New blog address :
It’s been quite a while since a game got ahold of me like World of Tanks has. Not exactly bloggable, but A TOTAL BLAST to play. Every spare moment I’m jumping into another random PvP match.
Now this is me, the ardent anti-PVPer, gleefully trying to take out tons of random individuals, and I realize what they’ve done right : There’s no losses. If I PvP in this game, my tank gets damaged. The less damage, the less XP my crew gets, and the more credits it costs me. Still, I am not going to lose big or feel any sense of setback from the losses, and victory is very sweetly rewarded with about 3x the credits and often, much more XP.
The game is fun, but the MMO elements are interesting too. There is a “tech tree” of vehicles which you need to unlock, starting with the three free newb tanks available, one Soviet, one German, and one American. I played each of these tanks for awhile, and managed to get each one to elite status. They become elite when you have unlocked all of the upgrades available for the tank, from better engines to bigger guns. Your first round in a new tank can feel awfully sluggish, but you persevere until all the upgrades are unlocked and it’s a ton of fun playing through.
After making elite status, you can purchase another tank, of a higher tier, with better firepower and armor. So it’s a massive race to the top of the heap, trying to unlock and purchase the heavy tanks to just blast the enemy into tiny pieces.
But the real grind is the crew members. Each starts with “basic training” giving them 50% skills, and according to some linear advancement path, they need a certain number of XP to gain a %, which rises with each % gained. It’s strange – you have a mammoth grind here with the crew, and yet you can also simply decline to grind and buy the next level tank up. Just hire a new crew and go out and have fun.
My stable of tanks at the moment includes :
The MS-1, newb Soviet tank, which is quite a bit of fun for being a beginner tank. My crew members are at 77% and still grinding.
The BT-2, light Soviet tank, which runs at around 55km/hour and is great fun to zing along the battlefield in.
A Panzer Ausf, higher end light tank, which I ground through to elite status and am not sure if I want to keep.
Soviet AT-1 tank destroyer, quite a bit of fun and packs a wallop. I paid for them to be trained up to 100%, and they now work on something called Secondary Skills.
German Marder II tank destroyer, quite a punch and range, and another tank I’m not sure I want to keep.
German Hetzer tank destroyer, just purchased, run perhaps 3 matches in it, and the only tank I haven’t yet achieved Elite status with.
You get six slots in your garage for vehicles, with the thought being that you sell tanks you do not want to play any longer to free up space (and you get 50% of their cost back).
Playing plan for the moment, includes reaching Elite status with the Hetzer, 1% a day crew XP with the MS-1, and deciding whether to keep or sell the Marder II.
The continued SOE downtime pushed me to try out a game advertised on Facebook – World of Tanks.
I’ve been playing it for the last two nights and it’s pretty fun. I grew up as a wargamer and have pretty much not done any wargaming for 20 years. This was a breath of fresh air – all those tanks I learned about in many history books, in a nicely rendered environment, where you can simply jump in for a few minutes or a few hours. The development component is buying upgrades for your tank, and purchasing additional new tanks. You have to “research” them as well.
This is the between battles portion of the game; each battle is a 15 person deathmatch where you are thrown in with a random group of people. (Arranged battles are also possible) It took me awhile to get used to the controls and thinking required in a multiplayer deathmatch again, then I had the absolute best time with the game.
I participated in a battle on a largely empty set of fields, with some lowlands and fences to deal with as well. I was getting better at staying put and being a sniper, albeit in a tiny tank with a tiny gun. And then some enemy player exposes himself on the field and runs straight at me. I thought I had it made, time for a kill from cover, and blasted him perhaps 5 times with my cannon. I was shocked to see him blow past me and take me out. Must have been a medium tank. Well, getting killed is not surprising. What was surprising was to see him run past me and get caught up with two of my teammates, and take them both down. Then immediately run over after another group of three, and take all of them out. He was an ANIMAL, and I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Think I’ll have to keep playing and get my skills up and see where that takes me.
I found my Sony notification email, buried in my spam folder. And I thought it was BS because it came from Innovyx.net.
Apparently, it’s legit.
What do I need to do to accept the new PlayStation®Network Terms of Service?
On March 31, 2011, the PlayStation®Network Terms of Service and User Agreement will be updated. Some consumers may have already received an email from PlayStation_Network@playstation.innovyx.net informing you of the upcoming change.
So let me see if I’ve got this straight.
Phishing emails purport to be from legitimate services but instead redirect you to criminal’s websites, perhaps through a “Man in The Middle” attack, where they ultimately send you to the legitimate site but do something to you while you pass through theirs. And that sure looks like what this silly service is doing.
Nice going Sony. Certainly NOT making me feel good about your post-attack attention to security.
I pulled a real late night last night – 1 am PST and I turned in for the night. Thankfully I remembered to sleep, because I find out that the Sony Playstation breach is apparently being repeated -
SOE MAINTENANCE In Progress
Dear Valued SOE Customers,
We have had to take the SOE service down temporarily. In the course of our investigation into the intrusion into our systems we have discovered an issue that warrants enough concern for us to take the service down effective immediately. We will provide an update later today (Monday).
We apologize for any inconvenience and greatly appreciate your patience.
There’s no way they took that down at 3:30 am as part of some kind of simple maintenance. Something really had to have gone wrong. And supposedly, it has, per Engadget :
Sony Online Entertainment has, apparently, been the victim of another breach that has, according to Nikkei.com, resulted in the release of 12,700 credit card numbers — and presumably some other information as well. 4,300 of those credit card numbers are said to be Japanese, but no saying how many are American. Thankfully, data is said to be from 2007, minimizing the number of still-valid credit cards exposed
Well, I have my credit hardened so I’m not panicking yet. My habit of lying to every website which asks for personal information might pay off in this case – most likely Sony doesn’t know who I am except in the context of billing information. Here’s hoping that the site reopens soon and we get some kind of an explanation as to what’s going on.
I just wish *this* connection was secure enough that I felt good about checking my credit card. It’ll have to wait another 2 1/2 hours until I get home.
Customer Service Notification
May 2, 2011
Dear Valued Sony Online Entertainment Customer:
Our ongoing investigation of illegal intrusions into Sony Online Entertainment systems has discovered that hackers may have obtained personal customer information from SOE systems. We are today advising you that the personal information you provided us in connection with your SOE account may have been stolen in a cyber-attack. Stolen information includes, to the extent you provided it to us, the following: name, address (city, state, zip, country), email address, gender, birthdate, phone number, login name and hashed password.
Customers outside the United States should be advised that we further discovered evidence that information from an outdated database from 2007 containing approximately 12,700 non-US customer credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates (but not credit card security codes) and about 10,700 direct debit records listing bank account numbers of certain customers in Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Spain may have also been obtained – we will be notifying each of those customers promptly.
There is no evidence that our main credit card database was compromised. It is in a completely separate and secured environment.
We had previously believed that SOE customer data had not been obtained in the cyber-attacks on the company, but on May 1st we concluded that SOE account information may have been stolen and we are notifying you as soon as possible.
We apologize for the inconvenience caused by the attack and as a result, we have:
1) Temporarily turned off all SOE game services;
2) Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
3) Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.
We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.
So it’s not my credit card info, presumably. My password needs changing, but that should be it. Hope all the international folks are safe with their money, and their accounts. Sounds like I’m not getting back into the game for weeks again though.
I’ve played the game quite a bit over the past week. Here are the changes I’ve discovered :
Tezcatlipocca : Ding 78. Took on a fun mission for a guy on the dock of the Kylong Plains, and was reminded of the slow progression of quests in this game. Now, Champions Online, that is one fast paced game – and EQ2 seems to be the opposite. It’s relaxing actually, the pace doesn’t have to be like a frenetic teenager after a double mocha latte.
Now the XP gain was quite the opposite. Tez had started out near 50% of XP and ended up getting to the level, partly thanks to vitality, but partly what must have been an XP boost. Did something like that happen in the intervening years ? Sure seems like it.
Another clear change is that someone buffed Mystics. I have more offensive choices and can stay alive even if I pull an add or two. Nice ! It sure was annoying to see an add mean run away or die, back in the old days.
But this was a casual run through the game, and left me tinkering with getting my bazaar sales back up. Man, if you’re not up to speed, it’s a difficult process, and I spent quite a while with this before logging out. I am left with the clear impression of “Damn, this is beautiful and relaxing”.
It appears this blog will be about nothing besides Everquest 2. After getting an email telling me “Your subscription is renewed” I find myself jumping back in to the game, and ready to offer impressions on the blog.
It’s apparently been THREE YEARS since I last played EQ2, and I had thoroughly forgotten how to stay alive in combat. I went to battle immediately with a blue enemy and got soundly trounced. Turned out, that was mostly because my AA’s were reset. So after futzing for awhile with the hotbars, and selecting a ton of AA’s, I set out to a very high level zone, Kaladim, to check things out.
Kaladim has been nerfed. It’s now a 30-ish level group zone, but with all of the same collections and presumably, the same quests as always, so I started running through and working the quests. And I discovered something perfect for the achiever in me – Achievements. (Ha ha made a funny).
Right there in your quest journal are now “meta quests” such as complete 2,000 quests; become a slayer of undead; kill ABC raid boss; and others. So it appears that EQ2Players is no longer necessary, at least unless the idea of competition is the only game in town for you.
I also noticed once again, how utterly BEAUTIFUL the artwork in this game is. Of all the games I’ve played recently, I still find myself popping into EQ2 with all the graphic art turned on, and being awed by both the frame rate and excellent game art. It feels like a real world, just as it always did, but more so now that I’m another computer ahead of things.
I can already feel the pull to resubscribe and get back into the game. Well, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m still looking for two golden dwarf steins.
Dingoe : Ding 16, 35% XP. As I write this, I spent several hours working on my expertises. What this is, is a parallel levelling system for skills and passive bonuses.
Attack is exactly what you’d expect – attack. Rush is an attack that breaks an enemies blocking guard. Spin is an AOE attack with the important component that it knocks enemies back, giving you enough time to get off your own attacks. Each skill has 10 ranks, which then give way to classes. Most of these seem to cap out at class 5.
As with most skill systems, you are limited in the amount of points you can accumulate – it’s 17,000 for levels 1-10, 18,000 for 11-20, et cetera. The little red arrows delineate which skills I have selected to gain XP in. What would be the point for a melee character to gain magic skills ?
And the obvious thing being, the more skills you have at X level, the more powerful you are. Neglect the expertises at your peril – I kept getting Dingoe killed because of it.
Partly, the game gives you bad advice. I understood from the tutorial that you could only work on one expertise at a time, and that was incorrect. Just click the red arrows and it will all flow in.
For Saturday only, the devs decided to make it a double XP day, and I am earning expertise twice as fast as normal, as well as XP. Mostly it’s about the expertise today though – I am blasting through everything in the lowbie zones, because expertise is dependent on using skills, unlike XP where higher level mobs give more points.
Combat in this game is very well done. It’s a rock-paper-scissors system. You can rush your enemy, unless he has set himself into counter stance. You can attack him, unless he is in guard stance. You can get killed by having two creatures attacking you at the same time because of this, but it’s a refreshing change for me versus a game where you use the same skills most of the time, switching them out only occasionally.
Dingoe : 11% towards 16. Tonight was spent working on his demon compendium.
What a neat idea – a bestiary for the game, woven into the game itself. You have to acquire a memory chip for each one of the demons, which I’ve gotten so far as drops from mobs, or purchases from vendors or the bazaar. Once you have one of those, you can summon the demon from your holding tank – that’s your wrist computer - and it will add the appropriate entry to the compendium.
So there were two creatures I needed to add, and had the DC drops for. This was Azumi and Garm. Each one was created with the simple newbie monsters using the games “Demon Fusion” feature.
To create a new demon, you select two from the list above. Based on their level and type, a new demon gets created according to some complex rule that I don’t understand yet. But it’s very predictable, and by gathering two pixies, two hua po, and one kodama, I was able to build a Garm and an Azumi.
I have one remaining chip – for the Slime seen above. The problem was I don’t know how to fuse one. So instead, I went hunting for one and used the demon capturing system while doing a dungeon crawl. Basically, you “talk” to the creature over and over and over, and one of a few different things will happen.
I was just about to hit the sack when I finally got a slime, then logged off immediately afterwards.
Now, though, I’m not content with just a single game. Turns out Aeria Games has other MMO’s which I downloaded one of – Project Torque. Now here’s an idea for an MMO I had never heard of. It’s all about racing. I managed to get the client installed and will have to check it out later.