Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let THEM make rimes for the vultures

Today after re-reading "Phoenix on the sword" story I have noticed how similar it is to what has happened to the Age of Conan development. I know that the similarities are not STRIKING, but give it a shot.
"When I overthrew Numedides, then I was the Liberator--now they spit
at my shadow. They have put a statue of that swine in the temple of
Mitra, and people go and wail before it, hailing it as the holy effigy
of a saintly monarch who was done to death by a red-handed barbarian.
When I led her armies to victory as a mercenary, Aquilonia overlooked
the fact that I was a foreigner, but now she can not forgive me.

"Now in Mitra's temple there come to burn incense to Numedides'
memory, men whom his hangmen maimed and blinded, men whose sons died
in his dungeons, whose wives and daughters were dragged into his
seraglio. The fickle fools!"

"Rinaldo is largely responsible," answered Prospero, drawing up his
sword belt another notch. "He sings songs that make men mad. Hang him
in his jester's garb to the highest tower in the city. Let him make
rimes for the vultures."

This reminds me how  Age of Conan Producer and Game Director Gaute Godager has resigned from Funcom and Funcom announced that Craig Morrison has been appointed as the new Producer and Game Director. I remember how people were making ALMOST death threats to Mr. Godager back in the 1.0 vanilla AOC because of many maaaaaaaaaaaaany issues with the game (mostly client related). Back then Sil was hailed as "savior of Anarchy Online" and "a man with vision about pvp".
Rinaldo has no personal ambition. He sees in Conan a red-handed, rough-footed
barbarian who came out of the north to plunder a civilized land. He
idealizes the king whom Conan killed to get the crown, remembering
only that he occasionally patronized the arts, and forgetting the
evils of his reign, and he is making the people forget. Already they
openly sing The Lament for the King in which Rinaldo lauds the
sainted villain and denounces Conan as 'that black-hearted savage from
the abyss.' Conan laughs, but the people snarl."

This is exactly the case with Gaute Godager and some players. True, previous Game Director had some pretty amazing ideas about pvp (kingship and powerpoints), but then again he could not release a game with stable client which have lead to the disaster later on. That man is also responsible for no end-game pvp, let alone he green-lighted the game to go live without any in game support for pvp like lvls or gear. All of sudden all that is forgotten because "he had some pretty good ideas for pvp". Yep, in fact he had a lot of ideas, but the execution of was sorely lacking

Who is Rinaldo? Well those are players who idolize the old Game Director. There are quitea few of them. If anything Morrison has lifted Age of Conan from the brink of destruction but now he is being portrayed as a man who butchered pvp when in fact he pretty much established pvp in this game. Before he took over there was none of it (except for random Kheshatta ganking and pointless minis with crappy interface)
"In the old free days all I wanted was a sharp sword and a straight path to my enemies. Now no paths are
straight and my sword is useless".

It very much seems like when Morrison took over the game was in such a shitty state that the "patch" was indeed straight. Basically everything needed a fix.Now when the game is quite stable and improved it is much harder to add value to that AND please majority of the playerbase. Whatever the decision will be it is always criticized on the forums. True, Bori was a huge mistake (or a fuck up if you will), but before all that went  down I was pretty satisfied with aoc's pvp. All I care about is M.E. (my enjoyment).
"When King Numedides lay dead at
my feet and I tore the crown from his gory head and set it on my own"

This is in no way, shape or form a written defence of Morrison (seems like he can defend himself on the forums pretty good), but a kind reminder (or a reality check) to all those Rinaldos out there: remember who had the crown before Morrison and in what state Age of Conan was in before he stepped down.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yellow Priests of Yun'a pet - Gray Lotus

The gray lotus might just be the most mind-blowing pet in the whole expansion.

Basically this is "just" another flower that you buy from Yun for mere 800 MOAS and 30g.

After activating the pet it will grant you +320 magic damage as well as +80% ranged and melee damage. Now that's something! Furthermore the buff lasts whooping 20s which is enough to take on more than one group of mobs.

You can active Avatar of Death, Liberation and Gray Lotus all at once (binding them to 1, 2 and 3 works nicely, easy to press). Those 3 brought me up from 425,2 DPS to 582 for 15s!! And that is not even the best DPS you can get out of hybrid assassin (lotus side of things has even more dps buffs to offer)

Gray Lotus gives that extra edge to the Avatar of Death when it comes to leeching ridiculous amounts of health.

This should be your default buff when fighting mobs. If there is no need for extra healing (golden lotus) or stamina (tree of death) always drop gray lotus to dispatch your enemies faster. Remember than you can use all of your pets in solo instances which might come handy in the 2.1.3 patch which will bring new solo content.
You can get a passive perk that will grant you +10% weapon damage to further "upgrade" this pet's buff to 90%.

As always you don't have to be near the lotus flower: it will grant you 20s buff. Usable while moving.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Assassin's Hideout Podcast - ep.23

show notes:
- the "show" is back
- changes to veteran tokens in 2.1.2
- new format of the podcast

let me know in the comments whether the format of the podcast works for you

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yellow Priests of Yun pet - Golden Lotus

Not much to tell about this one, really. Sometimes ability to take a punch is more important than dealing the punch. Upon usage this pet will heal your for 240-293 every 3 seconds for 7 seconds - giving total of 3 ticks. At best it is 879 HP resotred in total. Since most assassins are under 8.000 hp this might not be as punny heal for sin as one like to think (more than 10% hp restored).

First of all this heal stacks with both pots and avatar of death so you can combine those to create some pretty nasty healing spike. Back in 1.4 assassins used to have Golden Lotus Extract which was healing about 1-1,5k out of our 4-5k HP pools. Again, this is "free" substitute for that old GLE just like Tree of Death is subsitute for second wind. Obviously this is NOT the pet to use in every fight: you will be much better off using Gray Lotus (more on that gem soon) because of the damage buff. Remember that all the pets are sharing global cooldown of 2m so healing up with Golden Lotus will prevent you from using Gray Lotus.
But when you are in a tight spot and low on HP this just might come in handy. At very least this pet will negate one critical hit from a non-raiding boss like Gray Apes in Paikang, and often that makes enough of a difference ;p
The pet has no radius, just drop it and you will get a buff. Can be used while moving.

Monday, February 14, 2011

20.000,00 kills episode spectacular!

So I have hit the magical mark of 20.000,00 kills with 16.500,00 deaths. This kill to death ratio got a little skewed with my 1.4's solo ganking in Kheshatta (every kill was bought with one death) and 1.5 period. Don't get me wrong: assassin is probably most unforgiving class there is: every mistake you will make will most likely result in horrible, horrible death. Lesson learned? No amount of cloth and silk will mitigate axe to the head.
Where is the problem? I won't talk here about other classes and how they can produce similar damage output while wearing tons and tons of armor (guardian) or staying faaaaaaar out of harm's reach (rangers). Assassin goes toe-to-toe with a knify and silky pants in a fights were people bring pole arms for fuck sake ;p Yes, our life expectancy is that of a doughnut in a Police station. I don't have any issues with this "glass cannon" situation. The problem IS that Age of Conan doesn't reward movement or using combos with more than 1 combo step (preloading is still common sight).Everything assassin does must take place within certain time frame (lets call it the "window") before you will be CCed back to the stone age. You have to apply all the poisons and use all the miasmas and secure your kill before "window" closes.After that the CC storm is coming and baby, you ain't surviving that. And let me be clear on this: that window is open only to really nicely geared assassin. If you are freshly dinged sin you are all the glass and none of the cannon.
I firmly believe that Age of Conan went a bridge too far in the amount of CC. I am really, really looking forward to whatever CC changes are coming in the future and honestly, things cannot possibly be any worst - regardless of what the devs will do.

My wish for the next 20.000,00 Kills is to make them with as little CCs as possible, both on my and my opponents part.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Age of Conan pvp - fail by design

First let's clear some things up. I am playing almost exclusively minigames, dedicating about 80% of my play time to group pvp with 20% of solo pve. I did my 1-3 pvp lvl in solo minigames (waaaay waaay back in 2008) and then half-killed myself reaching pvp lvl4 through solo world pvp in Kheshatta. This was neither fast nor fun. The very idea of going from 4 to 5 (at that time it was quite a feat) solo was giving me the chills. I have been in 3 quite big guilds (Sanguis, SCUM and now Exalted), but when I was logging at prime time large majority of guild was raiding so guild premades were out of the question. At that point  I was thinking about switching to PVE (dumb idea, I know ;p) because people were having so much fun doing that kind of content. But what makes it fun? It can't be gear alone, nor a challenge of beating some raid boss that has been beaten dozens of time. It was the social aspect of PVE: people knew each other and were getting groups together, chatting along on vent/group chat. I have decided to apply same principle to the PVP: whenever I have seen someone performing good in pvp I was adding them to my friends list and then offering honest acknowledgement of their pvp skills and later on - inviting to my pvp group. Amazingly fast I have met a lot of people, and by playing together with them regulary I have made new friends outside the guild (touching, I know). Pretty soon my pvping was very much centered around the social aspect of grouping: we were getting on vent and talking between and during the matches. My pvp experience also improved: I have been grouping with people that "know" their stuff when it comes to group pvp and having vent to communicate only enhanced this further. Sure, there have been times when we were facing some noobie group that we slaughtered in pretty nasty manner. That wasn't fun for us nor them. But when we were facing other premade, especially made from single guild, it was the most fun and challenge I have ever had in any game, let alone Age of Conan. We were winning together and of course - losing together.

Pretty soon I knew enough people to always have someone to share the experience with in pvp. Don't get me wrong: I am not talking about hand-picked group consisting of specific mix of classes and pvp levels. It was invite on demand or "Whisper me for minigame invite". To this day I have this as my guild log on message.

I have been enjoying both 6-man "OP-wagon" as much as just getting another person for 2 man group. It was about playing with people that you have something in common with: fondness for pvp and Age of Conan.

Enter 2.1 and Funcom decides to remove GROUPS FROM GROUP PVP (sorry for caps, I had to be clear on that). Since I got burned many times by commenting on FC's content that I haven't tested thoroughly (example: Bori) I have decided to keep my mouth shut and see what happens. Well, after reaching 2000 kills in 2.1 I can say this: Funcom is again butchering pvp. I find myself logging on and then joining minigames with random people with random outcomes. If I win: yey, guess I get a token. If I lose: I guess I will sign another one. Before 2.1 every victory was cherished and celebrated amongst us and a defeat was analyzed and discussed.

2.1 was designed to: make pvp more accessible for other players (that were getting butchered by premades), and to spread the classes evenly amongst the groups (healers for everyone). Was it worth to trade off social aspect of pvp for it? I don't think it would have been  worth it even if those changes were working and  they are totally NOT. The game spreads the classes in more weird ways: if there are more than 2 classes of rogues one side will get 2 rangers and other 2 barbs, or 2 barbs and 2 sins. People with low level pvp gear are still getting slaughtered (especially by Bori farmers) and the healers are no were to be seen.

Furthermore the new SAG minigame would be amazing for guild vs guild premade, but it fails when 12 random players face other 12 random players. Most of your team mates will be either running around like a headless chickens without a clue what to do, OR hunting for totems and spreading the fire debuff. A lot of games "end" at the first couple of minutes when one team gains 200 point advantage and holds the center. Without strong leadership and communication re-taking their fortified position is mission: futile suicide over and over again for 30 minutes.

So current state of Age of  Conan group pvp reminds my of my Quake 2 days back in 1999. Back then broad band connection to the Internet was not very common so I have been playing a lot of "multiplayer" with bots. Those were quite annoying as their AI was leaving much to be desired. More than 10 years later I am paying to play a game that very much feels like that 1999 quake2 "multiplayer": with random, dead silent people in minis I might as well be playing with bots.

I am not even going to discuss how this affects guilds.

How could anyone that deems themselves "professional game developer" could think that removing grouping  option from MMO was not only "good idea", but would also fix anything.

Could you imagine what would happen if grouping was removed from PVE? Disaster. Why did  anyone would think it would be different for PVP?

Oh and I hope no PVEr takes offence after reading this: truth be told I envy you guys because you can still form groups...for now.