Monday, May 30, 2022

Catching Up

A couple of updates on previous posts today, just to tidy things up a little. I continue to grub around the peripheries of various games, ticking a few boxes here, indulging a whim there. It keeps me amused but it isn't creating a lot of fresh ideas for posts about gaming. 

This might well be the least gamey I've felt for a couple of decades. Most of my time seems to go either on playing with the dog or doing things around the house and garden. The weather is fairly good and it's nicer to be outdoors doing physical stuff than inside, going digital. It won't last. We'll get some rain soon enough and suddenly sitting in a chair staring at a screen will seem like a much more attractive option.

I've been plugging away dutifully at my Overseer Missions in EverQuest II and I've finally managed to acquire enough Celestial and Fabled quests to fill my ten-a-day quota. It's not quite that straightforward, since some of the Celestials take a little over a day to complete and some equally extraordinary length of time on cooldown but most days I only have to fill in a couple of slots with Legendary missions to make up the shortfall.

The slightly disappointing part, after all the effort I've put in, is that now I've been able to inspect the full loot table, including the Celestial Bonus Chests, there don't seem to be any Fabled weapons, armor or jewellery. There's only Legendary, which tops out at 295 Resolve. 

That's still very useful and upgrades much of what I had from questing but I'm sure there were Fabled items in the previous seasons and those were another five or ten points of resolve above the Legendary. 

Of course, it's all somewhat notional when I'm not actually doing any adventuring. I don't think I've swung a sword or cast a spell in EQII for the best part of a couple of months, even though I log in at least once every day, often two or three times. It does sometimes make me wonder why developers bother creating any old-school adventure content at all. I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer the games without it.

Okay, no I wouldn't, but it is interesting just how long a diet of log-in dailies and setting missions can hold not just my loyalty but also my attention these days. I think I burn out faster on actual adventure activities than I do on the background maintenance. It's no wonder things like World of Warcraft's Garrisons had such appeal for a certain demographic. I fear I might be part of it.

Partly, as must be obvious, the appeal for me comes from working out the mechanics and figuring out just how these things operate. I've mostly got the hang of the latest Overseer season now but I would still like to know just what effect, if any, levels have on the system. 

Overseer xp is painfully slow but I've inched my way to the mid-point of the five-level range. I can't say I've seen any difference. I'm guessing it's nothing more than a qualifying pre-requisite for the next season but even that's a guess. I've always been maxed on the season before so I don't have any direct knowledge of whether you have to hit the cap on the last season before you can do the next.

The other mmorpg I'm still notionally playing is Guild Wars 2, although there, for the first time since they were added not that long after launch, I have finally fallen off the Daily roundabout. There was a while when the puppy made it difficult to get the dailies done every day and somehow that seems to have broken the habit. I could easily find time to do them every day again now but often I just can't be bothered. 

Surprisingly, that doesn't mean I'm not playing at all. I logged in this afternoon to do some more of Living World Season One. I was hoping to find out if we ever get to see any more of the old Lion's Arch but I was also curious to revisit the introduction of Marjory Delaqua. (I'd completely forgotten, naturally, that we all got a doohickey at the conclusion of the original outing that lets you replay the whole thing any time you like.)

After I'd played through the Dead End chapter I was even more curious to compare my feelings today with what I thought about it the first time round, when we were first introduced to the concept of a 1940s film noir detective agency in a 21st century fantasy mmorpg. I had a vague recollection that I'd been a lot more impressed back in 2013 than I was with the rerun nine years later.

In fact, it turns out I barely mentioned. it. I reviewed the Dragon Bash event in full but consigned the story to a single paragraph, where I summed it up as "Good, on the whole". I was considerably more generous towards the Raymond Chandler pastiche back then than I would be if I was reviewing it now, saying it "worked surprisingly well".

This time around I found the writing unconvincing and the voice acting labored. Marjory has always sounded downbeat but on her debut she comes across as just bored. I think it's supposed to convey world-weary cynicism but it just made me feel she wasn't interested either in her work or life in general.

As for seeing more of LA, sadly that didn't happen. It's back to the main plaza, where they haven't even covered the body of the Charr representative, much less moved it to a more suitable resting place. I carried on with the storyline until I got to the part where you have to complete events in Bloodtide Coast to fill a progress bar, at which point I lost patience and gave up. 

For now, anyway. I don't hold much hope that I'll get to see any more of the old, pirate version of LA in the rest of this revamped episode but I'll probably carry on to the end all the same. It is a bit of a nostalgia trip, after all.

And finally, My Time At Sandrock. Bizarrely, there was a news item about the game at NME earlier today. I really wasn't expecting that. It suggests the series has something of a following, since the thrust of the piece is that Sandrock is already more popular than Portia, even in Early Access. 

As I type, MTAS stands at #83 on the Steam chart, one place above Cyberpunk 2077. Just over twelve thousand people are playing but the peak so far is not far off double that.

I've been playing too, but so far I've only notched up about three hours, mostly because it can be a bit of a struggle at times. Nothing to do with the gameplay, which is identical to Portia and a lot of fun. The main problem is loading and transitions. It can take several minutes to get into the game and a couple to move from one location to another within it; opening any window - inventory, map, options - takes thirty seconds or so.

At first I thought it might be yet another problem with my machine and it still might be but there's a note in the latest patch notes saying "Optimization is a high priority" so I 'm hoping it's them, not me.

As soon as I can play comfortably I'll be racking up those hours, I'm sure. At least, I will when it starts raining.

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