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My Synthetic World

Random thoughts and opinions as inspiration strikes.

Author: mklinic

ArcheAge - Day 3 - A Nui Day, More Questing...

Posted by mklinic Sunday September 7 2014 at 8:00AM
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The Experience:

Day 3 started much the same as the previous two. NPCs with quest markers, kill some monsters, and deliver some things to other NPCs. After some time, I finally found something that had been missing all this time: The escort quest! I had to escort a 'Lazy Guard' back to his post. My journey down themepark road was now complete!

Aside from the humor I found in getting an escort quest, I did see some other activities. I raised some potatoes on a "public farm" and was given the things I believe I need to create a "Scarecrow Garden" (or maybe it was called "Farm"), which sounds like a protected patch of land that you can grow things on. I also did a bit more crafting thought this was pretty limited due to LP running out. 

Being "Open Beta", the server I am on seems pretty populated, but I haven't had a queue since the first day. The community is, expectedly, a mixed bag but that seems par for the course in an Open Beta. As a result of so many people in the same level range, there is a lot of competition for quest mobs. Not so much the "Kill #" veriety, but the "Kill Vlad the Inhaler" type where there is one mob everyone needs. For the most part, people have been receptive to grouping up or have sent me a group invite without me having to ask so that was nice.

My Opinion:

Still not a fan of the LP system, but maybe it gets better at some point. Doesn't hurt to be optimistic right? As is, I find myself logging in and stepping away to do chores, play with the kids, or while LP builds up.

When I do use LP, I see a corresponding skill, like Larceny, go up a few points. I'm not really sure the benefits of leveling a skill like that as I don't see any real change in results or anything like that. I'm only around 150 or so though so I figure any change is just not really noticeable at this point.

While questing, I'm finding I enjoy melee combat a bit more then ranged which is a bit of a surprise for me. I've not tried any of the caster classes, so no opinion on those at the moment. As far as enjoying melee more: I have a pretty even split of ranged and melee moves on my taskbar and, while ranged gets the mob to about half health generally, the melee combat just "feels" like I'm doing some damage. I've only been using a two handed sword called a Nodachi, so will have to try some others out and see if it is melee in general or specifically the weapon I like.

I tried to keep a positive mindset going into Day 3. I've accepted that, for now, I am playing a themepark game and, as I said previously, it looks good and is enjoyable in that frame. I do see hints of freedom here and there so I'll continue leveling (currently 19) to see where things go.

ArcheAge - Day 2 - Following the Road

Posted by mklinic Saturday September 6 2014 at 7:29AM
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The Experience:

Day 2 was pretty much a rinse and repeat of the game time from Day 1. I found myself doing the same "Kill # bad things" and "deliver this thing to that person" quests. I did get to use a glider in one quest which had some neat steering mechanics.

Otherwise, I only managed to level 14 and just wasn't into the questing so thought it better to call it a night.

My Opinion:

While I didn't play as much on Day 2, I did learn a few things. I learned the Labor Points do not accumulate while you're logged out which made me regret having logged out with just 1. Apparently, Labor Points accumulate at a rate 5 points every 5 minutes of game time. Not sure if this changes, but as is, that seems pretty crappy and further rains on my idea of being primarily a crafter.

As for sandbox elements, I see I can raise some crops and there are some hints that there is more to the game, but the experience so far is firmly themepark. As I mentioned previously, I had heard it opens up later on, so going to try to push through some levels to see if that's the case.

All-in-all, short update, but the game hasn't really 'hooked' me. I've been trying to read every quest and keep up on the story, but find myself having to resist the urge to just hit F, F, F. The story line, for me, has just been forgettable. 

Even being a short update, I'm disappointed that it seems so negative as I'm trying to keep an open mind and maintain some optimism. Here's hoping Day 3 is a bit more fun. :)

ArcheAge - Day 1 - Install and first 10 levels

Posted by mklinic Friday September 5 2014 at 9:36AM
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Introduction:

By now, most people have probably heard of ArcheAge. As with any title, it has its share of supporters and detractors. I've been mildly interested in the game, but have maintained a level of ignorance about its features and lore. This 'self-imposed ignorance' is really just my way of not getting sick of the game before it releases :). The little bits I have read seemed to throw around all the right key words for me: "sandbox", "open world", "housing", "crafting", etc. With that in mind, ArcheAge went to Open Beta on Sept. 4th 2014, so I decided to give it a go.

As a disclaimer: Whatever I post during this Open Beta is going to be from the perspective of a totally new player. As such, feel free to correct me if I completely misrepresent a feature of the game. I'm only giving my impression/opinion and am certainly open to the idea that I overlooked or misinterpreted something. I have no agenda toward this game and, at the end of the day, just want to play something I enjoy.

The Experience:

First up: the installation. It's been a while since I've played Rift so I was not aware of Trion's "Glyph" system. To sum it up, this looks like a very scaled down version of Steam. It seems to be a single sign-on, and sales platform, for games Trion publishes. Glyph is a requirement to be able to install ArcheAge. Apparently, I already had an account from when I played Rift, so after retrieving the password for that, I was able to commence the download/install.

The Glyph download and install was trivial. The ArcheAge download was somewhere between 8-9 GB and was done in a reasonable amount of time (about an hour or so). The install was pretty 'hands free'. All-in-all, the install process for both Glyph and ArcheAge was pretty unremarkable.

Post-installation: Once the installation was done, I was able to launch the game and select form a handful of servers. All servers had a reasonable queue so I picked one at random and waited about 15 minutes. Finally, once I was through the queue, I was able to create a character.

Character creation seems pretty well done in this game. On the right-side there were some 'preset' character faces or you could get in an customize quite a bit. I generally like personalizing the characters I create so I spent a good 20 minutes or so just tweaking things. At that point, I realized I could spend a good amount of time longer and end up not even playing the game for the day, so I wrapped it up and moved on with character creation. Aside from the customization, I rushed through a bit of the rest so I don't recall some of the settings I had picked. I know I picked a Nuian Shadowplay and set a name.

With the character created and initial story sequence watched, I was finally in game. The game was understandable crowded. The various chat channels were all fairly active with the usual Open Beta banter and gold sellers (already). I generally ignored all that and moved on to the first quest NPC. ArcheAge has a pretty noticeable 'tutorial' system that gets you going in the right direction pretty quickly. A decent portion, or perhaps all, of the tutorial tool tips appear to be voiced which was nice, but got a bit annoying.

What followed was 10 levels of typical MMO leveling which surprised me a bit. I did the "Kill X [bad thing here]" and "Deliver [this valuable thing] to the guy [some distance from here]". The only thing I don't recall doing was an escort quest. In the process, I raised a horse which only took a few minutes and made getting around a little quicker seeming. In the leveling process I had also gathered some ore and various plants, so I checked out crafting which seemed to consist of finding the right crafting tool; smelter, kiln, loom, etc, and clicking "craft". Admittedly, I'm only level 10, so I don't expect I'd be making anything too in-depth anyhow. 

Aside from that, the skill system seems a bit interesting in that it appeared I was able to pick other classes to combine with my main. I select Archery and put a couple skill points into Archery related moves so I can see the potential for customization there as the character progresses. I also liked the various skills though not sure how increasing a skill like Larceny relates to the results of opening a "Farmer's coinpurse". But I do like seeing something progressing, so I guess there is some satisfaction in that. :)

To summarize Day 1: Install, wait in queue, create character, do some quests, raise a horse, do some quests, row a boat, get stepped on by giant crab thing, do some quests, craft a bit, call it a night.

My Opinion:

So far, I can't help feeling a little underwhelmed. A lot of what I've experienced so far has been about as far form Sandbox as I could think. I kept trying to think of which game(s) ArcheAge reminded me of, but realized it seemed so generic that I could have related to any number of games. I realize I've only played for a bit and thought I had heard statements that the 'sandbox' elements of the game open up post-level 20, so we'll see how that goes.

Otherwise, not a huge fan of the Labor Point system which seems to be a pool that accumulates over time and depletes a bit whenever you gather or craft. On the plus side, tasks that require LP also give experience points, so that's a bit redeeming. LP is not a show stopped as far as enjoying the game. It's just not a feature I'm fond of. It seems like it would punish a player who wanted to be a 'pure crafter' if that is even viable in the game.

I'm probably coming across a bit harsh and I really just glossed over a couple hours of play time. So, to clarify, the game was nice looking and i had fun during the time I played. I could see myself playing ArcheAge every now and then, but so far, I wouldn't consider this as something I would play regularly or spend money on. It'll be interesting to see if my opinion changes as my character progresses.

Mortal Online - Day 4 - Running and Dying and More Running

Posted by mklinic Wednesday April 14 2010 at 8:39PM
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Introduction:

Today is going to be a short update. I only had about an hour to play around, but had a few notable experiences in that time.

The Experience:

I logged in this evening to see two fully armored players not far from my position. I wasn't in a town and I haven't looked much into the flagging system, so I figured it would be a good idea to steer clear of them until I was more educated. A moment later, I was taking damage from behind. I saw one of the armored players as I strafed in the direction of town. Knowing I wasn't going to be much of a match, I just kept running and he eventually gave up the attack or found another target.

I rested a bit and set off to kill some more pigs. I was having much more success this evening and killed a few pigs and weasels. After doing so, my health was pretty low and I wasn't too far from town so I figured I would rest real quick and go sell the loot I had acquired. Not three seconds later, what appeared to be another noob was beating the crap out of me. By the time I got out of the resting position, which was an automatic transition, I was in mercy mode. A second later I was dead. This returned me to penniless noob status.

Since I had tried the suicide thing a couple nights ago, I was already aware I had to find a priest and I set off in the direction of one of the glowing pillars. When I got there, there was no priest to interact with. I waited a moment to see if it needed to respawn. I also searched the surrounding area to make sure I wasn't just overlooking it. When I was satisfied that I was not able to locate the priest at this location, I set off for the next glowing pillar on the horizon.

The rest of the evening was a bit uneventful. I ran around exploring and swimming a bit. I saw some ruined structures, what looked like a farm, and a lot of rolling plains.

My Opinion:

I knew this was a PvP game when I downloaded it so getting attacked and killed wasn't a bother. I was a bit irritated that the guy who killed me found me at low health, but that's the breaks. Had it been EvE, I would have exploited the situation in much the same way.

The priest things was a bit weird to me and I noticed a trend when I finally did return to the land of the living. Both times that I have died and been rezzed, someone was sitting there punching the priest or otherwise assaulting them. I imagine this is for skill gain, but that seems like a poor design. I could see the priests were not at full health, so I imagine the priest I headed to first this evening must have been killed.

Exploring, while uneventful, reminded me a bit of my days in (Pre-CU) Star Wars Galaxies. I had flashbacks of traveling across Naboo, along the lakes and rivers, looking for a place to put my house. I also noticed that it seems you have quite a view distance in this game which seems kind of nice.

While traveling, I noticed a few new creatures. Namely, I saw a razorback and some wolves, as well as more pigs and weasels. I would like to see more variety of creatures, but not a real big deal.

All in all, while I didn't get to check out skill books this evening (being broke again :P), I did get to check out a few other things I wanted to see and was pretty happy with my playtime as a whole. At this point, I'm not really sure if I can be very successful in this game due to some of my time constraints, but I'm going to stick it out the rest of the week and see how things develop.

Mortal Online - Day 3 - System Specs

Posted by mklinic Tuesday April 13 2010 at 10:19PM
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Spent the evening playing EvE and then watching TV with the wife, so no new MO news here. That said, I figured i would post my system specs for any that might be interested:

System: HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
RAM: 4 GB
Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU Q720
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GT 320M (1 GB)

The machine is fairly new for me, so that might account for some of the missing dll and driver issues I've experienced thus far.

In other news, I am hoping to get some time in tomorrow night and venture a little further into the wilderness. That or I might focus on trying to get a few skill books under my belt. We'll see how the mood strikes me I guess...

Mortal Online - Day 2 - (more) Installation, Troubleshooting, and First Steps

Posted by mklinic Tuesday April 13 2010 at 8:34AM
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Introduction:

This entry is a continuation of my previous post in this series where I attempted to install and play Mortal Online. Today (4/12/10) met with a bit more success. This post covers a decent amount of ground so, without further delay....

The Experience:

I started today off knowing that I still had a patch waiting so I ran the launcher and let it download. The patch was about 7 MB and only took a moment to install. As it turns out, this was the final patch (number four for those patching at home) and I was finally able to run the game...well...not really.

Now that the patches had all been installed, I got to start the troubleshooting process. Before I start on that, I'd like to note that the previous error I had received, when clicking the "options" button on the launcher, no longer appears now that all the patches are installed.

First up, the error message "The program can't start because d3dx10_41.dll is missing from your computer." After searching around a bit, I found this thread on the MO forums which lead me to the Direct X end user runtime web installer. Once I installed this and launched the game, I received no error. Then again, I didn't receive much of anything else either.

At this point, the game was not launching and I was not getting any errors so it was back to searching. While troubleshooting the issue, I noticed the nowgame.exe process was starting and then ending a few seconds later. Based on this, I found another helpful thread on the MO forums. In my case, the issue was resolved by installing the Nvidia PhysX driver.

Now that the technical issues had been resolved, I was able to launch the game and try to login. I was immediately greeted with a failed login attempt. After checking the caps lock key and usual suspects, I decided to try logging in on the MO site. While doing so, I vaguely recalled something about two activation emails from Mortal Online and, sure enough, there was one sitting in my inbox that I had not clicked on. After following the activation link, I attempted to log in to the game and was met with success.

I have to admit to some small sense of satisfaction having resolved the technical (and user) errors and finally getting into the game. I proceeded immediately to character creation only to realize I didn't know much about the different races or why I would want one over the other. There wasn't much info available on the character creation screens and just some place holder text in various areas. I decided to go to the Races section of the MO site which didn't help to explain a whole lot for me. It appears that less then have of the races are explained with the remaining having the equivalent of "coming soon" text.

Now, a bit in the dark as to my reasoning, I created a Veela male named "Synaes Thesia". Additionally, I selected Ruffian as my job/profession/forget-what-it-was-called. I was dropped into the game world at night and couldn't really see much so I tried to stay close to the camp/village I was in and try to get a basic understanding of the controls and interface. This worked out as day came fairly quickly and, by that time, I could at least move around and understood how to attack.

This new found understanding quickly lead to my first demoralizing assault on a domesticated pig. After getting thoroughly beat down by the pig, I was placed in a "Mercy Mode". This is sort of like dying, but not. Essentially, you are immobalized for a moment and then, when you regain control of your character, you are left with pretty low health. In order to regain your health, you need to rest. This is a very slow process initially, but it gets the job done. There might be a better way, but as a penniless new character, I didn't see one. 

A side note on Mercy Mode; when I first entered this state, I thought my character had died. When I realized he hadn't, I noticed that (in beta) you can commit suicide. I wanted to see what happened when you actually died so I went ahead and did this. Now, when you die, you basically become a ghost and need to find a priest. Your visual changes a bit and makes me think of being underwater. Priests are not hard to locate as there are giant pillars of light shinning down on them that are visible from a pretty good distance. That said, it still took me a good 15 minutes to get to one and sort out the whole being dead thing. Coming back to life is just a matter of interacting with the priest and the process actually takes just a couple seconds.

Mercy mode and death now sorted out, I ran off yo my second and third demoralizing assaults on the domestic pigs. I was looking pretty good on that third one and was sure I had him until he launched up into the air and started attacking me from above. While a bit irritating, and a bit funny, I kept up my attempts. Finally, on my fourth pig, I managed to fell the mighty beast! This was followed by a mixed bag of wins/losses, but I noticed a lot of rocket pigs moving at near impossible speed.

One loss in particular was very frustrating. At one point, another flying pig took me down. I figured it was like the rest and I would just rest up and go on with my day. This pig was different though. He had a mean streak a mile wide and the bastard camped me. Every time I would get up it was on my like glue. Finally I decided to stop trying to defend myself and just run as fast as my virtual legs would carry me. But this pig was something different. He was like a noob seeking missle and managed to drop me into mercy mode five or six times before i got clear of him.

During my tactful retreat, I noticed another type of creature I could attack; a weasel. These turned out to be quite easy to kill and, while they provided minimal loot, was a nice ego boost...Until the pigs showed up...Apparently, the domestic pig is the self-appointed guardian of all things Weasel. So, while I was looting one of these dead Weasels, I started getting attacked only to find another domestic pig chopping away at my health...

Bruised and battered, I returned to town with my small collection of animal parts to sell. I found a vendor and loaded up everything to sell. I was looking at clearing a little over 300c on the deal. I clicked trade, there was some message about "yadayadayada This is a negative trade, are you sure? yada yada". I clicked yes to get rid of the annoying message and watched as everything moved out of the sell window. Now, I still had a balance of 0...hmm...After looking into the matter, apparently, I was supposed to drag the icon for Coppernium down into the vendors trade window and specify the proper amount. Lesson learned..no more clicking "ok" to get rid of windows.

At this point, I killed a couple more creatures so I could afford a torch. I am still a bit of a ways off from getting any skill books, but I was at least able to get my feet wet in regards to the game mechanics. I saw plenty of other players, but no one attacked me. I did not stray too far from my starting point, but hope to start exploring more soon.

My Opinions:

The whole install process could be a bit more straight forward. If a dll is missing, I should be made aware of that before I get to the point of launching the game. If I do not have the PhysX driver installed, I should be made aware of that before getting to the point of launching the game. These all seem like reasonable "pre-flight" checks that should occur. That said, it is a beta game and all the issues took about 15 minutes to resolve so not really a big deal for me.

Now, the game itself; I was a bit annoyed at the character creation process and trying to determine why I would be a human versus a half-breed versus whatever else. On the other hand, the character creation was more robust in its customization then many other games out there so that was a plus. "Flavor text" is easy enough to fill in, so I imagine that will come in time.

The game's help interface is pretty useful if you bother to give it a read. I was able to figure out a lot of things for myself just by looking there. The basic movement controls are pretty standard, but otherwise, I don't think the controls, overall, are very intuitive. Also, I keep finding myself hitting my mouse scroll wheel to zoom my view out. This first-person view, while I knew about it, is just going to be a bit of an adjustment.

The creatures, while initially difficult (for me at least) certainly give you a sense that you are just starting in the world. I did see a lot of creatures zipping around at impossible speeds. Some that were near trees seem to disappear only to find that they seem to be moving vertically once they get to a tree instead of going around it. Also, the random flying pig was a bit problamatic as they would seem to disappear when I was attacking only to find I was being attacked from above (same issue as them going up a tree perhaps?).

Graphically, the game is fine. Not mind blowing, but certainly not bad by any stretch.

Overall, I had some fun on my first day playing. I installed and played for a little under two hours and felt I had figured a number of things out in that time. There are certainly some issues that make the game less fun, but I'm not put off by them at this point. I'm still in the "oh boy, it's working!" honeymoon stage though, so we'll see how things progress.

I am probably going to take the night off from MO and get some EvE time in tonight. As a result, there won't likely be an update tomorrow, or if there is, I'll just post my system specs just to help put a frame around what my MO experience is based on.

Mortal Online - Day 1 - Installation

Posted by mklinic Monday April 12 2010 at 2:11PM
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Introduction:

Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and try out Mortal Online. I have followed the game (at a distance) for some time and have casually lurked in the relevant forums on this site. I've seen a great number of threads depicting the negatives of the game as well as some defenders. It's mostly these negative posts that have prompted me to try to the game out. With equal parts curiosity and masochism, I want to see if it is really that bad.

This series of posts are my attempt, not to discredit those negative posts, but to record my experience. Any one reading can make the determination as to whether it supports what has been said or provides another point of view. Hopefully, this will also give other people considering the game, an outline of what to expect as they get started.

I will be splitting the post up into sections. One section is intended to try to show the steps I took that day (with minimal commentary) followed by a section giving my commentary and that day's activities.

In a nutshell, you now have my reasoning as to why I am here and what I am doing. Now, on with the show...

The Experience:

Being the first day (4/11/10), or more appropriately, night, of my experience with Mortal Online, I will cover the installation. First things first, I went to http://www.mortalonline.com/downloadbeta in order to download the beta client. The download is just the launcher/patcher and isn't too hefty at about 91 MB or so. While that was downloading, I created my account and forum login at https://account.mortalonline.com/account/new.php

Once the launcher/patcher had downloaded I went ahead and executed it. It went in to downloading a pretty large patch which was a little shy of 2 gig. While that was downloading I decided to check out the launcher a bit. I noticed that clicking on the "options" button resulted in an error that not all the files were there that it expected. After the patch finished downloading, the installer launched after a brief delay.  The patch install seemed to go fine with no issues to note. 

At this point, I was excited that I would get to log in to create a new character. I ran the launcher again and was greeted with another patch download. This one was slightly smaller, but still fairly sizable and over 1 gig. This patch went, much like the first, with no real issues to speak of.

Now, the launcher has downloaded and installed two sizable patches. Surely, this time I would get to create a character and try out the game play. Again, I ran the launcher and, again, a patch downloaded. This time, I think it was about 700 MB.

Third time's the charm right? Well, not really. After this patch downloaded and installed, I ran the launcher again. I sort of laughed to myself as if to say "watch, it probably needs another patch." Sure enough...another patch. This one only appears to be a few MB, but I'm done for the night. I'll see how far I get tomorrow.

My Opinions:

The Options button error on the launcher was a bit annoying. Not a deal breaker by any means, but since I spend a good amount of time programming, it seems like a silly issue. I mean, I would think the error could be trapped and not displayed if it was truly not important to the user. Or, it could be presented in a more meaningful manner. For example, if the error is due to the patches not being installed (just as an example of possible cause), why not display a friendly message saying something along the lines of: "Until the game has been fully patched, only limited options are available". As of right now, the error doesn't mean much to me and does nothing positive for the user experience.

Now, the patching....that was annoying. Again, not a deal breaker, but it has be scratching my head. To my knowledge, aside from the collectors edition, there isn't really a physical distribution for the game. With that in mind, why can't a new client just download the latest production build? I'm sure there is a reasonable response to that, but at the same time, downloading a client, that is distributed digitally, once and not having to patch it repeatedly is a reasonable expectation in my opinion.

Don't mistake what I am saying as a condemnation of Mortal Online so much as a glimpse into what I was/am thinking based on my installation experience so far. I am still anxious to get into the game and, to be honest, I expected worse based on what I've browsed on the forums.

Tomorrow is another day and I plan to finish up the fourth patch and (hopefully) log in to the game. :)

 

Edit: Just to clarify on my error message gripe. My wording was bad. They are trapping the error as I am not getting an exception error. I suppose my point is that, if the error is expected, the text should indicate as much to the user. Perhaps a better description of my complaint is that the error message could be more meaningful is all.