Progression Report – September 2015

September’s report is again pretty easy: No MMORPG progression, however quite a lot of Dark Souls progression. I started Dark Souls II on roughly the 5th and as of this writing, I’ve completed the main storyline and have moved on to the post-launch DLC content on my first character. I’ve been posting a video series of my play-through on YouTube for those who might be inclined to watch.

Dark Souls II Ancient Dragon

I’m starting to get a little tired of the Dark Souls rabbit hole (the Dark Souls II DLC content is getting pretty frustrating), so I might finally get back to some MMORPGs soon. SWTOR is still beckoning with that 12x experience thing that is probably going to end when the expansion launches on October 27th, so I don’t have much time left. Of course I still have much to accomplish in FFXIV, but there’s no time limit there. Rift and Star Trek Online both have new stuff coming soon.

Progression Report – August 2015

August was a very easy month to summarize gaming-wise: Dark Souls, Dark Souls, and more Dark Souls, for a total of 132 hours. My Knight is about halfway through NG+ at the moment, and I can still see myself playing this game for a long time to come. I want to finish with my Sorcerer and my Thief, then try a Cleric and a Pyromancer.

Dark Souls Kiln of the First Flame

In the MMORPG space, my second and third most-played games in August were FFXIV and Skyforge, for a whopping one hour each. I would like to get back to leveling in FFXIV, SWTOR, and possibly even STO. SWTOR has that 12x experience thing that I don’t want to miss (for subscribers only though I think). I might have already missed the super-fast leveling event(s?) in STO. The Rift Primalist is on the horizon as well. And through my hazy Dark Souls fog I think I heard that Heart of Thorns now has a release date, which means maybe I should try to finish that cursed Living Story.

P.S. Thanks to Belghast for naming me a Blaugust Survivor!

The Great Blaugust Flame-Out

I flamed out of Blaugust, so I guess I can now break my own self-imposed Blaugust rule, which was not to write about Blaugust.

There was this one day that I hadn’t scheduled a post, and it was a long, terrible day at work, and when I got home I had to decide whether to try to find enough energy to write a post real quick or play a game instead, and of course that was a no-brainer so I didn’t get a post out that day. I suppose I could have written a make-up post but then there was another day where I had to make the same decision and then another and another and now it’s a different month and oh well.

(Okay, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Hindenburg disaster.)
Okay, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Hindenburg disaster.

I got what I needed out of the event so I’m pretty happy about it anyway. I determined that writing is still hard, and posting daily is still hard, and, while I’m still capable of doing it, at this time in my life, the cost of posting every day outweighs the benefit. It’s not a relaxing diversion after a long draining day at work. I’d rather just play games and maybe post two or three times a week if I’m lucky. :)

Congratulations to everyone who stuck with it through to the end! And to those who didn’t, that’s okay too. Thanks for the event Belghast!

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


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


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.


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.


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?


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.

DARKSOULS 2015-08-15 11-18-08-92

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.

DARKSOULS 2015-08-11 20-57-12-59

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?

DARKSOULS 2015-08-01 16-53-08-72

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.

DARKSOULS 2015-08-08 08-14-37-00

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:

ARCHEAGE 2015-08-16 08-35-28-51

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.