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Press X to dedicate your life to farming Neurodes

Press X to dedicate your life to farming Neurodes

Sometime before the most recent Great Disappearance, I tried getting into Warframe for a bit again. That… didn’t really work out, and I quit. Again. But since a couple of months back, I’ve resumed playing.

Again.

Or perhaps Once More, if you’re as bothered by the overuse of the term as I am.

Anyway, yeah. My biggest barrier to jumping back in last time was the fact that a lot of the cool new stuff was locked away in Clan research. That was resolved by the developers spending some time adding gear to the market instead. Sure, there were still some new shinies in the Dojo, and my beloved* sword and shield were locked in the Tenno Research terminal, but at least there was some stuff that I could invest in to get started.

Also helped that, on the second day of logging in, I got my first ever 75% discount offer. Totally not a transparent attempt to encourage investment, but hey, it worked. That plat got sunk straight into a new frame because I didn’t feel like kicking off with a grind, and what a grind I did bypass… by buying Mesa.

To be honest, I bought her because she looked cool and her theme was “gunslinger”, and at first I thought she was a bit mediocre because I didn’t know how Peacemaker worked. Bear in mind that at this point I was still avoiding the forums – step 1 in any plan for maintaining satisfaction with a game.

Also to avoid things like this when... questioning the wisdom of the game's creators

Also to avoid things like this when… questioning the wisdom of the game’s creators

So yeah, it turned out that I’d bought the current faceroll frame of killing everything, bypassing a grind that’s kept people farming her parts for some months now, depending on their fortune**. And of course I was Doing It Wrong. She’s actually some sort of super-godmode priestess of death, praying for war and decimating the enemy before her party members can have any fun with righteous fury.

What I’m saying is, she’s pretty fun to play – less so in her aspect as a turret of instant aimbot death, but equally capable as a self-buffing nigh-invincible mobile destroyer.

That got me involved, and sort-of solved the other issue I had – how to get at those shiny weapons without being a free-riding leech. The clan that I’m with at the moment has most of it’s research done, but I’ve been quietly contributing to clan decorations and new research so as not to feel like a leech.

It’s the new research that has me worried, though. We’ve just come off one item for a niche playstyle that required pretty heavy resource investment, and now the clan is faced with another utterly ludicrous resource grind for the same niche. Usually donations don’t take all that long, but for this one, well…

Clan chat has gone quiet. I’m not sure if people are waiting for a nerf on the resource price, or just waiting it out, and maybe I’m projecting, but that big Tellurium sink in the Dojo just feels like it’s making people guilty. That’s killing the social aspect of the clan, and it is piss-poor design – especially as it seems to be a punitive measure to counter some exploit that a few people used to get large amounts of resources. Most players didn’t know about the exploit until it was patched, and fewer still used it, yet DE is comfortable punishing the entire playerbase with this bullshit? Yeah, seems fucking sensible to me.

Apart from DE’s slow drift out of touch with their playerbase, though, it’s still pretty fun. And there are compensations to be found when running out of bars to fill as well. I’ve rediscovered Valkyr, and my beloved Excalibur has been turned from a fairly solid frame into a water-walking, feed-the-masses, table-flipping avatar of the divine.

Here's to magic ninjas in space

Life’s pretty good out among the stars

I’d say I’ll talk more about those later, but let’s be honest – Odin alone knows when the next update will be.

 

  • * Beloved until I discovered that the stats are absolute ass, at least…
  • ** The RNG on Mesa’s parts is three layers deep – and that’s after completing the quest that even gets you the blueprint to make the boss key. Good luck, have fun.

 

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Turns out that making up lost ground on an exercise program is a pretty terrible situation. On the plus side, you’ve already built the mental toughness for the weight you’re aiming at. On the downside, when you fail – and it takes surprisingly little time for your lifts to backslide, so don’t dismiss the possibility – the internal recriminations and disappointment can be catastrophic. Fail a lower weight on the first day back? That doubt carries through for every workout until you’re back at your PR.

This time, I actually started C25K when I got back – first, because I figured it’d be some nice mild exercise to lead in with, and second, because my aerobic capacity is genuinely atrocious and I’d kind of like for that not to be the case. But there’s still that doubt that perhaps I would have been ready to take on a lifting program that first week, maybe it was just cowardice keeping me on the treadmill.

In any case, soon I will be invincible capable of actually running a handful of kilos without gasping like a landed fish. Broscience insists that as long as I’m spending time on the ‘mill, my mass gain is going to be troublesome. Coming up short in the oxygen department has cost me more gains than failing muscles, though, so I see it as a necessary foundation for further work regardless. I can afford to invest 2 months in my lungs.

Just wish it didn’t feel like I was running away.

Expect to hear more about it here in coming weeks.

Riiight. Well, that worked out magnificently.

So, what has been the goings on since that rather cheerful review of Warframe? The honest answer should be “many things”. Troublesome, since it’s easier to maintain a regular posting schedule with a focus on a single subject. What has been occupying my attention – quite significantly – is tangling with the opening areas of a few different games.

Warframe was the first betrayal. I quit the game some months ago, somewhat put out by the fact that the starting experience engendered an impossibility of actually getting anyone interested in the game – an issue since supposedly addressed by an overhaul, but too late. Starting players would have no good mods for damage and survivability, and the crafting system made actually building one’s first decent weapon prohibitively difficult, if at least one wanted it before the extreme difficulty jump that was the Earth region. So most people introduced to the game would simply lose interest at that step in the linear path. While a good game, its teamwork-oriented nature meant that chasing away one’s fellows was in the end an unforgivable sin.

In leaving Warframe, I resolved to once more throw myself into the headwaters of Nostalgia. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was mentioned some time ago, along with the miserable abomination that is Fallout 3. While the attempt had met with mixed success, Human Revolution was worthy, and so I hoped to repeat this success.

Casting the lingering shadows of Fallout from my thoughts, the next obvious choice was the latest extension of a franchise dear to me for some time; that is to say, Disciples III: Resurrection. Perhaps the fact that this was in fact a redesign of the original troubled Disciples III release should have been a warning sign. Alas, no.

Everyone hates imps...

This is the most basic enemy possible and it has 40 evasion. By contrast, character starts with 10 accuracy if they’re lucky.

Here the hideous hydra that is early-game misery once more raised its ghastly heads. Enemy packs seem to be statted for some other series, with early enemies being far too heavy on evasion for the meager abilities of starting units. Crowd-control units with abilities such as paralysis and baleful polymorph have had damage added to them, and despite the concepts of elemental immunities and general armour having been removed, somehow the designers of this game saw fit to retain units immune to physical damage as a mainstay of the undead faction. In short, a mess, particularly early on.

Possibly the most tragic aspect of this whole struggle is that, upon muddling through the early levels of the campaign, the game becomes much more enjoyable. Buried under the dross is an actual, enjoyable title, ruined by poor starting progression – indeed, I would have dismissed this game entirely in the first hour were it not for a combination of stubbornness and lingering affection for the magnificent second entry into the series.

In between playing the early areas of Disciples – of whose campaign I have yet completed only two of the four races’ stories – I attempted to mitigate the exhaustion by trying my hand at a few other games, most notably KOTOR II. This game received near-universal praise; surely it couldn’t be another dud?

Perhaps I was in the end the architect of my own dismay. You see, after spending twenty or so minutes scrabbling in my brain to remember which feats were useful back in the halcyon days of D20 3.0, I elected to play the prologue. The expectation was an introduction to the game mechanics and perhaps, like some other games, a small starting advantage in experience transferred over to the campaign.

Oh, how deeply one can be cut.

ffffuuuu

I have a bad feeling about this…

You see, the prologue is not played as the character which one has carefully sculpted from base clay only moments previous. Oh no. Instead, the player is treated to a sequence played as an astromech droid. For anyone not familiar with Star Wars canon, let it be known that these droids are not even vaguely humanoid, being instead mechanical caretakers of their ships. And this ship was in dire straits indeed – near-obliterated, with segments of the hull open to the gaping void of space. Exciting! Except that no indication of how or why this happened was forthcoming, and the debris-ridden mess was only relevant in that it provided a reasoning for obtuse puzzles. As I directed the wretched automaton around this ship, with its peculiarly unwilling portals and surfeit of scrap metal, I did eventually come across my character. Huzzah! Truly a moment of triumph, seeing my prospective avatar… slumped on a sick-bed, portended to be unable to even survive until the ship could put into port.

So much for heroism.

Dude, she's like, in a coma...

So heroic!

It seems that the only real reason for having the character present at all was to justify being unable to open doors into hard vacuum, though by this point dark thoughts of carelessly slaying this in-game incarnation were already gathering behind my brows. But no, I soldiered on, eventually fulfilling the meaningless tasks designed to bring the ship into port, and then…

On the plus side, apparently booty shorts are still a thing in the future.

On the plus side, apparently booty shorts are still a thing in the future.

And then awoke in a glass jar, alone and with no materiel, in a seemingly deserted complex. At this point I resolved to put aside the game for another day, possibly during the recuperation period from severe brain damage. No advancement of the story had occurred, no meaningful interaction with the universe had been achieved. I had, to paraphrase, not yet begun to play.

Why are these games so terrible in their early stages? Even the acclaimed Mass Effect, another title which I recently started playing, is much less pleasant when the character is in its larval stages. Surely it is common sense to introduce the player in such a way as to engender satisfaction rather than frustration? To leave one craving more, rather than desiring respite from the exhaustion?

Back in the early days of gaming, demos were an accepted part of a game’s release. Gamers could play through the first act – in part or in its entirety – and assess their enjoyment of the product based on this glimpse. Some years ago, game demos fell out of fashion – and looking at this crop of games from years past, it is not difficult to see why. Shoddy implementation, poor balance, little encouragement to the player – even in the case of the suddenly popular Early Access model, the intent seems to be to fleece the prospective player before they have had more than the most cursory glimpse afforded by overly optimistic publications and developers.

Perhaps this is simply a hazard of casting one’s attention back to games of yesteryear – though today’s offerings are an unexciting bunch. Still, it is dispiriting that so many make the same misstep coming over the threshold, and I have my doubts that the trend has passed.

WoWScrnShot_102713_151145

This character model actually looks pretty good without the hover-weapon on its back. The tone of the cinematic suited hiding my polearm, and now I sort of wish there was a way to hide it in general. Other than unequipping, of course.

In coincidental news, the three celestials appearing in that image also happen to be the same three whose pet-versions I’ve acquired from the tournament so far. Just three short weeks until this chapter closes behind me. I won’t say that I’ll never take part in the tourney again – that seems short-sighted. But given the frustrating nature of the RNG that determines success or failure, it’ll be severely unlikely that I do.

The whole mess makes me sort of wonder what’s next for pet battles. We haven’t heard anything about epic-quality pets in a long while, and that seems like a good thing. As for the tournament itself, it seems to have been generally well received, though that’s probably more to do with the novelty and rewards than anything else – which means that it’s sunk as soon as most battlers have familiarised themselves with all of the trainers and acquired the full set of pets. Blizzard does have a tendency to iterate, so maybe we’ll see something with a bit of a different format next. At the very least I can thank the tournament for giving me a reason to level some very interesting pets.

Meanwhile, back on the raiding front… we’d been stuck on Norushen 10N for a while. Week before last we powered through to the kill. Downed Sha of Pride in one pull, had a few decent attempts at Galakras but no down. Last week didn’t see any progression at all; the wifelet and I were out scampering around the bushveldt getting sunburn, and the run just never came together regardless.

One of the issues might be Flex… we’re running two nights a week for Flex, and then one night N prog. That doesn’t give us a lot of time working on normal, and worse yet, the normal run is on a week-night when people need to get to bed earlier. Extending hours is pretty much out of the question. It’d work out if we could down the Flex bosses faster, but there seems to be a frustrating tendency for people to be completely unable to rein in their off-topic rambling. Sure, we’re a guild not an army, blah – it’s a waste of people’s goddamn time. Mumble’s running outside of raid time as well, and that would seem to be a better time to talk about arbitrary miscellanea than when we need to focus. This isn’t Dragon Soul – there are 14 bloody bosses in this raid, and they’re all long-ass fights, apart from Norushen.

No, I’m not the most polite or social guildie in the world. Grr.

Either way, we’re trying for prog on friday this week. See how that goes. Won’t have the boost from Flex gear for the week yet, but that’s fairly low-importance. We’re not hitting enrages… it’s just refinement that we need.

Time keeps moving forward! This is surprising. Things continue happening in sequential order, instead of all at the same time all the time. Well, except for the things that get reset every week, which we then do in a different but similar sequence. I blame the Timewalkers.

The king of blue lies defeated

The king of blue lies defeated

Got a guildrun on Lei Shen last week. Bit late as usual, but at least he’s down.

My stabs, let me show you them

My stabs, let me show you them

Got LFR Britomart off a very friendly dinosaur. It’s pretty now that it no longer looks anything like itself. I’m a big fan of the Klaxxi-style polearm model… it’s smooth enough that it fits with almost any ‘mog, but detailed enough that it still looks good. And yes, my dancing steel ‘chant appears to be perpetually trying to escape its mortal prison.

Acid crane woo

Acid crane woo

Got Chi-chi. Today’s reset is the start of a brand-new three-week pet grind. Have I mentioned that having the tournament reset on US time is truly abyssmal? Anyway… Chi-chi was the pet that I was actually after when I decided to give the tourney a shot. His moveset leaves much to be desired, but overall he just looks like a custom paint job for a sportsbike.

If the screenshots look a bit odd, it’s because I got a new machine. More resmolutions, prettier everythings, better performance. And water is really pretty. Haven’t set up Gimp yet, so these images were also set up in, of all things, Paint. But… it’s all just so pretty.

But charisma is my dump stat

But charisma is my dump stat

Starting to settle in at the new job, so updates might actually happen more frequently again.

Someday I'll take a good action shot of one of my toons, I swear...

Someday I’ll take a good action shot of one of my toons, I swear…

Got my legendary cloak. Not on the day of the patch – gasp! – but on the day thereafter. Probably would have waited longer still if it weren’t for a guildie who’d farmed up his last runestones the day before and who did all the schlep work of putting together a group that (mostly) stayed together for all four bosses. So, thanks, Dan. Don’t worry though, you’re still a dick.

The proc is off Xuen’s bath towel is surprisingly effective. On most fights it accounts for 6% or so of my damage, making it as good as most of my actual abilities. Well worth the grind. Also, watching my character go completely bosbefok is marvellous.

Dan and I were the first two to get the cloaks – close enough that I’m not sure which of us handed in first for the guild achieve. Quite a few of the other guildies are making progress, though – we’ve already got a cloaked healer* and a caster DPS who’s a couple of celestials away. Fun times.

Not having to actually display the cloak to get the visual proc is the best idea Blizzard’s had in a long time, and that alone makes me happy they went with a cloak rather than something unhideable like, say, a weapon. That said, the fact that these blue/white wings clash with my transmog has been getting on my proverbial tits. Juuust a little. Time to play dress-up again. Speaking of…

elixirIt seems that the old quest mobs in the Vale now drop a new elixir which turns one’s character into an appropriately-attired Golden Lotus guard, such as they were before the HORRIBLE DESTRUCTION. I quite like this bronze armour set, and don’t recall seeing it at all while levelling! What a shame.

In other news, the guild’s cleared the first Flex quarter and the first two bosses in Normal, which is actually pretty good for a first week. We’ve got some of our Cata raiders showing interest again, which is pretty awesome. Guild cleared ToT all the way to Animus in one night**, which is excellent given that we were routinely stumped by Tortos before and had never even seen past Ji-kun before. Yes, it’s nerfed, and no, I don’t really care.

Siege looks to be much better balanced for our needs – less “every raid member must know how to execute this arbitrary mechanic perfectly or we all die” checks. Group cohesion’s important, and we do that fairly well. If the roster holds together, I can see this being a very good patch for us.

Flex has been interesting – the difference between Flex and Normal is pronounced to say the least, but unlike LFR, the mechanics appear to be entirely intact. Made learning the first couple of bosses vastly easier. Being able to pop latecomers and random friends in as well is marvellous.

 

* I’m not jealous that the cloak’s wings look so much better than my pally version. At all. >.>

** Disclaimer: I wasn’t involved in this at all, being that my beloved wifelet got me Cold Days and I had to read it immediately.

So, what does one do when not raiding? Surprisingly enough, the answer is often ‘raid’.

Ama zoom-zoom

Ama zoom-zoom

Remembered to get some screenshots from this PuG. Hilariously enough, while it started out as a straight ToES run on TH, it ended up being pretty much a Hordivores semi-run with all 5 of us online at the time in the run. Not sure whether we should be proud that we were holding up the damage and healing… eh, screw it, we did good.

rhino

Say that again, I dare you. I double dare you, mother fucker!

Mentioned the death knight PvP crafted set last time, and I stand by my assertion… on a tauren, this set looks like an Evangelion crossbred with a rhinoceros. Tauren often have issues with helms due to the snout, but in this case it fits perfectly – better than the cheesy psycho grin that comes standard with other models.

And finally, I got my Zookeeper achievement. Yeah, days before the spawn rate was buffed. Figured with Blizzard’s reaction to previous overcamped rare spawns – Minfernal anyone? – that it’d be a while before they gave in. Nice to know they’re getting a bit more reasonable and not just dismissing player concerns about having to spend hours out in the middle of goddamn nowhere. Seriously, what’s the point of having a bunch of people congregate for days out in the arse-end of a desert with absolutely nothing to do? That’s time they’re not spending doing stuff with other people, and yet the last I checked this was a social game.

Aww yeah wanna come swing on my monkey bars?

Aww yeah wanna come swing on my monkey bars?

Aaand I’m ranting. Anyway, next episode: death knights levelling on a PvP server! Which is mostly instances so far, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any player versus player action.