The Abyss

Lae and I were chatting the other day how he got stuck in an uncharted area of DDO that he has still yet to tell me, and he sent me this:

Image courtesy of Laeris


“I stared into the abyss, and the abyss stared back.”

Something about that was SO beautiful and profound to me, and when he told me it was a quote by Nietzche, a German philosopher, I just had to look into it.

The true quote, taken from his work Beyond Good and Evil, goes as follows:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

After doing some quick research on the meaning behind this… I have come to fall in love with this particular philosophy. The abyss doesn’t necessarily represent an endless chasm of good or evil – rather, it is representative of the reader’s truth.

Exploring the theme of monstrosity and humanity is a common one in many of literature, like Geek Love and Frankenstein. When presented with the moral dilemma of fighting for justice, who is to say that you yourself cannot be corrupted? That you become a monster in the process of it all? It’s something I’ve been watching as of lately, a lot of vigilante/war/action TV shows and movies I’ve been watching with War. Especially Dare Devil. The exploration of understanding where that personal line is for you is precisely what the abyss refers to; when you’ve reached a point to where you can see the end of the abyss, is when it “stares” back at you. It is a beautiful, powerful, and eerily evocative statement that tells you, “the only way to find out is to stare – deeply – into the abyss”. An “endless search for truth”, and when you find that the abyss stares back, that’s when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.

The question is, where is that personal limit for you?

R1 ToEE Part 1 & 2 Solo Experience

Boy, is this going to be a fun story to share!

Lately I have been writing more about my questing experiences because they have been eventful – which is totally awesome in my opinion! The game should be fun and exciting – full of storytelling material and content. And this is just another one of them.

What inspired me to do these solo runs is a couple of things: solo performance in high level reaper content, and most importantly, the thrill of exploring an expanse dungeon, one that is of preferably and generally unbeknownst to me. This was an excellent learning experience in not just refreshing my memory in how to run the quest, but to immerse myself in a dungeon that I consider to be fun if and only if I am running it for that sole purpose. And this was just one of those days when I needed some solitude and quiet time.

I have to admit, I am thoroughly surprised at my performance. I was farming the rares in ToEE part 2 today solo and I was just not able to survive or play as well as I did in the previous completion run. Something about my attitude and mood greatly affects my play style performance, it seems… as if I was almost in a trance like state playing through the two part dungeon.

But enough of generalities. Let’s get to it!


ToEE Part 1

Let me just say that first and foremost, these two quests were full on exploratory runs – I spent a decent chunk of my evening that day running both parts, and while it was difficult and challenging at various instances, it was also loads of fun. I got to re-learn the quests and re-familiarize myself with the pathing, quest objectives, and other areas otherwise left unexplored in a normal zerging run.

ToEE Part 1 was more of a successful run than Part 2 for many reasons: Part 2’s end fight, lesser death count, and overall, better tactical strategies employed. At first, I was almost unsure about the performance because even the outer perimeter mobs were difficult to deal with at first. But I plowed forward, and did my best. To be honest, ToEE is not much different than Slavers in terms of mob-spawn placement – they are placed in almost every 5-10 feet distance of the next “cluster.” In that regard, the same psychology of difficulty-familiarity, I suppose, was translated here; so I felt as if it were possible after all, since I’ve ran countless Slavers’ runs (a little hard to explain, but that’s the best I can do).

Surprisingly, I realized that the difficulty tier for these types of quests are variable in my experience and level of play. The other day I was trying to replicate a solo rare farming run, but I was killed far more often than the completion run here. Perhaps it was the level of determination that separates the two cases, but I was kind of surprised that the latter performance varied by a large margin.

R1 ToEE P1

As you can see, I spent over 86 minutes, with a death + a Jibbers death due to an unfortunate encounter, and while the first part has NOTHING on the second part’s duration, Part 1 did feel a lot more of a drag because I enjoyed the elemental nodes sections a lot more than running to each elemental area and grabbing their keys. Part 1 was fairly straightforward, and I had to remind myself how to calculate my SP and conserve enough before the next shrine, a bit more dangerously than in Part 2. All in all, the mobs were mostly susceptible to my spells and I was able to dispatch most of them before they could take me out (although there were many close calls + the one instance when I did die). I remember running nearly out of SP at the Water room where we fight the aquatic gelatinous cube and water elemental guardians. There was also another point when I was keeping a good 15-20 meter distance from the Medusa rare near the Earth area location in order to stay alive and physically evade her deadly force blasts. Lots of memorable instances!

ToEE Part 1 is definitely more “do-able” as R1 solo compared to ToEE Part 2, by a long shot.

ToEE Part 2

Part 2 was… very interesting. The screenshot should say a lot in itself.

R1 ToEE P2

In this case, this was maybe a 90% solo. The boss fight was a huge 10% that I needed assistance with (and rightfully so, that end fight is nuts!). But we’ll get to that at the end.

I spent almost 5 hours exploring the entire ToEE map, and I have to say it was quite fulfilling. My favorite areas are the Water and Air elemental node sections, and while Earth and Fire were more easier sections to complete, it was not quite as interesting and Water and Air in terms of environmental design.

However, at one point, I started getting some crazy latency – as in, above 3K with the yellow symbol. My internet very rarely does this where the wifi connection kind of starts losing it ever since we moved and downgraded from high speed. And running R1 solo, as a caster, there is close to 0% forgiveness ratio when it comes to damage intake. I also feared that if I crashed, which at one point I almost did, I’d lose the entire progress – which I was already 3-4 hours in.

R1 ToEE P2 Latency

Thus, I had asked a guildie (Jynxx) to help hold the quest down in case that happened, which she so graciously did. I was really glad to ask her because she wasn’t going to help me in the quest (at first) or talk to me nonstop since she was busy browsing around FaceBook, so I was content in just the quiet company of another friend. Of course, as soon as I took such cautious measures, the latency disappeared. With +1 party member scaling too I was noticing a lot more respawns and greater clusters of mobs, which added a little more difficulty, but nothing impossible.

Now, boss fight was just pure hectic. I was really nervous and excited at the same time entering the boss fight arena, only to be shot down very quickly. I lasted maybe 5 minutes before Zuggtmoy took me down with one of her Earthquakes and a barrage of attacks. Spending nearly 300 minutes in the quest, I was not about to give up though. I burnt through maybe about half a dozen Siberys cakes before I finally gave in to ask for help. The biggest obstacle was that I already had the maximum death penalties stacked on Sera, with me being unable to dodge or evade from her Earthquakes once I realized I was in the affected area too late, along with the final mobs that release when she reaches the third HP threshold. The red named Goristro, minimal compact environmental space that I actually had, along with a barrage of other mini mobs, spells, and toxic mushrooms she was throwing at me, on top of her deadly mushroom wave attack, all made it quite difficult to make it through. By the time I got to my 6th cake, I realized I was out of tactical strategies to use to defeat her unless I got help – the fact that I had no other reliable player to help keep some or most of the heat of mob agro made it immensely challenging for me to solo the end fight. As well as no one else being there to raise me when I needed it, hence burning more of my own personal resources, much to my dismay.

So once I got Jynxx’s attention from her semi-afk to ask for some help, she tried her best to come rescue me, as she didn’t fully know her way to end fight. In the meanwhile, I searched through as many alts as I could, and finally found Palieup available to use who was flagged. Dualboxing her, I summoned a hire, invised through the entire dungeon, and met up with Jynxx, right before the end fight. Discussing tactics, we were going to rush in together and raise Sera – but as I read in the wiki moments before (I did have to reference the wiki in Part 2 a few times), Zuggtmoy’s attacks can affect the area right before the entrance. And we basically died right there to the mobs that teleported outside the entrance barrier. Except my hunch told me to park the hire in the previous area before.

With the hire to raise me, I ran all the way back with only 1 or 2 seconds to spare, and got Jynxx up. We eventually dispatched the trash mobs that teleported outside of the area, and then after recuperating and rebuffs, we entered the boss fight together. The rest of the boss fight, with all the trash mobs gone, was mostly a breeze – Sera was revived and restored of all her death penalties from Palie’s Unyielding Sovereignty effect, and Zuggtmoy’s remaining health was depleted to our completion.

The moment of relief washed over me when we finally got it, mostly out of exasperation, so I was just glad that even with assistance at the end it was done. While I didn’t like to use the cakes, I almost never use those cakes in other situations as I have Jibbers and often run in groups where I raise someone who can in turn, raise, or others raise me. And, there are the other 41 supreme cakes that are sitting in my bank. 🙂

All in all, I had a blast, despite running into challenging situations or other “micro-challenges” such as lag. I really hope to do another challenging solo (attempt at least) run like this, particularly in large quests where I can spend my time enjoying the quest. The primary reason for running this on R1 at all was mostly for the first time bonus though – but now, perhaps some other time, I can relax and explore even further at an easier difficulty. Mostly because in some cases, I couldn’t explore 100% because of lack of resources (SP) or out of caution.

This is just one step towards refining the Favored Soul build, as this does indicate a lot of weaknesses (and strengths!) that the build holds. But really, I just had fun simply running solo in the solitude of my own, without any worry for others, or “ruined” by even running with just one other person, at least the entire quest. Learning to be accountable on my own in a high level quest is what I’d like to see and test for myself.

Who Knew a 3-Hour Long Raid…

…could actually be pretty fun?

Never mind a 3 hour long EE Deathwyrm!

So a couple days ago or so, I had been posting for some raids on Meredithium/Seraphemia. Of course, the moment I switch to Sera, things start to look a little ugly… it did not help that Sera was already nearly half the DPS of the group, so the DPS red flag was frantically waving once Sera was out of the picture.

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It was really rough… Conquest achieved though!

 

While I was happy with Sera’s performance in LH Shroud, it usually is a bad sign. Normally, I don’t have to worry about putting that much DPS but I think group composition, in all of the raids we were running that night, just was not cut out for it.

Afterwards, we had ran a DOJ and FOTP, which were mostly fine. Once we got to EE Deathwyrm, that was the interesting kicker.

I personally am not super familiar with the mirror puzzles like Andy and Psy are, but I’m definitely catching on and learning. This run, I was able to get through them fairly quickly, and there was not too much pressure as we had someone else shadow me to learn it, and the rest of the party either did not know it or did not really care that I was sort of taking my time. At the same time, I also had to explain the raid and what I was doing over voice chat to someone else who was totally new to the raid. Despite these, it was manageable and I think I explained to the extent that I would like, even for the end fight as we shrined up. However, our luck with the intersection rooms (we got Jump + Red/Green Light) was a foreshadow for the things to come…

As soon as I try to assign roles, it was very strained as I only have Koko to depend on as a capped character with actual DPS. Thank goodness he was on his rogue, or else I am not sure if we would have even succeeded! I was at first our tank, and Koko was going to drop off the Kulds. Thing is, neither of us ended up with the same roles at the end of the raid. In retrospect, I think I should have been more aware of our group composition and capability, and organized roles a bit better.

Almost immediately after a few folks head into the shadow realm, the group starts falling apart. Because of the separation between our healers and the others, the few who entered through the portals ended up wiping, without even being able to kill the beholder and helmed horror. I got a tell from Tala about the situation, and so I had to rearrange positions to the worst possible scenario: our new guy, the Favored Soul caster, was in charge of tanking the dragon. In my mind, I had to give the role to him because not only was he spending SP to heal me, he was also capable of DPSing the dragon down, so it would be more efficient that way if he took the dragon himself, freeing my position to go help elsewhere, where he would not be able to due to being new to the raid. Despite being new, he was the only option. Of course, there were little things I noticed about his tanking method; he was in the spawning corner by the south lever which made it slightly harder to tank, while he could have been tucked away in one of the column crevices across the southern wall. When I advised kiting if he was taking too much damage, he almost immediately died. To which I kind of felt bad bringing up that idea in the first place.

Moving on, he took charge of the dragon’s agro, but there was also the other issue of Kulds not being properly dropped. For about 70% of the fight, Kulds were a major issue, and I ended up having to grab agro and hang from the stone ledge – which was highly inefficient. Our poor healers (aside from me when I tried) – one Favored Soul and one Cleric – had to drink so many potions to keep us alive. Towards the end I tried to reimburse, but no one would accept! Haha. Anyways, the Cleric was often away for a majority of the end fight due to getting stranded in R/G room for a while, but they eventually came back. While they did a superb job healing us, I often had to call out for them to heal me or Mez, so I felt like it was a bit hard to delegate that without sounding bossy or anything. Of course, they were so very kind in doing as I asked!

There were several instances where we were close to a full wipe, about a total of 3 or so. Being separated from the main group did not help things when we were trying to destroy the real phylactery – and DPS was very slow so it would take a very long time. At the first instance, when we were getting overwhelmed by too much trash, I called it as the raid leader to retreat and recuperate – grab as many soulstones as you could, raising the important people (healers), and run.

For future reference… never linger if you are outside on the temple floors. Aurgloroasa dragged us back maybe 2-3 times, and people were so befuddled. However, I had noticed that two folks in the shrine room remained there – so I told folks to retreat there as fast as possible. Sure enough, we finally regrouped there safe and sound, waiting out our many death penalties and rebuffing to the best of our abilities. During the hectic tanking, I had also bought SP potions too, which I reluctantly purchased (although looking back on it now, I have no qualms anymore).

One instance I clearly remember was when we all wiped but the two in the phylactery room and I almost knew we were going to have to give up then. But right then and there – lo and behold, they got the right phylactery! A new surge of hope shot through me, and we were all so happy. We desperately tried to revive each other, and regrouped once more.

To wrap the story up, I actually enjoyed the raid, in a twisted way I suppose, haha. The thing is, we were all so determined to make it through, even though there were so many close calls. No one dropped or commented negatively that “we couldn’t have done it” – because if we had, I think we really couldn’t have. There is that certain psychology in gaming and groups. But it was that persistence that drove us to grit through, and we certainly paid the resources for it. It was not the cost that mattered, but the experience; and somehow, I managed to yet again lead through a raid that may have been bitterly painful, but still ended in a successful completion. Almost never does that ever happen – the last I recall was an EE FOT raid years ago.

After the raid, I went to sleep easily, thinking back fondly upon it. Another favorite part about the raid was that we were so resourceful – very rarely, do we get to utilize a challenging near -stalemate in any quest or raid that requires us to stop and take a moment. The fact that our SP was in jeopardy (despite SP pots from the store) caused us to be more resourceful and tactful; a couple of us used our Xachosian Eardweller to create some SP munchies, I used my stack of GH scrolls to pass buffs to everyone, and our Fighter even used his Eternal Wand of Cure Minor Wounds to patch up folks in the waiting time. Honestly, this is the sort of experience that was reminiscent of the pre-MoTU days, or the “Golden Era.” And it’s made me realize, I love to be resourceful and the thrill of “barely surviving” is what I love about this game at its core.

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Running these raids lends me to know more about myself as a player, honestly. And you know what? I’m extremely stubborn towards success, almost to a fault, yet somehow these near impossible situations, seem possible.

Keep up the Good Fight.

A Temporary Good-Bye

So last week during Spring Break on March 14, 2016 –  Seraphemia became a Monk, and then finally a Bladeforged pure Paladin. I wanted to make this post at that time, but clearly I was too busy to play and get her up to cap, which at this moment she is sitting at 28. Lots of things to write about! ❤

I think what I might do is write a post about each life, what I liked and disliked, etc. At least that would give me something to talk about haha.

However, since she is not level 30 yet, will delve more about the emotional experience of relinquishing a 16th life character on a Favored Soul life that I would think is “good enough.” Well, the ambition to improve even further has taken charge!

I have to admit, when I was telling a friend somewhere along the lines that I wasn’t going to be that attached or clingy to this life as I’ve TR’ed (not the same as ETR) multiple times before (see in game bio, bwaha), I did feel a strong emotional attachment to the character moments before I hit the log out and Reincarnation button. I hesitated, wondering of many doubts and worries that I internally had about this choice: Would the game shut down before I finish the triple completionist project? Would I be able to stomach triple lives of each class, as I recall my previous TR project being excruciating as I neared my “final” Favored Soul life? Should I attain triple epic completionist first? And a more lesser concern, what if I got attached to another class – what would happen to all that time and investment spent into perfecting and testing out gear choices, enhancements, build, etc?

Nonetheless, part of the plan in avoiding this “clinginess” relied on my friends – I didn’t tell people I was going to be starting a triple heroic completionist in a smug, braggart way for that reason. Rather, it was sticking to my word, and making sure I did what I said what I was going to do – it was for my own conscience. It sounds a bit weird, but that is how I thought of it, haha. And here I am – 2 levels away from cap.

But this is no quick grind to get all triple past lives – I have an intrinsic motivation in this project. One of the major reasons I decided to embark on this project was to learn the classes, and learn them thoroughly, even though I skipped one Monk life via a +20 LR heart. More often than not, people ask for class/build advice, and I can’t answer them in depth as I would like to (or can with Favored Soul/divine casters). To be familiar with all the other classes, even though I know bits and pieces of certain characteristics, I feel is something crucial in order to better myself as a player. Maybe I’m taking this game way too seriously, like a sport, but haha, I wouldn’t be playing this game if I didn’t spend that much investment of time to learn it. I suppose that is just how I am as a person (why can’t it be like this for school!?).

I calculated how many past lives Sera has to go – about 19 more to go, what a grind. At least that’s what I initially thought. I’m hoping for one to one and a half weeks to finish a life, possibly in two, and three at the absolute most, for when I’m loaded with university work, probably more so towards May for finals. And if they are all in Iconics, that would equal 798 seeds – I am so, so proud/thankful that I was able to gather enough for that in the time I spent in epics (currently about 600 on Sera, 200 on each playing alt). This means I won’t ever have to worry about grinding the seeds or tokens, and I can directly TR as soon as I’ve reached cap and attained other important items off the TR checklist. I am so glad that in the history of my playtime in epics vs. heroics, it all somehow managed to work out. I know so many guildies and friends who grind each life with tokens and seeds, and it just pains me. Staying in end game helps. A lot.

Anyhow, I feel very sentimental about leaving that “perfect” Favored Soul life. But I remind myself that there is always room for improvements, and this is the greater step. I also think that it isn’t about the ultimate goal of achieving a triple heroic completionist title so my bio doesn’t get too long (well, maybe haha – I am running out of space) or the extrinsic reward of achieving the Completionist feat – in that manner, I have planned out lives to be done “in order,” as in, running each class consecutively rather than achieving single completionist.

Why? I had a friend ask me that before – the biggest issue for me is space, and I like to destroy gear that I won’t be using anymore and not hold onto it for too long. As much as I like to joke around as the guild hoarder packrat who’ll bare fangs at someone who even thinks about going near my gold pile of junk, I also have a completely polar side of me who wants to make the most of what I can use, toss out everything else I don’t need. So as much as the other option of achieving single completionist first seems much more efficient… for me, that is inefficient, and speaks more so about the extrinsic reward of attaining the feat (which I don’t think is necessary for builds at all – just a neat extra tidbit).

So even the way I plan out the lives is pretty meticulous, at least in my book. I haven’t exactly figured out how I want to do things, as I am fighting between whether I should just run classes and builds I want to try out (similar to how Sent does things) or stick with a class and try out combinations, move on, etc. The latter is how I did things in the last TR project, but that exhausted me as it was very strenuously designed. But, it did work, so we shall see.

Now time to end this essay with some sentimental last screenshots of Sera so I can cry my eyes out years from now about this.

Err, one last thing. In the future, when I do come back and read this, consider changing Sera’s eyes to the new pair that I tried out for the heck of it and kind of liked. They are certainly pretty, even if it doesn’t shout clarity like the usual set does.

😀 ❤

Guild Parties and Fun!

Aaahh, just when we think we’re done and worn out from the guild’s first Trivia Event… looks like we’re on a partying streak!

The day after the guild trivia event, we got together for a “Taken Hunt” for chasing players around Harbor as Takens. It was hilarious to see people freak out! I was especially glad to hear one guildy say that it was liberating and that if he knew our guild does Taken fests, that he would have joined a long time ago, LOL! Stuff like these just take our focus away from the game in terms of character progression, and just get together for some good fun!

This next event was more of a small friend gathering on an early morning (talkin’ 4AM or so) where Second, Glit, Leela, and I had some fun just hanging around and chatting, with Teacher Second teaching us how to say certain phrases in Greek! I learned that “I love you” in Greek is “Se agapo” which makes sense to me – “se” being somewhat similar to the usage of “te/se (you, she/he)” in Spanish (oops… 3 years of Spanish surfacing here) and “agapo” deriving from Greek word “agape,” which is familiar to me since I am a Christian, and that term is often used to describe Jesus’ love (agape meaning the highest form of love, or the love of God for man and vice versa). 😀 We laughed so hard when Leela tried to pronounce that and to me, I heard “Sera poo.” Ahahaha! The toilet humor never ends.
Second wanted to take some screenshots for fun memories, and the inner photographer in me decided I wanted to as well. Even though it was just us, these memories I certainly do cherish!

Will the fun and parties never end!? I’m sure there will be LOTS more considering how many birthdays are in January alone – our guild are winter/New Year month babies! Today (since it’s technically the 31st) is Linkinhood’s birthday, so we got together impromptu for a dance rave on the top deck – we just mainly talked and laughed! While I felt we should have planned something bigger, Link seemed pretty happy about it! I was laughing so hard over the things we talked about that I cannot remember now, but Hokage did record the entire thing via Twitch livestream… click here for the link!! 😀 I’m laughing so hard, I wonder how long it will stay posted… LOVE YOU LEELA! 😀 😀 😀