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Altageddon: WildStar

As the Steam Summer Sale trundles on, my acquisitions to my game library have thus far been old wish list items that have finally fell to at least 75% off:
Best. Thumbnail. Ever.
  • Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 - WTF, Naruto?   What am I, 14?  Suffice to say, I've seen the tweens at work play this game and I was rather impressed with the overwhelming level of detail they put into realizing this franchise in a video game, so it's been on my wish list for awhile.  The only downside is I'd probably need to watch about 150 episodes on Crunchyroll in order to avoid anything in this elaborate fighter from being a spoiler.
  • Unepic - A pretty cool indy-developed Metroidvania game about a tabletop roleplaying geek who finds himself suddenly whisked away from a friend's bathroom into the bowels of an fantasy land dungeon, and just rolls with it because it's like he's been training for it his whole life.
  • Skullgirls - A 2D fighter game with elaborate cartoon graphics involving supernaturally gifted anime girls beating the cellulose out of each other.  It's worth more than the pittance I paid for it due to the artistic talent that went into it alone.
  • BattleBlock Theater - An over-the-top loony platforming game from the makers of the over-the-top loony beatemup Castle Crashers.  I am somewhat surprised to see this game slashed down to 70% off considering it was just released on the PC last month, but I guess it was released on the XBox Live Arcade back in April so the developer might feel they made enough on this game.
  • Farming Sim 2013: TITANIUM - I probably need a game about using realistic farming equipment like I need a lobotomy.  However, extended play of this game can be just as soothing as a lobotomy if you're a boring adult like myself, so hey, I jumped at the chance to get it on the cheap.
  • Saints Row Ultimate Franchise Pack - I already owned Saints Row 3, but didn't own Saints Row 2 or 4, and this handy dandy $20 discounted purchase pretty much netted me all of those games and most of the DLC for them.  In addition to the Saints Row franchise being a fantastically fun romp that simultaneously lampoons and makes the best out of the open world genre, I also have a lot of respect for Volition, maker of the two best space combat games ever that have successfully defended that title for about 15 years now.
  • Risk Of Rain - Perhaps the best game GameMaker ever turned out, it's a 2D sidescrolling roguelike that steadily ramps up the difficulty the longer the game lasts, so it's a constant adrenalin-fueled counterbalance of grinding for greater power versus the threat of progressively nastier foes.  What excuse do I have for blaming the GameMaker platformer for my lack of progress in making something cool, really?
  • The LEGO Movie Videogame - I'm a geek, so I really enjoyed The LEGO Movie thanks largely to it being a rollercoaster of hipster humor.  The game based off the movie was, quite fortunately, put into the lap of already-experienced LEGO game developers TT Games, who have a penchant for treating their source material well.  This is actually one of the more lackluster of Traveler Tales' games, but it's a quasi-open world game where you can control Princess Unikitty, so I'm totally in.
  • The Blackwell Bundle - A mere $2 for a series of five critically-acclaimed point-and-click adventures about a deceased private eye working with a young spirit medium to solve mysteries while dealing with the supernatural.  Way better than a certain recently-released AAA game with a similar premise.
Sadly, I can't say I received anything off the top ten of my wish list, partly because I missed my window on Banished due to work taking place during precisely the worst hours.  Ah well, I hear the one man developer for that game is largely over his head anyway, releasing updates that introduce as many problems as they solve, and at a glacial pace.  Banished made a pretty big splash, the dude should hire somebody out of the Unity community who knows what they're doing.
It's hard to say if I'll be buying anything else before the 2014 Steam Sale is over, as most of what they've been offering are things I either have no interest in or already own.  It's also hard to say if I'll actually make time to play anything I've bought so far, which means I'm breaking the first cardinal rule I set out in my last entry.  But, when most of the games I'm buying are cheaper than a McDonalds meal, it's hard to complain.

Of course, WildStar has been dominating my free time.

As of the last entry, I wanted to know how the Stalker compared on my list of classes ranked from most to least interesting for me.  I experimented with several Stalkers during several evenings after work, and eventually reached the conclusion that there's a surprising similarity between how Stalkers and Spellslingers play.
  • Both classes' unique power pools start full but drain rapidly on use, and it can only regenerate naturally at a moderate speed in or out of combat.
  • Both classes have a core spacer attack ability made up of three consecutive attacks, lending to the overall feeling that they are very fast-spaced combatants.
  • Both classes tend to start the fight with the enemy half-dead, the Spellslinger because they wore them down during approach, the Stalker because they unleash a battery of nasty attacks at the start of the fight.   
  • Both classes have powerful front-loaded abilities capable of wiping out weak minion-level mobs quickly, which produces a very brisk pace to most player versus environment advancement.
  • Both classes have exceptional freedom of movement, albeit the Spellslinger gets theirs from teleportation abilities while the Stalker gets theirs from stealth.
Apparently separated at birth, the main difference between these two classes was that the Spellslinger is a bit of a glass cannon who delivers his attacks at a long range down a narrow line of attack, while the Stalker embraces the element of surprise to ambush targets at melee range.  Also their potential non-damage-oriented group roles: the Spellslinger can heal, the Stalker can tank.
I decided the Stalker and the Spellslinger are my least favorite of the WildStar classes because they're both too twitchy.   Playing these classes well requires hammering out a lot of attacks in a hurry.   I'm a thinking man gamer, I favor slower moves of greater significance.  Maybe I'm just getting old?

So a complete list of my most-to-least-interesting-for-me classes goes something like this:
  1. Esper - What could be more tactically interesting than the swiss army knife mage?
  2. Warrior - A combination of melee range limitation, has the only worthwhile repositioner ability (grapple),  and ponderous attacks mean thoughtful pacing.
  3. Engineer - The persistent pets add a new dimension to what's otherwise a pretty average play experience.
  4. Medic - Also straightforward, but having to chase down the targets of your heals is more interesting than not.
  5. Stalker - Executing a chain of nasty spike damage requires some premeditation, but it's pretty twitchy after that.
  6. Spellslinger - PEWPEWPEW; twitch incarnate.  Granted, this is an action MMORPG, so any class has some level of twitch.
Of course, this list reflects what is interesting for me,  your opinion will likely vary, as a great deal of personal preference goes into this.  Heck, I might even change my mind later as I learn new things about WildStar.

I now had a pretty good idea where I would be allocating all six classes.
  • I would be playing an Esper and Warrior on the Dominion side because I am under the current belief that this is the healer and the tank classes that whose gameplay I enjoy the most.  
  • However, I would also have a Medic and Engineer on the Exile side as secondary choices in case I was in the mood for something different... you don't get much more different than playing the opposite side of the game!  
  • Of the remaining classes, I allocated the Stalker to the Dominion because they're underhanded, and this left the Spellslinger for the Exiles.  
  • Then I changed my mind because I decided Chua look better in Spellslinger Endgame Gear, I would make my Mechari the Stalker and send the Warrior over to the Exile side.  Fine, all six classes allocated.  Done.
  • An important part of this plan is that I would be distributing the Settler, Scientist, and Explorer roles between the 3 classes on each faction.  The reason being that I wanted to be able to enjoy the unique content each path has to offer... it takes the edge off having alts a bit.
  • I also have a tertiary goal of having a different race for each classes.  Honestly, it's not that important, but it does feel better.
This plan necessitated deleting most of my characters.  The only ones that survived were my level 17 Cassain Esper and level 6 Mordesh Medic.  At least I've been selling everything my alts own and sending money my Esper's way, which actually instills me with a much-needed sense of progress: at least my efforts weren't completely wasted.
No quarter given.

Most of that went down Saturday night, and I figured it would be alright as long as I did no more rerolling.  I would be doing no more rerolling, right?  Right?! Wrong.  Sunday night, I still had not reached the conclusion I had about Stalkers that was mentioned earlier this entry, so I was mostly playing the Mechari Stalker I just created.  By Monday afternoon, I had reached that conclusion.  I was now ready to commit to the Warrior as being my main Dominion tank, which meant my Mechari Stalker was being rerolled as a Warrior.

Monday night, I played a bit of my surviving Esper, taking him to level 18, my current highest level.  Pathetic considering you can get that in a couple days, I know, but such is altaholicism.  I arrived at the conclusion that I'm totally okay with having an Esper as my main Dominion healer.  However, I still wanted to experiment with tanks a bit, which meant it was time to advance my Warrior.

By around noon on Tuesday, my Mechari Warrior Scientist was once again up to level 10.  I say "once again" because I've probably advanced that exact race/class/path combination to level 10 or beyond at least four times in the past 3 weeks.  Come 3pm, tragedy struck: I realized that the Stalker/Scientist combination had too good for synergy to pass up!
  • The Scientist Holographic Distraction ability can enable the Stalker to get some otherwise inaccessible backstabs.
  • The Scientist Summon Group ability works out even better when you can sneak the summoner into a hostile area thanks to the Stalker's cloaking capability.  
Spreading out my paths across my alts meant that the Warrior had to be rerolled for the Stalker to get the Scientist path.  If this was not powerful reason enough, this change would mean my Warrior would now be on the Explorer path, and I rather wanted that Explorer trailblazing speed buff on one of my mains.
What's the big deal about the trailblazing buff anywa-holy crap!

So I deleted my Mechari Warrior for what must be the 5th or 6th time now.  My Esper main is currently holding 45 gold that I mailed him from various alts I've liquidated, none of them reached level 20, and I bet the biggest share came from the various Mechari Warriors who have perished beneath my impatience.   My supposedly permanent new Warrior is now an explorer, and he managed level 12 by Tuesday night.

God help me, I came up with a reason for one more major change.  I like the Stalker concept as a Cassain the most, Warriors and Stalkers can't be Chuas, and I want a Chua.  This leaves only one choice... my Cassain Esper - my only character established before all of this - would be rerolled as a Chua.  Yes, I actually found an excuse to throw away all my progress.

Still, it's looking like I've finally decided on a permanent character setup:
  • Dominion Chua Esper Settler Technologist Relic Hunter
  • Dominion Mechari Warrior Explorer Armorer Miner
  • Dominion Cassain Stalker Scientist Outfitter Survivalist
  • Exile Mordesh Medic Scientist, trade skills undermined (probably Outfitter Survivalist). 
  • Exile Human Engineer Settler, trade skills undetermined (probably Armorer Miner).
  • Exile Spellslinger Explorer, race and trade skills undetermined (probably Technologist Relic Hunter).
Note that the Exile choices aren't real important because the goal is to try to stick to 2 main choices, I pretty much just fall down the list as my fickleness dictates, and I don't delete anything else so I can only increase levels.  Ideally, I would not even bother with anything below the Warrior, but who knows what the future may hold?  If I've proven anything, it's that I certainly don't.  Impulsiveness, thy name is mine.

Fortunately, it's not a complete waste (at least in the context of playing WildStar).   The alts can actually contribute to each other's endeavors, as between the Relic Hunter, Miner, and Survivalist I will have all three kinds of resource generation secure.  If I don't want to bother, there's always the commodity market, but the option is there.  You can even visit the housing plots belonging to your alts, which is nice because they can have resource nodes and other benefits built in.  Yes, I'm aware that I can't do this between characters on opposite factions but, compared to the average player, I've probably way more self-sufficiency than I need with 3 characters per faction anyway.

There's the master plan.  Will I stick to it?  Well, my track record has not exactly been stellar, has it?
On a final note, I got around to adding an authenticator to my account because the number of teleport node hackers is nothing short of astounding.

Nearly every one of them bears the earmarks of legitimate characters, and it could be that some of what I'm seeing are weak-willed weenies who are hacking an advantage just because they can.  However, I suspect the greater bulk of them have been hijacked by real money traders because many players have not changed their passwords since one of the many NCSoft database leaks, there may be millions of compromised accounts, and the gold farmers are having a field day with it.

There's also a possibility that there is an ongoing existing leak, and thus the authenticator is quite necessary even though I've changed my password every time I've heard about a leak.  No security measure is perfect, but I will at least sleep a little more comfortably tonight knowing my NCSoft account is that much harder to wrest from my grasp.
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