Posts tagged ‘mmo’

Iconian War Finale

Midnightsto_midnight, released yesterday, is the eighth and final episode of the Iconian War story arc in Star Trek Online. I got a chance to play it last night, and I think it’s my favorite episode in the entire game. It felt like a good TNG episode. I don’t want to spoil the mission for anyone but let me say that this entire arc has been great for resolving plot lines that were left hanging in TNG and Voyage.

Congratulations to Cryptic not just for a great episode but for finding a good release cadence for story missions. This year had seen a lot of quality new content released. Having a combination of monthly new episodes with rewards becoming available on a weekly basis to promote replays strikes a nice balance of giving players new content without overloading the developers. I can’t wait to see what’s coming with the next Season.

If you miss having Star Trek on TV, you really should give the game a try. The only downside is that the Iconian War arc is for level-capped players, but it’s possible to get to 60 pretty quickly between XP boosts and the Duty Officer system.

Gameus Interuptus

Some nights things just want to work out. For whatever reason my intermittent Comcast disconnect issue was being very consistently disconnecting last night. When it finally did finally stabilize, I tried logging into STO but was still getting disconnects in Cryptic’s games. Or maybe it was my connection being flaky enough that it was causing problems for a game while being fine for streaming video from YouTube. No idea.

Despite my short time in game, I did hit a milestone. Bryn Aev was promoted to Fleet Admiral, that’s level 60 and the current level cap in the game. Granted it was just as result of assignments completed by duty officers aboard the U.S.S. Vyrael, but I’m sure he played an important leadership role in their success. Or could just be Starfleet politics. Despite hitting the cap, I still have a few more missions to complete in the Delta Quadrant before Season 11 arrives, not that there’s a date for it yet but I’ll be surprised if it’s not planned for October some time.

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Since my internet connection wasn’t cooperating, I tried playing some KSP but my head just wasn’t in the right place for that either. Mostly because I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to fast forward to the transafer window for sending the Kerbol Explorer to Jool and didn’t have enough time to really finish the mission preparation. Instead I crashed on the couch and watched part one of the two part season finale of Dark Matter (which got renewed along with Killhoys which I like a bit more) and went to bed before midnight. It made me feel like such a responsible adult.

Cryptic Connection Woes

Blaugust 2015 Day 31

My multitasking experiment has hit a speed bump. It’s hard to rotate through three MMOs when two of them are having connection issues. According to the Neverwinter community manager, Cryptic is having an issue with their ISP. As someone whose been on the phone with Comcast twice in the last seven days and having a technician come out Thursday to check the wiring both inside and outside, I can sympathize. At least they’re taking care of players and extending active events.

I didn’t play any games last night. Yesterday’s Golem Arcana write-up took longer than I expected, and I burned quite a bit of time on YouTube and Reddit, but I did get some LotRO in on Sunday that I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post. My return to Middle-Earth had made Wininoid nostalgic, and we got together with a pair of low level characters (Loremaster for him, Champion for me) and completed the post-tutorial quests in Comb. I hadn’t done any of those since the last revamp was done. I don’t expect I’ll spend a ton of time on alts though, as my main goal in LotRO for the multitasking experiment is to get my hunter, Brynulf, back to the level cap, and more importantly experience Isengard and Rohan.

Tonight’s plan will be to check in with STO and Champions and see if I have any luck. I’d at least like to review my completed duty officer assignments and schedule some new R&D projects. Failing that, I’ll probably end up in Kerbal Space Program again. I still have a Jool moon lander to put in orbit and dock with the Kerbol Explorer 1.

Kobali Primed

Blaugust 2015 Day 26

Last night I got back on track with my multitasking experiment and logged into Star Trek Online. I loaded the game in the middle of a fire fight which made for an exciting start to things. I had forgotten I was in the middle of the Kobali ground combat zone when I was disconnected because of a Comcast outage. So once my away party had dealt with the immediate threats, I set about finishing the remaining missions.

I had four or five left but I did finish the Kobali ground missions finally. I’m a little late the the party on completing those as they finished with a teaser for the featured episode, Dust to Dust, that came out back in February. Still it was quite fun, although I don’t think my Captain, technically Admiral, and officers were well geared for Vaadwaur combat. They died quite a bit, which doesn’t normally happen.

Between finishing up some missions and the steady stream of XP coming in from duty officer assignments, Bryn is nearly level 59. I imagine he’ll be maxed out before hitting the end of the Delta Quadrant content. I hope to have everything finished before the next major release, Season 11, comes out. There’s been no official date announced yet, but I’m expecting sometime in October. I’m excited to see a more hopeful story line emerge.


Blaugust 2015 Day 24

Sunday night I returned to my multitasking experiment and started up Champions. I logged into the six heroes, I had already created just to refresh my memory on what combinations of powers I had already played with before heading into the character creator and seeing what I could come up with for a new super hero.

Creating a new hero in Champions, and before it in City of Heroes, has always been a unique experience for me. My favorite heroes, the Blue Ram and Silver Hunter, have always come about because a specific part in the character creator caught my imagination. I started out by picking up some wind based powers, initially thinking I’d create a wizard type character. When I got into the costume creator though as I browsed through different masks and other parts, I happened upon some swept back hair and got the idea for a speedster. A pair of aviator’s goggles and leather jacket started to give me more of an idea on the hero’s background.

In City of Heroes, the last thing you do is name your hero. It was always the hardest part because not only was it difficult to come up with a name that was cool and fit the character concept, but you also had to come up with something that someone else was already using. More than once, I can remember scrapping a whole hero design because I just couldn’t find a name that I wanted that wasn’t in use. I’m so glad that Cryptic removed that issue by only requiring names to be unique per account. It’s so nice to not have to look up esoteric synonyms.

Thus after maybe 30 or 45 minutes, I had created the Tempest. A WW2 fighter pilot who vanished in a storm over Europe before reappearing in Millenium City, not having aged a day and with no memory of the lost time.

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I took Tempest through the tutorial and first few levels. I had the impression that the starting experience was more changed than it really was from the Ravenswood articles that I’d skimmed on the Arcgames site. The tutorial Qularr invasion is now framed as a simulation of an historic event rather than a live event, and some of the side quests have been streamlined out. It was fun, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. Completely a problem with my own expectations though and not the game.

GameClient 2015-08-23 23-30-59-26Past the tutorial, you’re dumped into the Powerhouse which avoids an old issue where you ended up in Millenium City first and needed to know where to go. Cryptic has also added some nice training videos, which are in-game cutscenes that explain some of Champions’ mechanics like charge-up powers and maintained powers, and tied the post-tutorial intro quest to watching them. That might sound onerous but they were all very short.

Once I got Tempest trained up and exited the Powerhouse, I was directed to Kodiak on the West Side of Millenium City, just like in the original game. I completed the first five or six missions that he gave me and not much seems to have changed there. It all felt very familiar and comfortable.

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Outage Hiccup

Blaugust 2015 Day 19

The second evening of my multitasking experiment started well enough, I launched Star Trek Online and hopped into the game. After handling my usual duty officer scheduling, I headed to the Delta Quadrant to finish a long pending mission to help out the Kobali. I think the Kobali ground zones have gotten tougher as I died several times trying to get to my goal. I ended up succeeding by making a run across the map so that I respawned on the other side after dying, it’s kind of cheap but I was feeling more goal oriented than exploratory. In the end it didn’t matter because shortly after that my game disconnected, which happens when your cable modem has an outage.

So that was the end of my gaming for the night. It was near midnight anyway, so I headed to bed early (for me). I briefly considered KSP or Champions but I wasn’t in a good jumping in point in either one. In KSP I’m at the point where I need to start planning a new mission, and that will take a while to do, and in Champions I want to roll a new hero to relearn the game. I could and have spent multiple hours in the costume creator trying to put together a name, costume, powers combination.

That puts me in an odd spot for tonight’s gaming. Do I pick STO back up since my time was cut short? Or roll on to one of the other games in the experiment. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, maybe I’ll roll a 1d4 to decide.


Blaugust 2015 Day 17

I’ve been thinking more since my post on reconnecting about trying to get back to juggling multiple MMOs. I definitely don’t want to drop Star Trek Online, but my nostalgia for both LotR and Champions has stayed with me the last couple of days. That surprises me as I usually have an urge to catch up on a game and often don’t get more than five minutes into the game after updating the patcher. My problem though is how to actually switch between games. I’ve found two ways that work for me when I want to get something done. Either I have to do it everyday, like with Blaugust, or I have to focus on one thing until it’s done, which is how I completed all three Mass Effect games.

Since MMOs never finish so unless I want to pick concrete goals out that won’t work.  I also can’t try to rotate through all three MMOs on a daily basis, that seems like a good way to get nothing done in any of them. I could make a schedule and rotate through games, but that is probably will do a better job of sucking the fun out of playing than anything else. Instead I’ll leave myself open to playing whatever sounds good on a given night but limit myself to picking from the games that I haven’t play in the last 24 hours, until I’ve spent long enough in one game to finish a quest or level. So that way as I progress through Champions or LotRO, I can still pick up dailies in STO if I want to, but only if I’m actually playing other games.

And since there’s no time like the present, I’m going to pay a visit to Brynulf on Landroval and get my hunter ready to go adventuring.


Blaugust 2015 Day 15

There are currently 10 different MMO game launchers on my desktop, or technically 13 since the Arc launcher covers three games (Star Trek, Champions, Neverwinter) and Glyph has two (Rift and Defiance). Out of that list of 13 games, Star Trek Online is the only one I’ve played with any regularity this year. Most like Marvel Heroes and Firefall I occasionally get an urge to jump into, but there’s only two that I get nostalgic about and am considering trying to reconnect with: LotRO and Champions.

Lord of the Rings Online was my first ever lifetime subscription purchase. It was the first game that I ever hit max level with a character. As a Tolkien fanatic, it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to walking in Middle-Earth without taking a trip to New Zealand. Sadly though the game’s graphics haven’t aged well, especially the character animations which were always the weakest part of the game. Every time I log into Landroval, it seems like I spend a couple of hours reassigning refunded specialization points and legendary item points, before playing for a little bit and then logging out for another long absence.

The recent server closure announcement has me wondering if I should refocus on the game if for no other reason than to get my main/original launch character, Brynulf, back to max level. Head south and see Isengard and Rohan at least once.

Champions seems to be mostly on maintenance mode now. Perfect World isn’t really pushing the game even within their own launcher. Arc’s Games tab currently has eight games rotating through, both Star Trek and Neverwinter are the first two and Champions isn’t even in the list. Most of the news on the site is about sales and lock boxes. The one piece of news that is content related mentions revamping the event system to make sure that they are more regular running.

Despite all that, I have a lot of fondness for the game. While City of Heroes was my first super hero MMO, I never liked how powers were restricted by archetype. Champion’s free-form system was so much more interesting to me because I could more easily make thematic builds. Truth be told, I also like the graphics better in Champions, which I didn’t expect to originally. I’ve tried a few times before to get back into the game, but always by picking up on of my current characters, and it’s never worked out. Too many systems in the game have changed to jump back into the middle of things.

So, if/when I do try next, I’m going to roll up a new hero and see if I have better luck.

Background Noise

Blaugust 2015 Day 14

Background Noise

I am orders of magnitude more productive at work if I’m listening to music or podcasts. It provides a consistent distraction that I can then ignore while focusing on whatever programming issue I’m trying to solve, instead of all of the sporadic background conversations going on in the office. I can’t stand having music or anything else on when I’m reading though. It’s the same for TV and movies, I don’t do the whole second screen thing of live tweeting shows or looking up things. When I’m watching a show, I’m focused solely on that. Video games vary depending on what I’m doing. If I’m playing Kerbal Space Program or Minecraft, I generally always have something playing on my second monitor, often it will be a Let’s Play of the same game. With Star Trek Online, I like to watch old episodes on Netflix, but only if I’m playing combat heavy missions like patrols or queues. If I’m playing a featured episode or Foundry mission that’s story heavy, then it’s like reading or TV for me and I can’t have anything else going on.

Back in the Command Chair

Speaking of Star Trek Online, I’m coming back from a sort of break from the game. I say sort of, since I’ve still been logging in fairly regularly, but usually only for a few minutes which is long enough to complete some Duty Officer missions and queue up some new ones. But with Season 10.5 out now, regular monthly Featured Episodes being released, and Season 11 on the horizon, it felt like now was a good time to get back in. Coming back to any MMO after an absence is tough, especially if a lot of changes have been taking place in the game, so I wanted to give myself some time to get back up to speed. Hopefully the other members of my fleet will start showing up more regularly over the next few weeks as well.


Cryptic Layoffs

I was dismayed yesterday morning when I popped into the STO Reddit  while taking a work break and the top link was to a rumor about layoffs at PWE and Cryptic. I immediately checked Smirk’s Twitter to confirm it and then looked at the feeds for Laughing Trendy, Thomas the Cat, Tacofangs, and ZeroniusRex to see if they were affected too. According to Massively OP later in the day 18 people at Cryptic were laid off in total, PWE’s offices were apparently hit much harder.

Of course the arm chair developers came out of the wood work in the comments on most of the sites I looked at. I saw a great Tweet from Elijah, one of the hosts of Priority One Podcast, that summed up my response perfectly:

There were way too many people spouting off with opinions completely divorced from reality. I read several comments from people saying that Cryptic should never have let PWE buy them which shows complete ignorance of the history of the company. Atari sold Cryptic to PWE, Cryptic didn’t sell themselves. Regardless, if PWE hadn’t bought Cryptic then, they likely wouldn’t be around at all now.

I do understand the impulse to try and rationalize a reason though.  Layoffs suck. Change is difficult, all the more so when the change is caused by an outside force. I known as I’ve experienced them myself twice and I’m a corporate software developer which is a much more stable industry than games development.

Regardless of the reasons, assigning blame doesn’t help people find jobs, and in my experience doesn’t make those who were let go or those who survived the cuts feel any better.

So I wanted to wish the vest of luck to Smirk, Positron and others now having to find new jobs, I hope they all land at places that they enjoy as much or more than their old one. Good luck also to those still at Cryptic, I hope that they’re not getting squeezed with more work to make up the difference.