NBI Aftermath

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Is October over already?! Unbelievable.

NBI 2013 has reached its end, and as the dust clears I can look around and see more than a few new friends. A “we survived” shoutout to some of my fellow NBI rookies:

I actually think I drew more motivation to blog just knowing there were others out there in the same boat than from any of the official NBI posts or sponsor tips. When you can follow along and encourage each other it really enhances the sense of community and helps build momentum!

It was also really nice to hear from some of the NBI sponsors reading, and those new connections mean a lot to me. I’ve really enjoyed talking to Ocho, TenTentacles and other about The Secret World, and hearing from more like Syp and Liore (and more, sorry I can’t remember them all!) who’ve featured links to me and other NBI bloggers. Many of the sponsors I’ve already been following, and it’s awesome to see so much engagement from them and join their ranks.

My goals for the moment are just to keep blogging! I’d like to branch out and talk about more games besides TSW (I have LOTRO and Fallen Earth in my sights), and instead of summarizing my gameplay and current events I think if I spend some more time thinking critically about MMO systems and mechanics it’ll help me grow. Definitely looking forward to producing more videos and getting into some livestreaming, too! The only difficulty I see in the near future is that November is National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll be pretty busy writing for the next 30 days. Just have to make sure I can stay balanced!

The end of October might mark the end of NBI, but it feels like the beginning of a whole lot more.

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Nvidia Shadowplay Impressions

Nvidia rolled out the Shadowplay technology in beta for GTX 600 & 700 series cards yesterday, and I was excited to jump in and try it out.

The two main draws of Shadowplay are that it uses an H.264 encoder already built into your video card, so you see much less of a hit to performance than with software like FRAPS, and it also dumps footage to a compact mp4 file. It’s set up to capture at 1920 x 1080 and at 60fps, and you can use either manual mode, where you can toggle recording on and off, or use the shadow option, recording up to the last 10 minutes of gameplay at all times with the option to save it. It’s still in beta so there aren’t a wealth of options, but the skeleton is there and it’s sturdy.

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For a test, I used Shadowplay to capture The Cat God NM fight you can find at the top of this post. I activated it in manual mode, because I like having control over where the raw footage starts and stops so I don’t have a bunch of extra at the end. So you can tell when it’s running, Shadowplay drops a small, unobtrusive icon in the corner of your screen (you choose which).

I was expecting to notice at least a little drop in performance, but there was nothing! Just a slight hitch when I started recording. I’ve only tested it with The Secret World and the new Batman game, Arkham Origins, but so far it definitely seems to affect performance less than FRAPS. It’s nice to be able to capture without dropping my settings first!

After the fight, it was time to check the results. The file size was pretty small, coming in at just over 1gb for about 5 minutes of gameplay. Hard drive space isn’t much of an issue for me, but with smaller file sizes I’ll be able to save more raw footage. As for quality, it looks pretty good to me. There was a little weird stuttering, and I think that might be a side effect of recording at 60fps, but it went away after I ran it through Vegas and rendered at 30fps. I think FRAPS probably records higher quality, but it’s not enough of a difference for me. Audio was fine, I didn’t really notice a difference. The final render looks a little washed out to me at times, but I think that’s due to Youtube’s upload process and maybe also some color correction I used in Vegas.

My initial impressions of Shadowplay are very favorable overall, and the thing to remember is that it’s still in beta. Hopefully they’ll be working out the kinks and adding more options in the future, and Nvidia’s already said their intention is to add Twitch integration. I’m looking forward to playing around it more, and messing with the settings to figure out the best quality for Youtube. I tried a little something different with publishing this video, too. I got rid of the intro screen, so the video gets right into it, and I placed a small watermark over the whole thing instead. I might add the final screen back in just to have my blog address on there somewhere. What do you guys think?

Is That a Pumpkin On Your Head, or…

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Halloween might not officially start until Thursday, but the spooky season kicked off  in The Secret World last Friday! I wasn’t around for any of the Cat God content last year, so it’s been awesome to be able to go through that chain, as well as the new stuff.

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The Cat God quests have a cool storyline and excellent climax, and even though it doesn’t take very long to plow through the content I was happy with the rewards. I had been wondering where people got the filthy little cat that jumps through black holes, and the Samedi clothes are a few neat pieces to have lying around the closet. I think the NM version of the Cat God dungeon is new this year, and I still have to run that to try and get another cat for my collection. I’ve heard he drops 10.1 weapons too, but I don’t know if the skins are unique to the event or if you can get them anywhere else in game. I’ll try to get a few regardless!

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I don’t know all the specifics for this, but the Cat God shows up as a random spawn called Incognito at different points throughout Kingsmouth too. I saw a bunch of people talking about it in general chat, but didn’t really understand the specifics. I feel a little bad because a lot of people were running around searching for him and I just ran into him on accident while I was working on the new League of Monster Slayers stories! I think he just runs away once you know enough of his health down, but he dropped a sack with some nifty new headgear before he got away.

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I think this pumpkin head is one of the ones introduced last year, because it awarded me a 2012 Samhain achievement, and I don’t think the new ones from Jack have a glow. I like this one better! I have one 2012 achievement left, the one to get a bloody pumpkin head, but I’ve seen a lot of talk in the forums about how it’s unavailable this year. That kind of sucks, but I’m not enough of a completionist to worry about it too much. And maybe they’ll change their minds and add it back in. I’m also wearing a new torso piece from the event in that picture, the post abdominal surgery dressing. Very outpatient chic!

Aside from Cat God 2012 content, Funcom added in a really cool series of short, scary story style missions. In-game, the missions take you through short stories written by a handful of KM’s residents, prompted by Danny of the League of Monster Slayers. The missions are all pretty short and straightforward, but they go along way to add even more spooky flavor to the New England zones, and the text-content is pretty substantial. I haven’t read through all of them yet, but at the end of the meta-quest you get a book item that includes the whole collection! Very cool to have a lasting souvenir like that.

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One of the missions for the League is a group quest to kill Jack. It requires five people collecting jack-o-lanterns and lighting them in a certain pattern to summon him, and once you’ve completed you earn a carved pumpkin in addition to other rewards. There are five different reward pumpkins with different expressions: sinister, stretched, happy, evil, and round. Apparently, if you summon him again with those five pumpkins in the right arrangement, you get SUPER JACK, an amped-up version of him with the same abilities and 12 million health. I was lucky enough to stumble on a group killing him the other morning. It’s similar to the Guardian fights where you get a quest credit that pops up once he’s down if you contribute, and he rewards a purple bag. I didn’t get anything good out of mine, but I’ll be watching in-game chat to see if I can get him again!

I’ve had a lot of fun with TSW’s Halloween content so far, and it’s been a good break from running filth missions. I still have to run the Cat God NM mission, maybe a few times, and I’m thinking about farming bags of tricks and treats to try for a few other cosmetic items. If you’re looking for a detailed guide to the event, the Halloween FAQ on the official forums is an awesome resource, and Sephora’s Closet has a roundup of cosmetic items. The Halloween content lasts through November 8, so you still have plenty of time to get in there and earn some fun treats!

FF14: Cinema Showcase

One of my favorite features of FF14 is the beautiful world it gives you to explore, and many of the cinema scenes take advantage of that. A few nights ago I made it to GLD 30 and took some screenshots from cinema scenes in the story quest.

SPOILERS for the level 30 gladiator quest follow.

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First I rescue Aldis from his execution at Highbridge.

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The gladiator guild master, Mylla, shows up in the nick of time to throw him his sword.

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Turns out Aldis was framed by Leavold, his old partner in the Coliseum.

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His lackeys show up…

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…and Mylla and I lead the charge against them!

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After the lackeys are down, we watch Aldis and Leavold battle at Highbridge’s edge…

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…and Aldis emerges victorious!

It was a pretty exciting story mission, and felt like a good milestone marker for the class. I had to fight my way up the walkways of Highbridge to join Mylla in battle, where she held down a mob of attackers and I focused on taking out healers and mages before they could gang up on her. Good times! Now that I’ve hit GLD 30 I need to get conjurist to 15 so I can unlock the Paladin job. I’m glad I only have to level it to fifteen…

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…because I don’t think my bulky Roegadyn looks quite as natural in robes!

MEGADIRGE in the Multiverse

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It’s time to branch out! WordPress doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I’ve started MEGADIRGE accounts to help connect with more NBI bloggers and the world-at-large:

  • Follow me on Twitter to get notifications for new posts, chat with me, and get links to other weird stuff I find.
  • Check out my channel on Youtube for random videos, working toward walkthroughs and guides.
  • Watch my Twitch stream to see how bad I am at games! I’ll post info for when I’m streaming here and on Twitter when I have it nailed down.
  • Stalk me on Steam to see some of the games I’m playing, and add me as a friend if you want to play together sometime.

If you look to your right you should see a few colorful little boxes with links to all these accounts too.

I’ve screwed around with gaming videos before but never really grasped the finer arts of optimization for Youtube. But over the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of video editing at work, and the other night I experimented with FRAPS while running the event portal in TSW and thought to myself, “You know, I’m pretty sure I actually have a handle on this stuff now.” Initial experiments have been a success! It took a little doing—I’m using Sony Vegas at home but I’ve been editing with different software at work—but I’m pretty sure I have all the settings down. The file size of raw footage is a little daunting, like in the range of 1GB for just less than a minute of video, but that just means I can finally use one of my two secondary internal HDDs for something productive.

Also, I’m thrilled to read about Nvidia Shadowplay, coming October 28. Looks like I upgraded my video card just in time! This’ll work as a built in recorder like FRAPS for more recent video cards, and unless I’m reading it wrong it’ll require less processing power, meaning less of a hit to game performance. And it’ll have a feature similar to what they’ve been crowing about for the new consoles: buffering the last 20 minutes of play in the background so you can look back and grab footage if something cool happens. I have high hopes for this and I’m really looking forward to trying it out.

I also got a Twitch channel set up and got some free streaming software running, in the form of Open Broadcaster Software. Pretty straightforward. I’m less comfortable with the thought of live streaming, and I don’t have a webcam yet so I won’t be doing any of that picture-in-picture face stuff, but it’s something I’d like to try. I think it’ll help if I have a clear purpose for each broadcast instead of just streaming random gameplay. A schedule’s not a bad idea, and I’ll try to get one set up and post it on here.

I don’t have a ton of content on any of these accounts yet, but it feels good to get started. Also, I’ve tried to follow more bloggers on Twitter, but I know there’s more out there I’m missing! Comment with your info so I can find you (or just follow me so I can follow you back). Check it out and let me know what you think! Very open to feedback and any tips on video/audio quality and stuff too. Do you have requests for video features you’d like to see?

TSW: Enter the Filth 2 Playthrough & Lore Locations


We’ve hit the next stage of The Whispering Tide and I have mixed feelings.

For me, I definitely like the mission in this stage a lot better than the last. As a tank it’s been very easy to find a group, and because the cooldowns from the missions are separate I can earn 5 fragments in about 20 minutes, and then be ready to run both missions again after a short wait. At the rate the tentacles are going down, I think these missions will be available for a good length of time too, so I’m not as worried about being able to earn enough fragments as I was.

On the other hand, I think it’s probably a lot more difficult for DPSers and people who haven’t beaten the Gatekeeper. It’s harder to find parties as DPS, and if you haven’t unlocked Nightmares you only have the one version of the dungeon available. A lot of groups just run the normal and then the Nightmare one right after the other, and they’re looking for players who can run both so they don’t have to spend time finding a replacement after the normal.

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The developers have said this event is targeted at players who have been running endgame content, but this is the first time I think that’s really sunk in for me. The first Enter the Filth mission wasn’t too difficult to solo with a decent build and a mix of Q10 greens and blues. But at this stage, players who can run the Nightmare dungeon have a pronounced advantage for earning currency. Longtime players with a stockpile of resources already had a huge boost for earning slivers, and now it’s the same for fragments too.

It’s fair to reward loyal, active players, but it kind of sucks for newer people. This isn’t like a seasonal event where the same rewards might be available next year – this is a one-time thing.

Tough to nail down how I feel about this one! But thankfully the Halloween event should be available soon, and I’m really excited to see that for the first time. No mixed feelings there!

TSW: Killing Machine Achieved!

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Akir the Sun Guardian, my last victim! After camping Kiya the Pharaoh’s Concubine for the last two days, she finally popped. Akir was the last rare spawn on my list, so I headed north into the canyons at the edge of the zone, figuring I would just park myself at his spawn point and try to catch him a few times in the morning. But he was already there when I showed up! Very satisfying to hit two of them right in a row like that.

The rewards for my hunting prowess are a title, One for the Ages, and this sweet jacket:

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KILLING MACHINE, indeed.

Unfortunately, my equipped weapons cover up the sweet design on the back of the jacket! Stupid flamethrower and chaos focus.

It’s kind of nice that my hunt for rares is finished just as the next phase of The Whispering Tide is beginning. From this post on the forums, it looks like we’re facing a similar mission to the last fragment one, only this time with two different versions for groups: normal and Nightmare, rewarding 2 and 3 fragments respectively. And they’re on different cooldowns, so that’s 5 fragments every half hour. I won’t be able to try it ’til later today, but it SOUNDS like it just got a lot easier to earn fragments, as long as the mission doesn’t take too long. Hopefully the next phase will make it easier to earn more slivers too. I’m sitting at 1900 slivers and 50~ fragments, and I’m a little worried I still might have to choose between the pet and outfit stuff at the end of the event. We’ll see what happens!

I’ll probably be running the event mission a lot, so look me up if you’re online and want to join me! In-game name is Biezel.