Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Birthday Year in Review -- #Blaugust2021 Day 4

 It's my birthday! We've got a fun day planned and I even slept in a bit. So, it's time for a bit of a review. What a strange year it has been . . . and the theme of this year has been . . . 


. . . and dealing with the results of stress.

1- The Pandemic -- Just in general, being cooped up and working remotely has been pretty stressful for me. Trying to keep track of kids going to school remotely while working my job is not ideal. My wife is an educational assistant, so she worked at the school most of the year. I, on the other hand, pretty much was the only responsible parent around, and keeping the kids in check fell upon my shoulders. Add to this that I'm a people person, and being isolated wasn't great.

2- Hellish Power Outage -- I can't tell you how stressful that week was without power. The worry and helplessness that came from that was pretty real.  We worked it out, but that week had a long shadow.

3- Sell of KingsIsle -- The announcement that KingsIsle was being sold to Gamigo was a huge out of left field thing that kinda hit me with a right hook. I really had some heartbreak going on here because I love KingsIsle and for a while I felt like I was one of the faces of KingsIsle for so many players because of our KI Live Livestreams. It took a lot to say goodbye and realize that I wasn't going to be a part of that company anymore. I was also saying goodbye to so many friends and coworkers all at once.

4- Job Change -- I was safely picked up by the new company born out of the sale of KingsIsle, so I didn't miss any paychecks. In fact, I got a promotion out of it. But, there were a lot of unknowns that we all had to be patient about. What insurance do we have? What about my oodles of PTO? etc. etc.  It all got answered of course and everything worked out, but it just added to the stress.

5- Caffeine addiction -- I've often heard that video games are built on caffeine, but my caffeine and sugar addiction was real. I was doing stupid stuff too like drinking Coke back to back with eating jellybeans, so you know . . . it was a sugar addiction as well. Stress is bad enough, but there's nothing like a can of Coke to make you really feel that stress in your fingers and toes. It was leading to some pretty bad leg cramps in the middle of the night too, so you can add "interrupted sleep" to that list of stressors as well.

All of that was a disastrous cocktail leading up to the big crash in my life that I haven't really talked about on my blog yet.

6- Type 2 Diabetes -- A couple weeks after the hellish power outage, my body went into full rebellion and all of a sudden I just couldn't catch up to my thirst. I literally had 20 glasses of water that first day and I was still thirsty. I knew something was wrong, so I searched it online and that's when I knew . . . my stupid self had developed diabetes.  All the stress and sugar finally flipped the switch in my body and that was that. My father, mother, and one of my sisters all developed diabetes, and I should have been more careful because of this, but I didn't think about it.

I went to the doctor and he confirmed it . . . my blood was basically syrup in my veins at that point and it was so bad that I qualified for insulin. I didn't want insulin though, I wanted to go the diet route.

...and so I did.

The past 5 months has been a complete change for me as far as my diet goes. I've cut out sugar and carbs as much as I possibly can and created a diet that seems to work for me. My follow up visit with the doctor was a complete success. I dropped 40 pounds and got my blood sugar back to acceptable levels. I'm on Metphormin, which is actually a pretty common and cheap medicine to control diabetes, but I've had to make a complete life style change. So this year there won't be any traditional cake at my birthday. This year, the wife has a special "diabetic" cake for me as I head into my 50th birthday.

So I don't feel guilty when I say . . . this new birthday computer I'm typing on, with its $1000 video card inside and screaming speed, is so nice! 

It's a souped-up HP Omen . . . oh man, it's awesome!

I'm happy as can be. I'm in a better place now as I head into the back end of my life. Bring on the black balloons! Let's do this!

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Time Disappears in Risk of Rain 2 -- #Blaugust2021 Day 3

A couple months ago, I downloaded a game solely from the recommendation of my friend Jordon at work. We started working pretty closely together on the same Team right after our company was born from the ashes of when KingsIsle was sold to Gamigo. Jordon highly recommended Risk of Rain 2 to me and I had to give it a try. It sounded so outside my wheelhouse of usual games, but at the same time like something I'd totally enjoy. (Plus I think it was on sale if I remember right . . . ) Sold.

My first several runs at the game were absolutely brutal. I don't think I even made it past the first boss on my first few runs, and that's when it struck me exactly how challenging this game was and how that was exactly something I needed at the time. This scratched that itch in all the right ways. I've heard the original Risk of Rain was pretty epic as well . . . same game, but it was a 2D side scroller / platformer, but ROR2 takes all that goodness and rolls it into a 3rd person shooter.

I'm a cowboy robot fresh out of the escape pod. Let's do this!

The gist of Risk of Rain 2 here is that you're an expendable robot sent down to an alien planet that is none to happy you've arrived. Wave after wave of enemies pour out and attack you as an enemy difficulty slider continues to get harder and harder. While on the surface of the planet, you unlock crates in exchange for money you earned by killing aliens. Inside these crates you have power up items that give you various boosts. If you're lucky, those boosts will have the perfect synergy and you'll be an epic powerhouse, which can give you just the edge you need to survive. You'll need them because if at any time you die, you're done, roguelike style, and start over as a new expendable robot jettisoned to the planet surface.

$25 bucks for an awesome buff -- yes please!

My son was so happy to see my playing Risk of Rain 2. He's like, DAD! I HAVE THIS GAME AND I'VE NEVER PLAYED IT! That kid's steam account is much more prolific than mine to be honest. He has a group of friends that make big plans to play games together, which only occasionally come to fruition, but he's always prepared by purchasing the game on sale. So this one I actually got to play with my teenage son and totally played out this wholesome meme together.

So far the highest I've gotten in the game is level 20 somewhere in the "HAHAHAHA" difficulty level after expending an hour rolling around as a MUL-T robot exploding the most ridiculous of enemies. There's a ton of different robots you can play as, but I've only unlocked a few beyond the beginning set. 

I believe the world I ended my run on was the world right before the last one from what I've read. I'll get there eventually! This is definitely a game I'd love to quote unquote beat some day.  There are a ton of challenges to undertake and characters to unlock and I feel like I've only scratched the surface, which gives this game a ton of replayability . . . which you absolutely need in a roguelike.

Die mr. lightbulb head demon alien!

It's a great game that somehow scratches that exploration itch while also scratching that try-to-survive goodness from all roguelikes. For an old cat like me, I always go back to that original feeling from playing the game Smash TV or Zombies ate my Neighbor as a youth where you have these hoards of enemies crashing at you. 

What I don't like about Risk of Rain 2 is how completely sucked into the game I get and lose total track of time. It can eat an hour of my time and unlike most games, I just don't know where that time went.  It just doesn't feel like an hour after you finished playing. It just sucks time away in the most glorious of ways, and during Blaugust, with an already busy schedule, that's a bad thing. ;)

Where'd that hour go? Oh yeah . . . I was playing Risk of Rain 2 . . . huh.

All in all, it's a really fun game that will be there to haunt me until I face that final boss. I will succeed eventually, and it'll stay installed on my computer until that happens. If I get more father and son time out of it while I'm at it, I'll be happy knowing exactly where that hour of time went.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, August 2, 2021

That 40k a day in Pirate101 -- #Blaugust2021 Day 2

For the majority of Pirate101's life, it has had to fight tooth and nail for every added piece of content past (and including) Valencia Part 2. This beautiful game, which I love dearly, sits quietly in the long, long shadow of its popular sister, Wizard101.  It suffers from being so similar to Wizard101 that mainstream MMO players shy away from it, and yet so dissimilar from Wizard101 that Wizard101 players also tend to shy away from it. Only the true KingsIsle fans, MMORTS fans, RPG story hounds, and people that dig furry pirates will really fall head over heels for this game like I have.

One of the updates that was hard fought for was the daily quest system back in September 2017, and it has remained the same way it was since that fateful day . . . over 1,400 days later, you can still find Count Monterfulino of Valencia, Count Medvedov of Grizzleheim, Don Allejandro of Monquista, and Lady Heathcliffe of Marleybone standing aboard the "Party Barge" near Skull Island forever engaging in diplomacy and offering players one daily quest each.  

Don Allejandro must eat five rhubarb pies a day!

Each successful quest completion will reward the player with 10,000 gold, or 40,000 gold for the whole suite of four each day. Yes, if my calculator app is right, then doing your dailies for the past 1,400+ days you would have made a whopping 56 million gold and change by sinking 7,000 cutthroat ships, collecting 7,000 pages of lost Grizzleheim report pages, and stealing 5,600 pieces of rhubarb and 5,600 needles and pieces of thread from angry clockworks sailing about in Marleybone. It's a short 10-15 minutes of your life every day. Get to it! 

Sink all the ships! Get all the weird stuff!

Side note, one thing that will help you speed your dailies up is realizing that the little cutthroat ships in the Skull Island skyway also count toward task completion. You don't have to sail to the other end of Marleybone to knock that one out while doing the other daily quests. 

Also something you need to figure into that whole mess of 56 million gold is the fact that the current gold cap is 250,000 gold, so you would have needed to clear out all your gold a couple hundred times over to make it work for you with the most benefit.  That my friends is a lot of Aquilan gold piles. What's that?  Oh, it's a furniture item in Aquila that you buy for 200,000 gold with a resell value of 30,000 gold. That may seem like a bad rate of exchange, but honestly, what in the world are you going to do with all that gold? Heal companions at Miracle Mitch? (Embarrassing!) Refill your ship's boost a million times? (Sure. Why not?) Use the Transportaler for random porting back and forth? (mmm . . . if you say so.)  Decorate your 20th house? (I'll get around to it.) Refill your yum bottles till you can't no more? (I'm no lush!) Raise up the perfect Pet? (<--we have a winner!!)

Anyway, the daily updates also brought with it a faction vendor that sells you sparkler themed weapons if you've completed the daily quests a couple of times and unlocked him, and you also get exclusive badges above your head if you complete the daily quests 10 times, 100 times, and finally 500 times. After completing the dailies 10 times myself, you better believe my new stitch is the sparkler weapon and my new badge is the Fashion Assistant.

Looking good!  and yes . . . check out my new Nurse Quinn! LOL!

To be honest, I hate to even suggest changes to the Pirate101 daily system . . . making new quests is a big time sink, but we all know that it's the number one thing that would help burnout. Adding new things you can purchase at the vendor would be a big win. Especially if it's exclusive and locked beyond the high badge requirements. 

Personally I'd try to get Avery added as a quest giver on the Party Barge, but I'd make his quests all about side system engagement and cut the VO so it works more like Wizard101's Daily system: Hatch a pet, Play a mini-game, Use the team up kiosk, Visit your house, Use a doubloon, Enter the regatta, Enter ship PVP zone, Enter the PVP house, Enter the Parrrty Room, Enter the Smuggler's Arena, Visit a random skyway, and Defeat a badge-related unit (like troggies or water moles). Of course, tech to sense that a player has accomplished some of those might be too expensive . . . if that's the case, narrow that list down to just defeat badge-related units.

As I said in a previous post . . . I'd LOVE to see Bob Carrington and Captain Hande make their return as main villains that coincide with daily quests. What?  A necro can dream!

Ultimately it's really hard to make Daily Quests seem less grindy, but I have to say it's one of the things that's currently keeping me logged in and interested on my main character in Pirate101.

Happy dueling!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

My First Blood Moon in 7 Days to Die -- #Blaugust2021 Day 1

Recently I started playing 7 Days to Die because my drop-dead funny friend, Lessah, and I decided that it was time we played a game together. 

At first we thought we'd give Creativerse a try, but she wasn't really feeling it, so I said . . . name the game and I'll play. The game named happened to be 7 Days to Die, a survival game near and dear to her heart--one where she's put in well over 2,000 hours playing.

Lessah showed me the ropes on how to play this game and even pushed the record button so she could share highlights on her YouTube and Twitch channels. It's some great stuff like this, where I get stuck in a bathroom with a horde of zombies because curiosity killed the Friendly Necromancer.

I had a blast wandering the apocalypse with Lessah, but I really needed to learn the game more. Because of this I started a solo game on the side where I could really get to know the ropes. At the core, you could dismiss this as a Minecraft clone, but there's more to it than just that.

7 Days to Die is all about exploring houses that have gone through apocalyptical changes. In essence, each house is kind of like a mini-dungeon full of loot and zombies. Pathways through houses have been orchestrated where you can find hidden tunnels and zombies pop out at you from closets or drop down on you from above. Most houses have a loot bin hidden deep inside them, and that is the real candy you're looking for when you explore -- "The Khan's True Wealth" as Lessah is fond of saying.

Bobs Boars and Carl's Corn -- two great tastes that go great together!

In addition to this, there is a trader that acts as a hub for quests and as a vendor to sell your junk to. The trader typically gives you a choice from several quests. So far these all seem to involve clearing out an area of zombies, stopping a horde outbreak, fetching lost supplies, and digging for buried treasure. Completing quests gives you money and a choice of reward.

And you do all this while you have several life-blood counters ticking down, making the journey very difficult and full of excitement: 1- Food, 2- Water, 3- radiation levels, and 4- The Blood Moon. 

One, you can find food by rummaging houses or killing wild beasts (before they kill you) and using their meat in cooking recipes, which there are plenty of options, but to cook you have to first find cooking pot and a working grill rack for your fire.

Two, you also find water by rummaging, by filling empty jars with river water and boiling it, or by drinking murky water out of toilets . . . safely, if you can find a filtration mod for your helmet. 

Three, contact with zombies naturally leads to blood loss and also radiation exposure. If that exposure gets to high, you're out. The best way to counteract that seems to be either medicines or good ol' honey. That natural cure seems to take the radiation right out of your body.

And finally, every 7 days the blood moon comes, and I experienced my first just the other day. Now, I had watched my friend Lessah and her friend fight off a blood moon on her YouTube channel and got completely terrified at what I saw: hoards and swarms of unrelenting zombies attracted to your fresh meat.  

Because of this, I spent a whole in-game day and a half of preparations where I put down spikes all around my home base, blocked off the doors with fencing, covered the windows and stairways in barbed wire, and hunkered down for a terrifying experience.

Ready for the blood moon with spike traps and Molotov Cocktails a plenty.

What I didn't realize was that what I saw on Lessah's channel was a blood moon from several days in. I didn't know that it doesn't start out like that. Instead what I found out was that I waaaaay over prepared for the event. That first blood moon was basically two waves of a handful of zombies.

The biggest threat came from the skies as two zombie vultures started dive bombing me from the roof of my house.  They almost got me, but I was prepared with bandages and medicine -- stupid vultures!

Surviving the blood moon, though a bit anti-climactic compared to what I was expecting, felt pretty great.  Now the game just continues as I work in anticipation of Day 14 instead of Day 7.  I'll need to build my base back up a bit as they tore themselves up on my spike traps. 

Seems legit . . . They won't get past the spike traps and the barb wire on the stairs, will they?

All in all, I'm enjoying myself in 7 Days to die and that's mostly thanks to Lessah who made the experience more fun. If you're ever wanting to survive the apocalypse, it's good to have friends like good ol' Lessah Ismorah at your side.

Happy Dueling! 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Welcome to #Blaugust2021 -- am I ready for this?!

Whoo boy . . . here we go. It's that time of year again where the blogging coalition that's gathered around Belghast unites to write and write some more during the month of August.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, please head over to Bel's Blog and catch on up with what's what in the MMO/videogame blogosphere.

I joined in back in 2019 where I wrote topics on everything from Terreria to Dungeons and Dragons -- it even led to a year-long romance with Project Gorgon and me blogging about my adventures there. 

My beautiful OC Project Gorgon picture commissioned from Mia Smith.

In 2015, I crushed it with several posts that reminisced about my favorite spots in DCUO, DDO, Everquest, WoW, and Wizard101. It's also a trip down memory lane for me seeing these old pictures of my family when we went to Classic Game Fest.

That kid is now as tall as his dad . . . maybe taller . . . 

Both times those were really grueling experiences with Blogging, so I know what I'm getting into here by joining in once again, but I'm confident that I can keep pace this year and I hope you're all excited to read along as I am to participate with my fellow bloggers. Be sure to follow along with the #Blaugust2021 tag on Twitter! There will be plenty of reading to do this year.

I've been writing up a short list of blog topics, and I'm falling well behind 30 days worth, so there are sure to be some surprises along the way. When the topics fall short, I can always fall back to Bel's handy dandy calendar of events.

So come along, let's get excited, and if you have any topics you'd like to see me tackle, please leave me a comment or a tweet. I appreciate your time. See you tomorrow morning!

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Re-imagining the Regatta in Pirate101

There's an interesting ship dungeon in Pirate101 that's a little off the beaten path. It's a one-of-a-kind in game, and that makes it naturally more interesting than the dozens of other dungeons you can find in Pirate101.

As it turns out, two-boxing the Regatta is not too difficult!

As the Pirate's Regatta was one of two remaining quests in my quest log for Pirate101, I decided to duo it with my two box account to see how it'd go. The end result was that I was able to finish the event without much mishap! Well, a few of my companions got knocked out on that final fight, but it wasn't too bad.  

After the hour and a half that it took me to complete the event, I had a lot more scrip than I started with, but I'm pretty sure I'd need to run the regatta at least a dozen or more times to really get what I want from the Black Market shop where you buy exclusive rewards with said scrip.

I decided to take it to Twitter to see if there was a consensus and while I didn't get a ton of responses, I did get a response from @Telekneticissue that kind of summed up some of the suspicions I had while playing through the event.

I remember there was a little discussion about it on ye' old Pirate101 forums as well, and a quick search led me to mixed feelings about the Regatta, so I started thinking . . . if I was asked as a Designer to improve the Regatta, what would I suggest? 

It's a tough one to answer because the event is tuned to bringing a full party of 4, but can be done with as little as 2 . . . maybe even as little as 1, but I'm sure the time to complete the event escalates the fewer people that are involved.  In addition, you can't really adjust quest requirements based on the number of players that enter an instance together, so you want to ensure it's a fun challenge for all party sizes.

So, taking all that in stride, I think the real problem of the Regatta is player population, time decay, and motivation. To further explain it:

1- Player population in Pirate101 just isn't what it used to be, point blank. There are plenty of people that still play, but you can see it when you run around and play in the game . . . it's a bit barren these days.  

2- It's been five to six years since the content has released with no new update to the Scrip rewards a person can earn. 

3- When a person can get 4 players together who all want to earn Scrip, their time is probably better spent at the Smuggler's Arena where the scrip rewards are infinitely better, but the difficulty is ramped up. There's less risk in the regatta, but also fewer rewards.

To counter act all that, I'd suggest the following changes:

1- Place new Scrip rewards in the Black Market to freshen the motivation. It's been long enough that if players are going to be excited about the Black Market again, new rewards should be added. Maybe take some of the Boss rewards from around the Spiral and make new alternate versions of them with effect glows and a high price tag.  Or maybe pick one piece of ship equipment and make it more interesting -- I'd love to see ship cannons have more importance IMHO. Yes, there are probably a handful of people sitting on a glut of unused Scrip, but I'm sure it's not the majority of players.

2- Instead of increasing the difficulty of the Regatta, I'd simply suggest removing the first two waves of ships and bosses, so that there are only 3 waves total to defeat. This makes the Regatta more digestible and short, which leads me to . . .

3- Make the Regatta an event that can be turned on and off, so that it is cycled in and out of the game. This would give it more increased focus when it was active, and because it would now be limited time, the rewards could also be slightly increased.

4- Create a second Regatta event out of the first two waves you removed from the original Regatta and then add a tower boss as the final wave of the event. This then gives you a second, unique event you can turn on and off between the original regatta. 

5- For bonus points, make a third Regatta where the tower boss from the second Regatta is seasonal themed -- a giant Christmas tree, a sized up turkey platter, a giant cupig, etc. Turn this version of the Regatta on during holidays.

6- Make the Regatta entrance appear in Avery's Court so that it's in a location with more foot traffic . . . probably up by the Muskateer's Roost. It's so out of the way currently, that it's easy to forget the Regatta is even there.

So, that's a lot to ask for. If you could only choose one of the six suggestions, I'd take a look at numbers 2 and 3 above.  A little goes a long way, and that's my hot take on the Regatta on this fine Sunday morning! Of course, what people really want is not changes to the Regatta, but more story content . . . so . . . 

Thanks for reading and Happy Dueling!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pirate101: Sidequests Fini

And thus it happened, on 22 July . . . it was a rather time consuming task from Ludovico Muratori in Valencia Part 2, where you had to travel to all the different libraries in the spiral--gathering over due books and then returning them to their proper place in Valencia--but it was my last side quest, earning me the final sidequest badge, the Callabrian Completionist. Tada!

I'm wearing that one for awhile for sure!

The fancy quest finder tool in the quest log gave me its message "Try Again Later," and I was done.  All that's left in my quest log now is the Corsair's Challenge Nautical Quest and the Tower of Moo Manchu, and I gotta say . . . it feels pretty good to join the army of people who have already done this in Pirate101. Now I can log on and gather my daily quests to earn my 40k gold in peace and move on to new challenges!

That's all she wrote . . .

I even decided to treat myself by buying the S. M. Arson companion since I was whining about wishing I had chosen mutiny for the Dead Mike companion.  A Dead Mike clone will do nicely! 

So now the question becomes . . . what next?  Well, I've got a short list of things I still want to do in Pirate101.

1- Level all my under-leveled companions to 70.  That shouldn't be too tough.  I can get an easy 4 companion tomes a day with just logging on and doing the daily quests, plus collecting tomes and experience from the Brawling task.  That should happen pretty quick in fact.

2- Get the perfect pet.  I do like my skeletorous pet that I'm using currently on Thomas, but a Stingaloon. Dimetorsaur Phantasm, or a Grimtooth Reaper could be fun.  I still need to figure out what the perfect talents would be.

3- Get some moo gear.  You know what I'm talking about . . . the Nefarious Staff or the Imperial Boots . . . stuff like that.

4- Get enough scrip to buy something awesome like the Witchdoctor banner or smuggler's garb.

5- Move on to leveling my Buccaneer.

6- I also want to say that discovering Christmas in July was an absolute joy this morning. I'm not sure if I've played through the Krampus event yet. Getting the Krampus staff would be pretty great!

I really should do this event . . .

Anyway . . . thank you for following along with my Pirate101 side quest journey if you've been reading along.  It was pretty great to really devote some time to Pirate101.  There was so much left to do and it really did feel like the perfect time to jump in again and play.

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Pirate101: I need more Bob in my life

I've been continuing to spend an hour or two here and there playing through all the side content in Pirate101. Call it the adventures of following Control+Shift+Q . . . that magical hotkey just targets you to the next "nearest" side quest and GO! Unfortunately the definition of "nearest" leaves a little to be desired. Because of that, I've been traveling to Skull Island and back over again.

Also managed to complete my dailies with the help of Captain Avery while I was at it

One of my favorite forays of the last week involved completing the "Bob's Your Uncle" quest to promote my Origin Story Companion, which for me is Lucky Jack Russell because I chose that my parents died in a shipwreck.  If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have chosen mutiny because Dead Mike makes me laugh and he's undead.

Give 'em the boot, Lucky Jack Russell!

This quest is pretty epic. You get a nice bit of lore about your parents and specifically your mother Jenny as you run into a pirate named Bob Carrington who happens to be . . . your uncle.

Love that Bob Carrington ... the moustache, the feathered hat, the obvious signs of ultimate betrayal . . .

By the end of this quest you've gone back and forth across Skull Island fighting legitimately difficult mobs (I had several on bed rest when I was done), being double crossed by your uncle, and defeating your mom's old nemesis, one Captain Hande. This is a high value companion promotion quest and honestly I can't believe I sat on it as long as I did.

That fully promoted Lucky Jack Russell is lookin' FINE!

Hey KingsIsle!  If you're listening . . . I'm excited for this new Sinbad stuff, no lie, but can you also find a way to bring back Bob Carrington and Captain Hande? This whole pirate triangle of betrayal is just too good. I need more Bob in my life. Maybe tie them in to the daily quests somehow? Thank you for your time!

Anyway, the amount of content I never completed in Pirate101 is a little staggering to be honest, but I seem to be whittling through it pretty good. It is funny though, every time I think I've shortened my list a bit, I run into another yellow exclamation mark.  I don't mind though. It's nice to have content to complete that I set off to the side back in the day.

Currently I'm going back and forth between temples in the Subata skyway in Mooshu. I'm starting to run into a problem though because control shift Q pointed me toward the Tower of Moo Manchu. That one's always given me a bit of a problem because of the difficulty.

Also, I dropped in on RRRRZZZZ while he was streaming last week and said hello. He's such an interesting and genuine streamer who simply loves Pirate101. The deep south accent and conversations about favorite fast food chicken is pretty entertaining as well. Joining in on one of his Tower of Moo Manchu runs on stream might be a good opportunity for me to temporarily get that out of my quest log. ;)  I wouldn't mind getting some of the great loot from the tower as well. 

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Pirate101's Wonder Woman -- It's Zeena Time!

 So, I know last post I said I was most likely headed to Mooshu for side quest fun, but I got sucked into Aquila instead and . . . so there I stayed. I ended up doing the promotion quest for Buffalo Bill and a bunch of random skyway missions involving vulture pirates. 

Buffalo Bill . . . ever waxing about Wyatt and stroking his magnificent beard.

There's one quest in particular there that has an abysmal drop rate, but nothing as awful as the original white buffalo quest in Cool Ranch . . . that was the stuff of community manager nightmares. I finished it up in 30 minutes or so and earned a bunch of gold and scrip while I was at it.  Not bad. It was a bit sad to see the skyways so barren in Aquila.

I also helped a band of cyclops bros, made offerings to all the statues of the gods around Aquila, defeated Grohl and his foo fighting band in Nevermind Cave, contacted students and poets for Chiron the Centaur, defeated a highly conflicted ettin, and gathered up every last missing eagle for Zeke. 

Thank you to a great band for standing so closely together in perfect aoe formation

While these were all great quests and profitable toward my seemingly neverending goal to level all my companions to level 70, the most memorable of the bunch had to have been the one where you obtain Zeena the Warrior Princess as a companion.

You know, there's a lot of min-maxers out there in Pirate101 who will purposely avoid side quests that grant companions until they are max level for the sole purpose that many of them come in at a higher level than your pirate, but I can't say that was my motivation for waiting. Mine was just pure laziness, and honestly, I'd rather just have the companion and play with it than wait until its power is prime. 

Of course, this isn't my first time doing the Zeena quest . . . I ran through it on the Pirate101 development servers so that I could make her Rogue's Gallery spotlight back in June of 2017. Sam Johnson (aka Blind Mew) wrote up some pretty awesome backstory to make her more than just an obscure headnod to Princess Diana of Themyscira or Xena: Warrior Princess.

(Much like there might be a conflict between the Atlanteans and the Amazons in the DC Universe at times) Zeena finds herself embroiled in conflict between the Bird-like race of amazons in Pirate101 and the Centaurs of Aquila. In resolving the conflict, you'll be running into the statue of Ares and the raven sisters, aka the Fates who have lost their shears.

In the process you get a wake up call as the player when the Statue of Ares tells you he's a big fan because all the war and trouble you've started in the main storyline, and good ol' Ares is really the one who's caused the misunderstandings (as the character of Ares would similarly do in the Xena: Warrior Princess series) because WAR GOOD! So you fix things up between the Amazons and Centaurs, and Zeena joins your crew to learn a thing or two about controlling her temper. 

Welcome aboard, Zeena! What's one more mouth to feed, eh?

I'm enjoying having Zeena as a part of my crew. She has a pretty great Rain of Fire ability that sets a nice pattern of fire on the battlefield that's great for damaging approaching enemies or those already upon you, and since she's coming in at level 72, I can see why the min-maxers like having her on their team.

As for me, I'll keep hitting these side quests! Hopefully I can clear out my log and then start looking at doing the daily quests more often. 

Happy Dueling!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Pirate101 Marleybone Bounties — Developers Behind Bars

The quest to clear Friendly Thomas's quest log has concluded in Marleybone. *insert personal fan-fare music* Eventually I wrapped up every last Rolling Stone Zeke quest item and captured every last developer-gone-rogue to finish out my MB side quests. 

Nice lyrics, Zeke . . .

Developer gone rogue?  Oh yeah, lemme tell you . . . there's an interesting chain of side quests where you help Mann the Bounty Hunter with tracking down a bunch of criminals that need to be locked up -- criminals that have a very interesting bunch of names attached to them.

Safely behind bars . . . whew . . .

First you capture ol' Lymie Stone, then move on to Merciless Meagan Quinn. Third is Professor Chadwick and then finally Grumpy Jeff Haskell. Right around Meagan Quinn I started putting it together. 

  • Mann the Bounty Hunter =  Mike Mann (the old Pirate101 Art Lead)
  • Lymie Stone = Mike Stone (the old Pirate101 Associate Producer)
  • Merceliss Meagan Quinn = Meagan Quinn (an old Pirate101 Associate Game Designer)
  • Professor Chadwick = This has to be Chad Brown (an old Pirate101 Game Designer) . . . although I suppose it could also be Chad La Guardia.
  • Grumpy Jeff Haskell = Jeff Haskell (an old Pirate101 Senior Game Designer)

In fact, in the very back of my mind I think I remember . . . yeah . . . that group of designers sat one row away from the Marketing Department, and I even think I remember when Jeff Haskell got the news that he was in the game. There was a lot of laughter and smug grins. 😆

And who wouldn't be smug knowing they were the one stealing all the toys . . .

All these developers have long since left the KingsIsle fold. The only one I've really kept up with on his career path is Chad Brown, who, as fortune would have it, is working on DCUO right now, which is a game you know I absolutely adore. Chad is pretty amazing himself. He used to play a Ranger in a lunch time D&D game ran by Sam Johnson (Creative Design Lead for KingsIsle). He's a super nice person and a really great world builder. Playing D&D with the old devs were good times! 

Now that I've rounded all those scoundrels up, I've earned my "Civilian Baliff" badge, and I'm ready for my next job. As fate would have it, my next closest quest can be found in Mooshu!  So that's where you'll find me for a bit. I'm sure I'll be uncovering long lost secrets and memories as I go along.

I'm definitely still having fun revisiting Pirate101.

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Pirate101 and my 2021 Quest to Clear the 2012 Quests

I've been logging on Pirate101 for an hour here, an hour there, and just trying my best to start clearing out this amazing backlog of side quests. It's honestly ridiculous how many I've just skipped and left to gather dust over time. 30+ pages of side quests . . . I'm not even kidding.

I decided to start my quest cleaning project in Marleybone. I did a few odd jobs here and there, then eventually landed on what felt like an extreme epic side quest.  After a bit of research, I realized I was actually on the companion promotion quest for Ratbeard. (Yeah, I never finished that.)

Look at this adorable little good boy!

It's an entertaining quest that involves the retelling of A Christmas Carol, but with a Pirate101 twist. For the player, this is an epic 32-step quest that has you hopping back and forth between Marleybone, Mooshu, and Skull Island . . . with no shortage of travel and stop offs in between, including a series of back to back epic ninja pig fights. 

No one expects Ninja Pigs . . . let alone expects them to be a part of the Christmas Carol Story

I remember players complaining about this particular quest's length on the Pirate101 messageboards back in the day, and I think the response was basically . . . so you complain when we give you more content to play?! I get it though, it's a bit of quest exhaustion when what you really want as the player is not the experience, but the reward . . . a powered-up Ratbeard companion.

It's actually a very charming quest where you try to spook ol' Ebeneezer with ghosts of the past, present, and future, but ultimately it's a letter from his father expressing regret and forgiveness that changes his heart. For Ratbeard, he too experiences forgiveness from the ghost of Lasko, part of his old crew that he just outright poisoned and killed back in Skull Island. It's a nice character redemption bit of story -- perfect for a companion quest.

Lasko for the win.

As for my secondary quests to 1- improve the gear on Friendly Thomas and Bad Pedro Pace and 2- level that literal army of companions, things are going pretty good! I've been enjoying logging on and claiming all the work orders for brawling experience.  I wish there was a claim all button for companion orders.  There isn't one, right? Please tell me I'm forgetting some magical way of claiming all these companion orders at once. Please?

Last time I posted about Pirate101, my old buddy Angela Shadowgarden reminded me that probably the easiest gear upgrade I could get right away was claiming the Hoodoo bundle items I had sitting in my gift box. It's not a bad set of items, and actually looks pretty cool on Thomas. I also switched things up with my wand and equipped the Haywire Technomancer Set (replacing Phule's wand).  I'm pretty sure I'll be missing that extra range soon.

Not a bad Witchdoctor setup

So all in all things are going pretty chill in Pirate101.  It's great to be back and just enjoying the ride.  Two boxing is a little frustrating, but I'm making it work. It's really strange how zone times between the two accounts differ so greatly. Ahh well.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Pirate101 -- taking inventory and talking options

Ever since the new update to Pirate101, I've been really feeling the pull to play more, so to those ends I've been taking a bit of inventory on where I last left my heroes. 

- Friendly Thomas, my witchdoctor (also my main character), has a huge inventory of side quests sitting in his quest log, and I'd love to clear a few of those out . . . especially the ones that give companion training points! He has an absolutely enormous crew of companions . .  most not max level. Thomas himself is max level, but I'm not fully happy with his gear situation.

Friendly Thomas

- Wicked Faith, my musketeer, is still sitting in Cool Ranch . . . right where Vanessa Mythdust and myself left off after a bout of Pirate101 Twitch Streaming that happened, oh, four or five years ago?  I love her name and playing up a musketeer would be awesome.

Wicked Faith

- Reckless Leo Jenkins, my swashbuckler, is still being reckless and low level. Also, love his name . . . totally worthy of leveling at some point.

Reckless Leo Jenkins

- Sly Kai, my buccaneer, is still hanging out in Mooshu at level 50 with his pink sombrero. He's pretty amazing . . . I should try to push him out of Marleybone and into Aquila. 

Sly Kai

- And finally, Bad Pedro Pace, my Privateer on the second account. The best thing about this is that he could easily heal any of those alts as a second box account. So let's talk Bad Pedro Pace!

Ding 70! Bad Pedro Pace

Recently I was tweeting about how I finished up the final boss fight in Florenza with Bad Pedro. Afterwards, Bad Pedro found himself in pretty much the exact same situation that Friendly Thomas found himself back in 2018 -- about 3 quests away from hitting max level. That kind of settled it for me . . . out of all the things I could do, the thing I most want to do is get Pedro to max level. 

Can I just take a moment to say how great turn-based games like Pirate101 are for blogging? Playing and writing at the same time is totally the way to go. I've finished up all his quests and dinged all while typing this blogpost! Try to do that while playing DCUO!

So now that I'm level 70, I can do the new Sinbad quests, and with any luck I can get the gear sorted out between Bad Pedro Pace and Friendly Thomas at the same time.

Anyway, just have to say how weirdly familiar it all feels to sit at my desk and play Pirate101. This game was absolutely my life for a period of time, you know? It seriously makes me itch to do some livestreaming again. 

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Leslie the Druid in The Tomb of the Serpent

I joined in a side game of Dungeons and Dragons on Saturday and started playing up a new level 1 character for the adventure. This time I was playing as Leslie the Druid. For some reason the first thing that popped into my head for a character voice was somewhere between a very helpful receptionist and an extremely toned-down version of Kiirsten Wig's Penelope character.  

Leslie the druid is amazing. The DM (again, Mr. Jeff Toney) kept forgetting my character's name, so it allowed me the opportunity to continually repeat, "Oh, you know, my name's Leslie . . . Leslie the druid . . .you can call me Les or Leslie, either is fine, so..."

The soul of Leslie the Druid

As per normal, you can earn 50 extra experience points for writing a story summation of what happened during the session from the point of view of your character, thus . . .

~~From the Personal Journal of Leslie the Druid~~

Our journey began and everyone introduced themselves to the group. I believe we had an assassin, a fighter, a halfling, a ranger, and myself? To be honest, I was a bit distracted with last minute preparations for the road to sufficiently give my full attention. I probably spent too much money on a tent, and I definitely spent too much on the local hirelings. We're bringing along a torchbearer and two more fighters who are willing to trade their lives for gold.

We started our journey and if I could roll my eyes more at the fighter hobbling along in plate mail, I would. Knowing we were headed to a snake temple, I was hoping that I could charm a giant snake into being a friend, but instead I asked the ranger to track us down a mule. No way was I going to let this journey take us 8 days to get to our destination because of old iron legs over there. 

The ranger did his job very well and quickly found a mule; although, I think if he had his way he would have eaten the poor beast. I used my patented animal calming technique and began casting Animal Friendship, asking Silvanus to allow us to take this creature along with us. Silvanus blessed my request and soon the Fighter had his worthy mount, which the group quickly named Burrito. It must be some strange local word that I don't quite grasp yet. 

An accurate drawing of Burrito thanks to the magic of clip art.

We had to hurry a bit after finding Burrito when a local farmer started chasing after us yelling something or another about the mule. How silly. One can't just own Burrito. Burrito is following his heart, and he is obviously in love with me and can't take his eyes off me, so... 

At the end of a long day of journey, which involved some unfortunate rain, we set up camp and found a fresh water source. Night fell and I went promptly to sleep. Early in the morning, we were woken up by a roving band of Barbarians. I was incredibly excited! I tried to convince them to take me along to party with them, but they didn't seem interested in me as much as they were the halfling. The halfling gave us all the slip and well that was it for talks about partying with Barbarians. The ranger traded some caltrops with them in exchange for information about the Tomb of the Serpent and a few mud packs for removing snake poison.  I took down the ingredients, but they didn't give me the recipe. Barbarians are great for partying, but horrible at giving useful information.

On the second day we trekked off the beaten path and made it into the northern hills. Everything seemed uneventful until, again, in the early morning, orcs happened. There was a war pack of them, fortunately most moved on, but three of the more foul orcs rushed our camp. I lit one up with a green Faerie  Fire glow and gave another a glancing spear blow, and the party responded with surprisingly quick action. So much so, I think we may be more suited to cleansing the world of orcs than delving deep into snake tombs.

No one hides in the dark with Faerie Fire upon them.

On the third day we made it through the mountains and arrived at the tomb of the serpent, only pausing slightly to sit out what appeared to be an illusionary storm. A company from our guild, The Butchers of Helix, had already ventured into the lower level of the Tomb of the Serpent, so we were fully briefed on the dangers inside . . . to a point.  Inside, we stashed Burrito in an empty room and eventually made it to the lower levels and an octagonal room with six doors. The previous company found a magic ring in this room and fought off a cadre of magical animated zombie hands, but this was also the point they called off their journey and headed back to town.

Our company's map to the Tomb of the Serpent

It was time for me to call upon Silvanus again and cast Detect Danger, which allowed me to use half an hour to fully detail the aspects of three of the six doorways. The first door looked primitive, but Silvanus scented the area with cinnamon to indicate its safety. The second door looked ornate and pictured snakes descending on humans, and this door also was scented with cinnamon. The third door was common looking, and also was scented with cinnamon.  Then a miracle happened! Silvanus was pleased with our adventure, and I felt refreshed to the point that I could once again cast Detect Danger and finish inspecting the other three doors! As fate would have it, the fourth door smelled of skunk and a sign of potential danger was given to me by Silvanus. The other two doors, however, all smelled of cinnamon.

While I was busy with my spells, my companions were all either standing guard or inspecting the other doors. One of our companions even began opening the doors that smelled of cinnamon. One opened to an unfinished hallway. One opened to a simple room. One opened to a hallway that led to a room. All entries seemed safe as foretold by Silvanus.

Possibly the most interesting door is one that looked common, smelled of cinnamon, yet behind it was a slow heavy thud sound that repeated every 10 minutes or so. My companions heard it as well. What dread lurks in this place . . . I fear we will soon find out.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Oohhyeah Punchman and the Butchers of Helix in The Caverns of Archia

Every Wednesday night, Jeff Toney runs a private game of Dungeons and Dragons with yours truly in the mix. It's an Old School Essentials version of D&D, so things are a bit different with this game. In essence, old school essentials answers the question, what would D&D be like if you re-wrote the first edition of D&D for a modern audience?

For example, my character's statistics are AWFUL. Literal trash, BUT . . . in the OSE version of D&D, that isn't as punishing as it would be in modern D&D.  Despite my bad rolls for statistics, I still qualified to create an illusionist. While I was originally creating the character, I cautioned Jeff that I would most likely always being coming in at least 30 minutes late to the game, and he was fine with that.  In fact, we made the joke that I'd always be crashing in late like the Kool Aid man.  Thus, Ohhyeah Punchman the illusionist was born!

My photoshop skills were on point to express this lovely character's attire

Experience gain has been slow going, but consistent.  As long as you show up, you'll receive a bit of exp, and if there's one thing Ohhyeah has going for him, it seems to be consistency. After all these months, Ohhyeah is finally at 2,450 of the 2,500 experience he needs to move on to level 2.

Come to find out, Jeff will also allow you to earn an extra 50 experience if you write up a small "session notes" blurb from your character's perspective, and as I simply need an extra 50 experience to level . . . guess what paragraphs come next?

~~From the personal journal of Ohhyeah Punchman~~

Again we find ourselves plunged in darkness as we search the ruins of Archaia. I'm becoming used to the smell of burning tar from the torch. These days I find myself holding this light more often for the group. I'm not fond of this responsibility as it typically means I'm the first one that the creatures of the crypt focus in on, but I figure at least it helps me control when the group flees and when the group stays.

Archia itself is a large canyon dotted with crypt entrances from a more ancient time. Some of these areas are silent, but as we're discovering, most are crawling with new inhabitants.

The canyon sides of Archia

Earlier we spent a strange, yet adventurous morning in one of these Caves of Archia. We fought off blood-sucking stirges, rummaged through a mushroom patch (where incidentally I found a beautiful spell book off of a poor unfortunate mage's decaying body) and ran away from an angry troll who we taunted into charging at us. Obviously I was the first to run . . . that thing was twice our size and none to happy with the stirge wrapped magic mushroom we threw to him! Luckily we outran the ugly beast, and he lost interest as we ducked into the sunlight. 

This brings us to this evening's adventures. We decided to explore another crypt entrance that was a bit less natural looking. Indeed the entrance led down deep below the mountain, two flights of stairs, into a questionable crypt that is destined to collapse in on itself over time. The mountain keeps rumbling and it is surely a bad omen.

The northern half of the crypt was mostly barren, but as to be expected, someone or "some things" had been here before us. Come to find out, a small band of Kobolds had been roaming the halls and tried to set a crossbow trap in one of the rooms. It didn't work. Eventually we found them lost in the southern most part of the dungeon and our fighter slayed one without hesitation, which led to their surrender, and eventually their help! As it turns out, kobolds will do just about anything for food, including lifting a heavy portcullis and fetching rocks to hold it open.

Subject: Kobold. Name: Tartuccio

I must make a side note here about the kobolds.  Their presence makes me nervous.  Most of them fled, but one has joined our adventures. Our fighter named him "Tartuccio," supposedly after a bard song about a kobold (incidentally, what a horrible kobold name! Leave it to a bard to come up with something completely unrealistic. He looks more like a "Gurk" or "Zok" to me. I think I'll call him "shoe'y" for short). Shoe'y spoke of a winged beast that was mighty and could make the kobolds powerful. I think I heard tale once that where you find kobolds, you will also find dragons.

The western part of the dungeon was full of old death. Beyond the portcullis was a pile of old bones that, despite our attempts at separating the skulls, immediately animated when our barbarian grabbed an ancient, silver goblet from a skeletal grasp. The group again made the smart choice and knocked out the portcullis supports while the skeletons were reanimating and trapped them back in their tomb. (This also was the point where most of the kobolds fled in panic.)

Also in the west we found a room full of motionless zombies of all humanoid races. Sure enough they also animated the moment I threw a torch at one of them and hastily shut the door on them. One thing about the undead: they're none-to-bright and don't know how to use door handles. Fortuned favored us again as a room next door to the zombies had a large desk that our unusually strong thief was able to pull in front of their door to block them. Also fortunate, I managed to dig up an ancient tube of Papyrus from a hidden drawer! It's not of magical nature, but I bet you either Murrion the Magician or Retep back in town will pay us at least 250 gold for this artifact.

A map to the "zombie" crypt of Archia

As I write this note, the last of our evening's torchlight is about to fade. I discovered a secret room here on the Eastern side of the crypt and it will provide perfect shelter. I doubt kobolds or undead will be able to figure out the hidden lever system that was used to disguise the door.  We're safe here, and I'm on first watch as our warriors take a long night's rest to heal from their battle wounds. 

In the morning I'll be using Read Magic to take a closer look at this spell book we found in the Troll Cave. Perhaps something in its pages will spark inspiration in me to write a spell of my own!  I've been having visions of a human that looks something like a pitcher of red liquid with arms and legs, splashing through enemies and making them glow!  Of course, to craft such a spell would take intense research and approximately 100 platinum to devise. Maybe someday my fame and fortune will grow, but for now . . . I'll hold the torch and let my vestments do the smiling.

Monday, June 14, 2021

CR 338 -- A "try hard" noteworthy weekend in DCUO!

I played more than my fair share of DCUO this weekend and ended up with a new pair of shoulders and gloves that pushed me up another point of gear rating.  Lord Spode and Teal Lantern are both sitting at CR 340, so I've got a bit more to do to match their CR, but that's not even the noteworthy thing for me about this weekend in DCUO.

Chillin on Aquaman's boat with my new sunglasses . . .

I suppose the most noteworthy thing in DCUO right now is that the "Tides of War" Summer Event is happening.  Every day you log on and complete Aquaman's quest out in the ocean area of DCUO and an event instance where you stop Ocean Master from . . . idk, what am I stopping him from?  Holding an outpost? Doing bad ocean war stuff? Um, I'm stopping him from being, uh, his nefarious self!

In exchange for all that I get sand dollars, which can be exchanged for summer attire. I have no interest in wearing summer attire (aside from the legit sunglasses), but I do like the feat points I get for purchasing said summer attire . . . but even THAT is not the most noteworthy thing for me about this weekend in DCUO.

When you're 100+ CR over the raid event . . . of course it's ultra-easy . . .

I spent a huge amount of time grinding old content this weekend, trying to earn feat points. I focused in on the old tier 7 and 8 raids that I missed. I snagged a couple feats in the Earth 3: The Panopticon Raid, another in the Doomsday raid, another couple in Wonderverse off of things I had left half finished, and more!  So much more that it ended up being about 10 skill  points over the weekend, which ain't too shabby considering most of these feats are 1/10th to 1/25th of a skill point, but even THAT is not the most noteworthy thing for me about this weekend in DCUO!

I fell asleep while our raid group tried to get Solomon Grundy to spawn 20+ foot soldiers

Also, I finally progressed my first artifact to 160! I cashed in a huge amount of source marks in exchange for most of the catalysts I needed to progress my artifact, and then, yes, I dipped into real life money to purchase a seal of completion because when an artifact evolution only has a 10% chance to succeed, you need to guarantee that it's going to work, but even THAT is . . . 

level 160 source shard . . . a thing of beauty . . .

ok, I'll stop . . . The most noteworthy thing was that, after all that work, it didn't really mean anything special. It was a lot of "try harding" for micro boosts in DPS. I mean, yes, my Godwave Strength skill refreshes quite a bit now, and it even makes a special FX and sound when it refreshes and, yes, it makes my button taps a bit more exciting. But let's be honest . . . I don't think it was an "I win" button like I was thinking in my earlier post. C'est le vie. It's still pretty cool though. :)

I guess really the most noteworthy thing was that I got to play with my buddies on Sunday night!  That's always the best reward.

Happy dueling!