Thursday, December 1, 2022

Getting Settled In

A sure way for me to tell if I'm genuinely excited to play a game or I'm just logging in because I think I might get a blog post out of it is whether I fire the game up right after breakfast, even when I have other things I should be doing instead. That's what happened this morning, so I guess I really am up for the latest EverQuest II expansion, Renewal of Ro, even if I had completely forgotten it was going to launch yesterday.

I did have other things on my mind, of course, not least my winter migration from the upstairs room where I usually play (and write this blog) to the one downstairswith the gas fire and the big window that gets the sun most of the day, making it much easier to heat and keep warm. 

With all the dire warnings of fuel charges escalating out of control plus the sudden change in the weather, meaning it actually feels like winter at last, not late spring, I decided it was no longer tenable to spend most of my time in what is indubitably the coldest, least insulated room in the house. Much of yesterday was spent relocating and reorganizing. 

I'm still not entirely settled in my winter palace. I'm not crazy about sitting with my back to the window, facing a wall, and the table I'm using instead of my computer desk, which is too much trouble to move, is a couple of inches too high for ergonomic perfection. It doesn't help that my ancient swivel chair, the one I inherited from my stepfather, who must have died at least fifteen years ago, while still generally sound and comfortable (The chair, not my deceased relative.), no longer goes up and down like a good computer chair should. 

There's also so much stuff under the table - around four thousand comic books I boxed up to sell years ago but then couldn't find anyone who wanted to buy them, or at least not at a price I was willing to accept - that I can't stretch my legs out straight. I'm probably going to have to come up with a better solution if I don't want to get cramp in the middle of a boss fight.

Then there's the issue of connectivity. Years ago, when we had a new router installed by our ISP, I got them to put it in the upstairs room I was using as a study at the time. That's now Mrs Bhagpuss's craft storage room. You can barely get in the door. It's also right at the front of the house, which means the wifi signal barely reaches the back of the house.

It didn't used to be a problem until I bought a smart TV a couple of months ago. Modern television sets are basically computers, something that had passed me by in the twenty years since I last owned a TV. I did a lot of research before I bought this one and still pretty much got it wrong, to the point that I'm now thinking of buying another. 

The one I bought is nothing much more than an oversized android tablet and like any tablet it needs an internet connection. I knew that when I got it but I didn't realise how inadequate my existing wifi would be for the task. I already had a booster but even that didn't make much difference, so I got a proper router to replace the infamously poor modem/router supplied by my ISP (I'm sure anyone in the UK will be able to guess immediately who that is.)

It turned out to be one of those lucky mistakes. I'd been meaning to improve the wifi for a couple of years but it was always one of those "it'll do for now" situations. The TV brought things to a necessary head and just in time, too, because I really didn't want to have to run yet another 30m ethernet cable through the house. 

Instead, I just put the extender next to where I now sit downstairs and connected it to the PC with a regular, 2m ethernet cable because apparently my desktop PC doesn't do wifi. Of course, the connection it's using now is wireless until those final two meters. Don't tell my computer.

I was curious to see how well it would work compared to the wired connection I've always used until now. The surprising answer is very well indeed. As far as I can tell, it's exactly the same. I literally can't tell the difference. 

I played Noah's Heart last night and EQII this morning and they both felt smooth as butter. Lord of the Rings Online was laggy but when isn't it? Going back to LotRO recently has felt like going back in time a decade and a half, to when mmorpgs and internet latency were synonomous. Seriously, if Standing Stone is a part of Daybreak, can't they borrow some better servers from EverQuest or something? Or at least get some advice on how to fix the problem?

Anyway, I'm kind of getting there, although I still need to do some work before my new lair feels as cosy as it should. The main thing is, I'm warm now and it isn't costing us a fortune.

As for Renewal to Ro, so far it's exactly as expected. I've seen maybe two-thirds of the first zone, done a handful of quests, already replaced two of the items I only equipped earlier in the same session and generally had a very good time. 

Following the standard practice of recent expansions, flying is disabled until you reach a certain point in the Signature questline. There's a lore-apporopriate reason for that, which looks as if it'll feature in the story, somehow. The landscape is fairly flat, anyway, so travelling on foot hasn't presented any problems.

One major departure from the last expansion is that I was easily able to kill the first solo overland named I happened upon. That's something I'd always expected to be able to do - until Visions of Vetrovia, where I never managed to kill a single one. 

There were supposedly solo weekly quests in VoV for overland names -  or"major threats" as they're called - just like in every other expansion since 2014's Altar of Malice, but even by the end of the expansion cycle I still couldn't get any of them below half health before they either killed me or I had to retreat. I'd still love to know what that was all about...

I was so pleased with myself to have triumphed, I took three screenshots; one just before Tickrupt the giant tick bit the sand and two more after, both when the achievement popped and when my merc observed, somewhat sarcastically in the circumstances, "Your demise was the only conceivable outcome.". For once, he wasn't looking at me when he said it.

The real test of the solo-friendliness of the new expansion will come when I reach the point where I have to enter the first dungeon. That can sometimes come as a bit of a slap with a wet fish. I'm optimistic that it'll be fine this time, though. Everything so far seems well-tuned and expansions where the level cap doesn't change do tend to be easier.

Before then, I have a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do . It's only when a new expansion drops that I really realise just how far I've let things slip. It's time to stop hoarding all those rares I stockpiled last year and get on with crafting all the spell and combat art upgrades I never got around to making, for a start. I looked at my Necromancer this morning and realised she still has Apprentice level abilities right across the board.

And that's why it's the Berserker who gets to go first, yet again.

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