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 – April

Oh crap, I forgot to write one of these for April.

Well, it’s not hard to figure it out.

I started out playing mainly Star Trek Online and made it to, I don’t know, 30something I guess, and then I was bitten by the FFXIV bug again and spent the rest of the month there. Final tally: STO 34 hours, FFXIV 127 hours. (Though I’m sure at least 25% of those FFXIV hours were AFK time.)

My progression in FFXIV is further documented here, here, and here. Basically, I reached 50 in Black Mage and Alchemist, and obtained more and better gear for Bard and Dragoon from Syrcus Tower and World of Darkness. And I completed the Main Scenario up to the Snowcloak dungeon quest.

Star Trek Online – Delta Recruitment

I’ve enjoyed Star Trek Online quite a bit over the weekend. I’ve tried to play STO several times in the past but I could never get into it, but for some reason (boredom, probably) I’m “getting it” now.

Wilbert taking on time-traveling weirdos from blue space.
My heavily-armed away team takes on time-traveling bad guys from blue space.

Perhaps it’s because they just started this Delta Recruitment event at the exact time that I began playing again. I abandoned my two previous characters (who were no higher than the STO equivalent of level 1 or 2) and made a new Star Fleet “Delta Recruit” dude. I don’t have enough STO experience to know exactly what’s different but I gather that Delta recruits level a lot faster and get bonus loot to help you along the way. I seem to gain one level (or “grade” I think they’re called) after each story mission I complete, which is pretty cool.

I’ve been very surprised by the depth of the game. Neverwinter (also from Perfect World/Cryptic) isn’t very deep, so it’s nice to see all kinds of fiddly bits in STO to play around with. Things like Bridge Officers, Duty Officers, Traits, etc. Lots of things to put into slots, in other words. Sometimes that can get overwhelming but so far I like it in STO.

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Leonard Nimoy’s voiceovers give a pang of wistful sadness.)

Here are some tips I’ve learned that have vastly improved my enjoyment of the game this time:

Pixelated Graphics. One of the first things I noticed was that the default settings made the graphics look pretty awful. It turns out there’s an odd setting called “Resolution scale” (under Options/Display) that for me was set to around 0.70. God knows why this setting exists, but it means it renders a picture that is 70% smaller than the screen resolution you’ve chosen, so your game looks like it’s sort of pixelated from being scaled up. I guess this is for less powerful computers, but it seems like this should not be on by default. Anyway, change it to 1.00 if you don’t want to vomit from looking at lousy graphics.

Space Controls. The default space controls were a big turn-off for me, so I made a few strategic changes. By default, your forward and backward keys are mapped to pitch up and down. I changed them to throttle up and down which feels more natural to me. (Space flight is actually more 2D than 3D in STO so the ability to go up and down is not all that important–it’s no Elite Dangerous in other words.) I also discovered that holding down the left and right buttons allows you to directly steer your ship in a mouselook kind of way, which is a huge help. Unfortunately if you don’t use invert mouse it’s backwards from standard flight controls (mouse back should be up, forward should be down–I haven’t found a setting to change it).

Moving Hotbar Actions. This drove me bonkers for a long time. Normally you just drag-and-drop abilities where you want them, but not so in STO. You have to hold down the right mouse button to drag-and-drop hotbar actions. I guess this was to keep from requiring a “lock” setting to prevent accidentally moving things.

Random Strangers. I’m in a turtling mood right now, so if you’re like me and would rather avoid random strangers joining you on Patrol missions: Open the Social menu. Click on Team Settings. Change the Team Join Mode from the default of Open Team to Closed Team (or whatever you want). (I think people are more likely to join you if you’re a Delta recruit because of that Dilithium team bonus thingy.)

So there you go. It’s a fun game that’s taken me many, many years to discover.

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. :)