How’s Trove Holding Up?

 

20190407115049_1.jpgI’ve been away from Trove for over a year. I have a love-hate relationship with the game. On the one hand, it hits the right buttons in my brain that makes me want to play it for hours. On the other, there’s been some shady cash shop practices and bad development choices through the years.  But it’s been a year, I’ve been back in for about 2 weeks and much has changed

For starters, Trion as a company is no longer in control or in existence after it was bought up by Gaming. Many wondered what the future would hold for their games. Unfortunately, one title, Atlas Reactor, is set to sunset in June. It’s hard to say where Trove is at right now. There was a fairly large update last year with the Geode Expansion. Geode added 2 new game modes Bomber Royale, Troves take on a battle royale, and Geode, a timed noncombat gathering activity. They’ve also done away with the old portal system for getting into adventure worlds. No longer do I have to hunt around my club world for the correct portal for the activity I want to do. Now the Trove Atlas I can access any world/ difficulty from anywhere.

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I didn’t plan on getting back into Trove. I was intrigued when one of my friends told me some random person had been promoted to our club leader. After some research, we discovered that Trion had promoted him because he was the most active person. This is a feature in case your club leader quits I guess. It’s a bit weird and Jay was not happy as he had spent years working on that club. The plan was to be active enough and hope that this particular person doesn’t log on in the next 45 days to get our leader rank back.

I ended up reminiscing the night with Jay about all the fun times we had in the game. We tried out Bomber Royale as a joke to see how bad it was and were hooked. Much like Trove itself, it’s not complicated. You can throw bombs that bounce around and explode at other players. This damages the player and destroys part of the map. There are different power-up scattered around the map that gives you your other abilities the stick bomb and the jump bomb. As time goes on the outer portions of the map disappears as a “ring” of sorts. It’s great because the maps all start out looking the same but by the final 5 or 6 people, it’s different every time.

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While I was logging in to play PVP, something I haven’t done in a long time, I decided that I might as well do some grinding. That part of Trove hasn’t changed, the game has and will always be one big grind. I find it quite relaxing and it’s mindless enough but keeps my hands occupied enough to listen to a podcast or 3.General chat is still alive, for better or for worse it’s hard to tell sometimes. I constantly see people around in all of the activities. I’ve gotten into some PVP matches in Trove quicker than in other titles. The population is enough for the game to feel full.

I do wonder about how much longer Trove will be around. There hasn’t been much news about updates in recent months. Just last weekend the servers were down for hours and when they came back up the leaderboards were broken. They stayed broken until late this week with very little communication from the developers. The same old issues are still there. Trove can be a laggy mess where you wait around for chunks of the map to load or rubberband minutes on end. It crashes, there are unexpected downtimes,  it’s not shy about asking you to spend money, and it’s a very simple game.

And yet I’m having a blast with it right now. I’m sure after a month or two I’ll move on to something else but for now, I’m quite content to grind dungeons, progress my classes, and play Bomber Royale much too late into the night.

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My 2019 So Far

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In February, we decided to put the brakes on our Twitch channel indefinitely. If you didn’t know about our Twitch channel, WelpsquadTV, it’s because I didn’t write much about it. We were on Twitch for about 2 years and somewhere along the way, I think we forgot streaming was supposed to be fun and not something we had to do. We were by no means a large channel,  but we had a decent little community of regulars, we made a little money, and we put in a ton of hours Now, it was a 4 man channel, but Jay and I were putting in 4 or 5 multiple hour streams a week, that time adds up.

Stopping wasn’t an easy decision considering how long we’d been doing it but a necessary one. No one was having fun anymore and the time commitment just wasn’t fitting into our lives anymore. Plus, I always felt that blogging was much more of my style than streaming ever was.

For most of  February, I didn’t touch Twitch and had very little interest in games in general. Then Anthem came out. I subbed up to Origin Premier to try it out, flew around and did story missions for 8-10 hours and didn’t go back.

I decided to give Apex Legends a try towards the end of  February and I’ve found surprisingly engaging. It’s been a blast with friends and has quickly become the defacto: “I don’t know what I want to play tonight, let’s see who’s on Apex” I haven’t had this much fun in a multiplayer FPS since Modern Warfare in high school, in fact, I think that’s the last time I enjoyed a multiplayer FPS.  It helps that I have enough people to play it with when I want to play because going in alone is an exercise in frustration.

I started up Black Desert in early March after a recommendation from a co-worker. I had bought the game 2 years ago and never got into it. I have a bad habit of playing something until it gets complicated and then quitting and Black Desert starts off complicated and continues to add to the complexity. The first time around I just couldn’t wrap my head around the combat. This time I decided to power through and see how I liked it. It helped that my co-worker kept telling me it was the “greatest single player game of all time”. And you know what? He’s not wrong. Once I got the hang of the combat and some of the systems the game really opened up and has more to offer than grind to the end to PVP.

Most recently I’ve been playing Trove. I always seem to come back to Trove, especially when I’m looking for a progression fix. It’s been about a year since I last logged in, long before Trion was acquired by Gamingo.  My old max level  Stellar gear is useless but was replaced with a much easier to obtain Crystal gear. There are new gem slots so that your Power Rank numbers can go up even higher. And 2 new modes have been added since I last played: Geode, a non-combat gathering activity, and Bomber Royale. I’ll have to write a whole post on Bomber royale, it’s possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in Trove and probably the only Battle Royale game I will ever win on my own.

Yes, this is yet another one of my many posts where I say I miss blogging and I miss writing and yes, it probably won’t be my last. But I always come back here and I’ve been away from my little space on the internet for far too long.

 

 

 

2 Frying Pans and a Horse.

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I got a text earlier this week from Greg that said “Hey remember Fallen Earth? I just downloaded it We should play.” Two things flashed through my mind, that game is still running? and isn’t that the game with the giant crafting system?

Well, it turns out Fallen Earth is more than just still around, it was recently bought by another developer and there’s been some talk about updating it. Like really updating it, rebuilding it even. So far Little Orbit has resurrected some holiday events and has plans to move the game to a new engine. You can check out their State of the Game post here  So I said why not I’ll download it, run around in it for a little bit and if nothing else it will give me something to blog about again.

By the end of the tutorial, you’re a clone armed to the teeth and thrown into a post-apocalypse world given a horse and told you’re on your own. I forgot how weird this game was and after a couple hours playing it, I thought it wasn’t for me. The stat/skill system in the game is not very intuitive and not well explained in the tutorial. I’m level 10 and I’m still not sure if how bad I’ve messed up my character already. You get AP to spend to level up skills or stats. Skills have a maximum value that can be raised by putting points into stats. But there’s a limited amount of points and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to focus on 1 or 2 skills to max out or if I can spread out a little.

This game is really locked down for free to play players. Like almost unplayable. Experience is decreased, harvesting speed is decreased, there’s a currency cap, and the biggest issue is you only get one crafting slot. You can only craft one item at a time and most items take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to craft. It makes the experience

But Greg insisted we play a little more, so I did. I also figured that if I was going to play this game I’d see what the cash shop was like. Turns out there are some subscription tiers that up crafting slots, experience gain, and harvesting speed and give you some other perks. For $4.99 it wasn’t going to break the bank. And suddenly the game became a lot more tolerable.

After playing a little longer some of the systems are starting to click. Crafting is fun, there’s no loot drops that I’ve seen so far, only materials for you to craft your own stuff. I’ve been giving myself little goals in the crafting so I can make the next piece of gear or my next weapon to go to the next zone. Let me tell you, those 20 extra crafting slots from the Premium subscription really help with crafting. I can set filters on the crafting list to only show recipes that I have the materials to craft and that will increase my crafting skill. At the end of a play session I just go through the list, fill up my crafting slots and when I come back I’ve leveled my crafts up a few points.

I decided to be different and go for the melee combat over the guns. I’m still trying to figure out how armor works, I die so often when I accidentally aggro tow or more mobs. But this game has some unique and weird melee weapons that I just couldn’t pass up. For a good 2 or 3 levels I was touting 2 frying pans. They made a fantastic clunking sound every time I hit something. They have since been replaced by the meat hooks. I’ve also crafted a 2X4 as my two-handed weapon. No one wants to fight the guy who only carries a giant slab of wood around. But if there’s a wardrobe slot for weapons, I’m definitely using the frying pans.

 

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The weapon descriptions are fantastic

 

So Fallen Earth is growing on me. I like the setting and the crafting feels meaningful at the moment. The low player base was kind of off-putting at first. Sometimes you can count by hand the number of players in the world. But the chat is surprisingly active and I have run into more low-level players questing than I would have thought. I can’t say that Fallen Earth will become one of my main games but I’m really interested in seeing what Little Orbit can do with it.

 

Halfway through the Living World Season 2

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Shortly after completing the Guild Wars 2 Personal Story, I purchased season 2 and 3 of the living world. This was mostly because I wanted to all the story Guild War 2 has to offer which might seem a bit strange since I didn’t much enjoy the last third of the personal story. But my thought process here was that maybe it would get better. Plus I already own both expansions so I might as well do the in-between stuff too.  I was confused when I went to buy the bundles and it said certain acts would be left out until I realized I had unlocked those acts making the seasons pretty inexpensive. I’m actually glad that it’s available for purchase instead of missing out on the two entirely.

First things first, the season 1 recap leaves a lot to be desired. I’m sure that the way the first season of the living world was structured did not lend itself to being replayable and that’s fine but I wish the recap would have been a little better. It gives you the gist of what happened, Scarlet is evil, Scarlet destroys Lion’s Arch, Scarlet dies. Oh and there’s also this cast of characters that will be briefly introduced and that’s it. Luckily the wiki has a lot more information but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

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Because of that, season 2 starts rather abruptly and assumes you know all the characters already. It took a little getting used to but after a few chapters, I think I have most of the characters figured out. So far season 2 seems a lot more like Guild Wars storytelling than the personal story. The first chapter where you are accompanied by all of the characters was like stepping back into Guild Wars with all the henchmen. I’m definitely enjoying season 2 much more than the personal story. I can see how it’s heading to Heart of Thorns and I’m anxious to see how exactly it leads to the expansion. I’m wondering if these characters will carry through or if I have to deal with the Pact again.

There is much more content than I’d thought there’d be with the living world. I assumed each chapter would have an instance or two around the map and I’d be able to wrap it up relatively quickly. I was pleasantly surprised when the first chapter led me into an entirely new map and had 5 parts to it. I’ve been making my way through season 2 for a week now and am still only halfway through.

For the most part, it hasn’t been too challenging. Chapter 3 was tough because it centered around doing open world events designed for groups of players instead of the instances like the proceeding chapters. I didn’t mind it because people could still be found running these events. Except for one where I had to take down a Modrem Wolf in the Iron Marches. There weren’t a whole lot of people around and I couldn’t take it out alone so I ended up waiting for people to show up. It didn’t take that long once I found another couple of players. That’s the only time so far I’ve felt like I needed others to complete story content which I don’t mind at all.

2,185 Days Later

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2,185 days or 5.98 years. That’s how long it took me to get to the end of the Guild Wars 2 core personal story. I don’t know if that’s dedication or stubbornness. Towards the end, it felt a lot like stubbornness.

My problem with Guild Wars 2 is that I keep creating new characters but a few months ago I finally settled on a thief and I’ve taken him all the way through. I finished up the last story mission, Victory or Death, Saturday afternoon and now I can reflect on the story as a whole.

The first act was good with my character’s backstory, I liked the Durmahnd Priory part but as soon as they all formed the Pact I was no longer interested. It was less of a story and more of let’s go run these specific errands before we take down the big, bad, dragon. I really didn’t care for it but I was determined to see it through and finally get out of core Tyria.

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Some of the later missions were just plain annoying. Like the part where we were flying to Zhaitan’s lair on the airship and had to fight giant’s and dragons. I felt like I was too squishy as a thief to take out a lot of the spawning enemies and even though I had a bunch of allies on the airship, they didn’t want to help unless I was dead. And I was dead a lot during that mission. It also took me a while to understand what the heck I was supposed to so. Which was man the cannons and shoot until things spawned and then clear them out.

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The final mission, Victory or Death was done about as well as it could have been. It felt like an epic battle and I liked taking out Zhaitan with airship cannons rather than my character slapping him with a staff over and over. The cut scenes were pretty cool too. Destiny’s Edge showed back up after disappearing for half the game. I swear if I didn’t run a dungeon and figure out that’s where they all went I would have forgotten about them all together. I’ll have to get around to running all of the dungeons to get their story someday.

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What I did like were the Orr zones. They were desolate and weird but also strangely beautiful. I will definitely be visiting them later and fully explore them. I wanted to get the personal story out of the way so I was in a bit of a rush going from green star to green star. The Source of Orr is one of my favorite missions of the personal story. There is a part when fighting an Eye of Zhaitan where all of the sounds cuts out and is replaced by a nice piano solo. It gave the battle a calm, serene, and almost sad feel.

For as forgettable as the last act of the story was I’m glad I played it. It was fun leveling through the zones and seeing new places. after starting characters over an over again, I’ve seen the same things a hundred times. Buton this playthrough I actually got to see content I’ve never seen before. I’m looking forward to playing the living world season 2 and then moving into the first expansion with my thief. I think I’ll stick with him for a good long while. I’m kind of attached.

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RMT: You can pay for that?

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I just finished reading Play Money by Jullian Dibbell. Half the book talks about the economics of Real Money Trading (RMT) in the early 2000’s and the other half is the author talking about his own foray into RMT with Ultima Online. Apparently  there was a lot of money to be made from selling items, gold, houses, and accounts in 2004. That tag line is a little misleading, I don’t think anyone in this book made millions from RMT.

It got me thinking about where RMT is today. I know it still exists because every time I’m in a large city in Final Fantasy XIV I see a whole lot of shouts from gold sellers plugging their websites. Our group tried out Path of Exile and sure enough the chat log was full of currency sellers.  I’m wondering how profitable it is these days? Are that many people buying gold?

I always thought it was weird that games were selling things like level boosts, trade-able subscription tokens, or in Guild Wars 2 case, converting cash shop currency into in game gold. But if a player really wants gold, or certain item,or to skip leveling and there isn’t a way to do that within the game then they’re going to go outside the game. So why not get in on the action by offering these services to their players directly.

Personally, I’ve never thought about buying gold but I’ve bought a few trade-able cash shop items if I needed some funds for an armor set or weapons. It’s basically the same thing but without the risk of trusting a third party on the internet to deliver the goods after sending them money.

Of course there’s still tons of way to buy large quantities of gold, individual item, accounts, and even raid clears. The strangest thing by far is division boosting in competitive games. I can understand buying items and what not for an MMO where at least your going to keep the item. But what is the point of paying for someone else to play a game for you to get you to a higher division if you’re not good enough to get there on your own? Your just going to lose it anyways and this stuffs not cheap.

Actually I’m surprised about how expensive this stuff is in general. The gold by far is the cheapest, items can range from few dollars to hundreds, and accounts are sold for hundreds of dollars each depending on the game. And the scope of games is huge. It seems like as long as there’s an online component to a game there’s some one selling something for it.

This is a side of games I’ve never though about before and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s just a game and if someone wants to drop $600 dollars on an account more power to them. If or when that accounts get banned well that’s what you get for not playing buy the rules. This of course is assuming the seller is the original owner. It’s also annoying to be spammed by gold sellers or see bots all over the place.

 

 

 

Tower Down: This is still broken?

I spent the weekend trying to finish up the core game personal story in Guild Wars 2 For the most part this was pretty painless as I was way ahead in levels for the quest line. Until I got to the quest Tower Down.

Tower Down has you run around to different Orian towers and have the explosives expert Tonn destroy them. It’s a straight forward mission, follow the party, kill the enemies, blow up the towers, done. Should take about 20 minutes or so I thought.

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See the first time I did this mission, I got to the end and couldn’t complete it. All the cutscenes played through and the quest tracker in the corner said “Talk to Tonn” as the last step. Except I couldn’t talk to Tonn. I tried a couple of times and all I got was the greet prompt. So assuming I was missing something I went to the internet to find an answer.

That’s when I found a forum thread from early last week addressing the issue. The players found a number of ways around this bug none of them included playing the mission as it was intended. Some had luck just running to the towers without killing anything and Tonn would blow them up. Another solution was to kill everything in the area before moving on to the next. I tried both to no avail. Either I’d get to the end and couldn’t talk to Tonn or he’d get stuck at the second tower and wouldn’t move. There’s a section at the third tower where your tasked with killing the undead on the beach including a veteran but if you accidentally pull the Kraits in the water out too early it will also cause the quest to bug and be uncompletable.

 

After running this mission another 4 times with no progress being made I was getting a bit frustrated. Back to the internet. I found another recent thread where the solution was to not even talk to Tonn to start the mission and instead go around and kill everything on the map and then start the mission. It was this last attempt that worked for me. I ran through and killed everything in the cave, then the third tower spawns including the kraits, moved on to the second tower, and finally took out the first and made my way back to the beginning. At this point I talked to Tonn, the mission dialog started and we palled around the map blowing up empty towers.

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In the last thread the player mentioned that there’s a work around on the wiki. The wiki points to a forum post from 2012. Now maybe I’m unlucky and not everyone has this issue with this mission but how has this bug been around for so long? It’s not like this is optional side content, it’s the main story everyone has to go through. It’s a bit frustrating that I had to spend so much time to complete a fairly straight forward mission with a not very straight forward bug work around.

The very next mission, The Battle of Fort Trinity, me and Trahearne got stuck inside a set piece. I ended up having to use /stuck to continue the mission. At least I didn’t have to start over. Up until this point I hadn’t encounter any bugs in the personal story. I’m hoping Tower Down is a fluke and the rest of the main story will be painless. For now, I’ve completed as much as I can at level 78 and now I have to get those last 2 levels to wrap everything up.