A Newbie in Tyria

Zyngor | Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3 Comments
Unless you have been living under a gaming rock (in which case, hello, welcome to the Internet - cats to your left and chesticles on the right), you probably heard the news that the Guild Wars 2 's core game recently went free-to-play. Obviously, there are certain restrictions in place for free accounts, but there is plenty of entertainment to be had, and no losses (other than your time - then again, you probably have plenty of it if you're wasting time reading this) should you give it a try and decide it's not the game for you.

Because I'm a cheap thrifty feller, I decided to jump on the GW2 F2P bandwagon and download the game a couple days after the announcement (to avoid the initial onslaught of accounts). Now, I will say that anything I mention in this post really boils down to 2-3 sessions of playing the game thus far. It is totally possible that my opinions & thoughts will change as I roll forward, as is often the case with something as dynamic as the world of Tyria and MMOs in general.

Guild Wars 2 offers an interesting art style. It feels very much like an animated painting, brush strokes gently swaying many of its world/UI/cutscene decisions. I'd imagine the ArenaNet studio is really some coffee club/art studio setup, with the aroma of some hipster beverage and lots of finger snapping going about. I think the dynamic nature of this game definitely works toward its favor, allowing all the bold adventurers to cross the world of Tyria and explore all its nooks and crannies. You may be climbing a tricky vista one second, and battling a giant worm the next during one of the many sporadic events that constantly pop up around the maps.

Enjoy your time spent in the game's hubs, because you don't really need to see them much
The game is another to mix the boundaries between theme park and sandbox, as seems to be the direction for many MMOs these days. Whether you want to call it a "sandpark" or a "themebox," the general aimless direction of exploration questing is novel in keeping the players out in the world, rather than constantly returning to a fixed hub. Still, the flow of certain quest and defined class aspects attempt to tug you onto some rails. To me, I don't really care what side an MMO falls upon - it's what it has to offer for me that matters more.

Map completion? Jumping puzzles? Heck yeh! Because I am solo PvE-oriented, both of these aspects are probably what may keep me hooked onto occasionally playing GW2. After listening to the eloquent rascals of Burton and Scrooge speak about their thoughts on GW2, I feel like thus far I am echoing Brian's thoughts on the game. While I'm playing it, I seem to be having a decent time. However, it's not a game that I feel I must be playing when it comes to that magic hour to decide what I wanna waste my time doing. I'm sure that should I decide to spend more time in the game, I may draw my talons deeper into fanboi-ism. However, I have not shared any real memorable experiences with Guild Wars 2 so far.

I'm also curious as to what the later parts of the game hold for me. I figure it'll eventually become a battle to try and 100% map completion. I am not currently part of a guild, and PvP aspects of some "war" do not hold my interest one bit, so perhaps I'll be experiencing a warped version of what the developers set out for the players to accomplish. I do enjoy that the game feels so alive, with both players and NPCs (with whom I often confuse as being actual characters as they are often interacting with the world on the same level as real players).

If you are a free player deciding whether you'd like to try out the game, I'd say go for it. You may want to use wikis or some form of out-of-game source to guide you into the foray of GW2, as I felt like I was a bit short on many things and some panels are a bit confusing toward a new GW2 player. Heck, while you're at it, you might as well also check out this new GW2 podcast, Radio Free Tyria, featuring three awesome hosts, Cithryth, Ethelros, and Draculetta. Their aim is geared toward the casual player, and seem to have some good experience of the game under their belt if you have any questions.

Sometimes the game a-moo-ses me a bit.
So yeh, I'd say as a whole that while Guild Wars 2 may not become a staple in my gaming catalog, it seems like a pretty solid transition and good move for ArenaNet to offer the option of making the core game a free experience. They are hoping to hook you enough in the first large chunk to keep you wanting a second pizza expansion...woops did I throw pizza in there? So far, my Charr Engineer has made it to level 20, and I have yet to spend any of my 32 points in the Training tab because I apparently picked a whopper of a first class? If you enjoy typing in random letters and would like to add me in game, my handle is Zyngor.5907 (I don't expect to be playing too much or all the time, so don't rely on me being around all the time).

Below is a pretty nice video showing some new player tips, because I wanted to see what would happen if I embedded a video. Cheers!

Blaugust 2015 Season Finale

Zyngor | Monday, August 31, 2015 3 Comments
Thirty-one days of Blaugust on the web, 31 days of Blaugust. Take one down, pass it around, 30 days and one draft of Blaugust on the web!

So we arrive at the last day of August, and that means three things: the fall TV lineup is creeping right around the corner, I hope you scored some good cheap dime notebooks and slap bracelet rulers (pretty sure those things are making a comeback), and finally we no see Blaugust 2015 come to a close. One of these things is more difficult than the others to achieve total victory - spoiler alert - watching TV is potato fodder, and not even the masochistic rush of last-minute back-to-school-shopping defeats the determination and frenzy many bloggers endured to leave this month 31 daily blog posts richer.

After scoring that coveted 31 posts last year, I thought that maybe I should take a step back this time around. Fortunately, Belghast added a "Survivor" circle at the halfway point, allowing those with 15 posts to hold hands and at least say, "Well done us, well done." That being said, I still started off the month with daily postings and was not opposed to the dream of 31.

Unfortunately, I experienced a loss in the family on the 9th (and myself along with extended family had been spending several days prior with her in hospice), and so Blaugust immediately took a sidestep to more important matters. Once a bit of grieving and the formalities had passed, I felt it was okay to slip right back into the a better schedule for myself. At that point, I opted to do more of an "every other day" schedule with some spurts of daily posts to catch up to hitting 15 for the month.

And it was accomplished. And it was good. (this will make 16 for me)

I did my best to stop at some new blogs early on in the month. Because of the family departure, I've been spending the better part of this month out of town. As such, I've not been quite as able to peruse the number of blogs I would have liked this month, which I regret.

Will I participate in Blaugust in future years? Sure, as long as my entropic schedule allows, this is an enjoyable event to both participate and spectate other bloggers' journeys. Because I seem to go a bit wayward between events like these, something like Blaugust is a great way to spill my brain drippings over the keyboard and release a year of musings.

So to all my Blaugustians - thank you for making this year a great one! Thanks for the new friends on the Twittersphere, and I shall do my best to catch your posts thanks to the nature of social media and the almighty power of a blogroll.

Congrats to all of you - especially if you were able to post something every day. Even if you could only post half or less, the fun thing is that you posted something. While we can't all be Belghast, it sure is something to try and roleplay him for a month.

Lazy Weekend Edition

Zyngor | Saturday, August 29, 2015 1 Comment
Welcome to Blaugust Day 29, and at 15 posts this month, I'm only half outta my mind!

I've been a bit scramble-minded as to a topic I'd like to pursue, so I think I'll roll with one of them fancy multi-musings post today. At least I'll be able to surpass 140 characters an entry on this one, and get a couple odds-and-ends out of the way. I'll begin with a bit of Trove chat, move onto a tad on my LOTRO transfer experiences thus far, and finish up with a tidbit on my future F2P endeavors.

Trove Trekking 
I've been out of town for about a week now, slowly helping to organize my grandmother's apartment in preparation for cleaning things out. The extent of her computer gaming was essentially Facebook games, including several casino choices and Candy Crush/Criminal Case (she sure loved those C-titled games!). As such, her machine and Internet was never designed to be all that capable of much, let alone the time it'd take to download multiple gig titles (LOTRO is like 13g, plus the patch times).

I settled on setting up Glyph (Trion's loader) and Trove, as I figured it's not a huge download, plus the game runs pretty well on a lower-end machine. This was indeed a good idea, as I've been rather enjoying playing more of this game over the course of a month or so during my last couple trips here.

The new "/epicpose" command lets you catch some...interesting shots
After receiving a tip that they were offering a free class token awhile back, I aptly set up the game and chose the Ice Sage (ranged magic, staff user). Since then, I finally spent some of my Cubits (earnable store currency) and picked up the Shadow Hunter (bow user) and just recently, the Candy Barbarian. This latest addition plays much like the Knight, though he wields his sword dual style with a bit of frenzied sugar-coated sprinkles on top. By having a range of weapon types and characters leveling at once, I've been able to build my overall Mastery up to 37 or so, which unlocks some nice passive bonuses and goodies along the way. Trove is not really a game you have to take too seriously, as can be seen by many of the themes displayed in the biomes, so there's really no stress required here.

LOTRO Transfers
Though I haven't been able to be in game for a week or so, I've kept up best I can on the LOTRO transfer news as they work to consolidate servers by roughly the end of the year. I'm fine with letting Turbine take their time to iron out the hardware and services - gotta do what you gotta do to de-borkivize the stuffs. No sense getting in a huffy when we have no clear control of the timeline - it's something that's new for both players and developers.

I took a little time to physically write down all my characters' information on slips of paper, and made myself a table for where I'd like to make my moves to the remaining servers. My big move will be transporting my characters from my main kin on Riddermark (closing) to Landroval. I'll also be moving my couple of toons from Windfola (closing) to Arkenstone. However, I'd like to first move my Landy hunter to Gladden, and I'm thinking my Arken hunter to either Brandywine or Crickhollow. I'd be making these moves to try and avoid multiple classes and duplicate names on one given server.

I have a couple of other characters I'll be shuffling to other servers where my retinue is low, to spread things around a bit better. It'll take while to go through each character and make sure they are ready for their new respective home, but hopefully all is well in the end. It'll be exciting to maybe delve a bit more into group play, as I move to ultimately more populated worlds. This is a good move for the game as a whole, and should not be seen as one step closer to its death. I know all games eventually have to come to an end, but this is just another branch along LOTRO's long journey it has had, and should be an exciting one.

Free-to-play Hullabaloo
As a F2Paholic, I'm happy to hear about the recent option of free accounts in Guild Wars 2. From what I have seen, the restrictions seem fair to me and expected of what free accounts usually offer in such a case. Hopefully ArenaNet can do well to pull plenty of new players in, and excite them enough with the offerings to possibly become future paying accounts (and join in the fun with expansion Heart of Thorns).

I also look forward to what Wildstar F2P brings. From what I saw when the game was being hyped up for the original launch, it looks like a fun, quirky title, that loosely matches a RIFT style, but with a bit more action flair to combat. If it is offered for free players, the explorer path appeals to my sense of landscape probing, and was really the first thing I noticed when looking at an early article. It should hopefully fit nicely in my MMO stash, and I probably won't do much reading into it and just jump into the game like a blind lemming.

Have any thoughts on any of these mini topics, or just want to shoot the breeze? Share below!

D&D Alignment Quiz

Zyngor | Thursday, August 27, 2015 0 Comments
Welcome to Day 27 of Blaugust! This post represents my two weeks notice of posting thus far.

I was kinda scrambling for a topic today, but fortunately Twitter to the rescue! I saw a group of bloggers, starting from StarShadow and branching down to others like Aywren, Chestnut, and Tyrannodorkus, take an online alignment test to rank them on their D&D personality alignment. So I figured, what the heck, I'll do it too. I've probably taken several tests like these in the past, but I forgot what my results were, and I figured that depending on the site and the questions, the result might change.

So I took the test, which consists of 36 multiple choice questions (they are kinda written in a fantasy/medieval style, so you just have to try and modernize them in your head), hit submit, and my result was...

Lawful Neutral!

A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government. The common phrase for lawful neutral is "true lawful." Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.
--excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

I was not all that surprised by the results - I expected to fall around the middle of the spectrum, and this was indeed the case. With some exceptions, the majority of my answers fell within the two middle options. I generally strive to make those around me happy within reason, which, in turn, makes me pleased that I'm able to help them when possible. As long as they aren't breaking the rules, I'm okay with them living their life as however pleases them.

I'm no hero, but I'm also no villain. I have my own code, and that is generally to be open and in partial agreement with both parties so that I can be able to facilitate on either side. By getting "in" on either side of the party, perhaps you can pick up some knowledge to help resolve the situation at hand.

Of course, I also tend to stay on the outside of things, and take opportunities like that if they are knocking at my doorstep. I do end up being a bit invisible by doing this, but then again, that's also part of my nature. I just try to be happy, strive to see the world as a happy place, and if there's something I can do to help in a situation (in my power) that doesn't necessarily make me the center of attention, I'm all for it.

Plus, the wiki page suggests that James Bond would fall under the same alignment, so I'm basically just sitting here, waiting for my drink (shaken, not stirred) and the bevy of babes to arrive. gor....Zyngor.

Ode to the Tantrum Trollbooth

Zyngor | Wednesday, August 26, 2015 2 Comments
Welcome to Day 26 of Blaugust! I've got 13 donutty posts to speak for thus far.

So I was playing a bit of Trove the other night. I had just started a Shadow Hunter 'cause who doesn't love more ranged DPS (I also wanted to rake in some bow-type weapons to disassemble for Mastery points), and was leveling up alone.

I normally keep at least half an eye on the global chat window, even though I've maybe one spoken once. At one point, some kind of quarrel between two players erupts, likely after one called the other a "noob" or something typical. Suddenly, the other is winging insults left and right like it's one of those t-shirt shooters, and trying to demand the other share their Mastery level (basically, a leveling system shared across characters that measures your collecting/leveling accomplishments). It was a train wreck and I was enjoying watching every bit of it.

I'd like to think I'm not the one one that enjoys watching things like this go down. I mean, I'm pretty sure they created Reddit for this purpose, right? It's not like you're watching mom and dad fight - you have no investment in these participants' well-being for it to be awkward, and we all got front row seats to a show in which winners don't matter.

Also, I must admit I'm a sucker for a good troll. It's an art to come up with the right trigger words to say, and doing so properly may earn them a grand celebration - the feeding of the troll! Oh, what a sight it is to witness such an occasion. Bonus points if a fight then erupts from this insidious icebreaker!

Perhaps this is why I tend to have a very lonely ignore list in any MMO. The sight of hotheaded folk and trolls never justified me removing them from the existence of my chat box. Now, if it's some scammer/botter/beligerent spammer, then sure - they're welcome to check in to the Ignore Hotel.

I guess it was basically the Internet that desensitized me to this sort of stuff. Nary is there a comment section on a trafficked site that doesn't boil down to some silly argument, seemingly resulting in some ethical quandry.
Q: Who is your favorite Pokemon?
A: My favorite is Pikachu.
WTF Reply: You know who else liked rats? Osama Bin Laden. It's all your fault, and so is abortion.
Maybe it also motivates me to be a better person when I see people go at it in global game chats, I dunno. Perhaps it's instant gratification that, "Hey, at least I'm not that guy, eh?" In any case, it's simply something amusing, plus it lets me write about it on some silly blog site.

I suppose I should say that I'm not trying to incite trolls/fights to erupt from the bowels of the Internet and start a hullabaloo of hatred. I'm all about it happening naturally, assuming I have the opportunity to stock up on popcorn first before it all goes down.

Don't worry, I'm still pleasantly and casually playing da vidya games. Sometimes you just gotta get a taste of the sriracha to swelter up a dull day. It's all tasteless in the end.

What's the best experience you've had with trolls on the Internet? Share below!

Troll Face by thetolkienist.com
Internet Troll by chuwechuwe.wordpress.com

Idle Progression Games - Tablet Tuesday

Zyngor | Tuesday, August 25, 2015 2 Comments
Coming close to a wrap, with the 25th day of Blaugust. This post humbly represents my 12th contribution. Stay tuned for a baker's dozen!

The idle incremental progression genre falls on an interesting spectrum of the gameosphere. Pending content, it really has no age barrier restricting anyone young or old from participating and appreciating the task at hand. Most idle games offer two distinct gameplay styles - active and passive. The latter is associated with the "idle" aspect, in which some automatic mechanic keeps the incremental progress going (it's a definite plus if the developer allows for progress even when the game isn't running, allowing for constant gains and a nice big fat chunk when the player loads up again). That being said, there is usually some means to actively boost your progress, at the cost of personal time.

It is usually expected to check in on your progress regardless, allowing the user to purchase any upgrades to help further the increments (which, as time passes, tends to get smaller and smaller) for both the idle and active gameplay. These types of games have mostly occupied spaces on Flash gaming sites like Armor Games and Kongregate, but have transferred quite nicely as we see a shift to the mobile platform. The boon of having both touch screen technology and on-the-go access makes it much easier to check in on your progress and perform manual "clicks" (at the expense of possibly smearing your display).

I have been playing a bit of two incremental-based idlers on the tablet, and I figured I could do a brief blurb for both. These titles are Tap Titans and Cow Evolution.

Tap Titans' interface
Tap Titans plays just as you would expect an idler to if you have done any Flash-based idle games on the desktop, especially something like Clicker Heroes. You assume the role of a red-scarved sword-wielding hero who must take on an assumed endless bevy of increasingly-difficult foes. Fear not, for there are others who will join your cause for the right amount of gold. You can level up yourself and your allies with gold, and at certain levels acquire active skills (through yourself) and passive bonuses (through your allies).

By having a centralized hero, they will act out your active taps, slashing away in typical berserker fashion. The remaining allies are your idle army, diligently auto-attacking away. Any form of upgrade will serve to boost your active and overall DPS, and there are indeed plenty of allies and other areas to level up your damage through the course of the game.

The various categories can be accessed at the bottom, and respectively equate to your hero upgrades, ally upgrades, artifacts (items that boost your stats, which the currency to get them is attainable through some bosses), and a perk/store tab (spend premium currency of diamonds on powerful short bursts, or buy diamonds with real $$$).

It's a pleasing, cartoonish art style, and you can continue to get some gold when out of game (click the round button mid-left when you return, to get gold). Don't forget to tap the fairly when she occasionally flies by to score some bonus currency or or a short boost!

Tap Titans is a free download for Android, iOS, or on Amazon.


Cow Evolution is a different beast from some of the other idlers, literally. If Charles Darwin were both a farmer and an app developer, he might have come up with this creation. You take on the role of a cow...mad scientist (?), and are tasked with combining similar cow breeds to trigger their evolution.

Every 10 seconds or so (an upgrade can be purchased with coins to halve this) a delivery box will arrive with a basic cow (that's how cows are born, right?). An series of upgrades can later be purchased to possibly improve this cow breed. There is a max of 16 cows in the pen at any given time, so if you idle a lot, there will simply be a hold on further cows from appearing until you get back in and combine to make more space.

As you further their evolution, new pastures will unlock to suit their needed space. You may even come across some cows that are out of this world...

Coinage is gained through a most natural means of waste removal, and basically the more evolved cows will reward a higher amount of coins. They can then be used to purchase specific cow breeds you have unlocked, various helpful upgrades to assist with evolutions, or through a cosmetic shop to add a costume to each cow.

This is udderly ridiculous. 
While some idlers are number-heavy in their systems, Cow Evolution is a much more visual experience - one the developers did well to distinguish the various evolutions. The cows in the first pen may start off visually similar (the cosmetic outfits really help with this part), but soon make large gaps in their evolution - it's mutant natural selection at its gaming finest.

Cow Evolution is a free download for AndroidiOS, or on Amazon. The developer Tapps Games has also come out with other mutant evolution titles, including Giraffe Evolution, Goat Evolution, and Platypus Evolution.

Have you tried out any idle/incremental games? Which are your favorites, and are you more of the active or idle player?

Cow Evolution Gameplay by youtube.com - user Tapps Games
Cowtipede by cow-evolution.wikia.com

Beating them Down with Mephisto

Zyngor | Sunday, August 23, 2015 0 Comments
Welcome! This be Blaugust 23rd, mateys! The rum may be gone, but we'll be plundering this swashbucker's 11th post of the month! Parley!

The role-playing (RPG) game has always been a staple in my retinue of gaming experiences. Not so much for the social aspects of assuming the role of a hero in everyday virtual life (ya know, the whole roleplay part of things), but definitely for the character's growth and development whilst (hopefully) kicking plenty of tail, and my interactions with the environment (I definitely prefer PvE over he more competitive PvP aspect).

Action (often adventure is also tied in) is also another large genre of titles with which I can often relate. Not as much on a personal level, as my idea of action is trying to determine whether that bit of white fuzz on my bagel is mold or some flour dusting (which, depending on color and odor, can sometimes cross over to the horror genre). While the RPG connects with how we actually partake in the world (character growth, management of belongings, leveling up via birthdays), the action genre often associates with how we'd like to see and act upon things. We all wanna be the hero, perform some death-defying stunt double manuevers, and all whole knowing we'll make it 'til the end of he day to boldly stare at our defeated foes and perform that cheesy one-liner before explosions swallow the area.

Hasta la vista, real life
As such, combining the two creates a sub-genre which strives to offer a comprehensive leveling and character development experience filling, with a glitzy and adrenaline-coated shell to chew through in order to reach the tasty RPG elements inside. I'm pretty bad at those more strategic RPG titles that have you manage full parties of melee/ranged/magic folk at once, such as anything Dragon Age or the Dungeon Siege series. I prefer the style of one character, one adventure. Sure, I may end up playing multiple characters (*cough* MMOs), but not at the same time - they all have a different story to tell (though they may all have one of Wirt's legs sitting in their storage chest).

Speaking of Wirt, this is really where my experiences with the action RPG (ARPG) started. Sorry Tristram - I first heard the smooth sounds of Deckard Cain with Diablo 2, and later pulled a prequel with the original Diablo. I think I had already been playing a bit of Starcraft, when I heard of this ARPG Blizzard had going involving a bunch of demons and all that good stuff. After probably begging enough to score a copy, there I sat at the computer, gaping at the artwork shown during the installation process. Finally, it was ready.

From Rogue's Encampment to Pandemonium Fortress, it was a heck of a ride, and one I likely spent longer nights doing than I should have, considering school was still a thing. I remember finally taking on the Lord of Terror himself - it was some time in the evening, and I think the rest of the family was watching TV downstairs. They didn't realize there was a barbarian on the floor above them, about to whirlwind and bash Diablo's tail up its own soulstone.

And so Diablo fell. Once the expansion dropped, so did Baal. As goes with any hack 'n slash kind of RPG, they fell again and again (and possibly even another"again" or two in the mix!). After all, loot is king in these kinds of games. This also eventually led to online play, as well as many years spent on a gaming forum, which helped develop my uncanny sense grammar good of wit!!!! This game was also one of my first experiences with game modifications - mostly total conversions like Eastern Sun and the evolution of the Median mods. Both helped to re-invent the gameplay and how characters performed, when things were starting to get a bit stale in vanilla land.

Anyways, Diablo 2 is definitely one game that, while I have not played in many years, definitely still has that nostalgic connection going on. Like I mentioned, I definitely started playing and did a full story run with a Barbarian. When I started playing online (via Battlenet), I became fond of Sorceresses in their various elemental forms (and who doesn't love a good Teleport?). I probably had a Hammerdin (Paladin with the holy Blessed Hammers of AoE destruction), because pretty much everybody had one. I believe I also toyed around with the shapeshifting/elemental Druid a bit, so I guess I really should be leveling my Beorning in LOTRO with a bit more passion, eh?

Moo moo? Moo moo moo moo
I'll continue to play and enjoy ARPGs in years to come. Those I'm playing that fall under this spectrum include Hellgate London, as well as Torchlight 2 (kinda interesting, considering that Flagship Studio's HGL soon went on to become Runic Games, TL2's creator). There may be others, but until I can escape from this pile of loot these things drop, I'll have to get back to you on that.

Terminator Movie Shot by youtube.com
Diablo 2 Box Cover Art by wikipedia.org
Secret Cow Level by insignificantknowledge.blogspot.com/

Knives at the Ready - LOTRO Burglar

Zyngor | Thursday, August 20, 2015 6 Comments
Good morning to Blaugust Day 20! This is my 10th contribution to this shindig.

Well, good morning there Internets...an early post from me this time. I probably could have written something last night to give me an extra day in there, but after sorting books for a chunk of the day (as part of a booksale volunteer thing I do), I just didn't feel like doing the extra work to get a post out. I'm still going for a goal of 15 posts for the month, which is obviously much better than I usually post when it's not August.

Last night, after watching some LOTRO streams by Vayy and Bludborn, I decided to hop into the game myself once login servers were once again up. I presume something just went wonky after they started the first steps of live transfers - at least for existing EU servers. Eventually by the end of the year, we'll be sitting at five US servers and five EU servers surviving this server consolidation.

With a home server of Riddermark, as well as a couple of characters sitting on some other closing servers, I will indeed be moving over to a couple of surviving US servers once it is possible to do so. It seems my home kin will likely be moving to Landroval (where I already have a hunter), and Windfola kin over to Arkenstone (where I already have a hunter), so I know I'll at least be moving my non-hunters to those respective servers. I'll just have to figure out how/where I want to move the specifics so I can still be covering a range of characters/crafts on each...guess it'll be off to the spreadsheets to figure that out!

Anywho, all characters recently got a nice little world closure package, which contains hooded/hoodless cloaks, a housing decoration flag, and coolest of all a title for our characters - "of [server]" to commemorate our home destination (you can actually choose whatever server you'd like for that title, though I'll probably just stick to whatever server from which they originated). There is a level 10 requirement to use that title box, so I figured this was a good time to actually play my first burglar, Ilfina, that I had sitting in the intro at level two for quite some time. I've only been playing this game for what, like four/five years?

I feel like Ilfina doesn't quite understand how positional damage works yet.
Like I said, this is the first burglar that I have made to actually level. I have had others, but they were created pretty much just so I could do some slayer deeds for Turbine Points, or use consumable reputation on them. I think I was hesitant to play a burglar before because stealth mechanics are not always my strong suit, slowly moving around and playing the waiting game. So far, since she's only level 10, there isn't much stealth required, but it seems it's not necessarily as slow as I'd imagined it would be.

There are three different lines - basically play styles - you can take with a burglar. This includes the Gambler (blue line - seems to use damage-over-time and RNG chance-based skills), the Quiet Knife (red line - something of a stealth-based DPS killing machine), and the Mischief-Maker (yellow line - seems like the crowd control/stunning line). I think most may just roll with the red line for the damage, but for some reason the random nature of the blue line appealed to me, and so I have decided to use the Gambler as my main line. I also have the red line on switch, just for damage insurance. I also have a little cosmetic bunny, which I have aptly named Lucky.

He won't be snarling for much longer after those glowing blades hit their mark...
So far, I've only been doing some quests in the Shire, so it has been smooth sailing. Most of her skills are default stabby-stab skills that all lines of burglars get, along with a stealth skill and a couple of short buffs to help for defensive purposes. Then, on the Gambler side of things, she also has two skills - Hedge Your Bet and Lucky Strike. The latter skill can only be used after using another skill, Double-Edged Strike, which is only available after making a critical strike. Lucky Strike seems to then apply a damaging "gamble" of random strength, and Hedge Your Bet (along with doing damage of its own) can increase the potency of that gamble's strength. I know it'll only get more complex as I level and gain more Gambling skills, but I must love RNG so much I want to play a character based off this wonderful randomized system that all MMO players adore.

Obviously, as I'm only level 10 (100 is current cap in game), I can't say for sure whether I'll enjoy the burglar in the long-run. I just knew that I'd eventually have one of each character on my leveling table, and this was the only class I was missing (my Beorning is also still pretty young, but she's there). You can see my other characters' info/progress over here on this wiki page.

Played a Burglar in LOTRO before? Feel free to leave a tip below in the comments, or let me know what line you enjoy playing them in!

Deep Loot - Tablet Tuesday

Zyngor | Tuesday, August 18, 2015 0 Comments
Well well well, 18 days into Blaugust, and another lucky 13 days to go. Today is my 9th contribution.

A couple weeks ago, I covered Pocket Mine during Tablet Tuesday. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to post anything last Tuesday, but I hope you were able to find something enjoyable to play. Anyways, I'm back this week for another Tablet Tuesday, and today I'll be briefly covering Deep Loot.

Deep Loot is a free underwater-based treasure hunting adventure by Monster and Monster. It has an inviting and retro pixelated style to it that should appeal to a wide range of players.

Basically, you are a diver urged by this cane-wielding fellow to enter the depths of the ocean and discover all the buried treasures it contains. There really isn't much of a story to this game - it plays as a very casual exploration game that you can endlessly keep diving to find all the goodies.

After tapping the screen to take your dive, you can tap anywhere to control your character. You'll find various fish and sea life on your excursions. Upon playing, you'll discover that some will not bother you until attacked, and others may attack you on sight. Clicking on any life will fire your laser to damage that target. Some fish may swarm in bunches if you attack one, so keep an eye out. The length that you can stay below before surfacing is based off the air tank meter, shown at the top left.

You'll want to be looking for chests to loot, marked rocks to mine for coin, and special areas that will usually contain chests, sometimes a special collection piece unique to that location, and sometimes it may also unlock a ship or suit piece.

After completing a dive, you'll see how many coins you made that dive. These coins can be used in the shop to pick up a variety of items to help improve your further dives. The Suit Store will let you pick from a variety of different suits, all with their strengths (and many, weaknesses). Next, the Ship Shop allows you to pick a different vessel you'll be using. Each ship offers a unique perk, which may interest you. Various locked ships at the bottom of the list can be unlocked for immediate use if you find the respective location while diving.

Next, the Upgrade Shack offers three very useful upgrades to your personal tools while diving. Upgrading the tank, drill, and weapon will let you stay down longer, fire through rock quicker, and do more damage to enemies, respectively. Finally, the Dive Supplies should be visited after every dig. Unlike some games which may charge real $$$ for these kinds of boosts, these only cost a nominal amount of coins to attain. You can have up to nine of each boost.

The Super Boost is used before you take your dive (shown at the top left of screen), and upon use will let you immediately travel to the second level of the ocean. Similarly used, the Turbo Boost will let you travel to the bottom level of the ocean. Remember that the enemies will become more difficult and the rock will take longer to drill the further you go down, so beware of using these when you first start the game. Also, some collection pieces may only be found at sites on specific levels, so you'll likely want to visit more than one zone of the ocean.

As shown in the image above, the other boosts are used during your adventure. They can be accessed through the white arrow at the bottom left. Keys available will be automatically used when clicking on a locked chest (even if you have zero keys, you can still mash a locked chest to smash it open). The air boost provides additional air to your meter, while the defense and attack boosts will respectively offer defensive and offensive bubbles to your character to thwart damage and provide additional attack power during battles.

When I first started playing, I thought it was another distance game, and I basically just had to get as far down as possible. This is definitely not true, as each level of the ocean contains its own unique discoveries and treasures. You'll also find two kinds of chests in each section - one is a regular chest that contains items that will provide an immediate money gain, and the other a locked chest that will also contain various special treasures used to complete collections.

Find the pieces before Ingen does!
The Collections page will let you scroll through the various treasure lots. If you have completed a set, you may sell it off to a buyer for a specified number of coins - you can also wait and hold onto it in hopes of getting more from a different buyer (or not sell it to anybody - your call). Selling it will let you collect from that set again during your journeys, and raise your star level on each per full collection. For me, I'll basically see completing each set three times as "winning" the game. I'm still very far off, only having completing a number of sets once thus far.

Overall, it's an enjoyable casual adventure game. If you have kids that enjoy treasure hunting games (or are a fan yourself), this is a great title to check out. The deepest depth of the ocean does contain a couple of actual deep-delving fish that could potentially frighten a small kid (angler/viperfish-like creatures), but due to the pixelated art style, it's not an accurate depiction and hopefully it should be fine. Some of the areas and scenes you'll see underwater are really neat, and many of the collection piece sets have some familiar themes (like an Indiana Jones theme set, or one with various sci-fi artifacts).

I think one of the best qualities of the game is how free it feels. The kind of boosts you can pick up in this game for earned coins may usually cost some micro-transaction in others. Really, the only real-cash purchases is a coin doubler that'll double all coins earned for each dive, and other $$$ purchases for various amounts of coin straight up. There is no energy component to this game that'll limit how many dives you can do before having to take a break. I've also been able to play the game without the need of a wireless connection, so this may be good for a long car/plane/train ride.

Deep Loot is a free download for Android, iOS, or on Amazon.
Deep Loot Title Screen by monsterandmonster.com
Deep Loot Game Screen by applenapps.com
Deep Loot Boost Screen by h2owirelessblog.me
Deep Loot Collection Screen by pocketgamer.biz

A Revival of Post-apocalyptic London

Zyngor | Monday, August 17, 2015 3 Comments
This post is my 8th contribution to the Blaugust madness, welcome to day 17 all!

I think it's safe to say we've all had our share of peer pressure. Whether it involves dressing up in the latest defected jean style or jumping off a bridge into water 'cause your friend's mom said to, we're constantly under scrutiny to become robots and return back in time to either kill or save a Connor..or both.

So the other night I was doing my usual perusal of the Twittersphere when I saw a familiar screenshot pop up from Belghast. Apparently, every other game server in existence was down, and as such he was playing the forgotten Hellgate London, through the F2P Korean servers.

At a glance, Hellgate London is an action RPG released in 2007 by Flagship Studios, a company that included several of the Diablo & Diablo II developers (Blizzard North). However, they ran into financial troubles, and the studio had to close a year after release. The game has since been picked up first by Namco, and later HanbitSoft, and can currently be played as a F2P multiplayer experience here.

I picked up a used boxed copy of the original at a game store years back during my college days, because it was cheap and the box art looked cool. The story utilizes elements of Templar/Freemason attempting to hold back the forces of Hell, and some enemies (including the main foe, Sydonai) definitely feel a bit Lovecraftian. The cross-genre of a action shooter & RPG appeals to my nature, and so I embarked on my journey into post-apocalyptic London.

Because it hadn't received any developer love in a long time, I more recently found this fan-made Hellgate Revival mod, which really just serves as a small patch to update some things here and there (changes available through that link). Yes, I need that expanded inventory. These guys made Diablo games - I know I'm gunna have gobs of loot raining all about these desecrated lands.

Controls are WASD & mouse, as you'd expect of a shooter, and equally plays fast-paced. There are a multitude of classes, which basically boils down to sword-toting warriors/defenders, gun-wielding blasters/support, and magic-entrusted folk ready to summon or light the field ablaze. Combat is simple, as it should be - see something, hack or shoot it 'til it drops dead, and hopefully leaves you with some loot or coin. The game offers both a regular and nightmare mode you can play afterward (just like how the Diablo games worked).

There are a variety of enemy types, though you'll eventually see the same types appear (they are mostly randomly chosen as to which types will appear on any given level). You, the hero, basically travel underground through sewer pipes to reach each area of the game, so I suppose it's refreshing to get some air and murder the minions of evil, after likely dousing yourself in human and monster filth.

You'll face some interesting bosses, including a post-apocalyptic Gene Simmons
The well-cultured folk will probably recognize station stops and some area names, as they echo actual London stops. Bosses are a good time, and although (for the most part) they won't require highly specialized tactics to defeat (usually there may be one extra step to defeat), they provide some nice unique models, and a cavalcade of loot.

Item deconstruction and crafting is another interesting aspect of the game. The game doesn't include a large-scale crafting system like some RPG's, but simplifies it to an easy level of either selling or deconstructing un-needed equipment. Should you decide to decon, the item will be broken down to various base materials that can then be used to quickly craft others from one NPC. You can also visit various machines to upgrade and add additional modifiers to existing weapons and armor.

Perfect for making s'more dead monsters.
The game may have its share of existing bugs and quirks, like the occasional crash and some outdated models, but I feel it still holds up as an enjoyable action RPG, and should provide hours of hack & slash entertainment. I have only played the game via Flagship's single-player, and have not played the short-lived expansion (Stonehenge, I think it was) or via any of the multiplayer offerings. My main is a Marksman, and I just recently hit level 50 (this mod offers a cap of 55, up from the normal 50).

You can download and try out HambitSoft's Hellgate London on their servers here, or you might be able to find a copy of the game at a used game store yourself.

Have you played Hellgate London. If not, what action RPGs interest you? Share below!

Tapping for a Trove

Zyngor | Sunday, August 16, 2015 4 Comments
This is my entry for Sunday, Blaugust the 16th.

In a post during the 2014 Blaugust challenge, I wrote about Trion's Trove, a voxel action/builder akin to the monstrous Minecraft. There appears to be a heavier emphasis on the combat side of things in Trove, yet the mining and building side of things are certainly not without merit as well.

Mine, all mine!
During the remainder of the beta (it officially launched July 9th) and since then, Trion has been working hard to implement new classes (currently sitting at 11 choices), new biomes (such as a sickeningly-sweet candy land and a pirate-infested high seas), and new dungeons to co-exist within all of the biomes. With the success of their other titles (RIFT probably being one of their biggest), Trion does a nice job merging the F2P aspects of a game that players, like myself, appreciate, with the necessary premium and convenience options that are required to let the fine folks at Trion enjoy their supper at night.

Trove is no exception. All classes are purchasable in-game with either credits (cash currency) or cubits (earnable premium currency), and most shop items that are credit-only are really just convenience or cosmetic goods. You can pick up fast mounts either in-game (craftable, sometimes find one in a treasure cache), or a cubit-purchased mount in the store. Complete dungeons to fill that meter on the top-right of your screen - doing so will net you a nice sum of daily cubits. The weekend bonus currently includes 100% cubits, so you can get 1000 cubits daily on the weekends rather than the usual 500.

No candy land would be complete without its own mega treat-sized dungeons!
Each biome has its own flair, with fully themed enemies, dungeons, and loot. Enter a desert biome, and you may run across large train dungeons and face frontier-inspired enemies (that Saloonbot Mayor can be a feisty one). Hop over to the Neon City biome, and you might think you've just entered the land of Tron - all sorts of robots are waiting to rip you to pieces meet your acquaintance. Some of the newer biomes, including Candoria and Treasure Isles, help to flesh out this thriving world, and feature all sorts of fun enemies and dungeons to explore.

From the hub (central area in Trove that acts as the place you'll spawn in login) offers the player the ability to hop straight into a world, as well as other portals for areas such as club worlds (housing for the "guilds" in this game). If you head straight, you'll see a tower with several portals - enter the one that best fits your level. These go up to level 10 - once you have surpassed this, you can craft higher-level "uber" portal and place them in your cornerstone.

You feelin' lucky, punk? Well, are ya?
Developing your cornerstone is recommended to at least get some bare essentials in, but not necessary if it isn't your thing. You may use the facilities at other users' cornerstones should you pass them in your adventures, but I'd still say to at least get as many of the facilities as you can for your own plot of land. At least get a rejuvenation station in place to replenish your health flasks.

Crafting works quite well as long as you are gathering the various bits of ore and stone along your journeys. Whether you are building something to cosmetically improve your cornerstone, or boosting your gear through forges, crafting is integrated into most parts of the game. Even just by deconstructing unneeded gear at the Loot Collector, you can create a catalog of styles to change your character's look, whether it be their hat, face, or weapon. Plus, doing this will get you additional crafting materials and mastery points, the latter of which will reward you with various passive bonuses and goods (including cubits, credits, and mounts/boats/wings).

You can switch up your class at anytime by pressing "J". Inventory, mastery, and anything gathered in the Collection ("B") are shared across characters, with restrictions only placed on the weapon type your respective class uses (ie gunslingers use guns, knights use swords, ice sage use staves). Read the little info button for each class for some details, or check out the Trove fan wiki page here (search within that wiki for other info - seems to have plenty available).

So is THIS where the rum has gone?
I would recommend completing as much of the tutorial quests as you can, as these will net you cubits to spend on some new classes. You'll probably see "SA" mentioned a lot in the in-game chat - these are Shadow Arenas, basically end-game dungeons that require a special craftable key to access, and plenty of teamwork. I have not gotten around to doing one myself, but it seems to be the thing to do to attain some of the top-end loot.

Most of all, just have fun. Trove really plays as a very casual experience, and even when you get up there in the levels and are frantically running around in the Uber-tiered levels, there's just something fun about running into murderous cupcakes that'll put a little smile on your face. The world feels inviting to delve into and explore, and I think this is exactly what Trove is all about.

Liebster Madness! (Blaugust 15th)

Zyngor | Saturday, August 15, 2015 2 Comments
I wanted to thank Fredelas of Trail-food for Thought for the Liebster Award nomination, which strives to help people find new blogs to read, instead of doing their day job. Pretty much, a chain letter that I must answer, or some forlorn child may erupt from my monitor and strangle me in my sleep.

While Fredelas may be fairly new to writing in the blogosphere, he is by no means a stranger in the lands of the Interwebs. His charm and affinity for pie can be found everywhere, especially the lands of the 140-character blue birdies. Make sure to give him a follow, and enjoy the knowledge and company of a professional hobbit/gentleman hybrid. Just don't get between him and a pie!

I apologize for the wait in responding to the nomination, but I had other important matters that exceeded the priority of this Q&A. Anywho, the basic format for this thing is to first provide a small set of facts that may or may not be associated with myself. Next, delve into the questions provided by the tagger folk. Finally, provide a set of questions and nominate one or more people to keep the chain going.

To start, eleventy-one facts:

1. When I was young, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I later went on to get a degree in English, so I suppose I could either do a Michael Crichton thing, or write children's books about a T-rex wearing underpants. As long as Newman gets whacked, all good.

2. As a youngin', I was more afraid of that last big scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark then I was snakes.

3. For some time, I once worked on the official Zynga forums as a volunteer moderator for one of their discontinued titles. I believe it was shortly afterward that I penned my first character in Lord of the Rings Online, "Zyngor." The similarity is not a coincidence.

4. In 7th grade, I joined the track team and participated mostly in the sprint and shotput events (because the two mix together so well). This was not just the only year I did track, but the only year I have participated in school-related sports teams. I have also done soccer and baseball for local leagues.

5. Things aren't looking bright for the future when it comes to memory - I'm not even 30 yet, and I'll occasionally keep forgetting my age by a year.

6. I once went to a Kensington furniture store with my grandmother and family and filled all my knee-deep cargo short pockets with the free samples of candy. I still have a bit of a sweet tooth for the sugary delights, though I don't go heavy on the chocolates.

7. I once ran for class treasurer in middle school, reciting random money facts and spelling the longest word in the English language during my speech. Methinks I forgot a treasurer is actually supposed to be organized and good with math, and I lost the election.

8. I played the trumpet from late elementary school through the end of high school. I was an average player, but enjoyed marching band over concert band during my high school years. My college did not have football team, thus no marching band, and hence I did not continue.

9. Sometimes when I hear a loud garbage disposal, it messes with my mind, and I have to produce a matching tone for myself to equalize the noise.

10. Whenever I'm on a search engine like Yahoo or Bing, I tend to search for Google and go there instead. In the past, I was a fan of going to AskJeeves and asking questions that would elicit a silly response. Chrome remains my favored browser.

11. During a winter trip to New York City during my youth, my family went to FAO Schwarz (large toy store). I became lost while near the big step piano (the one in Big) and started freaking out until an employee helped me find my family. I'm pretty sure it was a planned drop-off that failed.

Next, Fredelas has devised an excellent set of questions to stump the normal passerby. I was no exception, but here we go...

Which one habit says more about you than you'd care to admit? Is it something you'd change?

I guess I'd have to say the tendency to snack a nibble on my fingernails. This habit is often associated with times of stress, and at times I won't even realize I'm doing it. For the sake of my fillanges, sure it's something I'd like to change. I've tried a couple times with various deterrents, but eventually I slip back into the need for some tasty keratin.

What's a game that you appreciate mostly as art, and another you just see as entertainment?

I think I see RIFT mostly just as entertainment. The story doesn't quite excite me so I don't really follow the text prompts, but it does have a multitude of nice core MMO systems in place to offer the player several means of character progression - both vertical (leveling and horizontal (Planar Attunement).

No games are coming to my mind that I appreciate mostly as art. Because I but so few, I suck what entertaining values I can out of the $$$ titles. On the F2P side, sometimes I'll try out some random titles like those suggested through PC Gamer, and some of those offer a more indie "stylized" experience than something functional on an actual gameplay level.

When you did you begin sporting your magnificent beard, & what prompted you to let it grow?

Well, next to other fellows like Sig, I would dare not call it magnificent. Its existence has claimed residence upon my visage since my latter teen years, in different evolutionary forms. While it may have started as a continually, baby-smoothed Squirtle, over time I was at War(tortle) with it.

Eventually, seeing how facial hair was the thing to do (or I was too lazy to continually clear all of it), I allowed a goatee to Blast(oise) upon my chinny-chin-chin. I still let it roam free, but if my Beardachu tries to evolve too much, I may occasionally give it the other electric stone.

Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?

Aren't you a little tall for a hobbit?

What you feel has been your luckiest moment in life so far?

I'd say the luckiest moment was the opportunity to attend college. This gave the chance to start off with something new, provided me with the means to become slightly more independent, plus I got to meet a lot of interesting people and make some great friends.

Oh, and studying stuff and doing scholarly things was a boon too. Honest!

What super power would you wish on your worst enemy?

I vaguely feel like this query arose from a Twitter hashtag. Anyways, I suppose I'd wish my worst enemy the uncontrollable ability to personally feel hateful/spiteful troll comments on the Internet. Because, Internet.

What's the furthest from home you've ever traveled? What were you most homesick for while you were away?

Unfortunately, this good question has a pretty boring answer. The furthest I've probably travelled is to Florida, from further up north on the same coast. No Well-Travelled title for me. As for homesick, I guess I'd say sick of there not being jellyfish and imminent hurricane storms to whack me (this was during one of my younger visits).

The other answer? One step to the right (all the way around the globe clockwise, minus one step). I was sure sick of that step!

Has a game ever made you cry?

Some people wear their heart on their sleeve. I tore mine in two, put one half in my left armpit, and the other on the sole of my right foot. I can't really remember the last time I physically expressed my emotions while playing a video game, unless you count the meek sigh of exasperation when I sat through a 30-minute segment of Hello Kitty Online.

The only time I'd likely cry is if I went for some marathon gaming session, and burned my eyes in the virtual rite of ocular sacrifice. Not uncommon given my poor vision.

Which flavor of ramen noodles is best? (less than 1k words)

Of the basic favors you're likely to find anywhere in the US, chicken is best. It truly allows the user to add all sorts of decadent delights to truly heighten the palette from dorm room slums to high class pompous royalty. Beef is for suckers, and oriental-flavor is for hipsters.

When available, I will go for Maruchan's Picante Chicken to provide that additional blend of fine spices and herbs which any 4AM snack demands.

I'm a sucker for chicken.

If you had to live inside a game world everyday for the rest of your life, which game would you pick?

If I had to live in a game world, I'd want to live in Candy Crush. All those delicious treats to eat, and I have extra (regenerating) lives should I succumb to a diabetic crash.

What have I got in my pocket?

Pie crumbs and a Landmark protractor.


Now, on to the nominations and questions! Alas, it feels I've come pretty late to the Liebster game, and most places I regularly visit have been slapped with this infection of information indigestion. One person I will nominate is one of my old LOTRO pals, Tomeoric, of TweakLOTRO. Secondly...I'm gunna do it...I nominate YOU! I'm pretty sure this goes against the rules, but hey, it's the Internet. That happens. Never got the Liebster hit? Now you got it!

1) Tell us a game (computer, console, board, outdoor) that almost always makes you happy while playing, regardless of outcome.

2) If you had one choice of food to solely eat for the rest of your life, regardless of normal dietary needs, what would it be?

3) Which piece of gaming equipment started off your hobby?

4) What is your favorite soda? Or, other drink?

5) If you were to travel across country, would you prefer to go by plane, train, or automobile? Steve Martin or John Candy?

6) Right or left Twix?

7) Name a strength of yours that helps define your online persona.

8) Which two combined gaming genres strikes your fancy the most? Ie Action & RPG, FPS & Strategy... go wild.

9) Do you even ranch, bro?

10) If your life were a meme, what would the tagline read?

11) Which movie character/hero would you like to be, and why?

Please feel free to answer any of the above questions in the comments below! Introduce yourself, and Smaug the Magnificent may spare your life!

The Absence of the Wayward

Zyngor | Thursday, August 13, 2015 1 Comment
Love ya, Grandmom (1926-2015)
Well, welcome to Day 13 of Blaugust, though this is officially my 5th day of posting. I hope you have all been well, and I apologize for not keeping up with either posting or reading. Unfortunately, I had a passing in the family, and as such had other priorities surpass the demands of this blogging marathon. As was my original goal, I can still do my best to reach 15 posts, so I'm not upset for the inability to do this daily. This goal should still be fairly feasible, now that the immediate formalities have passed.

Gaming-wise, I've been staying at my grandmother's apartment for the better part of a month, so it's been difficult to play much. The extent of her gaming was pretty much limited to Candy Crush, Criminal Case, and various casino Facebook games. After hearing from someone about a free class giveaway, I ended up installing Glyph (Trion's launcher) and setting up Trove so I could take advantage of that and have something to play during my time here. I did have a Trove post in the works which would have been arranged for August 5, but that ended up being the start of her hospice. Hopefully I can get that finished and up at some point over the next couple days. I also have a Liebster post to get put up (mostly sketched up a draft in a notebook), and then likely look into getting my next tablet post written for next Tuesday.

Sorry for the off-the-cuff post here. I had nothing planned, but just wanted to put out something to try and re-momentumize my Blaugust swing of things. I know I have a nice backlog of posts to try and catch up on, so at least I can't complain of a lack of throne reading.

As I look around her apartment and start to see more empty spaces on the wall where various images and family pictures once hung, I think of how cool it is to have an Internet sort of family. We may instead use avatars, and while we may have different blood, we're all in this virtual world ride together. Plus we have our share of crazy aunts and uncles (and brother and sisters and...). Much love.

Pocket Mine - Tablet Tuesday

Zyngor | Tuesday, August 04, 2015 2 Comments

This post is brought to you in good-enough definition by Day 4 of the Blaugust Initiative, and by viewers like anyone that has ever been here in any plane of existence.

I've never been one to stray off to handheld computerized devices (unless you're gunna rip on me for that Cybiko gadget I used years back). Heck, my cellphone is still one of those flip devices I'm pretty sure can craft pancakes. However, when my laptop fan conked out one day, I took it as a sign to give it a bit of a rest before having it replaced.

That itch to game just wouldn't go away, so I just had to scratch. Fortunately, the family had a tablet available, so it was time to bite the touchscreen bullet. It's not that I'm totally unfamiliar to technology, but it was a new frontier to explore.

Anywho, I have messed around with a couple of games on the tablet since, and I figured I can do my own weekly segment where I do a bit of a chit-chat on a respective game. For my first installment of Tablet Tuesday, I'll be talking about Pocket Mine.

Pocket Mine (Roofdog Games, 2013) is a distance runner digger that tasks the player to, well, dig. It's a very simple concept for a game that was well-designed for the tablet. It will only run in portrait mode on the tablet, which suits the natural progress down the mine shaft.

I wouldn't call this an endless runner per se, as your tapping is limited based upon the quality pick you wield. Fortunately, that can be upgraded to an extent through cash accrued in game, and the randomized levels contain various explosive items to assist delving into this 2D spelunker.

Upon leveling up (through experience, gained by depth/money earned in the field), you'll gain cards that provide bonuses to various aspects in the mine. For example, one may provide more of some bomb type, certain gems may be worth more money, more healing blocks, yadda yadda. There are other means to gain cards, and you'll be able to use three cards every time you start up a dig (the game chooses three at random from your deck - you can reshuffle for a bit of coin). These are tools at your disposal to have some form of control over the RNG design in the mine.

There is a sub-objective within each level to perform some specific task. Doing so will reward you with two keys, which can be used to open chests randomly found in each level (the further down you get, the better quality chests you'll find). These will contain various goodies, depending on chest quality, including cash, rubies, and cards. Artifacts can also be found in the levels, which, upon collecting a whole set, can be turned in for cards.

Some elements of the game may deter particular players. Majorly, each normal dig costs one energy, of which you have up to five (respawns at a rate of 15 minutes per energy). It can be upgraded to a max eight limit through a real cash purchase. This may lead to another point - while there is absolutely no denial to access of the game itself, there are some convenience real cash purchases available. This should not come to a surprise at all, as this is standard practice for free apps.

Also, as a minor point, you'll probably want to have some screen protector affixed, or clean it after playing a while. Each move requires a tap on the screen, and as your pick durability can get in the hundreds, you may find many individual fingerprints douring the screen.

Surely standing atop this block while smashing it is a fine idea - what could go wrong?

Overall, it's a fun game for a short little session at a time. Playing the normal option does not require Internet access, so it's easy to do on the go. If you do have a connection going, I recommend pressing on the rubies at the top (these are your premium currency), pressing "Free Rubies!", and completing at least some of the easy, free offers. Some just ask to watch an add (1-2 rubies), or perhaps install and run an app, which you can always remove shortly after receiving the rubies (usually around 8-30 rubies for this). Among many other uses in the game, the rubies are the only way you'll be able to pick up some of the more advanced playable characters in the field - these will come with their own benefits (such as double cash, extra grenades released, rarer artifacts, etc).

Pocket Mine is a free download for Android, iOS, or on Amazon. A sequel, Pocket Mine 2, was released in March 2015.
Pocket Mine Start Screen by nardio.net
Pocket Mine Level Image by beevoz.com
Pocket Mine Pick & Blocks by gamewise.co

Another Helping of Sweet Rolls - Day 3

Zyngor | Monday, August 03, 2015 1 Comment

"What is your favorite evergreen game?"

Fellow Blaugustian Void posed this good question over on the Nook, and one I shall answer for Blaugust Day 3. An evergreen game is basically one that, much like the tree, continues to thrive on our gaming agenda. Even if it gets pushed to the side in lieu of another title, it'll grow its way back into our recently played.

There are a couple ways this can happen, and may occur in both the player's perspective and/or the game design. The player side may simply be for whatever specific enjoyment they get from playing that game. Heck, if Fairy Solitaire keeps sucking them in, it's their evergreen. It's something so personal that it can't really be put into quantitative words.

The game itself may provide some means of continually drawing the player back in, and should be the standard studios strive for when designing their game. Replayability is a big factor, and helps to extend the life of a game through some fresh means. A random, single-player-only first-person shooter may not keep the player wanting more. However, add a unique multiplayer mode, or perhaps a new game (NG) experience with enhanced gameplay, and you may see your audience returning time and time again.

Adding the options and toolsets for modding may also net you a long-lasting crowd. By allowing the public to build upon your original design, the sky is now literally the limit (and beyond, for space titles). The community you'll see sprout from some mod-supported games are some of the most passionate folks you'll see for that title, and no matter how bizarre some mods get, you'll bet it just made someone's day.

All that being said, it's probably not a huge surprise to hear me say my evergreen title has embraced a nice combination of replayability through RPG elements, story, and mod support. Fus ro dah, it's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I'd imagine some may share the same sentiment. It is an immense game that could potentially provide an endless number of hours for just a single run. I went through a similar phase with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim always gives me those immersive chills when I go to boot it up - from the first hit of the loading screen music, to the first-person experience, developer Bethesda hit the nail on the head with the Elder Scrolls series.

Now, I'll admit I don't go FULL immersion with the game. You won't see me delving into each word in the many books offered in the game (it ends up being more of a "will this novel boost [X] skill?"), and I don't shun the use of the quick travel, but there's just something about the massive world and the many dungeons that continues to wet my role-playing appetite.

That troll fat will make for EXCELLENT beef stew!
Mod-wise, I really have not gone very far into that pool of resources. I've seen some Twitch streams showing some with hundred(s) of mods installed - they're pretty much playing real life at that point (you know, other than the Thomas the Train dragons or farting Dragonshouts). I've really only dabbled with a couple of UI mods. Character-wise, I've taken an archer pretty far, and recently started up a melee character on a higher difficulty setting. I figure this'll help keep this game evergreen on my PC for quite awhile to come.

Evergreen clip art by ClipArts

Skyrim Mammoths by ElderScrollsSkyrim.org