in a week or so. Love the toon, though. Much boom.
Gavin (12)
Like Bear, Gavin benefits from having a commited amount of playtime, due to being in a group. I like dark melee, and I like regen, so it’s all good.
Aeric (8)
Every time I make up an Ice/Storm Controller, I love em. Then I don’t get time to play them. πŸ˜›
There are others, but that’s what I’m talking about right now.

“I prefer the term “gentleman adventurer.”

So I’ve been messing around with some Silver Age and Golden Age stylings…
Hype was… well, ugly, but yeah, he pretty much looks like a fire-guy from the 70’s.
Hang time is easy: go to the cape costume, flip on a few judicious SG colors, and drop the shades — I’m good.
Then I went to Bear Claws. I don’t know if I really got his swash buckled on straight, but I tell yah… I really like the final look, even if it’s not full-on vintage:
But… you see…
Folks, I did Strat up.
Dude looks like he should be swinging from a chandelier, or engaging in fisticuffs with a massive Nubian from the Dark Continent.

Continue reading ““I prefer the term “gentleman adventurer.””

Dress your Age

For those of you who are logging into CoH for the Golden/Silver Age party on Friday, allow me to provide linkage to a nice Guide to Golden and Silver Age Costumes

1) Be bold, not subtle. Bright, primary colors. Texture is also key. Silver Age is characterized by matte-tone “streamlining” with the advent of new fabrics like spandex, lycra, polyester, etc. In contrast, Golden Age heroes had to make do with older fabrics, layering (briefs over longjohns), bulky tech, combined with normal-style clothing (trenchcoats, yeah right). The Silver Age costume look tended toward being streamlined tights and simple costume elements, because artists were being pushed for faster turn-around overall. Again, mystic types were the exception, since they were anachronistic simply by virtue of having magic as the source of their powers. Armor was futuristic rather than archaic. The Golden Age buckled their swashes as “adventurers”, so flared boots, opera cloaks, and turned gloves edges were favored. Of important note is that anything vaguely alluding to juvenile deliquency was banned (sunglasses, motorcycle jackets)
2) Heroes of both eras concealed their identity, with few exceptions. Golden Age-style efforts to conceal one’s identity manifested as cowls, hoods, helms, archaic helmets. Silver Age heroes preferred domino masks, full face stockings or helmets, partial cowls and helmets, tiaras, crowns, or elected no mask at all. Moderate to excessive facial hair was discouraged as “sinister”, unless the character was a mystic type; female heroes wore their hair loose, usually shoulder-length (shorter hair revealing the back of the neck was scandalous; close-cropped would have been considered gender-bending). Pre-teen sidekicks, wearing outfits paralleling that of their mentors, with the boys wearing short sleeves, shorts or briefs, baring their legs almost as often as the girls (that’s what *I* noticed, anyway). Teenage heroes in their own right didn’t appear until the Silver Age.

Good stuff. It makes me want to log all my toons on and play with their costumes. πŸ™‚
Sidenote: Anyone want to make next Monday a “Monday Munchies: Age of the Golden (Twinky)” and have everyone wearing whatever costume they cobbled together for the party (even if they didn’t go?) I’m thinking I want to do Bear up in some proper swashbuckling duds. πŸ™‚

Continue reading “Dress your Age”

PvP Coh Random thoughts

“If you bow at all, bow low.”
— Chinese Proverb
As noted here, in the comments, I messed around with some PvP stuff last night with Hype, both in PvP zones (I really like the PvE gameplay of Siren’s Call alot — I might actually rearrange Hype’s build — with the same slotting — so I have a few more options at level 30, but I digress) and in the Arena. Just had a few thoughts:
PvP fights are like a PvE fight that goes wrong: too much aggro on the wrong people, the bad guys are spread out too far, the damage is coming in too fast, and you can’t seem to track the key targets that will help you get control of the situation.
That’s the good and the bad, in a nutshell: it’s bad because it can be really frustrating and annoying and did I mention frustrating? It’s good, because if you actually manage to GET control of that wild situation and pull out a win (just like when things go badly in a PvE fight), you really feel GOOD about it.
These days, I pretty much know how to play my odds with most of my toons — there aren’t a lot of surprises on the PvE side of things, and while there’s a definite and long-lasting visceral enjoyment in mowing through ranks and ranks of baddies, my heart isn’t going to get all poundy-poundy, wondering if I’m going to make it — I KNOW I’m going to make it, or I KNOW I’m not going to make it, and I can see it coming. When I’m wrong, it’s usually over so quickly that I don’t have time to be surprised.
So… take an AV fight where you were just… sweaty palms, mashing the keys, emptying the inspiration tray, and muttering invective at the screen. Sometimes you’re dancing around afterward, fists in the air, and sometimes you’re swearing and clicking on the ‘Go To Hospital’ button and bitching about your nerfed powers.
That’s pretty much every PvP fight.
Other bits:
Hype is tough. I knew that for PvE. Now I know it for PvP. I don’t think I could actuallly get a kill on an anemic toddler without someone buffing me up, but he can take a hit. The biggest problem with that is just… getting the other team to FOCUS ON HIM. Taunt is total crap. That is all.
Fear powers in PvP are overpowered awesome. I look forward to Gavin in Siren’s call πŸ™‚
I finally (this morning) grokked onto why Practiced Brawler is, truly, the Best Anti-Mez Power In CoH: it’s not a toggle. It cannot, therefore, be shut off. Integration? Yeah, it’s badass, but it’s a toggle.

Task Force: Munchie

There’s been talk and planning for doing the Synapse Task Force this Munchie Monday the 24th. I’d very much like to do this, and in order to pull it off I’d conjure that we need to get started early.
So: let’s get started early. I’m suggesting that folks try to get logged on by no later than 7:30 eastern, and preferably even a bit earlier, so we can get started and move through as much as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Also, who’s interested?

Random quote from the Internetwebbosphere

I love that you take this throwaway idea you have — “oh, I want to try out a Dark Brute” — and before I’d even get past level two, you have this amazing character and background invested on him.
You’re neat.

Dolmen is, incidentally, level 9 now πŸ™‚

Week in review

Let’s see: since last CoH post, I’ve made up a LOT of new guys — sort of playing around to see what I like.

Bear Claws (level… 19 new) got a new toy added onto his claw-gloves from the dudes in the lab that he temps at as a test subject; this new thing like… shoots a claw blade at a guy from, like, range. So cool. (And it is. I friggin’ love the “Focus” claws power — ranged, fast, with a damn near 100% chance of knockdown for a lovely bit of soft control. Awesome.)
Also, finally wrote up the Hostess Heroes Origin Story, and posted a pix of Cheesy Poof.

Gavin McIntyre (level 11) is working with his ‘cousins’ on Victory-server.

… Prince Aeric (level 8 Ice/Storm controller) is also working over on Victory Shard. I really really like this powerset. Alot. Alotalot. Much.

Kilcannon (level 5 Mind/Trick Arrows Controller) is a reformed Lost, defending the city through his hero registration with FOUND House.

Dolmen (level 7 and climbing, baby — Stone/Dark brute) has a sort of tribal magic feel. I’ve got this idea that he’s from some kind of tropical island with a lot of native magical power — sort of an Easter Island with dark gods — he was the young, talented “priest”. Recluse wants him working for “The Destiny” that he envisions, and is basically holding Dolmen’s homeland hostage.
But he’s not a noble hero; it’s not like the guy really cares — he just wants to do what Recluse wants so he can go home — these people aren’t HIS people, so it doesn’t matter what he does to them — he basically treats it like a war with an opposing tribe, where the opposing tribe is “Everyone.”
I like him. A lot. Also, Stone Brutes hit HAAAAARD.

Zero at the Bone (level 4 Ice/Energy Tank) was a PCPD officer who was horribly maimed during the Rikti invasion. Through excruciating and extensive cybernetic reconstruction (thanks to a city-funded effort from Crey), he came back better.
The name? Well, he’s not a dumb jock. πŸ™‚

And that’s it.

Week in review.

Let’s see: since last CoH post…

Markov (level 21ish) ran into Catelyn (spelling? I think that’s right), the younger sister of his old buddy from Eastgate High School. She’s all grown up now and working as a Hero in Paragon.
What did he do?
He lied and let her think he was some kind of superspy working deep undercover in the Rogue Isles, that’s what.
He’s not entirely sure.

Hyperthermian (level 50) got a message to meet up with Synoptic in Pocket D… villains side. Hmm.
They talked. It wasn’t awful. There was some smack-talking that ended up in them going out to throw-down in the Arena for a bit (0-0 draw, I used one inspiration). After that, they decided to sign up for the big multi-Coalition beat-down — win or lose, they’ll be really ANNOYING to fight. πŸ™‚

Epitaph is working on the Boomtown Saints, and crawling toward security level 33 while hunting down Rikti in Crey’s Folly.

Pummelcite (23, new) participated in a recent Knight’s Night and is tracking down pieces of the Wheel of Destruction when he’s on his own. (Very much liking this build.)

Bear Claws (level… 18? new!) is raising a fine crop of illegal flora in the Hostess Heroes base.

Gavin McIntyre is working with his ‘cousins’ on Victory-server, namely a Slayer by the name of Sophie, and her pack of scoobies. Lots of fun stuff there. Surprising and enjoyable everytime.

In generally, I’m having a lot of fun with the big group activities, and I’m looking forward to setting up similar things with the Boomtown Saints. The one on one stuff is fun, don’t get me wrong, I love it — but since my time online is somewhat (and purposefully) limited these days, it’s nice to maximize face time with lots of people when opportunity presents.

Week in review

Right. Gaming.
Haven’t had any of that.
No FtF gaming, but Firefly (using Heroquest) is this Friday evening, and Spring Fountain is on Saturday evening, so that’s good.
I got the Ectoplasmic Badge with Epitaph… then ran the first Respec Trial with him. Decent XP. Already had that respec done, though, so just got an SO out of the deal. Fun time, though — did it with Lee (War Bones) and … well, stuff is just easier when you’re on a solid team up isn’t it?
Played Bear last Monday. Probably will tonight, if my right side stops twitching.
Is that it?
Oh, worked on the Soopersekrit Lowbie Of Doom (SLOD). Actually got into a good PUG with them — by virtue of forming it and running it myself. Was actually a lot of fun. This if for that thing that likely won’t even happen.
The annoying thing? I actually like playing the toon quite a bit — I like the powersets and play and even the look. It just isn’t likely to matter — eh. Maybe he can be my version of Margie Blue Point.


Reminder to folks: Monday Munchies tonight. Same Munchie-time, same Munchie-channel. Mmm Pie has the Frosting-fire mission, and if folks are interested we have a couple ‘evil foods’ we can log on to do the v-day events.
Hopefully, I won’t be late (again), due to this miserable deadline today.

<3-day Swag

So I want to get through the Valentine’s Day content with someof my toons. This requires pairing up with folks from both sides of the tracks, so here’s who I can bring to the party:
Level 50 Damage
Level 50 Tank
Level 34 Scrapper
Level 32 Not-a-squid
Level 19 Tank
Another level 19 Tank
Level 19 Scrapper
Level 20 Corrupter, with a gun
Level 23 Brute (Anyone have ANY good guys on Virtue? I *might* have one)
Level 11 Stonerdude
Level 5 Brutish Haggis o’ Doom
((That sooper sekrit one that no one knows, who probably will have to whore himself out to a PUG to get it. πŸ™‚ “Rrrover Heerrrrre….”))
Who’s still got stuff to get through.

Monday Munchies

Weirdness with Monday Munchies scheduling:
– Player-of-Mmm-Pie will be flying back to Mexico, so won’t be around.
– I’ve got a deadline to hit tonight before I can log in.
– Thing Ginger.Snap’s in the same situation.
So… let’s say somewhere between 8 to 9 pm, eastern, 6 to 7 mountain, and if you don’t see the above folks, don’t wait — make with the heroing stuff. πŸ™‚

CoH plans, #2

I was supposed to wait to mention this at the Munchies thing tonight, but I’m an impatient person…
Jason and Noelle are going to do the first Shadow Shard mission, and we’ve (I think, maybe) lined up the two extra people we need at the END of the TF to finish it, but we need four more people to start the thing.
1. We just need you to pop over to the Shadow Shard to start the thing, you can quit after that.
2. Odds are good you won’t want to STAY on the TF, because we’re going to take this at HT/Noelle pace, which means slow and intermittently. πŸ™‚ The only folks who might be interested are probably (a) 50’s who (b) aren’t planning on being on much in that time, or who’ll just be on to RP, and not run missions who (c) want to get the badge by logging in for the last two missions, probably in a week or so.
So… (1) can you hop on after the Munchies tonight, or tomorrow evening to help us get it started and (b) if so, are you interested in being tied up by Noelle and Jason for a week (ahem) in order to get the badge?

CoH plans, #1

Monday Munchies Part Two: Hungry in the Hollows!
What time should we plan on? How about 8pm Eastern (7 central, 6 Mountain, 5 Pacific) until whenever, with the standard caveats that some folks won’t be able to get on until later?
Sound off!

To the Hostess Heroes…

… send me headshots or screenshots, please. πŸ™‚
And remember: tonight is Monday Munchies!
((For those of you who don’t know what-in-hell I’m on about — you will, soon. πŸ™‚ ))

Planning Stages

Trying to put together a team for the Manticore TF for tonight — *nudge nudge*. (Yeah, I know — I’m trying to organize it on the forums instead of via email… I’m a rebel.)
If nothing else, need a few more people to help start it for the folks who actually want to run it — I’m sure the four we’ve already got can actually do it.
That said… maybe there are alternatives?
Synapse, 15ish-21ish (BYO-toon)
Sister Spooky, 20ish-25ish (*might* be able to get Gilly up to 20 fast enough this late-afternoon to do that — Tessa could come! Pre-adolescent-palooza!)
The second SF thing on Champion’s Darkside? Which… actually, I’m pretty sure I can’t do that yet, thanks in part to a couple KK-induced faceplants in the last few days with Markov.

Channeling myself

“No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you’ll see why.”
— Mignon McLaughlin
Seven people at the Casa last night, all connected to the internet and logged into CoH. Cool. Yay, wireless connectivity.
Of the seven, five or so had Coalition Chat on and were commenting on whatever was going on there.
Thanks to my friends for, seperately and as a whole, reminding me why I never have that channel on.

Okay, I can finally do an Ice/* tank…

City of Heroes: Defense Scaling

Ice Tankers and SR Scrappers have long lamented that Defense doesn’t scale with level. Because mobs higher level than a player possess an inherent to hit bonus, Defense isn’t as effective over levels as Resistance.
A while ago, peoople have requested something be done. Well, we’ve done a bunch of work and done this. Defense powers will now work equally well against critters, regardless of their rank or level. For instance, your defense powers will work equally well against a Boss or any critter up to 5 levels higher than you, as it does for an equal level minion. This change has no effect on a player who does not have any Defense.
This change is coming in I7

Holy CRAP! I mean… HOLY CRAP! That’s…
The first question out of everyone’s mouth was ‘what about bubbles?”
Seems like…
Well, this may be wishful thinking, but he said, “This change has no effect on a player who does not have any Defense.” The converse of that would be that it DOES have effect on a player that has ANY form of Defense. Be it Power Pool, buff placed on him by a teammate, SR Secondary, Force Field Primary or whatever.
Seems like. Programmers are a shifty, inherenty lazy lot (*looks shifty and inherently lazy as a sign of solidarity*), and doing anything other than making all the defense on a player work the same way would be *harder*.
I mean… wow. This is huge. Pummelcite’s going to be happy. P-siren’s gonna be happy. PUCK’s gonna be happy. Strat’s going to be happy…
Lots of happy.
*rolls up and Ice Armor Tank, since they won’t be so friggin’ broken anymore! Woo!

Statesman says stuff

Original Post

First…I confirm that we’re working on right now (as in pohsyb in the next room) to add CoV costume parts into CoH if you own both games….
Then we repeal the hated stealth nerf. The reason why: many well reasoned posts. It’s that simple. You guys pointed out the problems.
AND now…we’re changing the way Archvillains spawn. A ton of forum goers disliked adding so many AV’s into missions a while back…so we’ve come up with a solution. If the team size and mission difficulty are ABOVE a certain level, an Archvillain spawns. Below that, players will face only an Elite Boss. If the mission is set on the first two levels of difficulty, it takes 4 heroes or more to spawn an Arch Villain. On the third level, 3 heroes or more. On the fourth level, 2 heroes. On the highest (Invincible), a solo hero will spawn an AV. Note this works in BOTH City of Heroes and Villains.
In order to incentivize lager teams, Positron is going to add a bonus to AV rewards!

So… in theory, if you’re on heroic, and you start, say… the Sarah Moore TF… and five players drop the TF… the final would be an Elite Boss. Weird.
Still… pretty cool for folks who prefer to solo or duo and currently *have* to get a team together to finish missions with AV’s in them (such as most of the Portal Corp stuff).

Poof, you’re sneaky again.

Stealth Nerf removed, for now

We’re going to be taking out this “stealth nerf” or “nerf to stealth” or whatever…
The original intent was to prevent riskless XP gain…but I agree that the implementation caused problems as noted here on the forums.
I REALLY like the Suppression idea brought up, but that’ll take some time to implement. So we’re just going to take it out until we can do it right.

I didn’t read back into the thread to find out what the ‘suppression’ suggestion was — anyone want to dig through that thread and post it here?

On Test…

The Dreck Mission is now timed. No more farming.
Edit: corrected silly tpyo. πŸ™‚

Funny, but not…

City of Heroes Official Forums

The scene: Four players and a DM are gathered around a kitchen table.
Statesman (in an ominous tone from behind his DM’s cardboard wall): You enter a dark, abandoned warehouse. In the distance you hear the scurrying sound of a rat.
Player 1: Okay, we leave the first room.
Statesman: You enter a long hallway, filled with cobwebs and heavy with the scent of dust. A short distance ahead of you, three Hellions are having a discussion about something, unaware of your presence.
Player 2: I cast Group Invisibility on the team and we all walk past the Hellions.
Statesman: No!
Player 2: No?
Statesman: You have to fight them.
Player 2: But I used Group Invisibility. They can’t see us. We’re walking past.
Statesman: Um…it doesn’t work.
Player 3: What?
Statesman: Yeah, the invisibility doesn’t work because your hats are made from a space-age fabric that is resistant to molecular modification, which is what invisibility does. Because of this, the Hellions have spotted you.
Player 3: That’s absurd.

The whole thing is quite funny… and sad.

Coming Next: Who knows…

The new CoX patch includes the following undocumented or “stealth” (in more ways than one) nerf: it is no longer possible to click glowies while phased or stealthed. This includes Superspeed.
I can see it for phase-shift… but… you can’t be hidden while you’re stealing something? While your clipping wires on a bomb?

CoH Villain thought for the day

Alien parasites…
GIANT robots…
… and base built INSIDE A VOLCANO.
The Council gets *all* the best bad-guy schticks.

Story: correction/expansion

In the week in review I wrote:

* Ren and John have been spending a lot of time together as part of “Working Girl”, which is a really fantastic story.

This is inaccurate. Should read:

* Ren and John started spending a lot of time together, due to “Working Girl”, but it’s gone well past that story which, if you read Working Girl — turned out to be the point.

More after the cut…


The best contact in CoV gets a fan site: The Radio Speaks.

This page is dedicated to “The Radio” missions on City of Villains. They were too well written to be allowed to lie in text alone, and have been recorded solely for the listening ‘pleasure’ of Villains the world over!

Too cool.

No fair! :)

Since CoV came out, Jackie has had just… depressingly good luck with character names. She has snagged:
* Hedera (for a plant controller)
* Merry Mayhem (for her ‘perky evil’ brute)
* Unhinged (for her crazy Mastermind with ninjas named things like Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers)
* Darling (for her Corruptor)
No misspellings, no weird spellings, no odd characters in the name…
Just… no fair.

CoH: The Stories

So here’s the thing:
Every week, I post up the summary of stuff that happened with my gaming. There’s a problem with that at this point:
My roleplay gaming is all CoH right now — lots of reasons for this, most of them starting with “baby”, but that’s how it works.
And mostly, what I post up is who hit what level or who got what power… which is alot like posting up a Actual Play from one of my face to face games and just telling who rolled what numbers on the dice.
Boring. Interesting to ME, because I want a record of all that stuff, but empty if you don’t know the game.
And I noticed: these days, when I actually TALK about the game, I talk about what is going on with the character’s STORIES, not the LEVELS. That kind of thing is, in my opinion, of interest to anyone reading, if they’re gamers or just into a good story, so that’s what I’m going to try to remember to do here.
But I can’t start in the middle, so here’s a massive summary of all the story stuff I’ve got going on with…
Frankly, the best stories and roleplay I’ve ever been involved with, period.
Brace yourself, Bridgett. Here it is.

Continue reading “CoH: The Stories”

Respec stuff

I respeced Hype this week and did Nosferatu with Kin and Shock and Syn, then logged out — he works just fine with the ED stuff in effect — hell with the extra slots I had to work with, I put two endurance recoveries in his main toggle powers and he has almost no endurance issues now. Worked out something vaguely resembling a respec for Strat, but haven’t done it yet.
Respecced HT this afternoon so I’d be ready to do the Positron TF this evening.
Get this: I dropped Hasten. No, the world didn’t end.
Picked up Conserve Power instead, three slotted it, and just put recharage recoveries in his main attacks.
Sidenote: HT is a “pure” blaster: I have one melee range attack — the power you have to take at level one, which is useful mostly for knocking guys away from you — and that’s it. Everything else is blasting.
I’d love to test out the new build, but Posi’s going to be crap for that — at level 15, I’ve barely got flight, conserve power doesn’t show up until level 16, so I can’t even mess with that.
Two blasts, a snipe, the knock-away punch, Build up, Aim… flight/hover… and hurdle, i think. That’s it… exactly the way he was back in the day. Should be fun.
((The irony — I used up so much money on costume changes for the HT plot, the Scorpia plot, and the Wedding, that I didn’t have time to buy the Enhancements he needs for reslotting after the respec. It was sad. That said, Positron tonight, so I should make enough to fill in the blanks.))

Week in review

Well, since I found out Justin was leaving, things have been in a bit of upheaval.
Umm… I think Keth hit 15.
Pummelcite did the Positron TF (during which I was shamefully AFK all the time due to Kaylee problems, Justin problems, and kid-sitting problems), starting at level 10 and dinging up to 14. I want him to do all the Hollows content, so that’s where I’ll be parked throughout level 14 and 15. Still no movement power on him — (a) I’m focusing so much on being able to tank for a team with the powers he’s getting that I haven’t had a slot for it, (b) I can’t decide what he should get… thinking Teleport, but I don’t know. Sidenote: Swift makes a WORLD of difference when you’ve got Rooted on… need to slot that sucker up.
… and that’s it.

Weekend in SNAFU

This weekend, I pretty much played CoV. Mostly Kethos (Dark Melee/Fire Brute), the head of Devil’s Night, a bunch of criminal anarchists.

Devils Night was formed to emulate a theme of anarchy for the sake of personal freedom, chaos for the sake of breaking down order, and a disregard for societal norms that often bleeds into the psychopathic.
Social Darwinism meets Anarchism.
Break down order. Destroy something pretty. You probably wouldn’t put it in those terms, but that is the drive that lies underneath.
“He was inclined to anarchism; he hated system and organization and uniformity”
— Bertrand Russell
“Greed is for amateurs. Disorder. Chaos. Anarchy. Now that’s fun.”

He’s on Virtue, and the SG has a non-aggression pack with The Elitists and the Order of the Bloody Rose. About two missions from level 14 and a travel power. Should have that taken care of tonight.
Tremendous backstory and just plain old story with this guy so far — very cool stuff. The smooth disdain of Top Dollar meets violence of The Narrator and the lewd humor of Jayne.
Also created:
* Markov Chain (Energy/Energy Stalker) on Champion — Martin from Grosse Pointe Blank meets the tragedy of the Hollows. A markov chain posits that you cannot predict the future from past events — “Mark” gave himself the name after his family and friends were killed in the Hollowing to convince remind himself that the past is pointless. He’s a bit neurotic. His therapist is very nervous.
* Barret (Dark/Dark brute) on Champion — very large. Very, very quiet. I decided to go with Dark armor on this one after talking over all the Brute sets with Jackie and realizing that Dark has all the things I like about Fire, but WITH psi resistance. I kept dark melee cuz it’s fun on Kethos and I like the punch-noises. Sounds violent.
Both are those are level 2 because… Keth is level 13. Duh. Should be more like 15 or something, but Sunday sucked ass on many fronts, and on Saturday I spent considerable time screwing around on the SG base. Don’t have other character plans at this time, though I might have one more guy in Virtue. Wanna hear about everyone new folks.
I also have to give a shout out to Jackie’s extremely refined Hedera (Plant/Ice Dominator), one of the heads of the Elitists on Virtue, Unhinged, her hilarious Ninja-arrows Mastermind (with ninjas named Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers), and Merry Mayhem, her evil-ditz Stone/Dark Brute, also on Champion, and also in the Consortium of Injustice.

Random bits

Two things I still want to mess with in I6:

New targeting commands: /target_custom_near, /target_custom_far, /target_custom_next and /target_custom_prev. To get a list of parameters, type the command without any parameters.

Just looks like it might be useful.

UI changes to Trade Window. You can now trade salvage and type in the amount of influence to be traded.

Mostly because it looks like the only place you can see what Salvage you have, and what to do about it.
Someone mentioned that Salvage and Prestige are still broken — that you’d seen messages for earned prestige, but the SG leaders aren’t seeing any accumulation, but I didn’t have a change to talk to talk to any of the PhxGd heads about it last night and check.

1.5 weeks in review

As noted here, it’s been an odd week-plus.
HT and Scorp haven’t been on together this week, though I know Scorpia did some fun stuff with someone re: the Puppy. HT also made a brief cameo in an Envoy of Shadows ass-kicking…
I had forgotten how much damage he does. Holy Hell. In playing Hype and Epitaph and Strat so much, I’d gotten used to the idea that a ‘good’ hit does about 120, unaugmented, and when pushed, might briefly touch 200. Hang Time’s SMALLEST, quick-filler attack is in that 120 range, and attack damage spirals majestically upwards from there, up to something like 680 from an aim-build up-snipe on a purple-conning AV, while gimped to level 38. Prreeeeeetty. There is much fun to be had there. I had forgotten. I’m sorry. πŸ™‚
Hype and Syn haven’t moved much at all. We’ve got about 4 missions left in the 40-45 Nemesis story arc, but stalled about five nights back on the Nosferatu AV fight — he can’t take us down, but we can’t get him down before he kicks off his 7000 point heal. πŸ˜› So, we need an extra person or two, and haven’t been able to play them since that night. So… stalled out. I’d like to play through that arc tonight, but I’m thinking this will be an antisocial evening. Hype and Syn have both reslotted themselves in anticipation of I6. I’ll still need a respec to take some slots out of Hasten and Stamina (*whimper*), but Hype’s already operating at close the same resistances he’ll have in I6, we’ve already had our attacks very nicely diversified, and since then we’ve taken down 2 AV’s, duoing it. I am not terribly concerned about the I6 changes.
Epitaph (call me John) dinged 21 in the Synapse TF (with War Bones, Hekuba, Midnite, Pizzaz, and Chilljoy), and hit 22 two nights back. I have stamina ‘maxed’ with three slots, and picked up Thermal Shield at level 22, which is already helping IMMENSELY during his numerous ubiquitous Council/Sky Raider missions and their flamethrowers. ((The new Kheldian arc is Sky Raiders, my Natural Origin contact is Sky Raiders/Council, and I’m doing the Striga Isle Arc, which is largely … Raiders and Council. Yeah. Lots of flame throwers.))
John’s also involved in a really cool storyarc with Midnite and Hekuba and War bones, and thanks to some great info-exhange with Hek’s player, we’ve tied it very nicely into John’s past and his amnesia AND the kheldian thing — hooray, story! My only complaint is that I don’t have enough time to write all the cool story ideas this and other stuff is giving me.
Pummelcite hit 10 and after LOTS of hemming and hawing I opted to get Stone Skin (S/L resistance) and put off Taunt til 12. Of course, since then I’ve seen almost no effect from Stone Skin and have bitched dozens of times about “this” being a perfect time to have Taunt. Meh. Level 12: Taunt and DO’s = Yay.

Did some RP with in the CoV beta with Kethos (Dark Melee/Fire Armor Brute) and his sister Myca. Kethos will be on Virtue and founding an SG that I’ve already got the start of a write-up on. My tech-origin Stalker will be on Champion. I’m frustrated by that right now, since I deleted Centreshot (as the one most easily rerolled and releveled later) to free up a Champion slot to get a good stalker name, and I can’t get one I like, which makes me feel like I zacked a character I really enjoyed, for no benefit.

Something Wicked, This Way Comes

Thank you for ordering from Your order has been shipped completely. The status and/or ship date for each item on your order is detailed below.
Here is the status of the item(s) you have ordered:
Ordered: 2 Shipped: 2 City of Villains with Bonus!

Also, from CuppaJoe
Retail game codes will not be accepted by the system until the game is officially launched. The ONLY way to get into the 2 day headstart is with a special Pre-order code from the pre-order CDROM – beta access won’t get you in, a retail code won’t do it, a note from your momma won’t do it. Pre-Order Box Code Only!

CoV headstart instructions

Two Headstart Instructions for CoV

Hello fellow Villains!
Here is a basic guide to setting up your CoV pre-order account.
Important: The City of Villains beta sever is not the same as the game server so you will need to download the game before the two-day head start begins. If you?ve already entered in your pre-order serial code, we will provide you with a link to the downloader soon. We will announce the link here so keep your eye on Announcements.
If you already have City of Heroes and want to ADD City of Villains to the same account:
– Go to your PlayNC account where you should UPGRADE your existing City of Heroes account with your pre-order serial code.
– Before the head start on the 29th, launch City of Heroes from your Desktop or Start Menu. This will update the proper files for both games. At 12:01 AM EST on the 29th, launch City of Heroes, enter the Character Creation Screen, select an empty character slot and you will be given the choice to create a hero or a villain.
– Select villain and you will be ready to play City of Villains!
– On the 31st, pick up your purchased copy of City of Villains. Return to your PlayNC account and again UPGRADE your existing account immediately with your new purchased copy serial code.
NOTE: You do not need to install City of Villains from the Retail Box.
– That?s it, you are now ready to enter City of Villains and City of Heroes!
If you do NOT already have City of Heroes:
– Go to PlayNC and create a new account.
– Add a new game and enter in your pre-order serial code.
– Once you enter your serial code, you will receive instructions about how to download and install the game. (If you?ve already entered your serial code and did not receive this information, we will announce the download location here soon!).
– On the 31st, pick up your purchased copy of City of Villains. Return to your PlayNC account and ACTIVATE your existing CoV pre-order account immediately with your new purchased copy serial code.
– That?s it, you are now ready to enter City of Villains!
If you have City of Heroes but want to create a SEPARATE City of Villains account:
– Go to your PlayNC account and ADD a new game.
– Enter in your pre-order serial code (IMPORTANT NOTE: If you create separate City of Heroes and City of Villains accounts you will have to pay for them separately and will not be able to take advantage of combined City of Heroes and City of Villains pricing).
– Once you enter your serial code, you will receive instructions about how to download and install the game. (If you?ve already entered your serial code and did not receive this information, we will announce the download location here soon!).
– On the 31st, pick up your purchased copy of City of Villains. Return to your PlayNC account and ACTIVATE your existing CoV pre-order account immediately with your new purchased copy serial code.
– That?s it, you are now ready to enter City of Villains!

The Elitist Villain Project is Done…

… at least for me.
Let’s say the “start” didn’t smell particularly “fresh.”
For now, look for Kethos over on Champion. If you don’t see him… he’s probably right behind you.

Because Stan asked last night…

City of Heroes Official Forums

Due to the Free Expansion Issue #6 “Along Came a Spider” that is now available for download prior to being released on the live servers, players may be experience longer than average connection times, slow patch downloads or may be unable to connect to the updater. We are looking into ways to reduce these issues and hope to resolve all connection problems soon.

Villanous Intent

So… City of Villains, preordered, with character concepts and story ideas on the way:
Kethos, some version of */fire Brute. His (half-)sister, some version of */fire Corruptor… possibly with some sick little inter-family stuff going on, plus possible involvement C, a Drusilla-like Mind/Mind Dominator. My only problem with playing Kethos is I talk in his voice the whole time and as a result my throat starts to hurt after about two hours.
My stalker (I hope to get a… BOY I hope to get a certain name when the lapsed accounts open up. We’ll see), who’s grew up in Eastgate and who’s family was destroyed (if not killed) by the Hollowing and, without goals, became a military sniper, then CIA spook, then mercenary assassin. His counterpart in Paragon City? A young, idealistic, “Hiya, Heroes!” young lady who was the younger sister of his best friend when he was back in high school, and who wants to reform him (while he’s trying to get her to see reason and give up being a Tool). CoH and CoV meets Grosse Pointe Blank.
I cannot wait, honestly, to work these stories into my already-overbooked play schedule. I just can’t.
Some talk of a Villanous SG has taken play. Bones?

Seven Days

HT and Scorp have a puppy. Lots of fun RP stuff for Scrorpia with that — I haven’t had time to do much with it, since my online time’s been wrapped up with other things.
Hype and Syn are about halfway through 47, and have duo’d about… three Arch Villains so far? Nemesis Rex, Countess Crey, Maurauder, and Bobcat, so… four. Each of the fights takes a lot of time (I used the Vangaurd Medal 3 times in the Maurauder fight), but we can do it. We also did Shadowhunter, but he’s at the end of a ‘defeat all’ missions that’s timed, and only and hour — we got to him with 40 minutes left, got him down to about 3/4th and he threw a self-heal that put him back up to full… so… decided we needed some help on that — we’d have beaten him, but maybe not in the time we had left — so, called in Zazi and he went down in about four or five minutes. Easy Peasy.
Did a little grouping with those two, which turned out to be a mixed blessing — Hekuba is a ton of fun, but someone else in the group managed to get on our ‘never grouping with you ever again, jack-ass’ list.
Epitaph (call me John) dinged 19 and 20 in the last week — I was very motivated to this following the Tuesday ‘bbq’ event where I had to go dressed in Epitaph’s costume instead of casual duds — it just sucks not to have some street clothes to wear. Bonus: was able to pick up Stamina at 20, which helped his staying-power during a fight quite a bit, and will be even better with a couple more slots in it.
Had a really funny scene on Saturday with Pummelcite — lots of laughter. Had the chance after that to do some work on leveling him up — picked up Rooted at 8 (Stone Armor’s anti-mez power), and got to 9… 10 is Taunt. Because I want Pummelcite (Lukacs) to be able to tank to for higher-level groups as soon as possible, I will be ignoring my Enhancement Buying Tactics and sliding down lots of influence so he can upgrade his enhancements asap, the sugar-daddy way.

Been running two characters on CoV’s beta: Kethos (magic-origin Dark Melee/Fire Brute) and Umber (tech-origin Energy Melee/Energy Shield Stalker). Enjoying both of these builds a GREAT deal, and have been toying with some fun RP stuff around them, for when CoV goes live. I think I can get at least one of them to ten in the two days before the game opens to the general population, though both with, obviously, be following the Enhancement Buying Tactics, as much as I can bear.
This could easily swing into a discussion on Enhancement Diversification, but I’ll save that for another post.


So… here’s a conspiracy theory:
1. Devs in CoH screw up and release info on the HUGELY UNPOPULAR “Enhancement Diversification” system. This has been a semi-known deal in CoV’s secret beta, but the first the CoH folks have heard of it.
2. There is a massive outcry. Hundreds (if not the reported thousands) of CoV Preorders are cancelled, as are CoH auto-renewing accounts.
3. CoH Devs say “oops, geez, we forgot to mention the endurance reduction across the board, and the halving of the debt-cap (which you’ll need because you’ll be eating pavement so often).
4. The outcry intensifies. A significant (And alarming, if you’re Cryptic) number of die-hard players ditch and diss both CoH and CoV.
5. The very next day (or actually about midnite the same day), pretty much everyone and their dog who hasn’t gotten one already, gets a CoV Beta invite.
6. The next (two) day(s), the CoH server are flakey as hell, down most of the time, and unstable, leaving people nothing to do but use the CoV Beta update email to download the beta… and then play the Beta… because there’s nothing else to do.
7. The CoH servers magically come back up at the same time that the 3-hour window for CoV beta closes and the Devs have hooked more of the less-rabid playerbase.
Maybe. I’d be less annoyed by it if hadn’t totally worked.

“It is bitter to lose a friend to evil, before one loses him to death.” — Mary Renault

Yeah. Look for Kethos. Time to SMASH.

What’s in a name?

CoH Naming Policy Change

Starting 10/24/2005 the [i]City of Heroes?[/i] and [i]City of Villains?[/i] character name policy will change. Names for characters under level 35 on game accounts that have been inactive for over 90 days will be changed to unreserved status. This means that those names will become available for new character names if picked by an active player.


Week gone past

Certainly spent some time on the characters this week, but a lot of it has been RP stuff, so not as much with the dinging.
Got HT back into circulation a bit and ran him around with Scorpia, who was rebuilt for I5 and never really got a chance to test her build, so we did that… also ran a few missions with him solo. Gotta tell yah, defense changes or not, I KNOW when those FF shields aren’t there. I mean, I *feel* it.
HT’s got a lot of AV things, and Scorpia-player wants to get her back in running missions, so I’m sure they’ll be around and about.
Hype and Syn dinged 47 (bringing them even, I should mention, with Scorpia). Haven’t done a ton with them, mission-wise, since then. We’ve got two level 40-45 contacts who are still giving us stuff, so with GREAT restraint, we aren’t getting into the Maria Jenkins Praetorian arc yet, even though it’s the key to getting Portal Jockey.
Their RP stuff has been great. Love playing these guys.
MAN I’ve got some stuff to write for him. Need to get on with doing it.
Still 18. Still really want Stamina. Still love the gameplay with him, and I’m liking the RP with him even more.
Moved Pummelcite, Lukacs Tolbathy, over to Champion and got him into the Storm Knights. Stone’s a very interesting armor set — very cool looking and much… umm… quieter than other Tank sets. Conversely, the Stone offense is BIG and BOOMING and NOISY and FUN.
He might be getting a bit of play time in the near future, because (a) I’d like to make him as useful as possible to what I think it a great Supergroup and (b) I love playing tanks. Got him to 7 last night, which opens up the Perez zone (important only in that I want to be able to get whereever anyone has a mission). Picked up Mud Pots at level 6, which gives him a nice PBAoE attack/taunt that really made him feel like a proper aggro-managing tank (and plays almost exactly like Flaming Aura, which makes it practically second nature for me at this point, thanks to Hype). Running him around with a fireball-tossing blaster after that point got REMARKABLY EASIER… I think they nerf Tanker punch-voke before level 10.
Also, got in a couple fun RP scenes with him that I’m sorta pissed I forgot to log — for those with Amber background, I’m using the Keep of the Four Worlds in his background, with a much stronger Elemental flavoring, and just …
Well, it’s not Amber, but I could take his whole background and homeworld and drop it into an Amber game very, very easiliy.
Looking very forward to meeting some of the Knights this afternoon/evening.

CoH: Separate the OOC and IC

Okay, I just finished dealing with the player of Steve Sanders, reporter, about their posting up information in his last article that he couldn’t possibly know.
Find out he did this simply because someone —
Here is the problem.
1. For about week, Strat’s level 30 clothing did not include a mask.
2. I have NEVER used that costume, in game, ever. It will be months before I do, if ever, and he’s since ADDED a mask.
3. Strat’s personal relationships, IC, are completely unknown, or at the very least unsubstantiated, IC.
4. I, the player, have ONLY mentioned both the new costume and the relationship on this blog, obviously OOCly.
5. That is the ONLY place it’s ever been mentioned.
6. The player of the reporter had ‘someone’ send him this OOC info as IC info for the article.
This is impacted the two players mentioned in the article and, more to the point, pisses me off.
I don’t know who sent it in. I don’t care.
Knock it off.

Best CoH Quote so far today:

“The mind wanders, and that’s never a good idea for someone like me.” — Psi-Clone
Also regarding PC’s journal entries, Syn and Hype (well, their players) are having great fun trying to figure out what the hell Psi-Clone’s “project” is, who the bad guys and good guys are… veddy interesting).
Her: Did I just miss something, or has he not explained this?
Me: He hasn’t explained this — we need to tie him down and get some answers.

Updates, 9/27

F/X for all Sonic Resonance and Sonic Blast buffs and debuffs toned down. Many players complained of discomfort caused by these F/X. These will be further toned down in a future patch based on customer feedback.
Fixed a bug that could cause a Contact to start a player on a Story Arc without giving them a mission.
The new Damage Resistance Inspirations can now be purchased in stores.
Fixed a bug that caused sound to loop repeatedly and eventually crashed the game client.

Week in review

As noted here (RandomWiki | CityOfHeroes / Home Page), Hype dinged 45 in the last week and Strat dinged both 31 and 32.
I pretty much didn’t play anyone else, and of those two characters, Strat certainly got the lion’s share of the play time, due to (1) his partner getting an incredibly cool ‘three-days only!’ temp power in Croatoa [Rune of Warding] (2) Strat getting a different 3-days-only Croatoa power [cold-iron sword] (3) Strat getting the Nemesis Lollipop (another 3-days-only-power). 32’s a big level, since it means you get the ‘biggest’ power in your main power set (the horribly mis-named Eagle Claw), and you can upgrade to level 35 enhancements for all your powers.
Strat dinged 32 about 15 minutes after wrapping up the Croatoa Task Force on Saturday which I think I like a whole bunch — it’s short, it’s to the point, and if you’ve played through all the OTHER Croatoa content, there’s a REAL sense of closure and finally getting to see behind the scenes a bit. Much fun. One bitch: the badge-mission in the TF is buggy, so getting “Ten Times the Victor” doesn’t always happen. Upside: that’s the first mission in the TF, and it’s good XP, so… not like you can just start over and try it again.
Croatoa in general is a very cool and well-done zone — a couple of the missions are REAL ball-busters, which I really respect.
I mean… REAL ball-busters — there’s one where…
Suffice it to say that there are two missions in the Croatoa arc that I, personally, think you should get frigging BADGES for, if you complete them successfully. They are HARD. The first one (defend the gate) is easily as challenging as the Terra Volta Trial. Eaaaasily.
Badges: Only badge from Croatoa Strat doesn’t have yet is the Ghost badge — mostly because there aren’t many Ghost missions… the other badges you’ll probably get just in the process of running the Zone’s content, which I highly recommend in any case.
Speaking of Badges, Hype and Syn got the Unveilder badge Sunday night, realized we’d missed a History plaque for the “Authority” badge and, with that, finally got the “Freedom Phalanx Reserve” Accolade power… which brought Hype over the 2000 hit point mark. (2009) Syn’s up over a thousand.
Probably won’t reroll Strat — I got to thinking about it this week and he’s just to tactile and physical of a character not to keep as a scrapper.
Looking forward to some interesting character stuff with him this weekend when he finds out he can’t finagle the security clearance to get where he needs to go to help rescue Sabrina.

Diabolical evil

Forums are down (brought down by ip spammers that seem to follow the same ‘work’ schedule as wiki-spammers), and suddenly I’m terrified that I’ll loose all the stuff I posted in the last couple days.
Damn. Need to start saving backups here or in the wiki.

“snatching victory from the jaws of defeat…”

Geko Talks about Vigilance

Vigilance is not about being a good or bad Defender. Its about giving you that extra help when your teammates need it most. It is there for those low to mid level Defenders who have to defend a large team on their own. Vigilance should also reduce the need for powers like Stamina. It should also reduce the need for Endurance Discount Enhancements, allowing the Defender more slotting options. It will help you resurrect that defeated teammate, or use that mega power and not have to wait until you have enough Endurance. Its about ensuring you can cast your Twilight Grasp when your team is surrounded and you have used all your Endurance casting Tenebrous Tentacles. Its about ensuring that your Dispersion Bubble wont fall because you left Sprint on.

It’s all Well-said. Damn near poignant
Dunno if I agree with him, but it helps me not dislike the power. I only hate that it does nothing when you’re not teamed up.
Ironically, it seems as though Syn’s had more endurance issues in the last couple days than before, but I think that’s a combination of (a) dinging and having all our enhancements go white and (b) Hype never really letting his health get low.

Ego Stroking

Last night: Hype and Syn team up with a bunch of Storm Knights, including the Baron.
This morning: The Baron posts a comment in the forum saying “damn, we need to get us some tanks.”
That… felt good. πŸ™‚ ((So good, in fact, I couldn’t resist ruining the thread by posting to it. :P))

Starts off about SD, but mostly Strat

Got Shade Dancer to 14, got a new power, promptly got her killed twice, messing around with it (two Quantum gunners in one mission? Oy).
Got kinda close to 31 with Strat and decided to push through and ding — got into an outdoor mission in Croatoa that redlined deadlined him twice within seconds — like, “too fast to react” fast. Against only five yellow minions, and I had backup. Frustrating. Especially since Strat really doesn’t get leveled (or level) very often.
Game, interfering with story — I like the mortality of Strat — I like that he’s a ‘normal’ guy with nothing but a good mind and training on his side: it makes the inherent squishiness of Super Reflexes and the annoying Endurance problems of Martial Arts… bearable.
Barely. Only Barely.
I like the idea of a bomb-defusing mission going wrong and nearly killing him, making it impossible for him to continue in a frontline, scrapper role. Remaking him as an TA/Archery Defender would be fun and interesting. (I suggested something similar to Patriot One awhile ago — since P1 as a tank is frustrating, having Gideon rebuild the armor to accomplish different Tasks and rerolling him as whatever.)
But the game’s in the way. I’d want to get strat up to a point where he could still team with the same folks, which means seriously intensive play as Strat until he got up into the 20’s again. The intensive RP I can deal with — the intensively compressed gameplay… eh.
Could I do it? Sure. Do I want to take that kind of time away from other characters and RP? No. Could I get some folks to PL him up there in about one day? Sure. Would I be willing to give that kind of example to the rest of the Phalanx? No.
Which means I probably won’t do it, which kinda sucks.

Kheldian Hack for CoH Planner

I’ve tried to email this to folks, but it’s not working so… if you want an updated file for CoH Planner that actually shows you the I5 numbers for their Shields and for Dwarf Form…
1. Right-click on this link: Kheldian Hack
2. Save-file-as kheldian.txt into your coh_planner_normal\at_data directory, wherever that is.
3. Start up the Planner. That’s it. You might need to delete an enhancement off of a power and then add it back in to get the numbers to change, but they will.

CoH: Mid-week grin

Positron TF, Cavern of Transcendance Trial, and (most recently) a night of kicking the asses of a number of the Praetorian Arch-Villains. Most of those three things took place with a number of the same participants.
It’s been a good week. πŸ™‚

That’s… interesting.

You know those test-server changes I mentioned yesterday?
Looks like some of them are already in on Live, TODAY. (Vigilance for Defenders (a power Syn will probably NEVER use and Scorp will use all the time πŸ™‚ ), and the new (orange) Resistance Inspirations).
I mean… WOW that’s fast.

The sincerest form of flattery. :P

So I’ve got this thing that one of my newer characters does… a little ’emote’ that establishes the character — the cat-petting thing, for those of you who’ve seen it.
Yeah. Did it in a group with some alliance folks, including someone with a very similar powerset to my character.
About a week later, did it with a friend of mine who said “did you make that up?”
I said yeah, they said “Oh, so and so (the person with the same powerset) is doing that… I was wondering where they got the idea.”
Me, apparently.
So, today… I notice a new character application that…
Well, let’s say there’s a lot similarities to another character background of mine — which, to put it lightly, has happened before.
I mean…
… feh. Nevermind. Just bitching, I guess.

Positron TF Thoughts

As noted in the week summary, I ran Positron with a total of six folks this weekend. Here’s a few notes:
* Length & Content: Positron’s TF is often listed as one of those early-on “this takes forever” task forces. Well… maybe. Yeah, it’s 16 missions. Yes, a lot of the ‘core 6’ TF’s are closer to 12…
But come on. Four of the ‘missions’ are Fed-ex runs with only one ambush between the lot of em. Another mission is a three-point patrol that takes about five minutes, tops.
That leaves eleven actual missions, and of those 11, SIX of them can be largely bypassed with a sneaky character with recall friend. It’s honestly one of my favorite TF’s: You need only three people to get the thing going, the storyline is actually really great, captures the feeling of Paragon City really well, and is at times very funny, and the lack of an Arch Villian at the end (seen by some as a downside), just makes the whole thing more user-friendly to me.
* Difficulty: I recommend keeping the size of the group at five or under: once you get to six, the size of groups in the missions can get pretty damn diffulcult to manage. Our group this weekend had six, and we hit a couple points where Intuition (Illusion Controller) had to spend quite a bit of time Deceiving the group to thin stuff out to a bearable level before we could proceed with anything decent odds.
Of course, on top of that, the first two missions (ESPECIALLY the SECOND ONE) are ball-busters designed to test your resolve, and they’ve made the second one even harder with the change to missions in I5 (more on that in a sec), and the last four missions are all defeat-alls… so it’s rough at times. I think that’s good.
* Changes:
First one: This TF is now max-level-15, not 16. As soon as you ding up to 16, you switch to auto-exemp mode and stay at 15, the same as what happens in all of the TFs now. People thought it was a bug in Posi, cuz the level limit on Posi used to be 16, but that’s not the case.
I only noticed one actual mission change, Issue Five stuff incorporated into the second mission of the TF. Now, the second mission is already a horrowshow — a FEMA office building overrun (and I mean OVERRUN) with Circle of Thorns… mostly the damn ghosts that screw with your to-hits… Oy. It’s nasty. Even Hype and Syn had a few problems with this one, and I don’t say that often.
You have to get through the mission, hit the boss, and find the two hostages. It’s theoretically (and practically) stealthable, in that you can just hit the boss, his cadre, and two sets of Hostage guards. There are FLOORS AND FLOORS of baddies, so stealth is even to be recommended. In any case, skip as much as you can (even an invis person with no Recall Friend can still scout and tell you what can be skipped).
Anyway… the new feature? Yeah… well…
They changed things so you have to escort the two hostages TO THE FRONT DOOR.
Past all the guys you skipped. Yeah.
In our case, what worked was giving Epitaph some Luck Inspirations, hulking him up with buffs and shields, flipping on his Negative Energy Resistance powers, and just making an end-run for the exit, hostage in tow. He got smacked pretty hard, but he made it both times – hostages dont’ LIKE to run screaming past (or through) mobs of baddies, but if you stay close to them, they’ll stick it out. Your mileage may vary.
* Conclusion: I like this TF. I respect this TF. The missions are varied with lots of different ways to beat them, they use lots of different maps, and the mix of three factions keeps things from getting boring.
Compare that to the often-praised Synapse TF, with 17 missions that are almost 100% defeat-all, with nothing but clockwork, usually in warehouses. Yawwwwwwn. If it weren’t for Babbage and the Clockwork King… meh.
And, below the cut, a spoiler-riffic checklist of the tasks in the Task Force

Continue reading “Positron TF Thoughts”

More Cavern of Transcendance Smackdown: Sign up

Short version:
Lee (War Bones, Invul/Mace Tank, Freedom Phalanx — formerly Hushman/Cap’n Carnage/etc) has the Cavern of Transcendance Trial and wants to run it. Forum’s down, so I’m posting it here:
I cannot recommend this enough: with the people that we already have in this thing, we have the tools and player-skill necessary to own this thing, so what you’re signing up for is two hours of fun. I learned literally every good (and bad πŸ™‚ trick I know about tanking from Lee, and he’s also a funny bastard… I’m glad he’s back in the game.
When: Weeknight. I want to be aggressive and say “Monday Night, 8pm EDT, 6pm CDT.” If that doesn’t work, then Tuesday, same time.
1. War Bones, Invul Tank (I get to point and laugh at all the fire damage he’s taking! woo!)
2. Epitaph, Peacebringer Blapper
3. Intuition, Illusion/Kinetics Controller (Int has Superior Invis and Recall Friend, the one-two punch that will pwn this Trial.)
4. Either Fencing Muse (scrapper) or Midnite Tempest (dark/kin defender), depending on what we need.
Sign up in the comments, folks. (And lemme know if Monday or Tuesday works better.)
NOW! DO IT! πŸ™‚

CoH — the week’s update

As noted on RandomWiki | CityOfHeroes, in the last seven days…
Hyperthermian hit 44 during (as predicted), the first Shadow Shard TF (which I’ve done up an updated checklist for). This *would* have wrapped up on Thursday, except for Kin-player’s unexpected convalescence, so we took time time on Thursday night to work on the Unveiler badge (defeat 100 Fake Nemesis bots — we’re about 75% done) and finished up a key RP scene with them on Friday night that’s been languishing for nigh on a month. All in all, lots fun stuff there. Time to get them back on their contacts and see what we do there… we owe Malcalypse a trip to visit Bobcat.
Strategist is still in Croatoa, mostly, barring a few trips to help folks out in other parts of the city. Finished up a scene with him last night that’s been… REALLY hard to write, and we got it going a direction that worked a lot better for me.
Lightborne Epitaph dinged 13, 14, 15, and 16. The first two dings came from just doing groups with people in his SG (Phoenix Guard) and regular ol’ missions… 15 and 16 came during the Positron TF that we ran with a good-sized group on Saturday night and Sunday morning, about which I’ve more to share in another post. Picked up the “Resist Energy & Negative Energy” shield at 14, which ended up being EXTREMELY helpful fighting the Clockwork and Circle of Thorns throughout the Task Force. Level 16 was boring old Health, but to make up for it, 18 will be Incandescent Strike (a melee-range, omg-the-damage! hit that’s also a HOLD! Woo!). I’m enjoying both the gameplay of this character, and the plot stuff going on with him. Much fun. Only downside is I’m constantly forgetting his ‘actual’ Hero name, so I’ve just taken to calling him John. Anyway.
Shade Dancer dinged 13. Fun to RP, somewhat frustrating AT. Looking forward to running Positron with Her/Him, with a cool group — would be a whole lot of fun.
And that’s it: two TF completions, five level dings, and two important scenes completed, with some cool stuff coming on the RP horizon for a number of charactes. Really cool week.
Kaylee likes the Peacebringer sounds — she doesn’t like the Warshade sounds.

Planner Hacking

Hacked the CoH Planner Kheldian data file and got the resistances for all the human shields and dwarf form defenses correct. Seems to be working, and it’s giving me much more accurate numbers. Lemme know if you want it.
Tried to fix the fugged-up way the FF Defender shields (don’t) display the defensive numbers in the planner — no joy in mudville.

Huh. What Devouring Earth “eminators” do…

From the CoH Forums:
[blockquote]Quartz crystals give a +to Hit (which is technically different than +ACC from enhancements) of around 300%. The Fungi make them resistant to statuses, the Cairns raise their damage resistance, and the Trees of Life regen their hit points.[/blockquote]
And there you have it.

CoH Ping

I’m assuming that The Big Secret Fun Phalanx Leadership Thing is not going to happen today/tonight, since the forums are down and there’s no way to coordinate it?
Postpone to next Monday?
Anyone know?

CoH: The Weekend in Tights

I know, you guys want some Actual Play reports from my face to face games…
Well, we’ve got a three-week old, and one of the players in our regular Friday night game has Friday night classes til, like… Thanksgiving or some damn thing — CoH is pretty much all the roleplay gaming that we can manage right now.
Aside from Hype and Syn Task Force Ownage, what else was going on?
– Strat got to 30 last week, and he and Partner X have been running Croatoa. Love the zone — definitely ranks up there with Striga (though Striga suits Strat a bit better :). The place makes good use of the new powersets and mission types, also — sonic witch bosses are TeH Suck, and escorting an Archery Defender out of a mission yesterday got Strat a 75-shot bow and arrow Temp Power, which is just PERFECT for him, and for pulling mobs.
((Ironically, I’d already been joking about how I should drop a building on Strat, hospitalize him for awhile and break him really badly so I’d have to reroll him as an Trick Arrow/Archery Defender. So… tempting. If Strat wasn’t working a lot with another character I’d then have to catch up to, I think I’d have already done it — as it stands, between that and the fact I already have Centreshot to play with, I probably won’t.))
Still, he looks pretty cool with the bow.
Also, had a pretty good scene with Strat this weekend — he’ll be visiting the opera soon — catch one of the showings of Elena. Should be fun to write.
– Didn’t get any Shade Dancer time this weekend. Maybe Tuesday. Tri-form is a bit of a slog to deal with, but it’s worth it for The Funny, alone.
Epitaph joined the Phoenix Guard this weekend (finally, we’ve played merry hell trying to set up the interview), and between that and Sunday (teamed up with Geo and Spark to ding 10 and Midnite Tempest to ding 11) I got a lot of good playtime on him and (most importantly) got a lot better sense of his character. Gameplay-wise I really like the human-form-only Peacebringer build, especially when there’s a defender or two around to push my Resistances up and let me play at mini-tanking — the mix of ranged blasts, melee smackdown, and decent defense means I’ve got something to do regardless of what mood I’m in. There aren’t many level-ups in the foreseeable future that I’m *not* looking forward to for one reason or another.
Notable moment: actually had a moment of regret not being able to keep playing Epitaph later into last evening when we first switched over to Hype and Syn.
– No time on Centershot and his pair-up with Timbre — maybe soon.
– Played around with Gilly a bit, just testing the new build. Soloing with her is dog-slow at the level she’s at and won’t change until the mid-20’s — and there’s isn’t anything going on with the lowbie alts that I wouldn’t rather be playing someone else most of the time — I’d probably delete her if it she weren’t such a hoot to roleplay.
– … and Hangtime is still 50. πŸ™‚

CoH: The Task Force Twins, coming soon to a dimension near you.

Lesse, since last update on the Wiki…
Hype and Syn have dinged 42 and 43. 43 came about four missions into running the first Shadow Shard Task Force: Explorers and Exploiters. We’re basically doing it duo — Kin and Shock are hopping online when we need 3 or 4 people for the simul-click missions (and so they can get the Badge — they’ve both already DONE the TF back before the Badge was awarded, and they wants it, precious). Like the Positron TF, the thing runs you all over the place (both in the Shard and Paragon City), puts you up against three different faction groups, has no AV at the end, and is Gawd. Awful. Long. Posi’s about 16 missions? E&E is 24. The Third Shadow Shard TF is 33. Oy.
Anyway, there’s crap out there for a decent E&E TF Guide, so I built a Shadow Shard TaskForce 1 Checklist myself. I used this when HT ran it, and I’m updating this time through with notes on where the simul-click missions are, and how many people you need for each, because we waited around all day Sunday to get four people online only to find out that the mission only needed three folks. (The same stupid mistake I made LAST time. πŸ˜› )
We’ve been running the thing with our mission slider set to Rugged, but it was getting boring, so we set it back up to Invincible last night and knocked out a few more missions. Everything’s been running smoothly, and the only (2) hospital trips (we don’t carry Awakens) came from Gravity Geyser jumps gone horribly awry.
We dinged about 3 or 4 missions in… we’re 15 missions through now, out of 24, and we’re halfway to 44 — chances are very good we’ll hit during the TF. Something tells me our ‘regular’ contacts are going to be pissed at us when we get back home. (“You’ve been hanging out with that whore Quarterfield in the Shard, haven’t you? HAVEN’T YOU?!?”)
That part actually kinda sucks — I like the 40-45 contacts a lot — cool story arcs, and we’re going to be struggling to finish any of them up before we’re once again too high for their missions. The annoying thing THERE is that we’ll still be GETTING their missions, but they’ll be maxed out at the level 45 ceiling (47, with the dial turned up) and thus kinda boring and easy. This is the same problem we’ve had at 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 — leveling too fast for the content, even when we split up the contacts between the two of us.
Was really hoping to get the “Hyperthermian, Destroyer of Worlds” mission — never got it on HT — dunno if I will now.
Maybe we should turn the TF dial back down to ‘yawn’, just to get less XP?

CoH: Planner Update

Joe Chott’s got his numbers updated in Hero Planner, as well as adding the new Archetypes. A few notes:
* FF numbers are still the old numbers. Maxed out Defender’s DB is 22% Def with white SO’s. Little Bubbles max def is 33%. Controllers get 80% of that effectiveness.
* Invul tankers with +1 SO’s can hit the Smash/Lethal resistance cap by simply six-slotting Temp Invul and Unyeilding with Resistance. Since I (a) have some endurance ‘issues’ at the moment (b), have Resist Physical Damage bought and 3-slotted and (c) used her free-spec already, this means I can slot Endurance Cost Reduction in those two toggles and still hit the cap. I’d probably just do one EndRdx in each, since anything more than that in Unyeilding makes my non-S/L resistances suck even more. I predict that minor change will give Gilly a lot more longevity, even pre-Stamina. Cool.

Weekend(s) in review

So, since updating the wiki page last, let’s see:
Hyperthermian’s dinged 39, 40, and 41… and run the Eden Trial twice… and gotten Omega Level Security clearance (which is cool, since HT never got that story arc).
Strategist dinged 30 and got a new set of clothes that includes a FULLY EXPOSED FACE (*gasp*). Spending a lot of time on Banished Pantheon stuff and Croatoa, so lots of ‘magic’ type storyarcs. I’m enjoying him a lot more in i5 than I thought I would.
Shade Dancer dinged up to 12 in order to take part in a Positron TF that never materialized. Did a bit of random hunting with her/him with varying degrees of success — messed around in other people’s missions — really need to just get some solo mission time to see how the new build is working.
Deleted Lightborne, created Epitaph as a Peacebringer and got him back to about the same level. Very much enjoying this all-human build and I feel like I’ve got a lot to look forward to with the character and the AT.
Created Centreshot (it’s a type of bow) Trick Arrow/Archery Defender. Love this set. LOVE it. Very enjoyable. Very much a ‘best defense is a good offense’ kind of AT. Fun fun fun. He’s paired up with Jackie’s new Sonic Defender “Timbre” — we’re the ‘r and e are switched’ team!
Recreated Pummelcite (Stone Tanker) on (I think) Liberty to go with with Jackie’s Earth/Empathy Controller “Sphene” (it’s a rare titanium-based gemstone). Had a lot of fun with them — the Stone Armor set is a very very weird mix of Active Defenses and Passive Resistances.
HT is still level 50… and suffering amnesia at the moment. πŸ™‚
And that’s the last two weeks or so.

CoH: I5: Gilly — the freedom of tight constraints

So, when reworking Gilly, there were a couple ‘rules’ regarding the character that I had to adhere to:
1. If it isn’t a punch, I can’t have. Gilly has magic gloves — no uber foot stomps, no jump kicks.
2. Gilly’s happy: no Rage.
3. Gilly is the Gilly Jumping Bean. As much as Air Superiority might be nice, Gilly Jumps, and I don’t have slots for another pool.
4. Gilly loves to taunt. Taunt cannot be put off to level 22 or whatever, just so I can get Stamina faster.
Here’s how I’ll probably respec Gilly (note: she’s currently level 18):

Continue reading “CoH: I5: Gilly — the freedom of tight constraints”

CoH: i5: Hype

A few jot-thoughts from running Hype last night:
1. No resistance changes — my best numbers without Tough (not counting Fire) are around 65% — with 4 slots in Tough, which I already had, I’m at the Resistance Cap on Smash/Lethal. Density Increase from Syn caps my Energy Resistance. Negative at 65%. Cold and Toxic ~20%. No psi resistance. Nothing to see here, move along.
2. Saw some issues when (purposely, as a test) taking on large groups of mobs. ~10 guys or so, I started to see a guy or two who just wanted to straggle back and who wandered off easily. That was annoying, but not untenable — more work for me, but it just means I have to actually pay attention a little more.
3. Burn: (certainly my ‘big gun’ for a long time, before Syn got Fulcrum Shift). Base Burn damage was cut by 25%. Recharge rate increased to 450%. AND any mobs in it (except for Rikti drones and the little Nem bots) try to run the instant you drop it. This is a little annoying.
Between the initial drop in damage, the two damage SO’s I had to drop to put in Recharge SO’s, and the fact that the thing is still about twice as slow to recharge as it was, the damage output from the power dropped to about 26% of i4 numbers.
And honestly? That would have been almost fair… it was overpowered… except the fear effect makes the whole thing more difficult to manage by a factor of about 100. I cannot FATHOM how any Fire/* tank other than */Ice, with Ice Patch, could even use the thing anymore.
4. PBAoE’s. I kinda do a lot of em. Never thought about it before, but I do: As PBAoE Melee attacks, they SHOULD all be hitting 10 targets.
Except I’m not sure that’s true. Ice Patch APPEARS to only be making 5 guys fall down at once. If true, that’s pretty annoying, as one of the best defenses Hype has is keeping guys from attacking, controller-style, and I can’t think why it wouldn’t be rated as a PBAoE. I’m half-tempted to get the PBAoE sleep power that no one ever gets, just to take a bunch of guys out of the fight, but Blazing Aura (PBAoE Fire DoT) will just wake them back up, so there’s no point, I think. Hmm. (I wanna be a 10-target Contranker, dammit!)
5. Weave sucks. Six-slotted weave dropped from 42% defense to 6.8%. Utter crap. Utter. Crap.
6. They’re spreading out the groups of mobs more. We did a couple Nem missions and didn’t see any “Class of ’05” clumps you normally see. I’d like to get a six-person team into a Nem mission to see what the group sizes are. They’re easily one of the ‘big groups, tight clumps’ types of baddies.
All of these issues are kind of minor in the big picture: Syn and Hype ran six missions last night: Council, CoT, Crey, two Nemesis, and Carnies. We’re still on Invincible. ((Which they say shouldn’t even be entirely possible for a duo in i5. Whatever.))
The Council and CoT were Heroic, because we forgot to reset our dial. I noticed the CoT Earth guys aren’t stacking Quicksand anymore. That’s cool.
The Crey, Nem missions, and Carnies were all done on Invincible with no real problems: the second Nem mission caused the typical AoE problems for Syn one time and the Purple Fake Nem had no problem hitting her with his staff twice (OW!) while I was distracted.
The Dark Ring Mistress in the Carnie mission almost got Hype before I remembered to use a bunch of Lucks, but that isn’t i5.
We had to work a little harder on the purples — but everything still died. At level 40, we got close to three bars of xp with 2 heroic and 4 Invincible missions.

More examples of why I love playing Hype :)

Pretty normal weekend. Mom-in-Law was in town, so Jackie and I had lots of ‘free’ time. M-i-L fooishly thought this would mean us going out to a movie or something, but there was nothing much out that we both wanted to see, so… CoH!
Hype and Syn, if I remember right, and some time on the kheldians.
Saturday, deleted Lightborne and rerolled him as Epitaph — same background, same basic build (but taken in an order more accurate to the background, etc.)… put in his application with the Guard.
Saturday afternoon, Hype and Syn participated in the CoJ “Cavern of Transcendance” Trial, which has been nicknamed the Cavern of Pain for some very good reasons that… just didn’t seem to apply here.
As Syn-player said, “This is not the trial I ran with [my other character]. This was fun!”
And it was. We smoked that thing in record time. No deaths. Hype got to mess around and fight some of the baddies while standing down in the lava (a trick I first pulled with Archon Burkholder in the Hess TF), and Dave’s group-friendly build of Honey was a total godsend.
Sunday consisted of a really late start with Hype and Syn, since the morning was an interminably-slow-starting run on the Fortune Teller mission with Epitaph (already level 7) and a bunch of folks, OOC. The TF Twins picked up Omega Level clearance from the Vice-President (revealing to us one of the Really Cool Secrets of The Game) and tore most of the way through the “Terra” Devouring Earth arc, then we pulled together a ‘Dream Team’ to run the Eden Trial, recounted here.
I’d done this trial with HT; it was fun at the time, but mah boy died like… 8 times? Nasty, nasty trial.
This time?
Flawless. Fast. Fun. No deaths. Just… awesome. Hype and Syn also dinged 40 in the process.
So, this weekend: Cavern and Eden Trials — both cakewalks.
Might have something to do with folks we play with, I think.

coh Stuff

Few quick updates:
Shade Dancer: Level 10 and fun as heck to play.
Lightborne: Level 8, a semi-solid background, but no chance to RP with him yet, so no personality yet — generally no more or less playable than any other AT — haven’t found him more or less survivable than a blaster once I’m in melee, though I can see that possibly changing.
Hype and Syn: Still 38th, so doing the Eden Trial this weekend seems iffy, unless it’s maybe Sunday, specially if the hurricane in Florida doubles back from the gulf.
Statesman said at GenCon that I5 would roll this week, but he was then sent to the doc for an illness, so that seems to have delayed things.
Unless they do what they did with the last big release Issue 3 and drop it to the servers Friday afternoon.

CoH: Eden Trial

I’m not putting this up on the forums, because I’ve no intention at all of making this a free-for-all, first come, first served kind of arrangement because, frankly, the Eden Trial is a stone cold nightmare and I want to pick and choose the team. Most of the team reads this site, so…
Here’s what I’m thinking.

Continue reading “CoH: Eden Trial”

Week in review

As noted here, managed to mess around with CoH a bit over the last week, despite rampant having-a-babyness. Notably:
Got the background written up amnesiac kheldian “Lightborne” (not to be confused, please, with Jackie’s “Lightborn” :P), and the delusional Joan-of-Arc-like kurdish zealot “Shade Dancer”. I sort of need a respec for Shade Dancer already, but both of the kheldians are fun to play, regardless. I’ve yet to take an ‘alien’ form on either of them.
Got a few hours in, here and there, with Hype and Syn. I’ve a free respec on Hype that I’d like to use-it-or-lose-it before we get the OTHER one with Issue Five, but frankly I don’t feel like there’s anything I want to change with him that badly.
Got HT on for an hour or so last night to play with the magical memory-blanking plot that’s going on with him while Scorpia is ICly MIA — took the opportunity to group with the Consortium folks and pick up the Negotiator badge while talking about how tough Clockwork and Skulls were on the SG channel. Much fun.
Got Hangbot into the Storm Knights — something else I’ll be able to use for some fun foreshadowing this week.

Highest Compliments

Something I should have mentioned before, which just occurred to me.
Hype and Syn dinged 37 sometime early Friday evening and, as we’d already planned to get the Numina Task Force done during the weekend, figured ‘what the heck’ and set about seeing if we could get a group together.
This turned out to work really well — the range of the TF was level 35-38, Zepher-Storm was (a) interested and (b) level 38, and we got three ‘fifties’ who were willing to come and play with us auto-gimped down to 38 for the duration: Shock, Kinetica, and Malcalypse.
Now… I was expecting things to go well — in my estimation, Zepher, Kin, Mal, and Shock represent four of the best players I’ve ever played with when it comes to doing what those character’s do ((I mean… Kinetica is an Energy blaster who knocks mobs ONTO my ice/burn patches.)) — I and Syn-player have played with all of them a LOT as Hang Time, and I thought I knew what to expect.
Honestly? I entirely underestimated them, because I’d never seen them from the Tanker angle.
Best TF team I’ve been on — possibly the best team Hype & Syn have been on, period. As I said, everyone was playing what I think of as the character they are ‘best’ at, and I’m including myself and Syn’s player in there — I gravitate to tank-mode even playing HT and Strat… and Syn’s abilities suit that player right. down. to. the. ground.
You know those nasty first couple missions they throw at you to discourage people from just doing the TF on a lark? Yeah, we blew through those things — Syn and Hype were a level lower than everyone else in the group, and thus all the baddies were a bit harder, but since we usually run with the difficulty dial set to Invincible anyway, it just didn’t matter.
The big bad guy at the end? The one that uses a club made from a tree and Cadillac? Yeah…
Cakewalk. Hell, we help him frozen for part of the (very short) fight.
There was some nastiness during the TF due to a bug with the ambush-code that sends ambushes aimed at the highest level character in the group BEFORE exemps are considered (and thus we were getting level-50 ambushes when everyone was gimped to 38), and Zepher was ‘gimped’ from 38 to 38 and getting no xp (known bug), but all in all, it was great.
But that wasn’t the best part.
See, the Numina TF sort of has a sequel. It’s called the Eden Trial. Trials are a bit different from Task Forces in that they are (a) timed (b) nasty as HELL. The Eden Trial, specifically, nearly requires that you have a tank who can handle MASSIVE aggro from MASSIVE groups, and that the group has the ability to take out very large groups of bad guys, very fast.
The Issue Five downgrade upgrade is coming out soon, and a lot of the stuff coming out with it is going to make the already-damn-hard Eden trial… really friggin’ difficult. This has created a sort of Gold Rush mentality surrounding this Trial — “Get it done before it can’t BE done.”
Hype and Syn aren’t going to be high enough level to run the Trial until after Issue Five is out… for sure.
I don’t care. I want to run that damn thing in Issue Five — Frankly, just to prove that it can still be done and show folks they were wrong.
I mentioned this during the TF once and two of the fifties said “yeah, we should do that — I don’t have that badge yet.” Cool.
Still not the best part.
We got done with the TF — went back to Numina, took the team photo…
One of the players said “Listen, when you two (Hype and Syn) are ready to do the Trial, call me. I want to do it with you.”
Another player chimed in with a strong affirmative: “I would very much like to do with with the both of you.”
Hype and Syn have grown up a bit in a vacuum — grown up quickly for all that, but in general, we play a duo and we don’t need anyone else — we kick much ass and take many names and, unless it comes down to a task force that requires a minimum number of people, we don’t group… a lot.
Some, but not alot. We’ve leveled up fast, though, and as a result, we’re getting to a point where the Task Force Twins can start hanging out with the “main” characters of the people we know.
Those folks for whom I hold very high regard as players ran a task force with us — largely for the first time — and when they were done they looked at this ball-buster of a trial and said “I’d like to do that, with you two.”
Translation: You’re good. Please look us up in the future.
“It’s a pleasure working with professionals.”
I love those two characters. Love the story they have going on, and love playing them. Most of all , I love knowing we’re playing them well — hearing it from people who know what they’re talking about.
Really really felt like we’d ‘arrived’, right at that moment.
Still smiling about it.

Weekend summary

As noted here, dinged Hype/Syn to 37 and 38 this week, and picked up Greater Ice Sword on Hype, because I just didn’t feel like getting Weave.
Jackie, left to her own devices, has been teaming up with a bunch of the other recent 50’s and has gotten her new Peacebringer up to 10th, working with them.
Someone more impressive, she started a new Warshade yesterday who, as of yesterday, was level 8. Yowza.
Meanwhile, my squid-in-a-fleshbag languishes in the interests of the characters I know a lot better. πŸ™‚
We check into the hospital tonight, The plot that will beautifully take HT and Scorpia out of the public eye during this tumultuous time should be advancing this evening and tomorrow, cuz we’re so darn prepared.
To all the game folks — I’ll see you when things normalize a bit.

I5: Stealth

I5 Stealth Discussion
Look, it’s right in the description of the change:

Basic Stealth Powers (Pools, temp powers, and Powers not in a Defense set like Blaster Cloaking Device, Controller Illusion Invisibilities):
If you Attack, or are Hit – Critters see you. You loose half your defense buff (and your PvP stealth) for 10 seconds. Your translucency is reduced to indicate this change.
If you Attack, or are Hit – All enemies will see you. You loose half your defense buff. Your translucency is reduced to indicate this change.
Primary Stealth Powers (Those in a defense set like Dark Armor/Cloak of Darkness, Dark Miasma/Shadow Fall, Storm Summoning/Steamy Mist, Warshade/Shadow Cloak)
If you Attack, or are Hit – Critters see you. (You loose your PvP stealth for 10 seconds). Your translucency is reduced to indicate this change. No Defense is Suppressed

Yeah, so… I wasn’t wrong.
Also, note that Group Invis from the Controller group (And bestow Invis from the Stealth group). ALSO drop all ‘aggro reduction’ ability as soon as you attack, AND the defense from the cuts by half.
Suck. Suck. Suck.
And hey… even with Invis… all you need is one guy with Perception — ONE GUY — to see you and hit you, and the Invis drops for EVERYONE in range.
Guess they don’t want anyone stealthing missions at all.
Stealthy heroes don’t fit the profile?
What crap. Crap put into play to control its use in PvP, which I don’t even do.
What is the point of having defense from a power if that defense is going to only work when no one is firing at you? Or ceases to work the moment you are fired upon or attack?
Sorry, but that’s just stupid.

I5 changes: MA/SR

Had a chance to mess around a bit on Test with my entirely non-optimal MA/SR build (Strat). A few quick thoughts:
– Damage on the attacks seems to be about 112 to 114% of Live.
– Generally I’m running down through endurance more slowly.
– I kept stealth running throughout just for the hell of it — didn’t seem to do much of anything, not even between fights for reducing aggro range.
– XP totals per defeat seem up to about 124% of Live’s numbers on minions and 135% on Lts.
The big question: increased or decreased survivability.
I was fighting white and yellow Banished Pantheon and, as a general rule had no more or less problems with survivability with the groups I was dealing with. I DID notice more incoming damage when the Death Shamans started to raise more minions — since my defenses are down with i5 and the minions accuracy (already the lowest) didn’t change, loading in a lot of minions increased my incoming hits noticeably — still won, but I was more beat up.
End result: totally playable — it’s possible I’d have never really noticed any changes they hadn’t been pointed out, simply altered play-style unconsciously. I *am* a bit miffed about essentially a ‘wasted’ power (Stealth) required to get Strat’s “sneaky-mode” (invis) — that power’s pretty much pointless now (and getting bestow invis instead makes no sense at all). Ahh well: price of an RP build.

Seven Super(s) Days

As noted elsewhere, HT and Shock both dinged 50 this week, so that was really the big news. Lots of 50-dings this week, actually, kick-started by Kin’s the week previous: HT, Liberty Bill, Shock, Malcalypse… a couple others. Pretty crazy. Expect a glut of kheldian applicants to the Alliance.
[[deleting snarky ‘despite better judgement’ comment]]
In other news:
1. Hype and Syn dinged 36.
2. Created a couple Kheldians, one of which (the warshade) I’m sort of already suspecting I might have screwed up, but if there’s a free respec coming out with i5, I’ll keep leveling her up as is and just fix things then (reduce reliance on human-form powers, so I can open up massive slotting on the squid form, whereas the Peacebringer may be pure human, all the way).
3. I’ve finally ported a few characters over to the Test server to take a look at I5, since there will be a lot of respeccing for some of my characters. Thus far, I’ve made copies of Strategist, Gilly, Hype, and HT. Reports and musing on that in the near future.
4. I don’t have enough time to play all the characters I want to play.

Hang Dings 50

Click to embiggen.
873 hours on HT. Considering I started right around New Years, that works out to around 30 hours a week. Roughly. Not quite a second full-time job.
(Until you consider that he’s one of three ‘mains’ that have gotten a lot of attention, and that besides those three my list of alts ALSO includes a level 21 controller (deleted now — I said I’d do it and I wasn’t kidding), and a level 18 tank and level 16 defender. I should probably add up everyone’s net time so I can be accurately shamed.)

Dings in Review

As noted, here, since the last update to the Wiki records on the 19th, Hype’s dinged 33, 34, and 35. In the process, Hype and Syn ran the Manticore Task Force on Friday with Psi-Clone (***Dave), Amorpha (Margie), Puck Bunny (Stan), and three other people I’ll categorize as “a mistake to include,” to greater or lesser degrees.
Saturday was just random missions and a really nice team-up at the end of the night.
3 levels in 7 days sounds pretty impressive, until I mention that Shock dinged 47 and 48 in that period of time, so go her.
I think Jackie and I are both trying to get our mains (and I use that term in air-quotes in my case) to 50 before d-day. Jackie might: she’s got 18 bubbles to go. I probably won’t, with 24 left and Jury Duty looming tomorrow.
Very frustrating day on Sunday, with lots of debt and lots bleah, playing HT. Whatever. I’ve run into another 40-45 level contact that still wants to give me missions, which is frustrating as hell since I can’t get the missions I want at MY level and I’m stuck in a bunch of time-wasting things with nothing but blue and white cons (assuming I crank the difficulty up, which then makes the ambushes deadly). Anyway.

Forces of Nature

In the process of (a) doing ALMOST all of the Shadow Shard Task Force (b) working through the end of HT’s level 40-45 contacts with both Alliance and pick-up teams which (c) led to a truckload of Arch-Villain battles, HT dinged 46 last week and 47 last night. (I’ve been playing HT a lot, cuz I kinda want to ding 50 before the bebe comes so I can combine my tank/scrapper/blaster love into one handy Kheldian.
47 is a HUGE level, as it is bestows the second-to the-last power HT will ever get (more in a sec), and the ability to slot level 50 enhancements… in other words, the last shopping trip he will ever have to make.
Also, thought I would mention the power I picked up — the pinnacle of the Energy Mastery Epic Power Pool — Force of Nature.
What’s it do? Well, have you ever fought Paragon Protectors? Heh. HT picked up a few things while working with them in the last couple levels, I guess.
You’re nigh-Unhittable. If you GET hit, you take almost no damage (1’s and 2’s). You hit HARDER, and your endurance is essentially under the effect of Recovery Aura. I mean, you can open with Nova, and just keep fighting like nothing happened.
Three minutes. For three minutes, you’re an unstoppable godling — then your Endurance Bar crashes and you have to bang on those blue tabs and heals and shields like crazy, or hope that the fight’s over.
The power takes about ten minutes to come back.
But yeah… to Dave’s comment recently… Hang Time finally is an unstopable Force of Nature. Even got the power to prove it. They should call the thing “God Mode.”
In other news, Strat’s 29. I’m not in a big hurry to level him, though, as he and his partner will be the designated explorers of Croatoa when it comes out, so there’s REALLY no rush there.
Hype and Syn dinged 32 since the last time I posted. Syn did a major respec and dropped a few powers — swapped Boxing in for Kick so she’d stop knocking guys off my burn patch, dropped Siphon Power for the End-sapping, End-gifting Transferral, and picked up the Penultimate kinetics power, Fulcrum Shift — which, combined with the pack of guys clustered around Hype at all times… is just sick.
Hype picked up Tough and with a slot or two he’ll have Smashing and Lethal capped even without Syn around. Cool. I think I know all the powers he’ll get from now to fifty. Looking very cool.
I love playing those two — they’re Unstoppable… +6 bosses… no problem. Piece of cake. Seriously.
Carnie Illusionists… maybe the only thing in the game that might give them pause. Maybe.
Un. Stoppable.

So damn close

A few weeks month or so ago, on the CoH forums that I frequent, I wrote:

So here’s what I’m thinking:
1. Shadow Shard Task Force (level 40-44 — the really long, 24-mission one)
2. Playing: Weeknights on nights when people can make it.
3. Running: Whatever length of time people can manage, then stop for the night and switch to whatever else you want to do til we can go again (RP, play an alt. whatever.)
4. Repeat until done.
This is a TF run for those weeknight warriors that can’t commit their whole Saturday and Sunday for one never ending event, and who tend to have an easier time playing on weeknights.

Note: This wasn’t a TF for *me*: *I* can play TF’s on the weekends, and commit a day to it. With a TF like this (24 missions, 9+ hours to play) that’s exactly what I *would* have done.
So why didn’t I?
Cuz I thought it would be cool to play a story arc with some people who are (a) cool (b) not around all the time when I am.
It took some time to get started, but finally:

Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:58 pm
The Task Force got rolling last night.

We’ve been playing a couple hours every night on this — usually going later than we intended (and utterly nuking my attempts at a midnight bedtime). It’s a pain… it’s a hassle, and you can’t DO ANYTHING ELSE WITH THAT CHARACTER while it’s going on — no other heroics… nothing.
But… finally…

Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:52 am
Final mission is (hopefully, please oh please) tonight (Wednesday). As soon as we have everyone (eight), we’ll go, and hopefully be started and done at a reasonable time.
Final location is scenic Brickstown.

Except… early this morning, the devs implemented a patch to how Task Forces work, so that as long as you’re at LEAST the minimum level to be in a Task Force, you will be automatically “Exemplared” down to the maximum allowable level for the thing if you’re already “too high”. It’s a great thing that lots of folks, including me, have been looking forward to.
Except… what happens if you’re IN an ONGOING task force when the patch goes in?
Why… obviously… everyone in the eight person team… who have completed 23 of the 24 missions in the story arc… will be “Exemplared” down to level 1.
A team of 8 characters in their mid-40’s… forced down to level 1 functionality.
And the tech support guys? They’re asking us what CPU speed our machines are running at.
It’s clear (to me) that the conclusion is going to be “you just need to quit the task force and start over”, and… no.
Bummed. Beyond. My. Ability. To. Bitch.

Weekend in review

No FtF game Friday night — we did a little work on the ‘play on the weeknights until it gets done’, TWENTY-FOUR MISSION, Shadow Shard Task Force that HT and Scorp are in. I think we’re about 15 missions in… so maybe we’ll wrap up this week… I hope. Seems like 2.2 missions a night isn’t impossible.
Saturday, game-wise, was a fiasco — didn’t get a blessed thing done, really… though there was a pretty darn good RP thing.
Sunday, got some quality time in with Strategist and … his partner, who shall remain nameless. That… was really cool. Followed that up with Hype and Syn finishing up THREE 25-30 story arcs (Ubelmann, Freaklympics, and General Z), dinging 31, picking the four contacts we’re going to actually use from 31 to 35 (two each, since we pair up all the time it’s all we can get done in four levels and still cover all the factions), getting missions from them and the level 30 Mutant SO Contact (who is SO CUTE!)…
… and wrapping up by getting Syn the Nemesis Staff. πŸ™‚ Fun night.

Weekend in review

No game on Friday, which … well, there wasn’t one scheduled — I just thought there was. Syn and Hype worked through some of their story arcs and, in the process, dinged 29 (meaning Hype passed Strategist as my second-highest-level character), got the Celebrity badge, got the Tank Buster badge, and picked up all the explorer badges in Terra Volta.
Saturday, ran through the Hess and Citadel task forces with Hyperthermian and Synoptic. The Hess one I’d never done before, so that was very cool — like all the Striga content, it’s a step above the older material in the game… very much recommended.
((The coolest (okay, hottest) part, for me, was the big fight at the end, where Hype ended up fighting the master villain while standing in a pool of lava — ultimately, it’s what saved the day, because he was taking SO MUCH damage from the lava, and I (fire tanker) was taking essentially none — it kept us in the fight and pulled a victory out of what was very nearly a TPK.))
Bastion/Citadel I’d done before as HT with a pickup group, and it was much as I remembered it — lots of council on a lot of council maps that you’ve already need a LOT, and not a lot of stuff to otherwise recommend it.
In the process of all this, Hype and Syn dinged 30, so after the 10 to 12 hours of task forces, we went and did the level 30 Costume Mission as well as the mission that lets you add auras to the costumes, then fscked around in Icon for an hour or more. At least.
Sunday, no gaming at all (for me, at least), until quite late in the evening, most of which revolved around HT’s current Crey plot and getting ready for the massive Task Force we’re undertaking with a pack of the 40-somethings.
Monday was a mish-mash of stuff — more HT-plotty stuff, some time with Hype and Syn, trying to clean up some storyarcs before dinging 31.
Looking back, the stretch of levels from 25 to 30 has just flown by — we’ve been focusing on making sure that Hype and Syn do ALL the task forces during the levels in which they are offered, without having to exemp back down. That is PARTICULARLY hard in this level range, because you want to run ‘regular’ missions as well (in fact, you have to in order to get the Hess TF), and there are FOUR task forces that can be run from level 24 to 32 (Respec, Moonfire, Hess, and Citadel). That requires planning and a REAL LOVE of beating the hell out of the Council, because of those four, three of them are PURE Council.
We did it mostly by making sure that we only took missions from two of our contacts, each — Syn took over the Striga story arc contact once we both had Steph’s Ring done, I had the Mutie-contact, and then we each took one for ‘fun’ — she took Marvin Weintraub so we could keep pounding on the Freakshow, and I took the Family/Sky Raiders contact located conveniently near my other main contact — that seems to work, and it looks like we’ll finish up those four contacts with no problem before leveling up to 31. (And in the process, we’ve picked up two Storyarcs (Ubelmann and the Freaklympics) that I’ve never done and have always been interested in. Bonus.
HT’s my highest level character. He’s still my main, but I LOVE playing Hype. He’s the character I really feel like I’ve done up *right*.

Week in review

Not much going on this weekend, game-wise.
Since updating levels last week, Hype’s dinged 24, 25, and 26. One more and he ties with Strategist, whom he will no doubt pass to become my second-highest-level character.
Biggest problem with Hype and Syn is that we want to do every single Task Force and the 24-32 level range has… FOUR. One of which (Hess) you have to qualify to do by hitting all the Striga content. And each one will probably come close to dinging us… and at the same time we need to cozy up to the contact that sells Mutie enhancements, so we need to do HIS stuff, and I want to do the Freaklypics arc… gah…
So we’re basically ignoring all but two of our contacts at this point: Syn’s doing the the Striga guy and I’m doing the Mutie guy and we’re just trying not to out-level them before we get them finished up.
The problem with never rarely getting debt is that it’s hard not to miss content because you’re outleveling it. It’s REALLY hard if you try to hit all the Task Forces.
I think it would be flat-out impossible, without exemping, for any one character to do all the TF’s and storyarcs in the game until they exlusively solo’d their missions.
Also, dinged 44 with Hang Time and picked up Repulsion bubble, just cuz it’s funny and might be occassionally useful against bosses or something and I want Force of Nature for my last powah, so I had to take either that or Temp Invul, which… come on… as squishy as I am, 20% damage reduction isn’t going to do anything. Going to try to hold at 44 for a bit, cuz I’m organizing the Shadow Shard TF and I’m worried about leveling past my 40-44 contacts. I think I need to dial down to Heroic just so I get less XP from my personal missions. Hmm.
Lee always say that the 40+ game was fraught with ‘I’m all out of missions and I can’t get new contacts’, but I don’t have that problem — I’m afraid I’m going to level past someone before I finish their arcs — this has come about becuase I’m usually running other peoples stuff.
So, weirdly, I have similar problems with both Hype and Hang… trying not to outlevel the content.

Week in Review

Dinged 20 with Hype and Syn, got new costumes (dress-up stuff for both of em), and RP’d Syn’s birthday celebration. Really good stuff.
Heroquest, now up to the six or seventh session, is tooling right along and picking up momentum on it’s own. Very happy with this campaign.
Friday-night-to-Saturday Morning:
Ran the Synapse Task Force with Hype and Syn in a two-person team. Pretty much flawless success: Hype hasn’t seen the inside of a hospital since level 10, I think. It’s been awhile.
Saturday Afternoon:
Crashed from from 5 to noon, got up, got organized, and ran the Sister Psyche TF with Hype, Syn, Psi-clone, P-Siren, and Shadow.Cat. Again, success. Damn near flawless, except for a bit of bad luck GETTING to the first mission. Ugh.
Not much playing. Dusted off Rose.Red a bit. Messed around with Hang Time, doing a mission I pretty much have to do alone. Did the cape missions for Hype and Syn (though it’s unlikely we’ll ever wear any), and RP’d a bit more — some good plot stuff coming up there.
Grabbed and updated a complete Task Force List.
End result:
Since I mentioned it last week, Hyperthermian’s dinged 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and is a bubble off of 24. No one ELSE has leveled since last weekend, but that’s okay… Hype is currently having a VERY successful run and some cool RP, so it’s all good.

CoH: Herding

After some HEAVY tanking work this weekend, in which Gilly dinged 18 and Hyperthermian dinged 15, 16, 17, and 18 (YAY!), this post has some relevance to me: Guide to Herding
Lets start with the Why’s of herding.

Why do we herd? That is a good question with several different responses. The one that we will focus on in this discussion is to herd villains up into a tight and manageable group so that a team can quickly and effectively deal with a dangerous situation. A responsible tanker herds to ensure his teams safety during a potentially debt ridden encounter, not to just expedite the completion of a mission. Please remember that the bottom line for a tanker is the safety of your group. So the “why do we herd” reasonably needs to be answered with something along the lines of “helping to protect your wards”.

Rock. On.

City Of Heroes – Issue 4 is live
There is a TON of stuff happening in this release — this is the stuff I actually care about, either for myself or my friends:
* New body scaling feature allows you much more ability to customize your character?s appearance.
* Body scaling can be modified at Icon stores, along with your costume. This costs influence (rate varies depending on character?s Combat Level).
* New costume pieces have been added to give your character a wider range of choices.
* Enemies can now knock you back, instead of just knocking you down. Makes for more comic-book like gameplay.
* Defenders and Controllers will now drain more Endurance when using powers that drain Endurance. More specifically, Defenders will drain more Endurance when using Electricity Blast than a Blaster using the same power. Controllers will now drain more endurance with powers such as Transfusion, but Defenders will still drain more than Controllers.
* Defenders Secondary Effects (debuffs) should be better than a Blaster?s or a Controller?s.
* Lots of Jack Frost love for Noelle.
* Increased Gravity Control/Propel damage, to compensate for its long activation time.
* Significantly increased the Max HP of Kheldians while in Dwarf form. To make them more Tanker-like in this form.
* Increased the Damage buff of Leadership/Assault and Vengeance by 50%.
((UGH! Like the Nemesis troops with Vengeance need to suck MORE.))
* Doubled the effectiveness of the Recharge Boost of Empathy/Adrenaline boost. Improved the power to make it better than previous ones in the set.
* Modification to Perception attribute: Increased Perception will now allow you to see stealthy foes or resist powers that reduce your Perception (like Smoke Grenade). Enemies can reduce your Perception, so characters will get some resistance to such effects. Accuracy Inspirations now increase Perception.
* Leadership/Tactics now offers increased Perception and resistance to Confuse.
Enemies can now Confuse and Fear and reduce your Perception, so characters will get some resistance to such effects.
* Medicine/Stimulant now offers resistance to Fear and Confuse.
* Super Reflexes/Focused Fighting now offers resistance to Confuse.
* Super Reflexes/Focused Senses now offers increased Perception.
* Empathy/Clear Mind now offer resistance to Fear and Confuse, and grants increased Perception.
* Gravity Control/Wormhole is now an AoE (Wormhole applied a Disorient, so now Gravity Control has another AoE Control power). Recharge Time was increased to compensate. Gives Gravity Controllers another AoE control power.
* Dark Miasma/Howling Twilight now restores Full Hit Points and Endurance to those you resurrect. This power no longer accepts Heal and Recovery Enhancements (it already restores the maximum HP and END, so there is nothing to Enhance).
* Modified powers that protect you from controlling effects. They will all now generally improve over level.
* Mez Protection Powers scale more effectively over level.
* Dark Miasma/Twilight Grasp now debuff the targeted foes? Regeneration Rate.
Improvement to the power.
* Kinetics/Transfusion now debuffs the targeted foes? Regeneration Rate.
* Kinetics/Siphon Speed now also transfers attack rate (debuffs targets attack rate and buffs the casters).
* Changed rank of Devouring Earth beacons. They should be easier to destroy now. Beacons were too difficult to destroy.
* Increase Range and Decreased Interrupt times of Medicine/Aid Other and Stimulant. (Whoo!)
* Increased recharge time (less often) for Yellow Ink Men Holds and Sleeps.
So you are not perma-held by Minions. (That’s RIGHT, yah bastards!)
* Decreased Chance for DE Fungi men to put you to sleep with their Spores.
So you are not perma-held by Minions.
* Increased the recharge time (less often) for Malta Tasers and Web Grenades.
So you are not perma-held by Minions.
* Modified Knives of Artemis stealth. They got better. (WOE!)
* Increased the recharge time (less often) for Modified Knives of Artemis sleep dart. (W00t!)
* Modified Hydra Head powers. Fixed bug that allowed attacks to get through without taking out the shield generators. (Nooooooo!)
* Reduced reward for defeating a Sewer Trial Kraken — The reward was inadvertently too high for the risk involved. (BOO! πŸ™‚ )
* You can now attack targets while Superior Invisibility is on. Superior Invisibility is the only self toggle invisibility power that allows you to attack while it is active. (SWEET!)
* Super Reflexes/Quickness now also resists slow effects.
* Fixed taunt powers so they will cause fleeing villains to return, unless they are affected by a Fear power. (YES!)
* If the target of a toggle power moves out of maximum perception range, the toggle power is dropped from the target. (That’s actually cool… I’ve pulled MASSIVE aggro from an anchored target running off across town.)
* Changed Moment of Glory, Elude, and Light Form to have a Duration of 180 seconds and a base recharge time of 1000 seconds. (Good)
* Changed the effect area of the Nemesis Staff Temporary Power. Increased the recharge time of Nemesis Staff temp power. This power was bugged. It was doing Single-Target scale of damage to a large Area of Effect. (Yeah! And I *LOVED* it!)
* Blaster: Energy Manipulation: Bone Smasher (100% chance of dropping one toggle, 75% chance of dropping a second toggle 50% chance of dropping a third toggle)
* Most Defender debuffs are not resistible in PvP To give Defenders a chance against Scrappers and Tankers. (Won’t help. πŸ™ )
* 33% of damage from Blaster Primary, Secondary and Ancillary Powers cannot be resisted. To give Blasters a chance against Scrappers and Tankers.
Coalition Chat
Coalition chat can be accessed by clicking on the Coalition button in your Supergroup menu, or via slash commands.
Invites a player’s Supergroup to form a coalition. You must be the leader of your Supergroup to do this.
Also accessible by right clicking on the player.
Sends the invite to the leader of ‘s Supergroup that has been online the longest.
Your Supergroup can be in a coalition with a maximum of 10 other Supergroups.
* Global Chat: If you use the /ghide command, your name will no longer disappear from other players’ friends lists when you zone. (Yeah, that’s been a VERY weird bug in the game for awhile.)
* Added “Suppress Extra Player FX” to the Options Menu, which will disable rendering of “unimportant” player FX systems (any PBAoE or continuing FX not affecting the player or a teammate)
* If you have not damaged a villain and are farther than 300ft from where the villain is defeated by a teammate, you will receive no reward. If you did no damage yourself, and are defeated, and have been so for more than a minute, you will receive no reward. These limits do not apply when on any Mission Map. This is to make sure that party members who participated in the battles are the ones who get the rewards.
* Construction on University Campuses has begun in Steel Canyon and Founder?s Falls. This is for an upcoming game feature. (SKILLS!)
* Bastion has received a substantial upgrade to his systems, courtesy of DATA. In honor of his greatly enhanced capabilities, Paragon City’s android hero has renamed himself “Citadel.”
* Sister Psyche has been returned to her own body, thanks to the efforts of the many heroes who assisted Task Force contact Calvin Scott. Sadly, the spell that restored her also caused her to lose control over the twisted mind of her prot?g?, Malaise. He has gone rogue, but in his place stands Aurora Borealis, Sister Psyche’s former host and current prot?g?e. Sister Psyche hopes that one day Malaise’s good personality may be brought to the forefront again, and he can reclaim his place among the heroes of Paragon City.
*As for Calvin Scott, he has retired from the contact business, content that his work is complete. (The Calvin Scott Task Force is no longer available)
((And good riddance. Sincerely.))
* Trainers (NPCs who you see to Level Up) now have a lot of things to tell players about various game systems.

Evolution of the Game

I think to myself that this last week has been incredibly slow on CoH in terms of leveling up…
Then I got back to the Wiki Page and note that, between Hang Time, Strategist, and the rest I’ve still dinged five levels.
That said, the last ten days on the game have been almost ENTIRELY role-play oriented: there was, in fact, at 20-hour, three-day period where I didn’t run a single mission of any kind.
Upside: some of the best roleplay, online or offline, that I’ve ever engaged it. Wow. Just… wow. Holy intense, Batman.
One of these days, I’m going to list the pros and cons of that kind of roleplay versus face to face, and why it is I enjoy both so much, but not today… this is mostly just a random update.

Hang Time’s evolution

About a week ago, playing CoH, I had the chance to pick up a new power on Hang Time, who’s up in the mid-30’s on level now.
Well, let me back up. The way I should say this is: “since I created and started playing Strategist, the grumpy old bastard was involved in a TON of really good roleplay and stories and playing with some really great and interesting people… and fun, upbeat Hang Time was just generally ignored.”
Frustrating. Very much so — to the point where I was actually considering either retiring the character or removing him from the Super Group and just using him as a “Go. Hunt. Kill Skuls” character from then on. There wasn’t anything “going on” with him.
So anyway, I had this power to pick. What I’d been saying up to that point was that I was just going to get this passive thing that made me run a little faster. Not flashy, but very useful on missions.
I decided not to do that. Lee suggested picking up a psuedo invisibility power, due to its usefulness, and I thought of a really, to me… an interesting thing that I could do to explain it that, if it WORKED, *might* …
Okay, this is my unkind thinking about it:
… might make Hang Time deep enough for the folks I was playing with as Strategist to interact with.
These following four posts are about what happened in the next two days after that. Three of the four posts are logs of the events within the game. They are unscripted, improvisational roleplay.
They changed… everything.
And I think they’re pretty fun to read.
Hang Time runs into Barometra and finds out he’s see-though.
“I’ve never wanted to Give Up Before.”
Whiskey Kiss, part 1.
Whiskey Kiss, part 2.
There’s a lot more that’s happened since then, but that’s the core of it.

Well, *I* had a good time…

So, last week, on CoH, I was running a mission with a friend, and we were ICly discussing the Lord of the Rings — it came up because one of the rooms in the ruins we were in kinda looked like Moria… anyway.
In Character, that friend hasn’t seen basically any movies — has read the LotR books, but not seen the flicks. Hang Time is an unrepentant movie-lover, so when the discussion turned to ‘who, out of the Super Group, would you cast as the various characters in the Lord of the Rings’ — this difference of view became apparent, and Hang Time told her she had to come over to his place THE VERY NEXT DAY to watch the movies. It was very off the cuff.
Then, that character’s player and I got together and wrote up what happened. This is the result: Alliance of Champions :: Totally not a Date: Hang Time makes Scorpia watch LOTR.
While some of the jokes only make sense if you know the other members of the SG… some of them are universally funny, in my personal opinion. πŸ™‚
It was very well received by the masses. πŸ™‚

CoH Thought for the Day

Comment from Lee last night while on a mission:
“Every archetype is a support archetype.”
Hmm. This is food for thought. Discuss.

CoH Weekend update.

Everything ‘normal’ in our game calendar was either cancelled or not scheduled, due to either weather or Easter, so there was a lot of CoH going on:
* Positron TF with an alt on Friday night (since my regular game fell through) in which I got to work with Lee’s peacebringer, which I hadn’t before. ‘At-sa my kinda AT.
* Manticore TF with Hang Time on Saturday morning. Awesome group. Practically no deaths. (I pulled a bit too much aggro at one point and was back up before the fight was over, Jackie’s invis wore off in the middle of her scouting an enemy base… and the Tank got ambushed at one point with all of his toggles off — that was it in six hours of a seven person group doing nothing but red-and-purple mobs non-stop.))
* Sunday: Started out good, with a couple fun duos, including a very funny IC conversation about “Who should play who in the Freedom Phalanx version of the Lord of the Rings movie”, then it suddently turned into The Day That Fucking Sucked, basically.
The Good
* Gilly dinged both 15 and 16 during the Positron TF on Friday Night/Saturday AM.
* Hang Time dinged 34 during the Manticore TF.
* Strat hit 23 Sunday evening.
The Bad
* 17 faceplants over the course of the weekend. I have never had anything even close to that number. Honestly, I was close to my ‘personal worst’ already by about midnight on Friday.
** Seven were on Gilly’s Positron run, which over-doubled her total death count for the game thus far.
** Six were on Strategist, on Sunday, in 15 minutes. Yeah. He’d pulled a faceplant a total of four times prior to that in 22 levels, so that was frustrating. I switched to Hang Time…
** And had a few good runs with some members of the Elements, until we tried to take down Psychic Babbage (a level 53 Arch-Villain) and, he bit concrete four times in about 20 minutes.
The Meh
I took a shower, a nap, and watched a movie. I felt considerably better. Logged Strat back on, teamed up with a couple good players in very oddly-configured groups ((at one point, it was four MA/SR scrappers, each built along very different lines, doing Devouring Earth)). Doing that, I got rid of all debt and got to 23, which I then commemorated by two more slots in Stamina and some very fun roleplay with Allegro, the Clown Girl.
The debt on Hang Time bugs me a bit, and it may cause me some grief — I’ve currently got five contacts who will give me missions, and I’m working them all so that they’ll finish up at the same time, give or take — the problem is, it looks like they’ll finish up before I hit 35 and get new people to talk to… at this point, I can’t tell if the debt slowing me down will help me finish them before I’m too uber for them to talk to me, or means that I’m running that many more missions before I level, and thus cleaning them out too soon. I think it’ll be the latter.

CoH Personal Update — Recreation and Responsibility

As noted here, it was a pretty active weekend on CoH. Hang Time dinged 33, as did Shock about a day later. Hyperthermian dinged 11, Rose hit 19, and Strat dinged both 20 and 21.
All of which occured on Friday and Saturday, actually. Not a lot going on on Sunday.
The murder plot thing in the Freedom Phalanx has gone well enough, I think — certainly it’s a type of play that most of the other players haven’t seen on there, and they’ve really digged the immersion. It’s cool that I was put in charge of it, since I’ve been wanting to do somehting like that for awhile, but in retrospect, I had a LOT of people involved in that thing, and it made it a lot harder.
I have some thoughts on a smaller, simpler, and I think more light-hearted storyline to run in a bit. Just call me Mr. Responsiblity. Lee does.
And on the one hand yeah, I can see why people look at me oddly for wanting to use my free time and a little money each month in order to be in charge of stuff instead of just playing. I’ve given it some thought, and there’s really two parts to that:
a) Why do I like multi-player online games like MUDs, MUSHes, and CoH, at all? Why so much? What’s my payoff?
That’s a bigger questions that I’m still thinking about — there may be an essay there at some point.
b) Why, when I’m involved in such games, do I take on roles of responsibility and game-mastering-type stuff?
Two answers:
One — engaging surroundings make me think of stories that I’d like to see played out so, lacking anyone else likely to do it, I run them myself. That’s the GM part. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I run as many face-to-face games as I do.
Two — well, taking on responsibility and admin type stuff seems like a self-sacrificing thing, but really it’s just selfishness. When I get into a position of some influence within a group on a game like CoH, I have more ability to make the experience into one that I’ll enjoy: if someone in a supergroup I’m in is continually annoying I have the influence and ability to get them to change their behavior or boot them, if a candidate is really rubbing me the wrong way I can veto their admittance, if a supergroup in a larger alliance is ruining everyone’s fun I can do more about it than just bitch.
So yeah, it’s a control thing — I’m spending the money on the game and the way I see it I have the right to make the game enjoyable for myself and those around me as much as I’m able, provided I’m not ruining someone else’s fun.

CoH Issue 4 Changes

Here are some of my personal WOOHOOS and BOOS:
o Improved Max Stealth capability (High stealthy powers like Superior Invisibility can now better protect against foes with high Perception, like Snipers).
o Villains can now knock you back, instead of just knocking you down. (cool)
o Increased the Damage buff of Leadership/Assault and Vengeance by 50%.
o Modification to Perception attribute: Increased Perception will now allow you to see stealthy foes or resist powers that reduce your Perception. (cool)
oo Accuracy Inspirations now increase Perception.
Oo Leadership/Tactics now offers increased Perception and resistance to Confuse (yay!).
o Super Reflexes/Focused Fighting now offers resistance to Confuse.
o Super Reflexes/Focused Senses now offers increased Perception.
o Empathy/Clear Mind now offer resistance to Fear and Confuse, and grants increased Perception. (nice!)
o Resolve, Strength of Will, and Sheer Willpower Inspiration are now removed from the game. Break Free, Emerge, and Escape Inspirations will now protect you from all effects including Sleep, Hold, Immobilization, Disorient, Fear, Knockback and Confuse, and can be activated even while under such effects. (AWESOME — especially since these were the only inspirations you could never BUY, and I needed ALL THE TIME — it’s GREAT to seem them replaced!)
o Reduced the duration of Break Free, Emerge, and Escape Inspirations.
o Defenders and Controllers will now drain more Endurance when using powers that drain endurance. More specifically, Defenders will drain more endurance when using Electricity Blast than a Blaster using the same power. Controller will now drain more endurance with powers such as Transfusion, but Defenders will still drain more than Controllers.
o Kinetics/Transfusion now debuff the targeted foes? Regeneration Rate.
o Kinetics/Siphon Speed now also transfers attack rate (debuffs targets attack rate and buffs the casters).
o Changed rank of Devouring Earth beacons. They should be easier to destroy now.
o Increased recharge time (less often) for Yellow Ink Men Holds and Sleeps. (WOOOOOOO!!!!)
o Decreased Chance for DE Fungi men to put you to sleep with their Spores. (WOOOOOO!!!!!)
o Added missing attack types to Gravity powers (defense now applies to all gravity attacks). (Player and Villain versions). (Thank GOD — those CoT Agony mages were KICKING MY BUTT.)
o Super Reflexes/Quickness now also resists slow effects. (cooool)
o In PvP, 30% of most Blaster damage cannot be resisted.
o Damage from Scrapper Critical hits in PvP cannot be resisted.
o In PvP, confused characters see all players with names of their team?s color. All of their AE powers affect friends and foes equally. While confused, all ranged powers have a chance of hitting a random target in range (friend or foe) rather than the intended target. (COOL!)
o Blaster/ Energy Manipulation: Energy Punch and Bone Smasher have a chance to knock out toggles. (HEH)
I’ll also not that the Arena Ground Rule ?Disable Travel? has no effect on Strategist’s movement powers. Heh.
o Spectral Terror now only targets one foe when it uses its Terrify attack. (boo)
o Reduced the effect Duration of Terrorize powers.
Actually: meh — it was horrible before — now it doesn’t suck and they have to balance it. That happens.
Coalition Chat
o Coalition chat can be accessed by clicking on the Coalition button in your Supergroup menu, or via slash commands.
/c Chats in the coalition channel.
o If Supergroup A and Supergroup B have a coalition, and Supergroup A and Supergroup C have a coalition, then anything members of A say will be heard by members of A, B, and C. Anything members of C say will be heard only by members of A and C. Anything members of B say will be heard only by members of A and B.
Click to Move
o With this feature on, left click on a target point or object and your character will move to that point
o Double click on a target to move to it and interact with it (go to a door and walk through, move to an npc and begin talking, etc.).
o Click to Move is turned off by default. It can be turned on in the Options menu.
o On-Demand Use: hold down a key (default is V) to temporarily enable the feature for as long as the key is held. If the feature is set to run all the time, holding down the key will temporarily disable click to move.
o Autorun: hold down both left and right mouse buttons for 2 seconds to enable autorun. hold buttons down again to turn autorun off.
New Commands
o Added “Suppress Extra Player FX” to the Options Menu, which will disable rendering of “unimportant” player FX systems (any PBAoE or continuing FX not affecting the player or a teammate)


Where are all the good tanks dead? In the heart, or in the head?

In the past week of teaming up to level him from 10-20 I have teamed up with absolute worst tankers in my year of playing CoH. None of them had taunt and I usually let that slide if the tanker knows his/her stuff and can manage without, but sadly these people couldn’t keep the aggro of a baby kitten with a ball of string if their lives depended on it.

Probably the only time I’ll mention the SG.

Looking for a supergroup on City of Heroes? Enjoy playing your character … in character? Want a little roleplay to go with Evil Smashing?
On Champion server, I cannot recommend the Alliance of Champions enough. This is a ‘macro-supergroup’ of allied roleplaying Super Groups, all under one banner. The Alliance includes:
1. The Freedom Phalanx: Avengers-style global-view super group with forum-supported/-augmented in-game plots. This is a large SG with 50+ characters involved… usually at least a dozen folks logged in, from levels 6 to 45.
2. The (nascent) Liberty Force. A red-white-and-blue, US-aligned SG — it’s been around awhile, but never really got off the ground until a new set of folks took it over and have started ramping it up to grow to a level on par with the Phalanx.
3. The Storm Knight (local 23). A **VERY** RPG-based, time-traveling, dimension-hopping supergroup, with tons of localized plots going on and lots of irreverent fun. If one of your characters just happens to be a ‘port’ from some table-top RPG or another… you’ll fit right in here. Very strong Torg influence to the player-designed plots that are going on.
4. Defend the Galaxy with the Galaxy Guardians! One of the only SG’s I know that’s gone cross-server… this SG was started on Guardian as a way for folks to take part in a Green Lantern-style organization, and has grown out to Champion in recent weeks, where it’s just getting started.
5. Finally, The Prelude to Justice, where daily gameplay and daily in-character Forum posting isn’t just the norm, it’s a membership requirement. Easily the most intensive roleplay, combining play-by-forum and in-game play — it’s a little too much for me, but it suits some folks right down to the ground.
Check the whole page, or visit the forums.

CoH — Group Tactics

Dave and Stan and Avocet have been having problems with bad teams on CoH lately, it sounds like.
CoH is a very different game solo, in small teams, or in large teams. Once you are in a large team, the game dynamic really changes. The controller shines, the tanker has a role.
This is what I’ve figured out about grouping, so far.
More as the thoughts occur to me.

Continue reading “CoH — Group Tactics”

Purely CoH link-post with no other useful application

Guide to gaining XP and/or getting rid of Debt on CoH:

So, you’re sick of being stuck down at at a level you don’t have to take both shoes off to count to, and you want to be up there playing with the big boys.
Or, conversely, you’ve just come off of a bad Task Force experience (or otherwise had bad luck on your missions) and want to get rid of that nasty brown stain on your level counter so you can once again make rapid progress toward that next level and the shiny new superpower that comes with it.
Or maybe you’re reading some thread about why powerlevelling stinks or why Kora Fruit missions should be nerfed and you just don’t understand any of it. Or you heard someone refer to “dual-boxing” and don’t know what it means, or want to know why buying pre-levelled characters from eBay is so bad.
Well, in any of these cases, this guide is for you. I’m going to explain what powerlevelling is, why some people hate it, why others do it, and so on. I’m going to lay out a few common-sense techniques I’ve observed for accruing XP and/or dropping debt without ticking other people off–including a section on tips for getting through the mid-40s-to-50 grind. And I’m going to go over the known “illegal” methods of power-levelling–not because I condone them, which I most certainly do NOT, but because everyone should know what they are and why they are so bad.

Curse you, Doctor Vazhilok! Curse You!

Finally, I wanted to give public thanks to Lee for sticking with me through Hang Time’s first Arch Villain storyline — he was especially helpful while HT was suffering from the Vazhilok wasting disease… though the pointing and the laughing didn’t exactly add to his Good Samaritan act.
End result: we saved the city from being dosed with a nasty virus, completed the mission, and I got a cool reward, but Doctor Vazhilok escaped through the city sewers (the two of us just didn’t *quite* have the firepower to beat him down, and by then it was took late to invite anyone else along).
The coolest thing was not having to DIE to figure out we couldn’t beat him.
Update: 1/27/05
Last night, While I was talking with Stateswoman about a place for Hang Time in the Freedom Phalanx (a Super Group on Champion server whose goal is to play In Character as much as possible), she got a call from a Group member named Doppelganger, who had tracked down Doc Vazhilok again. Stateswoman was tied up (and actually way to ‘big’ to do this Arch Villain mission anyway), and I immediately asked for another shot at the rat bastard.
So, once again, it was a two-person run at the leader of the Vazhilok. Doppelganger was great, and it felt like I was playing alongside a higher-level version of Rose.Red — he has almost exactly the same power set — so I know just what to expect from him (except for his Green Lantern-like ability to summon a Phantom Army — that was fanTAStic).
Anyway, we wiped the floor with Doc Vaz and teleported his disgusting self back to the Ziggurat. Then HT went and had himself a good long shower. Ugh. If I never see another sewer again as long as I live… UGH.
Also, joined the Freedome Phalanx, which is a really large group of players who can TYPE — and like to type IN CHARACTER.
Very very pleased.

The trials of being a total badass.

“I wanna go to the crappy town where *I’m* a hero.”
— Wash, Firefly
So I doubt this will be a regular thing, but I wanted to write down stuff that’s happened on CoH over the last couple days, so I can remember when and where later.
I’ve been trying to focus more on playing a designated ‘main’ character on CoH and settle on Hang Time because, you know, big ass whupping goodness.

Continue reading “The trials of being a total badass.”

Messing with a good thing

Here, I’m talking about something typical to all roleplaying games or, specifically, gaming groups, but the example I have close to hand is something that came about on CoH over the last two night.
So. It’s Sunday. Monday? Whatever. Must have been Monday night. Jackie has Shock.Therapy on and I’m … I don’t know why, but I’ve got Rose.Red on, maybe to take a shot at finishing off some of her missions or something — I’d really like to get teleport for her, cuz she’s slow as dirt. Anyway. Point is, Jackie and I were off doing our own things.
I’m gallumphing my way through the Hollows and I get an invite to team up from one “Punchie”.
First, I have a rule I generally follow, and it’s served me well — I don’t accept invites from people I don’t know, if they haven’t at LEAST sent me a tell (translation: in-game instant message) and used decent… you know… language and communication skills. Like the one’s I’m displaying in this post. Not.
But still, any moron can click the invite button — show me you can communicate with a message better than “Grp??/”
But… I dunno. I decided to accept the invite, if for no other reason than to have someone’s messages to read on my slow-ass journey across the the get-me-killed Hollows (and if an area ever encouraged players to learn about teaming up, that one does), and I was feeling snarky and playing Rose who is, frankly, mean to people, and I thought “Punchie” might be a good target for ridicule.
Lo and behold, Punchie can type. Punchie is funny. So are the other people on the team. I change my plans and actually group up with them for a mission — we don’t have any major damage dealers at all, but we roll the mission (a hard one) EASILY. Halfway through, I get Jackie’s toon into the group as well — we roll that mission, and proceed to Kick the Holy #*@#& out of every mission anyone can find to run. We’re awesome. Everyone’s funny and interesting and can type worth a damn. They’re smart.
No one gets a free trip to the E.R. the WHOLE NIGHT. We had to retreat from a bad ambush at one point and we even did THAT well.
Somewhere in there, Punchie goes to level (everyone on the team leveled twice in about 3 hours, which is amazing), and comes back having registered a SuperGroup for everyone to join — in keeping with the fun of the night the SG’s name is Punch and Pie (“We joined because we were told there would be Punch and Pie…” is the motto) and the all-female-toon group determined the pink-and-black color scheme and heart-emblem.
It’s all in fun — we had a really really good time with an awesome group. The “Punch and Pie” night goes down in my head as one of the best nights on CoH evah. It was just FUN.
Last night, Jackie logged on the same toon and sees a new team member. Later, I’m playing Gilly with Jackie and, the conversation on her SG channel was:
“What’re you doing, Shockie?”
“Grouped with a tank named Gilly?”
“Cool, does she want to be in a SuperGroup?”
And just like that (they didn’t know it was the same player as the night before), I get an invite.
We group with some of the SG guys and some other guys… it’s not a BAD group — no one dies, mostly thanks to Jackie and the player running Punchie being on the same tactical page… but no one really impresses me as being a really kick-ass example of the player base, y’know?
Every. Single. One. Of. Them. gets an open invite to the SG. Hmm.
Now, one of us comments about the really active recruiting, and the player doing most of it says “I ran in a guild in Everquest for five years, and if you don’t recruit, you don’t grow. Worse, you wither. I’m just trying to make the group even better.”
Better? Better than the amazing thing we had going the night before? How is this possible? Why try? Why SCREW with it, for one thing?
So… lengthy game example aside that’s where this ties back into gaming in general.

Continue reading “Messing with a good thing”

CoH post, #3

Live in fear: Jackie has a character on City of Heroes. Shadow.Cat is a Dark Melee/Invul Scrapper and quite a can of whup-ass. Time to order a second account. πŸ™‚
Also, for those folks looking around for me (some have asked), here the current list:
* Hang Time: Energy/Energy Scrapper (Science origin, if getting zapped accidentally while delivering pizza to the lab counts as “science”.) If you squint your eyes and don’t look too hard, then Hang Time’s my “main”… by which I mean I cackle *slightly* more loudly when his cool powers go off than I do with my other characters. Sometimes. HT is easy to play — I just say ‘dude’ a lot. And Whoa.
* ZeeGee: Gravity/Forcefield Controller (Mutant). ZeeGee is visually a lot of fun to watch on the screen, but somehow her gameplay is frustrating. Or something. I dunno. Maybe I just need to go over to the costume guy in Skyway and change her look — her hair bugs me.
* Rose.Red: Illusion/Kinetics Controller (Magic). Snow White’s older, less-pleasant sister — just moved to Paragon from Park Avenue. She’s dog slow in getting around (til I get teleport), but a lot of fun to play — sort of a raver debutante who got shanghaied into heroics. Most of her powers remind me of an area of effect vampire :).
* Gilly: Super Strength/Invulnerability Tanker (Magic). Gilly is GREAT fun to play. She’s a tiny little thing (ten year old) who was left daddy’s magic gloves when he disappeared. She’s using them to look for him. And kick ass. If you know what a Tanker does on CoH, imagine a sprite doing the job, and you’re there. I want a title that says “Combat Pixie”.
* Gu Gan Cheung: Martial Arts/Super Reflexes Scrapper (Natural). My attempt to do a “Crouching Tiger” character in the game, crossed with a bit of Kill Bill :). He’s pretty bad ass, but doesn’t see a lot of play time, for reasons I’m not sure of.
* Girl Five: Radiation/Radiation Defender (technology). Designate Girl Five Is A Defense, Support, And Tactical Unit. Activated 178.34353 Hours Prior To This Statement. It Has Been Very Interesting To Meet You.
Honestly? I LOVE playing Girl Five. Right now, she’s probably my favorite. So Much FUN. I just suck as a healer. SUuuuuuuucK.
Everyone but Hang Time’s about level 9 or so. HT’s 12. Jackie’s Shadow.Cat is level… 5? I think 5. In one night, yes.
And there are SO many other character ideas I’d like to do… MAN. I’ve seen two or three really cool Storm Controllers in a the past couple days. There was this little nordic dwarf dude last night… with Storm/Kinetics? Bad. Ass.
I also have Hangtime (note the spelling change) on Virtue Server, for when Champion hiccups. He’s about level six and got Hover asap. (I mean, with a name like that, you have to fly, right?)
One thing I’ve noticed is that I have no character’s with Area of Effect attacks. Rose has an AoE Blind, but it doesn’t do any damage… and that’s about it. I find myself wanting such things at times. A lot. I’ve bypassed a couple such things on Hang Time in favor of powers that let me bring stupid amounts of pain to a single target, and sometimes I regret it, but not often.
Which is fine — I know I WILL have AoE’s with some people, eventually.

By comparison, I’m quite well-adjusted.

Here’s a post from the main CoH Livejournal group:

I’m in Costa Maya on my honeymoon…
so can someone post pics of the new content from Release 3? Particularly in this thread? Thanks in advance!

Qui Gon’s quote should have been “There’s always a bigger geek.”

CoH post, #2

Well, it’s been about ten days since I picked up City of Heroes, the superhero-genre multiplayer online RPG — a category of games I’ve steadfastly avoided in the past. Which isn’t to say I have no multi-user online gaming experience; I’ve tons. Literally, there were points in my life when, for years at a time, I was working on some Mushes and Muds for as many hours a week as I did my full-time jobs. Sometimes more. Sometimes much more.
The newer games, though, I’ve avoided. I’ve stared longingly at CoH a number of times (and drooled a bit at the World of Warcraft info), but until Jackie got CoH for me for Christmas (mad, MAD, I tell you), I’d resisted.
No longer.
So, with ten whole days under my belt, here’s some thoughts.

Continue reading “CoH post, #2”

CoH entry #1

City of Heroes Expansion Issue #3: A Council of War
What I’m already loving about the CoH updates is that they don’t just fix the code, they make the game BIGGER — more zones, more plots, more bad guys, new stuff…
They fixed fear powers (which sucked), so instead of running away, the bad guys cower. That’s great.
They fixed it so you can actually punch a guy you’re running after. That’s great.
But best of all?

You can now control what music the boombox plays with a bunch of new emotes. These are also available from the Quickchat menu. They all begin with “bb” which stands for “boombox”. The list: bb, bbAltitude, bbBeat , bbCatchMe , bbDance . bbElectroVibe , bbDiscoFreak , bbDogWalk , bbHeavyDude , bbInfoOverload , bbJumpy , bbKickIt , bbLooker , bbMeaty , bbNotorious , bbMoveOn , bbPeace , bbQuickie , bbRaver , bbShuffle , bbTechnoid , bbWindItUp , bbVenus , bbWahWah . bbYellow , bbSpaz.