Catching Up

Lots of newsworthy events this week.

Minecraft Beta 1.4 is out and has cookies and wolves. Beds will now your spawn point too. This will be great for going on long distance exploration where I can setup a base camp and not have to worry about getting killed and going all the way back to the original spawn point of the world.

Cryptic brought the Foundry online. The launch seems to have gone smoothly, and players are busily remaking old mission from the beta on Tribble as well as making new missions. The Delta Flyer crafting mission is also up and involves a daily mission to scan anomalies in a shuttle.

Rift’s patch 1.1 is out and adds a ton of fixes plus the River of Souls event. One of the great quality of life updates is separating the cool down on potions by type, so now I don’t have to worry about throwing an explosive philter and locking myself out of using a healing potion for the next two minutes.

One the Xbox side of things, there’s new DLC for Mass Effect 2, apparently this is the last bit of content before Mass Effect 3 comes out. I can’t image the new content tops lair of the Shadow Broker, but anything the puts me back in the ME universe is good fun.

Lots of stuff for me to play this weekend, too bad it’s not a three day holiday weekend.

Oh Yeah, I have Roles

Rift has required me to think a bit differently about the characters I play.

In most games, I pick a class and roll a character. That combination combines in my head as I play and my character ends up developing a personality and backstory of which the class is an integral part. Even in Champions, which doesn’t have a class system, I usually have a build or theme in mind for a character which becomes a part of that character’s identity.

So coming to Rift, I had the same mindset where I identified my Mage character with his initial Soul, which was Stormcaller. This kept me from really getting the Soul/Role system.

What finally clued me in to it was watching a Cleric steamroll a mob camp that I’d been carefully working around the edges of with my Mage. I’m not sure what soul combination the player was using but they were at least using Druid since there was a Fae trailing along healing them. I watched the player run into the center of the camp and gather up five mobs and proceed to melee the whole group while their pet healed them. As a Mage, there was no way I could do that. Or at least not as a Stormcaller. I had been trying to pick off mobs from the edges of the camp so I could clear a path to a named mob I needed for a quest, so of course I was a little upset when this Cleric came charging in, but that turned to jealousy while I watched him clear the camp and survive.

Then the light bulb came on. I could do that to, even if not exactly the same way.

My original role has most of its points in Stormcaller, with a few points in Dominator for better crowd control duration and a few in Elementalist for the basic pet and a convert charge to mana ability. I still had two roles unlocked that I hadn’t done anything with, and it dawned on me that I had tons of other options I could try out to see if I could find a more survivable solo PvE build.

I just had to mentally separate my character from the build I had been using from levels 1 to 40-something.

As I mentioned during my first try at this, I initially put almost all of my points in Elementalist. That build was much more survivable (after I remembered to train up all the new abilities I’d unlocked), but depending so heavily on my pet was not as much fun as slinging lightning.

What I really needed to do was see if I could split my points between Stormcaller and Elementalist enough that I could get the Greater Earth Elemental tanking pet and still keep my beloved Lightning Storm from the Stormcaller soul. Turns out it was much easier to split that way than I expected. I ended up with a new build split 33/22 between Stormcaller and Elementalist (with 3 points in Dominator). I was able to get deep enough into both soul trees to get all of the abilities I wanted, largely because I found I’d put a lot of points into Stormcaller water spells which I don’t use much. Honestly, when I originally leveled, I got to the point where I was just putting points into Stormcaller out of habit and a fuzzy goal of trying to get to the 51 point spell.

This new build is a lot more fun. Now don’t have to drink after or use potions in every fight, I can handle multiple adds, and I’m no longer suffering from Cleric-envy.

The thing I just have to remember is my character is a Mage not a Stormcaller. I’ve got three builds I can setup for different purposes and there’s a four one I can unlock once I have the platinum.

By the way, learning a new build is something else that I’ve had to get used to doing. I put a healing build using Chloromancer and Warlock build together and realized I’d need groups to practice on. I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to take it into a dungeon until I knew better what I was doing. Maybe a guild run would be okay, but jumping into open Rift groups seemed like a better route. There’s a lot more of those around, they’re mostly open groups, and there’s usually a lot going on, especially on the big invasion bosses, so that any screw ups would involve a minimum amount of hassle.

DAW: Trion

Thanks Trion!

I want to kick of Developer Appreciation Week by thanking all of the programmers, artists, and designers at Trion that worked their butts off for the last few years to bring us Rift. Thanks to all of you for showing gamers what happens when a developer get’s enough time and money to do things right. I hope you’re all enjoying some time off, kicking back with a beer or three, and recharging those mental batteries.


Author’s Note: So…. communication… um yeah.  I should, may, probably will get back to my theme tomorrow, but it ain’t happening tonight. See I thought I had an idea that I wanted to use regarding Trion and Rift, but as I sat down tonight and started working I realized that what I actually wanted to say wasn’t what I thought I was going to say yesterday. I got a little frustrated and thought about skipping it altogether, but that’s stupid and goes a bit against the spirit of what this week’s about. Instead, I decided to just go with it.

Rift Weekend

It was a productive weekend for me, at least in Rift. Kae reached level 40 and splurged on a new mount, the Nimble Silver Eldritch Steed, which gives a nice 90% increase to movement. It looks like a very uncomfortable to ride though and sounds a little clanky too.

I also finally got around to trying out some alternate roles. My main build so far has been a Stormcaller/Dominator/Elementalist with nearly all of the points in Stormcaller. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out on a part of the game by not trying out some other roles.

Since I’ve mostly been soloing lately, I decided to start easy and try out an alternate soloing build, so I focused most of my points on Elementalist. I added Dominator to that with just a few points to buff up Transmogrify (I love being able to turn mobs into squirrels) and Pyromancer with zero points. Once I had my action bars set, I headed out and proceeded to get killed multiple times.

At first I was thinking that maybe Elementalist was just gimped, then I noticed that the Greater Earth Elemental I summoned was lower level than the Lesser Earth Elemental that I normally use in my Stormcaller build. Doh! So… I went back to Meridian and trained up the new skills I’d acquired.

The second attempt to try out my Elementalist build worked much better, go figure, and I used it for a couple hours of leveling before I switched back to my original build. Even though it worked well and was a little more survivable than my usual build, I don’t think I’ll keep it. It just wasn’t as much fun for me to play that way.

Fortunately, I just have to spend a little gold and I can reset that role and try something else. I’m generally not a fan of the Necromancer class, but I was thinking of looking into the Warlock soul. I’ve heard it combines well with Chrolomancer for a healing build, which is something I really need to look into for running dungeons and Warfronts.

Still Rifting

Aside from my culinary adventures, my Kelari Defiant Mage, Kae of Faeblight, has been progressing very nicely. He’s level 38 (with the level cap at 50) with a played time of 3 days, 15 hours, and 20 minutes. Like I said, I’ve been playing an unhealthy amount. I’ve been dabbling in the Warfront PvP, running some dungeon instances, but mostly exploring the world and the PvE content.

Two things I’ve realized since I hit the mid-game: one is how much bigger the world feels now that I’ve gotten out of Freemarch and then Stonefield, and the second is how attached I’ve become to Telara. I picked up the trade paperback of the comic book to get an offline lore infusion and been enjoying what I pick up from quests and cutscenes in the game. The most emotional reaction I’ve had to the game so far though has been Scarwood.

After Stonefield, Defiants move into the Scarlet Gorge which is a grand red canyon and the quests there have a bit of a western flavor to them. Beautiful in it’s own way, but not quite to my tastes like the highland valley of Stonefield was. Once I got into the low thirties I headed further north into Scarwood.

Scarwood is an ugly and depressing place. When I first entered the area I was dismayed by the massive stumps and industrial devastation. On the plus side, my reaction made me realize how much of a connection I’ve built with the setting.

There’s a zone-wide rift event that involves elves from the Plane of Life invading with the goal of returning the forest to it’s former glory. My first impulse was to cheer them on, regardless of the cost in Defiant and Guardian lives.

Scarwood is well named for the gigantic stumps that litter the ground, it must’ve been a truly magnificent forest. Check out Kae standing at the base of one of the Scarwood stumps for an idea of the scale of these trees.

Honeymoon Phase?

It could just be because the game is new and shiny, but I was wandering around Stonefield last night and glanced at the bottom of the screen to see how much XP I had before my next level. The bar was only a quarter full and I was confused because I thought I was much further along than that. Then I noticed a 25 below my character’s portrait and checked my Soul window to verify that I had indeed leveled and just hadn’t realized it.

It’s not like the level up animation is hard to miss either, I wonder what I was so engrossed in that I didn’t notice it.

Call and Raise

So now that I’m excited about Rift, I’m commiting to it a bit more.

Originally I bought the digital edition directly from Trion and signed up for a three month subscription. I figured three months would be enough to ride out the initial wave of excitement and by then I would’ve lost interest. Now that I’m excited about the game, I’m rethinking things.

I’m not planning to go all in like Tipa has and commit to Rift as my primary game for the year, but I did switch to the six month subscription and paid $10 for the digital collector’s edition to get the additional bag space. The turtle mount I may use for alts, but Kae already has a Rock Vaiyuu and I find the two-headed turtle hideous.

Other Devs Should Steal This

Like the area looting, Trion’s add another nice little feature that I think other MMO developers should borrow. Click the little stack-o-coins button at the bottom of your vendor window and watch all your grey vendor trash items vanish at once.



Defiants spend their first twentyish levels (once they go back in time) in Freemarch. It is a fairly large area, very pretty and interesting, but it’s not gorgeous. Or maybe it was gorgeous when I first saw it in beta, but in the headstart I’ve not paid much attention to the environment. At least until I made my way into Stonefield.

Actually, looking at it now I don’t think the screenshot does it justice. The motion of the clouds and rain and the sense of space are both missing and were a big part of the sense of awe I had when I first come upon this view.

Finally Excited

Kae, Kelari Mage of Faeblight

I haven’t talked much about Rift. At first it was because I was under NDA and couldn’t. After that was lifted though, I just didn’t have much to add that hadn’t already been blogged about in a multitude of other places. The main reason is that despite being interested in the game, I just wasn’t as excited about the game as most other bloggers seemed to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time in beta, but I quickly got to the point where I stopped playing because I didn’t want to get sick of the PvE content before it even launched. I don’t like repeating content very much, and I didn’t want to rerun the newbie zone too many times before I could play a character I would be able to keep.

Despite my tepidness about Rift, I did pre-order and signed up for a three month subscription. I knew a lot of friends (like Multiplaying’s Circle of Trust guild) were going to be playing and I wanted to be there for the initial excitement.


So Thursday night, I logged into Faeblight and was greeted by a rather large queue (I didn’t take notes but it was somewhere north of 1600).  I ended up logging into Circle of Trust’s Vent and chatting a bit and then went AFK and read a book while I waited for my chance to get onto the server. I know some people were/are/will be frustrated with the queues but this is not my first launch and I was expecting to have to wait to get in.

The surprising thing about the launch was how smooth it went once I was in the game. I was expecting to be greeted by a newbie zone crowded with hordes of players sprinting around. Instead it was pretty sedate and I had no trouble finishing quests and working my way through and then out into the full world. I imagine this was a combination of instancing and the queues gating new players.

Come Friday, the queue seemed a little more sane. I logged in around 9pm Eastern and was number 650 something. I finished my book, Black Magic Woman, and played some Minecraft.


It wasn’t until Saturday when I leveled into the high teens that the game started to get exciting to me. I think it was a combination of getting out of the areas I’d seen multiple times before, finally getting some robes that looked cool, and (most importantly) starting to develop and interest in the lore. This last part is key for me. It is the main reason why I’ve never really enjoyed Age of Conan and why I love Lord of the Rings and Star Trek Online.

So while I initially started playing Rift because of the social tidal wave, I’m now also playing for the story. Look me up on Faeblight if you can complete the queue daily quest.