Developer Appreciation Week 2015 : Giving Thanks

The exceptional Rowan over at his corner of the web, (For the World is Hollow and) I Have Touched The Sky, has declared the week from March 28th till April 4th Developer Appreciation Week! I know I’m a little late to the party, this being April 4th and all, but I still wanted to say my peace before it expired. In this collective hobby of ours, that which we pour a great amount of our free time, that which encompasses a massive portion of our hard drives, and that which takes over our favorite news site preferences, we wouldn’t be where we are and our lives would be totally different were it not for game developers.

Gaming in general has taken over our collective consciousness. There isn’t a single person I know, not a single one, that hasn’t at some time been heavily invested in some video game at some time. This has led to a staggering amount of sales, and made arguably one of the biggest industries in the world, surpassing both the movie and music industry. And, I mean, I work in a pretty large industry myself, but there aren’t fans who consider my every move and what I’m working on to be of newsworthy importance like we do with the developers of the games we play.

Game developers are everyday people like you and me that get paid salaries similar to you and me, and yet they are our celebrities and we hold them to an almost superhuman status. We discuss ad nauseum what they say, hyper analyze every word they say, all because it affects how we spend our free time and how we open our wallets in pursuit of our hobby. And they take on this celebrity status willingly! To be honest, that’s a level of stress on a whole other level that not all of us would be able to handle.

So, to all of the game developers out there, thank you. Thank you for not only producing all of the fantastic games that we use to make our free time a lot less boring, but also for putting up with the height of the pedestal that we put you on. Thank you for producing quality artwork, for spending an unheard of amount of production hours for something that a number of us will skip 90% of just so we can hold it above our peers and berate it for “not having enough content”. Thank you for putting yourself out there, yourself personally, your life, just to develop a connection with us gamers, those that will praise you in one breath and then throw shade the next over some nerf. Thank you for being simultaneously both our superheroes and showing great humility, for putting up with us fans at our best and at our worst.

Thank you to the developers of the Ultima series past and present for starting my love of gaming, Richard Garriott, Warren Spector, Paul Neurath, Starr Long, and many others. Thank you.

To the developers of the fantastic MMO The Secret World past and present, Ragnar Tornquist, Joel Bylos, Joshua “Scrivnomancer” Doetsch, Romain “Tilty” Amiel, Laurie “Sezmra” Payne, and many others. Thank you.

To the developers of Star Trek Online past and present, a game which I have considered my “home MMO” for many years, Daniel Stahl, Craig Zinkievich, Christine Thompson, Al “Captain Gecko” Rivera, Nick “Tacofangs” Duguid, Thomas “The Cryptic Cat” Marrone, and many others. Thank you.


To the developers of the multitude of other games that have shaped the way I play and enjoy games over the years, Jane Jensen, Colin Johanson, Ree Soesbee, Chris Roberts, Sid Meier, Jon Van Canegham, and many, many, many, many, many, many others…

Thank you.



Gilded Rage: Hunting Blingzilla [TSW]

Golem, Secret World, Gilded Rage

Alright, it’s my turn.

Guild Wars 2, Mini Moto, Super Adventure BoxSince my last update, I have switched off between two games, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. Guild Wars 2 has the ultra tricky Super Adventure Box going on for it, but since acquiring the mini-Moto pet, my goal for the event, my want to log-in has waned in favor of the equivalent of a Secret World Gold Rush.

Now, let’s be clear about this event. It looks very similar to the previous anniversary event, and that is because, well, it is. During the anniversary event, some problems occurred that Funcom simply weren’t able to solve. Namely, one of the rare pets, the Shem of the Lunar Metal, was completely unreachable by at least one of Secret World’s servers (note: my server). No matter how I tried during the anniversary event, I simply could not enter the necessary zone. This isn’t the first time Funcom has fumbled a Secret World event.

Shem of the Lunar Metal, The Secret World

So the Gilded Rage event is essentially a make up for the previous Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event. Hence why it is very similar. The golden Samsu Nasiru is just a gold colored reskin of Kaspu Nasiru, and appears in the same locations as the anniversary Golems. And because the Shem of Lunar Metal was impossible for some to get during the previous event, it was included on the drop list of this event. So high on the list, even, that I picked it up after taking down my very first Golem.

So, cheers to Funcom! They may have fumbled the ball during the Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event, but have once more picked it up and scored.  I remember last time I was very pleased with how they recovered from the End of Days Event fumble, and this looks like a good make-up as well. The only thing missing is that Guardians of Gaia Fusang lore piece… but I was informed that it may still be there. I haven’t been inside Fusang to see if that is true, so maybe I will attempt that tomorrow night and report back.

Tips and Tricks on Hunting Blingzilla

The Gilded Rage event will only be available until… well, they said two weeks after it started. Two weeks would be Friday, September 20th, but ending an event on a Friday (unless they have something BETTER planned for that day) is highly unlikely. Most likely, it will continue until Sunday, September 22nd to cover the weekend crowd. However, attaining all the loot our golden pinata drops is not difficult at all. For one, the coveted prizes, pets, pet pieces, and costume pieces will only drop one time per character and will not be duplicated on that character. So you don’t have to worry about getting repeat pieces of the Gold Pet puzzle.

Kirsten Geary, The Secret World, Blingzilla

Join The Illuminati, if for no other reason than the awesome mission text.

– First and foremost: Join the chat channel!

Like the previous event, which showed an outstanding level of community involvement, this event is no different. Once more, unofficial chat channels have been set up, spotters have been sent around TSW’s zones, and when a golem is spotted, the information is relayed back to the channel.

type: /chat join gildedevent

– Friend and Meet Up

Next, when a call-out is made, right click on the callers name and add them as a Friend. Hit Shift-F to bring up the Friends list, right-click on their name and select ‘Meet Up’. Once accepted, this will take you directly to the same zone, dimension, and server as the caller.

Shem of Solar Metal, The Secret World

– Look For the Giant Walking Hood Ornament

Kinda hard to miss, really. Old Goldy should be hanging out somewhere near the well you zone-in at. Just look around. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

– Beat Up On Goldzilla

He only has two tactics to watch out for:

1) He puts out a self-targeted AoE that, if it hits, will send you skyward and knock you out of the fight for 10 seconds. Run away when he does this as there isn’t any way to interrupt it. It may APPEAR to be interrupted, but that’s most likely just a graphical glitch and it will still hit. If you are susceptible, with no way to block it, just run or stay outside the blast zone.

2) A second AoE that will sap you of health and heal the golem. The health he steals isn’t really enough to keep up with the damage he’s receiving, but it still doesn’t feel nice. To avoid, either run outside the blast zone or “hug” him by getting within melee range. Also, this attack IS interruptible, so if it looks like it’s stopped, it most likely has.

– Profit

After whittling down his 17-18 MILLION hit points, you will receive a Side-Quest (Make sure you have a side-quest spot open before the fight!) to win the Genizah of the Solar Metal prize bag. To form the Shem of Solar Metal pet, however, it will take 6 different body parts, combined together. A list of all possible loot can be found here.

TenTentacles, Rowan, MMOGC, Twitter

It does sound suspicious if it’s phrased like that, doesn’t it?

– Cut Down on Lag

There are two ways to cut down on lag during the fight:

1) Kill your Spell Effects. To achieve this, just type this exactly into chat:

/setoption SpellEffect_DisplayLevel 4

This will kill Spell Effects and will give you a respectable 10-15 FPS on a decent system. To reverse it, just type a 0 where the 4 is.

2) Install Better Buffs, an official fix mod from Funcom’s GUI programmer. It may be included in a future patch, but why not get it now? It will cause your buff lists to not reorder so frequently, and help with interface lag. However, it hasn’t been fully tested, so if it conflicts with another mod or with the game itself, just delete it as per the linked forum post.

– Simple Ground Targeting

I’m placing this here so I have a location to remember it as well. Do you have any Ground Targeted Area of Effects and want to change them to Targeted Area of Effects?

Just hit ‘Shift-Ctrl‘.

That’s it. Now in the heat of combat (or, in this case, the worst Powerpoint presentation ever), you won’t have to worry about targeting your mouse on the right area, it’ll just focus the center of the AoE on your target and you’re good to go.

But Wait! There’s More!

My brothers and sisters in arms have also been in on the Gold Rush! TenTentacles has his writeup on Goldie Brawn (I see what you did there), Rowan is jumping for joy over attaining his faithful golden follower, Syp is seeing the extended middle-finger that are the Flares, and Mogsy is happy to be hanging with her Nugget. Did I miss anyone? I most likely did. Well, if I did, just yell at me and I’ll correct the error.

I can’t help but think, though, that this is just whetting the appetites for the upcoming main event, the prelude to Tokyo. After pushing Lilith back into the Tokyo portal in the last story arc, the siege of Agartha has begun and the Filth has begun to seep into the world’s core.

The question is: When will we be able to fight it?

// Ocho

The Secret World, Agartha, Tokyo, Bird

P.S. – Alright, but I can’t let Funcom off the hook for this one: A $100 Gold Tuxedo?! $100?! Since when is $100 considered a MICRO-transaction?! Look, I’m all for status symbols and understand that people can spend their money however they wish… but $100?! Come on!

P.P.S. – Notice how terms like Genizah, Shem, and Golem all appear in the lore for these Guardians of Gaia? Do they sound familiar? Well, Rowan, the loremaster for the Beyond the Veil podcast, has a great explanation of the history behind the lore and explains why the golems have a Hebrew origin. I highly suggest you check it out.

A Few Suggestions for The Secret World [TSW]

There is a saying: MMO’s would be so much better if it wasn’t for the other people. It’s funny because without other people, it wouldn’t be an MMO… and yet, it’s true in so many ways. It’s because other people can do simple innocuous actions that won’t benefit and actually hinder other players, even if their intention is good. This is what happens when multiple players play the same game but have different reason for playing, or different goals in the same game.  So here are a few suggestions to make The Secret World much better for everyone.

Open Mob Tagging

I mean, really. This is essentially the future of MMOs and needs to really be here now. Guild Wars 2 has this, and people who aren’t grouped together can tag and get loot and experience from the same mobs, and here’s why The Secret World needs it, too.

Scenario 1: The other night I was playing The Secret World and ran across a guy taking down a few mobs. He wasn’t having any trouble, but I was nearby and could’ve easily helped out. I didn’t. I ran right past like I didn’t even care. And I hate myself for it. My helping him would not help me in any way, as once a mob is tagged by a player, and they are not grouped, that mob becomes theirs. Any loot or experience gained from it would only benefit the first player to tag it. I would receive nothing for helping him out and still cost me my time. Also, there is the chance that helping them out angers the other player, like my interference is a judgement against them. I have received this numerous times in numerous games, and so, when I see another player fighting mobs, my first instinct is just to pass on by.

Here was also a lost chance at loose grouping, meeting someone new, and essentially taking advantage of the sociable side of the game. With the standard tagging rules in place, though, there’s the chance I would be hindering them, interfering, by helping out. And if there’s even a chance at causing more harm than good, it’s better to pass on by.

Individual Loot

Scenario 2: Then, not more than a few minutes later I encountered another player. I was doing a quest where I had to take down a lot of mobs in a small area. Another player showed up and I assumed they were on the same quest, so out of courtesy I threw them an invite. They accepted and sweet, we took down the mobs together. Loot dropped, as it does, and the Need/Greed randomized system came up. Since all the items were dropping wouldn’t help me directly, I was rolling “Greed”. The other player, obviously better geared than I was, and obviously didn’t need the gear either, was rolling “Need”. They were acquiring every piece of gear and there was nothing I could do about it except to roll Need too, despite not actually “Needing” it. They could’ve been collecting crafting materials, or just looking for fodder for lower alts or something, but in either way, I was annoyed. They weren’t playing by friendly social conventions and yet they were entirely playing within the rules.

So, although the system is “fair”, unless I were to essentially lie that I needed every item, it really isn’t fair. So, what is? How about ALL loot being individual to the player, not just basic normal quality stuff, but everything. This would be the way for all items that are Bind-On-Equip. The system in place already chooses items for the players to get, and they can still be traded back and forth without barrier, so why still have this other layer for people to essentially grief on each other?

Flavor of the Month Builds In-Game

One of the hallmarks of a good system with multiple skills but few skill slots is in the creation of builds. The Secret World has these and has some suggestions with their decks, but the decks are far from perfect. So, players create their own builds and some of these builds are so efficient, due to a skew in balance, that others pick up on them and use them as well. This leads to websites designed to help people who want to use the strongest and most efficient builds. When certain skills are nerfed or buffed to make them balanced, this process starts over again as the theorycrafters search for and make the best builds. The elite then turn to those who don’t use these builds and claim them to be lesser players.

So, why not cut out the middle man? Have an in-game system where players can submit their builds under different categories, and others can pick and choose to use them along with the multitude of decks created by the developers. This one is more of a stretch as I don’t believe it’s been done before, but where the “Flavor of the month” builds essentially defined Guild Wars 1 and it’s hardcore players, having player-submitted decks could make The Secret World more of an elite deck-building game, like it seems like it was intended to be.

Cross-Faction Cabals

This one wasn’t on my list originally, but after reading Rowan’s excellent post on cross-faction cabals, I totally agree.

Scenario 3: I’m an Illuminati character. My gear is almost to all QL 10 greens and I’ve been working on the same character for a long time now. I only recently found that most other people I know playing The Secret World are all Templar. I know, I can group with them and run dungeons with them, and communicate with them, and everything else in the world I can still do with them… but I can’t join their guild. So, my choice is either to just put them on my friends list and try to join up with them when I can, if I remember to look, or to give up on my character and roll a Templar. Both options aren’t that enticing, or making me really excited to keep playing.

I think Rowan sums it up the best when he says:

“I understand the importance of separate factions in PvP—or different servers in the case of GW2. However, in most cases, limiting cross-faction cooperation only fragments a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries.”

It’s true. Right now, I could care less about PvP, and the only time I care about the different factions is when it comes to the storyline between them.

Essentially, Funcom, your game can be so much more than it is. Your storylines and missions are some of the greatest from any game I’ve ever played. Your settings are fascinating and your attention to detail is top-notch. But by holding to old MMO conventions that keep the casual playerbase apart from each other, you’re holding yourself back.

Make these changes, and I can guarantee you’ll see an increase to not only your playerbase, but their overall enjoyment of the game.

// Ocho