Thursday, June 21, 2012

More TERA Eye-Candy

I continue to be amazed by the graphics in this game.  I've been playing almost daily for over a month now, and still, every single day I find myself standing still and admiring the scenery.  This is such a beautiful game.  In fact, the last three images above came from a "dungeon" . . . not exactly a crawl through a dark cavern.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TERA Trial Done Right

Bhagpuss recently posted about his experience with the TERA trial allowing folks to play the Prologue to the game.  Unfortunately for Bhagpuss and many others that may have given this a shot, the prologue to TERA is a terrible representation of what the game has to offer.  I've been playing TERA since release, and I hated the prologue; my wife felt the same.

Happily, En Masse got wise to the problem, so they have changed the trial offer to a full seven days of play allowing you a chance to create 8 different characters and level them all to 23.  Now, this is the way a trial should be done.

I really encourage anyone who wants to give TERA a shot to do so.  I keep asking myself why this game has flown below the radar for so long.  It simply seems that no one is really paying it much attention, but I can attest to the fact that TERA is doing a lot of things right.  The combat is excellent; the graphics are superb.  Even a lot of the little "quality of life" additions are great in TERA.

To find out more about the free seven day trial, go to  This will answer any questions you may have about how the trial works, as well as, get you started on setting up your own account.

Have fun, and I hope to see you in game!

Monday, June 11, 2012

MOOOOO . . . Huh? [Diablo III Spoiler]

The COW level!!

I still remember the first time I heard about the cow level in Diablo II.  Was it a myth?  Was it a reality?  Was it the delusion of a few folks who had eaten one too many steaks?  I really wanted to find out if it was for real.  Like so many things, the cow level piqued my interest because it was different, unique, and undiscovered.  I really think I would have enjoyed being an explorer (if there was money in it, and if I never had to traipse through the jungle, the desert, the tundra . . . ok, maybe not such a good explorer.)

Anyway, after playing for quite awhile in D2, I finally found the cow level.  It has been more than a decade since, so I don't really remember how one would go about finding the cow level or how you would get into it, but I do remember spending a lot of time there farming drops and killing the Cow King over and over.  Back then, the cow level looked like this . . . 

The areas outside Tristram, but this time filled with cows wielding halberds instead of zombies, skeletons, etc.

That brings me to this morning when a couple of my friends told me they had opened up the "Cow Level" in D3!  I was amazed; I was excited; I immediately wanted to see it!  They invited me to their group, and I clicked on the flag to teleport to them.  And, this is what I saw . . . 

What the . . . ?  This was the "Cow Level"??  Actually, it isn't called the Cow Level anymore.  Now, it is called Whimseyshire, and it is made up of rainbows, fluffy clouds, unicorns, and flowers . . . that attack you. This was the perfect level for anyone who wanted to kill all of the stupid levels in Super Mario Brothers or any other platformer with clouds and flowers . . . 

and rainbows!  Lots of rainbows!  In the words of Cartman, "I hate rainbows!"

This level was pretty amazing as you were able to run through and chop unicorns in half!  That's right, look back at the first picture . . . the unicorn split in half . . . lengthwise!  Amazing!

No, this ain't your daddy's cow level.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TERA - Try it Yourself!

TERA has just set up a demo for those who may want to know more about how the game plays.  It will allow you to play through the prologue to the game.  While this isn't an amazing portrayal of how the game plays, it is definitely better than just guessing.  So, if you've been wondering how TERA combat feels, click over to and give it a shot!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Plans

Summer officially starts for me this week, so I've been thinking about what I want to do with the extra time I'll have while I'm not teaching.  Of course, as any MMO affecionado knows, spare time means video games.  I decided I would like to sit down and think about my goals for this summer to see what I can accomplish.

Goal #1:

I would like to continue playing TERA quite a bit.  Right now, I have an archer and a warrior at level 41, and I think my first goal for the summer will be to get both of those characters up to 60.  I'm not sure yet about how much end-game I'll want to do in TERA, but I'm sure I'll at least give it a shot and see how I like it.

Goal #2:

Grab a couple more pets and maybe a mount from Darkmoon Faire in WoW.  I have been working on this steadily each week that the Darkmoon Faire is available, but I still have a long way to go.  I'll be working on this goal some this week, since it is once again time for the Faire.

Goal #3:

Work on alts in both TERA and WoW.  In TERA, I would really like to create one more character, but I'm not sure yet which class it will be.  I'm sure I'll have to play around with a few to decide on what I want to try.

In WoW, I've had a mage and a rogue sitting in the 75+ range for quite awhile now, but I've never put in the time or effort to get either up to 85.  I would really like to get both of these characters up to 85 sometime this summer before the release of MoP.

Goal #4:

If it looks like I will be successful with the above stated goals, then I'm thinking I might try out a new game or two.  I'm not sure what I might want to try; there are several MMO's that I've read about extensively but never had the time to play.  I've started characters on DDO, LotR, and Rift at different times, but each time my time and attention ends up somewhere else, so maybe I'll go back and pick up one of those again.  I also have my Sith Assassin sitting in the low 40's on SWTOR that may entice me back to at least finish that class story.  There are just so many options for this fourth goal; I'm just not sure what I want to do with my time.

Anyway, it looks like a fun summer of gaming.  I can't wait to get started.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Visions of TERA

So, I've been talking a bit about how great TERA looks, and I'm still amazed with each new area I enter into.  Now, I've moved to a new continent with the level 40+ quests, and I continue to be impressed there as well.  I thought I would share a few visuals with you guys to show you how great it really looks.

I started with the Pegasus ride out and ended up in Blightwood . . . enjoy!

Such a beautiful game!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Status Update

If anyone has been checking regularly, you will know that I've been pretty quiet for the past couple weeks.  This is due to the fact that I'm a teacher, and this time of year is incredibly busy for me as I wrap up the last of grades, exams, etc. all leading up to graduation.  I thought it would be good to stop in just long enough to give everyone an update and let you all know that I'm still here.

As for MMO activity, I haven't had a ton of time to play, but when I have, I find myself, more often than not, continuing to level my two characters in TERA.  I started with an archer, but I've recently found a lot of enjoyment with a warrior.  Both are around level 40 now, and my first priority this summer with the extra time I'll have will be to get both these characters to 60.  I still maintain that TERA is an amazing game with graphics that continually impress me and combat that is a load of fun. 

Not only that, but I really feel like TERA is making me a better player.  I was feeling a bit nostalgic the other evening and decided I wanted to play WoW some.  I really haven't been playing much WoW since there isn't really anything I'm interested in doing there at the moment.  I am excited about the new x-pac, and I'm sure I'll be back playing hot and heavy once that drops, but for now I have a hard time building up much enthusiasm for it.  Anyway, I decided I would do a LFR run of the first four bosses in Dragon Soul, since I could still use a shoulder upgrade on my warrior.

The first thing I noticed was that the combat was not nearly as inter-active as I had gotten used to in TERA.  Obviously, I didn't have to worry about my target since WoW has targetting.  Also, I noticed that the mobs in WoW don't move very much at all as a general rule.  In TERA, everything moves . . . a lot.  The second thing I noticed was that my rotation was a bit tighter resulting in a DPS increase in general.  I was really surprised at the difference since I felt like I was playing much like I always had, but I think TERA has forced me to play with more focus while keeping up with more things at the same time.  I can remember lots of times playing WoW without actually ever looking at the center of the screen, but now I was able to watch meters and warnings while also keeping an eye on the boss we were fighting.  Overall, I ended up 1st on the damage meters with the next closest over 8k dps lower.  I can only conclude that TERA has helped me to become a better player in general.

I'm sure I'll be posting more frequently once summer comes.  Until then, have fun in whatever game you choose to play.

Monday, May 21, 2012

[TERA] Cultist's Refuge

Upon hitting the upper 30's level, my archer was granted access to the Cultist's Refuge, the 3rd instance dungeon in TERA.  I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from a place called "the Cultist's Refuge," but what I found was not what I expect.  Again, I was amazed by the scenery that has been produced for this game.  I have simply never seen better rendered environments and NPCs in any other game I've played.

The dungeon started at the entrance portal; no shimmering, little, blue oval here.

Once inside, I was amazed by the buildings themselves and how everything was so clear and precise in the way it was rendered.  Even the lighting and shadows were dynamic, and I simply had to stop and take in the view for a few moments before continuing on into the dungeon.  (Please ignore the stupid orange leopard onsie I'm wearing.  It seems that TERA insists on dressing me like a fruit-loop instead of a warrior.)

That view was pretty impressive, and I was really excited about going into this dungeon; I was hoping the bosses would be as equally impressive as the setting.  I wasn't to be disappointed . . .

This was the first boss we encountered.  A huge monster of some sort wielding two impressive, glowing swords.  During the encounter, he also summoned in a variety of other large, imposing beings at intervals.  All-in-all, this was a good, hard encounter and lots of fun.

This was the second boss encounter.  When we first entered the room, we were met by a seemingly harmless woman, but as we approached, she began to grow substantially until she became the sorceress/witch shown here.  I don't remember her being a particularly hard fight, and we moved through without much of an issue.

The most impressive by far was the last boss of the dungeon, a huge machine of some sort with tentacles ending in dragon heads of all things.  This was definitely an original boss; I don't think I've ever seen anything like this in any game I've ever played.  The novelty of the boss quickly wore off as we started fighting, and we all realized this boss was tougher than any that had come before.  In fact, we lost our tank at one point during the fight, but with some good play and a quick resurrection scroll we were able to complete the fight without a wipe.

I enjoyed this dungeon so much, I ran it twice.  This is a rarity for me in a leveling dungeon, because I usually only want to do them one time through to see them and complete the quests, but i really just didn't feel like I was able to take it all in the first time through.

TERA continues to hold my interest with amazing graphics, fun combat, and well thought-out areas and dungeons.  If you haven't tried TERA because of all the scantily-dressed hoopla, then I truly think you are missing out.  I am trying to put together a post that discusses that subject in more depth, but for now, I highly recommend that folks at least give TERA a chance before writing it off completely.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Diablo III Impressions

Now that I've played Diablo III for a bit, I thought I would put down my initial impressions of the game.  I will start by saying that I haven't experienced any of the frustration that many other folk have experienced.  I played DIII for the first time around 4:00am on Tuesday morning, and it worked well, installing without hesitation and logging me in immediately.  I played some more last night, again with no problems whatsoever.

I decided to create a Demon Hunter for my first character.  I don't really have a good justification for this choice other than that's the one that appealed to me more when I made the decision.


1.  Voice-overs - Ever since SWTOR, I think quests should be voiced rather than simply read.  This adds so much more realism to the game, so I'm glad to see that Blizzard went with full voice-over in this game.  So far, the voices are pretty good and believable for the character being portrayed.

2.  Simplicity - So far everything I've done has been fully explained with tooltip pop-ups, and I've had an easy time with the learning curve.  I'm sure there will be more complexity as the skill progression develops, but this is definitely an easy game to pick up and start playing, even for someone who hasn't spent much time with the Diablo series.

3.  Stays True to its Roots - This game is very reminiscent of DII and even DI.  Obviously Blizzard went with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality as they made this game.  It holds true to what Diablo has always been,  a great dungeon-crawler.  I felt right at home in this game having played extensively in the first two.

4.  Gothic - DIII also stays true to the dark, gothic feel that was established through the first two.  So far, I've not been through much of the game, but I especially enjoyed the set-up of the old cathedral with its decidedly gothic decorations along with corpses and smeared blood.  All-in-all, appropriately chilling.


1.  Not Enough Newness - While Blizzard did stay true to their roots with this game, I'm not sure they've provided enough of a difference from DII for this to be a truly awe-inspiring experience.  It is a solid game so far, but it is so much like DII that it could almost be an expansion of that game.

2.  Graphics - They are good.  Everything runs extremely smoothly, but with the incredibly detailed rendering of other games on the market right now, the graphics presented in this game just don't stack up.  The environments so far have been pretty well portrayed, but the character models, especially monsters have not been very impressive to me thus far.  Maybe when I get to a point later in the game with larger, more intricate monsters I'll feel differently.

3.  Not Enough "WOW" Factor - Don't get me wrong, I think DIII is a solid game, but I simply haven't had that point where I do in most "great" games where I sit back and think, "wow, that was awesome."  The play overall has been more like "meh, not bad."

Overall, I think Blizzard has offered a solid game that stays true to the past games.  So far, nothing extraordinary about the game.  It is fun, but I'm not sure how long I'll stay with it, especially with so many other games out to catch my attention.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A New Day

At 3:30 this morning I decided I just couldn't sleep.  So, I get up and shuffle to my computer to mess around on some game or another until the alarm goes off for work.  I sit there for a few minutes trying to decide what I want to do with my time, and I have already clicked on the icon for TERA when it dawns on me . . . Diablo III drops today!

Now, why wasn't I already thinking about this?  I played both Diablo I and II extensively.  I've always enjoyed Blizzard's products, but for some reason, I'm just not that stoked about DIII.

Maybe it is all the focus on the real-money auction house instead of the game itself.  The AH is a feature I really can't see myself using.  I don't have any illusions about being able to work the AH for profit, and I'm not really interested in spending much of my real money for gear, etc.

Maybe it has just been awhile since I've played any Diablo type game, and I'm not really remembering the fun I had with them.

Maybe I simply have too much on my plate already with WoW and TERA both going strong.

I'm not sure what my reasons are for not being excited about the release of DIII, but I'm still going to try it.  In fact, it's downloading right now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Working on the Chain

As I've been playing TERA Online, I've found quite a few things that I really like about the game.  As I got my character up over level 20, I found another feature of the game that I think is really neat in a lot of ways.

Somewhere between 20-22, I received a quest to head back to the main city and talk to a trainer there about glyphs.  I was not aware before this point that there were glyphs in this game, but since I've played WoW extensively, I was able to determine what glyphs probably were.  Sure enough, they were glyphs that a player can add to his skills to increase their potency in some way.  After spending about an hour looking at the different glyphs and finally deciding how best to spend my glyph points in assigning them, I settled on a few I felt would be beneficial.

It was as I was assigning glyphs that I started realizing there was another part of using skills that I had not really understood up until this point:  Skill Chains.  I knew that skills could be chained together so that using one activates an on-screen prompt to use the next, but I didn't really realize how this system worked until I was spending time on my skills due to glyphing.  Now, I realized that I could chain all of my skills one to another so that I would have an unbroken chain through a rotation once that rotation was started.  I started setting up these skill chains, and after a couple hours of killing mobs to fine-tune it, I think I'm finally where I want to be (at least until I level to the point where I add another skill or two that I want to work in).  I actually set up two different chains:  a ranged chain and a melee chain.  I use the ranged chain most of the time to start fights and then use the melee chain when the mob starts to close with me to attack.  With these two chains set up, I can pretty much handle any normal fight by only pressing one or both of the two mouse buttons and the spacebar.  I start my ranged chain with the left mouse button and then hit the spacebar for each new skill as it is displayed through the chaining.  When the mob gets close, I hit the right mouse button to initiate my melee chain, and after that, again, I only need press the spacebar to cycle through the different skills.

The page for chaining skills is set up pretty well (as the picture above shows), and it was easy to set up the full rotation through my skill progression.

Some may think that only hitting a few buttons would be boring in the long run, but I haven't really found it so.  For one thing, I have to be constantly diligent of the movement of whatever I'm fighting.  Mobs in this game tend to rush and jump about, and I need to be sure I'm initiating the right chain at the right time.  Also, I have to keep a steady eye on my MP levels.  If my mana drops too low, I have to break the skill chain and start using Rapid Fire or normal attacks to build it back up.  And, there is always the fact that some fights just aren't "normal" fights, so I have to be ready to adjust on the fly.  This has really been the part of combat in TERA that I have loved.  You must pay attention and be ready to adjust on a moment's notice; otherwise, you will quickly find yourself staring at a gray death screen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

[Elder Scrolls] Newest Info.

Game Informer magazine came out with a lot of basic information about the upcoming Elder Scrolls MMO (I found an easy to read list over at, and after looking over some of the details, there were a few that stood out to me.

The game is fully voice acted

After playing SWTOR and experiencing how questing can be with full voice acting, this excites me.  I really am having a harder and harder time with the "wall o' text" quests in WoW, Rift, TERA, etc.

Visually it looks like other Hero Engine MMOs like SWTOR
The general art style is kind of like RIFT or Everquest 2

These two statements bothered me just a bit; not because of the statements they were making but the fact that this game could so easily be compared to other MMO's already on the market.  This may not be a good thing when the current state of many MMO players is in essence "give me something new!"

You can't be a werewolf or vampire

Well, there goes all the fun I had of living in caves during the day then sneaking into towns and drinking the blood of some unsuspecting, sleeping villager . . . boo!

There most likely won't be dragons

This almost seems like a step backward.  Skyrim had dragons, and they were pretty awesome.  I can remember in Morrowind and Oblivion folks crying out for dragons.  Skyrim gave them to us; now they are taking them back?

Sneaking will be in the game, but how it is implemented is undecided

This could be really good or really bad depending on how it is implemented.  If it is implemented like it is in some of the stealth games out there - Hitman, Thief, etc. - then it could be really good.  If, instead, they implement it like they have stealth for rogues in WoW, it will be pretty much useless except for a couple attacks that gain more power.  I would love to see a fully implemented stealth system with light and shadow being a factor.  I would even love to see alternate ways of doing quests based on stealth instead of fighting, but I really doubt they will put that much into this aspect of the game.

There will be no player housing

Why not??  Seriously, why not?  I really think Bethesda will be giving up on a virtual gold mine by not implementing some type of player housing.  Since Oblivion, this has been one of the big pulls in the Elder Scroll series.  If you've read then you know how I feel about player housing.  My views have not changed . . . I WANT PLAYER HOUSING!!

"It needs to be comfortable for people who are coming in from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanisms, but it also has to appeal to Skyrim players."

Refer back to my second point above.  It seems from some of these comments that the core of the ES-MMO is going to be much like the core of a lot of other MMO's, nothing revolutionary.  I'm not sure how well this will fly in the current market; back in 2007 when the project was started, it would have been a good way to go about it, but not now.

-There are three player factions:
--Ebonheart Pact: The Nords, Dunmer, and Argoninans
--Aldmeri Dominion: Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajit
--Daggerfall Covenant: Bretons, Redguard, and Orcs

I've thought quite a bit about how MMO's have this tendency to split players into factions based on race.  I don't really understand it.  This is certainly not how the "real" world works.  In fact, I think it would be very hard to find any one complete race where all its members would fall into a single "faction" of any sort.  Why don't MMO developers simply allow players to begin the game without a faction and then to join a faction as they progress?  Why do I have to play an Altmer, Bosmer, or Khajit to be in the Aldmeri Dominion?  Why can't my Redguard decide to be a mercenary who is working for the Aldmeri Dominion because they simply pay better than any other faction?  This I think would be a great way to handle factions.

you don't necessarily pick up a quest to do the following, but if you kill all the necromancers in an undead barrow, a shade you free at the end will reward you.
-However, to help you find these events, various NPCs you talk to will tell you where they are happening and put a marker pointing them on your map, which is obviously totally different than receiving a quest.

I really hope the last statement here was sarcasm; I can't really tell with the short blurb that was included, but this sounds almost exactly like a quest; tell me about what needs doing and point to it on my map.  Now, the fact that I can simply stumble upon these "events" (I guess that's what we can call them since they are certainly NOT quests) is a bit different than what I've seen, so that may be a new wrinkle to this game.

The game uses MMORPG genre standards such as classes, experience points, and other traditional MMORPG progression mechanics, but they try to present it "around the core fantasy presented by traditional Elder Scrolls games" such as traveling around and righting wrongs or seeking riches

Righting wrongs and seeking riches!  Finally, an MMO that lets me do that . . . oh, wait.  Isn't this the goal of, like, all of them?  So, in other words, this statement could read: "The game does everything else the other MMORPG games do in pretty much the same way, but we do it differently by giving you the same goals as the other MMORPG games."

There was a lot more to the list, and you are welcome to read it all for yourself, but a lot of it was about PvP which simply doesn't interest me much at all; however, I understand that it is supposed to resemble PvP in DAoC.  From everything I've read (I've never played that one), this is a good thing.  So, if PvP is your game, then you will probably find something to like about the ES-MMO.

As for me, I'm a bit less excited now.  I have really enjoyed the Elder Scrolls games in the past, and I'm sure I'll give this one a go when it finally releases, but overall, it is really not sounding like much of an Elder Scrolls game at all.  In fact, it is sounding much more like another, dare I say it, WoW-clone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

[TERA] Bastion of Lok - My 1st Dungeon

As predicted yesterday, I was able to run my first dungeon in TERA last night.  Actually, I ran it twice, once with a full group at level and again with a mid-30's level warrior who blew through just to finish quests and get loot drops.  Though a bit hectic, I did enjoy the runs through.  It was very interesting to see the differences in running instances in TERA and other games I've played, and it was educational to see how I would have to play my Archer differently with a group compared to solo.

First, a little about the dungeon itself.  The instance is called the Bastion of Lok, and it is a large cave complex where the Devas, a demon race from what I can ascertain, are gathered in an attempt to resurrect their dead god/lord, Lok.  As you enter the dungeon, you are met with a short cut-scene that explains that the inner sanctum of the cave is protected by a door shielded by an elemental.  Thus, your first goal is to kill the elemental boss.

After a mixture of trash pulls, we came to the first boss who constructs in the middle of the room.  This is an impressive dungeon boss.  He is big, and he has a lot of spinning and glowing parts that just add to this sense of awe.  We defeated him easily, opening the door to the inner sanctum.

After several more trash pulls, completing quests along the way, we came to the last boss, which, after fighting for a bit, turned out to be a dual boss encounter.  It started by killing a large monster called a "Blooded Vulcan," and as it got close to death, the leader of the Devas comes to "take care of the issue himself."  This fight, while a bit more complex than the first, was still pretty easy from my point of view.  Granted I'm playing a ranged dps class, so I may have missed some of the intricacies that only the tank or perhaps melee would have seen.

After finishing the first run, the one with the full party of five at the appropriate level, I sat back to reflect on the experience.

My Reflections

I decided first that I enjoyed the overall dungeon experience in TERA.  While there were some real differences between it and the dungeon experience in WoW, there were enough similarities that I didn't feel uncomfortable with stepping in for the first time.  I thought that both bosses were large and imposing, and I like those qualities in dungeon bosses; I want to feel like I'm killing the big baddies.  The trash pulls were pretty chaotic to begin.  I'm so ingrained in the culture created over the years in WoW where focus firing is of utmost importance that it took me a bit to adjust to simply attacking.  I still tried to stay on one target at a time, but with the amount of movement involved for most of the mobs, I can honestly say that it was hard to do consistently.

I was not overly impressed with the visuals throughout the dungeon.  With the beautiful and varied landscapes presented in the "outside" world, I was really expecting something special in the first dungeon a player encounters.  However, the constant cave walls with scant decorations were not exactly impressive.  The room with the final boss was a bit better with an elaborate throne area along one wall, but that wasn't really enough to redeem the dungeon as a whole.

Moving around constantly during boss fights was interesting.  I've played a hunter in WoW, and I can remember a lot of fights where I could simply stand in one spot and hit the same 2-3 buttons in rotation.  This was not the case with either of the bosses in BoL.  Both bosses moved frequently and violently, jumping and/or charging toward and away from players.  This required constant diligence on my part to stay in range and to stay away from the damage dealing abilities.  I really liked this dynamic during the fights.

I can't wait to try the next dungeon.  I hope the visuals are more appealing.  And, of course, I always like the loot drops from dungeon bosses.  During my two runs, I was able to get a blue quality bow and gloves which really added to my current gear set.

Monday, May 7, 2012

TERA - Initial Impressions

Over the weekend, I found myself browsing around in our local video game store while my son was picking out an XBox game to buy with a gift card he'd been given as a gift.  As I was looking around, I saw several posters, advertisements, etc. about TERA Online.  Now, I have read some stuff about TERA, so I wasn't completely clueless about the game, but up until I saw it in the shop, I hadn't really considered it as an option for me.

So, call it an impulse buy, general boredom, or what-have-you, I decided to take the plunge and buy TERA to try it out.  I figured with the 30-days of play that came with the purchase of the game, I was only out the $40 for the box if it was totally horrible and I never played again.

Installation went easily enough, and after an hour or so of installing, patching, setting up an account, etc. I was creating my first character.  I played through the weekend, and now I have a level 21 Archer waiting for me when I get home this evening.  From my two full days of play (minus Saturday evening when I was raiding DS on WoW), I took away some positives and negatives about TERA.


1.  Graphics - This game looks AMAZING!!  I really love the art, and everything is rendered to a wonderful degree.  I literally found myself just sitting and looking at a panoramic vista from the top of a hill several times.  The visuals do have the "dream" quality I've come to expect from asian anime type art, but I've always liked that style, so I'm really finding it appealing.  The first Pegasus ride I took from the starter island over to the mainland was especially nice as I got to enjoy the scenery while flying.

2.  Combat - I had read a little about the combat in TERA and how it was "live action."  I didn't really know what that meant until I started playing.  From the very beginning, the combat feels good.  I enjoyed the fact that I had to keep moving so I wouldn't get hit, and I enjoyed having to make sure several enemies were lined up together to use certain AoE type attacks.  I'm playing an Archer, and so far, I'm really enjoying the combination of long-range and short-range fighting techniques used in tandem.  I don't think the combat is vastly different than other MMO's I've played; you still have to press buttons that go on cool-down in a rotation, but the fact that there is no auto-attack and no lock-targeting make you think a bit more about what it is you are doing.  Even regular trash fights while questing have a bit of an "epic" feel to them.

3.  Crafting - So far, I've not done a ton of crafting; I think my highest skill is somewhere around 60 right now, but the way in which the crafting is done is pretty good.  It is simple to understand, and everyone can do everything, no picking only certain crafts to pursue.  However, so far, I've not started training all of them because they are quite expensive in both materials that must be farmed and in coins to buy the reagents that are needed to complete any pattern.  At the same time, it is also complex enough, with pieces coming from several different sources, that it was enjoyable.

4.  Leveling - I feel like the speed for leveling is pretty good so far.  I didn't fly through the first 10 levels like I do in WoW, but at the same time, I didn't feel like there was ever a time when the leveling was dragging.  I found that I remained in a questing area or hub about as long as I would expect, and in each one, the quests ramped up in difficulty as I played.  All of this felt right to me, and thus the leveling experience as a whole, at least through the first 20 levels, has been very smooth.


1.  Character Models - As anyone who keeps up with MMO's knows, there has been quite a stir across the internet about some of the character models used in TERA.  Accusations have ranged from "cheap and tawdry" all the way to "pedophilia," and I would agree that the character models are a bit over the top.  As I was starting the game and trying to make my first character, I went through all of the races and classes to see what was offered.  As I was going through, I literally laughed at several of the character models just because of the ridiculousness of them.  For instance:

This is the High Elf Sorceress model.  Obviously, there is an emphasis on showing skin here with cleavage all the way to the belly-button and a slit in the skirt up to her hip.  While I'm not necessarily offended by this, I certainly don't prefer it in my video games.   A second example (and this one really made me laugh):

This is the Castanic Archer.  As I scrolled through the different races and classes, I already had an idea I wanted to play an Archer to begin, so I was looking at this class especially.  I had already been thinking that the armor was wholly inappropriate for any actual combat, but when I saw this guy in his purple leopard print onesie I knew this was the character for me!  I mean if I'm trying to hide in the woods and underbrush and fire my bow from safety, I'm sure purple leopard would be the perfect camoflague.  I had to show this one to my wife because I simply couldn't believe it was for real.

Ultimately, the character models are not what I would choose; however, I noticed that once I got into the game I really didn't even pay attention to that anymore.  So, while this is a negative, it is not one that will make me quit playing.

2.  Chat - I really thought I had seen the worst of in-game chat while playing WoW, but I was soooo wrong.  The chat channel in the newbie area alone is full of cursing, arguing, trolling, and every other type of unsavory communication imaginable.  It did get a little better after moving to the main continent, but even there, I started wondering how anyone was getting any playing done with all of the inane comments.  The up-side of this is my conviction that with the number of total ass-hats on the chat in TERA, Barrens is finally safe!

**As a side-note, because there is a "newbie" island where everyone starts and levels for the first 11 levels, gold-spammers are essentially non-existent after you leave the starter area.  They don't seem to want to spend the time leveling for 11 levels just to be banned shortly after hitting the mainland.  Whether this was intended or not by the developers, it is a pretty nice set-up.

3.  Quests - I had read before playing TERA that the quests were pretty generic with no good story-line through them.  I would agree with this; however, I'm not sure it is any worse than other MMO's I've played.  I've never been one to pore over quest texts, and the same holds true here.  There is a story that goes through the quests I've been through thus far - it seems that they are all leading up to the first dungeon, Bastion of Lok, that becomes available at level 20.  There are still the pre-requisite "FED-EX" quests, the "kill 10" quests, and the "go talk to that guy" quests that all MMO's seem to have in spades.  There have also been a couple escort type quests which have been especially annoying because invariably the npc being escorted walks like an old woman with two bad hips.  I've never seen an npc moving so slowly!


Overall, I would say my experience with TERA has been positive.  Positive enough to continue playing after the first 30 days?  I'm not sure yet.  I am really looking forward to trying my first dungeon now that I'm level 21.  Last night, I saw that I had the required gear score to enter the dungeon, but by then I was out of time for the evening.  I hope to find a good group to run it this evening though grouping can be a bit of a chore it seems since there is essentially only one tanking class, the Lancer.

If you have played TERA, what are you impressions?  Do you think it is worth a subscription?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elder Scrolls . . . MMO?

So, it seems the big news for many fans of RPG video games is the official announcement of an Elder Scrolls MMO.  So far the reactions I've read have been mixed between those who love the universe and MMO's and want to see the two joined together and those who love Elder Scrolls but think any game in MMO form ruins it.  I am firmly in the first camp.  I have played through large sections of three of the Elder Scrolls games:

My first experience with the Elder Scrolls universe, and I absolutely loved it!  Sure, there were too many cliff racers and the graphics were a bit blocky (though awesome for when it was released), but I absolutely loved the open world and all of the options.

After playing many hours in Morrowind, I bought Oblivion immediately when it hit the shelves, and I enjoyed it as well.  Now, player housing had been added and the graphics were much better, but the story and gameplay were just not quite as intriguing as Morrowind.  Still it was a great game, and I really enjoyed it (I mean, I could become a vampire!  How could I not enjoy it?)

And of course, the latest installment, Skyrim.  Again, I purchased this one as soon as I was able . . . in this case a pre-release purchase through Steam, and as soon as I could I started playing.  Skyrim really brought together the good from each of the titles that came before it, and I thought (and continue to think) that it was a great game.

Now, I find out that Bethesda is not only thinking of releasing an Elder Scrolls MMO, but that it is already in the works . . . I love it!

I've read some complaints about how there is no way that an MMO can capture the same remarkable single-person experience that has been the hallmark of the Elder Scrolls series; however, I remember thinking the same thing before World of Warcraft first came out.  After having played all of the Warcraft games before it, I couldn't imagine an MMO that would work in that universe, but work it has.  So, I will definitely hold judgement this time on what is possible until I've read more about this project.

But, for now . . . Status: Hopefully Optimistic

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Children's Week

As anyone who plays WoW should know, Children's Week is back up and running.  This is one of the annual week-long events that take place throughout the year, but this one is not intended to celebrate a major holiday.  Instead, this one seems to be more of a "feel good" event . . . with MINI-PETS!!

I have to admit . . . I'm a WoW mini-pet collector.  I love the little varmints, and I have been actively collecting them ever since the change that allowed me to have multitudes of them without taking up my precious bag/bank spaces.  So, with my addiction in full gear last night, I started the arduous process of finishing the Children's Week "fed-ex" quests so I could finally get the last two pets I had been missing from this event.

I was actually a bit intrigued by the "vanilla" quest line, since I recently switched my main character from Horde to Alliance.  I had never done the Children's Week quests (or any of the annual events) with an Alliance toon, and I actually got to see some stuff that I had not seen in the game before last night.

First, Westfall has changed.  Yes, I know many of the old areas changed with Cataclysm, but I wasn't really prepared for all the new buildings and fortifications around Sentinel Hill.  Back when the level cap was only 60, I remember spending many hours in and around Sentinel Hill looking for the always elusive "VC run".  Now, that fledgling waypoint has become almost a full-blown town.

Second, I never knew that a path to Old Ironforge had been opened below the throne room in Ironforge.  It was a neat experience to go down into the bowels of the city to find a diamond statue of Bronzebeard.  I've always been a sucker for hidden areas in games, books, movies, etc. and while I know this area is accessible to any Alliance character, it felt like I was finding a secret area.

Unfortunately, the Shattrath City quests were the same as I remembered from doing them in previous years, but they didn't seem to take me too long to complete (except trying to find a good way into Exodar . . . man, that place is remote), and before long I had the two pets I needed to complete the "Children's Week Collection" and bring my personal collection up to 173 pets.

Without further ado:

Whiskers the Rat!


Legs the, um, Swampwalker thingie??

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Blogger's Initiative

FINALLY!!  I started this blog several years ago, but only posted a couple times, then recently I gave it another go with the focus on MMO games.  Unfortunately, I didn't know how to get folks to come over and read what I wrote, and I can only read my own stuff so many times.  So, long story short, my blog was again dying.  In fact, this is my first post since back in February.

Now, I read from Syp over at Bio Break (a regular read of mine) about the New Blogger Initiative!  This is exactly the thing I had been looking for to possibly get my name on the map.  So, a big thanks to those who are supporting this idea with a special call-out in my mind to the West Karana blog.  Tipa, if you read this, I want you to know that you are the reason I started reading gaming blogs and the reason that I started playing Wizards101 for a time.  So, thanks for all the blog posts and the inspiration.  (Fan-boy moment over!)

Hopefully, the stuff I write here will be high enough in quality and content that people will continue to read it.  Here's hoping for the best!

P.S.  - If you have the time, check out some of the older posts I've written with the link below.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Player Housing

I want player housing! I want it in SW:ToR, and horror of horrors, I want it in WoW. I know that many consider this no more than "waste of time fluff," but honestly, why else do I play games except to waste time. I want to be able to create my own domain and set it up the way I want. I want to have to collect items for my home from drops, or I want to be able to craft those items through a laborious yet rewarding crafting system . . . or both. I want to be able to place stuff in my home where I want it and make the place uniquely mine. I want housing!
I have always wondered why this isn't a priority for WoW and now also for SW:ToR, but I guess when you have over a million players (many more in WoW's case) without it, do you really need to fix what doesn't seem to be broken? But, I love housing.
I've played a few games with player housing, and every time, I find myself spending a lot of my in-game time on decorating and redecorating my home, not to mention the time I spend acquiring the items I use in this decoration. One game I've played with pretty decent player housing is Wizard101. This is very much a "kid-centered" game. At best, I can say that the combat is "cute;" the characters are "fun," and even the housing is not the end-all of how housing should be. However, even here, I have spent hours setting up my house to my liking.
Of course I had to choose the "Death" house as the perfect abode for my Necromancer, and I have worked hard to acquire all the requisite skulls, tombstones, and skeletons to make it appropriately "death-y." It is amazing how often I have repeated content, something that I'm not usually very keen on, simply to get a purely cosmetic drop for my home. Having a house motivated me to play this game long beyond the point when I would have quit otherwise. Even now, when I no longer have an active account and have no desire to reopen one, I still pop in occasionally to check out my house and bask in my decorating abilities.
Of course, anyone who has played Skyrim has had some experience with player housing as well. Yes, I'm aware that one can't really place items as he would want within the house since leaving and returning or logging out and back into the game must produce a high level seismic activity with the fault-line directly under my home, thus depositing all of my well-placed items into a heap of so much rubbish in the middle of the floor; however, I still enjoy having a place to call my own.
In fact, I've gone so far as to buy a couple different homes in Skyrim, and I use them both. I spend so much time moving things around, storing them in containers within my home, and organizing to my heart's content. I'm not even very picky about how player housing is implemented . . . as long as I can have a place to call my own and I can decorate it as I would like, then . . . then, I'll be happy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rift Trial

Now that Rift has gone Free-to-Try for the first 20 levels, I thought that I would give it a shot. I've read a lot about it, and while I know that it has been heralded as "the best of the WoW clones," I wanted to see for myself exactly what it was all about.
So, after the hour it took to download and patch the game (which was quite a bit shorter than the time it has taken to do the same with WoW and SW:ToR in the past), I started creating my first character.
For some reason, I felt like going with a female character. I am male, and I almost always play male characters in any game, but for some reason, the male models just didn't appeal to me at all, so I went with a female instead. I did like the fact that there were more customization options than in WoW. I like for my characters to look the way I want them to, and Rift seems to provide more of that than WoW.
After getting my character created and entering into the game, I took a few minutes to adjust the graphics to the Ultra setting and set up a few key-bindings. All of this was easy to find and adjust, though there were several menu options that I just wasn't sure what they were for; hopefully, I will find that out as I keep playing. I was immediately hit by how similar the play was to WoW. As soon as my character was "created" (or reborn as the story goes), I was staring at a quest giver with a bright icon over his head to tell me he was there.
I sometimes miss the days when you actually had to talk to all the NPC's in a room to find any available quests, but I understand the attraction to a more stream-lined game play. I do have to say that the icon used to denote quest givers is much more visible than in SW:ToR . . . in fact, I almost missed a quest in Hoth yesterday because the little yellow triangle didn't show up well against the plain white background.
Upon accepting my first quest (and several more after that), I realized how much I have been enjoying the dialogue-laden quest givers in SW:ToR, and how much I did NOT miss the "read this short blurb and try to figure out what you are doing" approach of WoW and now apparently, Rift.
Simply stated, this is not nearly as fun or immersive as being able to dialogue with the NPC's. I even made the comment to my wife that SW:ToR may have spoiled me as far as the way I believe games should go about presenting quests.
The next thing I noticed as I started into the game was the armor I began to pick up from drops and quest rewards. Being a female character, I was expecting to have some armor that was a bit more revealing than I was used to on a male character, that's just the way these fantasy worlds work; however, even as a male, I was a bit appalled when I equipped a pair of "pants" that dropped for me only to find that they were basicly panties. I forgot to take a screen shot of the actual panties my character was wearing, but this sampling of outfits from should give some idea:
I was honestly thinking to myself, "I hope my wife doesn't look at the screen; that would be embarrassing." I mean, I'm sure some 12 year old boys might find that appealing, but as a middle-aged man, it just made me uncomfortable for my character (male or female) to be dressed in such a manner.
Moving on from the armor, I completed a few quests and leveled up a few times. I have to say that I do like the soul-tree format. The skills that are "turned on" in the roots of the tree are a neat idea, and while I generally like doing research and finding out the "best" spec for my desired play-style, the fact that the game suggested what talents I should take based on my preference of style was pretty helpful, since I didn't want to take the time to do a lot of research for a game I'm only test-driving.
All in all, I would say my first experience with Rift was a mediocre one. It feels very much like WoW reskinned, and while there are some neat little differences, for the most part I don't see myself paying for another subscription game when I can just play WoW and get the same experience. I haven't faced any actual rifts or run any dungeons, etc. so I am holding out on a final judgment until I've seen some of that content, since the rifts, in particular, are really the "selling point" for the game, but for now, I'm not all that impressed.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A New Addiction

During Christmas, my wife and I were gifted an iPad that we intended to share. For the first month, I've done very little with the device because the majority of the time I'm on my desktop or laptop playing some type of video game . . .

However . . . that all changed when I read a little about Infinity Blade II and decided to give it a try. Now, I had never played Infinity Blade, so I was going in completely unaware of what to expect, but so far, I can hardly put the game down. In fact, last night, I found myself playing IB II while sitting in my computer chair with my SW:TOR character just idling.

This game has really fascinated me in a number of different ways, and that got me thinking about why exactly I like this game since it is basicly just repeating the same area over and over.

1. The graphics are superb. Granted, there are not a ton of varied environments or anything since you play through the same scenerio multiple times, but I think the environments that are there are very well rendered.

2. The opponents are ALL epic. Every warrior or monster I face feels and looks like a real challenge. They are bigger than my character, and many of them look mean with spikes, teeth, claws, large weapons, or a combination of all of these.

3. Finding random treasure has never been so fun! The dynamic in this game for finding random treasure is to quickly click on it as your character moves through a "cut-scene" from boss to boss. If it weren't for this feature, I probably wouldn't pay much attention between the bosses, but this keeps me engaged.

4. I love that my gear levels up. It is a really neat concept that I gain XP as my gear gains XP. There is also a lot of gear that has some very unique visuals.

5. Insta-death exists. I've come up against a few things that kill me pretty quickly, and I've died a time or two simply from exploring, but since I just start back over at the same spot with all of my money, gear, etc. in tact, it doesn't feel to penalizing. It does, however, add to nervousness factor as I explore through.

I don't think I've ever been as intrigued by a game before. Looking at this game on the surface, I should hate it . . . It is definitely on rails; I like a bit more sandbox . . . there are no quests and no real story-line . . . I am repeating the same area over and over . . . I like a more strategy oriented combat instead of live-action . . . but I'm loving it!