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One of the things I'd like to do (but not a resolution) this year is establish regular writing habits. Blogging is one way to do that. I figured I'd pick a couple of subjects and write at least once a week about them. Then I realized that the forums no longer have a blog function! So, we get this thread . . .

 

I'll be attempting to post every Friday about the inanity that was my week in MMO gaming. I may mention other computer/console but non-MMO activities, but the bulk of my computerized gaming time is on MMOs, so there ya go.

 

Feel free to jump in with anything you have to say related to MMOs, not just responding to my babbling. Create some new babble of your own and chuck it in!

 

I'm kind of a non-casual casual player these days. I still spend a lot of time outside of the games trying to figure out what best to do in the games, but I no longer do any organized playing at a higher level, such as raiding or organized PVP. I probably spend more time outside of games digging into the theorycrafting (which I leave to others) stuff than actually in game these days.

 

So, on to my week! I'm going to include a bit of last week for this first post.

 

I suppose the biggest update for this first post is that I've let my WoW subscription lapse as of the 7th. I completed my Sky Golem last week, and a few more of the largest bags. I also made a couple of the 553 epic legs to sell. So, basically my time in game lately has been logging in, crafting my daily ingredient for a large item, then logging out.

 

I also did a bit of raid pet hunting. I got lucky and got all of the Tempest Keep pets in one run, but had no luck on anything else. I've been kind of interested in doing the whole pet battle thing, but never got around to it. It's like my backup plan if I ever have absolutely nothing amusing to do with my time.

 

Before that, it was mount hunting. I was leveling a few alts to get more 90s to hit holiday and raid bosses. But I already have my six main characters at 90, and doing too many more runs a day would take up too much time since I'm going to have other projects to work on now that I'm starting to feel slightly better. (Current 90s: Ret Paladin, Frost Mage, Frost DK, Fury Warrior, Feral/Balance Druid, Beast Mastery Hunter; Current 80s: Frost DK, Ret Pally (abandoned chars on other servers), Enhancement Shaman.)

 

One alt project I started recently was to start an alt on a completely new server and see if I could farm up enough money and Darkmoon Prize Tickets to get it geared up with heirlooms. I did this before the cross-realm BOA mailing was put in. Mainly because new players complain about old players and their heirlooms, and I knew they could catch up pretty quickly with a little effort. So, the idea was to test out my theory before offering up advice to newbies on the WoW forums. Here's how you do it:

 

1. Get professions up to 75.

2. Get character level up to 15.

3. Go to the Darkmoon Faire and do all of the quests, including all the dailies.

4. Fish the shipwreck debris pools for Sealed Crates.

5. Open said crates and remove all the high level crafting materials.

6. Get an auction mod, like Auctioneer or Auctionator and install it.

7. Sell the goods. Profit.

8. Join one of the high level guilds that spams invites. Make sure they have all the perks unlocked to buy heirlooms.

9. Buy cash heirlooms.

10. Buy quest turn in items from AH, and turn them in. Make sure you only buy the level 15 items.

11. Turn in tickets for an heirloom item. You should have enough to get at least one, unless you're going for a two handed weapon, which will take two Faires for a lowbie.

 

Obviously, some of those steps will be out of order. Creating a second character to gather tickets on will get you two items the first week. Fishing may have to be done in off hours if there are too many high levels with water walking abilities, but even in high traffic times, a lowbie can still make some good money.

 

This post is probably getting too long, so I'll continue babbling below. Next up: GW2, DDO, Neverwinter Online, DCUO.

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So, with the WoW ending on Tuesday, what will I do with my time? To be honest, it hasn't freed up a whole lot of time. I've been doing a lot of reading lately, mostly going through a bunch of Octavia E. Butler books I picked up on sale on Kindle. Good stuff, there.

 

MMO-wise, I've played a little GW2 lately, but not much this week. I need to sit down and get back into it. I like it, and it's a gorgeous game, but it's unfamiliar and demands a lot of attention to really get into. (For my playing style at least, see above.) So, I've just popped on a bit to chat with the guildies and do heart completions. I'm kind of testing out the waters with my Necromancer and Hunter to see which I want to focus on first. At least I have it down to those two. Both seem pretty decent soloing.

 

I've spent some time on DDO the last couple of days, trying to straighten out my characters. The game is about to turn eight, but I still think it looks very decent. The gameplay is fun, can be challenging, and the build variety is insane. It's based on 3.5 D&D (with copious house rules to accommodate an action MMO play style), and set in Eberron. The last two expansion packs are set in the Forgotten Realms. 

 

As to straightening out my characters: The game uses an enhancement system as its reward system for mini-dings while leveling. Each level gives four Action Points to buy Enhancements with. The Enhancements are small bonuses to various aspects of a character: better saves, better attack or damage bonus with a particular weapon, action boosts to increase things like damage, attack rolls, spell power, or skill checks for 20 to 30 seconds or so, and even some spell-like abilities and abilities that change or replace existing abilities. Of course, you get the usual hit points, BAB increases, spell use increases, feats and stat boosts for various levels like in pen and paper, on the full level ups. Enhancements are also used to give out Prestige Classes, instead of them being class levels.

 

Well, the enhancement system went through a huge revision a while back, forcing most everyone to respec their character. My Arcane Archer went from a STR-based build to a DEX-based build, for example. (I didn't have to, but the option was opened and it fit my non-raiding play style better.) So, I went through some of my other characters to re-do their builds. Here's a run down of what types of characters I'm playing (albiet sporadically):

 

Elf Ranger 19 Arcane Archer, Drow Fighter 9/ Cleric 7 Kensei Warpriest (formerly a spare Artificer), Human Artificer 7 focused on crafting and repeating crossbow pew-pewing, Human Paladin 7 two-hander build (need to do her respec), Human Rogue 1/ Ranger 6 TWF build, Dwarf Ranger 4/Paladin 3 WTF Was I Thinking Build (built that one with sword and board stats . . . I really don't know what I was thinking. Was possibly just a name placeholder (you can start at level 7 with a perk) that I wanted to test something weird on. I'm leaning toward making him a Cleric with a Fighter and Paladin splash.), and a Halfling Rogue 4/ Druid 1 Acrobat that I just got done respeccing today. (He's going to be staff fighter, for giggles, with a 13 Rogue/6 Fighter/1 Druid class split. I would have gone Monk, but his old build was True Neutral and I don't want to pony up almost five bucks for an alignment change on alt number one million.) I also have a level 16 Half Orc Barbarian on another server that needs to be respecced.

 

One of the cool things about DDO is that each build plays very differently and the quests can feel very different depending on who you bring. I had some fun with my bouncy Halfling Rogue today running through Tangleroot Gorge quests, to get him a staff upgrade. I'll be putting two Fighter levels on next to pick up Power Attack, Cleave and Great Cleave Feats, to help him mow down the monsters faster. With the Druid level I picked up today, he's hitting a lot harder due to Shillelagh (doubles his base weapon damage with a wooden quarterstaff) and Ram's Might (size bonus to STR and Melee Damage). He also picked up a companion wolf and a summoned wolf, which give him some instant flanking buddies! That won't last long with one Druid level, but fun for now. 

 

I also have a time card I bought a while back for Champions Online. At least I think I do. I have about ten pounds of desk clutter on top of where it should be. I'm sort of holding my breath and hoping they get around to putting some kind of new content in the game before plunging back in. I've got a bit less than half of my characters set to Silver account status currently, and I hop on from time to time to level them a little. Once I get a few to 39, I'll renew the sub, ding 40 on them as Gold, and get some more character slots. That plan may take a very long time to come to fruition at the rate I've been playing though.

 

So, that's been my week with MMOs. =)

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One little project I was working on a while back was a bit of a beginner's guide/tips for DDO players, in the event anyone wanted to try it out or to join me in game sometime. I may as well do that here. So, without further adieu . . .

 

DDO Tips by Pattern Ghost:

 

Section 1: Free to Play?

 

DDO is well-known for being the first A-list MMO to make the swap to free to play. Their model is a "freemium" one. You can either pay a monthly subscription (discounted if you buy multiple months) which will unlock all of the adventure packs (quests) save for those that are part of expansion packs (Menace of the Underdark, which raises the level cap to 25, and the Shadowfell Conspiracy which raises the cap to 28). You also get most of the races and classes for free.

 

OR you can go free to play. You will not get all of the adventure packs, but there are a good number of free to play quests. You should be able to make it to the middle of the heroic (1-20) levels pretty easily with the content provided, though you may need to repeat a few quests. Repeating quests isn't that bad, though, as I'll explain below. So, don't plunk down cash on low level quests first. Start with something like Red Fens, which is around level 9 content. You buy the adventure packs (quests) with Turbine Points. You can earn these in game by grinding Favor (slow) or just spend some cash to buy them. If you buy any Turbine Points, you will become a Premium Account. The perks make it worth it to just buy a small batch of points as soon as you decide you like the game enough to play more. These mostly involve lifting restrictions on mail, the auction house and gold (plat) cap.

 

One other thing you may want to buy besides adventure packs is a shared account bank. There are three levels of binding for items: Unbound, Bound to Character (either on pick up or on equip), and Bound to Account (many quest reward items). The shared bank is the only way to share BTA items. You cannot mail BTA items in DDO.

 

You can also buy any of the races or classes available for Turbine Points. For example, Favored Soul requires a metric butt-ton of Favor to unlock on one server. Buying it unlocks it on all servers. On the other hand, Drow doesn't require a lot to unlock on a server, so you shouldn't waste money on it. Some races and classes can only be bought with Turbine Points, even for subscribers.

 

The game gives you enough content at low levels to decide if you want to invest in it or not after putting in a few hours. The free to play quests are not any lower quality than the rest of the quests, and are a good reflection of the rest of the game. So, IMO, don't spend a dime until you know you like the game, then start with putting in just enough cash to buy the points needed to get a shared bank. After that, you can look at reviews of the adventure packs and start off with some of the mid-level content for purchases there. Several of the lower-level packs are excellent, but none of them are necessary purchases, especially with the new-ish Cannith crafting system, and the strength of the randomly-generated loot.

 

Also note, there is nothing in the store that increases character power that can't be obtained in game.

 

Section 1a: So, what do you get for free?

 

You get two character slots per server. If you go Premium, you get two more.

You get the following races: Human, Elf, Halfling, Dwarf.

You get the following classes: Fighter, Paladin, Barbarian, Cleric, Wizard, Sorcerer, Bard, Ranger, Rogue.

You get over a hundred quests: List here.

You'll have some limits on chat, auction house and cash, until you go Premium, as noted above.

 

You get a pretty decent amount of stuff.

 

Section 1b: As if I had a "Section 1b." Pfft.

 

Section 2: Character Building

 

Character building is very similar to 3.x D&D on the surface Which means it's pretty easy to get trapped into a bad build if you think too much in pen and paper terms. This is an action MMO, and that necessitates changes to the game, especially at higher levels where D20 gets wonky. It's a good idea to do some research before making a character, and to be willing to delete your failed experiments and start over while learning the system.

 

The game will present you with the option of choosing a "path" at character creation. DO NOT DO THIS. USE A CUSTOM BUILD. Seriously. The path builds range from bad to outright stupid. If you want a dual-wielding ranger with khopesh proficiency (slashing weapon) and improved crit: piercing (!!!), then go for it. Don't say you weren't warned though.

 

Characters consist of most of the same things as normal 3.x characters, plus Turbine's implementation of Enhancements. Update 19 came out last August and included a total revamp of Enhancements, as well as some Skill changes, so keep that in mind while reading up on builds.

 

It pays to use a character planner, such as this one. (Which I think is the only one. It's free.)

 

Section 2a: Attributes

 

You get the usual six: STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS and CHA. You get a 28 point buy, which is costed the same as in PnP.

 

STR is your most important melee stat. It determines your hit and damage bonus, as per table top. In DDO, it is also, by FAR, the easiest stat to pump to really high levels. Update 19 has made it viable to use DEX-based DPS builds, and those builds are easier to gear for for a new player, but still won't keep up with STR-based builds.

 

CON should be no lower than 14 on any build. The more health, the better in DDO. At higher levels, you want enough health not to be one-shotted by certain bosses. The Toughness Feat also used to be considered mandatory on most characters, but the Enhancement changes have made it easier to get bonus health from your Enhancements.

 

Casting stat: If you are playing a DC-based spell caster, max it. If you are playing a hybrid class like a Ranger or Paladin, you can safely dump it. Rangers and Paladins only get 4th level spells, which means they need a 14 Wisdom to prep and cast their highest-level spells. All bonuses to Wisdom apply here. If you have a +6 WIS item (not hard to get), you are set for spell casting. If you take a potion or use a wand of Owl's Wisdom at lower levels, you'll have a Wis of 12, which is enough to see you through 10th level. I used to suggest going with a 10 starting Wisdom to be able to cast with easily-obtainable +1 and +2 items, but with the skill changes, you may need those points in INT to get the skills you want.

 

Feats have Attribute prerequisites, as in PnP,  so keep those in mind when planning your build.

 

Section 2b: Skills

 

Not all skills made it into DDO from PnP. Those that did work slightly differently. I'm going to go down the list in no particular order.

 

Heal: Since the skills pass, now gives positive energy spell power bonus. So, now it actually does something, which is make your heals bigger. If you plan to heal yourself with your own spells, take this. You won't need Repair for self-healing unless you spring for a Warforged or a Bladeforged, but if you do, the same applies. (These are robot-looking arcane constructs in the Eberron setting. They make great arcane casters due to the ability to heal themselves with Repair spells.)

 

Balance: You don't need a ton of this, but you should have some. It lets you get up faster after being tripped. Good for anyone who doesn't want to lay on their back and get mangled.

 

Tumble: You only need one point in this. But in order to use it, your net bonus has to be at least one. So, Dex of 8, one rank in Tumble = 1-1 = 0 Tumble. Oh, plate armor? Ok, now you're at -5. But don't worry, you'll eventually get some DEX through items. If you're a light armor or clothy, you're set from the get go. What this allows you to do is to roll by holding down Shift while hitting a directional movement button. It's very handy to do that when you see some big bruiser of a mob wind up an attack, or a Minotaur wind up a charge. At first level, you can put two points into Tumble and two points into Balance for classes that have those as cross-class skills. That'll give you one point in each. From second level on, just put the point into Balance.

 

Spellcraft: If you are an offensive caster, max it. It gives you elemental spell power.

 

Use Magic Device: Probably the most powerful skill in the game. Lets you bypass alignment restrictions on items, and use wands and scrolls you normally can't. It's optional on a first life build, though, as it can take quite some effort to raise it to truly useful levels. For a first character, I'd suggest only taking it if you can get it as a class skill to get full ranks in it.

 

Hide and Move Silently: This is a play style call. Quests award experience on completion, so it's often possible to bypass enemies with stealth, complete your objective, and get out. On the other hand, you could just charge in and kill everything.

 

Open Locks: You really don't need many ranks in this. I can't remember what the suggested level is, but many mutli-class builds with a Rogue splash just take four points in it at level one (and you should always make your highest skill point class your first), and leave it at that. Items and other boosts can bump it up high enough to get almost every lock in the game. Unless you're doing the hardest end game content, you won't see the ones you can't get.

 

Spot, Search, and Disable Device: These are your trapping skills. It's possible to build a capable trapper with a single Rogue level. An 18 Ranger/1 Rogue/1 Fighter "Tempest Trapmonkey" build is popular, and doable for a new player. Spot is a good skill for casters and ranged characters. If you can see 'em, you can shoot 'em first.

 

Listen: Spot's red-headed stepbrother. Don't take it. It's the same as Spot, but instead of seeing the shadowy outline of a full critter, you'll just see red panic-lines around its feet. Lame.

 

Concentration: If you have the Quicken Feat, you don't need it. But it's darn handy if you cast while getting hit in combat, so if you plan to take Quicken later, putting points in Concentration can't hurt. In this case, full points to see the benefit.

 

Jump: If you're a STR-based build, you don't need ANY points in Jump. The Jump spell (available to a bunch of classes, and on items) at max level gives +30 Jump. The highest you will ever be able to jump is at jump skill 40. So, just being strong will get you higher than the +10 you need to go with the spell. If you aren't STR-based, then get up to +10 in Jump. You can add this to the slot you're using for Balance and that rank of Tumble.

 

Haggle: High Haggle skill gets you a discount from vendors and lets you get more money selling to vendors. Not really a priority, but a nice bonus on a Bard or other high-CHA character with skill points to spare.

 

Swim: Small swim speed and breath bar boost. Not worth taking unless you really have nowhere else to spend points, like a high-INT Rogue.

 

Diplomacy: The fine art of telling the monsters to attack your companions. Can be useful if you have said companions to use as fodder. That can include players, hirelings, or summoned critters.

 

Intimidate: You scare the monsters so much that they attack you! Yep, Intimidate is a taunt.

 

Bluff: If you have Sneak Attack dice, good pick. Note that you don't have to have any Rogue levels to have some SA dice. I'm just going to quote the Wiki, because I'm tired an my sinuses hurt: "Allows you to bluff certain NPCs, draw monsters away from their group, or make an individual monster vulnerable to sneak attack for six seconds. You also gain a decrease in threat generation for a short period of time after successfully using this ability. (15 second cooldown, Shares cooldown with Diplomacy)"

 

Perform: If you're a Bard, max it out. Your songs rely on it for their DCs.

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Section 2c: Feats

 

I'm not going to go too heavily into Feat selection, just a few points.

 

The Feat progression pretty much follows PnP:

 

  • You get Feats at levels 1,3,6,9,12,15,18, 21, 23.
  • Humans (and Half-Elves) get a bonus Feat at level 1.
  • Fighters get bonus Feats at levels 1,2,4,6, etc. (Epic levels aren't class levels, so progression stops at 20)[/li]
  • Wizards get bonus Feats at levels 1,5,10,15. and 20.

 

There are some DDO specific additions to Feats:

 

  • You'll get a Religion Feat at level 1 on a Cleric or Druid (or Favored Soul) that grants a weapon proficiency and a minor bonus of some sort, and another at level 6 that grants a spell like ability (SLA). The options are picked from the Eberron setting. It's kind of a watered-down version of what PnP does for diety choices.
  • There are Dragonmark Feats. These used to be three Feats for each line, but are now one Feat, with the two advanced Feats rolled into Enhancements. The Dragonmarks used to be an auto-pass, but are now well worth looking into.

 

 

If you have a lot of bonus Feats, you gain some flexibility in Feat selection. If you don't, then you are going to have a a lot less. This is the main attraction for Fighter and Monk level splashes. Two levels of either gives you combat Feats, so adding them to a Ranger or Paladin, for example, leaves more room for metamagic feats to boost heals.

 

For example, if you're a Two-Handed Fighting (THF) melee, you'll want the following Feats:

 

To qualify for Overwhelming Critical Epic Feat, you need:

 

Power Attack

Cleave

Great Cleave

Improved Critical: Whatever (Usually Slashing for Falchions or Great Axes)

 

If you're a non-Human, there goes 4 of your 7 Feats. The Two-Handed Fighting line is another three Feats (THF, Improved THF, and Greater THF) that you can take if you're DPS-focused. Say, a Barbarian. If you're a Paladin, you may want to take Extend, Maximize, and Quicken to boost your blue-bar heals. Or maybe Skill Focus: Use Magic Device if you have the skill and the Feat would push your UMD level into the useful range. (Which is a target of 39 for the Heal scroll, 43 for a Resurrection scroll. The wiki has a page on target UMD numbers.)

 

Things get tighter if you're a Two Weapon Fighter (TWF), because the three TWF Feats (TWF, Improved, and Greater) are mandatory, so there go your seven Feats. If you're a Human, you'll want Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Khopesh, because it's the best DPS one hander type in the game. If you're an Elf or Dwarf, you'll get racial enhancements to Scimitars or Rapiers (Elf) or Dwarven War Axe (Dwarf) which bring them nearly even to Khopesh. Halflings may have to use one of their Epic level feats to finish off TWF, getting the final feat pretty late, if they take Khopesh.

 

Archery requires more Feats, and does less damage unless you go for a very specific Arcane Archer/Monk build. My main is a pure Ranger Arcane Archer, and does OK solo, but the damage is far from optimal.

 

Speaking of Rangers: They get most of the Archery AND TWF Feats as bonus feats, by level 11.

 

The Shield Feats are also good, and many people add them to a THF build on a Fighter and sometimes Paladin, then take the defensive Enhancement tree, to have the option to turtle up on harder fights or if a tank is needed.

 

Sap is a cool Feat for taking an enemy out of the fight for a bit. It breaks on damage, but has no saving throw. I just started playing around with this a bit, and it works out pretty well for splitting up larger groups and reducing incoming damage. Just remember to move away from the sapped monster before swinging at anything else.

 

Stunning Blow is a flat out Stun, and useful for getting sneak attacks in if you have SA dice. It does have a Save DC, so you need a high STR build to get it to go off reliably. Superior to Sap for the STR types. Some racial and class Enhancements help with tactics DCs (Stunning Blow, Trip, etc. are all Tactics maneuvers.)

 

Final note, if you want to take a Feat that nobody seems to be using, then research it to make sure it's not either broken/bugged or just worthless. A few of the Feats are just bad choices, like Power Critical (use Seeker items for much bigger damage bonuses, and you never need the confirmation bonus anyway) or Die Hard (saved my life a couple of times on my Rangers -- who got it for free -- but it's really a weak feat compared to almost any other option competing for a Feat slot)

 

Edit: I forgot to mention how Metamagics work: Instead of raising the spell level for memorization, they impose an additional spell point tax. Spells in DDO use spell points instead of slots per day. You gain some flexability by being able to turn the metamagics on or off as needed. If you right-click on a spell that's on your action bar, you can set metamagics to be either standard (will be on if you have the metamagic activated), always on, or always off. This is handy for setting up heals of different sizes/costs for example. You can just drag a number of heals to your bar and set the icons up with different metamagics. 

 

Section 2d: Enhancements

 

Not much to say about Enhancements, besides what I've already said. You get Enhancements as your incremental advancements between level raises, four per level up to 20, so 80 points total. You get a Racial Tree and up to three trees per class. You can put points into up to six total trees. So, if you had a three class multi split and each had three trees, you'd have a total of ten trees available, but you could only pick six trees total to buy Enhancements in.

 

When you buy Enhancements, you start at the bottom of the tree and work your way up. The very bottom row are your Core Enhancements. You buy these from left to right. Each one requires a certain level in the class (or character levels for Racial trees), like so: 1,3,6,12,18,20. They may also require a certain number of points spent in the tree.

 

The rest of the Enhancements are broken up by tier, with the first being the bottom row. Class trees have five tiers each, while racial trees have four each. Tiers are unlocked by character level (must be at least same level as the tier, so tier 5 requires five levels in the class) and  points spent in the tree for class trees (0/5/10/15 pts). Racial trees only have the points spent in tree requirement.

 

Individual Enhancements may have prerequisites of their own.

 

Since the Enhancement system is how you access Prestige Class capabilities in DDO, they have a major impact on your character, and need to be accounted for in planning your build.

 

Section 2e: Races

 

I'm going to give a quick rundown. Linking to the wiki pages for more details. Keep in mind that any race can be used for any build. You don't need super-optimized builds to be successful in DDO and enjoy the game. At the same time, races aren't just aesthetic choices and offer interesting and sometimes powerful abilities.

 

Human: No bonus or penalty stats, but can get +1 to two different stats through Enhancements. The bonus Feat and Skill point are super useful. The Enhancement tree has Healing Amplification, which means bigger incoming heals (from yourself or others), making Humans excellent for self-sufficient and solo builds, and is chock full of other goodies. The Passage dragonmarks provide very useful spells. Humans are the strongest race all around, only surpassed in a few niches by other races.

 

Halfling: Get +2 DEX/-2 STR. Laundry list of other baseline bonuses. Only drawback is that they have 75% carrying capacity compared to other races, and if you want to make an Intimidate tank (Intimitank in DDO forumspeak), the penalty to Intimidate can be painful. Some people don't like them for melee builds, but STR is so easy to boost in game that the penalty isn't really that significant. They have Enhancements that give bonuses to saves, a SLA to buff a team mate, can gain another +2 DEX, get boosts to Sneak Attack damage, bonuses to Dodge, and have the lamest weapon enhancements, which boost throwing weapons.

 

The Halfling dragonmark line is a series of heals: Cure Light, Cure Serious and Heal. You can have Heal by level 6 as a Halfling. There's also a status effect removal addition to their dragonmark line. The Cures are boosted by Empower Spell, Maximize Spell, and Empower Healing, and the Heal is boosted by Empower Healing. The dragonmark heals can't be interrupted, but Quicken can be applied to them for a really quick casting time. These heals aren't based on spell points, just a set number of times per rest, so the metamagics are free (no spell point tax). You get 9 CLW, 6 CSW, and 4 Heals per rest. You can also get up to 6 Break Out the Leaches (condition remover) per rest, but they share uses with CSW. You'll need to be able to cast healing spells to take Empower Healing, and just be a spell caster to take Empower or Maximize, so splashing a level of a Divine or Arcane class is needed to power up the dragonmarks. (They can be used without metamagics, but they become much, much better with them. At a minimum, I'd try to squeeze in Maximize.)

 

Halflings make good Rogues and DEX-based anything. They're also good Bards, having yet another buff in the Hero's Companion enhancement and some solid backup heals that don't require spell points.

 

Dwarf: Get +2 CON/-2 CHA, along with another laundry list of bonuses with no drawbacks. They're your typical stout tough guys, getting another +2 CON and up to 30 HP (nice!) through their racial core enhancements. They get some more stoutness themed Enhancements, but there's not much to write home about in their Enhancements besides their weapon bonuses. Dwarves can use Dwarven War Axes without having to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency if they have Martial Weapon proficiency. (Not just proficiency in a martial weapon, but the feat granted for general martial weapon proficiency from levels in Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, or Paladin.) Dwarven War Axes are cool because they have a x3 crit, high base damage (d10), and if you're fighting with a single weapon or sword and board, you gain glancing blows as if using a two-hander (more on that later). The Dwarven dragonmark isn't interesting. As expected, Dwarves are a nice choice for melee. They're especially nice for two-handed (because Great Axes are nice two handers) and sword and board builds (because of DWA proficiency and some shield and other defensive-minded enhancements.) Human healing amp outweighs Dwarf advantages if you're looking at a self-healing melee build. Dwarf CHA penalty makes them a poor choice for Paladins, though Divine Might changes have made that a bit less of an issue.

 

Elf: Get +2 DEX/-2 CON. Bonus list is short, nothing outstanding, no penalties. Considered a poor choice for melee due to CON penalty, but you should be able to work around that if you want to. Core Enhancements give up to +2 DEX, and some attack bonuses. The to hit bonuses aren't particularly great, as hitting things at high level isn't generally an issue. Elven racial weapons come in two flavors, Aerenal or Valenar, your choice. Aerenal boosts hit and damage with Longswords, Rapiers and Longbows. Valenar boosts hit and damage with Scimitars, Falchions and Shortbows. If you're a Ranger or other archer, you want Aerenal, because there aren't really any named loot shortbows in game. Even if you're a melee ranger, you'll want a good bow, because you should be using Manyshot on cooldown as it has insane burst damage. Elves also have a high level enhancement called Grace that lets them use DEX for damage. They have another high level enhancement called Skill that gives significant damage boosts and some Dodge. Elves also get significant bonuses to spell casting in their enhancements now with bonus spell points and spell penetration. The Elven dragonmark is middle of the road, and probably not worth it on builds that are tight on Feats. With the Enhancement pass, Elves have become excellent candidates for Rangers and Wizards. (Sorcerers care less about spell points and spell penetration.)

 

Section 2f: Builds & Classes

 

The first thing to remember when building your character is that you do not have to have a perfectly optimized character.  As long as you don't get too crazy with your build you should be able to make something that's perfectly fine for normal play. "Normal play" is to say anything short of running epic elite content. "Epic elite content" is epic level quests (level 21+) being run on the hardest setting. More on quests later. What do I mean by "don't get too crazy?" I mean things with negative synergy, like Wizard 10/ Sorcerer 10, or Wizard 10/ Cleric 10, etc. Wizard 18 / Sorcerer 2? That could actually work.

 

The second thing to remember is that this game is not a holy trinity (tank/healer/dps) type of game. With the flexibility of character builds, you can easily make a self-sufficient character and most pick up groups expect you to do so. So, if you join a PUG as a tank and expect the party Cleric to keep you healed up, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise as the Cleric watches you die while he kites mobs through his blade barriers. Many of the listings in the looking for group tool state "BYOH," which means Bring Your Own Heals.

 

If you want to play in a more traditional style, with fixed roles, you can always find like-minded players to group with, but it will take more effort. Another style of play is Perma-Death, meaning exactly what it says: You die, you delete, unless a caster high enough to raise you happens to be in your party at the time of your death. Beyond that, PD guild rules vary, but most have some combination of: none or only one shrine use per quest; quests must be run on the hardest difficulty and at or below level; if you die, you can usually keep one legacy item to pass on to your next character and your current party members can loot your "corpse" (you'll have to res to trade with them, but afterward, you leave the quest and delete the character immediately); buying items from the auction house and trading items outside of quests is not allowed (you can pass unwanted loot found in dungeons to teammates, but no other types of trading are typically allowed).

 

You can also do what I do, and play mostly solo. The game used be very difficult in that regard, but it has eased up. Most quests can be soloed at level if you're prepared and equipped for them.

 

So, keeping in mind your desired playing style and setting aside any urge to create an uber-beastmode character, the next step in creating a character build is something we should all be familiar with: Character concept. As noted above, you don't really start out deciding whether to be a tank, dps or healing role in DDO. You'll ask yourself how self sufficient you want to be, if you want to go with a particular race, class or theme, whether you want the character built to accomplish certain goals (hagglebot, built to farm certain content, built to quickly pick up a past life in a certain class,etc.), etc.  With the base classes and races alone, the number of combinations numbers in the millions. Since I'm most familiar with Rangers, I'll give more detailed notes on them, then give some general build ideas.

 

Ranger Notes

 

In DDO, Rangers do not have animal companions. Instead, they are given both the two weapon fighting (TWF) and archery fighting styles. Companions have only recently become available, with the introduction of the Artificer class, and later the Druid class. Those companion pets have horrible AI and controls compared to other games, so it's no great loss. Rangers are inherently self-sufficient, and can be build to deal damage either with melee or archery. Archery is the weaker option for sustained damage output, but has the highest burst damage in the game.

 

It's common for melee Ranger builds to go to 11 Ranger, giving all of the class-granted TWF and Archery feats, or to 14 or 15 for access to level 4 spells (Freedom of Movement and Cure Serious Wounds being the targets here), and then to take the remaining levels from other classes, such as Fighter or Rogue, to boost damage output. Since the last two levels of Ranger don't offer much, 18 Ranger builds are also common, such as Ranger 18 / Fighter 1 / Rogue 1 or Ranger 18 / Fighter 2. Melee builds still pull out their bows when Manyshot is off cooldown, because of its high burst damage.

 

For Archery builds, Arcane Archer is the primary tree, with Deepwood Stalker being the weaker of the two. Even on an archery build it's not recommended to use the bow full time, unless you have six levels of Monk to take Ten Thousand Stars, which offers another cooldown similar to Manyshot. The so-called Monkcher builds are the best ranged damage builds in the game. Although I have Monk on my account, I refuse to use it just to be a decent ranger, and I've gone pure Ranger Arcane Archer. It works fine, but I do pull out my rapiers from time to time. For soloing, kiting stuff isn't a huge issue, though dragging monsters all over the place in a group will get you quickly booted.

 

A lot of builds take six levels of Ranger to pick up a bunch of free feats, including Manyshot. Splashes other than six levels aren't common.

 

Some common Ranger builds are:

 

Tempest Trapmonkey: Linked in an earlier post. This build takes 18 levels of Ranger, a level of Rogue to access trapping skills, and a level of Fighter for an extra feat. It's a solid, self-sufficient soloing build. Note, you do not need to have trapping skills as a Ranger. You will have Evasion and a very high Reflex save, so you can just run through traps for the most part. If you group, the trap skills are handy, though, to help your team. You also get some bonus XP for disarming traps in quests. Humans are the recommended class for this build, for the extra feat and skill points. These can be done on 28 point builds, but shine with 32 point builds.

 

18 Ranger / 2 Fighter: Purely for extra feats on a TWF ranger. Stat focus on STR and CON, with a moderate DEX (since it's not needed to qualify for TWF feats). Might want a bit of extra INT to maintain skills on Fighter levels, but not as much of an issue as with the Tempest Trapmonkey. Not hard to build on 28 points, and works well with any of the FTP races. Suggested stat allocation: STR 16, DEX 14, CON 16, and either INT or WIS at 10. With the 10 in INT, you get an extra skill point, with the 10 in WIS, you'll be able to cast spells with a very easy to get +1 WIS item equipped, rather than using an Owl's Wisdom wand to be able to cast, so it's a matter of convenience. You could go for a DEX-based build, but STR-based is more advisable.

 

B: Not the most popular build, but still pretty decent with good solo capabilities. Elf works well with this build due to bow and melee weapon bonuses, and lets you go completely DEX-based, should you wish. Works well on a 28 point build. Human or Elf recommended. Suggested stats: 14 STR, 18 DEX, 14 CON for DEX-based damage builds, since it's harder to boost DEX than STR, starting with a max DEX is advisable. For a STR-based archer, the same stat allocation as 18 Ranger / 2 Fighter will work.

 

Other build ideas:

 

Rogue 20 Assassin: Does great damage if you can get in your sneak attack damage. Halflings make great rogues, as do humans. You'll want a high INT for your assassinate ability's DCs, and a good DEX and STR.

 

Rogue 13/ Fighter 6/ Barbarian 1 Acrobat Staff Fighter: The first build in this link. This is a stick-swinging, bouncy guy that's pretty fun.

 

Repeater Rogue: I'm not sure what the best level split may be for a Mechanic, but taking an Artificer splash is pretty common. Not that common of a build, but you get to go rat-a-tat-tat with your repeater, which wreaks havoc at lower to middle levels.

 

A note on Sneak Attack damage: There are many ways to get in your Sneak Attack damage dice in DDO, from Radiance (blinding) weapons, to scrolls of Glitter dust (fight in the cloud), to the Bluff skill, to Stunning Blow, to using Diplomacy to shed aggro to summoned pets or to hirelings to . .. well, more than I can think of right now. So, Rogues are pretty viable solo, especially once they get their UMD high enough to use Heal scrolls reliably.

 

Two-Handed Paladin: TWF may be more DPS for a Paladin, but it's much easier to build for two handers on a 28 point build. You'll want to remember to grab the Heal skill, and at least Balance, so you'll want Human (best option, really) or a 10 INT. A decent stat allocation may look like: 18 STR, 16 CON, 10 INT. As with Rangers, you don't really need to invest in WIS. You'll want to grab Power Attack/Cleave/Great Cleave early on. If you want to free up feats for things like Maximize and Extend Spell, splashing two levels of Fighter is viable.

 

Evasion Paladin: The idea is to get a nice reflex save, and to get Evasion from a couple of Rogue or Monk levels. With Paladin immunities, healing and buffing, this is a very self-sufficient build. Here's an example.

 

Fighter 12/ Cleric 8: This build. Self-sufficient melee.

 

Pale Trapper (Wizard 18 / Rogue ): This build gives you a Necromancer Wizard with evasion and trapping ability, along with Pale Master self-healing capability. It's a very good solo build if you like playing casters. (I still haven't gotten the hang of casters in DDO yet.) Elf or Human are good race picks.

 

Battle Cleric / Warpriest: You can get level 9 spells for a Cleric by level 17. Which means you have three levels you can splash on a Cleric and still have a perfectly viable healer for grouping up that still has a decent level of melee capability for soloing. (Because chopping up monsters instead of frying them with magic saves on your spell points.) The most popular build consists of taking two levels of monk and a level of fighter for three combat feats and evasion. You could substitute 2 Rogue for the Monk for Evasion and more skills, or go 18 Cleric / 2 Fighter. Human and Dwarf are good racial picks here.

 

Caster Cleric: Here's an example. I don't do spell damage dps in DDO, so nothing to add, the thread does a better job of explaining it than I can.

 

Bardcher: These are Bard Arcane Archers. Here's a thread for those.

 

Warchanter: Typically 16 Bard / 2 Rogue / 2 Fighter or Barbarian. Basically melee Bards with Evasion. I couldn't dig up any current builds. Seems Bards are a little underrepresented after the enhancement updates.

 

Of course, there are a ton of builds. These are just to generate some ideas and point to a few threads that have some build discussions. The old DDO forums had a good collection of build threads and advice that have all been rendered obsolete by the recent enhancement pass and haven't bee replaced yet. Most of the build discussion is centered around veteran players trying to adjust their main builds, and less around new player help.

 

Next up: We actually play the game! But for now, sleep.

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OK, I've just uploaded my first two YouTube videos ever!

 

I've made a Pale Trapper build based on the one I linked. (Only difference is that I didn't put the one point in UMD, which is pointless. Instead, I tossed the point onto Swim.) This is on my free to play account that has nothing unlocked.

 

I have never successfully leveled a Wizard. I just kind of suck at the coordination required to play the class. So, you should see me face plant quite a bit in future videos.

 

I only got two done tonight because of server side lag killing my frame rates. The game just updated today to kick off a winter holiday event, so they're probably running at a high load.

 

OK, first up is character creation. This is just to give an idea of what it looks like, and is likely completely uninteresting:

 

 

After that, some UI arrangement. I made a lot of action bars here. You can probably do OK with about four to start with, but you'll see how fast they fill up by the time I'm halfway through the starter island. Notes on what I'm doing in the comment section of the video:

 

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Part 3 covers getting  your first weapon and being pointed to your first quest entrance. I had a setting checked in Fraps that I shouldn't have, so I ended up reshooting this on another server. So, if you notice the UI isn't exactly the same, that's why.

 

 

Part 4 is up, our first quest instance, The Grotto. I talk on this one. I pity anyone who has to listen to my voice for nearly 20 minutes, but hopefully I'll say something useful somewhere in all the babbling. Also, behold my pro extemporaneous speaking skills.. "Uh...uh...uh..." =)

 

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Pattern Ghost's DDO Babblings,

 

Section Whatever: Loot

 

You're going to fill your bags up FAST in DDO if you're a pack rat. (Like me.) Just going to touch on some of the basics.

 

Monsters (mobs in other MMOs, but since this is D&D-based and everything that's not a player is a monster in D&D terms, that's the term I'm sticking with) don't drop loot. Except when they do. Monsters sometimes drop little sacks that contain collectables or various dragonshards. You can do multiple things with these: First, some of them are used in the Cannith Crafting system. Some are also used in the Stone of Change system. Second, they can all be traded to various Collectables Traders scattered throughout Stormreach. These give you minor magic items or augmentation gems that can be slotted into gear. The dragonshards are used for Stone of Change recipes or as currency to swap feats using the Mindflayer Fred. I used to simply discard any Collectables not used in crafting as having little value. With the addition of the vendors selling augment gems, it's time to re-think that policy. Instead of writing a wall of text on collectables, I'll provide some DDO Wiki links for the key terms:

 

Collectable

Crafting Collectables List

Cannith Crafting

Stone of Change

Dragonshard

 

Collectables can also be obtained from broken objects (barrels, crates, vases, sarcophagi, etc.). 

 

Next up is loot found in chests. This can consist of potions, scrolls, dragonshards and other consumable/junk items, and also equippable gear like weapons, armor, clothing, jewelry, etc. The latter are referred to as lootgen items. They'll typically consist of a suffix and a prefix. Like +1 Flaming Short Sword of Deception. Some of these items are quite good. The lootgen system is currently under revision, so the truthiness of that last statement is subject to fluctuation.

 

Finally, you have named items. These are either found in specific chests, or are given as end rewards, as with lootgen items. There's a topic on the DDO forums that gives a handy list of the static/named loot here.

 

It's possible to farm chests, but if you farm them too much in a short time period, the level of the rewards goes down until the chest is ransacked, and can no longer be looted.

 

Quests can also be repeated for loot. Some of them will offer you your choice of loot off their list (instead of a random sub-set) after three completions.

 

(to be continued)

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Well, it looks like the Champions Online forum is gone, so I'll just post this here. My CO Roster:

 

 

Power sets and schticks:

 

Silver Characters:

 

Gigawatt: Tempest. Reformed villain.
Emerald Dare: Unleashed. Pulp adventuress.
Cold Warrior: Glacier. 50s Commie Basher.
Pyre: Inferno. Efreet.

 

Gold Characters

 

Citizen Arcane: Magic build based on Grimoire. Wealthy adventurer.
Prototype X: Power Armor. Test pilot.
Geist: Two Gun fighting and some tech toys. Industrial spy and saboteur.
Runa: Big Axe. Far future barbarian/amazon.
Arrow Guy: Archer. Wise acre who got stuck with his name when  he told a press conference, "I'm the arrow guy . . ." then was interrupted before giving his nom de guerre.
Mister Midnight: Martial Artist, dodge tank build. Yet another golden age martial artist trained in Tibet.
Liberty Star: Might tank. Golden Age heroine possessed by the spirit of liberty.
Snark Raven: Darkness powers. Sarcastic thrill seeker.
Ingenuity Girl: Inventor with robotic army, pet build. Genius daughter of Liberty Star and Mister Midnight (as far as he knows).

 

I'm thinking of making Arrow Guy and Runa into Silver ATs. I'm not quite ready to re-sub at this point, even though I have a time card sitting here. DDO and GW2 are getting more of my attention. I want to get a few characters to 39 before going Gold, so I can unlock some more slots. I want to make a couple of sisters for Emerald (Ruby and Amethyst) and The Smelltacular Skunk Ape.

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So, this week in MMOs . . . I mainly worked on some DDO posts. I also did a few alerts on Champions Online, and learned how to upload game videos to YouTube. I'll just talk about the latter, since my "weekly" post turned into an almost daily post this week.

 

For recording I used Fraps, paid version. They have a freebie, but it only takes 30 second videos and watermarks them. So it doesn't strain the CPU, it doesn't compress as it records. The output is raw .avi files. Very big ones. The just under 20 minute DDO video above was a hair under 40 GB raw. The raw .avi files look perfect, though. I've been recording with just a single drive in my computer, so it's reading to play and writing to record. It's actually not caused any hitches so far, but I'm thinking of getting a second drive to record to, and so I can save my .avi files. For now, I'm deleting them after I compress them.

 

For compression, I'm using the free version of Any Video Converter. WARNING: It tries to get you to install the AVG toolbar and safe search BS. You can deselect this, but don't click through blindly while installing. (That goes for pretty much everything these days, but figured I'd warn you anyway.) The first few formats/codecs I tried made the video a lot darker than the original. I finally figured out that the  XVID codec was the way to go. The selection is under "Custom .MP4", in the Video Options drop down on the lower right. The 40 GB video mentioned above compressed down to 589 MB. Quite a bit faster to upload! It does lose a bit of the background and finer details, but it's not too horrible.

 

The final step was uploading to YouTube. I just used one of my existing gmail accounts to log in. The uploading process was very simple. The only thing I had to look up was how to fix the aspect ratio, since the video was squished into the middle. This formatting tags page gives a list of tags you can put into your videos's tags section to fix your aspect ratio. I used yt:stretch=16:9 to fix the squishing.

 

I had a bit of fun with the videos, so I'll probably pick up a second hard drive soon. Even though I have a horrible recording voice that I shouldn't subject people to, I may pick up a better mic, but probably won't do that for a while. I'll just try to keep the chatter to a minimum. :D

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EDIT: Oops, I left off one point. See below.

 

Another DDO video, doing the first village quest with a hireling:

 

 

Doing the first quest in Korthos Village, Heyton's Rest, with a Cleric hireling. This is the second run through, because I didn't like the quality of the video on the first run. You'll notice I'm running it on hard this time. These early quests are all pretty easy to solo.

 

A few notes on hirelings:

 

1) The melee hirlelings have terrible AI. The casters aren't much better. However, the healer hirelings will do a decent job of keeping you healed up.

 

2) Healer hirelings are cheaper than potions, wands or scrolls. It doesn't hurt to have some healing items just in case of emergency, but hirelings will save you money.

 

3) Hirelings are good for one hour. If you mouse over the icon for the hireling, you'll see how much time you have left. The clock does not run in public areas, only wilderness explorer areas and quest areas.

 

4) If you mouse over your hireling's icon (including in the store UI, before you buy it), you will get a list of its active abilities. These will be on its control bar so that you can order your hireling to cast these manually. You may want to pick a hireling for certain buffs, rather than simply picking the one that's your level. Death Ward and Haste are two examples of good buffs hirelings carry. Clerics, Favored Souls and Bards are all decent healers.

 

5) The hirelings are pretty good about healing you, but pretty bad about healing themselves. You'll have to keep an eye on their health. In this video, the hireling did a good job of keeping itself healed, so maybe the AI has improved there.

 

6) Hirelings will not buff you by themselves. So, you'll need to order them to do so, like I did in the beginning of the video.

 

7) You must be near the quest or explorer area entrance to summon a hireling. You can't wait to summon them until you need them to stand on a pressure plate or pull a lever, or you need a buff or heal. If you want to keep them out of your way until you need them, you can park them at the quest entrance by toggling the first command on the bar (follow/stay), then summon them by clicking the second command (the feet icon, makes them drop everything they are doing and come to your location) which will cause them to teleport to you if you are far away from them.

 

8) If you can't disable a trap, or need to go through it to disable it because the control box is on the other side of the trap, then you can park your hireling further back and summon it to the other side. If you want it to teleport to you to avoid the trap, make sure it's far enough away.

 

9) When I get to the shrine room in the video, I switch the cleric hire to aggressive mode. The clerics generally do pretty well on aggressive and it's fun to watch them run around and wreak havoc. You'll need to use the feet icon more frequently to get them to disengage and come to you, but if the quest isn't one where you need constant heals, I like the more aggressive setting, as things die a little faster and it speeds things up.

 

ETA: 10) You can only have one vendor hireling out at a time. You can have multiple Gold Seal (store bought) hirelings out at a time. In theory, if you dropped some Turbine points, you could have a whole party of hirelings. In practice, just you and a healer is a far better solution. Also, you playing the healbot and using NPCs for damage is generally a bad idea. Rogues looking for flanking buddies are still better served with a healer hireling set to aggressive.

 

Not related to hirelings, you'll notice I only got one of the optionals in this quest. I wasn't really paying much attentio here. The optionals can really add up on some quests, so it's worth trying to get them much of the time. On some quetss, the optionals just add a lot of time to the quest, and kill your experience/hour, so if you're concerned about efficiency, they're better left undone. I prefer to take my time when soloing and explore, so usually do even the more time consuming optionals.

 

You'll also notice this is a pretty simple quest. The later Korthos Island quests are a bit better. The first four in the village are pretty short. The storyline for the whole island is pretty decent, though, and beats the heck out of "go kill three rats" types of quests.

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Still farting around with Champions Online this week. I made Liberty Star into a Silver character (Behemoth AT), and played around with her a little last night. I updated her costume:

 

 

I didn't use that top originally because my Inventor was using it, but since one is now Silver and one is now Gold, I figured it wouldn't matter. I went with red/white stripes, even though I don't like that they're uneven. It's hard to make a good flag suit with the Golden Age costume pieces.

 

And here I am playing her badly in one of the more boring missions of the game (I think it was one of the ones given by an NPC on the street):

 

 

I really wish CO had some Nazis for my Golden Age group to beat up.

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Well, it's Wednesday, so I guess it's time for last Friday's post. =)

 

Then again, you've all probably had enough of me by now with all the lame video posts. New toy and all that.

 

So, last week, and so far this week, I've been mostly playing around in Champions Online. I started out playing my Silver Archetypes, mainly just doing Alerts to level them up a bit, and messing around with their costumes. On Saturday, I decided to add on that time card I've had laying around and go Gold again. I also converted all of my Silver ATs to Gold ATs. So long as you own the AT, you can swap them back and forth between Silver and Gold status. I think.

 

It seems like Cryptic North have been busy with some bug fixes, some minor content additions, and some other cool stuff. The game's not in terrible shape at the moment, save for lack of new content. I've heard that they're planning to add a Foundry to CO, and that it's not possible to add a Foundry to CO. Well, it'd be nice to have a Foundry, so I'm going to chose to believe the first rumor. Maybe if I believe enough, it'll come true.

 

Being the unobservant type that I am, I only really noticed three big changes:

 

1. My strong characters can now pick up objects and have them be visible again! Yay!

2. We can now log out to the character select screen to change characters! Double Yay!

3. Alerts are now level gated, AND the Grab alerts are now the Experience bonus alerts, which you can start doing at level 10. Alerts have been running a LOT smoother. Unless it's a group full of super squishy DPS ATs.

 

I got my freeform Power Armor guy, Prototype X (Yeah, I was feeling lazy with the naming that day. Him and Arrow Guy are starting a class action lawsuit against me.) to 40, and unlocked a new character slot. I used that to make a Savage AT, The Smelltacular Skunk Ape. See, I'm from Florida, and we have Skunk Apes instead of Sasquatches. I've been wanting to make this character for a while, but I recently learned that Champions already has a Skunk Ape character. Oops. Great minds think of the same really obvious character concepts, I guess.

 

So, here's Prototype X's current costume line up. His first one was originally gold and green. Then I realized that looked a little too Viper-y. So, I swapped colors until I found one that looked good with Gold, which --- huge, huge DUH here --- looks Iron Mannish. Oh well. A little while later, I picked up the retro scifi or w/e the name is costume set and made him a gold and gray bubble helmet costume. Not real original, as I used mostly parts from that costume set. But hey, I paid for all them parts, may as well use 'em! The second costume makes him a better fit for my Golden Age gang. The last costume, I made after re-subbing. I'm kind of liking it. It's using armor pieces that have the Art Deco texture option, along with some other glowy stripes, like on the arm bands.

 

 

And here's the Smelltacular Skunk Ape. I don't think CO has great options for making a skunk ape, but I did the best I could. The simian chest looks like it has a t-shirt collar, so I gave him a scarf. He's from FL and adventuring in MC, so I figured that'd work to hide the neck area. Gives him a bit of a humorous touch, which is pretty much the point when you have any character with "Smelltacular" in their name.

 

I was thinking about giving him super speed for a travel power instead of acrobatics, since Skunk Apes run away backward really fast to confuse their pursuers. But super speed kind of sucks. =P

 

 

I'll finish up the DDO starter tips later, when I can organize my thoughts better. It's been hectic here lately. I'm thinking of basically making the last section a list of general tips.

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Hmm. I thought I did a last week's post, but I didn't. Not that there's much going on. I've been busy taking care of my lizards, so haven't gotten to play much.

 

This week, I've been mostly playing with The Smelltacular Skunk Ape. I'm liking the Savage as an AT. He's 21 currently, been doing quests instead of farming alerts with him. Did the Westside main storyline and then went to Canada. Seems like they've added a few things. Also, the quest where you destroy the Q'larr weapon crates by the docks still has that one trailer that teleports you to the res point when you click on the crate, so I guess they haven't quite squashed all the bugs. But that's a pretty minor one. I just pretend that particular crate was booby-trapped. So far, the Savage is pretty durable. Regen seems like a nice leveling passive. I'm not sure how it'll do at higher levels, but when I've done alerts (for the XP boost), he's been a lot more durable than my other DPS or balanced archetypes. I'm going to load up on CON for his secondary gear slots when I update his gear next time I log in. (Using the nemesis heirloom gear for primary.) His energy management seems fine, so getting loads of health for a buffer seems the best choice with regen for defense.

 

I've been meaning to dabble a bit more in my other MMOs, particularly in STO and Neverwinter Online, but haven't had the time. I also need to do some more DDO stuff and work on the last tips section up above. I was also planning on collecting some links with info on upcoming games. That's all pretty much on hold for the moment. I probably won't get to any of that stuff until sometime next month.

 

So far, I haven't been bitten by the WoW bug yet. I was thinking I might re-sub for the February holiday event for mount farming, but I'm not going to have enough time to farm it up properly this month, so I'm passing. I'll likely resub when they drop the pre-expansion patch, or a little before.

 

Also, feel free to respond to this thread! If you want me to STFU, let me know. =) If you want me to keep going, drop a line to say "Hi."

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Hey keep going far as I'm concerned. I stopped playing Champions Online a good while back and STO soon followed. I tested Neverwinter near the end of the beta and though not unimpressed, was not overwhelmed either. I suppose I could have something to say, but last I recall they revamped the entire class system. That was a good while back, but I haven't played since then.

 

I've been playing SW:TOR lately and really enjoying it. It has quite a bit of the MMO grind and the disconnectedness I feel when I slay a "unique" monster only to pass by others doing the same thing a half hour later.  The character driven stories make up a lot for those things. Having each character voice acted is really nice too. There are different voices for each character so my female Sith Inquisitor sounds much different than my female Jedi Knight. Biggest complaint is that they could have adopted a CO/STO model of charactername@username so that you don't have to worry about finding a unique name for your character.

 

There are also the common disconnects that all MMOs share. It can be damaging to immersion to be skulking through rakghoul invested swamps only to have "Buttcrackjelly007" come swooping over the hill in his custom model speeder. I deal with it though because, you know, lightsabers. :)

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Hi. Thanks for dropping in!

 

I played a bit of SW:TOR after it went free to play. Seems like their FTP model is among the stingiest around. I've heard it's still possible to play through just to do your character's storyline stuff, though, so it's another one I plan to try out again. I liked what I played so far. I was trying to play a "good" Bounty Hunter. I planned on playing a "bad" Jedi too, just to see how far their light/dark side point thing goes.

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Compared to Champions Online or Star Trek Online, I would agree with the stingy observation. I have only played one other MMO (Neverwinter Beta) and did not get far enough to make an informed observation. With SW:TOR, I dropped a few bucks on it (extra movement stuff and additional crew (gathering/crafting) skills and went to preferred status. The two biggest advantages are the ability to e-mail objects (not credits - sub only) to other players and the ability to trade between players. Having six character slots is nice also. The one thing I really like about SW:TOR is the storylines. They are voice-acted pretty well and engaging enough that I can look past the MMO aspects of the game. As I progress further into the game, the story aspect gets weaker though and the MMO grinding gets stronger. I may not actually finish the game if the trend does not stabilize into a happy medium soon.

 

One of my biggest complaints about the game is that Jedi are among the weakest of characters. The Trooper/Bounty Hunter are both more sturdy and able to deal more damage out to larger groups of enemies. That's a design thing though. I have not had many problems actually surviving but I often think "my Commando (Trooper prestige class) could have done this easier/with less damage taken." While I don't want or even think it appropriate to have Jedi monstrously more powerful than anybody else, they should not be flimsy either. The same cannot be said of the Sith side of the house. My Sith Warrior (the Sith mirror to the Jedi Knight) seems to be just as powerful as my Bounty Hunter (Sith mirror to Trooper). I did note that some people on the SW:TOR forums mentioned that the Jedi Knight does not come into their own until the mid 30s level range. I'll have to see about that.

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Oooh, Blizz just started a poop-storm, I think: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12426481/warlords-of-draenor%E2%84%A2-scouting-report-1-16-2014

 

In the nutshell: They're giving everyone who buys the Warlords of Draenor expansion a free boost for one character to level 90. In the post above, they announced they're working on ways to sell more level-boosted characters beyond the first. I hope they have on their asbestos suits.

 

Would I buy a level 90 boost? If the price was right. Leveling is tedious and the game is simple enough that learning a new class doesn't require leveling it. They muck about with the classes so much anyway, that you have to periodically re-learn how to play your level-capped characters anyway.
 

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Hmm, seems like SW:TOR may not be as bad as it started out as far as the free to play. I remember they had some seriously stupid restrictions, like limiting the number of action bars available to free players. Paying to unlock action bars? Really?
 

I'll keep it on my list. It may be my next take a break from WoW game.

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Hmm, seems like SW:TOR may not be as bad as it started out as far as the free to play. I remember they had some seriously stupid restrictions, like limiting the number of action bars available to free players. Paying to unlock action bars? Really?

 

I'll keep it on my list. It may be my next take a break from WoW game.

 

They still do apparently. I have a bar on either side of the screen and two bars on the bottom. I'm not sure if that is FtP or Preferred though. As it is, I barely fill up three of the bars right now. Any more than the four would be....tricky.

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So, it sounds like it's at least possible to play through the storyline stuff. Cool. That's pretty much where my interest was for it anyway. I don't mind the restrictions, even absurd ones, as long as I can do the basic story quests. I may drop a few bucks in the cash shop to get premium level if I like it, though. I'll have to have a look at the perks.

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Good Read. 

Been playing mostly GW2 these days, once I got Carol her first new outfit and some dyes it was all over but the exploring.

Half the time we log in and spend an hour crafting while she plays with her ever expanding color palette.

 

The Living Story is pretty awesome, Logan, Carol and I have hit a number of the events which are passable to extremely fun. But my favorite bits are now the story advancing quests and scenes. Anet has really started to come into their own story-wise. The major NPC's are voice acted and their personalites are being brought to fore and I find them likable. Even the main Villain is interesting enough. They're also not afraid to destroy their world. I am looking forward to more expansive content. We only get to adventure in about 50-55% of the world map at the moment, they've opened 2 or 3 spaces since launch. 

 

The Scarlett Briar storyline ends sometime in the next few months and then there's a break before the next living story is sprung on us. GW2 does so many things differently than the other MMO's I've played and the new content twice monthly is hard to turn down for a game with no sub. 

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I need to hop on GW2 more. I just haven't felt like sitting down and learning the ins and outs of a new game lately. Maybe when the dragons are better. Cho's basically recovered, just waiting for a few sheds so she can get her stitches out. Fred may need more supportive care for a while. Turns out he has atadenovirus, which is compromising his immune system. He's doing better on his other problems, but those came about b/c of the virus, so that's slowing his recovery. He's in generally good health, though, so hoping he'll spring back after I put some weight back on him.

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We just got a couple of Playstation Vitas. Mine came in the mail yesterday. Playstation Network "gives" you free games each month for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. According to the wife -- who got us into this -- the Vita gets two games per month. The only hitch for the "free" games is that if you cancel your subscription, they become unplayable.

 

These things are pretty cool. The screens are very nice, and the graphics are way above what I'd expected in a hand held. So, the question is, are there MMOs for these? Yes and no. Yes, there are MMOs for the Vita, three of them I think, and no, not for our market. I can't remember the titles of the other two, but Phantasy Star Online 2 is available for Vita, but you'd have to get the Japanese version online. It's cool that the Vita is not region locked. Unfortunately, I don't read Japanese.

 

Turns out there's one other option: Remote play! Wifey found this article about remote play of FF XIV: A Realm Reborn. Apparently, the remote play feature works well on the Vita.

 

There are a lot of titles available for the Vita, both through native games, ports of PS3 games, and downloadable games, including a lot of old PS1 titles.

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Oh! I forgot another Warlords of Draenor announcement: The heroics will require passing the Proving Grounds at Silver level for a given role to queue as that role in LFD. The current Proving Grounds kind of suck, but they say they're revamping them to better represent actual gameplay situations. Sounds interesting. Forum is having minor asplosion over it.

 

The more I hear, the more interested I'm getting in WoD. Seems like it'll be a pretty decent expansion, as far as what they're doing with quality of life and gameplay issues. I may spend more time in Azeroth than in the last two expacs.

 

Edit: I'm thinking Female Dwarf Warlock for my free 90.

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