It is personal to me

I almost skipped this month’s challenge from Ambermist of Tastes Like Battlechicken. The challenge of this month is basically telling about someone (or several someones!) who did something good that left some kind of mark on you.

What makes this tough isn’t so much the lack of good acts I’ve seem while playing games (or even outside it) as much as thinking of one that could be turned into an interesting narrative. Even the one I am just picking now might not fit quite well with the challenge. It is one of those that got etched into my mind and perhaps might be an interesting story to tell. Even then this post might be a bit scattered all over the place as there are a lot of different emotions attached with this memory. Well, with all my memories of those times actually. Anyhoo, let’s  get to the story.

It all happened back in the old days of Lineage 2, when things were harsher, death was much more of a big deal at all levels and so on. I was just minding my own business as always when suddenly one of our clan mates said that he was just PKed by someone outside the gates of Dion. When I got there, my clan leader and a couple other members were already there. Apparently the PKer was some permared who had just gotten to one of the safe borders in Dion, thus standing in a non-PvP area.

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Alts? I have no alts! All my characters are my main!

Or so I usually say. In practice there is always a character I end up playing more than the others or who earned a special place in my heart.

So, on this week’s challenge, posed by the lovely Ambermist of “Tastes Like Battle Chicken”, it is exactly to talk about those characters. Which I will do with the utmost joy. Because characters are like our own children. Give us an excuse to talk about them and we’ll do it all day!

In my case it will be two of the characters that have a very special place in my heart. They are probably the ones I spent the most time playing on and growing with during my MMORPG career. If you can call playing MMORPGs for years a career that is.

Also, I apologize for the lack of screenshots. This is a post that screams “Fill me up with screenshots!” but I found out I have no good screenshots of Rakuno to post. Alas, I find myself still having to do my little EQ2 protest so I can’t even log in to take a decent screenshot of my beloved character.

Anyhoo, in order of creation here are my “mains”:

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L2: Ding… 86! *drops dead*

Can you smell this? It is the smell of... FREEDOM!

Yesterday morning I finally reached my ultimate goal with Lineage 2 which was to get GoldheartXVI to level 86. With that she graduated from being a mentee and I can finally go back to playing in a much more casual fashion. Not only that but I can finally play other games or characters without feeling guilty that I am not getting XP with her. Hopefully this means somewhat more regular posts on this blog as well as more variety. We’ll see!

It took me this long to get to 86 due to a few problems. The first day after 85 I spent soloing, trying to get to know my new skills, to get used to them. The second and third days is where things start going wrong. The best options to get XP were doing a daily quest in Swamplands which doesn’t give that much…. I think it is about 3% XP for completing it. Then there is Kartia that comes in solo and group version. The solo version I found nearly impossible to finish since the last boss hits hard and has a mass fear…. that works even on the NPCs that are supposed to help you! To this day I have yet to finish it. But I know there are a few players out there who can finish it.

The group version there were some complications too. I spent about an hour each day shouting for a group. Only got one in the second day and  the group disbanded when we wiped in the last boss. I tried Nursery solo too but that didn’t  work well. I died a lot and the only XP I got there was from killing the mobs. The quest only gave me some tokens that I could turn in for recipes and gear I already had. So after all that frustration I got desperate. I decided to go to Altar of Evil to grind. This was painful, slow and not something I would recommend to anyone unless they absolutely don’t have any other choice. Days later, with 70% more and without any resemblance of sanity or intelligence left, I decided to try getting a Kartia group on a whim…. And it worked! The party did pretty well, I got about 14% XP out of it plus some much needed ego boost. The next day I tried again with similar success which finally earned me level 86. It came at the right time too since I wanted to dedicate my weekend to Guild Wars 2 which I did without any feelings of guilty or remorse. 🙂

For now my plans with Lineage 2 is creating a new character that will become an Iss Enchanter on the second account. Then use GoldheartXVI as her mentor. Besides that…. time will tell what will happen in Lineage 2. 🙂

L2: Awakening!

I Tyrr Warrior. You... uh... something!

Yesterday, I finally got to 85 and did the 4th class change, thus awakening to  become a Tyrr Warrior! Before babbling further, a big thank you to Grifix and Daikazoku for the powerleveling. Daikazoku was also kind enough to gift me with the Immortal Heavy armor set that you can see in the screenshot. I am not much a fan of its looks on a female dwarf but it is R grade armor and it does its job. Oh, and also another thank you to Stickles for all the buffs!

The 4th class change quest was much easier than I expected but didn’t feel any less epic. I don’t know if it was because I was looking forward to it for so long or if it was because of the opening scene of the quest where they showed why they needed adventures to step up and save the world. The scene was narrated by a NPC with a pretty good voice actor. That just added to the epicness of it all.

As for the class itself it is a bit weird. It feels like it is a mixture of Tyrant, Destroyer, Warlord and Gladiator. It pretty much doesn’t have anything of the Maestro so it feels kinda alien to me. Specially because a Maestro was a pretty simple class to play. I just had to use my couple buffs, forget it for 20 minutes, then use about 2 skills and send my golem to attack. Tyrr Warriors on the other hand feels more like complex creatures. They have a lot of more situational self buffs that last 5 minutes, they have skills that build Momentum which is kind of a resource to boost up the power of other skills, some skills for AoE and it seems to have some combos between skills. And I am not even getting at things like Berserker Rage that gives a huge boost to your attack and requires you to be below 30% health to be activated. The differences are so staggering that it will take me a while to feel comfortable playing it.

For now I am more  worried about getting to level 86 so I can graduate from being a mentee and I can go back to being fickle and feeding my altitis needs.

L2: Best skill ever!

Tokyo here I come!
Tokyo here I come!

Last night I got to level 83 and finally got this transformation skill for Maestros. I am only sad that the recast time is a bit long and the transformation doesn’t last forever. Still pretty fun for the few minutes it lasts!

EDIT: Just to make it clear, Miaren, the dark elf in the screenshot,  is only there to give an idea of scale. The giant golem is actually my main character, GoldheartXVI, using the skill “Golem Armor” that  transforms her into one. 🙂

L2: Maestro!

GoldheartXVI wearing the Dinasty Set

If getting to level 75 back in my days felt like a possible dream then getting to 3rd class felt pretty much like one of those impossible ones. It would be like winning in the lotto. Sure, there is a very small possibility of winning it but how many really expect to actually win it? Getting your 3rd class felt pretty much like that.

As with most things currently in Lineage 2 it is a lot more accessible. The hardest part is still doing the grind to get to level 76. Once you get those the class change wasn’t too hard. It was still an interesting quest, a bit crazy by the end of it but fun. My only disappointment was not getting any new active skills right away. I only got a couple passive new skills and some to raise the number of buffs I can receive. New active ones I only started to get at level 77 which I got today.

Also, I finally got a mentor. It took me this long to get one for a few reasons. First, being a returnee player with a character above level 40 I couldn’t claim the Mentee Certificate that allowed me to have a mentor. So I had to make a disposable alt just for that purpose. I was also going to wait for a clan mate to get to 86 so I could have him as my mentor as I prefer not to deal with complete strangers if it can be avoided. That last part didn’t go exactly as planned…. Once I got my certificate I started receiving random PMs from people offering to be my mentor. After declining 3 such people I gave in to the 4th one and became his mentee. I also admit that seeing my clan mates with their mentors leveling pretty fast influenced this  decision too.

As much as I hate to admit it, the mentor buffs make a lot of difference to level. Heck, they can even be kind of addicting make you not want to level while your mentor is offline and thus leaving you without the buffs. In any case it is quite worth it and I am glad I decided to get a mentor now.

Now the plan is to get to 86, become a Tyrr Warrior and graduate from the mentor. This will be a lot harder but also a lot more exciting. I can’t wait to see all the stuff I can do as a Tyrr Warrior! 😀

L2: Climbing the mountain

A long time ago, when I first started in Lineage 2 the level cap was 75. To reach that you had to go up through a very steep leveling curve, almost like a mountain. At times it seemed impossible to reach that level while others it just didn’t seem to matter because it wasn’t like the game was going to fundamentally change if you got to the cap. Yes, there was the whole subclass thing that you could only start at level 75 and it looked cool. But it still wouldn’t magically transform the whole game into something else.

Anyway, for guys like me, the whole point of the game was to climb that mountain. It didn’t matter so much getting  there as being able to continually advance through the levels. Even as leveling up became increasingly slow to do so we still kept at it. The level cap of 75 would always be there, always challenging us to reach it and if any of us did it would be an achievement in itself.

Then after I left many updates came making the leveling curve less and less steep. To the point now, with the Goddess of Destruction update, where there are several shortcuts one can take to reach the higher levels. We have the mentoring system now, XP runes, vitality, etc. Save for a couple couple revita-pops I’ve used recently to keep my vitality from going to 0 and using the free gear and shots from the “Path of Awakening”, I haven’t yet taken those shortcuts. Even then I am surprised as how fast I have been leveling. Is it so fast that you can sleep through the levels and find yourself at the cap? No. But it isn’t as slow that watching paint dry starts to feel more fun either. At least on the levels I had personal experience so far.

GoldheartXVI is level 71 now. The former mythical level 75 feels just close enough for me to finally grab it. It is not the level cap anymore either, it is just another step towards a much bigger goal. Yet it still feels strange in a way.

I guess the only thing that hasn’t really changed that much was my attitude. I am still playing just to climb the mountain. My goal however is not that of level cap anymore. It is a much more humble one, of just hitting 86, to turn GoldheartXVI into a Tyrr Warrior. If I can reach that I can leave the game satisfied, knowing that I reached the goal I set to myself. That I finally climbed the mountain that was in front of me.

L2: Double Ding!

One can easily shoot a fly in the ceiling while the other will pillage your cookie jar

After many days hoping around between alts I finally got Lumilie through her second class quest on Tuesday. It was slightly harder than I expected only because Sakum, the final boss for the quest, hit hard and would keep stunning her every time he got close enough to hit. The stun would last quite a while too. Because of that he killed me the first time and I had to try killing him again. The second time I tried to be more careful with the kiting, almost died again but ultimately succeeded in killing the beast!

Much to my surprise she ended up as a level 43 after the quest was completed.  I am not entirely sure if it was an unique case since I was partying with a clan mate and he didn’t do a quest I already did. So there was the extra XP for helping him with that quest.

Like the first class quest I was also rewarded with Proof of Courage to buy gear and shots from my race master NPC or whatever was his title. I decided to spend it all in C-grade soulshots this time since I can claim the C-Grade gear from the Path to Awakening system. Only problem is that gear has a 30 day limit. Which I can’t complain about with it being free gear and all. However I didn’t claim the gear just yet since Lumilie will be going to sleep while I concentrate on GoldheartXVI. The gear she is using in the screenshot was one she borrowed from another alt of mine just for it. 🙂

Speaking of GoldheartXVI, yesterday I finally reached level 61 with her. With this came A-Grade which was a long dream of mine since back in the days. Granted nowadays my ambitions are higher, to get to 86 and then change to a Tyrr Warrior. But for now this is enough to make me happy. Since she was already 56 when I came back she wasn’t eligible to claim an A-Grade weapon anymore from the Path to Awakening so I could only claim the armor. The interesting thing is that the armor they gave me is a tankish set while her class skills make her more of a DPS class. In any case, I like the looks and it has been working very well!

Now my only worry is to get GoldheartXVI to a level where she can start using S-Grade before 30 days go by and the claimed armor goes poof. It shouldn’t be impossible or too hard except that I don’t want to rush for that goal. Rushing could make me get burned out much faster from the game. Plus I still need to make money for whatever gear/shots I might need later down the road. The money is what worries me the most actually. So far I have been selling A shots in Giran. The profits are good just the sales are a little slow for my impatience.

Regardless of that I am still proud of my little victories, drooling on the looks of the Nightmare Armor set and just enjoying what I can do now. 🙂

L2: Some days later in Aden…

I gave in to Lineage 2’s siren’s song. The temptation of playing with an old friend of mine was too great. That and I don’t really have any game right now that burns my mind with the desire to play it any time I can. Right now I am dabbling around in different games as the mood hits.

So far Lineage 2 has been fun. The bots I have found have been pretty much in the lower levels. Same with the PKers. Neither has been bad enough to make me want to scream and punch a wall though. This might change if I get to the higher levels. We’ll see.

Also I was just wrong about the quests lines. From level 1 until 40 there is a good quest line to follow that provides you with most of the XP to get through the levels. There are one or two rough bits that the quests doesn’t provide the you with enough XP to get the next quest. In those cases you either have to grind or do the Kamalokas. The grind isn’t too bad while the Kamalokas is an interesting addition that came with Goddess of Destruction. Basically, it is a small instance with just one boss monster on it. You need to have a group of at least two people to enter it. There is a timer of 30 minutes to beat the monster and you can only do a Kamaloka once a day. The XP of Kamalokas are pretty good with most of them not requiring much in terms of strategy. This makes it pretty easy to just setup a random group of people as it doesn’t require much in terms of player skill or perfect party setups. In fact the lower level ones I have been doing as a duo with my friend without many issues.

After level 40 it gets more complicated. There is a one time quest right at Ivory Tower which gives some pretty good XP for someone who just completed their second class change. Besides that there are the usual Kamalokas and a repeatable daily quest on Cruma Tower. If you don’t like either of those options there is only the usual grind to get you through the levels. I just don’t know at which level there are more good one-time quests to do as I’ve been doing the level 40ish content with some old alts around that level range. Haven’t played that much with either as I have been focusing most of my energies on my highest character, GoldheartXVI, a dwarven warsmith at level 56.

Restarting with GoldheartXVI has proven to be the most tricky of all my characters. I only found two one-time quests that she could do. One was at Forsaken Plains which was pretty easy, gave some good XP and some money, if I recall correctly. The other was an old quest at Frozen Labyrinth. That one I am still unsure if it was a good one since it took a lot of running around back and forth to complete.

With the lack of good quests to do I have been just grinding with her. I have been avoiding joining random groups to do Kamalokas since I am still not quite comfortable with my skill to play her just yet. That and I just dislike random groups.

Speaking of warsmiths, I must say I like how they are now. They seem to have made the class into a type of an actual pet/minor support class. They now have a couple of buffs they can apply to their golems and can even heal it. The support part comes in the form of a temporary buff to armor and weapons as they “improve” it. That buff can be applied on themselves or other people. These changes make it easier for the warsmiths to solo as well as allow them to bring something to parties. 🙂

Lastly, but not least important, a big thank you to two of my clan mates: Tydo, for lending me his Blue Wolf Breastplate, and KuangShi, for buying me a weapon as welcome back gift (as well as for all the High SP Scrolls). You guys rock!

P.S.: I set the previous post about Lineage 2 as private for now. Simply because there were too many typos, clunky phrases and too much stuff that was redundant with my “Revisiting Lineage 2” post. In other words, it was just a really bad post and I do believe you guys and gals deserve better.

In any case, worry not, it was a very exceptional case that I don’t intent to repeat ever again if I can avoid it. Nor is something I will ever do with posts that got a comment or a “Like”. If someone spent their time to write a comment or think it merits a “Like” then the post should just stay there as it is. To do otherwise would be just insulting to them.

If I feel I can revise that post without making it seem redundant with the “Revisiting Lineage 2” post then I will make it public again. If not it will go to the trash.

Revisiting Lineage 2

Lumilie posing for a screenshotI have the weirdest love-hate relationship with MMORPGs. It is always the same thing. Everything feels perfect, exciting at  the start. Sure there are a few annoyances here and there but there are so many things to do!

Then the annoyances start to pile up, the new shiny game effect starts to wear off and the hatred starts to sink in. Why am I still playing this game? Why am I wasting time and money on something so unfun when those both could be spent on better single player games or other more fulfilling hobbies?

Some time off from the game or event makes me starting to appreciate the game again, the hatred starts to fade and it is back to business as usual. This is a cycle that keeps repeating itself with a game many times until I am so worn out of this that it is time to actually quit.

Of all the MMORPGs I played so far the one I got the most extreme version of these feelings was certainly Lineage 2. Without going on a rant about everything that was wrong while I played it, I will just say it was the game where I experienced first-hand the worst parts of MMORPGs. By that I mean rampant botting and scamming, bullies PKing people who couldn’t defend themselves, illegal RMT basically destroying a game economy and some of the most illogical, idiotic, game mechanics that would make sense only in the twisted mind of some crazy game developer.

Keep in mind this was years ago, in a different time altogether. To give some perspective this was when “The Burning Crusade” was still the latest expansion for World of Warcraft, any Aion information you could get would be in fan sites who would translate stuff from korean sources and before the Kamael race was introduce to Lineage 2. As any MMORPG goes, it changed vastly since then.

Still, you might be asking. If the game was that horrible back then why did I keep playing it? Well, there were a few reasons. First I still find that it has some interesting mechanic concepts. Mainly in terms of classes as each race has their own unique classes that fit with the race’s lore. For instance, Dark Elf classes are all geared towards offense/dark arts, Light Elf classes goes more for defense/light magic, Orc classes more towards physical prowess/mysticism, Dwarven classes being the only ones who could craft anything/better at resource gathering and of course humans having the usual jack-off all trades/middle of the road classes that due to that end up ruling the world.

It is as pretty cool concept though nowadays I am not  sure it works so well for a MMORPG. It is already hard enough to balance a MMORPG with the traditional holy trinity of tank/damage dealer/healer. Making some of those classes biased towards certain things based on their race makes it even more trickier. For a single player game it might actually be something fun for the player that adds replay value.

There is also the  fact that the game was top of the line in terms of MMORPG graphics back then. It still looks pretty good considering all  the time since its release.

Lastly, but not least important, I was lucky to get into a clan with a bunch of good people. The kind of people that would stick with you no matter how tough things were, always willing to help out in any way they could. In a game as brutal as Lineage 2 was back then, this was a blessing.

These factors often made me nostalgic about the game from time to time. Occasionally I would even take their offer to check the game again when they offered some game play days for former subscribers. For the most part though I was pretty much done with the game. The bad parts had scarred me for life. So much that even when the game converted to a free to play model I still ignored it.

For some reason though I decided to give it another look now. I don’t know exactly why. My best guess would be the latest “Choose My Adventure” series at Massively that covered Lineage 2. In a way it felt like the guy was talking about a completely different game. Another reason is probably because I seem to be in the mood to try new game experiences since I am downloading DC Universe Online right now, a game I pretty much ignored so far. Yes, I already played Lineage 2 so it doesn’t count as exactly new but so many things changed since I quit the game that it can just count as that. It is also has enough of its own unique stuff to set it apart from all the World of Warcraft clones that has been plaguing the MMORPG landscape for some years now. So that is another plus on Lineage 2’s favor.

With all that said, is Lineage 2 worth playing now that it is free to play? Or should people just run away for their lives? Honestly, I can’t give an in-depth analysis of the game right now. I wasn’t able to play much so far and due to certain circumstances (which I will be getting at by the end of the post) it will take me another week before I can give a more informed opinion. By then I might even not bother with the game again. So just consider this a first impression of Lineage 2 post free-to-play conversion. If I keep playing the game and find some interesting stuff to talk about I might make further posts. For now this will be the only one about it.

Another caveat is that this is all from the point of view of a carebear player, i.e. someone who avoids PvP like the plague. For those who enjoy PvP, specially open PvP in the style of  Lineage 2 then I am sorry but there isn’t anything I can tell about that side of the game.

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