Fishing Farewell

Hey, the winter festival is back! I may be feeling a bit meh about the game in general, but I always enjoy this event.

Unfortunately I immediately ran into another downer when I went to do some ice fishing and found that the ice on the lake had been smashed and you are now supposed to just fish there using the same mechanics as in Sea of Moving Ice and Chult.

Now, I like that fishing mini game, but I kind of liked ice fishing more. More importantly, the latter was just a completely different beast from "regular" fishing, a fairly fast-paced mini game that was more about racing across the ice effectively and beating other people to the good fishing holes than about anything else. Now you just stand around and fish for ten minutes.

Also, they trashed all the fishing poles that I crafted last year and are making us start over with a new and crappy pole, because for some reason these things are never allowed to carry over from one activity to the next. Not happy.


Meh Module

Funnily enough, after I complained about my workshop's unending deliveries, Cryptic went ahead and patched that out this past week, so the goods now arrive instantly and fill up your delivery box the moment you log in. I guess that was a bug instead of a feature?

I was also pleased to see that they finally fixed the Chult Signet of Patronage. I momentarily got really excited when I saw that they had finally added a signet for that campaign with Heart of Fire, but of course it launched in a broken state and couldn't actually be used. Now it can, but my initial excitement has tapered off and I'm busy with other things already.

Unfortunately this whole module feels very "meh" to me so far. The workshop is ultimately not great, and my pet tank and I have even put the new campaign on hold for now because rerunning the same couple of story quests to crawl up a giant's butt week after week got old really, really quickly.

In the community I've seen mutterings about this module being the worst addition since Elemental Evil. It's probably not quite that bad, but I haven't felt this disengaged from the game since early Chult.


Unending Deliveries

One aspect of the new crafting system is that you can tell your crafters to repeat a task "indefinitely", which in practice should simply mean "until your delivery mailbox is full". So if you have ten slots in your inbox and send your artisans out in the evening to craft as much as they can overnight, you should then wake up to ten items in your inbox, right?

Unfortunately in practice the game doesn't do the calculations for this while you're offline, and not even instantly when you log in - instead, every crafted item takes several seconds to be processed and to actually appear in your inbox, and this process doesn't even start until you actually log in.

So what now happens to me every time I log on is that I dash to my delivery box and find it maybe half full (as far as the game managed to calculate its contents in the time it took me to get there). I take everything out, and the game continues to fill it up. Again, and again, and again... until I actually run out of materials or the calculation decides that in the x hours since I last logged in, that's the maximum amount of items my artisan would have been able to craft in terms of time.

I guess I should be glad that the offline crafting is so efficient, but on the other hand it's actually kind of annoying that I now basically spend the first fifteen minutes of any given play session just sitting next to my mailbox and gradually emptying it out over and over again. I guess I could just let it hit the space limit but that would then feel wasteful. It's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't.


Workshop Woes

My initial enthusiasm for the workshop has definitely come to an end. I climbed the wall of having to earn 500,000 trade credits to upgrade my main's workshop from level 2 to level 3, just to find that the next upgrade required me to do the same thing again, only this time for 5 million credits. Also, where a big part of my initial push had been made possible by the conversion of old crafting materials to new (via a horrible vendor interface that makes you want to bash your head against the wall), I was fresh out of tradable materials by that point. The cherry on top was the realisation that instead of earning 5 million trade credits, you can just pay 5 million AD for the upgrade instead. Neverwinter has a lot of pay-to-win aspects, but they aren't always this blatant.

It also hasn't helped that I without consulting any kind of guide, I went about my business very inefficiently initially. Having opened a workshop on my first alt, I'm now trying not to commit the same mistakes again, but just the thought of having to go through the whole unlocking and upgrading process on seven more characters is somewhat deflating.

It might not be so bad if you're a new player and learning things as you go, but as a more casual player who previously maxed out her professions over several years of casual play, having to start over at this point and being faced with this much grind just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.


Recruitment Drive

I didn't realise it before it released, but Heart of Fire is a levelling campaign, not one for max-level characters, and in line with that Cryptic has been trying to use its celebrity connection to recruit new players from the Penny Arcade fan base. Makes sense, and I certainly don't think it's a bad thing to have more variety in levelling content, even if it makes the new quests a bit trivial and boring to play through at the cap.

Cryptic is also trying to get old players to roll up new alts by currently holding a recruitment event which will earn you some rewards if you level a character during this time, similar to what they've already done in STO a few times. Unfortunately that doesn't really appeal to me either though - I was just glad to finally get all my alts to 70 earlier in the year. As much as I usually love levelling in MMOs, there's something about Neverwinter that makes its levelling game a lot less appealing than in other games.

So I really have no interest in creating another alt of a class I already have. Now if they ever release an actual new class...


Icewind Kindness

This past weekend was an Icewind Dale bonus weekend, so I decided to take it as an opportunity to do some quests there on my three characters that haven't completed that campaign yet. Two of them hadn't even started yet, and it occurred to me that with their low gear levels, Biggrin's Tomb wasn't going to be very fun to do on my own.

I often see people looking for groups for it in zone chat however, so I figured I'd find myself one or more other not too well-geared people and we'd do it together. Somewhat to my surprise though, both times when I answered a call asking whether anyone needed Biggrin's Tomb, I actually ended up in the company of a seriously overgeared character who was just rushing through for their own weekly anyway and who had just felt like offering someone else a free ride while they were at it.

I was really surprised by those random acts of niceness and I'll try to remember to pay it forward next time I go in there on one of my own better geared characters.



Cash in Neverwinter has always been in a bit of an odd place. As a new player, I remember that the prospect of needing however many gold it was to buy my first white quality horse seemed quite daunting. (They've since changed it so that you get the starter mount for free.) After that though, the usefulness of coins quickly dropped off, because beyond maybe buying some basic potions from a vendor, there wasn't much you could do with them, what with even the auction house trading in astral diamonds.

Over time, Cryptic tried to make gold a little more useful, by making it the currency required to swap out enchantments (used to be AD) and requiring gold deposits to the guild coffer for certain guild upgrades. In practice though, most people still always had way, way more gold than they'd ever be able to find a use for.

Well, the workshop has changed all of that, because the prices some artisans charge to craft things are no joke. I was initially quite thrilled by the new option to put them to work "indefinitely" (until your delivery box is full at least) but it only took a few days for me to realise that this was quickly draining all my gold reserves, which felt very weird considering that in the old crafting system most tasks were cash-neutral or even positive.

Unblogged since had an article about how there's at least one item you can craft to generate lots of gold, though I'm wondering whether in typical Cryptic fashion that wasn't actually intended and will soon be hotfixed or even considered an exploit. I've been trying it anyway, as I figure it's just gold, and since that's not tied to the "real" economy it's unlikely to be a big issue. It's still strange to suddenly be even thinking about my gold reserves though.



A new quality of life change in Heart of Fire is that you don't have to manually loot items anymore. The way it used to be was that you could loot money by simply running over it (it appears as little piles of cash on the ground after defeating an enemy), while actual items required you to run over/target a little glowy thing on the ground, wait for the interaction prompt to come up, and hit F to loot it.

This has now been changed so that like money - and lockboxes actually - you pick up all items by simply running over them.

A part of me is actually kind of disappointed by this. I remember when trying LOTRO, I was quite weirded out by how loot just appeared in my bags automatically. I enjoy the act of looking at and sorting out what rewards I just earned from defeating an opponent - if they just go into my bags without me doing anything, that makes for a very disconnected experience.

On the other hand though... whenever the game was laggy, it could be a real pain to have to wait for the loot prompt to come up for every single item drop, so I like not having to worry about that anymore, and of course not having to click repeatedly makes the whole process a lot faster. I'll still have to run around to gather my shinies at least, so it's not as if they fully automated the whole thing just yet.


You Thought Poop Quests Were Bad?

Well yes, they are, but I bet your MMO hasn't asked you to literally crawl up a giant's rectum and clean out his bowel (yet). In Heart of Fire, this isn't just a quest, it's one that's repeatable once a week.

Yeah, I'm not quite sure what to make of the humour in this module. I was never really a fan of the Penny Arcade comic... every now and then someone would link me a particular strip about MMO mechanics or something and I'd go "heh yeah, that's pretty spot on" but if I tried to browse the archives at all I'd quickly get bored as I didn't find most of them even mildly amusing.

The new storyline in Heart of Fire is at least kind of funny so far; it's just all incredibly over the top, with characters constantly spouting anachronistic dialogue or the story centering on juvenile jokes like the quest mentioned above. It's all just a little bit jarring when compared to the rest of the game.


I Can Has Workshop?

Heart of Fire release day! Most of my evening was taken up by trying to figure out the new professions system, and my first impression is mostly great, with a little bit of annoyance thrown in.

I do like that they changed it from the equivalent of a lame time waster into something that's properly integrated with the rest of the game, with quests and everything. I enjoyed working my way through the associated story so far, until I hit a brick wall in the form of a "craft items worth 500,000 points" quest.

This does bring me to the main negative I have so far, which is that as someone who used to have everything maxed out, it feels a bit annoying to be held back by time-gated stuff like that again, even if Cryptic was generally generous with letting you convert old resources to new. I imagine it's going to be a bit of a chore to get all my alts back up to speed.