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10361  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 25, 2008, 03:57:46 AM
So when I'm battling giant mammoths, how the devil do I see their health meter????  icon_confused  mad Actually I guess there's the "target" meter on the lower right of the HUD, guess I'm more used to using the one *on* the target.  smirk

10362  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 24, 2008, 05:10:04 PM
I'd let people summon their whole pet bunch with one click (maybe make it a feat if that seems like something you should sort of "pay for"), ala CoX's pet class ATs. Or at least if you want several of the same pet type. I'd think something like that is in the works if enough people find it needed.

I've always though pet class stuff in MMOs and hack'n'slashes were cool but a lot of the time they are either overpowered (Diablo II's Necromancer at launch), or underpowered (Diablo II's Necromancer after "balancing"). I can apply that to CoH's Controllers being overpowered (at launch) and to some people's minds underpowered (after balancing reduced the # of pets from, if I remember, 8 weaker pets to 3 stronger ones).

Pet classes seem terribly difficult to balance because everyone plays and uses them differently. I don't know how they judge the feedback. Maybe they say if half the players say it's overpowered, and the other half say it's underpowered, then they've reached their Median Goal.  icon_neutral
10363  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 24, 2008, 05:01:28 PM
I think architects will be able to attack enemies with pointy pencil compasses, protractors and slide rules.  Tongue
10364  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 24, 2008, 03:14:27 PM
* Yes, if you didn't get the pre-order perks, you do have to spend 1G for the basic riding skill, and then 2G for a horse. Once you get the mount, a little "horsie" icon appears in your inventory. You can drag that to any hotbar slot for quick access. You can have the mount sprint, and it uses stamina just as if you're running.

I'll try to post a couple gameplay movies tonight so you can see how relatively speedy the horses are now. Definitely made it a lot more pleasant to dash through large zones like Connal's Valley and Field of Dead, albeit I've outleveled almost anything I'd want to do there. They seem a reasonable speed to me now - fast enough to get you where you want to go, slow enough that you can enjoy the scenery and such.

It's not perfect though. The "knocked off horse" animations seem messed up and sometimes flickering to me, and sometimes the ground textures would just vanish and I'd get knocked onto what seemed to be a transparent platform.  icon_confused

Some of the instances take hours to play so I'd just as soon my group not have to waste a lot of time just gathering at the entrance, or having to walk a mile from rez platforms outside the instance (most instances have a rez stone inside, but some don't).
10365  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 24, 2008, 01:13:56 PM
Here's a new dev post yesterday about changes in the works for tradeskills:
Now I'll detail what we plan on doing with Tradeskills and Resource and Building. Unfortunately, I am unable to give you a timeframe for the fixes and changes below, but we hope to get them done very soon. "Very soon" in this case means expect a few of the changes below to come in as early as thursday. Most of these changes we aim to have ready within a few weeks.

    * We will soon have a system where you can unlearn tradeskills.

    * We have added an item called "Alchemists Cache" to Mage/priest mobs. This item, when right-clicked, spawns a few random tradeskill resources for alchemists. These resources will include the 'missing' resources (for example Hyena meat and Icy Crocodile tears) so that alchemists are able to progress further than Tier1.
    * As soon as possible we will patch out a new Resource and Building population consisting of spiders, hyenas, etc, that will drop the resource "proper". These mobs will be put into Lacheish Plains, Poitain and Purple Lotus Swamp. These mobs will have a typical droprate of between 10-50% droprate of these items.
    * At a later stage (still to be determined), we are patching in vendor-bought recipes - these vendor-bought recipes will increase your magic damage. We are also looking into creating various other potions, but thats more hush-hush.

    * Architects are undergoing a design-revamp - what exactly is included in this revamp I won't say, but it will allow architects to use their abilities for combat purposes as well as for building the cities.

    * Weaponsmiths will get a number of blue recipes in the future. These recipes can be obtained through vendors, world-drops and/or boss-kills. These recipes will be spread throughout the tiers of weaponsmithing and will cover all different weapons (but not ammo).

    * As with Weaponsmiths, Armorsmiths will get a number of blue recipes that can be obtained through vendors, world-drops and/or boss-kills. These recipes will provide a more diverse look than what the game currently offers and at level 80, it will be possible to craft an entire set of armor (provided of course that you find the recipes for them).

Resource and Building Regions
    * Traders and Trainers will spawn in the guild-cities. These traders and trainers will spawn depending on what building is built (for instance, a Trader will spawn at the Tradepost).
    * City-life will start appearing in cities. The more buildings you build, the more NPC's will immigrate to your city.
    * We are removing the randomly spawning mobs from the playfields. Instead, we are creating encampments that will dynamically spawn content on the attackers level.
    * Quests - we are adding quests to the Resource and Building regions (Lacheish Plains, Poitain, Purple Lotus Swamp). These quests will not be repeatable.

Various other fixes are also being looked at, amongst others the socketing-bugs and the droprate of leather.

Also, the new update introduced a nasty Alchemist crafting bug (the dangers of removing something the game expects to be there):
I am also writing this in order to explain what has happened to the alchemy crash since todays patch.

Let me start with the bad stuff first.

First off - if you are an Alchemist, opening the tradeskill book by any means will crash your client since last patch. This will be fixed with thursdays patch.

This happened when we were re-arranging some of the potions for tradeskills - If you are an alchemist I'm sure you remember some of the potions would not do anything when created. These potions have been removed from the inventory and will make it back into the game at a later stage. Removing these had an unexpected effect and was unfortunately overlooked by us when patching out the latest patch. We are sorry about this.

Let me assure you - if you are getting the crash, you are not bugged. The recipe book is simply trying to find objects that are no longer available and we have programmers looking into a safeguard for the future so that this type of thing does not happen again.
10366  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 24, 2008, 01:10:05 PM
I finally got a horse mount last night (a guildmate helped me reach the 2G point), see our "Art" screenshots thread.  icon_cool

The horse is very sprightly (-post that recent update that buffed mount speeds), and a lot of fun to ride. I found it easiest to steer with mouse look (hold RMB down and swivel a bit), and move with the run toggle key. I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but I enjoyed just riding around earlier zones and taking in the scenery. I find it a bit clumsy to maneuver in close quarters, or make subtle movements, but it seems to be by design.

Spacebar gets the horse to rear up on its hind legs and give a hearty "neigh." As they'd said, mounted combat is pretty limited. The horse can do some fairly nasty front-kicking for damage, and you can use your basic directional attacks, though it's a little tricky staying in the right position to do so.

I really think that PC Gamer totem item that lets you port back to your home region (once you get out of Tortage and start playing from your Home area) should be a standard item for everyone at some point. Maybe hold it back to 30 or 40 or something as a "carrot," but I've found it enormously useful and a great timesaver even if it is limited to roughly once-every-24-hours use.

There's a "Summon to Instance" function that I'd agree should just be turned into some sort of "group gathering" skill (as is, it seems to just let you pull people to your "number" of an area if the game generated another instance due to excessive # of players). It would be a great timesaver when putting instance teams together.

10367  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 24, 2008, 12:50:48 PM
Some of the supposed nerfing falls under the "Nuke" section:
Nuke Balance Adjustments

    * All damage spells have been rebalanced to take into account your having all 8 pet points at level 20. This leads to better scaling of your damage spells, and reinforces that you are a pet class reliant on pets for a significant amount of damage.
    * Archmage pets incorrectly did not have the area-of-effect damage coefficient applied. Their damage has been corrected to take into account their nukes are AOE nukes.
    * Increased the damage of Necrotic Pustule, Gelid Bones, and Chill.
    * Significantly increased the explosion damage of Necrotic Bomb.
    * Chill has received splash damage (50% damage to 1 target), and splash damage from Ice Strike has received a increase in splash damage from 15% to 30%.
    * Lifestrike Rank 4 will correctly have the damage-over-time effect.
    * Parasitic Soul Swarm and Unholy Hands will now take pet damage contribution into account and should be in line with damage as it was originally intended.
From what I saw last night, the Necro pets are running around like the Road Runner now, and seem to be more smoothly animated (doesn't look like a lot of mannequins doing Charlie Chaplin-shuffles.  icon_razz And they still seem to be a holy terror.

Although the "reach the cave" part of the Cannibal Commotion quest has been fixed, you need to delete the quest if you already had it, and then get it again from the NPC at the Mountain top camp (in the little circular shack). And then it should complete when you reach that cave again.

I can give you a tip for what comes after that but it's a spoiler...
Spoiler for Hiden:
I think the next quest after the cave completion (or maybe the 2nd one after) triggers a nasty series [I think it's just two waves] of "wave attacks" on the cave, Cannibals per wave. If another player is triggering the quest too, you'll get quickly swamped. You *will* get quest credit even if other players squash the wave for you, so you may even want to ask for a hand if other players are in the cave.  icon_smile

I'm not sure I'm crazy about the new spawn/mob densities, speed out around there though. If there aren't other players around you farming, you can easily get overwhelmed now, or have to charge through an army on your way to somewhere else.

10368  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc - mount! on: June 24, 2008, 12:44:41 PM
I was so worried the mounts wouldn't live up to my expectations. I finally got a horse mount tonight (a guild mate was kind enough to donate about 65s when I mentioned I was counting down until I could afford one). It turns out to be unbelievably fun to ride  icon_biggrin, and you can do basic combat from one (only basic attacks + the mount's innate attack -- a healthy front leg kick for the horses). Since the other's day update buffed up most mount's speeds, it's quite sprightly and a lot faster than walking. I actually rode from Tarantia out to Eiglophian, Just for Fun.  icon_smile

Here are some pics:

Steering takes just a bit of practice. You really only need to use your run-lock key and mouselook movement to steer - it's hard at first to resist trying to use keyboard keys for movement.

In combat.

Spacebar gooses the horse to pop a wheelie and "neeeeigh."   icon_cool
10369  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Classes thread on: June 23, 2008, 08:17:27 PM
The dev updates claim they're re-doing a lot of descriptions in the game to be, well, more descriptive. And brother does it need it.   icon_razz

Furious Inspiration is helpful but I really have a hard time telling when it's going off (other than the little icon, there isn't much to indicate it's "firing off").

My Conq's at 54. While he can handle some things above him now, I've found that a pair of 58s will hand him his lunch. A single one he can deal with. So I've got a quest where you have to take out a pair, and I just can't quite handle it solo. With any sort of help at all (just a partner of any AT), he's a worldbeater. I find I have to adjust my expectations on the days i'm switching a lot between solo and teams.  icon_razz
10370  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Blizzard Teaser? on: June 23, 2008, 05:50:39 PM
Lets just ignore it and keep assuming it's Diablo III or a Starcraft MMO. That's a lot more interesting than assuming Blizzard's doomed (not that they're complaining icon_neutral) to an eternity of paid WoW expansions the rest of this century.  icon_razz

Until the "rune explanation," I too was assuming it was perhaps just a fresh tease for SC II.
10371  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 23, 2008, 03:50:15 PM
NPC cries for help should no longer trigger aggro through collision such as walls and other structures.
Pretty amusing...  icon_lol
10372  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 23, 2008, 03:05:41 PM
* The guild I'm in has some Tempests of Sets and I'll post if I see any feedback during the week.  icon_smile

Balancing in these things is tricky, esp. PvE vs. PvP needs (see what happened in CoX once PvP balancing became required). All Mass Nerfing tends to do is drive a lot of people either out of the game (if they were in love with a particular AT) or away from the AT. That said, a few of the classes right now are like one-person Armies and really don't need teammates (outside of Epic Instances) at all it seems.

* I really hope the "client code performance" remedies the memory leak/"decay in system performance over time" situation

* It took me weeks to get a clue, but the Trading Post NPCs first tab on the left is actually your personal stash (maybe I'm the last person to realize this). I thought it was just a "selling" tab but you right click items there to sell them, otherwise it's just your stash. Though to be fair, I've been too busy saving for a mount.

A guild bud donated his last 65S to me last night (I didn't beg, was just joking about being about 78 Silver shy of amount). He said once he had a decent mount he didn't feel like he really needed to save up for anything per se. So I'm about 12-13S shy now.  icon_cool
10373  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / AoC Patch Notes June 23 on: June 23, 2008, 01:14:42 PM
Here's the EU Forum page link:

Necromancer/Demonoligists massive overhaul seems to have gone in today, among other things. Some promising performance improvements at the end. As to what this all broke in the process, stay tuned.  icon_wink

And worth a separate shoutout: All loot bags have doubled in size!  icon_cool [I assume they mean the add-ons you purchase, not sure]

I highlighted the Quests section too as a few annoying broken quests seem to have been fixed.

And pasted:
Massive PvP

    * Player city keeps now contain a vendor that sells siege weapons.
    * Players will now get teleported out of the zone before the battle starts.
    * Traders that would not spawn at the Battlekeep Tradeposts will now spawn. Traders will now be available at Battlekeeps.
    * Ballista NPCs will no longer spawn at an unbuilt tower.
    * The Boarder Kingdoms has had its environments adjusted. This should reduce draw-distance in those playfields and contribute to a performance-increase.

Player Character

    * Mages will now do less damage with ranged weapons to set them apart from specialized ranged weapon classes like the Ranger.

Core Revision Adjustments

    * Kidney Shots will now properly go on cooldown, is now stackable for 12 second from the original 6 seconds and it's stacking buff duration has been increased to 10 seconds.
    * Flesh Necrosis has been given a new and improved visual.
    * Atrophy has an added persistent effect on the target while the debuff is in effect.

Core Revision Adjustments

    * Rage of the Tempest now correctly grants your team increased electrical damage, not increased fire damage.

Dark Templar
Core Revision Adjustments

    * Rite of Blood will now display health loss, stamina gain and the affect of its enhancement.

New Spells

    * Forced Summoning will allow you to summon a pet of the opposite sex than what would normally be summoned  icon_lol if cast before the specific summoned pet. You will receive this spell at level 9 with your first pet summon spell. All characters above level 9 will get this spell automatically.

Core Revision Adjustments

    * Diabolic Insight and Infernal Knowledge now last 12 hours instead of 1 hour and will no longer be removed upon death.
    * Wicked Bolts received a name change to be consistent regardless of how many points you have invested in it.

Herald of Xotli
Core Revision Adjustments

    * Herald of Xotli fatalities now have effects to them.
    * Corrected spelling of the name of the feat "Spell - Undying Glory of Xotli"

New Spells

    * You will now gain a new single target snare - Ice Shackle - at level 5. If you are already higher than level 5, you will gain this spell automatically.

Core Revision Adjustments

    * Dark Knowledge and Vile Insight now last 12 hours instead of 1 hour and will no longer be removed upon death.
    * Plagued Heart Curse will now correctly increase in damage with more feats trained.
    * Decomposition now increases Flesh to Worms by 35% at max rank instead of 30%.
    * Unholy Power has been rebalanced to have a more consistent effect across all levels.
    * Brutal Death now increases the critical strike chance of Pestilential Blast, Life Strike, Ice Strike, and Chill by 2/4/6/8/10%
    * Ice Shards now increases the splash range and damage inflicted by Chill in addition to Ice Strike.
    * Flash Freeze now additionally increases the damage of Frost Blast by 75/150/250%.
    * Bones of Frost now additionally increases the damage of Gelid Bones by 5/10/15/20/30%.
    * Frozen Body now increases the damage of Ice Strike, Chill, and Deathly Blizzard by 2/4/6/8/10%.
    * Corrupted Soul now increases the damage of Pestilential Blast, Life Strike, and Blasphemous Ruin by 2/4/6/8/10%
    * Soul Absorption now restores a significantly higher amount of mana when consuming a pet.
    * Frost Reach now additionally increases the damage of Frost Blast by 75/150/250%.
    * Ritual of the Lich has had its spell damage multiplier increases from 10% to 25%.
    * Embrace Death now has an increased effect. The maximum effect of this ability has been increased from 4% to 10%.
    * Pets now move faster and follow NPCs better.
    * Void has had its stamina/mana drain increased. It will also have the chance to crit.
    * Archmage feat has been moved to up in the general feat tree.
    * Unholy Fortitude has been changed to reduce the recast time of Frenzy by 12 seconds per rank, up from 4 seconds per rank.
    * The levels at which you get your pet points has been significantly changed. You will now get them at the following levels: level 5 - 2 points, level 10 - 4 points, level 15 - 6 points, level 20 - 8 points. You will now have your maximum number of pet points available at level 20.
    * Despoiled the Soul has had its mana cost and recast time reduced. When you train Despoil the Soul you will get a secondary spell, Reap the Soul. This spell can be used to refresh your current Despoil the Soul, making it easier to keep your Despoil the Soul counter where you want it. In addition, Despoil the Soul will also increase a bonus to magical damage instead of being a damage multiplier.

Nuke Balance Adjustments

    * All damage spells have been rebalanced to take into account your having all 8 pet points at level 20. This leads to better scaling of your damage spells, and reinforces that you are a pet class reliant on pets for a significant amount of damage.
    * Archmage pets incorrectly did not have the area-of-effect damage coefficient applied. Their damage has been corrected to take into account their nukes are AOE nukes.
    * Increased the damage of Necrotic Pustule, Gelid Bones, and Chill.
    * Significantly increased the explosion damage of Necrotic Bomb.
    * Chill has received splash damage (50% damage to 1 target), and splash damage from Ice Strike has received a increase in splash damage from 15% to 30%.
    * Lifestrike Rank 4 will correctly have the damage-over-time effect.
    * Parasitic Soul Swarm and Unholy Hands will now take pet damage contribution into account and should be in line with damage as it was originally intended.

Pet Effect Adjustments

    * Blighted One has had its proc rate and amount of mana damage significantly increased.
    * Dead Blight stamina damage was also significantly increased if it is trained and will have a chance to crit.
    * Harvester has received an increase to the amount of mana healed and stamina healed by the pet. The Harvester will now heal more mana than stamina (although the stamina gain is now still significantly increased over the previous value). These can also have a chance to crit.
    * Life-Stealer has had it's amount of health increased significantly. We also reduced the variance of the heal and added a chance to crit.
    * Mutilator's Mutilation damage-over-time (DoT) effect has had an increase to the damage. This will also have a chance to crit.

Tempest of Set
Core Revision Adjustments

    * Storm Field is now limited to affection 3 targets at a time.
    * Titanic Storm now additionally increases the number of targets affected by Storm Field by 50%.
    * Lightning Strike no longer has a cooldown.
    * The primary damage range of Lightning Strike has adjusted to be more consistent, the average damage remains the same
    * Lightning Strike has been modified to deal 40% splash damage to 3 targets instead of pure AoE damage
    * Pillar Lightning rank 2 and 3 now additionally increase the number of targets affected by Lightning Strike splash damage.
    * Fury of the Storm has been decreased from 60% to 40% critical damage modifier at max rank


    * Blood effects on pet attacks should now trigger correctly.
    * The evade bonus on characters has been revised when fighting lower level monsters.

**** Quests *****

    * Quests in the 20 - 40 level range have been revised so that they are all categorized under the proper locations in the quest journal.
    * Supply Routes quest in Conalls Valley should now be sorted under the correct region in the quest journal.
    * The “Jack of Ale” you get at “Rum n' Rumble” for the Mage destiny quest can now be removed from your inventory.
    * Magic Orb: The orbs have been lowered for characters that could not reach them due to shortness in height.
    * Awakening III - Neutralize Strom's Guard: You should no longer become stuck after killing the Boozed Bullies.
    * The Phoenix of the North: You should no longer become stuck in the barrier that shields the Phoenix of the North if you log off.
    * The Cimmerian's Axe, What Creeps Beneath, The Dangers of Decadence and Desert Raiders have had their waypoints corrected.
    * New dialog has been added for Sharak and Scyra when you've finished all the Destiny Quests.
    * Cannibal Commotion: The quest will now correctly update when you reach the cave that Attadeus and Demeras are located in.
    * Ibis, Master of Hidden Secrets: The quest can no longer be deleted from your journal as it was intended.
    * Phoenix of the East: It should no longer be possible to enter the Blood Rite Subterrene with multiple players.
    * To Battle a God: You should no longer experience issues with this quest if your journal is full.


    * Tooltips will now properly display spell affects of the spell line and proc affects to the spell line. They will also now properly display the gem modifications on the item itself.
    * Despoil the Soul will now display a stack count when stacked four times.


    * All bags have had their size doubled!
    * Many level 80 items that increased Max Mana have been adjusted to provide Max Stamina as they were intended. Barbarians will greatly benefit from this change.
    * Oil of Acuity will now replenish mana when consumed.
    * Vanir NPCs in Conall's Valley, Field of the Dead and the Eiglophian Mountains will drop a greater variety of Vanir-based loot.
    * Gossamer Silk should now be referenced correctly in the Full Trade Response.
    * Rusty Courage: The Rusty Old Sword has had it's sized reduced to reflect that of a humans and not of a giant's.
    * The Bloodied Spear now has a blue glow, indicating that you can interact with it.


    * The Beggar in Khemi will no longer give the chat bubble icon.
    * NPC cries for help should no longer trigger aggro through collision such as walls and other structures.
    * NPCs should no longer reset in mid combat.
    * Koruno Elder's has received a new sword as his offhand weapon.
    * The White Hand Priest’s Emanation of Life spell will now have a longer cooldown and will also display the icon for the spell in the Priest’s debuff window.
    * Awi-Awan from the Purple Lotus Swamp is now flagged as an Armorsmith Trainer.
    * Barkripper Ursa is now a group encounter.


Armsman Arena

    * You will now need to interact with the Arena Gong after speaking with the Announcer to receive a challenge.

Eiglophian Mountains

    * Eiglophian Mountains has received a number of enhancements and adjustments based off player feedback.
    * More Hungry Ice Worms, Ice Worm Devoures, Snow Apes, Mountain Apes and Cliff Apes have been added.
    * The respawn timers of the NPCs in the area has also been adjusted.
    * Ymirish Rimebinder has been reverted from a group encounter to a solo encounter.

Khopshef Province

    * New quests and monsters have been added.
    * Black Castle is no longer Epic Mode enabled as it's turned into a group dungeon.

Kyllikki's Crypt

    * The light and environment in Kyllikki's Crypt should be a little better.

Sanctum of the Burning Souls

    * Treasures are now scattered throughout the sanctum.
    * NPCs will now never lose aggro.


    * Silver Necklet has had its level adjusted to 40 as it was originally intended.
    * Skymetal-Studded Wristbands (normal) and Bluesteel-studded Wristbands (rare) should now have different stats from each other.
    * Stone, Iron and Gold nodes have had new visual effect applied to them to make the nodes more visible to all.
    * All items that contain gems will no longer have the gems removed when undoing a sale in the shop.
    * Wolves in Lacheish Plains have had their Worled Leather drops adjusted as intended.
    * Gems will no longer visually overwrite the first one.
    * Crafted cloaks will now support the equipping of gems.


    * Performance: A number of code changes have been made to improve client performance.
    * New advance video options have been added for particles. Turning down the particle settings will increase performance.

10374  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 23, 2008, 04:03:07 AM
Gamespot has an AoC Hardware Guide that might be useful:
10375  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 23, 2008, 03:48:45 AM
Got some neat group screenshots from a moderately successful Tomb instance team (we at least got the Ancient Weapons quest done, and a couple of the guards). These give an idea of how 50-ish toons look.

The Fellowship of... I mean, the Hyborian Brotherhood of...

We had what seemed to be a pretty good mix, I think of 6 different classes.

The Polearm guy is a Guardian who sort of apologized for not being a Shield-tank Guardian.

I'm not really a big fan of the Fear Affect animation where your character basically becomes Michael Jackson on Roller Skates, doing this wacky, uncontrolled moonwalk in every direction in the near vicinity.  disgust icon_razz So that's me and the archer doing our required moonwalking... We needed a second try to beat this boss (not a quest boss, just an Annoying one).
10376  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 22, 2008, 08:40:20 PM
I'm a combat-heavy guy and so far that has what has hooked me and kept me in it. I appreciate that others want to build houses, boats, furniture etc., and I don't think AoC  has enough properly functioning crafting features to satisfy that need right now. I don't think those things (unless you consider the Guild keep stuff "houses") are a focus of the game, and I never would've recommended AoC to someone who wants to focus more on those kinds of things. I'd more likely recommend LOTORO myself (which I retain a lot of fondness for) even if you can't make your own boat. icon_neutral

And I really do think it was a mistake to make mounts so prohibitively expensive. I maybe understand it with the pre-order mounts (Mammoth, Rhino) cause you want to keep them something fairly rare. But mounts are a cool feature in the game (that I'm sure many players never even reach) and it just seems a shame to make even a starter horse such a bear to afford unless you're a resource-gathering maniac or spend all day at the auction house. LOTORO had a tricky little obstacle course, and some slightly annoying navigational horse-riding before you could use one, but at least you could get a horse without too much financial agony.

As for solo vs. grouping, I think fixing a lot of the malfunctioning quests would really enhance the solo experience (and while I'm addicted to the game, I *do* agree they should be scolded for allowing so many broken quests to [presumably] knowingly go into the release version of the game). The problems is a lot of these broken things are parts of quest chains so you end up having content that players can't even get to. Blackjackian's in the 50s, there's plenty to do, but he has about 3 quests that are bugged, or you don't get credit for killing a boss, or reaching a location etc.

I've piped up in the chat channels frequently that they need additional chat channels, such as:
-An LFG Channel (LOTORO has this, and generally it makes it much faster to find a group or recruit cause you're chatting in a channel devoted to the topic). Right now, most LFG type message are in OOC or the region channel (Cimmeria, Stygia etc.) The problem being, there might be a good instance in Stygia, but you're in Cimmeria and you won't even know. One central LFG channel would be really helpful in that regard, among other things.

-A "newbie" or "Q&A" or "FAQ" channel
Since so much of the game just isn't intuitive right now (supposedly they're working on improving descriptions and explanations, tutorials etc.) you end up with people hollering out questions all over the place in chat. Might as well give people a channel for that, it's worked fine in other games I've played. Hell, even Hellgate and Tabula Rasa had "new player" chat channels that were really useful.

I don't think it's so much you can't find teams, or people aren't recruiting, we're all just struggling with the chaotic disorganization of the chat channels, and the strangely designed search tools (you can search for someone by level, and area, but not by what particular quests or instances they want to do, for example). The tools just don't seem very useful and most of my teams are through squawking in a region or OOC channel, or just inviting someone I stumble into who's working on the same quest as me.

I can only change from my own limited MMO experience but I feel like COH/COV and LOTORO have much, much, more useful/flexible search tools for LFG, LFT, LFM, recruiting etc. and yet you can just use them pretty simply if you don't want to dig into their menu options. AoC's (to me) feels like a neanderthal axe by comparison. icon_razz

Anyway, I could go on, but according to the latest dev postings they are working on improving the LFG interface, and the chat UI, channels etc.   They really need to move on those things, it would really improve the experience a lot.
10377  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 22, 2008, 05:50:41 PM
It'll probably just make it slower.  icon_razz (which is the impact it has in stuff like Company of Heroes)

Couple battle videos. Lot of Conq attacks have different animations for the 40-59 variations, it turns out (like Batter Aside, and Dancing Steel).

Click here to watch Age-of-Conan-Field-of-Dead-epic-surrounded [Not really Epic, somehow snuck into the file name]
I was running back through Field of Dead and ended up in the middle of a couple of "kited" groups. Even with a 6-7 lev difference it can still get a little challenging if you get carried away...

Click here to watch Age-of-Conan-Cannibal-Battle
10378  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Stan Winston RIP on: June 22, 2008, 01:06:43 AM
Blue's News pointed out a neat Rotten Tomatoes online feature highlighting the films Winston worked on, along with a few choice original trailers in streaming video form (when available online). It's pretty neat. I can still remember seeing The Terminator with my visiting brother while I was in college, in a so-so theater, but we were so completely drawn into the movie.  icon_cool Between that, Aliens and Terminator 2, I was a blithering James Cameron fanboy for quite a few years.  icon_biggrin I was also convinced Michael Biehn would be "the next Harrison Ford." Oops.  icon_redface

Total Recall: The Best of Stan Winston
We take a look back at the celebrated career of Hollywood's beloved creature artist.

It's really a great little way to celebrate his work.
10379  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / AoC official forum Dev Postings of note on: June 21, 2008, 05:57:27 PM
Oh gawd, another thread! Shoot me now!  icon_razz Well, I finally realized the US forums have no dev announcements section at all. The EU-English one does, at:
AoC dev announcements

Also, the Funcom Product Manager (nickname of LordOrion), doesn't currently seem to get his posts pulled up by their dev tracker there. You can view all his posts via this link there (much of it's frivilous but there's an occasional nugget of info):

I kinda had fun digging up dev posts to highlight for Champions Online earlier in the year, thought I'd try it a bit with AoC.

Some interesting stuff updated just yesterday (June 20):

* Mounts
Camels are "on the way
Ha! I was just joking about camel mounts last night, I had no idea.  icon_smile

Scroll down that thread and you can see a new dev post about plans to adjust some things complained about in mounts, including sluggish dismounting in combat.
Quote from: Svein Erik "Sharum" Jenset, Striketeam Lead: BCC Design, Funcom
One of the hottest topics on these boards recently has been how long it takes to dismount, and how easily it is to get killed if dismounting while in combat. While this is true to our design, where mounted combat has a lot to do with gaining extra mobility at the cost of certain other factors, we take the feedback we receive very seriously and have mapped out a solution that we hope players will feel go a long way towards remedying this issue. As it currently is every character that is a member of the Rogue archetype have access to a Quick Dismount ability.

Now, before you all de-rail right here by saying 'But that ability doesn't work' let me just jump in and say that 'We're on top of it, we're fixing it'. However, to get back on track, we're going to give said ability out to every character regardless of his or her archetype. You will still have to stand still in order to use it, it still won't be a instant "poof" off your mount and it will have a cooldown to it; but we're taking this step in the hopes of making players feel less "doomed" because they want to dismount while engaged in combat.

To keep with the original design where members of the Rogue archetype, due to their naturally higher dexterity (and I use the word as a adjective here, not as a reference to the in-game stat), would be more nimble and able to quickly dismount we're revamping their version of the Quick Dismount ability and allowing them to use it while moving. I'm not going to go into further details about this revamp for the time being as, during the process of testing and balancing, many of the finer details might change.
And, that's about all that's new enough you might not have read about it somewhere else already.

I think though this short post about the "breast situation" a while back has the funniest dev topic title ever...

Funcom statement on botched boob job icon_lol
10380  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 21, 2008, 05:26:59 PM
I'll check around the official forums and let you know. Thanks for reminding me. I haven't wasted any Feat points on 'em yet (Taunt/Goad).  icon_smile
10381  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 21, 2008, 02:43:46 PM
For my Conq, a light bulb sort of went off at 50. I picked up the Slash Throat feat/combo, a single key combo that stuns target(s) and has a really cool but quick spin animation (you spin around twice like a top). It's so useful, and I should've gotten it earlier. icon_redface

And after our discussion of tanking type stuff here, I realized my taunt combo (Brutal Enraging Strike I think, I bound it to the "v" key) was also my best damaging combo from what I can tell. So I'm using it a lot more, and it makes things a lot easier (if not easy).

And I did finally notice the specific taunt (single taunt) and Goad (multiple target taunt) amongst the Feats, but I'm still debating whether to bother with those at this point.

I also got Hoarfrost at 50, and what seems to work for me in terms of buffs is that and the Shield of Retribution. You can read 1,997 other opinions at the officials forums, but that combo's working for me really well in the 50s.  icon_cool

10382  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 21, 2008, 12:08:23 PM
Some M-rated gore (you've been warned icon_twisted). Not posting from my Photobucket space, not sure they would approve.  paranoid icon_lol The first one was a really annoying boss that seemed to be teleporting away from me (I know, maybe a bug  disgust) so it was enormously satisfying to finally finish it off. The second one I blacked out the quest description so as to not spoil anything. And the sword is an Bastard Sword (at 50), love the basic look...
10383  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 20, 2008, 07:29:34 PM
Thanks. Yeah I should look into that. Right now I have pretty much the highest level of each attack combo hotkeyed, but perhaps I should look closer at which ones are more effective, or set up a #2 hotkey tray (The Hate Tray icon_twisted) that I use just when teaming.
10384  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 20, 2008, 05:36:13 PM
I'll try actually asking a question here.  saywhat

So, my 49 Conqueror doesn't really have a "hotkey-able" taunt skill/ability, right? I've put some more points into the Taunt skill, but afik, it just seems to mean you have a slightly better chance of generating "hate" when you hit something. I think maybe this is what the Funcom guys have been talking about recently, the need to improve some of their skill descriptions so players have a better idea of what something is, or how to use it.

Other than one command ability that's supposed to decrease the possibility of a target focusing on my teammates (and I really don't have any idea if it's doing anything), I just don't seem to have much that lets me pseudo-tank well in groups. I know "that's the Guardian's job," but my groups often haven't had one and refer to me as the tank, and I'm often thinking, "Who? Me?"  paranoid

I guess I'm used to most games having a "taunt" key, and woops, you draw everyone to you. Am I missing something that should let me (a Conq) be able to do that? There are a couple of upper rung feats that modify Hate, and maybe that's what I need. I didn't bother with them much to this point.

To this point, what I've tried to do is simply whack enemies as much as I can (I'm good at that  icon_lol), knock them down if they're beating up on a "squishy," and just reposition myself between them and my softer teammates, when I can.
10385  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 20, 2008, 03:17:34 PM
Can't we all just get along?  The Weghted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you.

I've mostly found AoC grouping fun, but the sheer number of classes, different ways people play, and different ways the game plays from others I've played (I only played WoW about 3 weeks, but I was a big LOTORO fan for maybe 6-7 months) makes it challenging. Whether that's by design or because it's over ambitious and buggy, I can't really say yet myself.  icon_confused

If you read the latest official AoC newsletter, the Game Director admits to a different kind of "failure to anticipate," which is that they simply didn't have enough support people and people to take care of in-game petitions and the like (they're "staffing up," and relying on an influx of temps in the short-term). Now I can't really see how you can hype a game as much as they hyped AoC and not anticipate a massive amount of players in the opening weeks, but it did remind me of Blizzard somehow not anticipating how popular WoW would be when it launched and the whole server-que thing. I agree that wasn't a technical error, it was a marketing-forecasting goof, and a sort of "failure to anticipate how popular the Blizzard brand is."

So I'd really like if the Big Budget MMO-Makers would be realistic, but I guess they can't really justify hiring a bunch of people or having a huge number of servers at launch to their investors/CEOs unless they really have The Proof. You can end up with something like Auto Assault's situation (8 mostly empty servers at launch rapidly consolidated to one).

From my own more limited MMO experience, LOTORO was by far the smoothest launch I'd experienced (though I'm sure you could Google and find all sorts of complaints still). COH in 2004 went relatively smoothly too (imho) though there was much grumbling about No Capes, a Level 40 cap, there's no PVP, there's no "end game," etc. etc.

I'm really not into bashing other games to make a point. I think most MMOs have different strengths and weaknesses. Part of the challenge when I switch to another one is altering my combat style and expectations. What it comes down to for me is I have a lot of fun with AoC, enough to recommend it to people with solid systems and lots of RAM who like a heavy combat focus, but I'm well aware Funcom has a lot of work to do. I guess I sound like a politician. So be it.  icon_neutral

One thing I would like with the group-focused quests is maybe a little better indication in the description whether it's a quest that physically, absolutely requires a group (i.e., epic hit point level enemies), or if it's suggesting a group because of the heavy enemy population and patrols in the area (but regular hp-level enemies). The latter, when I figure out it's the situation, I can usually tackle solo with a little bit of caution and precision (it's even fun in a way that way). It's just, you can't really tell from the description (I either find out by asking, or by investigating the area a bit). I dunno - maybe they can have 3 of those "stick figure heads" to indicate you mathematically *must* have teammates to do it, and 2 heads to indicate "we recommend you have a team, but you might be able to find a way solo." icon_smile
10386  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 20, 2008, 01:12:36 PM
I really like this Vanir Armor (upper 40s drop), and it matched the belt bj's been using, but the stats were so-so:

I didn't have a "live" shot of Blackjackian with some snazzy boots that dropped in Frost Swamp, but here's a "dead" shot  icon_razz:

The pants are kind of strange-looking, but excellent stats and hey! - pants, not skirts.  icon_biggrin Frost Swamp can be a real bear, even if you numerically think your group is overqualified for it. But it seems to have some great loot drops, not even from anything special (the armor pants and boots weren't from Bosses).

10387  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 20, 2008, 12:59:18 PM
I was trying to get some information on Hoarfrost (I think it's a Conq ability at 50). Saw this interesting (perhaps more info that anyone wants really) comparison of Fireweave and Hoarfrost:

It's some general gaming-tanks fan site.

10388  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 20, 2008, 04:43:37 AM
Trying to get some portrait-type pics (something that would look good on an AoC Playing Card  icon_smile) of classes I've teamed with. Here's a couple...

Bear Shaman

10389  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan - All Your Questions Are Belong to Us! on: June 19, 2008, 09:08:02 PM
The latest update did buff up the speed of the heavier mounts a bit. Anyway, I'll live. icon_smile I'm glad I scraped up enough for my measly 4-slot bag-extender (every bit helps). I think maaaybe I can afford the starter-horse (2G) in perhaps a week or two. I've done enough venting about my mount-envy.  icon_razz

I'm hoping the ballyhooed reworking/improving of crafting will adjust the economy a bit. I've been too busy chopping things up to think about it much.

I'd still like some sort of individual loot stash (as most hack'n'slashes do now and in recent years), or at least maybe a small individual stash within the guild stash. My guilds leaders in their infinite wisdom (ahem) only gave the "leaders" access to items in the guild stash. I just have a handful of things I tend to drag along (I got a drop of the generic L50 2-hand sword for example and want to save it), and I wish there was an easy way to store them there so I wasn't wasting me precious slots.

Anyway, I'm just kvetching. I mentioned in the other thread I canceled CoX again, and I plan to just stick with this for a while. icon_cool

Oh btw, this is still atop of the U.S. PC game sales charts (Mass Effect nipping at its heels) for now. We'll see how long it lasts. I can remember LOTORO atop the charts for a bit last year, and then before you know it, the top 5 retail games were all WoW and Sims stuff again.  icon_neutral
10390  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Early word on "Iron Man" on: June 19, 2008, 08:22:05 PM
Iron Man looks to pass the $300 million mark today:
I think I read it's making roughly the same amount internationally so far.
10391  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 19, 2008, 01:31:14 PM
This experience last night (at 48) taught me not to Freak Out when I get swarmed by minions because, afterall,
They're Just Minions.  icon_razz I've really got to register FRAPS sometimes so my movies don't get cut short
before the happy ending...
Click here to watch Age-of-Conan-Field-of-Dead-solo-swarm

I tend to panic when I get swarmed, it's something I'm working on.  icon_smile
10392  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 19, 2008, 01:19:59 PM
TenTonHammer, which likes to give MMOs a few weeks to breathe and to play long enough to some characters into higher levels (I'm suspicious of MMO reviews that seem to have reviewed it the day it launched - just in terms of, how does a reviewer see any substantial portion of what a game has to offer in that little time, unless he's basing his review off his beta experience? icon_confused), posted its AoC Review:

For my part, I enjoy the game's combat and quest variety enough that I (again) canceled my City of Heroes/Villains account yesterday. It's the only fantasy MMO I've played where the combat felt (in a different way) as fun and lively as COH/COV (just imho), and I think the the fact the character models have real heft to them (not clipping though each other, except at resurrection platforms) is something I enjoy and that it does have in common with CoX. Along with at least some ability to tackle larger mobs, and send them flying.  icon_cool

I just haven't found myself up to playing more than one of these at a time, and I like my AoC experience enough to feel I can enjoy it for quite some time. Whether that's 3+ years (like COH) or only 2-3 months (Tabula Rasa most recently), it's too early to say.  icon_neutral

I certainly have all sorts of complaints:
-50 gold for a good mount? (I'm gonna have to settle for the 2G "starter horse." Do they want me to just live at the auction house? disgust
-Too many instances have broken bosses, quests, etc. though some of these are gradually getting fixed.
-Too many of us have wildly erratic frame rate problems as if certain areas and quests introduce a gigantic memory leak or something.
-Crafting, which I enjoyed in LOTORO (maybe the first time I ever did) feels baffling to me, and poorly explained here. The latest Game Director notes indicate some bugs were "covering some crafting features up" so maybe there's some hope there.

-There's a Cimmeria chat channel and a Stygia chat channel etc., yet no specific chat channel for say, Old Tarantia, Field of the Dead, etc. You end up hawking the quest you want to do there (me at level 48) and the channel could be well full of level 20s. Why not have specific chat channels for specific areas? [If there is, clue me in - I don't see one on the chat channel listings options]
-There's no Trading chat channel, there's no Looking for Group or Team Recruiting channel, you end up with a lot of people throwing out LFMs and LFGs in OOC and "Regional" chat channels, getting nowhere.

I could go on and on, but at the core, I manage to have a good time with it (and i'm strictly PvE fwiw). That's really what it comes down to.  icon_smile I can beat them over the head about the launch state of the game but it's out of Pandora's Box, you can't stuff it back in. If they get lazy about fixing some of this stuff, I'll be the first to throw salmonella-ridden tomatoes at them.  icon_twisted

If they do a paid expansion well down the road, I do hope they'll learn some things from the original launch.
10393  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC - Developers update on: June 19, 2008, 01:03:16 PM
The Game Director answered a few more fan questions Monday:
Q: When will the guild buildings bonuses be activated?

The building bonuses "work" already, per se. Their major problem is that the tooltip from the feats don’t show. This has been worked on and will come in a patch very soon. In addition we felt the bonuses were a bit "stingy" and have decided to increase their effect.

Both of these changes will go out at the same time.
My guild has 2-3 buildings, but I haven't checked them out yet.
Q. Can you tell us more about how character skills affect the gameplay?

Several of the Tooltips on skills and stats have been of too low quality, and this has in certain cases made it a bigger challenge than intended to understand how this works. These are now being improved and will come shortly. They are the ones that will tell you about what the stats are doing. It is simply too much detail to write down here.
This is meaningful to me, some of my Conq's skills, I just couldn't hardly tell you what they were doing for me (perhaps it's just a Finnish-to-English lost in translation problem).
10394  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC Character Art, etc on: June 19, 2008, 04:58:00 AM
Had a pretty fun time teaming with a Guardian tonight. I share this pic only because, by golly, he seemed to have a cape color/design I've not seen before (he was lower level than me, 47):

And fwiw (and it's worth nothing!  icon_razz), I'm far and away the highest level Conqueror in my guild. *blows a kazoo*
10395  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Eee Pc? on: June 18, 2008, 09:35:34 PM
Laptop Mag (they should send me a check! icon_razz ) has a mini-review of the larger Eee PC 1000H that is due out around July 1.
(a video's near the end of it)

The keyboard apparently has a few weird quirks. They highlight some weird "bubble" effect of the keyset not being placed firmly enough (perhaps this was just a pre-production review model flaw?) that they fixed by removing the keyset and putting it back in more firmly.

The $649 still seems the stumbling block as there's quite a few "full" laptops in that price range already (notwithstanding the $479-$499 MSI Wind, and various other Eee PC wannabes due out soon at lower prices).
10396  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an MSI Wind? on: June 18, 2008, 09:23:15 PM
The 6-cell I believe adds some visual bulk (it sticks out of the back past the hinges a bit), and noticeable weight, so I guess it just depends on how portable one really needs it to be.

I was having lunch outside at a Panera today, and practically every table around me had someone surfing on a laptop (they have truly free Wi-Fi). I made do with my dead-tree newspaper. But someday, I'll be mindlessly surfing just like everyone else, on a Wind. I'm sure I'll do something productive, like posting jabbering like this here. Which I already do too much of at the office.  icon_razz
10397  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Firefox 3.0...What's your take so far? on: June 18, 2008, 06:11:29 PM
Somebody toss a link...
If you use a lot of Firefox extensions I'd preach caution only because most of them probably haven't been updated for this yet and won't function until then (I ran into a lot of that when switching to the 2.0).

I've never been satisfied with the bookmarks in IE or Firefox. I generally just end up flooding my toolbar links bookmarks area and having to wade through an unruly mess of them to find what I want.
10398  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Re: Help us help you- Come take our survey!!!!! on: June 18, 2008, 05:36:23 PM
Done. Good Lord. In 2 more years I'll have moved into the Next Age Bracket in the survey. *shudders*  paranoid
10399  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Warren Spector: games are too long! on: June 18, 2008, 05:26:47 PM
Saw this Gamasutra item at Blue's News today:
As he has often done in the past, Spector commented on his frustration with some of the dominant tropes of video games. "I love working with Disney because I'm so tired of making games about guys in black leather carrying guns. I don’t want to make those any more," he said.

"Game costs are going to be $35-40 million, even $100 million, and the expectations are huge. You have to differentiate yourselves. One-hundred hour games are on the way out… How many of you have finished GTA? Two percent, probably. If we're spending $100 million on a game, we want you to see the last level!"
This seems like a bizarre way of looking at things. Most gamers I know love something with replay value and/or tons of gameplay time, because it feels like they're getting their $40-$60 worth. If it's something short and sweet, they'll presumably more likely rent it (consoles) or wait for it to hit the bargain bins (PC), neither of which seems like a fate someone wants for their $35-$100 million game.  icon_confused

Anyway, I thought it would probably draw some interesting feedback here.  stirthepot

I've loved some action games that drew some criticism for their relativley short play time (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and the original Call of Duty come to mind), but I think I've usually been more drawn to games with long campaigns, or to things that seemed to supply a lot of replayability.
10400  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: June 18, 2008, 05:16:49 PM
While I'm sure there are better ways to spend $24.99, I spent that to pick up the official Age of Conan strategy guide. Like most MMO guides, it's no doubt going to be out of date in terms of sheer numbers, but I think some of the instances maps, and NPC location listings will be useful at least (I constantly forget where the Wayfarers and Trainers are in zones, and these are marked in this).

I certainly am visiting the various fan sites, database sites and Wikis cropping up for Aoc but I haven't so far found something that's well rounded in terms of info (for example, there's a database site I like, but some of its entries are maddeningly vague).

fwiw, the guide is far cheaper online at Target ($16.80) and Amazon ($16.49). But hey, it was an impulse buy (only copy I could find at Best Buy), and I'm trying to stimulate the economy afterall.  icon_razz
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