6 February, 2012
I've not been feeling too well lately. My better half came home with some sort of plague that made her lose her voice and become bedridden. I've mostly been worn out, not sure if it's from me taking care of her or some form of her plague trying to drag me down. Either way, I've been trying to get some extra rest in.
I've managed to play some MMOs, though. And, I've realized something: I'm pretty good at playing MMOs.
Less dying in LotRO
Over at Kill Ten Rats, Zubon writes about missing some achievements, using the example of LotRO's "The Undying" deed as an example. It's an interesting discussion, and one I won't re-hash here. As I said in the comments, though, I might have more sympathy for this point of view if I hadn't gotten the achievement on six of my seven initial characters. The one that "got away" was when a friend asked me to help and he got us in over our heads. But, it's interesting to think that some people had a incredibly hard time doing this, with an example of someone "only playing safe quests" in Zubon's article, when I was able to do it on most of my characters without any special preparations.
Elite bug endurance in DDO
In my regular DDO group, four of us plus two hirelings usually, we are tackling quests on Elite. So far we've done nearly every non-raid quest on Elite difficulty up through level 16. There have been a few exceptions (The Crucible and In the Flesh being the two exceptions so far), but for the most part we've been fairly resilient. Our group is currently level 20 (maximum level) with pretty middling gear; nothing too impressive currently, though.
The other night we were doing a really rough quest: Running with the Devils. This is part of the Vale of Twilight series and is a rather unusual quest in many ways. The enemies you fight are good-aligned, meaning a lot of gear and abilities you have might not work. My "Pure Good" weapons that do extra damage to non-good enemies were rendered less useful. As a ranger, I took "evil outsider" as a favored enemy, and these enemies are not evil. The Paladin in the group wasn't getting her new capstone abilities. The Wizard/Rogue who has the Pale Master prestige enhancement couldn't use her potent undead forms since the enemies do double damage with their light spells.
We tried the quest on a previous night and wiped. We tried two more times in our last session and finally on our last attempt we made it through. We changed our strategy, such as me finding a Greater Chaotic Outsider Bane weapon I could use on the AH for a reasonable price. We stretched ourselves to the breaking point, learning the layout after our previous wipes and finally managed to get to the end. Now, I will admit that we used some of the cash shop options (buying a cash shop resurrection cake after a wipe instead of having people run back through the wilderness area to get to the quest), but it still took some cleverness to get to that point. On top of this, one of the mini-bosses was bugged for part of it, a djinn that was invincible and tossing us around for the first half of the quest. When we got to the place where he normally spawns, we were able to take him down. But, we endured a lot more damage than needed. It was a quest where we had to use normal MMO tactics like pulling enemies, using line of sight, etc. I felt it was a tremendous victory.
I'm beastly in EQ2
In EQ2 I've been raiding with that restrictive guild a bit. On Saturday someone was running a program to parse the damage logs as we did a small raid. The results? My DPS for one zone was top at 216. The next highest was 169. Not bad for someone who hasn't quite spent an obsessive amount of time playing. (The flipside is that I took 2 deaths because I pulled aggro from the tank, whereas nobody else took even a single death....)
Okay, it's probably not 100% due to my awesomeness. This is a relatively new guild with people who haven't played low level characters much, so some people are probably warming up to their roles. Part of this I'd also attribute to what I'll call the "Death Knight syndrome". See, my character is a Beastlord, the newest class added to EQ2 and available in the latest expansion. Just like the Death Knights from WoW's Wrath of the Lich King expansion, there's some pressure to make them more potent in order to get people to want to buy the expansion. With Beastlords coming at a time when not many people are running low-level content, the design goal was probably to have them feel super-powerful at lower levels to blast through content fast to get to the "real game".
Also, the class mechanics are based a bit on random events, so it's also entirely possible I've gotten really lucky. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. :)
Not artificial in DDO
My final story of how awesome I am comes from DDO again. A recent sale had me buying the Artificer class (another newly introduced class you have to pay for that seems rather powerful). With most of my alts, I like to roll a character on a new server to take advantage of per-server bonus favor microcurrency awards. So, I rolled a new Artificer on a new server. Note that Artificers are pretty BS. They get access to the most powerful ranged weapons in the game. They have a durable pet. They can self-heal themselves in many situations (and, yes, my character is a Warforged so I can self-heal). They also get a special rune-arm weapon that gives them even more power. Definitely over the top.
So, I'm joining pick-up groups (PUGs) to do quests on elite. One PUG I got into is one of those that supports the horror stories of PUGs. At level 5, the group decided to go do a rather notoriously hard low-level quest on Elite difficulty: Irestone Inlet. This quest is brutal because it has wandering stealthed enemies in an open area, so it's easy to stumble across a nasty group of fighter and casters. It also has ogre enemies, which hit low-level characters brutally hard. A group has to stick together and fight cautiously to avoid overpulling or you will wipe for sure. This group? Well, let's just say that someone did say, "Leeeeroy Jenkins!" in party chat. I'm not sure they realized that's not a good thing to emulate. Add to this that the party healer was a hireling instead of a player.
It comes down to a few of the party members wiping to enemies but running to a local rez shrine to get back into combat quick. There was literally 20 party deaths in the quest summary at the end; none were mine. At one point all the rest of the party members had gotten killed a bit too far from the rez shrine. I was going to have to get their soul stones and drag them back a bit. But, first, I had to kill the enemies. Using my repeating heavy crossbow I kept the enemies at bay. I dodged around the incoming spells from the casters and clerics. But, I messed up: my shots hit an enemy from the next group away, pulling a whole new group. I was able to send my pet in and whittle them down. Not fast enough for the rest of the party, though, as the person with the cleric hireling disconnected, and then the other 3 people in the group left the party. Leaving me alone in a brutally tough quest only half-finished.
Know what, though? I finished the damn thing without dying. My better half asked me if I got any bonus xp awards from it; sadly, no, since the reward is based on the highest level character that had ever entered the quest. But, I got an even better reward: the smug satisfaction of knowing I wasn't the dead weight of the group.
In all honesty...
Okay, for every story like this there are tons of stories of me noobing it up. Since I'm an MMO developer I like to think I have a more analytical mind than the average player. (Maybe not quite as analytical as the brightest developer minds, but not bad.) But, I think in the last two situations my advantage was picking the super-powered shiny new class.
What do you think? Do you feel that you're a cut above the average MMO player? Do you find you accomplish things that others seem to find impossible? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why do you think lets others achieve more in MMOs?