Friday, March 27, 2015

Buy Pillars of Eternity?

Yes, probably.  I spent about 4.5 hours in the game yesterday, thanks to vacation I was forced to use or lose.  So far, it is an excellent game.  There is really a lot to it, so if you are thinking of buying it, ask yourself the following.  If you answer yes to any, you should probably pick it up.

Do you like RPG's?  I'm not talking about pseudo-rpg's that just have some leveling and a few skills.  I'm talking about deep leveling and tons of options.

Do you like to read?  There are voice overs, but there is also a heck of a lot of text to read.

Do you like long games?  While I am not sure about replay value, I'm hearing 60+ hours to finish the game.

Do you like to die?  There are a number of options when it comes to difficulty.  I've probably died 6 times on Normal so far.  You can't faceroll yourself through everything.  Remember to save often!

Do you like a good story?  Obsidian built a detailed and rich world full of lore and stories.  I mean there are a lot of stories, even if some are just a few paragraphs.

So far, it has been well worth the $45.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


It's been quiet here on the ol' blog.  It happens from time to time over the 7 year life of this site (yikes!).  There are basically two reasons.  One:  I have felt pretty awful the past couple of weeks.  I'm not going to go into details, but I've just not been right.  It really kills all gaming/writing motivation.  Hopefully it resolves itself soon.

The second reason has been work.  Things have really picked up (in a good way) so all of my available energy has been directed into those projects.  I'm just spent when the day is over.  How long will it keep up?  Who knows.

What I have been playing:  STO, Skylines, and starting tomorrow:  Pillars of Eternity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A First?

Yesterday, STO broke the news that they are expanding the Pilot specialization.  Basically, they are talent trees.  Once you reach 50, you get 1 point per level.  Unlike most systems, you can keep on earning points after you hit the cap.  So you keep leveling forever by getting these points to spend.  Cryptic is adding something like 14 new skills.

The thing that was new (to me, at least), was the forum reaction.  There were actually complaints about Cryptic "moving the goalposts" and forcing them to grind more.  It's not normal for a game to add new skills, especially this many, outside an expansion.  They basically gave people more options, and were greeted with a lot of whining.  I'm not sure I'd be cut out for working at a MMO.

I can understand a little angst.  There really may not be enough new content for people who don't want to do what they have been doing for a while now.  They're also the type who feel they must have every skill in the game as soon as possible.  That's clearly not how Cryptic feels, as this system can provide a really high ceiling that could last players years.

Since I have been back in STO, I've really been impressed with the constant stream of news, changes, and additions.  Not all games are like this, so STO players should be a little happy at least.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Memories of SimCity

This weekend I picked up Cities: Skylines.  It had been getting good reviews and was a reasonable price, so why not?  I used to be a big fan of the SimCity games, going all the way back to the original.  Did you know there was a Super Nintendo version?

I remember, back before I had a computer of my own, I used to go to a friends house to play SimCity.  In fact, he used to bring print outs of the city into school and we'd plan what to do next.  It was on dot matrix paper, of course.  Good times.

Games used to feel so epic back then.  Sure, they are more detailed and complicated now.  Cities: Skylines brings back some of those feelings compared to SimCity 5.  So I certainly think it was a good purchase.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Event Mania

STO likes events, a lot.  Sure, they don't have the hourly variety anymore, but they almost always have something going on.  Right now things are a bit crazy, as there is a ton of stuff going on in the game.  I, as usual, am not taking enough advantage of it.

1)  Jem'Hadar Ship Promotion.  You can get the new shiny ship from R&D boxes.  I plan on getting a few packs later in the month during a R&D bonus event.

2)  Hearts and Minds.  Special Friday the 13th mission is available the new couple of days, with special rewards of course.

3)  Crystalline Cataclysm Event.  Running this instance 14 times will net a bunch of rewards.

4)  Bonus Marks.  This weekend, you get bonus Fleet and Reputation marks from doing your normal stuff.

So yeah, quite a bit going on this weekend.  The ship and Crystalline events last for a few weeks, while the others are just weekend.  Still, it is pretty good.  Compare that to SWTOR which has nothing really going on :(  This does beg the question, are there too many events?  STO has something special nearly every weekend.  Does it lose its luster quickly?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Entitlement and the Delta Recruits

Cryptic recently announced a new event for STO, starting next month.  It's basically a recruitment event for new (and returning) players.  They call it Delta Recruitment.  The idea behind it is that the 'allies' need recruits for the upcoming Iconian war.  It's more than just a simple event to get new players into the game though.

New characters made during the event get some bonuses:

  • Access to some new story missions
  • A nifty delta character next to their name
  • Dilithium for enemies killed.  This is just for the duration fo the event though.  They also give people in their group dilithium. 
  • If you finish a faction story, you get an account wide starship trait
  • Other special rewards while leveling
  • Contributes to server wide goals that provide bonuses for everyone
  • Free character slot
Sounds pretty neat to me.  However, the player response on the forums was sadly as you would expect.  I'll summarize...

"Cryptic, this is terrible!  Everything you do should be directed at me personally!"

It really makes no sense.  It is clear Cryptic made an effort to ensure everyone would have something to gain from this event. Veteran players can get the bonus Dilithioum by grouping with the new characters.  They also can get the trait for their main by rolling an alt.  They also get the server wide bonuses that recruits unlock, which are useful things like bonus skillpoints.  

Plus, Season 10 is coming up quick.  So there is a lot going on with the game.  I wish I could say that about SWTOR.  

All that being said, I probably won't make a Delta recruit.  I just got my Romulan into the 50's and don't really feel like making a new character.  That's ok though, not everything has to be for me.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Crystalline Entity

STO started a new event based around the Crystalline Entity.  I always enjoyed those episodes in TNG.  In the game, it's just so-so.  For the event, you have to do the instance 14 times.  Once complete, you get a lot of Dilithium, marks and a torpedo launcher.  It seems worthwhile, especially considering how quick it is.

The usual instancet takes about 5 - 7 minutes to complete.  You and a bunch of other folks zone in, and you just start shooting stuff.  You don't have to go very far and everything pretty much stationary.  There is really no danger, especially in the normal queue.  The Entity sends out a couple of aoe pulses, so if your shields are low you could get taken out.  No big deal though, you can just respawn.

If you place in the top 3 for DPS, you get some extra loot.  That becomes the real challenge of the event.  I've placed 3rd a couple of times, but my ship is hardly optimized.  So it is fun to try and keep improving.  I'd like to get 1st place so I can get the trophy for my ship interior.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Odds and Player Views

Yesterday, STO introduced a new ship to the game, the Tier 6 Jem'Hadar Strike Ship.  You can obtain it as a random drop from an R&D Pack (which is like a lockbox, but has crafting materials).  From what I've heard, the odds of getting it are pretty slim.  You wouldn't know that from being in game though.  STO broadcasts when someone wins a ship.  Last night, I saw quite a few people winning these ships.

So that made me wonder.  Just how many of these R&D Packs are people buying?  Have I vastly underestimated peoples willingness to gamble?  Are they using Dil to buy Zen rather than actually paying?  Is the drop rate of the ship not actually that low?  All questions I'll probably never have the answer to.

I visit the STO forums and Reddit occasionally.  One thing I have noticed is there is a contingent of doomsayers (as with every game) but they are particularly aggressive.  Apparently, STO putting a new ship in the c-store is a sign that STO is dying.  Nevermind that it is their business model.  Also, when there is a sale on items, it is a sign of the game dying.   Stores have sales all the time for a lot of reasons, and they aren't dying.  Just some strange behavior I'm noticing as I explore my first real F2P game.  I don't consider SWTOR in the same league.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

STO's Evil Cash Shop

Now, I use the term evil lightly, as we are talking about a game.  The C-Store in STO is really something.  PWE puts a lot of resources into developing products for it, that's for sure.  Don't get me wrong, they put out some great stuff.  Ships in STO are usually very well done and no easy feat.  So getting a return on that investment is important.

Is STO Pay to Win?  Yes and no.  You can buy the most powerful ships with Zen (RMT).  Right now, that's usually whatever the latest T6 ship is including a special console and trait.  There are no 'end-game' ship drops that are more powerful and BoP in this game.  It's straight from the C-Store (or the Exchange for EC in some cases).

However, it's not really P2W because those powerful ships are really just optional.  The difficult PvE content can be done in lower tiered ships.  So I'm not sure what that makes STO.  Is it better than PWE making content that requires the latest and greatest ship?  I mean, eventually they will have to make the PvE content more difficult right?

Ships are a big part of Star Trek, and there are no shortage of them in STO.  The staff releases really neat ones which makes them very tempting to buy.  Sadly,  the lockbox model tends to work a bit too well and a lot of the ships are distributed in that way.  They would get more of my money if they could just be bought, but in the scheme of things I guess gambling wins out.  I can't really argue with that.

Monday, March 2, 2015


This weekend was a good one for me in STO.  I took full advantage of double XP and got my Romulan to level 50.  Duty Officer missions were just crazy.  I got a critical success on one and it gave me 20k xp!  That's quite a lot.  So I have reached the old cap, only 5 years after launch too.

Here is where the game really starts.  At 50 (Vice Admiral) you can buy end game ships.  Those are T5U and T6.  Up until this point, I was going through a new ship a week so it was hard to get attached and really pay attention to what was going on.  But I pulled out the ol' wallet and bought a Faeht Intel Warbird, which will probably be my main ship for quite some time.

The game really changes at 50 now that I can concentrate on a ship.  Plus, the reputation system opens up, and the specialization system opens up at 51.  I still have loads of content ahead of me, which is nice.  Plus, there are a lot of PvE queues available now too.  I kind of feel overwhelmed.  That's not necessarily a bad thing though.