Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

Its okay to be curious

Tabula Rasa LogoJust a quick post here for those of you who have been curious about Tabula Rasa and want to give it a shot for free.  As a subscriber I have access to 4 free invites for three days of access to the game.  If you would like to receive one of these invites, please let me know either though a comment on this post or via email at brackishwater[at]gmail.com

I will need an email address to send the invite to.  RMT people need not apply as they will only receive laughter.

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November 29, 2007 Posted by | Tabula Rasa | | 11 Comments

How do I stop this *censored* Lag?

I normally don’t post when I’m at home because I save this time for actual gaming or maybe eating something.  However, there are times that just call for action and this is one of those times!  This has got to be the best fix yet for lag in a game:TR_Lag

Known Issue Workaround
There is an issue that causes extreme lag on Descent when your profanity filter is enabled. If you are going to Descent, turn off your profanity filter option located on the Game tab.

That was in the patch notes this evening when I logged into Tabula Rasa. I’m not even going to get into the part about the name of the zone in which this takes place and the fact that you have to put yourself through the torture of listening to the children banter on in full color.  It speaks for itself.

Just in case some people are actually experiencing this issue, here is the additional notes on this.

If you are on Descent and are unable to turn off your profanity filter, send a petition on an alternate character and remain online for GM assistance. If you cannot remain online, simply update your support ticket the next time you are able to log into the game.

Best fix ever.

November 20, 2007 Posted by | Tabula Rasa | | 6 Comments

Tabula Rasa – A video review

What an exciting title huh? I’m sorry as I really wanted to call this one “I brought you flowers” because of the blog guilt I’m feeling right now, but I just didn’t think it would explain the real content of the post.

I’ve been playing a lot of Tabula Rasa and I know I have already written a little review about the game but I just felt like it needed or deserved more. I’m not saying this is the epic game I have always been waiting for or that you should run out and grab it right now. I don’t do recommendations anymore.

What I will show you is exactly how the game is and maybe give you enough information to decide if TR is the game for you. Please enjoy as this was what has kept me away for the past couple days.

The Google Video Page

System Specifications
MSI 915p Neo2Platinum
2 gig PC2-4200 Kingston
MSI RX800XL ATI Raddeon PCIx16
2.8 Pentium 4

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Reviews, Tabula Rasa | | 18 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

Going the extra mile

Sunset_RoadSo I did end up buying Tabula Rasa as I said I would and wouldn’t you know it, Gamestop had it the day before it was ready to launch. Interesting. I haven’t really visited that store much since I stopped working for them 6 years ago in Boston but its pretty much the same. One thing that I will note about my local store here in Maine is that the workers there went the extra step and gave me a copy of the preorder box. That was pretty cool of them as my beta access had expired the night before and I kind of wanted to get into the game on Thursday.

I’ll probably go back to that store because the employees were pretty cool even if they didn’t know what the game was about or that it was a MMO.

I’ve been going back through the same content as I did in beta and taking my time to ensure I do everything before moving on to the next zone. It still runs smooth on my system but the servers are crazy right now with stress and I really hope they iron out the issues.

If you haven’t played TR, they instance each zone multiple times and separate the population into mirrors of each world. Think Ironforge_1, Ironforge_2, and Ironforge_3 and the ability to switch between them at a certain place in the city. For some reason it kept dumping me to the same heavily populated zone even though I would select the less populated one. Suc.

The reason for the post is not really to complain about TR but more or less ask them why they didn’t take the time to finish out their world with the same level of immersion that the Bane offer the player. Immersion is pretty high on my ‘need’ list when playing a game and I’m not just talking about graphics here.

The Bane (bad guys) and the AFS (good guys) drop in on the planet via ships at seemingly random encounters and engage you, the player, in awesome battles. Ask any player who is in game right now about their first time at Memory Hill and I am sure they will tell you they spent atleast an hour there just running around taking out enemies. Its highly addictive and you can’t help but get caught up.

So why is it that the other 40% of the population in the world is working with the old respawn scenario?

The Tree Lurker drops down from certain trees when you happen to run by. This is great as it makes me look around and wait for the “thump” that they always make when they hit the ground. Very similar to the Bane and exactly what I would expect a mob with this name to do.

The Miasma, which you have to kill a ton of at the beginning, just ‘pop’ in. This just takes away from the effort that went into the Bane and Tree Lurker for me. They look like illithid so why not make them come in from another plane or maybe give them some wasp-like nest to come out of.  Heck, I’ve only seen these things in caves so why not give them some crevice to spawn out of?

Then there are Boars. I can’t remember their real name but I think it is something like Boregar or something close to that. Give them a hole in the ground too small for the player but just big enough for the boar. Make them come out as they usually walk and then go to their designated path if you have to, not just pop in whenever they are killed. Make us think that there is an actual colony under our feet full of these boars and make the world we are on truly foreign.

TR_TreebackFinally there is the Treebacks. These gigantic docile creatures scale to you very similar to that of a elephant. They roam around the wilderness in small packs and make a fairly loud stomping noise when they move in unison. I like these guys a lot even though I haven’t seen them as frequently as many of the other creatures.

Image courtesy of tr.stratics.com

W hat I think is missing with the Treebacks is that TR had an opportunity to entwine their spawn method with the ever present and impassable zone walls. When you reach one of these walls its usually pretty obvious because the forest somehow has become mysteriously thick and no opening whatsoever can be found. Pretty basic stuff here but a bit better than that in EQ2 and many other MMOs.Elephant_Forest

TR could have added a small opening that was one way and allowed the Treeback to simply walk into the area when one of their kin was killed.  Think Natural Geographic and a herd crashing through the think forest out onto an open plain.

I will say that Richard Garriot’s team did an awesome job with the immersion so far in Tabula Rasa and I really feel a part of the world when I am out on the battlefield fighting the Bane. I just wish they would have gone the extra mile with the rest of the world’s inhabitants.

November 5, 2007 Posted by | Rants, Tabula Rasa | | 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