Archive for November, 2011

The casual raider?

November 29, 2011 2 comments

I do not consider myself a raider. Raiding endgame in games like World of Warcraft, EQ2 and a number of other games has never interested me. Yet, but one definition of raid, I have raided 7 times in the past week and 8 times in the weekend before that.

Most of the time when raids and raiding are being brought and discussed in terms of game features, especially new games – then the definition seems to be “content experienced by more than 1 team”.  This is also the definition by which I have raided 15 times in the past 10 days.

However, it is a bit silly definition IMHO. Games with small team sizes, like World of Warcraft, have  raids with 10 people it seems. This is only slightly smaller than the regular team sizes of for example Guild Wars and City of Heroes, who have a team size of 8. In the old days of Star Wars Galaxies, you could have up to 20 persons in a team.

More correctly raiding seems to be about a lot of things besides the size fo the whole group, in particular when you read people’s comments about good and bad things about raiding in various games. It is never really about the number of people per se, at least when it comes to complaints, but rather the consequences of trying to execute or do things according to certain patterns with a larger group.  It may also be about the way your efforts are rewarded and the time needed for it.

Similar to that MMO for many has a lot more context into its definition into it than just a lof of players playing the same game online, I think raids also carry a lot of implicit context for many what it actually is.

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Categories: City of Heroes

City of Heroes weekend sales

November 26, 2011 Comments off

City of Heroes, as well as some other games of American origin with game shops, seems to have a sale this weekend with reduced prices for a couple of things.

For City of Heroes there is some information here.  I picked up a few items from this sale now:

* A couple of Windfall temporary power (better drop rates for stuff, 25% increased cash gain rate ). Something to turn on when a Strike/Task force is run, for example.

* Basilisk’s Gaze enhancement set. This is a hold powerset, where a complete set contains 6 pieces of enhancements. Level range 10-30. Picked up 4 out of 6 pieces for my Peacebringer.

* A couple of Luck of the Gambler defense/global recharge rate enhancements, level range 25-50. This is perhaps one of the more desired pieces for players  – in addition to some defense it provides a +7.5% reduction of the recharge time for all powers. You do not even have to use the power to take advantage of this – just slot it.

An advantage with the bought enhancements is that they work for the whole level range, scaling automatically. You can get them early and the scale up with you. But their bonuses should also work if your level is lowered then – which is not the case for the crafted versions. At least that what I assume they will. So I will use some LotG enhancements to replce the ones I already have on my warshade. Then I will sell the old ones later, some time after the sale has finished. The store bought versions are account locked, so they cannot be sold to other persons. This is good I think.

At the normal prices for these things I do not think I would have bought any of these. But with prices at about 1/4 of the original price it ended up in a range that was ok for me.


Categories: City of Heroes

Raising the Kheldians

November 20, 2011 Comments off

Lately I have had a Kheldian focus when playing City of Heroes. As I have mentioned before, archetypes that have some strong areas, some weak areas, may provide some tactical variation  in game play (e.g. active combat decisions) and provide some game mechanic supercharge/bonus mode – those work quite well for me.

Han Sente, my Warshade, is continuing his climb to becoming an incarnate. First the Alpha slot was unlocked through gaining a few incarnate drops and shards – mainly playing a few strike/task forces. With a tier 3 Spiritual Alpha component (spiritual is mainly about improved recharge rates) he is now level 50+1 and together with a number of invention origin (IO) enhancement sets the recharge time for a lot of powers are much shorter than they were originally. The difference is quite noticeable from the unenhanced gameplay.

The mandatory giant robot fight - Tin Mage task force

The almost-I-Win-button power Eclipse is now most of the time recharged by the time the previous use expires. However, since the efficiency much depends on the number of enemies at point blank range (the more the better) and must be triggered in human form, there is a timing and risk factor involved to make it work well. This is part of what makes it fun to play, IMHO.

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Categories: City of Heroes

A purple path to incarnate

November 16, 2011 Comments off

Lately I have been playing my Warshade quite a bit – it has been emerging as one of the most fun archetypes I have played in City of Heroes. My favourite has been and may still be the Dominator (8 of them at max level), but the Warshade is definitely in 2nd place or perhaps even sharing the top spot.

Actually both the Warshade and Dominator are fun for similar reasons, although they are quite different. Both have areas where they are strong and areas where they are week, plus that they have a mode elevates some of their capabilities from strong to awesome. I find this mix of weak and strong parts quite appealing and it is a bit of a rush to kick them into awesome mode. For dominators this is their inherent Domination power, which elevates them from really good crowd controller to awesome crowd controller for 90 seconds.

For Warshades it is the Eclipse power, which has the potential to send the resistance to pretty much everything through the roof (if the power hits enough enemies), making the Warshade pretty much invulnerable to damage of different types, for 90 seconds. It also drains endurance of enemies, giving some of that to the Warshade. However, this power depends on enough enemies being next to the Warshade, plus that it has to be triggered in human form, which can be quite fragile.

By default Eclipse has a recharge time of 5 minutes, which one of course can reduce to about half of that with the appropriate enhancements. The Hasten power also helps reducing recharge times for Eclipse and other powers and the Invention system allows also crafting better enhancements allowing for example the recharge time to be reduced even further.

For Eclipse and many other Warshade powers, the more enemies the better

This is also a difference for me playing the Warshade – for the most part I have not really invested a lot into the invention system when leveling up a character. Mostly it has been limited to creating common IO enhancements from early 30s and onward, and perhaps start to look at various IO sets at or very close to level 50.

However, with my Warshade I started with IO sets already in early 30s and have done a bit more planning than usual for how to build up the character. After Eclipse, which one can pick at level 38, there is not really any new powers to choose from for a Warshade – all other archetypes except the Kheldians have “Epic” powerset options available to them also.

This has perhaps contributed to that reaching level 50 with the Warshade felt more like a minor bump on the road rather than a major milestone. He reached max level this past weekend (16th character at max level), but this just opened up the option to start gaining the incarnate abilities. Most of the time I have sort of taken a break from a character when it has reached max level, but not this time.

A bit of luck has also made him on of the richer characters I have at the moment – 3 purple (very rare) recipe drops this evening added about 1 billion inf when sold in the consignment house.

Since I have found the Warshade fun to play, I have also started to have a look at the other Kheldian, the Peacebringer. This one lives on the hero side, my Warshade is a villain. By changing him to a villain I did not get the opportunity to follow the Warshade-specific story arcs. With my Peacebringer I plan to follow the Kheldian-specific story arcs. They are good to play because some of the background and information for the Kheldians and their enemies are provided.

The work on improving my Warshade’s capabilities continues also – I am at the point where I could run Eclipse pretty much constantly. But since it depends on many enemies to be right next to you it is not a sure thing to trigger. Other improvements include increased accuracy as well as improved stun. With the start on the incarnate path has is also receiving boosts for recharge, heals and stuns as well as slow effects – which is precisely what is needed for a tri-form Warshade.

Categories: City of Heroes

From ADSL to 4G

November 14, 2011 Comments off

Today I switched my home network set-up to use 4G mobile broadband instead of my old ADSL modem set-up. So far it seems to be working quite well, so if there are no issues with it in the near future I will likely dump my old ADSL solution.

The ADSL modem has been an old faithful and for the most part worked quite well. However, the point of connection for the modem have had an unfortunate location, above a kitchen bench and away from any computer location. There has been a few different  workarounds/solutions to this, the latest being using power line network adapters to route the ADSL connection to a different room, where the router is located. One computer and the NAS is connected by cables to the router, while other equipment connects through wireless to the router.

The power line network adapters broke down recently, which led to a temporary workaround with long cables being used. Pretty much at the same time I did see a good offer for the 4G mobile broadband, so I picked that one up. I do not have to pay anything for the 4G modem and the monthly fee is for the initial 12 months about half of what I pay for the ADSL connection, then it goes up to almost as much.

But I also only pay for the phone line connection in order to have the ADSL modem connected – only mobiles phones are used to call. So if I can drop that it will save some money as well. The only potential downside here is that the 4G connection  has a limit of 100GB for a 30 day period, after that they will throttle down the speed – with my ADSL there is no limit. However, I do not expect to run into that limit. Even if they did I could certainly live witha slower speed for a bit.

For a 4G connection the actual tested speed was sort of ok (roughly 30 Mbit/s download speed and 15Mbit/s upload speed), but still better than the theoretical limit of my ASDL modem, which is 24Mbit/s download and 1 Mbit/s upload.

Watching streamed TV/video on my Asus Transformer also worked better and smoother now also through the wireless connection, which was a bit so-and-so before.

Remains to be seen if it continues to work well, but I hope so – it will simplify the casa Sente home network set-up.

Categories: Other

Into Metropolis

November 6, 2011 2 comments

So after a bit more than 22 hours of download time DCUO was finally in place on my PS3 and I could log in. Since I bought the game for PS3 shortly after it was released (January it seems) I entered the game as a premium player and had 6 character slots in total. Three of those had my old characters and these had been renamed with _JFA appended to their names, which I guess is an indicator of my previous server before they merged the servers.

First I tried to login to one of my old characters, selected him and waited to enter the game…and waited…and waited. Finally I gave up, aborted, entered the game again and started a new character. The character creation seems to be pretty much as I remembered it, which on the whole has fewer choices than the other Superhero MMOs (City of Heroes and Champions Online) and a bit more confusing interface. Still, I found it easier to make a somewhat cool looking character than in Champions.

Running through the tutorial was pretty much the same as before, except that I noticed some changes in the user interface and that the controls in general felt more responsive than I remembered them. This was one of my main annoyances with the game when I first tried it and there seem to have been some improvements here.

Still, there is a bit of experimentation to figure out what is there and what you can do, since there is not much help or explanation beyond the basic combat interface. There is a help section, but that only tells you to contact the game support. In some parts there are texts explaining the differences between the three different player account levels (free, premium and legend) for that particular part though.

I did find how to take screenshots in the game – maybe the original version of the game had that feature also, but if it had I never found it. While some feature/functionality may take a bit of time to find, the interface is manageable.

The game itself looks quite good I think, although it would have been nice if it has used a bit higher resolution than 1280×720. I tried adjusting the screen scale option by increasing that to max, but that essentially just moved the UI elements further towards the center for the screen it seems, or at least screenshot sizes stayed the same.

I ran through some of the early missions up until I reached level 7, which is pretty much as far as I goit with some of my old characters. Not entirely comfortable with the controls yet, but significantly less of an annoyance from back in January.  One line of missions led to beating up a guy named Faust, who was some soul-catching villain. The other line was beating up some minions this Brainiac guy who is the main enemy in the game for both heroes and villains.

These missions were pretty ok. A nice thing is that some of the mission objectives were updated just by being nearby the place where it happened, if another player did it – which is good when there are objects and resources to interact with. It makes it more encouraging to cooperate on the objectives.

Faust's final stage

I did have a look at the market place for the game – most of the things that were sold were cosmetic and “fun” stuff, plus a few things to expand space (inventory, bank etc), or to get attachements and money from email (if someone sent that). Premium players can get attachments from email, but not money – for that you need to buy the ability to withdraw the money. One could also buy some legends stuff, which included fighting with and against certain DC characters. Since I am not a DC fan and fairly ignorant about most DC characters that was not an area that interested me.

The costume pieces, styles and toys that were available felt a bit on the expensive side to me. A single costume piece cost either 10 SEK or 20 SEK for me, with corresponds roughly to 1.50 and 3 USD, respectively. Since we on this side of the pond usually end up paying more when there is some currency exchange in place, I suspect they might be a bit cheaper for US players.

There was nothing in the store that jumped to me directly as something that I felt I must buy and the things I could consider did not feel cheap – which is bad, since I think a good balance for the game to work commercially is to have things that makes you want to buy it, but not feel forced to do it. But I may not be the primary target audience for the game.

If there is a major annoyance with the game right now, that is the waiting time as mentioned in the beginning when trying to get into the game. It seems to be a bit of a hit&miss whether you actually get into the game itself. If there is a queing mechanic it is not indicated and I think it is just a matter of the game not quite coping that well here. I have had a couple of play sessions now and typically have had 2-3 attempts before I actually got into the game for each session.

Other than that, it feels pretty ok. Not overly excited at this point, but good enough that will probably continue to play a bit. But so far I have only played missions similar to what I played before, so there might be more and better stuff down the line.

Beating up Brainiac minions

Categories: DC Universe Online

Waiting for DCUO

November 4, 2011 2 comments

Yesterday I decided that I should give DC Universe Online a spin on my PS3, since it did not require a subscription anymore. So I fired up the PS3 and picked DCUO from the Playstation Store – a 122 MB download.

This was just the start of course; it downloaded another 120:ish MB of client update and then when the game started it were checking its assets. Harddisk full was the message then and that it required an additional 9 GB of disk space.  After looking through what I had installed it was not really that much removeable stuff space except some movie data from Yoostar2.

I realized that I did not remember how large the disk in the PS3 was in the first place. Checking in the System Information reported 37GB disk space, with 12 GB free. A bit small harddisk – new PS3:s seem to have a 320GB harddisk nowadays.

Luckily it is pretty easy to replace the hard disk in the PS3, so I bought a cheap 640 GB hard disk and backed up the existing content to a USB drive. Replaced the hard disk in the PS3 and restored the backup to the new disk. For some reason it reported that it had used twice the size of the old hard disk after restoration – perhaps there is a certain percentage of reserved space it uses on a disk for the system itself?

Anyway, now the disk has more than 500 GB free and DCUO was happy to continue downloading 14+ GB worth of assets. The download speed is quite slow through, so I expect it to be done tomorrow morning or possibly sometime in the middle of the night.

Categories: DC Universe Online