Archive Page 2

Rise of Kunark

I wish I could get screenshots of the game, but unfortunately that is still disabled on the beta servers. However, NDA is now lifted so I feel like talking about it.

First, the obvious comparison with EoF. The devs have been talking about how they wanted to copy EoF’s successes with this expansion… well I don’t think they did. EoF to me is still far and away a better expansion. Now here’s why….

The first thing you tend to notice in the expansion (depending on where you start), is size. This is an obvious nod towards EoF. This part I love. You thought everything was big in EoF? Multiply it by 3! The zones themselves seem to be about 2 or 3 times bigger than your average EoF zone. For instance, the average RoK zone has 3-4 pages of maps. If you look at these maps, the feature I notice most is that those wings that we see for cloud lifts in KoS and the zone in symbols are a fraction of the size we are used to seeing them, at least half the size. Which means even though there are multiple pages, each page is much bigger in size than your average page from the old maps (they do now have a zoom feature to help you see things close up too). Not only are the size of the zones big, so are the points of interest. One of the first awe inspiring moments I had was in the mountains in the first zone where there is a little outpost. This “little” (I say that as there really isn’t much there) outpost has spires towering over it that I swear are at least 50 times the size of the spires you can teleport to KoS from, they are huge. Underneath them is a bunch of pyramids (not the CT style but more Egyptian instead, actually look a little sci-fi in appearance). The reason these are awe-inspiring is that you don’t see them build up, they are hidden by a mountain peak, so you turn a corner and you see it all… it is awesome. The devs have gotten so much better in zone design with each expansion and this one is no exception.

Once you get past the bigness however, the second thing you notice tends to be…. “My God, this looks like WoW! Ewww!” Don’t get me wrong, some of the new graphics are cool, I particularly like the formerly mentioned pyramids, many of the zone in areas (like the castle, veeshan’s peak, etc) and a number of the new creatures (like the spider people, the iksar/scorpions, the wurms, the new yetis, the cockatrices, and there are a few more that I won’t mention here). However, some of it makes the game seem downright cartoony, and I don’t want to spend my life playing a cartoon world, if I did I’d play wow or toon town. The trees seem ripped straight from wow, they even have a railroad track through a sarnak mine that seemed stolen from the newbie area of WoW. it is overly colourful (of which I’ll be honest in saying colour is good, but it is unrelenting). I thought Kunark in EQ1 was supposed to be a dark and brooding expansion, here it seems bright and cheery.

However, I do like much of it’s kind of primitave feel. Cockatrice’s, Sabretooth Lions, werewolves, giants, wurms, wyverns, droags, etc. make it feel like you are visiting a fantasy dinosaur land. Especially with looming volcanos (the SkyFire Mountains). This is a nice feal, and certainly a new type of feel that we haven’t seen yet in EQ2. The main types of zones seem to be Badlands, Volcano Range, Large Pine Forest, Snow Mountains, a gully area, and I know there is an underwater zone which i haven’t been able to find quite yet.

The Sarnak, I’ve never been too fond of appearances since they released the first pictures, but I do think there will be a number of people who hated the Fae & Arasai who will like the Sarnak. It is a shame they made them evil because they would make great paladins. They have high wisdom, str, and stamina I believe (although it may have been agility instead of strength). Their racial traits include +wis, the firebreathing aoe that had been mentioned, falling damage reduction, healing crit & heal skill buff, taunting resistance reduction buff, think maybe a +sta, and then a couple tradeskills. I think it is best suited for Pally, but I do think it would still see quite a bit of use as other tanks and priests as well.

The reports of a new flying mount is true, sort of. However, in reality it is just a new way to do the griffons. You have to do a 5 step quest which as a reward you get a pet and a flying mount. However, you can only use these flying mounts at various shrines throughout the zone to other similar shrines. Thus the concept is the same as the griffon. It is nice to see graphic variation though, I think they noted that people really liked the horses for GF and LF in EoF. From what I’ve heard the new rhino mount is the reward for being guild level 80. I don’t know what other rewards are involved from 60-80, but I think the rhino is the 80 reward.

Another reason I really feel that this isn’t as good of an expansion as EoF is besides the largeness of the zones and the persistent instances, there really isn’t much NEW to it. EoF brought with it an entire new AA tree, 50 points, 8 gods, cloaks, 2nd earring slot, tinkering, transmuting, and portal spells. RoK is bringing 3 new gods, 40 AA points, and 10 levels to every side (including 20 guild levels). I think the main point they are making is the levels, as they almost didn’t even put in the 40 AA. The levels are great, and well needed addition to the game (I think people were more than a little bored of the 70 level limit by this point), but I would have liked to see SOME new feature to the expansion that was more than just cosmetic like the bigger zones. In a way I was kind of hoping for a third new secondary tradeskill as I feel the choice of just 2 was limiting (I was really hoping for an appearance adjusting secondary tradeskill).

From what little i’ve seen of the beta, I would give the expansion about a B-. Cheesey graphics and lack of new features being the negatives, and big zones, monuments, level raise being the positives. Sarnak kind of fall in between, I do appreciate that they didn’t just pick random animal and turn it into a biped like many fantasy creators seem to.

Of course, this grade was given without a huge amount of playtime put into it. I mostly have just kind of looked around at the new zones, found out where some basic things were, and seen if there was anything new that they haven’t really talked about. I am in no rush to ruin the content. With expansions only coming 1 time a year, we are going to be living with these new zones for a year, and I am sure by this time next year we will be quite sick of these zones because this is all we have for 74-85. Why would I want to rush me being sick of it?

EQ2-Daily Props

About a year ago or maybe more, I had started a site whose purpose was to provide the EQ2 community with current news on the status of the game. Part of this was because most of the news out there was fairly bad and ill-reported. I wanted to provide more than just random crap put together in a badly designed website that was eq2-daily.com. My site was cleanly put together, I didn’t just post everything that I found, I tried to keep it new, relavant and interesting. Despite the fact that I had a stable amount of visitors and I was doing fine, I decided to close the site because I just didn’t have the time to do it alone and could not find others to help.

So a few months ago, EQ2-Daily went through a redesign and after some visitation I must admit that their site is now perhaps the best MMO news site design online that I have seen anywhere. It is extremely intuitive, very clean looking, no longer the eyesore that it once was, and very well laid out. Props to whoever did the design.

Their news is still basic at best and more an aggrigator for blogs and other news sites than actual EQ2 news, but the site design is now great which was one of my original complaints about it. I would still like to see them gear away from the wiki (as eq2i is way better and theirs is taking away possible submissions), and start adding more stories from developers themselves.. for instance, while it is easy to actually go yourself to the official forums and see developer posts, it’d be nice if someone would post the good ones so you don’t have to wade through devs posting such gems as “lol” to get to the real posts where they are talking about new features coming out and why they did them. Those stories are still absent and it is shameful, the only time you can hear from a developer about the game is by digging or on the occasion that they do an interview with a different site.

Laxxed

I have been kind of laxxed the last few weeks on updating this site. It has been a very trying couple of weeks and when push comes to shove, I just have not really felt like it.

Last week I got an F on a paper for my Frank Lloyd Wright class and this kind of put me in a tale-spin. I feel that this is my favorite class, that I am learning the most from it, and that the paper I wrote was among my best papers over the last couple of years (of which my worst grade has been a low B). With only two total papers I felt the only thing left to do was to drop the course entirely. This was a very difficult decision because I really did like the class, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter for my graduation so I just decided to kick it. It will help me get a little more time at any rate.

However, this drop will leave me without my best study time which has been the four to five hours between classes on Tuesdays. Because of this, I decided that I will stick around campus for an hour or two after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in order to make up the time. And sometimes I plan to still go to my FLW class as the prof doesn’t take any attendance. I really have found that I get much better studying done away from home than at home. I get too distracted there.

As if this wasn’t enough for my psyche, I have been having a wealth of “relationship” dreams which have been putting me into a state of eternal loneliness. I haven’t really felt that I could talk to my roommate about any of these problems either so I have this sense of being alone that I just haven’t felt in a very long time, if ever. I feel very alone right now, both for not having a girlfriend, and for not having anyone that I feel that I can reliably talk to who actually understands what I am going through.

It isn’t all bad though. I’ve been really getting into my books from Recent fiction and my recent paper for it came very easily to me which I was happy about. In addition to this, I saw Across the Universe this past weekend and this combination has left me feeling very artsy. Because of this, I have gotten back into writing my book and I am pleased with this progress. I feel like I really am doing a better job at fleshing out my story, though sometimes I think I am setting into the details a little too much.

Busy Busy

Been busy of late. On Sunday, I have a  2-3 page paper that I still haven’t even really started, though I think I can finish that tomorrow. I have a 15-minute presentation due on Monday which i’ve just barely started but have no idea where I’m going on it. And the following Monday I have a 5 page paper due that I’m still figuring out a topic for.

On top of all that this week I have been suffering from a major bleed in my left elbow that has been keeping me on Oxycodone almost completely non-stop for the last 3 days. I took my medicine on Wednesday morning and that stopped the throbbing, but it is still painful so today I am going in for a second infusion. Being drugged and in pain, not to mention the constant sleeping due to the drugged bit, has made it difficult for me to start on these projects which is part of the reason that I haven’t really started the two first projects until now. I also missed my day of study on Tuesday because I needed to come home and take some oxycodone cause I was in too much pain and that often puts me behind on homework.

To make matters worse, my roommate is going on a date tonight in which the guy will be coming over to get ready before hand so we have been cleaning the house a lot the last couple of days, taking up even more of my time. And tonight I get my daughter which will make working on my projects difficult, and I need to stop and get lunch I think before I go to get my medicine because I’m starving and don’t really want to make something. Though I’ve been going out to eat a lot lately which I can’t afford to do so I think I just need to make something here and eat it. Would be healthier that way anyway.

When it rains it pours.

Side note

As a side note for my site today… I had totally forgotten about my colour for this week and because of that wrote the previous post. I had then considered that I would work on it today, but instead have decided to put it off for a week as I try to get caught up in classes and get a paper that is due next Friday done today instead so that I can get started on another paper further out that is more important. I am starting to think I need more time than the last couple of days to write a paper just to ensure that I get a chance to proof read and make it better than average.

Bloodline Chronicles

I recently bought Bloodline Chronicles for EQ2. This was SOE’s first adventure pack and I never really bothered because SOE made a point to say these weren’t necessary, and it launched toward the end of my first stint with EQ2 which by the time I got back Splitpaw was out and that was far preferred at the time. Well recently SOE has revamped a little of this adventure pack, adding Vampire Master and I felt that this was a worthy thing to have for EoF raids (which are Vampire intensive at times) so I went out and bought it.

Now I have played through the main quests with one character and almost done with them on a second, I have decided that I fairly like the pack. The zones themselves have a fairly simple layout, but the pinkish caves with blood red crystals throughout are different and interesting. The addition of vampires are boring due to their look being very near identical to the elves or dark elves, but other creatures used in the zone are lesser used models such as the blue goblins, the hellhounds, the big giant snakey looking things. I’m not sure if these were invented for this pack, and later used in future expansions as the vampire were, but they are all very interesting in use given how little you really see them elsewhere.

The two big features touted in this pack were breakable walls and single shot items such as wands that do dmg and potions that heal or give power. Both I think were rather minor. I like walls here better than splitpaw largely because I don’t have to find a barrel to break them, but overall unimportant. Overall, I still think this is badly designed… something like this should be obvious to the player how to deal with it… I kept looking for a barrel due to splitpaw and took awhile to figure out that I could just hit it. There wasn’t any tutorial or anything to rely on, which I suppose is more realistic, but I’m just too stupid to really figure it out on my own, and considering how small a feature it was it seemed odd to me that it took so much effort.

The one shots too were bland. It was a good idea, and they may work well for a level 35, but they don’t scale and SOE dropped it. I mean at level 70 gaining 10-15 power isn’t much use in reality, and thus this aspect is completely lost. Which is too bad as it seemed like a focus to SOE for this.

To Commence or not…

So it is getting to the time where I really have to decide whether I want to go to the UW commencement ceremonies and get a yearbook picture taken and the whole nine yards or not. This has actually turned out to be a rather difficult decision on my part. At first, I was just giving a flat no to any who asked… fully intending NOT to do it. It isn’t my style after all… I think graduation ceremonies are boring as heck and far far over rated. I never really have felt a desire in all my life to go to these things…

But then, I only get one chance here, and ever since I was a little kid I wanted to go to the UW Madison. In fact, to this day it is one of my proudest moments, that I not only made it in, but that I am doing a fairly good job at being here. I love being at this college. So I sit and contemplate it because I wonder if I will regret it. It is a huge accomplishment of one of my very first goals in life and maybe I should take a moment to be proud of it. Yeah it’s a retarded thing to have these ceremonies… they are always overly pompous and sitting and watching 5000 students graduate leaves much to be desired… but still…. will I regret it if I don’t? Who knows what man I will be in 20 years… I may appreciate looking back at all things I did in my life and knowing that more than just I recognized it….