Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Do I Game?

K. Cox of Your Critic is in Another Castle asks "Why do you Game?" She wants as many responses as possible, so please, hustle over there and give her your comment. She's a fellow member of the Golden Horde, and good people. Go, then come back here, and read my thoughts.

I like solving puzzles. I can't remember ever not liking this. They might have been jigsaw puzzles as a kid, or wire-loop puzzles, or math problems or whatever. I get a charge from getting the answer. It's what's missing when you do the same instance for the twentieth time-there's no puzzle. So that's one reason.

I like crunch. I like being able to grind through some numbers and gain insight by doing so. This is one of the big appeals of Eve Online to me. I did several posts here about the combat math of EQ2 and how it works. This is related to solving puzzles, but not exactly the same thing. Combat isn't a puzzle, but it generates some interesting questions, such as "Which is better, the +4 plate armor, or the +2 plate armor with 3/- damage resistance?"

[If you don't like crunch, skip this paragraph] It turns out that there's a pretty precise answer available to you for the above question (It's DDO oriented, by the way). Making one's armor class worse by -2 means that you are taking 10% more damage on every swing that an enemy swings at you. For that to be better than 3/- damage resistance, the average damage per hit would have to be over 30 points to be of more benefit, because 10% of 30 is 3. At level 8, that just doesn't seem to be the case.

I like computer gaming because I'm an introvert. I like people, but interacting with them uses up energy. An intellectual challenge, time alone with the computer, actually charges me up. (And wipe that smirk off your face, that's not what I'm talking about!). Gaming brings me serenity, it is often very soothing. Although you might not think so if you were to listen to me curse at Alexander the Great after he declares war on me for the fourth time. But really, that's but a moment's ripple. The problems one encounters in the game world are by and large tractable. You can just start a new game, or a new character, after all. Some might call this "escapist". I invite them to closely examine figure 1. I call it therapeutic.

One of the primary reasons that I like tabletop RP so much is that I'm a frustrated actor. I did drama in high school, and was reasonably good at it. I love projecting a character, and making other people laugh because they know the character, and know how vain he is about his hair. Just as a random example.

Which brings me to another reason I game: It's social. I like doing things in teams. And yes, I'm an introvert. No, that isn't comfortable, but it's true. One of the reasons I loved being an enchanter so much in EQ2 is that it was very group focused, and very tactically focused. So there's the social, and the puzzle aspects of it. Enchanters didn't do so much damage themselves, as much as they enabled a group to achieve far, far more, both via mezzing and via buffs.

Finally, I like creativity. Games like Sim City or Civilization (and Eve) appeal to me because there's a lot of freedom and not just one narrow "right answer". There's definitely things that don't work, but obstacles can be taken as inspiration, rather than deterrents. I've always liked taking a group that doesn't have the "ideal" composition and being successful with it. One time Chuman, Conseca, and Toldain took down a boss named in Lavastorm. That was a Paladin, Wizard, and Illusionist in EQ2. We had no idea if it would work, but it did.

Why do you game?

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Xorian is Deciphered

Last night we tackled a DDO quest called The Xorian Cipher. It's described as level 8, very long, and extreme challenge. We played it on Normal difficulty.

In attendance were Karayasama (Sorcerer 7, Thief 3), Profundo (Bard 9, played by Phritz), Thio (Fighter 6 or 7, played by Lobilya), and your favorite 3000-year old (Wizard level 10). I brought along Tower, a level 8 fighter hireling, and Profundo brought a level 9 cleric hireling to fill out the group. Tower is warforged, so I can heal him, and I've focused some enhancements and gear on doing that well. Profundo's healer gave us the ability to raise dead during the heat of battle. This was quite useful.

I died a lot. In this dungeon there are maybe a dozen rifts, which spawn these strange black glowing energy globes. They wander around aimlessly, and if they touch you they cast a random spell on you. And I do mean random. We got Bull's Strength, Enfeeblement, giant heals, Polar Rays for 100 hit points (that was one death for me), and Stone to Flesh (another one, after something else beat the crap out of me).

There are runes near each rift that allow you to close it, activated by either high Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. We had all three available. But finding the runes and getting them turned off while there are cultists and undead chasing you isn't the easiest.

The craziest fight came late in the dungeon where we were forced to split up, standing on each of four pedestals to proceed further. Karayasama and I went one way, and Profundo and Thio the other. Karayasama and I managed to clear through a couple of encounters without too much trouble - making a few opponents switch sides at the beginning of battle can do that - and found ourselves in a high arched opening overlooking a giant hall with skeletal archers, a rift, and four named undead who shot lightning bolts.

Profundo and Thio had made it to this hall and were having serious trouble. Thio dropped early. Profundo had survived, with the help of his healer. I summoned my teleporting devil, hoping he would jump down and join in. But he was reluctant. I stood in the doorway as close to the edge as I could, trying to get him to engage. The archers evidently had arrows that did a sonic with a stun, or one of the nameds could do that. I stood there like a fool while they drilled me. Well, I stood there like a fool before that, too, but never mind. I died and the demon did not engage. Quoth Karayasama, "Tolly, you have to dodge in and out, don't just stand there!"

Now that I'm dead, I jump down into the chamber and order Tower to engage. He's doing ok, but he can't manage by himself and eventually he dies.

Ok, things are bad. I think at some point maybe Karayasama got tagged too, I'm not really sure. But it turns out that down a long hall leading from the big chamber is a rest shrine and a rez shrine. The first time I try it, I am tantalizingly close, the cursor even changes to the correct icon, but I'm recalled to my soul stone before I can click. The next two tries are not as close. The fourth time I make it, and my hair is once again red and fabulous. (Rezzing is great for split ends!) I rest and recharge all my mana, too. I call Tower back and he rezzes. I get another summoned creature (another devil, in fact). Profundo, I think has stayed alive, or rezzed himself. We push back down the hallway, killing skeletons, but avoiding the nameds. I grabbed someone's stone, maybe Karayasama's and run it back to the shrine. Profundo grabs the other one.

We're all back in the game, and I start putting up electrical resistance and protection. Which is good because the nameds have decided to chase us into the shrine area. But the resistances are enough to turn the tide and we prevail. However, the orbs from the rift claim another victim - Thio - and we pause to turn off the rift before we recover Thio's soulstone.

When the dungeon is cleared there is jubilation. That was sloppy, to be sure, but we pulled it out, turning what seemed to be disaster into success, though success with a high repair bill.

The last fight went easier, though I died due to stupidly throwing multiple lightning bolts at the named hellhound right from the start. Doh! Fortunately nobody else was so stupid, the hireling raised me, and we grabbed the loot and did a victory dance!

This is how I like to dungeon. I don't demand that stuff be completely fresh - Karayasama had done part of the dungeon before, and helped us speed things along. But it's the polar opposite of what running instances in EQ2 had become: Pull all the mobs in the room and burn them down. No real danger or risk. Any puzzles or lore are completed by someone else that had done the instance dozens of times before I can even read them.

I understand the mentality, and if I had ground through an instance a dozen times or more, I'd be in a hurry. Because I would be farming them for drops or points or whatever, and feeling impatient. But I don't play D&D or RPG's to farm, I play them for adventure. Running something for the fiftieth time and concentrating on efficiency is kind of the opposite of adventure.

Not that there isn't a place for that. That's more the realm of economic/strategy gameplay. Such as mission-running or ratting in EVE. Of course you're repeating it, the mission itself isn't the adventure.

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