Trials and Foundries and Hacks-Oh My!

Been a while since my last post.What’ve I been doing?  Well, I’d say, “Same old, same old”.

In City of Heroes, a good deal of my time has been messing with the Incarnate Trials.  Only one of my characters has gotten to where I want him-rare Incarnate powers for three of the four available for unlock (and he’s unlocked the fourth, but not going to slot anything until the Lore powers actually fit the character concept).  Another is getting there; rare in one ability, uncommon in the next, and waiting for the last two to unlock; a third is in roughly the same spot, except I’m pretty sure he’s got uncommons in two.

The Trials are showing a bit of buckling as far as people doing them as they become less shiny.  One of the big tools that might have staved it off-the “turnstile” LFG system-has been pushed to the side by the player base due to a variety of reasons.  One of those would be that it tends to send into trials minimum size groups, and I’m not convinced it’s actually having people “join in progress trials” when they choose that option.  Another is that folks are going to tried and true global chat channels to organize.

One of the stranger things to happen to me with the trials-which I can’t prove that the LFG tool had any involvement with-was when I found myself beginning the trial, and ended up in someone else’s mission!  And I don’t mean merely another trial ongoing, I mean someone’s normal mission.  I got some strange remarks from people who wondered where the hell I’d come from.  This MAY be fixed, but I’ve not been able to use the LFG tool to actually get into a trial since then, and I can’t prove the two events are related.  Still, a bit of wackiness to the trial.

The trials have also caused a bit of consternation with forum goers when it came out that rewards were being based on a participation metric, which caused a flurry of interesting tactics (yeah, that’s the right word) as people tried to push themselves to get more rare rewards.  Turned out, though, that while the metrics are broken to an extent, it wasn’t as severe as some folks seemed to believe.  In theory, if you participate to a certain threshold, you should get a random shot at which reward table you get-and if you didn’t, you got the booby-prize of 10 Incarnate Threads (which won’t even craft a common component).  But while there’s certainly a certain feeling of randomness involved, I still can’t help but notice that uncommons seem to be the usual drop I see.  But then, I don’t exactly run them 24/7 like some folks seem to.

On another front:  STO rolls along nicely.  My Klingon is near max level (one level to go!), which will be a nice feather in the cap.  It’s been helped a bit by the “rerun episodes” for the feature episodes this month.  The episodes never went away, but certain special rewards for doing them when they were released (Breen officer, the Ophidian Staff, and the Reman officer) did.  For one week only for each episode, they got re-enabled; alternatively, you could get other rewards like emblems; in some, you got entirely new possible rewards.  The Breen arc featured a ship equipment set that was designed to beat up on Breen; the Devidians have a new personal shield that acts similar to the Ophidian Staff (I’m told).  No word (yet) on the Romulan/Reman series, but that hits this week.  The new rewards will stick around, but the “special” rewards will again go into limbo until the next rerun period is announced.

And then there’s the Foundry.

I’ve found myself very hesitant to mess with this tool, possibly because of my feelings toward it developed on the test server, where bugs happen.  But what I have gotten out of it thus far is:  you can likely create content at least as sophisticated as a Dev’s episode.  My problem is that I haven’t gotten out of the “Hello world” stage.  Plus, it seems strange to try testing an episode that may be geared for deadlier opposition; the test character you get is a starting one, and you could be making a Borg episode.  Just a little disparity in power level here.  I don’t know all the tricks and tools yet, but I feel that if I put the time in, I could easily duplicate most if not all the things I could do in the CoH Mission Architect.  I’m nowhere near that, and I’m not certain I’ll even bother, to be honest.

This has not prevented me from actually playing content on the Foundry.  I’ve done a few episodes done for the benefit of Klingons, and they ran the gamut of good and not so good.  But this isn’t surprising; I’d seen that spread with CoH’s Misison Architect.  I haven’t seen any farming missions, but to be honest, STO isn’t exactly a hard game to level up in, either.  (Unless you’re with the Klingon Defense Forces.)  The biggest problem I’ve got thus far is that you can’t filter the missions by language; I’m not horribly inclined, for example, to try out missions that are written in French or German-I’d like to actually be able to read the content.  Hopefully, something will be done about that soon.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a comment on SOE’s latest issues.  SOE’s latest fiasco involving being hacked made me glad that the credit card I was using at the time expired, and no longer exists.  Even so, I made sure to change my password (even though I don’t use any SOE stuff anymore).  It’s possible that I wouldn’t be affected by this, but you never really know.  The whole thing shows that you can be as careful as you like, but sometimes it just isn’t your fault.  This should re-emphasize the importance of password security; I imagine there’s a lot of people who will be watching their credit card statements very carefully over the next year, thanks to this.

As to SOE’s attempt to compensate folks for the losses:  well, as much as it would personally satisfy me to take shots at them here, I can’t; a free month plus an extra day for each day of their outage is as fair as you could ask for.  It even applies to folks who have an account in a game if they haven’t had an active account for a long time.  (I’m looking at you, SWG.  It’s possible I may poke my head in-IF that’s true.)  Plus, folks who have the Station Access are getting Station Cash for their microtransaction stores; lifetimers in certain games are getting in-game currencies.  And finally, each individual game has their own little bonuses.  SWG, for example, features both a Bounty Hunter statue and a mini-Slave I.

So, in spite of my epic levels of antagonism to all things SOE, I have to admit that the compensation for the lost time is more than generous.  Of course, it’s going to mean beans to folks who find their accounts or credit cards have been used for things that the owner sure didn’t intend.  I’m only speaking of the time compensation; the larger issues are still issues.  SOE isn’t alone there, though-they’re only the latest to have a highly publicized breach.

I haven’t remarked on their identity protection program that they’re going to be providing “complimentary” to their users.  Mainly because it’s only good for a year, and then I presume the end user will be paying cash for it.  Honestly, it sounds more to me like SOE found a way to make more cash off of its misfortune.  This may not actually be the case, but I’ve been pretty honest in my feelings about SOE-it’s hard for me to believe anything good out of them.

Looking back over this post, it sure seems like it’s been an eventful month since my last post, doesn’t it?

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