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Archive for February, 2009

More info on Mission Architect

February 26, 2009 1 comment

NCSoft has unveiled some more info about the next issue of City of Heroes/Villains, Issue 14 – Mission Architect.

While they do not allow to create custom maps, I am pretty excited about the options that will be provided. Not everything is new if you have followed news about Mission Architect before:

  • Create your own custom villains and villain groups, selecting outfits and powers. This is a great features and will allow to create entirely new stories without staying the boundaries of existing groups and their stories. Although, City of Heroes/Villains probably have more different villain groups than most other MMOs to start with.
  • Every one can have up to 3 published mission arcs. Each arc can contain up to 5 missions and and each mission can have up to 25 mission objectives that can be chained. Unpublished missions (i.e. work in progress) I have not seen a specific limit set for. And since you can invite friends and others to test your unpublished missions, the 3 published arc limit may not be bad.
  • Regular xp and infmany/influence will be received from these missions and instead of enhancement/salvage/inspiration drops one will receive tickets that can be used to cash in for desired rewards. That sounds pretty much like the merit reward system that was introduced in Issue 13. This means that people can spend their whole superhero/supervillain career doing user-created missions if they want. As one that has mainly been playing on the red-side of the game (i.e. villain side) and being somewhat familiar with most the regular content there, I do look forward to other content with my favourite villains.
  • Mission arcs can be rated 1-5 stars by the players and if an arc gets 1000+ votes at 5-star rating, the arc will go into the Hall of Fame. There is also a Developer’s Choice selection, where the arc will be introduced through the regular mission systems (although rewards will still be tickets). There will also be a third option for arc elevation, although that is still under wraps.
  • Mission arcs will be globally available, across all servers and regions. This makes sense, it will need the global exposure to be successful IMHO. Unfortunately this will still only be the mission selection that is global, not that players can play with each other globally. Although I still hope that will be introduced at some point..
  • Mission maps are not custom created, but selectable from a predefined set (hundreds) of mission maps. Technically I can see that might possibly be an issue, but perhaps in a future update.
  • The FAQ does not mention spawning ambushes, so I suspect that will still not be part of the festures available. Too bad, but could also be overused.
  • Not sure how much it will be possible to control some if the NPC actions. One example would be one of the missions from Sister Arliss, where one escorts a fortunata that gets into disguise as one of the sisters around the oracle in Cimerora. I would love if that kind of mechanics could be done, but remains to be seen.
  • I am not quite sure how I like the ranking system yet. Where will new and unranked games be placed? In the bottom end where games with lots of low ratings, or somewhere in the middle, or will the be some separation based on number of votes?

I am really looking forward to this issue though, partly to play around with creating my own missions, but also to try out and play mission arcs created by others. While the core mechanics will be the same as before, this really has the potential to bring forward some quite fun and interesting content to the game. And even if some of the content will be crap or so-and-so, that can still be more interesting than playing through some of the regular content for the Xth time (where X may be in double digits…).

Categories: City of Heroes

Cancellation troubles

February 25, 2009 2 comments

Last Friday I decided to cancel my LOTRO subscription; I do not play it often and I have found it so-and-so overall when playing, so I decided to take a break from it for now.

So fo course I logged on to my Codemasters account, found the LOTRO entry entry and selected cancel and then selecting Yes for the “are you really sure?” question.
I was stupid enough to think that was the only thing I had to do. I got redirected in my browser to ClickAndBuy home page after this. ClickAndBuy is the company that charges my credit card for LOTRO on behalf of Codemasters.

Since I had not noticed anything pointing out why I was redirected there I ignored that – which I should not have done. Two days later I get an email from ClickAndBuy that they have charged me for another subscription period…

When complaining to them that I had actually cancelled my subscription, they say that I have to log in at ClickAndBuy to cancel it.

So I decide to log in to Codemasters again to check the status of the account and it is active there! I cancel again, answer Yes to the “are you really sure?” question again and when I get redirected to ClickAndBuy home page I login there. I do find a subscription entry for LOTRO, which I cancel.

And now, when I log back in to the Codemasters account I see that the subscription is cancelled there also.

Maybe there was some place where it was written that the subscription had to be cancelled in two locations; if the ClickAndBuy option would be sufficient, why have have a cancel choice at all and not just a redirect to ClickAndBuy directly? This is the first time I had to go to two places to cancel one subscription. Would it have been too much to ask for big red letters to notify about the unusual procedure?

It was not any big money lost since I only had the 1-month recurring option in this case; usually I tend to go for the 3-month or 6-month options when subscribing to MMOs, but not in this case.

Oh well, live and learn.

The chef and the alchemist

February 22, 2009 2 comments

Pursuing multiple crafting skills in Runes of Magic, in particular those that rely heavily on the same type of resource, can get grindy.

 

Using the grinder to make sand out of the ore

Using the grinder to make sand out of the ore

I have been pursuing cooking and alchemy and I have leveled both to 20, which is the end if the first tier for crafting. But this is the end of the line for one of them – it is just too much resource gathering of herbs to keep up both of them.
I decided to continue with alchemy in the end. Alchemy recipes typically has typically has 3-5 crafted herb items in them, which means 6-10 resources for a regular recipe and 36-60 resources for a rare recipe. Alchemy also needs ore as part of the recipe, but that usually amounts to just one crafted item, i.e. 2 resources. On top of that there are the production runes and the containers to keep the potions in.

With just one crafting skill and two harvesting skills I expect progression to be smoother. However, there is a matter of concern in general for the crafting and that is the amount of items needed to be crafted to level the skill.

Initially, crafting an item gained 20% per level if the recipe was at the same level as your skill. But this gain has decreased as the levels increase and in the late teen levels the gain has only been 5-6 % with the recipe at the same level as the skill. If that increase of the number of items to craft per level continues, it may not be worth the trouble to level any crafting skill – too much grind.

But for now my character is focusing on being an alchemist and we will have to see where it ends.

Categories: Runes of Magic

Progression in Taborea and the cost of convenience

February 22, 2009 2 comments

Looking back now after a few weeks of playing Runes of Magic on and off, a few thoughts comes to mind.

First of all is the “free to play” terminology. I do not really like that one, because the games are not free – in the end the developers and publishers have to get paid for their efforts and they will preferably also make a profit on the game. This is no different from subscription-based games.
A slightly closer description would perhaps be “free to grind” (F2G), but that does not always hold true either.

You pay for content and/or convenience. In Runes of Magic, there is not really much of epic content, at least not what I have seen so far. There are plenty of enemies which are tougher and which you need a team or perhaps a raid to deal with. But that is just harder, not epic.

So the game is in my mind more about spending a bit of casual time in a fantasy setting every now and then. What becomes more important then is a suitable progression rate for the time spent. And in here I think is where Runes of Magic will make its money. It is perfectly possible to progress in the game without spending any money whatsoever. But, and that is a significant but, if you do not spend any money at all it will certainly become a grind.

Ignoring the quality of quests (for now), the progression though questing I think will not be quite enough to support leveling 2 classes for a character with the default progression rate. Hence there will be grinding mobs, grinding daily quests, unless a player more or less ignores the dual-class system (which some do). It becomes F2G.

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Categories: Runes of Magic

Aslan Valley, crafting and outfits

February 15, 2009 6 comments

As my rogue+priest combo is advancing I picked up some new rewards for quests and got a complete set for the Silverspring outfit set (leather edition), which gives a rather nice look. The original colour was pretty much turquoise, which I did not quite like. So I changed the colour of the pieces in the outfit to dark, almost black ans with some red.   I have bits and pieces for other outfit sets also, but I will wait with those and keep them around to see if and when I might use them as I collect more of them.

Rogue primary with Silverspring leather and priest primary with Vantis cloth

Rogue primary with Silverspring leather and priest primary with Vantis cloth

For the priest side I bought some pieces of the Vantis cloth outfit set. All pieces except the crown were quite reasonably priced on the auction house. It seems that for normal dropped items headgear does not start to appear until around level 30, so selling something for the head that can be worn at level 15 might get a bit pricey I guess. I did end up buying the crown yesterday though. The shoulder pads on the picture are not part of the set, they were a drop I added and changed colour on to fit better.

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Categories: Runes of Magic

Chronicles of Spellborn has a new tutorial

February 15, 2009 Comments off

Recently The Chronicles of Spellborn had a new update of the game released. One of the major changes in the game was a new tutorial. The feedback the developers had received was that the old one was perhaps leaving a few things to be desired.

I would have to agree with that. The old tutorial made too many assumptions about players figuring out or knowing how to play already.

Does the new tutorial do a better job? I would say that it is a definite improvment in a number of ways.

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Lord of Magic City of Runes and Heroes Online

February 12, 2009 2 comments

This weekend I had some game time spent in three games, City of Heroes, Lord of the Rings Online and Runes of Magic. The latter two has the fantasy setting and the “kill ten boars” type of quests in common, while the first and last have a quite casual feeling in common. 

In City of Heroes I decided to play my controller Frieda and found when logging on one of my in-game friends that do not play so often being there. We decided to team up and he brought one of his favourite characters at the moment, a werewolf type tanker at level 11.

This picture has nothing to do with City of Heroes

This picture has nothing to do with City of Heroes

Soon after teaming up I got a tell asking if I wanted to join a group of other 43s (Frieda was level 43). I said that I was sorry, but was already temed up with a friend playing a low level character. And the response was “bring him along also if you want, we have space for more”.

And this is one of the great things about this game – both that the ability is there for someone at a low level to easily team up with high level characters, but also that the community is often supportive for that type of team play. No arguments about have a specific profile for the character or being at a specific level. The more the merrier is rather the attitude often and which is one reason I really like this game.

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Chronicles of Spellborn patch 1.0.2 goes live today

February 12, 2009 4 comments

It seems that it is finally time for the next update of The Chronicles of Spellborn to go live. Threre seem to be a lot of fixes according to the patch notes.
I did see that the quests that have been bugged for me have been fixed, which is nice to see. Also there are more menaces added to the world, which means that Tiny Tyke will have some more fellow player harassers spread out in the world 🙂
(Menaces are pretty much tough and hostile named mobs, wandering around in various areas).

There is also an entirely new tutorial, which I think is great. The previous tutorial was a bit weak, especially if people were unfamiliar with game specifics of TCOS, but also with MMOs in general. I will certainly create a new character to try it out – maybe I will learn something more 😉

I did not see any explicit comment about spawn rates for some mobs (which has been perhaps a bit too high in some places) – this will be an important factor for player enjoyment, I think.

With this release done I hope there will be some more progress on the release of the game for the rest of Europe and North America. I also hope that they will actually get rid of the ridiculous IP-blocking scheme – at a minimum I hope at least each continent can play together, but preferably there would not be any restrictions where you could play.

The time of crafting with encyclopedias

February 7, 2009 3 comments

In Runes of Magic crafting is going through a few phases:

* Harvest resources
* Make items from resources
* Loot recpies only: Make other items from items
* Make target items from created items from recipe

Each step, harvesting a resource or creating an item all seem to go on a roughly 6 second timer to do each task, i.e. harvest 1 resource or create 1 item.

To gain levels in a crafting skill one has to craft items; preferably with the highest level recipe available.
Making items from resources and crafting items can only be done at certain locations (not necessarily near each other), which means there are some travelling involved also. And number of resouces needed may be counted in the hundreds for each type.

Luckily it is pretty easy to find resource nodes. But it may still take quite a while to gain levels and it can get grindy.

In the item shop there are something called encyclopedias. Reading from the text description it seems that they may provide an alternate means to gain crafting levels (or weapons skill levels) in your house.

I decided to buy an encyclopedia to see what it was all about. The encyclopedia lasts for 30 calendar days. If activated in your house, your character will start to study the book, which will cause a progress bar to appear. This bar seem to run on the same 6 second timer as the other gathering/crafting activities. For each run it will increase the skill with something in between 0.00% and 0.03% of a level.

Those are not high numbers; if you let it run continously for about 1 hour you may gain 7-8% of a level. That is very slow, still much slower than going out gathering, crafting etc, including travel times.

 

Studying was much more fun in Real Life

Studying was much more fun in Real Life

I am actually ok with that – if it were faster than normal crafting there would be a lot of people studying in their houses instead. Even though running the study of the encyclopedia can make watching paint dry seem reasonably fun in comparision, some people would still do it if there was a faster gain.

However, I do not like this system though because of one thing – you still have to be online with your character! If the whole study part would be an offline activity that you could set your character to do it would be much better and also feel that the encyclopedias were worth buying.

But forcing the character to stay online – that is just silly. It is of course possible to minimze the game and continue do something else; assuming the computer can handle that. That is, if there weren’t a bug that seems to crash the game if being minimized for too long…

The scenario where I could think this could perhaps be ok is if you will travel away for a couple of days or weeks and you are ok with having the computer running and online during that time. But in most other cases I think it is a waste of money.

Unless you really like watching paint dry.

Categories: Runes of Magic

Release date for Runes of Magic

February 4, 2009 1 comment

There has now been an official release date set for Runes of Magic, March 19th. The annoucement says that the game has 450K registered users, which of course is likely a higher number than actual people playing. Comments in the forums say that they think the release is too early and that there too many things that need to be fixed. 

So it is all business as usual in the launch of an MMO.

Categories: Runes of Magic