Friday, September 12, 2014

Updated Skill Trees

Warning: This blog post is entirely about Path of Exile.  Stop reading now if you're not interested in that.


Grivas is my first PoE character.  As such, I got to the middle of the 2nd playthrough and determinded that he sucked.  Worse than that, he sucked and couldn't be fixed without spending a ton of currency on respect points.  So I had stopped playing him.  The problem with early characters in this game is that you don't have a good plan for your path through the skill tree, you just pick up stuff that sounds cool and is close by.  You also don't get enough life.  How badly I had messed up my first character was somewhat obscured by finding a 5 linked chest armor.  I knew I had problems when I couldn't get through the Vaal pyramid without being crushed by the monsters inside. 

However, now with a free respec from release 1.2, I have restored Grivas to a damaging and durable Duelist.  With a sword in each hand he hits quickly and he hits hard.  He breezed through the Vaal temple and took out the Vaal Oversoul without any difficulty.  While I'm very happy to have my first character in a playable state again, I do feel a bit cheezy that I got an achievement for using 4 keystone skills in a single build without working my way up to that organically.

Lady Blabla

I'm going to call this character Lady Blabla in my blog post, but I had to spell her name funny to achieve uniqueness in the game.  This was another mess of unfocused character design.  The fact that I got her through a hardcore league and over level 50 is a sign of how powerful a skill spectral throw is. With a free respec in hand, I wanted to do something different.  So I tried ZiggyD's Mind over Matter, Ethereal Knives Scion.

Even someone who doesn't play this game will probably be able to tell that this skill tree stretches from one edge of the graph to the other while most of the other trees in this blog post are more compact. That's because I need to travel quite a distance to pick up both Eldrich Battery for a huge mana pool and Mind over Matter which uses mana to negate 30% of incoming damage, as long as you have mana available.

Now, unlike Grivas, who is basically a fixed version of his original build and had a full set of gems to use upon respeccing, Lady Blabla had nothing useful for her respec.  The only thing that hasn't made this a completely painful process of working a new set of skill gems to a useful level is something I was using merely for distracting monsters in the original build, Flame Totem.  It's fire is considered a projectile, and I've got lots of projectile speed now to give Ethereal Knives range.  That skill gem spits out fire like some sort of insane flame thrower now.  It's enough to make me want to run a dedicated flame totem build.

Servant of a Burning Fire

Servant of a Burning Fire had to respec because of skill changes, but he plays like he always has.  He's a dual Searing Bond Templar and always has been.  I did however make a mistake and forget to pick up Elemental Equlibrium which makes Searing Bond do even more damage that normal because it is fire damage, but it doesn't "hit" anything.  So chill enemies a bit and then they burn more easily next.  Even with forgetting to pick that up when respeccing and Searing Bond getting an 18% damage nerf across the board, this is by far my strongest character.

Servant of a Frozen Fire 

This character is a bit like Grivas in that the respec helped him become the character I had in mind.  He is also a bit like Lady Blabla in that his skills chosen go from one edge of the graph to the other.  This is more an effort to pick up all the spell-casting nodes from the Templar, the Witch, and the Shadow than the need to pick up distant Keystones.  However, Eldrich Battery is still a fair bit away from Avatar of Fire.

This character had been one that I was going to stop playing because the build, even when it finally started coming together, just wasn't very strong.  It was durable enough to survive maps, but the offensive potential was so feeble it took a long time to clear them.  Now the character isn't as durable, but I can work on that with gear and what I pick up as I continue to level.  Granted, leveling is going to be a slow process since this character is now level 71, but it's still doable as I've got a decently sized map pool.


This is my summoner witch.  She plays largely the same after the respec, but I did inadvertently make a change.  I dropped some mana regeneration & aura nodes, but I picked up an extra minion quantity cluster of skills without realizing it.  I've respeced a bit further after the free respec to correct this, but I feel like I have an absolute army of undead following me now.  Even though I can't support them at full power for long with the Arc gem any longer, the sheer number of skeletons and zombies available make up for that.  I'll be working on mana regen as I level this character and improve her gear.  Unlike Servant of a Frozen Fire, Yarmilla is only level 68, so just getting her level to equal his would help quite a bit.

PS - The other reason I'm posting these images is that in the past I had to compromise on what I captured from the grap spanning builds.  I just realize that if you use the zoom on the browser to zoom out sufficiently, you can actually capture the entire grid in a single screen capture.  Being able to show those in their entirety got me interested in updating them. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

PoE Characters

So, this post won't be to everyone's taste, but I've been really enjoying this game, so here are some of the passive skill trees for several of my characters.

Dual Totem Witch

Ice Spear Crit Shadow (Died in Nemisis when I panicked facing a Storm Herald)

A Dual wielding Duelist, my 1st Character

1 Handed Spectral Throw Scion

A Templar who can't decide between magic and melee.

Hexmaster Witch

Summoner Witch

Generic beat on people with heavy object Maurader, 1st character with which I beat Dominus

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Switching over to My New Computer

I decided the best way to make sure I had everything I needed loaded onto my new computer was to move it over to the main computer desk and actually start using it as my primary machine.  I've learned and/or remembered a few things, line you can't watch videos on YouTube without a flash player installed and that I have a speaker wire and a microphone wire plugged into the audio panel on the back of the computer, not two speaker wires.

One of the other things I was doing was setting up my browser the way I liked it, which included a quick link to my blog.  Hence this quick post.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I've been a bad blogger

It's been over a year since I posted to this blog.  I've done things this year, vacationed in Fort Lauderdale and California.  I've had some good chess tournaments.  I went to Gen Con for the first time and loved it.  I just haven't blogged about any of this.

I'm planning on building a new computer running Windows 7 since my old XP machine is going out of support next year, and I really want nothing to do with Windows 8.  Maybe I'll blog in depth about that.

But for now, just a short blog post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Regan's Brithday

I think everyone had a good time at Regan's birthday party this last weekend.  It was the first time Caroline had been in the states for a family party since starting grad school.  The main reason I'm making this post is that it doesn't seem to be possible to upload animated GIF images to Facebook.  Here's one of Taylor dancing a jig.

Here's another animation of Abby (a.k.a. Sophie) going down the slide.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Diablo 1 vs Diablo 3

So, I played a little bit of the original Diablo this weekend.  This is after playing well over 120 hours of Diablo 3. (D3 from this point on.)  By any stretch of the imagination, I've gotten my money's worth out of D3.  Even if you just counted the time my nephew Blake has played a character on my account, it wouldn't be a wasted purchase.

Also, there is a lot of venom directed at Blizard about how D3 didn't live up to either of the previous games. I can only talk about the original Diablo (D1) because I never played Diablo 2 (D2).  As a game, I don't think there can be any doubt.  D3 has the better gameplay than D1.  The previous games have pixelated graphics and clunky animation.  The action is also very slow, almost painfully slow, in the original game.

However, I also think I know what is missing from D3.  I have no sense of exploration in D3.  The levels seem bland and force me through them in a very linear matter.  In D1, the staircase down to the 2nd level of the cathedral puts you very near the stairs that lead down to level 3.  You are no where near ready to go to level 3 when you find those stairs, and if you go down them, it's going to take a bit of luck to make it back up them.  I like that sort of game design better than always fighting monsters that are "just right" for your level of experience.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you can tackle an area that quickly forced you to flee or reload a saved game the first time you set foot within it.

Even in the camps, I don't feel like there is any sense of exploring the town.  There is only one path that gets you from one end of town to the other, and if you follow it, you'll see everything and everybody there is to see in town.  I decided to wander, and there was a kid selling black market items, but he charged you just to take a look.  I didn't have much cash, so I decided not to even see what he had to offer.  I also had found some magic staves that took up more than half my inventory space.  I wanted to keep the staff of healing, but sell the other two.  However, the blacksmith wouldn't buy them.  I had to wander to the outskirts of town, where I found the witch Adria (Who also plays a large role in D3, to say anything else would provide spoilers.)  I was able to sell the staves, and upgrade my weapons and armor a bit.  In D3, the merchants will buy just about anything I might care to sell, but they don't pay enough money to make that even remotely worthwhile.  If it weren't for the crafting system in D3, it would be more effecient to just toss items you weren't going to use on the ground than to go through the trouble of taking them back to town.

Another game design element that I didn't really care for now that I've compared old and new side by side was all the mini-quests that string together to make sure you always know you're making progress along the main story line.  In D1, I need to kill the butcher, and I know he's somewhere inside the cathedral, but you're not really sure how far down into the depths of the old cathedral you'll find him.  However, the internet is far more prevalent than it was when D1 was release, and at the slightest bit of confusion, players would have been ducking out of D3 to check an online player's guide.

I feel like I'm rambling on a bit, so I guess I need to wrap this blog post up.  I think what I'll finish up with is my impression that while the gameplay of D3 is far superior to that of D1, that there were some real misses in terms of game design around linearity and difficulty.  However, what was really lost between D1 and D3 is the atmosphere of the game.  Playing old D1 again, I really felt like I was exploring a town that had come under assault and a creepy old church.  In D3 the atmosphere of the old cathedral and Leoric's manner are good.  However, in the rest of the game, the atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired and the different areas feel like a very generic implementation of level design.  Even though the gameplay is light years improved in D3 comparred to D1, I can't ever shake the feeling that I'm playing a game in D3 like I could in D1.  The antiquated graphics and speed of D1 would eventually remind me that I was playing a game, but I always know I'm playing a game in D3.  I fun game to be sure.  One I'm going to play after I post this blog entry, but not a game that immerses me in the game world.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Unexpected development

I came home last night to find a downed tree limb in my driveway.  Other than my roses, I don't think any damage was done.  I wasn't at home, otherwise, this would have wiped out my car!  Here are some images.

This was a picture I took last night when I got home.  I thought it was a pretty good picture at the time, but I've got better now that the sun is up.

 Here's a shot of the end of the limb hitting the porch.  It looks like it just barely missed the house.
 Even with my 18-55 zoom set to 18mm for maximum field of view, I had to go to the edge of my yard to get the whole limb in the frame.
 Here's one of the damaged tree.
And here's a look at my driveway from the back of the house.

I certainly wasn't expecting this when I came home from pool last night.