Tag Archives: preview

Weekly Wyrm: Trion Livestream, Devilian Etc.

Devilian Screenshot

This week I finished part one of Life is Strange, got halfway through Act 2 of Diablo 3, went from level 35 to 55 in Guild Wars 2, and played some Devilian Beta.

I’m not motivated to advance past level 30 in Devilian. The beta characters will be wiped before launch, which is expected by the end of the year. So I focused on watching the Friday official livestream.

Drewcifer (producer for Devilian NA/EU) mentioned not wanting to launch against Star Wars, and also implied a reluctance to go against all the current big releases this month in November.

Since Star Wars ep. 7 is December 18, and Battlefront is this coming week on the heels of Fallout 4 and Black Ops, this kitty guesses Devilian in 3-4 weeks after Thanksgiving.

Drewcifer said a new super-momentous producer letter will be released in the coming days, to be discussed next Friday on the next livestream. So I’d guess we get a release date.

Trion also mentioned some new team members on Devilian. I’ve started working on a newbie guide, but I’m just trying to learn the game myself at this point. So we’ll see.

Anyone can supposedly join the beta this weekend by buying the $20 starter pack.

Victoria Voss said if you’re interested in streaming Devilian, please contact them via the forums, and they will help you get set up.

Drewcifer said there was nothing they can do about the gender-locked classes, which is the most criticized feature at this point. The devs said there is no chance of doing opposite genders for each class, but they mentioned a possibility of adding variations of classes with the opposite gender.

More classes are coming to Devilian in the coming months, which is more than Elder Scrolls Online can say 18 months after launch. One new class was previewed recently, and it’s a great addition to the female selection.

The two current female options are cute and cuter, so the bad girl theme is a really good idea, as is melee. For the sake of the game, a wizard or ranger type for the guys seems even better.


Rift


In the Rift livestream, the devs mentioned they are bringing the Sparkle Quest back, along with Rift patch 3.5, which will include Fae Yule. Last year’s Sparkle Quest was a weekly where you did all sorts of Rift content, and you could get a random piece of tier gear.

This time will not be a weekly that turns all players magically into insane hamsters. You can only do it once for a tier 3 piece. You’ll be able to choose if you want DPS/heal or tank gear. It’s still random between those two types. No weapons this time. Only armor and accessories.

Patch 3.5 will also bring upgrades to PvP gears, PvP convenience improvements, and a button on the crafting panel that lets you jump directly to the correct component to buy in the store. Now that’s some seasonal joy!

Also, all mounts can now be made amphibious, but they still need to be unlocked. The devs went to great efforts to do this, and they need fat paychecks for their NorCal rent. Trion is also hiring, but they apparently need lots of senior and director people.


Personal



This week I was also reading and uploading new versions of my books to stamp out typos. It’s depressing that I made so many mistakes in my final attempt to be perfect. The editor has been flogged.

At least two succubus-focused reviewers may be looking at my books soon, so I’m also marketing more towards the succubus theme at this point. I’m advertising for that on a super-secret bad girl blog.

It’s secret, but I have 750 followers on that blog. How does that happen? Believe it or not, video games are not the most popular online topic.

Today I tried to make sushi. I made the rolls ok, but the rice tasted horrible. I’m still burping up that fake crab leg crud. The sweet potato roll was more promising. I’ll try to do better next time, senpai.

Happy Friday, and happy gaming.


Sympathy For The Devil: A Look At Devilian

Devilian characterToday I signed up for the Devilian beta (I think), navigating a number of broken buttons and website errors.

Trion’s ship looks creaky, with lots of hate in recent Devilian commentary. Devilian is Trion’s new effort to bring another Asian MMO to the west.

A lot of gamers will never play another Trion game after the bitter free-to-play experience in Archeage. I’ve always thought the best of Trion, but they’ve fallen.

Like angels.

I spent some hours watching videos and reading articles on Devilian. This Korean action RPG seemed random at first, maybe a gap-filler in Trion’s game stable. This is far from reality. Scott Hartsman has a plan.

(And so does Celestrata aka Sara Brennan from Turbine, who apparently now is a Trion employee. Congrats!)

As Trion’s spokesperson said in the Gamespot interview with Trion, the “hook” for the game is the social content. The dungeons, raids, guilds are very robust, along with world bosses, guild alliances. There is an aggressive gift-giving system. It pays to be popular.

MMORPG mentioned an Abyssal Tower Tournament. This massive tower has 100 floors, and each level of it gets progressively harder. The farther you go within, the more loot and rewards you get. It’s competitive PVE, with the people who get the farthest and the fastest getting the most rewards on the leaderboards.

I love public dungeons like this. There are also Rift-type events that spawn landscape monsters.

MassivelyOP reported that Scott Hartsman was deeply impressed with Devilian’s social features. So it seems Devilian plans to succeed with the same formula that helped Rift succeed: a heavy emphasis on grouping up both planned and unplanned.

Scientific studies show that grouping up releases pleasure chemicals in the brain, which is devilish in itself, Manugo-esque. It’s no accident that the Trion team identified these strengths of Devilian and chose to publish the game. I hope it’s successful. (And I hope I can get a beta invitation so maybe I can write a new guide.)

Here are some more features of Devilian, gleaned from the above linked sources as well as an excellent post by DMKano in the MMORPG forums.

  • Similar to Diablo 3, but is first and foremost an MMO.
  • Quest driven game with a story-line.
  • You can spec many ways to customize your character.
  • End game has alternate advancement.
  • Your equipment can also level up later on.
  • You can break down loot and use it to craft.
  • You’re a devilian–a half-human, half-devil shifter.
  • Guilds can level up and bestow perks on their members.
  • Guilds can form alliances to fight world bosses or defend against enemy guilds.
  • Yes, there are guild wars, completely consensual.
  • Rift-style instant adventures called eternal hunting grounds.
  • You are surrounded by 100s of players everywhere.
  • Mounts and pets.
  • Socketed gear is similar to Diablo.
  • Collectible card deck system that gives passive bonuses.
  • Can be played casually (i.e. 15 minute popcorn) to hardcore.
  • 4 classes – Berserker, Elementalist, Assassin and Gunner
  • Each one has three specialization trees.
  • PvP 20v20 and 3v3 matches.

This game might appeal to me. I liked Aion for quite a while. It doesn’t take much to ruin a game for me though. I quit playing Guild Wars 2 when I found out my main (Guardian) was destined to become a ‘Dragonslayer’ (the new advanced class.)

Imagine if every western game featured giant pandas because EVERYONE loves pandas. Pandas sell games. Everyone wants to fight huge evil pandas, right?! That’s how I feel about dragons.

Devilian has only four gender locked classes, and apparently it puts a hundred players on the screen at once, to underscore how generic you are.

This is concerning, but maybe it’s par for the course for today’s action RPG players. I wouldn’t know. The release of Devilian is planned before end of 2015. We’ll have to wait and see.

I’m still cheering for Hartsman and Trion, in any case.


More Reading


Devilian Official Website
MMORPG Player Write-Up On The Korean Beta (Recommended)
MMORPG Article


Elder Scrolls Online: Beta Impressions

elder scrolls onlineMassively is reporting that the Elder Scrolls NDA has dropped for almost everyone.

Ironically, I just wiped Elder Scrolls Online from my drive, and I re-subbed to World of Warcraft.

For one thing, WoW is fully translated into Spanish. Elder Scrolls Online is apparently scorning Spanish, despite Skyrim supporting it. The main reason I’d rather play WoW is story and immersion, but I’ll get to that.

Here are my impressions. For eye candy, skip down for screenshots. I played through all three of the ESO faction prologues and partway through the three zones after. My highest level was 7 or 8.


Things I really liked:


The graphics and textures. The art of this game (on ultra settings) is fabulous. The textures are beautiful. The water is beautiful. I want to play this game just to see the architecture, the sea, and the ashen landscape of Morrowind again.

Someone said the palette in Morrowind was too dull, but as a gallery-exhibited artist and painter for the last 20 years, I felt the brown and grey palette of Morrowind was a thing of perfection. I constantly wanted to stop and take screenshots, and I marveled at the architecture.

Unfortunately, I have no screens of this due to the NDA and watermarking in the beta.

Music. The music is excellent, especially in Morrowind. I’ve been listening to music from the original Morrowind game almost every day at work, and while the ESO music isn’t Jeremy Soule, I don’t care. I enjoy the ESO score. The music track transitioning and switching system works well.

The combat. Combat is visceral with lots of active blocking and dodging. I played mostly sword and board as a Dragon Knight. I found both sword and board and two-hander satisfying, although not very balanced.

I liked my “get-over-here” pull skill, but not as much as the same skill with my WoW death knight. The animations in WoW are still pretty much better than everything, so this isn’t a valid criticism.

Lots of female leads. Everywhere you turn in ESO, there are strong female leaders and quest-givers. I really noticed this. I really appreciated this. I’m also super-thrilled that Ellen Page came out as gay today, so your mileage may vary.

Different start areas for factions. This can’t be taken for granted anymore. It adds great replayability, and it’s the hallmark of a highest quality MMO.

On the other hand, by breaking the factions with the pre-order perk (any race any faction, doesn’t matter), and declaring you can play the stories of the other factions later by a mystical twist of fate, they’ve weakened the sense of faction identity.

Character creation. It’s solid, with lots of races and looks to choose from. The front and rear shaping tools are far out. Like another reviewer mentioned, I would have liked more cosmetics, like lips, independent from overall facial looks.

More exploration and puzzles. The KTR (kill ten rats) quest isn’t prominent. You’re playing along, and suddenly there is a puzzle to solve. Heavy phasing is used to create a sense of the world changing. These are good things, although players have reported grouping glitches and difficulties.

The beta questionnaire asked the right questions. Zenimax wanted to know if I liked the NPCs. They wanted to know about the friend factor in the game. They wanted to know if I felt an emotional connection to the story. They asked about immersion.

They’ve got the right concepts, and they’re trying to do the right thing, but the game isn’t quite connecting yet for me personally. This doesn’t matter. I think Elder Scrolls Online will be a financial success in the long term and appeal to lots of players.


Things I didn’t like:


Long load times. They say they’re working hard on this, but until then bring a book, a movie to watch, or some nail polish.

No nameplates. The UI is invisible in ESO, as much as possible. The option for nameplates overhead was greyed out in the first two betas I played, then totally gone in the most recent beta.

This is horrible. I couldn’t distinguish between players and NPCs. I couldn’t find vendors I needed. Names of people create immersion by creating ideas of those people in your head.

Sometimes I forgot the name of my own character. That’s a fail. It was nice though not to see the names of other players: “Drizzrit”, “Fartwrecker”, etc. An option isn’t too much to ask for.

Can’t mouse over skill bar. You don’t have a mouse pointer in normal mode, and your skill bar is gone like everything else. You can’t see your skills out of combat. So you have to go into your skills panel in order to see what skills you actually have slotted where, and you need to memorize them.

Quest tracker limited to one quest. The game is buggy, which may have caused the devs to dumb down the tracker temporarily. Tracking one quest at a time, and managing constantly which one you’re tracking (in the last beta) was frustrating.

I hope for the sake of the pre-orderers that this and the load times get fixed, along with everything else. Or, maybe this is another misguided way to remove interface, causing players to wander around following random markers on the overhead compass instead of the tracker. I hope not.

100% Voiced = Poor Immersion. As in SWTOR, 100% voice leads to minimal information received from NPCs. This leads to a lack of information presented on the setting you’re in. This means it’s hard to be immersed. This leads to critics saying the world seems empty.

Low setting-immersion. You know the cinematics you see in WoW when you create a new character? A narrator introduces the starting zone to you, with a short blurb on local politics. This is good.

Settings often lost me in ESO, although Zenimax revamped the world maps so they are easier to read. I also like the map art style.

Disjointed, unemotional story. You meet friends as soon as you get into the game world, but you don’t care about them, and they don’t really care about you. If they do, it isn’t believable.

Maybe a cinematic will be in the finished product that evokes a gruesome thing like the opening of Kingdoms of Amalur. They need to show your character’s soul being torn from her body and sucked into a machine with lots of pain and screaming.

Then maybe your homies show up to take care of your sweats and fevers, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling. There isn’t even a feeling of camaraderie or danger in the starting prison escape sequence, which drags on too long in my opinion.


Conclusion


Here’s the irony. Zenimax slashed and purged the interface with grand zealotry to prove their concept. There’s nothing on the screen to stop you from seeing the beautiful world, and it feels a little like a facade.

For me, World of Warcraft with all of its panels, popups, and minimap gidgets is more full of life than ESO.

With quest text, an NPC in the game can persuade you, cajole you, and threaten you using your character name. Voice-over can’t handle your character name, so it’s more generic, and often voice actors don’t employ much emotion, maybe because it ends up sounding faked.

In the quest-texted Death Knight storyline I played last night in WoW, I was forced to kill innocent civilians, to turn humans into undead to serve the Lich King, and to kill a hostage of my own race who begged me to wake up from my death and mind control and realize who I am.

She remembered me, called me by my elf name, and referred to my gentle elf past. Then I killed her. This one prologue was a more emotional and compelling storyline than anything I saw in the fully-voiced Elder Scrolls Online.

Do I think ESO will flop? No. The game is really fun, creative, and has great combat, which is enough for most Elder Scrolls and MMO players. I think the launch will be sketchy on PC and possibly horrible due to technical issues, but the game will pull through eventually like SWTOR with the benefit of release on three platforms.

I look forward to paying and playing–at some point.

A few screenshots. Thanks for reading.

elder scrolls image 1
elder scrolls online screenshot