Friday, June 29, 2012

One Night on Everquest 2

My Erudite Templar just starting out

 My biggest observation about playing Everquest 2 for one night is that there is a huge amount of things to do.  As soon as I created Kantro I noticed all the tree branches and rocks and plants and other things that I could pick up.  Being both a crafter and a hoarder by nature, even before I received my first quest, I already started picking up things.  

Then to tempt me even more, there were the 'little shiny things' on the ground.  These are collection items.  I pretty quickly discovered, particularly since my packs will rapidly filling up, that if I clicked them in my pack I could add them to my collection.  There were at least three collections that I started in about 2 hours time, each collection having between 10 and 20 items to complete them.  I'm compulsive enough that I don't need a reward other than to be able to pick up shiny objects and add them to a collection (there are rewards for the less compulsive).

I'll go back and talk about my experience more generally now.

Character Creation

From the very first screen Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is tempting you to become a member. First you pick your class category, either a Fighter, Mage, Priest, or Scout.  This a great idea when you again have 19 choices, but of course out of the 19 choices all the interesting ones are limited to members and you have 8 pretty standard choices.  Then you pick your race.  There are 19 races, a huge variety, but only 6 that you can use as a free-to-play player and, of course, all the interesting animal based ones are off limits.  

I am typically a 'glass is half full' person and 8 classes and 6 races are a huge selection, but I found the process very irritating.  I can understand wanting to reward members when you switch to being a free-to-play game, but it felt more like SOE was taunting me, saying 'Our friends get these fun toys, but you are limited to the boring ones.'

Also, it was odd there was no guidance as to which were the 'evil' or 'good' characters or starting cities.  As a neutral race I was able to pick any starting city, but I had to go on the web to realize there was a significant choice I was making.  Possibly the choice has become less significant than it was portrayed on the website I was looking at, but it seemed like it would have been easy to categorize the choices.

Climbing was fun!
As mentioned above, I was very happy with how many things there are to do in Everquest 2 at the very beginning of the game.  Combat was pretty standard and, as you would expect, very early in the game it was quite easy until I accidentally pulled three mobs.  Even though I created a healing character, I still felt like my damage spells were effective.


I did have some lag, unlike any of the other games I was playing.  Even though my Blog is titled "One Night a Week", I often play early in the morning and that was the case with Everquest 2, and, because it was early, there weren't many people on when I was playing.  However, about every 5 minutes or so, my character would freeze for about 5 seconds and I couldn't do anything.  I never died because of it and it didn't ruin the game, but it did make me worry about if it would be an issue in groups, particularly as a healer.  I didn't try changing any settings to fix it and it certainly wasn't something that would keep me from playing a this point.

Overall perception

Depending on what you want, I could see Everquest 2 as a great game to play one night a week.  There are so many different thing to do, that you probably wouldn't feel to limited by playing as your only game and it would be easy to find goals that you want to do in short periods of time.

However, there were two things that made me less likely to come back.  The first was mentioned above.  While Fallen Earth and Lord of the Rings Online make it easy for you to spend money, as a free player, Everquest 2 made me feel like a second class citizen.  Possibly I would feel that later in the other games, but I didn't like feeling that way early on.  That said, as mentioned above, it felt like there were more gameplay options and if that were my primary criteria, it wasn't enough to keep me from playing.

The second point was more difficult to tie down.  I didn't feel like I was part of a 'story' in Everquest 2.  All three of the other MMOs I've played recently, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and Fallen Earth gave me a sense of the world I was becoming a part of right at the start.  I felt more like I had to figure this out on my own in Everquest 2.  For some people this might be a good thing, but I didn't like it.  I'll follow up on this in another post.

Next, I'll be playing Rusty Hearts, my fourth and last trial (for now).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mithril vs Steam

Yes, two posts in one day.  Don't expect to see it again.

I was looking for a comparison of the Steam Starter Pack and Mithril editions for the Lord of the Ring online  and I couldn't find one so I put one together here.  Please let me know if it needs to be corrected.  I based the values on what was on the Turbine Store when I looked yesterday (6/13/2012).

  • Trollshaws (30-50), Eregion(45-55), Mines of Moria(51-60), Lothlorien (55-60)
  • 595+695+1495+595=3380
  • 2950 for Path of the fellowship
  • 2000 points
  • Steed of the Horse-lords Mount (62% speed) 1195 points

Cost $19.99 (what was the sale price is now just the price on Gamestop)

Total 6145 points or 205 points / $ (or 307 points / $ on sale)
(Follow up note that the game is on sale at game spot for $9.99, increasing the potential value to 614 points / dollar on 7/21/2012)

  • Northdown (18-40), Evedim(32-40), Misty Mountains (39-50)
  • 595+595+695=1885
  • 1000 points
  • Noble Grey steed (68% speed) 1995 points
  •  25% XP Boost token (?)
Cost $29.99 (was recently on sale for $14.99)
Total 4180 points or 139 points / $ (or 279 points / $ on sale)

It seems to come down to how much that XP Boost token is worth to you (as far as I can tell, it isn't available in the store) and for me it's very little.  I'm there more to do the quests than to get to max level so I don't see that it'll help me as long as the quests are interesting (I guess that could make a big difference).  Right now, with the Mithril edition's on sale lower price and the Steam Starter pack not on sale, it would be very difficult to justify getting it from Steam though I do love it using Steam and downloaded the free version for my daughter from there.  The Mithril edition also has the advantage of quests for levels 50-60 not included in the Starter Pack.  I guess they are set up so for someone who really likes questing, they could probably justify getting both and having an extra horse since there aren't any overlapping quest packs.

Did I miss something?

Free will?

Does it feel like you've given up your free will as a parent?  It does to me sometimes.  I don't mean this as a complaint, just an observation.  So many times now it seems like my decisions are made for me.  I should probably spend a little time planning ahead, but it seems difficult to find even the time to do that some days.

So what does this have to do with MMOs?  I showed Lord of the Rings Online to one of my three daughters, who is 7, the other day.  It just happens that my wife started reading her 'The Hobbit' about a week ago and the two of us have been reading it to her depending on who is more available in the evening.  As you can imagine, once I showed it to her, she wanted it on her computer as well, so I downloaded it from Steam.  I didn't think it would run well on her computer that has an older Core2 processor and no video card, but it actually runs quite well in the limited resolution she has it at.
My daughter's Lore Master, Kantrita (imaginative, but not so much with names)
So, as you can imagine, though I'll go through the last two evaluations, my decision has pretty much been made for me.  I'll be playing LotRO with my daughter at least until she loses interest.  She's pretty young to be playing the game, but she'll always have help.  Also, she's pretty good about listening when we've said she's had enough.  Of course, she knows if she doesn't then she won't be doing whatever she was doing for quite a while.

With it being free it's not really costing me anything but time for now.  But since she seen me playing World of Warcraft and seen others on horses now she wants one for herself.  I could just get her a horse pretty inexpensively but I had been looking at the Mithril edition since it seemed like a good deal.  By my count you get four quest packs which would cost 2950 Turbine points, plus a mount that would be 1195 Turbine points, plus 2000 points to use as you'd like for $20.00.  So that's 6145 Turbine  points or at about $1.00 for 100 points over $60 worth of stuff for $20.  Do I have that wrong?

However, I know the best deal is free and $20 isn't close to free and, if I would to buy it for myself and my daughter that's $40.  However, LotRO has one big selling point that the subscription games don't. Once I pay, I have what I purchased until the game goes away.  Still $40 is a lot to pay for something that was free.  Then again, I don't mind spending money on something I enjoy and it's even more difficult to deny it for my daughters.  If she keeps playing until I finish the evaluations, I'll probably splurge on it for myself (unless someone can tell me it's not a good deal) and just make sure I don't get my horse out in her presence and then give one to her as a treat a few weeks later once I've decided it's worth it.

This goes directly to the point of this blog.  When you have limited time, the value of things are very different than when you have a lot of available time.  $15 a month for 80 hours of game-play can seem like a great deal, but if it's only 10 hours, the value of the subscription is much less.  Even if I stick with it, I suspect it will take me at least 6 months to finish the content in the Mithril edition and for that I only have to pay once. Now, if I were someone who finished it in a month, it's probably still a pretty good deal but the value is a lot lower in comparison to the person who plays little.  Similarly the value of $15 VIP membership is much better for someone who plays a lot.

I posted earlier about influences.  It doesn't seem much like an influence when you are on a ride and you only think you know where you'll end up.  It's more like a train I'm hanging onto.  But at least I have fun and some pretty scenery on the way.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Night on Fallen Earth

Actually, it was more like two short nights.  So, here's how Fallen Earth went.

Fallen Earth Character Screen

The good parts:
  • Character creation in Fallen Earth is quite detailed.  I don't really need all the scar and tattoo options, but it's better have too many options than too few. Also the options really seem to make a difference.
  • Fallen Earth has a nice introduction that doesn't take too long.  Even if the clone story for why you can't die is a bit far-fetched, it's better than having no explanation at all in a near future game that doesn't include magic.
  • There are a nice variety of things to do for both crafting and fighting.  I didn't get to explore much of either, but it seems to have more flexibility in what you can do and I didn't feel either too overpowered or underpowered to start out.
  • The visually were pretty nice and seemed to run well on my machine from a couple of years ago with an even more dated graphics card.
  • The quests gave you things to do, but didn't seem to scripted (after the introductory sequence, that is).  It's a game that seems to encourage exploration.
  • You get a horse at the beginning!  Well almost at the beginning (I think it was the third quest I did).  Moving slowly could get old fast and it's nice they give you a mount so soon.
On my horse at South Burg

The not so good parts:

  • I was given a choice of 6 towns to go to but had no idea what to choose.  I think 4 out of the 6 were listed as Full (and this was at around 5 am EDT).  I chose a 'Crafting' one since I usually like crafting, but I wish I was given a better idea what I was doing.  Is this picking a server?
  • I'm not too fond of the Post Apocalypse setting.  Not at all the games fault but it's not really my thing.  It also makes it less suitable for playing with my children.
I was impressed by Fallen Earth and could see myself coming back to it, except for the fact that it's probably not the best family game.  The open nature of the game would be good for only playing one night a week.

I hope there are still a few people reading after my pause in posts.  More about that in my next post!