Tag Archives: screenshots

Weekly Wyrm: Rift Dungeons Deep

The game blogging trend for 2015 is the travelogue format, as Keen mentioned in a recent post. The kitty is going to try this style.

First, the news!


LotRO: Plans for 2015


This week LotRO put out its 2015 plans. These plans remind me of an old Sesame Street children’s story called Greedy Grimes, from 1972. Yes, this kitty is an old kitty.

As I remember the story, Greedy Grimes was a fisherman. He never threw anything back. He kept fishing up junk out of the sea and piling it all onto his bad ship Sloppy Slop. He piled fish, old tires, pianos, cars, and everything he could hook until his ship became a mountain of junk, and it sank.

If you’re an MMO gone to F2P, this might be your metaphor.

I agree with Justin Olivetti that the LotRO LI system failed in the beginning, but Turbine has never been willing to give it the heave ho. Adding onto it makes it worse, and this is the top item on the 2015 bucket list for LotRO–another opportunity for store monetization.

To be fair, players no longer have to toss their legendary items anymore. So the new plan is the result of that trade-off. The strategy of alt advancement instead of level advancement is also a good one.

Other 2015 LotRO goals include new instances, which should have been at the top of the list, and then developing server transfer tools to accommodate merges. LotRO had been teasing a new PVMP map for years, so this is unbelievable even for people who want a new PVMP map.

We’ll just have to see how LotRO goes. Turbine has a creditable history of keeping things going. I hope Trion moves forward with such a history. On to Rift.


Rift: Dungeon Delving


This week I successfully pugged five of the six Nightmare Tide expert dungeons. I scraped together a few upgrades over my “world gear”, but I have a lot more dungeon running to do. My hit score is up to 950 from 800. I can supposedly do raids at 1000, but my DPS is lagging more than my hit.

I have L65 Stormlock and Pyromancer DPS builds now, and I’m switching between them based on fight mechanics. The weekly sparkle quest for a random piece of T1 raid gear is going another week, so I’ve spent the most time, again, working for that.

In my first week of traveloguing, I made a rookie mistake, losing a lot of screenshots due to pressing the wrong key! Silly kitty. So I don’t have anything from the rare Draumheim zone event on Thursday, where over 300 high-level players showed up at one spot early in the morning, crippling the server.

Some complained they got no achievement. I got mine.

I also jumped into PvP, although I’m trying to get better gear first. The highlight was also on Thursday, where the Defiants shut down the opposing Guardian team, and I earned over 100 achievement points for ten minutes of focus-firing with DPS.

rift mmo screenshot

The cosmetic outfit of the week goes to this guy, who went the extra distance and transmogrified both of his weapons into fish.

rift mmo screenshot

This last screen is from a remote tower in the Dendrome (level 59-60 Storm Legion zone). I was hunting for artifacts. I spotted a rare monster spawn inside a tower. I killed him and went up the tower to find a ritual room at the top.

This image is iconic from Storm Legion, but I never knew who she was. Apparently it’s a mystery also to the cult priestess in the image, who begs the woman in the stained glass window to give her a divine clue or sign.

rift mmo screenshot

That’s all! Like I said, I was bad with the screenshots, so I have no dungeons. Maybe next time. Until then, happy gaming with whatever you’re playing!


Weekly Wyrm: Happy New Year: 2015

Even though daily visits are steadily decreasing, this was a good year for Kitty Kitty Boom Boom. Per the 2014 WordPress annual report:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 67,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Thanks to everyone who visited and commented. Thanks also to a couple super-bloggers who are linking this blog. By far the most popular post is still Basic Newbie Guide To Playing Rift.

So it’s fitting that I finished the year playing Rift. After a hiccup transitioning from the Gaboro Reef zone into Draumheim, and then completely burning out on art and fiction writing over this last weekend, I pushed through this week and hit 65.

I’ve also capped some crafts, and I’ve cobbled together the hit score I need to start running expert dungeons. Nightmare Tide has turned into a great expansion. There is just so much to do, and so much quirky fun.

I thought Nightmare Tide would be like LotRO’s Mirkwood expansion: a smaller followup to their first grand expansion attempt. Except for the disjointed main story line (or lack thereof, preferring more episodic local narrative), Nightmare Tide is better.  It’s just in the next generation: robust housing, minions, grouping events, complex gearing, playstyle weeklies, faction dailies, instant adventures, chronicles, etc.

I hope this means great things for Rift’s future. I ponied up my share of funds in this last year, almost as much as I spent on my LotRO lifetime sub.  So Trion’s tricks and traps are working well for them.

Tonight I fiddled with my pirate-themed dimension, since my erstwhile minions are hauling in staircases and marble blocks and things. My favorite is my new Draumheim lamp! Here’s the lamp, along with a few other screenshots.

These screenshots are from my last 24 hours of playing, doing different activities. Long live Rift.


Rift Screenshots 2014


My old character selfie was from right after launch, so here’s an update for Leonore. This is in the crafting center of Choreburg, city of Draumheim.

rift mmo selfie leonore screenshot

This is a really cool outfit theme of a guy at a pickup Nightmare Rift raid tonight. His ranger beast companion is a raptor thing. This raid was on the landscape: just giddyup and join in. Rift’s outfits have steadily gotten quirkier and more diversified.

rift screenshot indian outfit

Artifact hunting sent me climbing mountains of coral in Goboro Reef, which is the most multi-leveled and challenging gathering location ever, but rewarding. I ended up on a spiny spire over the Atragarian Well.

rift screenshot mmo goboro reef

And my new lamp! It’s a beauty, but it doesn’t fit into my rustic Ethian huts. I s’pose I could build a palace in my spare time, among all of my other grand goals in life.

rift screenshot draumheim lamp dimension

I’ve spent the most time grinding zone invasions for sparkles, a Yule event quest that will award a T1 gear piece. As I mentioned in my last post, these events pull in multiple cross-shard pickup raids thanks to Rift’s at-will shard-hopping system. Here is a boss in Tarken Glacier. He’s a little overwhelmed.

rift mmo screenshot zone invasion

That’s all. Thanks for reading, and happy holidays.


Nightmare Tide: Livestream And New Screens


Commentary On Today’s Rift Livestream


Massively posted a Nightmare Tide vs. Warlords of Draenor poll today, and Rift did surprisingly well at 29% vs. 44% of readers polled. WoW players may read elsewhere, or maybe they don’t know how to read, but the Rift devs surely feel good about this.

Daglar and Simon were jovial and confident in the Livestream this afternoon. They mentioned a few times that they’d seen concerns about NT’s readiness, and said straight out that a decision would soon be made, and they weren’t afraid to move the date.

Livestream Highlights

  • The new unified currency will be earned in dungeons, PvP, and variety of different weekly quests that target different types of playstyles. This currency can buy you raid gear. At least, that was what I heard said. There is a weekly cap on currency earned.
  • Instant Adventures will be in Goboro Reef only. This is a good idea. They really aren’t needed in every zone, especially as the game ages.
  • Not too many new cosmetics due to focus on three new armor sets: open world, dungeon, and raid.
  • Four new dungeons and two revisits with new mechanics.
  • Four new dimensions at launch: one is Shadow Scion (NT booster pack), and the other three are created by the Dreamweaver profession. It’s great to see support for crafting like this instead of making them store-only.

At one point, Daglar’s tongue seemed to slip, and he seemed to say that F2P is the devil, but I doubt that Daglar is possessed by an evil F2P demon that now controls him like a puppetmaster.

Since Daglar is a demigod, he should be immune to mind control.

The Rift expansion is now in open beta, and it’s my understanding this means the NDA has dropped. Here are some beautiful screenshots showing a few expansion areas (on ultra settings). I was most interested in the overall art, textures, colors, and design.

Killjoys continue pecking at this expansion for its watery-ness, but only a small percentage is underwater.


Screenshots


Goboro Reef: Above Water

Goboro Reef: Below Water

Draumheim: Barnacle Texture

Draumheim: Margle Palace


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