Bones, bones and more bones

Whew, what an afternoon!

Just seconds after logging in on Sunday, Skogs sent me a tell asking whether I’m still free for a King’s Pass group. We hadn’t met before, so I told him that I only come in a double pack with Ayba. This was fine as they had four people. It turns out this was the lucky group of the month for us 🙂 We headed over the giant’s bridge towards King’s Pass, carefully avoiding the slaughtered guards that seem to, well, guard it. Slightly out of breath we arrived at the top of the mountain, ready to enter the pass:

EQ000008

Grim and foreboding? Nah, not in the midday sun.

It seems the undead of King’s Pass never sleep, though, so even entering the place proved more challenging than we’d thought. There are skeleton guards all over the entrance area, many of them white or higher to us lowly level 31s. Skogs came to pick us up and the next thing I remember is that it’s two hours later and we’re both standing in Surefall again, exhausted.

This is what had happened: The very second we arrived in the group, Skogs pulled, pulled and pulled some more. There was not a single second of downtime and all around us the air was full of bone fragments. We were standing hip-deep in ribcages, tibias and assorted other body parts, while chopping at those skeletons like madmen and -women. Yeah, I know “hip-deep” isn’t all that impressive when it’s said by a halfling, but don’t ruin the excitement now, please.

It was a beautiful afternoon when we started, and if you look at this gallery, you’ll see the sun was going down in Dalaya while we were doing our thing with the undead. This means we’ve spent several hours pounding the local residents into bone dust.

Our group was composed of:

  1. Skogs, 30-something ranger
  2. Oric, 31 ranger
  3. Ayba, 31 druid
  4. Baxar, 30-something rogue
  5. Krith, 30-something shaman
  6. Malifus, 30-something necromancer

And here’s a record of the destruction we brought:

We had a great time, and this gave a jolt of energy to our leveling. We went from 31 to 35 in one session, almost 36 now. And with Ayba’s new group teleports, it’s finally easy to get back to Surefall to stock up on archery stuff and spells when we reach a spell level. I’m only sad that Skogs, Malifus and Krith will perhaps have outlevelled us once we find time to play again.

In the meantime, this afternoon has restored my faith in the group-based game design. When your group is chewing through cubic tons of undead without any major incidents or downtime, you feel like you’re part of a well-oiled machine. Or a well-choreographed ballet, for those less into mechanical metaphors and more into puffy skirts. This is a feeling no other game has yet managed to reproduce in my opinion.

Ayba got a few teleports to places I haven’t heard of before. A very curious little halfling can’t wait to get killed there in the near future.

The curse and blessing of group-heavy game design

I think that most of you expect to read proper diary entries here, about the fun places to go and fun things to do in Shards of Dalaya, but please forgive me if I feel the urge to post a blurb about (MMO) game design from time to time.

Recently, we toured Kaladim, King’s Pass and Warpstone Caverns. We found groups in those places, some smaller, some more complete, but always groups. If you’ve ever played EQ, you know how important a group is. In EQ live, you wouldn’t even be safe in your own home zone if you walked around alone, and many newbies were so scared they wouldn’t even leave town after a few unhappy incidents of “rat gnawed my head off” or “fell into five hundred meter deep hole next to newbie gear vendor”.

That’s clearly not a great experience for a new player, but it also establishes a fact: It’s a dangerous world out there. Don’t go alone.

Modern MMORPGs don’t really believe in this anymore. You can cheerfully solo all the way to max level by just grinding and doing repetitive quests, all on your own. There isn’t really any sense of danger as long as you don’t venture too far from the path the series of quest hubs has prepared for you. Even if there is a bit of a dangerous situation here and there, usually nothing you couldn’t survive on your own. This turns many MMORPGs into n levels of single player boredom followed by some potentially exciting raids. With your guild and/or friends, of course, not with strangers you’ve met while your character grew up. Who’d be sick enough to group with out-of-guild people?

I miss this aspect of danger in modern games, yet it means that Shards of Dalaya faces the reverse problem; you can’t do anything on your own, but the world feels dangerous and exciting. The advantage over old EQ is of course that SoD players are usually much more experienced or better players than random strangers you used to meet in EQ, so some of the risk of trying to find a group is removed. You won’t die because your groupmates don’t know their game. Everyone I’ve met so far knows the game much better than I do. Any time spent in a group is very well invested.

It’s all a bit sad. There’s this dangerous and exciting world out there, with hand-crafted dungeons and juicy loot, but you won’t be able to see it on your own, because seeing it on your own would make it less dangerous and unexciting.

Tougher single-player gameplay without actually forcing the grouping element of the game could be an answer, but I think that can’t be accomplished within the game mechanics of an MMORPG, where numbers count more than any single player’s reflexes. That leaves me with nothing to add to the discussion, despite venting my disappointment 😦

Kaladim – now with group

A second round in Kaladim, and this time we found a group just ten minutes after logging in!

The exp group was short but cool, and we nearly managed to ding, just a little left to level 32, yay.

Compared to our struggle the first time, when we had scared ourselves silly entering the city all alone, this time seemed like a holiday. At least for me. Oric did get a scratch or two, but nothing serious. Poor little me just got kicked in the back a few times by a hyperventilating ghost dwarf with a smoker’s wheeze. Nothing to worry about, because I had two gentlemen fighters jumping at occasion to cut into some ecto-dwarf butt right away.

And how they cut:

One_down

And chopped:

Now_who_is_losing

But the ghost dwarves tried valiantly to survive.

They should really get themselves checked once in a while, some of them appear to emit smoke trails out of their nether regions:

Get_a_catalyzer

Smelly, but a lot of fun to hit!

Too bad we can’t show you their best feature: When they try to hit you, they go “hoooooot-hoo-oot”.

Even though we had a lot of fun in (upper) Kaladim, it seems that people keep suggesting we go somewhere else, and that this place is no good. We’re not yet finished enjoying ourselves in there, but perhaps the others are right and we should take a look at the other dungeons for this level.

Stay tuned to find out what (and where) is up next.

Place of the hover-dwarves

Since a long time Oric wanted to pay a visit to a place he remembered from a life before. For that reason every now and then he asked me, when we would finally travel to mighty Kaladim. Those of you who don’t have a halfling husband telling you the story will find only little information on the wiki (http://wiki.shardsofdalaya.com/index.php/Kaladim ).

But briefly said Kaladim used to be ‘the main city of the dwarven race’ a long time ago, as it says there. As far as I have been told the evil Kaezul invaded it with iksars and killed all citizen living in there back then. Since those days Kaladim is haunted by the dead souls of those victims and being heavily defended by them against any one entering.

As you all know Oric by now, this seems to be the perfect playground for a suicidal halfling and his pulled-along wife.

Here are some touristic impressions as proof that we’ve been there (and survived):

At the entrance (I think that’s the size they would have liked to be):

Entrancestatue

And that’s their actual size – finally someone our height, even though they try to cheat by hovering around. Sillies.

Hehe, cheating doesn't help
Hehe, cheating doesn't help

A nice (extremely high level) person we met. He gave us the tip of going to Lare of the Paw to have fun and level up a bit. (Hope Dagmar and Angior are still waiting for us in the 65ies.) And: he gave me a Silver Cepter as a gift, thank you again 🙂  It’s fun hitting things over the head with it.

Anonimous

Here that Silver Cepter in use. Those sentries are strong, myohmy… But not strong enough against double halfling power:

geronimooo

Little detail: If you ever have to fight one of those, next to hitting them pay attention to their great hitting style. Their head doesn’t move, just tries to scare you with a grumpy stare, whilst the rest of their body swooshes around and makes pirouettes underneath.

Oric has made some artsy fartsy pictures of our travel but hasn’t had time yet to post them.

We are sorry anyway that postings are rare at the moment, it’s that we’re extremely busy and have a hard time even finding some time for travelling and adventures.

The day we win the lottery we’ll play forever, promised. Until then:  please don’t leave us 😉

Be safe.

How to make a fool out of yourself – or how to let everyone know you’re a newbie, part 2

ayba_beginners

On its own my newest newbie outing isn’t that bad. Actually, it’s not bad at all, just silly. But, oh well…

The situation is the following:

After logging in, I am happily sitting at the entrance to Shrouded Isle, waiting for my other half (-ling, haha) to finally log in.

In the mean time I follow the discussion on main chat and look who’s around.  So I  entertain myself reading the comments popping up, including one saying something like “Mister Nice* tells you: Hello, could you give me SOW, please?” (*anonymized, person’sname known to the author of this post).

Well, I read this, too. Some lines later again: “Mister Nice tells you: I will meet you anywhere in the zone, okay?”…

Slowly it sinks in – ooh, ooh, ooh, someone is talking to me. ME! Oh my god, how do I answer? What do I do? What’s SOW again? Help! Oioi.

I manage to talk to the guy in the end, tell him where I am and get waved at by him some minutes later. All nervous, I fumble around in my buffs bag and hand him the Spirit of Wolf he asked for. (Meanwhile I had remembered)

In the middle of my casting my inventory pops up and another window that I later recognize as trading window.

Didn’t get that then. Just felt horribly disturbed by the sudden appearance of  things in my way, so I quickly look and think “What? I don’t need my inventory” and close it. Then I look at the second window and think “Well, what again? Ten platinum? I don’t have that much money. It’s not mine. Away with it.” and I click the X to close that one as well in a rather annoyed way.

After a giving me a puzzled look Mister Nice says “Thank you” and storms into Shrouded Isle. Happily I wave after him in relief.

(Probably again killing that chief guy in Shrouded Isle that Oric is so fond of and that we are trying to kill meet since a week or more.)

So, after my beloved husband finally pops up next to me I tell him what happened and for the next 20 minutes I just get to hear comments like “What? Ten platinum?”, “That guy wanted to give you ten platinum just for casting one little spell?”, “And you didn’t take it?”, “Do you know how much stuff halflings can get for that money?”…. And so on.

So, if you ever meet someone that is nice and suddenly get jumped at by a window popping up where things that don’t belong to you are listed, have a second look and maybe consider accepting the deal.

It might come in handy once.  😉

I will collect stuff now where ever I can to get me ten platinum. It will make Oric happy. Just takes a bit longer.

Be safe, all of you.

Poll: How do you like the new style of content on Dalayan Diary?

We’ve been experimenting with some new style of content in our blog posts: Image galleries and in-game movies. What do you think of them? More? Less? None?

How the halfling invasion of Shrouded Isle was sabotaged

Ayba and I had great plans for today. Lofty plans, for halflings anyway. We wanted to head back into the creepy Shrouded Isle we’d visited previously, advance to the top floor of the mansion, kill the landlord and steal his key to the basement. There is something about the smell of moist earth and rotting plant roots that halflings find irresistible. Blame childhood memories.

Anyway, we wanted to go and see what this guy’s basement looks and smells like, but the thing is always locked. It’s so frustrating that there’s something down there that we just can’t touch/explore/steal/eat, somebody needs to do something about that. Heading in, we noticed that the place wasn’t as quiet as usual (we’d mostly been alone in there before). There was a cleric frog jumping around in the garden and melting the undead — nice touch! He saved our lives once as well, thank you for that again.

There were also the usual jack o lanterns, but we’re not afraid of those as they’re green and we weirdly blend in with the crowd nowadays:

pumpkin_vs_pupkin

What was scarier was one huge ogre (whose name we keep to ourselves here) with a bear on the roof of the house. That wasn’t there before! We approached the mansion to examine that, but everything inside was unusually quiet. All the skirt-wearing tall people with the long foreheads were gone. Not even some ghouls to play with. It seems the ogre ran all the way up to the roof and the various inhabitants just sort of died in his wake, leaving us with — nothing?

Nothing indeed. We looked in every corner, but no sign of the landlord and nothing else to kill (these long-headed guys have shiny rings that you can steal, that had always been fun before). Some floaty blue dog tried to eat us, but we broke its face.

Slightly disappointed, we headed back to Erudin for a family picture:

EQ000163_donator_shield_fail

If you’re wondering why we look like scarecrows, those costumes are part of the donator package. Try it, it’s fun and keeps the server alive.

Wish us more luck next week. We’ll get to the bottom of this yet. Literally.