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Hudson's Hideout

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

Author: pvthudson01

Houston we have a problem....and a solution

Posted by pvthudson01 Tuesday November 27 2007 at 6:15AM
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This entry is taken from my actual blog site at:

http://hudshideout.blogspot.com/

===================================

The problem, as I sat and emailed Bildo over at Ramblings of a Bildo, was instances that require you to wait for a full party before you can run them. The solution: Tabula Rasa. The instances in TR scale to fit the size of your party, a brilliant move ala Lost Dungeons of Norrath that I think may have finally sold me that TR will be my home for the next month at least. City of Heroes does this as well but "meh". The wife thinks it is a great idea as well, and I have gotten her on her own account in TR. While it is taking a while to break her from the WoW right click interface and use that CTRL key, she is enjoying the game in terms of character customization and some of the other cool features.

 

In TR the instances can be done solo (if you know what you are doing) but they are ideally made for 2 people, and scale up in difficulty with the more you add. This is a great concept that saves anyone the time of looking for those extra people and getting a perfect group mix together. It also means, like we did in 2003 and 2004 in EQ1, that the wife and I can duo instances and have a blast. A couple of things are happening here for the first time also. She is fighting, and I am healing. I am also playing a female clone of my male Soldier, Julius. I left Brock on the crowded East coast server and moved to Orion and then sent Bildo a guest invite and he is up and running. I created Julius Rymar and Elisse Rymar, his clone, and went to town. I cloned way too early as it turns out, and after listening to TabulaCast over on Virgin Worlds, I should have waited. Tabula Cast is a great podcast that I wish was longer but has a ton of info packed into it. Last week he did the 10 most common mistakes/tips. Among them was not spending your skill points willy nilly, not cloning at level 5 (oops) and paying attention to the weapons you have. You can see the show notes here. The Torcastra Prison Instance is still bugged from what I read in the latest test server patch notes as follows:

For the Torcastra Prison Instance, the spawners inside are not scaling in number in relation to the player group size

So be warned if you try that one solo or duo. Some of the other things I have been doing in the game include crafting. Crafting is an odd mix of Star Wars Galaxies and World of Warcraft. You insert items into a machine, and use a recipe, and it takes ingredients but the similarities end there. First off, you can't keep remaking items because you learn a recipe (at least not from what I am seeing dropping at my noob levels). Crafting is meant to be fast and to the point, and create enough of the item for you to use for a bit. For example you may get a grenade recipe and use it to make 10 grenades, but you will use up the recipe once you do it. Unless I am missing something that is the way I think it works. Since however I am far from a TR pro if I am wrong please post a comment and let me know. At any rate, I make some ammo, some healing disc cartridges and other things. However I don't really see a purpose behind it other than to save money, which is why the devs probably made the recipe disappear after one use. Ammo costs can get high real fast in this game, and to find a recipe for standard grade cartridges can be a real plus. You go and run over to create them, and you are done. Once the auction house goes live I can see how you could make some money but undercutting the vendors and what they charge for ammo. One last warning. When you craft something it stays IN the crafting machine, so remember to look for the little tab at the bottom of the machine interface and get your items out of there. Just a little advice. Don't log out like I did and leave it all in there to rot.

 
One of the things I am still having trouble adjusting to is, like my wife, the use of that damn CTRL key to call up my interface. I am so used to being able to turn and look by holding right mouse that it makes it very irritating when you have windows open and you want to turn your avatar. I think I may need to head into the key bindings and rearrange some things more to my liking. I mean it is a good idea in concept, the fresh interface, but I think in the long run it slows my game down. Of course the idea behind it was to have the player NOT focusing on the interface, but to some extent it makes it more difficult to get around and finish menial tasks quickly. For example I don't ever really use the "B" key to open my bags in WoW, I always click. If I have a trade window open, I like to be able to turn my character to LOOK at the character I am trading with. I do that spinning around with a right mouse button hold. I think I am going to look into activating abilities with something other than right click and try to get the movement interface more like WoW. If I can do that I would be a lot more comfortable in game. UPDATE: Never mind, found it. The good folks that designed the game were smart enough to allow a key layout option from FPS to MMO style, it is right there in the drop down at the top under "Key Bindings". I completely missed that so my bad.

As far as the duo combat has been going, I am still detecting some interface delay in switching between items in my weapon or ability bar. When I try to repair the wife’s armor, I want instantaneous selection of my repair tool, instead I hit the key (“Q” to switch weapon) and there is a small delay as it switches over. I think if they could tighten the interface a bit more this game would hit a home run. As it is I feel like I have to struggle with the interface more than enjoy it. Another tip I can offer is turn up your mouse sensitivity to reduce the slow turn times and sluggish movement of your character. Another thing is in this game it certainly helps to have a friend to tag along with. You will get attacked. You will get attacked A LOT. So be ready for it and always have a load of medkits for the using and rez trauma kits as well. I have actually had to go back to higher populated instances to make sure I could get to quest locations, since in the lower populated instances of the Wilderness I cannot get to where I need to go without 8-10 Bane attacking me. Learn to use your radar to track mission locations and be smart if you travel off the road. I like to keep my adrenaline in reserve for sprint getaways in case I get really overwhelmed so I don't use it to travel fast unless I have to. Also get those checkpoints early, it pays off to be able to warp all over the map. If you need locations of the Logos abilities, check out Logos Atlas.Com.

I will post more impressions later but right now I want to log in and get to cracking on some exploration and quests. I really am enjoying the game but I will not be passive in pointing out its issues. This is mostly because it is very close to being a WoW killer for me, but is just missing that last bit of UMMPH to put it over the edge. IGN.Com has posted their TR review, and they gave it a 7.5 out of 10, which was a little low I thought. So far I think the game is a solid "8" but honestly, what the hell does that mean in the long run. The game is ever evolving but as IGN said in their review quote: "At least it doesn't have elves."

Tabula Rasa: Pravus Instance

Posted by pvthudson01 Tuesday November 27 2007 at 6:13AM
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This entry is taken from my actual blog site at:

http://hudshideout.blogspot.com/

==================================

Putting the lessons we learned from Saturday into action, the wife and I ran into the first Tabula Rasa instance we could find once we learned they scaled to the number of people in the group. This led us to the Pravus research facility. We already the quest to find the 3 logos inside there, and then we grabbed another one to clear some radar dishes of infestations and another quest to shutdown the facility itself. Once I turned in the "collect 3 logos quest" I gained 22,000 xp at level 10 and it dinged me over to level 11. Not bad. My wife also hit level 11, and she started the day at level 1. I had to log after that and she kept trucking along. I learned that she is rather bloodthirsty in this game. She was pumping round after round of ammo into the enemy and getting her xp bonus to +250% per kill by slaughtering 10's and 20's of Bane one right after another with me behind her repairing her armor. Once I logged she went over to the Control Point to farm defense tokens. She had the hang of the game within one hour and by level 10 she had become a pro Bane killer. I watched her get pretty pissed if she got knocked back and just run up to Bane pumping clip upon clip into them. It was pretty humorous actually given how boring WoW combat is compared to this game. She also got a purple armor drop which I had never seen before.



Pravus was a pretty awesome experience for an MMO instance. First off it had its own little village that we zoned into before we even started fighting. We were able to sell and repair there and grab some front line quests as well. The village was a great starting area and a small road out led to the front lines where we encountered for the first time the Machina, or reanimated corpses resembling the Borg that the Bane had created to fight against us. The creepy thing about these zombie like creations was that when we killed them, they got back up for more. Always had to watch our backs. After collecting the 15 or so parts we needed we moved on up the hill and entered the Pravus Research Facility where the Bane were creating these abominations with dead Humans and Foreans. We fought our way to the center of the facility and blew up the main power core, thus shutting it down and "winning the instance". Once we talked to the NPC inside and made our way out, we had another quest to do that took us all up and down the map. The great thing about the way the instance was set up was that it was like another seperate land area for us to explore and get XP in, as there were constant battles being fought. You literally could sit inside it and solo if you wanted to just clear the mobs out in there without other people bugging you.



Overall with the cinematic before hand and the excellent layout inside I have to say it was more fun in an MMO instance than I have had in a while. However, this is not without its drawbacks in my mind. It is all fun and terrific the first time around but I do wonder about the replayability that this game has should you choose to start over. Cloning for the most part obliterates the need to ever "reroll" and I think that is what Garriott was shooting for. You shouldn't have to grind instances over and over to finish the game or get gear. The option however to go back into Pravus does lay open to us if we want to get some more XP and possible loot. We did not see any named mobs inside, so I am not sure where the loot tables are contained, they may be random even on normal mobs.



I managed to get some videos of us inside the facility so here they are. The first video features us working our way inside the first security door. I have found quickly that I actually like healing, or "repairing", in this game. There is no mana, just ammo for your repair tool or your healing disc, and I still have to ability to fight. I don't have to hide in a corner like healers in most games, but just make sure you have your hotkeys set up so you can switch weapons quickly. Usually on tough encounters I let the wife go in blazing while I repair her armor and throw grenades. Grenades are a ability so I do not have to switch weapons and they are area effect so it works well.


video


This second video is real quick, just an early room inside the research center and shows how you can slowly go in and pick mobs off at a distance and stay calm to get through and dup the place. The aggro range on most mobs is pretty small in the facility compared to outdoors, so we just poked our way around and took them out cautiously. You really have to be careful in the middle room though as the Machina aggro like mad and can do some hefty damage if you don't pull them down a tunnel . All in all it was a good time so we can't wait to see what lies ahead. I want to get to level 14 badly to clone again and then choose another profession branch. I think I will lean toward Exobiologist so I can reanimate dead things. Yup, that sounds cool.

Tabula Rasa: Crater Lake Research Instance

Posted by pvthudson01 Tuesday November 27 2007 at 6:12AM
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This entry is taken from my actual blog site at:

http://wifeagro.blogspot.com/

You can see the TR videos there

=====================

Last night the wife and I had finished up a bunch of quests in the Concordia Wilderness and were looking to get into some heavy duty combat. We had some quests that were telling us to go to the Crater Lake Research facility, another instance in Tabula Rasa. As I stated before Tabula Rasa instances are more like mini maps, both indoor and outdoor, that you have all to your self to explore and XP in. This one was smaller than the Pravus map, but packed on the map were some tough mobs and a lot of XP and cool things to do. First off, if you have the quest from the Ranja Gorge to collect the 5 crystals, they are located in crates and boxes scattered all over the ruined facility. You need to open those crates and loot the crystal inside. The crates do respawn quite fast so don’t worry if you ninja loot your buddies.

The Crater Lake facility was doing some top end research for the AFS, and it has been taken over in a recent Bane attack. The problem is the Bane have found something inside: logos. They plan to use the logos to do very bad things and you must stop them. I don’t want to give away the plot of the instance so that is all you will get from me. All I have to say is bring a lot of EMP Bombs and get ready to run … a lot. Inside are some really tough Bane mortar guns and a lot of Predators. Not like the Arnold Schwarzenegger type, these are the flying ships that you encounter with a nasty frontal beam attack. If you run into a Predator, kite it around and do NOT get close. Get its shields down fast and then it is quite weak. The mortars in the instance gave us some fits. They do a lot of damage and are tougher than the ones out in the world that you have to destroy early on in game with that quest. We finally had to approach one with me repair spamming her armor and then running in circles around it blasting it with EMP damage to get its shields down. When you run around the guns fast enough they cannot draw a bead on you and your chances of living go up considerably.

Once you have completed most of the quests in the instance, it will finish up with asking you to raid the main base in the middle of the map. There are a few things worth noting here. Be very careful about accepting the quest to blow the main generator and getting the next follow up quest to assault the base. The wife missed an incoming radio transmission and was not able to catch up because once I blew the generator, it would not let her blow it to continue her quest series. We have to go back tonight or Wednesday anyway because I missed a logos in there. This means I will undoubtedly hit level 13. That is 7-13 in what two days solid of playing? Not bad, I think I am hooked. Another thing of note is that the base has a LOT of mobs. We actually died 3-4 times getting used to the agro around the base and killing those darn Lightbenders. Also behind the base are some very nasty Xanx that are well armored and do a good amount of damage. In the video I posted today you can see us get into quite a bit of trouble but believe it or not we lived through that encounter and trucked onward. One word of advice for this instance: swap out weapons as you need them (EMP, laser, physical) and bring a LOT of ammunition. Ten Ton Hammer has a guide up for this instance, but have avoided using it so that we learn as we go which makes it a ton of fun. I will have to look at that guide to get the coordinates for the last logos I missed so I have a general idea of where to go. When you are in the instance, make sure you blast those spotlights that hover around the area as they will trigger mob spawns. You can see what they look like in the screenshot I posted first in today blogs entry.

Once we finished that I got into some crafting, and while it looks a little complicated, I learned how to modify my gun and take some items apart for rare components in fairly little time. Crafting is still a weird beast in this game. You don’t have to do it, but it is helpful in giving you a nice edge in combat. For example my trusty laser pistol now has power regen on it which always helps in the long run. It also has two other mod stats on it and if I were to break it down I would at least get some of those components out of it to use for other crafting needs.

I got the Tabula Rasa collectors edition and while the in game pet is a bit wonky looking, the other things in the box are pretty nice. The fully bound and colored AFS Field Guide is nice to carry to work and read, and the individual maps on glossy colored paper in the sealed envelope are a nice touch. The DVD is standard fare but does have some really good insight into the game on it. Also included are some dog tags (now hanging on my monitor) and a collectors edition coin. The edition is not bad, I also got a in game Logosphi emote, but the DVD could have had more packed on it like the Burning Crusade one did. Overall I am really starting to enjoy this game and I have cancelled one of my two WoW accounts now. Tabula Rasa is definitely providing some quality entertainment for the monthly fee and the scalable instances and fast crafting and overland travel have me sold. Hopefully the game continues to evolve but I know that each night I cannot wait to log in. If you have been on the fence, it is worth a try.