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!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mechwarrior Online Second June Patch. Aka: "zzz"

This is a shorter update this time around so I can also hit my four posts a month minimum (even though I have posted enough content this year already to take a month or two off) and not have to do some massive mega MWO update later where I forget half of what changed.  Part of this MWO series is showing the evolution of a game.  Kind of hard to do when you forget lots of what changed.  

(Also I am kind of slacking off on posting this month.  Birthday, busy, self loathing, depression.  Need to get a post in while I am inspired enough to do so.)
 The major update this time around is a new mech, the Quickdraw.  Its a 60 ton mech that is ok but nothing special.  Better than the previous new mech though.  (The Blackjack.  Upcoming mechs include the Orion, Flea, and Victor.)

 I cannot recall ever posting a screencap of the actual patch notes before so here is this one's.  It is skipping the new mech info and showing what they did to rebalance things.  Damage tweaks, programming tweaks to try to fix weapons (SRMs are currently semi useless right now.), and other sorts of changes and modifications.  Not counting later changes such as a hot patch they did a few days later that improved SRMs by a small amount.

 Our new mech.  I didn't buy one.  I have the Catapult for my Heavy chassis needs even if it's headbox is currently too large and is thus a mostly useless mech people just headcap in a couple sniper shots, especially right now where half the community or more mostly sit around and snipe with PPC and Gauss guns at long range.

 Its an ok redesign from the original tabletop source but it still isn't exactly amazing like the Catapult and Atlas redesigns were.  

 Some level graphics changes to make things nicer and sometimes adding in new bits of terrain so the maps play better.

 Though there are still issues in many maps that need fixing.

And many bits of strangeness such as what is known as "Mecha Shiva" where one mech is on top of another.  In this case a friendly is under an enemy who I mostly demolished.  There is some collision damage in the game but the ramming and knock over effects from the closed beta periods is basically gone which makes for some odd situations.

Overall this was a mostly forgettable patch.  One new mech and more tweaks.  (Plus you can see my Cheevo Bullet hanging on the side of my cockpit.  Upper right.  It even wobbles about as I move!)

This game REALLY has a lot of work to do to be something I can wholeheartedly recommend to people who aren't Battletech fans or who have a large community to play with live voice chat communications.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mechwarrior Online Update

Well, we have had three updates since my last post on this game, and it has been a mixture of mild changes, balance tweaks that only usually fail miserably, and a couple new robots you don't want.

And in one case we had to wait THREE weeks for it.  Oh, and a couple new maps.

I would ask folks' forgiveness and understanding if my photos are not properly in chronological order.  These updates have been the worst overall time for this game and for whatever reason I didn't have the heart to post each update on their own.
 Even when things look pretty like this.

One of the new additions is this 45 tons of mediocrity, the Blackjack.  It is like a baby Hunchback or a baby Cataphract.  And like most mediums it just doesn't have a place in the current game.

I wasted in game money and not real money on a couple of these things.  This was a bad decision.

They look cool enough, but neat looking robots is something MWO has always done well.  In fact they are VASTLY superior to the original designs.

We have also gotten a great new map, Canyon Network.  A mixture of hills, canyons, and plateaus makes for some nice battles.  Or it should if the game weapon balance wasn't as messed up as it is.

It is a lot of brown but it is NICE brown if that makes any sense.

A very cool industrial zone with some bridges to look at or hide under, both manmade and natural rock formation.

And if you are Weird Al in an animated Transformers cartoon?  GARBAGE!

And lots of lovely rivers so you can be like James May and try to find the river source instead of blowing up robots.

We also now have nice damage mapping with all the paint ripping off into grey, pockmarked metal.  

ECM in it's continued nerfing (Beagle Probe and PPC changes seriously hamper it now.) also requires a certain slot on each mech capable of carrying it, giving skilled players (and the Aspergers (internet version) types who play this game as is Battletech's wont) knowledge of where to shoot to eliminate the ECM module in the heat of combat.

Because of the ridiculous failures to balance weaponry sometimes one has to take drastic measures to deal with lines of mechs who who nothing but camp and shoot LRMs or PPCs.  That measure usually involves playing super fast scout mechs, getting within minimum range, and shooting quickly and rapidly at mechs whose weapons are not designed for close quarters combat.  Real men get stuck in.  There is only one cool sniper.  And he was in Saving Private Ryan.  Mechwarriors and games involving them should not be about hiding and firing missiles and PPCs from long rage and then hiding again.

We also have a new hero mech, the Misery.  It is like most hero mechs and is a sign of who has more money than sense.  For the REAL MONEY price of the Misery I can buy actual video games for my various systems.

Pictures showing the new hero mechs, new cockpit toys, and paint schemes.

Another nice enhancement is on the map loading screens you get little tips about gameplay.  For something as complex as this game I highly approve.

They have now made group chat look somewhat respectable and this also helps people know it is actually THERE.  Not that anyone I play with uses it (hello VOIP stuff) but it is nice to have.

We also have more consumable items with their GXP costs for the GOOD versions, MC costs for the really really good versions, and C Bill costs almost always no matter what and you still have to go into the Mechlab to replace them.  They haven't yet just put in a dialogue box asking you if you would like to refresh and rebuy them.  Even though there is probably still code for it from when the game used to have repair and rearm costs.  Oh yeah, the UAV is like a little hover drone thingie.

We also have Target Info Gathering to find stuff out about your enemies faster, and the Seismic Sensor which is quickly becoming a MUST HAVE item.

Someone moving around you?  The Seismic Sensor lets you know about it.  VERY useful.

Also useful is the PGI logo for MWO developers and employees who you can then see them online and harass them for whatever the game screwed up this patch.  (Usually LRMs.)

Unlike the Artillery Strikes which continue to be useless, Cool Shot 9 by 9 has quickly become a lifesaver for me.

They also have been slowly including the code for the future 12 a side games which leads to some lances having 2 or 3 players in them as opposed to 12.  Lance Chat and Lance Commands have been implemented though few people worry about them.

 Also I rarely pay attention to all the nice command bits which even include heads up on the screen and different chat colors.  But I have a tendency to get in there and fight like a man, even if I generally end up in Robot Valhalla more often then not.  (But maybe I just want to meet Valkyrie Lenneth.  :3 )

And last up is the new achievement thingie they are doing.  Play X number of matches under X conditions and win so many of them and get a little goodie.

 They are just little things but it encourages you to play ONE.  MORE.  GAME.  in order to get them before time runs out.

 You fight hard and the website updates with your percentage complete.  But in 15 minute intervals.

 And then the CHEEVO is yours and your imaginary E Wiener gets bigger.

 The Misery wasn't the only hero mech as I mentioned.  Here is the Firebrand.

 It really is an awesome paint scheme.  And now?  You can even take the paint scheme and change the colors to your liking.

And the other thing I mentioned, the Lance stuff.  You not only know where your lancemates are without having to ask, but the commander can give you orders.

(Also now what is nice is the game takes its own screenshots and I no longer have to just PrtScrn, paste into Windows Paint after the match, and save as a .png.  I can take as many game pictures as I want per mission now.

And that is basically all we got for the last three updates.  Bug fixes, a little bit of new content, and a ton of weapons tweaks many of which all but ruined the game.

See, Battletech has had weapon balance issues since it came out in the mid 80s.  MWO tries to keep as close to the tabletop as is reasonably possible.

But between their coding issues and the fanbase it proves many weapons are mostly worthless.  And the community will travel "lemming" like into whatever is the best weapons that require the least effort to use.  Which tends to cause the rest of the community to quit playing out of frustration and boredom.

Luckily this is a live electronic game played by thousands of people with recording of what happens in match so the developers can see what is and is not working and fix it in near real time unlike in tabletop hobby games where one overpowered mechanic can all but destroy a game's entire existence.  (One of Battletech's creators, Jordan Weisman, has had TWO of his other game designs destroyed by balance issues like this.  Mechwarrior Dark Age and Arcane Legions both died due to ONE THING BEING THE BEST EVER, killing both the game and the community.  By the time MWDA fixed that issue the game was effectively dead.  Arcane Legions never did fix it and is now out of print and its' community gone.)

I have gamed with people like this over the years.  Folks will look for whatever is the easy way to win and that is ALL THEY WILL PLAY.  It doesn't matter if it ruins the game, makes it predictable, boring, unfun.

MWO is merely another in a long list of games to suffer from this.  While they do keep tweaking, every time one thing gets fixed something else goes wrong or the playerbase cries it is not EXACTLY LIKE TABLETOP BATTLETECH.  

Which is both a game and a gaming community comprised almost exclusively of self absorbed, self declared Aspergers Syndrome patients whose only concerns and interests involve themselves and what they (and they ALONE) want, everyone else be damned.

Seriously.  One of these days I need to devote an entire blog post to the sheer awfulness of the Battletech fanbase.

But the Word of Lowtax helps make MWO fun enough for me, though I have to take breaks from time to time when it gets too screwed up.

 But don't worry!  With the magic of Ebay there are plenty of NOT ROBOTECH BUT ROBOTECH Robot games for me to play even if Harmony Gold doesn't want me to.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Some Pictures of Wizardry, the OTHER RPG Series I Love!

Ahh Wizardry.  The number two RPG in the 8 bit CRPG era after Ultima.  Early on Wizardry was doing better than Ultima but a mixture of keeping the same game engine, requiring parties from earlier games, and basically making games for people who had slaughtered the previous titles made it more and more of a niche series.  But it had love.  It was a team based first person RPG over Ultima's more top down exploration.  It too evolved.  Just slower.  Much slower.  In the long run it made it beloved in Japan where games with the Wizardry brand are still made and other titles keep the step lock first person turn based party RPG alive.

But if folks want to see some Wizardry in action?
Well let's take a look at my parties in various games in various timeframes.

An early stage Wizardry 1-3 party from the mythical Japan Win 9x port.  They actually completed Proving Grounds.
They completed it so well I had an all spells known Cleric swapped into Ninja and turned Good alignment.  Except
tragedy struck after transfer.  MALOR WAS NOT TRANSLATED.  You need to teleport to get to the second level
in Knight of Diamonds.  I.. teleported them a few 100 feet above the castle.  Lost permanently.  Did not backup
the team before transfer.  Not sure I have the heart to rebuild the team.  I had a couple second stringers left
on Proving Grounds so I can powergrind the Level 1 Murphy's Ghosts but..

(Not shown is my NES Knight of Diamonds team as it is on my G5 Imac and its screen needs to be fixed so they can continue to murder hippos and cheating ass super Kobolds.)

A Wizardry 5 party on an actual DOS PC!  I thought I had made it further but they are all like 2-3rd level.  I was planning on doing proper mapping and everything.  The Commodore 64 has the best looking original era versions of Wiz 1 and 5 IMHO.

I have gotten further with my SNES Wiz 5 party.  Just not far enough.

About a year ago I even was planning a full Wiz 6-8 run.  I made it as far as the mountain area
and the catapult thing and it just got too annoying to continue Wiz 6.  Maybe if they ever fully
translate the console Wiz 6 ports I will try again to beat this one.  This game was behind the times
when it came out, much less now.

The PS3/iOS Wizardry isn't bad but I haven't played it in over a year.  After taking this shot
my party got teleported around a ton, Carlin hit Level 8 and now has 81 HP, and half my party died before we finally got the hell off the floor and back up top.  We did unlock the elevator though.
(Of course it is OH NO ANIMES in art so this may be a deal breaker.  Being Japanese designed the character outfits are usually.. semi unfortunate in many of the female PC's cases.)

Those big encounters in Wiz 8?  We handle em like a boss.  Ran into He'li's.  Took em on 2 at a time with
no flanking while the guards helped out.  Also priests from the temple got into a ruckus with some bandits
at the same time.  I got annoyed by Wiz 8 back in the day but now?  I will go far this time around.

And the gang before we got an NPC Rogue shooting slings from the back, and another NPC Valkyrie giving
us 1 Valk per side flank protection.  Outside of Arnika Road shenanigans we are wrecking face.
(Arnika Road is probably Brenda B.'s second biggest regret in life.  Romero is probably the first.  Or will be.)

I continue to be ADD with Wizardry teams.  This was like my third or fourth roll on Wiz 7 last weekend on
the same DOS machine that Wiz 5 shot is from.  Wiz 7 Archives baby!  Still have the huge manual and addendum too. And my original disk copy era cluebook from Dark Savant.

I would never lie.  My DOS Wiz stuff.

And Wiz 8 still in box.  With a Wing Commandery friend in box.

Everyone has 18 stat points or more, and I reload any level ups that don't give at least 2 points per PC.
Wiz 7 is still one of the most good looking "Blobber" RPGs out there IMHO.  It has a lot of annoyances
but I keep playing it every few years.  I have killed that damn starter dungeon boss a good dozen times
since 93.

But the best Wizardry period is on the PS2 and is called "Tale of the Forsaken Land".  This party was
my third attempt at making it through the game since buying it (Before Wiz 8 was even out!) and after
11 aeons even unfinished games may die or something like that.  It is amazing.  Handy automap you
can see the local amount on screen.  Spell for the full map you have seen.  Shortcuts through the levels.
NPCs you WANT in your party.  Team Attacks!  Animated combat!  Good graphics and story!  See monsters on the screen so you can attempt to avoid or backstab them!

Hell, I love Forsaken Land so much I made a tribute to it:


(Sadly and as a great crime to all, I do not have a screencap of Rui, the best Thief.  For she stole my heart.)

If I haven't annoyed this thread I can post pictures of my teams in other blobber games but this can be enough on its own for a post, eh?

Note this was just a quick trip down memory lane as opposed to a full discussion of Wizardry as a series.
Also to show off my various parties.  And remind myself how I fail to complete most of these games...


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Southeastern CT, United States
I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/