My Five Favourite Game Series

Another great idea is making the rounds in our corner of the blogosphere right now, which is to name your most beloved game franchises and sing their praise.

Krikket, Naithin, Telwyn, Endalia, Izlain and others have already done so, now I’ll have a crack at it. Late to the party, as per usual.

I’m not aware of any official rules, but like Wilhelm I’m just going to assume that to qualify as a series there must have been at least three distinct games; expansions or DLC don’t count.

Anyway, here goes.

The Secret of Monkey Island


I started to play video games a lot earlier than that, but the first titles that managed to absolutely enthrall me and keep me glued to my chair until four in the morning were the early Lucas Arts adventures (actually ‘Lucasfilm Games’ back then), Maniac Mansion and Zak McCracken.

It’s no wonder then that those will always have a special place in my heart. However the pinnacle of that development team’s work was and remains the Monkey Island series.

Or: how to become a pirate in the weirdest, wackiest way possible

I don’t think I’ve played any other adventure game that’s as good as Monkey Island 1 and 2, before or since, which is hardly surprising as those are pure perfection. Puzzles, dialogue, humor, control scheme, music…all unmatched to this day. Even the graphics were great by 1990’s standards.

Of course the special editions look even better; highly recommended

Part three, The Curse of Monkey Island, introduced voice acting to the series, which was also outstanding. Overall it’s ‘only’ a very good game, but it was still miles ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately everything that came after couldn’t hold a candle to the first three titles, but those alone easily make the series one of my all-time favourites.


When I bought a Playstation 3 in 2010 the first two Uncharted games had already been released some time ago, and while I was aware that people had a lot of praise for them – especially the second one – they weren’t high on my shopping list for some reason or other.

Part three released in 2011 to critical acclaim, but even then did I not jump on the bandwagon, at least not right away. The hype prompted me to add its predecessor to my Amazon wishlist though, and some time later Lakisa’s parents gifted it to me for my birthday.

Ain’t that the truth

Holy crap, that game pulls no punches. Its prelude is probably the best, most gripping opening sequence I’ve ever experienced in a video game. It sucked me in, digested me thoroughly for about 15 hours and spat out an entirely new person. Or something. Look, I’m obviously exaggerating, but not by much. It was that great an experience.

Of course I bought parts one and three immediately afterwards and played them in order. The first is a bit rough in comparison, but still very good; the third is almost as great as the second, but not quite.


Uncharted 4 is one of the very few games I’ve specifically bought a piece of hardware for, in this case the Playstation 4, and it did only disappoint insofar that – spoiler, kind of – the ending makes clear that we really won’t be seeing any more adventures of Nathan Drake, like the game’s subtitle suggests.

If I had to rank them I’d say 2, 3, 4, 1, from best to worst, but in truth there is no ‘worst’ because they’re all great. I firmly believe that anyone who loves video games should have played these.

Grand Theft Auto

What can be said about the GTA series that hasn’t been said a thousand times? From GTA III onwards each game was a paradise for open world fans, full of memorable characters, action-packed missions, exciting and/or wacky stories and tons of optional side-activities.

Also featured: stealing and driving cars; the name wouldn’t make much sense otherwise, would it?

Each new title’s release also reheated discussions about violence in video games, and the series has often been used by politicians as a poster child for ‘bad’ games that should be banned outright. I believe the most recent entry, GTA V, was the first that didn’t make much headlines in that regard, although the gameplay itself hasn’t changed much.

I guess that’s in part because gaming as a whole has finally started to become much more widely accepted in recent years, and it’s not quite as easily to scapegoat anymore. However the bigger reason, I believe, is that the game is just too good not to acknowledge it as what it really is: a piece of art.

We’ve all matured, you see. We talk things through first now, THEN we shoot

I’ve extensively played GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas and V. They’re all great. If you only ever play one I suggest to play V though.

Mortal Kombat


I’ve already talked about my history with the Mortal Kombat series in some detail here, so I’ll keep this short.

I’m actually not a big fighting game buff, so to have fun with a game like this I need it to be accessible above all else, and I also need more than ‘just’ the fighting to hook me.

The fact that one character looked and sounded just like Bruce Lee, of whom I’ve always been a big fan, was what prompted me to buy MK1 for the SNES, and since the game was pretty easy to learn I liked the gameplay a lot. MK2 was even better and introduced some of my favourite characters to the series.

Just like with GTA, Mortal Kombat games were always the subject of much debate, mainly due to their huge repertoire of gory finishing moves. Obviously no one ever really dies in a fighting game though, and MK is no exception. That fact alone serves, to me, as proof that the games don’t take themselves very seriously. The hilarious story modes later entries had only reinforced that impression.

Those two alone must have killed each other millions of times by now

Over a span of 27 years I’ve played five Mortal Kombat games extensively and dabbled in a couple more. Yep, definitely a favourite.

Unreal Tournament

When I bought the first UT in 1999 it was quite a revelation. Up to that point I’d already spent a lot of time playing multiplayer shooters with a couple of friends – the likes of Doom, Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood and Quake – and we’d had a lot of fun.

Unreal Tournament was quite different though. Above all it was a lot faster and much more fluid. Sprinting across maps and fragging people had never felt that good, and I loved every minute of it. The futuristic setting was also right up my alley.

The icing on the cake were the available game modes though. We’d played pretty much only free-for-all deathmatch before, and while that can be all kinds of fun fighting in teams over flags or control points offered us a whole new level of tactical gameplay. We even used the great Assault mode to team up against CPU-controlled opponents, giving us our first experience of co-op shooter gameplay.

The series’ second entry was called UT 2003, and while it looked much better thanks to a new engine the gameplay was, in my opinion, inferior to that of its predecessor, mainly due to a changed Domination mode that I didn’t like as much, and the Assault mode outright missing.

Then came UT 2004 though, the undisputed apex of the series. It didn’t actually change that much, but it brought the much-missed Assault back, and also a cool new mode called Onslaught that had huge maps and vehicle combat.

Unfortunately “Mailvaltar” wouldn’t fit on the license plate

I was so into 2k4 that I even joined a German UT-clan for a while. They were a great bunch, however playing the game that much and at that level made me realize that a) I’m not actually that good at playing shooters, and b) even the best ones get repetitive after a while. So I left the clan again, but kept playing the game on and off.

Of course I was pretty hyped for the release of Unreal Tournament 3 regardless (what is it with gaming franchises and their weird numbering?). Unfortunately it disappointed, for reasons I can’t quite explain myself. It had a new, great looking engine and hoverboards. Hoverboards!! Those are the only merits that immediately spring to mind though, so I guess by 2007 we’d all hoped for a bit more innovation.

My enthusiasm fizzled out relatively quickly then and I moved on to other franchises. I assume I wasn’t alone in this as there’s never been talk about another UT game as far as I’m aware. Still, I’ve sunk ungodly amounts of time into the first three titles, and 2k4 will probably remain my favourite multiplayer-shooter of all time.

Blapril 2020 post count: 10

So Fallout 76 is better now? Well, congrats Bethesda…not!


We now have Developer/Creator Appreciation Week going on in Blaprilverse, and while I’m usually not one to overly focus on the negative I’m taking the liberty to turn the idea upside down in light of current events.

Of course I’m talking about the fact that the long anticipated Wastelanders-expansion for Fallout 76 released just over a week ago.

Originally set to arrive “in fall of 2019

Now, a lot of folks seem to be pretty happy with it. Syp, Naithin and many Steam-users have to say good things about the new experience, and more power to them. I absolutely don’t begrudge anyone finally having some fun (or more fun) with the game they bought, don’t get me wrong here.

Still, in my opinion this doesn’t redeem Bethesda one bit. I’m not willing to just forgive and forget their disastrous and to some extent downright criminal conduct surrounding the game’s original launch 1 1/2 years ago – yes, it’s indeed been this long.

So today I’m going to recap this train wreck of a release, lest we forget what happens when players shower game companies with their hard earned money without knowing whether they’ll actually get said money’s worth (or any worth at all) in return.

Let Developer/Creator Naming and Shaming Week commence.


I’m not even going to beat the dead horse that is Todd Howard’s grandiose presentation at E3 2018 again. Of course it is extremely funny (and sad) to watch considering what players actually got, but I can hardly blame only Bethesda for doing what absolutely everyone does to get people hyped up for their games, can I?

So let’s leave the land of fairytales behind and cut straight to the facts.

The game released on November 14th 2018. Before being able to actually play people had to download a day one patch, about 50 GB in size depending on platform. Hell, the game client itself was smaller than that!

The real ‘fun’ began after and despite that sizeable download though…

You don’t have to listen to the commentary, just watch the first few minutes of that video to get but a small glimpse of what players went through. Glitches, bugs, crashes, disconnects, duping (accidental as well as on purpose); you name it, FO76 had it.

The game crashed some people’s gaming devices so hard that they had to reinstall the whole thing, in some cases allegedly even their console’s operating systems. Others logged into their accounts – or so they thought – just to realize that they were logged into someone else’s instead for some reason.

However, as sad as it is to say, so far this is all not that unusual for a triple-A release these days. Not many are quite this bad, sure, but bugs, massive day one patches and stuff like that have become the norm rather than the exception in the last 10-15 years or so.

Which is bad enough on its own, but apparently the folks at Bethesda weren’t content with delivering one faulty product and leave it at that. Hell no.


On the left you see a canvas bag, advertised to be included in the game’s ‘Power Armor Edition’, priced at 200 bucks. On the right you see what buyers actually got. Of course people weren’t happy and contacted Bethesda’s support about it. To give credit where it’s due, they did get a response.

Click to enlarge

Wait, what? They surely weren’t serious here, were they? When more and more inquiries piled up they added:


Now you’re talking…wait. How much do 500 Atoms cost again? Oh yeah. 5$. Five. Dollars.

Well at least folks could now buy an ingame-outfit that actually includes a canvas bag…oh.

So close…

Only after the outrage had become big enough to be covered by pretty much every gaming news outlet there is did they cave in and promise that everyone would get their real canvas bag…in four to six months time.

But fear not, if you feel you’re in desperate need of a drink after all that crap Bethesda’s got you covered.


Oh hey, that’s a pretty nice looking bottle of rum. And for an 80$ price tag the bottle as well as its content should be of a somewhat high quality, no?

See, they even delayed shipping because “one of the components of the product was not up to Fallout standards“.

That’s…actually not all that reassuring, is it?

The rum was shipped about a month after its initial release date. The bottle, it turned out, was a standard glass bottle inside of a not really that great-looking plastic casing. Apparently you couldn’t pour a drink without spilling half of it, so you pretty much had to crack open the plastic and use the rather bland glass bottle. Almost needless to say at this point, the rum didn’t taste that good either. Oh yeah, and somehow there were a whole bunch of 5-star ratings before the rum had even shipped. When people called them out for it those reviews quickly disappeared as if by magic.

There’s still lots more I haven’t covered. This video by the Internet Historian sums it all up very well and is also highly entertaining…although it’s a bit like watching a car crash in slow motion.

So yeah, that’s why I think Fallout 76 doesn’t deserve a second chance. As far as I’m concerned it didn’t deserve a chance to begin with. When the makers of a product lie to me, deliver a product that’s not even close to working as advertised (or even something else entirely), fake their own reviews and generally behave as if they can do whatever the fuck they want without the smallest bit of respect for their customer’s rights, time and money, they don’t deserve anything but a hefty kick in the nuts.

I’m sure, I’d like to add, that the majority of people who worked on the game and its related products in whatever capacity did their best, and I’m not faulting them for any of this. The fish rots from the head down though, as the saying goes, and this particular head is undoubtedly rotten to the core.

I’m glad that I didn’t spend any money on this pile of crap, and I definitely won’t buy anything with Bethesda’s logo on the box any time soon. Screw you.

Blapril 2020 post count: 9

I am just like WHO now??


It’s still Getting To Know You Week, so I thought it might be fun to do the ‘fictional character personality test’ Endalia and Bhagpuss have already done with interesting results. Man, I so hope I’ll get a high match with Dale Cooper like Bhag did!

I’ll just do the complete version of the test – should take long enough to answer 121 questions – and except for the top match I’ll only refer to characters from shows and movies that I know well, with a match of at least 60%.

Let’s gooo!


Top match at 76%: Samantha Carter (Stargate SG-1)

I like the movie but never watched the show, so…yeah, no idea. How’s she like, folks? She’s great, isn’t she? Please tell me she’s great!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


So, Odo, eh? The funny thing is, we’ve just started to watch DS9 from the beginning, so the first half of season one is fresh in my mind. I remembered Odo as a very likeable and respectable character from watching the show many years ago, though at the beginning he’s mainly grumpy and sometimes downright hostile (not just towards Quark either). I really hope the personality this test refers to is based upon that which I remember, not that first impression we get of him.

Other than that my only complaint is that Garak’s so low on the list. Not that I really identify with him, but hey, it’s Garak. One of the coolest characters in any show ever in my opinion.

Game of Thrones


Brienne of Tarth as the highest match and no one else comes even close? I can very much live with that. As with Garak I would have liked to see Tyrion higher on that list of course (he’s at 233 with 59%), but at least there are no blonde Lannisters to be seen anywhere. Phew, dodged that bullet.

Marvel Cinematic Universe


I omitted a few this time – there’s just too many of ’em – and I’m also starting to see a trend here. The characters I tend to like the most all appear only around the 60% mark, in this instance Tony Stark. Like the others I mentioned he’s smart and funny, but also kind of a dickhead. I guess I should probably be glad that I don’t match higher with my favourites… Anyway, Carol Danvers is very cool, so I’m not complaining.

The Big Bang Theory


I’m fine with Shamy up there, obviously. What I don’t quite get is Bernadette’s appearance this high on the list. That woman frightens me! Seriously, I hope I’m nothing like her.

Star Wars


Not bad. Who wouldn’t want a high match with our favourite snarky princess? I hope this is Sir Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan though, not Ewan McGregor’s.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Yes! Unlike Bhagpuss I wanted to see Giles on top here, and I got him. Buffy and Willow are fine too of course. Angel’s matched just low enough for comfort.



Uh…70% match with a mass-murderer, and again a likeable dickhead at 60%. I think I should stop now.

Yes. No! Maybe…I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?

Well, this was quite fun. I got to say though that the survey isn’t easy to answer for non-native speakers, and I’m pretty sure the outcome would have been at least a bit different had I been able to do it in German. Seriously, even with a dictionary’s help I have no idea what ‘debased’ and ‘pure’ are supposed to mean in this context. I just let the slider sit at 50% in these cases (about eight or so). There were others where I knew which direction to pull the slider in, but since I still wasn’t completely sure about the choices’ exact meanings I didn’t go all the way to the left or right. I assume that’s why I don’t have any matches above 76%.

Oh, and now I almost forgot to resolve this: I’ve got a 68% match with Dale Cooper, neat! Aside from him I remember so little about Twin Peaks that it would have been pointless to list more characters though.

Anyway, if you’re a movie- and TV series-fan I highly recommend doing the survey for yourself. There’s many more franchises in there, like Friends, Harry Potter, The Office, LOST, Sherlock (got a 67% match with the high-functioning sociopath, huh), etc. Should be something there for everyone.

Blapril 2020 post count: 8

Blogger recognition, neat!


It’s Getting To Know You Week in Blaprilverse, and while I’m way late to the party I guess now’s the perfect time to address the Blogger Recognition Award, which both Naithin and Bhagpuss tagged me for.

The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the wonderful person(s) who nominated you and leave a link back to their blogs.
  2. Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  3. Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.

Here goes.

Pictured: my history of writing, part one (ca. 1989)

If you’re reading this chances are you already know Bhagpuss and his blog, Inventory Full. He’s been around for a long time, posts very regularly and is always entertaining to read. When I discovered that there are such wonderful things as gaming blogs some seven or eight years ago, his was one of the first that I stumbled upon, and I’ve been a regular ever since. As a bonus he has the most extensive, auto-updating blogroll I’ve ever seen, which is very handy.

Naithin’s Time to Loot is relatively new in comparison. It isn’t his first blog though, and he’s a very active and thoughtful blogger too. Highly recommended.

Thank you both for nominating me, it’s an honor (not being ironic here)!

Ca. 1995; probably not exactly like mine, but close enough

As for my own blog, I think it came into being mainly for two reasons.

One, I’ve always been a big fan of language in general and the written word in particular. I love to read, and ever since I had a keyboard I’ve also been fond of writing (I hate writing by hand, it’s pretty much the most uncomfortable- and unnatural-feeling thing you could force me to do, and nobody would be able to read any of it either).

I’m not a terribly creative person though, so making up and writing stories or something like that was never even a consideration. I believe the first things I wrote were hints and walkthroughs for adventure games I’d beaten. I distributed those on 3.5 inch disks on our schoolyard. Once the internet had taken off I became a sucker for gaming forums. I read absolutely everything there was to read about the games that interested me, and I also added to the discussions and the knowledge base. Sometimes a lot. I wrote close to a thousand posts each in some forums I was active in, for example, the biggest German Star Wars Galaxies community at the time, or our SWTOR-guild’s internal forum years later.

Websites and forums come and go though, and I’ve written a huge amount of stuff over the years that’s now lost forever. The majority of it wasn’t really worth preserving, obviously, but I clearly remember some guides I’ve written and conversations that I’ve had which I would really like to be able to read one more time, if only for nostalgia’s sake. So I guess at some point I started to feel that I needed my own, permanent place to stow away my ramblings.

Reason number two is that video games, especially MMORPGs, sometimes let me experience great adventures that I a) don’t want to forget, and b) would like to share with others. I remember vividly that one such adventure in specific triggered the actual, tangible wish to sit down a write about it. It took another couple of years however, but in the end I finally did.

So here we are, almost three years down the road from my first blog post. I’m really glad that I took the plunge when I did, and I’m grateful for the advice and inspiration all the great bloggers out there gave me beforehand and since, knowingly and unknowingly, because without that I’d probably not dared to.

Ca. 2003; I had this for about 13 or 14 years, great piece of hardware

Now, as there’s already so much great advice out there, what could I tell you about blogging that’s not already been said countless times?

I guess that’s advice number one right there: it doesn’t matter if someone else has already written about a certain topic.

Firstly, no one reads all the blogs. It might not seem likely from your perspective, but it’s absolutely possible that someone comes to your blog and reads about that topic for the very first time.

And even if not, everyone’s viewpoint is unique, so your take on the subject can still give new insights and perspectives that others might find useful or at least entertaining. Whatever it is you want to say, knock yourself out!

My second advice is to only publish blog posts that you are pleased with, otherwise don’t publish.

This one might just be me though as I set pretty high standards for myself, and it bugs me – probably more that it should – when I reread a post of mine after I’ve published it and think it could have been better. What really does not matter is what anyone else thinks about your writings though. Unless you’re getting paid for it you do this for yourself after all, so if you are happy with your creation you’ve done a good job, period.

This is what I’m typing these here words with, it’s really good too

At this point I’m supposed to tag some more folks for the award/challenge/whatever this actually is, and I’d really love to. By now most if not all bloggers I read have already been tagged at least once though, and I have completely lost track of who has or hasn’t been.

So please, if you read this and haven’t been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged now and chime in. It’s fun and doesn’t hurt at all!

Blapril 2020 post count: 7

I built a gun out of scrap and fish entrails


I know it sounds weird, but that’s exactly what I did in Warframe, and I’ll definitely do it again. MacGyver’s got nothing on me!

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

My first impression of the game’s crafting was that it’s basically non-existent. Sure, you collect blueprints and resources for weapon- and warframe-parts all the time, but once you have everything you need you just go to your ship’s foundry, click the thing and wait until it’s finished. The crafting process itself doesn’t require any thought or effort, and you can’t influence the outcome in any way either. That’s not really what I’d call crafting.

Since many aspects of the game aren’t very intuitive or self-explanatory I’ve read and watched a lot of guides over time though, and one type of weapon that’s being recommended over and over is Kitguns. These are a special kind of secondary weapon that have to be assembled from different parts, with each part adding its own set of properties to the end product. By mixing and matching those components you can build a gun that fits your personal playstyle like a glove. They’re also said to be quite strong to boot.

Despite this sounding really good I still hadn’t gotten around to work towards getting one until recently though. I’d had just too many other things on my plate.

When pkudude99 of Nomadic Gamers reminded me of his great post about kitguns in one of his comments, which I’d read before but promptly forgotten afterwards (I think I didn’t even play the game yet at the time), I finally buckled up and looked into the process of building one.

Looks more like a tool Tim Taylor patched together

A finished kitgun is an assembly of three parts: chamber, grip and loader.

The chamber is pretty much the gun’s primary component as it determines the base damage type(s) and, even more importantly, the kind of stuff it shoots. Want the weapon to fire a continuous energy beam? Can do. A ball of energy that explodes in an AoE? Also possible. Auto-fire hitscan? No problem.

A kitgun’s grip determines the amount of damage it deals and also its rate of fire. Of course those two stats behave inversely proportional for balancing reasons, so you’ve got to decide whether you like slow-firing, hard-hitting guns or vice versa (or something in between). If you’ve chosen one of the energy-type chambers the grip also has an impact on the gun’s range.

Last but not least the loader lets you choose magazine size and reload speed as well as crit- and status-chance, again with each pair behaving inversely proportional.

I’ve always been what FPS-experts would probably call a spray and pray-kind of guy, so I knew from the start that what I wanted was, coincidentally, exactly what pkudude99 also prefers: a very fast-firing hitscan weapon with lots of crit chance so it procs Arcane Velocity often and fires even faster.

Unfortunately pretty much everything you can do in Fortuna – just like Cetus on Earth – is gated behind a faction rep grind. To be able to buy the blueprints of choice I needed to do some legwork first.

Luckily for me there are open world activities on offer that I like and which are even more effective for raising your faction standing than running missions: mining and fishing.

Gimme those shinies – the mining-minigame is quite relaxing

Of course mined gems and ore are needed for crafting too, but you can also exchange them for faction standing. So I spent quite some time in the caves of Orb Vallis, which ain’t so bad as they’re a far cry from the dark, dank places you probably imagine when you generally think of caves.

Looks more like a Spa, maybe I should stay and charge admission fees

Fish, just like gems, can be sold to increase your standing. Alternatively you can dismantle them for scrap and other parts – fish in the Orb Vallis are actually machines, called servofish – some of which are indeed required to build kitgun components.

I assume servofish entrails aren’t quite as disgusting, so that’s a plus

At this point I got sidetracked for a bit, as I got the idea to dedicate one of my orbiter’s aquariums solely to servofish and to only have one of each species in there.

Definitely more interesting to look at than Picard’s lionfish

By then I had risen the ranks enough to buy two of the three blueprints I wanted. For my optimal loader there’s still some more work to do, but I figured what the hell, I’ll just go for the second best and build that fricking gun now.

I hope I won’t hold it upside down or something

What can I say, it’s every bit as great as advertised. The default rate of fire isn’t quite as high as I’d expected, but as soon as Arcane Velocity procs the stream of projectiles rivals even that of a minigun. When fired in controlled bursts it’s also pretty accurate even at a distance, and now that it’s ranked up and modded properly it shreds enemies in a heartbeat.

As soon as I’m allowed to buy the better loader I’ll go ahead and build the perfect version of this kitgun, and maybe I’ll also try a variant that shoots those exploding energy balls. The possibilities are endless.

Oh, and now that I’ve acquired a taste for do-it-yourself weapons I’ll probably look into those Zaws I’ve heard so much about…

Now THAT’S an assortment to my liking

Blapril 2020 post count: 6

Even better than flying – ArcheAge


The other day Syp talked about having fun with gliders in Guild Wars 2, and while I don’t have the experience in that game myself what he’s describing is exactly how I feel about glider mechanics in ArcheAge Unchained:

“Sure, you can’t fly up, but it really changes how you interact with the world by being able to glide short and long distances. I’m finding that the glider has a lot of functionality. I can use it as a parachute to do a long drop safely, I can hop between rooftops, I can get to vistas with ease if I have a higher vantage point from which to begin, and I can simply have fun jumping off and soaring over the land.”

Seriously, although he’s talking about a different game I couldn’t have said it any better.

While ArcheAge’s world doesn’t have regions specifically and obviously designed for gliding – Bhagpuss has a lot of praise for those in GW2 – it’s a mechanic that really enhances the gameplay wherever you go and whatever you do in the game.

For me these gliders hit the sweet spot between having ‘real’ flying mounts and being grounded entirely dead on.

Here we’re sparing us the hassle to navigate those rocks with our clipper

In my opinion being able to fly in an MMORPG, while fun and convenient, shrinks down a game’s world considerably and takes away most sense of exploration. Thoughts like ‘Can I somehow cross that mountain range?’ and ‘I wonder what lies beyond’ don’t even come up when you know that you can just fly there in an instant.

All gliders in ArcheAge do have the ability to catapult themselves upwards a couple of yards every thirty seconds though, which helps getting farther without an elevation to launch from. Also, if you do launch from one you can get very far indeed.

Is this a bad time to mention my fear of heights?

Here we’d just crested the aforementioned mountain range, which we wouldn’t have managed to do without our gliders’ help either. Quite a view, isn’t it?

A look around revealed that we were actually soaring high above the game’s public airships’ routes.

What’s that, a sky-traffic jam?

We then realized that we hadn’t quite thought this through properly. Most gliders can’t just descend at will, and maximum flight time is three minutes. Suffice it to say, it was a long drop down. Tristron actually died from the impact and we had to go and rez him. Fortunately we all have the balloon you see in the topmost picture by now, which can descend straight downwards.

Of course gliders are also used in a PvP-context all the time. Sometimes to avoid it…

You can’t harm us if you don’t see us

…or to take the enemy base by storm…

Hello boys…we’re baaaaaaaaaack!

…or maybe just to watch things unfold from a safe distance.

I see you’ve got everything under control down there, carry on

So yeah, everything Syp said about gliding in GW2 applies to ArcheAge too, and to me it’s a very important part of the game. This mechanic in conjunction with how the world is designed and laid out contributes a lot to its virtual world feel, and I wish more games would go this route.

Blapril 2020 post count: 5

Operation: Scarlet Spear isn’t that bad

Although it’s obviously a well-known truth that people’s opinions and standpoints on any kind of topic can and do differ wildly, I’m still flabbergasted from time to time by the amount of rage such innocuous things like a new event in an online game can cause.

Enter Operation: Scarlet Spear, an event that’s running in Warframe right now.

Event-themed loading screen included

The event started on March 20th, and saying that the community isn’t satisfied with it would be a huge understatement. The gameplay is much of the same, the rewards are crap, it takes too long, it’s buggy…you name it, I’ve heard it.

To be fair, it was pretty buggy at release, and it still isn’t perfect. Digital Extremes haven’t been twiddling their thumbs though; until now they’ve released ten (!) patches that, as far as I can tell, squashed most bugs, at least the obvious ones. They also buffed payouts of event-currency significantly and prolonged the event by a week to make up for the less than ideal start. Needless to say though, many folks still aren’t happy.

Me? I’m pretty satisfied. The gameplay is ok and actually quite fun and efficient to run with Mesa (what a coincidence), and the rewards are tremendously generous from where I’m standing.

Ground-mission’s big bad…one of ’em, anyway

You see, despite having played the game for quite a while now I’m still far from having achieved, leveled and done everything. Very far indeed. I guess that affects my perception of how rewarding the event is quite a lot.

First off, there’s the event currency itself, Scarlet Credits. Players can buy two new weapons, a bunch of fluff items and arcanes with those. The weapons are not very good (or so I hear) and fluff doesn’t interest most progress-oriented people. Which leaves the arcanes.

Arcanes are augments for your warframes which, until now, could only drop from Eidolons.

These little fellas…

Hunting those is one of Warframe’s endgame-activities, if you will. I assume many high-end players have all the arcanes they’ll ever need. In contrast, I haven’t killed or captured even one of the buggers yet, hence I didn’t own any arcanes whatsoever before Scarlet Spear. Some of them are really strong though, so for me it’s a godsend that I can just buy them now.

My Mesa Prime’s mod section, arcanes on the right

I’ve talked about mods and Endo before. To upgrade the former to the highest ranks you need huge amounts of the latter. Whatever you’re doing in the game, mobs sometimes drop small amounts of Endo – to the tune of 15 or, if you’re lucky, 50 or 80. Some missions reward 200. The biggest single source is the sale of Ayatan sculptures, but those are rather hard to come by.

Each wave or phase of Scarlet Spear’s ground missions rewards something at the end. Usually it’s a tier 1 or tier 2 relic, but there’s also a chance of about 25-30% that you get this:


That’s a lot of Endo for not a whole lot of ‘work’.

You can do up to 17 waves per ground-mission before you have to extract, which takes a good group about 25 minutes, and every time I take two to three thousand Endo home with me. That’s huge.

Those relics I mentioned are great too. Even if their loot tables don’t contain Prime blueprints that I want, one can never have enough Ducats (another important currency), which they can be sold for.

There are even more drops and currencies that these missions yield, like sentient cores and lots of Focus, but suffice it to say it’s very worth it for me to do them.

The gameplay, like I said, is ok in my opinion. I’ve heard people dub the ground-mission a ‘glorified mobile defense mission’ (a mission type that’s been very long in the game and thus nothing new), and there’s some truth to that. No one needs to carry an item around though, which is a big plus in my book. And, well, you basically shoot and hack and slash until everything’s dead, then you move on. If you don’t like that gameplay loop, well, Warframe isn’t really the game for you, is it?

Ground- and space-squads hard at work

There’s also a space mission, which I haven’t done yet. The event’s big and advertised novelty is that the ground-squads need to cooperate with the space-squads to get things done. In practice you don’t really notice it much though. There are on-screen messages informing you that you’ve done your thing and that player xy’s squad can now do their thing, but that’s about it. Since I’m not in a clan I’m quite fine with that to be honest. The thought of having to somehow coordinate two pick-up groups of four makes me shudder. I can really do without that kind of stuff.

So, let’s draw a bottom line. Is Operation: Scarlet Spear the best thing since sliced bread? No, it’s not. To me it’s definitely fun enough to play a round or two a day though, and the rewards are huge at my current point of progression.

If you play the game and don’t consider yourself to be a have-it-all, done-it-all-player I highly recommend not listening to the naysayers and giving the event a try. It runs until April 28th.

Blapril 2020 post count: 4

Op success…more or less

After all that preparation it was finally time for our attack to commence on Thursday evening. The system’s residents used a Fortizar class citadel as their main base, which we set out to reinforce (by depleting its shields) first, in hopes that the armor timer would come up on Friday, and the critical structure timer on Sunday.

We warped over to the Fort, anchored up and opened fire.


Of course our incursion hadn’t gone unnoticed by now, but the home team didn’t come out to play. At least one of them manned the Fortizar’s gunner seat and pestered us with bombs and ECM bursts, but that slowed us down by just a bit. Reinforcing citadels without capital ships or a huge subcap fleet takes quite a while, but we got the job done.

Unfortunately it turned out that we had been a bit too late to set the armor timer for Friday, instead it was to come out on Saturday evening. Which also meant that the final timer, should it come to that, was going to be on Monday. With many of us grounded due to the pandemic we hoped that enough people would be able to make it though.

We proceeded to reinforce an Astrahus and an Athanor, then we were basically done for the night. Our next opportunities for combat would be our own Astrahus hitting its pre-anchor vulnerability window on Friday evening, and their Fort’s armor timer on Saturday.

Astrahus under heavy fire

That didn’t mean that there wasn’t anything to do until then though. Probably the most important factor when fighting over w-space is who controls the routes in and out of the system. It’s what EVE players call ‘hole control’. Now that I type it out I realize how…weird…that actually sounds.

Anyway, they who control the entrance- and exit-wormholes basically control the system because the opponent can get neither reinforcements in nor their stuff out to safety.

In k-space this would mean camping the stargates, and we did camp the wormholes from time to time.

Our gang from one of our battleships’ point of view, sitting at a wormhole

Even more important is regularly ‘rolling’ the holes we don’t want or need to control though, which means making them collapse by sending more ship-mass through than it can bear. Of course you don’t want to get any of your ships stuck on the wrong side, and it’s quite a science to get it right. The process involves high-mass battleships as well as heavy interdictors, the latter of which can fit modules that, when activated, reduce the ship’s mass to almost zero.

Like I said, all of this was pretty new for most of us, and mistakes were made. None of those proved to be critical though, and we had things under control for most of the weekend. Our targets helped quite a lot with that though because, unfortunately, they didn’t seem willing or able to defend their home.

They didn’t show up on Friday, so our Astrahus went online uncontested, and we reinforced another couple of their citadels.

Of course we had high hopes for a fight over their Fortizar’s armor timer on Saturday. They did show up this time, but all they brought to bear was a gang of about 15 Jackdaws. Those shouldn’t have been a threat to us at all, but they actually managed to destroy one of our Guardians because its pilot didn’t have his shortcuts for broadcasting set up correctly. We scared them off after that though, and the Fort’s armor melted pretty quickly under our fire.

Not least thanks to our Leshaks’ insane DPS

Sunday was a rather uneventful day with us bringing some latecomers and ammo replenishments in and continuing to uphold our control over the system.

Attendance for the final timer on Monday was ok, although we were a bit shorter on logi pilots than before. It didn’t really matter because the defenders didn’t show again. The Fortizar went boom and that was that.


Unlike citadels in k-spcace those anchored in a wormhole don’t have the luxury of asset safety, so everything that hadn’t been snuck out dropped for us to pick up. There wasn’t much of worth, but at least the Fort’s salvage netted us a nice sum.

On Tuesday we got everything and everyone out, back to highsec.

Quite an anti-climax after all that build-up, wasn’t it? Sorry about that. Not quite what we had imagined for sure. But, as I said, it was still pretty exciting. This wormhole stuff is so different, it’s hardly the same game.

Lakisa and I are definitely looking forward to our next deployment.

Blapril 2020 post count: 3

Well begun is half done?


Preparations for a normal fleetfight in EVE Online’s nullsec-space are usually very simple. Log in, join fleet, read MOTD, hop into your doctrine ship of choice and wait for further instructions. If you don’t have one for whatever reason, chances are the contract market is well stocked with fully fitted ships and you just need to buy one.

The ramp-up for our new SIG‘s first deployment looked quite different. While nullsec alliances are used to tackle every problem by throwing more bodies at it, wormholers, out of necessity, very much operate under a ‘quality over quantity’ mantra. Since we weren’t planning to bring the whole alliance – where would have been the fun in that? – we knew we’d have to bring our A-game to stand a chance.

The first huge distinction awaited us before we even knew which ships we’d be going to pilot: implants. Capsuleers have a wide variety of cybernetic augments to choose from. The catch is that, once plugged in, they can’t be removed anymore from that particular clone, and if your pod is destroyed while using that clone, so are all implants.

Since the target system applies a hefty bonus to armor hitpoints to all ships in it the decision was made that every combat pilot needed to have a full set of at least mid-grade Amulet implants, which give another considerable boost to a ship’s armor HP.


Believe it or not, we actually managed to dry up Jita’s supply of mid-grades and had to substitute with high- or low grade. That’s just shy of two billion ISK worth of implants I have in my head there. It’s a pretty weird feeling to undock knowing how expensive that pod is, let me tell you.

At least that last implant wasn’t new to me, as I was chosen to fulfill a role I’ve been in a lot during our time in Holy Cookie: fleet booster. Our ship of choice for the armor- and information-boosts was the Damnation.

Is it a bird? If so it really needs to change its diet…

I won’t go too much into detail about the rest of our fleet’s composition for obvious reasons. Let’s just say the ship fittings had to match the implants’ quality. Where the Tech II variant of many modules almost always suffices for a nullsec fleet, we used at least faction mods, with some deadspace items thrown in there too. Man, that shit is expensive.

Once we were all set the train left Jita, headed towards the first of a route of wormholes that led into the target system at that point in time. I’m still really bad and slow at probing for wormhole routes, hence I hadn’t volunteered to do that kind of stuff on our first deployment. Of course some folks are very good at it already, and those heroes had spent a good chunk of the afternoon to map out that route.

Another thing to consider was how we were going to operate while in the hostile system. There are no neutral stations in w-space, and the normal practice to let a freighter or jump freighter haul construction kits for a citadel or two wasn’t going to work. Enter deep space transports.

How did that tower fit in there? Err…space magic!

Those things are specifically designed to haul cargo through hostile space, and they are small and fast enough to take the route of wormholes along with our fleet. A couple of those were enough to carry materials for a good old POS and an Astrahus class citadel into the target system. The POS was to serve as our base of operations during the 24 hours it takes for an Astra to anchor.

Our temporary shelter in an otherwise hostile environment

Once the citadel was placed and the POS finished anchoring we were finally set for action. Up to this point the operation had already been much more exciting than what we normally do, and we all couldn’t wait for the next phase of our plan to begin.

Blapril 2020 post count: 2

Breaking new grounds in EVE Online


Reading Wilhelm’s tales about the various special interest groups (SIGs) he’s been in over the years as a member of The Imperium has always made me feel a little bit envious.

Instead of always doing stuff at alliance- or even coalition-level those groups are a bit more specialized, which, I imagined, can give their members a somewhat greater sense of purpose. They are also smaller, naturally, so people get to know each other better and possibly become more of a close-knit group and thus a more efficient fighting force.

Of course you can’t really compare Goons to NCDot – or any other alliance for that matter – but I always thought it would be cool if we had that kind of thing too.

Now, we do have regular activities on corp-level in Blank Space. Those are mostly done in cooperation with some out-of-alliance entities though, which unfortunately makes them feel even more anonymous to me than basic alliance stuff.

Lo and behold, as if someone had read my mind, about two weeks ago the founding of a SIG was announced, open to all NCDot-members. Conceived and led by Killah Bee the idea is to give interested pilots access to an exciting and, for many of us, new type of content: fighting over wormhole-space (w-space).

A wormhole daring us to jump into the unknown

Wormholes have been a part of New Eden for many years now, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of players has only ever utilized them as a faster means of travel, if that.

The thing is, if low- and nullsec are EVE’s wild west, w-space is basically hell’s precipice.

Systems in w-space are not accessible by normal means of travel, namely via stargates or jump drives. They can only be entered or left through a wormhole – hence the name. Inconveniently those things aren’t always at the same place though, and they don’t always lead to the same destination either. After a certain total mass of ships has gone through in either direction a wormhole collapses, and even if left alone they vanish after a certain amount of time.

Wormholes also don’t show up on your overview unless you’re already on grid with them, so if you don’t have one bookmarked you have to use scan probes to find it. No probe launcher equipped? Well, good luck getting back to known space (k-space) again.

Yes, you can actually get stuck in w-space. If you can’t get out by yourself and don’t have help you might be forced to self-destruct. It’s an option that always remains, but depending on your ship’s and pod’s value that might hurt quite a lot.

On the other hand, if there’s a fight going on in there and someone else destroys your pod you’ll wake up in k-space too and might not be able to get back in to help your mates.

It’s a complicated matter to say the least. As usual EVE Uni has an extensive guide if you’d like to know more.


Due to all this life in w-space is a wholly different beast than anywhere else in New Eden. Nullsec-residents like us and ‘wormholers’ have pretty much nothing in common, which is what our new SIG is all about: getting fights on a smaller scale while using completely different ships, fittings and tactics than those we’re all so very used to.

This past weekend we had our first deployment. A 100-odd strong corporation living in a C4 w-system was chosen as our target, and our goal was to evict them from that system and loot all their stuff. Such is life in New Eden, no?

Our main object of desire, not yet knowing what was to come

Stay tuned for debriefing.

Blapril 2020 post count: 1