Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Mastercrafting chicken farmer

Hopefully by the end of tonight I will not only have completed with my son the first of his many runs of the Halloween gauntlet of giving but also have a full suit of Mastercrafted plate armor for my Berserker in Everquest 2!  This could be a good night.

I woke up this morning to the site of what the boy is going to be wearing and all I can say is that I am thankful I have a closet full of flannel.  This is going to be an easy one for me.   The wife hadchicken boy originally planned on dressing up the tike as a clown but after outcries from family members and a couple references of Pennywise, she picked up a new costume for $10 on the way home last night.

Its not every morning you wake up to a three foot rooster next to your bed.   The wife and I will be his “Farmers” tonight and its kind of ironic really seeing as he will be doing all of the begging for us.  I’m hoping for plenty of Twix, 100 Grand, and Snickers bars.

If he was a chicken instead I would probably start coaxing him into laying those damn feysteel clusters instead of eggs as I have been having a difficult time finding anything even close to the quantity I need.  After harvesting over 350 Tier 4 ore I have only found one rare, so either I have very bad luck or SOE needs to do something about the rate there.  If it wasn’t for the great friends I have on Antonia Bayle and the way the AB auction seems to gobble up everything I place on it, I would probably have given up on crafting this set a long time ago.  As it is now I am almost level 39 and looking ahead to tanking Deathfist Citadel. I just hope that it manages to hold up until the next tier.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Crafting, EQ2, RL | , | 8 Comments

Fighting the battle with two shields

SAWAs we get closer to winter here in the northeast, the business runs a little slower and the chatter in the office picks up. There have been some great quotes this year already but the following one prompted me to dedicated a post exclusively to its ignorance.

There was just some inane conversation about movies and children going around while everyone was still coming in and starting to go through their e-mail when someone mentioned that they had let their child see the movie SAW. From what I understand, this child is about 13 or so and watched it without their parent. One of the responses I heard was:

“Its not as bad as some of the stuff he is going to see on those online games he plays anyway.”

Wow. If I was playing SAW: The MMO every night I would probably either be a complete psychopath right now or have thrown my computer in the basement and taken up basket weaving as my new pastime.

I look at this statement as the go-to misconceptions of those that are older than I am and have yet to spend any time actually playing games that they feel they can make such a broad generalization about.

In turn, I feel I can make that broad generalization about this generation because 95% of the people I have met over 45 have no understanding about MMOs, PC games, or console games other than that which they have gleaned from either their child or the news. I don’t see this as a weakness in them unless they choose to try to speak about the subject to prove some point.

The conversation in my office then jumped to:

“I’d rather have my child look at boobies than watch that movie.”

Child here being early teen… okay I can see that. If I had a choice between explaining female anatomy and the psycho in the movie SAW, I’d break out the medical books. I’d rather have him know more about the physiology of himself and the girls he meets everyday than the sickness thats lurking in the mind of killer he will never know. Its really a no brainer.

I’ve played Manhunt before. I played it from start to finish in all its sick glory and it was… entertaining. Sick, but entertaining. At no point in my life will I ever decapitate a man with a plastic bag and then hang that head from my back pocket. Its just not going to happen. At no point am I going to let my son play that game while he is living in my house. Thats just not going to happen either.

I’ll be on top of everything that comes out because its not only my responsibility as a parent but also as a gamer. I need to be able to discredit those people who don’t know anymore than the media tells them and also ward off the rolling eyes of the 12 year old friends of my son in the future. I can already see it coming too. “Dude, lets just go over to my place and play it.” What can I do but play it from both ends? Its like I’m in the middle of a battle with nothing but two shields.

Its a tough one because I think games like Manhunt should be allowed the freedom they need to be developed but also should be restricted in publication by the level in which they choose to embellish the violence. I should be hearing about these games from other parents, not in conversations between the children. This is how it was though and I can remember being the child in those situations.

My son will have it tougher than most because this ol’ man won’t be an ignorant fool and I hope I won’t be alone.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | Rants, RL | , | 1 Comment

Maybe the Beauty Queen was right

The following was a conversation between some of my fellow employees.  I don’t know what is more disturbing about this conversation, the fact that I know they bank a lot more than I do or that they had to use a reference tool.

Employee 1: Hey, what state is DE?
Employee 2:  I don’t know, Denver?
*pause*
Employee 2: I’d Google it.
Employee 1: Oh, its Delaware.
Employee 2: I was close.

… and my wife wonders why I cry myself to sleep every night.

October 25, 2007 Posted by | Rants, RL | , | 6 Comments

Cuppycake Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Be sure to get your submissions in to Cuppy before the deadline!  If nothing else, do this so you can be sure to beat me.  I carve like crap and I even put down 2008 instead of 2007 in my submission.  I haven’t received the virtual bitch slap but I think its coming.

Here are the details if you have yet to see this:

There will be three different categories available:

Scariest Pumpkin

Funniest Pumpkin

Gaming Related Pumpkin

The winner of each category will get a $25 gift code (via email) to JINX.com.

Rules:

  • Anyone is able to participate! Devs, players, press, etc.!
  • You must take two pictures of your pumpkin and there must be a piece of paper in only ONE of them (not photoshopped on) saying “CuppyContest 2007″ in the picture. I need to make sure that the pumpkins are actually yours and not stolen from the net =)
  • You must email the picture to me at cuppycontest at gmail dot com NOT post it in the comments of this post!
  • Please also include in the body of the email a few sentences about what award you are submitting for (Scary, Funny, or Gaming), what is depicted on your pumpkin and how long it took you to make it! =)
  • You are not allowed to post the picture of your pumpkin on your blog until after the contest is over. Secrecy!
  • The cutoff date is October 29th. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges who will not know the creators of the pumpkins.
  • The winners will be announced on Halloween, October 31st. I will be displaying ALL the pumpkins that were submitted.

 

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Blog-o-sphere | Leave a comment

A clean look at Tabula Rasa

TR_logoLast Friday I received my invitation to join the large number of players who are currently testing the new MMO Tabula Rasa. I had been following this game for some time because I got my first taste of gaming with FPS games and the thought of a good FPS-MMO would make my world complete. I occasionally find myself leaving MMORPGs for a spell to get my FPS fix because its just something that an RPG cannot provide: that rush and excitement of battle, the speed and exhiliration of war that I hope I never see in reality but my inner animal craves. What I had hoped Tabula Rasa would be is a great pairing of the systems I have come to love and become a game I would spend a lot of my future gaming with.

This is partially a submission I posted in the forums and also a bit of a review on the individual systems of the game. I hope that this gives those of you who are considering the game a small outlook of its current state and enough information to make a decision on whether to pickup this title on release. As with every MMO, its constantly changing and what I am currently playing will not actually be the form on release day.
Continue reading

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Reviews, Tabula Rasa | 4 Comments

Now back to your regularly scheduled program

Wow, who saw that coming.  I actually got a fair amount of work this past week and it occupied my time a bit more than usual.  Looks as if I should be out of this mess by the middle of next week.

A lot has happened this past week both online and in my personal gaming.  I finally got a chance to login to Tabula Rasa.  I started a nice long writeup about it after I spent about 15 hours in game and plan on posting it early Monday morning. There is really so much to say about this game that I am not even going to attempt to sum it up here.

I dinged 33 last night in EQ2 and hit level 24 as an Armorsmith as well.  Its going fairly well as of late but I can’t help but be a little dismayed at the speed in which I am going through content now that our group joined up with a guild.  We are hopping around doing a little bit of everything but this weekend I think we will take a couple hours and explore Nectulos Castle together.  Should be fun.

Its funny, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to have an outlet for thoughts that come up when I am out reading in the blog-o-sphere.  This week I have had very little time to even read my favorites and because of that my writing here has stagnated.  I think the other writers out there are a key component of my inspiration and I want to give a big thank you to all of them for keeping the fire going.

This is probably going to be the only entry for this week, but be ready for a big TR writeup early Monday and some juicy EQ transmuting goodness as well.

October 19, 2007 Posted by | RL | 3 Comments

The Tradeskill Diary

DiaryOver at Warcry, they have an interesting article that is sort of a “day in the life” of a Everquest 2 Tradeskill developer. Emily “Domino” Taylor is one of the dedicated SOE employees working hard on the Rise of Kunark expansion and she took some time to write down a bit of what she does to get the crafting content ready for the latest addition to the game. If you are interested in a little bit of the process behind adding this type of content to a game, then be sure to stop by and take a look. I found it to be a good read.

I think the process could be automated more, with better spreadsheets and cleverer perl scripts to save more time, but with this short time before beta starts there is simply not enough time to try and get clever. I hope that by next expansion I’ll have had time to streamline things a bit more. But there’s still quite a long tradeskill “wish list” to fill up my time after the expansion is out of the way!

Its great to see that they have even more plans for the sphere even after the release. I haven’t really had enough time with crafting to take a guess at what this could be but they added Transmuting and Tinkering with the last expansion so who knows what could be on the plate for the future.

I bet if they add the pink mount and saddle they were talking about, I could get my wife to play again. 😛

October 11, 2007 Posted by | Crafting, EQ2 | | 2 Comments

Locking professions

A couple days ago I posted my woes with the Everquest 2 crafting professions and how IPadlock accidentally chose the wrong profession when I was going through the quest dialog. Now, I owned up to the fact that it was my error and that SOE did place in front of me three distinct choices for the paths I could follow, and it was clear on which was which. This was my fault entirely and I took my punishment for the inattention I showed the game by redoing the previous 10 levels of crafting and spending atleast 15 gold in payments to the broker. Not a bad penalty.

But is it necessary?

I believe that I would have had a better experience with the specialization quest if I had been routed to a NPC that was in the profession I was interested in playing. In fact, the first thing I did before hailing the NPC outside of the crafting instance was head to the NPC in which I had talked to when I did my class armor quest. I think atleast in regards to the EQ2 system, giving a player a small quest to do for the specialization, might give them enough of a chance to realize their possible mistake but also open up the game to allow soft locks on professions.

Soft locks are what I think of as barriers that are easily overcome through a series of quests or trials. These locks wouldn’t really bar a player from experiencing the content or options available to them, they would just block out the unnecessary information unless the player chose to take the time to open that content.

Why is it that some MMO designs are created to hard lock players into crafting professions. I don’t understand why this is and I have been trying to think of the various benefits and drawbacks to a world if every player has the chance to be everything they want to be. I am just talking about crafting professions here, not adventuring.

As a crafter free to learn every profession:

  • I have the freedom to further define my character’s abilities.
  • I am more self sufficient if I choose to invest the time.
  • I can personally use more of what I find.
  • I am online with one character instead of alt_tailor, alt_chanter, or alt_smith.
  • I become a supplier that can offer my customers a larger selection.

As a crafter limited to a single profession:

  • I cannot corner multiple areas of the market with one character.
  • I am forced to make multiple characters and use the mail system to transfer items between them.
  • customers are forced to learn the name of my alts when they want something specifically made.

From a community standpoint, I would rather have players on more with their one character than multiple alts. It would allow veterans to rise to the top and continue to be known by the population at large throughout their career. Its better for the player and does little to change the economy from what I can see. Why is it then that we are locked in these decisions?1

1 I did a search through Google Reader on this topic and it seems that the function is still not really up to the standard of the regular Google Search. I apologize if this topic has been beaten like Private Pyle at blanket party.

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, Crafting, EQ2, Rants | , | 6 Comments

Learning how to learn

Its often been said to me that you can learn from your own mistakes or you can learn from the mistakes of others. The wiser person chooses the latter and dares not repeat the failures of those who have come before him, but more often than not I hear about history repeating itself. Sometimes its the young showing disrespect for their elders and trying so hard by themselves to blaze their own path. Sometimes its pride that gets the best of even the most learned and blinds them from the lessons of their peers

But sometimes there are those mistakes that are completely avoidable and just happen because your wife is watching a really bad but strangely addicting movie with Gena Davis in it.

This weekend I had one of these rare mistakes in my crafting career and only when I finally got the courage to ask for help in the general crafting channel did I realize it was not my issue but that of the game design itself. There is nothing wrong with the crafting in Everquest, its simply the design of the game that SOE and unfortunately many others tend to go with.

Saturday evening I had reached the cap of level 19 in the Outfitter Profession and had figured outEQ2 Choose Profession that in order to progress I needed to speak to one of the trainers again. Pretty basic, just go up and go through the dialog and click the new specialized profession. Well wouldn’t you know it that I managed to screw this part up. I have no idea what I was doing at the time(never-mind, I do) but I clicked Weaponsmith instead of Armorsmith and sealed my fate to that of making pokey things.

After talking to a nice group in the crafting channel I found out that there was a NPC in a crafting instance in West Freeport that would allow me to change this error and begin again. What they didn’t tell me, and I don’t blame them for this, is that this decision reverts you to level 9 again!

BLARGG!!

SOE did put in enough information before I chose to revert my crafting experience, I will give them that. I sat there for about 5 minutes mulling it over before clicking accept. I wanted to kick that stupid ogre NPC smiling at me the whole damn time.

I just couldn’t bring myself to continue crafting just weapons. I knew if I could suck it up, face the music, bite the bullet and find the most motivational idiom, I would be happier about continuing crafting in Everquest 2.

So I did it.

Four crafting levels, 15 gold, and remembering that a bad worker always blames their tools, I’m back up to level 20 and certified as a Armorsmith. All in all it wasn’t a bad experience and I feel better about continuing with the crafting here. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and learn from your mistakes. I could sit here and blame SOE for limiting the player’s ability to learn multiple crafting professions, and to be honest that’s what I intended to do. I was going to write about the way games limit us by slamming us in a mold of X Adventuring class and Y Crafting Profession. Maybe that’s tomorrow’s discussion, but I’m going to track down some older articles from other bloggers before I paste some of the same ol’ vanilla opinions and suggestions.

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, Crafting, EQ2, Rants | | 2 Comments

Necromancers don’t do drugs

My adventuring this week in EQ2 has been a little slow because of some RL issues affecting everyone in the group. You could definitely classify it as guild drama if we were in a guild right now, but its more or less just the final throws of a kind gesture gone bad.

Drugs are bad, mkayyy?

Despite this rather large distraction to the group, we did manage to get together last night and finish all three of our Armor Quests.

I first saw the Beserker Armor set the other night in Fallen Gate on another tankBeserker Armor and after a quick /inspect, I found out about the quest line. Its a good looking set of armor and I’ve seen some models similar to it around the city in different colors, so it must not change much between classes. The Inquisitor in our group finished the set last night as well, but I have yet to see it as she likes to wear a dress over everything. She does look damn good though.

During the fourth part of the quest, we stumbled upon an outpost on the northeastern edge of Nektulos. Turns out we needed a NPC there for the update before heading back to Freeport. What was interesting, was that there was a small cellar door next to her labeled Lair of the Necromancer. Turns out the place is a small instance for level 24 and above and has a quick boss battle at the end of the tunnels. One guess on what it was.

We were a bit overpowered for the entire instance, but the boss battle was interesting enough to keep us on out toes. He dropped a pair of slippers that nobody could use but hopefully I will be able to transmute as soon as I get that skill high enough.

Quick little side note:
I’m going to try out this new slide show system that WordPress recommends thats called Rock You. Its kind of nice that it links to my gmail account, but because its all flash based I can’t save what I created to my PC. Meh, its free and has a lot available to customize the images. I would recommend it so far.

[rockyou id=86269695&w=324&h=243]

October 5, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2, RL | | 5 Comments