Leader

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Imperial Destiny Page 26

     The Ixillin shuttle was fairly mundane.  It was little more than a box with thrusters, not even a viewport.  The interesting thing about it was that it was flown remotely, unlike Imperial shuttles, which required a pilot in the vessel.  Prallan wished it had been a little more alien and exciting, but the ship undocked with a fluid ease and flew towards its parent ship.  During the flight, Prallan was left completely alone with his thoughts and worries about this particular mission.  He wondered why he was going instead of Rickler or Itran, but before he could think very hard on that matter, the ship shuddered and a hiss announced that it was docked with its parent ship.
 
     [b]"Please remain calm as the depressurization process is begun."[/b] A calm, female voice echoed through the cabin.  The hiss grew in intensity, and Prallan felt the air grow thinner.  [b]"Please follow the lighted walkways to the receiving area."[b]  Beneath his feet, a pair of yellow lines flashed on the shuttle's bulkhead, and Prallan followed them out of the small craft and into the mother ship.  It led him into a large room, twice the size of his quarters on the Hermus, which was sparsely furnished with a small metal table and a few oversized chairs.  Prallan waited by them, watching the hatch opposite the room where he entered.  Soon a large hairy creature entered the room, its face obscured by a metal and polymer mask, carrying a tray with a small vessel full of liquid and a smaller cup.  It wore a robe, covering its torso and lower body, but the visible hair on its body was orange and striped black.  Its eyes had a feline cast to them, though most of its face was obscured by the mask.
 
     [b]"Xilishar T'agatar, Lieutenant Prallan Tigrole of the IES Hermus.  Many sunrises to greet you and sunsets to lull you to rest."[/b] The voice was soft, what Prallan would consider feminine, though there was nothing distinguishing gender from what he could see.  [b]"I am Zixirius, ambassador of the Ixillin Collective.  Forgive me for not showing my face clearly, but while what you consider breathable air is not toxic to my kind, it is very uncomfortable to breath without assistance."[/b]
 
     [b]"May the Emperor bless this meeting, Zixirius, and may your flame never sputter."[/b] Prallan returned what he thought was an equal greeting to the sunrise one.  He had taken one required class on xenobiological interaction, but it had been woefully inadequate at explaining anything.  The Empire had limited contact with outside species.  [b]"I take no offense to your mask, and I thank you for accommodating my needs."[/b]
 
     [b]"Please, Lieutenant Prallan Tigrole, sit and partake of the offering of tea."[/b]  Prallan sat in one of the chairs, and Zixirius took the opposite.  The Ixillin poured the liquid from the larger vessel into the cup, and offered it to him.  [b]"I offer you the tea of the Chintira Tree.  We offer tea in remembrance of our forebearers, who upon reaching the stars found peace among our neighbors for a time.  Do not fear, this blending is safe for your biology."[/b]  Prallan took the cup, and drank of the tea.  It was extremely bitter and burned his throat slightly, but he trusted that it would not kill him outright.  [b]"Chintira Tea for understanding and peace.  May we have peace between us."[/b]
 
     [b]"My people too desire peace."[/b] Prallan said, setting the cup on the table.  [b]"I offer you a gift of peace."[/b]  From a pocket in his uniform, Prallan pulled out a small metal box with an intricate hinge.  He set it on the table and pressed down on the center of the hinge, causing it to spring open.  Inside was a tiny delicate flame, burning with no kindling or fuel.  [b]"This is a Pyrin shard, a piece of our star, blessed by the Emperor himself.  It will burn until the fervor of the last true Imperial is quenched, and is a sign of the friendship offered to your people."[/b]  Zixirius was mesmerized by the flame that required no fuel  [b]"In addition to friendship, my people ask to exchange starmaps of our territories, to better know this region of space, and also permission for our vessel to pass into your territory to continue our mission of exploration."[/b]

     [b]"We will gladly share our knowledge of the stars with you, but we cannot permit your entry into our space for your own safety.  There is a constant radiation storm that permeates our entire space.  Until your vessels can shield themselves from it, you will not be able to safely traverse our space."[/b]
 
     [b]"Couldn't you just provide us that technology?  It would be years or decades before we could create such shielding."[/b]

     [b]"We believe that this protects us.  If you spend a great effort learning to shield yourself from the storms, you are not likely to give away such secrets to others easily.  We have had to wipe out friends who became enemies after being given this technology.  Better that you earn your right to it, and prove to us your commitment to friendship.  We will, of course, provide data on the effects of the radiation and any relevant readings."[/b]

     [b]"Thank you, I understand your reluctance to...."[/b] Prallan stopped mid-sentence as the room began to spin.  [b]"reluctance to..."[/b]  he was having trouble completing his sentence, and then he noticed the worried look on Zixirius's face.

     [b]"Forgive me, Lieutenant Prallan Tigrole, the tea has taken effect too early.  Your biology processes things faster than we anticipated."[/b]  Vibrant colors erupted around the room.  [b]"Please remain calm, this is the gift of the tea.  All will be made clear shortly."[/b]

   

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book of Heroes

I've been playing a mobile MMO called Book of Heroes lately.  It is the typical MMO fare, but I really like the development company, Venan, and their customer centric focus.  The game is very much active, and I highly recommend everyone take a look at it.

If you do join, look up my guild, The Lords of War, we happily accept everyone and are very laid back.

The Good:
Guild System with guild levels, challenges and the like (I believe they had this before WoW tried their guild level system).  Guilds level up based on member participation in guild raids, and each level unlocks new challenges and buffs.

Raids:  The game has their own take on raids.  Basically, a raid is a set of phases with similar encounters that must be defeated, usually with a boss at the end that has to be defeated so many times.  Up to 100 people can participate in a raid, with all but 10 or so having to be from your guild.

Valor/Token System: This one is a bit grindy, but you get a specific kind of token in varying amounts depending on how much you contributed to a raid.  These tokens are turned in for gear, gems, or other things.

Hero Tokens: Like Valor, Hero tokens are largely earned by raids, but also by achievements.  These allow you to customize your character a bit by purchasing upgrades to specific stats (e.g. I can invest my tokens into haste to attack faster, or melee to do more damage, or spread them around a bit to be more balanced).

Activity of the GMs: There are events every weekend, and sometimes through the week.  Examples are: Double raid xp weekends (for guilds), double valor reward weekends, kill 100/250/500 creatures and get free potions and hero tokens, compete in so many pvp matches and earn pvp tokens, etc.

The Bad:
PVP:  There's a collisseum, which allows 1v1 pvp, but the core game system isn't designed very well for pvp, so there's no real point.  It comes down to who is higher level and who has better gear, which is very boring.

Achievements: Normally, I'd say achievements are good, but these all feel super grindy, and some cannot even be earned anymore.  These grant hero tokens, which eventually become useless as you can cap them out.  Also since you cannot show to others what achievements you've earned, there's really no point in having them.

Dated Graphics: Yeah, these graphics aren't winning any awards, and they show the core game's age.  The benefit is that it eats a lot less battery than other MMO's I've played on mobile.

Energy System: The big one.  It wouldn't be a mobile game without the energy system.  Nothing much to say here, but it works in helping limit the amount one player can participate in a raid.  The downside is that with the ability to buy energy potions it just means if you are willing to pay in the game, you can progress much faster.

-VG

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Imperial Destiny - Page 25

     Prallan woke with a start from a horrid nightmare.  Fleets of the insect ships had just appeared around the Jinar and had ripped the smaller ship apart in moments.  It took him a few minutes before he realized what had awakened him.  An alarm was sounding on the console next to him.  Not the alarm he had set to wake him, which should be in four hours, but a summons to the bridge.  He rose out of the empty bed quickly, pulling on his uniform.

---------

      Prallan stepped onto the bridge, where Rickler and Itran were already waiting.  Through the forward viewport, another ship sat in space facing the Hermus.  It was much larger than the exploration vessel, and looked like a double helix of metal, joined at the front by a metal cone.

     "XO" Rickler said.  "I have a mission for you."  He nodded to the front viewport.  "We've made peaceful contact with these beings.  They call themselves the Ixillin, and have claims on several nearby systems.  We need their permission to continue in this direction, and their maps and trade are invaluable."

     "Yes, sir."  Prallan said.  "What is the mission?"

      "I'm sending you over to their ship to negotiate."

      "Yes, sir.  How am I going over there?  We don't have shuttles."

      "The Ixillin have provided a shuttlecraft.  It is docked at airlock two."

      "Aye, sir."  Prallan said, heading to the door.

Previous Page

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Raid - Rogue and Rogue Cards

     The Rogue is the party's solution to nasty traps and other surprises.  He also does a decent amount of burst damage, but is reliant on other party members to get him into position.  He is not as much of a glass cannon as the Wizard, but also doesn't do as much consistent damage.


     Health: 12
     Attack: 2
     Defense: 2
     Ability 1: Evasion: Can attempt to evade one attack per round.  Evading has a success chance of 5% per stealth point.  Uses all stealth points, regardless of success or failure.
     Ability 2: Sneak Attack: Gains 2 damage per player attacking the same target.  Can attempt a sneak attack that increases this damage to 4 per player with a 5% success chance per stealth point.  Uses all stealth points, regardless of success or failure.  (for the purposes of this ability, a minion or creature attacking a target counts as that minion or creature’s owner attacking the target).


     Some example cards:

      Ring of Invisibility (treasure):
      Equip: 3
      Effect: Gain 1 stealth point per turn.  At the end of your turn, if you have not dealt damage this turn, gain an additional 2 stealth points.


      Denarian Triblade:  
      Costs: 2  
      Equip: 1   Effect: deal 4 damage to an enemy.  Flip a coin, if heads the triblade is unequipped.  If tails, the triblade is destroyed.

      Throwing Dagger: 
      Cost 1 
      Equip: 1 
      Effect:  May unequip to deal 2 damage.  Generates 1 stealth point each time it is equipped.

     Disarm
     Cost: 2
     Effect:  Removes one Minor trap (up to 3 converted cost).

    Disable
    Cost: 4
    Effect: removes one Major Trap (up to 6 converted cost).

    Assassinate (Instant)
    Cost: 4
    Effect: Instantly strike one opponent.  Flip a coin.  If heads, deal 4 + your normal damage.  If tails, you deal your normal damage.

    Dodge
    Cost: 3
    Persist: 2
    Effect: Whenever you are subject to an attack, flip a coin.  If heads, the attack misses, if tails, it is resolved normally.  Can be used in conjunction with Evasion.

    Dirty Fighting (Instant)
    Cost: 2
    Effect: Can only be played when an ally attacks.  Grants the ally the ability to use the Rogue's Sneak Attack ability as if he had 5 stealth points (including the +2 to damage if another ally had attacked the enemy this turn).  Does not exhaust the Rogue's stealth points.


     Looking at these cards, and the play example, its clear that the rogue tries to stay alive in any way possible, and helps the party both through removal of traps, early looting of treasure (without lockpicking, the treasure wouldn't be available until after the encounter) and burst damage.  The rogue suffers against opponents with high defenses, and can definitely use buffs and assistance whenever possible.  If an ally doesn't attack, and the rogue is unbuffed, even with boosts to his attack, he may not get through tougher opponents.  He will really start to shine later in the game, when he has some equipment and treasure to make up for these minor downfalls.

-VG

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Imperial Destiny Page 24

     The alien's body was like something out of a horror movie.  It had four arms, each ending in a claw, as well as four spined legs.  It was definitely an insectoid being, with large compound eyes and drooping antenna.  Fortunately it was only about four feet total in length, so that diminished some of its ferocity.  That, and the fact that it had been dead for several days.

      "Initial indications are that they are actually physically weaker than us individually.  An average specimen, judging by the four we have, has approximately two-thirds the lifting capacity and one half the endurance of an average Pyranid."  Doctor Vicalso said, removing part of the creature's abdominal plate.  "They metabolise nitrogen, needing at a minimum 30% gaseous concentration to survive.  From the remnants of this one's digestive tract it looks like they are omnivores, though their stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve some metals and minerals."

     "How intelligent are they, Doctor?"  Prallan asked, looking at the creature's head.

     "Definitely intelligent enough for interstellar travel and building starships.  Individually they are what you might consider below average, relatively speaking.  However, they have a mild hive mind, which can make them very intelligent in a group, moreso than a similar group of Pyranids.  However, as their numbers thin, that shared intelligence weakens."

     "Interesting."  Prallan said.  "I want a details report on their physiology.  Anything we know can help when we have to fight them again."

      "Of course, sir."  Vicalso said, removing a pair of purple blobs from the creature.  "I haven't been able to dissect an intelligent creature since medical school, this is very fascinating."

      Prallan left the medical bay very swiftly.  He was certain the Doctor was a good physician, but he also gave him the creeps.

Previous Page                                                      Next Page

Party Raid - Fighter and the Fighter Cards

    The fighter is the meat shield of the group.  He's supposed to take damage and deal out melee justice, however the first role is the most important one (note: I'm debating between calling this class fighter or warrior as both represent very similar ideals, so sorry if I've interchanged the names in previous post, we're going to call it fighter for now).

    Health: 20
    Attack: 4
    Defense: 2
    Trait 1: Pay 1, intercept one attack directed at another player (spell, ability, or regular attack) and make the target of the ability this fighter.  All effects and damage are calculated as if the fighter was the original target of the attack.  Can be used once per round as a free action.
    Trait 2:  Reduce damage taken by this fighter by 1 for every defense point sacrificed.  This can be used at will.


    With this setup, it is clear that the warrior is all about buffing his defenses and intercepting attacks.  He is the meat shield and the tank of the group, soaking up damage, and letting the priest heal him and the rogue and wizard deal damage.  It wouldn't be unusual for him to make a melee attack just to give the rogue his flanking bonus.  The fighter works best when there is one or two targets, as he only gets one trait intercept per round, but has other cards that can work similarly.


    Take the Hit
    Cost: 3
    Instant - Can be played at any time.
    Effect - Counter one attack (spell, ability or regular attack) that would strike an ally.  Resolve the attack against yourself instead.

    Parry
    Cost 2
    Effect: Counter one regular attack made against you this round.  Make a free basic attack against that enemy.

    Shield Wall
    Cost 4
    Persist 2
    Effect: At the start of your turn gain 2 block.  Your attack is reduced by 2 and your defense is increased by 2 while this card is in play.

     The Art of War
     Cost: 0
     Effect: Discard this card.  Put one Tactic into play, tapped.

     Defensive Stance
     Cost: 1
     Effect: You gain 5 block.

     Broadsword
     Equipment
     Cost: 2
     Equip: 2
     Effect: Increases your attack by 2 while this card is equipped.

     The downside to fighter is that while he has a lot of good defensive abilities, most of them prevent him from becoming a powerful offensive weapon unless he has help.  As seen in the play test, after getting buffed by both the wizard and the priest, he was able to dish out a lot of hurt and stay safe himself.  He is very reliant on team support, but once he has it he is nearly unstoppable.

    The fighter's greatest weakness is the lack of any spell resistance.  Spells will rip right through his health quickly, and while he can use block to reduce the damage, it will eat through this secondary resource very swiftly.  This means he has to be selective about the damage he takes and the abilities he intercepts.  It might hurt the wizard more to take a sword to the face, but a lightning bolt is another matter.  The fighter's player must be aware of the entire situation, and play accordingly.

-VG

Monday, June 23, 2014

Casual vs Elite Gaming

     When I started playing MMOs and other online games, I was very much an elite gamer.   I sacrificed hundreds of hours of sleep and study to pursue my goals of being great at playing the games I loved.  I beat certain games over and over again until I could conquer them in my sleep.  I saw failing at something as a challenge, not a reason to give up.  It was a very different time in gaming, and the stark contrast to modern days is interesting.

    Casual today is a buzzword.  It means playing Candy Crush instead of Halo.  It doesn't have anything to do with the time commitment (my wife has put way more hours into a casual game than I have to any of my "normal" games) but skill level.  These games are easy, reward you for doing simple things and playing constantly.  They offer easy ways out, to buy your solutions.  I don't even really see how it can be fun to just buy your way out of your problems in a game....after all you are investing time to enjoy it so why pay to skip parts?

    Then I think about MMOs that exist today.  WoW has gotten progressively easier as time has gone on.  Sure, there are still challenges, but more and more of the game is user friendly, the learning curve is less steep and a child could (and regularly do) play the game.  I've seen raiders who were very young excel at the game (like my cousin's 5 year old....scary thought).  The flip side of this is that it takes longer to get the best stuff.  In order to keep you playing, WoW now (and for some time has had) long faction grinds (nothing like the original ones, though) that are more or less mandatory for raiding.  Everythign is keyed to your gear score, but you can go in the kiddy pool (LFR raids) if you want a lot earlier.

    I don't like this trend towards easy gameplay, but large time investments.  I like deep and immersive games where you have to puzzle and figure things out over time.  The EVE online learning curve is the game I want, where things are easy to start but super difficult to master.  I like games that keep you guessing, that require you to use your brain and not just show up.  However, I firmly realize that i am now in the minority of gamers.  Too many want flashy colors with no content.  Its like a cupcake, it is the sort of thing that is nice, but if you eat only cupcakes, you get no real nutritional value and your muscles and mind waste away while your waistline grows.

-VG