Friday, July 31, 2009

Age of Conan - Browbeating...does it work?

We have heard this term before. Why use it here?

Right now Age of Conan is dealing with an image issue. Players who try the game or are interested in the game are met with the group I will call the "Brow Beaters".

Thanks to Funcoms terrible launch and of course having experienced a bad launch before with Anarchy Online, there is this contingent, if you will, who make it their plan to make sure others know about Funcom. By attacking Age of Conan in many different venues, they honestly believe they are doing a duty to future prospective players.

I want to share some of the tripe that is spewed by these types of people to give you an idea of how this looks.

"With the vast amount of problems in this game you may want to ask why a handful of people advocate this game if it's so bad."

This person goes on to state that anyone that says the game is any good at all, is on Funcoms payroll. The reason? Because Funcom advocates "viral marketing".
What I don't understand about this is...why does this person believe that Funcom is alone in wanting to market virally. Viral marketing is a huge gimmick that many companies want to do...but, why is it that if someone enjoys the game, they are part of this "viral" push?
Another item they note is if you are from Norway, you are on a marketing push for Age of Conan as well.


"Everyone knows AoC has about 50k-100k subscriptions."

Another attack ploy has been to quote low subscriber numbers to make it look bad for Age of Conan. Whether these are true or one knows, as subscriber rates have not been posted.
We DO know a large population of the game left, where a server merge had to take place...yet, no further merges have been done (to see how this works, look at WAR, who has already merged servers two or three times. Never a good sign. Or look at LOTRO, which has sat growth of servers or loss of servers. The game is doing fine...btw.).
So, maybe GROWTH is not enough for AoC, but also, quoting numbers out of the magical lala land you live in does not equal facts either.

We just do not know how many players there are, and Funcom is not sharing, and really does not have to.

Other issues exist. For example, there are players who come into the game, and just go on and on in global chat about how they hate the game. If you hate it so much, why login?

The Age of Conan forums are full of people complaining. Fair enough...complaints are good...but these are usually rants and attacks moreso than bullet point type arguments for the issues at hand.
If your message includes the words "Failcom", then it is a rant, and needs to be deleted.

I could go on, but really, we get the gist.

There was a time when we could make decisions about the MMO's we play, but now we all have grown so opinionated (myself included) that we let it obstruct the game progressing in it's success or failure.

If the game will survive will not depend on the Brow Beater or the "Fanboy" anymore. With the MMO genre being such a deluge of half baked products now, no one game will be a right fit. They either are broken or are old or are not any fun.

What we must do is find the one game we DO enjoy, and hope it brings us pleasure. For now, Age of Conan does this for me, no matter the little glitches or bugs.

These Brow Beaters? They need to go back to whatever game they enjoy, and leave the gaming to those who are having fun (fanboy or not)


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Angry Rant

My post on crafting and how I feel about it.

What is funny is this is the first time I have tried the crafting in depth in Age of Conan this past weekend. I like it for one is NOT so in depth that it takes away from my actual adventuring.

I am sure there will be many who will not like that (as I have heard there are many who already don't)...but, for someone like me? It works.

I guess I am not an artist.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Age of Conan - Level 40 brings some privileges

Hey all,
Sorry for being late with a post, but I seemed to have a small bout of stomach flu or something...not even well today. But, I just had to write a bit about the gaming fun going on in the trio.

This past weekend we hit level 40. With that came the fact...first of all, that we could ride horses. The next change was that we were able to start crafting.

Something I need to point out is that since I started playing Age of Conan, I never pursued crafting.
I wanted a game I did not think about crafting for one simple reason.

I always end up hating crafting in these games.

The only game that even came close to me to be a fun crafting game was The Witcher. This just consisted of basic combining of ingredients to create potions and was fun.
Games like Lord of the Rings Online (horrible, slow, tedious, press a button and go have coffee kind of crafting) or Everquest 2 (the mini game which proved to be fun at first, ended up becoming a reason to not adventure and ruined the overall feel of the game) just made me hate crafting overall.

Age of Conan has finally changed this in me (and is just another reason AoC continues to make other MMO's flounder in my eyes).
One good reason the crafting works is thanks to patch 1.05, gear is viable when crafted (at lower levels). The gear that you can craft that is part of your standard recipes are actually pretty decent greens.
Alchemy potions and food are VERY viable (including the 4 hour foods, which when used do not disappear when you die and persist for the full 4 and forget).
Finally, you are only required to craft a few recipes to complete jobs for the crafting supervisors (the people responsible for the various duties of crafting like Alchemy, Armorsmith, etc), then thats it.
Craft a few pieces of armor, weapons, food...and I really do not need to keep doing it so that I keep my level matching the level of crafting.
In so many words, I do not need to gather say 100 jobs, then start crafting so that my crafting skill keeps up with my level.
This tedious type of crafting is what killed it for me in previous MMO's. If I am taken away from my main game to craft all the time to make sure I keep up with the joneses, then I usually give up.

Here, I craft if I need something, then I can forget about it (at least until level 50 now..). Hooray.

As an added bonus, for gear (armor and weapons) the gem cutting is a unique aspect to add the attributes you wish.
This is proving to be a pain in my rear when we find gear, and how unviable this gear is from just trash found on mobs.
Look at this nice comparison to see. (click on image then use the image magnifier on the page that follows)

This is a green chest piece drop. Look at the stats very carefully. Now look at the types of armor. A priest for example wears light armor, and requires either Constitution or Wisdom as attributes (for health and damage of spells as well as effective healing)...yet, these junk drops persist.
Why would a Heavy Armor piece have Wisdom? Not a single class that uses heavy would "require" Wisdom (some say the Dark Templar at times acts as a healer and this will affect it...but really, the DT is proving to be a better off tank, and this drop would be thrown away eventually).

Thus, thanks to the "gem" crafting, you can pick and choose the attributes to an extent to place in the correct armor piece or weapon as you so desire.

All pieces crafted have gem slots, so this is pretty cool!

The biggest part of this that amazes me the most? How my son loves it. He is actually quite pleased with crafting and said to me "This is so fun. I feel like I can actually do something that actually helps you guys by making these things."
WoW. He is awesome I tell ya.
He is also interested in finding the "rare" recipes now to try and make some cooler stuff also.

Oh yea...there are some great rare items that rock..look at this piece for example that I never knew existed until I looked at rare recipes..

Another rare armor piece that looks more unique than most.

Anyways, my son has gotten really good with using the Trader to sell his junk and is using it to search out new gear and supplies he needs to craft.
He has also gotten persistent in going out and gathering the resources to make crafted goods.

The adventuring (and resource gathering) has taken a new turn with the intro of our horses, which allows us to get to places much quicker.
We really blasted away this weekend to get to 40, and we are so excited about heading to our new zones (Field of the Dead and Noble District), and experimenting..

One experiment consisted of bringing my 80 in and taking the group through an epic field to hit up bosses for blue gear drops.
When you do a field on Epic, the bosses 100% drop more unique rares, and can usually lead to either a good piece to wear or a selling piece on the Trader, which has built up the funds for the guild we created.

I think having this "set" group to adventure with creates a more pleasant atmosphere to game in and it is showing in how fast we hit level 40...and everyone is ready to go on.

Well, thats it for now...hopefully will post some more later this week.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Age of Conan - Fashion Show

The one complaint that has been pretty persistent in Age of Conan is "I always look the same". I often wondered about this as it does seem that people do look a lot alike. So, I did some research, took some screenies...borrowed screenies...etc.

This basically gave me an outlook on the variety of armor available. It is more than most people think. The issue is that most of it is not a standard drop. People have to work for it, buy it, etc.
A lot is bind on pickup, thus you are forced to go get it or lose out on that visual variety most crave. Other MMO's have really made players lazy and make them believe they can just get what they want when they want it.

Well, to get these styles I suggest: Get a group, do a dungeon, craft it yourself...oh, and stop looking at the stats. The gear was not to be the end all of the game, so if you wish to look unique, you may have to wear something that is not quite up to what you need class wise.

But, thanks to the game having more skill than the need for gear, maybe you should just pay attention to how you look and less about how it works.

This is only a part of what is available. I have more screens coming soon of even more variety. So watch out for those.


Age of Conan - Calm before the storm - Redux

Ok, just an update on this issue.

As I discussed yesterday, a ban was done on a member of a very large guild on the Set server by the name of Thotholyte.
He has been a subsciber since launch, and stuck it out through all the issues of the game.

It seems he tried to set up an event with Funcom, following the path of using the /petition system built into the game. He had approval, according to Thoth, by a GM to show up at a christening of the first Tier III city on the server. He would just be there for screenshots, not much else.

It did not go as planned, and this upset Thoth enough that he took his campaign to the forums.

He noted he was consequently banned from both the forums AND the game.

I have some confirmation on Craig Morrisons side of differences to the story as originally told. I want to share this with you so we have both sides.

"..this is simply a case of upholding the forum rules as we have to when anyone seriously misbehaves as he did, regardless of whether they are a nice guy.
..He spammed dozens of threads in a very short period, he questioned both moderation and customer service..
Secondly he has not been banned, he has been suspended"

Of note here is the fact it was a suspension. I pressed the matter further as information has been posted that he was also banned from the game.
This is not as clear as the above when the answer came to me..

"A suspension on the forums would only ever become an issue for someones game account if they harassed or were abusive to the customer service staff dealing with the suspension..
I am not aware of any in-game ban associated with a forum suspension"

This as we can see is very...informal, and not stating specifics "I am not aware of Thoth being suspended...etc."
But, as a Game Director I can understand his need to be a little cloudy. A previous example was when Craig was asked about a feature in game, and his answer was

"We will defintely look into adding that probably..."

We can see the double twist of words here, of a definite and probable...which are two totally different things.

This of course can be language barriers, and that would make perfect sense. But, the above answer on the game ban is definitely "political" in the answers nature.

He does go on to state...

"That though isn't something I personally deal with, and is between him and the community manager so can't say what happened after his suspension in that regard"

So, there is no definite. We also do not know the full story on Thoth's side.
I have been in contact with Thoth who is not following up with me, which starts to make me suspicious of his actions now.
I have been in contact with Thoth for the time I have been in the game since I came back. I have been in the guild for quite a while, and have blogged about the guild, had discussions with Thoth about his events, etc.
I never gleaned an "attitude" that would cause such a "ruckus" as this. But, of course, the text on the screen is just that.

We never know full intent.

Anyways, I wanted to make sure that we have this presented from both sides, and as much as I could I have been open and will continue to be unbiased in this particular situation.
I am hoping you are reading this Thoth and can clear up more for me...if not, then I guess we will be truly clear on who may have been at fault here.

Thanks Craig for the followup and now, back to the game (I may not like all your choices Funcom, but you have a good game need to just step up the fixes and getting things just right. I sure do wish those forums could be shut down.)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Age of Conan - This is how I play it

In case some of my new readers do not know this, I play Age of Conan in an odd sort of way.

I play using an Xbox 360 controller and mapping software for my controls.

I have put up a post on how I play along with a video on Angry Rant News. Why not go check it out...


Age of Conan - Calm before the storm

Taking a detour from my run of posts about variety of gear to discuss a serious issue.

It all has to do with my motto for this page "Age of Conan Gamer, Funcom Hater".

I was saddened to learn that a long time player (has been on the Set server since launch, and helped lead the largest guild on Set, Fellowship of Souls) was banned from the forums, and subsequently took it upon himself to unsubscribe from the game.

His name was Thotholyte!

You can read his VERY amicable post about his leave here. THOTH SETS OUT

I had seen how this took place though, and wish to share the issue. As there is no history on this, thanks to the fact that most posts by this person have been deleted back to a certain date, it is hard to follow what may have been said. Based on what I read, I will share the story.

It started with Thoth offering his services to the company to help drive events. As most who play Age of Conan may know, the way the game works is most offerings are sandbox like, unless you follow the direct path to level.
You can craft, you can level, you can adventure, do dungeons...but, most "downtime" style events were just not present.
Especially after the one year anniversary that Funcom blew off all long time players with their "non-event" (the story went that Conan was to make an appearance, much hoo haw was made about the event by Funcom...yet nothing happened, and Funcom blamed the players for misunderstanding what the event was supposed to be...a player driven event...whatever).
Thoth offered his services to help work on events, as he had created so many for the guild, Fellowship of Souls (Amatheon was with the guild until level 80, and then Tabari, my HoX belongs to them now)...from horse races, to scavenger hunts, contests for was incredible all this guy did.

Well, to continue...this was never followed up on, as is normal for Funcom.

But, as this was happening, the guild was really starting to kick in...with over 1400 members, and Thoth started a final push to be the first guild with a Tier III city. No other guild had one yet on the Set server.

Thoth wanted to make this a special event, so sent in a petition to see if a GM or Funcom employee could get involved. Be there when it is complete for screenshots, etc.
I know for a fact there are very few of these Tier II's on any server, and this would be the first on Set.
Well, it seems someone agreed, and Thoth followed up to make sure they would show, and had a name (escapes me at this time...and it was deleted, as GM names are not allowed on the forums I guess...need to go look at the Forum rules about that).

Guess what happened next. show.

So, Thoth went to the forums, complained about the fact that Funcom blew off an opportunity to show they cared (his words)...Craig Morrison, Game Director came in and closed the post.

Now, who is to say who was right and who was wrong. We cannot know for sure.

But, when a player has been supportive of the game though as he puts it..."did not like the game THAT much"...but liked the guild and the concepts of the game, has been here since launch, and suffered through all the issues and concerns...I find it difficult to believe what Funcom did was right when that player finally says "I'm done".

We may never know what truthfully happened, and I hope I can garner more information from Thotholyte.

Until that time, I will mourn the loss of someone who stayed dedicated to a game no matter how awful the company treated him (or any of their customers for that matter).

Makes me wonder how the guild will do now.

So, I stand firm with my belief. It becomes quite difficult to play a game that I love so much, yet watch it be ruined and destroyed by a company just trying to make a buck.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Age of Conan - Costumery

As I mentioned yesterday, my son wanted for us to wear "civilian" clothes when we were in town. Due to seeing how the citizens looked different, it sparked in him an idea to dress like them.

I did state he is pretty intelligent for a 10 year old eh?

He actually purchased the clothes first and showed them to us, and then we got inspired. I looked at the trader to see what is available, and then dressed up myself. The wife did the same...but luckily with the wife being a caster, she also has some really good cloth clothing as well.

First up above is the "Nemedian" set. I, being a priest, it looked very cool adding the hood. The set looks like one of the guards, but overall, I liked the design and detail to the chest piece.

This is the wife in her current "adventure" outfit. I wanted to point it out, as the necklace is quite pronounced. Quite a few pieces of jewelry show up like this, and it looks awesome.

Next on display is the wifes "sexy" street clothes. You can tell she heads to the local inn, and parties like it is the Year of the Spider.

This is the outfit my son equipped one day, and took off his weapons..He then walked up to us, then said..."Hey, I am a citizen". I did not even know it was

Group shot!

It has been real fun hunting out outfits to wear, and it sure does allow a little game with the Trader and Fine Armor shops.

What else can I get?

Needless to say, it has made me wonder just how different can people make themselves look, including tiered gear and what not, so stay tuned. Next post will be the variety of Hyborian wear one day as I waited for a raid.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


And for good reason.

We have been playing up a storm at home. The trio have hit level 34 already, and the fun is just getting better.

We took our first foray into the Pyramid of the Ancients. Most mobs were level 37+, and the challenge for a trio was spot on. The son suffered his first death since leaving Tortage here not realizing he could not pull more than 5 of these

Armor is good...but not THAT good.

Speaking of armor, we also have been goofing off and buying armor sets off the Trader and Fine Armor shops in town for one main purpose. We wear "civilian" clothes when we are in town.
Guess who came up with that idea?

My Son...oh YEA!!

I will make sure to post some pics of those soon. For those who argue there is no variety of armor in AoC...well, wait until you see this stuff! Of course stats suck, so I see why we do not see this type of armor around much.

Our next main goal is to hit 40 so we all get horses. Around level 36, we will see if we can enter the Field of the Dead, which is a level 40+ zone. That should be exciting.

It does look like leveling actually goes faster and is more efficient with a group...who woulda thunk it?

Anyways, if the blog seems quiet here and there, this is why. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter as I can say a lot more seeing I am limited to 140 characters (Huh?...WTF??)


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Age of Conan - Continued adventures

The last few days have been super. The family gets together, we have supper, maybe watch a show while we about our day..

Then log into Age of Conan to commit many pixellated deaths!

Right now, my PoM is level 26 and my sons Dark Templar is 26...the wife's Demo hit 27 and she is part way through that to 28.
This is working out fine for us as well.
Our trio is devastating to much so that we have defeated (with a bit of work) a level 30 boss in Conalls Valley, part of Cimmeria.

We chose Cimmeria for several reasons. First, it is a place I have not investigated much, thus. the wife has not seen it. My son loves the snowy mountains moreso than the volcanic Greecian quality of Aquilonia or Deserts of Stygia.
But, as my son and myself play catchup with the wife, we have strayed into the Wild Lands in Aquilonia to complete several quests there. So, it allows us to have other zones to quest in when the wife does not play or we are trying this "Catch Momma" game.

As well, I have put time into my HoX and made it to level 60, and I am already close to level 61. Of note is several zones have opened up for him...with Ymirs being played and now Thunder River along with Atzels Fortress zones, I have a lot to do.
There is no doubt the "Start at 50" deal really paid off for me. Level 50+ in AoC is full of rich content, dungeons and more.
Excited about leveling my HoX.

Otherwise...not much else going on. Of note, I plan to move some hardware around in our setup in the house and do an upgrade of the main system. Looking at a deal on a Nvidia GTX280, which looks awesome.
Also, this weekend, I plan to get back to a raid or two with Bloodline. I have Amatheon keyed for Wing 1 and hope to get to that as well.

Age of Conan is definitely proving to be a great game of choice...


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Post on another site

I have taken up duties of doing some commentary posts on another site, Angry Rant News.

The site is relatively new, and is kind of empty of design. But, it allows me a place to write about the MMO genre in general which I have taken away from this site due to being AoC dedicated.

Please give it a read and see if you don't see a little of yourself in my post of "You love your MMO, but HATE mine?"


Monday, July 13, 2009

Age of Conan - Our directional change

And we have a blast.

This weekend was our first true test as the family trio in Age of Conan. Discussed previously, the wife and son joined me in Conan due to a myriad of deals taking place.

The son was the first to enter, as he originally got hooked by Aion. Enough to want to try another MMO. I ended finding an online deal for an AoC key for 9.99. The wife, having played Age of Conan before, was greeted with a free return trial and a special to sub for only 11.99, giving her an official 44 days to play.

The son started his trial as a Demonologist, raining fire down on all the mobs. He was having a blast.
We grouped up, and everything changed.
Due to his aggro gaining ways, every mob he ended up killing quickly and efficiently...until we entered Epic.

Epic allows small groups more of challenge, as other wise, you are guaranteed someone standing around due to the standard PvE being pretty simple, but fun for one or two players. Epic allows a more powerful group a better challenge, yet still getting quests done. 3-4 member teams can take on mobs at the cusp of their level (example level 17's can take on up to level 15 very well or even one level 17). These Epic areas become in effect a mini raid.

When we first went into White Sands, a quests area outside Tortage, we had a pattern down. The tank (wife) would take aggro, then I would go in to heal, then the Demo could start raining down fire.
But, he started to get antsy, and would pre-maturely start attacking and pulling the mobs due to so much damage. He started to die quickly and efficiently.

He then notified us he was not having any fun. We went back to the drawing board.

Group dynamics did change immensely for the team.

The wife still had HER demonologist from the last time we subbed together in AoC. I still was heals as no one (for some odd reason) wanted to be the one who was yelled at if everyone died when they did not get heals off.
My son took on the Dark all time favorite class.

It paid off.

As long as my son was the first one in, it did not matter that he was not causing all the damage to kill the mobs...he was in the fray the whole time. Also, the wife was more..."patient" shall we say than a 10 year old when it came to fire and death.

We got quite a few quests down, and eventually our two characters (myself and the son) were level 19 in no time. We were ready to take on the final night quest to travel from Tortage to the mainland of our home city.

The wife then decided it was time to see what the fuss was about the night quests. When we originally played, we wanted to be together and doing night quests meant solo play. She did not want that, so we did all quests on Tortage and took the "smuggler" which gets you off the island at level 18 and to the mainland.
She tackled those quests last night as the son and myself continued to level to catch up to her. She brought this character back from our previous play and was level 21!

She loved it. She played through to the final battle herself (roughly about 2 hours of gameplay), and is ready to take that challenge now.

Overall we had some great success as a team. The son did a great job doing melee after having an intital fear of the "multi mobs" and using combos to attack. The wife is back into MMO gaming, and we have a really cool setup in the living room with two PC's and a laptop mini lan setup. It rocks!

More as this progresses...Cheers!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Age of Conan - The family that plays together...

Lops off heads and limbs...hehe

This week saw a new convert to MMO's in son. He got the itch after having a blast in Aion this past beta.
He has been mainly a Halo player, and Call of Duty. But, I also see the wheels grind as he seems more intelligent than someone who just sits and mindlessly shoots...
I saw this excitement and intelligence and tried to build on it by having him try Guild Wars and then Age of Conan.

Conan won out after some initial issues.

He got his account for only 10 bucks, with a free 30 days through an online service. A Good deal in my opinion. He immediately went to work on a Demonologist after an initial hiccup in the arena of melee (melee scary is the thought I felt from him)..

The spellcaster was a win.

But, we needed that final party member...the wife, who just when we were ready to order time cards, Funcom opens up the "Return for 14 days" trials for original subscribers. To top this off, they offered a deal for 20% if you bought a scrip right away. So basically, the wife got her account started for 12 bucks for 44 days.

I still have 25 left on mine.

The team now consists of Xerthes, my heal PoM, Shanrethe, the Conqueror and Colthair, the Demo!

We each started separately. We leveled our characters to the main city, and then started doing evening quests up to level 10. We finally took off to quest together at that level and hit our snag...

Each of our classes are TOO effective early on. The Demo can annihilate multiple enemies with a wave of his hand, the wife, who created a conqueror dual wields death, and I am the healer...who, uh, heals pitifully thanks to the last heal nerf (when you see + 2HP regen for a Heal over Time for people with 500 to 600 HP...there is a problem).

We walked all over quests, and the wife even gave up trying to kill anything as it was dead before she got to it.

Then we got crazy.

All 3 of us entered EPIC mode on the same zone we were in. The Acheronian Ruins.

This proved to be a major challenge now, and we were downed several times...but, we started to work strats. My son really got the hang of kiting, and the wife tanked her heart out.
My heals...uh, were ineffective. Luckily, I was able to do damage though and stayed on the main tanks mob, and helped down it quicker.

We felt like a 3 person raid, and we saw some potential here. With effective armor, food, and lots of pots, we may just have created a killer team for our future fun.

Our issue is the main questing seems too...easy. I am rethinking this now of how we can quest AND do it together and have fun.

Three zones exist where we can enter them as EPIC, so I am thinking we will regroup, and attack White Sands until we level. By entering as EPIC, we also have a good chance at some killer drops. The Acheronian run netted each of us gear and weapons we could use. Money was much higher from drops as well.
White sands is lower level than Acheronian Ruins, so this may be a more effective zone to level in.

So, our first day of about an hour and a half of adventure has us discussing and strategizing our hearts out.

The fun factor was quite high, and we are ready for some more

I will try to share the adventures of the trio as we proceed...

For now...Cheers!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Age of Conan - Old subs back for 14....

Thats right...

Funcom finally listened and is opening up the floodgates to original players who left at launch due to bugs.

Free 14 days to see what has happened, what has changed (for the better mostly...don't ask about raids right now...those are being worked on with Testlive right now), and most of all, see that this game is worth a darn...finally.

Sign ups here.

Age of Conan - New players

I have been pretty busy at work, and not had much time to well as gaming like a madman since this past weekend.

But, I wanted to touch base about some new players coming into the game.

My wife and my son..

That's right. We plan to set up a trio.

My son had tried the beta of Aion and was hooked. He really loved the style of play, and had great thoughts about us as a family playing a game together. An MMO is a good choice to all jump in together. We all have systems in the house, so it was ready to go!

I agreed on this deal.

I tried to have him play in Guild Wars as I thought maybe with it's visual style, and "freeness" (being free), he would like it. But, it proved to be a little more difficult to him.
I then popped him into Conan. I thought being a Halo player, he could grasp the controller scheme I created to play the game, so let him try a melee character.
He panicked when 3 mobs attacked at once. He could not figure out how to face, etc.
I was confused over why this happened. I then thought that maybe it was the fact that he had to memorize so many button presses. Maybe the CASTER would be the way to go.
Sure enough. He went with a Demonologist, and LOVED it.

Something about killing mobs before they get to you seemed like great fun.

So, with keys being cheap (I got him 30 days for 9.99), I set him up today. Luckily, the wife has been watching and not playing MMO's for a while...and it looks like she may be jonesing. So, we will also reactivate her account.

Awesome trio fun!!

As to the raiding, since I have joined Bloodline, they now have scheduling, so I plan to go that route and do scheduled raids, so I can have a set day and time to do this. I can also focus on my new level 58 (yes, 8 levels in about a week) HoX to get him to max.

Ok...back to the work grind. Need more XP!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Age of Conan - Vistrix Bane Reliance

Sunday, I finally was able to get lined up with a Vistrix raid. A quite impressive raid as well run by Akumi of The Bloodline, The second largest guild on the server.
(Thanks for the invite folks).

As many of you know, I have been on "farm" mode with Vistrix, as I am need of the piece to allow me wing 1 access for raiding in Black Ring Citadel.

The issue has been strats for Vistrix has changed since the 1.05 patch. I have yet to find a group who can down her after patch.

Akumi ran an excellent raid and was on target discussing tactics, changing up various strats and trying some new ways to tackle Vistrix. This is the way it should be.

After 3+ hours, Vistrix NEVER went down.

So, what happened?

Again, I do not blame the guild. Many a time I have heard "If you are not in a good guild, you will not defeat her"...yet, here I am IN a great guild that has been playing since launch...yet, they had no success.

It is all about the banes.

What happens is at specific intervals Vistrix will set off a stun, which anyone in it's vicinity is out for the count, and start to take severe amounts of damage.

So, if you are not a tank, you will die.

From what has been seen, Vistrix has only this one strat, and this strat is causing hate against anyone who does not do it correctly.

Basically if the banes are not used in time, then you are guaranteed a wipe.

So anyways, in comes the bane, which instantly removes the stun. Reliance on this one strat really makes or breaks this run.

What confuses me is WHY is there not a second out?

Before patch, a known method of making it through Vistrix (and not always a guarantee) was if a tank died, they could be swapped into a Conquerors group. They had a skill called Furious Inspiration. This led to a skill called Furious Resurgence which was a battle res. Pure and simple.
Almost instant if you will.
As long as a party member was in the Conquerors group, they could get this res. There is a lot more to this as well, (damage done by conq, etc...), but it was a known commodity if the bane died.

This was now considered an exploit by Funcom...after almost a year? The FI was nuked in the patch, and became pretty much worthless.

So, now we come back to strats. Luckily, as I said, we had an impressive raid leader who was willing to try various new methods.

The first was called a burn with bane. EVERYONE went in and did AS MUCH damage as was possible for 2 rounds of stun. Two bane users had to be off to the side, and ready to run in when stun happened. If the bane took too long, this would fail.

We did this successfully at first. Then we separated groups, leaving MT at Vistrix and other groups on adds. The issue is adds from Vistrix which usually would attack the first group it found (thus using a method of standing behind Vistrix and away from stun range) did not work now, and instead went after the Main Tank group. This caused a death.

Eventually Vistrix started to go off her path and would attack the adds group...


We found a method to alleviate this by bringing in Dark Templar's last after the rest of the raid was in. Invite DT's to raid and let them enter...Lo and behold, adds came at DT's.

We tried this method a second time after the DT fix, but still fell. The issue? Banes.

We discussed another method. This was the DT pet spec.

Basically a DT can specialize in a pet called Dread of the few pets who can throw aggro like a warrior. Vistrix really hates it, and will turn toward it.
So, two DT's would be on the backend of Vistrix, while tanks sat in the front. At a knockdown (which came before stuns), a DT would send the pet and turn Vistrix, so the tank group had a time to recover.
This seemed to work...

Then the bane failed again.

People were not getting there in time, and death ensued.

So, it did not matter what cool strat we tried, it all rode on the banes.

One method to down the dragon? Why? This appears to be shoddy raid workmanship is all I can boil it down to.

I am sure some guilds are getting lucky, and have a good run at it. Some have perfect bane runs. But, there NEEDS to be a way out if bane fails is all there is to it.

One method equals lazy development.

Anyways, the guild I worked with was quite pleasing, and seemed very talented. I plan to try this again with them...but, as Craig (Game Developer) noted to me in a Twitter post " I don't think Vistrix is too far out, many have already defeated the encounter, but we may still adjust further there "...

I am gonna call bull****

I think this needs to happen sooner than later if all the people who raid I see quitting time and again is an indicator.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Age of Conan - Lone wolf again

Well, as some may notice, my guild link is gone at the top of my page.

My characters were removed last night as I took my leave of House of Heroes.

Something struck me as I logged off on what happened at HoH.

A small guild with a select number of clientele, usually becomes a force to be reckoned with when you attempt to break into that clique.

Things started earlier this past week when after Tuesdays raid, there was not much discussion on how the raid went. The subject seemed to not be it was taboo.
I made an effort to open this talk by posting on their forums. It had been used some, and I felt maybe this was a good place to start.

A few seemed to agree with looking at strats, but some did not.

That is ok...that is the way it should be.

But, I noticed as some posted there, the discussions centered on player specifics. Mention of players by name doing jobs instead of by class (as should be in regards to strat).
Example. Poster notes that as "Jimmy" tanks, "Jane" priest needed to be ready to do specific things...yadda. Instead of "Guardian" tanks, "Priest" needs to be ready...etc.

Basically they already were stationed in their parts and knew each other by name and what that players purpose was. In so many words, how does the new player in the guild fit into all this?

The week progressed, and in game as I would start discussions, I noted they went nowhere. No one wished to talk about anything IN the guild.
I would log in, say hello...and that was pretty much it. No "Whats up today" or "Are we forming any groups".
When these WERE mentioned, no one said anything.
Friday night saw 10+ of our level 80 characters logged in, yet no one was discussing anything, and no raids were being discussed.

I joined the guild TO raid.

Everything culminated on Saturday.

As I was logged in, a number of the other main team members logged in, including two or three of the leaders.
I started to try discussing things, and trying to see what everyone was up to.
At one point the creator of the guild and the person who invited me asked

"Who are you?" "I forgot" was her answer when I asked why?

I was taken aback.

Now, I do not expect them to know me "personally" or anything like that. But, having run several groups with this person, a raid and discussion on forums with them specifically, and more (even had a /pst discussion in tell about the guild and what not)....

This seemed unacceptable to me for a leader.

I did not mention the other leader who does NOT type and will only talk on vent...again, not an issue. But, if it even deters the player from typing "hello" as happened ALL the time, I think there is a serious issue of mismanagement when nurturing new players.

I am assured that in some guilds I could become a number eventually, and not a person. It is not this that is my issue here or in that large guild.

If we are to succeed as a guild, I need to be active within that guild as a player, as my class. If I am not seeing motivation to form groups, schedule raids, etc...and knowing who I am in that active role...then that guild does not seem motivated to me to be an ACTIVE guild who wishes to grow.

And if you do not KNOW me and I am not ACTIVE enough with you to get to know you...this seems like a guild on decline.

I have taken my leave of this attempt to guild.

I have also started a character on another server which has ben noted to be the larger of the two main PvE servers. Lets see how this pans out, and if it is active.

Basically, I am the lone wolf again. I am taking a break from trying to find a guild now. I will play, join "PuG" raids, and hope for the best.

Not really off to a good start though am I in regards to endgame.

A game I finally find where I WANT to do the endgame, and cannot because I am deterred by others who already have been at the top and have formed their cliques.

Well, I am off for now...I appreciate what HoH has done, but I think they need to be ready to nurture newer players, as they seem to be dwindling in their old friendships.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Playing in Aion, Living in Age of Conan

I thought it is now time to jot down my thoughts of how I feel after going back to the world of Diku MMO' foray into Aion.

I have played about 12 hours so far, and want to give some impressions...but maybe not how most give their impressions.
As you can tell by the title, there will be some discussion of differences I see in Aion compared to AoC. But, I need to make clear that I am a jaded gamer now. I am very picky in what I will play, especially when it comes to MMO's.

So did Aion make me a convert back to the old ways?

First off, I want to congratulate NCSoft on a well polished, bug free experience, with a game that runs like a game should out of the box.
If the game launches like the CB has run, it WILL be the best launch of an MMO...period.
I have had maybe 1 or 2 rubber bands my whole play session, and saw one glitch (some mob was stuck in the ground), but the client never crashed and especially for how gorgeous the game looks it runs a sight better than most MMO's (EQ2, LOTRO, AoC...looking at you...).

Onto graphics. It is hard not to discuss this game without mentiong the visuals. Probably the best high fantasy title visually, with hints of WoW cartooniness mixed in with a Final Fantasy, Star Ocean vibe. The hints of technology mixed with the fantasy is a nice touch.
Models in this game for the players is spot on. One thing some games (ok...LOTRO, EQ2) get wrong is that the models are secondary to the world. Aion, the model is pivotal. The full control of how the character looks with one of the best total toolsets for PC creation, it is a dream for a game for me. I love it. I was quite happy with the way my model looked.

The game world itself besides visually being complete also looks alive. Moving pieces like spiders in the trees, how the character reacts in the world when idle, swaying trees, etc. All look great. And feels right.
Also, with a modicum of things to catch your eye, like things to stop and pick up as you run around is the added bonus.

But, it is all set pieces. How does the game and mechanics play.

Played WoW? then you have played Aion. Questing is the same. Global cooldown combat, though faster, (and more akin to Guild Wars than WoW) is still WoW.

What NCSoft did is take WoW, put it in a new skin, polished it up, added a few differences...including the major difference ..Flight..and made a good game.

After questing for hours, I lost sight of any difference in how the game approached a quest. They also made no effort (except for brief glimpses with cool cut scenes, or the ascension quest throwing you into your past...etc) to make them different.
Get me 5 horns, kill 11 crabs, get the fur of ...etc.

All in a line...pretty little quests...but, empty.

Combat does make up for that tedium, by being fast and as you get further in the game, more mobs spawning with furious resurgence makes for a spectacular busy game.

There is lots to do to keep you busy thats for sure, which is an important factor to stray from the tedium.
But, it is all about gathering and the gear.
Finding manastones to implant into armor and weapons is a blast. Running around and "picking flowers and sparklies" as the wife calls us anyways.

And finally, flight. Once you get to level 10 and gain your wings, this adds a bit more. We found ourselves going "oo...can I get to that spot?" "wonder what happens if I glide off this"...keeping it fun.

But, those quests. I have heard there is more variety to the quests in the newest patch overseas...but, can it be that different?

Sorry, but this is truly a "grinding quests" game. Thus why I said.."I play in Aion".

So, then why do "I live in AoC"?

Cutscenes happen in both games, but in Conan, the fact that your quests are handed to you in this format, makes it seem more immersive. The scenes of YOU talking with the quest givers makes the game seem more personal.
I feel like I live in Hyborea.
Aion gives me a box with a slightly small font, and instead of reading all of the box, I find myself clicking the appropiate answer, and then reading the quest afterwards to find what I need to kill.
I care less about what the NPC has to say. Ala WOW!

Quests, even though AoC does also deal in the "Kill 10 x" variety, seem to get more of these examples....
"You must kill a small number of their clan (10), then I wish for their leaders death (kill boss), then make sure to bring me back a crate of their supplies"
So, multiple objectives, with meaning behind each.

Aion. Killing sandcrabs and sea turtles for shells to bring to the armorsmith, well.... Kill 10 to lower the population.....duhhhhh...
All the same. I picked flowers once...but that was the only different quest.
When I was handed one quest and was noted I can do it 1/100 times (that meant I can go back 99 more times)...seems like a small effort to give me meaning.
I only learned I had no memories after some levels, only because I briefly caught it in a quest text.

Now, I could go on. But, the fact remains, Aion is a beautifully covered up Asian grinding game. It is well polished, a gorgeous high fantasy game, that does peak my interest...
But, when I made a second character when my server went down, I almost dreaded doing those levels again.

Never a good sign.

I start to wonder if any variety will happen in later levels, like dungeons with objectives and scripted events (like AoC or Guild Wars). Or are they open dungeons with multitudes of people running all around killing the same 10 mobs I need, and waiting on that boss to spawn. Then stealing it when it is my turn?
People clamor on and on about "open worlds", but I tell you what...I find more rude people in those worlds, and it also means no major instancing to make an area more unique to me or my group. To create a story of you will.

Anyways, I really liked Aion, but I did not find a lot to LOVE.
If anything, it peaked my sons interest in an MMO finally (he is 10, and has tried them in the past...luckily Aion kept him really involved), and my wife finds the female models totally to her liking (the 3 foot gorgeous nympho prostitute she made was a hilarious sight), that this could be the first "family" MMO in the house...and that could be a win in that games favor (or lose depending on what happens if we fight over loot or that boss

For now, I can play Aion, but I will live in the breathing realistic worlds of Conan for the time being.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Age of Conan - Raid! - Retry? Abort!

Talk about a mess.

Tuesday of course is raid night for House of Heroes, and we took our first swipe at Vistrix since patch.
Some players tried her this weekend on alts, but it seems none were very happy.
One of our guild leaders seemed well informed on some changes that took place, so we felt pretty confident going in.

As we attempted the run, we met with utter failure.

I do not blame the guild.

Instead we heard many an issue with players "Red lining" (lag spikes causing the player to not have the capability to move), getting stunned while out of range, aggro being a pain, Vistrix moving away from the main tank group and having wasted members of the team on adds that are as weak as overland mobs.
Basically Vsitrix became incredibly hard, and the trash became a cakewalk. Wasted capabilities of the team thanks to changed mechanics for patch 1.05 equalled 3 hours of lost time for all.

3 Attempts, 3 hours, zero downage!

The forums are discussing the tactics of this particular fight, but we already see issues in that respect. Some state not being able to down her. Some downed her in one try (of course we have seen no statement of Tier gear, etc. which all could have an effect on this raid). All agree that it has changed tremendously. Most agree for the worst.

Now, who knows. She may go down next time, but we are unsure. Too many have real lives that an attempt at her again last night was nixxed.
It also made me jaded being a new raider in how I feel about this. I had learned the mechanics of the 3 tier one raids, and was working toward my gear. Now, I am unhappy with wasting 3 hours of my time for zero outcome.

Most likely this will change though, and I will try again. But, so far, two failures in a row on Vistrix makes me leery of returning to that hellhole again.

We will see.