Gacha Summer Updates

It’s that time again: summer means swimsuits, which means alts in skin-showing bathing gear (there’s a difference between bathing suits and swimsuits; it’s very important). Dragalia Lost revealed its (first?) summer banner, and Granblue Fantasy and Princess Connect have released their new banners as well.

First, Dragalia Lost. Big news: this summer banner is not limited! All these girls are going into the permanent summon pool. Meaning I don’t have to spend my crystals for them now, which means I can roll for the actually-limited Gala Cleo. Which I got, after using all my tickets, but only one ten-roll of crystals. Very nice, and I still have 200 rolls saved up.

I know that feeling.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I like alts, at least in games like this, because I’m already attached to the characters, so getting more story for them is great. New characters always waste time introducing themselves, while alts are already known. In this case, Cleo’s story gives us some lore in addition to a story about her.

Anyways, the current summer characters here are Julietta, Celeria, and Ranzal, and Siren the dragon. If Celeria were limited, I’d roll everything for her. But she’s not, so I’ll probably get her next dream ticket. I imagine Reddit is pretty salty about this, since the gold rarity (I’m just going to call it SSR, because that’s basically what it is) are all girls, and Reddit is gay, and Ranzal already has an alt.

Granblue Fantasy’s summer characters are limited, as usual. We get Jessica (yukata version, which I honestly much prefer to the bikini alts), Europa, and Lancelot+Vane, with Satyr as the summon. We knew all of these since the weekend, as they were revealed at the grabble convention, but we didn’t know art or rarity or whatever. Reddit was really butthurt about these, too since a) Jessica already has a summer alt; b) this is Jessica’s first SSR, and it’s a seasonal limited; c) Europa basically just came out, and she already gets an alt; and d) Vane and Lancelot get yet another combo unit, and SR at that. I don’t agree with any of these complaints, but I do understand them. As for me, I won’t be rolling this banner; there hasn’t been a broken, must-have summer unit yet (though most of them have been quite good), and the most desirable has generally been the last to be revealed (also, S. Ilsa isn’t sparkable this time, and I want her).

As for Princess Connect, we get S. Makoto this time. Looks like she’s specifically made for Clan Battle and event bosses, since she gets stronger the fewer enemies there are. Useless for Arena, of course. Don’t know what Reddit thinks of this one, because that sub is dead.

Dragalia Lost Update 1.10: Alliances and Ailment Upgrades

Just a short update on a game update, as seen in the title above. I played Atelier Lulua basically all afternoon, evening, and night yesterday, and plan on playing a bit more tonight. Only thing really to say there is that I was wrong about how long after the previous games this one takes place.

Anyways, Dragalia Lost finally gets clans. The main functionality seems to be just easier grouping for quests. Unfortunately, it seems that you can’t partly pug and partly use your crew; it’s all or nothing. The pug filters got put into the standard “start a room” button, which makes sense, and probably should have been the functionality from the start. There’s also a chat, but I’ll probably avoid it, because I’m a LONE WOLF.

There was also an update to how afflictions work. Now instead of only one at a time, a boss can get multiple afflictions. So Lilly’s freeze won’t overwrite Leviathan’s bog, etc. Also, the enemy’s resistance to afflictions looks like it goes up by half of what it did before, each time the enemy gets that particular affliction. So, in theory, those units with [affliction] Punisher won’t be as bad. Though it looks like all those abilities are bugged right now, so they don’t work at all. Sorry Nefaria, your time to shine isn’t quite yet.

New Granblue Fantasy Event: Kappa Summer Chronicle

Granblue Fantasy has really been knocking them out of the park this year. Can’t think of any event that I haven’t liked so far. This is no exception.

I have to admit, I wasn’t wholly confident with this one. The kappa in question looked like it was going to be yet another mascot character, and I hate those. (I even hated Jade from her event; sue me.) Luckily, it wasn’t so bad. Sure, Kyuta was certainly a mascot-type character, and everyone fawning over him was slightly annoying. But he had a personality, and his interactions with the rest of everyone grew their characters some, or were at least interesting. And it took away the spotlight from Vryn and Lyria, which is rarely not a great thing.

I’ve also really been liking how the events have been using more of the Grandcypher cast. There’s, what, about two hundred possible characters to use. But older events mostly featured two or three, with the main cast and the new characters for the event. Here we had, aside from the main cast and the new NPC’s, four heavily featured characters, four more secondary characters, and at least three cameos. Most of whom had new art for this event. Pretty cool.

I’m also really digging the lack of fights. There wasn’t really room for them here – it’s a vacation, after all (even a working/helping vacation like Dancho likes to take), and they didn’t try to force any fights that weren’t appropriate. Except the final raid, which is really weird, and not in the same, good, way as the last event. It’s modestly funny, but still weird.

I wish they did more with the mini-game. I’m sick and tired of grinding the same event format every single month (and more). But you can only do the event so many times before you run out of rewards, and that’s a shame. I’d rather, at least for an event like this, have the mini-game be the thing to grind. And the prizes aren’t even that special, unlike some of the other mini-game events.

All in all, bredy gud.

Impressions So Far: Atelier Lulua

I was planing on playing Atelier Lulua last night , after not being able to play for a week (vacation, then catching up after vacation; maybe next time I’ll just take my PC with me). But a new event had dropped in Granblue Fantasy, and a new weekend raid in Dragalia Lost, so my play time for ‘real’ games evaporated. (Also got the summer ship in Star Trek Online; so do I log in again?) But I will save that stuff for tomorrow; today, I’ll post about the game I wanted to play.

Like all the other Atelier-series games, this is an RPG that is very crafting-focused. There’s the titular alchemist, Lulua, who, along with her plucky friends, goes around gathering crafting materials, making items, then using those items to beat up monsters, to get the materials they drop. A smart alchemist would just get someone else to do that kind of stuff, but the alchemists in these games tend to start out on the bottom rung, and do all of that for themselves. Indeed, Lulua here is but an apprentice, barely able to to basic stuff at first.

Bombs are, like, the basic of basics, like everyone knows.

This, despite the fact that Lulua’s mother is none other than Rorona, the most famous alchemist in all the land (and the star of her own game back in the PS3 era). An aside – this game is pretty unique, in that it’s the direct sequel to a trilogy of games. The mainline Atelier games, at least for the past decade and more, have tended to come out in a series of three games, with a new heroine, but the same setting; often the previous heroine will be a mentor or teacher to the new one. Atelier Rorona was the start of the Arland trilogy, and Atelier Lulua is a sequel to that, despite two trilogies coming between them (Dusk and Mysterious). And the next game will start a new trilogy. Anyways, it seems to have been around 20 years since Atelier Meruru, the last game in the Arland series, as Lulua was presumably not around at that point (or Rorona is a seriously bad mother!). And no father to be found…

Anywho, Lulua goes around, makes some friends (some in high places), and goes on her adventure. She gets the help of some mysterious book, that only she can read, which gives her ideas to solve whatever problem is in front of her. Of course there’s some work involved (it’s a game, after all), but the book is a great catalyst to her alchemy skill. Also, there are weird times where it seems she might chicken out of some thing, but then *RECORD SCRATCH* she chooses adventure instead. There’s definitely something to this, but where I’m at (according to GameFAQ’s I’m 1/2-2/3 through the story) it’s a mystery. Might have something to do with time travel schenanigans – there’s one part where Lulua is regretting something she’s done, wishing she could go back and change it, but she’s told in no uncertain terms that changing the past is impossible; that in itself is a pretty common heroic growth plot point, but the way it’s explained (that trying to correct the past merely creates another reality – good for that reality, but still sucks for you) was so jarring that it must be a plot point.

I don’t think that follows…

I have to say, I’m really digging that they’ve finally figured out how to create good pacing without the time limits of the older games. It’s a heresy to some, but I really dislike the time limits, as they are so contrary to the general relaxed feel to the games. But without any time limits, the game designers were floundering for a while with the games’ pacing. Atelier Sophie was a mess in this regard: there’s no threat, or really a plot at all, until suddenly there is, but don’t worry about it, it’s super urgent and the world’s dying and all, but don’t let that stop you from leveling up your friendship with the fatty. Atelier Firis brought back a timer, but it was so generous it really didn’t matter; even I, who go about things rather lackadaisically, still had to just fill time with stuff before that timer ran out. And it was only for the first part of the game: after that, you’re free entirely to go your own pace. But there were still some issues with filler time and such. Atelier Lydie and Sue was even better with pacing, and almost completely ditching the timer (there is one chapter with a generous timer), by having so many things going on that you don’t lack for things to drive you forward. However, progress slows considerably in late game, and honestly I just lost interest and didn’t finish it. Lulua seems to have finally gotten it right – story progression is based on skill progress, which drives events. You have to do stuff to beef up your skills, which gives you things to do. Then you advance in the story, have more things to do, have to build up your skills more, etc.

To advance your skills, the mysterious book gives you hints on what to do. Sometimes those hints are a little too vague, though. For example, one time it says something along the lines of “find someone who uses a lot of medicine.” That sounds like “go locate a certain NPC,” or “do a certain side quest.” But no, what it really means is “use x in battle y times.” I really don’t like basic progression like that being forced into using the internet to figure it out. It might be a translation error though, so I don’t know whose fault that is.

One of the criticisms of the game that I’ve heard is that the various returning characters don’t act their age, or that they don’t act like they’ve grown since the last time they’ve appeared. I don’t know how valid that is. The entire point of this game is fanservice and nostalgia – there was no reason to return to Arland, yet here we are. And adults aren’t suddenly going to change, just because they’ve gotten somewhat older. Yet, sometimes these characters seem almost childish. And it certainly doesn’t help that all the same voice actors are used, with the same voices as their original incarnation (when the characters were teenagers).

Speaking of fanservice, and the exploitation thereof, there’s the DLC. If you weren’t a slow casual like me, I don’t see the point. $30 “season pass” packs for a few outfits (including swimsuits), and a single playable character? If you’ve already played the game, why load it up again and buy these? There’s nothing in it for anyone. I know I’m not the target demo for the outfits (I’m all about fanservice, but none of that is servicing this fan), but I just don’t understand, not this late in the game. If you were a huge fan of Arland, you bought the game and played it already. Just being able to play the Arland heroines that aren’t in the base game, even if they get a whole series of vignettes with them, doesn’t seem reasonable, for the price of a whole newish game (or several older games) on sale.

All that, just to say that I like the game so far, and hope it keeps it up.

The problem of low-level high-level content in multiplayer RPG’s

Last night I came across a problem in Dragalia Lost that pretty much all multiplayer RPG’s (which includes MMO’s of course) must deal with: what to do about high-level content that the high-level players have already passed.

In this particular case, I was trying to do the High Midgardsommr raid/quest. It’s the first in the current “end-game” series of High Greatwurm quests. And by first, I mean chronologically – it came out shortly after the game did, several months ago. As often happens in these sort of mobile games (which are pretty much bite-sized MMORPG’s), content is dripped out. High Midgardsommr came out first, then another (High Brunhilda) a couple months later, then another a few months after that (High Mercury), and then last night the latest (High Jupiter). Because of the time delay involved, players have had a bunch of time to play each one. These quests take quite a bit of grinding and preparation to even access (there’s basically a gear check attack at the beginning of each one), and skill is required to complete. Thus, the “better” players are there at the start, and everyone else has to catch up. This is how it always is, so no problem there.

The problem comes when those better players stop playing the older stuff. Of course they’re going to focus on the new, shiny things. But newer, casual, or worse players are eventually going to come up to the “endgame” status too. They will come in to the first stuff. But they will fail if they don’t get help. And a bunch of newbs and bads won’t complete things the first time – probably won’t even know why they fail. (Even in [current year], expecting everyone to use outside calculators, tutorials, wikis, etc. is asking too much, I think.) They need to get carried, simple as that. If no one is around to help them out, they’ll most likely get discouraged, quit, and give bad word-of-mouth.

In DL, there is not really any reason to go back to the older raids, once you’re “done” with them. If you’ve memorized the patterns, there’s no challenge. And you will, because you’ve done this dozens, if not hundreds, of times, to grind out materials. But the exclusive materials are only good for one or two things (the non-exclusive stuff is better farmed in the easier quests), and once you have those – which aren’t even necessary, and barely desirable, to be frank – there’s no reason to go back, unless you’re helping a friend. Not even to test your new skill and gear, since High Midgardsommr was made before months of changes that made the game overall less of a grind – and less challenging. But the cost of entry is the same as the other High Greatwurms – and over twice as much as other content.

As for me, last night I was stuck trying to get a single win. Most rooms were failing to stupid crap, indicating lack of skill and preparation. These were mostly folks with stats that should have indicated success, both in this quest and in general, but it was fail city. This is a quest that mostly needs all four people, if you don’t have a carry. Three can do it, if they are competent. Two is very hard, though. At this point, one dying, especially at the beginning, basically means just quit right then. And then there’s the party formation screen, and dodging folks that clearly can’t do the raid. So I was stuck for 40 minutes in fail city. For the ‘easy’ raid.

Granblue Fantasy is an example of getting it right. The materials you get from the lower quests are always useful, even at endgame. You can break down the gear drops you get, which gets you the materials you will need for upgrading endgame stuff. You need quite a bit of materials, and the lower-level raids are easy for more advanced players to just breeze through (some can do them in one turn with just pressing the big orange button). And since the earlier raids are cheap to join, there’s no reason why not.

Another way to solve this is to give extra rewards to players that join already-finished content. Star Trek Online gives extra rewards to players who join random raids, and players can choose the rewards that they want.

As someone who’s interested in joining already-established games, I hope that this problem has been solved, so I don’t have to spend forever waiting for success.

Princess Connect, English Version: Earlier Than Anticipated?

Very interesting statement from the official Princess Connect: ReDive twitter last night:

Why formalize the naming conventions in English, if there is no English translation planned? A couple weeks ago at Anime Expo, Kimura Yuito, producer of both Grandblue Fantasy and Princess Connect, was interviewed by several different folks, some of whom asked about an English translation for Princess Connect. The answer was always, “we’ll see, if there’s interest.” In one interview, he even said that any publishers or localizers that are interested should get in touch.

Maybe someone did?

What is this game? Star Trek Online

I think I should explain something of the games I’m playing, before I get too far into the day-to-day stuff, as far as that goes. That can be a big job, especially for a MMO, but fortunately I’ve already done that for one of the games, Star Trek Online (STO) on another site. So go forth, and read.

Now, that was almost four years ago, so a few things have changed, at least in the story. Two alternate starts were created for the Blue Team (Federation): an Original Series -themed start, and a STD (Star Trek: Discovery) -themed tutorial more recently. Another half-faction was also added (The Dominion), but they have similar rules to the Romulan Republic about joining the Red (Klingons) or Blue Team. The story itself has advanced some: we got a time war, then some exploration, then another war, then yet another conflict (which was how The Dominion comes into play). That last bit was really quite good, with several of the actors from DS9 coming back to play their old roles. And yet again, STO takes a thing barely mentioned, let alone featured in an episode, and then makes a big deal out of it (in a good way, I think).

But then we come to the current state of the game. STD came out, CBS suddenly became interested in one of their major franchises, and STO got some official attention. The game was permitted (or ordered…) to get some STD action going. Trouble is, STO is set about 160 years after STD. How can that work?

Well, in my opinion, it doesn’t. There’s some timey-wimey stuff, and one of the Klingons ends up in the current year, influencing stuff. Don’t know how, since literally nothing has come from that. All of the other missions have been “historical simulations,” just to get the player into the setting. I haven’t done any of it; I don’t want to catch any STD. The game has sure been (trying to?) capitalize on the ships, though; since it’s Trek, old-as-dirt ships getting upgrades to stay current is a thing. I don’t like the aesthetic of the STD ships, though.

Part of what I don’t like about the STD aesthetic is that everything must be HUEG

So I haven’t had much interest in the game in…a year? More than that. Trying to stay current with the TV shows is a bad thing, in my opinion, especially crap shows that are way outside the setting, like STD.

Fortunately for the game, they know how to keep even not-completely-enthusiastic players like me in the game: daily events with daily rewards. It hasn’t been constant, and the events haven’t all been good, but collecting dongles and prizes is what kusoge skinner boxes MMO’s are all about. Right now is the Risa Summer Event, where you fly through some hoops to get dongles to get a ship. You can do other stuff to get other dongles to get other prizes, some of which are pretty cool.

And, there’s the promise of more, different, non-STD content in the future. Perhaps to do with the Picard show (I hope it doesn’t suck like STD, but I’m not counting on it), perhaps the other shows. But we’ll see soon, since STO will have at least one major panel at Star Trek: Las Vegas. Maybe I’ll go to that; I’ve been considering going to that convention, but the main draw would be the STO stuff, for me.

What I’m Playing Now, 7/24

If I’m to be writing about the games I’m playing, I should probably list those games. I’ll make periodic posts (probably once a month, or perhaps fortnightly, if things change that much) that are basically as follows.

The following are games that I’ve been playing long-term, and expect to continue playing for the long-term:

  • Star Trek Online (PC)
  • Granblue Fantasy (PC)
  • Princess Connect: ReDive (mobile)
  • Dragalia Lost (mobile)

(These are where the “kusoge” comes from, above (kuso=[poop], ge=game), since that’s often what mobile games and MMO’s are called, in my parts.)

The following is(/are) game(s) that I am playing more-or-less actively right now:

  • Atelier Lulua (PC)

And here’s a random image from one of the above, just to see if I can figure out how to do it:

A bit about this site…

This is just a little blog I’m starting, a bit of a vanity project to put my thoughts in order, and out there, as if anyone would care. The original impetus was to join the fun in Blaugust 2019; I’d heard about the 2018 stuff about six months too late, but wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

My primary subject will be the video games I’m playing. Sometimes it will be reports on my gaming sessions, sometimes it will be history lessons (about the game, or maybe not), sometimes just my thoughts and feelings about the state of gaming, the world, whatever, in general. And Star Trek.