Nightmare Lore: Exploring Draumheim

Angry Joe Image DestinyA few days ago, I put aside my Rift mage and woke my level 50 elf rogue from her slumber. I need Planar Attunement, which is account-wide. So I thought I’d quest a bit in Storm Legion.

I’ve lost the Storm Legion story already. You get a letter, talk to an NPC, teleport to Storm Legion, and start questing, and you have no idea what you’re doing. The story, like the gear rewards, is split between two start zones. How are you supposed to follow that?

At least you’re no longer routed (as you were originally) through a hard-to-find Iron Pines portal via a ship that crashed out in the ocean, offering a long swim to get a brief mini-game. I.e. it was unnecessarily complicated.

The quests also waited far too long to give my rogue upgraded expansion-level weapon, so I shard-hopped, ran invasions, and traded for a bow at the adventure dealer, something most players won’t think of. This literally doubled the DPS of my weapon. Kind of a big difference?

I’ve just about quit Storm Legion again, reminded why it took me three tries to get through it the first time.

This morning I’m watching Angry Joe give the same criticism to Destiny as I give to Rift. So here’s today’s kitty headline:


“Oh sure … is extensive with entries on just about everything you could think of in the game, but the problem is that none of that is in the fucking game! Which means you don’t give a shit about what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Listen, external material should enrich the lore. If I need to leave the game to understand what is going on, that aspect of your game has failed. The campaign mode is pathetic.”

“I don’t remember anyone’s name. None of the alien factions get a proper impressive introduction, or motivations, or personalities of their own.”

We can hope Nightmare Tide will have tighter, more understandable story and lore. There is only one start zone, which is a start. If the prologue on Ember Isle is any indication, however, there will be too many elements fusing into confusion again.

Why did the Ember Isle prologue need three rotating quest givers? It’s prime time to learn more about the Faceless Man, but nothing happened. Meanwhile, I assume we won’t see the Ember Isle priestesses again, which makes this a case of misplaced priorities, spreading the focus too thin, resulting in a lost opportunity to characterize.

You can’t lose any opportunities when you’re trying to tell a story using 1000 words or less. That’s basically a quest chain.

Is it just too hard to develop NPCs into memorable characters? The Ember Isle prologue for Nightmare was an impressive production overall, with interesting quests and worthwhile rewards.

The mermaid, the damsel in distress, was the best character in this quest chain. The mermaid singing was a fabulous special effect. I hope we’ll see the mermaid again, just like I hope we see Nona again in LotRO. I doubt it.

It’s important to remember that MMO players don’t sit down and read a story from start to finish. They play for an hour or two at a time, quit, and start again the next day or next weekend. So the important points bear repeating.

Yes, I’m advocating dumbing down story enough to reinforce the the most important points. Remind the player what’s happening later in a long quest chain. “Tip of the iceberg” storytelling should mean an implication of far more than there actually is in terms of models and pixels, not keeping everything a confusing and murky mystery. (See-Angry Joe review of Destiny.)

One mystery at a time. That should be another golden rule, something that will stick in the player’s head. And then make it a very good mystery.

Trion posted a lore page last week for the third and most mysterious Nightmare Tide zone called Draumheim, which we haven’t seen much in livestreams. This helps to explain who the dragon guy was in the Ember Isle Nightmare prologue.

The concept appears to be that the dream denizens of the city are the dreams of mortals, including the nightmares, which have come to hate their creation and creators. The Draumheim split between happy and nightmare citizens sounds like Monsters Incorporated (the original movie), except there are lots of bad monsters, enough to start taking over.

I know we can look forward to more bad tentacle monsters. They’re already wrangling the kitty during Water Rifts in the live game.

Rift Tides: More Casual-Friendly Innovations Unveiled

cow house breaking badTonight I was going to write about megaservers, but the Rift livestream trumps that.

Rift is creating a unified gear track for all playstyles. If you’re only interested in expansion news, skip down.

Megaservers Are Like Cow Houses

In the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, the two anti-heroes have arrived at a remote location to do their first meth cook together. Jessie stands on a rock outcrop and looks back at civilization.

All he can see is a “cow house”.

This is a great characterization of Jessie through dialog. It’s also symbolic of an outsider looking at civilization. And “megaservers” are like cow houses.

I disagree that megaservers are the “gold standard” as Wildstar makes the move to mega. Megaservers are horrible. Most people in the game are faceless entities you’ll never know or see again.

If you additionally take away all nameplates in your game a la Elder Scrolls Online, and add multiple guild joins, and you’ve got a recipe for a lousy community and no connection to other players. Why not also stick your head in the sand and ignore the need for an Auction House and fixing the bug that disallows beta players from joining the live forum. (…)

Meanwhile, Rift’s cluster system is perfect, maintaining community identity and name recognition on servers while retaining megaserver perks, i.e. cluster-wide group finding. I’ve started using the Rift shard hopping a lot–instantly teleporting from shard to shard when I want to do an event or gather materials and artifacts on a low pop.

The point is that it’s my choice. In a cow house game, you’re a cow. If cow pen #2523 needs more cows, you’re going to be teleported to cow pen #2523. In Rift, I pick my pasture, and I like it a lot. Queue times are still shockingly short, and plenty of players show up for zone events, while keeping a sense of friends and a home shard.

So vote no for cow houses. For more on fighting the dehumanization in today’s games, TAGN shared a great video recently.

Towards A Parity Of Gear Between Playstyles

Today’s Rift expansion dev chat (it’s an hour long, so don’t go clicking just yet) discussed PvP changes and the new mastery system.

The main take from the PvP was that there is no more PvP gear. All playstyles in Rift will acquire a unified currency that will allow purchase of gear. So you can PvP and get the same dungeon and raid gear as the people doing that content.

According the Bill Fisher (Daglar), the reason is that the vast majority of Rift players dabble in different things. The subtext (in my opinion), is that not enough people are getting to raiding. They’d rather do a little of this and that–in other words have fun.

Going forward, whatever activity you choose will contribute to a background feeling of progress. This helps the raiding agenda while also helping casuals have a progression track, something that Khellendross said he’s strongly advocating.

In short, this sounds fantastic.

The hardcore PvP set has legitimate concerns, such as the ancient problem of PvE raiders coming in and owning them. To answer this, Trion is using a complicated power cap system, and assertions (i.e. by Ocho) that skill in PvP will always trump the Greatsword Of Godly Doom.

I’ve always wanted a system like this. I hate organized raiding but love unorganized raiding where I can make my own decisions. This means I can do raid PvP and not feel like I’m going down a dead-end path, an inferior outsider to the real PvE game.

Daglar also mentioned regular weekend PvP events where all players are normalized to the same gear, so skill and build is everything. The subtext may be that players aren’t enjoying or playing PvP when they are outgeared. This is why I’m not doing PvP right now, actually. I’m waiting for the gear reset.

Hit = Toughness And Masteries

In another good move, the Rift devs are changing the tank gating stat, Toughness, into the DPS gating stat, Hit. This will make builds and roles more flexible. You’ll still want different gear to tank and PvP (endurance), but it’s less of a pain.

Daglar also explained “masteries” in the Rift stream. Your soul trees won’t gain more points or expand in Nightmare Tide. Instead, characters will gain meta-skill “masteries” that can be paired with any of your existing builds.

Best of all, you can swap these meta-skills on the fly for an extra level of customization for your chosen activity. Rift is playing on its strongest points by allowing you to create your own strategy. An additional set of meta-skills is unlocked with each level in Nightmare Tide.

That’s all for now. Kitty out.

Rift: Nightmare Tide Livestreaming

Rift Livestreaming: All You Can Eat

As of Thursday, Trion has opened up their expansion beta to livestreaming. A good place to dip an eyeball into the plane of water is Seatin’s run-through with Simon Ffinch, which shows off the Goboro Reef and Tarkin Glacier.

Trion has an official livestream scheduled for today (Friday) at 1:30 pm Pacific. The livestream will go into the Minion system. I’m curious about how the system will work.

I’m guessing it will allow raiders to avoid farming, but I’m hoping it won’t make farming and gathering obsolete, since those are things I enjoy. I also wonder if minions will be tied to dimensions in some way, so there is a roleplay angle.

Rift doesn’t have starship crews, of course. Not yet, anyway. I think loyalty and effectiveness were mentioned, but maybe the kitty is confused. Or maybe there will be planar affinity tied to your minion scavenging skills.

Another good source of beta livestreaming is Twitch TV. Khellendross just went offline a few minutes ago, but is scheduled to stream the beta areas starting again 10:30 PM Friday night.

Other Rift News

Biobreak put up a what-are-you-playing poll this week, and Rift started in 14th position but has since moved up to 11th. Maybe Rift inched up after Justin posted an “inching back to Rift” post yesterday, perhaps afflicted by Nightmare fever.

This week I’m continuing to focus on group and raid content while there are still people and alts running around in the lower levels to get it done. Here is a Rift screenshot from a water-plane raid event last night in Freemarch.

That’s just a low-level pickup raid you could join as a new player as soon as you finish the prolog. Meow! And if that screen looks ugly, complicated, and bewilderingly buttony, here is eye candy from the Ardent Domain.

I’ve also done some fishing and cooking. I capped rune-crafting, artificer, and outfitter, but fishing and cooking will take a bit more effort to level them up together. I was excited to fish up some flowering cherry trees, but they don’t look great in my desert dimension (housing).

Happy gaming, and have a wonderful weekend.

Rift: Expansion Packages = Level To 60

loyalty rift imageTrion posted their Rift: Nightmare Tide expansion packages today, causing some stir with some of the offerings, including an instant auto-level to 60 for the two most expensive packages.

Some are saying the 60 won’t be available separately, but that’s naive.

Storm Legion is an albatross. The higher level terrain is gorgeous, and there are some good stories and things happening, but the leveling experience is average, and at worst just boring. I really like Rift, and even I didn’t make it through on the first try. This makes it a big stick in the profit river.

The game does proverbially “open up” at Storm Legion level cap, though.

According to reports, the auto-level brought a lot of players back to WoW for the upcoming Warlords of Draenor, and I agree it’s the right move for the health of Rift. Of course there are unfortunate side effects whenever leveling is negated as an achievement.

The expansion packs also include new gear slots for earrings, which appear to make them must-haves for everyone. That situation is unclear. Rift clearly needs a win, and they are playing it risky.

Back To Rift: Personal Journey

I hit 60 last weekend, and already re-subscribed to Rift, so I’ll be blogging Rift for the next six months.

My loyalty boost for patron status put me over a tier (shown in the image above), so there was confetti flying all over my screen, and my bags were flooded with nutty purple gifts, including a flaming owl that’s perfect for my pyromancer.

I finished four or five Expert Dungeons on Monday. I’d like to get as many achievements as I can out of the 60 dungeons while they are still being run, as well as boost my gear somewhat. Storm Legion was difficult at the beginning with mediocre gear.

I’m having a good time. Rift demonstrates at every turn its creativity, its brilliant engineering. I also capped a few crafts. Potions are stronger in Rift than in other MMOs, so my Apothecary has a big effect on my survival. I never use potions except in Rift.

I also participated in the amazing Volan event in Ashora, which was like fighting Godzilla in the open world. I also ran across the in-game lore for the Budgie mounts. An explorer explains they are a rare species from a discovered “pocket plane” of air.

An RP purist has to wonder why the name “Budgie”, and not “Freakish Big Featherpecker” or something. Ok, I admit they look cute, and this sort of creativity is a hallmark of Rift’s style.

Last night I did an unstable artifact event, where you go crazy for a half an hour hunting artifacts in a random zone. It’s like an insane Easter Egg hunt, with collectible artifacts spawning in the hundreds.

My daily artifact tracking potion (a patron perk) was immediately put to use. I filled my bags with artifacts in fifteen minutes in Ashora. When Trion announced unstable artifacts, I thought they were overdoing it, but the activity was actually fun (at least with tracking).

The Rift forums also aren’t logging me out every day like LotRO, so it’s easier to connect with the community and feel welcome. If you’re reading this and haven’t tried Rift, I’d highly recommend trying it. Here’s a refer-a-friend code, although I’m not sure if it gives perks to the referred person anymore.

Leonore’s Referral Code

You don’t have to be on the same shard as me or anything, but if you show up on Faeblight as a new player and mention Kitty Kitty, I’d be happy to make you some nice bags or donate some plat.

And thanks to those who have already given me some of my favorite perks by using the referrals. That’s all for now. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing.

Beorning Combat: Beta Image Leaked

The guy posting a live stream of the closed Elder Scrolls beta was off the chain, but this beta leak is bearly within the bounds of believability. A big thanks to the anonymous tipster from Romania who sent this picture in.

This is the “static electricity” skill tree for the new Beorning class in LotRO, channeling pure energy through the electro-conductive power of loveable fur.

You heard it first here on Kitty Kitty, where the MMO news is hard hitting, sometimes accurate and sometimes not, and whatever other great things we handle between chasing balls and taking naps.

Don’t forget this is 100% bonus XP weekend, with a 25% bonus persisting until the end of September, which was added today in a good PR compromise by Turbine.

Beorning combat image


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