The Answer Is In The Stars

While the blog’s been overwhelmed recently (so to speak) with Champions Online activity, the fact is, I haven’t been completely ignoring my other MMOs.

In Star Trek Online, I managed to get my main Starfleeter through the anniversary event to earn the Lokari starship.  I haven’t actually done anything with said starship, but I wasn’t planning to.  The big key for it was to allow the account unlock for the other large number of alts in case I feel it would be interesting for them to use it.  Plus, it’s handy to have a new Admiralty card in case I want to work a bit more on that again; I never did finish the Romulan tour of duty.  I’ve also pushed through to tier 3 for the Lukari reputation; I admit, I’ve let this one go quite a bit thanks to a bug that allowed me to view all the reputation log entries at DS9 instead of getting 1 log per reputation tier.  (I didn’t realize at the time it was a bug, which has since been fixed.)  That removed a bit of the motivation for finishing the rep.  At some point, I imagine I’ll start pushing again, when STO comes back in focus for my gaming time.  There is a new queue coming up involving a Klingon arena where you and other captains fight against endless waves of opponents.  Kind of like Kobayashi Maru, except on foot.  It’ll only last from the 23rd to the 27th, so I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it (particularly in light of my dislike for the ground queues anyway), but it does make me wonder if they’ll do something similar for space-after all, like I said, this is pretty much the Kobayashi Maru queue on ground, and it seems silly to not have something similar for space again at some point.  And endless enemies sounds just like that scenario should be.

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada....

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada….

Meanwhile, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…when last I checked in with Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’d gotten my Smuggler to the end of the line for the Knights of the Eternal Throne story.  Since then, I’ve gotten my Imperial Agent and my Jedi Knight through the story, and my Sith Inquisitor is on deck.  I’ve been really looking forward to running that character through, since-unlike the previous three-he’s Dark Side to the core.  I want to see what happens when he lets his bad side go wild, not to mention seeing how the story adapts to him killing off a significant number of characters; plus, I really want to see how he reacts to the current regime in the Sith Empire.  Darth Acina was sort of a peer on the Dark Council, and the Inquisitor could be said to have as much right to the former Emperor’s throne as she does.  I’ve yet to actually do any Uprisings; I’ve been concentrating on running characters through KotET, and that’s been a slow process due to my recent focus on CO.

Despite its availability to free players nowadays, I’ve sort of let EVE Online go fallow.  There’s only so many hours in a day.  This is why it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t been involved in any guilds or anything like that for the last couple of years.  So much to do, so little time.  I’m sure that at some point, I’ll have a craving for that setting again-it’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

WF: Radiation and Mutation

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Synopsis:  After defeating the Red Banner in Westside, you would think Willforge would get a break.  But a crisis in Burning Sands threatens Project Greenskin.  Can Willforge bring down the radiation shield enclosing the installation, stop the Irradiates of the area from destroying everything and everyone?  And more important:  can he withstand the radioactive rage of Gigaton?

With the Westside down, and the big choice of three locations in Champions Online to work on next, I decided that the Southwest Desert (aka Burning Sands) would be my next port of call.  First, though, I needed to do what was once the first mission after the tutorial in this game back in the day (well, one of the two possible “first missions” after the tutorial).  The two Crisis missions served as a short introduction to those regions, and pitted characters against a trusted minion of the (arguably) biggest bad of the setting, Doctor Destroyer.  I’ll go into the Canadian entry if I do that crisis at some point; it’s still in my mission log, so I won’t rule it out.  It should be horrifically easy at that point, though, since I expect to outlevel it substantially by then.

So.  Burning Sands.  Project Greenskin.  Irradiates.  Man, I’d forgotten how much I disliked Irradiates.  They’re okay if you’re playing a character who has good defenses-or lots of health.  But those guys were chewing up my health like no tomorrow.  The worst part is the Reanimators, which do exactly what it says on the tin:  they reanimate guys you’ve just finished putting down.  So unless you go after them first in a group, your average group of three are effectively a group of four.  The damage they put out is no joke, either-at least not for an even-leveled, hybrid guy like Willforge.

Still, I managed to complete the crisis, and the first grouping of missions that center around the Irradiates-the poor fools who happened to be affected and mutated by the radiation of nuclear tests in the region.  (There is, in fact, a whopping big nuclear bomb in the area.  There are some who actually worship at its site!)  The missions aren’t horrific-although there was one that beat the tar out of me:  a mission in which the end featured a timer where you have to fight off waves of irradiates to allow a doctor to complete his work.  It went poorly; the first couple waves weren’t horrific, but I wasn’t putting them down fast enough to allow the character to heal up before the next wave attacked.  Attrition began setting in, and since some of those waves also included those aforementioned Reanimators…well, it wasn’t pretty.

Upon each defeat of a character, that character loses “stars”-technically, hero points, but everyone I know of refers to them as stars.  They’re helpfully shown on the portrait of your character, and they represent a level of buffing for your character.  They rise and fall depending on your successes and defeats.  If you complete a mission, progress is made to building up the stars again; being defeated lops off stars.  So if your strategy is to zerg the enemy, you’ll find yourself at no stars instead of a full five stars rather quickly-and to no great surprise, the loss of such stars happens at a faster rate than the gain.  (Technically, you can also refill stars to max at certain vendors in the game, but I try to preserve my early game currency for purchasing bag space.)

So after two straight defeats, I decided the heck with that mission, and complete a couple others that were on my plate.  Those missions put me over the top for a new level-which included a new power pick.  While I’d toyed with something for crowd control or healing (both of which are still on the table for the future), I instead grabbed a second ranged AOE attack which I hoped would have more kick-particularly if combined with the original AOE I had.  Then I went back to the doctor’s place and inflicted payback in the form of being one level higher than the mission plus using that new power.  Life got better at that point.

So now Willforge’s next step is going to involve ghosts of the Old West, and possibly an even more radioactive region in Burning Sands.  Good times!

WF: Red Banner Rising

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Synopsis:  THE GANGS OF WESTSIDE, PART THREE!  The gang war reaches its conclusion as Hi Pan makes his ultimate play for power!  Willforge must not only fight the leaders of all the gangs, but must also deal with the powerful force of evil brought forth by the Red Banner!  Can Willforge defeat the Death Dragon, or will the Red Banner fly all over Westside?

Willforge managed to hit level 15, and as per usual for me when pushing characters through Champions Online, that’s about the time I reach the end of the ballgame as far as Westside is concerned.  Sure, there’s the possibility of random missions in Westside, but for the most part, there’s only one more significant mission I can recall in Westside offhand, and that won’t arrive until at least level 25.

That leaves me at a bit of a crossroads now.  There are no less than three separate paths I can choose to go from here, although that’s almost a false statement-because in order to continue leveling well, I’m likely going to be bouncing back and forth on each of them.  There’s a story arc further in Millennium City which would be a decent fit for the character, as it will eventually lead to a very psionically based villain organization-that’d be right up his alley.  But I could also begin the story in Canada, which covers everything from ancient magic to paramilitary guys.  I’m currently leaning, though, towards the Southwestern US-in large part because of what I’m hearing about a revamp of the Snake Gulch region there, and it’d be nice to see it at a level-appropriate moment when it is released.  Plus, there’s at least one story arc which features the most powerful psychic on the planet, and the idea of Willforge going up against that is too good to ignore.

But as I said:  given how leveling goes in CO, there’s every chance that I’ll be bouncing back and forth between all three areas for the next ten to fifteen levels.  At some point, I expect to start running at least a few of the Alert queues-specifically, the ones that grant XP boosts.  And eventually, I will pit Willforge against some of the more interesting content:  the Adventure Packs and Comic Series, which are basically the equivalent of the Feature Episodes that rolled through early in Star Trek Online’s lifespan.  I expect to skip Demonflame, though; I have yet to have a single character manage to survive the last battle, and banging my head against it again and again and again is just the height of futility.  But the other ones-Serpent Lantern, Resistance, Aftershock, and Whiteout-as far as I’m concerned, those are still in play and doable.

That’s looking pretty far ahead, though-I may well wait until level 30 before I hit those, as I want to make sure my character’s got the bulk of his powers all situated and his gear up to snuff.  In the meantime, villainy awaits, no matter where Willforge goes!  (Good thing; it’d be a boring game if all the villains were captured.  Champions Knitting Online?  I don’t think so!)

WF: Aced by Foxbat

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Synopsis:  THE GANGS OF WESTSIDE, PART TWO!  Chaos continues in Westside as the Black Aces THE FOXBAT SHOW!  Foxbat has taken over WCOC, and is determined that everyone recognize his awesomeness!  And no heroes like “Willforge” are going to stop me this time!  Him.  I meant him.  Is this thing still on?

I have a confession to make.

When Champions Online released, I was somewhat put off by the tone of the game.  It felt too campy-too much like the Joel Schumacher Batman movies.  That’s not a compliment.  Things have improved since then, in part because of the constant revamps of the early game but CO still has a bit of that in its heart.  And…well, I came from City of Heroes, which was a bit less camp.  There’s a certain amount of ridiculousness to the genre, but it can be taken to extremes.

So why-WHY?!-do I enjoy the character of Foxbat so much?

The guy’s clearly nuts-he’s a less deadly Deadpool, with roughly the same “medium awareness”; in the original tutorial, he would talk in MMO terms to the characters, for example.  His blurb on the loading screens boast about his ability to rewrite the blurbs on loading screens (but he’d never do that!  Honest!).  His powers involve ping-pong ball guns and wrecking balls dropping from the sky.  He takes ridiculousness and owns it, and for that, I approve!  Hell, he’s even got his own convention that rolls around annually (FOXBATCON!), with fans of a show that…well, let’s just say it defies temporal physics and let it lie.

He also is good enough to show up in the early game, which is why we have this post today on the subject.  Willforge is chugging along the Westside arc; he’s cut a swath through the Cobra Lords-and there’s that one mission in the underground boxing ring that ALWAYS manages to flatten me on almost all my characters when he goes up against the big boss (I blame his friends)-and nowadays he’s beating up the Black Aces, one of many gangs that tend to plague the region.  But this section of the arc also includes a mini-arc involving none other than Foxbat and the crew that he’s inspired (with robots and crazed fans of his)(I don’t ask how he got the robots).

Haven’t leveled much since last time around; time’s been a factor.  I did manage to get a new power pick, and while I had been considering healing or a more reliable burst-damage area attack, I decided to go with an energy unlock power.  Energy unlocks can be pretty important to a character; you only have so much energy to use your powers, and while you can get energy back by using the energy builder power you got when you made the character or by blocking attacks depending on your current role, it’s never quite fast enough.  It’s affected by the Endurance stat (which regulates the upper bound on how much energy you can build up to) and Recovery (which indicates how much energy you have on-hand to start-and how fast you get it back with the energy builder power).  The energy unlock is another method of building energy, using powers that you already use.  It’s not there for all powersets, but enough of them.  I had the ability to grab a telepathy based unlock (which keys on damage-over-time powers) or telekinesis based (which keys on ego damage).  Since telepathy is the primary power set I use for Willforge, I grabbed the first one.  We’ll see how smart a choice that was as I go along.

Coming up, if memory serves:  the leader of the Black Aces!  And the Red Banner begins to assert itself!  And is that an alarm ringing in the city jail?

Singularity

A black hole:  a hungry devourer from which nothing can escape, not even light.  Also:  the ultimate destination of most money paid to MMOs.

A black hole: a hungry devourer from which nothing can escape, not even light. Also: the ultimate destination of most money paid to MMOs.

I promised I’d get back to the new Tzenkethi stuff in Star Trek Online, didn’t I?

The last time, I’d mentioned issues with the new Tzenkethi battlezone.  Well, those issues appear to be fixed-at least the technical ones.  You could make a case for other issues existing, but…let’s get to that, shall we?

The Tzenkethi battlezone is similar in concept to the pre-existing ones in the game such as the Badlands, Solonae and Undine battlezones.  There’s a map-and this is all in space, so no worries about ground terrain-divided up into sectors, and they have one of three possible minigames that you have to complete to turn that sector “blue”-in other words, under allied control.  Of course, there are opponents who are trying to stop you-Tzenkethi warships.  One you have all zones under allied control, you take on a trio of their dreadnoughts, each protected by a special shield that you have to disable before you can destroy the individual dreadnought.  If you manage to get all three of them down in the time period given, you achieve total victory-well, until the zone resets and it begins again.  Also worth mentioning:  if you leave an allied zone alone for long enough, the Tzenkethi will come and take it back-and you’ll have to do it all over again in that zone.

A never-ending war for control-which has worked pretty well in other battlezones.  This one, though…it irks me a little.  At least one of the minigames is on a timer which requires you and other players to take down ships hard and fast before it makes you start it all over again.  That’s a hell of a slog to fight the timer and the Tzenkethi.  That shouldn’t be as big a deal as it feels, but there it is.  The locations in the zone are also pretty spread out-it’s very difficult to nail down all the zones unless everyone in the zone is working together.  Let’s look at the odds of that happening in this game.  If you said “unlikely”, you’d be a winner.  Fleets making runs with members will have an easier time of it, but unaligned pilots, not so much.  In this respect, the Tzenkethi zone is rougher than the Solonae zone (which is on ground, admittedly) and the Undine zone (which is space).  I honestly can’t compare it with the Badlands zone, since I’m not sure I ever bothered to run that one-although I might have at the time; I got my Terran Empire marks from somewhere…but it might’ve been through Crystalline Catastrophe runs a ways back.

Unless you’ve got a lot of cooperation going on in the Tzenkethi zone, I wouldn’t recommend it for gathering Lukari marks for the new reputation.  The only thing it has over queues is the fact that it doesn’t have a cooldown like the queues.  The queues, on the other hand, are a lot more doable, leading me to the second of the Tzenkethi queues in this new Season:  Gravity Kills.  The Tzenkethi in this queue are setting up shop here to assist in the creation of protomatter, the substance of choice for mass destruction.  In order to do this, they need particles that are produced in a distorted area of space-so they generated a black hole.  A relatively small one, but enough of one to do the job-and to cause a ship crossing the event horizon a very very bad day.  Your job:  collect exotic particles to supply to an allied ship so that it can destroy the stations-protected, of course, by Tzenkethi ships-by hurling them into the singularity.  As you get closer to the singularity yourself, you’ll see images of your own ship almost echoing, which is a good sign that you’re getting too close!  Did I mention that there is a pull to the black hole?

This queue is pretty fun; the tactics are pretty similar to other queues, but the environment makes all the difference.  Fighting ships around a singularity?  Watching stations and other ships make the mistake of crossing the event horizon and getting crushed down to the diameter of a dust mote?  My initial run here was longer than I expected to take in the queue, but nonetheless, pretty fun.  I can’t say I have any arguments with either of the two queues introduced in this Season; I’m more likely to harvest my marks through them than through the battlezone.

From a personal point of view, I’m doing well on my attempt to get that Lukari anniversary ship; I don’t think I’ll have any problem having that done well before the anniversary event ends.  I’ve not been bothering with the Academy catch-the-Q mission; I’ve done that more than enough times in the past.  I also haven’t encountered any unwelcome bugs this year with the Omega particle collection; I recall last year when some particles spawned in locations inaccessible to players, which was incredibly frustrating, at the beginning of the event.  No such issues this year!  Also of note:  my fleet (thanks to largely to the efforts of the two people still active in it) managed to get our K-13 station to Tier 1, which happened a lot faster than I expected it would.  So our fleet now again has all holdings at Tier 1 or better, which is always worth smiling about.

WF: Westside Story

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Synopsis:  THE GANGS OF WESTSIDE, PART ONE!  The Purple Gang are up to trouble in the Westside neighborhood of Millennium City, and Willforge is in the middle of it!  Can Willforge stop the plot of Kevin Poe to liquefy the minds of everyone living in Westside?  Even if he can, the Maniacs are looking to grow their numbers…  Plus:  What is Hi Pan up to with the gangs?

Things have started up for my new Champions Online character, and he’s already moving along to double digit levels.  Of course, that’s not as hard as it sounds, when getting through the tutorial puts you at level six (for that matter, skipping the tutorial puts you there too).

I’ve sort of gotten away from following the general power selection path shown by “The Mind” archetype; I skipped Ego Sprites entirely in favor of Mental Leech-I’d hoped the healing aspect of the power could be helpful for the character and anyone he manages to group with when I finally get around to doing Alerts (not planning it until at least level 15 or 20-I don’t want to be a drag).  Instead of the Aura of Radiant Protection, I went with the Congress of Selves; reduction of mental power costs plus more Ego related damage?  Sign me up!  Finally, instead of getting some real healing ability (who needs ’em?  I still got the heal devices, and I can pick up some with the Recognition marks that drop occasionally), I branched out from telepathy and into telekinesis with…er, well, Telekinesis.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to mentally throw cars at villains.  I don’t know that it’ll ever get to the strength to throw big trucks, but hope springs eternal.

The travel power I selected, incidentally, was Power Flight.  I adore Kirby Dots!

Now, the content.  Once upon a time, Champions Online wasn’t as linear as it is today in its early levels.  After completing the Qularr attack, you had the option of going to either Canada or the Southwestern US to help out with assorted problems there.  The devs decided (and I’ll cop to actually agreeing with the logic, if not the implementation) that it would be better to start the careers of the new characters in Millennium City-which is, after all, the hub of superhuman activity in the game.  The decision made sense-allows new players to easily find other players and group and form supergroups.  In theory, anyway.

The downside is that it feels like a linear progression instead of choosing your own path.  In some ways, that’s an illusion-there are side missions, and as one levels, you get civilians offering you more side missions.  And the SOCRATES computer system is happy to lend some missions (some of which are related to the primary storyline in the beginning, and some, less so.  And one that I’ll get into more on in a future post).  So while it might feel like a straight linear plot, it’s a lot better than what you’d see in Star Trek Online.  It’s actually closer to the original work with City of Heroes, where there might be an overall mission in addition to side missions to a zone.  Westside, for all intents and purposes, is such a zone-even if it’s seamless with the rest of Millennium City.

And, similar to City of Heroes, you start out fighting gangs.  Champions Online has the benefit of being able to call upon literally years of lore written for the tabletop game (called-shockingly!-Champions), not the least of which was info on Millennium City, so there were ready made antagonists here.  How many of them were original to the online game, and how many of them came from the tabletop one, I wouldn’t even try to guess, but from my research, the tabletop had a LOT of characters to work with.

So at this point, I’ve managed to thwart Kevin Poe’s plans (I’d call that a spoiler if it weren’t something obviously inherent in the concept of superhero comics) and bust up the recruiter for another gang of Maniacs.  Not exactly big supervillain names here (Zoe Loft?  Really?).  But there’s at least one more villainy sort of guy on deck soon, and the overall arc of Westside still lies ahead!

YOU get a protomatter bomb! YOU get a protomatter bomb!

On the hunt.

On the hunt.

The new season of Star Trek Online has landed, and with it, the 7th year anniversary-in other words, it’s lasted as long as the lifetimes of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and of course, the Next Generation did on the television.  So, logically, that would indicate that the game is over.

Well, that’d be false logic, because STO seems like it’s still ready to continue forward.  You’d think that after concluding the Iconian War and the Temporal Cold War that we’d have mined out the possibilities of STO, and that’d be a mistake.  One of the quieter things that was introduced at the beginning of the Future Proof arc was a species known as the Lukari.  The Lukari have become a bit more central recently; with the last Season, the Lukari began flying a prototype starship with assistance from Starfleet/the KDF/the Romulan Republic (depending on which faction you play for), and have with this new episode constructed their first exploratory starship.  Last episode, you found a world hit by a protomatter event, plus the return of station K-13 from when it had its little temporal accident in the 23rd century, plus hints of Tzenkethi involvement.  This new one, “Reckoning”, brings the Tzenkethi to the forefront-and more protomatter bombs.  With the Lukari, you need to try to stop the latest attack-and begin to see the edges of just what is going on here.

As an episode, it’s not a bad one.  Leaves a lot of mystery as to what is prompting this recent spate of activity, and introduces the Tzenkethi as a ground and space threat.  To my surprise and pleasure, they weren’t introduced as a sack of health like certain other species (*coughcoughVaadwaurcoughcough*), but are using abilities to help assist each other in a fight-which is more interesting and theoretically takes some extra thought to deal with.  I say “theoretically”, because my first attempt through this mission had no real trouble dealing with them.  Granted, I was using my most advanced character, who I’ve had with me since day one of STO, so it’s probably not a fair test.  When I deal with this with my Romulan or 23rd century characters, I may have a better feel for its difficulty.  It was still a welcome change of pace from some of the past fights against superadvanced threats like Iconians and *ahem* others assisted by them.

There are two new queues added to the game, and as another surprise, both as space queues.  I honestly expected one to be a ground queue, but I’m guessing developers decided that nobody plays the ground queues.  (I’m theorizing with no basis on fact here.)  I’ve had a chance to do one of them-the Tzenkethi Front, which features your group blowing up enemy bases with their own protomatter bombs.  The bombs are, naturally, guarded by Tzenkethi ships, but once cleared, your ship can capture the bomb and fly it off to the spaceborne fortresses and introduce them to the receiving end of the bomb.  Not horribly complicated, but entertaining enough to satisfy for a while, anyway.  I’ll save the other queue-Gravity Kills-for another post.

Why am I speaking of doing another post on this?  Because the episode also introduced a new space Battlezone, and…well, it’s a bit of a mess at the moment.  By the time of this posting, it may well be fixed, but at the time I was examining all of this, it was broken.  The first issue was that the zone didn’t reset after a completion, which meant nobody could actually DO anything in the zone.  That got fixed with an emergency patch, but it seems that at least some of the sections in the zone are failing to advance properly, and from what I’ve read on the forums, this is something that was known to the testers on the test server-and it seems they got ignored and it got pushed live anyway.  Brilliant.  So I’ll comment on the zone and on the other queue at that time.

Needless to say, there is also a new reputation grind, and to get the marks to advance in it, you need to make use of the Battlezone and the queues.  No big deal, that.  This is pretty standard for a major new development in the storyline (eg. new episode arc).

This all coincides with the return of Q to celebrate those seven years, and the collection of Omega particles-and this time, the ship they can help bring out is the very ship that the Lukari have just completed-a Lukari science ship whose design is based on choices players made on the STO forums a little while back.  There’s a new party popper as well, for folks interested in candy fish (trust me on this), and the usual amusements at the various Academies chasing “mini-Qs” around.

The only disappointment for me is the distressing lack of references to the most notable protomatter event in Star Trek lore; isn’t somebody going to bring up Genesis?

WF: Secret Origins!

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Synopsis:  A new hero has arrived in Millennium City!  But who is he?  How did he come by his powers?  And why is he fighting the good fight as the hero Willforge?  It began a few years ago, when a young stock broker named Steven Wentworth was abducted by aliens, seeking to understand humanity and their metahuman potential.  Their experiments are painful and invasive, but they find success in unlocking Steven’s metahuman gene-unleashing his psionic potential!  Overwhelming his captors and garbing himself in their uniforms, Steven fights his way out of their hidden base and makes his way to Millennium City-ready to use his new powers to help others, and find the alien who was in charge of his abduction so that it can never again use mankind as its private testing ground!

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ve made my return to Millennium City in Champions Online, and with so many possible options to choose for a new hero, I chose to let Fate decide, much like I had with Star Wars: The Old Republic during their Dark vs. Light event.  I was a bit more limited this time, though:  I decided to randomize the gender, and use a two layer randomization to determine the general archetype (although I may monkey around with things, since I’m doing freeform-I’m just paying attention to the general flow of powers with archetypes).  I could have chosen to randomize the entire power structure, but that’s too insane even for me.

So the random generation called up a male hero, and the archetype I wound up with was “The Mind”.  So, it was going to be a telepathic hero.  When one gets down to it, telepathy is usually not a major power with super heroes.  Sure, heroes have it-but they usually supplement it with other abilities.  Phoenix of the X-Men had telekinesis (which, arguably, was her stronger point).  Psylocke of the same team made use of martial arts and ninja skills (to be fair, she did start out as a pure telepath, but Jim Lee happened, so…).  The Martian Manhunter of the Justice League has a whole host of powers slapped in along with his telepathy.  The one “pure” telepath that immediately comes to mind is Professor X of the X-Men, but he wasn’t exactly what you’d call an active combatant.

So, what does this mean for my character?  Well, I may or may not choose to supplement his power with another powerset as I go along.

The outfit leans hard on the Cosmic costume set from the C-Store.  I had been looking for an excuse to use that outfit-or at least portions of it-and this was as good as I was going to find.  The outfit, in fact, helped inform the backstory for the character.  There are a lot of friendly aliens out there in the Champions Universe, but plenty of hostile ones, too.  Being me, though, I decided to home-brew an alien species, which I’ll probably define in my “head-canon” at some point.  It’s a big galaxy.  Plus, having this sort of origin story in mind means I have a ready-made Nemesis when I get to level 25 as far as concept goes.

The name was the hardest part.  I didn’t want a two-part name (like, say, “Old Ranger” or “Stellar Protector”); I fell back on that enough times in City of Heroes, and since you could have duplicate names in CO with other players, I could go with anything I could work out.  I wanted to avoid the obvious of “Mind-” or “-mind”, too.  (I already have a Mindblade, too, adding insult to injury.)  I poked around in my head trying to work out mental attributes I could use as a name, and finally came up with Willforge; the character is forging his mind into a weapon he can use against his enemies.

So there we have it-a new hero to go through CO and reach for level 40 (the max level in the game).  I’m still working out how I’ll update his advancements, as CO isn’t nearly as structured as Star Trek Online or SWTOR, but I’ve chosen-unlike with those two-to use the conceit of comic book covers to illustrate his activity.  Watch for Willforge’s adventures throughout this year!

Twelve Years In

It’s that time again!  It’s been another year of MMO gaming, MMO blogging, and now it’s time for me to look back at 2016 and throw out some thoughts on the past as I look to the future!  Specifically, let’s see what’s been going on with the games I play.

Moving towards its first major story content update.

AKA A Game of Thrones

2016 was a pretty good one for Star Wars: The Old Republic-at least from my point of view.  Updates came regularly with new content, tied to the ongoing story of Knights of the Fallen Empire, and concluded the year with the conclusion as Knights of the Eternal Throne.  The story feels like it effectively concludes the stories of the assorted classes into one funneled end (maybe two-I still haven’t thrown a dark-sider through KotET, and things may be different there), which does lead one to wonder if we’re at the end of story content.  Certainly we are for most of 2017, as the developers are rededicating themselves to group content; just how that unfolds is something we’ll be learning early this year.

I’m a tad annoyed at the fact that a significant number of companions for the classes remain unaccounted for, and that aforementioned rededication makes it unlikely we’ll see any make a comeback in 2017; yes, they can be brought back in a game mechanics sense, but they’re still effectively gone in-story.  All that said:  the companions have mostly been irrelevant in-story at the end of the class stories (with perhaps a sop thrown in depending on your class in the Shadow of Revan expansion), so one has to wonder if it’s really a big deal at this point.  Something to think about.

From a personal point of view, this year saw the return of my tracking assorted characters through content.  Thanks primarily to the Dark vs Light event that kicked off in the summer, I began the journeys of Anthrandos the Jedi Knight and Sorshan the Sith Inquisitor, and brought them from humble beginnings on Tython and Korriban and through the KotFE expansion.  Neither have as yet gone through KotET, but they will-so expect at some point “final” posts for those characters that will encompass that expansion, once I’ve finished getting my primary class characters through.  Naturally, those primary characters have gone through the entirety of the KotFE expansion, one of which maxed out his alliance contact reps, one of which got them all to at least level 10.  My smuggler and agent win the prize for most total companions now, as they both have all the Star Fortress companions, and almost all of the companions available in alerts, excepting ones who were refused on moral grounds (or killed off) and the PvP related ones.

The transition from wartime to peacetime begins.

Sure seems quiet in the galaxy these days.

Coming in at a distant second in my time is Star Trek Online.  Last time I did one of these posts, we were just beginning the New Dawn, heralding the rebirth of exploration in the galaxy.  Guess that was mostly hyperbole, because what we actually got was the latest outbreak of the Temporal Cold War introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise.  Things started really rolling, though, with the year’s free expansion, Agents of Yesterday, which created a new sub-faction:  the 23rd century Starfleet.  This was tied in hard with the Temporal Cold War as well, but man, it was fun seeing missions and characters in the 23rd century look.  The New Dawn arc concluded and a new one is underway now, which returns a station from the past returning to the limelight.

At roughly the same time as developing the idea of characters in the Dark vs Light thing in SWTOR, I decided to chronicle the adventure of a character starting out from the 23rd century with Rick Masters, and while my time has been more limited than usual in STO, the character has finished his run through “New Dawn” (or “Future Proof” if you want to use the episodic arc name), and has caught up to the present time in the game.  Since the new arc seems like it’ll at least somewhat involve the space station the character saw go away back in the 23rd century, Masters will likely see at least some participation there, but I’m likely to look to focus on my Starfleet, KDF, and Romulan mains a bit.  That said, since the 23rd century guy is in his own sub-faction, I can easily justify promoting him to a “main” status.  Does anyone else out there have multiple main characters, or is it just me?  It’s hard being an altoholic.

There had to be a loser here somewhere.

Still not getting a lot of love from me.  I blame Father Time.

Champions Online, still technically in the stable of games, didn’t get a lot of joy from me this year.  I did finally manage to level up a character-Overload, my Reawakened Automaton-to max level, so that opened up a new character slot for me to work with.  Unlike previous years, this year saw a bit of content introduced, as well as some significant reworking of the “endgame” experience as far as gear grinding goes (which, apparently, is another way of saying “more grind”).  I’ve never been about the endgame, though, and the new content is highly group oriented-which is good, honestly, but for a guy who is as irregular as I am on the game, well, not the biggest attraction.

Here’s the other hand:  with things wrapping up with characters in SWTOR with the KotET expansion, and its focus on grouped content, it opens up some time for me to do a leveling experience in CO as I have with Anthrandos/Sorshan/Rick Masters.  It may be a little less structured, since CO is less structured, storywise, but that could work for the best in many ways.  I’ve already been laying the groundwork in my head on how that’ll work, so stay tuned.

Returning for a new engagement....

Returning for a new engagement….

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the Freemium conversion for EVE Online, which has allowed me to return to New Eden to fly spaceships again.  I’m not anticipating much time in here, particularly given the Alpha Clone limitations on ships and skills, but hey, it’s good to fly out into the unknown for a bit.  My character being developed (independent of the original ones I had) is likely to stick with Minmatar Frigates, although I’m spending time on a Minmatar Destroyer to help clean out frigate annoyances in Level 1 missions.  I’m debating trying to hit some wormholes and see if I can find any data/hacking sites; the problem is that skills only go so high, which means even locating the sites are a challenge-and worse still, the hostile mobs in the area probably outmatch me in skill and equipment.  But seeing as I’m basically using cheap stuff, I may well decide “why the hell not?  Frigates are disposable.”

On the fictional front, I’ve restricted myself to reposting some open-RP posts rescued from the fall of GuildPortal last year, including “Injustice” from the Justiciars site, “Birth of the Union” and “The Darkening” from the Union Supreme site.  I’m planning to do a repost of “Invasion of the Gems” from the Hyperion Force site at some point in the coming year.  As far as new works, though, nothing really came to mind.  I am in the middle of writing what I anticipate will be my last MMO-related story, and hope to have something put up this coming year on the Outlaws’ site.  Fact is, my motivation on writing this stuff has been fading considerably, and in combination with finding time to actually do the writing, that just spelled a “time to put a bow on it” in my mind.  Of course, putting that bow on it will depend a lot on me actually finishing the one I’ve started; we’ll see how that goes.

That’s 2016 in a nutshell!  The latter half of the year helped reinvigorate some of my blogging, thanks to the decision to start chronicling the actions of my characters again as I had in the old days, and helped fill the empty spaces between game publishes.  It puts me in a positive frame of mind as we move forward in 2017 to start year thirteen of my MMO adventure!

Reckoning on Tzenkethi

The next Season publish for Star Trek Online is coming in just a couple of weeks (less than that, technically), and it seems that there’s a fair amount coming along with it.  Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

The Season-entitled “Reckoning”-features the coming of a species referred to but never seen in Trek before:  the Tzenkethi.  They were mentioned as a major factor in the previous episode, and now they’ll take center stage with new ships to fight (and, undoubtedly, new lockbox bait) and new aliens to actually confront on the ground.  Their look is interesting, to say the least.

We're coming for you!  Leave US out of your alliance, will you?

We’re coming for you! Leave US out of your alliance, will you?

Of course, out in forum land, there are a faction of folks who insist that they should’ve looked like they were described in the Trek novels, which have had the Tzenkethi as a part of an opposing alliance called the Tython Pact.  What some of these people are forgetting is that the novels aren’t canon-despite the fact that STO has taken choice bits from it (such as the existence of Mackenzie Calhoun and the Vesta class starship).  The developers chose to go with an appearance that seems to have been put forward by the creator of the episode where they were mentioned in Star Trek.  One possibility the devs apparently tossed around was making them a “femme fatale” species.  I’m sort of glad they didn’t; we already had something that loosely had that appearance (in the form of Iconians), and for that matter, the Orions pretty much fill that space.  (Yes, I know there are male Orions; let’s see how the gender breakdown between male and female goes with KDF Orion captains….)

The ships are pretty…hefty?  One person out there said it was like it took Trek design and had a baby with an EVE Online battlecruiser.  They’re not wrong, at least on a couple of the ships.  I’m hearing that the ships will be “difficult to fight at first”, but will get easier when you learn how to deal with them.  Let’s hope that it doesn’t involve insane amounts of health, like the Vaadwaur.  I’m for interesting, but not “let’s see how much damage we can soak with THIS species!”

Separated at birth?

Separated at birth?

It should be obvious that all this work on a species means we’re seeing some content featuring them.  Reckoning will feature a new Episode in the current arc-and it’s a safe bet that remainder of the arc will involve the Tzenkethi as well.  We’re getting a new Reputation-well, no big shock there.  The method of improving the rep is coming in a new Battlezone, which is always fun to play around in-well, at least as long as other players are around.  (I’ve noticed that Battlezones get rougher when everyone has moved on to the new shiny.)

It’s also worth a mention that it’ll be the seven year anniversary for Star Trek Online in just under a month.  I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing another episode rolling around for it, but traditionally, one can expect Q to show up and have interesting prizes and activities rolling around, so stay tuned for my thoughts on that as information begins to come our way.