Community Mining Madness

20180205003354_1Since the begging of the year there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t log into Elite Dangerous.On paper the game doesn’t seem all that compelling. Most of it is spent waiting. Waiting to jump to a new system, waiting to get close enough to a station to dock, waiting for collector drones to collect things, but here I am still logging in. I’ve put in 65 hours and I’m still learning a lot and trying new activities.

Usually my time is spent running missions for the Euboa Life Solutions Corporation in my adopted home station, Lee City. I’ve been trying to increase my reputation with them so that’d they’d give me better paying missions. But lately they’ve been stingy on the missions lately.  Most of them are requests to kill corporate competitors but I’m not that interested in combat right now. I can kill things in a lot of games, there aren’t a whole lot of games where I can play solely as a trader, explorer, miner, scavenger, or passenger transporter and be rewarded for it.

So I took off in search of something else to do late last week. I saw that there was a community goal of delivering consumer technology and domestic appliances to a nearby system where a station was trying to build a family restaurant. I’d wanted to get into bulk trading commodities between systems and this was the perfect excuse to start.

Seeing as my current ship could only carry 32 tons of cargo I needed to upgrade to something a little bigger. Thankfully I had about 6 million credits built up from my time doing missions. I was able to buy and outfit a Type-6 Transporter (pictured above) that carries 100 tons of cargo. It’s not pretty and not as agile as my last ship but it sure is an upgrade.

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Community goals are something I’ve been watching from afar for the past couple weeks.  Each CG run for a week or until they are completed. There are 8 tiers to the goals and as players turn in items to the station the tiers increase and so do the rewards when the event ends. Participating in the goal earns you a base reward of credits and depending on your level of contribution more credits are awarded.

The goals end on Thursdays and I started last weeks on a Wednesday. I managed to get into the Top 75% contributor bracket and ended up with about 4 million credits when the goal was over. This was on top of the 2 million I had made from selling the consumer tech and domestic appliances to the station. I made my money back from the new ship with a little extra for profit. Not bad for only 2 hours of hauling cargo.

This week the community goal centers around mining Osmium, Samarium, and Lithium Hydroxide. Judging by a few Reddit posts there hasn’t been a mining CG in quite a while.

I like how each goal has a little story behind why these materials are needed. Here’s this weeks:

The Alliance has announced plans to build an Orbis starport in the Synuefai EB-R c7-5 system, between the core systems and the Alliance’s outposts in the California Nebula.

Alliance official Torvan Dast issued the following statement:

“The remoteness of our California Nebula outposts makes reaching them a potentially dangerous proposition. This new starport will bridge the gap between the settlements and the galactic core, and lessen the risk to ships journeying to and from the California Nebula.”

The initiative is being overseen by the LP 128-32 Corporation, which has placed an open order for various raw materials for use in the construction. The organisation has also placed a kill order on all ships on it’s wanted list, to ensure that those contributing material to the campaign can do so safely.

I didn’t feel like going back to Lee City and the new goal was only a few jumps from the location of the last one. Lucky for me the T-6 can be outfitted for mining with just a few swapped modules and very little credit investment.

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Mining is another activity in Elite that just sounds mindnumbingly boring. You fly into an asteroid field and start firing prospecting limpets into asteroids. When the limpet lands it will tell you the ore composition of the asteroid. If it has the ore your after you fire your mining lasers at it until its depleted while collector limpets scoop up the fragments of asteroid the lasers are shaving off. Once the asteroids depleted you rinse, lather, and repeat until you either have a full cargo hold or run out of limpets.

That’s how I spent my gaming time this weekend. Flying around resource sites looking for asteroids with a good amount of Osmium and Samarium. Sometimes I would find a whole cluster of asteroids and sometimes I would waste 10 prospector limpets looking for something worthwhile to mine. I died twice while I was out mining. Once to an NPC pirate who wanted my hard earned cargo that I unsuccessfully tried to out run. And again when I got a little too close to the rotating edge a very large asteroid that totaled my ship in three seconds flat.

So far I’ve delivered 108 tons of goods to Bulychev Hub, enough to put me in the Top 50% bracket for now. The goal is on tier 6 and the payout so far will be 7.5 million if I maintain my current bracket.  I’m not sure if I’ll put anymore time into it this week. I did enjoy my time mining but the T-6 isn’t very efficient with it’s small mining lasers. On average it took about an hour to fill up enough to justify going back to the station.

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Back in the Hunting Groove

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I’ve been a Monster Hunter fan since impulse buying Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. Since then my friend Jay and I have played every iteration of the game since on the 3DS. The 3DS as it turns out, is not my preferred way to play the series. Even with the XL version the screen felt too small and the controls we’re not ideal. So when I heard last year that Monster Hunter was coming to the PS4 and back to my TV I was estaic. And now that it finally released I can confidently say its almost everything I wanted it to be.

This has to be the most accessable Monster Hunter ever. I don’t have to go to a wiki to see what all these skills on my armor mean, what monster is weak against what, anf there is actually a list of combos to help you learn your weapon of choice.

Let me tell you though, there’s been a lot of changes since the good old Wii days. Tri took up the majority of my summer days that year. The multiplayer connection was so bad that I would only connect to my friends after hitting reconnect 10 or so times. Then once we all got connected we’d have o finish the quest as cast as possible or risk getting disconnected. I amt tell you how many times I’d be carving a monster after a 30 minute battle only to be disconnected and lose everything. Good times…

This led to a lot of my summer spent at Jay’s house in entirely different rooms yelling at each other to heal for hours on end only seeing each other when we broke for lunch. These days we live states a part so it’s a good thing the connection issues were solved in MH3U.

In fact I love everything about Monster Hunter World except the multiplayer. In the previous games there was a clear distinction between single player and multiplayer quests almost like there own separate campaigns. In fact you could play the previous games entirely in multiplayer and never touch the single player. MHW mixes them together and makes you play through the story to unlock the optional multiplayer quests. Which is kind of annoying when on release day you can’t go hunting monsters with your friends right off the bat. Last night I discovered that friends behind me in the story could still accept optional quests I posted for monsters they haven’t encountered yet. Which means only one of us really has to run through the majority of the story to get a decent amount of multiplayer quests. At least that’s how it seems right now. Maybe this will change later on.

I haven’t actually gotten all that far in the story. Yesterday I played the Pukei-Pukei for the first time and unlocked the desert area I think. The first few days were spent killing the Great Jagras over and over again to figure out which weapon spoke to me this time around. I usually main the long sword or switch axe but my two Monster Hunter buddies called those for our multiplayer hunts so I love decided to relearn my third favorite weapon, the gunlance and I’ve been enjoying it in single player so far. It’s slower and more defensive approach than the other weapons but it’s so satisfying when you get a long combo off and back step out of danger. As for my multiplayer weapon of choice I’ve settled on the hunting horn for two reasons. 1) Its fun to buff my friends and 2) it makes some pretty obnoxious noises.

This week I’m going to work on getting through more of the story. I’m excited to square off against the Barroth who has been one of my favorite fights over the years. I’ll have to see if he has any new tricks up his sleeve this time around.

Hopping on the Comic Book Bandwagon

Screenshot (7)I didn’t get a lot of gaming in this last week on account of I had family in town. So there’s not much to write about on that front. We did go see Spider-Man: Homecoming which was I think was the first Marvel Movie I’ve watched since Age of Ultron in 2015.

I like the Marvel Cinimatic Universe but I’ve fallen woefully behind. I think I’ve seen 2 Iron mans, 1 thor, and 0 Captain America movies. I’ve seen both Avengers though but missed Civil War. Luckily I knew what Civil War was about before going to see Spider-Man otherwise I would have been a little bit lost.

I can’t pass up a Spider-man movie not since the first one came out in 2002. Toby Maguire will forever be my favorite Peter Parker, if we just convientently forget about the third movie. But every time I go to see Spidey on the big screen I’m never disappointed.

I was never a comic book fan as a kid. I learned all about the big name super heroes through their respective cartoon runs from the 90s. Since I didn’t have cable these were the only cartoons I watched because they hit the network stations on saturday mornings complete with a healthy dose of power rangers.

In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that comic books were still being written until a few years ago. After seeing Guardians of th Galaxy in 2014 I looked into the whole comic book thing and was suprised to find that, yes, comic books never went away. So I plunged into a whole new realm of media consumtion. I read everything I could get my hands on from the library and even wrote a few reviews for a now defunct comic book site. They paid me in comics though!

I discoverd Comixology was basically the Steam of digital comics, complete with thousands of series and sales all the time. I read nothing but graphic novels and trade paper beacks that year and it was amazing. Then I sort of lost intrest and forgot about them as a whole until I saw Spider-Man.

It looks like Marvel’s big marketing machine actually worked on me. Not Only have I been trying to catch up on the MCU as of late but I’ve also fallen back in love with comics. So much that I’ve subscribed for a year to Marvel Unlimited, sort of like a netflix for marvel comics with thousands of backlogged digital issues all the way up until 6 months ago. The nice thing is all those series I started in 2014 I can actually finish without paying for each and every issue.

Right now I’m following a reading order for the Avengers series from 2004 all the way until 6 months ago. I wish DC had an unlimited service too but sadly they don’t. But the local library and surrounding libraries have so much to offer from both DC, Marvel and the indie publishers. It just sucks waiting for them to come in!

I know I’m a bandwagon comic book fan but I don’t care its so much fun to read in a different medium. There’s just some stories that are better told in comics and graphic novels than they would be in tv, film, or books. It’s also such a pretty medium with each artist bringing their own ascetic to each book they work on. I haven’t decided if I like the serialized nature of the books though. On the one hand cliff hangers build up suspense and anticipation for the next issue but on the other hand I really want to know what happens next right now and not a month from now.

EQ2: A Frog in the City

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This week I left the Frostfang Sea and set sail for Qeynos. I had run out of quests I could reasonably do and the rest were 5 or 6 levels above me plus I was tired of looking at orcs. The leaper mount was quite handy in avoiding a bunch of level 19 mobs and getting me over to the docks to leave. I plan on returning once I’m level 18 just so I can finish the story up in that area.

Arriving in Qeynos was a little disorienting. It’s big and ,though you can’t tell it from the picture, there were a ton of NPCs. Some of them had little quest feathers so I ran over to them and was greeted with level 5-8 quests. These were quests I could do but there wasn’t much incentive.   I made my way to the capital district and found some quests a little closer to my level. Definatley nice to see quests names that weren’t in red.

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After running around the city for a while I exited into the big open plane that is Antonica. This area offers a lot of quests and mobs that are around my level and not much in the way of scenery. There are a few structures and a couple of trees but it’s mostly big green open space. I was a bit surprised how much faster killing mobs goes when they’re the same level as you. This area feels a lot less dangerous than the Frostfang Sea and it also has more varied wildlife (aka no orcs).

Unlike the Frostfang Sea, Antonica doesn’t seem to offer streamlined questing. There are quests all over the place but they very in level, sometimes by a lot. A level 10 quest can be right next to a level 15 quest and a level 18 quest. It’s a bit confusing but once I picked up a bunch it seemed like no matter where I went there was a mob to kill or a thing to collect for a quest.

I’m drowning in quests in Antonica. Not only are there a ton of NPCs with quests but I was culling the deer population and they dropped a bunch of Far Seas Requisitions that have tasked me with killing certain mobs. Again these vary quite a lot in the level requirements. In the end it’s not better or worse just different. Also there seems to be less shiny collectibles around here.

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My favorite quest out here so far was given to me by a poet down on his luck. After getting his poems back from some pesky gnolls he gave me a copy of his book to read. It started a quest where I have to visit each place he wrote a poem about. I’m enjoying this one because none of these places are labeled on the map and you have to figure out what they are based on this guys poem. I like that it forces me to be a little more observant of the world as I’m running around completing quests. I swear I ran by one of these locations 3 times and didn’t realize it was a literally a giant sword until I did this quest. There’s another quest from another book I found in the same vein that’s sending me on a tour of the area.

I think my curiosity is beginning to wear off a bit. I still enjoy playing but I’m finding myself log off sooner and sooner. Part of it is because it’s been a really busy week and part of it is that I’m just not as into it as I was at the start.  It’s hard to say if I’ll be staying with Fallen Gate or even EQ2 after this month. Who knows maybe once I have a little more free time in the coming weeks the game will really grab me again.

Are Launches Exciting Anymore?

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With Albion Online set to launch next week, it looks like we’re about to see one of these crowd funded MMO’s actually launch. But what does launch actually mean?

Well the server will be wiped for the last time,a persistent world will follow and a brand new baby virtual world will be born. Now player’s won’t have to worry that all their progress will be lost forever in the name of development. All the founders will get to say “I was there in the beginning”and see their investment come to fruition. People who want to play a finished game can do just that.

As an outside observer and potential new player by the time something like this launches I’ve already heard about this game for the past couple of years.  It’s different from when a game is announced and then you get videos, blogs, little marketing events that hype it up. Most of the excitement comes from the initial announcement of a project. Then you get to hear all about it for years. And instead of having a closed beta or open beta weekend, people get to play this game from the very beginning stages to the eventual release as long as they pay for an unfinished product.

I understand that games are very expensive to make, especially massively multiplayer ones, and that crowd funding has the potential to raise enormus ammounts of money. But when a game opens itself up before it’s finished it takes away the magic of when it is finished. Everyone whos been there from pre-alpha, alpah, or beta already knows what tier getting gameplay wise and those who didn’t buy in but were interested already know whats going to be there except now all their progress will be saved going forward. I’ll admit that is probably enough to get new and old players in to the action.

Now there are a whole slew of projects being crowdfunded and I’m sure I will feel pretty ambivalent when every single one of them makes it to launch. It is cool to see a game that’s been developing for so long reach the finish line but the most exciting thing, for me, will be to watch the narrative go from will it ever be finished to what’s next?

 

 

Backlogged- Batman: Arkham Asylum

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Something truly unusual happened with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I beat the entire story only a few weeks after I bought it. It’s one of the few single player that I’ve been compelled to beat.

I ended up spending 11 hours on the main story with a little light collecting. I gave up on solving all the Riddler challenges pretty quickly because some of them had me stumped for a while before I’d just move on and some of them are not very fun. The ones I could figure out relatively quickly I did though. In all I got 70% of the game complete.

Like I said in my last post on this game, I’ve had a love hate relationship with Batman. This was one of those love moments. The entire story was like playing a comic book. It wasn’t some complicated story with twists and turns but an action packed summer blockbuster type story. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the classic tale of the Joker trying to best Batman and Batman trying to stop the Joker. As the title would suggest, the whole game takes place in Arkham Asylum where all the great Batman villains go for a time out when Batman catches them. The story also takes place over one night. The story moves quickly and there is some great pacing. Once I hit the last couple hours of the game I couldn’t stop until the credits rolled.

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Essentially the Joker and his Henchman have taken over Arkham, have trapped Batman there, and are planning nefarious schemes to unleash on the city of Gotham. You, as Batman, have to discover what’s going on, save a few people, and escape the island.

A lot of the draw of superhero games for me is that you start off awesome and you just get more awesome as the game goes on. Playing RPG’s I’m used to starting out as nothing and watching my character grow over time. With superhero game’s it’s like your character is already grown and they just keep getting more and more overpowered.

This game had a lot of stealth in it. I’m not usually one for stealth games but this was really easy stealth. If the enemies see you they’ll yell and scream and shoot at you until you grapple up to the rafters. Then they forget you even existed. You can hit them with batarangs over and over again and they’ll never look up. It’s great fun.

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And it’s a good thing to because the combat is a little lack luster. It’s like Shadow of Mordor where you hit one button to attack and one to counter with a few combo moves in between. There are some fun moments like when your fighting 8+ enemies but most of the time you’re only taking down 2 or 3. I didn’t try the extra challenge levels because they all sounded like mostly combat. If the combat was just a bit more engaging I might be rushing to play them but right now I’ll pass.

The boss fights aren’t all that different from each other. They use the same big enemies that you have to hit with a batarang while they charge at you a lot. It was fun the first time when fighting bane, by the end of the game it was pretty uneventful. Ok, riding the big enemies and having them beat each other up never got old

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I really, really, liked the Scarecrow levels. They added so much to the game between the weird cutscene’s as Batman succumbs to the fear mixture. The levels themselves also help break up the games core game play and take the game from 3D action to 2D stealth.

My favorite parts were collecting the character bios and interview tapes. They were really interesting to read, especially becuase they tell you the first time a character appeared in the comics. The interview tapes add a little more to the main villains. They’re all recordings of therapists interviewing the villains as patience. It just adds a nice little touch to the whole Asylum feel.

I’m glad I got to play this game after so many years. I’ve been told over and over that it’s fantastic. Now I’ve come to my own conclusion that while it has it’s flaws, it’s a very well done game and still holds up even 8 years later.

 

EQ2: Ice, Snow, and Orcs

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It’s been quite a week in EQ2 for me. I thought after a week my curiosity would wear off and I’d return to my regular gaming habits. But truth be told I haven’t touched Guild Wars 2 since I started on Fallen Gate. I started the week at level 5 and have slowly fought my way to level 13.

At the beginning of the week I found myself doing more tutorial quests. One actually taught me about gathering and collectibles and gave me a nice materials chest for my bank so it wasn’t a waste of time. The boat I took from the Isle of Refuge was destroyed and I found myself in a very cold and desolate world of the Frost fang sea. Orcs seem to thrive here though because there are plenty of those all over the place.

Leveling from 5-9 had me doing quests for a band of travelers as they prepared to move to their next step on the journey toward New Halas.  I collected things for them, I found missing children , and I  even tamed some snow lions to get them through to the next leg. After all of that they still just sent me to the Great Shelf on my own. They didn’t even give me a lion for protection.

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One of the things I’m finding is that the quests in EQ2, at least in this revamped starter island, are actually interesting. Each quest hub has a few quest lines that all tie together and form a coherent story for that particular area. I can’t even say that there is a main quest right now except getting to New Halas but the collection of side-quests really works for me. I especially like that I haven’t found a single one and done quest. Every quest giver has had three to five quests. It makes me feel like I’m actually helping this particular NPC instead of running around from person to person. Oh and I can’t forget to mention how much I like the little conversational flavor text for your character. Essentially their just next, yes, no, accept buttons but it’s so much more entertaining to make snide remarks instead of just blankly agreeing.

Let’s talk about quests for a minute on Fallen Gate. The quests have been out leveling me by a lot. I know I said I wanted to play this server and see all the old content but I did not expect to be level 13 and have all my available quests be level 16+. Was it like this at launch? Is this intentional? Maybe I’m just a spoiled millennial gamer but I’m not complaining, it makes accomplishing said quest a little victory all of it’s own.

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Getting to level 10 felt like such a slog. I had a collection of gear and some skill books to use at level 10. I managed to find a repeatable quest where I slaughtered orcs and turned in the quest over and over again for about an hour until I finally dinged. I also received this hideous mount, the Pedipowered Posterior Punter. At first I didn’t get it, putting the mount on makes my Froglok walk instead of hop  and he looks like a creepy marionette. And then I jumped…straight up a cliff. It’s been quite a useful tool for exploring and avoiding some encounters.

Levels 10-13 have had me take part in a war between the Orcs and the Dwarves that live here. There’s orcs of ever flavor, magic orcs, warrior orcs, lazy orcs, necromancer orcs, you name it, the Frost Fang Sea has an Orc for it. The nice things about leveling so slowly is that I’ve honed my orc killing techniques.

I can’t help but feel like I might be going about this leveling the wrong way. I’ve made it to the Cragged Spine and have been doing level 16 quests when I can. It’s been a slow go and I haven’t seen all that many people around me to group up with . Nevertheless, it’s been fun. I have my own little goal of completing all of the quests here, getting to New Halas, and leaving for the mainland. I think I still have a while to go but it’s definitely been an adventure so far.