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Hudson's Hideout

Ramblings of a MMO player and Miniature wargamer http://1angrygamer.blogspot.com

Author: pvthudson01

A break from MMO's with Fallout 3

Posted by pvthudson01 Wednesday July 15 2009 at 10:19AM
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Originally posted on my actual blog at

http://hudshideout.com/blog/?p=2934

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Last night I came home and decided to avoid all MMO's and immediately fired up Empire Total War. Before I get on to the rest of the post today I just want to say that even though that game is pretty slow to develop, I fought an epic battle against George Washington at the battle of Brandywine Creek. I didn't want the British but somehow I got forced to play them. I could have won this battle. I was just too slow and did not use my units in a coordinated fashion. I had feints, flanks, and a few moments where I thought I would pull it out but in the end I just wasted too many men.

You can read what actually happened at Brandywine here, but for now that ends today's history lesson. Empire Total War is an interesting beast because the campaign is basically a built in turn based strategy game and I really have to take the time to learn it.

Ok Fallout 3. I hear many of you groan but deal with it because I have not played this game through yet. I started over, finished the early part, escaped the Vault and headed out into the post apocalyptic nightmare. Usually as far as I had gotten was Megaton. Now though I really wanted to explore the whole game so I went right into that cesspit that I always try to clear out: the Springvale Elementary school.

I always end up in here but never really gave it too much thought. Last night I wanted to clear the whole thing out and I started off by heading around the back and taking out the bandits that live up in the ruined rafters there. The fascinating thing about Fallout 3 is that you can almost do whatever you want. Case in point last night when I spent my entire gaming session in a 3 story instanced building clearing out riff raff and getting involved in their back history. That is what I love about Fallout 3 and at the same time hate about it. There is almost TOO much to do, and unless you go in set to invest time you will not like the game.

So back to the school. I had done this many times and I knew the exact spot of the bandits so I used crouch and picked them off, still getting used to the combat system I saved my action points better and suffered minor injuries. My problem in the this game is always ammo. I tried to lure many of the bandits around the corners and put them down with a baseball bat to the head.

Inside the school, and I never knew this, there is an entire upper floor, middle floor, a lower floor and tunnels. Yep there are tunnels under there and they are there for a reason. This is why I start over because each time I learn something new about the game. Turns out you will need a key to open a door, and another key to clear past the rubble to get the to tunnels. I don't want to give out too many spoilers so if you have not played the game (YEAH RIGHT) then stop here. The rest of this post is about what I found. To those of you taking off and surfing on, see ya later!

Ok so once I had figured out that keys drop in this game and there are actually mini quests inside buildings and things to do, I really started to perk up. I grabbed the key off a bandit I killed (and this whole school has been taken over by them) and then unlocked what I needed to get to around on the 3rd floor where I found the leader of the bandits and she was armed with a machine gun. After a nice little gun fight in which I managed to cap her knees, I found a desk with a working computer terminal and a key. Turns out this group of bandits had been tunneling underground to try and break into the vault from underneath. I found this out by reading entries on the computer terminal. However, they dug too deep and awakened a hive of giant mutated ants. Not being one to shirk adventure, off I went to unlock the door that led to the mining tunnels.

Once I got into the tunnels I shot up a few ants and worked my way back into the very dark areas of the mining operation and found clutches of eggs which I could loot for Ant Meat. Not the tastiest of options but if your health is low and you are out of stim paks you take what you can take. If Mel Gibson can eat a can of dog food in the Road Warrior then this is just a slight step down.

I worked my way in among the eggs and started looting them all when this horrible skittering noise started echoing all over the chamber, and I knew I had triggered a huge spawn of ants. Sure enough about 5-7 came streaming at me and I had to use all my ammo just to fend them off and take them down.

While I got XP for this, I ran out of ammo and really got nothing in return other than stacks of ant meat. I wish there had been SOMETHING down there to discover but all tunnels led to a dead end.

With all the bandits dead and nothing to search through, I decided I had had enough of the school and left the place, feeling good that for once I had explored it and finished it to my hearts content. I did come out of there with a lot of gear to sell, but unfortunately I need ammo now so it will be off to Megaton. I will let you all know how that goes later on. I may hit up Empire Total War once more tonight and dive into that grand campaign as the Russians.

Dungeons and Dragons Online questions a noob would ask

Posted by pvthudson01 Wednesday July 8 2009 at 3:53PM
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Ok, so after playing the game for about one week solid and not really advancing too fast, I had to hit up the newbie forums and ask a plethora of really dumb questions for things I just did not understand.

When I start a game I tend to look at the features and figure out if they actually work or if they are gimmicks. The more I learn about this game the more in depth I realize it is, and when I start a game I like to dig under the hood and see what makes it tick (just ask Hicks who I spam all day long in email).

This bag is not loaded with tricks

First issue I ran into was this “Bounty Bag” quest thing you can do. Basically, this is DDO’s answer to the daily quests that are popping up in MMO’s all over the web now. What this is is a quest that will ask you to go talk to a particular NPC and then he will ask you to enter a dungeon that he is normally associated with. Very clever tactic actually by Turbine here. They added new content without actually having to make new dungeons. You run the same dungeon but have a chance to get a named NPC spawn and when you kill it or perform the daily task you return the bag for XP. Catch is: the named NPC does not always spawn. With no XP per kill in the game this makes it a hard sell, because some of these dungeons can be long and to not have the item drop means more grinding in a place you may hate. I tried one and my NPC did not drop, but at least I got good XP because you can repeat quests again in DDO. So while grindy, I do not mind this it beats grinding faction or some crap like that. Just be warned it is not bugged if you do not get your item.

What is the deal with Tumbling?

Ever watch the neat trailers for DDO where all the people playing are somersaulting and rolling all over like a bad Power Rangers episode? I have and I wondered to myself: WHY? Does the game REALLY take that into account? Well yes and no. There is a difference between TUMBLING and moving out of the way it turns out and to test this I watched my nifty NERD O MATIC die roller that I have displayed on my screen when I play.

Sure enough, when I moved and attacked 3rd person shooter style I lost my +4 to hit and missed a lot more. When I sidestepped, or as I have it mapped, held SHIFT and moved side to side, I kept a +3 or sometimes +4 to hit on my die rolls. So yes the game DOES account for movement. Pretty slick engine. now as for tumbling and putting points into it, the most definitive answers I got were these (I am no expert so I will leave it for them to decide if this is right or not):

I have seen people TUMBLE over water, you do go faster. You only need TUMBLE for doing the Reaver Raid. My advice, make sure your tumble skill is anything BUT not NA. That way, if people cast tumble on you or you buy the tumble buff for 100 GP, you will minimize your damage in the Reaver Raid. If you truly want to role play a rogue then put points into tumble.

and

Tumble doesn’t slow down in water. If you have to fight or move through shallow water it’s good to have a total score of 1 tumble after all penalties etc, so that you are able to roll through it at normal speed, instead of doing the ‘wading’ animation at about 1/3rd speed it feels like.

Tumbling doesn’t always stop combat. If you swing once and ‘run’ forward you transition to the running attack animation. If you swing once, tumble, when you come out of the tumble you should do the second swing in your animation.

and one last mention

Tumble is one of those skills that didn’t really make a good translation to ddo. If you have the Feat: Moblity or a Mobility item on, tumbling is a more defensive way to get out of combat (While tumbling you have +4 AC)

So in short, do not worry too much about it but use tumbling to move fast and take a swing without a penalty. As far as I can tell it is not required to roll all around but it sure does look cool. The key thing about DDO in dungeons is not to get left behind or split up. Bad things can happen much like in pen and paper D&D. As a GM, I used to love picking off characters that split up from the main party. That was a sadistic pleasure of mine. Especially when you can make it creepy and tell the other players they can hear their buddy screaming in pain. Oh, umm, where was I? Ah yes.

What if I make bad design choices while leveling up

The next question I brought up was how do I know if I am not making a totally worthless character when I choose my stats and where to use my ability points. This is usually a worry for many online games that feature achievements, talent points, trees, traits and all that gimmicky stuff. In DDO, you need to watch where you put your stat points and how you spend things because it does follow D&D quite a bit in terms of what you can do at higher levels. Syp over at Bio Break covered the great 28 point or 32 point build in a blog post already, so I won’t go over that here. Instead I asked about this from a straight new player perspective and got some answers that made me feel ok about my barbarian thus far. Now if you are a cleric or a rogue, have fun. Your choices seem diverse and confusing at the same time.

Some responses I got to this were the following:

The only thing you can’t respec are your levels chosen and skill points. And the 1 ability point (str, dex etc) you get to add to your stats every 4 levels. You can reset your enhancements every 3 days at the class trainer…and you can switch feats at fred the mind flayer.

You can respec feats and enhancements, just not stat scores and class choices..You can gimp yourself by multi-classing poorly… One should understand the game fairly well before attempting a multi-class character…

I’ve made several 28-point builds that I am not going to delete. I have fun playing and that is the most important part. The more you dwell in the details of squeaking out every point of AC or damage, the more it becomes a “job” rather than a game.

My original 28pt char, made with no DDO experience, and faced with three years of nerfs, does just fine. Might not be up to some people’s standards, but I wouldn’t worry to much if I were you.

The responses were generally that if you pick a basic build template or at least read over your class forum, you should be ok.

What does a guild do?

Well, fairly obvious but I noticed in DDO there is really nothing to making a guild. Then I noticed there was NOTHING TO A GUILD. Ugh. The only downfall about the community I have found so far is that guild’s are more or less not supported. The final analysis? Summed up well by a PM I got on the boards:

There are no guild vaults or really anything else that tends to tie anyone to a particular guild except the relationship with members. In fact, guilds in DDO are basically just a way to find groups more easily. Also guild chat can be entertaining… And for new players, they are usually a source of lots of free stuff. (As I’m sure you’re familiar with from other games, stuff that is awesome to a new player is completely useless junk to a veteran, so these gifts are win-win.)

I can do that again? OOPS!

I knew you could run quests over and over again, but I did not look into the deeper picture. This is a very instanced game, as it should be since it has DUNGEONS in the title, but I really didn’t understand why you would run the same thing over and over until I got my cleric to level 2 in about one hour. My barbarian took me two days. Why is this? Simple, I did not try the same quests over again on higher difficulty. So with my cleric (yes she is a female sue me) I decided to try this and good golly it worked. I got massive amounts of fast XP by doing each mission on solo, regular and then hard. I did try elite once. Once. I got the end and the boss mob was 3 levels above me (I was level one) and I just got destroyed.

Not only is this a good way to get XP you also can choose the rewards again. In many cases I didn’t not realize that there were say two different rings offered and especially for casters these work out well. So I would take one ring, then go back and take the second ring. I also had some mastercrafted plate mail drop for her which she put on to look pretty bad ass. So really, I actually skipped a lot of experience the first time through Korthos with my barbarian. The neat thing is I can go back if I want to but I think that perk ends at level 3.

Turn on the class loot option

Amazingly, I did not even know about this. In the options, under gameplay, you can toggle off or on the games smart loot system. Turn it on, and quest rewards are tailored to your character. Turn it off and you can get other items for other classes. What a great idea! I think it is on by default so I didn’t have to worry about it too much, but keep in mind this does not effect chest loot.

Well, those are some of the things I learned in just ONE day of research. If anything new comes up I will post it here next week. For now, I have some Dawn of War 2 to play.

Dungeons and Dragons Online grabs me after it finally “clicks”

Posted by pvthudson01 Tuesday July 7 2009 at 9:42AM
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This is a repost from my blog at http://hudshideout.com/blog

So over the course of last weekend when I was supposed to be playing the Aion beta I was not. Well, I did play Aion to be fair, however I stopped short Saturday and never logged back in after playing Thursday night all night. Due to the holiday and a busy schedule, I just did not feel like sitting there spamming hotbar icons and taking quest after quest in an effort to level up and have my character erased. This is called burn out guys and gals, and it has hit me hard. I am tired of MMO’s and if I sit at my computer, you had better keep me entertained and keep me involved or within 10 minutes I am off and back to the XBOX 360.

My love for MMO’s, the traditional kind, has worn off and now in my gaming twilight I am looking for instant gratification and ACTION. I know I was coming down hard on the Champions Online beta and the first 10 levels of Aion but guess what: I was coming down hard on them because they offer nothing different! Hence, I was getting bored.

So imagine my surprise when Hicks, an occasional writer here, went back to Dungeons and Dragons Online and let me know how cool the beta was for the free client. I actually managed to install the beta client and test it out and the game seemed different. I don’t know how to put my finger on it but the game seemed to work better, it was brighter, more responsive and FUN. The store was dead on in it what it offered and it FELT like a good action oriented MMO the type of which we hadn’t seen since Tabula Rasa shut down.

Since that night I have not been able to log into the beta server to test it again (some account issue I think) but I did resubscribe to DDO to get in there and test out the new player experience and by GOD I LIKED IT. I actually liked it so much that any free time I had MMO wise was spent in DDO this past holiday weekend.

Now I am not going to go into a review or any of that stuff. If you want that other bloggers beat me to the punch already. Take a read over at Bio Break and look at Pumping Irony’s AWESOME newbie island write ups from back in November of 2008 (yeah, I am late on the DDO train).

Now DDO is a game that I bought when it launched and spent about 4 days in before trashing it. The reasons were the controls, the style of fighting and it wasn’t World of Warcraft. Common little issues that we have all been guilty of yes? At the time of release I was a WoW Head I admit it. The thought of mana and hit points not returning to me and having to actually click to SWING my weapons was foreign and frightful. Now however I love it. I am involved, I have to plan ahead for my rest breaks to get HP back, and the combat seems so much more visceral.

The primary issue I always had with the game were its really dumb controls. I come from the old school mouse control world where right click mouse button hold moves your freaking camera, and left click selects a target. Not in default DDO. For some reason they made right click swing a weapon, exactly like if you play Oblivion and walk around and swing but imagine it mapped to the wrong damn mouse button.

Whenever I would try to right click to talk to someone, or pick something up I would swing my weapon and my character would enter that dumb battle stance. I was so frustrated that I just could NOT rewire my brain to comprehend this new control scheme that I actually stopped playing.

I didn’t do the research on the game, I didn’t understand the leveling, I didn’t even get why I got no XP for killing monsters. I just flat gave up, wiped the drool off my desk and jacked back into the Matrix that was World of Warcraft and it’s shiny colors.

So I have no idea what clicked or what happened this time around but I am fairly sure it had 80% to do with Oblivion for the PC and the fact that it was on sale this weekend. You see, I always wanted to like Oblivion but despite the fact it had great content and really neat side stories I was bored to fucking tears with it. I always wanted Oblivion to be online because I liked the combat and how involved you were with fighting.

After I went in and REMAPPED my DDO controls the entire game just clicked and I became instantly addicted to it. Much like Guild Wars I liked that it was heavily instanced but since it was D&D it had flavor, it had some spice to the dungeons and it was heavily reliant on atmosphere and not geared toward PVP at the end game. DDO just felt “homey” to me where I always felt like a tourist in Guild Wars because I knew if I maxed out in that game I would just quit because I super SUCK ASS at PVP.

So DDO had a great new starter island added that when I tried it last year I really did not explore completely. I know most of you are thinking “but the game is so weird” but it really is not. Think of DDO as Oblivion online and you will go in and understand the game. Think of it as “I am going to DDO from WoW” and you will hate it. For me, along with the fact that it allows me to play in chunks of time, the atmosphere and the ability to get into dungeons after all this solo content they added has really picked the game up a notch.

Now since Aion has a limited beta schedule and I had pre ordered it already, I have a lot of time to get back into gaming and see all these things I have missed and I have to say I am having a blast. Not with just XBOX 360 titles but also with free to play games like Requiem or Jade Dragon. The problem is though that even these games are technically WoW clones. After a bit, I start to zone out and I lose interest because lets face it we all know where this is going.

Not DDO though. DDO is a WEIRD game and it is weird because it has mechanics we as MMO players are not used to. Some basic facts follow.

Yes, you do not get XP per monster kill. You get it for finishing an adventure.

Yes you do not regenerate health and mana during an adventure. You need to watch it and time how you use the rest shrines.

NO you will not get uber weapons and armor drops, you must get to the chest at the end of a mission and see what is there.

YES rogues have a purpose other than to get owned by AOE in raid groups like in World of Warcraft.

No you cannot charge forward in a dungeon and expect to live.

Yes there are traps and puzzles to think about.

No you do not level fast and leveling is very odd since you have ranks within levels to clear before you actually level (think of them as EQ2 mini dings and that will help many).

Yes the game does encourage people hanging out in taverns.

Yes the class builds are odd and you can multi class.

Yes combat is twitchy but not to the point that you have to have a Street Fighter type combo menu memorized.

All these things that scared me off before are now a breath of fresh air and I wonder if Turbine is really marketing this game wrong. I think they went after a DIKU loving crowd and failed miserably to meet their target audience. Oh sure, there is an action bar and some hot keys on it. You WILL use them eventually (the first few levels on the newbie island are LAUGHABLY easy don’t let that fool you) but the core system of the combat is not a “push it and wait for it to refresh” type of combat system. You need to attack by swinging your weapon, try to trip your opponent, watch your facing, target mobs and actually AIM a bow to hit something. The game’s combat sounds lack some UMPH but it is still satisfying for me to swing a huge two handed axe and know that as long as the monsters are in front of me I will hit them in a big arc of damage. No AOE attack hotkey needed, no waiting for a cool down, no targeting. Just plain combat common sense. If many opponents are in front of you and you swing a huge axe sideways, you will clip some if not all of them. One drawback is you will click the mouse a lot if you are melee. I mean A LOT. However this is not much different than “A” button spam in a console title.

Archery is a little different. You need to target and aim and then shoot to really hit the enemy. This also makes it very satisfying when you line up a shot from far off and hear the nice THUNK when the arrow hits the mark and you see a damage number go up. Want extra fun? Turn on die rolling and watch and see what you roll when you shoot. Roll a natural 20 and sure enough you will crit on screen. This is a lovely nerdgasm moment that has to be seen and felt to understand.

Abilities are sometimes only usable a few times per dungeon run, and expending them will mean that you need to rest before getting them back. You need to plan ahead and equip what spells you want to bring in as a caster, and not having the right ones can be embarrassing and detrimental to the party. You need to think on your toes and examine everything since there may be secret doors and areas of a dungeon that if found will give you more XP upon completion.

Best of all you can BREAK things. Crates, barrels, altars, coffins you name it you can smash it (unless it is part of the artwork). In these things may be cash, potions or other items just like Oblivion. In short DDO plays like an XBOX 360 role playing game and you can even use a gamepad with it. I like this system now and it has me hooked. Another great thing is the ability to run dungeons over again even after you have finished the initial quest. I can hop online, do something for 20 minutes and get out without wasting my entire night. Sure, there are longer dungeons that require more people but the solo content is right on par with my experience in a console title that lets me save the game. I have the added bonus with DDO though of meeting up with my friends (if I can get them to play) and adventuring.

Overall I have been pleasantly surprised in the changes in the game (especially the hirelings which saved Hicks and I during one mission where we were rushed by 200 kobolds) and look forward to unlocking and purchasing extra adventures when the free to play RMT model goes live.

The newbie island of Korthos had enough content to easily get me to level 2 if you READ and do not blow through it. Many people do one or two quests and don’t look around and realize that after a bit you unlock the gate that goes out to the rest of the outdoor area: the huge island itself wherein lies many other dungeons and kill tasks and some great long distance archery combat.

There are issues with the game sure, but honestly I just wanted to blog about my experiences I am not a person paid to review games. A blog is for what you do and to talk about adventures to me so that is what I have done here.

I guess the best thing about DDO going free is that people no longer have an excuse to ignore it. I agree that the monthly price when it launched was a bit of a joke, but now there is a ton of content and some good perks to think about maybe subscribing when the F2P model goes live.