Downtime Compensation

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When I started up Trove yesterday I was asked to log in to my Glyph account. Since I play through Steam, this isn’t something I’ve had to do in a very long time. So I went through the process of changing my password and logged back in. I was asked if I wanted to link the account to steam, this was odd, the account had been linked to steam for years. When I clicked yes I got an error that it couldn’t be linked at this time. So I logged in again and skipped the linking and hoped I was logging in to the right account.

When I got into the game the general chat was full of people complaining about downtime. Apparently, the server had been down for the better part of a day. This is a very common occurrence in Trove. The server performance and uptime have long been a meme among the player base. If you’re not rubber banding, getting kicked out of the client, or crashing, you’re not getting the full Trove experience.

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The one thing Trove has always been good about is providing compensation for when the game is offline or generally bugged. A few months ago the leaderboards were broken for weeks and there was a decent compensation for it. Trove seems to have server outages every few months always with compensation to be doled out. Yesterday, we were given a 1-day patron pass, a Streamer Dream box(special ally/mounts), and 6 lustrous gem boxes (upgrade materials).

Players aren’t always happy with the rewards. Some argue that a few loot boxes and a bit of patron aren’t worth missing a day in the game. Other’s want more, usually in the form of a golden dragon effigy (a free dragon). While I think it’s nice that we’ve come to expect something when the servers go down, I’d much rather have more stable servers.

I don’t think I’ve played other games that handed out items for downtime. I remember playing a few games that had entire server role backs and just continued on as normal. Are there other games that give out compensation for downtime? Maybe other games just don’t go down enough to actually notice it.

Running the Whole Shadow Tower

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Monday night was the usual Trove affair. Mondays are the best days to complete shadow towers because of the bonuses for drops. The plan was to run through our usual Shadow Towers with the 2 of us and then spend the rest of the night farming for Binding Darkness.

Binding Darkness is a crafting material used to make gem augments to reroll of boost stats on gems. It’s an important material once you have all of your gems leveled up as it further increases your power rank. Binding Darkness has a chance to drop from all Shadow Tower monsters and will rarely drop from normal world bosses.

The idea is to find a floor of the Shadow Tower that has at least 2 dungeon phases. A floor can consist of dungeon phases or wave clear phases and ends with floor boss. The wave clears offer fewer monsters overall and aren’t ideal. The dungeons contain a higher concentration of enemies and also have world bosses so running these have a higher chance of dropping bindings

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Ultra Daughter of the Moon

Jay is under the impression that the higher the shadow tower difficulty is the more chance binding has to drop. I’m not sure how true this is but we ended up running Ultra Weeping Prophet multiple times this week. This was a good mix of difficulty for the two of us and had 2 dungeon phases. I ended up with 10 binding darkness in about a half-hour which was enough to craft a few gem augments I needed. We didn’t end up farming for long because we had some more people interested in doing more shadow towers.

We’ve been dipping our toes back into streaming the last few weeks and have made some friends through our Twitch chat. We ended up running Ultra Darknik Dreadnaught and Ultra Daughter of the Moon with 2 other people. Our times weren’t fantastic but that was the first time we’ve been able to run the whole Shadow Tower in a very long time. The increased rewards were nice but it was awesome getting to run these with other people for a change.

Taming Trove’s Primordial Dragons

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Za’Hadeen, Heart of the Flame

Last night I accomplished one of my long term goals in Trove: unlocking all of the Primordial Dragons. These are special dragons that not only give stat boosts but boost the Power Rank of the gems associated with each one. These add a ton of PR. When I unlocked Scintilla last night my PR went up by 500, which is a decent jump.

These dragons are more expensive than most of the others. The biggest gate these are behind is the diamond dragon eggs. Until recently, these took a long time to come by. They were rewards based on your combined power rank across your account. I forget what the breakdown was but you had to have a fairly high combined PR to even get 2 fragments a day. The eggs cost 300 to craft, so 100 days logging in to collect the reward to make one egg. You need one for each dragon so a little less than a year to reach if you don’t miss a day collecting the fragments. We’re talking a very long term goal here.

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Palashien, Soul of the Sea

This has changed with the updates that restructured the leaderboards. Instead of rewards based on power rank, it’s now included in the daily star bar completion rewards. I believe you get one per star bar filled without the patron pass and you can complete the star bar 5 times. So we’ve gone from 300 days to get all the egg fragments from just logging in to 180 days but you have to complete the trove equivalent of dailies. Worth a patron pass you obtain 3 diamond dragon egg fragments for each star bar completed. So now we’re talking 15 a day for a total of 60 days doing dailies for three eggs. That’s still 2 months of playtime. There is a very rare chance these can be looted from an empowered gem box. I got one of my eggs this way, it announces it to the whole server when it drops and the chat is filled with “GG”‘s, it’s very nice.

So on top of this, you also need 400 dragon coins per dragon. They cost 100 more dragon coins than most of the other dragons. These are also a time-locked currency but there are a number of ways to get them. I have 2 tomes that once filled for the week will give me 40 dragon coins. Plus the first hourly challenge completed a day gives at least 5 coins. You can also buy dragon coins from the shop with cubits, the soft cash shop currency of Trove, obtained by completing the daily star bars. And of course you can just buy them straight from the shop with your credit card, but I’m too cheap for that route.

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Scintilla, Spark of the Sky

Dragon coins and the eggs are the biggest obstacles on the way to these dragons. They make the other requirements seem laughable. 5k gem dust for each dragon is nothing and 100k flux isn’t that hard to come by either.

So was it worth it all? Of course! All 3 dragons account for 5% of my total power rank for my highest classes. I’m interested to see if that number changes once I optimize all of my gems. Za’Hadeen is probably the best mount for dungeon farming and surface mining. While all of the other dragons shoot fireballs when you left-click, Za’Hadeen fires like a machine gun when the left click is held down. Scintilla is nice and shiny and Palashien is basically like flying around on a Dratini.

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Taking Down Ultra Hydra

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This week Jay and I took down Ultra Shadow Hydrakken with just the two of us. We’ve been stick on Ultra Vengful Pinata God for a month or 2. We try to clear the shadow towers on Mondays when the bonus is in effect for the Titan’s Treasure. It helps keep the flux fund up for the rest of the week. These are supposed to be for up to 8 players but Jay has enough power rank on his gunslinger to carry us both through the lower level ultra towers.

It was a whim dicision to try the next Ultra tower. I have gotten my Dracolyte’s Power Rank up by a few thousand over the weeks and I thought why not? Getting to Hydra was a bit rough, the mobs in the towers were a bit more difficult, taking flasks with almost every hit. Once we got into the boss room we switched up classes. Jay had his revnant with a tank build that netted him just over 10 million health. My 27k PR Shadow Hunter provided the DPS. It took us about 10 minutes to down Hydra. When you’re used to taking out these shadow tower bosses in under 30 seconds it felt like an eternity.

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One of the advantages of not burning the boss  is that you get to see the mechanics. Yes, there are some mechanics to the bosses in Trove. Hydra spits out green slime that coats a wide area and spawns adds. Luckily for me, Jay took most of the adds. The few that escaped his range hit my squishy shadow hunter for a lot. When Hydra gets down to around 40% health he starts sucking every player underneath him. After the first time I had to hang back the rest of the fight after one hit took 15 flasks.

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We tried Ultra Darknik Dreadnaught. We were feeling underpowered on our run to the boss room.  To my suprise we almost had him but just didn’t have enough power to finish the last eigth of health. Out of the two fights, this one was my favorite. Draknik has 2 different sheilds, a bunch of rockets that leave fire you shouldn’t stand on, and one move that forces players to run to the corners or be one shotted.

So now I have another goal for Trove: to two man all of the shadow tower difficulties. I definatley need to put some more PR into my shadow hunter and my dracolyte. We’ll see what we can get our time down too on Ultra Hydra over the next few weeks. I’ve been lacking some drive to play Trove lately but a new goal is just what I need to get me back into the game. Plus, I still have plenty episodes of the No Sleep Podcast to listen to while I play.

 

Pinatas and Dragons

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I took a few weeks break from Trove after playing heavily for the last 2 or 3 months. For a while, I just wasn’t making any progress on my main classes and I had gotten a little bored of the No Sleep Podcast.  So I logged in on Mondays for my rewards and hoped I’d get a nice empowered gem from a box and didn’t do much else for the rest of the week.

Right now, I’m in a comfortable place in Trove. I have things to work on when I log in even if it’s just filling up tomes for the week. Currently, I’m working on getting my PR up for my Draco. It’s been so long since I had a reason to do anything with him but I finally pulled a good empowered gem to make some more progress on him

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Tysorion, Steward of New Beginnings.

Being away for a few weeks I almost missed the Sunfest event entirely. Events in Trove aren’t usually more than a few quests long with some sort of mount or ally unlocked at the end of the chain. On a rare occasion, events will offer a bit more. The main reward of Sunfest was the Worldspring Dragon Egg which was “easy” to obtain as long as you had around 80K flux.  Tysorion gives decent stats too, the most notable are 3% critical damage and 250 physical damage.

Coming in at the tail end of the event I didn’t get many of the unlocks. I did manage to pick up the Party Pup ally and the House Panatea Battle Standard to complete my Dracolyte’s party pinata look. I was really struggling to get the last few quests done in the day before the event ended. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to complete the Kill 50 pinatas quest to get the permanent battle standard. It turns out if you hang out in the hub long enough people drop enough pinatas to complete it.

 

 

Figuring It All Out Again

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My plans this weekend were to get through the post ARR quests and get into the Heavensward expansion in Final Fantasy XIV. I had heard there was a lot of quests right after ARR but I didn’t realize how many until I read Naithin’s post “Starting The Horrible Hundred”.

At first, I thought, no way there’s a hundred quests and promptly headed over to the wiki. Yikes, yes there are exactly 100. I thought, well I must be a pretty good way through them. Nope, just barely over halfway there with 48 quests to go. It looked like I wouldn’t be getting to Heavensward after all. I found a nice stopping point about 1/4th the way through Patch 2.4 (Dreams of Ice) on Sunday.

Now I haven’t played FFXIV in a long time.  I bought the expansions up to Stormblood on PC because of a sale but almost of all of my playtime has been on PS4. The last few times I resubbed I’ve made new characters so I could learn the controls with a keyboard. Each time I realized I didn’t want to run through all of the base game again and would let the sub lapse. Now I know what your thinking, why don’t I just play my original character? Because then I’d have to figure everything out again!

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I bit the bullet this time around and dusted off my main and hoped for the best. It took me a good hour to figure out what was what. I had to remake all my gear sets, I had to weed out skills off my skill bar that don’t exist anymore, and then I had to figure out what everything did again. To make matters slightly worse I also switched my movement keys to ESDF to free up a bit more keyboard space for skills.  I didn’t attempt to look through my inventory, I have my limits.

I tried to play Dragoon because she looked so cool in her armor but I was in no mood to relearn the combos. I decided to not attempt to play my White Mage until I had a handle on the keybindings again. Your welcome people running their roulettes. So I settled on playing Bard. Easy to play, no combos, skills that were mostly the same from 2 years ago, and a stylish hat.

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I’ve been having fun reacquainting myself with the game, the locations, the music, and my character. I haven’t been finding this stretch of quests to be too bad. I wouldn’t call them horrible but they aren’t anything to write home about. Though it may not seem like it, I’m not actually in a rush.  I think this stretch would be tedious if I had to run multiple characters through it but knowing I only have to do it once decreases the tedium for some reason. Plus I don’t actually know what’s on the other side. I’m amazingly good at avoiding spoilers.

So I figure, if I can find this stretch enjoyable, Heavensward’s just going to be that much better. 38 quests to go!

How’s Trove Holding Up?

 

20190407115049_1.jpgI’ve been away from Trove for over a year. I have a love-hate relationship with the game. On the one hand, it hits the right buttons in my brain that makes me want to play it for hours. On the other, there’s been some shady cash shop practices and bad development choices through the years.  But it’s been a year, I’ve been back in for about 2 weeks and much has changed

For starters, Trion as a company is no longer in control or in existence after it was bought up by Gaming. Many wondered what the future would hold for their games. Unfortunately, one title, Atlas Reactor, is set to sunset in June. It’s hard to say where Trove is at right now. There was a fairly large update last year with the Geode Expansion. Geode added 2 new game modes Bomber Royale, Troves take on a battle royale, and Geode, a timed noncombat gathering activity. They’ve also done away with the old portal system for getting into adventure worlds. No longer do I have to hunt around my club world for the correct portal for the activity I want to do. Now the Trove Atlas I can access any world/ difficulty from anywhere.

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I didn’t plan on getting back into Trove. I was intrigued when one of my friends told me some random person had been promoted to our club leader. After some research, we discovered that Trion had promoted him because he was the most active person. This is a feature in case your club leader quits I guess. It’s a bit weird and Jay was not happy as he had spent years working on that club. The plan was to be active enough and hope that this particular person doesn’t log on in the next 45 days to get our leader rank back.

I ended up reminiscing the night with Jay about all the fun times we had in the game. We tried out Bomber Royale as a joke to see how bad it was and were hooked. Much like Trove itself, it’s not complicated. You can throw bombs that bounce around and explode at other players. This damages the player and destroys part of the map. There are different power-up scattered around the map that gives you your other abilities the stick bomb and the jump bomb. As time goes on the outer portions of the map disappears as a “ring” of sorts. It’s great because the maps all start out looking the same but by the final 5 or 6 people, it’s different every time.

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While I was logging in to play PVP, something I haven’t done in a long time, I decided that I might as well do some grinding. That part of Trove hasn’t changed, the game has and will always be one big grind. I find it quite relaxing and it’s mindless enough but keeps my hands occupied enough to listen to a podcast or 3.General chat is still alive, for better or for worse it’s hard to tell sometimes. I constantly see people around in all of the activities. I’ve gotten into some PVP matches in Trove quicker than in other titles. The population is enough for the game to feel full.

I do wonder about how much longer Trove will be around. There hasn’t been much news about updates in recent months. Just last weekend the servers were down for hours and when they came back up the leaderboards were broken. They stayed broken until late this week with very little communication from the developers. The same old issues are still there. Trove can be a laggy mess where you wait around for chunks of the map to load or rubberband minutes on end. It crashes, there are unexpected downtimes,  it’s not shy about asking you to spend money, and it’s a very simple game.

And yet I’m having a blast with it right now. I’m sure after a month or two I’ll move on to something else but for now, I’m quite content to grind dungeons, progress my classes, and play Bomber Royale much too late into the night.

My 2019 So Far

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In February, we decided to put the brakes on our Twitch channel indefinitely. If you didn’t know about our Twitch channel, WelpsquadTV, it’s because I didn’t write much about it. We were on Twitch for about 2 years and somewhere along the way, I think we forgot streaming was supposed to be fun and not something we had to do. We were by no means a large channel,  but we had a decent little community of regulars, we made a little money, and we put in a ton of hours Now, it was a 4 man channel, but Jay and I were putting in 4 or 5 multiple hour streams a week, that time adds up.

Stopping wasn’t an easy decision considering how long we’d been doing it but a necessary one. No one was having fun anymore and the time commitment just wasn’t fitting into our lives anymore. Plus, I always felt that blogging was much more of my style than streaming ever was.

For most of  February, I didn’t touch Twitch and had very little interest in games in general. Then Anthem came out. I subbed up to Origin Premier to try it out, flew around and did story missions for 8-10 hours and didn’t go back.

I decided to give Apex Legends a try towards the end of  February and I’ve found surprisingly engaging. It’s been a blast with friends and has quickly become the defacto: “I don’t know what I want to play tonight, let’s see who’s on Apex” I haven’t had this much fun in a multiplayer FPS since Modern Warfare in high school, in fact, I think that’s the last time I enjoyed a multiplayer FPS.  It helps that I have enough people to play it with when I want to play because going in alone is an exercise in frustration.

I started up Black Desert in early March after a recommendation from a co-worker. I had bought the game 2 years ago and never got into it. I have a bad habit of playing something until it gets complicated and then quitting and Black Desert starts off complicated and continues to add to the complexity. The first time around I just couldn’t wrap my head around the combat. This time I decided to power through and see how I liked it. It helped that my co-worker kept telling me it was the “greatest single player game of all time”. And you know what? He’s not wrong. Once I got the hang of the combat and some of the systems the game really opened up and has more to offer than grind to the end to PVP.

Most recently I’ve been playing Trove. I always seem to come back to Trove, especially when I’m looking for a progression fix. It’s been about a year since I last logged in, long before Trion was acquired by Gamingo.  My old max level  Stellar gear is useless but was replaced with a much easier to obtain Crystal gear. There are new gem slots so that your Power Rank numbers can go up even higher. And 2 new modes have been added since I last played: Geode, a non-combat gathering activity, and Bomber Royale. I’ll have to write a whole post on Bomber royale, it’s possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in Trove and probably the only Battle Royale game I will ever win on my own.

Yes, this is yet another one of my many posts where I say I miss blogging and I miss writing and yes, it probably won’t be my last. But I always come back here and I’ve been away from my little space on the internet for far too long.

 

 

 

2 Frying Pans and a Horse.

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I got a text earlier this week from Greg that said “Hey remember Fallen Earth? I just downloaded it We should play.” Two things flashed through my mind, that game is still running? and isn’t that the game with the giant crafting system?

Well, it turns out Fallen Earth is more than just still around, it was recently bought by another developer and there’s been some talk about updating it. Like really updating it, rebuilding it even. So far Little Orbit has resurrected some holiday events and has plans to move the game to a new engine. You can check out their State of the Game post here  So I said why not I’ll download it, run around in it for a little bit and if nothing else it will give me something to blog about again.

By the end of the tutorial, you’re a clone armed to the teeth and thrown into a post-apocalypse world given a horse and told you’re on your own. I forgot how weird this game was and after a couple hours playing it, I thought it wasn’t for me. The stat/skill system in the game is not very intuitive and not well explained in the tutorial. I’m level 10 and I’m still not sure if how bad I’ve messed up my character already. You get AP to spend to level up skills or stats. Skills have a maximum value that can be raised by putting points into stats. But there’s a limited amount of points and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to focus on 1 or 2 skills to max out or if I can spread out a little.

This game is really locked down for free to play players. Like almost unplayable. Experience is decreased, harvesting speed is decreased, there’s a currency cap, and the biggest issue is you only get one crafting slot. You can only craft one item at a time and most items take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to craft. It makes the experience

But Greg insisted we play a little more, so I did. I also figured that if I was going to play this game I’d see what the cash shop was like. Turns out there are some subscription tiers that up crafting slots, experience gain, and harvesting speed and give you some other perks. For $4.99 it wasn’t going to break the bank. And suddenly the game became a lot more tolerable.

After playing a little longer some of the systems are starting to click. Crafting is fun, there’s no loot drops that I’ve seen so far, only materials for you to craft your own stuff. I’ve been giving myself little goals in the crafting so I can make the next piece of gear or my next weapon to go to the next zone. Let me tell you, those 20 extra crafting slots from the Premium subscription really help with crafting. I can set filters on the crafting list to only show recipes that I have the materials to craft and that will increase my crafting skill. At the end of a play session I just go through the list, fill up my crafting slots and when I come back I’ve leveled my crafts up a few points.

I decided to be different and go for the melee combat over the guns. I’m still trying to figure out how armor works, I die so often when I accidentally aggro tow or more mobs. But this game has some unique and weird melee weapons that I just couldn’t pass up. For a good 2 or 3 levels I was touting 2 frying pans. They made a fantastic clunking sound every time I hit something. They have since been replaced by the meat hooks. I’ve also crafted a 2X4 as my two-handed weapon. No one wants to fight the guy who only carries a giant slab of wood around. But if there’s a wardrobe slot for weapons, I’m definitely using the frying pans.

 

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The weapon descriptions are fantastic

 

So Fallen Earth is growing on me. I like the setting and the crafting feels meaningful at the moment. The low player base was kind of off-putting at first. Sometimes you can count by hand the number of players in the world. But the chat is surprisingly active and I have run into more low-level players questing than I would have thought. I can’t say that Fallen Earth will become one of my main games but I’m really interested in seeing what Little Orbit can do with it.

 

Halfway through the Living World Season 2

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Shortly after completing the Guild Wars 2 Personal Story, I purchased season 2 and 3 of the living world. This was mostly because I wanted to all the story Guild War 2 has to offer which might seem a bit strange since I didn’t much enjoy the last third of the personal story. But my thought process here was that maybe it would get better. Plus I already own both expansions so I might as well do the in-between stuff too.  I was confused when I went to buy the bundles and it said certain acts would be left out until I realized I had unlocked those acts making the seasons pretty inexpensive. I’m actually glad that it’s available for purchase instead of missing out on the two entirely.

First things first, the season 1 recap leaves a lot to be desired. I’m sure that the way the first season of the living world was structured did not lend itself to being replayable and that’s fine but I wish the recap would have been a little better. It gives you the gist of what happened, Scarlet is evil, Scarlet destroys Lion’s Arch, Scarlet dies. Oh and there’s also this cast of characters that will be briefly introduced and that’s it. Luckily the wiki has a lot more information but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

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Because of that, season 2 starts rather abruptly and assumes you know all the characters already. It took a little getting used to but after a few chapters, I think I have most of the characters figured out. So far season 2 seems a lot more like Guild Wars storytelling than the personal story. The first chapter where you are accompanied by all of the characters was like stepping back into Guild Wars with all the henchmen. I’m definitely enjoying season 2 much more than the personal story. I can see how it’s heading to Heart of Thorns and I’m anxious to see how exactly it leads to the expansion. I’m wondering if these characters will carry through or if I have to deal with the Pact again.

There is much more content than I’d thought there’d be with the living world. I assumed each chapter would have an instance or two around the map and I’d be able to wrap it up relatively quickly. I was pleasantly surprised when the first chapter led me into an entirely new map and had 5 parts to it. I’ve been making my way through season 2 for a week now and am still only halfway through.

For the most part, it hasn’t been too challenging. Chapter 3 was tough because it centered around doing open world events designed for groups of players instead of the instances like the proceeding chapters. I didn’t mind it because people could still be found running these events. Except for one where I had to take down a Modrem Wolf in the Iron Marches. There weren’t a whole lot of people around and I couldn’t take it out alone so I ended up waiting for people to show up. It didn’t take that long once I found another couple of players. That’s the only time so far I’ve felt like I needed others to complete story content which I don’t mind at all.