Monday, May 27, 2024

New Lines Now In Stock - No Internet Connection Necessary

Since Inflexion Games (Or "Tencent's Inflexion", as MassivelyOP likes to call them.) chose to make such a priority out of adding an offline mode to Nightingale, I thought the least I could do was try it out, although I can't say it's an update I've been waiting for. 

To be honest, until all the kerfuffle about taking Nightingale offline began, it had never occurred to me that anyone would want to play the game without an internet connection. I never thought it would even be an option. 

Since I started played EverQuest in late 1999, I haven't really made any differentiation between online and offline gaming. If I can't get an internet connection for some reason, I don't play an offline game instead. I do what I can to get back online, and if I find I can't because there's a problem outside of my control, I go and do something that doesn't involve a computer at all, until somebody fixes things.

I'm so used to playing games online, I don't even think about it. Why would I? In the case of Nightingale specifically, in more than a hundred hours of playing I rarely experienced any lag or downtime to speak of. The servers didn't crash, there wasn't much in the way of maintenance and loading times seemed perfectly acceptable. 

Granted, until I got to the central hub near the end of the storyline, I was playing entirely alone, so there wasn't any real need to be connected to the internet but then again I didn't see any reason not to be, either. Once I did get to what passes for an end-game in Nightingale, I was happy to be able to team up with other players so they could carry me through the final instances and fill my coffers with the Essences I needed. If I'd been playing offline I'd have had to do all the hard work myself and where would the fun be in that?

The same patch that brought the Offline changes also added a whole bunch of other stuff, including the game's first holiday-style event and several new NPCs offering quests (Edgar Allen Poe, Joan of Arc and Taliesin the Bard, which tells you about as much as you need to know about what passes for lore in this game.). I'll get to those but it'll have to be online. As of now there's no way to transfer characters between modes and I'm sure as hell not leveling another character up far enough to see the new content.

To play offline you have to roll a fresh character, which is actually quite handy for this post. The update also brought improvements to Character Creation, including new player outfits, body types, and professions. Apparently you can "edit existing character visuals in the character select menu"so maybe I could have checked out the new frocks that way, but I thought I might as well make a new character for offline play and check out the outfits and the mode all at once, even if I had no serious intent to play whatever character I made.

What I might do offline is a bit of building, now and again. It always bugged me a little that you can only have one Abeyance Realm in Nightingale. I wouldn't mind having homes in the Desert and the Swamp as well as the Forest, where I live now. Both of them are a lot more pleasant than they sound. I thought I'd make a character, take a look at the new outfits, then pick an Abeyance Realm that wasn't Forest and see how things went. 

The first thing I realized as I was getting started was that I had no way of knowing which were the new body types, let alone whether they were any better than the old ones. I had no clue which was which. Until today I'd only made one character, back in February, and I can't remember much about it. I did describe some aspects of of the process in a First Impressions post but I didn't list out the full range of possibilities. I can't remember how many there were to begin with, so I certainly can't say how many have been added.

I can say there are a lot now and it does seem to be considerably easier to get a character who doesn't look like Violet Elizabeth Bott chewing a wasp. I didn't bother much with precise adjustments. I said last time that "There were so many possibilities that even thirty minutes spent fiddling with sliders felt like not nearly long enough" and who has the time for that? Mostly I just kept hitting "Random" until I got something I liked.

The addition I was really curious about was the new clothing, anyway. I think there were only three outfits in the original version and I don't recall any of them being all that great. Now there are twice as many, not counting your underwear, which you can still choose to prance around in if you want. And there still aren't any really good choices. Or maybe you disagree. You can see all six in this post and make up your own mind. 

I opted for the military look, one of the new ones and if not the least ridiculous-looking then certainly the most practical. Inflexion claim the new outfits were "very much the fashion at the time", which may be true for whatever alternate dimension the game takes place in but clearly has absolutely no relevance in any timeline known to humanity. I'm pretty sure there were people wearing denim work clothes in the later Victorian era, so why we have to dress up like extras in an end of the pier pantomime beats me, but there you are. That's video games for you.

There are also some new "Loadouts", a fancy name for a very small boost to gear and buffs. I can't imagine having these extremely minor benefits is going to change gameplay in the very early stages to any significant degree and they'll be replaced in a matter of hours, anyway. Still, I suppose every little helps, even if it doesn't help very much.

Other aspects of the character creation process remain as mystifying and bizarre as ever. If there's a reason we need to establish ancestry going back several generations before we can make a character, I'd love to hear what it is. Fortunately, you can randomize that, too.

I tore through the whole thing at a fair old clip, picked Swamp for my Abeyance Realm, took the new Skip Tutorial option and logged in. I got as far as picking a spot for my new home and putting up a cairn to claim it and then I logged out. 

The whole thing took me maybe three-quarters of an hour during which I had no technical problems. Offline, the game played as smoothly as it always has online. It seemed neither faster nor slower, no more responsive and no more sluggish. About the only discernible difference was sound of the fans in my PC whirring away, something I can't recall hearing when Inflexion's servers were doing most of the work. 

It seems unlikely I'll pursue the experiment much further. If I'm going to play Nightingale again I'd rather see what Joan of Arc and Edgar Allen Poe have to say for themselves. Poe is easy to imagine but Joan of Arc is a stretch. 

Maybe when I find out what it is they want I'll come back and report on it. Or maybe not. Perhaps the most instructive part of this whole exercise has been how "done" with Nightingale I feel right now. The curse of Early Access: you get to the end of what there is so far and you feel like it's all there's going to be and maybe all there needs to be. 

Eh. Or maybe I just wasn't in the mood. We'll see.


  1. "I do what I can to get back online, and if I find I can't because there's a problem outside of my control, I go and do something that doesn't involve a computer at all, until somebody fixes things."

    Yup, this is me too. I guess people must have reasons to be mad about game requiring an Internet connection (beyond it just being a thing they can be mad about for clicks) but I've never really understood what those reasons are. Maybe when I pack it all up and go out to live in the bush off the grid I'll understand... then I'll bitch about them requiring electricity instead. :)

    1. I always used to want one of those hand-cranked, clockwork radios in case i got stranded on a desert island some day. A solar-powered laptop would be a great update to that.


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