Category Archives: RIFT

Weekly Wyrm ~ Devilian Beta Impressions, Etc.

Rift spinderella mount imageThis kitty just got a Devilian beta invite, along with a Rift fall festival announcement, which advertises a “Spinderella” spider carriage.

I haven’t checked in on Trion lately, but they’ve been busy. The Spinderella might be the craziest cool pied-à-terre mount I’ve ever seen in my life.

It looks like a lavish mech-gift to a Drow elf bride from her Deep Gnome husband, to compensate for the nigh-fatal shortcomings later in the bedchamber.

Unlike some other horrible F2P come-and-buy-all-this-stuff advertising I’ve seen recently, the Rift festival blurb also leads with a bit of roleplay and a reference to a well-known satyr character being ready to revel. I often feel Rift writing is weaker than it could be, but this is professional.


Quick Devilian Beta Impression


I played the Devilian beta tonight, and I was impressed. It’s slick, fun enough, and probably worth playing at launch. It’s like a cross between Diablo 3 and Aion, but it’s a little more fun, in that it doesn’t take itself as seriously.

The music is good. The gameplay is fast and fun. You use flash-dodge moves to avoid red circles like in Neverwinter.

The quest panel is brilliant, and the entire interface is really slick. Alt-tabbing is a breeze. Pets seem to be only temporary, so you have to replace them. They offer real perks though, like storage and buffs.

There is an “attendance” panel, where you accumulate perks based on how regularly you log into the game. Quest direction indicators are very well done, as is an autorun feature to get to the next quest, in case you’re confused.

The main shortcoming of Devilian so far is the four gender-locked classes. The gender equality is appreciated, but the female customization options boil down to two options: a short and cute loli gunner, or a tall and cute wizard with bouncy boobs.

So equality, but not. The guys look properly big, bad, and heroic. The girls look like girls. My first loot drop in the game was a corset. I didn’t think boobs could bounce in an over-bust corset, but there it is. Have fun with it.

The writing and lore seem a little sketchy, as do the settings and NPCs, but there’s a somewhat understandable story. The Trion devs vouched on stream for Devilian’s clever writing and humor, so the kitty needs to see more before she starts pissing on everything as usual.

Since Devilian is being streamed, this kitty won’t post screenshots. I might have a full, empathetic review at some point, and I’ll probably play at launch unless I’m just too busy.

I can say I just purchased Diablo 3 a few days ago (finally), and I’d rather play Devilian tonight.


Hearthstone And Diablo 3


This week I pulled my third legendary Hearthstone card from a pack – Bolf Ramshield. It’s a terrible card, but a lot of good dust. I decided Hearthstone is too stressful for popcorn entertainment, so I bought the Diablo 3 combo pack this week.

I was thrilled to find the female Crusader looks and sounds exactly like my LotRO Warden! I thought I’d never see my blonde Elf Warden again, and it’s like she’s living and breathing again in Diablo 3. I need to find a nice spear for her, and I have a feeling there will be Hell to pay.


Video Game Stocks


For various reasons, the stock market also soared this week with Nvidia, Microsoft, Blizzard, and EA all in the green. Microsoft was up 10% today. Like I predicted several months ago, their cloud is going to eat Amazon’s lunch at some point.

Microsoft announced a cloud deal with Akamai last week, which is another stock I picked last spring, along with Equinix.

I also predicted the PC is going to make a comeback. Microsoft announced last week that they are rolling out a big media campaign to advertise the power of the PC, in a joint operation with the big PC makers. We’ll see.

I really hope the fear and nail-biting is mostly over, and I can ignore Wall Street and my investments like a normal human adult. It looks like the market bottom was literally when all of the experts and big names were saying to get out.

Jim Cramer, Carl Icahn, and other big hedge fund guys said the economy could be headed for a disaster a few weeks ago, and everything was going to die in a blaze of fire. It still might, but those guys were buying, and so was I.

I’m polishing my first three book covers and studying popular fantasy novel covers to get a feel for what readers want to see. I’m not putting my name in huge letters, bigger than the title, which is too much ridiculous cult-of-personality narcissism.


Rift: Game Is In Great Shape, Announcement Coming (+ Gaming Stock Commentary)

In response to player concerns today about the future of Rift, community manager Ocho had this to say in the forums:

“So let’s get to some facts:

  • The RIFT Dev team is the largest Dev team I’ve ever worked with in almost a decade of working on triple A MMOs.
  • The team has grown over the last year and a half, and hiring for the team continues.
  • Population in RIFT is strong, lots of people play RIFT and lots of new people continue to start to play RIFT.
  • Profits from RIFT are certainly reinvested in RIFT. AA took 0 devs from RIFT. None, nada, zilch.
  • RIFT is in zero danger. We’re really excited about the future, right now is a great time to be playing or working on RIFT. …
  • We’re not only reusing old content, we’re also developing new content. Keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks, we might be announcing something.”

– Ocho

This is great news, since this kitty has also been a little worried.

This week I capped my rogue alt, and I continue close to picking up a few pieces of raid gear earned for my main by weeklies and dailies instead of raiding. I’m also enjoying the creative and quirky nightmare saga story.

The second act released yesterday. The return of old classic characters doesn’t bring much life to them (so far), and we mostly see them as generic quest-advancers. The third act of the saga also supposedly forces you to do a lot of PvP and NTE dungeons.

I disagree with this design, even if it’s to justify the epic weapon you can theoretically get when it’s all over. There are two main types of players:

  • Players for whom this is just same-old grinding to pad out the saga.
  • Players for whom this is horrible and will spend an entire weekend trying to queue for PUG DPS and beat five dungeons, or queuing PvP and hating Trion the entire time.

Just doesn’t seem like a winning scheme to me.


Video Game Stocks


Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft (MSFT) both had solid earnings reports this week, so hopefully these will be long term for my paltry little portfolio, and I can ease up on my nine-month quest (right before the stock market goes off a cliff, possibly.)

How can Microsoft compete with Apple and Google? By uniting your PC in an ecosystem with your other devices and monetizing by applying what they’ve learned from Free-To-Play video games. I plan to buy a Lumia soon. My Samsung tablet completely fails to recognize my Windows 7 PC.

You’ll also be able to stream XBOX to PC with Windows 10, or stream console-quality games to your PC without an XBOX using the cloud, which Microsoft demonstrated yesterday.

If you need any more good news for Microsoft, China announced this week that it will now allow game consoles to be sold in China after a 15 year ban. This is probably more better for Sony and Nintendo.

My third tech pick is still Equinix (EQIX), a cloud pipeline and data center owner. They are allied with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, which I hope will eventually win against Amazon’s huge cloud. Who wants to trust Amazon with their entire corporate business and security if the other choice is the Microsoft on your PCs?

I also still hold AT&T (T), which is now FCC-approved to merge with DirectTV, with an expectation of leveraging their scale to produce their own competitive over-the-top video streaming service like everyone else.

Nvidia’s (NVDA) stock continues to head into the abyss with PCs and chips, although the stock is super tempting as it dips below $20. The future of virtual reality in video games and in general might see Nvidia as a big player.

As TAGN reported, Blizzard (ATVI) announces results next week on 8/4, followed by an announcement of a new expansion a few days later on 8/6. Interesting.

In the last two quarters, Blizzard reported strong results and the stock popped. Both times I sold and took small profits. The stock might pop again, but right now Wall Street seems to be in a mood to sell any stocks after their results hit print.

Especially if a stock ran up into its earnings announcement.

I would not be betting on Blizzard’s stock to be higher the day after it reports. If ATVI sells off hard, it might be a buying opportunity, especially if the Wall Street boys aren’t completely up to speed with the expansion deal.

Also, if Blizzard is announcing their expansion earlier than normal at Gamescom, then maybe they are saving something even bigger for Blizzcon in November?


Rift Update 3.3 Today: A Casual Bonanza (And Some Stock Market Commentary)

Last week I jumped back into Rift, and I’ve had a good time running dungeons and doing warfronts. I earned the Arch General title for PvP last weekend almost too easily. The old rank 50 is probably trivial these days.

Rift’s 3.3 patch launched today and nose-dived into a crash though. The servers have been down for hours. The silver lining is a 50% compensation bonus to XP, PA, Favor, and Prestige through Sunday.

I’ve never used the word “bonanza” before, but I’m super impressed by this update. Trion is even focusing more on characters and story, bringing that all-important focus to both the new storyline and the new Tarken Instant Adventures.

Cosmologist Mann even has a wonderfully written backstory woven into the update notes! Here are the high points of the update:

  1. New Nightmare Saga storyline starts (new chapters are planned bi-weekly.)
  2. New planar crafting with new crafting rifts.
  3. New featured instant adventures in Tarken Glacier.
  4. New daily rewards and partner-finder for Chronicles, just like for dungeons and warfronts.
  5. New PvP equipment bringing PvPers, like crafters, closer to T2 raid gear.
  6. New shared bank vault.
  7. New awesome dimension stuff (haven’t looked at this yet).
  8. More wardrobe stuff.
  9. Easy-mode tiers for raids.
  10. L60 boosts are now in the store, no need to buy a pack.
  11. Mysterious Travelers have begun appearing throughout Telara. Where did they come from? What do they want? Only time will tell. (A new expansion coming?)
  12. Lots of other stuff.

Full patch notes here.

Trion is clearly favoring casual players with this Rift update (unless the story is brutal and requires grouping, extreme soloing, or raiding, a kick to the face that’s still possible).

Trion is also living up to their mission statement before Nightmare Tide launched: of providing legitimate ways of advancement (almost to parity with raiders, at least close) for all play styles.

I hope it works for them, because it’s the ideal in this kitty’s opinion. While the Rift population seems a little thin, the morale around town is relatively good on the surface. Maybe the kids are off playing Hearthstone and Trove.

If you haven’t played Rift in quite a while, this week might be a good time to jump back in for the XP bonus. I just hope it stacks with my subscription bonus.

There is also a deal to get free patron time by logging in this weekend, but I’m not sure how that works.


Personal – Video Game Stocks


In the last couple weeks during the China crash and Greece fiasco, I bought back into gaming stocks with Electronic Arts, and that has already paid off very well.

I also bought Microsoft on speculation at the breakout from the bottom of the most recent three-month pullback, which started last April after a big jump on good results from Microsoft’s growing cloud business.

Microsoft is really risky, but Sony just plain crashed due to reasons related to debt and borrowing. I can’t get back into Sony. News can’t get worse right now for Microsoft, so maybe it will be better from here.

Why didn’t I get back into ATVI (Blizzard)? I might if it breaks out of its normal plateau pattern. I believe in Blizzard, but the problem is also its debt combined with stagnant revenues. It has a huge amount more debt than EA (due to the Vivendi deal I assume.)

I’m trying to nibble into a position in FXI Hong Kong during the China market collapse right now, which puts me into Tencent, which is a Blizzard investor. I think I said I’d never do Tencent or EA, so I’m officially a hypocrite supporting the evil F2P/cash shop empires in video games.

While I’m skeptical of EA’s sports franchises, in a climate of increasing game company competition combined with ease of entry, I have to like the lock on Star Wars and those sports.

According to Dow Jones Newswire, EA hired Jade Raymond from Ubisoft last week. She’s supposedly helping to develop a Star Wars game that’s different from Battlefront due out in November, as well as leading a team to create a new IP.


Weekly Wyrm: Feb. 21, 2015

Last week I wound up Rift for a while. I have a raid-ready set of gear. I joined a large guild full of really nice people. I also successfully healed several expert dungeons as a Chloromancer for the guild group. They said I was really good!

Those were all of my goals. It’s time to focus on the novels. In recent weeks, I polished off ten years of work on my first two manuscripts. My second book is even better than the first, I think. I brought in more thoughtfulness and philosophy. It’s up to the readers to give the final verdict.

Now I’m trying to finish my third book so I can publish the trilogy all at once. I can’t publish only the first two because the second book throws such a tragic ending and cliff-hanger in the reader’s lap. It’s The Empire Strikes Back on crack.

The third book resolves the main romance arc (not the overall main story arc, which ends in my manuscript for book five, concerning vampires), and also addresses big questions in my head about love and desire.

Is it a good idea to hold love above all things? What sorts of love exist, and how can fictional characters be properly tortured by these sorts of love? Fiction writers are sadists at heart.

I shy away from too much horror. It’s a fantasy, after all. I don’t like books to be too depressing. We have real life for that. We also have old school, when things were more grim, when we had plagues, wars, and fires that destroyed entire sections of cities.

Actually, my books have a stereotypical world-ending plague, lots of fires, and the greatest war of all, the one between good and evil, so never mind.

On that topic, I’m also wanting to get back to the elven spiritual path. I want to read poetry and spend more time in the woods. I’m house sitting out near the mountains in a few weeks. I might have to take a few long walks.

The motivation to make this post was to try Tumblr’s new “EMBED” feature for HTML and Javascript. Surely this can’t possibly work on this free WordPress blog, but if it does, then the GIF files will show below. The question in this kitty’s head is: Why hasn’t anyone done a cats and dogs MMO? Would it be so much more boring than pirates and wizards? You heard it first here on Kitty Kitty.

(Ok, it looks like they give you a link if the script fails. So there you go. As if boys needed more encouragement to act like animals.)

http://thinkthroughtheheart.tumblr.com/post/68887226991/10knotes-kiggor-what-if-your-friends-acted

Weekly Wyrm ~ The Case Of The Missing Muppet Bait

paladin kitty rift screenshotThis week I played the stock market again more than Rift.

Imagine a 24/7 live national cable channel dedicated to favorite MMORPG. The channel features panels of expert commentators and pro players chatting endlessly about the latest patch, the best ways to make money crafting, or the newest builds for PvP or raiding.

That’s CNBC. The stock market is the game, and I’ve watched the channel 5-6 hours a day this week. Yesterday Alibaba, China’s biggest company, made a slew of negative headlines, sending its stock and that of Yahoo (Alibaba’s biggest stakeholder) plummeting.

A commentator (Dan Nathan) today called Alibaba “muppet bait”, meaning a hot new investment vehicle that lures lots of less savvy investors and “dumb money” to buy it, while the professionals are selling.

This is a rather wild accusation in this kitty’s opinion, but maybe I’m bitter because I was one of those muppets. No, not so much.

I could go on for several more paragraphs on this, but the point is that Rift’s patch 3:1 “Storm At Sea” went live yesterday, and it’s got a little bit of everything – except muppet bait.

Sure, there are a few hardly-noticeable buttons on the minion panel for shuffling cards (unlike LotRO’s more aggressive UI store-festooning). There is also the Molten Thresher mount and a few new cool items for your personal housing: bank access and a raid combat dummy.

But overall, there is just a ton of good, free stuff, including a new challenging Chronicle that mirrors the T1 raid, complete with nail-biting boss battles – but in solo/duo mode. I can’t wait to jump in and play this.

Sometimes you feel like a muppet in a Free-To-Play MMO. Sometimes you don’t, and this is one of those times. I’m taking this as a good sign for the continued health of Rift on the downside of the Nightmare Tide financial cycle. I hope Elder Scrolls going F2P doesn’t hurt Rift.

This week I haven’t played quite so much, but I’m leveling my rogue alt a little bit, and I put together a cheap outfit using auction house items and some tangerine dye, which I crafted using my savant Apothecary skills. It’s an arcane paladin look, crossed with a tabby cat. Or maybe a tiger.

I also finally got an awesome dungeon drop: a purple healing trinket! This is the trinket that shoots beams of light to your party and raid to heal them while the combat is raging. I’ve always wanted to feel this special and healy, and now I do!

So thanks Trion for a great patch and for keeping it classy. Happy gaming, whatever you’re playing!