MTG 2012 Release

Coming apparently at the end of June...


Collection Completed

Picked up my macro lens to round out my collection:

Tamron 90mm f2.8
My friend Soto lent me his macro-friendly tripod and now i'm all ready to take some photos!

They say that macro lenses are good for portrait photos too..

Hottie Minka Kelly



Most people will never look up in Shimmersand, and they will miss a view/design such as that.

I wish the rifts in RIFT was a bit more robust; it is a very one-dimensional mechanic of the game. Monsters spawn, you kill it, and another wave comes. Keep killing them until the end boss comes and then once you kill the boss, the rift is sealed.

Invasions require a bit more thought; balancing your raid between offensive (sealing rifts) and defensive (protecting wardstones) duties. But in the end, its always the same: 50 people beating up on one boss with a huge amount of life. No thinking, no strategy, just spam. Spam that attack or heal like crazy. If you die thats just one less person providing dps, so the boss just dies a bit slower (glass half empty).

Warhammer Online got the public quests right in that they were all different and seemed like there was some story behind it. It wasn't well implemented as PvP was king, but for those that liked doing PvE, it did provide pretty nice incentives. In the first Live Event for Rift, there were two special rifts that seemed almost like a PQ a la WAR, where you had to kill werewolves or golems.. but it quickly reverted to the normal rifts of old :P


You've got mail

After reading an article by Hunter, I'd like to throw out my option on a different mail system.

A system built into your character inventory UI or a separate window that doesn't require the user to be at a mailbox. It would granted unlimited access to both the mail system AND the auction house. Mail would not expire, but would require you to select either to keep the mail, delete the mail, or send back the mail.

I disagree on the need to have mailboxes and auction houses to have social hubs; i've used the mailbox and auction house system more in Rift than I have in any other mmo combined (literally), and i've never found it to be a very social experience. Most people silently open their mail, send out what the need, sell or buy from the auction house and thats it. With zonewide, lvl-wide and worldwide chat (among others), there is little social interaction at these hubs. If anything, it is a bit of an annoyance of having to go to a mailbox or auction house to get what you need; it may break immersion a bit, but alot of people aren't fully reading the story or soaking in the views of the mmo anyways. Convenience and shiney's is what most people are seeking. It is the same thing at the crafting stations in the capital cities; its not social at all. People are silently crafting and lvling their skill; there is the odd poke when you spot a guild member that hasn't noticed you crafting right next to them. When they're done, they just log out or do something else; but they're not doing anything while they craft, and if they're socializing, it must be via guild chat channels b/c I don't see anything on the normal channels.
How, would you make an mmo a more social experience? I think that is what these Live Events are for; to get people working together in the same goal, talking about how to tackle it and just in general. Rifts, i suppose, was supposed to foster this, but there is little social aspects to it as people usually just mark on the map where to head to for the next rift. I find there is actually more social aspects when participating in pvp than there is in rifting. People are usually barking out orders, trying to devise a counter-strategy or complaining during pvp.



I was reading Tipa's entry on the Sony debacle and it got me thinking; if the PSN system has been down for so long, what happens to the gamers, in particular the mmo gamers? Unlike other console games, where if they were for some reason prevented from playing a certain game, they would put in another game and play that in the meanwhile. An mmo gamer is typically different, are they not? Some people have a huge stable of games they play per fellow bloggers like Tipa. Most of them I notice though, all require internet connection. Similar to my entries on Steam, if you don't have internet connection, or Steam is down, you can't get access to your game even if you just want to play single player.

If you lose access to all your games for such a long time (2+ weeks now?), what do you think will happen to your interest? Will it increase exponentially making you crave it even more and have a binge-fest when its available again? Or will your interest drop as you find different things to occupy your time? What would you do if your favorite form of entertainment was unavailable to you for a long time period?

Rift is my main and only game at this time; a week before it came out, I had upgraded my pc, ram, video card and operating system. I enjoyed the smoothness of Borderlands, liked how L4D2 didn't crash constantly, and was pleased as punch that Dungeons (by Kalypso) would actually load the map! But then came Rift and that changed.

I generally spend 'a bit' of time every day of Rift and just like the other day's thought.. i wondered what would happen if I stopped Rift, what would I do? I know i'd spend more time on msn talking to the gf instead. I'd be on Steam looking for new upcoming games. I'd spend more time taking photos and touching them up on Lightroom or Photoshop. I may do more research on Guild Wars 2, but heres the catch, I think my interest in mmo's would fade; ever since the days of UO, Shadowbane, etc has mmo's been at the top of my interest. Nothing is more rewarding or fun. And now, I don't think i'd return to one if I ended Rift. There is a fantastic community aspect to mmo's which I truly enjoy, but there is a boatload of upcoming games that need to be experienced. And with each iteration/generation (?) of game, the quality increases to a very interesting level; never one to play first person shooters, I fell in love with Borderlands and enjoyed the freshness of Left for Dead. Feeling nostalgic, I got Dungeons. Hoping for the best, I look forward to Diablo 3, Dungeon Seige 3 and Heroes 6. Fallout 3 and New Vegas brought rpgs to a new level of detail, graphics and story that had me at 100+ hrs played and was forced to stop due to bugs (which reminds me of another game to go back to).

If your game system was inoperable for an extended period of time, what do you think you'll do instead?


Lacking Character

I was thinking today how much life would change if I stopped playing Rift and mmo's in general. It was a thought I took back right away, but I figure i'd write about it to flesh out my feelings on the matter.

Something changed from WAR to Rift in that I didn't enjoy pvp or atleast Rift's version of pvp that I didn't start doing it until my friend or gf wanted to do so. I am/was perfectly content in doing pve and rifting. The rifts were enjoyable with the big swirly colors, the dynamics of the invasions that were always random, it wasn't perfect, but it was different. Artifact collection was a more tangible and unique reward in Rift and reminded me of the collections in Farmville. When I didn't feel rushed, I would read the quest text and learn the interesting story of the war between the Guardians and Defiants.

Unfortunately my gf loves pvp and I can't blame her, she loves to heal as her bard and she's very good at it (typically top dps by 50k). It also didn't help that I did very well myself in whatever role I picked (dps, healing, tanking/harassing) as it would perpetuate the pvp matches. Granted we won alot, it wasn't my cup of tea. Winning (actually) can get boring; but losing gets boring even more. Then you run into disorganized warfronts where everyone is being rather selfish and just doing what they want (say, all dps and no healers, or tanks). No one has a strategy, or everyone is spouting their own orders. Everyone is complaining, pointing fingers and it turns into a chat room (chatting instead of playing) instead of being a competitive warfront. Then you encounter cases like last night; snotty teens (?) that taunt you from your opponent's side who tell you to "L2P" and make other rude remarks. Although I try not to let it bother me, it does, me being a rather competitive person and don't like to get into verbal sparring matches.

When I step back from it all; there should be no reason to be upset at cases like above; wherever you are, whether in an mmo, console online game or real life, we're bound to encounter griefers aka douches. They win if you get upset. Think of it differently: big talk from stealth pvp rogues. I need to classify that kind of player versus other kinds of rogues. There are rogues like my gf who play the helpful bard to heal their companions, or the ranger rogue who likes to have a companion on their travels (meat shield). There are the rogues that I play that are used to properly contain a group of monsters into manageable sizes or used to explore and find puzzles and artifacts while bypassing mobs. These stealth pvp rogues are people that are selfish and rude, that must hide in the dark and stab people from the back instead of in their face, and then laugh about it out loud. For your information, there is a very nice squirrel build waiting for you next time.

Whatever happened to "GG" at the end of the match, or giving thanks to the healers for the good job they did? Thanking the leader and party for a good raid and good loot/rewards. Being satisfied with the way a game is built, not being so obsessed with rewards but with intrinsic rewards instead. Saluting, waving, bowing and other emotes that do not including giving the bird or tea-bagging. High levels helping or being generous to lowbies. Having courteous and polite dialogues.

There are alot of good games out (Dungeons 2, Borderlands, L4D2, etc) and even more coming out (Diablo 3, Dungeon Seige 3, Heroes of Might and Magic 5/6 whichever). Today when I had my thought, I wanted a change; I wanted to try something new for a while without having to pay for a service i'm not currently using. I knew I would miss my guildies, my new friends. Knew that it was my primary form of entertainment which felt like it (mmo's vs non-mmo) gave better relaxation. Knew that this was a shared interest between my gf and I that we could do over a distance. Alot of plusses that make the minor irritants seem small.

I think what ill do is play the way I like; to not get bristled by people's rudeness (karma will find a way). To play pve and do rifting. To not be too worried about the race to lvl 50 but enjoy the journey there. To do pvp only when I feel like it and change the circumstance to be more favorable (organized premades). To spend time chasing those elusive shineys but to find time in RL for other important activities.


Shifting Sands

I was making at comment over the Mmogamerchick's blog, and noticed her second screenshot. It was her and some other raiders on their mounts, chasing after a fire rift. What came to mind was the desert sand... it all looked the same..

What i'd like to see in a future iteration of an mmo is being able to see that tracks of other players. Games these days all talk about dynamic events and breakable buildings. How about seeing the tracks of other players? How nifty would it be to try to track the player that killed you out in the wilderness by follow his/her trail through the grass? Or finding a cool landmark/achievement by following what someone else has done. I'd love to see this feature implemented; i'm one to go off the beaten path and explore every inch of the map; its one of the things I really have come to appreciate in playing my first melee dps stealth class.

If one wants to look at it as an area of immersion, how realistic is it that your raid/warband has just finished a massive fight/invasion of rift creatures, and the land doesn't appear as if there was a war going on? All there is are spotches on the landscape of the corrupted/altered lands where rift portals were. There were a few hundred people, animals and creatures rampaging about, and you're going to tell me there is no other trace of that?
Trion's implementation of artifact hunting was very well done and implementing a footprint/tracking system would work hand-in-hand.


Need or Greed, that is the question..

To add to Syp's entry (people lining up to get access to a non-bugged gold sack); I find the Rift is either a) a game with a different breed of players, b) generous/non-greedy players, c) full of noobs.

My guildie was trying to get our opinion the other night on what we do when those small packages (that can contain planarite, rift consumables, or rift essences etc) drop from rifting: whether we Need or Greed them. In many mmo's that i've played, people are very greedy and always Need them, whether they actually need them or not. In Rift, i've found the majority (80%+) of players just Greed the
m. Maybe its the fact that if you do alot of rifting that they drop like candy, that the rewards within aren't that great anyways, or that you get them anyways and these ones are just extras, but people really don't seem too interested in rolling for them.

I guess if the rewards within were more precious and rare, people would be selecting Need more often. My general rule of thumb has always been to select Greed unless there is one person that is always selecting Need, then ill select Need as well.

I kinda wish Trion would implement a loot system similar to the one they implemented in WAR where you can set your loot threshold. That would be cool; nothing is worse that accumulating loot to be rolled for and when selecting an option, an additional popup warns you that it will bind to you as well.


Dear Forum Trolls

Thats what I think of you. :P

Everything can't be perfect with a game. And we've been spoiled by Trion's low amount of bugs and high amount of polish. Maybe its the fact that it is something that appears quickly and disappears quickly too due to high population, but bugged cursed coin bags is annoying.

Happy Friday, and it's Mother's Day this weekend.(another commercialized day, but you should still try to do something special for your mum)


Cloned Rifts

I would like in future iterations of Rift (aka patches) to have different looks to both the rift itself and the monsters that come out of it.

For example, the
re is a rift in Scarwood which you can tell right off the bat that it is badass. Big rocks being suspended in the air, huge monsters flying about. And when you actually select the monsters, they are that scary devil horns icon meaning you better run far far away. Or take pictures:

It is my opinion that rifts should look different and evolve as you gain experience as an Ascended.
Stop giving me the standard look of monsters; the same kind you grind in quest areas. Last night while questing with my girlfriend, I blindly tackled a group of life rift invaders. Only, they didn't die very quickly. I was specced to be my aoe tank (and thus dismissed that thought), so when i saw another group of life invaders, I didn't make an effort to move out of the way and just aggroed them as well. Only then did I realize that I just tackled elites. Ever hear of elite mini spiders? Me neither. And thus I died.

How many times have I ran into an elite monster thinking it was just a standard rift monster? Too many times.
Shouldn't they sparkle or have some kind of appearance change?
For players of Heroes of Might and Magic, you could upgrade your creatures. Granted they nearly looked identical to the un-upgraded form, they were atleast different colors.

Once you've closed one kind of rift, you've closed them all. Every death, life, water, fire, etc rift look the same. Some have water rifts have a conch or water flora, while the death rifts have those spikes coming out at random and i can accept it b/c there are so many rifts that spawn. BUT. There should be differences in appearances between standard and elite rifts as well as a Freemarch (lvl 1-15+)rift and (say) Droughtlands (35+) rifts. Maybe we're taking it for granted (already) but I feel like these rifts are like the monster generators from Gauntlet.

Pitiful monsters stream out of the generator until they're destroyed. I do feel that the game can tell how many people are participating in rifting as the monsters do seem to be a bit stronger/more spawn. But I don't think it can tell when people leave the area, nor does it get strong enough to repel a zerg (say a raid that defeated the invasion boss). Maybe that is the point, that as a zerg, you can destroy everything and it isn't challenging. Its times like that I wish I was in a pvp server and there were tiers a la WAR which would make all lvl 50 Guardians in Scarwood turn into chickens in which I could one-shot :P

But I digress: Trion, when you have time, to increase immersion, change the looks of rifts and rift creatures.


MTG Recommendation - MTGMINTCARD

I must say, off topic of rift and video gaming; I had a good experience with mtgmintcard.com. Ordered a set of Magic: The Gathering cards from the website; selected registered mail for 2$ more and got my package in 4 business days. This was great as they predicted 1-2 weeks for within the US, while 4-6 weeks if outside of the US. I guess that Canada is considered within the US; thankful for that.

This will spell your doom. DOOOOOOOOM!

i'll be checking my credit card statement for any irregularities(online purchase paranoia), but other than that, I would recommend the site if you're interested in purchasing from them.
My gf used Troll and Toad company and it took over 3 weeks to receive her mail, when it was registered mail. What was worse was this site/company was based in Wisconsin which is a muuuuch shorter distance than the mtgmintcard.com that is coming from China. I guess it takes time to ship the package from Wisconsin to Kentucky, back to Wisconsin and THEN to Toronto :P

+1 for Chinese efficiency!


A Simpler Time

I can barely remember now these days what the UI in Ultima Online was like. Can you?
It was mostly a bare screen.. a radar/map..maybe your health & mana bar?

I never even had that many things open at one time.. only the radar and the screen was full, and not occupying the top left :P

Trion implemented a nice area map (via M) which goes transparent when you move which is a nice touch. I was thinking of maybe taking that a step further by making your whole UI go transparent whenever you are travelling. The only things that should possibly stay visible are instant cast spells, and possibly the radar. If you took damage, maybe your health bar would re-appear.
More appreciating the scenery than cuttering up your screen with gaudy windows and text.


Its just like everything else..

And just like that, *click* i'm not having too much fun with Rift.
Maybe its just the mood i'm in, or the lowered guild attendance, but I just don't seem to enjoy it as much as I normally do.
I spent one night trying to get the "Dances with Squirrels" title for my Dominator specc, only to die constantly and waste a good hour in lowbie areas (still couldn't find the squirrels either).
The past two nights i've been losing every single warfront. Granted they're all pugs, but when its your own teammates *cough Mclovin@Sunrest cough* that is the most annoying part, there is a problem.
Lack of healers.. whiney turtlers.. and complainey rogues... just makes for a not fun night.

le sigh

Having enough healers is one of the most important things imho to winning pvp.
I picked Defiant on Faeblight so that I could (1) join my fellow bloggers in a guild and (2) because Defiants seemed to be alot cooler than the zealot Guardians.
What I failed to realize, just like Warhammer Online, in my opinion, the 'good' side tends to have more people inclined to heal rather than dps. In most matches, there is only 1 or 2 clerics, and most rogues don't use bard. Remember, a dead dps does zero dps.

My brother's interesting take: It doesn't matter how good you are, what matters is how bad your worst players are.
My brother and his friends play Modern Warfare 2 online and slaughters his competition. He normally has a 5:1 kill ratio and in the original Modern Warfare, he got 2 nuclear bombs (like a 25 kill steak NON sniper) in consecutive matches. He says, that even though him and his friends are killing machines, they occasionally lose b/c their teammates die so much and drag the team down.
Observing what is happening in these warfronts, I do agree, these people that complain in the warfront does a double whammy: 1) they aren't playing, so thats like being short one player and 2) their negativity can/will affect other players on the SAME team.

I'm taking a break for a short while.