The Vault, The Whale, and Some GW2

I’ve slowed down a bit, but I’m still making progress in Heavensward. I made it to level 57 and got through The Vault after putting it off for half a week. The last boss with all the chess pieces (or robot horse-men as I call them) was actually kind of fun. The post-dungeon cut scenes were less fun.

ffxiv_09252016_083603
Sad kitty is sad.

After The Vault I was sent back to another part of the Sea of Clouds, and shortly thereafter I was asked to fight a big whale in The Limitless Blue. Thankfully 8-man trials are less intimidating than 4-man dungeons. I was going to do it Monday but of course FFXIV was down for maintenance, so I ended up completing it tonight. The first time through everybody kept dying for some reason and people dropped from the group (I don’t think it my fault), but the second time we got through it on the first try.

In other news, I logged into Guild Wars 2 again to grab the Living Story Season 3, Episode 2. I thought about starting season 3 but I want to finish the Heart of Thorns personal story first, so I pushed ahead into Chapter 8, the point where I last left off. For my own future reference, Chapter 8 involved Glint’s Egg and three puzzles. As usual, I felt like I was playing a foreign game that bore no resemblance to the GW2 I bought back in 2012, but I finished it without too much trouble. In another six months, perhaps I’ll get to Chapter 9.

gw2-chapter8
The great city of over-saturated color, somewhere in Heart of Thorns.

I then noticed that I had a Level 80 character boost sitting in my inventory. I have no idea when or why I got that, but it’s pretty cool. It’s the best implementation of a level boost I’ve ever seen. (Of the, um, two that I’ve actually seen in action.) You can try out every class at Level 80 before committing to the one you want.

I already have Necromancer, Ranger, Guardian, and Revenant at 80, so I tried out Engineer, Elementalist, Warrior, Mesmer, and Thief. They all play pretty much exactly the same at 80 as they do at 20-something, so I didn’t learn much about the classes. I figured I would decide which one I least liked to play, and boost that one. Unfortunately I couldn’t decide. It’s a tie between Engineer, Elementalist, and Thief for least fun class, so the boost remains unused.

In the meantime I started playing Mesmer again. In trying it at level 80, I remembered that I’ve always liked it. I used one of those Birthday XP Boosters which lasts for 24 hours, then roamed around low-level areas doing events and world bosses and unlocking hero points. It was fun. I thought about using a level 40 boost to speed things up, but leveling is the best part of GW2. It’s slower than I remember, though. I only made it up to 30, even with the XP boost.

Moving Old PC, Building New PC

I drove back to the old house after work Wednesday to pick up some things to improve my camping experience in the new house, and while I was there I unplugged my PC and a monitor and threw it into the car. (Not literally. But close, because it’s still frickin’ hot as hell, and after less than a half hour of moving around in the old house, sweat was pouring off of me in rivers and I felt like I could barely stand up from the weight of all the humidity pressing down on me. It’s possible I’m not in the greatest of shape.)

I wasn’t planning to bring over the PC, but circumstances forced my hand. I sat down in the sweltering computer room to log into Guild Wars 2 so I could get my Living Story Season 3 episode unlocked, and of course the launcher launched into a game update which looked like it would take hours. I watched the progress bar for a few seconds, sighed, said to hell with it, shut down the computer, and commenced ripping out cables. Now that I’ve moved my PC, there’s definitely no going back to the old house.

Of course, as I think I mentioned before, I don’t have any tables or desks or anything at the new house yet, so I had to setup the PC on the floor. It’s not ideal. It would be tolerable for playing controller games but naturally I forgot to bring over my controller. So I tried to play LotRO*, continuing my feeble efforts to try to see the whole game before they shut it down, but it was not fun. Too much contortion was required to access a mouse and keyboard. I turned in one quest, picked up a few others, killed one mob, and logged off.

But at least I got the GW2 Living Story thingy unlocked, which was the whole point of moving the PC in the first place. Maybe someday I will actually play it. I haven’t finished the Heart of Thorns story yet and while I know it’s not required to play the Living Story, it feels like it would be cheating to skip it.

The new gaming PC, by the way, sits partially assembled on a kitchen counter. I don’t have nearly as much patience for putting together PCs as I used to, so I only work on it in small chunks. The latest obstacle is that I can’t quite puzzle out from the rather obtuse MSI motherboard manual which SATA connectors I should be using for the SSD and spinny hard drive. There are 6 connectors and while it seems fairly intuitive to use 1 and 2, the manual seems to imply, with a series of unintelligable illustrations, that some connectors support some SATA features while others don’t. Trial and error would normally be my friend here, but because the SATA connectors are hard to get to (being on the edge of the motherboard, jammed up against the hard drive bays), I want to make sure I get it right on the first try. I’m probably overthinking it.

The new case for the new gaming PC is like nothing else I’ve seen before, by the way. I spent a little extra on a "gaming" case (which basically just means it’s slightly more interesting to look at than a plain rectangular box, and also it has like 17 fans built in). It’s the first case I’ve ever seen where the power supply is below the motherboard instead of above it. I think I like it.

* It seems like every time I try to play LotRO, I have to sit through a half hour of game updates, and by the time they are done, I have moved on to something else and don’t want to play anymore.

Black Desert Cash Shop

On the subject of the Black Desert cash shop, I agree that it’s a little steep. Or perhaps I should say that you don’t get enough in-game value for the money you spend. I’ll get to the specifics later.

First I want to highlight something I think is good about the BDO cash shop: They don’t shove it in your face in every window that comes up. There’s no popup window when you login that shows you all the sales and exhorts you to “Go buy stuff now!” If I didn’t know there was a cash shop, I might have totally overlooked that Pearl Store button in settings. That alone is worth the $30 admission.

I’m glad that I didn’t get the higher priced editions (I don’t think I could have even if I’d wanted to, because I was lazy and never pre-ordered). The only thing I saw in them that I might have wanted was the horse (at least, of the things that I understood at the time), and it turns out that it’s not that hard to get a horse in the game, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything there. Now that I know pets collect loot for you, I kind of wish I’d gotten one, but it’s hard to miss a convenience I’ve never experienced. (I end up leaving half of my loot on the ground. You never get anything good anyway.)

I’ve so far been able to avoid spending any money in the cash shop, but I think it’s only because of my somewhat negative experience with buying from the Neverwinter cash shop soon after that launch. I bought too much stuff there which turned out to be fairly useless in the long term, so I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude in BDO.

Naturally, as with all modern games, inventory and storage space is a big problem so far in BDO. It will undoubtedly be my first purchase. But I’m waiting to see if it’s going to be a persistent problem or another case where I need to shift my thinking away from “the way MMORPGs have always been” to some other BDO style of thinking. Every major town has its own storage area, and they are independent of each other. So if you fill up your storage in one town, you can just go to a different town which has empty storage. So I’m trying a strategy of putting X type of items in town A, and Y type of items in town B, so I’ll know to go to town A to do X activity, and go to town B to do Y activity. (You can ship items from one storage to another using the Transport system at a price.)

Something else that helps is that I’ve adopted the attitude (which was inspired by Matt’s first MassivelyOP column on Black Desert) that if I don’t think I’m going to use an item in the next hour or need it for a specific quest, I’m going to sell it or drop it. Especially if it’s a gathering resource. I’ve modified my typical behavior of “gather every single thing I see” as well. For one thing, you can’t do that because you’ll deplete your Energy fairly quick. (The BDO energy system is more forgiving than ArcheAge, but it’s aggravating at times.) For another thing, you can only have one gathering tool equipped at a time. For yet another thing, in the new BDO world order, you might be able to get your workers to do that gathering work for you.

Still, I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to buy some inventory space. I cannot even count how many times I’ve seen the “you must have 2 free spaces in your inventory” message so far or how many quests have failed to complete for lack of space.

When I was looking around the cash shop, I sat down and tried to figure out an answer to this question: What is a normal amount of money to spend on a buy-to-play MMORPG? It’s an entirely subjective question of course. To me, $30 is a bargain price for entering an MMORPG, while $50 or $60 is the more standard price. (I don’t believe that, even in this day and age, “free” should be the standard price to play a game–“free” is only the standard price for having advertisements shoved in your face, or for giving away your personal data.) So right off the bat I feel like I could easily justify spending $20 or $30 in the cash shop.

To answer my own question I looked for historical data, back at the only other game with a similar business model: Guild Wars 2. I went back through my emails and counted up every dollar I’ve spent on the GW2 gem store, after the initial $50 game purchase (or was it $60? I don’t remember).

It turns out I spent $60 on gems within roughly the first month after GW2 launched. I can’t be sure but I feel like every bit of that went directly into inventory and bank space. I spent $35 more on gems about six months later, but I’m going to say that the $60 I spent immediately after launch was what I needed to spend to avoid being annoyed by limited inventory.

So how much storage will $60 get me in Black Desert’s cash shop? $60 = 6,600 pearls (with bonus pearls going on now), which, at 800 pearls per 8 expansion slots, will buy 64 extra inventory slots, if I’m reading things right. That feels like it would be plenty, but it would only be for one character, and I imagine I would run into weight limitations that would require more cash shop purchases to resolve. So at first look it seems okay, but digging deeper I’m not sure that’s a very good value for the money. Not as good as Guild Wars 2, at least, where I setup multiple characters and banks.

Still, I don’t think the cash shop is exploitive in the way that so many mobile free-to-play games are. It’s similar to what ArenaNet has offered in Guild Wars 2 for years. It’s just more expensive. But they aren’t likely to drop their prices just to be nice. They’re going to charge as much as they can get away with, as all businesses should be expected to do. They’re only going to drop the prices if players don’t buy, and based solely on the number of non-default outfits I’m seeing in the game, I don’t think that will be any time soon. The prices will probably come down eventually, though. Early adopters always have to pay the most.

(Yes, I finished a post about the cash shop before I finished a post about the game itself.)

GW2HoT – That Was Fun

To follow up a bit on Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns, I played it a lot right up until the day that Fallout 4 came out, and I haven’t logged in a single time since. Which suggests that I was deluding myself for those few weeks I was playing it and having fun.

Okay, that’s not true. I got my money’s worth. It felt like the good old days after GW2 launched when it seemed like this game had re-invented MMORPGs and changed everything. I really enjoyed leveling a Revenent from 1 to 80 (well, 30 to 80). The Revenent is fun to play. I liked playing through the old zones again. I liked the smaller-scale dynamic events and hanging out at the huge 500-man circular-firing squads where it took seconds to down the world bosses.

A whole new generation of GW2 players are discovering these events.
A whole new generation of GW2 players are discovering these events.

But then I got to level 80. And, per ArenaNet’s no-progression-in-the-endgame design philosophy, the fun part of the game ended.

Knowing that my character is never going to get any better at anything really dampens my enthusiasm for continuing to play GW2. I suppose that means that I like vertical progression games. I guess I don’t understand this new-fangled “horizontal progression” thing all the kids are doing.

I didn’t get very far into the new zones. I think I finished five of the new story chapters, which only took me into the second new zone. The Heart of Thorns story is definitely better than the Living Story, but it’s not interesting enough to justify the effort it requires to get through the world. If you find and stick to a zerg, the event chains are kind of fun (in that chaotic, every-man-for-himself way that GW2 is famous for), but it gets repetitive and tiring pretty quickly.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll return to GW2 eventually, but there are a lot of other games to catch up on.

 

GW2HoT – Obey The Zerg

Somewhat to my own surprise, I bought and installed Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns on Saturday. The first thing I did on my Necromancer was spec the Reaper thingy and train the ability to use a greatsword. That was pretty cool. I enjoyed the greatsword on my Guardian so it’s nice to have it on the character that I actually play the most. The game was nice enough to give me an exotic Reaper’s Greatsword of Air to play with, too.

Before I jumped into any new zones, I resolved to use that new Greatsword to finish the rest of the Living Story Season 2, so that’s what I spent most of the weekend doing. It was a bit like gritting your teeth and choking down healthy vegetables, but I got through it. Fighting the final bosses in those Living Stories feels more like a punishment than a fun thing to look forward to. “Please god, let there be more dialog so I don’t have to fight through these aggravating mechanics.”

Arriving in Verdant Brink
Arriving in Verdant Brink

Finally on Tuesday night, I made my first real foray into the Maguuma Jungle in the Verdant Brink.

I didn’t like it at first. The map is a huge maze, filled with twists and turns and ramps and stairs going up and down and places you can’t go because there are yawning chasms everywhere that you can’t cross (at first). I spent quite a long time just trying to figure out how to leave the starting point. It takes a lot of painstakingly careful navigation to get from Point A to Point B, and there aren’t many teleports to help you get around. Also, after the first part of the story, it throws you out into the jungle on your own until you earn your Gliding Mastery, so you can’t even follow the green stars.

I’ve read reports that it’s hard to solo in the new zones, and to some extent that’s true, but I don’t think it’s any more difficult than Orr or Dry Top or Silverwastes. (I recall Orr being a very nasty place to walk around by yourself early on.) Unless you stumble across an event-driven horde of mobs by yourself, you can usually just run away from most encounters.

I was amazed to find myself walking around completely alone at first. Usually in an expansion there are crowds of people running around all over the map, but the places I went were completely deserted. I was thoroughly puzzled and starting to get a bit discouraged when I stumbled onto a revelation.

I was standing in one of the NPC campsites all by myself when suddenly a zerg of players arrived, having just finished some event. Then a new chain of events started and I followed along with the zerg. Suddenly I felt like I was playing GW2 again! The dynamic events were always my favorite part of the GW2 leveling process. Admittedly, it was a little more fun in the early days because there were only a handful of people doing each event. Now there are like twenty or thirty people in a mass roiling zerg of chaos flowing from place to place on the map. Typical of GW2 combat, you have no idea what’s going on, you can’t see anything you’re targeting, you can’t tell what’s killing you, and the group’s spell effects completely obscure the screen. But at least there are people!

So it seems that’s the way ArenaNet wants us to play GW2 now: Make your way to some spot on the map and wait there for a zerg train to roll through, then hop on board until you get killed. Then rinse and repeat. If you try to just wander around the map looking at things (like how you used to wander around going to the hearts, or like you might play, oh, any other MMORPG), you’re going to be all alone, you’re not going to find very much to see, you’re not going to find anything that gives you any rewards, and you’re probably going to get killed in the process. (Incidentally that is exactly my experience of WvW, too.)

Zerg trains are fun, but unfortunately they wear me out quickly. But it seems like it’s the best way to increase your Mastery Rank, which is the new leveling progression. (Not to be confused with Mastery Points, which are different.) They even put your Mastery Rank in your nameplate instead of your level. I can see where it might get grindy, but personally I’m happy to see something in the game that gives you a tangible indication that your time spent doing things at the maximum level is not completely wasted. Now there is an actual goal to work toward. (Other than arbitrary achievement points.)

Overall I don’t regret buying the expansion. By my weird entertainment value calculations, I’ve already played it enough to get my money’s worth, and discounting the Living Story Season 2, most of that time has even been enjoyable. I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to it periodically. That’s one of the nice things about GW2: It’s so easy to pop into the game for a short period of time and then leave again, no strings attached.

P.S. I made a Revenent too but I haven’t played it enough to have any opinions on it.

Progression Report – March

March was definitely a low point in my 2015 MMORPG activity, but don’t panic. This is normal for me. There’s usually one or more months during the year when I end up watching television instead. Still, I accomplished a few things.

In Rift, I continued to log in every few days to collect Minion rewards and send them out again. My bank and inventory is bursting with useless junk.

In Final Fantasy XIV, I forgot to mention that I joined the cool blogger Free Company on Cactuar. Unfortunately every time I log into FFXIV I stand around feeling like I don’t have any goals to accomplish. I do have goals, but none of them are interesting to me right now, which is a shame because it’s awesome to see so many other people *cough* finally *cough* getting on the FFXIV bandwagon.

In a surprise move toward the end of March, I created a Romulan faction character in Star Trek Online and ran around for less than an hour. I could see myself playing some STO in April because it feels “new” to me right now, but historically the game has never clicked with me.

In Neverwinter, I finally put the time in to level my Great Weapon Fighter from level 59 to 60. That took about 2 hours.

In Guild Wars 2, I played about 3 hours and finished up the Echoes of the Past story. And the most amazing thing happened: I found a staff!!

GW2-Monsoon-Staff

This is literally the first staff upgrade I’ve seen since I hit level 80 like two years ago. Unfortunately it’s a stupid useless healing staff, and I normally use an axe anyway, but just knowing that it’s possible to still find gear upgrades out in the world is encouraging. But as a super casual 3-hour-a-month player, I guess I will have to wait another two years to find another one.

SWTOR held another double-XP weekend from March 27-30, which salvaged a month otherwise completely devoid of logging in. I spent 4 hours questing in Balmorra over the weekend, leveling my Jedi Guardian from 32 to 35. (Still, I cancelled my subscription which ends on April 11.)

Now for something completely different. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how great Marvel Heroes is, so I went ahead and downloaded it. I’m not a superhero person but it’s kind of a fun game in a super-casual kind of way. I played a whopping 12 hours and after trying a bunch of heroes, went with Colossus and leveled him up to 19.

Rawr.
Colossus practicing his skiing stance.

I played nearly 13 hours of Trove in my quest to get a character up to level 20 so I can get a free Budgie mount in Rift. My Fae Trickster is now up to level 13. I typically play just long enough to fill up that bar in the top-right corner, then log out.

Topping the list for March, I spent almost 17 hours playing Path of Exile, another ARPG which arguably doesn’t even belong here. I played most of the different archetypes but I’m sticking with the Templar as my main, who has reached the god-like level of, coincidentally, 17.

I didn’t play any TSW or The Repopulation in March.

In the single-player game department, I played mainly Banished and Civ 5 with a smattering of Dragon Age II and Legend of Grimrock thrown in.

In April I’m planning to work on a story for Camp NaNoWriMo, so my gaming time might be further limited. But I hope to continue leveling my Fae Trickster in Trove, play some more STO, and hopefully get back into FFXIV. Maybe I’ll work on my Black Mage class.

P.S. I don’t know if I can keep up this pace of monthly progression reports, I might switch to quarterly. :)

On The Radar For 2015

Last time I did this.

Note that some games aren’t on the following list because I have either a) forgotten about them, or b) never heard of them.

MMORPGs I’m Looking Forward To

These are games that I’m still anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play, because I haven’t yet seen or heard anything to wreck my enthusiasm.

Black Desert. I keep seeing good things.

Skyforge. I keep hearing good things.

Otherland. I have enjoyed some Tad Williams books in the past, so surely a game based on some of his books I haven’t read would be good.

MMORPGs I’m Ambivalent About

I’m not excited about these games per se, but I’ll probably buy or try them because of hype and/or boredom and/or peer pressure.

GW2: Heart of Thorns. I’ll play it, but because it’s GW2 aka. The One RPG Without Meaningful Rewards I’m anticipating that I’ll get bored quickly.

Crowfall. To me, this isn’t even an MMORPG, and I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed by that after the hype wears off. My latest concern is that the ambitious class customization plans will result in PvP balance issues that will ruin the game. (Everyone will keep chasing that one overlooked combination that is bugged and overpowered, resulting in an endless cycle of nerfing disappointment and forum rage.)

EQNext. I’m not burdened by EQ nostalgia, plus I have no reason to think this game will be good. (Where is ACNext Turbine??)

Pathfinder Online*. I’ve never played the tabletop version, and the gameplay appears uninteresting (and the animations are terrible), and it’s open world PvP. When will they learn?

Camelot Unchained*. I hear a lot of buzz about this game but it doesn’t look that great to me. That YouTube video honestly makes it look like the most boring thing in the entire universe. Given the way the devs talk about it, I get the impression that this game is more about being a game engine technology demo than a game.

MMORPGs I’m Undecided About

These are games that are on my radar, but I don’t know enough yet to form an opinion about how much I’d be willing to spend on them.

Shroud of the Avatar*. Seems to be flying under the radar. I hear little or nothing about it, but the gameplay looks tolerable.

Gloria Victis*. I like the look of this game but, you know, it’s open world PvP so it will mostly be a game of staying in town or hiding from people.

Wander. Saw it on Steam. It looks cool. It’s not clear to me if this is a PC game or not though.

MMORPGs I’ve Lost Interest In

These would probably have to be free or sold at a deep discount for me to even try them, unless I start to see a lot more positive buzz.

Star Citizen*. Honestly I’m not sure what this game is right now, but anything targeted at EVE players probably isn’t for me, plus we all know this is vaporware, right? (Just kidding! Don’t freak out!) But seriously, I think the smart money is on this game self-destructing from too much ambition.

Life is Feudal*. I thought there might be something to this game, but so far it looks like a plain old survival building game, and the models and animation need serious work.

Das Tal* and Albion Online*. Overhead views plus open world PvP. Why, god, why?

Pantheon: Something of Something*. Seems unlikely this will ever see the light of day, but if it does, only those handful of people who backed it will delude themselves into thinking it’s fun to replicate late-1990s mechanics. Sorry but this game looks awful right now.

H1Z1*. I don’t even consider this an MMORPG.

Pre-Launch MMORPGs I’ve Already Bought

Trove*. (I think it’s still technically beta.) I like it. Good casual game.

Landmark*. Meh. Just meh. Do we really need a game that’s a thinly-disguised 3D modelling program with a 1980s-style UI font?

The Repopulation*. I haven’t played enough to know what to think of it. But I feel like it’s probably trying to do too much and it’ll never capture that SWG feeling.

Advice To Game Developers

Please perfect your basic artwork assets, models, and animations before releasing anything to the public. It’s a huge turn-off to see placeholder models and animations that make your game look like a high school project. It’s literally the first thing I evaluate to determine if your development effort is serious business or you’re just a bunch of kids messing around in somebody’s basement. Great results can and do come from people’s basements, but honestly not very often.

* These games can be bought and played now in some early access form or another. (I think. Don’t hold me to it.)

Progression Report – February

I think I’ll make this a “thing” and do a monthly progress report of all the MMOs I’m playing. I started running a time tracking program* called ManicTime so I can actually record precisely how much I’ve played every game now.

Games on my desktop

FFXIV (22** hrs). I unlocked most of the new 2.5 dungeons and World of Darkness, however I haven’t actually gone into any of them yet. (To this day I’ve only done one level 50 dungeon–Amdapor Keep for the Relic quest.) In other news I leveled my Rogue class from–you might want to sit down for this epic achievement–10 to 15.

Crazy Pirate Outfit
Got this crazy-looking pirate outfit from Syrcus Tower.

Now that Syrcus Tower no longer has the weekly restrictions, I’ve run it with my Bard to pick up more of the level 100 Amon’s patchwork pirate outfit. I only need the boots to complete the set, which of course never drops no matter how many times I go through there. I’ve also picked up over half of the Atmas I need from FATEs for the next part of the Relic weapon quest, and I’m inching closer to maxing out the Sylph Beast tribe reputation. (The only reason I’m doing that is to get that freaky goobbue mount, which is the only mount I’ve ever wanted in FFXIV.)

Just recently the Manderville Gold Saucer was added. I’ve only played a little bit of cards so far.

Guild Wars 2 (4 hrs). I finished up Dragon’s Reach Part 2, and started Echoes of the Past, so I only have to finish four more Living Story Season 2 episodes to get caught up. At every turn, there’s an annoying boss battle to get through so it’s slow going. I’m starting to see the origins of the Revenant profession now though. I try to log in every day for the login rewards but I only remember to do so every other day or so.

Landmark (2 hrs). I dropped into Landmark once or twice since I re-rolled and at least it seems like they’ve removed the impossible-to-beat monsters from around the starting area. (In fact all monsters now seem to be gone.) I like the big checklist of things-to-do that shows up on the right. I still have no clue how to reach the “underground” layers though. It’s now been, what, a little over a year since it was released to the public and it’s now looking to be about where I thought it would be back then. Onward and upward… hopefully.

The starting point of the new island in Rift 3.1

Rift (2 hrs). I started looking into the new island released in 3.1, but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. Since my Mage is already 65 it seems a bit pointless to go through another quest chain. If you’re into lore, it seems like this new area is trying to tie the stories of the Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide expansions together somehow. I sort of feel like I can’t progress much further in Rift without joining a guild.

The Repopulation (2 hrs). A $20 edition became available on Steam so I went ahead and took a chance on it. I haven’t played much yet because the game is still pretty rough–I haven’t even left the tutorial area. (Yes, it’s so old school that it actually has a tutorial area!) The animation is a bit janky and the graphics are a bit slow. If you get it, be prepared to jump right on into the deep end with overwhelming amounts of information right at the start. If this is what Star Wars Galaxies was like, it’s no wonder people went for the much simpler WoW instead. :) (Though I don’t know what any of it means, I’m impressed by the amount of stuff in the 15.1.1 patch.)

My dude in The Shadowy Forest

The Secret World (19 hrs). My most exciting MMO development of the month was finally getting past a TSW mission that had me stuck in the Besieged Farmlands for, oh, I don’t know, the past year or so? It was the main story Mortal Sins, Tier 4–the one where you had to find a woman spying from a hilltop or something, but there was no mark for it on the map. After getting past that, I pushed on through to the end of the Mortal Sins quest line which presumably was the end of the main story at the original launch. It’s hard to quantify my progress since there aren’t any levels in TSW, but everything in Transylvania now ranges from “Normal” to “Hard.” I tried some Scenarios but I have yet to come anywhere close to succeeding at one, even on Novice level.

On a technical note, I had a major problem with frame rate hiccups in TSW, especially during combat. I thought it might have been Verizon screwing around with traffic shaping again but using Battleping didn’t help. However, when I switched from DirectX 11 to DirectX 9 the problem entirely vanished. (This was on a GeForce GTX 770.)

SWTOR (12 hrs). Last time, I reported that I had gotten back into SWTOR and re-subscribed. Well, that didn’t last long. My interest faded toward the end of January and I only logged in a couple of times a week. Not that there’s anything wrong with SWTOR. I enjoy it when I play it. But, you know, the quests are all pretty much the same, and the leveling progress is a bit slow. Kira Carsen’s witty banter can only entertain a person for so long.

Then, luckily for me, there was a double-XP weekend from Feb 13-17 so I played a lot more during that time. I usually miss promotional events so it was pretty exciting that one of my game-du-jours actually aligned with a “bonus stuff” weekend. Since my last update I leveled my Jedi Guardian from 22 to 32 and finished Tatooine, Alderaan and all of Chapter One, surpassing the progress I made with my original 28 Scoundrel who hit a brick wall in Alderaan.

Trove (1 hr). I popped into Trove now and then but I can never figure out where to find all the cool stuff they keep advertising. Still, I get a bunch of… I dunno, some kind of yellow coin thingy… every time I log in, so it’s fine.

ArcheAge was not on the above list because my patron status has run out and I don’t particularly want to log in anymore to see what abominable thing has happened to my house and farm.

And that’s pretty much all of the MMORPGs I’ve been playing. With my recent forays into survival games I’ve been thinking of re-installing Fallen Earth. And next month I predict I’ll be playing some ESO again.

P.S. My biggest time-sink was Google Chrome at 32 hours, 12 of which were spent writing and editing blog posts. :)

* I only started ManicTime on February 13. Next month I’ll get a much better sample.

** I don’t believe ManicTime on this. There’s no way I played more FFXIV than TSW since February 13.