Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Working it

WorkI’ve been spending the last week and a half preparing for a change of position at my current job and I have to say, it’s taking more of my time than I imagined.  If you liked the video review I did with TR you can imagine the job tutorials I’m currently writing.  I like to keep things clean and easy to understand and I’m not someone who is overly wordy about things as you can probably tell by the general length of most of my posts here.  I’m always one for polish and I tend to do more than is needed at times but I can’t argue with the outcome.

I want to thank those of you who have stopped by over the last couple of weeks because it definitely kept me going and I apologize for not posting more.  I’m spending most of my free time either reading while at work or playing EQ2 and TR when I’m at home.  I really wanted to get Rise of Kunark, but because I decided to get TR when it released my extracurricular funds are a bit low now.

To be honest I have been kind of disheartened over the past week with EQ2 as the areas we have been playing in have been less than stellar in terms of reward for the time invested.  We basically finished both Obelisk of Lost Souls and Bloodline Chronicles, being only at the very last part of Bloodline on Tuesday.  I’m not going to go into Bloodlines that much but receiving a level 1 potion as a reward is crap.  On that note, receiving a level 1 potion as a reward twice is absolute bullshit for the time it took me to finish those quests. /profanity

Obelisk was a little of a disappointment in terms of the number of quests only.  The only ones I could find were those picked up from mobs that were the typical book quests and then one for Summoning the Creator.  This went well and we managed to get all the way to the Vestibule inside the Obelisk before getting literally beaten back. We may return there again some day as the upper part of the Obelisk had some interesting hallways and a couple of closely spawning named mobs.  The layout here was probably one of the most interesting dungeons I have been in.

Have no fear though because this is all good news as there is nothing wrong with a raise before Christmas.  I may just have to celebrate by making a nice little stop by Gamestop and starting a new Sarnak character this weekend.  Wonder if my Iksar friend will mind…we are on Antonia Bayle after all.

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November 16, 2007 Posted by | EQ2, RL | 4 Comments

Running on empty

Fuel_GuageI think for the past 6 years I have been sleeping on average about 5 hours a night.

I know that you are supposed to get something like 8 hours of sleep a night to be a fully functional human being but lets face it, I’m a gamer. We are powerhouses and store our stamina to sit for long periods of time in small recesses of our ass that most people do not have. Okay, thats gross but sometimes I question how long I can actually sit in a chair. Is my ass forming into some semblance of a cheap Staples chair pattern? Do I have biscuit buns at 30?

Some weekends I sleep in and get a good 9 or 10 hours if the wife is in a good mood and we aren’t out of town or at a friends house. This brings the tank back up to full and even drops in a little of that 3$ engine clean-out stuff. More often than not I tend to go right back into my routine of non-sleep the next day and with head down and running as fast as I can, I blast to the end of the work week. Its probably a normal thing in the gaming community and I might even be a mild case. However, when it gets to a point where it can affect your work, re-evaluations must be made. I quit my job.

Ha, that would be great wouldn’t it?

So, I’m going to bed earlier and with much regret I have limited my play time on weekdays to 11pm. This is really hard. Really, really hard. EQ2 isn’t the best for helping me stick to this goal and I found myself jumping out of a great guild group the other night while we were in the middle of the Hadden’s Earing and the Mask Heritage Quest. Definitely discouraging as I am not sure when I will be able to get a group together to return to that quest line.

What is shining here for me now is Tabula Rasa. I’m not going to get into what other people think about this game as I only care what it is doing for me right now. It offers me a chance to get in game for just an hour and participate in some very action packed battles. The rewards are decent and the goals simple but its the gameplay that keeps me going here. I can sit in this game by myself for a night and have a great time just helping NPCs or camping an outpost and not feel upset about leaving at 11.

My goal is to continue to log into EQ2 every weeknight and pick one quest to finish up before logging out. In EQ terms that could mean 30 minutes or two hours but I am going to have to really pick my battles here and rely on my friends and the EQ2i wiki to help me out. This also means that I’m not going to get any serious progression in either game until weekends.  Sacrifices must be made for the greater good and that greater good right now is the god of mortgages and bills.

If anyone knows what this deity takes for offerings (besides cash) please let me know.  My neighbor has some chickens I think.

November 7, 2007 Posted by | EQ2, RL, Tabula Rasa | 9 Comments

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

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

Of deities and self discovery

If there is one thing great about playing a game that has been around for at least three years itsSundown Antonica that there is no shortage of information available. There are wikis, guild websites, blogs, and forums devoted exclusively to the game and its content. Kendricke over at Clockwork Gamer has made some posts recently about the deity system of EQ2 and it looks as if he will be going into the different alignments and the benefits of each. Rather than wait for him to post his section about the Malevolent and Neutral gods of the realm, I went ahead and did some research on my own and jumped in this weekend after making my decision.

Its funny. After going through the list of gods and reading over the different Miracles and Blessings that were available from each, I had a weird sort of revelation about myself. In life, I am an empathetic person. I often find myself being the bridge between people in a conversation or, in the case of an argument, the one who works to alleviate differences. An intermidary of sorts. People don’t ask me to be, its just something I find myself doing from time to time. Now, I may have the definitions behind alignments all screwy here, but maybe its because of this predisposition in life that led me make the decision to go with Brell Serilis.

I spent about two hours on Friday going through the lore and also reading a really good section of the EQ2.wikia.com site about the Tome of Destiny. If you have never taken the chance to read this and are either a fan of EQ2 or just like the game lore in general, then give it a go. Its not a long section and there are only 10 pages or so to it. It basically covers what I understand to be the time between Everquest 1 and Everquest 2 from a lore perspective. I may be completely off base here but, as I said before, I never played the original Everquest and only have what I hear from others  and what I have read in passing to rely on. The Tome details the events around The Shattering of the moon of Luclin and seeing how this was a playable area in EQ, it seems logical that we are in a time-line of somewhere in the future.

When I read the first section of the Tome, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Quellious and the way she handled the discussion during the council, but as it turns out, she is of the Benevolent faction and unavailable to me as a human who started in Freeport. Sorry Quell, you wouldn’t work for me as a Beserker anyway.  Also, something about choosing a child goddess doesn’t sit well with me.

EQ2 Fallen GateBrell seems like a good choice and I finally finished the first part of proving my worth to him last night. I had to travel to 4 different dungeon areas, 2 in the Commonlands and 2 on Antonica. If you are level 25 or higher, you can walk through the entire content for three of these dungeons. The last, Fallen Gate, needs at least a 4 person group in order to reach the area you will need.

While you are in there, be sure to stop by for some Gnomish Stew, its the best!

Before I take off, here is a tip for other new players that I discovered last night:

Looking for a way to see what quests you and other players in your groupEQ2 Group Journal share? Well, you can, and its been in all along, it just doesn’t become available until you join a group. Logical enough. In your journal (J), you will find another tab labeled Group. This page has a list of everyone in your group and also a complete section titles Shared for the lists of quests you all share. I missed this function in LotRO and I strongly feel its needed in every game that has as many quests as our current crop does. Please take note.

October 1, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2 | , , | 3 Comments

It doesn’t matter if you feel good

In the most recent podcast over at EQ2 Daily, they discuss the implementation of the new Appearance tab to the character equipment window. After hitting level 20 just over the weekend and reaching 19 as a Metalsmith, I finally get to take advantage of this new and very cool toy.

I was a little disappointed when I first started crafting because I didn’t actually start until I had reached Freeport and was well into the early teens. Even now with my crafting level almost equal to that of my adventuring level, I find I still don’t want to use anything that I can create. I’m looking into the Transmuting and armor add-ons that I can make now, but even with those included it still doesn’t seem a good trade off for the gear I get when doing quests.

The problem with the quested gear is that if you travel around and do various quests, you begin to look like a motley equipped fool. The Appearance tab fixes all of this and I love it.

You be the judge.

EQ2 Appearance tab EQ2 Appearance tab 2
Before                After

The Appearance tab is an awesome addition to the game and I think SOE did it right by adding this. I hope to see this function in more games to come as I have thrown out hundreds of great looking items in other games that I would have loved to wear and show off to other people. Developers who make great models should get their chance to show off their stuff instead of being tossed in with the NPC vendor trash.

Recently, I have passed a lot of people in the city who just look cool. Not because they raided hours and hours for the gear they are showing, but because they took the time and put together some great combinations of outfits. Antonia Bayle could probably win the best looking server award.  I wonder if there is a Miss Norrath pageant I don’t know about.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2 | | 4 Comments

Everquest 2 and my crafting introduction

I had told myself that I needed a break from crafting after a recent stint in another MMO, but when I decided to give Everquest 2 a try so did I decide to go back to the world of crafting. I had heard that I could craft a lot of different items early in the game and that the system itself was complicated enough to keep you interested but not overwhelming. A big thanks to my son here for getting sick and keeping me home from work last week as I am now a level 18 Outfitter.

I am choosing to truncate this post because I have a feeling its going to be fairly large and I don’t want it wallpapering the front page of the blog. More available after the link.
Continue reading

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, Crafting, EQ2 | , , | 4 Comments