Treats and year round tricks

26 10 2008
Babaente, in Playful Cub form, inspects her first Uncle Pumpkinhead for 2008.

Babaente, in Playful Cub form, inspects her first Uncle Pumpkinhead for 2008.

Halloween is our favorite holiday, bar none.  We remember fondly the anticipation of our first AO Halloween.  The morphs were fun, for a few minutes anyway.  The t-shirts were neat.  Anyone can pick up a bag full of the basic holiday loot by visiting a lowbie tower field and looting the left over corpses.  The corpses are left over by the hammerhead grinder types who will gladly spend hours killing hundreds of UPHs while dreaming of that big payoff, not unlike the pink haired ladies feeding the slots in casinos with their silver dollar filled Big Gulps in one hand and a slot crank arm in the other.

These are your hard core title 6 and up players that don’t bat an eye over spending many hours killing hundreds of Uncle Pumpkin Heads (UPHs) in search of a rare PHATZ drop.  In their rush, they take none of the less valuable loot, so in less than 10 minutes, Babaente had looted from corpses a bag full of t-shirts, masks, and other Halloween treats without having to kill a single UPH.

To at least be able to say she tried, she did kite a few herself.  Unfortunately UPH’s have health bars that must be double or triple the average for their level.  She tried a level 49 pumpkin head north of NW mines.  Her nano was getting depleted faster than the mobs health, plus with the occasional root, she had to devote stim use to health instead of nano.  After kiting it for about 45 minutes and having all her buffs run out along with her run buffs, she got sent back to reclaim.

Next she tried a 40ish level one.  This one only took 15 minutes, and she received some nice treats for her trouble.  After about the 3rd one, Babaente had just about had her fill of pumpkinhead hunting.  So yay! we got some t-shirts, masks and other treats, but we don’t think she will be hunting any more this year.

Seeking a break from dungeons and kiting, Babaente and Tireen rolled some team missions.  Their first mission featured all human mobs, with Tireen reaching ding to 51 at mid point.  The final boss was a metaphysist and was accompanied by a pair of human sharpshooters.  When they teleported in, they were instantly attacked by all three.  Tireen got several massive crits on the henchmen mobs and put them away quickly. The main boss was quite the damage dealer and both Babaente and Tireen had to retreat to the previous floor several times to heal, before they were able to take the boss down.

This brings us to one of those ugly little secrets of AO that get conveniently swept under the rug in most public Anarchy Online outlets.  We are taking about bugged missions, the Anarchy Online ‘trick’ that is present all year round.  More frequently than Funcom would like to admit, players are denied their mission rewards due to some bug which prevents the mission from being recognized by the system as completed even thought the team has accomplished what ever the mission task was.

Tonight it was a ‘pick up item’ type mission.  After vanquishing the boss,  Babaente picked the item up, but no reward.  Now the company line at this point is, petition your friendly ARK to resolve the problem.  Let’s see, spend 30 to 45 minutes completing a mission and not get a reward, and then enter a petition and sit around doing nothing for another 30 minutes, with no guarantee that an ARK will respond if at all.

If and when an ARK does show up, one has to deal with the consequences of playing ARK roulette, praying that one does not get ‘the ARK with an attitude’.  Apparently many ARK’s just skim the reading material when they sign up, as you often get this attitude of “you called me away from something important (i.e. anything else they were doing) for this?”  This is then followed by the ‘wait another 30 minutes and maybe we can coax a real game manager to fix this for you’ response. So your choice become a)  Wait out the petition process and MAYBE get the reward, total time spent 90 minutes (30 original minutes, +30 waiting for ARK to show up, and another 30 for a GM to fix it,)S,  or forget the 1st mission and complete the next one, total time spend 60 minutes for one reward.

The prevalence of the mission completion bugs, and Funcom’s ongoing denial at worst and benign neglect at best, puts AO in a similar category with Windows, a flawed imperfect bit of software.  We read every patch announcement hoping to someday see this bug addressed.    We also hope that someday Funcom will address the whole in game support environment better.  The current ARK system is the opposite of user friendly.  Making any consumer wait is a bad public relations move.  There has got to be a better way.

To put things in perspective, while we don’t have any hard data, our experience is that the mission completion bug happens in single digit percentages.  Something like 5-9 missions out of 100.  It’s not the end of the world, and does no permanent damage to your characters, but it is frustrating, especially if the mission reward is something moderately rare that you were intentionally rolling missions for.

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