Thursday, July 11, 2019

What I'm Playing - And What I'm Not

I missed a day posting the day before yesterday, due to circumstances both foreseen and unforeseen. I had my second in-hospital chemo session, which only took up the morning, but then the car broke down on the way home. It stopped right on a busy junction and I had to get out and push it into a nearby car park. Not exactly what the doctor would have ordered.

With great good luck Mrs Bhagpuss managed to get it going - just about - and with even greater luck we were only about a quarter of a mile from the garage we usually use. Mrs Bhagpuss managed to limp it in and the mechanic diagnosed a shot clutch. It was set to take a couple of days to replace in the end they got it done a day early.

I felt somewhat out of it that day. My hands were affected and typing was a bit unpredictable, although it didn't stop me commenting on a bunch of blogs, so I decided to skip a day. It's not like we're in Blaugust after all.

Yesterday, when I was a couple of paragraphs into this post, we got the call to pick up the car. When I got back a couple of hours later I read the news about Daybreak and Amazon, which looked a lot more interesting than what I had planned (this post, so I'm really selling it.).

I thought I'd do a little "what I'm playing" number. I always consider these to be fillers although for many bloggers they seem to be much more like regular features. It might be useful for me, anyway, because some days I'm really not quite sure what I'm doing and everything seems to be even more random than usual.

The MMORPGs I'd consider myself to be actively playing this month:

Guild Wars 2
EverQuest II
Riders of Icarus
Secondhand Lands
Final Fantasy XIV

Games I thought I'd be playing but don't appear to be:

Star Wars: The Old Republic
Secret Worlds Legends
Black Desert Online

Games I keep telling myself I should be playing but never do:

Dragon Nest (the mobile version)
Villagers and Heroes (mobile and PC cross-platform)
Occupy White Walls

Games that are nagging me to play them but which I am resisting:

World of Warcraft
Elder Scrolls Online

Anything not on one of those lists is probably out of luck, although FFXIV would have been nowhere near any of them a week ago and now look at it.

 Riders of Icarus

As far as time spent goes, Riders of Icarus is probably getting the most hours logged. It's the first game I fire up most days. I'm very keen to hit all 31 this month for the login rewards. They are without doubt the best I've seen anywhere.

This morning I got a Legendary mount, my first. The other login Legendary Familiar I got was a combat pet only, because you can't really ride around on the back of a maid. Actually, I wouldn't put anything past MMO devs but in this case they've restrained themselves.

The mount in question turns out to be an inflatable dolphin of the kind you see people drifting out to sea on at holiday resorts before being rescued by the coastguard, hopefully at considerable personal expense. At first I thought it was just a ground mount but then it occured to me it might float over water like a skimmer in GW2.

I happened to be in Divinity Shore, the fishing beach, so I tried that out and the dolphin, whose name is Black Dooly (might be its species, actually), promply poofed, dumping me in the water. I took it for a spin around the Hakanas Highlands and after a while I noticed it was floating in the air whenever I rode it over a drop.

Turns out not only is Black Dooly a flying mount, it has a huge ceiling of 1200 meters, making it by far my best performer, Vulkanus the dragon being a distant runner-up at 450 meters. I'm just beginning to hit the point where the game takes off - literally - so it couldn't have come at a better time.

The more I play Riders of Icarus, the more I like it. I'm wary of making it sound better than it is because it's very much what you probably expect it to be. It's currently the game I'm enjoying playing the most, though, so there will be more posts about it, at least until I inevitably stop playing suddenly with no explanation or comment and don't mention it again for months, if ever.

 Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 has seen a resurgence of interest chez Bhagpuss almost entirely off the back of Dragon Bash. I like most of the activities the event has to offer, the achievements are largely achievable and there are some rewards I quite want.

I've finished the metas on one account and I'll get them both done on a second account before the event ends. I've ditched the third account for the duration to prevent burnout but I did log in the 4th, free to play, account to get a few AP there. I've particularly enjoyed the mount race (ironic, considering my well-documented loathing of mounts in GW2).

Dragon Bash ends next week but its immediate replacement is the very quick return of the World Boss Rush event. I really didn't do this event justice last time it was around but it's exactly the kind of thing I enjoy and this time there are significantly improved rewards, including tiered community targets, which should keep the whole fizzing.

I'm very happy to see that someone at ANet has finally recognized the importance of giving people plenty to do between Living World instalments. Shame it took them nearly seven years to work out what every other MMORPG seemed to understand from the get-go but better late than never.

EverQuest II

EverQuest II gets played most days. I have a ton of stuff to do there, not least finishing the Signature Questline from Chaos Descending, something I still seem to be subconsciously avoiding. I'm on the final step, too, but that step is, as they say, a doozy.

As has happened before, in commenting on one of Telwyn's posts about a bottleneck in EQ2 I did some research that told me stuff I didn't know. As a result I took another long look at my Berserker's gear and now I have some kind of plan on further improvements. That needs work.

As I mentioned yesterday, I might even go back to Test and pick up a couple of questlines I never finished - or I might start them on Live. That would be a project because one of them is sixty steps long and took me weeks the first time around.

Secondhand Lands

Secondhands Lands is my EQ substitute right now. I log in and grind some mobs to fill a quest quota. Now that I'm in areas where the creatures are aggressive I have to find a safe spot and pull singles carefully, which is something few games made after about 2006 require you to do. It's very satisfying.

I got a large number of hits to my original post on the game after Massively:OP gave me a lovely plug in the piece they did off the back of the tip I sent them. No comments though and I don't know if it's resulted in anyone actually downloading and playing the game. It was interesting to see the effect on numbers here from a main article on M:OP as compared to a mention on Syp's Global Chat column, which barely registers.


Final Fantasy XIV came out of nowhere. Like Syp (him again) I had pretty much decided I would never play this again. I even commented to that effect on the post. I haven't even logged in for any of the recent free welcome back weeks. Then I read about the Trust system (Endgame Viable. whose post I entirely agree with, is just the latest to weigh in on the topic) and next thing I knew I was patched up, in and playing.

And enjoying it. As often turns out to be the case, I find the extended free trial version of an MMORPG more to my taste than the full game. cf World of Warcraft. I've been pottering around and leveling up. I'd like to get to the trial cap of 35 and then do a second job.

The Rest

Of the games I'm not playing, the one I really should get back to is SW:TOR. I had absolutely no intention of stopping but there's a specific reason why I'm not playing this month. TOR has a lot of voiceover. It's quite well-voiced and I like to listen to it.

But not while I'm listening to the Cricket World Cup on the radio. There's been a match virtually every day for the last six weeks and it quickly became too annoying to have to keep tabbing in and out to pause the commentary so I could hear the quest dialog. There's cricket all summer with the Ashes coming up so it might be the autumn before I get back to TOR.

SWL and BDO just fell off the radar after their events drew me in. I had plans for both but they faded. I've been watching the entire eight seasons of Monk on DVD in bed on my portable DVD player so I haven't even had the Kindle Fire on for weeks. That's put paid to both Dragon Nest and Villagers and Heroes. I did get as far as recovering my login details for the desktop version but I don't see any characters there so I'm going to have to start again and I can't be bothered right now.

Everything else is thoroughly on the back-burner. I'm undecided about WoW Classic but I imagine I'll resub for a month just to be there. Not expecting to hang around long.

I do have one new (to me) title downloaded and ready to start, Eternal Lands. It's an old game I thought I'd already tried but looking at the screenshots and some video, I don't recognize it at all so I imagine I'm confusing it with something else. I'm trying to resist starting it yet for obvious reasons but when I do there will be first impressions here.

That's where things stand. Next week it will probably all be different. Or tomorrow. Or this evening.

Who needs a schedule? Not me, apparently.


  1. I hope you're feeling better! Chemo?! I'll keep you in my prayers, hope everything goes well.

    I saw the massively post and yours as well, I need to check that little game out. I'm always up for something different, looks interesting. I've mostly been playing stuff with the Mr. lately, we're back to Everquest this week, the call is always there, lol.

    I don't recall seeing you write about Trove, I'm sure you've played it though. I'm messing about with that a bit as a filler on the side, it's easy to hop into much like GW2.

    Your roster looks very similar to mine, I would like to try FFXIV again, one day, lol.

    1. I'm fine, thanks for asking! It's just a follow-up course to be on the safe side after the operation I had back in April, which was very successful, I'm pleased to say. Does mean I've been signed off work for three months over the summer, though, hence the huge uptick in posts.

      I played Trove when it first came out but never really got far. I liked the gameplay but not the graphics. Haven't tried it since - I know it was very successful though. I did think when Gamigo bought Trion's portfolio that Trove was probably the title they really wanted.

  2. I looked at that flying inflatable dolphin screenshot about three times, going "is that", "what the", "no but" etc. until I actually saw you confirming it in the post itself.

    And I'll be honest, I miss your SWTOR stories, they were so entertaining to me. :D But I knew that you can go off a new MMO at any time and somewhat randomly. At least this post makes it sound like there's still a chance of a return!

    1. I love that mount! I really like the toy design mounts of this kind of SEA game. I want one of the giant cats if I can get it. Iprefer these a thousand times over GW2's supposedly "realistic" versions.

      Definitely not done with SW:TOR. I am going to finish both the main storylines I started, eventually. I got interrupted by going on holiday, though, and when I came back and had the cricket on pretty much all day every day TOR just became too disruptive.

      I have often played mmorpgs with speech radio in the background and the game sound and music on. Generally I find they blend really easily. The only two games that it causes problems with are TOR and TSW/SWL. Both of them really sound like radio plays half the time anyway.

  3. I ended up giving Riders of Icarus a go, it seemed very promising except for one very fatal (for me) flaw -- there is no way to invert the mouse y-axis. I mean... What? I literally could not tell you the last game I ran into a game with this option missing. I persisted through for a while (got my first non-tutorial area tame) and then even though the action-mode 'aim' was quite forgiving the frustration levels with the controls were just too high.

    Went and did some googling, apparently has been gone since the thing launched and no word from devs on ever bringing it in. If not here by now, I assume they never will. So MMO-wise, FFXIV is safe for a bit longer. ;)

    1. I've never actually understood what inverting the mouse axis does or why you'd want to do it. I'm guessing it swaps from right to left handed operation? Hang on, let me google it... Hmm. no, apparently it's not that - it's a hangover from the days of flight simulators that people got habituated to.

      There's another, similar thing in RoI that bugs me - it's tab target with clickable hotbars, whichis my perfect UI for MMORPGs, but you have to use the hotbars with a right click not a left. That drives me nuts, not so much because I can't get used to doing it but because after a few hours in RoI I laready have muscle memory on it, so when I swap tp a normal MMO I'm still doing it.

      I spent several hours trying to fix it. Again, there's no in-game option. I managed to change my whole PC so I can flip from lmb to rmb clicks with a function key but the setting gets overidden by the game. So far I'm just putting up with it but I agree these are very simple fixes that should have been in Options at launch.

    2. I didn't even find the right-click to activate issue in my time with the game, I was using hotkeys exclusively with the limited number of skills I'd unlocked. Eventually that would have driven me batty as well though.

      In terms of the y-axis thing and why, there is a pretty great (and short, <5min) video on the subject which quickly talks to the historical reasons and the psychological too. I'll link it below, but the gist of it is:

      Historical: Flight simulators not only impacted players directly, but also developers. Some developers defaulted their own games to inverted-y as a result of this learned behaviour and ended up 'spreading' the preference.

      Psychological: It's about where in your head your sense of perspective/self sits. Most commonly this is the front of your head. From that perspective, the control to look down/up directly correlates. But some people perceive their sense of self, the 'inner voice' located more at the back of their head. Then it flips, to look up you want to pull back. Diagrams in the vid may make this clearer if I've muddled the explanation. ;)

  4. If there’s a feature more MMOs should steal, it’s the Trust system concept. Make it viable for players to solo through group content, make it optimal for players to group through group content.

    People who don’t want to take 30 mins will still be motivated to find others, that motivation means the more group inclined will find each other and *gasp* actually socialize and communicate? while the absolutely uncommited to dealing with other people players will still get gameplay value out of what was previously ignored or begrudgingly, incompetently rushed through with a group they weren’t connecting with either.

    I admire your list of 5 + 11 games. Me, I’m definitely in the flux phase mentioned in your last paragraphs atm.

    1. I think MMORPGs that rely extremely heavily on instanced story content should either have specific, highly accessible, low skill requirement "story mode" versions that can be easily soloed by the least-competent player or provide AI support like the Trust system does to simulate having an actual group. Not only does that give those players access to what is very likely the main reason they bought the game but it also allows more competent players to experience the story at a pace of their choosing before going back to rush it with other people for the inevitable grind. I can't see why anyone would want to support a mode where players going through the story for the very first time would be pressured into skipping the cut scenes that carry the information they need to know, nor why players trying to grind through a dungeon for the hundredth run should be forced by the game to wait for every line of dialog because one new player they're carrying is watching every second.

      Keep the different groups apart. They don't really have that much in common. Some games do it so there's no excuse for the rest.


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