Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slith's cheesy exploration guide ep.5

My long lived dream of cracking open the Old Tarantia hub has finally came to fruition (thats one fancy word I must say). After a lof of trial and error I give you....

Old Tarantia

The dome

Difficulty: ****
Suprisingly it took less effort than the temple, but it still felt good to get on that spot. I can finally claim one place as my own: I have never seen screenshots of someone getting to that place (I can't really say no one did at all thou) so it was a pure gamble on my part, that an few hours of midless jumping. Getting to that place unlocks some other, shall we say less impressive stuff that I yet have to explore.

Also paid a little visit to the whorehouse near the trader.

The bridge. I wanted to get there since day 1 when I have saw it.

Suprise suprise! There are stairs near the bottom of the Castle
and they are leading to hidden, secret and totaly unfinished room. People often complain that Conan's castle is not nearly big enough, so perhaps Funcom holds a little suprise for future updates?

Monday, September 28, 2009

So, how you doin'?

As you can see the news are slooow lately. I am still around, just not as much.

I log on now and then to check the trader and run few pre-mades, but thats it. It's not that I do not enjoy my AoC, its just that I am not enjoying what is currently being offered to me in terms of gameplay.
I really really dont want to write more negative stuff about this MMO - thats boring and horrid read, who wants that trash?
Since I don't care about Iron Tower - I will see you all more often when tower system hits TL.
No pressure Funcom, but that system will make or break this game, seriously.

So, how you doin'?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Assassin's hideout podcast -ep.4

show notes:
- Crow's nest and PVE vs PVP
- what is coming next on TL
- Assassin advocate quiting AOC
- Exploration in new expansion

title of the post is a link to the podcast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

[Guide] Blindside

Blindside is a two step combo that can be feated in for 3 points and further upgraded with Bewilder for 2 points.

Here is the breakdown:

1 point added - after succesful attack you will regenerate 45 stamina every 1 second for 7 seconds
2 points added - you gain +100% "increase to damage or healing"
3 points added - you gain +300% "increase to damage or healing"

1 point added - your opponent will lose 2% of their stamina for 7 seconds
2 points added - your opponent will lose 5% of their stamina for 7 seconds, you gain +100% "increase to damage or healing"

Cooldown: 1 minute

Increase to damage or healing
Even basic tests will quickly prove to you that adding more points into Blindside will NOT upgrade this combo's damage. Regardless of points added it will hit for +400 and crit for +500.
In some tests 3/3 Blindside hit for less than 1/3 Blindiside. This combo most certain won't be your main damage dealer.

Stamina renew and cost
Stamina gained from Blindside stays the same regardless of points added. With 45 stamina gained over 7 seconds you will get 315 stamina back - thats very very little. Here comes the tricky part: blindside's stamina cost is ONLY 52 making this combo THE CHEAPEST in terms of stamina consumption. For example our grim corruption IV takes whooping 382 stamina to use. Blindside comes very handy (more of an life saver) when you are out of stamina - this combo will regenerate you enough to use Swift Strikes IX or GC and still deal quite decent damage.

Bewilder is a passive upgrade for Blindside that will make your opponent lose -2% or -5% of their current stamina pool. Great tool for "disarming" soldiers or slowing down flag runners. Do not expect this to leave your opponent at your mercy because its slow, doesn't drain all that much and if anything it is more of an gimmick than a valid tactic. Save this for when your opponent if about to run away or...... for when you are getting ready to leg it.

How many points should be added
I can honestly say there are only two valid builds for blindside:
either 1/3 Blindside 0/2 Bewilder or 3/3 Blindside 2/2 Bewilder. If you add just one point to Blindside you are getting your point's worth with stamina renew and low cost, decent combo - adding more points into Blindside won't change a thing unless you are going to invest more into Bewilder.
When going for Bewilder ALWAYS add 2/2 and get that full -5%, -2% is a waste.

Lower right attack
Blindside is the ONLY assassin combo that will use "lower right attack" which means you will have to add another "attack" to your bar and find a good key to bind it to. Takes a while to get used to.

Blindside in PVE
Blindside combo will improve your solo PVE because it will hit hard when mobs stack all shields on the left (which might happen after you hace used your Grim Corruption). Apart from slow death strikes III this is our only combo that will hit on the right side which means that combo's last step is upper right or lower right attack.
Bewilder on another hand is useless in PVE - the mobs never go out of stamina.

For the reasons stated above I recomend adding only 1 point into Blindside in order to get the best deal: stamina renew with low cost combo that hits on the right side. Also please note that this combo's animation is just fucking sweet.

Keep'em coming!

Few months ago Chillwhisper stepped down as assassin advocate giving some valid reasons (freeing up a slot). Now, in 1.5 reality, Chill cancells his subscribtion and has this to say:

"Because I have played two classes for the last year... Assassin and Barbarian, and you have tuned the balance of PVP to the extent that they are now the two worst dueling classes in the game, with no hope of improvement in the near or distant future.

You started an advocate program, which I participated in, which has yet to have one idea implemented (other than adjusting the Assassin aggro to be ridiculously high, nice work), and only seemed to accomplish a mild amount of blame deflection until people caught on that they were ignored.

I am miserable every time I log in, and your US forums has even locked me out due to changing payement options and missing a payment, even though I've been able to play for 2 weeks and post on TL and EU forums.

I see no reason to continue giving you money. "
So we are down to one advocate - FuryBlackhart.

BUT let's worry not: Funcom already sent us some fresh advocate meat and judging from the posts in that thread - those people are not active posters and most likely clueless.
So without doubt FC is listening to advocate's feedback (not a kind one I suppose) and this time went for ....less vocal advocates.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Korgoth of Barbaria

Oh man, did I ever drop a ball on this one: I keet forgeting telling you about best thing since sliced bread - Korgoth of Barbaria

In a dark future wasteland, the great cities have risen and fallen, primordial beasts have reclaimed the wilderness and thieves and savages populate sparse, dirty towns. From the frozen north emerges a warrior known as Korgoth, and his merciless savagery may be his only key to survival. Korgoth of Barbaria was the pilot episode of an animated fantasy-action-adventure-comedy from Aaron Springer. The half-hour pilot aired on September 25th at 11:00PM EDT.
Basiclly this is best Conan "parody"...ever. I don't know if word "parody" is evern proper for this gem: Korgoth is as Conan as you can get and his savage world is populared by beautiful women, sorcerers and warriors. The show nearly draws its inspiration from Conan while the gags and the story are not tied to Conan in any obvious way (its more of a low fantasy parody).
The show (sadly only one episode) has many strong points:
1. Its blooooody. The ammount of violence is staggering so be advised (no really, its very graphic)
2. Great, griddy animation fitting the dark world of Korgoth
3. Best voice-over EVER. Every single character posseses amazing voice. Voice of Korgoth? Its Conan in every way.
4. Soundtrack. I am not a biggest fan of Heavy Metal (not a fan at all in fact), but it is soooo fitting.

Now go check the episode and don't get hooked too much - like I said: there is only one

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Assassin = boring?

One of the devs explained what was the reason behind BS revamp and what were they aiming for:

Originally Posted by Ilaliya View Post

The approach we took was making it fun first and then only afterwards making it balanced. It's always easier to scale back numbers then to scale up fun.
I have decided to do some thinking: what made me chose an assassin and what is keeping me playing it.

The choice
At first I was very much into either Conquerer (my first choice) or Barbarian (I have decided not to roll one because every char I made was too "Conanish"). While doing first questes in Tortage I saw an assassin passing by and I tought: "them sins are cool". I was afraid to roll one because I remembered how in early WoW days rogues were:

a. Overrolled - 50% of server pop was rogues and 40% of them were undead rogues
b. Useless - back then no one wanted rogue in groups or in raids
I had quit my human rogue at lvl 56 or so along with WoW itself.

But then again: agile, slient, efficient killer...in my mind that was SOOOOO much cooler than Conquerer or Dark Templar (DTs are very much Death Dealer, check out those comics if you are a DT). I have went out and rolled a char - it came straight from random generator and the name just poped in "Slith" (sounded fitting for an assassin). After few quests I was hooked and never looked back. Without doubt Mephs videos and posts have been inspiring me through 20-80lvl grind along with Evii blog and infamous Wohast (the clicker) that was ravaging US assassin boards.

Why have I sticked with assassin?
Looking back it had a lot to do with my personality as a gamer:
a. I am "one-char" kind of player - even if at some point I do regret my choice I stick it out and hope for the best.
b. I am an achiever - once I roll in mmo I aim for certain things. In AoC I have decided to get to lvl80 and then get pvp lvl5 with assassin.
c. I am an explorer - Can you imagine better character to jump from building to building than an assassin?
d. I am a pvper - If anything assassins ARE COOL to pvp with (well not exacly in terms of mechanics, but more on that later)
e. I am a RPer? - sadly I haven't done much RPing in AoC even thou that was the MAIN reason I have rolled PVP-RP or even bought AoC itself. In WoW I was also on PVP-RP server and was doing quite a lot of RPing.

Last and not least - Slith as a character grew on me. When you get a character that is just right in every detail you don't want to part with it. Again in WoW I have sold my account with my other only character (60lvl paladin, pre BRC), but I have never gave it a second thought. Even if I would quit AoC at some point (unlikely) I would never do the same with this account.

What type of mmo gamer are you? Take this quiz.

After this rather lenghtly introduction (prelude perhaps?) here is where the metal meets the bone and where assassin fails as a class:

Disclamer: Assassin is quite capable in pvp/solo pve. The point of this post is to show why it isn't fun in terms of gameplay. In no way I am calling for assassin buff or going into how stuff should work. The devs have clearly stated that they are aiming for fun first and so this post was made to analyze my personal experience with assassin as the only class I have played since AoC day 1.

The stances
Funcom gave us an impresion that assassin stance system will be dynamic: supposedly stances were designed to be switched depending on enemy type - poision for casters and unholy for soldiers.
assassins can dual wield daggers with lightning speed and can modify their attacks against specific targets, such as unholy attacks against heavily armored foes, or poison attacks versus mana users.
Right now there is no reason for a "stance dance": the game doesn't really ecourage or support that (debuffs from stances are weak to begin with and require 5 point upgrade in feat tree). Being a "single target dps" I would love to "tailor" my stances (yes, atleast 2) depending on the type of enemy I am faceing, gaing both advantages against my target and disadvantages l(ike reduced armor) against other opponents that might pick me as their target.
What we are getting are two stances - on for each of trees- that give bonus to our attacks (without them we are doing marginal damage), make hybrid builds harder to put together and occasionally need to be reapplied after death. More of a annoying chore than anything.

Passive feats
I like my bars to be filled with diffrent stuff that I can use, mix, switch and micromanage to get best results in terms of DPS/surviviality. I like to tweak my keyboard setup for best access to those skills and use them at the right time. For some reason assassins have TONS of passive feats that are either working their magic in the background (example: deft blades giving passive +10% offhand) or are purely luck based (Flurry of blows might go off when the game feels like it).

Lets break it down:

Lotus tree
Passive - 5
Passive, luck based - 9
Active (clickable) - 11
total: 25

Passive -6
Passive, luck based - 8
Active (clickable) - 11
total: 25

General tree (up to agile mind)
Passive - 2
Passive, luck based - 0
Active (clickable) - 4

As you can see there is same issue with lack of active tools on both trees.

Now lets see how many of those active feats can be used often in combat
and by that I mean active feats with cooldown of 1 minute or less:

Lotus tree: 5
Unholy: 6
General tree (up to agile mind): 2

Combos that are build in for every assassin:
- Swift Strikes
- Grim corruption
- Slow death strikes
- Lethargy? (broken combo with marginal damage and useless debuff, hardly anyone uses it)

This is what we potentialy have, now lets see how many active feat with 1 minute cooldown or less do we get in two standard pvp builds Lotus/general, Corruption/general:

Lotus/general - Lotus:3, General: 2 (link to build)
Corruption/general - Unholy: 4, General:2 (link to build)

Lets go even further and cut out defensive feats and leave only those active feats that are improve your damage or cc your opponent:

Lotus/general - Lotus:3 (link to build)
Corruption/general - Unholy:4 (link to build)

Finally we set aside those active feats that have requirments to be used: either soul shards or flesh rots stacks (they can't be used without those)

Lotus/general - Lotus:1 (link to build) (snap kick is out because it doesn't work on all armor types)
Corruption/general - Unholy:2 (link to build) (death whirlwind is out because without soul shards it does next to nothing damage)

1 minute is still a lot of time when you consider the dynamic of pvp minigames so lets see what you can use in every single fight (cooldown of 20s or lower):

Lotus/general - Lotus:0 (link to build)
Corruption/general - Unholy:1 (link to build)

Thats right! When out of feats to use in every fight you are almost down to plain, standard combo of GC (for snare, not the damage) and Swift Strikes all the way. And if your opponent is already snared, stuned or knocked back? Just rotate diffrent ranks of Swift Strikes.
I call this state "the Vanilla Assassin". Happens all the time.

to sum it up: at best you have 3-4 active feats to use from fight to fight while your other stuff is on constant 2-3 minute cooldown. This is how your bar looks like in minigames - all is greyed out, constantly.
Also you have no means of tailoring your attacks against diffrent types of enemies through buffs/debuffs - you have to respecc for that (hardly ideal in minigame scenario).

It boils down to using EVERYTHING you have, whenever you can on whoever you can - this hardly fits smart and sneaky assassin type.

And what if you get CCed while buffed with longer duration active feats? (does that happen to you? Sure does to me). I guess you are screwed for the next 2-3 minutes so better save up those longer CD buffs rather than risking it going to waste (if barbarian is near you are bound to be stuned and if your excellent balance is on CD you are sure as hell to be knockedback).

This in my opinion is not what I would consider FUN. Looking for FUN factor? See how new DT was designed: now THAT is FUN - tons of stuff to play with, diffrent combos for diffrent enemy types, low on CDs, auras, buffs, debuffs - the works.

Soul shards
Last but not least: the dreaded soul shard system. At first (low level) getting shards was fun - you were using them for corrupting strikes, the spares were being burned for stamina (consume) and all was good. Later on it became a chore and finally it turned out to be a system designed to gimp you in pvp. What you will quickly realize is that other classes have instant access to as powerful or more powerful feats while you have to "get them shards" to do anything beyond standard Swift Strikes/Lunge buff combo. Even assassins specced Lotus have same stuff, but without need for shards (see Flurry of blows vs corrupting strikes). The soul shard system is a big stone tighted to your neck to drag along in pvp.

Let me be 100% clear on this: soul shards provide 0 (zero) benefits while requring constant attention. The soul shards are goggles on a cat - they do nothing.

So are assassins fun? Yes, but not because developers made them interesing in terms of class mechanics. Assassins don't bring anything to the table that other class would not do atleast as good, they are not unique (like ranger's tracking, DT's leeches, new Conq orders/command), they don't benefit from stealth (atleast not any more than any other rogue class does), we don't have any group buff, wear lighest armor and are limited only to shorest range weapon in game - daggers (that can be used by other classes too).
Assassins are iconic, pop culture phenomenom (assassin creed, thief and many many others) and this class will be played as long there are people who enjoy this kind vibe. However other players that rolled assassins just as they did with other classes have quickly abandoned them. That is why in minigames you only see battle hardened assassin veterans decked out with best pvp/pve gear while "trader trash" fresh 80' casters are common.

I won't even go into assassins in sieges - the numbers speak for themself.

How many developers does it take to fix class in MMO? I don't know, I have never build one, but I know what is fun and this ain't it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rise of the Godslayer: Assassin video

Here is a looksie on assassin armor that comes from one of the faction.

note: do not expect much from this video

credit goes to the video authors.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Slith's cheesy exploration guide episode 4

I have finally "unlocked" Tarantia Noble district "explorer's heaven".
The idea came to me when I was leaving the villas to return quests (bored like a ....fox?). It was like a sudden flash: in my mind I saw the jumps and the patch was clear :D

First and most important "unlock" was getting on top of District's shops. Luckly those are connected by small bridge. I have jumped on top of one of the domes and from that straight onto the wall.

Getting here was fun, but if you turn around you will see that on top of the mountain behind me there is a small temple and it was my prize for the taking.

You can spit of fat necromancer from here or take a stylish dive into the pool of blood.

Now for my main goal: the temple (more of a shrine really). My first idea was this rock and I have failed miserably. Wasted like an hour on this.

My second idea was even more crazy (considering how close I was to getting to the temple from the rock shown above).

After A LOT of trial and error, careful moves, baby steps and acrobatic jumps I have finally beaten it.
Um...yeah, I guess this is it. Not a jaw droping sight, but it gave me satysfaction only true explorer can understand :D

Tarantia Noble District

The temple

Difficulty: *****
Hardest stuff I have came across to this day. Getting up the temple was very hard for two reasons: one being figuring out which rock/wall was the right patch and second was actually beating the wall.

The temple itself unlocks ocean of exploration opportunities. I highly recomend this place.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It boils down to this

For last couple of weeks (let call them "1.5 weeks") I have been extremely frustrated with Age of Conan. That would be the main reason why there were no new posts: I have had nothing postive to say so why bother my 11 readorz with same stuff?

Luckly I have stumbled upon this little twitt:

Kamukoira@Silirrion This pretty much summarizes the current problems of Aoc, Im certain majority of the pvp players will agree http://snurl.com/rm548

The link will take you to a thread started by guy named Whorrors (who got flammed the fuck out) where he basically nailed down most pressing issues. For sake of "safe keeping" I am reposting some of his wall of text:

Let's take a moment here and think about this, A ToS can run in to a group, drop a totem, click storm crown and stand there literally and melt every person around them while not even moving once and clicking 2 abilities. A demo can stand in the background of any door way, creavus, hill top, pillar lurking spot and just milk people over and over by not moving once. If a person goes near them they have 6 RANGED cc's to work with while also dealing this dmg out. 2 Roots, 2 stuns, 2 types of knock backs, then when you get close to the demo, they click planar shift or hands of the underworld and take off like a ninja at 30% speed increase.... So where is this speed increase for the agile sins or the Rangers? I am confused here. Then aside from that the demo can spellweave which gives them insane crits that are just beyond a slap in the face to anybody who plays this game for it's hardcore skilled combat Funcom promised us and completely took away.

Then we get to the necro, pet's that the necro hides in, if you have an all melee team in a mini game, he pulls out his poop bombs, stands inside of them.. if you even go near this necro and swing more then once, your whle team is dead in 2 seconds, literally. Funcom, I can tell you guys really thought this game through, you guys are absolutely brilliant in making balanced "group play classes". Let's do the math here, if a class is dominant in 1 v 1's.. what do you think it's going to be like in groups? Only an idiot would balance a game on group play and not 1 v 1's. As it stands right now, the caster classes are preparing me to unsub, it's just out right stupid.. They have higher HP pools then the avg melee class along with group buffs that are just beyond retarded compared to melee. Where is the barb/sin/ranger group buffs that we don't hve to spec in to to give us insane absorb effects? or maybe stealth in the middle of combat and take no dmg when stealthed for 10 seconds and come back out with a stealth deadly attack.. I don't see how this is any differnt then planar shift? or some trashy tos bubble with a totem on the ground melting ppl. So we can't go near them, we die and if we run away from them, we die again... who ever is the guy balancing your game, came straight out of dungens and dragons online, clearly.

Next let's move on the stamina issues. Necro pets that not only do dmg while he runs around a totem and just kites you all day long while his pets do all the work and he just laughs while doing it. They either dmg us for a ridiculous amount or they drain our maana and stamina in seconds, leaving everyone white hitting all day with no regen what so ever. Yeah we can spec for "getting stamina back"... so we use that ability, maybe win or lose the fight, once we die and come off the rez pad or mini game, were useless for the next 5-10 minutes for stamina, hmmm odd. So now not only did you make melee and the game extremely slow paced for kids who absolutely suck at moving in this game, you also made it even easier for casters to milk us like a warm cow tit while were trying to get to them. Then on top of it, half the classes have to "spec for a charge" to even get to these classes. Let's also look at how the stamina pots work, the initial pot ticks at 135 with NO big burst at first, the stam pool has been increased in patch 1.05, and you left the pots exactly the same... I am confused, aren't the ratios of the stamina pools suppose to match the pots???? Which you guys SAID U WERE GOING TO FIX and DIDN'T AND STILL RELEASED THE PATCH.

Moving on to destroyed gameplay mechanics. So while melee is trying to land combos on kiting casters with lack of stamina and white hitting like a bunch of warcraft newbs, we also get "red" arrows and lose dmg for every combo sequence we miss, on top of that you could get all 3 greens light and then swing your slow animation and the person may justdodge it. So a caster can stand there, press his caster button, not have to worry about combos and chasing after people, since he is ranged and he has only one thing to worry about which most classes don't have, immunity ratings on their gear for "resists". Then on top of that, they have aoe's that just destroy people and bubbles on all the healer classes that heal them back to full or hurt u for hitting them while bubbled. Man you guys must be a big fan of Merlin in the King Arthur days to give out this much power and water down the game this bad.


-Arena's, where are they already, I see like 30 threads and a 100 signs for it

-Cross server Minis, if u can't afford it, stop asking us what we want and shut the game down already.

-PVP Towers, I know you will screw this up and make it useless like PVP resources, where it will have absolutely no replay value

-Useless PVP resources that have no meaning, enough said

-Kheshetta Gaurds EVERYWHERE, WHITE SANDS HAS LESS. People ask for less, you give us even more and on top of that we get mobs that aggro and cc us during battles in Khesh, pathetic.

-Garbagio watered down gameplay, stats on gear is fine, watered down easymode gameplay, I love how you slapped all the people that stay subbed for the pro combat system in the face, thanks Funcom. Now magically everybody who rolls a caster and plays it for a month is "suddenly good" the very first day of 1.05... I wonder why.

Also Just blow sieges up, obviously you don't want anything to do with them, they lag, the servers crash, it's buggy as hell, hard on comps, so make scaled pvp maps for 20 on 20 and just scrap sieges. Merge all the servers in to the pvp battle map and presto, you got yourself a good start on pvp replay value content that will keep people wanting more. Make sure it's done right, but of course it's like talking to a wall, instead your going to give me some garbage social item and some over powered easy mode crap class mixed with more stamina drain and some new super strong gaurds to protect people in the expansion pack. Go funcom, you rule.
Ofcourse I have "edited" some of his stuff to make it more....readorz friendly (and by edited I mean cuted off some of caps locked "I will leave this game" parts )

Honestly - I don't care for half the thing he posted about (not that they are not an issues, they are just not pressing issues TO ME) all I want is revamp for assassins that will make the class not powerful, not even efficient, but interesting to play. Check out new dark templar: now that is some interesting shit! You get auras, buffs, combos for diffrent enemies types and you can switch, tweak, click and mix that all you want - even simple Villa is a joy ride with this class (if only I was more into this soldier archtype...but I am so not). Having all 6 skills on my bar on constant CD is not my idea of "fun".

Moving back to the thread on US boards:
apart from being pretty well writen pice of "wall of text" it made be realise how mature and well mannered the EU community is and how now I do NOT want the boards to be merged. Check out some of juciy replies:

wall o' text crits for 2134 damage
caster's mage shields absorb 2132 damage.

Holy wall of text batman!
Couldn't you just have summed it up with "I don't like casters QQ"?

Dark Templar advocate just replied with manga pic "u mad?'

then more pics are thrown around
I was amazed! Welcome to WoW forums, bitchez!

The pic in the post is my char with his skin bugged from Vampyric Leech. Go bugs!