A decade of MMO gaming – Part II

Happy new year, folks!

Last time I talked about the various MMOs I’ve played between 2010 and 2014. Now let’s have a look at the past decade’s latter half.

2015

Decade14

ArcheAge won my heart instantly, but alas, only to go ahead and break it soon after. I’ve talked at lenght about all that here.

The realization that the game was basically rotten to the core hit us pretty early on, nevertheless we continued playing for quite a while. We just couldn’t let go. Its great aspects, those we had so much fun with and that made us feel like we’d found our new virtual home, meant too much to us.

Having started in September ’14 we held on until about July ’15. What finally tipped the scales was the announcement of server merges later that year, meaning that everybody on affected servers – including ours – was going to lose their land. That made us drop the game like a hot potato.

Decade15

I’d read about Marvel Heroes from time to time, but wasn’t all that interested for some reason. Mainly because I thought (and still think) that I don’t really need another ARPG when I can play Path of Exile any time I want, I guess.

Quitting ArcheAge left a huge void though, and we’d just rewatched a couple of great Marvel movies – my favourites are still the first Iron Man, the first Avengers and the second Cap – so it seemed like the perfect time to try it. It didn’t even come close to knock PoE off it’s throne, but it was cool and I miss it.

Decade16

We went on vacation in September, and while we were away we pondered which proper MMORPG we might play next. WoW aside one of the the last AAA titles we hadn’t tried yet was Final Fantasy XIV. Lakisa was up for it from the start, I wasn’t so sure. Reading about its gathering and crafting systems won me over pretty much instantly though, and we ordered the boxes so that they were already waiting for us when we returned home.

The game took a bit getting used to, but we had fun and played it straight all the way until the end of the year. However by that time I was absolutely sick of the game’s stubborn gating of content behind the main story quests, the mandatory group content bits to advance said main story, and also burnt out by the crafting grind, so I decided to quit before we’d even seen the first expansion’s content.

2016

Decade17

Some time during spring I felt drawn to EVE again after a nearly five-year hiatus.* As usual I did some mission running to get into the groove again and pad my wallet. When Lakisa watched me doing that she got interested, played a bit on my account and eventually created her own.

We gave her character a little jump start by injecting skill points I’d extracted from an alt of mine who didn’t use them anymore and tried a bit of everything. Missions, exploration, mining, production. The ultimate goal was to get into PvP of course. By that time I’d read that the Mercenary Coalition, one of the game’s first large merc groups many years before, had reformed and Noir., my former corp, had joined them. They even had a training corp for newbies, Noir. Academy.

Long story short, we joined them in March. Perfect timing that was, because World War Bee was just getting intense and we got to see some really big fights. As academy pilots we weren’t allowed to fly “real” ships though, and having to move your base of operations every two weeks or so gets very tiring, so once WWB fizzled out in late June we decided we needed a break.

* I’d last played in 2011, which I totally forgot to mention in the preceding post. Oops. I was in Noir. Mercenary Group from March until about July, a relatively small merc corporation mainly operating behind enemy lines for their contractors. It was the first time I actually received a wage for PvP – we got a cut of the contract payment depending on activity instead of the usual ship replacement – which was pretty great. I didn’t stay longer for various reasons however.

Decade18

In October we returned to FFXIV. The next expansion, Stormblood, had been announced, and being a huge fan of all things Asian I thought, well, if we start now we should easily be able to get through the story until it arrives.

Yeah…no. I’m sorry, but playing this game is work. I mean, we played on and off (more on than off) until August ’17…

2017

…and we did have some fun, don’t get me wrong. But everything takes so much time here, and, more importantly, you have to do things just the way Yoshy P and co. have envisioned it. I’ve never felt so much like being held on a short leash by an MMO. Of course we did not actually make it through Heavensward and subsequent patches until Stormblood arrived, which meant that despite having bought the expansion we couldn’t even fricking go there and have a look at the new zones and housing districts.

It’s sad because there’s also much to love here, but…I’m sorry…screw that game!

Decade19

In June I started this blog, so from here on out it will be much easier to get the timeline right, and I’ll also have posts to link to in case you would like to know more.

Decade20

I don’t remember if it was Lakisa or myself who first expressed the desire to return to EVE in earnest, but by April we were back in New Eden. To make things easier for us this time around we wanted to join an all-German corp, preferably one operating in low sec. It didn’t take long to find Holy Cookie, and we joined them in May. Through the rest of the year we fought in Alliance Tournament XV, moved to a new home and scored lots of kills in low sec.

I also played Destiny 2 when it came out and had some fun for a while, but its problems soon became too blatant to ignore, and I haven’t touched it since.

Decade21

In December I made my third attempt to get into Black Desert Online. This time it really clicked, and hard. I still don’t know why I couldn’t get into it before only to absolutely fall in love with it then, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.

2018

Consequently I played a lot of BDO whenever there was no action going on in EVE. This two-headed dragon absolutely dominated my gaming time until we went on a long vacation towards the end of March.

Decade22

When we came home I seemingly needed something different, so I picked up Path of Exile once more. Discovering how fun and strong a summoner build can be in this game made me stick to it much longer this time around. I even played a challenge league somewhat seriously for the first time and reached hights I’d never reached before in an ARPG.

Just like in 2017 the summer months were also heavily shaped by preparations for EVE’s Alliance Tournament and the tournament itself. We fared relatively well once more, but were again put in our place by more experienced teams in the end.

Decade23

In August I returned to Everquest II after a very long break, wondering why the heck I hadn’t played it for this long. Revisiting Nights of the Dead and Frostfell was a real blast from the past, with additional content I didn’t know yet to boot.

Decade24

Come December it drew me back to BDO though, which carried me well into the next year.

2019

Black Desert is a really exceptional MMORPG, and during the year’s first half I played it almost exclusively.

Our corp joining NC Dot in May gave us another big push to play some EVE again though, and it was a pretty fun ride. Lakisa and I didn’t want it to end either, but many corp members didn’t like living in null sec as much as they’d imagined and left, so leadership decided to leave the alliance again. Unfortunately that whole thing was handled very badly by our CEO in our opinion, which made us pretty unhappy. Thus we ultimately left the Cookies after over two years. Lakisa joined one of NC Dot’s corps, Blank Space, and is still having fun in null sec. I haven’t played EVE since.

Decade25

In August a seemingly minor article over at Massively OP made me finally try out Warframe, and I liked it from the start. I see many parallels to Path of Exile here, which is always a good thing, just in the form of a 3rd person shooter. It’s great!

Decade26

That same August also gave us the announcement of ArcheAge Unchained. I dismissed it as just another cheap attempt to rob us blind at first, but as time went on and its release drew nearer I couldn’t resist and tried to inform myself about it.

Well, I’ll be damned! It’s the real deal, and it’s awesome.

If it works, that is.

By now it mostly does though, and we’re having a lot of fun. I played it every day and didn’t touch anything else for the rest of the year.

Honorable non-MMO mentions

Decade27

Despite my huge fondness of the genre I didn’t only play MMORPGs and MMOs during these ten years of course. I won’t (and probably can’t) name all other games I’ve played, but the ones I liked the most, in no particular order, are:

The Uncharted series (2 and 3 are the best), Resident Evil 2 Remake, Limbo, Inside, GTA V, Heavy Rain, Vampire: Bloodlines (playthroughs four to six or something), Batman: Arkham Asylum & City, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Overwatch, StarCraft 2.

Here’s to the next ten years of gaming!

A decade of MMO gaming – Part I

Initially 2019 coming to an end didn’t feel any different to me than any other year. I don’t really tend to think in terms of decades or centuries. A year is a year is a year, as the Ferengi say. At least I think they say that.

Anyway, posts and articles looking back on the last ten years have been popping up left and right, and reading those actually made me wonder what I’ve been up to myself during all that time.

I don’t keep track about when and for how many hours I play any given game though, so I’ll have to piece things together from memory, creation dates of screenshots I took and games’ release dates. Might be fun, so let’s go.

2010

In terms of proper MMORPGs this was a pretty light year for me, probably more so than any other year since I fell in love with the genre in 2001 thanks to Ultima Online. I only dabbled a bit in EVE Online during March and April.

Decade1

I ran a couple of missions in my shiny new Marauder class battleship, which finally made that process at least somewhat efficient and even a bit fun. I wasn’t in the mood to join a corporation at the time though, so there was no PvP action to be had and I faded away again after a while.

Decade2

My main game during the early months was CoD Modern Warfare 2, which I’d bought when it came out in late 2009. Its multiplayer mode had just the right feel and pace for me, and I was pretty good at it, too. It was the last time I could say that about a shooter though.

Decade3

2010 was also the year I played Diablo II for the last time. Since its release in ’98 it had always been my in-between game, filling the gap between other games for a couple of weeks or months at a stretch. It’s definitely one of my all time favourites.

Decade4

I don’t remember where I’d first read about All Points Bulletin, APB for short, but I was pretty hyped for the game’s July 1st release, had it preordered on Amazon and played from day one. Unfortunately it had many flaws and problems, bad weapon-balancing and an abundance of hackers only being the most serious ones. The fact that it launched full-price with a 10$ subscription on top (seriously) didn’t help one bit, so there weren’t many players to begin with, and after a very short time only the most faithful (and the hackers) were left. I believe it was less than two months later that the game’s shutdown was announced for September 16th, earning it the Guinness world record of the “Shortest-lived major MMORPG”, which has to be the saddest gaming-award I’ve ever heard of.

It’s especially tragic because in my opinion the game had some outstanding, very unique features and a crapton of potential, and I was pretty crushed by the shutdown. It was later resurrected by GamersFirst as APB Reloaded however and is still going today, which is great. I play it from time to time, but while most serious issues have been adressed said potential was never fulfilled. 2018 saw another change of hands and the new owners, Little Orbit, seem determined to lift the game from maintenance mode. As of yet not much has happened though, so we’ll see.

2011

Decade5

This was the year I returned to Everquest II once more. Lakisa was along for the ride, making her first foray into the MMORPG genre. We played mostly as a duo, but also joined a friendly guild and did some group content with them. It was a very enjoyable ride and we probably would have stayed longer had another, new MMORPG not loomed large on the horizon…

Decade6

Being a huge fan of both Star Wars and old Bioware RPGs it’s no surprise that I was pretty excited for SWTOR. I applied for a spot in the beta and got in for a very fun weekend with Lakisa looking over my shoulder. After that there was no stopping us. We preordered immediately to secure early access codes and started playing on December 15th, five days ahead of the official release.

We started on Tython as a Jedi Knight / Jedi Consular duo and had a great time.

2012

The year’s first half was completely dominated by SWTOR. We played through the story together, did all side quests, traveled from planet to planet and just enjoyed the ride. We also joined a great German guild, Die Pangalaktischen Donnergurgler. We hadn’t reached level 50 yet when they started to run the first operations (raids), but we were determined to catch up.

Decade9

Meanwhile another new MMORPG had launched though, and I read so much good things about it at Massively-of-old that I just couldn’t resist. I bought The Secret World and fell in love with it so hard that I splurged on the lifetime subscription almost right away, before the first monthly fee was due. The world (man, that atmosphere!), the quests, the skill system, the wardrobe…there was much greatness to be found. I still mostly played SWTOR when Lakisa was at home, but my solo gaming time was solely dedicated to TSW.

Decade8

I had totally forgotten this one, but my screenshots prove that we also tried out newly launched Guild Wars 2 during that same year’s September. Don’t ask me how we had time for all that. It didn’t click with us at all though, so we dabbled for just over a month and never touched it again.

2013

Decade12

At the beginning of the year we briefly tried TERA, but that one didn’t stick either. It had a rather different approach to combat that I quite liked though, I’ll give it that.

Decade13

Once we’d reached max level in SWTOR we joined our guild’s raid group and got our feet wet in Eternity Vault and Karagga’s Palace. After that we wiped a lot in Explosive Conflict, hunted for datacrons, ran battlegrounds to bash imperial heads in and did lots of other stuff. My favourite MMO raid of all time, Terror From Beyond, was also visited regularly. After a while I started to lead raid groups myself, which was fun too.

Meanwhile our guild leader was burnt out and Lakisa, myself and a good friend of ours volunteered to form a three-headed guild council and share the mantle. It went pretty well, however the responsibilities that come with such an assignment take a toll on anyone, as time would tell.

Decade7

In August I finally managed to convince Lakisa that The Secret World is a game one just has to have played, so I created a fresh character (I really wanted to play as an Illuminati by then) and we gave it a go.

2014

Come spring I started to feel I’d had quite enough of SWTOR. The guild leadership played a part in that – turns out it is in fact impossible to cater to both casual players and progress oriented players and still make everyone happy – but the game itself had also worn thin on me. I resigned from guild and raid leadership and took a break.

Decade10

I’d loosely followed Path of Exile’s development and was intrigued, but I didn’t really think about playing it until I watched the trailer for its first expansion, Sacrifice of the Vaal. In April I finally tried it and the rest is history. It’s a great game with a terrific business model, and it has taken Diablo II’s place as my in-between game I play for a couple of months pretty much every year.

Decade11

ArcheAge is another game I initially didn’t intend to play, but once again the writers at Massively did a great job at conveying the strenghts and uniqueness of this title. By then Lakisa had been the sole remaining SWTOR guild leader for a while and was burnt out quite heavily too, so she was more than happy to try out ArcheAge with me. We played it for the rest of the year and well into the next.

To be continued…

In part two I’ll look back upon my MMO gaming during the last five years. Until then I wish you all a happy and healthy start into the new year (and decade)!

R.I.P. Marvel Heroes

I know, I know, it’s been almost two years since Marvel Heroes was shut down unceremoniously by our cruel overlords at Disney. What’s more, I’ve never actually talked about the game here before. So why now?

Well, since I’m currently quite hyped for Lost Ark but can’t play it yet – Naithin’s glowing tales about the game don’t make it any easier either – I was looking for a somewhat similar substitute (an accidental alliteration, awesome). That’s when I realized that of all games I’ve ever played Marvel Heroes might have been the one with the most similarities to Lost Ark, at least in some regards.

Of course I can’t play MH either, what with it having been shut down and all. Sucks to be me I guess.

Anyway, what I can do is give the game a proper, if belated, fairwell. It’s the least it deserves because it was a really great game, and whatever reasons they had for pulling the plug, the gaming world is the poorer for it.

MH_Title

By all accounts the game wasn’t actually that good when it released in 2013. I wouldn’t know because I only started to play in July 2015, and it had been heavily improved upon by then. I picked Iron Man as my first hero and had a blast from the get-go.

Of course the MCU train had accelerated to full speed at that time and I was eager to play my favourite heroes, so the game obviously got bonus points for that. But to give credit where it’s due, they got the look and feel of characters like Captain America, The Punisher and the aforementioned Iron Man just right in my opinion.

Cap’s shield attacks, for example, felt really strong and impactful. Of all ARPG melee characters I’ve tried he was the most satisfying.

MH_Klong
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about

The ranged characters also had some cool tricks up their sleeves, my favourite being ‘beam weaving’. The term was invented by the community and referred to skills you channeled by holding down the corresponding hotkey and aimed with the mouse. You basically weaved the beam/bullets/whatever over the enemies until they were all dead, like Iron Man does here. Fun stuff.

MH_Beams
Basically like this, just more effective

What really set the game apart from pretty much every other game I’ve ever played was how much mayhem was going on at all times.

MH_Mayhem
This is actually a rather tame example, unfortunately I don’t have a better one

So many enemies, so many effects, so much loot. The game almost felt like a bullet hell shooter, except that you usually didn’t die from just one hit. ‘Patrol zones’ were the most intense in this regard because those weren’t instanced just for you or your group. Consequently, whenever you spotted a boss spawn on the map you could be sure that at least half a dozen other players were already there, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at it. Of course those encounters’ difficulty was tuned accordingly, so you had to be quick on your feet to dodge telegraphs, take care of countless adds and burn down the boss at the same time.

MH_Boss down
And here I thought Path of Exile showers players with boots…err…loot

It could be almost stressful at times, frantically zipping from one bossfight or ring event to the next (noticed that Next Event timer on the screenshot above?), hoovering up tons of loot and reward-containers with even more loot, until the inventory was completely full and you had to take a break to manage all that stuff. But it was a lot of fun and felt pretty epic.

I quite liked the graphics too. The style was, unsurprisingly, somewhat comic-like, but not too colourful for my taste. Most heroes’ default costumes were modeled after their classic (read: old) looks from the comics though. If you wanted them to resemble their MCU counterparts or more modern comic versions you needed to be extremely lucky with costume drops or buy them in the cash shop.

MH_Costumes
Default Cap and Rocket on the left, Avengers-The-Movie Cap on the right

I was ok with that though because the payment model was pretty fair overall. As far as I remember there were no P2W aspects, and many shop items could also be earned by playing a reasonable amount of time, additional heroes being a good example. Of which there were 63 towards the end, so there was something for everyone, and you could level every single one of them up to level 10 before deciding whether to unlock them or not.

MH_City
One of these in-engine cinematic moments that remind me of Lost Ark

Another unique feature the game had – unique among ARPGs that is – were raids. I didn’t experience these myself, but from what I’ve seen they provided series of bossfights for groups of ten people, much akin to raids in MMORPGs. As per usual for such types of content the gear requirements were pretty high, which is why my rather casual way of playing the game didn’t get me there in time, but I would have loved to smack those bosses with a big round chunk of vibranium in the face.

Overall I didn’t spend a huge amount of time with the game despite all its virtues, at least when compared to the countless hours I’ve sunk into Path of Exile and Diablo II. I think the main reason for that is the aforementioned stress level the game tended to induce, which was a bit too much for me at times. Still, it was a great game and I miss it a lot.

Looking forward to Lost Ark

I don’t often get hyped for a game before I can actually play it, at least not anymore. As we all know sky-high expectations almost inevitably lead to disappointment, so I’m trying not to fall into that trap.

The gaming industry has given me a helping hand with that in recent years. There just weren’t many game announcements for me to get excited about, sadly. Of course I’m looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 though. I mean, who isn’t? But even in this case I’d describe my current feelings as mild to medium anticipation rather than anything resembling hype.

Cyberpunk_Keanu
More Keanu is always a good thing though

So nobody was more surprised than myself when I stumbled upon this video review of a Korean game called Lost Ark, and somewhere in the middle of watching it I already wanted to play that game right fucking now!

The funny thing is, I’d actually been aware of the game’s existence because I’d read about it over at MOP a couple of times, but somehow I hadn’t quite grasped what kind of game it actually is. The fact that we can’t play it here in the west without jumping through some serious hoops surely helped with filing it away under not interested without a second thought.

Thanks to Quin’s review I now know that it might be the almost perfect game for me.

LostArk_Gameplay

Lost Ark seems to be, at its heart, an Action RPG like Path of Exile or Diablo. So far, so good for my taste. However it has some qualities that no other ARPG I know does, most of which borrow heavily from MMORPGs. My favourite genres rolled into one nice package? Count me in!

Keep in mind though that I haven’t played it myself. All knowledge I have about the game comes from the videos linked throughout this post as well as a few others, so I might have misinterpreted some details. Also, most of the videos aren’t exactly recent and stuff might have changed already.

Anyhow, here’s why I’m anxious to play the game and hope for a western release, which unfortunately hasn’t been officially announced yet at the time of this writing.

LostArk_Map

The game world is huge and can be traversed and explored quite freely. It’s not an open, seamless world however, as the individual areas are all instanced. Still, I think compared to its peers this one should feel much more like a world rather than just an assortment of zones. The fact that you travel from continent to continent by boat and discover islands and who knows what else during your journeys adds a real sense of exploration and adventure, which is also lacking in most ARPGs.

LostArk_Fishing

Lifeskills! OMG, the game has lifeskills. There’s a whole talent tree that’s seperate from combat stuff and solely dedicated to six different forms of gathering: herbing, fishing, mining, archaeology, woodcutting and hunting. Apparently each character can learn all of them, but I assume that if you want to get really good at one you need to specialize.

What little I know about the skills themselves does sound pretty cool, obviously the devs weren’t content with doing your typical run-of-the-mill stuff. Mining, for example, doesn’t just let you mine rocks, you can also learn the ability to blow up certain obstructions and thus get access to resources you couldn’t reach otherwise. Or how about fishing without having to hold your rod all day, placing traps and bait instead? I like it.

LostArk_Siege

One thing I really dig and that I haven’t seen on this scale in any RPG whatsoever until now is epicness, for lack of a better word. Here are two good examples (I can’t for the life of me manage to embed the videos with a predetermined starting point, so I’ll just use links for you to click):

Watch at least 30 seconds of this clip for some epic siege goodness. A bit later on there’s more cool stuff as well.

Here you will see about 25 seconds of environmental destruction and oh crap moments. I highly recommend the video as a whole too, as it is an entertaining summary of how the first few hours of the game look and feel.

The only games I’ve played to date that have this kind of in-engine epic moments are the Uncharted titles and GTA V, but even those don’t have literally hundres of units on screen. Scattered across various videos I’ve also seen player characters riding zip lines, floating platforms and mine carts, jump over ravines, mount strange beasts and lots of other crazy stuff. Pretty impressive. Also, this:

LostArk_Mech

Then there’s the fantastic training room which lets you check out every subclass or ability before you make your decisions. You can spawn waves of mobs and even bosses so you can actually test everything in a somewhat real environment instead of just hitting thin air or training dummies. This is so great, I wonder why hardly any RPG has something like it.

What about content? There’s reportedly lots of stuff to do for PvE- as well as PvP-oriented players. Dungeons, raids, world bosses, instanced PvP, island PvP (whatever that is) and more. You can also have an island of your own, but I couldn’t find out what you can do with it.

Progression systems are supposedly more akin to those of MMOs than ARPGs, but I don’t know what that means exactly. Some people even feel that Lost Ark isn’t an ARPG at all, but rather an MMORPG that happens to be played in isometric perspective. If so that’s fine by me too.

LostArk_Boss

There are also some cons. Aren’t there always?

Many activities in the game are gated by a minimum ilvl. I hated that in FFXIV, and it will almost certainly piss me off here too at some point.

A lot of abilities have quite long animations which lock you in place. Since there’s a total of 12 classes with even more to come I just hope I’ll be able to pick a couple that suit my playstyle.

There’s other bits and pieces like genderlocked classes or weird pathfinding, but nothing too serious or even gamebreaking from my perspective.

Overall the game sounds right up my alley. I really hope it comes to the west, and soon. You hear that, folks at Smilegate? That’s soon as in soon, not as in soon™. Can’t wait!

A shoutout to Quin69, TheLazyPeon and ZiggyD for their awesome videos. Thanks guys!

2018 in review

My only gaming-related resolution for this year was to stop playing stuff when it isn’t fun anymore, and I adhered to that. Looking back I can say that, yes, I indeed had more fun and less headaches with gaming overall due to that, so mission accomplished.

One consequence was that I alternated between games even more than I did in the past. While that’s not an inherently bad thing it means that I still haven’t found a proper home game.

That being said, for the last two and a half weeks I’ve played the heck out of Black Desert Online again after shelving it in April, and I’m having tremendous fun right now.

2019_BD1
To boldly go…where I hadn’t gone before. More on that soonish.

But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

From January to April I played mostly Black Desert and EVE Online. In BDO I was very excited about the adventures that I had, and also about gathering, cooking and crafting. In EVE we had some great fights and participated in moon mining for the first time.

2019_EVE
But mostly we just kept shooting stuff

I also mused about randomness, player made music  and non-consensual PvP in MMOs.

In April I started to play Path of Exile again, which absolutely dominated my playtime until mid-August. I talked about how much fun I have playing summoner characters, playing the Incursion challenge league and things that I love about the game in general.

2019_PoE
I also killed Queen Atziri for the first time…only 4 1/2 years late

In June I celebrated my blog’s first birthday.

In August two things happened. One: the venerable Belghast revived Blaugust, and I signed up intending to reach the goal of posting every day during that month, which I managed to do. Two: I returned to Everquest II after a break of almost seven years. I fell in love with it again and wrote quite a bunch of posts about it since then.

2019_EQ2
The terrific ‘Crafting Epic 2.0’ netted me this sweet mount a couple weeks ago

During Blaugust I also talked about playing American Football, our participation in EVE’s Alliance Tournament and some more MMO-related stuff like level scaling, soloing and faction grinds.

In November International Picture Posting Month came along, and I posted a couple of themed screenshot collections.

During the year I also expanded my fledgeling columns Memorable Moments, where I share gaming related adventures I had that are special to me, and Stay awhile and listen, thoughts about music that I like.

As I said in the beginning I recently picked up Black Desert again, but I also still play EQII and EVE regularly.

The gaming industry in general and MMO industry in particular gave us a crapton of headscratchers and serious fuckups this year, I think more so than in any other year before. I don’t want to talk about that though, this is supposed to be a positive post after all.

Ok, well, I’ll just say this: yes, Blizzard, I indeed do have a phone, but that’s none of your goddamn business because in my opinion quality games and fucking phones don’t have anything to do with each other!

Anyway. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2019 except continuing to have fun doing what I love, and I feel exceptionally blessed that, barring any disasters happening to me, I’ll be able to do just that.

I wish you all a happy and above all healthy year 2019!

Memorable Moments – Chapter Three

Most people are pretty averse to suffering significant penalties for dying in the games they play. While you always see folks demanding games to become challenging and ‘hardcore’ again in forums and on reddit, whenever such a game comes along next to nobody actually wants to play it.

All things considered I’m definitely no advocate for full looting or permadeath myself, but there’s no denying that a higher risk provides for much more excitement and a greater feeling of accomplishment if you succeed.

Which brings me to a tremendously thrilling rescue mission I undertook more than 20 years ago that I still remember very vividly and fondly.

It was somewhere between autumn ’97 and spring ’98. Two friends of mine and I were still playing a lot of Diablo. We’d regularly schlep our PCs (along with those bulky CRT monitors we had back then) to our computer club to play together.

Multiplayer characters in Diablo had one special ‘feature’, possibly to up the ante in PvP duels: when you died every single one of your equipped items would drop fountainlike to the ground, to be picked up by either yourself – provided you managed to fight your way back there without them – or by anyone else. While the irony of the heroes becoming a loot piñata for once wasn’t lost on us we were always a bit on edge due to this. Fortunately whenever one of us died the others were usually there to the rescue.

We had the game’s three classes divided between us. I played the Warrior, one guy the Rogue and my then best buddy the Sorcerer. The latter was by far the most powerful class for most encounters in the game, and he’d always talk shit to me (in jest) because I had to, you know, walk up to the monsters and actually hit them with my sword one by one like a barbarian, while he could set a whole room on fire with a flick of his fingers.

Diablo_Fire
He’s such a showoff!  [All screenshots found on Google]
There were two types of monsters though that the Sorcerer had a very hard time against: Blood Knights and Azure Drakes. Both melee mobs who, at the time, were completely immune to fire and lightning, the only two spell damage types in the game. His spells rendered useless the Sorcerer could pretty much do nothing but angrily wave his walking stick at them. Of course the Rogue and I were always happy when they appeared because those were our rare moments to shine.

One day in the late afternoon I was sitting at home doing whatever when my phone rang. It was the Sorcerer, and he said “Pack your stuff and get your ass down here, I’m in big trouble!”.

Turned out he had died to a bunch of Azure Drakes and tried, unsuccessfully, to get his stuff back on his own a couple of times. In doing so he had led the monsters closer and closer to the staircase leading down to that level. Now the whole gang sat right at those stairs and just waited to eat him alive should he try again.

Diablo_AzureDrake
A terrifying sight for sure

Of course my first reaction was the one you would expect from a good friend: I laughed and made fun of him. “The mighty Sorcerer has died? No way! Now you need, of all people, MY help?? Impossible!!”

Then I packed my stuff and got my ass down to the club. Meanwhile the Rogue had also arrived by coincidence, but decided after looking at the Sorcerer’s screen, where his most recent body was still being swarmed by those drakes, that this was indeed a job for the Warrior.

In theory my task was easy enough. Join his game, walk down those stairs and immediately start klicking as fast as I can while chugging health potions like crazy. Just one problem: had I failed and died both our full sets of gear would’ve been irreplaceably lost.

I hesitated. What tipped the scales was the Rogue agreeing to lend me a sword he’d found a while before, with the stat combo most coveted by every Warrior: a King’s Sword of Haste.

Diablo_KSoH
Just one power level shy of The Sword Of A Thousand Truths

With that beauty I shouldn’t have too much of a hard time killing those pesky drakes. Theoretically. Hopefully. Maybe.

I wish someone else had been there to take a photo of this: me sitting there, sweaty hands cramped around mouse and keyboard, the Sorcerer and Rogue standing to my left and right, anxiously staring at my screen. We remained like this for what felt like an eternity and must have looked like a still life.

Finally I gave myself a push and klicked on the stairs.

As expected I was swarmed the moment the level had finished loading, and I started swinging that sword like a madman. The first drake died, then the second, and another one. My health dipped every now and then, but potions in Diablo were instant and I never dropped to a critical level.

After what must have been less than a minute it was all over. The drakes were dead and the way to the Sorcerer’s precious items clear. We let go a huge collective sigh of relief. He picked up his gear, I gave back the sword and we decided that we’d had enough excitement for one day. If I remember correctly we celebrated by getting ourselves a nice, unhealthy meal at our favourite greek fast food place and headed home pretty soon afterwards.

Like I said in the beginning, I don’t really miss the danger of losing all my stuff in today’s games, but I do miss these kinds of great adventures that would’ve never occurred without such mechanics. Quite a dilemma, isn’t it?

92!

Not very long ago I talked about having reached level 91 in Path of Exile, a level I’d never thought I might achieve in that game. Well…

PoE_Lvl92

Unfortunately there was so much going on – as you can see – that I didn’t manage to press the screenshot button while the golden beam of light announcing my awesomeness was still…err…beaming.

Anyway, the build is still a lot of fun, and the XP bar still keeps on moving. Not quite finished yet…

IntPiPoMo picture count: 1 (this post); 27 (total)