Ever since I started exploring the world of South Korean television last year, I admit to occasionally boring my friends with it. They’re patient, particularly the Weekday IRC Crew (represent!), but I can feel eyes glossing over whenever I start talking about that drama where the leads swap bodies or the latest double-crossing in The Genius. Yes, yes, Liore. We know.
But put all that aside for a moment while I tell you about a television show that has become one of my favorite shows ever, and one that I have already watched for literally hundreds of hours. That show.. is variety show Running Man.
Each week on Running Man the 7 stars (8 in the early days) and a few celebrity guests are given challenges, and inevitably have to try and eliminate each other by tearing off nametags stuck to the back of their shirts. The challenges vary wildly between shows, from speed-eating a firey octopus dish to building a cardboard boat and rowing across the Han River to a rock paper scissors showdown on a train where the loser gets left at the next station.
Why do I love this show so much? Read on!
1) Everyone is happy!
Man, I know it makes me a sap but sometimes I really enjoy watching people be kind and awesome to each other. The team dynamic on Running Man is amazing, and even when they “double cross” their teammates it’s clearly all in good fun.
2) It makes me laugh.
Look, I enjoy bleak television and movies a lot, but even I like to just chill out sometimes. It is rare for an episode of Running Man to not make me tear up with laughter at least once. Yes, it’s a show aimed at children as much as at adults, but sometimes a little wholesome laughter is good for the soul, or something like that.
3) The celebrity guests are in on the fun.
Running Man is a very popular show and they get some pretty big names as guests, particularly from the K-Pop scene. And these huge stars are mostly just as good natured and up for some fun as the hosts! There is something sort of sweet about seeing members of Super Junior or Girls Generation gamely get into competitive hula hooping or whatever.
4) I can learn a bit about another culture.
I have been known to say in the past that you can learn a lot about a country by watching its reality television. It’s a pretty superficial glance, of course, but it can be an interesting “inside” look. (I am admittedly a foreign reality show junkie and will watch everything from Africa’s Next Top Model to MasterChef New Zealand.) Watching a ton of Running Man has taught me a bit about South Korean culture, like when to use honorifics in speech or that tteokbokki is the most popular late night street food (and is delicious).
5) The shows are available via streaming and the subtitles are top notch.
As mentioned above, I’ve watched a lot of non-English television and the group that subtitles Running Man is hands down the best I’ve seen. (And they’re volunteers! Thank you iSubs!) The idioms are all translated in an expressive way for English-speaking audiences, and many episodes even include notes for the vast collection of musical queues the show uses. And forget torrents — all 200 (and counting) episodes are available through online streaming in HD, thanks to dedicated fans.
So if you want to give Running Man a shot, you could start with the very first episode in my link just above. It’s a good introduction to the cast, but keep in mind that just like any show the pilot is a little rocky while people find their feet. I think for new watchers I would also recommend #60, called “The Tru-Gary Show” (yes, that is supposed to be like the “The Truman Show”), where Gary thinks he is the spy but in fact everyone else is secretly in on the joke. Or #74, when each of the cast gets a special “super power”!
Basically what I’m saying is: Running Man is awesome and you probably should watch it.
Earlier this week on Inventory Full Bhagpuss identified me as possibly “the most space-happy of all [bloggers]“. It’s a fair cop, but let the record show that I regret nothing! Nothing!
In all honesty as much as I always enjoy dabbling in different games I also feel happiest when I have a “home” MMO. RIFT filled that spot for me for a few years until the one-two punch of the mediocre Storm Legion expansion and switch to free-to-play, and since then despite quite enjoying a sojurn into Pandaria I haven’t felt at home anywhere in a while.
Guild Wars 2 wasn’t my thing, nor was Neverwinter, nor Elder Scrolls, nor pretty much any other new MMO from the last few years. This WildStar game though, this could be my new home. Maybe. We’ll see.
Anyway, let’s talk about housing. Or to be more precise, let’s talk about why you should care about housing even though you couldn’t give a flip about agonizing over virtual couch placement.
And I don’t mean that harshly — there has been a lot of opposition from both MMO devs and players to the idea of housing over the years, and I get it. They don’t boost your stats, they don’t drop epics, they don’t make you a more awesome player-killing machine, so why care?
Well, let’s see why WildStar wants you to care:
A tier 2 or epic tier resource plug on your lot can generate a lot of ore or wood or whatever that can then be sold on the Commodity Broker. But what’s better than one resource plug? Neighbor resource plugs! In my guild most people have set their resources to split 50/50 between land owner and harvester, so before I log off at night I do a rotation of mines and woody areas. I get a nice pile of materials for the day, and in turn the next time I log on I find stacks of stuff in my mailbox from when guildies harvested my plugs.
Recently someone with only tier 1 rune gathering skill came in possession of an epic-tier rune harvesting plug. He was too low to use it himself, but he planted the plug with 50/50 sharing and now gets a portion of the expensive resource while taking his time levelling up his own skill.
Dungeons and Telegraphs
While they’re a very small taste of what you can find in one of the real dungeons, players will occasionally encounter mini-dungeon plugs for their housing plot. These often involve a section with goofy but fun temporary weapons, a jumping puzzle, and a boss with a lot of telegraphs.
Speaking of telegraphs, there’s also a practice plug that challenges players to survive a series of crazy telegraphs for three minutes. The rewards are mostly décor, so perhaps not that interesting to some players, but the challenge is real and it’s a great way to practice and show off your skills. (I still haven’t managed to finish it.)
Min-maxing for fighting mobs is great, but what about optimizing the time in between battles? Sure, you could just hearth back to your faction’s main city, but they’re huge and confusing. Instead, just go home!
The home portal in WildStar is set up so you can visit your house and then teleport right back to where you were. Once you’re at your house, you can also visit your neighbors.
Arolaide, for example, has no idea where to find a mailbox in the main city of Thayd, because she just goes to our fellow guildie Ryven’s plot and uses his when she needs one. In the middle of nowhere with full bags? I port home and then hop over to Angelnorn’s plot to use her vending machine. Stop running forever to get back out to the quests in the middle of a zone, and just go use the Galeras zone portal on Hamilburg’s plot!
Even if you don’t care about playing interior decorator, games like WildStar are proving that player housing can have benefits for everyone, from the most casual to the most serious player.
Last week was E3, and Liore, Arolaide, and special guest Corranhorn get together to talk about the highs, the lows, and those weird glowy wristbands that journalists were forced to wear at the Microsoft show.
A few games definitely stood out in a week of marketing extravaganzas, and we share our favorites. Popular opinion is that Nintendo won the show, but we’re not sure we agree. Meanwhile Ubisoft made unfortunate comments about the lack of women characters in the upcoming Assassins Creed Unity, and AC superfan Aro has a few things to say about it. And on the MMO front, the Destiny alpha was announced at E3, but can a console MMO find an audience?
Also: The CREDD system has launched in WildStar but Corr is broke! Liore would like to see more of Mass Effect 4 now please! Aro cannot stop building her house!
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* Belghast plays some of the Destiny alpha.
* Cuphead trailer
* Splatoon E3 trailer
* No Man’s Sky E3 trailer
* Evolve gameplay from IGN
* Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime gameplay trailer
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
Yes, I know I said I would stop writing about WildStar so much after the first few weeks of the launch but it’s all I wanna write about at the moment! Bear with me…
So as I mentioned last week I’ve done both of the level 20 dungeons, multiple times now. Even mentored down from level 25+ I get half a bar of XP from a run, and as a healer type I’m always happy to run lower level guildies through their first dungeon.
I’m glad I chose to level an Esper first because the healing style is extremely reminiscent of healers I’ve played in previous MMOs. This means that I’ve been able to pick up the basics of healing fairly quickly, leaving plenty of mental power to focus on telegraphs and general mobility and interrupts.
Wait, interrupts?! Usually the sole domain of DPS and tanks, at least in my experience, in WildStar thanks to interrupt armor there are plenty of fights where a healer will need an interrupt on their bar. You might be part of the planned rotation, or maybe just an “oh crap” backup, but if you’re engaging a boss that needs an interrupt at any point you should probably have one available.
Unlike Spellslingers and Medics, Espers have mostly targeted heals which makes them excellent at tank healing in particular. I’ve found that for the most part DPS can look after themselves — as long as they’re staying out of telegraphs the occasional group heal seems to keep everybody in good shape.
Which brings me to another general point: one of the neat things about WildStar’s talent system is that it’s incredibly easy to switch between “specs” or sets and equally as fast to switch out individual abilities within a set. The dungeons seem to have been designed with this in mind, so don’t be shy about taking a moment before a pull to make sure you’ve got the best tools for the job.
Okay, let’s look at the specifics:
R: The Esper innate is really useful but also quite situational. It grants absorb and interrupt armor, but more importantly you’ll get 5 Psi Points over 5 seconds. However, it also renders you immobile (except for dodge). This is obviously useful when you need the Psi Points RIGHT NOW for a big heal, but not when you also have to be on the run.
1: Bolster. This is a HoT that can stack two times on a target. Always keep it up on your tank! At level 26, double Bolster ticks for about +230 health every second, which really makes a difference in heavy damage fights. This is also the second-most important spell to give ability points to, in my opinion.
2: Mind Over Body. This is your bread and butter heal. It has a 1.5 second cast time and no mobility, but it grants a Psi Point. When in doubt, cast Mind Over Body! This is the most important spell for ability points, and the one I immediately buffed up to the “Tier Major Upgrade” level at level 25.
3: Reverie. An instant AoE healing spell with a fairly wide range. Your #1 group healing spell! Healing power is increased based on the number of Psi Points, so this pairs nicely with the innate skill. Also players must be in front of you and within line of site to be healed. Spell effect is pretty floating paper lamps!
4: Mending Banner. An instant single target healing spell. Healing power is based on the number of Psi Points, so again this is a good pair with your innate skill. Since it’s instant, this spell is good to have “banked” for tank top-ups during crazy movement phases. It also only costs Psi Points to cast, so using this regularly can help with Focus (aka mana) management.
5: Phantasmal Armor. Buffs absorb and interrupt armor on its target, making it a great cooldown for the tank when things get tense.
6: Something? I am trying out different spells here but haven’t found one that I really like yet. Soothe is a Psi Point-based mobile AoE heal, but it has an awkward mechanic and a short target range. Mirage has a gorgeous spell effect (columns of fish!) and will do a ton of healing, but it requires team mates to run through it and the 3 second cast time makes it prohibitive to use mid-battle.
7: Boss-specific button. Sometimes this will be Crush for the interrupt, sometimes Catharsis for the cleanse (argh, Darkwitches I hate you so much), and other times Psychic Frenzy if there is a pure DPS burn phase.
The above is what I’ve figured out so far. If you have a different way of healing or some suggestions about what I should put in that weird spot 6 on my bar, let me know!
P.S. Yesterday I recorded boss kills of the other level 20 dungeon, Stormtalon’s Lair:
So as of last night I’ve finished both of the level 20 dungeons in WildStar, and at the risk of being a fangirl my first impression is: yay!
Neither of the dungeons are pushovers, and in fact I died many times in each. However despite the number of deaths I never felt as though they were due to sloppy encounter design, or insta-kill mechanics. You can make mistakes, at least at this level, but if you make too many in a row you’re gonna die. That’s my kind of difficulty.
It isn’t surprising given the whole telegraph system that one of the key features of boss fights is mobility. Fortunately I’d already gotten the hang of double-tapping in a direction to dodge, but I quickly discovered that the “sprint” key is not just for going faster when questing and a second or two of speed can make a big difference.
The fights themselves are really enjoyable although I’m having a tough time putting my finger on why that is exactly. They remind me a bit of Heroic Mimiron, which was always my favorite fight in WoW. I like running around, I like “mini-game” phases, I like controlled chaos.
I started this post with the intention of writing a somewhat serious and lengthy first impression, but you know what? They’re just fun, okay! That’ll do for now.
Instead of words, please enjoy this video I made of us killing all 3 mandatory bosses in Ruins of Kel Voreth.