Friday, May 31, 2013

Five years of Age of Conan - anniversary event

Look, I don't want to oversell this event so I will be blunt: Joel Bylos is godlike and the event was best thing that happened to AOC. Oh, too soon? The event matched the player base expectations which were so low that we would be quiet about another vanity cloak. But no, Joel had to bring in the big guns and he delivered one hell of a event. This is the first thing that I want to give notice to: Mr. Bylos proved himself to be very competent which gives me A LOT hope for the future. Honestly, for a while after the restructuring I was fearful that AOC will be Funcom's bastard child and such is just not the case.

Let's get down to what the event was actually about:

It very much felt like someone read all my posts on previous events and decided to change everything I have complained about. This event had epic feeling, great rewards and replayability. Pretty much everything that, until now, sucked about the events.
Remember the first anniversary? You can check it out here. Or just watch the video below, it sums it up nicely.
Now the video from the recent event:
See the difference?

In a nutshell: everyday new boss spawned in different location of Hyboria. Furthermore the bosses from previous days would re-spawn stronger and stronger as the day went by. You had to be close to the boss to get a quest from killing it, so this way you could have brought your lvl20 alt and still get the goodies. After killing the monster you would go to the Old Tarantia where new NPC would accept your quest and reward you with a box with rewards. First major surprise was that NPC had a voice over!! Remember those? Game Director promised that those will be back (TSW voice artists are doing AOC stuff now) but no one expected for it to be so soon. Now the rewards themselves: the box could give either random crap like Halloween consumables (blood, brain juice etc.), epic mastery pots (like in HOC), unique vanity gear or..... T2 armor and weapons!!
Best thing is that you could do the bosses over and over and get a blast out of it. On the last days the bosses were spawning in different places so whole raids of people would jump from Old Tarantia to the Dragon's Spine only to be storming Khemi a couple minutes later. It did wonders for the server's population and morale because seeing so many active players in one place really gave hopes for the game's future.
If I really HAD to complain about anything it would be a lack of story. Sure there was SOME story, but pretty much it was: "thanks for killing teh dragonz0rz, here is ur epix0rz!". I think giving people small quest chain few days before the event would have been awesome. We didn't really get any explanation WHY there was a dragon and Tarantia and Kraken in Khemi and these quests would have builded up the anticipation. But it was all well designed and executed (Mitra knows we didn't have THOSE kind of updates in recent years..). 

Best thing that came out of this event? The bosses are here to stay and the GMs will spawn then randomly for the player's amusement.

Here is to another 5 years!! Cheers!

Unique vanity set
Bone Rattle


Kraken getting creamed!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The streets of Old Tarantia #1

I have came to the conclusion that I have been posting very little as of late. There is a good reason for that: lack of news. Duh! Still there is plenty going on in my Hyborian life so I have decided to start posting those random tidbits on the hideout.

The latest and greatest thing is me getting on the mats required to craft the Spine of Dagon - T3 dagger. It literally cost me my Hyborian life-time savings. I wasn't much up for shard gathering so I bought them. 400 gold. BAM!. Now it's only a matter of my guild getting it's shit together and we are on the easy street to T3 craft.

Or are we? After speedy advance in the T4 (we killed imp 3 times) we got demoted to T3 raiding and even struggling at that. I know, the summer is upon us and it's hard to get people to raid, but is to frustrating to have 4 or 5 weapons to craft all lined up and simply not enough people to do a mere T3 raid. Bah!

In other news I am enjoying pvp a lot more since I have started recording my 1v1 fights in the minigames. I have also fleshed out the little background story that will be in the pvp video (more of a cut scenes than story TBH). To my surprise the server move to US didn't really impact me all that much. Sure, when I look at the bar the latency is higher (around 176 max, usually at stable 126), but at the same the the server stability improved (no more red lag spikes) so it balances out. I have Fraps running in the background and still getting really good fights. I guess it's fine and, of course, it was necessary to insure future for Age of Conan. And it's not like old EU server was all that great either. I do understand that some got more affected by this than others, but what's done is done.

But let's get back to the pvp video for a second. I have several folders with videos named "special", "cut scenes", "2v1", "bad", "good" and "pro"."Special" is a place for a videos that have some part that I want to use like killing people with an xbow (truly, it's the king of frags). Cut scenes are self explanatory: it is the footage I will use to tell the background story. Folder with 2v1 I am not sure if I will be using it because those fights, even thou I have won them, are just sloppy. It's really hard to stay calm and precise when fighting 2 people at once and one mistake can mean the end of the fight. I do like the end result (winning against 2 people) but I don't like how I am performing (lot of combo steps and combos missed). Bad and good folders are for storing fights that are either really sloppy, boring or simply too short (usually it's vs casters). I will probably pick few movies from "good" folder and use some parts of from "bad" for intro or what have you. The "pro" folder contains really awesome fights like killing T4 barb or DT. Right now I have 4 fights that I am really pleased with and I think I need no less than 10 in total to make the video. I have decided to keep recording until end of July and start editing then.

And today AOC turns 5 years! How cool is that? Old love never rusts it seems. I will write a detailed report on anniversary event so I don't want to get into this topic a whole lot here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PvP in a powder form - just add water!

So the new letter is in and we have learned about next pvp content: unchained minigames. The final design is not yet written in the stone but we got pretty good idea what we are getting: minigames (new mechanic but same maps) where people get equal gear and most likely further balancing options (like AA to spend for the game's duration - but that is just me talking).

I have thought about this and I think I have made up my mind that I very much like the core idea of it. Having all 3 pvp sets, maxed out AA and capped at pvp lvl 10 (done with minigames alone) I am pretty much in a same spot for several months now. For me "unchained" minigames are already happening. At the same time I can't really say I like pummeling undergeared players nor losing to T4 geared people. I think that for me getting pvp gear was never about having an advantage, but rather to avoid being at disadvantage. Since PVE T3.5 and T4 pretty much outclasses pvp gear in every way I get to only keep my advantage over "newbs" while not having a way to shorten the gear gap that is between, oh let's just say pvp T3 weapons and T4 weapons. A hint: it's absurd. In other words: current minigame system doesn't provide me with what I want.

There are several issues here and I want to quickly go over them:

The social aspect of pvp
I have spilled my guts about it here, so please go check it out. Current minigames are social nightmare and the fact that you can't do it with friends is mind blowing in the context of MMO. If the unchained minigames are to be successful Funcom need to put "group" back into "group pvp". Right now it is random strangers trying to make the best of it. I want to play with people I know. And this doesn't even require coding: just roll back whatever changes previous Game Director made (and truely this was one of his undoings).

AOC has one of most brutally unforgiving, gear based systems you can imagine. Pretty much pvp lvl 1 melee is a meat in pvp and will remain such for many many pvp lvls to come. Before you can even be competitive you need to do A LOT of gear grind and in a such manner that you won't really enough (like 20+ deaths per minigame). Having a way to simply jump in and be able to take a punch like others will surely encourage more people to pvp and perhaps will draw old timers back to the game (no need to play "gear catch up" anymore).

Population split
I doubt there will be any split happening. In a world of equal gear unchained minigames and regular minigames what is there to gain in regular minis? Why would anyone expose themselves to the T4 wearing people when they could be facing players on a equal footing? 
There are still many unanswered questions about this system and one of them is the question of rewards: will unchained minis give same rewards? No rewards? Why would someone do unchained minis and regular ones? I am very much afraid the unchained minis might share the fate with B&G server which seemed like a great concept, but was pretty much rehashed old content... minus the guards. New minis? Same thing, minus the gear.

Still we have to learn a lot about the design and also we need to keep in mind that incoming pvp crafting (which is months away) might totally change the pvp landscape and how people are playing this game. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

PvP video sneak peak

My assassin "grew up" while watching Meph's pvp videos (which I just have to upload some were) and I had this idea for my own pvp vid for a while now. I have decided to finally make it happen and started recording first fights. In this post I want to share my philosophy when it comes to crafting this video: it's all about quality and entertainment.

I don't expect to be finished with the video any time soon because I want produce something that will be fun to watch. It is not about killing your opponent, but rather how you are going to do it. I don't want to give "GC+SS+DWW /lol" type of fights. I think the sneak peak video really shows that. My goal is to entertain you, not to show off skill. There is a plenty better players than me and skilled fight doesn't always mean an entertaining one.

PvP T3 assassin fighting T3/T4 geared Dark Templar with Ibis. In this fight I have abused the fact that Dark Templar's CCs are combo based and take longer to pull of that assassin's so I could keep him CCed all the time. The longer the fight the more armor and unholy debuffs I could put on the opponent to soften him up. The idea was not to take any damage and to really showcase the importance of timing in pvp.

I want to keep the whole pvp video in this style: 1v1 or 2v1 in the minigames. I find that minigame "duels" are more natural and interesting pvp encounters than "Kheshatta duels" (it's what most pvp videos are). In minigames you might not have the upper hand and element of surprise (like in open world pvp ganks) nor the luxury of all the cool downs ready (like in duels). The added benefit is that you will be fighting people that are already geared and activly trying to kill you. And, obviously, it's easier to get a lot of great footage in minigame because there is so much pvping going on.

I want to keep the editing to the minimum. If the fights are not interesting on their own then no amount of crazy effects going to change that. I am also collecting unique and fitting music for the video so it won't be Rammstein/P.O.D/Requiem nightmare (overused music is overused).

Also I want to put a little background story to the video (nothing major, just a fun little thing) and pay a tribute to the other assassin pvp videos that I liked. For example in this video I am referencing music from certain assassin's video and later on I will also use a little bit of his footage (can YOU name that assassin? :D It's not Meph ;p).

That's pretty much it, expect the video when Moses comes back.