November 2010

I got my computer sorted out with Windows 7, (finally a windows system that works), and so I decided to download EvE online, this being on the advice of some of my regular commentators. I’ve been having some fun in WoW lately with The Shattering, which entails riding around to all the new places and ganking all the people who have ridden around to see the new places. Plus a bunch of Wintergrasp victories with The PuG, which have been a lot of fun. But I wanted to have a look at EvE before Cataclysm hits, so I got the standard 14 day trial, downloaded the game in a couple of hours and logged in.

So the majority of my impressions are going to be from the standpoint of a WoW veteran. EvE feels very grown up. It’s slick and sexy, and damn complicated. I think one of the main reasons that dissuades people who have invested a lot of time in an MMO from trying out another is that you don’t want to feel like a n00b again. Well, at least in space nobody can see your noobness. I chose a character without doing any background study at all and promptly began the tutorial, which is nicely set out in that it doesn’t feel like you’re in some nooby care-bear zone. EvE has appealed to me right away due to the fact that I am more of an explorer and builder type than a destroyer. Saying that, my first quest giver that I hooked up with is the military one, but I figured that it would be better to know how to defend oneself immediately in this game. I’m up to the 6th of 10 quests from this guy, which has me chasing a bunch of nasty pirates around and blowing them into little bits. At one point the pirate boss offered me a spot in his team, and I thought “Cool!” but unfortunately I couldn’t figure out a way to actually join him.

Then on my 6th mission I got blown into little bits for the first time. Up to this point I was beginning to think that I was the awesome before reality came back to bite me with the noobish sight of me floating through space in a little capsule wheras before I had had my cool little Slasher ship. Luckilly I had taken out full insurance and I got my big payout of 13,000.00 pingers, (or whatever the fuck you call them), and I set off to the market. Where I found the same ship was going for 80,0000.00 pingers not to mention all the bits that I would have to re-install such as gatling guns and the like. It was here that I encountered my first problem with the game – I couldn’t remember the names of the devices that I had had installed. I knew that there was a thing that repaired the ship, (it had a little red cross icon on it), but searching through the market I had no idea what it was called. If anyone can help me there I would be very greatful. There were some other things as well, such as a mining gun, but I figured that it would be best to hop back and see if I could win this battle than to go and purchase all the stuff for my ship again only to once more see myself blown out of the sky. I did some mining, and quickly learnt to set a bookmark on my asteroid of choice, and I queued up 24 hours of training to get me looking smicko in the skills department.

But more than anything I have for the first time a feeling of excitement when a loading screen comes up. And I haven’t had that for a good while now. Oh, and by the way, any tips or hint would be very much appreciated.

I got an email yesterday asking what I was doing with regards to my rogue PvP spec seeing that everyone and his dog has respecced to a Sub spec. So I jumped online and began wandering around the new world. If you play on a PvP server, (and if you don’t then why the fuck aren’t you?), now is a great time for world PvP. Everyone is out doing the same thing as you – checking out the new changes. I’ve been jumped a few times by chickens running around in pairs, but so far I’ve only been killed once. Even if you get surprised and jumped, a quick use of your PvP trinket, drop cloak of shadows, vanish away, and you are good. Although you may have problems if you’re up against a hunter with his pet as vanish is having some issues there lately, (the new patch supposedly fixed this but I have yet to bump into a hunter to find out for myself). Then you just circle back, sap one of them and go to town. So you must be thinking that I’m using a Sub spec, right?

Fuck no. Here’s a little secret from your friendly Mutilate using rogue – the new patch upped our damage a shit-tonne. Expect to get nerfed, but right now get out there and enjoy it. Lets have a look at the new patch notes:


* Deadly Poison base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.

* Recuperate now restores 2% of maximum health, down from 3%.

* Venomous Wounds base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.

o Aggression now increases damage of Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate by 7/14/20%, up from 5/10/15%.
o Bandit’s Guile now gives 10/20/30% increased damage as the rogue gains greater insight, up from 5/10/15%.

o Executioner no longer affects Recuperate.

Bug Fixes
o Bandit’s Guile now applies more consistently to all of the abilities it’s supposed to modify.
o Player guardians and temporary pets now stop attacking when a rogue uses Vanish, but city guards will not

So it looks like Mastery is now working very nicely for Mutilate rogues, particularly seeing as envenom scales with potent poisons . Dump all of your crit for mastery right now. You want to be using deadly/instant for your poisons as wound is quite crap at this point. Rupture is awesome with the buff to venemous wounds. And unless they fix backstab I can’t see Sub being a viable PvP spec at endgame, particularly for arena play. The talent build that I recommend for Mutilate is this one.

There is almost no information regarding this at the present time that I can find on the interwebs. And remember that this is just what I have been able to ascertain from experimenting in-game. So if you have anything to add or if you think that I’m wrong in any areas, please don’t hesitate to jump in and say so.

A comment on my post from yesterday questioned whether or not I am enjoying anything about WoW anymore, and I think that it’s a fair enough question in a way. But I feel that an assumption here is if you aren’t enjoying it anymore, then stop playing, and stop harping on about it. Stop blogging in other words.

This year a number of blogs that I followed, enjoyed, and admired, closed up shop for good. In almost every instance they followed a similar pattern: stop blogging for a period of time, write a post out of the blue which detailed how they were going to be much better bloggers from now on and keep everything updated, then once again silence for a good period of time, then perhaps they would call for contributors to their site, then some more posts from these contributors, and then the blog would be closed down for good.

In most of these cases it was pretty obvious that the blogger wasn’t enjoying or indeed playing the game anymore, but still felt some guilt at not writing for his painstakingly cultivated audience. It can be hard to let go after all that work and effort. But another aspect is how quietly they slipped away. I know for a fact that some of these bloggers were very unhappy with the game’s direction, but couldn’t bring themselves to continually criticize it.

Well, I can. And you don’t even have to play the game to criticize it. Look at totalbiscuit; he hasn’t played the game since April, (although he has been in the beta), yet this doesn’t stop him from his weekly 90 minute podcast rant. I feel that the gaming world is at some sort of critical point right now. We have had a glorious golden age for the past 20 years, where games have been made by people who love them for people who love to play them. But big money is changing all that. Now games are being made solely to generate income. Gameplay or creativity are not as important as they once were. Short term rewards and feelings of accomplishment, (when nothing of note has been accomplished), are the mainstay drivers of top games. Look at how the latest incarnation of Civilization has been butchered to cater to this instant gratification mentality. Go and have a look at some of the extremely long threads on CivFanatics where legions of long-term players are completely disillusioned with the new game.

I think back to some of the games that I have played and enjoyed over the last 25 years. So many of those games would not be made now precisely because of their difficulty and the effort needed to master them. So to see WoW coming out with new quests that a five year old would have difficulty enjoying, (but not any difficulty completing), makes me mad. So you can all expect me to keep on being mad for the forseeable future. But at the same time I would like to put out a call to my readers: what current games still adhere to the basic gaming principles of gameplay and creativity and are fun to play? Please don’t mention EvE as I don’t find logging on just to increase my toon’s skill level by no other action but being there as fun.

Your Noisy Rogue.

This is going to be a rant, but I want to state beforehand that this gives me no pleasure. I am not railing against something that I detest and want to see destroyed. I am railing against something which I have loved for a long time and want to see saved. But I doubt that it will be. It seems to be going down the toilet.

If Cataclysm is going to be anything like the pre-expansion event that we are seeing now, then this expansion might just be a total suck. I have spent the last few days playing through the quests in this event and they are abominable. They are truly majestic in their awfulness. Lets just talk about one of these quests, the one where you have to infiltrate the elemental cult or whatever the hell they’re called. I did this in Stormwind. To infiltrate a sinister and mysterious cult which is causing all sorts of trouble at the present time, this is what I had to do:

Leave Stormwind Palace and walk about 20 meters down the road.
Turn left into Old Town.
Walk another 20 meters until I find a dude standing on a barrel.
Click on him and ask, “Can I join your cult?”
Failing that, just put on a dress.
Now I am a member of this fully secretive cult.

So what genius thought this “story line” up? Do you remember some of the amazing quest lines that have been in WoW? What about the one that starts off in Darkshire where you have to investigate the private tutor that murdered his employers? You follow that one all over Elwynn Forest, you have evil spirits jump you in broad daylight in Stormwind, it’s a brilliant story line that fully involves you in the game. I could list dozens of epic quest lines here, and the sad thing is just how epic they could have made this quest. You could have been sent all over Azeroth trying to discover what is behind these recent events. I mean, it’s not as if we’re busy doing other shit right now.

Instead we get this almighty cop-out. This is just very lazy game design on Blizzards part. They seem more concerned with throwing around needless achievements, feats of strength, and fat loots than actually telling a story or giving us a game to play. Or they have simply discovered that it is far easier to give out these things than actually design rewarding content. Perhaps their player base has morphed to the point where the vast majority of players just want these things. Maybe I am truly the odd one out here. I have reached the point where not only I am not enjoying the game at all, I am beginning to feel like a fool for paying money for it every month.

The pre-expansion zombie event before wrath of the lich king was superior to the current elemental event in a number of ways. For a start it was a surprise; nobody had any idea what was going on. Contrast that with the separate and documented phases in the current event. Find out about them on MMO Champion or a similar site, log in, and go and get your “achievements”. I would go so far to say that without doing some research beforehand you may have difficulty knowing exactly what you have to do.

In the zombie invasion nobody knew what to do. So you banded together, attempting to stem the tide against the hordes of undead. Priests and paladins were in great demand as they could cure the affliction or hold back the tide. The upshot was that we were forced to make do with what we had, to come up with inventive ways to first survive and then stem the attack. Or you could revel in the idea of being a zombie, and undertake to infect as many other players as possible. It was engaging and enthralling, frustrating and dangerous. You were not after shiny rewards to do it. The reward was in the doing.

Contrast that with what we have now. It is press the button and get a stimulus reward. Trade chat is full of people asking what time the next invasion is going to happen. As far as world cataclysmic events go, this is about as routine as it gets. There isn’t anything mysterious here, there is no involvement, there is no story, there is no decent game play, there is nothing.

Blizzard is giving out a “feat of strength” for logging into the game at the moment. This is what we have come to. But in a way this feat of strength is strangely apt, because with the current dire state of the game, logging in is truly a feat of strength.

I just love me a bit of blogging furore. There’s been a good juicy one this week, when some hunter blogger who also writes for the decidingly high intellect publication called wowinsider, (which will probably be changing its name again next week), admitted to being a bit of a dick but with good reason. This led to some other blogger getting her knickers in a twist and preaching from the lofty heights of her trusty steed. It also led to calls for him to be fired from his paid gig at wowinsider. It doesn’t get much juicier than this. We’re talking a ripe plum here.

The part of this that I find most hilarious is the thought that bloggers need to be held to some standard of which normal mortals do not have to purvey themselves. Chastity wrote a 3000 word dissertation on this topic, and among the many points in his post, (I particularly liked the asshole chicken bit), he covered the following two points as regards to this issue:

What are these so called standards, and who is it that is setting them?

The correct answer is that there are none and nobody is up to the job.

I really love this bullshit theory of holding a certain segment of a population to a different behavior code. In the case of blogging, what it would have to assume is that the reader does not have the necessary intelligence to be able to determine right from wrong by themselves. Their blogger hero worship means that they blindly follow all advice coming from said blog. You let these people down at your peril, (that is if you actually give a shit). Because when you finally say or do something that even they in their blind hero worship are able to identify as unacceptable, then the shit really hits the fan. They feel a keen sense of betrayal. And they have a dim awareness of feeling stupid. Didn’t they blindly follow your every word? If you are actually a mere mortal then you could have made a mistake somewhere else! And they would have followed it, aceepting it as the truth! Oh noes!! Time to get out the pitchforks and have us a good old fashioned public hanging.

People who think this way, who believe that “public figures” should be set up on a lofty perch as an example of a behavioral code, (Lets face it – if you’re basing your own standards of behavior on a hunter blogger then you need some serious help), are what Gevlon refers to as M&S. It’s the old chestnut of absolving yourself of your own responsibility by deferring it to an unwilling third party.

If any of you are doing that with me then good fucking luck.

Gevlon has a post today about staying ahead of the leveling curve in Cataclysm. His reasoning is that you don’t want to be surrounded by lolkids, (lets face it, who does), and by pre-packing your quest log with 25 completed level 80 quests, (an idea orginally championed by Randy Jordan from The Instance podcast in the last expansion), you can turn in a cool 500,000xp in a couple of hours and place yourself ahead of the jibbering horde of morons who will be fighting for every quest giving mob there is, as well as trying to slice your face off if you are on a pvp server like I am.

The problem with this is that these same kids will be relentlessly leveling in the first few days. So to stay ahead of the curve you’re going to have to play at the same insane pace. Which leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I like to take my time levelling new content, to see the world and smell the roses. And after the last year of being very bored with the content, I have no great desire to roll through it at 100 miles per hour just to stay in front of the morons. I’m more than content to let the morons blow past me and then to cruise along behind them, (ganking problems notwithstanding). So this should be quite a simple choice then, right?

Not so fast. As I am no doubt you’re all well aware, the 5 mans in Cataclysm are a different breed. Crowd control has come back to the fore, trash mobs are tricky and require thought. In short, you do not want to be pugging these. On top of that, I love Gevlon’s guild, The PUG. The quality of player is outstanding and the noise level is very low. It’s always a distinct pleasure to play with these guys and gals, ( I did a wintergrasp match with them on the weekend, and it was the best lead and followed run in that pvp hellhole that I have ever seen), so for me I very much want to do the 5 mans with them while I am levelling up. But to do that I will most probably need to stay in front of the curve.

It’s a very tough call. Do I rush through the content to keep up with my guildies, or do I go at my own pace and risk having to PuG the 5 mans? Even if I could talk some guildies into taking it easy, we most probably would not stay at the same level to be able to run instances together. I suspect that I will have to stay in front of the curve and roll an alt later to enjoy all the new content. It makes me sad though, as I really hate having to rush through stuff.

A few days ago a post at massively caught my eye. It was regarding the WWII battleground sim MMO that is offering a free 14 day trial at the moment. I have always been a sucker for WWII stuff. Before computers were invented I was a tabletop gamer, splitting my time evenly between Dungeons & Dragons and WWII battles. My favorite were the Advanced Squad Leader series, and I still have all the original box sets. Fantastically complicated but also extremely playable, with the only hitch being that you had to find another person who was just as nutty as you to learn all the rules.

I had heard about the Battleground Europe MMO, but had never dipped my toe in the water. So this week I gave it a shot. The download was a paltry 800 meg, a far cry from the 21 gig that I had to download from Blizzard a few weeks ago. I went through the training sessions, which included infantry, armor, and aircraft experience. The controls are easy and natural, the commands make sense, the graphics are fine and the sound quality is excellent. So out into the field I went.

A campaign that had been going on for almost 80 days was coming to its final conclusion, which was that the Germans were kicking British and French butt. The loading screen informed me that the nasty nazis were overpopulated and the poor Allies were desperate for a willing hero such as myself, so a Tommy I became. You need to become promoted to use better weapons, so a raw recruit like myself can only use a rifle. No problem, I have a few grenades as well, Jerry here I come.

Time to die.

If there is one thing that I am good at in this game it is dying. Combat is chaotic and confusing. I never know which way to run and I end up dying whenever I do so. And dying again. Okay, let me reload this. Hey, you’re dead, what a surprise. My best dying method so far has been getting shot out of a church tower by a tank shell when I hadn’t even shot at anyone and I had been hiding. They couldn’t have known that I was up there, so they must have just been athiests or something and I happened to get in the way of a panzer round. Man this game is hard. They say the learning curve is steep. Is walking up the side of the Empire State Building steep? And so far I haven’t killed a single enemy. I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat. I haven’t hardly even seen the enemy. But he sure sees me.

So it’s really, really hard. What else? Oh, the players are both extremely friendly and very willing to help noobs, yet at the same time completely unsupportive of moron questions or behavior. It’s a really nice balance. Ask a question in general chat and it will be answered with the correct information in very quick time. Why? Because it is in your sides best interest to make sure that you are doing as best as you can, otherwise they may lose. This is PvP gaming at its best – no quarter given, extremely realistic and no cry-baby behavior. I can’t see nerfs happening in this game. Will I stick with it? Well, Cataclysm is coming, but for the moment this is certainly a fun ride and I am determind to kill at least one Axis basterd before my time is up.

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