A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mechwarrior Online Update: Project Phoenix is a Go. Actual Meaningful Content is a NO.

That's right kids!  If you have more money than sense you could have paid 20 real US dollars per robot to have four new mechs in an exclusive look and paintscheme plus their variants everyone can buy.  While you do in fact get the free mech storage bays for them and some bonus time it is.. a silly use of money.

A silly use that actually keeps these sort of Free to Play (F2P) games alive.

For every twenty freeloaders such as me there are five or so people shoving HUNDREDS of dollars down the game's throats.

You see in F2P you grab people via not requiring any money up front, not even for the game client ala stuff like Diablo and Quake.  Then you make it JUUUUSSST irritating enough so people will start throwing money at you.

Like the Tom Petty song (Last DJ) says; "All the boys upstairs wanna see is how much you'll pay for what you used to get for free".

This my friends is how modern gaming is.  Stuff that older games for 20-60 bucks (depending on when you bought it) would have included as free bonus content or given away in an update are now parceled out for ludicrous amounts.  Even mainstream games like the Borderlands series does this, in many cases keeping the content on the game disk away from you till you give them money.  (Or in Dragon Age's case interrupting the flow and feel of the game with NPCs bugging you to buy crap in game so you can save the Fart Forest from the Burrito Clan or something.)

But now that the first 80 dollars of Phoenix is out (two more mechs are due later for an extra 30 bones.  As I posted before these four have to be bought IN ORDER so to get the best one (Battlemaster) you have to buy the other three chassis types, but even just dropping 20 for the god AWFUL Locust permits you to throw 30 more dollars into the virtual fire to get the other two 55 tonners based off of Dougram mecha.) we should probably see what this epic QUEST FOR MORE MONEY OH GOD BC BUD ISN'T CHEAP has brought us eh?

 If you are SANE and not willing to spend real money on fake robots you can at least get the Locust a 20 ton mech that has no viable purpose in this game.  While insanely fast it is so light in weight it really cannot fit any meaningful weapons or armor.  It is a true scout mech in a game where there really isn't any NEED for one.

While all three of the C Bill purchasable Locusts are cheap and look cool, they are too damned TINY to be effective in the current metagame.  (Which is 80% SHOOT OTHER ROBOTS DEAD.)  While dirt cheap in C Bills you basically have to drop another 2-3 million to make them remotely usable.  XL Engines.  Endo Steel.  Ferro Fibrous.  And then grind the hell out of all three till you reach the Elite class of their skill trees to bring them over 170 KPH in speed.  (Maximum engine they can take gives them 153 KPH.  Speed Tweak brings them up.)

I played in one for 2-3 matches and was utterly MISERABLE.  They move amazingly quick but my problems above still stand.  And without options for ECM and Jump Jets there isn't anything they can do that the other scouts cannot all do better.  I do not like the cockpit view either.

Which is a pity because it is a NICE looking model and the Phoenix paint scheme is sweet as heck.

New game changes now make the other three scout mechs comparable to use in place of the Jenner and give even more reasons to NOT take a Locust.  Maybe in the future if unit weight limits get added in Locusts will have a reason to exist or other game modes though?

Airstrike and Artillery attacks have been buffed but I still don't see anyone taking them.  Quadrupling the damage is a welcome addition.  I still mostly use the cooling modules though.  Impact shake changes are reasonable though the AC10 in both variations is still kind of a bad gun.

I would like to say the bug fixes have make the game smoother but I have had a LOT more game lockups in this patch even after updating my Nvidia drivers.  Course I get far less lockups if I don't ALT TAB out of the game but..

The Hot Rod skin looks good.  Its not the Transformers Hot Rod skin/colors which would be kind of awesome but legal issues may hamper that, even as a parody/homage.

(Hasbro just (probably) beat Harmony Gold trying to put the kibosh on a convention only homage to an 80s toy.  Lawyers are a hell of a thing really.)

Let's finish this update off with some screenshots of the other three Phoenix mechs which are currently ONLY available for players who dropped 40, 60, and 80 bucks for the package to get them.  (40 adds the Shadow Hawk, 60 adds the Thunderbolt, and 80 the Battlemaster.)

(Click most of the images above and below for larger.)
The Shadow Hawk has a pretty nice view inside of it's 55 tons of meh.  

It is really hard to get a good screenshot of them.  Most people seem uninterested in the mech at all.  Plus compared to the Dougram it is based off of this redesign just looks.. GOOFY.

I mean, this is an upcoming model kit of our pal the Dougram.  A design from the very early 80s still owns over this redo:

The Thunderbolt also looks a tad silly compared to the Dougram mech (Ironfoot IIRC) it is based off of.  Seems to be a decent enough Heavy I guess.  Couldn't get any in cockpit shots of it though.

The non Phoenix models obviously don't look quite as fancy as their Phoenix counterparts but it will get the job done.

But proving you can get lots of foolish people to give you a TON of money, the lovely 85 ton Battlemaster not only improves on the Dougram series mech it is based off of, but gives folks another solid assault mech to choose.  If I wasn't already an Atlas pilot with my ride Master Skilled I would probably grab the C Bill versions of these.  But I don't need another Assault.

The cockpit view is ok enough I suppose.  It is a bit odd given how the design it is based off of has a HUGE bubble canopy allowing one to see all over the place though.    We also see a factional hanging goody in this player's cockpit.

But it seems as if PGI's moneygrab is doing quite well really.  Even a lot of the pre and post game screens show how huge the Phoenix package is:  
About HALF the mechs in this fight were Phoenix!

I cannot see the enemy team but.. we have an entire LANCE of the Phoenix chassis, plus 3 more that are Locusts or the non Phoenix only variants.  (Which outside of said LCT chassis are currently only available to Phoenix folks.)

On one hand this update brought us 4 new mech models to look at.  On the other no real MEANINGFUL GAME CONTENT.  It is still just SHOOT DUDES.  And it proves people are more than happy to throw real money away for virtual content, which IMHO is ruining modern gaming.

But for around the price the full Phoenix package runs I have some.. things...

I can have real Dougrams and play many fun battles with them.

Hmm.. maybe I have a new project to work on now that I am no longer in a regular D&D campaign....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mechwarrior Online Update Post: No Longer Beta. Still nothing to do.

Yes ladies (like women play internet space robot games!) and gentlemen Mechwarrior Online is now out of Beta.  But.. its basically the same bloody game it has been for the last year.  Except now we have one more map, a couple new mechs, and some balance tweaks.

Let's start with the patch notes for the last 6 weeks or so and go from there.
 From this week's patch we have unit command, readying up, and few minor balance tweaks.

 The furthest back patch gave us an actual TUTORIAL OMG WOAHS.  

 This part here really improved the game.  It brought the game from terrible to positive, even if some of these balancing fixes were needed MONTHS ago.  The PPC changes now keep them from being the end all and be all of combat, the the Gauss change both improves that weapon and keeps it from being a perfect convergence fire with its PPC buddies.

You see before this, PPCs, ERPPCs, and Gauss were about all anyone ever used.  Given the way this game works, pinpoint and instantaneous damage to one location on a mech at massively long ranges was the only strategy.  A boring but completely effective one.  Making all other choices sub par if not laughable.  In tabletop Battletech damage locations were rolled and shots would go hither and yon.  In MWO what you hit (well given lag anyhow..) is what you hurt with some weapons like lasers doing damage over time, and others being pinpoint.  PPCs and Gauss are pinpoint.  And long range.  And had the same travel time to the target.  Now this has been fixed.

The changes to the Advanced Zoom module are welcome as well.  From being nearly useless ala Mechwarrior 3's zoom reticule to being more like 4's.  An excellent change.  This is really helpful for long range combat.

Now Trial mechs are Champions and provide some XP boost if you buy them.  Another controversial addition has been a third person mode.  The nerd rage over this has disabled this mode for 12 on 12 premade matches.

Flamers got a minor improvement as well.  Yay?

Our new mech that started as a real money only Hero class before going into mass purchase mode, the Orion, here in the Protector Hero scheme.  Looks nice.

It has a great paint scheme.  Mediocre looks otherwise.  I see no need for a 75 ton Heavy mech so I haven't even used in game money on these.

But note that other bit?  

PGI wants so much of your money they added two more of the Dougram mecha into Project Phoenix for an extra 30 dollars of real money for fake robots.  And I adore the Griffin but.. yeah.  Not spending 20 for the smallest Project Phoenix package so I can spend 30 more.  I will wait for the in game money ones even if the models are slightly different and they don't have these lovely paint schemes.

Also oh no have to wait till the middle of February for the regular Griffin instead of December.  Big deal.

And remember, you have to spend 80 dollars to get the Battlemaster early.  So 110 US dollars if you want the complete Phoenix package.  I am typing this on a brand new Logitech mechanical keyboard.  It has variable light settings on it's keys with two seperate settings so your WASD/arrow keys can be lit at levels different from the rest of the board.  It has a key to instantly turn off the Windows keys.  6 handy macro keys with three or four bindings.  Media keys to turn your music how you wish.  And a roller for volume.  I paid 112 dollars for this.  Two dollars more than a bunch of virtual space robots for a videogame.


Going back to the tutorial I found this nice thing on PGI's site letting you know what all the keyboard commands are.  Which can mostly be rebound.  Note the mouse brand.  There is some silly deal where you can get in cockpit hanging dice with that logo on it if you install some free audio software they make and register it.  I don't think so Tim!

And another way to get something silly for your in mech cockpit.  Operation 24!  Just.. play 24 matches, win or lose.  We must not be having a lot of players playing any more.  Given how getting a match going can sometimes take 5 minutes or more for the system to find a game this is understandable.  And sad.

It didn't take me too long.  I have just had busy work schedules as of late so I haven't been playing every day by any means.  Also I mostly played to get the double XP on my Kintaros to finish them up.  The 18 finally got mastered, the other two chassis got sold, and now I mostly rampage about in a Catapult since the head hit issues got solved.

 And a new champion mech, the Boar's Head.  It is an Atlas without ECM.  And a silly paint scheme.  Pointless IMHO.  

 But we got an all new map this week and it is EXCELLENT.

 It is a mix of River City and a touch of Alpine Peaks.  Smaller than the latter though.  Thankfully.  Also unlike most of the existing maps this one has made Kappa the central fight hub instead of Theta.

 Crimson Strait with the new lobby settings.  See that green block in the upper right corner of the screen that is somewhat obscured by my Mumble overlay?  You now have a button to press to ready up for the match which will start it sooner if all 12 of you hit it.  Otherwise enjoy waiting for a minute.  This is where the new Company and Lance Command options can get into play with Commanders switching around lances and other things that make people whine.

 This is a great looking and playing map!  Multiple levels and elevations to fight over!  Small islands to snipe from (if you are a bad person), and plenty of bridges to hide under.  I really like the blue leaves on the trees and the reddish water.  Makes it feel like a somewhat alien world we don't entirely belong on.  Ramps allow generally easy access to higher levels without needing jump jets like Canyon Network does.  

You can also see a Boar's Head in the final picture above there.  See?  Bleh.

 Though now you can recolor your hero mechs which is nice.  Some paint schemes do look better in other colors.  Here is Anders of the Violent Combat Robot Show podcast in his Muromets.

Though just because he is a podcaster and big up in the Word of Lowtax doesn't mean us old dogs can't show podcasters up from time to time.   (I have had some really great matches in my K2 Catapult lately.  AC5s and Ultra AC5s are quite fun to use.  Had a match with over 800 damage today and another one with 5 kills on fast moving and tiny scout mechs!)

 One of the coolest parts of Crimson Straits is this railway leading under a mountain.  If PGI made scenario mode missions utilizing this terrain it could be amazing.  Capture or destroy a train!  Fights on top of cargo trains!  Maybe even weapons platform trains shooting at enemy emplacements!  

Sadly PGI just has KILL ROBOTS as a game mode.  (Even the two different base capture forms a game can take right now basically ends up being KILL OTHER DUDES AND WE WIN.)

 Thankfully while these three patches mostly had little individually to recommend them, in the rough month it took to bring them out it seriously made the game a lot more fun.  We just need more to DO now.  Not just shoot other robots endlessly so we gain in game money for more fake robots or XP to be slightly better with our existing ones.

But User Interface 2.0 and Community Warfare do keep getting teased.

The problem is some of these things have been teased for over a YEAR now.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

D&D 4th ed Session Report 7: Where Every Critter Knows Your Hit Dice.

Another installment in Alexis' continuing adventures is here for your perusal.  It wasn't the most epic of sessions, basically being two combats.  A short and a long one.  Some folks were here, others were not.  Given how my photo program needed a 15-20 minute update cycle (Sony Playmemories you are a butt!), my extended work schedule as of late, and me playing around with my new 112 dollars on sale from 150 Logitech G710+ mechanical keyboard it took a while to get this one out.

But out it is, and under the wire once more!


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