My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 6

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This is part 6 in a continuous series about my time in World of Warcraft, from when I started playing in 2005 and onwards. Part 1 is here in case you missed the beginning of it.

There’s been another change this time. I’ve decided to convert all the diary text to past tense and not have any of the blockquotes anymore. It makes it easier to adapt and split up text into more paragraphs.

July 2005

Bricaard was getting so prominent in the guild that I barely had time to do my own stuff anymore. I harvested the usual bout of herbs in the three zones I usually visited, but during this a couple of guildies invited me to help them out with various elite quests. Later I wanted to farm highborne undeads in Winterspring. I was invited then to UBRS but declined, but as the raid plans were changed to LBRS they repeatedly tried to invite me again. And later, Sino tried to invite me to a run in Dire Maul.

Doing UBRS/LBRS and Dire Maul could be okay, but I didn’t want to do them 24/7.

I tried various methods of farming to gather money for my epic mount quest. Some ogres in Deadwind Pass dropped money and loot, and were relaxing to farm. I quickly stopped farming blood elves in Azshara, however, after I discovered that they could heal themselves. I really despised that because of how long it took for a paladin to wear them down. A few satyrs nearby were better targets, but their loot was on par with the ogres, and they were closer to Ironforge. I also did another round in the three zones harvesting herbs. I don’t think I have had so much stuff for sale at the auction house at once. Unfortunately it was a slow process. I only reached 170g this day, and I was at 110g a day or two earlier.

There was a long way to the 400g I needed for the epic mount quest.

I helped Gast and Argethon kill Hexx in Hinterlands and release the captured gryphon pup. Then it was time for a genocide in Felwood. I joined Tamako, Stovamor and Saphire and we all went crazy killing teddies. The goal was to increase the reputation for the Timbermaw faction, and we also managed to wrap the green bar around from unfriendly to neutral. Unfortunately we needed to wrap the bar around a few times more before we could at least talk to the Timbermaw and buy formulas and recipes from them. It also got old fast just circling around the same green pond killing the frequently spawning teddies.

My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 5

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This is part 5 in a continuous series about my time in World of Warcraft, from when I started playing in 2005 and onwards. Part 1 is here in case you missed the beginning of it.

I’m back writing this series after a big break pondering whether to continue it. Turns out that it’s a great way to condense my diary sessions and combine them with the relevant screenshots, and it also had a few readers as well, so I’m going to continue writing the parts. However, one thing I’ve decided to do this time is reducing the amount of screenshots as that really got out of hand in the previous parts.

But don’t worry, there will still be plenty.

June 2005

I started this month with various quests in Felwood and Winterspring, notably those about the lady by the warm pond, killing a patrol of white furbolgs, and getting ten rare pelts from yetis.

I did something to a meddlesome quest in Winterspring, I probably should have done some more – I cheated like the worst scoundrel. I had to traverse a deep cave with loads of elite dragonkin monsters. It was another one of Blizzard’s stupidly difficult quests. On the nice web site, Thottbot, they recommended that I took off all my equipment and then just ran inside, expecting to die a few times on the way. So that’s what I did. Soon I came to a symbol in the floor at the end that teleported me out on a mountain top where a lady was standing that I needed to talk to. Back in Everlook I put on all my gear again, and as a result of the “naked” trick I didn’t have to pay to get it repaired. In your face, Blizzard!2 June 2005

I was back in Scholomance where I tried a new AssistHelper add-on that made it easier to hit whatever the main assist was hitting. It made attacks more coordinated, killing groups of monsters more efficiently.

Nick, who had already been very helpful on several occasions, offered to help me level up enchanting by donating a lot of his enchantment materials from his horde character, Pannick.

Papo & Yo

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This third person adventure game was completed in less than four hours, but somehow it felt a little longer than that. It was for the most part easy but also charming, and with many original puzzle ideas. The closest thing I can find to compare it with is the American McGee’s Alice series, only without the combat. It had the same level of surrealism and also felt like it could maybe sort of fit into that universe somehow.

The game touches upon a light story of the small kid Quico and his alcoholic father in a few brief cutscenes, but by far most of the game is spent solving puzzles in arena after arena with metaphorical substitutes. In the beginning there’s another kid that teases you, and it doesn’t take long before you get the small robot Lula on your back as a jet to make double jumps possible. Lula can also be asked to fly over and activate a circle by clicking the right mouse button.

Screenshot

A general style of puzzle design is that white chalk lines means interactive stuff. Animated cogwheels drawn on walls can be clicked to make a building walk to a different place so you can jump across roofs. Handles can be pushed or pulled to tip over a stack of buildings into a “snake” you can run across. Keys can be turned to open up a passage, typically by walls and buildings being lifted away.

Transistor

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Imagine if you took an isometric action RPG with a smattering of Robotron, changed the action to be mostly like V.A.T.S. from e.g. Fallout 4, added great Art Deco parallax graphics, a sword with staccato comments, and atmospheric music that often have singing on top as well – and you basically have Transistor.

It took me about 6 hours to complete this one but I was seriously considering abandoning it after an hour or two. The combat was innovative and polished but was still problematic for me. The gist of the game is a turn-based part where you stack “functions” (abilities) in a limited queue and them fire them off with super speed, making you feel like The Flash. Then comes the sour part. The queue needs some time to recharge itself and you are extremely vulnerable as things are now real-time. Because of the huddling nature of the confined combat areas, it’s easy to get pummeled left and right, even when zapping around with a teleport ability I earned early in the game. This goes back to me wanting to kill as many off fast as possible, and if my queue doesn’t deliver enough damage, I may take too much damage in the real-time part. Emptying the health bar temporarily burns out an ability slot, forcing me to use other means of attacking. Burning out all attacks of course means death.

For most of the game, this system just didn’t click with me.

Diary Games: Outcast

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This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the many games I played from 2000 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish.

All images are courtesy of MobyGames and shows the best 512×384 resolution.

April 19, 2001

I’ve had the original CD-ROM of Outcast for a while, but my DVD drive wouldn’t acknowledge it. Now I had a plan. First I installed a 317 MB alternative version from a “collection” and ran it. It started without problems but was very limited – no speech, no movies, no CD audio music. Then I renamed the folder and installed the original CD version. As usual it wouldn’t recognize my DVD drive. I then copied the executable file over from the limited version and hey presto; I now had an original that worked with my DVD drive with all music, movies and speech intact. Then I deleted the limited version.

Played a little bit of the game. I managed to get through the training level in the beginning where I had to sneak past my teacher Jan. The game had to be run in the penultimate resolution of 400×300. The best, which was 512×384 or something like that, was stuttering too much. Somewhat disappointing on a 1,2 GHz PC, but at least it ran reasonably well in 400×300 with all graphical details set to high. The game looks old fashioned today because of the low resolution, but I also know that it’s a long and challenging game. Some reviewers say 50+ hours – try comparing that to the 10-15 hours of Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.². There are also sub quests and even sub quests within sub quests. It might make the game confusing and introduce the non-linearity I’m not comfortable with yet.

Nevertheless I will now give it a chance and then we’ll see. I paid a lot of money for the original game.

Diary Games: The Beginning of the Millennium

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This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the many games I played from 2000 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish.

In fact, this is the very first one with the first play sessions in 2000. As is the case with so many hobbies just like this one, it started in a casual manner and only gradually became more serious. It wasn’t like hitting a switch and suddenly I was writing hundreds of lines in each session.

I started writing diaries about my life in 1996 and have kept it up since then. Games were rarely mentioned as something I played one evening. I wasn’t really into gaming until I had sort of an epiphany with Gunman Chronicles, as you can read here below. In the end of the 90’s, it was mostly about coding and composing. I did complete Rama, Sanitarium and the first three Tomb Raider games in the end of the 90’s, but their sessions were sometimes months apart and the comments very brief.

Although better for the following ten games, the descriptions are still plain and the details few. However, it gets a lot more interesting in later blog posts as I dig deeper into my diaries. Later I also started grabbing my own screenshots, but for this blog post they are all courtesy of MobyGames.

Alone in Space

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Developer: Butterflyware | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

I completed this first person action adventure in less than 4 hours. I woke up alone in a desolated space station on a stormy planet and had to find my way off. There was an abundance of corridors with tilted chairs and a ton of boxes that gave the game a very samey look. Most of the areas were mazes and there were connect or sliding puzzles to open doors, pass codes to find in big widescreen log screens, stationary lasers to cut doors open, sizzling magenta anomalies to traverse carefully, and much more.

I’ve seen reviewers on Steam pushing down the walking simulator stamp, but that’s not fair. Yes, there are sizable periods of time where you’re not doing much else than traverse a maze, but there are enough puzzles and dangerous passages to make it a real game. In fact, some of the dangerous passages even got me quite aggravated. There are no monsters or humans to be found, but the anomalies zapped me dead until I figured out how to throw down a metal bolt step by step to find my way through the parts that didn’t zap me. There was also a section with flaming gas leaks where I kept coughing and had to crouch or close rooms to kill the flames, and enough coughing meant death. Lightning could sometimes zap me dead in a corridor if my timing was off. There were a couple of sections with the air being sucked out fast.

And of course, don’t get in front of a stationary laser.

Technobabylon

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Developer: Technocrat Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

This was an excellent AGS cyberpunk adventure game, at least as good as (if not better than) Beneath a Steel Sky and Gemini Rue. After the fifth Broken Sword I thought I was through with adventure games, but this game managed to fondle gray adventure cells I thought had gone extinct. All it took was the right futuristic setting, the right story, and the right puzzles – along with great voice acting.

Part of the reason I liked this game so much was also that none of the areas (or chapters) were too big. Less than half a dozen screens and for the most part even less than that. The inventory was usually also small, rarely were there enough items to make a second page necessary. It made for a nice balance where nothing felt too difficult, yet it wasn’t so easy that I could just stroll along.

That being said, I never felt the need for a walkthrough.

Backlog/Checklist Web Sites for Video Games

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As a creator of a backlog/checklist web site for video games myself, of course I need to keep track of what the competition looks like. It’s only natural to check out whether your own stuff can hold its own. Sure, I have a ton of my own ideas, but maybe a site supports something I hadn’t thought of.

Besides, I can see in my activity log they are also checking out my site. What goes around.

But what really is a shame is how unknown these kinds of sites are. Apart from the two usual suspects, Backloggery and HowLongToBeat, it truly is a niche. Whenever someone talks about the concept in forum threads, you can be sure that at least one of those two sites will be mentioned. Anyone else among truly nice sites are practically never linked to, unless a lonesome cowboy fan happens to stop by.

So I’ve decided to list what I have found during these years, no matter how it may affect visitor retention on my own site. I’ll try to keep the listing of sites relatively objective since I’m a player too.

Into the Mists of Pandaria

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So I finally gave in and went back to World of Warcraft to check out Mists of Pandaria – the expansion right after Cataclysm. Curiosity and nostalgia got the better of me. Last I played this game was about 6 years ago. In fact, the last report about it should be right here in the 2011 line of blog posts.

If you’re wondering how it’s like to level from 85 in 2017, in a time where two more expansions may have affected the balance of health and damage, look no further. It was all solo – no dungeons or raids.

And I can say right off the bat that it was too easy, even for a jellyfish like me. I can’t for logical reasons say if it was always like this or if the two later expansions and all their patches have affected the balance. I sure hope it was harder when the expansion arrived in 2012. I played my main Retribution Paladin and I could kill almost all solo enemies in approximately two ability attacks. Typically a judgment and then a follow-up. Solo enemies also did really weak damage to me, typically a total of much less than 10%. I rarely bothered with healing spells, food or bandages. The only place where it felt like Blizzard finally turned the tides was right after going through the wall gate into the north area of Townlong Steppes. There were a few mobs here that actually smacked my health bar down for me to see an actual gap.

But alas, it turned out to be the exception that proved the rule.