Archive for the ‘The Secret World’ Tag

As a Gamer, Do You Really Want Difficulty?   11 comments

Skyrim, Difficulty

This thought has come to mind a little too often for me, lately. Do we enjoy difficulty? If we claim a game we are playing to be difficult, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? On the surface, I would say my individual answer is yes. I know I personally enjoy a game that is more challenging, one that takes a bit of thought process or learned skill to get through. But are the games we are playing really difficult, do we just convince ourselves that they are, and do gamers today really want difficulty?

This topic is a lot more complex than the surface belies. As so happens, one of the myriad podcasts that I listen to, How To Murder Time (which I highly suggest you listen to as well), recently delved into the topic of difficulty, covered it pretty extensively, and led me to this post.

Super Meat Boy, Difficulty in Games

Huh? Wha?!

MMO Skill is an Illusion

What is difficulty, anyway? I think this is where the root of the issue lies. Difficulty can have a whole plethora of different meanings. The first one that jumps to mind, and the first one the podcast brings up, is “twitch” skill. It’s found in it’s purest form in games that don’t offer many character development options and has level design that keeps getting more and more challenging, like Super Meat Boy. The Super Mario games are a great example, too. Sure, Mario can get larger by ingesting fungus but overall it’s the levels that increase in difficulty. Completing the game becomes the accomplishment. It pits a specific level of skill that, if yours is too low, you’ll never beat the game.

But what game nowadays has that kind of challenge? Even FPS multiplayer shooter games like Titanfall, which just released, has leveling progression in which you gain experience to attain access to better weapons and a bigger toolset to use against your foes. If you’re then faced against a new, lower level player, sure, the lower level has a chance to use their skill to beat you, but the higher level players still have a decided edge. In this sense, are we leveling just to make content easier? Do we even want difficulty at all, if we work hard to nullify it?

You’ve seen the roosters strutting around in whatever MMO you’re playing these days. Those peacocks of the gaming world, strutting around in all the best and shiniest gear. And good for them, it shows their dedication to the game that they were able to get their hands on said loot. But was it really difficult to do so?

Guild Wars 2, Halloween, Difficulty in Games

I call this place… Pain in the Ass Tower.

In the grand scheme of things, here is the defacto MMO progression:

  • Do content, get loot, level up.
  • Use levels and loot to do higher level content, get better loot, level up.
  • Repeat until max level.
  • Continue to run content and get more loot (or just take the shortcut and buy it from other players on the auction house), which makes top level content easier.
  • Keep running content until maximum loot power is achieved and game becomes too easy.
  • Leave game out of boredom/complain about not having enough content on forums.

At that point, even the most difficult content becomes a cakewalk, but we’ve earned that through the time we put in to get that loot. Reward is good. But the entire time during this progression, the difficulty really hasn’t changed. We level up, our gear levels up, and the content matches difficulty stride for stride. It’s a linear progression. We do normal dungeons until they get too easy, then we do elite dungeons until they get too easy, then we do nightmare dungeons until we gear up to maximum and stop running them as they become too easy.

Our reward for running content is just to make content easier.

I’ve even heard content in The Elder Scrolls Online becomes trivial if you come back to it overleveled. A boss that gave you a hard time in the past suddenly is not so tough when you’re 10 levels higher, are they? The difficulty in TESO, then, just comes in rushing forward too fast. I am starting to hear more and more good things about the “exploration” aspect of TESO, but have yet to be convinced that it’s more than an illusion buried in the willing suspension (which relates to the next section).

The Walking Dead, Difficulty in Gaming

The Walking Dead isn’t a difficult game to play, it’s a difficult game to *watch*.

Puzzle Solving is Entirely Optional

But difficulty through skill is not the only level of difficulty. As Jon and Tim go on to discuss, it could also be about puzzle-solving. This is my favorite, by far, and one of the reasons I love The Secret World. As a content filler gap they recently just added four new investigation missions to the game, which I consider to be the real meat and potatoes of TSW. I’ve already completed one, and without giving away any details, I had to pull some real mind-bending out-of-game stuff to figure it out (keep a smartphone handy).

But this kind of difficulty is only challenging to the player that wants to do it in the first place. Puzzle difficulty is entirely by choice if the player wants to challenge themselves or not. I’m not one to cheat, but sites like Youtube, Dulfy.net, TSWDB.com, Star Trek Online wiki, and a plethora of others just hand out the answers to anyone willing to search. I even had a search term today that led someone to this site where they were looking for the answers to one of the new TSW missions! They just came out on Tuesday! They didn’t find it here, of course, but that they even were looking in the first place means something.

This isn’t a recent issue, though. I remember buying games at Gamestop and part of the salesperson’s spiel was to try to sell the guide to go along with it. Nothing has really changed, except it now costs a lot less effort and money to find the answers to these puzzles and quest guides.

Gabriel Knight, Difficulty in Games

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

/rant start

And find those answers gamers do in droves. So much that it’s even demanded by the community in some situations:

Oh, going into a dungeon you’ve never been in before and you haven’t researched it? What a scrub. What, do you just want to be carried by everyone else? You want to waste everyone else’s time? How lazy and selfish!

Seriously, this is why I don’t PUG or have any want to run group content at all. The communal expectation to be professionally knowledgeable about dungeons you’ve never set foot in are too high. There is no such thing as a noob the second those guides hit the internet, only “selfish” gamers.

Then it comes back to the skill to perform the guides steps, but “skill” in MMOs is really intrinsically linked to one’s Gearscore (read: random loot tables over time). That’s why the demands you see from the community for running PUGs keeps getting more and more ridiculous. These elitists don’t want a challenge! They don’t want to enjoy content with strangers! They’re lazy and want the most reward given for the least amount of effort, and so demand that from others, unceremoniously booting those who don’t live up to their demanding standards. Only those on the right side of the bell-curve may apply.

Can you tell I’m a little burnt out and jaded?

/rant end

The Secret World, Difficulty in Gaming

Still one of my favorite moments all-time from MMO gaming.

Wrangling Herds of Cats, Though

Finally, there is, arguably, the only real true form of challenge left posed by MMOs today: dealing with each other. Kind of the point of MMOs right? Playing with others? But the highest level raid content, or just content made too difficult to solo is in these games for a reason. And that is the challenge of working with and coordinating a group of people who are all only looking out for their own self interests. The content itself may not even really be that difficult (of course it’s not, “correctly” geared players mitigate the risk of failure), but organizing a group of 10-15 people to all do the same thing at the same time, with no real guarantee of reward, is impressive as hell!

The amount of time and energy driven to herding players to a single goal is outstanding. I know. Not from gaming, mind you, but I was a higher-up in a student run theatre company, and the experience is very similar. In the professional world, at least employees are being paid, but getting people to be dedicated to a common goal when it won’t put food on their table is not exactly easy. It’s why I put my time in theatre on my CV. It shows the skill of leadership when your charges are only present of their own whims. Having formal education in human psychology and group dynamics, though, doesn’t hurt.

However, I’d still caution against putting “Raid Leader” on a resume, if only because the social stigma against gamers is still heavily present in society. The skill, though, the pure skill of human wrangling, is universal and still quite impressive.

Guild Wars 2, Difficulty in Gaming

I’ve never wanted to punch a cloud in the face so much.

More Than A Struggle

Aside from having to deal with each other, we’ve gone from the days of a game’s content becoming easier with actual time, practice, and mental gymnastics, to becoming easier through in-game power ups and cheats. Do we get the same amount of accomplishment, though? I think what we gain is a lot more tangible.

We get great stories, we get great visuals, we get a sense of accomplishment not only at the end, but all the way through. We get lost in a great world. We get shared achievement. We get a thriving community that we can gladly raise our hand and claim to be a part of. We get a sense of belonging.

We get everything but difficulty.

// Ocho

 

 

In a Secret Holding Pattern #TSW   6 comments

The Secret World, Polaris

Funcom, you can drop the act now. Those countdown tentacles? Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone.

Last night I logged in to our weekly meeting of The Secret World, and only two others had shown up, Syp and TenTentacles. We briefly discussed what we could do between the three of us. We could run a scenario since the Flappy fight wasn’t going to start for a few hours or we could just farm some AP. Each suggestion was met with a huge wave of “meh”. We’ve done the Flappy fight to death by this point, we’ve done so many scenarios that we could do them in our sleep, and grinding AP doesn’t really sound appetizing either as we’d just be doing content we’ve already done over and over again. The low turnout to begin with also shows that we’re all feeling generally the same way.

In other words, until The Secret World’s Tokyo expansion is released, interest in playing the game at all is very low.

The Secret World, Bugs

We seem to be encountering technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Between all of us, our best guess consensus is that the first Tokyo zone is going to be dropping sometime in April, which disagrees with the tentacles. To release any later, though, would be crazy. Last time we checked Funcom still needs to make money and outfits and accessories (although some of them are pretty nice) just aren’t going to cut it. Unless they are just going to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch as The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar leech away all of their players, Funcom needs to start the hype train for Tokyo sooner rather than later, and start doling out information.

I mean, a more adult, gritty world where magic is real and you’re fighting demonic hellspawn are a few things that Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World have in common. There are differences, sure, but the feel is similar enough to draw from the same pool of players. There’s a chance Funcom might be banking on TESO’s failure, which is a bad thing to do for such a huge IP. Even if TESO does the stereotypical boom at launch and 3-month dropoff, releasing Tokyo 3 months from now to compensate you wouldn’t find too many players left that were willing to wait. TSW is not World of Warcraft! Players aren’t simply content to grind for months waiting on the new expansion! Why am I even subbing? Give us some more info already!

And those tentacles above the Flappy portal meant to show how much longer until the portal is cleansed? Yeah, we know they don’t mean anything. You can drop the illusion now. I haven’t checked recently, but in the beginning when the Flappy fight was in full swing, based on the rate that the counters were dropping, it was estimated that the portal wouldn’t be cleansed until around October.

So unless Funcom steps in and alters the countdowns, like they did with the last portal, or finally give a release date for Tokyo, we’re going to be waiting in this holding pattern for quite a while.

//Ocho

Posted March 25, 2014 by Ocho in The Secret World

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Gaming Resolutions for 2014   5 comments

Neverwinter, Foundry

Can we somehow make this a drinking game? Alright, for every one of these resolutions I actually make, we take a drink. Deal? I like this idea.

But, seriously, although I missed a day or two of Murf’s Listmas Extravaganza, it looks to have been a wild success. I mean, really, look at all of those lists. 67! I count 67 lists. I may, in the near future, take a look and highlight a few of them. But, seriously, good on Murf for taking the ball and running with it and good on the folks over at United We Game for keeping score.

But, if you’re not tired of lists, I have one more list for you all, and it is simply my list of gaming resolutions for the new year. Yes, despite rumors to the contrary, I will be keeping up this gaming hobby for the foreseeable future, so why not resolve to make it as awesome as possible. Here are my goals, in no particular order, and the probability I give myself of actually completing them.

The Walking Dead

Finish The Walking Dead, 400 Days, and Walking Dead: Season 2

I haven’t finished Walking Dead yet and I’m really not sure why as it is quite an awesome and compelling story they’ve penned. I plan to finish up the first season, play the interim game, and then catch Season 2 on a good sale and finish that. Really, this should take that long. Probability of completion: 90%

Achieve Max Level in Neverwinter

I play Neverwinter in spurts. Awesome features like the Gateway, Foundry, the storyline, and wanting to see the latest modules all make me want to jump in and play to cap. But there is always something that seems a *little* more worthwhile to play. However, I want to get to max level so I can play these modules, which I’m sure will keep coming, along with new classes. Being around level 30, I may have a ways to go. What even IS the max level these days? Probability of completion: 70%

Play More Older / Indie Games

If 2013 had something awesome going for it, it was the crop of Indie games that came out of the woodwork. I mean, really, a metric ton of them, and I just want to play them all. I still have yet to pick up Gone Home, but I have picked up games like UnEpic, To the Moon, Dust, Braid, and Dear Esther, and I need to give them a solid shake. Also, as are many others, I’m a big fan of older games and need to play a few of them as well. I think I’ll develop a random system to do this. Set up a list of games I really should play, and then run it through a number generator or something. Keep me on my toes. Probability of completion: 50%

Finish the Bioshock Series

I played the original Bioshock and it blew my mind. Yes, it was a shooter on rails, but the world you railed through was tremendously well crafted. For a cheap game I picked up at Target, I was ridiculously impressed. So, I own Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite, but I feel I have to play them in order.  Probability of completion: 80%

Shroud of the Avatar

Don’t Buy As Many Games and Play What I Already Own

This goes hand-in-hand with with “Play More Older / Indie Games” because I already own a metric ton of older and indie games… I just need to give them more priority. This past Steam Winter sale (which I know isn’t completely finished), I’ve maybe spent a grand total of $12 on 4 games. I’m slowing down on buying, but I think that is because the sheer mass of owned games is becoming a force of reckoning on my mind. Now let’s see if I can focus…. maybe. Probability: 30%

Guild Wars 2

Achieve Max Level in Guild Wars 2 

All the fun stuff seems to occur at max level, and if they spread it out a bit, it’s not exactly optimal. I like the concept of the living story, though I haven’t really liked how they’ve rolled it out. However, since it looks like Guild Wars 2 is going to be bringing the rosy story of Scarlet to a close, now is as good a time to get in there and jump to max so I can join in on all the Season 2 fun. Probability: 70%

Play Through Guild Wars 1

It’s still kicking. ANet hasn’t cut the cord to the server just yet, and I keep comparing Guild Wars 2 to Guild Wars 1. You see, I REALLY want to like Guild Wars 2 more than I do, and I think a way to do that is to complete all the storyline in Guild Wars 1. This may backfire, though, and show me the missed potential that Guild Wars 2 has, but either way Guild Wars 1 is still a beautiful game that is still running. But let’s be honest: Probability: 25%

Secret World, End of Days, Shadowy Forest, Vestige

So that’s it. As you notice, nothing about any of the new MMO’s coming out, although I can’t seem to gather a real interest in them. This may change. I am a sucker and do like the new shiny as much as others. My wallet does not usually agree with latest shiny, though. Tokyo and Shroud of the Avatar may end up taking up a huge chunk of my time, too. We shall see, I guess.

From all of us here at the Casual Aggro household, I wish unto thee the greatest of New Years! May it bring you health, wealth, happiness, and as much gaming as you can handle! As always, thank you for reading.

Game on, my friends.

// Ocho

Listmas 2013: 5 Similarities between Star Trek Online and The Secret World #TSW #STO   5 comments

The Secret World, Tyler Freeborn

I know what you’re thinking: What? Similarities between Star Trek Online and The Secret World? Hey, they’re both fiction, and you’ll find element of everything in everything else if you look hard enough. What, truly, in this world is original? It’s not so much that we use these assets, it’s how we use them that make these stories great.

So, as Richard Sonnac would say when imitating his (probably) favorite British actor, “Engage!”

Star Trek Online, Secret World, Sword, Dual Pistols, Flamethrowers

5) The Weapons: Swords, Dual Pistols, and Flamethrowers

I feel like some of these really shouldn’t be in these games. Star Trek has a flamethrower?! The Secret World, with it’s shotguns and assault rifles has swords?! And dual pistol wielding classes are everywhere these days, so why not, I guess.

Star Trek Online, Secret World, Androids

4) Androids

Human-like machines capable of performing tasks. In Star Trek, they’ve been given quite a few more personal rights than we see in The Secret World, but in Star Trek mythos, the advanced programming of Androids borders on conscious thought, and in one of the greatest episodes of Star Trek, Next Generation: The Measure of a Man, the court rules in favor that Data, an Android, does indeed have rights and benefits of any other sentient being. If there’s one great takeaway from Star Trek, it’s that you should fight for your rights, and fighting is the right thing to do, be it Android, Hologram, or Klingon, our rights are one of the greatest gifts we hold dear.

Star Trek Online, Secret World, Agartha, Wormholes

3) Portal Transportation

Entering a portal on one side of the world and suddenly being thousands of miles away. There isn’t any teleporting in The Secret World yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it made an appearance at some point (that Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is rather tricky). On the Star Trek side, we have wormholes. Stellar phenomena that link two points in space over vast distances. In The Secret World, we have the portals, linking many different points in the world to the mythical Agartha.

Star Trek Online, Secret World, Time Travel

2) Time Travel

It wouldn’t be Star Trek without some time travel. Though the Department of Temporal Investigations tries to keep all altering of the timeline to a minimum, shenanigans still happen. My favorite Star Trek time travel episode: Deep Space 9′s Trials and Tribble-ations. Hands down. Not a lot of gravitas, and the episode leans on the side of humor, but boy is that episode candy to a Star Trek fan. In STO, time travel also occurs quite frequently. One of my favorites is the mission Everything Old is New, part of the Devidian Featured Episode series. In Secret World, time travel happens quite a lot less, except in the Last Train to Cairo, Indiana Jones styled missions. The mission A Time To Every Purpose sends the player back in time to recover an artifact for the ever stylish Said, and starts the player on a pretty kick-ass journey through time to prevent another Tokyo disaster.

Star Trek Online, Secret World, Holodeck

1) Holodecks

I thought I would never see this in The Secret World, but again taking a page from Star Trek’s futuristic books, the Council of Venice creates a series of, well, Holodecks. You use them in the game’s latest Scenarios to provide extra training and ways to augment your own abilities. So in TSW, they’re not used as a way of relaxing, but I’m sure the Council, when they have a few minutes, might program in a Jamaican vacation or two when the boss isn’t looking. I know I would.

In the realm of fantasy, nothing is absurd. Sometimes, it’s great to let our willing suspension of disbelief have free reign.

Do you think I missed any? I’m sure I did.

// Ocho

P.S. – Whoops, I missed a day of Listmas. Bah humbug.

The Defeat of the Gatekeeper #TSW   7 comments

Secret World, Gatekeeper, Emmy

So, yeah, I beat the Gatekeeper in The Secret World and can now start doing Nightmare level dungeons.

I know, right?! I mean, this is me we’re talking about here. A soloer extraordinaire, a known noob, not only completing every Elite dungeon, but then taking on the Golden Gearcheck itself and prevailing.

I, of course, was far from alone in this process. With the help of the Knights of Mercy over the past couple months of Mondays, we have taken down one dungeon after another, for whoever still needed to complete them. So systematically, with their help, I finally completed the last dungeon I needed, Hell Eternal, and then the only thing standing in my way was Big ol’ Goldy. Like a walking Emmy that hits like a truck, I had heard tales of his difficulty, of how it had taken some people days or weeks to take him down.

Secret World, Hell Eternal

TenTentacles offered up videos and strategies he used, but I politely declined them.  I have a thing when it comes to games, and for some reason I think this train of thought is becoming less and less common, I like to experience and try to figure out the content on my own first before I look up guides and walkthroughs. You know, give it a real good try, and then only use online solutions if I really can’t figure it out. Now, I’ve only had to resort to this in The Secret World on maybe three occasions. Some of those investigative missions are just dastardly.

So, not to make this post entirely just a “Hey Look How Awesome I Am” post, for anyone looking to go at the Gatekeeper without assistance, just a fair warning: SPOILERS AHEAD. Just skip past the next section if you don’t want to hear about how it is done.

Eblis, Hell, Hell Eternal, Secret World

=== How To Kill The Gatekeeper in DPS Mode ===

So I went in with my only knowledge being remembering others talking about an insta-kill attack. I did a little rearranging of my skills, and went at him… I lasted about 9 seconds. You see, I chose the DPS route, which means that if you are hit once, just once, you die. Every hit he delivers is for around 1 Million health, which is a little outrageous, considering the max health while wearing all DPS gear is 1970 health. 500x max health is a little excessive. So, simply, don’t get hit.

Not getting hit isn’t easy, though, you have to dodge multiple AoE ground targets. Be like Ali. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Going clockwise, and sticking close, I hit and backed up between circles, then move to the next open lane, backed up and kept hitting. When he starts to do a massive attack, he stops shooting ground AoEs. At this time, smack him with a purge. He starts sending AoE’s at you again. Bob and weave through them, damaging all the while. As DPS, you have about 5 minutes to take him down, which is plenty of time, so you don’t need to keep hitting him continuously. Just try not to get hit yourself.

When he got down to about 30% health, he stopped and summoned an add. If that add came anywhere near you, it is instant death.  So, run. If you see the little guy coming, turn away from the Gatekeeper and run for it. I’ve heard he despawns eventually, and that gives you time to beat on GK some more, but, honestly, I didn’t get that far. When the little guy started coming, I placed a few AoE’s of my own on GK and bolted, and the AoEs finished the job for me.

With that, after only about 30 minutes, the Gatekeeper was defeated and now I can move onto Nightmare difficulty.

Here is the build that I used, please use it if it will help you:

Pistol / Elementalism Gatekeeper Build

Weapons: Pistol/Elementalism.

Active Abilities: Hair Trigger, Shootout, Anima Charge, Blaze, Lightning Manifestation, Fire Manifestation, Hard Reset (Elite), Cremate (Flamethrower)

Passive Abilities: Lightning in a Bottle, Mad Skills, Molecular Exploitation, Running Circles, Bloodsport, Aidelon, Live Wire (Elite), Assiduous Burn (Flamethrower)

This build has a lot of strengths going for it. Every hit afflicts and deals extra damage (Bloodsport + Molecular Exploitation). Every crit builds more crit (Mad Skills), which triggers extra damage (Live Wire) and causes you to move faster (Running Circles). You will need to move faster to avoid the add. Lightning Manifestation not only deals no-look damage to the stationary GK, but also purges his big attack (Lightning in a Bottle). Anima Charge enables an extra Blaze to be thrown in, which has about a 50/50 shot of critting (Aidelon). Hard Reset has a 60-second cooldown, but it deals a huge purge as well, in case Lightning Manifestation is on cooldown. Cremate is a simple DoT that lasts a little longer (Assiduous Burn). Finally Hair Trigger, Shootout, and Fire Manifestation are all multi-hit abilities taking advantage of Molecular Exploitation and Bloodsport.

Secret World, Hell Eternal

All said, the Gatekeeper was downed in about 1 minute 20 seconds, well before the 5 minute timer had lapsed. Of course, the purple 10.1′s from the latest Issues and a couple augments from the Scenarios helped, but what really helped is all the people who helped get me through all of the Elites to get here.

They helped take this known soloer, this anti-grouper and anti-dungeon runner, a noob-king among noobs, and helped make it possible for him to take down one of the biggest baddies in the game.

So, to you all, and you know who you are. Thank you.

Now let’s get the rest of the team to the same level and start taking down these Nightmares!

// Ocho

 

 

 

MANOS: The Hands of Fate, The Secret World, Final Fantasy VII, Star Trek Online, Lineage, and Other Ramblings   3 comments

MANOS: The Hands of Fate, Freakzone

I am not interested in playing ANYTHING!

That’s an exaggeration, of course, but it’s not that far off. Over the past week, I’ve had some rough days at work. So, I’ve come home feeling like relaxing, I sit down at my PC, fire it up, and then I do…nothing. I check the Book of Face or Twitter or some random article that catches my attention. The last thing I’ve wanted to do is game. This is not like me, but then, we all go through these downtimes.

To be honest, I have felt a bit burned out. Take The Secret World’s augment grind as a reason for burning out, for example. Those scenarios are just brimming with decent loot and ability points, but they do get old quick. I mean, as Joel Bylos said in the latest November 2013 Game Director’s letter, Scenarios are really tuned to be an epic end game grind. I haven’t done all the full calculations yet, but my preliminary calculations are showing me that, oh dear lord, a grind is an understatement. And there is nothing wrong with that. A grind really works for MMOs. Games that theoretically never end should really never have an ending. So if you do every quest, every dungeon, and explore every corner, there should still be something there to strive for. Plus, I think people secretly really like the grind.

But not me. I’ll generally grind if there is a specific item to grind for, and then once that item is attained, I’ve always found my desire to play satiated. For example, last year I was all about playing the Winter content in Star Trek Online. I even got the big fantastic Breen ship that you acquired after running the same daily mission 25 times! And you know what I did with my new ship? Absolutely nothing. It’s still sitting there unopened in my bank. So this year, Star Trek Online brought back the Winter zone, with all kinds of fun new extra things, and my want to play it is nonexistant. Not to say it wasn’t fun last year. It was a good time. But I know I’ll put in all that effort, get the ship… and then it, too, will languish in my bank. I might log back in to check it out, check out the new Dyson Sphere, the dinosaurs with fricking laser beams, the new Worf mission, etc… just as soon as the mood strikes. … Anyday now… Whenever you’re ready mood…

Final Fantasy 7, Square Enix, Steam

So what else is there? I’ve been checking out a bit of my other purchases, like Final Fantasy VII, picked up in Steam’s latest Autumn Sale (Oh yea, I haven’t been in the mood to play anything, but yet, that hasn’t stopped me from buying more games… I really do have a problem, don’t I…). I never played it the first time around, and it’s been fun so far. Also, Humble’s Weekly Sale had a title that I couldn’t resist dropping a few bucks for: Manos: The Hands of Fate.

MANOS: The Hands of Fate, Freakzone, Humble, MST3K

Yes, based on THE Manos: The Hands of Fate. If you don’t know it, the good people have given the IMDB’s rating of the movie a more than generous 1.8 out of 10. It’s not just bad, it is phenomenally bad. The movie is so bad, it TRANSCENDS it’s badness. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fans will look back on it fondly, though. The MST3K riffing of Manos: The Hands of Fate on IMDB has an 8.8 out of 10 rating. Freakzone, the developer, decided to use the awesome source material and turn it into a pretty awesome old-school platformer. For the low price of “whatever the heck you want to give them”, it’s a decent platformer. So far, I’ve found it challenging, easy to play with a controller, and bug-free. A total win. Available for the next 4 days and change, check it out.

Also, although I’m not as prolific a reader as say, Mogsy, I have also delved back into B.J. Keeton‘s NIMBUS. Also the author of Birthright, 1st of his trilogy mixing sci-fi and fantasy elements, B.J. just released yesterday the 2nd installment, Lineage! Do me a solid and check it out. And oh, seeing as how B.J. is an avid MMO player, you might see a heavy helping of MMO influence in there, too.

Final Fantasy 7, Square Enix, Steam

Alright… enough rambling. Game on, my friends.

// Ocho

The Modification of The Secret World: Top 10 The Secret World Mods #TSW   13 comments

Agartha, The Secret World

I am a big fan of mods. Always have been, probably always will be. Game Modifications allow you to take a game that you’re playing and alter the UI, in harmless ways, to better give you more information or make tedious tasks a little more bearable. As a rule of thumb, I tend to stay away from mods that I consider “cheating”, or generally take away the fun of the game. Also, I tend to stay away from mods of a system that the game is already doing well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, sure, but an upgrade here or there doesn’t hurt.

The current game I’m stuck on, if you haven’t been able to tell, is The Secret World. A great MMO by Funcom that keeps getting better and better. And so, since I’m stuck on it, I thought I would extol and promote some of the best mods I have found. Some of them I use sporadically, and others I don’t know how I would play the game without. These mod creators are being more than generous, making  and offering them for the community, so if you know of any mod makers out there, take a moment and say thanks for their efforts, or consider donating a few bucks their way if they make the option available.

Installing these mods is sort of a complicated process, so let me first describe how you would go about doing it.

  • First, download the mod you want, usually in ZIP file format, and open it using a standard program to do so. I use WinRAR, but feel free to use whatever works for you. Inside the ZIP will be a few folders and maybe some other files.
  • If there is a Readme text file, open that up and make sure there aren’t any more specific installation instructions.
  • Copy all the folders and files directly to your ‘The Secret World\Data\Gui\Customized’ folder, wherever you installed the game. I use Steam to open and play The Secret World, so, for example, the folder is located on my hard drive in the following location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\The Secret World\Data\Gui\Customized.

So without further ado, here are my Top 10 The Secret World Game Modifications:

The Secret World, Mod, Combat Statistics

10)  Combat Statistics

Once you get to the top levels of The Secret World, eeking out that little bit of extra damage in a new build is highly sought after, and there is no way better to do it than with a damage tracker. This one offers up the information without bothering anyone else, and works great. 

The Secret World, Mods, Mission Info

9)  MissionInfo 

For those of us who like story, but don’t like opening up the Mission log every step of the way, this mod works well. It alters the mission-tracker on the right side of the screen so that when you mouse-over the mission you’re on, it lists the text of the mission’s current tier.

The Secret World, Mods, Auto Need/Greed

8)  Auto Need / Greed

I haven’t played with this one a lot, but I’ve found in group runs, especially in Scenarios, the stuff that drops that is a bother is almost excessive. However, we still need all of that stuff to disassemble to get materials from. This mod allows you to not have to have all of those green loot rolls taking up space on your screen. As you can see from the pic, I have it passing on all of those theatrics that we can’t sell, ignoring anything that has to do with Augments (by ignore, it means the roll window will still come up), and greeding any White-Green drops. If the drop doesn’t match any listed rule, it’ll default to the standard Need/Greed box. I’m sure I’l alter this to my needs as time goes on, but it’ll make getting loot a little less frustrating.

The Secret World, Mods, Ghost Tablet

7)  GhostTablet

GhostTablet takes the small text screen that shows up when you use in-game computers and extends it so that everything fits on one screen. No more up/down arrows!

The Secret World, Mods, Resource HUD, Nametag Overload

6)  Resource HUD

Resource HUD takes your weapon builder UI and places them to wherever you want them on the screen as well as makes them larger and more noticable. No more basic attacks when you’re ready for the bigger ones. I know the builders are already listed on-screen, but this makes them easier to see and react to.

5)  Nametag Overload

Nametag Overload alters the tags above players and mobs heads to give you more information. You can customize it so that the healthbar changes colors as a mobs health falls and so that it gives a percentage of a bosses health left, as well as to always make it visible, even if the original nametag is off the screen. Very handy for dungeon and world bosses.

The Secret World, Mods, Friends Enhanced

4) Valyrie’s Friends Enhanced

Now starts the four mods that, since I’ve been using them, I can’t play the game without. Valyrie’s Friends Enhanced alters the look of the Friend and Cabal list to make it more informative and customizable. Add information to any player, like preferred role or add a custom note as to how you met them, other characters they have, anything that would help you remember them better. Very handy.

The Secret World, Mods, Topbar Information Overload

3)  Topbar Information Overload

Topbar Information Overload takes all of the numbers that are hidden away, and makes them fully available to use. Time/latency/FPS/Compass/Inventory space/coordinates/Friends & Cabalmates online/Black Bullion/Pax. On top of that, it also has small icons to open the settings menus of other mods that work with Topbar. It also doesn’t take up a ton of space, either.

The Secret World, Mods, Valet

2)  Valet

If it’s one thing The Secret World does right, it’s making customizing how your character looks. There are hundreds of options from different coats to shoes to gloves to hats that all give your character the specific look you want, without having to sacrifice gear to get it. Serious to silly, all options are there. But, in-game, they’re not organized well. They’re just all placed in your Dressing Room screen by area of the body. Valet lets you create customized outfits the same way you use the in-game Gear Manager. As someone who changes their outfit pretty much every single time I log in, this is a necessary function.

The Secret World, Mods, Ultimate Crafter

1)  UltimateCrafter

It doesn’t take long to figure out that The Secret World crafting system is both easy and complex simultaneously. Combining aspects of Minecraft, you can use drops you find in game to create items that are useful to you. Want a hammer? Take a weapon kit and enough metal and make one. What I found was that I kept leaving the game to try to remember the patterns to make items, and leaving the game is inefficient. UltimateCrafter has all of the recipes built-in. All you do is tell it what you want to make, and if you have the materials, it’ll make it.

On top of that, disassembling items couldn’t be easier and quicker. The image shows my current settings. All loot that I get, all that green loot destined to be turned into their component materials, it breaks them apart, and stacks and upgrades the piles nicely in seconds. With the new augment system and the ridiculous amount of materials needed to progress in it, this mod is an absolute necessity.

The Secret World, The Facility

So there you go, my Top 10 Mods that I use. That isn’t all of them, though. Here are other mods that I use that I just didn’t list. Check them out as well:

AcceptAllMeetUps – Accepts all Meet-Up Requests. Necessary during the last Halloween event.

Categorical’s Enhanced Team Window – Alters the group/raid windows so you can move/resize them.

Mission Timers – The new Shift-L command does this, too, but allows a mouse over on the Topbar to see the time left on specific missions.

Mission Helper – A lair boss helper. I used UltimateCrafter during our last Lair run, to great success, but that was before I had this mod.

Valyrie’s Repair Buddy – Auto-repair at all vendors, and more annoying on-screen notification of breaking items.

Valyrie’s Infarmer – On-screen tracking of achievement goals.

The Secret World, Tyler Freeborn

Mod on, my friends. Mod on.

// Ocho

Switching Builds #TSW   7 comments

So, these new Issue #8 scenarios, they are something else, huh?

On the day of release, I, like a great number of my Secret World brethren entered the next step of the game’s evolution. And, like a great many other players, got my virtual behind handed to me in a sling. The first night I played the only scenario, Seek and Preserve, and the only one I didn’t fail was the Hotel, with only one survivor left. Despite going in with my all blue, QL 10 DPS, elite-level gear. I couldn’t keep the mobs from rushing the survivor groups and I couldn’t keep myself alive long enough to stop them, but my gear was of high enough quality to do so. So, it was me. Totally me.

Something needed to change, and that change was an entirely new build. A build that would allow me to survive longer, be able to heal myself, and grab the mobs attention quicker.

Here is the build that I was using, a very fun DPS Elementalism/Pistol build, a build that didn’t need a lot of survivability as mobs would fall quicker. Only one health talisman was necessary to stay comfortably alive:

Active: Hair Trigger, Shootout, Anima Charge, Blaze, Lightning Manifestation, Ice Manifestation, Overload (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)

Passive: High Voltage, Increased Focus, Mad Skills, Elemental Precision, Mind Over Matter, Aidelon, Big Bang (Elite), and Searing Magnesium

This is a fun build that piles on the critical hits, and is good for groups and single targets. For single targets, the high damage from Shootout, mixed with the high critical chance of Blaze, caused them to not last long. For groups, Ice Manifestation and Overload cause hinder, which keeps the mobs out of arm’s length, and then Lightning Manifestation and Big Bang bring them low very quick. But it’s a terrible build for these scenarios.

So, I started with TenTentacles advice, and then took a look at the Illuminati Goon tank deck (Blade/Hammer) that I already had unlocked. I find that, in this game, you should at least unlock a build of each style, DPS/Tank/Healer, as you never know when those would come in handy. It worked, it had the survivability, and mobs jumped off the groups easier, but it’s AoE damage output just wasn’t up to snuff. I could do better. So, I switched out the Hammer and replaced it with Elementalism, something I already enjoy and have experience with, and started rolling with this Blade / Elementalism build:

Active: Forking Paths, Steel Palace, Lightning Manifestation, Fire Manifestation, Martial Discipline, Point of Harmony, Silver Streak (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)

Passive: Perseverance, Enervate, Regeneration, Agitator, Riposte, Chain Reaction, Sixth Sense (Elite), and Assiduous Burn

This build has a lot of defense in damage reduction and glancing, and then punishes the attacker for glancing as well. It draws AoE damage with Lightning Manifestation, Steel Palace, and Forking Paths, with the Fire Manifestation adding a bit of burst on single targets. Every attack heals, and Point of Harmony gives a dedicated self-heal, too.

So far, my success with this build, with 4 damage talismans, 2 health, and 1 heal, has given me a Gold rating in both the Hotel and Mansion scenarios, and a Silver in the Castle scenario. Booyah. It also has started allowing me to crank out these Hard missions in Transylvania I’ve been avoiding, too. I’m still not a fan of using the Sword (personal preference), but boy does it work.

So my big suggestion is if you are having trouble, take a tank deck of your choice, and then tweak it to your liking. It’ll work wonders, at least for the first Seek and Preserve scenario. I’m sure the other scenarios are going to require different tactics, though.

As you can see, this is one of The Secret World’s strengths. If you want to only use one character and tank, heal or deal damage, you can. And that’s awesome. But with the ridiculous grind necessary to create these new augments that drop in the scenarios, having multiple characters and making progress on all of them is quite a tall order.

Rowan… I don’t know how you do it.

// Ocho

P.S. – Have any fun builds you designed yourself? Go ahead and post them! Share! (I really think there should be a way to view and vote on builds INSIDE the game, as any reason to check a wiki or look outside the game can be better designed, but I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon).

The MMO Winner of Halloween 2013: The Secret World #TSW   1 comment

The Secret World, Halloween, Stores of Soloman Island

When I was a kid, I was totally into Halloween. I’d dress up in some costume, and my parents would take me and my sister out trick or treating, and, like any other kids, we’d go from door to door and collect a big haul of bite-sized candy. And life was good. But then I grew up…

In college, Halloween took on a whole new meaning, it went from being about dressing up and candy, to getting hammered and hooking up with cuties in costume. There was one time, the student house I was living in, which was affectionately called the Love Shack, had a Halloween party so big that it not only encompassed our house, but our neighbors house as well and although we weren’t in any fraternities, we had many offers to join some that night. We turned them down, of course. Our parties at the Shack were more legendary than anything they could muster up. But then I grew up again…

These days I spend my days working, and my nights in hobbies and hanging out with my wife. When Halloween comes around, we generally grab a drink, have some traditional White Castle, put on a movie, and kick back and wait for trick-or-treaters to come to the door. Our tastes have changed over the years.

Super Jack, Secret World, Halloween

So what does this have to do with MMO’s? Well, you see, my gaming tastes have also changed since I was a kid, too. Now, I could be playing World of Warcraft, and go trick or treating. Or I could go play Guild Wars 2 and get dressed up in costume and brawl. And this is fun! It takes me back to those times when I was a kid, and dressed up, and went from house to house trick-or-treating.

But as an adult, I want more. I want something that doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at a much younger demographic. I mean, these are MMO’s, they not only take a time investment, but they also take a significant monetary investment, too, and so MMOs naturally have more adults playing them. According to this site, and this doesn’t sound that off, the average age of MMO players is 26 with a third of players married, and half working full-time. We’re not kids anymore.

Blue Mountain, Secret World, Halloween

I played the Guild Wars 2 Halloween content. I zerged and attacked giant monsters made from candycorn, because that made sense. I climbed the clocktower, and helped smack down the whiny Prince Edrick. I even opened trick-or-treat bag after trick-or-treat bag. I carved pumpkins. It was pretty much everything one would expect for Halloween… and yet it didn’t really scratch that Halloween itch.

Then I played The Secret World, and my Halloween itch has been thoroughly scratched. Finally, here is a game that doesn’t just treat us like kids. The Cat God mission, the main event of the holiday, is a tough investigative mission involving possessed cats, family crypts, creating pungent incense, performing ancient rituals, and defeating none other than Baron Samedi himself at the home of Halloween, Stonehenge, as he attempts to rend the veil between worlds.

Then this year, they topped it by adding the amazing Stories of Soloman Island, a collection of horror short stories, penned by Joel Bylos and Joshua Doetsch, that are pretty amazing reads. Here’s a quick sample:

Stories of Soloman Island, Secret World

So, the winner of Halloween 2013, in my own humble opinion, of course, is easily The Secret World. Instead of playing with the commercial versions of Halloween, of costumes, candy, and decorations, it shows the more mature meaning behind Halloween: that we enjoy exploring our disturbing side. We like the macabre, we enjoy the chills down our spine. We celebrate the unknown and embrace the supernatural. But you can already tell that Funcom gets this, the supernatural runs through the very blood and fabric of The Secret World.

So, MMOs take note: the bar has been raised.  We’ll see what they come out with to top themselves next year.

// Ocho

Secret World, Cat God, Stonehenge

Awesome Screenshot: The Island in a Sea of Electricity #TSW   11 comments

The Secret World, Hell Fallen, Ascendant

This shot was taken during our weekly group get-together in The Secret World, in which we decided to run the dungeon Hell Fallen on Elite. As you can see, we made it, with the Ascendant having keeled over behind me, but he REALLY didn’t give us a lot of room to finish him off.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

I really don’t have much to say on the dungeon itself. It was my first time running through it, we wiped a couple times on the tricky Engine Tyrant fight, but we pushed through it. Although I didn’t run away with any good loot, I’m able to check this Elite off my list and am one step closer to fighting the Gatekeeper.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

Overall, though, what made the run fun was simply the people. Couldn’t run it with a better bunch and I heavily agree with Rowan’s sentiments, more than anything it truly is awesome to have such a great group to run around with.

So Syp, Rowan, Ten Tentacles, Scooterz, Mogsy, Maric, and the rest, I owe you one.

Signed, your resident dungeon noob,

// Ocho

P.S. – It appears that ability is called the “Electric Smoke Grenade”, and he carpet bombs one side of the room. Huh. Good to know for next time! A guide of Hell Fallen can be found here. Thanks, Dulfy!

Posted October 16, 2013 by Ocho in Screenshots, The Secret World

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