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Archive for February, 2013

Small screen adventures

February 27, 2013 2 comments

Started up Age of Conan after being away from it for 7-8 months, patched up the game and clicked the Accept and Start dialog options – and ended up with this display below (actual size). I could see some of the splash stuff that shows up at start in the window, like the Nvidia logo. But logging in and playing is going to be a bit tough ūüôā

SmallScreen

 

(Yes, it worked better after a restart…)

 

Categories: Age of Conan

The Secret World issue #6 announced

February 22, 2013 Comments off

Funcom has announced that the next content update, Issue #6 РLast Train to Cairo is due in the beginning of March.  The preview announcements includes a poster, some screenshots and a bit of teaser information what will be included in the update.  Given what the previous issue provided with the Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn, I do quite look forward to this one.  Funcom manages to do some quite memorable missions in this game and a bit of Indiana Jones style mission sound quite good.

I am also looking forward to the new auxiliary weapon, the whip. From a style/theme perspective that is just right, I think.

A specific date is not specified, only “beginning of March”. So my guess would be in about two weeks from now, most likely.

Categories: The Secret World

Dreamfall Chapters getting fruit and bird

February 18, 2013 2 comments

The Kickstarter project for the adventure game Dreamfall Chapters seems to be doing quite well – after about 1 1/2 week they have reached their funding goal and also reached their first stretch goal – Mac and Linux versions of the game.

I am quite happy to see this, personally my main reason to use Windows is because that is what is required to run most MMOs. Beyond that, I prefer other operating systems and OS X and Linux comes out ahead in that respect.

In the video attached to this latest update (follow the link above), Ragnar, Dag and Martin talks about how to introduce new players into the game and its universe. They also announced that on this Friday, they will play through the earlier games (The Longest Journey & Dreamfall) live on TwitchTV.

That is probably going to be a marathon gaming session and that have not given the specific times yet, but could be fun to take a peek for a while – at least during the parts I have already played through – do not want to get spoilers….

Categories: MMO Games

Leveling a language

February 18, 2013 1 comment

This weekend I started leveling in a new game – German. It is through the service DuoLingo, which is a free online language teaching service, combined with a crowdsourced translation of text.

It was created by Luis von Ahn, creator of reCAPTCHA, and a couple of other people. While one important part of the service is translation of text, I find it also interesting because they have gamified the learning process.

Each lesson gives you points after completion, similar to gaining XP. After you have received a certain amount of points you gain a level. As you level, more skill/learning options open up for you. After receiving a certain proficiency in an area, one can continue to move on to other areas, or continue with mastering that area. In is in the latter option that the crowdsourced translation seems to be taking place.

Each lesson also give each student/player 4 lives (hearts) – if an answer is wrong, you lose one heart. If you lose all hearts, you fail the lesson and have to redo it to progress. The more hearts you have after a lesson, the more “xp” you get.

Each lesson is fairly short and the time can be counted in minutes. I found it quite fun and enjoyable to play/learn through DuoLingo. To try it out I started with German, a language I studied for only 3-4 weeks long ago in my youth in high school before switching to French and Russian.

So far I have reached level 4 and judging from the skill tree, there is a lot of ground to cover.

The site offers language training in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English – the latter for speakers of some of the Latin languages, the others for those who speak English.

So what will your proficiency in a language be after completing the DuoLingo training? There is a Reddit discussion on this topic, which relates what is learned to CEFR level definitions. In some areas abilities/skills may be at B1 level, other areas DuoLingo is weaker. Considering the number of hours CEFR estimates for reaching certain proficiency levels compared to the number of hours people seem to need in general to complete a DuoLingo training, it seems DuoLingo is fairly efficient.

I do recommend reading the comments that are attached to each exercise, in particular if you do not quite understand the correct answer – DuoLingo does not go out of its way to explain the grammar. There are grammar descriptions, but not everything is explained in detail. Here comments from native/knowledgable people can be quite helpful.

Try it out – it is F2P and there is no item shop, lockboxes or pay-to-win features….

Categories: Online games, Other

Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter campaign off to a an impressive start

February 9, 2013 1 comment

If you have played the adventure games The Longest Journey and/or Dreamfall, chances are that you may be interested in the Kickstarter campaign for Dreamfall Chapters – the concluding adventure in The Longest Journey saga.

Ragnar T√łrnquist, the creator of these adventure games and the mind behind behind the story and setting of Anarchy Online and The Secret World, has started a company Red Thread Games. This company includes a number of ¬†veterans from Funcom which are working on to make this third installment of this saga. The company is self-funded, so they have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get some additional funding for the game, aiming for a release in 2014.

The Kickstarter campaign has pretty much just started and have a goal of $850000. At the time of writing here they have already reached over $430000, i.e. more than half way to the goal. This is from 7800 backers, so on average that is around $55 per person so far. All tiers from $20 and upwards includes a copy of the game.

I have not played Dreamfall yet and I have not yet completed The Longest Journey, but both of those are certainly on my to-do list. I am a big admirer what Ragnar¬†T√łrnquist has accomplished storywise for both Anarchy Online and The Secret World and I loved playing The Longest Journey also. So they will get some $$$ from me as well.

Categories: Adventure Games

Playing with guns and knives

February 9, 2013 2 comments

This is another build post for The Secret World; this was something that was originally intended to be written shortly after my previous build-related post. But I guess better late than never…

In this case it is about some experiences I have had on my Templat alt, Zenara. She was created pretty much at the same as my main character around the game’s Early Access, but did not get much play time at all. Thus she has not progressed as much and is now roaming around in the Blue Mountain area.

Zenara1

Whereas my main character started out with some kind of idea of a tanke/damage dealer hybrid, Zenara started out more as a healer/damage dealer hybrid. Initially she used a mix of Blades and Blood Magic, using Blood shields for healing & protection and the baldes doing the damage. This worked kind of ok through Kingsmouth, but reaching Savage Coast is started to feel a bit cumbersome and slow. It really was not a good combination in terms of flow in the combat, at least not for solo play.

So in Savage Coast the build was revamped a bit; Blood was thrown out and Assault Rifle was picked instead. Since assault rifle has the ability to do both damage and heal at the same time (leeching), this seemed to be something that could work potentially better. And it did – it worked much better. Much of the blades abilities were kept and a bit of Assault Rifle was added and that worked out quite well.

Part of the equation is also the combination of talismans. With a healer/damage dealer hybrid approach, my choice was primarily a mix of damage dealer and healer talismans obviously. ¬†What have worked well for me with the Blade/Assault rifle combination is to have 2-3 (green) healing talismans and the rest (green) damage dealer talismans. ¬†For a single ¬†normal “single dot” enemy, the health bar has barely dropped if only assault rifle was used.

The current build is almost the same as it when it was set up in Savage Coast and it looks like this:

BladeARbuild1

WEAPONS: blade/assault_rifle (122 AP)
ACTIVES

  1. Grass Cutter (Blade->Wind through Grass, 9 AP)
  2. Blade Torrent (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  3. Balanced Blade (Blade->Method, 1 AP)
  4. Stunning Swirl (Elite, Blade->Method, 7 AP)
  5. Anima Shot (Assault Rifle->Support, 1 AP)
  6. Fire in the Hole (Assault Rifle->Support, 4 AP)
  7. Martial Discipline (Blade->Technique, 2 AP)

PASSIVES

  1. Anticoagulant (Assault Rifle->Support Team, 16 AP)
  2. Sharp Blades (Blade->Method, 4 AP)
  3. Immortal Spirit (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  4. Perfect Storm (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  5. Regeneration (Blade->Technique, 3 AP)
  6. Experience (Elite, Assault Rifle->Support, 7 AP)
  7. Anima Boost (Assault Rifle->Support, 1 AP)

Essentially Grass Cutter and Anticoagulant are the most recent additions here РI believe they replaced Delicate Strike and Delicate Precision. Except for these two, everything else is from the inner circle and is easy to pick up. In this setup, Blade Torrent and Balanced Blade are the main weapons of choice for multiple enemies at the same time, typically the 3-dot enemies. For single enemies Anima Shot and Fire In The Hole  do perhaps most of the work, with a bit of added Grass Cutter and Balanced Blade to speed things up a bit. This costs a bit of health though, as one is not leeching then. The Blade builders will build for both weapons though, so Fire In The Hole can be used soon again also when using blades Рand that one can do a decent amount of damage.

Stunning Swirl is primarily for these moments that tend to go a little bit “oh shit” or when there is a major attack from the enemy building up. ¬†For the “oh shit” moments there is also Martial Discipline, which combined with Regeneration passive can help get out of a tricky situation alive – enemies are less likely to hit you properly and you will also gain health. Anima Boost is there to boost both healing and damage from assault rifle and Experience to boost the healing part from it – fewer healing talismans need to keep up the leeching and thus more can go into attack/damage.

Zenara2

The Perfect Storm and Anticoagulant passives are there to put Afflicted state and DoTs on the enemies; this seems like a good combination with the perhaps a bit more drawn out/slower damage dealing though Anima Shot to improve damage there. Immortal Spirit is included to take advantage of penetration effects to boost heals a bit.

In terms of equipment I currently have 2 QL 6 talismans, 4 QL5 talismans and one QL 4 talisman – all green. The weapons are both blue, one QL5 and one QL 6. She is a bit slower than my main character were in defeating enemies in this area, but can deal a bit better with some situations. This is partially due to healing capabilities and partially due to the mixed ranged+melee damage also, rather than pure melee.

Categories: The Secret World

Ghostly Quantum Vampires Going Green, at 50%

February 3, 2013 3 comments

The adventures continues in The Secret World, as well as in Real Life – have not left much time for actual blogging lately, so I am trying to squeeze in a bit here with various bits and pieces. This is reflected in the title of the post…

To Transylvania with love

In the past 3 weeks (I think) I have been roaming around in Transylvania, after leaving Eqypt for greener pastures – literally. Transylvania looks like a quite nice place, lush forests and farmlands and picturesque villages. At least if it had not been for various ghouls, ghosts, werewolves and of course – vampires.

BesiegedFarmlands1

The first thing you run into are ghouls, pretty much the same as one sees in Egypt, around the Black Pyramid in The City of the Sun God. Soon afterwards though you end up with a bit of different flavour, forest guardians and gods, and faeries folks – which to some extent are on your side. Except the corrupted ones – there is always Filth and corruption. When I was playing though a number of the missions in the first Transylvanian zone, The Besieged Farmlands, I was wondering when I would meet the vampires. I had actually already ran into them, but did not realize that. It was not until a bit later that what I thought was some kind of cultists, also were the vampires.

BesiegedFarmlands2

When I realized it then, there “cultists” made a lot more sense – how they were dressed and how they behaved. Vampires in a modern setting, adapting to the conditions. I loved it. I also loved that the story sort turns upside down with Bram Stoker’s version of Dracula – he is not a big bad vampire, but rather a hero it seems. It is interesting and I am curious to see where this story is taken.

There is also an element of former Soviet experiments in the area; covered by some missions and possibly expanded on by the local dungeon in the zone. I have not done that one yet, but probably will be doing that later when I am a bit more geared up.

At this time I am geared up with QL 10 green items and various blue items in QL8-10 range, the latter loot from a few dungeon runs. Most of the missions are ok to do solo, although some could certainly be tough. In the Shadowy Forest zone there are some missions with “nightmare” enemies – tougher than the normal enemies found. These were quite challenging in¬†comparison¬†and I have not completed any of these yet – would be easier in a team for sure. However, the toughness can be reduced with certain builds, so this is also an exercise in trying out adapted builds. They are not necessary for the story line it seems, so I will return to them a bit later.

ShadowyForest1

The Quantum Bracer

As can be seen in the picture above (at the right wrist), I have picked up a Quantum Bracer auxiliary weapon. This seemed to be the weapon that from a visual perspective suited my character the most, with Chaos/Fist being the primary choice of weapons. The mission for this starts out in Kingsmouth, from Moose outside the police station. The mission itself was fairly straightforward and fun I think. At the time I completed this one I had a mix of QL8-10 gear. The fights were manageable, but would have been tougher to do at lower QLs likely.

After you have unlocked the weapon, you get a green QL10 Quantum Bracer. This cannot be used right away, one needs to spend 35 SP first and after that also 50 AP to get the first ability – one can equip one active and one passive ability. The auxiliary weapons have their own ability wheel. All the abilities for a weapon cost 50 AP each. Luckily, the XP flows pretty good in Transylvania it seems and it did not take too long to get enough to equip and use it – using the Time Accelerator also helped a bit ūüėČ

While I only use the Quantum Bracer so far, I also unlocked the Rocket Launcher. It was unintentional; I picked up the mission in Seoul and I thought it might be another faction mission. It was not until a bit into the mission that I realized what it was.  This mission was a bit tougher, in the sense that I died a number of times Рdid not happen with the Quantum Bracer mission. It was a mix of straight fighting as well as a stealth mission, sort of. The stealthy parts were the ones that caused most deaths for me until I figured out where to move.

Overall the mission took much longer time to play though; I would probably have enjoyed it a bit more if I did not get a bit stressed & tired at the end because it was getting too late in the evening/night. At some point I will pick-up the Chainsaw mission also, although  no rush with that Рnot quite the style I am going for. The weapon that is going to be introduced in the next issue though is another matter РThe Whip. I am looking forward to that one.

At 50 %

This weekend I kind of reached a milestone – I have unlocked more than 50% of the ability wheel (50,1% to be exact). I have some points in in pretty much all weapons – the inner wheel is filled and there are bits and pieces in most outer wheel areas – elemental and blades do not have much at all though. The remaining 49,9% is going to cost more AP of course, but that is a goal I am happy to pursue. A nice bonus is that it also unlocks a number of costumes on the way, which also helps with motivation here.

Going green in dungeons and lairs

In our cabal we have two dungeon days per week, with a bit of time during a weekend aimed for various dungeon runs. In addition to this I am also part of a semi-static cabal team which do dungeons once peer week. The latter team is aimed at taking things slow, learn the areas and also allow people to try out new and different builds, if they are familiar with a dungeon in one particular role.

Lately I have tried out a different role than I initially played in the team, that as a healer. This was when our original healer wanted to do a bit of tanking instead, so I thought it could be good practice to try it out. While I had already made a healer build some time before this, I had never actually played it. It is a Blood/Fist build, with a couple of heals from Fist, combined with a little bit of Blood shields.

Our first dungeon run where I played healer was Ankh. That was a bit challenging; I barely knew where which ability was in the hotbar initially, plus one needs to move around and and handle the targeting at the same time.  The abilities were a bit revised during the run; my initial build was lacking, but I had some spare AP and a bit of roaming around in the abilities worked out a bit better set-up. It was good to have understanding and helpful co-players; it was quite encouraging and one thing that is key to great experiences in MMOs Рgreat people to play with.

HellFallen2

After a while I started to get a hang of it, a bit at least. The next dungeon we did, Hell Fallen, worked out much better. One single wipe, which was due to me getting caught between lava and a wall. This was my second run in Hell Fallen; I quite like this dungeon. One thing I like about healing in The Secret World is that one has to move around and think about positions and where everyone is. This makes it more interesting that just standing in one spot and spamming heals. To be fair, healing is spammy. But you have to be aware of what is happening around you and not just look at health bars – I very much appreciate that.

Our last scheduled run did not do a regular dungeon, we were one man short and had planned to do an elite dungeon. Since people at this time mainly were in green QL10:ish gear, we decided to try out a lair instead Рthe lair in Kingsmouth. The lair enemies are quite tough, we could pretty much only handle one at a time, with four people. These enemies had high defense and were also healed if a hit on them glanced.  So if people glanced too much the enemies healed back up again. We were looking at abilities to reduce glancing and since I use Fist as a healer, I put Pack Leader in my hotbar. Whenever this was active, the health of the enemy was reduced considerably.

For a long time we only had one Pack Leader though, so it was a bit slow. Out tank switch out one of his weapon to get fist instead; this made him lose some defense abilities. This made it a bit harder to keep up with the heals and shields, but also reduced time to defeat the enemies – they were defeated before our tank’s health dropped to zero.

The lair run did not have the same considerations for the environment that the dungeons had, so this was a more traditional healing situation. In the end we had a good time, but when it comes to healing I do prefer the dungeon runs.

Categories: The Secret World