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Update on my Landmark Life

keen-landmark-garden

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Landmark.  Yep, I’m still playing!  I’m eagerly awaiting the upcoming patches, though.  Right now the game is still all about gathering some resources and making nice looking things.  Every time I write about Landmark I seem to say the same thing: I can’t make nice looking things.  Nothing has changed, but that’s okay.

Thinking back to the hundreds of hours spent in Minecraft, very little of it was spent making nice looking things.  Most of it was spent making things that do something.  I never cared that my house looked a certain way — I cared that inside was an automatic machine that processed my ore and sorted it into chests.

I look at my little garden I made in Landmark a couple nights ago, and I wished that I could make something that harvested the plants.  Heck, I wish the plants grew.  I like tinkering and decorating, not building.  The difference makes sense to me, and hopefully you get what I’m trying to say.

The near future of Landmark is going to be exciting.  Caves are being added, and that means I can go out and explore.  I hope they move resources underground and introduce rare items. I want to be the guy that finds the rare gems and sells them to the people who have the ability to make them look nice on a bookshelf.  I want to find rare recipes, discover unseen caves, bring back treasures, etc.  All in due time.

Keen-powered-pulverizer

Say hello to MY little friend!

Right now my current project is an underground gnome city.  I’m thinking lots of glowing gems, lights, little houses, etc.  It’ll resemble something between Mekalia and Ak’anon. My hope is that by putting it underground I can rely on the intentional imperfect look to disguise my crude building skills!

I just made a Legendary Powered Pulverizer.  I’m quite proud of the fact that I got it on my first try, and horribly saddened by the fact that it will be gone when they wipe next. :(

In general, I do feel inclined to spend less time in Landmark.  I don’t want to burn out on what’s currently in the game while waiting for more of the types of things I enjoy.  My current plan is to hop in at least 2-3 times a week for an hour or more and just continue working slowly on my little projects.

Mixed Feelings On Elder Scrolls Online

Keen and I tried out the ESO beta this past weekend. I hadn’t had any prior experience with it so I was very curious about how it played. After the experience I was left with some mixed feelings on the game and I’m still not entirely sure if I like it or not.

Classes

I am a little bothered that there are only four classes. Usually in ES games you get offered a full list of options or you can just straight up make your own. I usually like playing some kind of battle mage but I’m not entirely sure how to go about doing that. From what I understand if I want to be able to cast spells without a staff then I need to start out as a sorcerer and then I can just equip whatever weapon I want along with some heavy armor. It sounds simple enough but I have to wonder about the viability of that kind of build. I don’t know how tough a sorcerer is compared to the more melee-oriented classes. You can’t really start out as one of them and then learn magic since you are stuck with your core class skills. You could use a staff to get some magic but a dude in heavy armor with a staff is just weird. Maybe there’s a lot more flexibility to the system and certain combinations are more viable than I think, but  honestly I just wish they had gone with an entirely skill based progression system rather than limited class options. [Read more...]

My Mixed ESO Emotions

I must confess I am having mixed feelings about The Elder Scrolls Online.  I recently wrote my opinion on the 1-20 experience during beta.  I was pretty bored with most of it — lots of boring quests, being guided by the nose, etc. — but I never tried the PvP.  A while back I wrote how the PvP looked awful on paper.  One big server, campaigns, etc.

I don’t know how I feel now.  I’ve watched the PvP streams and the combat looks fun.  Siege weapons look great — those trebs and catapults are pretty cool.  I admit to wishing I was playing in the PvP right now.  Unfortunately, I am stuck without a gaming computer while our leaking roof dries.

My PvP concerns:

  • Zerg PvP is both boring and frustrating.  I see quite a bit of it going on.
  • Door Wars.  Bashing on doors all day.
  • AoE and Ranged being the only way to truly participate.

Anyone care to share a personal experience that will alleviate any of my concerns?

I like the recent announcement that the starter islands will be optional.  Then there’s this whole idea floating around out there that the PvE game opens up and becomes less themepark questing and more traditional Elder Scrolls.  Is there any truth to that?  If so, I can push past 20 levels of crap for 30 levels of fun.   My spidey-sense tells me something is amiss and that I should be cautious.

That’s where I’m at.  I’m trying to work through all of these contradicting feelings and opinions.  I’m currently hovering around the middle ground between ‘stay the heck away’ and ‘give it a shot’ … but slightly toward staying away.   Your thoughts are most definitely welcome.

Landmark Oceans

I am very much in love with the idea of having water in Landmark.  Water is planned for phase 2 as detailed in the recently published roadmap.  These continents we live on will hopefully be surrounded by water.  The only real hint we have right now is this teaser quote:

Oceans: These are static bodies of water surrounding the islands. When oceans show up, we can start doing interesting things with our coastlines and real estate choices will be a lot more interesting.

I’m going to let my imagination spin up and tell you how I see this all playing out.

Imagine the continetns are surrounded entirely by water yet connected via zone lines like you have probably experienced in the EverQuest franchise, Vanguard, or even WoW.  Swim our far enough and you can technically swim to another island or continent.  What if you could do more than swim…

BOATS! Or Ships.

Crafting a ship on top of a hull could allow for awesome personalization.

What if you could make ships and sail around the water?!  These could be hand-crafted like something you would see right out of minecraft.  Players could craft a very particular piece of a boat like a basic hull and then be allowed the freedom to spend resources on the boat to make it look however they want. A simple checks and balances could be implemented so that the bigger the boat (the more resources/voxels attached) the slower it goes or the more upkeep must be spent to maintain the boat’s presence in the world.

Boats could be crafted like anything else and use a lot of resources or rare recipes.

The other option would simply be to make them craftable like props.  Find the rare schematics for bigger boats, spend a TON of resources on them, and pay a huge upkeep like you would a claim. Heck, make the boat actually take up one of your claims just to activate it and tie it to your character.

I imagine sailing around finding a place to drop anchor and dive into the water to find resources.  I can think of ways to implement fishing, under-water resource gathering, and all sorts of sailing mechanics.

Smaller Islands

If done well, the oceans could be significant in size around each continent.  This would open up the opportunity for little archipelagos all around the each continent for people to explore, find resources, and settle on.  I would sail my boat around to each of them just for fun.

Sea Monsters. RAWR!

When combat is implemented into the game, imagine the opportunity for sea creatures.  Even UO manages to pull this off with monsters staying in the water shooting at players on a ship.  They could drop scales used for crafting, props for decorating houses, and other resources.  Or maybe they just guard neat islands.

Water Claims and Player Created Islands

What if the oceans could be colonized and claimed?  I imagine this being identical to how land is claimed right now.  You take your flag, and claim water.  You can claim on the water and above or sink your claim down in for an under-water base.  My guild was talking last night about our plans to hopefully one day be able to place our claims all next to each other and create an island nation.  Imagine being able to place the blocks for ground of the island, or create a floating city.  So much creative energy can go into imagining how existing systems can be implemented in cool ways.

All of this works toward achieving the goal many of us players have of seeing Landmark start to feel connected like a real, big world.  The emphasis stays entirely on ‘living’ in this version of Norrath rather than on just one thing like combat or advancement.  Crafting, exploration, and building remain paramount.

Elder Scrolls Online Beta Impressions

The Elder Scrolls Online NDA has dropped so I guess that means it’s time to give my opinion.  You won’t be surprised to hear that I am disappointed by what I’ve seen so far.  No, I haven’t played a ton like some of the diehard fans out there.  I participated in a few of the test weekends, leveled up as much as I could stand, ran around and explored as much as I could, but I didn’t try out the PvP.

ESO is incredibly linear.  This is such a hard pill for me to swallow.  I wanted so badly to run around Tamriel and experience the world as it has been experienced for over a decade, but it’s simply not a sandbox.  The leveling is quest-driven with a forced path of progression.  Someone who knows more than I can help me clarify, but I felt like the game used phasing a lot in the first couple of zones.  Lots of people popping in and out of obvious phased areas.  The story is too forcefully delivered, and I found myself wanting to click past forced dialog like I did in SWTOR.

I can’t decide if the combat is awful or just needing improvement.  I like how it’s closer to The Elder Scrolls series, but the animations were not up to par.  Animations felt janky, and on more than one occasion the combat devolved into me standing still swinging my weapon just waiting for things to die.  I tried just about all of the weapon types and none of them felt great. I was underwhelmed by the overemphasized combat — that’s really key.  The Elder Scrolls series, although full of combat, could be played for hours without even using a weapon.  I never felt that way in ESO.  The NPCs and story wanted me to always be out killing something.

PvP looks like GW2′s Door Wars 2.0.  I haven’t experienced it myself, but the recent videos out there show some moments that do actually look fun.  I think it’s hard to say sitting back and shooting people off walls with a bow and arrow isn’t exciting — I like that stuff — but I have to look at the game as a whole and realize those moments are just that: moments.

Although I could pick apart individual mechanics for days and shred them for spending their budget in all the wrong places, there are important questions to ask.  Is ESO a good MMO?  No, not really.  Is ESO a good PvP game?  For some, but not me.  Is ESO fun?  There are moments where I can honestly say I do enjoy myself.  Not all of my enjoyment is tied to linearity, combat, and PvP.   And most importantly…

Will I buy ESO?  I think the whole “vote with your wallet” mantra is easier said than done.  Although I’m not excited enough to be anticipating ESO’s release, my own personal taste in games doesn’t always dictate my buying decisions.  I’m influenced by my friends, community, and Graev.  If Graev was to buy ESO, I might buy it too.  Even though I wouldn’t like quest grinding and some of the ways the combat plays out, jumping into a dungeon and slaying monsters together could still be a fun time.  Do that enough and the cost of entry is justified.  I’m a practical person, and there are situations in which buying ESO could be both fun and worth the price.  If one of those situations presents itself, you’ll all be the first to know.