Samples and Hacking

25 10 2010
Baba's Halloween Outfit 2009

Baba's Halloween Outfit 2009, click for full view

Babaengy, Babaemphee and Tireen returned to the mutant caves to collect the bio-samples that are required by the next part of the “Collar of Amplification Quest”.  To save time, (i.e. only one trip to Ace Starr) Tireen would grab the three samples prior to talking with Starr, and then after getting the mission, she would hand them in and complete the mission.  Babaengy and Babaemphee have already collected the three pieces each during their many trips so far to the Delta section.

The samples required are: Pulmonary from Bio-Constructs, Cardiac from Shadows, and Liver from Vindicators.

As a side objective they would also try and reach the final section of the caves to get a Beta clearance tag for Tireen off the bodyguards there.

The run down there was fairly uneventful, save for some tool who  trained a blaster beetle from the hanger on to them while they were rebuffing in one of the rooms just outside the hanger.

The rest of the trek went well and Tireen was able to collect the three pieces she needed.  The caught up with another team by the time they hit the last section with the bodyguards and bio-constructs which helped as the bio-constructs in that area are rather close together and it is hard to avoid having to fight more than one at a time.

Tireen managed to grab a Beta clearance tag off on of the bodyguards and with some RL4 issues pressing they decided to use her Trader’s grid warp to leave, rather than fight their way out, or fight forward to the next golf ball and emergency exit.  This later required them to fly back out from Bliss, but hopefully they will not have to do that too many more times.

Gathering Next to Ace Starr

Gathering Next to Ace Starr

The next day they flew to meet with Starr, and each one in turn first talked to him to get the samples mission individually, and then again each one talked to him to hand in the samples and getting their rewards.  Tireen’s reward brought her close to dinging 79.  The then talked to Starr again and got the computer hacking mission.

Starr gives the person taking the mission a small hacking device and instructions on how to obtain some secret data on green slips from the terminals found in the computer core.  They fought their way through the mutant caves, and Tireen’s extra shotgun damage really did help make things go faster, however, her being quite a few levels below them, and having skimped on her body development, the have to stop often to give the heal pet a chance to top her off or in bad cases, use some of her own health kits.

When they reached the computer core, there was another small team there, which appeared to be doing the same thing.  Babaengy, Babaemphee, and Tireen took on clearing the west end of the room and then they each took their turn hacking one of the terminals closest to the entrance.  They all were successful in getting the needed green documents, so they only had to jog back to the emergency exit, and return to Ace Starr and give him the documents to complete the mission.  In their haste, Tireen forgot to loot the bodyguards for a Gamma clearance tag.

Bigger Shotgun for Tireen, QL 122 Vektor

Bigger Shotgun for Tireen, QL 122 Vektor

When they did complete the mission, it had no effect on Babaengy and Babaemphee as they have experience turned off (because they are level 100), but Tireen got her next ding (79).  She was excited after allocating out her new IP points as she would be able to equip a higher quality shotgun. Her current gun as QL109. First she had to check the ‘Baba’ group inventory database () to find that they had a QL 122 Vektor Shotgun on one of their mules named Babtrice.  After she retrieved the shotgun, she visited the nearest backyard to drain up of some low mobs which then allowed her to equip the new gun. With shotgun expertise running, she is just barely out of being over equipped with this new weapon.

The next day they returned to Biomare, but bypassed Starr.  He only has one more quest to give out, and that is the final one in the ‘Collar of Amplification’ quest which is to kill the Lab Director.  They did not want to take this until Tireen has Gamma Clearance and she has her own recapture beacon.  This way they can either camp safely at the end of Gamma section, or get there using the warp if they have to leave or get sent to reclaim.

Chillin in Bliss, Closest Reclaim for Clan.

Chillin in Bliss, Closest Reclaim for Clan.

The headed straight for the computer core specifically to let Tireen grab a Gamma clearance tag.  When they reached the narrow Vindicator section, they were caught behind a team consisting of a lowbie and an engineer with Mochams who had cast a Slayerdroid.  These two toons preferred to let the Slayerdriod do all the fighting, and while it looks impressive, by itself, it takes much longer to kill the vindicators than it takes TEAM PETS. They had very slowly advanced to the middle section of the ravine and the Slayerdroid was fighting the last vindicator by the bridge, when one of the vindicators just behind them respawned and attacked Tireen.  The team was focused on watching the Slayerdroid ahead, and did not notice Tireen was in trouble until it was too late.  Babaengy and Babaemphee ran back to the previous golf ball and took the emergency exit.  Since they have their Gamma clearance, they did not have to fight their way back.  Tireen soon rejoined them after a quick flight from Bliss.

This time when they reached the vindicator section, there were no other players around, and the made their way through very methodically.  Babaengy is making good use of his blind/debuff aoe.  In addition to debuffing the tough mobs, he tries to cast his bots short term aggression trim at the same time and then be able to time them together.  The trimmer has no way to know when it is in effect other than trying it and getting an error message saying it is already in use.

Team Pets and Trader Tireen, Relaxing With Gamma Clearance

Team Pets and Trader Tireen, Relaxing With Gamma Clearance

They got to the computer core eventually and after Tireen collected a Gamma clearance tag, they retired to the room just before the golf ball where she swiped her badge and upgraded it to Gamma clearance.  She walked up to one of the respawned bodyguards in that room and was ignored as she wanted.  They then decided to camp there, as their next objective was to get Tireen a recapture beacon.  It had been close when just Babaengy and Babaemphee completed it, so hopefully Tireen’s additional firepower will give them a better margin of victory there.  Once she has that, they may all return to do an Insurance save in Borealis, and then return to Biomare to camp for the Lab Director.

In a few days the Halloween festivities will kick in on Ruby-Ka, and the creepy Uncle Pumpkinheads will most likely return.  They may take a break from Biomare to go hunt Pumpkinheads with Baba with hopes of finding some nice Lya’s gear.   Babemphee is just two points of MC away from equipping a better attack pet and only 10 or so away from the next heal pet.


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.