The Secret World

So my friends have you just finished killing your 127565th Orc? Or have you delivered your one millionth resource to some nameless npc? Or perhaps you are just tired of getting fragged by that 12 year old kid from Duluth that claims that you do inappropriate things with your Dog and mother on saturday nights. Well my friends I know I am (damn that kid one more second and I would have got him). That is why I have dusted off a game that I really liked but at the time I did not have the computer power for, The Secret World.

This game came out two years ago and has really slid under the radar of MMO’s. It is very much influenced by HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, and a little Indiana Jones. You represent one of three secret groups and you get thrown into a world of intrigue, horror, and adventure. Let me tell you the game has a place that is not filled by any other MMO. In a way it almost reminds me of the Matrix MMO that came out years and years ago. At least in its feel, dark, gritty, and in your face.

The game has many upsides and of course a few down sides. The upsides for me starts with the storylines, I really just want to know what is going to happen next. I mean come on, when was the last time you played an mmo and thought that listening and reading the story was one of the best parts? The stories are in depth and go far beyond kill x creature x times for a reward. The second thing that I like is the advancement, this game is not a level based game. You develope weapon trees and in the end you are expected to gain access to all the powers in the game. What you need to decided is how to mix and mach them to form your perfect “operative.” Of course you still have the basic roles tank, healer, DPS but, how you do it can lead to some intriguing combinations. Third thing is the music and more directly the atmosphere of the game. I am not saying the game scares you, but the music combined with creative visuals really gets you into the mood of the game. Most MMO’s I turn off the sound and play my own music. Not this game, you do that and you miss out on a part of the game that really improves the experience. Finally the puzzle quests, this game has a lot of VERY hard puzzles to figure out. They have installed an ingame browser to search the web for help, which you combine with the clues provided by the area you are in and past quests to solve these puzzles. These quests in my opinion are the meat and potatoes of this game. The thing that truly makes this game stand out. Of course you can use that web browser for walk throughs and such. But if you do then you mise well play Diablo because you are missing out on what this game can really provide.

Unfortunately this game is not all peaches and cream. There are some pretty big flaws and some minor ones. The number one biggest problem is the combat system. It just seems flawed to me and I know I am not the only one to comment on it. It is true that eventually you will get all the powers for weapons. But early on you can make your life very difficult by choosing poorly. Second I have not been able to grasp the crafting system. Very early on you find an npc that teaches you how to craft. But after that I just have not been able to make anything truly useful. Third some of the investigation/puzzle quests can be VERY VERY hard. If you do not have patience and the time to really research things then this game is not for you.

Finally the power jump as you move to new zones. The first zone is fairly easy, you never feel like a monster or group is unbeatable. But when you go too the next zone known as the savage Coast oh howdy do you face plant on those first mobs and let me tell ya it gets worse. What I have seen is that people get to the second zone and get frustrated and quit. You see there is a secret that just is not obvious, you need to upgrade your weapons before adventuring to far in. I know, I know you are probably thinking to yourself “Crawdadr, Duh, we all can figure out that you need better gear for harder areas. We are not stupid.” But you see as you progress in the first stage everything goes smooth and you spread out points a bit. What you have to do is add points in each weapon you use (two by the way) in one category (damage or survivability) So that you can get a tier five weapon. Then you go and find the weapon vendor and get yourself this upgraded weapon. All of a sudden you go from face planting to “damn this is hard.” Which is so much better. I had a few friends that played when I first got the game and none of them made it past the Savage Coast. So I suppose that is realy the biggest problem I had not the combat system.

Well I know this is not a complete write up on the game. But I am still fairly new at it. Perhaps if I get deeper into the game I will write more. Fact is I hope I do but as some of you may have noticed I am a game jumper so we will see. In the end if you can give this game a try I think many of you will enjoy it as a breath of fresh spooky air.

On a side note thank you all who are reading this I appreciate it.

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World Of Tanks A Noobs Journey Part Two

First allow me to thank you two lost souls that have decided to follow my blog. I was really excited when I saw you two follow, because now I am not just writing because I feel like it. Now I must write so that I dont let you two down and force you both to join a monastery and give up all technology! But really it is just like when you lift, it is good to have a partner to motivate you to go to the gym and get that one more rep. (do you even lift bro?)

Also alow me to thank DIYLOC.com for the picture above, that sight is prety cool give it a look.

Now on to business lets discuss my noob experience. Let me see if this sounds familiar, you download World Of Tanks, do the tutorial, and then get into your first battle. Most likely you trundle along and then see a tank outlined in red. This is it, your chance to be a tank hero! You move your mouse to follow him and just as you are about to fire you hear a clang and a red notice appears on your left. You have been hit you think, so you move your mouse towards the red light and then bang! The red light appears from the original direction you were going to shoot at. At this point you do one of two things you either continue moving the mouse towards the first hit or you turn back towards the other. Either way we all know what happens next……..BOOM! You blow up in a fiery ball and the game ends. Most likely you do not even know how to exit the game or switch views so you sit there as other people drive by until the end of the match. Sound familiar doesn’t it, I bet this is the first match for most people.

For me at least the above was my first three matches. It was not until the fourth game that I killed my first tank when another noob looked across the field and stopped and looked at me as I looked at him. We both traded shots until he blew up and I was victorious! Or at least I was for about three seconds until his team blew me up. But I admit when I did finally  blow up a tank it felt great! I loved it and kept playing and I think i AM getting better. But this process has been long and painful both for me and the teams I have been on. My paltry win percentage of 47.33% can testify to that fact and so can the poor slobs tanking on my side. As the game has gone on I learned all about some key things with this game. Concepts that are not clearly defined by the  tutorial and that most players on a team will not take the time to tell you. These are some of the things I will discuss in this issue of  “A Noobs Journey.” If you are an experienced player please feel free to skip this or better yet read it and laugh at what little I have discovered. If you are a grade “A” badass at this game please feel free to comment or write your own blog. But if you are a Nooblet like myself I hope this helps with a few of those nagging questions.

First lets discuss the basic things that I did not know until probably my 500th game. First why in the heck do I always get shot by invisible tanks? Is it a hack or are my setting wrong or is my computer old and useless for this game? Well the answer to those questions could be yes to all three.  But more then likely you have discovered view range and the lack of it on your tank. Basically it works like this ( I am not going to get into the math, heck I barely understand it) Every tank has a view range, it is listed on the turret in the technology tree section. You are able to see a certain number of meters, this range is affected by your opponents camouflage rating that will subtract from that number.  I use French tanks and let me tell you those early mediums are garbage and their view ranges are right in line with their suckatude. Often times I would get shot over and over again by these invisible tanks. I could not figure it out and I am sure it was covered in the tutorial but I wanted to know how to fix the problem. To fix this problem there are a few solutions, first look at your crew is the percentage of experiance at 100%? If not then they are not working at their full capacity and this affects everything. So if you’re using a 50% crew you are basically operating at 50%. If your crew is at 100% then look at your radio operator, there is a perk (the little plus symbol is next to the name if you have not chosen one)or special power you can give your crew members. The radio operator has one that extends your view range pick it and as you gain experience it will get better and so will your view range. Second thing is you can add coated optics and or binoculars to your tank. These items both increase your view range, the optics always work but only at 10% increase. The binoculars or “binocs” increase your view range but only when you have been sitting still for a while. The down side to them is of course the price but one great thing about the binocs is that they can be removed for free and used on other tanks. SO DONT SELL THEM WITH YOUR TANK!! Read that one again, SO DONT SELL THEM WITH YOUR TANK!! Right there kids I just saved you 250k worth of silver. Feel free to send me real life money in thanks.

Second lets discuss why people can always seem to spot me even when I am hiding. So lets paint another picture, I roll up to a big bush and a tree. I knock down the tree on my left to block my side and park in the bush so they cannot see me in front. Why can they still see me and blow up my shiny scout tank? So first the tree you knocked down, you would think all those nice big leafs would block you but no, the game developers have decided that the fact that you knocked the tree down invalidates any cover it would provide. Those leafs are invisible to the enemy. Who knew right, makes no sense but there you are? Second now that you knocked over that tree, artillery can see what direction the tree was knocked over at. like so: (tree)–>>>> this means that they assume this: {you}—>>>> so that spot becomes: {BOOM}–>>>> a dead tank. Third your bush needs to be big enough to block your whole tank AND make sure your nose is not hanging out of it. I try and park with just my nose touching the bush. Fourth when you shoot, often times your bush disappears for a bit so when you shoot just assume everyone can see you.

Now the third thing that I wished I had known, why do so many of my shots bounce? So many guys (and I suppose a girl or two) go through their first 500 games just blasting away. I know I did that at first and it was really annoying seeing many of my shots bouncing. Now some people are going to talk about armor thickness, penetration, angling and so forth. Lets be honest you you are not going to memorise all the tanks and weapons at first and you really just want to blow up tanks now. Dont get me wrong all of that is important but you will find a ton of YOUTube videos to teach you about that. So here is my suggestion and what I learned through a lot of lost games. Zoom in on any tank and look real closely, all tanks have weak spots and if you know what to look for, it will not matter that you don’t know the difference between a kv-1 and a Chaffee. Things to look for, doors, hatches, gunports, eye slits, and flat spots on angled armor. All these places have thinner armor compared to the rest of the tank. True you still may not be able to penetrate but you are far more likely too if you learn to aim. Also most tanks have weaker armor on the sides or rear, if you can try and maneuver around the hard tanks and see if you can get them in the butt.

The last thing I wanted to speak about is something that I really wished someone had mentioned. Play to your strengths. Once you start to get into the tier five tanks you will probably have played most if not all the different types of tanks in the game. Look in your stats and see if you can see a pattern with your win percentages in tanks. Most likely you will notice that on some types of tanks you do better than others. It may be the fast lite scouts, or slow moving hard armored tanks or perhaps you have a knack for those long range sniping TD’s. What ever the case try and concentrate on those for a bit to learn the game better. Often times you can get frustrated with different tanks and this can take away some of the enjoyment. By concentrating on the tank type you are good at you will learn better since it is easier to learn when you enjoy the subject. Also your stats will be better in the long run.

Well that is all for now, I believe there will be another episode of this (or maybe two) If you have any comments, thoughts, or God forbid questions, feel free to ask. I am not an expert or even a particularly good player. But I do not consider any honest question as dumb and if I know the answer I will give it to you.

World Of Tanks A Noobs Journey Part one

Greetings all my faithful readers (as of now one person) today I would like to speak about my sojourn into the realms of blowing up tanks! This game kind of took me by surprise since I am more of an RPG or civilisations player. World of Tanks is the first real PVP game I have ever played. I will not go into details but the fast paced first person shooters make my tummy hurt. Ie I want to barf after three minutes.

World Of Tanks for those of you unfamiliar with the game is you guessed it a game about tanks. You can play hundreds of different tanks from multiple countries in teams against other players around the world. You start out in little World War One tanks and work your way into tanks from the sixties. The developers really put a lot of work into this game. They took into account armor thickness, angling, soft spots, cover, and many other things in designing the combat for this game.

The first thing I did was play the tutorial. This was a very stripped down version of the game. It did teach you how to move, shoot, and target. But it is very lacking in the actual mechanics of the game. Very quickly you will discover that for some reason your shots bounce of tanks or people are able to see you when you cannot see them. These things lead to frustration and also lead to just bad play. Thus you will soon see the words from a teammate “you noob you suck.” This is something we all see and live with. All of us at one point or another will be called the dreaded “noob.”

But my friends take heart being a noob is not a bad thing at all. It is not bad for you or for your team mates. In fact it is a good thing and I will explain why! First you are probably asking “hey Crawdadr how come you are so good looking while I am not?” This I cannot answer for you, perhaps you should speak with your stylist or parents. What you should be asking is “why is the fact that I just drove my tank off a cliff into the ocean and drowned a good thing for my team mates?” Great question, the answer is that every new player insures that there will be another game. Noobs mean that the game is alive and growing. Many of us have seen games where everyone is at the end game and there are no new players. They die slow agonising deaths or limp on with a few people playing by themselves.

So my friends, noobs, and countrymen remember when you see that guy to the left of you run up to a kv-1 with his D2 and go nose to nose with him. Dont be angry but be glad, because that means that for now at least you will have a game to play.

Next in part two see the humble beginnings of this noob and cry because most likely he has not improved much.

First thoughts on Landmark MMO Closed Beta

Well I was searching for articles on Landmark MMO closed Beta that I could read at work. It turns out that most I found were on wordpress so I figured why dont I start documenting what I am doing. Now I dont know much about the game yet but as I learn more I will try and post some pictures and such. Who knows maybe even a few how too articles once I know “how too.”

First a little background I started my MMO career with Gemstone III MUD and then transitioned into Everquest 2. From there I have played all of Sony’s games (even Matrix) and have enjoyed them immensely. As life has gone on I have played fewer and fewer games but I have always kept my toe in the water as it were. For the past two years I have eagerly awaited EQNext and like many of you I have been disappointed since it has not arrived. So I went to other games such as World of Tanks, LOTRO and my trusty CiV games. Then I saw the Steam deal.

Steam decided to offer us 60% off of Landmark. Now I never really considered playing Landmark I thought the idea of paying to play in a Beta slightly ridiculous. But the price was just too low and I wanted to know what was going on. I have to admit So far I have been very pleased with my decision.

For those of you who do not know Landmark is the latest instalment of Everquest esq games. This game is based on the sandbox concept with an emphasis on building things. You can think of it as minecraft but with much better graphics. From what I understand eventually the things you create in this game could be used in the development of EQnext. A concept that is both cool and sneaky on Sonys part. The cool thing is you can really build almost anything you want. I have seen cottages, mazes, castles, and even a full service gas station (I kid you not). You go out searching for the raw materials that you use to create these things. At the same time you are gathering so that you can create ever more powerful tools that can be used to make your life easier. The sneaky part is that Sony can use these things for its other games AND we pay for the privilege of doing their work for them.

So the bad and ugly of this game. First is that this is a closed beta it is not even close to being a finished product. You are there to test the limits of what they have and experiment with what they give you. The game crashes and has weird visual effects that just make the game hard to play. Second the tutorial is weak and very limited. It shows you how to start your first claim (that is the place you build on) and walks you through making your first few items. But that is just scratching the service and that service is DEEP. The tools for building are not intuitive. Here is a hint Sony if you have to go online just to figure out how to rotate a block your system is flawed in a building game. Third the biomes (islands you can build on) hint at diversity but really it is all very much the same a inner biome of one type like desert of tundra and an outer ring of another biome. If they really want exploration to be a part of the game it should be a mystery whats over the next horizon. Four there is no danger because they have not introduced monsters yet but it is coming. Fifth and finally there is not market place or economy. If this game is going to be about crafting and such I think the game will need a robust economy. As such I feel they should have been working on that from the very beginning. The thing I like the most about EQ2 was the crafting and selling things on the broker. I hope these things are added soon.

Now I am sure you all have been waiting for the good and there is a lot there. The number one thing is you can build almost anything you can imagine. The only thing stopping you is your imagination and the ability to manipulate voxels (unit of measurement or building block). This takes a fine hand and a lot of research but I have seen some amazing things. Next finding the nodes (resources) can be an adventure in itself. You are always looking out for that next rich vein of gold or marble that you need to create something. Spelunking is another fun past time. They have introduced cave systems and withing are the best nodes and hidden treasure chests. I have spent hours lost in caves digging up cool resources and searching for chest. The community is also helpful, at this time it is small since it is closed beta but I feel the type of person this game attracts lends itself to helpful people.

The future is bright for this game I think. They are adding monsters and have already added some limited PVP. As the danger increases they game will become more interesting. Even as I speak the developers are finetuning the building tools and my hope it that they will become easier and easier. My hope is when open beta arrives we will have a marketplace where we can start trading our goods and templates (saved building and items we created). All in all I am happy that I am helping with this game development and at the paltry price of twenty bucks I have gained hours of enjoyment.