Vanguard crafting

Tonight I popped back into Vanguard to do the crafting intro quests. I’d forgotten how complex the crafting system is. Basically its a turn-based mini-strategy game where you have a finite number of Action Points to create an item. You can spend these points to progress the item towards completion, or to try to improve the quality of the item. Sometimes bad things happen, and then you need to spend Action Points to counter the bad things. That’s a very, very brief overview.

I’ve been doing a lot of crafting in EQ2 recently and the differences & similarities of the two systems are interesting. EQ2’s system is a lot simpler (the current system…at launch it was quite complex) but happens in real time. You fire off skills to improve progress and durability. Durability goes down as progress goes up and the goal is to keep durability high while progress climbs from zero. Sometimes bad things happen, and then you need to cast a skill to counter it.

So in both systems you need to get Progress to 100%. Both systems use raw materials to start the creation process. In Vanguard, you do what you can to improve Quality from Grade D to C to B to A. If you run out of Action Points, you fail to make anything. But there’s no timer… you can stop and ponder your next action for as long as you like. Some actions use various additives which are consumed in the process of crafting, and you can only bring a finite number of these additives into the crafting mini-game.

In EQ2, you strive to keep the Durability meter high. There are 4 ‘tiers’ of Durability and the quality of the finished product depends on what tier the Durability meter is in. At lower Tiers you’ll create nothing but might get some components back. At Tier 3 you’ll get a basic item, and at Tier 4 you’ll get a Pristine item (this varies with what you’re making..sometimes you’ll get a higher quantity rather than better quality). The limiting factor here is your mana, since casting skills use that up. And the clock is always ticking. You aren’t limited in the amount of time you take, but you are limited in the amount of time you have to react to bad things happening.

The EQ2 process quickly becomes fairly routine and doesn’t take much thought. It’s a good unwinding exercise; something you can do while chatting or just kind of zoning out and letting the cares of the day drain away. It’s very rare that you fail to make a Pristine item once you have the system down. And you can churn out item after item pretty quickly.

It’ll be interesting to see how Vanguard compares to this experience. Running through the newbie quests, I was fairly bewildered, and things are very simple at the start. Apparently the number of Actions available rises as you get to higher levels of crafting. At this stage, it’s more fun and interesting than crafting in EQ2, but I’m not sure if that’ll hold up when it comes time to grind for levels. One nice thing is that you can get Work Orders that don’t seem to require raw materials (and don’t produce anything usable) just to skill-up on. Of course, EQ2 has Work Orders as well, but they require raws. On the other hand they generate status for you and your guild, so there’s an added benefit to them.

Anyway, I just find the two systems from two SOE games to be similar in some ways and yet very different. I’m not sure how far I’ll get crafting in Vanguard for now, but I hope some time to be able to return and take it to higher levels.

Honestly, the lure of adventure is pretty strong right now. So many bizarre creatures out there to hunt!
Vanguard Moon

EDIT: Or not… logged back in to Train (because I know me, otherwise I’d forget) and got caught up in a bunch of crafting quests and did almost no more fighting!! Fun crafting quests, too. Helping build defenses for a village under attack by Hobgoblins. 🙂

Another MMO smorgasbord

The snow was coming down and we’d finished all the chores we’d set out to do this week, so today was a perfect “Stay home and play games” day.

Lots of tokens to spend!I started in EQ2 where Riowa ran that silly ice-instance *four* more times, twice each with two of Angela’s characters (one 80 and the other 60), and he finally made level 50. Yay! It took a couple of experience buff potions and the 5-year vet reward that replenishes your vitality to 100% to do it, but he made it. And promptly went to spend his *huge* horde of tokens on all kinds of new gear. Now of course he has to get to level 52 to actually *wear* his new stuff. 🙂

Then earlier this evening I dipped my head back into Vanguard again. Still very fun and I’m liking the bard’s song book (where you can combine melodies and embellishments to make just the song you want to make, with each part having a different buff associated). There are some things I really don’t understand and I think I’ll have to go read a Bard guide somewhere if I’m going to keep playing him. A tutorial pop-up told me I was going to learn my first “finishing move” but I’m not sure where that is, and there’s some little widget above my hot bar that gives me a 4% buff but doesn’t seem to be an ‘active’ control, so I’m not sure what’s up with it. The newbie island is (I think?) a new addition (at least, I don’t remember it from my time playing at launch) and it has a nice bunch of pretty linear “getting started” quests that both gear you up nicely and have a good storyline. I haven’t touched Crafting or Diplomacy yet…I’m not sure how ‘deep’ I want to get into the game give that I only have 30 days to play it. I’ve been delighted to find random named mobs in the wilds, and to get decent drops off them after I defeated them, without it being part of a Quest. And I have to admit to having a total nerdgasm the first time someone flew by on a Pegasus. I noticed the shadow on the ground first, then craned my neck up to see the steed far overhead. Since I was rounding up wayward chickens for a villager at the time, it was a truly aspirational moment and got me wondering if I could manage the cost of a Station Pass membership…

Finally, tonight I logged into Warhammer Online, planning to totally ignore Scenarios and RvR, which I did. The regional chat had me very happy to be doing this, as the idiots were fapping away at their epeens at a remarkable rate, with plenty of “lern 2 play!!1!omg!!” level accusations being thrown back and forth. Someone needs to teach these little cretins that sitting in front of a PC playing computer games does *not* make you a tough guy, and the level of testosterone they bring to the table just makes them look like idiots. And bragging about being drunk is just bragging about being too stupid to be able to control yourself and/or being too feeble to hold your liquor.

Ahem. Anyway…aside from the chat, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? Actually it was quite nice. I did a little quest line that takes you through “The Catacombs” to a back door of the “Grim Monastery,” clearing out various bad dudes as you go. The atmosphere was awesome (and got me thinking about Vampire Wars). Sadly it ended with a Champion level NPC that I couldn’t handle, but it made me really hope that Mythic at some point turns its talents to more PvE content. After I’d gotten as far as I could with that, I headed into High Pass and established a new base at Nuhr’s Crest.

All this fighting had me falling in love with the Witch Hunter battle mechanics once again; I just love the pistol/sword combination and building up Accusations to unleash onto your foes. One adjustment I really need to make, and I wonder if this is at the root of the “not enough PvE content to level” debate, is gettin used to the idea that you can fight well over your level in NPC combat. Gillain (my Witch Hunter) is level 18 and he’s fighting ogres around Nuhr’s Crest that are level 22 or 23 — in most games that’d mean a ton of downtime (or a ton of deaths) but in Warhammer it’s very manageable (social mobs are very rare and aggro ranges are very small), and of course the experience rewards are quite nice, particularly if you’re on “Rested” experience. Speaking of which, I had to run an errand in Altdorf, and when I got there I decided it’d be a good place to camp in order to get that bonus rested exp.

It was good to have pure PvE fun in Warhammer since it means I can get some use out of my 45 or so days left I have on the account. I’m unconvinced that the RvR enthusiasts will be around for years doing just RvR, so I’m hoping that as the game matures, Mythic will give some attention to PvE content. I mean think about it: how do other games keep players around? By releasing new content with new encounters to master. And by encounters, I mean new mobs that have new abilities and new weaknesses to discover. How do you go about adding new, fresh RvR experiences when the armies don’t change? But giving classes new abilities for every content push while keeping the sides balanced doesn’t seem like a viable course of action. I guess we’ll see. Maybe I’m just projecting in order to nurture my daydreams of a rich PvE MMO experience in the Warhammer universe that I’m growing so fond of (via the novels I’ve been reading). Eh, a man can dream, can’t he?

Meanwhile, in MMO land…

So lest you think all this Valkyria Chronicles talk means I’ve given up MMOs…

The other day I logged into Warhammer and *gasp!* found a group, finished a few quests, and gained a level. That said, I think I’m done. I have to work too hard to find the fun in Warhammer, while it comes so easily in other games. And as I just commented over at Stylish Corpse, I don’t think I like the reality of RvR. Maybe I’d like it in Dofus where everything is turn-based, but I’m just not into the lag-fest chaos franticality (I need to submit that word to Websters) that is RvR/PvP in most MMOs. I suppose the fact that I *greatly* prefer turn-based combat in my single player RPGs speaks to that as well. But y’know, I’m *loving* these Warhammer novels to the point where I’m so glad I tried the game, even though I don’t really enjoy it. I never would’ve picked up the novels if I hadn’t been exposed to the lore in the game.

Over in EQ2, my Berserker is slogging forward. He’s a hair’s breath from level 49 and I need to get him to 50 before the Frostfell event ends. I’ve got over 50 tokens stored up to buy him all new gear once the next tier of stuff opens up. The other day he Mentored Angela’s level 18 Warden and in one session we got her to 23. It was fun to be the Mentor-er rather than the Mentor-ee for a change. 🙂 I guess I need to /claim my 5-year veteran award and get that charm that gives you 100% vitality once a week.

And, just because I’m me, I fired up Vanguard last night! It’s open to ex-players through the end of January (I think?) and I’ve been reading good things about it lately so figured I’d at least poke my nose in. The world looks fabulous (has it always looked this good? Maybe I just never had a graphics card capable of showing it at its best) but the avatars still bug me. The community seems pretty helpful and chatty. I rolled a Bard and he’s kind of a bad-ass. I might dip my head back in there again. I do still feel a lack of polish in interface tweaking and so forth, but the game ran pretty well once (I presume) a bunch of textures got cached. I hitched like mad for the first few minutes then everything smoothed out.

I also downloading Florensia, a free2play, but haven’t done much with it. It has naval battles, and I’m still trying to scratch the itch and Pirates of the Burning Seas just aggravated.

Poor LOTRO still awaits my attention. I *really* need to get back to that. I think I need to quit my guild, Soldiers of Valor though. I’ve been away long enough that it feels awkward to log in and have to answer all the questions about where I’ve been (or worse, “Who the heck are you?”), and while they’re a nice group of people (and if you’re looking for a guild on Landroval, do check them out!), I play LOTRO so infrequently that it really isn’t right that I’m in a guild, and I’ll never feel any kind of attachment to a guild until such time as I play more regularly.