I Leveled Up, Cupcake!

Ding!

Ding!

This weekend I managed to ding level 50! After leveling up, however, I went right back to doing exactly what I had been doing all along. That meant questing, exploring, freaking out when the ore I was mining turned into a giant monster and tried to eat me, you know, the normal stuff.

One of the benefits of WildStar being a new game is that there’s no huge pool of people waiting on me to catch up for raiding purposes. I am a raider at heart, and I can’t wait to see what this game brings in its hardcore elder game content, but the truth is I will have to wait. Most of my guild is taking their time and enjoying the leveling process, so there’s only a handful of people at 50 as of today. This is awesome, because it means leveling is fun enough that people don’t want to skip past it.

So what were my favorite parts about leveling to 50 in WildStar for the first time? Here’s a list:

5 – Open world group quests. Every zone had a few bounty board or other 2+ or 5+ quests. Currently, at least, there’s enough people leveling that getting a group never took more than asking in zone chat once or twice. The more complex 5+ ones had a nostalgic feel but with modern design. By that I mean multiple quests had objectives that could be done simultaneously, and that when one person in my group collected a dog tag and I got credit I almost cried tears of joy.

4 – Wilderun. This zone is beautiful, and the lore was incredibly interesting to me. I enjoyed the 3-dimensionality of it also, with questgivers up in the trees and such. Also like many of the zones, there’s a good variety of sub-zones that break it up so it isn’t just “5 levels of non-stop jungle.”

3 – Marshal Yatish. Maybe you’ve met the fan club, maybe you’ve spent time with the Marshal in person. He’s awesome, and shows a side of the lopp that isn’t just all cuddly and shiny-chasing. I ❤ him.

2 – Dungeons. I love their difficulty. I love their lore. I love the scope and feel of them. But most of all I love that you can still keep running them with your friends no matter how much you outlevel them because of the rally-down feature. They weren’t the best source of XP per hour, but they were very high on fun.

1 – The Drusera Content. If you’ve started on these quests (they begin around level 35) you know what I’m talking about. I am not going to go into much detail because the story is great and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that it had me leveling eagerly so I could see the next installment every time. Also, the finale in Grimvault was amazing and epic and everything a capstone quest chain should be. It just oozed “you just hit (or are about to hit) the level cap and are hardcore and ready to go save the world.”

Now it is time to start the long raid attunement process. Wish me luck!

 

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Housing 101 – Housing Resources

Howdy friends! This week’s Housing 101 is less of a how-to and more of a where-to. I want to briefly discuss some great resources that I’ve been using for my housing needs.

First up is the ever-useful Jabbithole. This database-style site is angling to be your one-stop shop for finding out where things are on Nexus. The site is still a work-in progress on some fronts, so if you think it is useful and want to help out you can download the client and contribute data to help them improve!

Where can I get a rowsdower plushie? Check Living in WildStar!

Where can I get a rowsdower plushie? Check Living in WildStar!

Next on the list is Living in WildStar. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this site. The focus is just housing-related, and at this point I can’t live without it. Does the housing vendor sell something I can use to make a rope-swing? Check Living in WildStar. What does this decor I can craft look like before I waste mats on it? Check Living in WildStar. Which challenges have decor or FABkits as rewards? Again, Living in WildStar. Seriously go bookmark this site right now, I’ll still be here when you get back.

Finally we have a great blog with lots of addon reviews – To Boldly Nerd. Kadomi does an amazing job explaining how to use addons in WildStar and curating a list of really useful ones. I always find something useful when I stop by.

I’m going to leave you with a couple specific housing-related addons that I highly recommend.

The Visitor – When you’re at your house, this addon allows you to type someone’s character name in a search box and will teleport you to their house if it is public. No more hoping that the public house list happens to give you the cool house you visited last week.

Item Preview Improved – Does what it says – improves item preview. Now you can preview decor items that are on the auction house! This one is also great for fashion, since it lets you preview items that are not your armor type (but can still be used for costumes!).

Housing Decor Set Manager – I know I’ve mentioned this one before, but it is worth saying again. This addon allows you to take a “snapshot” of the decor you’ve placed at your house. This lets you remodel without fear, since this addon will place everything back just the way it was. Knowing that I can save my decor placement makes me much bolder in making changes at my house, since I can always “undo” by going back to a saved set with this addon!

That’s it for today. Have housing questions or suggestions for helpful websites or addons? Leave them in the comments!

Healing on Nexus

I finally broke down and went back to my MMO comfort zone this weekend. One of my guildies was awesome enough to supply me with a set of insight gear, so I tried my hand at healing dungeons in WildStar.

Too busy healing butts in dungeons to snap a screen shot. That's true love.

Too busy healing butts in dungeons to snap a screen shot. That’s true love.

It took me a while during beta to really get a feel for WildStar’s combat system. We ran adventures and dungeons and poor Gracie would usually have the most deaths every time. I eventually got the hang of moving all the time and dodging telegraphs and the sweet, beautiful chaos of the game. Or so I thought.

Now I’ve healed in multiple other MMOs. With some perseverance and various groups of talented people I’ve cleared some of the most difficult raids and challenges available there. It didn’t really prepare me for healing in WildStar though. Of course, raider reflexes for getting out of “the bad” are always useful, but healing in this game is such a different beast from any other MMO I have played.

I am glad that I ran things as DPS for a while first because the healing feels much more similar to the way I play DPS in this game than to healing in other games. All those years of staring at rows of boxes with green bars? Throw them out the window. Healing was the same game of dodging bad telegraphs while lining up good ones that everyone else in the group got to play. I didn’t feel disconnected and bored at any point. The only thing that felt awkward at all was the occasional time that I had to actually click on someone to use my one-and-only single-target heal. I was too busy running around and shooting (with healing love) to stare at a UI element.

So I think this may have spoiled me on going back to healing in other games. This is the first time healing felt like I was playing THE SAME GAME AS EVERYONE ELSE instead of a weird micromanaging whack-a-mole minigame. Bravo, Carbine!

Housing 101 – FABulous

A common question from people who are new to WildStar’s housing is “what are FABkits and how do I use them?” So today Gracie’s here to answer your FABkit questions and help spruce up your housing plot.

Meteor Crater FABkit in action

Meteor Crater FABkit in action

FABkits are in-game items that mysteriously package all the ingredients for a fancy home improvement into a handy, inventory-friendly box. These kits can be earned from challenges, drop from enemies, and can be crafted by experienced Architects. Of course they can also be found on the Auction House as well.

The plot improvements or “plugs” that they contain can range from cosmetic to functional in a variety of flavors. Cosmetic-only FABkits are things like the low-level Meteor Crater kit, which, as advertised, places a crashed meteor on your lawn. These type of kits make your house look cool, but don’t do much else. Similar to these are the biome-type kits, which bring a little piece of your favorite zones back to your yard. These may be slightly more complex than solely cosmetic ones, and often include a handy portal to send you back to that zone. Strictly functional kits, such as the vendorbot, crafting station, or raid portals allow some convenience in trade for taking up some of your real estate.

The menu listing will often tell you if the plug includes a challenge

The menu listing will often tell you if the plug includes a challenge

Challenge-containing kits, such as Shardspire Canyon (obtained by completing specific challenges in Algoroc or Celestion), bring additional gameplay to your housing plot. The challenges available range from simple to frustrating, and usually reward some choices of decor, dyes, or renown. In addition to the challenges, there are also FABkits that contain portals to mini-dungeons. These scale based on the number of people in your group, take between 20-40 minutes to complete and provide you with a reward such as fancy decor at the end. Finally there are resource-generating kits. These give you a small plot that will spawn crafting materials or consumables so you don’t have to brave the wilderness to obtain those goods. Garden plots fall into this category as well, although instead of randomly generating resources you will need to provide seeds for the plants you want to grow.

So now that you know what FABkits are, how do you use them? Once you’ve got a FABkit in your inventory, you can head to your house to decide where to use it. Open up your landscape menu. By clicking on one of the 6 “sockets” around your house you will bring up a list of all the potential “plugs” that can fit there. Anything that you have a FABkit for (or is part of the default options like the moonshiner cabin!) will be highlighted. Your kit may fit into either one of the small or large sockets, so if you don’t see it listed make sure to check the other size. Once you know which sockets are available you can choose the one that you want to use and build your kit!

Now some tricky bits and words of caution. FABkits can only be used once. Unlike decor, you can’t just pick them up and put them down someplace else. If you choose to remove a plug once it is already in place, you’ll have to obtain another FABkit for it if you change your mind later. Another thing to keep in mind is that most functional plugs require some sort of weekly upkeep. Generally it costs a few gold to “repair” your plug after a week of use, and these costs increase with the level and complexity of the plug. If you choose not to repair, the plug will remain on your land and look the same but you will not be able to use any functionality it may have had. This means if you can’t afford to repair today don’t sweat it, your plug won’t disappear and you can fix it up later when you are ready! The need to repair is one of the main sources of confusion for new folks, since the indicator is a subtle “wrench” icon on the socket on your landscape menu. If you try to use your crafting station and it isn’t working, check to be sure it doesn’t need repairs before you submit a ticket!

That’s your lesson for this week. Now you should be a pro at using FABkits and making sure the sockets in your yard are tailored to your specific needs! If you have a housing-related question feel free to ask in the comments. I’m always looking for more future Housing 101 lessons!

Over the Moon

Really I just wanted an excuse to post this screen shot

Really I just wanted an excuse to post this screen shot

I spent my weekend leveling slowly and hanging out with my guild. On Sunday morning I finally got the chance to do the first “Drusera” instance, and I am intrigued and impressed. I am only level 36 now but I can’t wait to see more of the story as it unfolds.

And I might have to get my act together, since the first content drop is being teased already. It looks like we will have until the end of the month until this patch hits. Customization options and new zones are on the way and I am nowhere near ready yet! On the housing front, some new plugs will be available. I’m excited to see what they will be!

I’m grateful that WildStar has an abundance of content available, and it looks like it will be a very long time before I run out of new things to do on Nexus!

Housing 101 – Double or Nothin’

Welcome back to another installment of my Housing 101 series! At this point you’ve already dipped into the advanced tools so maybe you’ve graduated to 102 level. In any case, like a creepy bad movie, today we’re going to explore the magical powers of children and clones.

From-scratch rowsdower stables.

From-scratch rowsdower stables.

Building complicated structures or set pieces at your house can often require using multiples of the same item as building blocks. Maybe you’ve moved and scaled a wall just the way you want it, but now you need a few more wall sections to finish off the room. You could place them by hand, but I know from experience that it is almost impossible to get things positioned and scaled exactly the same every time. Instead, why not just make some clones?

Once you have your first piece all placed, select it and open the advanced controls. At the bottom, you’ll see a “Copy Transform” button. Before you hit it, you’ll want to select the radio buttons beneath it. These 3 buttons from left to right toggle the Position, Rotation, and Scale of the object (in that order). Choose which attributes you want to copy, or select all 3 for an exact duplicate placed in the exact same spot.

Double check you've clicked those 3 radio buttons if you want an exact copy!

Double check you’ve clicked those 3 radio buttons if you want an exact copy!

After you’ve copied the transform, escape out of the controls so you don’t accidentally mess with your first piece. Then open your crate and place your second object anywhere you like. Open the advanced controls back up and hit the “Paste Transform” button and you’re all set! As far as I can see, you have to recopy the transform every time you want to apply it to a new piece, but otherwise it is quick and painless to make a whole army of giant lopp plushies, or whatever else your heart desires!

I’ll also note that you don’t have to make exact clones. You can copy the transform from one object and paste it onto a completely different object. This way you can match the rotation and placement of an angled wall to be sure the window you hang there is rotated the same way!

The second part of today’s lesson is about children. Nope, teaching you about the birds and buzzbings isn’t in Gracie’s job description, just house construction! In the screenshot here you can see I’ve set up my bed with some plushies on it. Because of the way I positioned things with the advanced controls, if I decided to redecorate and move my bed, I’d have to reposition all the plushies too. Lucky for me, I can turn those plushies into “children” instead. Even better, we don’t even need to use the advanced controls to do it!

Glue those plushies to the bed!

Glue those plushies to the bed!

I can simply select each plushie, click the link to parent button, then click on the bed. Now all my little fluffy animals will move right along when I slide my bed to the other side of my bedroom! If you’ve linked things and decide to change them up later, you can unlink from parent individually, or to clear everything at once you can select the parent object and click “unlink all children.” This process makes moving groups of objects a breeze instead of a nightmare.

That’s it for today’s lesson. We’re drawing close to the end of my lesson plan for Housing 101 now. If there’s anything you would like me to cover please leave a comment and let me know!

First (Week) Impressions

WildStar has officially been available for play for a week now, and I’ve had the good fortune to play at least a little every day. So what has ol’ Gracie been up to? How did the first week go? Read on!

Like many of my Chili and Cornbread guildies, I stayed up way too late on Friday night to be online right when Headstart began. I poured myself a celebratory glass of apple pie moonshine and waited for the final countdown. The mood was festive but when the clock struck midnight PST it became clear pretty quickly that the launch would not be completely smooth. It would be over an hour before folks were able to start logging into the game, and my moonshine, while still delicious, was quite warm by then.

Did you think I was kidding about the moonshine?

Did you think I was kidding about the moonshine?

Other than that initial hiccup I think the launch went fairly smoothly for a major MMO. There were definitely some lingering bugs, but nothing gamebreaking for me, and many were fixed within the first day or two. Our guild chose a server which hasn’t been plagued by the long queue times that some of the PvP servers were experiencing, but frankly during the first 48 hours of the Headstart I wasn’t ever logged out long enough to notice anyway!

I played plenty in beta, which is what made me fall completely in love with WildStar. I did try to keep my pace pretty slow, and focused on things like housing and random exploration (as opposed to Explorer Path missions) rather than spoiling all the quests. This was the perfect balance for me, because when headstart rolled around I knew what race/class/path I wanted and how the basic mechanics of the game worked. Knowledge is power, and the knowledge I gained from beta gave me the power to ignore most tutorial things and focus on reading quest text and lore and just generally enjoying the game.

Over the course of this first week I have been mostly focused on questing, with an occasional adventure or dungeon thrown in. Of course, once I unlocked my house at lvl 14 there was a flurry of activity there to make it presentable! I’ve been trying hard to do every quest I come across, and reading the text and lore. Since all the lore is new and unique to WildStar I find it is important to me to pay attention to the little details and really get myself immersed in the story of this new world. The story seems incredibly rich to me given it is not built on an existing property, especially in comparison to other games that fell flat in that area for me. RIFT in particular was a game I really enjoyed but whose lore never appealed to me like it should have.  In any case, the story in WildStar gets a pretty huge thumbs up from me for now. I hope it manages to keep me this engaged once the new MMO smell has worn off.

It has been a great joy to see my guild grow full of some really awesome people. Many of them are blogging about WildStar too so you should check out my blogroll if you are interested in some other great WildStar blogs! It’s been so fun to see everyone respond to all the little surprises the game throws at you, and to see folks work together to run content and help out with crafting. I am really looking forward to getting to know everyone better over the coming months. The overall mood in guild chat and out in zone chat has been pretty positive. I guess that’s expected for a MMO launch, but it feels great and I intend to enjoy it.

I struggled a little to come up with negative things about the last week in WildStar for me. I think the main one is expected, the lingering bugs. There’s a few UI bugs and some assorted others that have been annoying. The say chat in game seems to have too wide a range which has some…interesting consequences on an RP server. The chat in general still feels like it could use a little more polish, especially when it comes to whispers and account whispers. I know I still have some rose-colored glasses on when it comes to this game but frankly, if there were a ton of things I hated when I was playing the beta I would not still be here playing and blogging about it right now, and the released game is yet more polished and fun.

So I feel like I’ve rambled on enough here without much direction. My first impression of the launched game is that I am still wildly in love with it. At barely level 30 after a week, I have plenty of content to look forward to before the first content drop at the end of the month piles on even more. I hope the honeymoon period of this game is long and happy!

Housing 101- Advanced Training

Well Howdy folks! I get the sense that this is a guide that people have really been waiting for, so without further ado I give you: The Advanced Tools.

A refreshing challenge

A refreshing challenge

Visiting a large number of houses that have been made public is a favorite hobby of mine. It is usually quite obvious which folks have figured out the advanced controls and which aren’t quite there yet. It is the difference between a cozy hideaway and a cozy hideaway at the top of a crazy jumping puzzle. Or between a quiet reading nook in your bedroom and an entire 2nd floor library. Curious how to work this magic? Let’s get to it!

If you’ve looked through my previous Housing 101 posts, you’ve hopefully had some practice placing objects. The default tools limit you to placing your decor on top of the ground or other objects. Time to break free from gravity! As an example I’ll show you this silly jumping puzzle I made during beta, out of beer signs and other random decor I had laying around my crate. (Those beer signs are a possible reward from making moonshine. Just sayin’).

First things first: Make sure you’ve toggled edit mode on! The game should turn it on by default when you open your crate, but double check! Then open the crate and place your chosen object down on the ground. That way we can close the crate and free up some screen real estate to make life easier. Select the object, and then choose to open the Advance Menu. Yikes. It looks a bit intimidating, but there’s only a few things you need to know to make some fancy upgrades to your house.

Make friends with the advanced tools!

Make friends with the advanced tools!

One of the first things that may grab your attention from this menu are the brightly colored arrows. The straight arrows adjust the x, y, and z position of the object in space, while the curved ones allow you to control the roll, pitch and yaw. Those 3 fancy words mean the amount the object is rotated on each axis of the 3 dimensions. By using the big green arrows at the top you can move things in mid-air and they will stay, solid as a rock. You’ve bested gravity!

You’ll note that all of the arrows have a small part and a larger part. These will move or rotate your object in smaller or larger increments. So use the big arrow to get close to how you want things to look, then switch to the smaller one to fine tune. The numbers for coordinates as well as roll, pitch and yaw can also be edited manually, if you really want a light touch or if you want to duplicate settings from another object.

Freeform adjustments

Freeform adjustments

The last important thing I want to touch on for today’s lesson is the Advanced Mode button near the bottom of the Advanced Controls. Toggling this will switch the on-object controls to include all 3 axes of rotation and movement. Doing this prevents you from just dragging the object around in the world. Instead, there’s a series of red, blue and green arrows that you can use to pull the object in one direction at a time. Lately I’ve been using this method almost exclusively, since it gives a ton of control without the complicated interface of the advanced menu. When moving things this way, you may still need to open the controls to hit the “Place” button and lock in your work.

The advanced controls really open up the possibilities of what you can do with housing, and for me, help turn WildStar’s housing from “fun diversion” into “all-consuming frenzied addiction.” I hope you have fun playing with these controls, let me know if you’ve made something you’re proud of! And if you happen to be Exile side, Evindra-NA, why not be neighbors with ol’ Gracie, and come visit Moonshine Mansion in game!

Hints of the future

 

Not much to look at. Yet.

Not much to look at. Yet.

I will have a post up shortly trying to sum up my thoughts about headstart and “launch.” First though, I wanted to give you some news that dropped into my lap regarding some exciting upcoming housing additions!

Watching the WildStar countdown to launch Twitch stream I figured I’d ask one of my pet questions, about if it will be possible to get a guestbook for our house. Lucky for me and for you readers, Tony Rey actually chose it to ask, and the answer is they’re working on it! I am super excited about this, I think it will be great to be able to let folks know how much their hard work on their housing plots is appreciated.

The devs also talked a little bit more about the guild housing or “guild neighborhoods” which are also being worked on. It sounds like there will be new art assets for that, and that it is going to be huge! A few more housing tidbits from the stream include potentially being able to change the ground on your land (can you say snowy winter wonderland?), and there will be housing decor coming in the very first drop (content patch) coming out in a month or so!

The game is here. Our houses are for keeps now, go build your dreams!