One Night in Landmark
Mar27

One Night in Landmark

The closed beta for Landmark (no longer named EverQuest Next Landmark!) started up yesterday afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to be given a beta pass by alpha investor Aurelia, she of the awesome Democracy 3 DLC review video from a while back.

When you first boot up the Landmark beta client you’re treated to a mandatory 3-ish minute video by David Georgeson, the game’s Director of Development, where he talks about what happened in alpha and what players can expect from beta. It was charming, if totally weird in that trademark SOE way.

The character creation is very simplistic, and the character graphics are not great. I run oddly, there’s no strafing (not that there’s anything to strafe away from exactly, but in a world of exploration I occasionally like to move diagonally), and I can’t zoom my camera.

That all being said, we’re not playing Landmark for the character generation, are we? No sir, I’m here for some mining!

2014 03 26 21 53 44 Landmark v0.92.1.65442  x64    RELEASE   500x281 One Night in Landmark

I suspect that the same cartoony graphics that hinder the character display help the look of the environment. And it does look good, in a creamy sort of way. I liked that hopping up steep hills is totally acceptable, and there seems to be some mechanic to keep players from plummeting to their death when sliding down the side of a mountain.

Eventually I stumbled across a shiny patch of what I correctly suspected was copper, and started to mine.

2014 03 26 22 03 46 Landmark v0.92.1.65442  x64    RELEASE   500x409 One Night in Landmark

It might sound like I’m damning the title with faint praise when I say the following, although I assure you I am not: Landmark has the most satisfying mining experience I have ever encountered in a game. Seriously! The voxels, however they work, make me feel like I am actually excavating a seam of materials. Chunks break away in different shapes, and the pick’s animations give it the right amount of heft.

Unfortunately I didn’t find crafting so compelling. That is more a statement about my short attention span than the crafting, really. I looked at the list of ingredients needed to make a claim flag and spent a few minutes trying to gather them, but I quickly got bored and instead focused on digging a tunnel to the center of the world.

2014 03 26 22 38 16 Landmark v0.92.1.65442  x64    RELEASE   300x294 One Night in Landmark

Goodbye, world!

I was digging for quite some time when a random player jumped and/or fell down the ice hole. He seemed to quickly shake off his misfortune, and started digging downward with me.

2014 03 26 22 40 48 Landmark v0.92.1.65442  x64    RELEASE   300x288 One Night in Landmark

Eventually my new friend started digging off in his own direction, and after about 20 minutes of finding nothing but subterranean ice I logged off the game.

Overall my first impression of Landmark is that it’s definitely on the road to being a good multiplayer Minecraft. I’m not sure I personally am interested in a game that frontloads gathering so much over crafting, but that’s more a design issue than a fault. Should you get the opportunity to try the game for free, I highly recommend that you mine something.

Hearthstone Deck Highlights: my winningest pally deck
Mar26

Hearthstone Deck Highlights: my winningest pally deck

I played quite a bit of Hearthstone back in beta, but quickly burned out on being pretty terrible at it. I just started getting back into it a bit with the WoW mount crossover deal (oh Blizzard, curse your nefarious marketing plans) and suddenly I have gotten a lot better!

Okay, okay, arguably the change is in the wider, less experienced post-launch playerbase rather than some innate skill on my part, but also I just really feel in the groove with my paladin deck right now.

In fact, I went from rank 25, the lowest rank, to rank 20 with this deck with no losses. That’s like 8 games in a row!

For those curious about the free-to-play aspect of Hearthstone, I have spent in total $8 on the game. I bought one pack directly, and 3 Arena tickets (each rewarding a pack) during the Extra Life Marathon last November as a cure for the 3am doldrums. All of the rest of my cards are through crafting or Arena tickets that were funded with quest gold. No, my deck isn’t dripping with legendaries, but it suits me just fine.

Anyway, let’s look at the cards!

pallydeck Hearthstone Deck Highlights: my winningest pally deck

Early Board Control, Best Board Control

The deck is weighted towards small drops, which I find works the best. I have 3 minions that I can drop on turn 2 (or turn 1 + Coin), or 5 minions if I’m fighting an opponent who doesn’t have weapons. I also have one secret, Noble Sacrifice (“When an enemy attacks, summon a 2/1 Defender as the new target.”), that I tend to drop early as a cheap and simple way to help keep the board in my favor.

Minions and Minions and Minions and Minions

This deck is generally oriented towards spamming minions, a tactic well suited to the paladin. I have two particularly badass cards helping me with this goal: Knife Juggler (“After you summon a minion, deal 1 damage to a random enemy.) and the epic card Sword of Justice (“Whenever you summon a minion, give it +1/+1 and this loses 1 Durability.”).

If you can keep a Knife Juggler safe (health buffs help!) in the mid-game, it becomes a beast. Between cheap minions and the pally hero skill that summons a 1/1 minion for 2 mana, I can easily dish out 2-3 extra points of damage each turn, which can help a lot.

Meanwhile, the Sword of Justice has obvious applications and is also a great mid-game card.

The Venture Co. Mercenary works with minion spam in a way. It’s a monster 7/6 card that only costs 5 mana, but its ability is “Your minions cost (3) more.” However, that cost doesn’t count towards the paladin hero skill, so drop the Knife Juggler, drop the Mercenary, and spam 1/1 minions. Then laugh evilly. Go on. You know you want to.

Needs More Tweakin’

Just while writing this post I can spot two big ways I could improve this deck. The first is to get rid of Truesilver Champion (“Whenever your hero attacks, restore 2 Health to it.”). It looks good on paper, but I have actually used it in maybe 1 game out of 20.

I also think getting rid of one of the Gnomish Inventor cards (“Draw a card.”) would be optimal, assuming I find something better to take its spot. I was worried about card generation when I put them in the deck, but that hasn’t actually been a problem so far.

So that’s my current fave Hearthstone deck! Any suggestions?

Managing Expectations for the Big New MMO. (Also video game music and Escape Goat 2!)

WildStar has opened pre-orders and just had a big beta weekend, which means my guild is all excited about the game.

And that’s a good thing! MMO launches are fun, and they are even more fun with a group of friends! But already my (retired) guild leader senses are tingling, and I’m worrying about making sure that expectations are managed.

“Everyone will start playing again and it’ll just be like the old days!”

Oh my dear sweet summer child. It is almost impossible to recreate the old days, whatever game they may have been in. Yes, historically a few people we haven’t seen in a while will show up for the launch of a big new title but just as well-documented is the fact that these people also wander off again shortly thereafter.

Which is fine! But it’s easiest to kind of anticipate that.

“Let’s just have everyone rush to level cap and then we can start raiding right away!”

This tactic has come up with every game since SWTOR. I sort of understand the impetus — other people have the “3 month MMO” mindset, so if we just go really really fast then we’ll be raiding before they know what’s happening and they’ll have to stick with it!

In my experience, though, this has the exact opposite of the intended result. The folks who rush to level cap quickly get bored of waiting for others to catch up and are a little burnt out in general after spending like 4 hours a day playing. I vastly prefer taking my time in a new game and enjoying being an uninformed scrub in a strange world.

“It’s okay, I’ll lead the raid stuff.”

This is always said in the utmost of good faith, and I have never, ever seen it actually work out. Enthusiasm is grand, but running a raid team is hard work. There’s recruiting (and on-boarding new folks), rostering, and occasionally dishing out stern talks when needed. There’s making sure you have enough tanks and healers, and having a Plan B when one of them doesn’t show up.

There is a reason that MMOs are littered with ex-guild leaders like me who refuse to do any of that stuff any more.

And again, my fellow MMO players in general, be the change you want to see. I cannot emphasize that enough. Want to be part of a stable team that does group content? Log on regularly. Participate in group content. Stick with it. If you wander off, why wouldn’t everyone else?

That is how good guilds and communities and raid teams are made.

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Do you like videos about games? OF COURSE YOU DO! Last week was a busy one on the Totally Legit Publishing YouTube channel, which is a collection of nerds, myself included, who like to make videos. Behold! And subscribe if you like what you see!

The fabulous Syl is contributing a weekly Video Game Music spotlight, and this week it’s all about World of Warcraft:

The also fabulous Ellyndrial made a video review of cute new indie puzzler Escape Goat 2. I played this game at PAX Prime and talked to the developers a bit, and it’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended!

Cat Context 47: WildStar beta impressions & a World of Warcraft without flying?
Mar19

Cat Context 47: WildStar beta impressions & a World of Warcraft without flying?

cat context vertical Cat Context 47: WildStar beta impressions & a World of Warcraft without flying?

WildStar had an information explosion last week, including pre-order details, a launch date, and most importantly the lifting of the NDA for beta participants! That means that Liore and Arolaide can talk all about their adventures in Nexus and answer questions for special guest Mangle.

We talk about the WildStar world, how different classes play, and whether it’s possible to create a bunny girl who doesn’t look like an underwear model. Also, each of us give our final “yay” or “nay” on pre-orders and muse over what the “rocket house” bonus means.

Also, Blizzard is considering not having flying mounts at all in Warlords of Draenor! Is this a great day for map design, or a sad day for travel times? Liore and Mangle are generally in favor of the change, while Aro doesn’t think taking away player choice is a good business idea.

Also, toddlers playing SWTOR! The arrival of instant paladins! And we actually talk about some mobile games!

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* Cinemablend covers the news that Warlords of Draenor may not have flying mounts.
* Restokin on travel times for flying mounts vs. taxis in World of Warcraft.
* WildStar’s pre-order page.
* MMO Gypsy rounds up WildStar beta opinions from around the blog space.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

The 24-Hour Paladin; more Totally Legit Movies
Mar17

The 24-Hour Paladin; more Totally Legit Movies

At like 3am on Saturday morning I broke down and pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor. Behold, Dimanche the snotty Blood Elf paladin!

2014 03 17 10 41 07 Dimanche @ Nordrassil Community World of Warcraft The 24 Hour Paladin; more Totally Legit Movies

I was surprised to see that insta-90s are spawned with a gear level good enough to queue for Throne of Thunder, the penultimate tier of raid. I of course contributed to the madness by hopping into the first tier of raids within 15 minutes of logging in to my paladin for the first time.

LFR right now, at least in my experience, is a lot slower than it was a month ago and that is likely due to all the insta-90s. Fights take longer, and wipes in lower tiers are more common. That being said, I don’t really care. Hey, let’s all learn to play together!

When not ruining people’s days by being incompetent in LFR, Dimanche is busy levelling mining and engineering so she can make toys for my other characters.

So through a combination of playing and actually reading ability descriptions (gasp!) below is what I’ve sussed out about playing a holy paladin in groups. Hopefully a more experienced type can tell me where I’m going wrong!

1) Holy Shock – I have been using this more than any other ability so far. It not only is a (very small?) instant heal, but I also like always having holy power at my disposal.

2) Holy Light is my small slow heal, Divine Light is my big slow heal, and Flash of Light is the “oh crap” quick expensive heal.

3) My AOE healing options are Light of Dawn which kind of sprays out in front of me, or Light’s Hammer which I throw at melee a lot.

4) The tank should have Beacon of Light and (I think?) Eternal Flame on them.

5) Hit Divine Plea whenever it’s up, although I’m still gonna be out of mana in about 10 seconds.

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Episode 3 of Totally Legit Movies is out today! This time we’re talking about why people should like the 2011 version of The Thing, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick Brick.

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