Dark Souls – Catching Up

Don’t really having time to write up every boss fight in Dark Souls right now, but here is a quick summary of the bosses and mini-bosses Sir Thomas the Knight has gotten through.

Havel The Rock

A mini-boss waiting at the bottom of the Watchtower right before the Taurus Demon. He hits really hard and takes a ton of damage, but is otherwise fairly straightforward. He drops Havel’s Ring, which boosts your carrying capacity (and typically increases your movement speed).

Iron Golem

Iron_Golem

This massive automaton lies at the end of Sen’s Fortress and guards the way to Anor Londo. The fight was mechanically not very difficult (basically don’t get hit), however the space is tight and one wrong move will send you plummeting to your death.

Undead Dragon

A hideous, rotting dragon mini-boss that clings to the side of a mountain path in the Valley of Drakes and spits poison at any who stray too close.

Stray Demon

Found back in the Undead Asylum, the very first area in the game. You need to find a pseudo-secret area in Firelink Shrine to get back there. I went back because I saw/read that there was a nice ring to find and I wanted to see how I fared against the boss. At first I didn’t think I would be able to withstand the punishing hits and magic explosions, but the attack patterns became apparent fairly quickly for me and then it became a straightforward fight. As always, your mileage may vary.

Darkroot Hydra

Another mini-boss, but still a terrifying spectacle found in the lake of Darkroot Basin near the crystal golems and Havel’s Watchtower. Fortunately its bark is bigger than its bite and it’s not hard to defeat after you get close enough. Once the Hydra is defeated, you can climb a ladder that leads to another forest area where Sif, the Great Grey Wolf awaits.

Sif, the Great Grey Wolf

Sif_Great_Grey_Wolf

An adorable husky that picks up a tremendously large sword in its mouth to fight you. You wouldn’t think a wolf would be able to pull that off but I saw it with my own eyes. Sif is fast and has at least one devastating one-shot kill attack. The fight required a lot of patience. I wasn’t expecting to face a boss but I stumbled on him while exploring Darkroot.

Pinwheel

A creepy spell-caster boss found at the end of the skeleton-filled Catacombs, which are down the steps down past the big black bird at Firelink Shrine. Pinwheel turned out to be a rather simple boss for me and I killed him/her/it on the first try. After killing Pinwheel you get to move on to the Tomb of the Giants, another bastard of an area that’s even more bastardly than Blighttown.

At this point, after wandering all over the place, I finally figured out how to progress in Anor Londo, so I headed back there to find the Lordvessel.

P.S. The horrifyingly bad images in this post were grabbed from video stills. I have failed to take any screenshots of Dark Souls bosses. (Mostly because in the time it takes to capture a screenshot, I’d probably get killed.)

Quake CTF Nostalgia – CC vs. DPS

This is off topic for this blog, but my old Crayola Clan mate ]CC[-Orange converted some of our Quake CTF match demos into videos. It’s not an exact copy of what we would have seen on our monitors back then (we probably ran at 800×600, and the fov looks higher than I remember) but it’s close.

Quake 2 CTF

Most of the time I was average, but this one Quake 2 match I was “on” so this is how I will choose to remember my performance from the good old days. :)

This is what “e-sports” looked like before it got all commercial and weird. It’s a 30-minute match so it goes on forever (matches were usually 20 minutes). In summary, the match was close at the beginning but then we pulled things together and ended up with a solid win.

I think I said in an earlier post that I hated the Railgun, but in this one match I sure used it a lot. (There was even an impossibly lucky spinning mid-air shot which undoubtedly caused the other team to think I was running a hack.) If memory serves, there was always more Railgun ammo around than Rocket Launcher ammo on that map so sometimes you had no choice. Also if you got on a “hot streak” with the Railgun it was sometimes better to stick with it.

I had a tendency to play very defensively in Quake, which you can see in this match. I figured it was more strategically important to stay alive and “geared up” for the long-term even if it meant a short-term loss of a flag. Every time you died, you had to spend a certain amount of time gearing back up during which you were pretty useless to the team, so I tried not to die, ever. Results varied.

Posted on Blaugust Day 19. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Pay-to-Win

I don’t think I’ve written about pay-to-win before, mostly on purpose. Frankly I think most of the outrage is entirely manufactured. But I posted a brief comment on Jef Reahard’s controversial MassivelyOP post to the effect that “pay-to-win” is one of those emotionally-charged terms like “climate change” or “gun control” that evokes instantaneous knee-jerk, black-and-white responses, so it’s a dangerous road to travel as a blogger.

Because in reality it’s a very complicated subject with many shades of gray, and it requires us to sit down and think long and hard about our gaming goals and values and who’s got time for any of that?

USCurrency_Federal_Reserve

So I won’t say much about it. Except that in order to have any kind of productive discussion about free-to-play MMORPGs and cash shops and the line between fair and exploitive, we need to first define what pay-to-win actually means (other than a pejorative shortcut for “the Internet mob disapproves”). And before we can do that we have to define the winning conditions for an MMORPG.

Of course that answer is: It depends. It’s entirely subjective depending on who you talk to. So no help there.

I feel like the core issue in the pay-to-win argument is whether a person who plays the game for a lot of hours deserves to have access to more “stuff” than a person who plays the game for fewer hours. In the past, people who spent lots and lots of time playing an MMORPG tended to accumulate more stuff, and the more stuff they accumulated, the more content they’re able to access, which in turn allowed them to acquire even more stuff. Right or wrong, many people measure their success in an MMORPG by how much stuff they possess.

Of course when the stuff is lying about in a cash shop, players no longer need to invest any time to accumulate their stuff. Time ceases to be the only means to achieve greatness.

Unfortunately this tends to leave traditional MMORPG players feeling like their playing time has no value, and incidentally it also wipes out any semblance of immersion in what used to be a virtual world experience.

Posted on Blaugust Day 18. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

 

Dark Souls – Screenshots

Have some Dark Souls screenshots to start your work week.

I am absolutely in love with the “look” of this game. I’ve always been a big fan of realism in game graphics and this game looks like you could reach out and touch what’s happening on the screen, at least after you install the DSfix mod.

Tomb of the Giants

Before I found out that Anor Londo was the place I needed to go, I wandered around The Catacombs and the Tomb of the Giants for quite a while. The Tomb is so dark you actually have to find and use a hideous skull lantern to see more than two steps ahead. My Knight is seen here wielding the enormous, heavy Dark Knight sword you get from the Undead Parish: I got so sick of those Skeletons down there that I pulled out something that would smash them flat.

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Havel’s Armor

I stumbled upon a set of Havel’s Armor hidden behind a secret illusory wall in Anor Londo. Havel The Rock is a mini-boss at the bottom of a Watchtower who appears to be clad granite armor. Indeed, the armor is so heavy it’s impossible for me to use yet–my Knight could barely even lift the shield into position (it required 50 strength!). But it was quite funny to stomp around–slowly–like an invincible Terminator for a little while. At least until I discovered I wasn’t invincible at all.

Havel's Armor

Darkroot Waterfall

After defeating The Hydra (which, I discovered, is not even a full boss), there is a long, long ladder you can climb up beside a waterfall that eventually leads to Sif, The Great Grey Wolf. And yes, one time I wasn’t paying attention, walked off the edge, and died.

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Demon Lava

After defeating Chaos Witch Quelaag, a passage leads down into the fiery domain of The Demon Ruins. I haven’t explored it yet, because, I mean, just look at it. Who wants to go into that?

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Kingseeker Frampt Comes Alive

After you ring the second Bell of Awakening, this freakish … thing … appears in Firelink Shrine. I passed by him a hundred times before I realized you can talk to him and learn where to go next (Sen’s Fortress and Anor Londo). He is also a vendor of sorts that can turn your items into souls.

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Posted on Blaugust Day 17. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

ArcheAge – Server Merges aka. Evolution

ArcheAge is merging servers, and of course all of the ones I play(ed) on are affected: Naima and Calleil. (Of course those two aren’t merging together, so I’m still going to end up on two different servers: Kraken and Hanure.) So it looks like if you didn’t stick with one of the very first full servers with all-day queues, you’re getting merged.

Out of curiosity I logged in to see what the game looks like now. It’s still on my to-do list to finish leveling my Elf from 48 to 50, which probably wouldn’t take more than a day. Oh, actually I guess it’s 55 now. Or is it more now? Clearly I haven’t been paying attention. I dread trying to play again, though, because as with most MMORPGs, I fear the re-learning curve. It’s probably not that bad with ArcheAge, but still, it was a dangerous world out there at level 48.

ArcheAge Blue

My first surprise when I logged in was seeing a completely different blue loading window. I’d swear it didn’t look like that the last time I played, but that can’t be true. It can’t be that I haven’t logged in even once since whatever that expansion was that raised the level cap to 55. Or maybe it’s changed more than once? Now that I think about it, I have a vague recollection of seeing a different loading window since the original green one, but I sure don’t remember it being blue. Maybe the Leviathan expansion changed the window again. This picture looks pretty Leviathan-y:

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And as soon as I got into the game world I remembered why I haven’t played any more: I can’t be bothered to setup my hotkeys again. Somewhere along the way they were lost. And as soon as I tried to collect the junk that’s been collecting in my mail (retroactive gifts for reaching levels 35, 40, and 45) I discovered a second reason why I haven’t played: My inventory is full and I can’t be bothered to sort it out.

Also, since I’m not a Patron anymore, I only have a pathetic 1015 Labor Points (and only 2000 maximum!). It’s like I’m not even a real person in the game. I miss the days when I would login to find my Labor Points sitting nicely at 5000. Now I have to login and let the game sit there to gain Labor Points, or use one of the various tricks to run in circles and stay online all day at work.

But hey, it’s not like I can do anything with Labor Points anyway, since I don’t own any land. I’m below the poverty level in ArcheAge.

Speaking of which, I love some of the transfer restrictions Trion has put in place. “You may not possess over 200,000 gold.” Ha! I have 306 gold. Perusing over the list of restrictions, it looks like I meet all of the criteria so maybe I should transfer to Kyrios, where all the cool kids used to play.

But I probably won’t. I’ll just continue to do nothing and go through the merge. It’s no skin off my nose either way.

Here’s what I don’t understand about Trion’s “Evolution:” What is the deal with Option 3, starting on Fresh Start servers? If they create a new server, what is the point of merging the others together? They’ll still end up with low population servers after the merge.

Posted on Blaugust Day 16. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Project Gorgon – The New Black?

About a year ago I installed Project Gorgon and played around in the starter cave. It was mildly interesting but of course it wasn’t finished, the graphics were terrible, and there are so many other things to play. So I put it away again, filing it in the back of my mind.

Now suddenly everyone is talking about Project Gorgon. And by everyone I mean MassivelyOP which apparently has turned into the all-Gorgon-all-the-time site. :) Not that there’s anything wrong with that I guess–it’s not like Project Gorgon is a multi-billion-dollar corporation. It’s just a guy and his wife. At this stage in their development it doesn’t bother me to see them getting a media spotlight. And besides, it’s such a niche game that a thousand suns of media spotlight couldn’t possibly make it a mainstream hit.

Anyway I installed it again recently and played around in the starter cave, which is much better than it was last year. It’s still mildly interesting–maybe even somewhat interesting–but it’s still not finished and the graphics are still terrible. If we were living in 1999, the graphics would be awesome, but alas we aren’t.

Hey, it's a shrine just sitting out here in the middle of nowhere. Cool!
Hey, it’s a shrine just sitting out here in the middle of nowhere. Cool!

Still, there’s something very appealing about the game. Maybe not the game itself but the idea of the game. The idea of throwing out any pretense of trying to make a polished audio-visual experience and focusing in on interesting RPG elements is a revolutionary idea. The idea of making a game for role-players is revolutionary, and I think that’s the main reason MassivelyOP is so enamored with it. (I get the impression that 90% of their staff are role-players.)

For myself, I thought it was awesome that I could charm a rat.

The game definitely has a lot of old-school nostalgia appeal to it. It feels a lot like playing Asheron’s Call back in the day. (AC is my nostalgic MMORPG, not EverQuest.) It doesn’t play anything like AC, but the sense of “I wonder what’s over there and I wonder what that is?” is definitely there. The world feels really vast, too, which is something that’s lacking in a lot of modern MMORPGs.

 

Besides, how can you not love these kinds of patch notes? “Bugs! There are some.” LOL.

Gorgon Launcher Notes
“Weird stuff happens routinely!” That’s awesome.

Anyway I’m still keeping an eye on it and I hope it goes the distance.

Posted on Blaugust Day 15. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Dark Souls – Moonlight Butterfly Defeated

After defeating Chaos Witch Quelaag, ringing the second bell, and leaving Blighttown, our intrepid Knight Sir Thomas wandered far and wide looking for the right path. His journey took him back to the Undead Parish bonfire, past Andre the Blacksmith, to Darkroot Garden, where the Demonic Foliage lives. (I’m not making that up.)

Darkroot is also home to a clan of Giant Stone Knights, napping among the trees. You’d think they would welcome a fellow Knight, but they did not. Apparently they don’t like to be woken up. Fortunately they are slow and easily dispatched.

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The last Stone Knight slept before an ancient ruin, with an unexpected doorway of white light at the top of the stairs. Not having any other plans, Sir Thomas walked through and found himself stuck on a bridge facing the Moonlight Butterfly boss fluttering not very far away.

At first I didn’t think I would be able to handle it because it hovers out of melee range for quite a while, shooting green glowy magic thingys. But after dying a number of times I discovered that if you stay alive long enough, the butterfly will cross overhead to the other side of the bridge and land, waiting patiently there for a while so you can run in and kill it. If you don’t kill it fast enough, presumably you’d have to endure another barrage of green magic before it lands again. I was able to bring it down pretty fast by two-handing my Halberd, which by then had been upgraded to at least Raw +1.

After defeating the Moonlight Butterfly, the bridge led to the workshop of a blacksmith who had been turned to stone while clutching a Watchtower Basement Key and a Divine Ember. Sir Thomas was no closer to his goal, but at least he could open a new door.

Posted on Blaugust Day 14. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Dark Souls – Chaos Witch Quelaag Defeated

Previously on Dark Souls, our intrepid Knight Thomas dispatched the Gaping Dragon on his way through The Depths. The Gaping Dragon dropped a key which opened a door leading to Blighttown, a total bastard of a zone, pardon my French.

Let’s just say that Thomas the Knight died a lot–sometimes from falling but mostly from getting poisoned. Not just regular poison, either. Super-duper “toxic” poison, delivered by friendly neighborhood Blowdart Snipers hiding in hard-to-reach areas, spitting deadly darts rapid-fire while you climb up and down ladders and navigate across shaky wooden bridges, dodging Ghouls and Flaming Attack Dogs. Even after abandoning his knightly armor and switching to poison-resistant Thief gear, Thomas the Knight was quite sick most of the time.

Blighttown Swamp

Eventually Thomas the Knight made it all the way to the bottom of Blighttown to reach a swamp filled with annoying poisonous mosquitos and murky poisonous water. At least it was “only” regular poison. At the end of that swamp lay Quelaag’s Domain and the lair of Chaos Witch Quelaag, the boss guarding the second bell.

It “only” took me 18 tries to defeat the Chaos Witch, which I take as a sign that I’m finally getting the hang of this game. It didn’t take me long to give up on trying to avoid getting poisoned in that swamp, so every time I had to start out with a slow drain of health. Thankfully as a Knight you get a lot of health so it wasn’t that much of an issue. I continued using my trusty Halberd and Tower Shield in that fight, but I switched to the Wanderer’s armor set because it had a higher fire resistance.

I discovered by accident that if you run right up in her face, she can’t hit you very well with her Firesword. (Every boss seems to have one vulnerability like that.) Then the only other thing I had to watch out for was the Red Glowy Attack (a highly technical name I have given it). I was able to block the brunt of it with the Tower Shield but if it ever went off unexpectedly it would usually one-shot me. (In subsequent fights on other characters I learned it was better to run away from it instead of trying to block it–it’s a short-range AoE.) Otherwise I just had to stay to the side so she wouldn’t spit lava on me.

(The sound is all screwed up in the following YouTube Gaming video. I had the game sound way too low compared to the webcam, so don’t turn it up too loud. :)

After the Chaos Witch was dead, Thomas the Knight was able to find and ring the second bell, opening the gate leading to Sen’s Fortress and many further adventures.

Posted on Blaugust Day 13. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.