While I haven’t given up on finishing all of the story quests with my Mage, Kae, I did need to take a break since I’ve gotten into a part that requires high-end gear which I don’t have yet and I was starting to feel a little bored with logging in to do dailies and then look around for dungeon instances. So I decided to work on my stable of alts.

Once I got all three out of the starter instance, I then went back and started working on getting each one to twenty. For right now, at least, I’m trying to keep all three within a few levels of one another. This is partly so I can keep all of the content straight and partly so I don’t pick a favorite and let the others languish.

Rotating through three different Callings is interesting, especially since I have two roles setup on the Rogue, so it’s more like playing four different classes. The Rogue seems to chew through content much faster, followed by the Cleric and then the Warrior. Still, the Warrior is a lot of fun to play, the sound effects when swinging a two-handed hammer are very satisfying.

Right now, playing alts is keeping me motivated to login every night and keeping the game fun. I would like to get all three to 50, but I’m not quite ready to make that a goal. I’ve never level capped more than one character in a game, because I’m usually so attached to my main that I don’t spend the time on alts. While I still consider Kae my main, I’m not sure that I’m as attached to him as I am my main’s in other games. Maybe it’s the role/soul system? Since I can switch the style of play at the touch of a button, there’s a part of the character’s identity that’s more fluid in Rift than it is in other games.

Unlike GC, I’m looking forward to getting my alts into Stonefield. Freemarch is nice but I find it a bit bland as far as the landscape goes.

I Don’t Understand

After doing a few dailies with my Mage, I decided to take a break from level 50 and switch to my Cleric alt, Kaeji. He was only level 8 and fresh out of the time machine from the desolate future.

While I was running about in Freemarch, I noticed a conversation going on in zone chat. Someone was asking what RP stood for, and that led into some talk about whether or not it was polite to RP outside of private channels. Keep in mind, this is on Faeblight which is a PvE RP server. Let me repeat that: an RP server.

I don’t roll on a PvP server and complain about ganking. That’s kind of the point of rolling on that server type. Why oh why do people roll characters on RP servers (of which there aren’t many) and then complain about RP happening in public channels?

Of course the fellow who was asking about RP obviously didn’t know what he was getting into. But one of the other people who chimed in referred to public RP as exhibitionism, and he seemed to know enough about MMO’s to know better than to role on an RP server and not expect to see some. Why he decided to make his home on Faeblight, I’ll never understand.

Vistas of Telara: Stillmoor

As I do sometimes in real life, in MMOs I like to climb mountains to see the view from the top. This is a view from a peak just north of the Iron Pine Peak pass that leads into Stillmoor. To the left is the Icewatch Outpost that leads into Iron Pine Peak and in the distance at the far right is Greenscale’s Blight.

(click on the image for the full-size version)

Massive Patch

I am as excited today about Rift as I was disappointed on Saturday, and it has nothing to do with the mea culpa event gift that showed up in my in-game mailbox. Although some lucky people did better than a 20-slot bag like what I got (on all four of my characters).

Nope, it’s the absolutely massive 1.2 patch that’s on the test server now. There’s a ton of changes but here’s the ones that’ve gotten me the most fired up (delivered Anjin-style):

  • Wardrobe! Wardrobe! Wardobe! A cosmetic appearance system is coming, so I can actually use all of the equipment pieces I’ve been saving in my bank that I’ve out leveled but still look cool.
  • New clothier NPCs have appeared in Meridian and Sanctum following the rise in numbers of fashionable Ascended.
  • Slivers – a new type of rift content, I have no idea what it’ll be like but it’s new content which is always a good thing.
  • Stillmoor has a new zone event.
  • Crafting rifts – anything that helps in my search for Pristine Sap, so I can get that last skill I need for my Apothecarying (is that a word?).
  • Improved raid display for callings/roles, this is sorely needed. I could never tell what the colors meant so having colors for callings plus icons for roles will be nice.
  • Crafting recipe window has a search function. This is sorely needed and an odd omission considering that player inventory has a search function (which I always forget to use).
  • Respawn rates for resources nodes have been tweaked (I hope that means quickened) for Shimmersand, Iron Pine Peak, and Stillmore (among others). In my experience, it’s really difficult to find Twillight Blooms which I’ve been focused on finding hoping to get a Pristine Sap.
  • Auction UI now allows for more searching and sorting options.

Patch 1.2 has some new content and a lot of quality-of-life improvements, my only complaint right now is that it’s on PTS and not the live server.

Update: Just in case you don’t usually read Massively, be sure to go check out Justin’s interview with Scott Hartsman. Lots of good information about Trion’s plans and some of the new content like the Slivers.

Finished with a Fizzle

Trion committed their first real misstep this weekend. The big River of Souls world event started with a big two week ramp up  and ended with a single event that lasted less than an hour on Saturday afternoon. Phase two was a single instance of multiple bosses spawning in each zone followed by phase three which was in-game cutscene introducing the new raid instance.

I am completely disappointed.

I spent quite a bit of time with the dailies and looking into the lore behind Alsbeth, the River of Souls, and the Plane of Death. I was also at the level cap early, which never happens. So I was really looking forward into experiencing the event. Unfortunately I was out of town doing family stuff this weekend, so I wasn’t even one of the people stuck in an eight hour queue. Originally, I wasn’t to worried about missing anything. I figured that the event would a least last the weekend and I’d be able to login on Sunday evening and catch up with a little work. It never occurred to me that the event would only run once, since the entire build up phase was repeating rift invasions.

This event was especially frustrating because of Trion’s history of good decisions until now. They did a great job of running their betas. They had a smooth launch, if not perfect, and they impressed me with how well they handled their account security problems a few weeks ago. So given all of that, why did they think it was a good idea to follow up a huge two weeks long (even if it was only planned to be one) build up with a short one hour (or less on some servers) one time only event? It just doesn’t make sense.

By Saturday night, Scott Hartsman has a follow up post where he tries to do some damage control. Like Trion’s done before with other issues, they’re giving out from free items and awarding the event achievements to everyone who’s a subscriber. That’s a nice way of saying sorry. For me though it wasn’t about the loot, it was about getting to be online and experience the content, and that’s gone. To put it another way, getting a t-shirt from Disney World is nice but I’d much rather ride Space Mountain.

Reading through Scott’s post, he talks about how their ambition got the better of them, but I don’t agree with that. The event itself sounds like it was fine, the problem was that it only happened once. The queues and the lag were all a consequence of motivating the entire population of every server to login at the same time, which was exacerbated by bringing the servers down shortly before the event and compressing the login rush even further.  Had the even been scheduled to happen every two to three hours during the course of the weekend, I don’t think they would’ve had nearly the same problems. There still would’ve been the issue with Phase Three only taking place in Stillmoor which locks out any players under level 45 or so, but at least two-thirds of the event would’ve been accessible.

I still logged in Sunday evening and had some fun. I’m not upset or planning to quit over this, but I don’t see myself investing quite as much time or interest in the next event. They’re saying the right things now, but I need to see if they can follow that with actions.

Back to the Drawing Board

My current goal in Rift is to finish all of the epic story quests for the Saga of the Endless. While I was leveling, I got stuck on one in Moonshade Highlands which needed me to take on three level 40 elites and I never quite found the time to put a group together. It’s unfortunate because I spoiled the story a bit for myself by accidentally finishing some related quests in other zones.

After getting some help from guildmates earlier this week to finish the quest (thanks Faraii and Gaar!), I was able to do the next part solo but then the follow up quest wanted me to go into the Runic Descent, which is the Highlands dungeon. So last night I popped on and was able to get a guild group together (special thanks to Battlemage for tanking andMMO Gamerchick for helping with the healing) to head into the Descent. Since most of us were over level, it seemed like a good chance to practice being a healer. I’d been using my Chloromancer healing role quite a bit in rifts, but I found out that the free-for-all aspect of rift play is very different from running a dungeon instance.

I did okay, but anytime a fight started to go sideways I found it very difficult to pull of a save. Poor Battlemage suffered quite a few deaths as we made our way through the instance, and while not all of them were my fault I still feel like I should have been able to do better. I’m not sure if it’s my build, the rotation I was using, or just being rusty. I haven’t played a healer in a long long time, my last healing character was my beloved Troll Shaman, Nallas, in Dark Age of Camelot.

About half to three quarters of the way through the instance, GeeCee and I switched roles. She took over with her Cleric’s healing build and I switched to my Stormcaller/Elementalist build. Things went a lot smoother after that.

The challenge for me playing a Chloromance was it has few oh-shit abilities. Most of the healing comes from damage done via life spells, and the majority of them have casting times. So there’s very little time in order to react when the tank’s health starts to plummet. It always seemed like Battlemages health took a nosedive when Bloom was still halfway through its cool down.

Adjusting to using the interface differently was as big a challenge as using the Chloromancer soul. As a DPSer, I’m focused on the tank’s target or my pet’s target primarily. I’ll occasionally pick up an add if it is attacking the healer, but for the most part it’s: target a mob, burn him down, and target the next. I use tab targeting usually and select party members using the mouse (since I do it so rarely I’ve never picked up using the F-keys). The casting time on Chloromancer heals really required me to start using the F-keys in order to respond quickly enough to swap targets, and it’s going to take me some time to get that habit ingrained. I haven’t setup and of the smart targeting options either, but I plan to tonight, so that I can stay focused on the tank a bit more and have damage spells forward to their target (I think that’s how it works in Rift).

So I’m not giving up on the Chloromancer yet, but I do have a lot more to learn and practice. I also don’t think rifting is working to get me the role experience I need. Bad news for my guild’s tanks.

Yay 50! Uhhh what now?

My Defiant Mage Kae reached level 50 in Rift yesterday. Actually, I could’ve done it on Saturday night but there were hardly no guildies on, and I though why waste the big level 50 achievement notice if no one’s around to see it.

Of course hitting the level cap in a game isn’t new for me, but I am very pleased to have done it so quickly. Even more surprising to me is I’m the first level 50 Mage in the guild.

I mentioned briefly why I thought I’d leveled so quickly, but I wanted to add to it a bit. First I want to mention that I don’t think this game is any shorter than the rest of the current crop of MMOs. As a comparison, my played time in STO at Vice Admiral 1 or level 51 was about three and a half days while my play time in Rift is 6 days, 2 hours, and 47 minutes.

Having an active guild has definitely played a role. I know there’s people to chat with every night when I pop in, and I’m more likely to stay online longer each night.

Game design is also important. I didn’t hit any dead spots. Most games have some flat areas on the leveling curve or gaps where all of the quests are suddenly too high. At that point I’m stuck grinding mobs, which I did in EQ and don’t enjoy. Rift didn’t have any dead spots that I noticed, at least on the Defiant side of the content and since I was leveling as a glass canon, I figure that’s a pretty representative example.

Lastly, having a completely new setting to explore really got my wanderer’s impulses firing. Even as fast as I leveled, I spent quite a bit of time wandering around zones. I will admit that part of that was because there are achievements for doing it, but only part. One of my favorite things to do in these games is see something interesting in the distance and then go to see it. Usually this involves climbing mountain peaks, but sometimes it’s just getting to the otherside of a forest or following a stream to see where it goes or exploring a cave to see how deep it is and if there’s a named mob hiding inside.

All of these factors combined to speed me through the leveling cycle on Rift much faster than I anticipated. Of course the big question is, “What now?”

I don’t know the answer to that. If history is any guide, I’ll roll an alt with the intention of going through the game a second time and lose interest after a week. But the game has surprised me once by dominating my attention for the first month, so maybe I’ll get a second character to the cap. I do have a lot to do with my mage still: crafting, world event, PvP instances, and dungeons. Oh, and there’s a few story quests I haven’t finished yet and I need to know what happens with Uriel and Kira.

Almost there…

I’m getting near the end of the leveling curve. Even into the 30s it was possible to get roughly a level a day, but around the  mid-40s it dropped to about half a level a day. Even with the slower pace, I’m not feeling any kind of grind though because of all of the different activities available. There’s crafting dailies, quests available in three different zones, the world event dailies, and Warfront PvP.

Kae reached level 48 tonight and if all goes he’ll be 50 before the weekend is over.

This will be the fastest I’ve ever gotten to the level cap in an MMO. It’s not been any easier than any other current MMOs to level, but I’ve just been playing more consistently and for longer periods. The game has been very well designed, I’ve not run into any dead spots in the PvE game. There are always quests available for my character’s level, and in the later levels there are more quests than I need and multiple zones to go to. Aside from the game design, being in Circle of Trust has also made a difference. Knowing that there are always people online to chat with and do dungeon or rift runs gives me incentive to login every night.

Weekend of Rifting

Dogs and cats.

I finished the Critter Tears collection and received the Spirit of Tears reward, which looks like a ghostly cat. I was pretty lucky in that it only took me four or five tries per animal to get tears, I’ve heard from some players that have had really bad luck and had to kills dozens.

I’m more of a dog person than a cat person though, so I was also happy to collect enough Otherworldly Sourcestone from the River of Souls event to get a Shade Touched Hound. It cost one hundred of the sourcestones, which didn’t take too long since the four dailies each yield ten (or they do now, it was increased in a recent patch). I’ve also picked up the odd sourcestone from closing death rifts as well, but I’ve only gotten a few at a time that way.

I missed the first couple of days of the event, so it’s only been since Friday that I started seriously running these quests, and so far they are still fun. The next stage starts in the 9th so I’m sure I’ll be ready for something different by then.

It’s a small server after all.

Telara usually feels like a pretty large place, but it’s started to get smaller. I say this because while I was in Shimmersand hunting for rifts and saw a Death Rift pop. As I rode up the trail to the rift and joined the public group, I found myself with none other than Mr. And Mrs. MMOGC. Pretty funny that I randomly run into guildies like that.

Loving Roles

Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I’m really enjoying being able to swap roles depending on the situation. Usually I run around in my Stormcaller/Elementalistl PvE solo build, which has been working out excellently.

Anytime I end up in a public group of more than two others, I swap over to my Chloromancer/Warlock and get a little more practice at healing. Switching mental gears from a DPS mindset to a support/healing mindset is tricky, especially without the helpful fiction if logging out to swap characters. It’s very fun though and very handy in situations where you suddenly find that a change in strategy or tactics are needed.