Something New – Torchlight

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I’ve been wanting to try Torchlight for quite some time. I found it on sale on GoG recently and with all the ongoing excitement regarding Torchlight Frontiers I figured it was time to sit down and try it.

Now, I knew it was a Diablo-like Action RPG with a pet, but that was about the limit of what I knew. In play it reminds me a lot of the original Diablo instead of Diablo 2, which game out nine years before Torchlight.

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At first glance the equipment/inventory is very similar. I eventually realized that unlike the Diablo inventory, each slot holds one item, instead of the varying size and shape multi-block system used for Diablo. A nice change, to be sure. It features the same sort of socket and gem system that Diablo 2 had, with each gem imparting a bonus that varied according to what type of equipment it was placed in.

item requirements

Something else I haven’t seen in a long time is stat requirements that control what you can and cannot wield. It was a thing we had back in the original Diablo that I had all but forgotten about. I was playing as a “Destroyer” primarily build as a high strength, high defense, dual wielding maniac. This wasn’t much of an issue, except I kept getting armor pieces I couldn’t use. Lucky me.

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Something I think I like was the limited spell slots. I kinda liked having to limit what I had available, not that I was using them much to begin with. This guy couldn’t cast his way out of a wet paper bag.

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I rather accidentally discovered my pet can cast spells too. I tried to transfer some from my inventory to the pet with a shift-click and it equipped them instead. It would also appear that the pet has accessory slots as well, though I never tried to do anything with them. Among the most useful things I found was the ability to throw a bunch of items in it’s inventory and send it to sell them for me. This was really handy because items drop left and right.

It also seems to share the somewhat permanent town/dungeon setup that the original Diablo had, but with a more user friendly waypoint system instead of the various shortcuts you unlocked around town in Diablo. It seems to draw a lot of inspiration from that game specifically and an odd assortment of other things. Obviously not the aesthetic, as much, but the music is very similar.

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Some things never change. I don’t know what it is about blue glowing ovals that screams town portal.

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Behind Schedule

All this craziness the last week has me posting behind schedule and it’s driving me crazy.

I have been managing to get a few things done, just not when I wanted to. At the moment I’m having to monitor my youngest, who got into the fridge this morning and ate the remainder of my wife’s birthday cake. What he didn’t eat was rendered inedible.

In the meantime I’ve been poking around doing random things wherever. I’m waiting for an update to drop for a small indie game so I can get a few things designed and built, I managed to push GW2 leatherworker above 400, did a little bit of random gathering, and pushing some stuff on the auction house in hopes of making some of the gold back. I’m currently doing nothing in particular. I should probably be putting screenshots together for tomorrow’s post if I’m going to try and get caught up.

Guess I’ll go do that.

What Is – Elite: Dangerous

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It’s funny, in a way, that it’s taken me this long to write about Elite. More than a little test guide I wrote a while back to wrap my head around the idea of a guide anyway.

I was not aware of it’s existence until this iteration, but Elite has been around for a long time. It’s earliest incarnation is barely younger than me, having been released in September of 1984. It was released on quite a few different platforms and feature primarily wireframe graphics. Core gameplay was, and is, an open-world sandbox that revolved around trade.

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The newest entry fancies itself more of an MMO type of experience, complete with a cute little launcher that provides a variety of news articles about the ongoing universe, a couple of patch note links, and a banner ad on the right to hopefully convince you to buy some cosmetics. I won’t really get into that here, but it’s exclusively cosmetic/customization items in the cash shop. It’s also purchased with actual currency, none of that silly virtual currency business.

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The game itself is as much simulation as it is game. The detail that goes into the different ships, the different sounds they make, the fine details of maneuvering and landing, give it a very flight sim sort of feel. Like seriously, you need a joystick unless you’re some sort of mouse and keyboard prodigy. One with buttons, lots of them. Mine has 12 buttons, 3 axis stick, and a little hat and throttle, and that allows me to get most basic ship functions on the joystick itself.

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In reality Elite is only as multiplayer as you want it to be. I personally choose to play in Open, but honestly human pilots are pretty rare unless you’re engaging in current even content. My experience with other humans has been very mixed so far. I had a “lol noob your not worth my time” sort of experience once before and much more recently a “sorry it’s just business” sort of encounter when a player from an opposing faction dropped in on the home system and fried me with a hold full of goods. Honestly the vast majority of people don’t interact and if you’re in transit you may not be in the system long enough to notice.

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Any time I take a break from the game for a while I always make a point to engage my pre-flight checks. This simply makes sure that I have access to basic functions like throttle and landing gear and know how to access them. Once you launch you have to exit the station and request a landing pad in order to return. Failure to do so will likely result in the loss of the ship.

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I loaded in on my cargo ship and wanted to go back to the home station where my ships are stored. I figured I might as well try to land a cargo contract but the only one for my destination was a salvage operation, which is a more exploration type of activity that this ship isn’t set up for.

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Actual pre-flight checks in action

With that out of the way I went ahead and launched myself. Nobody wants to sit in station all day.

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Frame shift drive, charging.

One of the things I like about Elite is how immersive it tries to be. The ship has an audio assistant and provides feedback about several things going on. Each station has also a flight traffic controller that refers to you by a callsign when you enter range and announcing your landing pad when you request one and all that. While not exactly unique to you, your callsign is your ship manufacturer and the first three letters of your pilot name in the phonetic alphabet. For example, the Keelback that I’m flying is made my Lakon Spaceways and my pilot name is Kenidil. My callsign while using this ship is Lakon Kilo Echo November.

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3… 2… 1… Engage

Now I’m under the impression that they try to stay vaguely in the realm of reality, with regards to astronomy anyway, but reality would make travelling between different solar systems really really boring. As a result they have the “frame shift drive.” Now, I’m not a lore expert exactly, but it’s some manner of alternate dimension they enter and use the FSD itself to compress/move the space around the ship instead of moving the ship itself. I dunno, whatever, the experience is cool though.

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That bright dot in the center is the destination star. I’ve always assumed it had something to do with stars being easier to see at these distances and more mass to lock on to.

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Which naturally is why you always drop out right next to the dang thing. Don’t AFK and Drive guys, that’s how people get killed. Trying to grab a bite to eat while making a jump is a good way to end up biting it. Been there, done that, didn’t enjoy it. The t-shirt burned up in the explosion.

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I wish we could land on this type of planet so bad. Unfortunately as of yet we’ve got mostly boring dirt balls that look like the moon.

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Ship outfitting is fairly complicated in the details but the big picture isn’t to hard to grasp. Each ship has a certain number of slots of a designated size. Within each size there are usually five grades E-A in order of cost. There are exceptions, like cargo racks, because it’s kinda hard to improve “empty space.” A is not always the best choice either. Class A parts tend to have the best “performance” but are obnoxiously expensive and typically draw a lot of power. Class B is usually a good high end choice with a nicer price, but has the highest mass. Class C is a balanced mid tier. Class D, which I use a lot, is barely better than Class E but is usually the lightest class. For something like an exploration ship where you’re trying to minimize mass to get maximum jump range class D is where it’s at.

For the record, that isn’t my Keelback in the picture above, it’s my combat outfitted Vulture. The ship you see in my as my user image with the glowy blue lines. My keelback is basically cargo racks all the way down.

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Speaking of cargo racks, I honestly make most of my money doing cargo missions mixed with the odd trading run here and there. There’s a large background simulator that has every system/station assigned an economy that controls what is produces and what it needs. Trading is a rather tight balancing act of finding a system with a massive supply selling below the galactic average and taking to somewhere where it’s in high demand and selling above the galactic average. I honestly haven’t had a ton of luck, but that’s partially because my Keelback is like a space U-haul, not really a good cargo runner but it’s better than a plain ol’ truck.

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The game does give you a rank in various types of activity that are an okay indicator of your level of experience with that activity. My combat rank was mostly harmless for quite some time. You can make good money doing any of these things, really, but it helps to pick a location and hang out there. You don’t get the good paying missions until you’ve increased your faction standing in a system by doing the little ones. I actually got my initial working cash by doing smuggling missions. Little on the high risk side especially since I didn’t know what I was doing, but I managed to get a decent ship and started branching out a little. I currently have three different ships, one for each one of those activities.

Now, all that aside, the main flaw I’d say this game has is that it’s 100% sandbox. There’s absolutely no story other than the one you make for yourself. This creates a vague unguided experience that can honestly seem rather humdrum, especially if you don’t read the news and immerse yourself in the sim itself. There are some things I would love to do but haven’t managed yet, like making the trip to Colonia. Even my exploration ship doesn’t have the kind of jump range I would need on it yet. That and playing in a group with my brother would require me to return afterwards and it’s such a long trip that it would be inconvenient.

It’s not for everyone. Even I don’t tend to play for long periods of time but in a more on again, off again way. It feels more active and engaging than, say, EVE. I’ve played EVE too, but I dislike the sort of auto-piloty nature of it. It feels too cold and distant, like a spreadsheet in space that’s been cleaned up and made prettier. So many spreadsheets….

What’s in a birthday?

It’s funny in a way, this is one of the topics my wife and I didn’t really see eye to eye on. It wasn’t really that big of a deal to me, but it is to her.

See I’ve never had a ton of close friends. My parents weren’t very social people either, so there was usually a cake, a couple of gifts, and that’s it. It was… acknowledged. Then at some point everyone just kind of stops bothering. If I want a cake, I have to get it for myself. I can have cake whenever, though, so it’s not like the calendar day on which I was born is really all that important. The most important part about it is that my vehicle tags expire on that day. Great reminder system, poor gift.

My wife on the other hand often had hers dismissed out of hand. Of course her parents would also withhold dinner and such if she something she did/didn’t do was deemed unacceptable, so not exactly the most caring bunch. As a result it’s rather important to her to have it recognized. Needless to say that generated some friction until I got the memo.

To be fair though, she doesn’t even expect a lot. She wants to to be obvious that you remembered and were thinking about it. Handmade and/or handwritten cards are a good low cost option. This year there are four, one a child picked out from Walmart that they all wrote in and one that each of them made.

She also got to go and participate in a color run in Atlanta last weekend and is expecting a rather nice, if somewhat carry-out, dinner tomorrow. It’s all small gestures and it’s important to her, so why not?

It’s still weird to me though, I don’t even like people knowing when mine is, much less doing anything about it.

Warframe – Quick Update

I’m headed back to the hospital so we’re gonna be a bit brief.

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I did manage to get some more fishing time in, which means I got the murkray livers I needed for the amp. Now I just need to spend some time grinding out the remaining wisps and some more Intact Sentient Cores for the Revenant parts to continue that storyline.

They also just added a new warframe, Chroma Prime, but I haven’t sat down to look at it or figure out what needs to be done to obtain it.

At exactly 100 words, now that’s what I call brief.

More happenings in Guild Wars 2

Now that I have some people playing with me, we’ve continued with our random adventures. When all three of us are around we just sort of do whatever. Late last week we managed to three-man the first dungeon. It wasn’t to bad, except the part where we got trolled by the cave troll. That took several tries to get a handle on.

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We also managed to complete our first guild mission. We basically just spammed the mission till we got lucky enough to end up in the zone, locate the target, and take part in the fight. Admittedly I just asked in map chat as soon as we hit the zone and people generally point me in the right direction if they  know.

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Those two activities were done with my Scrapper, which I was running a form of healing build on. Around the time we reached the end of the main story line my brother came to the conclusion that he didn’t like the overall playstyle of the Mesmer.

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So he used a boost, which led to the discovery that he’d have to do the main story over again. In order to save some time later I went ahead and boosted my warrior so I could get credit for the story the second time through. I’ve really been enjoying this dual axe build.

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I’m also kinda broke cause I’m a bit of a crafting junkie. Gives me something to work on during downtime and the bags from leatherworker are nice.

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Extraordinarily frustrating though, was the time period between hitting level 80, the first time through, and unlocking the mastery system. Once the bar filled up it gave a little popup notification in the bottom corner telling me to do something I couldn’t do. It was… annoying. Eventually got it sorted though. Didn’t really know what to do with it though, so I just started pushing down the default skill for now.

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We initially went to do Heart of Thorns and realized we were missing some details, so we picked up season 2 of the living world content and we’ve been working through that first. I like most of the bits of actual content, and I love doing events in the open world to progress instead of everything being instanced. Man do they talk though. So, much, exposition.

Overall we’re trucking along though. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to do Ascalon Catacombs in exploration mode soon. Probably won’t get a chance till this weekend though. It’s hard to get all three of us online at the same time, especially for an extended period of time.

That’s pretty much the highlights so far. We’ll… keep doing this until we’re sick of doing it.

Looking forward in the week

It’s going to be a bit crazy this week. My wife has surgery Tuesday morning, which means I’ll be at home more, but I’ll have to assume her daily obligations in place of mine.

Additionally, my phone is currently MIA. This presents a few problems in my normal routine. For one, I won’t be able to share my posts to discord at the time I normally would. I normally do this during a break at work and the proxy server blocks discord. I will try to remember to do it when I get home, but that’s not for eight-ish hours yet. It’s likely that I will forget, I do that a lot.

I currently plan to go over what I’ve been doing in Guild Wars 2 tomorrow. I was going to do it today, but the ordeal with my phone means I don’t have any images prepared, so I’ll wait.

I did manage to make a little bit of progress in Warframe as well, that’ll be up on it’s regularly scheduled Wednesday.

Thursday I was planning to talk about birthdays a little bit. That’s subject to change but my wife’s birthday is coming up and the difference between my experience and hers has been interesting.

Lastly I think on Friday I’m going to do an overview post of Elite: Dangerous. It’s ironic in a way that I don’t talk about it more, but it’s been on my topic list since I started it. That was over a month ago.

I have absolutely no idea what you’re going to get Saturday. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I do know, however, what’s coming this Sunday. With all the excitement over the upcoming Torchlight game I figured I might as well give the series a good poke, as I haven’t played it. With that in mind I’ll be doing the original Torchlight this Sunday, and Torchlight 2 the Sunday after that.

It’s all a bit tentative but it’s a good guess. Hopefully those two days I’m not at work will help get some things done.