Thursday, 29 May 2014

Sacred: Anducar

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Turns out I had to first kill the Elite Guard who tried (and failed) to ambush me before Anducar himself would show up, so after using the lure and kill method the robed wizard himself popped out and explained that Vilya was actually working for him in exchange for him to resurrect Prince Valor (she's dumb), and that everything was now in place as he planned - including me being there. Why were your guards so frigging annoying then?

Anyway, so begins the epic combat where the old man runs slowly around the room, and throwing very slow moving spells. Erm... Looks like the few potions I have left will suffice in this combat. Unlike Shaddar he is even susceptible to BFGs so it is with ease that he is defeated... and then he transforms into a demon which I think gives Vilya a heart attack because she just dies outright at that point too.

The fight now is a bit harder with a lot more fast potion usage to survive his attacks. Well, his one unfair attack that you cannot evade anyway. All the rest are easy to side step or soft enough to eat. Eventually he dies and in a cutscene Valor's ghost takes Vilya's ghost away from the collapsing temple, leaving me stranded there in the deepest heart of a demon army that just lost the one guy that was keeping everything together. Awesome. >_<

I suppose something like this happens next.

And that is how Sacred ends! There are more games in the series which might see a continuation of this story but for now its au revoir and thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

TiS: Rurouni Kenshin Returns!

I've just seen news that the next two live action Kenshin movies are coming out this year - HUZZAH!

For those who don't know, Kenshin is a pretty long running manga turned anime turned OVA turned live action movie that my brothers and grandfather have been following over the years. We took turns reading out each subtitled line for my grandpa throughout the animated series and when it finally came to the end was one of the only times I've seen my grandpa cry. That's how awesome it is.

I did do a review of the first live action movie and was thoroughly impressed by how they handled the content. This time it's the Kyoto arc where Kenshin and co. face Shishio and his "Ten Swords". Totally expecting much backstory getting chopped here in exchange for beautiful and vicious combat. Having Aoshi (my favourite character) in there is a bonus! I suspect they'll need to change him around a fair bit though since they totally skipped his intro in the previous movie (which means its not going to end well for him, is it? Damn!). I'm also interested to see just how they do The Legend Ends, a little of which is seen right at the end of the trailer in the link I believe. Best of all it doesn't look like I'll have to wait long as both movies are set to release later this year! With news like that, who couldn't help smiling!?

If you still haven't seen the first Kenshin live-action movie then you can watch if for free here! It's subtitled in English, so even Simcha has no excuse not to watch it. ;P

Sacred: Temple of Hell

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Past those gates were even more powerful green demon brutes along with everyone's favourite shadow demon paralyzers. There were still actually side quests in this region but I opted to neglect them this time around as there were no resupply vendors anywhere close by. Pushing through the demon army was slow going but eventually I found the blacksmith of hell with his mighty big hammer who would have given me the Gem of Light for the Eternal Flame. Too bad for him I don't bargain with demons.

He was pretty tough and proficient with that hammer though, and cost me at least half my stock of potions before he died. To gain the item needed to beat his boss seemed worth it though, so with the gem of light in my possession I began the final run to Anducar's temple where pretty much every sort of demon was waiting for me, including many pairs of Sakkara / Balor types.

Thankfully they weren't paired with the shadow demons so I could just elude them using combat jumps, including one that served as a shortcut to the floating temple itself. Those grounds were still patrolled by Mohkva and shadow demon scum again though but with perseverance I managed to reach the "throne" room of the temple (temples have throne rooms) where lady Vilya stood mute and unmoving. No sign of Anducar though.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sacred: Descent

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Apparently killing a man makes him friendlier in this game, as Shaddar went on to explain what exactly was going on. Apparently some powerful wizard demon lord guy named Anducar was opening up these portals to begin his invasion of the realm, and for some reason Anducar also had Vilya hostage (as opposed to her being killed earlier). I don't think to question how Shaddar knows this, but he does ask that I clear the demon scum from his tower as that is the site of another gate.

How I'm feeling at this point.

One quick Subkari and Sakkara demon fight later (with the Sakkara fought in the same room I defeated Shaddar), Shaddar says that I will need the "Gem of Light" to defeat Anducar, and that item is with Hell's Blacksmith Neophystis just as the ghost of Prince Valor shows up again just to urge me to save Vilya once more. Really tempted to use an "undeath death" potion on that fool.

Anyway, after fully loading up on potions again I begin my descent from the mountain. My fricking LONG descent from the mountain, fighting through more shadow demons and the fast little ones and past cerebopod land into a dark cave which only has more of the same waiting for me. I can't really blitz through it so it is slow and methodical at this point, unlocking the four locks scattered around the place while trying to conserve as many potions as I can. Once that is done I descend even further and find what I suppose are the gates of hell, open and waiting for me to enter.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Sacred: The Climb

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Since it seemed the theme of this place was to just throw endless mobs at me across a long distance travel I decided to load up fully on potions this time. I previously was only carrying enough to fill up 30% of my pack - this time I decided to forgo the loot as I had over two million gold at this point anyway and fill it up 100% with potions before beginning my trek up the ash mountain.

As usual the great bugs were easy enough to avoid but once I started the climb in earnest there were these fast little demons that hit hard and could actually keep pace with me which meant I had again to go slow, especially when they had shadow demon buddies nearby. A new critter type - cerebopods, which look a lot like evil starfish with tentacles, made their appearance here and proved dangerous foes with their high physical resist. The BFG was rarely out of my hand on the climb up, and when it was I simply wasn't moving - letting it recharge.

A good distance up the runners and shadow demons gave way to bigger troll like demons and more cerebopods of various colours, but none had the paralysis ability and I could outrun them all so that made progress quite a bit easier until finally I reached my goal, a large grey tower with some useful merchants nearby for resupply. Right outside the door was a familiar face, the necromancer Shaddar!

Thanks for killing me that one time, I feel better now!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

NBI: Why don't we finish games anymore?

Because we over purchase.

This is one the other main talkback topic for this year's NBI and while I've already posted my personal top 10 reasons why I stop playing games I think the simpler reason of why most people have a back log is simply that line above. People who purchase games on a regular basis are more likely to leave the same said games unfinished as new shineys come in, and there is no shortage them in addition to betas, alphas, early access and kickstarting stuff to try.

It's really a lot like food. If you (the consumer) kept getting plates of various food at a rate of one dish an hour, eventually you will reach a point where you will not be finishing (and in some cases even tasting) what is served - no matter how delicious it is. If you are serious about finishing a bunch of games in your backlog then my advice would be to simply stop buying new ones until you're done. Go on a Game "Diet" if you will. It's harder than it sounds as Mr. Luvva Luvva has found out.

Personally, I don't buy any games for myself any more - nor do I play any non F2P titles and it's very hard for those to open my wallet (guess it helps that I'm poor?). The rest is just a matter of will. Ask yourself why exactly you are purchasing what you buy, and when you will get to use it? Getting a "deal" for 80% off sounds great, but if you never use the product you are still -20% out of pocket for no reason.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Sacred: Marathon

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Much like the previous forest, this one also is shielded by magic to prevent anything from escaping so my first task is to break that spell. Fortunately only the dryad druids have the paralysis spell while the rest of the dryads are mostly bow users with the slightly less annoying ability of being able to phase jump away as soon as you get close. Since I was just running past that didn't really bug me too much, at least not until I got to the cave where the shield was coming from.

With shadow demons galore and ent like things that also could entangle me, it was another slow slog to reach the second floor. The only up side was that the dryads were fighting them too so I could actually pass a few groups by. Eventually I found the source of the shield, a big demon named Hoth-Yotsog who once again drained my potion supply to empty.

Phew, for a minunte I thought it was this guy!

Upon its defeat I was free to leave to destroy the next gate, which I could sense was in some distant ash mountain so I needed to get running, and boy what a long run it was. Out of the cave, out of the forest, along the cliff past more giant bugs. I must have missed my turn off at some point though because exhausted and bemused, I found myself back at the city of Purgatori.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Sacred: Volcano Island

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Upon arrival at the Volcano Island we were greeted by ex-captain Vernon and a whole slew of his undead crew. After dispatching them he begged for his undead life, asking me to find three pieces of a necklace to... I zoned out at that point. I don't fricking negotiate with the undead - much less undead that just tried to kill me. After smashing his face into dust I proceeded into the volcano itself where the rather pleasant undead were replaced by Mohkva and those irritating Shadow Demons.

That's what ye get for refusin ta parley!

Fortunately it was a small underground zone and as expected the pirates turned on me since the demon was actually based in their treasure chamber. After killing them all I proceeded in to face yet another Sakkara demon. I'm beginning to wonder why I needed to create that gem to beat the first one if they seem to be so common now. Anyway with it dead I hop into the warp gate it is guarding and land right beside the Subkari demon on the other side. Good thing I brought a lot of potions!

With the gate shut I found myself now trapped in a cave full of shadow demons and had to navigate my way out, slowly. The Mohkva's here have taken to riding the giant bugs from before so now they are twice as annoying. Great. Eventually I find stairs out and onto a high walkway above the forest which turns out to be the home of the dryads. Huzzah! Safety! Well no, of course the dryads are also hostile. *face palm*

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sacred: Crabs and Bones

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

It seems the pirates were in need of help, because some bastard demon raised a whole bunch of undead on their island and it was up to me to go sort it out. A connecting cave that ran underneath the channel was my method of getting to their actual base, and both it and their seaside town was overrun by crabs and pirate skeletons. After clearing the docks they managed to land their ship and help out a little, with one pirate named Conrad wanting to help eliminate all the undead. I'm afraid he joined them in the end.

In typical pirate fashion though, another just wanted to throw a party - requiring me to fetch a keg of ale, a bunch of crab legs and his four best buddies. Well, I gave him the food and booze but I kept his four buddies with me first to try rescue the Pirate Helmsman who was trapped on the next island over. We rowed over in a little dinghy and were immediately set upon by an army of crabs, led by the most fearsome and difficult opponent I've faced yet: the Queen Crab.

Certainly made me feel like I was level one!

She needed to die if I was to free the Helmsman from her clutches but with incredibly fast and strong attacks coupled with that damned paralyzation spell it was an insanely difficult combat, one that required a lot of running, multiple rounds of BFG, all my potions, and cost the lives of those four pirate party go-ers. Dragon Knights they were not. Eventually she died and the Helmsman and myself returned to the pirate port, ready to sail to the Volcano Island where the demon was said to be based. As for the party pirate, he was so hammered when I got back to him he didn't really care that his buddies were crab food because it meant more booze for him!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Sacred: Paradise, Comparatively

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

The only way to shut down the second gate was to step through it, and yet another Sakkara demon lay waiting on the sands of the other side. It seriously starts right beside you. Now this was one of the most intense fights I've had so far, not because the demon was overly powerful - but because I had to fight without potions! Sure Vilya helped out a bit but in the end I still felt very proud upon defeating the bastard after a long fight.

Unfortunately Vilya was disintegrated with a loud scream right after our victory by unseen forces. Prince Valor's ghost showed up to grieve a bit (it was your fault moron), but then told me there were more portals needing to be shut and that I should ask the pirates to the South for the location of the next one before vanishing off again and leaving me alone in the desert.

Fortunately there was a small oasis town nearby where I could restock and really relax since this environment was the most pleasing one I've been to for awhile. While there I also helped put down a troublesome undead mage, rescue a lost kid and concoct an antidote for her scorpion sting, all of which were very easy tasks comparatively. Eventually it was time to run the gauntlet of the desert valley down to the pirate docks, and the merchant who came along with me did not survive the snakes and wyverns of outrageous fortune. I'd hate to think how he would have fared against things with that paralysis skill then.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Neverwinter Online: Curse of Icewind Dale

The new content is big, beautiful, and awesomely dangerous.

Indeed, prior to Module 3's release last week I maybe only died a couple of dozen times through the whole game (only a few epic dungeons included). I've since died just as many times out in the new zones thanks to the common veteran and elite level Black Ice corrupted beasties and "Heroic Encounters" (which work a lot like GW2 open world events) that can really put you in your place if you drop the ball (or are silly enough to try solo something that suggests 4+ players). A number of people have been complaining about the required 10k+ Gearscore and three boons from one of the previous campaigns which serve as a barrier to entry - well my main is on 11K+ GS and has all the boons and I'm still getting thrown around like a ragdoll sometimes.

The other thing some are complaining about is the 20 silver fee for injury kits when they die in to the not-so-open PvP present there. Basically there are large red zones on the map and stepping one foot into them flags you as a PvP participant. Stepping out doesn't turn it off - you have to reach distant campfires (or die) to do that. The black ice nodes present in the said PvP zones act as a lure for many who then often find either vastly being outnumbered or vastly curb stomping the opposite team. I have to laugh at that since the 20 silver is a pittance - I wonder how these folk would fare in games you could lose all your gear (UO) or potentially get perma killed (WO). Doesn't bother me though as the PvP areas are easy to avoid and the PvE quests never take you into them. There is a PvP quest line and campaign too, but obviously I don't bother picking it up.

He can get you some artifacts, if you have two IWD-ready characters.

The PvE campaign which sees you gaining influence and investing in Caer-Konig's businesses comes with a 35+ day grind (of completing 1 HE and collecting 300 Black ICe) which puts it in the middle I think in terms of length between the pretty speedy Dread Ring arc (especially if you only do the daily lair quest) and the grindingly slow Sharandar one (where at points you'll need to do up to 10 quests a day). The black ice you harvest can also be turned into a new tier of equipment - potentially the strongest for addicts. Why? Because the base black ice gear won't beat the already available highest tiered stuff. You have to keep plugging in more black ice to power up your suit and weapons for it to surpass them, and I mean indefinitely. That "charge" drains constantly but I suppose won't be a problem for those who can forever keep powered up.

Anywho I am certainly enjoying the exciting times in Icewind Dale - why don't you come and join me? If you start now, you'll probably be fully geared up for the next module, Tyranny of Dragons, planned for release in August. ;)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Sacred: Cursed Forest

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

With Vilya freed the ghost of Prince Valor showed up again, saying there were more portals to be closed. He then asked if Vilya should accompany me or he should keep her safe. Wait... if you can do that you damn ghost then what the hell did you need me for!? I tell him to keep the girl safe out of spite so that he can make himself useful, then using a portal which takes me back to the mine entrance run back through all the bugs to get to Purgatori.

There I was told that one of their members had been taken captive, and that he might know where this next gate is. Sure enough he had been caught by the Mohkva in the nearby forest maze. I freed him just fine, but we found ourselves trapped in the forest by the magic of the evil Nuk-Nuk (goblin zombie guys). The only option was to kill the Nuk-Nuk leader which proved to be a most challenging task since his ranged attacks were almost one hit KO's. It required a bit of arcade skills and a fair number of potions to get the hang of it.

Speaking of spooky forests, I think Aokigahara classifies as one.

Unfortunately the captive guy didn't do so well, but with his dying breath told me the next portal was in the woods nearby. I decided to go for it immediately, rushing past the many snake men along the forest path when I suddenly came upon - Vilya? Damnit Valor, you are a complete failure - even in death! Anyway, the Baroness brought her bow to help out a little and I must admit it did prove useful to defeat the next Subkari demon we encountered. We needed to duck into the shanty huts while doing so to avoid its AOE attacks but eventually downed the bastard. At this point I was out of healing potions.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sacred: Holy Hell

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Took a much needed detour to a massive walled city called Purgatori to take a breather from running from all the giant bugs. I also decided to help out the residents there with killing undead goblin creatures and ghouls, dealing with a demon who wasn't a demon, and baking cookies. Once that was done I set out again to find the mines, stopping only to aid a woman being chased by a swarm of giant wasps. Just to give you an idea of how tough the foes here were I really needed to use my BFG to stand a chance.

Finally I reached the mine and it was filled with shadow demons and demon worshipping Mohkva people. While the worshippers weren't much of an issue, those demons were crazy strong - came in groups of 6-8 and all of them could paralyze me which meant running past was not an option and fighting without the BFG was a risky gamble. This made traversing this place a frigging long nightmare.

At least the second floor was home exclusively to flaming spiders (how does that work?) which made it really quick, but the last floor again had the demons that needed to be slowly ground through. Eventually I came to the kidnapper demon, a strong Subkari type who didn't have the path finding issues of his predecessor. Still, it was a doable fight and eventually I was victorious. It seemed to be guarding a gate though which needed both ends shut so I stepped through and found another Sakkara demon!

Did you miss me?

Yup, another boss fight right away and this time with no geometry to hide behind. Fortunately it wasn't as strong as the last one and I still had enough healing potions to just power through it. Once it fell I returned to the underworld where the now freed Vilya was waiting. If only that was the end of it!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

NBI 2014: Drawing Event!

Much like Syl's Poetry Slam this year's Newbie Blogger Initiative is calling all blogger artists (and those who don't think they are artists) to join in the silliness of the first ever (that I know of anyway) Drawing Event!

Here are the rules:
1 - Everyone has to draw their own avatar.
2 - (optional side quest) If you're really feeling creative, create a 2 panel comic strip.
3 - You have to wear the avatar you draw on the forum.
4 - Post a reply to this thread to show off your works!
5 - The Drawing Event closes on May 30th 2014 (end of this NBI).

While special XP prizes may or may not be given for participation (because Doone works in mysterious ways), I can at least guarantee that at the end all works will go up in a
gallery post on my blog that link back to your own (you can opt out though) - and hey, the more incoming links the better right?

One last note for those not feeling confident about their art skills: it doesn't matter what skill level you are or what tools you use. Just join in - the NBI is about community building after all!

I highly encourage everyone to participate and look forward to your contributions. ^_^

Sacred: Underworld

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Some days later, I was summoned back to the ancestral forge by lady Vilya who was having nightmares and in despair about her lost love Valor. The wise wizard was there too, and I think he was trying to resurrect the dead prince but all he managed to do was open a portal to the underworld which promptly made a big, spiny demon show up which automatically killed the wizard - grabbed Vilya and retreated back to its realm.

With no time to assemble my previous knight team (who I guess were training with the dragon in Drakenden anyway), I jumped into the portal in pursuit. Once there I found Prince Valor's ghost waiting for me, instructing me to save Vilya. Seriously!? He's still bossing me around after he's dead?

Where are these guys when I need them?

Anyway, if this is the underworld it looks a lot like the normal world. Just full of giant bugs and worms which are easily enough ran past. I also come across a mushroom village with odd looking commoners called Haduk who still trade in gold and have the normal problems to be solved as before. Asking about the kidnapper demon they direct me towards a mine to find it, and one even offers to guide me there though halfway decides he's had enough and leaves me anyway.

I don't know what happened at this point in game design terms. This was the start of huge areas to traverse with not really much content, just endless swarms of enemies, which for me was a severe drop in quality.

Today I Smiled: Courtesy of Kaozz Spawn

Today's smile is brought to you by the spawn of Kaozz at Nothing really more to say other than you should go check it out. :P

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

NBI: Do PVP and PVE Mix?

This is actually a topic I suggested for this year's NBI, and a number of other NBI bloggers have posted recently about it:

Arcadian has a good write up on the topic of how these two can co-exist. Mainly if the PVP aspect isn't mandatory and doesn't block the PVE guys from any content.
Doctor Hannah doesn't mind "Responsible" PvP which is difficult given the douche-baggery that comes with the territory.
Doone has a piece on open PVP and fairness which has a great line: " Players will always find ways to avoid it if they really hate it, which might include not playing their game."
Looking for Playtime actually grew to like PvP, as the PvE element gets boring having done the same quests in different games.

My answer, after having experienced both consensual and non-consensual PvP (oh so dirty), is never.

Having open PvP all the time in PvE zones like in the old days of Ultima Online or in Wizardry Online (open PvP with chance of permadeath) really added to one's adrenaline as random encounters against Player Killers (PKs) were just that, very random. Unlike in say, a First Person Shooter deathmatch where you -know- you will be fighting other people, in MMOs it's a matter of some decision making and a lot of luck. Some days you might not run into anyone, let alone PKs. Other days you may have the misfortune of being hunted by a whole slew of them - usually for no reason other than "they were bored".

Doone's piece on fairness also rings true here: often a newbie in a FPS is still capable of serious trouble against a veteran, and usually the teams auto balance each side to keep the numbers even. In MMO's a low level and low geared character has almost no chance against multiple max levelled and epic tiered opponents. Not all PvPers are douchebags though (and not all PvEers are not). I've had highly wanted criminal characters and soldiers of an enemy faction be very civil and helpful to me (or at the very least ignored me seeing my low level) but they were few and far between the more common, PK thug type.

I agree with Arcadian that when developers mix PvE and PvP it's because they are lazy and hoping to get free content by feeding PvEers to PvPers who serve as a luck-gate to whatever PvE objective they were after. However this doesn't change the fact that it is still up to the individual player on how to behave. Do you really leave your morals and decision making when you log into your MMORPG? Do you get joy from ruining someone else's day? If you grief someone enough in game (because you were bored or just because the game wanted you to kill x people this week) that they commit suicide in real life, do you think that's on you? Of course it is. That there are people who think otherwise is part of the reason why these two game styles should never be found together.

Let the killers go kill each other in their own little room(s) while everyone else enjoys the actual game. Otherwise, just advertise your whole game as PvP focused so the rest of us know not to bother playing it.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sacred: Shaddar

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

With the demon essence trapped in the gem, we returned to Braverock castle and handed it over to the sorceress Shareefa for disposal. Only instead of being a buxom tanned woman she transformed into a pale thin whiny male necromancer with greasy hair: Shaddar! After doing his bad guy spiel about using the gem to attain god hood / more power he snapped his fingers and Prince Valor along with his guardsmen died and turned into zombies who we needed to destroy.

Shaddar then teleported away with a captured Vilya just for good measure. Fortunately a wise wizard who showed up out of nowhere was there to tell us to go rescue the baroness and stop the crazy bastard, otherwise we wouldn't know what to do! :P Getting back to Shaddar's tower was easy since there was that handy way gate right beside it that he forgot to close. This time the basement was set up for a ritual and we had to deal with the handful of Sakkara cultists Shaddar still had with him before facing the man himself.

I made everyone look like a fool!

To his credit, he was completely immune to my BFG (and possibly to all magic) but since my character was mostly specced for physical attacks and still had four knights backing her up he was in all sorts of trouble regardless. Upon his defeat we tossed him down the giant hole nearby and returned to Braverock triumphant. As for the demon gem thingy? I assume I kept it since it is never mentioned again.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Sacred: Sakkara

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

The streets of the city were filled with fighting so it was pretty easy to get up to main castle itself (especially with eight NPCs behind me). Once there we confronted DeMordrey himself and to his credit he was one tough cookie, surviving many rounds of BFG-ing. He kept getting distracted by my companions though, which proved to be his undoing. Once dead, Prine Valor took his place on the throne with Vilya at his side but our job wasn't finished.

We needed to take Shareefa down to the ancestral forge where she could put the elements together and summon the lose Sakkara Demon for one final fight. The damn thing was three levels down and had a metric ton of undead in the way and while we did reach there in the end it did cost one party member, Glubba the ogre, his life.

With the elements forged into the "Heart of Ancaria" gem, Shareefa told us how to summon the demon and wished us luck as she was teleporting out to seal us in - you know, in case we lost. I really dislike that woman. Anyway, with no other choice we summoned forth the Sakkara demon (who looks a lot like a D&D Balor or Tolkien Balrog) and began a most difficult and epic fight, that is until I found its one weakness: It didn't know how to walk around a particular object in the room. Exploiting that, the demon was soon defeated with none of the remaining party getting killed.

That mortal knew my one weakness... pillars!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sacred: The Fifth Element

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

We teleported to the distant desert and right into large numbers of Sakkara with undead fighting orcs. Judging from the map we were still a ways off from the tower we wanted to get to so I immediately went for the sprint route, using combat jump on the higher cliff tops to avoid a lot of the fighting and to break through the paralysis tendrils when I could. There were sections where that wasn't an option (either no where to jump or it was on cool down), meaning that we had to fight with some being pretty close affairs. Feeling pretty good that I brought those four knights as backup!

Upon finally reaching the tower we found the friendly ogre Glubba, a previous servant of the idiot Shaddar, who asked us to take him home to the place of his birth. Only I knew just from the description that it was that village where everyone turned into zombies, so I decided to keep him with us. In the basement below there were some demons waiting to be cleared out, and just beyond them we finally found... the fifth element!

It was nowhere near this pretty though.

Using the conveniently nearby way gate it was back to Braverock where I found Shareefa again with Prince Valor who was still camped out three levels down in his enemies excrement. What the HELL has this loser been doing while I've been out playing fetch? Anywho, apparently now that I'm back with four extra knights and an ogre he feels confident in taking down DeMordrey at last, so he, Baroness Vilya and Shareefa join the party for an assault on the main castle itself.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Farcry 3: Hard Earned Riches

[Part of the Diary of a Marked One]

Finally it looked like we were near the Captain's base, but right from the outset it was going to be a challenging task reaching him as the foes were once again the very accurate mercenaries. Getting through their outposts to the entrance of a mine was pretty tough, but then having to hold the mine entrance while a noisy pump drained it of water (hmm dejavu dead island) proved quite the challenge until I decided to be the bait in the central building while my brothers camped far away with their sniper rifles.

Turns out the mercs are pretty slow when it comes to sharp turn reflexes as I managed to head shot many who ventured in the door while those that cautiously stayed outside were sniped down. Once drained the mines led us to a nearby ancient temple, again crawling with enemies in what was perhaps the hardest part of this mission as they wouldn't stop spawning until we reached the temple heart (through use of flanking drive and draw tactics) to collect an explosive there that we used to explode a beaver dam type thing blocking the river.

Pass the C4, it's the only way through!

Only there was then another beaver dam further down, and it was time for a competitive challenge to collect the random bombs laying around in the river to explode that too. Why we couldn't have just walked, or bypassed the temple since there were all these bombs laying around in the first place I don't know. Anyway, the river led us to the Captain's fort where the mercenaries put up a decent enough defense but in the scope of things was easier than what we had previously traversed.

After exploding the final door we found the Captain, dying of his wounds (from the same explosion) and all the stolen money which we quickly nabbed and began our escape to the docks. Ofcourse Seto was captured again, and after taking the dock yard we needed to hold our position for what seemed to be forever against waves of mercs and knife pirates (of whom I out knifed three!) before the sea gate finally opened. With that we hopped on the boat and escaped with our hard earned riches!

... Or did we? There are still two more missions in the listing after this one. O_O

Friday, 9 May 2014

TiS: Shake a Leg

Because I'm time poor and because it's faster for me to read than to listen, I'm not one to watch streams or listen to podcasts (music ones excepted). However that means I also miss moments like this, and I just had to share it since it makes me smile each time I see her expression.

Open to misinterpretation.

Have a great day! ^_^

Thursday, 8 May 2014

NBI: Talkback Mixed Bag 2014

While Doone seeds the proper topics I thought I'd try my hand at answering some the suggestions that weren't picked up, rolling most of them into this post! He did invite people to just go ahead and post about them anyway so I invite you all to do the same! :)

What pen-&-paper RPG (D&D and the like) deserves to be adapted into an MMORPG, why, and by which development house?

Vampire the Masquerade and the rest of its cousins, all rolled into one (or if that's too hard, just the Masquerade). I think it has the best chance to succeed over my other choices here (the others being Gamma World and Lovecraft based stuff) as there are enough fans and enough lore to work with in terms of plot, factions, abilities and the like there already. CCP Games had the same idea and tried this with World of Darkness but had to cancel development. I think I'd like to see Cryptic take a shot at it because I like their model (f2p), and that they'd probably have a foundry (mission creator), and because while they don't really have standout games the ones I've tried are rather enjoyable.

Will any MMORPG ever overtake WoW as the leader of the genre? If so, what game will it be, and why?

That's a pretty open ended question. "Ever" as in - till the end of time? Then yes. Something will definitely overtake WoW. The "Why" is easy: new technologies and new IPs will emerge. Will your great, great grandkids be playing WoW? Maybe. But more likely they'll be playing something else... WoW 2, or maybe Starcraft Online? I'm sticking to Blizzard themed IPs since they have  the best resources at the moment (funding and players) to make a game to rival WoW. It would be much harder for a small unknown company to oust them but hey... maybe an Attack on Titan MMO would bleed the WoW base enough to take over. Who knows?

What 'failed' video game deserves to be remade or brought back under new management?

Wizardry Online. SOE failed big time there, leading me and many other disgruntled Wizardry players to avoid any further SOE games. It should also be remade to be more violent, with a higher risk of character permadeath balanced off by slightly easier content. As it is you literally had to suicide your spirit against reapers if you wanted to lose your character or be extremely unlucky/unprepared in dice rolls. Even then, the "Soul" system that your characters shared meant that losing one guy didn't remove all your work anyway, just giving you a minor-moderate set back.

Click the image too see the consistency of SOE!

What game series would you like to see remade (updated graphics, but stays to the original story/gameplay) or rebooted (completely re-imagined with familiar bits)?

I'd like to see id-software's Doom series remade into an MMO. Maybe a survival MMO.

If the NBI formed a guild, would you join it? Where would you want the guild to play?

Unlikely, and if I did it would probably not as a regular member. A number of the NBI folk are people who are always sitting on the cutting edge games, new releases, betas and the like. Another bunch enjoy games that have a pay wall. I prefer sticking to free games that I can enjoy whenever I feel like. I'm also not sure how many of you are in my time zone to play with anyway! ;P

Is the 'holy trinity' really holy? (Coming from the removal of a healer in GW2)

I've spoken about this before but I don't mind repeating the important part: To me, the MMO Holy Trinity is a piece of shit. If you can't do everything yourself, you aren't much of a hero to begin with. I don't mind playing with other people or grouping to do content out of choice. It's when grouping becomes a necessity that I take issue, because it means the game is not letting my character evolve the way I want him to. Especially in games which tout "be whatever you want to be", or "the world depends on you" I generally lose interest when I realize it actually means "be what we catered for" and "the world depends on you... and all those other guys because individually you all just suck. Now check out this cool, unfair, boss whom you cannot solo!".

When you're deciding if you like a game or not, which aspect weighs the heaviest and why? 

Fun! That's a no brainer. There is no point in spending time doing things you don't like. If a game is fun right off the bat or I can see will be fun when I get better at it I'll stick with it. If it's just tedious or of a genre I dislike I'll leave it alone.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sacred: Mystdale

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Cave fish are big, slow moving ugly things that can easily be out walked in their natural state. However they have an attack where they leap like a heat seeking missile, leaving a trail of fire behind them, which always hits and always stuns. They were getting more and more plentiful as we progressed that it was becoming rather irritating to traverse the swamp. Fortunately, once we crossed the bridge to the lands of Mystdale the theme changed to that of undead and rogue mages (who of course have the paralysation spell, damnit).

Mystdale itself was home to non-hostile wizards, though they all came in different flavours with many types I've previously fought being present here. Most of the quests related to escaped experiments (collecting their brains), or slaying undead or dealing with accidentally summoned demons. Indeed, killing an ogre referee who accepted bribes to let teams win in the wizardry football league and assisting to stop a bunny plague were the off beat ones but most memorable of the area.

It would be cool if Gambit (X-men) was a referee. Exploding cards!

Once that was all done it was time to meet Shareefa at that castle itself to hand her those four elements that were a pain in the rear to collect. Her response is "you are late". I seriously want to slay this woman now, especially when she says we are missing the last element - the element of the Void and true to form she sends me to fetch it from the tower of the dufus from the intro who screwed up his summoning ritual. Fortunately there is a portal close to my destination in the woods nearby, and the Sakkara cultists and their undead cronies guarding it were easily dispatched with the four extra knights behind my back.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

NBI: Poetry Slam 2014

As with last year, Syl is running another Poetry Slam for the NBI this time with a theme of "magic". To that end I thought I'd devote my entry to someone most fantasy MMORPG players have run into at one point or another...

The Lich
The fighters may be strong
and the rogues very sly
but in all things magic,
the master is I!
I conjure light in the dark,
help arrows find their mark,
mend wounds without thread,
I can even raise the dead.
I fly where others fall,
can charm with a spell,
I can phase through a wall,
and summon demons from hell.
I can read your puny mind,
make bridges from thin air,
shoot lightning from my behind,
and ignite your underwear.
I can make your skin freeze,
open locks without keys,
make you explode and burn!
To ashes you shall return!
Physics? Science? What is that?
I open dimensional gates at will.
I can turn a king into a cat.
Impossibility is my skill.
I can almost live forever,
I don't need a body to survive.
But try to take my treasure
and I will slowly flay you alive.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Sacred: Dragon Knights

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Deeper in the swamp (obviously not the "lost" part of it) I found the village of Drakenden, and like all the other towns it had quite a few people needing assistance with mostly fetch quests and one demon hunting task deep in the not so close forest. While looking for that one I even came across another small village whose townsfolk all turned into zombies once I was in the middle of town. Yikes!
Anyway, the unique thing in Drakenden was a friendly dragon who lived in the mountains beside the town. It too needed help with a few things - the first being he had fallen in love with a dragon slayer!

Lucky for him it was love at first sight with the human girl, too bad for her other hunting allies though as they didn't see it that way. I then also had to get a diamond from some caves and craft it into a toothpick for him and lastly he wanted to train more knights in the ways of honor so I was to recruit a bunch of them and take them to him.

I found four willing participants (willing after I beat them in battle) in Marmor, Mortley, Domir and Klonev in various spots around the swamp but instead of bringing them back I thought instead to test them even more and kept them with me since they proved quite resilient to death. What better way to prove their worth than helping save the world right? Also I thought they'd be more useful than whatever random reward the dragon was going to give me anyway.

So uh, where are we going boss?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sacred: The Lost Swamp

[Part of the Sacred Journey.]

Gloomoor had a rather active arena, and I wasn't going to pass up the free experience from going ten rounds of increasing difficulty against local critters in there. By doing so I became eligible to join some sort of adventure team for the small price of 100,000 gold pieces. I seriously had enough to spare so I thought, why not? After paying I was given the location of where to go and made my way through the swamp, past the resident swamp dragon (yes I killed it, too dangerous to have those things wandering around), and into a small but impressive encampment of adventurers led by the barbarian H'Run to seek out some great treasure in the "lost swamp" nearby.

Well he and his seven buddies didn't last very long against the highly poisonous foes in that region, leaving me to discover a small goblin settlement in the midst of the madness, whose shaman asked me to help with a sacrifice to the forest god to spare their village from the horrible spiders and trolls lurking around. He even provided a goblin warrior to assist but that guy didn't last long either, and frankly I was going through potions rather quickly myself.

Looking at her chest is less dangerous than looking at her face.
Turns out I was supposed to be the sacrifice, but that didn't work out so well for the forest god - an annoying medusa that could summon little medusas. After slaying her the goblins changed their tune, begging for their lives in exchange for the true location of the treasure. I figured that without their god they would be dead soon anyway so I let them live and found the "great treasure" to be more of a "meh" treasure. Good XP in there though, but I had to restock on supplies back at the now almost abandoned adventurer's camp on the way out.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

NBI: Guide for Creative Works

Since the it was actually requested by the NBI this year, I decided to make a small guide for creative works based on MMOs and such based on my previous experiences and failings. Hopefully someone finds this useful!

Know your Audience
Not everyone wants to read through an epic or play through a ridiculously difficult fan made game. It doesn't matter so much if you are just creating for yourself or for a small group but if you are trying to get the majority of people to view your work, first learn what that majority likes. For example in Neverwinter Online, majority of people prefer short and easy 15 minute player made quests over the longer ones that are spread across multiple chapters.

Plan and Draft
Regardless of your medium, you will want to make a plan first on how to handle it and how it flows. This might not be required as much if you are just doing cover songs, or a stylized drawing (though it would probably still help) but is quite essential in story telling. Making comics, animation, an in game quest or just writing a short tale will be much easier if you have the "skeleton" of what you want to do. Having to go back and change things because you didn't plan before hand is not only a time killer but also an enthusiasm slayer.

Writing Rules are still Relevant
Correctly constructed sentences, good spelling and good grammar are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to writing. With most mediums you would still need to have a plot with believable characters and story progression.  

Creating Characters
The best characters are those that grow or change during the course of the story. At the minimum you want a character to have is a motivation and something obstructing their goals (it can be themselves or their feelings, or an enemy, whatever). If you are writing fan fiction then you probably already have characters built for you - try keep them in character if you use them. If you are adding your own you have more freedom, but must make sure you don't become a cardboard cutout of any other character in the story.

Stay within Context
Unless you have a clear idea what you are doing and how to do it, it is always best to try stay close to the lore of whatever game you are working with. For example having the Avengers show up in Guildwars 2 is going to be pretty tough to pull off well. It is more likely that mish mashing genre/MMOs will be devaluing to both sides.

Open with Action
A tip given to me that seems to be working. It doesn't have to be a lot, or even explained right away but opening with an action or fast paced sequence acts as a better hook than a more passive start. It's also easier to pull off than doing a good "quiet" start (haven't managed any of those yet personally).

Try put a Twist
Having something surprising happen that most of your audience didn't expect is always a good thing which can separate your work from the many others of a similar nature, and can hook them onto your work. The twist still has to be something that works in the story though. Events and people that appear out of the blue which your audience had no hope of anticipating don't work as nicely as those that do.

Advertise Correctly
If you are making a movie and advertise it as such, don't have an interactive part in. I got burned a little bit when I did that with my flash animation years ago. Apparently while gamers don't mind movies in their games, movie watchers don't like games in their movies. Just be as precise when spruiking your work so people know what to expect.

Expect a "No" from official endorsement
Especially if you don't yet have a finished product and they haven't seen any of your works before, it would be rare for any company to open the door to a potential PR problem. You'd need to be pretty successful in your field and be an extra positive for the game before they'd give you that, examples being Dulfy for GW2 guides and Malukah with her music.

Shadowing Text Example
If you are using a graphic medium, especially one that is animated, it can be difficult to put readable text within your work. This method should help a little, all it requires is that you take the same line of text - shade it a different color, and move it a few pixels horizontally and diagonally from the original line. You can also use it to break a few text rules like, "no white text on a white background". Even better if your graphics program uses layers as it makes it easy to fiddle around with to your liking. The effect is this:

Free Resources
Lastly here are some freely available resources on the web that I make use of often.

Pixlr - web based graphics editor, also handy for resizing images to smaller sizes - helps for poetry (could be useful for the Poetry Slam! :P) - helps for word swapping

Friday, 2 May 2014

Today I Smiled: Eurovision Songs

A music related post this time, mainly centered around Eurovision - which is a pretty big music contest held yearly among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union. The songs each year range from pretty damn good to downright awful, but there are always some (usually in the latter category) that make me a happy boy. Usually the insane version of happy, which is still good.

As you might have guessed, it is coming up again in a few days which was the basis of this post. That, and I haven't done a Today I Smiled post for awhile! :)

Anywho, I thought I'd share a few of them with you in no particular order! Have your ear plugs ready! :P

So Lucky - Zdob si Zdub (Moldova)
Party For Everybody - Buranovskiye Babushki  (Russia)
Wolves of the Sea - Pirates of the Sea (Latvia)
Alcohol is Free - Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis (Greece)
Danzig - Verka Serduchka (Ukraine)
Fairytale - Alexander Rybak (Norway)
Hard Rock Hallelujah - Lordi (Finland) (skip to 0:40)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

NBI: The Gates are Open

One of the best things I like about the NBI is having all these new sites (new in the sense that I didn't know about them) emerge, and as such I have already linked to all those that have already signed up and added them to the Paths I Travel on the right. As I said in my support statement, getting linked was an awesome feeling for me so I thought it would be my first move this time around. If I missed your site because you signed up late or simply because I was blind just let me know!

Furthermore for the duration of the event (May) I have unlocked every single site I've linked to thus far where in the past I would hide them after a set period of inactivity. Never before have I actually removed sites from my reading list. Well, come June I will be doing my first link "burial". All sites that aren't updated at least monthly I classify as dead and will be purged from my listing (that's currently a rough count of 30).

This is a good and obvious first lesson for any blogger:

If you stop posting, your blog dies.

Lastly I apologize for those following the Sacred Journey. It will continue, but will be interrupted this month with NBI related stuff.