The Enhancement Pass hits Lammania

by BOgre @ bogresmyddo.wordpress.com

So. The long awaited Enhancement Pass has finally debuted on the Lammania Preview Server. I’ve taken so time to have a look (from the perspective of Belgarim, my Tempest Trapmonkey) and will be giving you my thoughts.

But first, some What It Is and What It’s Not and a word on the Test Dojo.

The Test Dojo is a new feature in Lammaland (possibly only available during this preview, not sure). Basically its a place to Build, Gear, and Test a character. You access the area thru a door in the Marketplace, near the Harbor Gate. Once inside, you will have access to Reincarnation Trainer, XP, and TP vendors, a floor full of all kinds of level appropriate and high end named gear, CR:0 Kobolds to kill, Class trainers, Augment vendors, basically everything you need to have a successful testing experience on Lammania. I love this feature. Now on to the Enh pass.

What It Is is a complete overhaul of the UI and Skills of our Enhancement System. The old ‘List View’ system we have now is gone. *Ron – You’ll be needing to overhaul your Character Planner if you intend for it to stay relevant* What we’re seeing is a panel and tree type system, similar to the current Epic Destiny look and feel we have on Live now. It comes with 4 panels: 1 for Racial Enhancements, and 3 for any Class Prestige Enhancements your character may have access to. A dropdown in each panel allows you to select which PrE you’d like to slot and invest in, to a maximum of 3. In other words, a character with 3 PrE’s in one class, like Ranger, could invest in all 3 of Tempest, Arcane Archer, and Deepwood Stalker. Or a multiclass toon could invest in one to three PrEs from each of their class splits. Level restrictions and AP cost restrictions would naturally apply.

The preview is coming in week long stages, with only a handful of classes available at one time, for now.  Once the 3 week ‘focused’ feedback preview ends, they will unlock all the classes at once. Here’s a link to the relevant Dev posts, including ‘Event’ info:

Early Preview Info

Event Info

ScreenShot00518

In the What Its Not column, we have this: The dev team did NOT complete all class’ PrEs; neither do all classes have 3 PrEs, nor do some PrEs have all 3 Tiers. If you, like me, were expecting a complete PrE pass as promised, you will be disappointed. And speaking of disappointments, let me get straight to my thoughts on the Ranger line.

Quoted from my response in the Official discussion thread:

After a lot more playing with this on my Tempest, I have the following thoughts:

1) The general class tree needs to happen.
There are just too many abilities that have been arbitrarily stuffed into specific PrE trees where they do not belong. Prominent examples would be:

Favoured Enemy lines.
Haste/Sprint/Skill/Attack/Damange/Resist boosts.
Item Defense
Improved Reaction/Defense/Awareness/Mobility
Critical Accuracy/Defense
Energy of the Wild
Devotion

All of these abilities are Ranger abilities, not specific PrE abilities, and requiring AP spent in the various trees is counter intuitive, expensive, confusing, and unnecessary. Devotion is completely absent, and that just doesn’t fly at all.

2) The Core abilities row should more accurately represent their relevant PrE tiers
AA and DS Cores look pretty good but they are not my Main’s PrE so I’m not very qualified to comment.
Tempest Cores have some glaring omissions:

Shield of Whirling Steel should include +x to PRR, increasing with each Core ability
Attack penalty reductions from the old Tempest line seem to be missing

Graceful Death doesn’t belong in the Core row

3) Either/Or choices on Boosts need to go away
There is no sense in forcing these either or decisions. Haste boost and Sprint boost for example are completely unrelated skills. If I choose to invest AP into both, I should be able to.

4) Cooldowns and Durations on top Tier abilities seem arbitrary and uneccesary.
IF there were some synergistic effects between two abilities, I could see forcing the player to micromanage their timers. However, the current stock of top tier abilities are not strategicially deep enough to warrant this. In effect we are simply waiting for cooldowns to end and then clicking to refresh them. That could have been accomplished more gracefully by making them passive abilities with their own invisible timers/proc rates.

5) PrE Tiers in general have been reworked and renamed from the live system.
This breaks ToD ring set bonuses. Abilities on all of the PrE Core abilities row need to be renamed to reflect the live systems Tiers in order to remain compatible with ToD sets. That or rework ToD rings. I’d assume renaming the new Core abilities would be easier since that’s what we’re working on now.

Overall, the Ranger panels look to be the best and most well thought out of the current preview’s crop. Within that, Tempest and Deepwood look like the best and most well thought out, while Arcane Archer seems to have been pieced together at the last minute to resemble the current AA. Obviously, everything needs its AP costs slashed, AP spent prereqs reworked, and ‘arrow’ prereqs reworked or removed altogether.
Also, most of the above applies to the racial trees as well, particularly the Core row issues.

Full description of currently available Ranger abilities

So, in closing, I do recommend to everyone that they hit Lammania and have a look. There’s a lot to see, both good and bad, and the Dev’s are asking for our input.

Should be interesting.

Dragons Are Good For Your Health

by BOgre @ bogresmyddo.wordpress.com

So, lately I’ve been solo farming Cannith Challenges for Tier3 Epic Spare Hand. That means eLabour Shortage, eDragon’s Hoard, and ePicture Portals. I’m done with Labour and Portals, just have Dragon’s Hoard left to run. It’s a pretty easy challenge to complete, 150 shards in 20 minutes. You can also fairly easily get 2 optionals: Let the Foreman Die, and Kill the Dragon Auraxyllon.

Well, I didn’t have a chance to login yesterday, and I usually don’t try to play in the morning before work, but this a.m. I had 25 minutes to kill and I thought I’d take a run at it.

The run went well, easily got my 150 shards, so I went off in search of Auraxyllon. He happened to be in the 1st of his 3 possible spawn points, yay. He did me the courtesy of dying with time to spare, yay +1. I let the clock run out and got ported back to House Cannith. Good haul of Epic Enchanted Armors, 224, yay +2. Then I toddled off to the bar to open my supply chests, sell, repair, and logout for work. And what should I find? Check it:

DragonsAreGoodForYou

Yay +3! Literally!

Ok, a +3 Con tome may not seem like much, but I’ve been looking for that tome on this toon for 2 years now. And to find it in an easily farmable Supply Chest, first thing in the morning before work, on a Friday, well, you can see how this may have made my day. 🙂

The moral: Dragons are good for your health 🙂

BOgre.

this post may be mirrored on GeoffHanna’s DDOGamer.com

A Side Note:

Many of us myDDO refugees are finding new places to blog, and many of us have found our way to Evennote’s OurDDO. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out. If you’re already linked to it, and are blogging, I’d like to recommend something. It may be a good idea to add your byline to your posts, with a link to your actual blog site. The OurDDO feed doesn’t handle all blog title links very well, and what’s more, since we’re viewing the blog posts from an RSS feed, it can be tough to figure out who wrote what. Just a suggestion, but I think it would go a long way to improve readability from within the OurDDO framework. Happy Blogging 🙂

B.

The Proof is in the Positives

We’ve all heard the aphorisms regarding negative feedback; gems like, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and “People only leave feedback when they’re dissatisfied,” and “The forum community is made up solely of the tiny fraction of the population that likes to complain.”  Well, recently we’ve seen the exception that proves the rule. There have been a couple over the 2 years I’ve been here, but this one is my favourite. A thread so overwhelmingly positive and populated by names we rarely ever see in the forums that the ‘rule’ about negativity in the forums must be true.

Here’s the Link: “The Hatchery”

Keep this great thread bookmarked, subscribed, Favorited, whatever you need to do. Because reading the DDO forums on any given day may give a person the impression that the game is in trouble, the game is broken, the game is dying. This is NOT TRUE. It only seems that way from a forum perspective, because most posters are there only to complain. More so, only a small fraction of the playerbase visits the forums, and that demographic is mostly made up of ‘squeaky wheels’, so to speak.

The Hatchery on the other hand, is ‘so full of win’, is so highly viewed, so well participated in, that it becomes undeniably clear that the game is great, is well loved, is memorable, and is itself ‘full of win’.

That’s all I have to say about that. That and, “Oooooh! Shiiiiney!”

YOU put the M&Ms in MMOs

Beating up the Baddies

Beating up the Baddies

A while back I was getting pretty bored with the game. Updates 13-15 had come pretty fast and furious and instead of playing more, I was playing less. Yeah, RL was a big factor there, but something about the game was pushing me away.

I mean, I loved the game still, despite the bugs and nerfs, but I wasn’t having the fun I’d had before. I set out to renew my interest by TRing one of my characters. That helped a bit, but by itself it wasn’t enough. I found myself playing more and more on Cannith, where a small group of us met once a week for some low pressure dungeon crawls.

And that’s what turned it around for me. I realized that I was getting too caught up in chasing the newest gear, Epic Destinies, new quests, XP…  The grind was getting to me. But playing a lowbie with new people was FUN.

So, without really trying, I’m now in a couple of small static groups. I have regularly played toons on three servers, and I PUG whenever possible. Socializing is kinda out of my comfort zone, but DDO is a social game. Nine tenths of the fun is in playing with people, as opposed to playing against AI monsters.

And focusing on that has breathed new life into it for me. I can even get back on my so-called Main on a regular basis again and not feel … i dunno … pushed, pressured to advance. I’m having fun again, thanks to the great people of DDO.

Don’t get me wrong now, the game itself has to be great to start with, or else why bother. And although Turbine has gone WAY above and beyond in making such a fabulous game, it would still be nothing without the fantastic people I’ve met.

So thanks to Shin, Comic, Billy, Valk, Even, Grynd, Thalone, Firstaid, and all the other people who I’ve run with. Old friends and new, it’s not massively multiplayer for nothin’.

Sorry devs, but SLOPPY!!!

Okay, I can understand that not everything you’ve done can be fully tested. I can understand that even things you’ve tested can have unexpected effects elsewhere. I even understand that you can’t squash every bug before your schedules force you to get to work on new material. I DON’T want to get pissy about that stuff, because you’ve told us that’s how it is, and you’re doing your best. Okay, taken at word. Great. Good job, carry on.

What I DON’T understand, and can’t accept, is when a bug is reported. You acknowledge it and go back to the table to squash it. You put in the hours, you claim to squish it, but when it hits live the fix is half-arsed, and parts of the bug still exist. This I just don’t get. I won’t even get IN to monks and handwraps. I’m talking some pretty simple, straightforward toggle switches guys. If you’re going to tackle a bug on your list, and claim to have it fixed, you MUST test that what you did worked! Otherwise you just wasted your time, QA’s time, and whatever resources it took to add your non-fix to the patch.

So sorry guys, I WANT to be on your side, but this buggy nonsense has GOT to end. PLEASE!!!!

More Content = Less Play???

Eberron - Horizons

So Menace of the Underdark has hit Live, and DDO is abuzz with activity. The Forumites are busy praising or DooOOmMMMing all the new goodnes. The casuals are taking their strolls through King’s Forest. The hardcores are one by one achieving level 25 and completing all the Destinies. The Altaholics are figuring out what a Druid looks like, here in DDO land.

There’s a piece of each of those player archetypes in me, so I should be having no problem finding plenty to do. But whether in Eberron or Eveningstar, I find myself just hanging around more often than not. I’ll run a quest or two. I’ll join one of the ever diminishing Shroud pugs. I’ll get an ED bubble farming a Challenge. I’ll even do some inventory management here and there. What I can’t seem to be able to do is commit! Or get excited! The xpack came out and instead of being stoked, i’m bored.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the new stuff. Yes, there’s an abundance of bugs, glitches and hiccups. So really there’s ample evidence for me to either be over-the-top fanboi or nerdraging DoomMM-sayer. But while Belgarim is zoning in, I’m zoning out. By the time I’ve taken my fifth step across the landscape my eyelids are already at half mast. It’s kinda aggravating, actually.

Don’t know what the problem is folks, but I’m feeling kinda bored.

So if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen me much lately, well, join the club. I’m wondering why too.

Out with WASD – In with SDFC

WASD is WRONG

WASD is WRONG

Ever since the emergence of 1st person shooters, think Wolfenstien and DooM, a great travesty has been occurring. I’m talking about WASD: the keyboard layout to end all keyboard layouts. Every FPS game since then has included a WASD layout by default. Most gamers will tell you that playing keyboard+mouse, and specifically WASD+mouse, is THE best way to play. I submit to you that WASD is a bad habit, and that SDFC is superior in every way. Here’s the scoop:

WASD is almost perfect. It allows you to run forward and back (W and S) with your middle finger, while independently strafing left or right (A and D) with your index and ring fingers. You also have quick access to all the surrounding keys, which you can map to your most used actions. Tab, Caps, Alt, Ctrl, Space, several adjacent letters, and the number row are all close by. HOWEVER, by shifting the hand ONE space to the left of the natural Home Row position, with index finger on D instead of F, we lose instant access to at least 2 letters and 1 number, since the pinky finger has been moved OFF the main keyboard onto the special keys. But that’s not the worst part! What’s far more important, and for me far more puzzling as to why WASD was ever adopted in the first place, is that we’ve moved our index finger OFF of the index key. That F key under our index finger when in ‘Home Row’ position has a marker on it; an indent or  nub or other tactile feature. It’s there to let you instantly find your place on home row without looking. It makes stretching to a far away number or letter (and getting back to ‘F’ quickly) simple and quick. By shifting off of the F key, we’ve made it a guessing game, and added the risk of landing on the wrong keys, toggling mouse look or the chat window or something else unintended, and ultimately getting us killed in the heat of battle.

That’s where SDFC (or ESDF if you prefer) the far superior choice. Not only are you bring your pinky finger back in to play on the main keyboard, but you’re extending your reach down the number row, and most importantly, your index finger gets to stay on ‘F’ where it BELONGS!

So cmon folks, give up your addiction to the obviously inferior WASD, and join the SDFC revolution.

p.s. There’s also a trend away from ‘qwerty’ keyboards in favor of ‘awerty’, where the Q and A have switched spots. This is where Devs come in: by clinging to WASD defaults, you’re possibly breaking gameplay for future computer users. SDFC (or ESDF) is unaffected by the A/Q swap, and should be the obvious choice for default settings.

p.p.s. Now, I realize that this rant is 25 years too late. The ship sailed with Wolfenstien and DooM. It’s far too late to get ppl to adopt an alien setup now… however, if you’re still young enough to learn new tricks, do give SDFC or ESDF a try. 🙂

esdf

Beta

So, Turbine has rewarded MotU pre-order purchasers with access to the MotU closed Beta. I’d like to say, Thank You Turbine. I’ve participated in a handful of Betas, and I really enjoy the process. I’m not very GOOD at it, from a testing perspective, but I try to give feedback where I can.

This time round, what we’re getting to see is quite early, but overall I’m really impressed. And the feedback from other participants seems to be right on the money too. I hope that the dev team really listens and takes things to heart.

Initially, I was lack-luster about the whole Forgotten Realms setting coming to DDO. I like Eberron and I wasn’t sure Steam-Punk would meet the more traditional setting very well. But I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Getting a glimpse of the FR setting really struck a nice nostalgic nerve, and I’m left craving more, more, moar. I’m also really stoked to see some of the other great stuff the team is working on, like Epic Destinies, and of course the Druid class. This expansion is going to be AWESOME.

Now, I’m sure some of the proposed things will prompt the usual (or maybe More Than Usual) DooOoooOMMMmm!!!11! responses. Some of it is kinda scary. But after 6 years, the game simply MUST evolve  or it’ll die, and I believe the direction it’s evolving is a good one.

Obviously, I can’t say too terribly much, due to the NDA beta participants are bound by, but I’ll say this: You’re going to be impressed from the moment you step in. So thanks again Turbine for letting me see all this while it’s still raw. Thanks for working so hard to keep bringing us fresh content and features. Thanks for listening to our feedback and making it a priority.

Long Live DDO and Good Hunting.