Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Hidden Object Games should not make you feel stupid - part 2

Another example of why hidden object games should not make you feel stupid. This one from Rite of Passage: The Perfect Show.

There is a screwdriver in the game. But instead, we are supposed to saw off the screws from the screw-mounted anchor -- and using a handsaw for wood, instead of a hacksaw.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Game Review - Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix

Game Review - Tales From The Dragon Mountain: The Strix
Score: +1/-7
Summary: Old school adventure game with the right settings. Otherwise no redeeming features. The sequel, "The Lair", has VASTLY improved graphics and animated cutscenes.
-- Compared with contemporary games, the artwork is primitive 3D. Since there is basically no critical animation involved, they might have been better off going for a superior static 2D artwork like most casual hidden object games. Character artwork is also too simple/featureless to compete in the current market.
--- Bad art and gameplay can be rescued by a fantastic story. However, here the clich├ęd story is badly executed with (among other things) poor pacing, lack of tension, and anticlimactic events.
- Cringeworthy dialogue. Not sure if this was the result of something lost in translation.
- Glaring errors. Just the one main one involving fish, but it is so obvious that they should have fixed it. In the pictures below, the left screen shows the type of fish moving around in the fountain. The right side shows the fish you catch when you click on one of them (see bottom inventory bar, right side, the fish in the circle). What you get is nothing like what was in the fountain!

+ Probably the only redeeming feature is the ability to set the amount of user-interface hints/feedback you receive. You can nearly absolutely nothing, even, if you use system cursors and do not get contextual cursor changes. This means you can play the game without any real direction -- just as if you were the protagonist thrown into the situation. There is something "realistic" in the resulting difficulty from lack of prompting--Which is a different sort of challenge as you are not so hand-held as with most games into knowing what can be clicked on and what you need to find.
-0 Initially, objects are often found in plausible locations (e.g., a spare gear sitting on a shelf) but as the game progresses, however, objects are found in increasingly implausible locations in an attempt to make the game challenging. This unfortunately detracts from the "realism", but it is not properly counted as a negative point because the genre is full of this sort of nonsense.

Sample Artwork:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Game Review - Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors

Game Review - Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors
Score: +6/-4
Summary: Interesting and fantastical story. Pacing and variety is good. Interesting use of Achievements for replay value. Unlimited casino games for even more replay value.

In many ways, criticisms in review will apply to many contemporary hidden object games, and are not to be taken as faults unique to this game.
+- For the most part artwork is very nice, but character animations when speaking, through the use of image distortion instead of actual facial animation, make the characters look disturbing rather than realistic. This is much improved from previous Nevertales games, however.
- Fuzzy cutscenes, especially if you play on higher resolutions.
+ Convenient replays of hidden object games for achievements involving spotting "morphing items". Because this unlocks achievements and further features, it really helps to have the replay available without having to replay the entire game. Also, if you are only missing a morphing object in a hidden object game, you can just locate that object in the replay instead of completely replaying the hidden object game scene.
+ Achievements for replay value: You can replay hidden object game scenes to score achievements with better time and accuracy -- unlike other games, where you typically can't rollback to redo a scene unless you located and backed up your savegame first.
+ Casino games for even more replay value. None of these are hidden object games, but rather a mix of casino games and arcade games.
- Some sloppy hidden object scenes, such as this one with a non-intuitive answer.
+- Interesting story with a variety of environments and some tense cutscenes where you really don't know how you will end up. They do try hard to keep the momentum and tension, although this is pretty impossible to do in a hidden object game where you can have as much time as you like. However, implausibly hidden items (e.g., a musical instrument hidden behind a stone in a castle outer wall) make you take the hidden objects games less seriously and pull you out of story immersion.
+-0Good use of unexpected choices in the game. For a fuller review of this feature, see our previous blog post. Although ultimately it falls short of its potential, it is still a novelty in the hidden object game market at this time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors Review - SPOILER WARNING

In this post we will discuss one of the innovative features in Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors (and Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel), the third game in the Nevertales hidden object game series.


Stop reading if you want to play the game and don't want it to be ruined for you.

In general, hidden object games are linear stories with unlimited time for you to solve each puzzle. It is standard now to allow you to skip puzzles.
For these reasons -- particularly the fact that you have the luxury of time because these are meant to be "casual" games -- there is often little or no ability to inject real tension into the game.

The earlier Nevertales tried hard to invoke this sense with surprising turns of events and sudden "danger" to the character you played. I say "danger" in quotes, because in general you have unlimited time to figure out what to do, so the sense of danger and overall story immersion rapidly deteriorates.

Something that they added in Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors was choice. In various scenes, you are given a choice of what to do. This is typically non-existent in hidden object games because the story is typically linear (probably to make sure you do not accidentally progress too far by picking up the wrong object or solving the wrong puzzle too soon). When you are suddenly presented with a choice, such as whether to tell your mother the truth or lie to her, it invokes not only the shock of novelty in a hidden object game, but the promise of consequence.

And here is where Nevertales ultimately fails, because there is NO consequence to your choices.

I think there could have been great potential here if your choices did ultimately have some effect, even if in just the end-game cutscenes. Of course, it would be even better if your choices branched the game into completely different tasks, even for a little while before going back to the main story.

This was actually done in Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel, where your choice determined the outcome. There were other minor choices in the game as well, again ultimately of no consequence to how the game played out, but at least there were different scenes to be seen.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why Hidden Object Games should not make you feel stupid

This is a random example (in this case, from Nevertales: Smoke and Mirrors) of why you should never be made to feel stupid by a hidden object game.

The "puzzle" involves opening a lamp locked by screws. The "solution" is to use a coin found in a nearby fountain -- instead of looking for a screwdriver in the toolbox already in your possession. DUH.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Game Review - Nevertales: Shattered Image

Game Review - Nevertales 2: Shattered Image
Score: +4/-6
Summary: Interesting and fantastical story. Surprising plot twists and events keep it interesting.

The structure of the game is essentially identical to the first game in the series, Nevertales: The Beauty Within so Nevertales 2 gets basically the same score of +4/-6. If you are hoping for innovations and improvements, don't look here. All you are getting is a completely different story.

The artwork, particularly for the characters and their animation, continues to disappoint -- depending on what you are expecting. There may be various reasons for this, such as not wanting to have mainstream everyone-is-gorgeous casting. And if they are not aiming for a mostly male demographic, which speculation is supported by the substantial number of male characters and the strong and proactive female lead in the story, and also a male character who isn't entirely passive and who does have heroic roles to play (and which are controlled by you).

Still, there is also support for the explanation that the artwork is basically not very good, such as for the very young daughter (below, left). That said, some supposed deficiencies may seem off, but it is not necessarily so. For example, the daughter looks like she has an oddly shaped body, especially her arms, but overall it is actually not bad, if some mannequin models are to be believed, such as this one from DollsTown (below, right).


Easter Eggs are still to be found, such as the Heroes of Might and Magic V Sylvan Faction dragon shrine, and Han Solo and Princess Leia of Star Wars fame.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Skyrim Mod - GQ Combined Books

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod:
GQ Combined Books
download version: 2014-Nov-30
Requires Dawnguard DLC and Dragonborn DLC

Adds recipes to the Tanning Rack for special books made from:
  • Compilations of book series or books of the same theme
  • Compilations of skill-training books
  • Compilations of spell books
Some book compilations will teach spells.
Skill book and spell book compilations can be converted into wearable no-item-slot items for bonuses.
Most can simply be sold for much more than the individual books.

Installation: Copy .ESP into Data directory

Uninstallation: IMPORTANT - Remove any items from this mod that are being worn. Save game, then remove mod.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Skyrim Mod - GQ Research

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod:
GQ Research
download version: 2014-Nov-30
Requires Dawnguard DLC and Dragonborn DLC

Adds an Armor item that lets you conduct research in the Magick skills. The resulting Research Papers can then be crafted into various items. The basic options are:
  • Destroy item for [Res]earch - Opens a container. Items put in are checked against research lists. Valid items are destroyed and Research Papers given to the player. The rate is 1 paper per 10gp value rounded down. All other items are left in the container and can be retrieved at any time. Accepted items are vanilla Potions and Scrolls.
  • Use [Alc]hemy Research for special ingredients - Trade Alchemy Research Papers for XP or to make special 1-effect ingredients.
  • Learn or Scribe Spells - Trade Alchemy Research Papers for XP, learn new spells, or scribe Spell Tomes or Scrolls for spells that are already known. Learning and Scribing require 1 Roll of Paper, 1 Quill, and 1 Inkwell.
  • Manipulate Soul Gems and Staves with [Ench]anting Skill
Alchemical Essences
  • "Alchemy Research" also includes an unspecified amount of reagents, which are used in various functions for Alchemy Research.
  • Alchemy Research can be traded for Essences and Catalysts, which are ingredients that have thematic alchemical effects at 3x the magnitude of typical ingredients.
Learning Spells
  • This simulates the player researching knowledge of a spell from scratch. Spells of up to Master level can be researched but the effective cost is quite high.
  • To learn a spell, prerequisite spells (if any) must be known. These are typically lesser versions of the spell (e.g., Ironflesh requires knowledge of Stoneflesh and Oakflesh)
  • Craft the Spell Tome with 1 Roll of Paper, 1 Quill, and 1 Inkwell, and a number of Research Papers equal to the base magicka cost of the spell (with some exceptions).
  • Poisoned Rune is learned through Alchemy with the Poisoner perk.
  • Some spells can be further researched into a Lesser Power version, typically with half duration (if applicable).
Manipulating Soul Gems (Enchanting Research)
  • Soul Gem Fragments can be converted into Petty Soul Gems by first standardizing them into a single type of Soul Gem Fragment
  • Empty soul gems can be merged into higher-level soul gems.
  • Grand Soul Gems can be converted into Black Soul Gems if you have Malyn Varen's Grimoire.
  • Soul gems can be filled (or re-filled, in the case of player-filled soul gems) to maximum with Conjuration Research and Conjuration spells. Except Petty Soul Gems, player must have expertise in Conjuration.
  • Pre-filled soul gems can be emptied and the magicka contained used for Enchanting experiments and research. The player must have the Soul Squeezer Perk. Otherwise, gems can be used for research using the Destroy item for Research option.
Publishing Research
  • Accumulated Research Papers can be compiled into a book for "publication" (i.e., sale). Creating this Research Folio through one of the Research stations gives you XP toward that magic skill.
  • Staffs can be disenchanted into Empty Staves through Enchanting Research.
  • Alchemy Research can be used in ALTERATION Research along with the Transmute spell and (sometimes) specific perks to transmute ordinary items into different types of ingots and weapon/armor crafting parts.
.ESP, .BSA, and .BSL files go into the Data directory.

To get the Research item, first find the ID using console command help "[Research]" 4
Use the console to add it to the player: "player.additem <id> 1"
Hotkey the item and equip it that way to access the research menu.

  • For a Lesser Power to cost magicka, the Charge Time must be 0.0 instead of autocalculated. This is the same setting as the Casting Time under Spellmaking in the MGEF for the spell.
  • Magicka costs for Lesser Powers are not affected by the character's skill. Normally, magicka cost decreases to slightly less than 60% normal at 100 skill.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Game Review - Nevertales: The Beauty Within

Game Review - Nevertales: The Beauty Within
Score: +4/-6
Summary: Interesting and fantastical story. Pacing and variety is good. Interesting use of Achievements for replay value.

In many ways, criticisms in review will apply to many contemporary hidden object games, and are not to be taken as faults unique to this game.
+-- For the most part artwork is very nice, but character animations when speaking, through the use of image distortion instead of actual facial animation, make the characters look disturbing rather than realistic.
- Fuzzy cutscenes, especially if you play on higher resolutions. Example:

Nevertales 1 cutscene screenshot
+ Convenient replays of hidden object games for achievements involving spotting "morphing items". Because this unlocks achievements and further features, it really helps to have the replay available without having to replay the entire game. Also, if you are only missing a morphing object in a hidden object game, you can just locate that object in the replay instead of completely replaying the hidden object game scene.
+ Achievements for replay value: You can replay hidden object game scenes to score achievements with better time and accuracy -- unlike other games, where you typically can't rollback to redo a scene unless you located and backed up your savegame first.
- Sloppy hidden object scenes with multiple possibilities but only one right answer. For example, in the scene below, you are tasked to find a "Leaf", of which there are two possibilities, but the "correct" one is behind the fan.

Nevertales 1 - multiple leaves

In this other example, you are required to find a "Cherry", and there are two in the scene, but the one on the milkshake is incorrect. The entire milkshake shows up later as an objective to find.

Nevertales 1 - two cherries
- Non-intuitive puzzles and click areas. For example, in the scene below, you need to get a "shiny armor piece" to distract a raven. But you have to somehow know to get that piece and then hover your mouse all over the armor until the cursor changes context to know you can grab the dull lustre piece marked in the walkthrough below as "E".

Nevertales 1 - "Shiny Armor Part" walkthrough page 2

Nevertales 1 - "Shiny Armor Part" walkthrough page 1

+- Interesting story with a variety of environments and some tense cutscenes where you really don't know how you will end up. They do try hard to keep the momentum and tension, although this is pretty impossible to do in a hidden object game where you can have as much time as you like. However, implausibly hidden items (e.g., a musical instrument hidden behind a stone in a castle outer wall) make you take the hidden objects games less seriously and pull you out of story immersion.

If you have played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you may spot the Elven Bow easter egg, as well as Azura's Moon-and-Star motif in the game.

Skyrim Elven Bow easter egg

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Skyrim Mod - GQ Potions Extended

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod:
GQ Potions Extended
download version: 2014-Nov-23

Allows combining potions at a Cooking Pot into stronger potions and Rejuvenation potions based on the Dragonborn DLC Well-Being potions.

Changes Ultimate Potions to restore less. Adds more types of Ultimate Potions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Game Review - The Far Kingdoms

Game Review - The Far Kingdoms
Score: +2/-6
Summary: Mostly a hidden object game, but with a considerable about of match-3 and several mini-games.
+ Challenging in that it gives you less clues than other hidden object games. If you are hoping for a very casual, relaxed, and EASY game, then this isn't for you, even on the easiest setting.
- Mediocre artwork initially/during cutscenes but better in-game, though maybe not as good as other contemporary games.
- Poor scripting. For example, after you have completed your task with a particular character, their dialog doesn't change and they still say that you need to bring them various quest items.
- Sometimes when you need to apply an item to another item, the area where your click is valid is small or not intuitive. You may have the correct action but it is invalidated by the game not recognizing that you are clicking on the correct object. This occurs most often when you have a spell/potion recipe and you are trying to click on the mixing vial on the lower right corner.
- Hints are worthless because they are invariably misleading.
- Some Match-3 games are nearly impossible to complete, or take so much time that it bores you to sleep. The reason is the number of token types: Too many on a restrictive board setup can lead to no-moves-available. You may have to use the 3 free shuffles, after which you get a Skip button. There is challenging, but the difficulties here change it to tedious.
+- You will not always get a cursor context change where you need to take an action, usually when you need to use an inventory item on an object. For people who play without hints such as shimmering areas to indicate actions needed or hidden object games, this increases the difficulty and makes you think instead of being led by the nose all the time. Other people will find it frustrating.

Overall the game definitely needs more polish in the user-interface to bring it up to par with contemporary hidden object games in terms of intuitiveness and friendliness. There are many better games with more exciting storylines and pacing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Skyrim Quest Checklist

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Quest Checklist (version 2015-January-16)

Two files are included in the ZIP:

  • A simple checklist for all quests, Skill Book locations, and Unusual Gem locations in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Includes Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLCs.
  • A spreadsheet helps to total required resources for Hearthfire DLC construction.

Download the Skyrim Quest Checklist here.

Highly recommended mods are:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

City of Steam v2.8.1 - Transmuter

Here are some tips for using the City of Steam (v2.8.1) Transmuter.
  • You get a lot of Transmuter Orbs but not a lot of Coolant. Save your Coolant till you have maybe 10 or so. Save your Orbs till you have 100+. Then, during a long Vanquish, work on the Transmuter.
    • Do your minimum 5 spins each day to collect Orbs and Coolant from the Transmuter NPC, but keep accumulating. In the later game, you will be Vanquishing the Tower which can take a long time, and the Transmuter is one of the minigames you can play to pass that time while also waiting for a match in the 1v1 Queue.
  • If you start with too many bombs and the pressure is up too much, you will likely not get a good prize so just reset.
  • If you start with no pairs or triplets, you are also likely not to get a good prize so you might also want to reset, unless you are going for the collectible Transmuter Essences, which you can accumulate to get character bonuses.
  • If you aim for the Collectibles, then you should be willing to lock in low value prizes like shillings and metals because they have a higher likelihood of showing up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

City of Steam v2.8.1 - Talent Show

For the most part, City of Steam (v2.8.1) is really straightforward, but there are little optimizations you can do to advance and get more "hidden" rewards. One of these is the Talent Show.

The Talent Show can seem very hard to qualify for, but you can almost always get a prize every day. There are two types of ways to get prizes: Ranking and Qualifying.

Rankings are the lists you see when you click on Talent Show. Generally you have to spend a LOT to get high in the rankings, but not always. Qualifying is the easier way: You just have to have a minimum spend to get a prize immediately.

Each day, there are different types of ways to get "Qualified Talent" status. Invariably Mercenary Recruitment Credits will be there. The other will typically alternate, with Myth Board points appearing as well.

Mercenary Recruitment
You need to spend 1 million shillings to get the 5000 points. At lower levels, accumulate this much for Mercenaries before you spend in a day, so that you can at least get the Qualified Talent prize.
At around mid level 30, you will want to spend 1 million a day exactly, and keep some shillings in reserve in case you see a good shillings-purchasable item in the rotating Mystery Market, such as collectible artifact pieces. As well, accumulate around 6 million shillings so that on the same day you spend on mercenaries, you can get at least a low rank on the Rankings for mercenary spend and get a prize there at the end of the day.
How much you need to spend obviously depends on how much other people are spending on the leaderboard. If you are very low on the leaderboard, try to watch the rankings toward server reset to make sure you still qualify.

Myth Board
It takes a crazy amount of shillings to fully reveal one Myth Board. If you are not committed to that, and have trouble deciding how much to reveal, then aiming to Qualify for Myth Board research points is one way.
If the Talent Show does not show Qualified Talent for Myth Boards today, then research whatever you like and then Refresh your boards, but do NOT use the fresh boards yet.
The next day, if the Qualified Talent for Myth Boards shows up, you get to start with a fresh board, plus another set of fresh boards because you have a free Refresh for that day. Typically revealing 5-10 tiles on each of the three boards should be more than enough to get you Qualified Talent. You may want to just do 5 tiles per board and check your score before refreshing to see how many more tiles per board you want to uncover.

Lucky Spin Credit vs. My Lucky Stars event
Whenever you get Lucky Scrolls, hold on to them for this Qualified Talent and use them only when it shows up.
Another thing you may want to do is to hold on to all your scrolls until the My Lucky Stars event (which might happen about once or twice a week) occurs, and then use 9 scrolls to get 10 spins and 100 spin credits. Many people don't do that, so if you can accumulate 18 scrolls you will typically get a low rank in the Rankings for My Lucky Stars.

The reason My Lucky Stars is often a better event is the boxes of Orange Mercenary Synergy Cards. Each box gives you a random card. And each card gives you only Synergy Points -- not the actual mercenary if you do not already have it. But considering that people spend millions of shillings to get even one Orange Mercenary, this is a great deal if you can win it. You will still need quite a bit of luck to get the correct orange mercenary synergy card, though.

City of Steam v2.8.1 - Walkthrough / Levelling Guide

For the most part, City of Steam (v2.8.1) is really straightforward, but there are little optimizations you can do to advance and get more "hidden" rewards.

Main Quest
Basically, follow along and do as you are told. In general, the Main Quest and Optional Quests are quite easy, and you should pursue them as far as you are allowed by your level. Once you are around late Level 30, you might encounter level requirements to advance the quest.

The Main Quest will take you to Arkadia at some point, and the automated Training there gives you 10% more XP per 30 seconds than anywhere else. If you haven't reached that point in the story and need to log off, there is a way to reach Arkadia earlier -- After Delton, you will end up in The Refuge. If you go to the north, there are houses for each of the races. Some houses can be entered. After a short fight you enter a special basement with a portal to Arkadia. Many things will still be level-locked, but you can at least park yourself there before you log out.

Enhancing Gear
You will be introduced to enhancing gear with metal quite early. Do ONLY the MINIMUM for the tutorial, and towards 100% completion for Daily Tasks to get lucky scrolls and your collectible Stamp. You will not be able to transfer the enhancement till much later, so if you go crazy now you will end up wasting metal and you will probably level so quickly that you can find better gear shortly.
Hold on to your gear for Transferring later.
Also, do not use too much Metal each day. Keep a bit in reserve to fulfill your Daily Tasks so that you do not end up buying lots of overpriced metal in the Mystery Market.

Mining and Fishing
The Main Quest will also introduce you to fishing and mining and force you to fish and mine once. Do so only ONCE, or a maximum of two times. If you level up fast enough, you can reach level 15 before server reset, whereupon two new Daily Quests will appear, requiring you to mine 3 times and fish 3 times. Save 3 attempts for those if you can reach level 15 before the day ends (i.e., before server reset at server time 0000h).

Vanquish and Heroic Challenge Quests
You will receive access to the Normal and Heroic Challenges before you actually receive the Vanquish and Heroic Challenge Quests at level 14. Do NOT do the Heroic Challenges before your receive the quest, unless you will not hit level 14 before server reset. This is because you have only 1 Heroic Attempt per day on the early Heroic Challenges. If you do it before getting the Heroic Challenge quest, you will be out of attempts and be unable to complete that quest before server reset.

The Vanquish and Heroic Challenge Quests should be done early when you receive them. Always turn in your Vanquish missions first. Typically the Vanquish quests are easy, so do them all first. Doing each Normal Challenge at least once unlocks the associated Heroic. But do not skip ahead to do all the Heroics first because you will waste Daily Rewards.

For example: If you are Level 41 and you haven't started your Level 40 Vanquish mission, you can do it in this way:

1x Level 40 Normal Challenge
1x Level 40 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest
9x Level 40 Normal Challenge + turn in quest (10 required for level 40's Vanquish missions)
1x Level 41 Normal Challenge
1x Level 41 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest
9x Level 41 Normal Challenge + turn in quest

Total Daily Rewards 22.

The above schedule gives you XP quickly without wasting any daily rewards.
If instead you focussed on the Heroics and did this:

1x Level 40 Normal Challenge
1x Level 40 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest
1x Level 41 Normal Challenge
1x Level 41 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest

You will get XP faster, but you will discover that you still need 10x Level 41 Normal Challenges to finish the L41 Vanquish mission because you didn't yet turn in the L40 Vanquish mission. Therefore, you end up with this:

1x Level 40 Normal Challenge
1x Level 40 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest
1x Level 41 Normal Challenge
1x Level 41 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest
9x Level 40 Normal Challenge + turn in quest
10x Level 41 Heroic Challenge + turn in quest

Total Daily Rewards 23 - one wasted

Normal Challenges typically don't give you a lot of XP, so I wouldn't bother doing them unless you have extra. Even then, it is probably better to spend your daily rewards on Heroic Challenges to get Orange Material Fragments.
Each day you get 33 Daily Rewards for Challenges -- 1 per hour except at 1800h server time, when you get 10 -- and you cannot bank more than 20 at a time. If your schedule is such that you can't level up quickly enough, then use up Daily Rewards such that you won't lose any from not having room to bank them.
The order in which you should use them up is:
  • Doing Vanquish Missions
  • Doing Heroic Challenge Missions
  • Doing your daily quota of Heroic Challenges
  • Vanquishing Normal Challenges
Some people say to always do your quota of Heroic Challenges first, but you shouldn't do that unless you have no more Vanquish and Heroic Challenge missions to do. Do the missions for the huge amount of XP first, or you will get stuck with your levelling.
Once you are around late Level 30's, you might still be stuck for XP to level unless you also do the Multi-Dungeons. At this time, because you will be held back by your level, you will probably have enough Daily Rewards leftover to do your daily quota of Heroic Challenges for Orange Fragments.
You might think you should do the Normal Challenges for XP, but the XP reward is so small that it is unlikely to affect your levelling. Instead, go for Orange Fragments since an orange gear of Level X is typically better than Blue gear of Level (X + 10).

Heroic Challenges, "Ask For Help", and PVP
When you start a Heroic Challenge, you can go with 0 to 2 other persons. The "Ask For Help" (used to be called "AI Sync") button allows you to bring in clones of other players. These are basically AI-controlled bots. Your available roster depends on who is near you in the PVP rankings (not the 1v1 queue, but the PVP menu where you choose who to fight and where the top three are sitting on thrones).

Therefore, unless you have friends or Company members who can help you with your Heroic Challenges, you should always try to get the best PVP rank possible every day.
Sometimes you will get lucky and a high-level player working their way up the queue will end up in your list. But if you are a new character, you will start from the bottom and will likely encounter for the first week (or more) very low level bots from new and abandoned accounts.

Your first couple of days will probably see you too weak to easily win, but once things get going you will easily squash all the abandoned accounts and steadily make your way up the rankings. Skip any high-levels on their way up if you are not sure you can defeat them. Other than that, try to rise as quickly as possible to make your Heroic Challenges convenient.

You can also ask a high-level player to help you. If their Daily Rewards are at 0, they can be Invited into your Heroic Challenge room (Add them as a Friend,  then choose them using the Invite Friend button). They won't get any rewards if they have already finished the Challenge themselves that day, or if their Daily Rewards are 0, but they can zoom straight to the boss and kill it to end the Challenge quickly, saving you a lot of time.

Multi-Dungeons and BossRaids
As early as Level 10, there is a Multi-Dungeon. Do NOT do it yet. You get only 3 Multi-Dungeon attempts each day. You can quite rapidly get to Level 20 or 30, so as you get closer to server reset, if you can't get to Level 20, then do the Level 10 Multi-Dungeon. Likewise, if you can't get to Level 30, then do the Level 20 Multi-Dungeon.

These allow you to "Ask for Help" or invite high-level players, similar to a Heroic Challenge, so see our notes about how to get good bots if you can't find someone to help you.

The BossRaids are really long and boring if you are not going with a higher-level party who will basically short-cut a lot of fights. With the Level 30 Three Wizards, level 50's will typically rush for the bosses. This means you typically have to wait for them to finish their own Bossraids before helping you, so by level 30 you will want to be in a good Company and get that help. It's possible to play through them, but they are long grinds and even at just 2 runs per day, it sucks up way too much time.

If you are stuck, as long as you haven't failed the mission, you can exit out WITHOUT losing your daily attempt.

Time Management
Have a plan for what to do while you are Vanquishing. In the early game, Vanquishing dungeons won't take long. But later it will be 5 minutes per Normal Challenge, and up to 15 minutes for some other types of Vanquishing. Your ability to enter dungeons will be pretty much zero during that time.

Some things to do are:
  • Queue in the 1v1 PvP queue. It can take a long time before you get a match.
  • Adjust your gear -- transfer enchantments, merge mods, smelting, revamping, etcetera.
  • Sort through your cosmetics and sell the duplicates.
  • Check Bounties, which refresh every 30 minutes.
  • Do Fishing, Mining, Scribe's Maze, Gold Smash
  • Don't spend your Transmuter Orbs every day. Save up maybe 200+ and 5-10 Transmuter Coolant and work on it during a long Vanquish period. Having many orbs and Coolants also helps you work toward a bigger win (more matches on the Transmuter).
  • Chat with others to arrange Multi-Dungeon and BossRaid teams.
  • Watch the Cargo Delivery screen for ships to intercept, or send your own ships.
Daily Rewards for Challenges can be lost if you abort a Vanquish, so do not Vanquish more than one at a time. This lets you switch to something else after each Vanquish, in case a team is ready for a Multi-Dungeon or BossRaid, for instance.
If you exit a Normal or Heroic Challenge (or your internet connection is lost, etcetera), you will also lose the one Daily Reward you spent entering the Challenge. This does not apply with all the other Challenges such as BossRaids and Monster Lairs.

There are two ways to go: Perfect smelts, and maximum smelts.
After 10 Stars, the slots reset to Moons, the percentage bonus increases slightly, the cost per smelt increases a lot, and the percentage chance resets to 100% for the first Moon.
So, you can either leave your failed smelts, or try to squeeze every fractional percentage by going for a perfect 10 successes on Stars before continuing on to Moons. It's up to you whether the small percentage lost is fine with you because once you are on to Moons, there's no going back to clearing up your Stars.
At the same time, the cost in Lucky Stones to ensure success is staggering compared to your ability to get Stones.

You have to Smelt twice (any two smelts on any two items, not just Weapons, unlike what the instructions say) to get 100% Daily completion and your completion Stamp collectible. If you fail, leave it instead of wiping. Get ready with enough smelting Alloys before you wipe and redo.
Remember that you get an additional bonus for smelting all your gear to 5 stars, so you may want to keep an item you do not wear to smelt once, wipe, and smelt again. This lets you do your Smelting Daily Completion for just 2 Alloys per day.

Before you settle on an Orange attribute, be sure it is one that you want. Locking in an attribute raises the cost per revamp attempt to 10. Locking in two or three raises it even more. So, for your first Orange per item, keep going until you get an Orange of the type you want. If you are not specialized in Parry, for example, an Orange Parry attribute is ultimately worthless.

Gold Smash and Scribe's Maze
The gold you get from Gold Smash, and the XP per book from Scribe's Maze, are dependent on your level, so do them when you are sure you will not level up anymore before server reset.
Having a jetpack helps a lot, especially in Scribe's Maze, but wait for the Shop ("Y" key) to be at half price before buying one. The Shop is often half price during events as a special promotional incentive, but it is also half price once a week. Click every day to check.

Copper Wastes 
Once you get to Arkadia, you can also go into the Copper Wastes. Bosses spawn periodically -- Maestro, which gives typically blue or purple gear, and the Skeleton Prince, who always gives Orange gear. Each member of a team get the gear as long as they are in the map, so try to go in teams of 3 to get the maximum drop per boss.
Skeleton Prince -- if you can beat out all other contenders and land the killing blow -- is the fastest way to get Orange gear, faster than collecting Orange Fragments from Heroic Challenges. With Heroic Challenges, however, all gear you create will be usable by your character. With the Skeleton Prince, this is not guaranteed. Therefore, an Arcanist could end up with a Warder's sword, which they cannot use.
You can try to sell your finds in the Market, however. You can list in Bound Electrum but you must buy with Electrum. This is also a way to cheaply give gear to friends and Company members: Sell it to them for the minimum price of 1 Electrum. Just make sure you are both at the Market to quickly complete the transaction before someone else grabs it.

City of Steam v2.8.1 - How to Play Golden Hoard

There are two Golden Hoard events in City of Steam (v2.8.1) -- Morning Hoard and Evening Hoard. They are basically the same: Kill Golden Aetherslugs, open chests, collect Mercenary Books.
You can walk out of there with as many as 150 x 5-xp Mercenary Books, for a total of 750 mercenary XP -- valued at roughly 150,000 shillings if you were to spend shillings recruiting and discarding mercenaries for XP. Even more if you have a key to open the one locked chest, which contains bigger mercenary books and a possible box of random stat boost potions (I believe the person who used the key gets this box).

Many people don't know how to play this mini-game and end up getting killed, which requires someone to use a cardiotonic to revive them. I recommend you do not waste your cardiotonic. It generally requires Electrum to get and the stakes are no so high in this mini-game that you need to revive anyone.

Golden Hoard is a channeler's game since they can heal themselves, but even greedy high-level channelers get killed early. The game is actually simple if you are patient and not greedy. Also, prizes from a box are divided amongst the remaining players, so there is no real rush to grab loot.

The game is run in four rounds. In each round, once you kill all the golden aetherslugs, the bars will be removed from one of the side rooms, allowing you to get at the chests. You will know this when a message flashes across your screen indicating how many black aetherslugs will spawn when you open a chest.

How to Survive Golden Hoard
In the first round, typically there is just the one black aetherslug, so when you attack a gold aetherslug, chances are the black slug will not teleport to your location. After the first round, there will be plenty of black slugs to go around, so get used to moving immediately.
When a slug teleports to your location, you have just a couple of seconds to move out of its black aura. You will not take damage if you get clear quickly, but it will eat your health very quickly if you do not. So, MOVE. Don't worry about killing the gold slug -- Worry about your health.
  • This is KEY to surviving Golden Hoard. Don't wait to get out -- start moving. Whenever I have done this, almost all the time I get clear without taking any damage at all.
Once you move out of the way, you can just press "1" to initiate your basic attack (assuming your basic attack is assigned to hotkey "1"). Since you were already targeting a gold slug (assuming it hasn't been killed), you will resume targeting it again. If you are a Warder with limited range combat, you will have to be more careful and basically rely more on your teammates. Just stay alive.

How to Open Chests
When a chest is opened, about a second later black slugs will start teleporting in. If you are a Channeler with the Immortality power, you can open a chest, hit the power, open another chest, grab your loot, and run. Otherwise, just run and come back later.
I see too many people lingering for too long and they are suddenly killed by the slugs because there can be several black slugs stacked together even though it looks like there are just one or two. The sudden health drain wipes them out.

After round four, you must open both of the unlocked chests before the black slugs will disappear. Once you open those chests, the exit countdown begins and you have that time to collect all your loot from all locations, and decide if you want to open the locked chest.

Since keys are pretty hard to come by, I recommend you do not open that chest. Keys are harder to get than shillings, and that chest contains mercenary books with mercenary XP you can get with shillings; as well as a box of temporary stat bonuses that you may never use anyway. The potions can sell for 5000 shillings a piece, but that is still not worth a key you have to buy with Electrum.

Special Note about Channelers
If you are a channeler, go in with all heals and Immortality. Try to save Rebounding Heal and Healing Burst to help your teammates, especially if they are Company members.

If you need healing, run TO a channeler because the range of those healing spells is limited and they have to stop moving to cast them. Also, don't expect them to stop when there are black slugs around since they'd get damaged as well. In the worst case, get on your motorcycle or jetpack and keep moving to keep clear until you can get your health back up with potions.

Monday, October 27, 2014

City of Steam v2.8.1 - Bounty Tips and Exploits

In City of Steam (v2.8.1), your first few bounties once you reach Level 30 may be very hard (or slow-going if you are carefully pulling a few enemies at a time). Here are a few tips:
  • Obviously you want only the bounties that also give you Scrolls -- purple or orange bounties.
    • This can be hard to find, so if you feel pressed for time, Accept a blue bounty (the highest-paying one that does not give a scroll) while waiting for the bounty list to refresh. That way, if you've run out of time for the day and you haven't gotten anything better, you can at least complete the blue bounty.
      • You will generally want to complete your quota of 5 bounties per day just for the Energy Stones, which are pretty tricky to find.
      • You will also want to complete at least 3 bounties per day to get the collectible Bounty Scrolls for Daily Quest completion.
    • Typically if you watch long enough you have a very good chance of seeing a total of five or more One-Scroll or Three-Scroll bounties show up on the board. They are rare but not extremely so.
  • If you are finding it too time-consuming to complete, you may want to bite the bullet and spend 20 Bound Electrum to complete it.
    • I recommend you do this ONLY for bounties that give scrolls, or if you need just one more bounty to complete the Daily Quest, which also gives you collectable Scrolls.
    • You will probably not need to do this once you reach around level 35, but a bounty mission may still take 15 minutes or so to complete.
      • When you hit level 40, enemies in the bounties reset to level 40, so once again bounties will be tedious to complete. Therefore try to have a bit of Bound Electrum handy.
  • EXPLOIT: If you insist on doing the bounty and are finding it hard, Unsummon your Mercenary so it does not move ahead and draw enemies. Then approach cautiously until the nearest enemy reacts and approaches you. Kill that before advancing to pull another one. Try to isolate the boss, resummon your Mercenary, and take it down.
    • Many enemies do not react to your presence immediately, so each time you inch forward, give them a second or two.
  • EXPLOIT: If you run too far from a mob or boss, it may reset its position at full health, giving you breathing space (since it has reset its position and is not pursuing you) and a chance to try again if you pulled too many enemies.
  • EXPLOIT: The best bounty location is the Railyard because bounties count enemies killed, and enemies here spawn more enemies.
    • Each Umbrahusk killed spawns an egg, which if not killed quickly hatches a scorpion. When that is killed, it also spawns an egg which can hatch a larva.
    • If you kill these spawns, you may find the boss, the mob around the boss, and possibly the mob before the boss, will not need to be encountered because the game records enough enemies killed. All enemies will suddenly die and the bounty will be considered a success.
  • You can try a bounty as many times as you like, so don't be afraid to abort to do something else or to use Bound Electrum if you are having a hard time.

City of Steam codes still available

Amazing but true, some of the months-old City of Steam giveaway keys are still available. These include:

Growth Pack Giveaway

  • Last I checked, FreeMMOStation still had over 140 keys left. Just register an account with FreeMMOStation (free to register) and collect your code.
  • Package includes:
    • 5x Keys – To unlock chests in the dungeons;
    • 20x Alloys – Alloys are consumed when smelting weapons;
    • 50x Metals – This resource is required to upgrade equipment;
    • 3x Level 1 Mod Box – This box contains a random level 1 Mod;
    • 2x Lucky Scrolls – Lucky Scrolls can be used to spin great items on the Lucky Wheel;
    • 15x Potent Health Quaff – It restores 5,000 Health over 10 seconds;
    • 15x Potent Steam Quaff – It restores 100 Steam over 6 seconds;
    • 1x 500 Bound Electrum Bundle – Use Bound Electrum to purchase or upgrade items, weapons, potions in-game.
  • This one is tricky to find, but theoretically there are a lot of keys still available. Last I checked MMOBomb still had over 700 keys but a few days later that page was completely deleted. Some pages from search results are of websites that have expired.
  • This gives you a 15-day (temporary) pet. However, for new players who probably won't see a pet for quite a while, it is very handy to have, especially for your first few Metal Panic quests where you have to collect scrap metal in the Copper Wastes. This mission is especially annoying without a pet because it can be hard trying to click on a Scrap Metal drop in the midst of the skeleton swarms.
  • This one is harder to find, but last I checked GameItems still had close to 500 keys.
  • Not as superb a pack as the Growth Pack giveaway, but it does get you some Spiremarks:
    • 5x Keys - To unlock chests in the dungeons; 
    • 10x Alloys - Alloys are consumed when smelting weapons;
    • 50x Metals - This resource is required to upgrade equipment;
    • 2x Level 1 Mod Box - This box contains a random level 1 Mod;
    • 5x Mechanist Pyroflare - This canister fires a small burst of energy in the shape of a toiler's face a few seconds after being lit;
    • 10x Potent Health Quaff - It restores 5,000 Health over 10 seconds;
    • 10x Potent Steam Quaff - It restores 100 Steam over 6 seconds;
    • 1x Spiked Goggle - Cool cosmetic item;
    • 1x Vented Goggle - Cool cosmetic item;
    • 1x Drum Tophat - Cool cosmetic item;
    • 1x Small Spiremark Bundle (500 Spiremarks)
  • Spiremarks can be spent in the electrum Shop. There is a tab for buying items with Spiremarks.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Skyrim Mod Review - Adal Matar

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Review:
Adal Matar, the lost stronghold v1.1

Score: +2/-0

Summary: Two dungeon crawls.
Although it is advertised as a "Fight Against the Thalmor", the "against the Thalmor" part is not much better than clearing a couple of random encounters. The rest of the mod is dungeon crawling against draugr and trolls.
+ Interesting exterior and dungeon layouts. Also a nice touch with treasure piles that actually look like treasure piles, including gold spilled on the ground.
-0 Implausible layouts. Like an orc fortress in show with no resources around it and just a couple of orcs to run everything. Feels bit too empty, no matter what the backstory. And the dungeons don't feel as plausibly laid out for what they are (a mine and a crypt), and instead they feel like they were laid out to be interesting. This is a trade-off for being visually interesting, so if you prize gameplay experience over immersion, then it will be okay.
+ Interesting player home with good amount of nicely laid out storage.

There is token tie-in from the Recruit More Blades - Sky Haven Temple Enhanced mod. You can remove Adal Matar after completing that portion of the quest.

The other "Fight Against the Thalmor" mods by the same author -- South Dragon Bridge and The Cyrodiil Frontier follow the same style: Claustrophobic player home to be won after some fighting. The Cyrodiil Frontier differs in that you get token combat before a free player home chock full of loot.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Skyrim Mod Review - Helgen Reborn

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Review: Helgen Reborn (version 105.3)

Score: +5/-4
Summary: Sounds like a mod to rebuild Helgen, but not really. Basically a series of fights and dungeon crawls with no involvement in city-(re)building. The mod works better if played at a fairly low level (pre-level 20).
++ Good voice acting as well as good dialogue. Characters feel more like they are actually talking to each other in the cutscenes rather than delivering short lines.
-+ Token story line about The Keepers of Hattu which really goes nowhere and has no bearing on the rebuilding of Helgen. As a standalone side story, however, it has good events and scripted scenes. Overall, too much backstory, not enough content, and no real tie-in to Helgen. It could have happened anywhere.
-- Meaningless series of dungeon crawls to evaluate hired guards. These are just guards, not implausibly elite units that have any business surviving a dungeon crawl where the odds are overwhelming against a "normal" person. And when the Dragonborn is level 50 and they show up in trash armour but ebony or even daedric weapons, it looks really odd.
Using a dungeon crawl mission to evaluate them is also implausible especially when they are apparently not scripted to fight according to their abilities and you cannot give them tactical commands -- there is actually no useful evaluation, especially as a Dragonborn using stealth could clean out a dungeon without them doing anything at all. Finally, their performance report seems to have no consequence, and in any case none of this has any real bearing on rebuilding the city but you have to do it six times, making it a sizeable chunk of the mod's play-time.
For a mod that is supposed to be about rebuilding Helgen, I would have preferred to be more hands-on as it relates to the final status of the city, such as how many guards to hire, and the quality of their gear.
+There is one area that stands out as being quite an interesting (haunted mine) experience and definitely worth a play-through, but it is buggy if you accidentally kill the boss before going through the intended sequence of events.
- The closest the Dragonborn gets to the task of rebuilding Helgen is looking into lumber shipments, but this turns into a series of fights at an arena. Again, very little actual rebuilding or input into the city as far as the Dragonborn is involved.
After the quests are done, you basically wait a few days and the rebuilding continues without you.
+ Pretty decent home for the Dragonborn in the form of a multi-level "Private Tower", with a lot of named storage and many mannequins.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Skyrim Mod Review - Mighty Magick Artifacts

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Review:
Mighty Magick Artifacts v3.16

This is part of the Mighty Magick set of mods, which we will review separately.

REVIEW IN PROGRESS - last edit: 2014-August-26 - Ebony Mail
As we discover more about the mod's changes, we will update this review.

The full description of the changes is not available from the author (who basically addresses it in the Q+A portion of the article/readme about the mod by saying to just throw it away if you don't like it), so from the get-go you are basically going in blind.
Whether you do throw this mod away depends on whether you have encountered the artifacts before, AND probably at which stage of the game you did, AND at what stage of the game you are at now.
Some changes are interesting and feel appropriate. Others feel grossly overpowered. Still others are overpowered only in conjunction with certain character builds.

If you like some of the changes but not others, you can selectively disable them using the Creation Kit: When choose an ESP file to open, you can click on "Details" to list all the records added or changed by the mod. Pressing Delete activates an "Ignore" flag for a particular record.
You do not actually have to fully load the mod into the Creation Kit, and in this particular case you probably do not want to because you may want to reverse your decision, which you can by pressing Delete again to turn off the Ignore flag.

Amulets of the Nine Divines OK in mid-game to late game
This is not too bad if you compare it with some common magical items, BUT in tandem with them, some can be too powerful if you happen on them too early. Here is a summary of the changes:

Divine Vanilla Enchantment Mighty Magick
Akatosh Magicka Regeneration +25% Heath, Magicka, and Stamina Regeneration +50%
Arkay Heath +10 Damage from undead -50%, Damage against undead +50%
Dibella Speech +15 Health +50, Stamina +50
Julianos Magicka +10 Magicka +50, Magicka Regeneration +50%
Kynareth Stamina +10 Animals will neither attack you nor flee from you unless you attack first.
Mara Restoration Spells -10% Cost Restoration spells -15% cost
Stendarr Shields Block +10% Damage Damage against daedra +100%, Shields Block +15% Damage
Talos Shout Cooldown -20% no change
Zenithar Store prices -10% Store prices -15%, Speechcraft +15%
  • The Amulet of Arkay can seem particularly excessive combined with the Mighty Magick Restoration spell Rebuke, which already does a lot of damage specifically against undead at an excessive range. However, in the late game, Draugr have remarkable staying power and Rebuke makes them more manageable if you insist on a magic-using build. The Amulet of Arkay helps with the situation in the late game.
  • The Amulet of Kynareth can make travelling the wildnerness a less annoying experience, so you may want to hold on to that if you just like getting on with the game instead of stopping every few minutes to fight wolves and bears. Where it may feel excessive is because you get the same effect only after a pilgrimage up to High Hrothgar, reading all 10 Emblems.
  • None of this is ultimately relevant in mid-game because you will probably have switched to using the Mighty Magick version of the Gauldur Amulet.
You can easily find the ENCHantment records to set to ignore in the Creation Kit as they have the name of the Divine on them.

Armor of the Old Gods Good
The original Armor set you can get from one of the outcomes of the Forsworn Conspiracy in Markarth.

Piece Original enchantment Artifacts enchantment
Armor Destruction spells cost 15% less to cast Health +75, Magicka +75, Stamina +75.
Boots Sneaking is 20% better Sneaking is 25% better. Stamina regenerates 100% faster.
Gauntlets Bows do 20% more damage 25% more damage with One-Handed attacks, Two-Handed attacks, and Bows.
Helmet Increases your Magicka by 30 points Magic Resistance +15%. Destruction spells 15% stronger. Conjuration spells cost 15% less to cast.

The Artifacts version makes the armor much less specialized, though possibly at the cost of some flavour, if you believe the original enchantments are meant to reflect the Forsworn as guerilla fighters. The enchantments are not over-the-top and somewhat on par with what you can enchant yourself; plus there are some conveniences such as 25% more damage with all three weapon types on the same armor piece.
Compared to the original, the enchantments in the Mighty Magick Artifacts mod are more likely to be useful for a longer time. Depending on your level when you get the armor set, the original enchantments may be markedly inferior to what you have.

Dawnbreaker Overpowered till mid-game
The "Meridia's Retribution" effect of Dawnbreaker will cause undead to explode with a Bane of the Undead effect if they die within 10 seconds of being struck. In Mighty Magick this is unchanged. What is improved is the fire damage per hit: From 10 to 50. In the very early game you can one-shot quite a few targets. It is still useful until unavoidably fast levelling in the vanilla game causes enemies to level up with you (especially since you can't get Meridia's Beacon until level 10 to start the quest).
Not a bad change, and one that makes the weapon fairly useful in the later game when 10 fire damage is token. With 50 fire damage, Dawnbreaker will continue to be a viable choice in the late game without having to switch to it solely for Meridia's Retribution.

Ebony Blade Overpowered till late game
Mighty Magick adds Soul Trapping and a chance of Paralysis. Which is not as bad as it sounds because the deadliest effect (Paralysis) is also on the vanilla Chillrend and you can custom enchant it on weapons as well.
The reason these additions can make Ebony Blade overpowered is because you can pick up the sword at level 20--which you can attain unavoidably too fast unless you take severe steps in slowing down your levelling. Chances are, when you get the Ebony Blade, it will be your best weapon and you won't find anything worth switching for a very long time, if ever: As weapons go, the Mighty Magick version has three of the most useful enchantments: the vanilla Absorb Health, and the additional Paralysis and Soul Trap.

The amount of effort to obtain the Ebony Blade is not relevant compared to powering it up. The Ebony Blade is meant to corrupt the user by enticing them to murder the people who trust them. The theme of the weapon, therefore, should be the temptation to increase the blade's power. For that to actually work, it must not be so powerful to begin with that you wouldn't bother playing Mephala's game of murder -- and the Paralysis ruins this since you can get 5 seconds of paralysis right from when you acquire the Ebony Blade.
Nevertheless, Mighty Magick does make the Ebony Blade at least worth getting in the first place.

Ebony Mail OK
The vanilla version provides Muffle and an aura poison damage smoke effect when sneaking or in combat. The inconvenience of the smoke and the weak Muffle effect easily obtained by spell or enchantment makes the vanilla Ebony Mail a weak choice in the late game when you can choose your own custom enchantment on a strong armor.
The Mighty Magick version provides Muffle, +50% Sneak, 35% Magic Resistance, and melee attackers take the same damage they inflict. Considering that you cannot normally acquire the Ebony Mail until level 30, even 35% Magic Resistance is not excessive. The damage mirroring effect is interesting but since it doesn't actually block any damage, it is not as excessive as it seems. Muffle and Sneak bonuses are also not as excessive because you can fairly easily duplicate or exceed it with Invisibility magic or potions -- especially by the time you are level 30+.
The Mighty Magick version makes it one of the premier choices for heavy armour, and on par with the Mighty Magick Savior's Hide light armour alternative. Since you can get it only at level 30+ and by then are already heading into a late-game character build, it is not a bad upgrade of the original.

The Gauldur Amulet OK in mid to late game.
The vanilla amulet simply combines the three separate amulets into one, for +30 Health, +30 Magicka, +30 Stamina. Mighty Magick makes this amulet very worthwhile to get just for the +25% bonus to Magic power or duration (depending on school). On  top of that, it gives +25% Resist Magic. It is overall very strong and good for all builds. The bonus may seem excessive in the early game but commonplace later on.
You do lose the specific benefits of a higher magic pool (casting more Magicka-expensive spells), Health (more survivability), and Stamina (more running and power attacks), but +30 to the three stats becomes quite meaningless in the late game, whereas the percentile bonuses of the Mighty Magick Gauldur Amulet keep it relevant throughout (except Resist Magic, which bumps against the engine cap of 85%).

The Mace of Molag Bal Good
The original Mace enchantment is 25 Stamina Damage, 25 Magicka Damage, and Soul Trap for 3 seconds. The Artifacts version makes it more useful to have at 36 Health Damage, 36 Stamina Damage, 36 Magicka Damage, and Soul Trap for 5 seconds.
Without the additional Health damage, the Mace takes a back seat to most weapons except those dedicated to mage-slaying.

Saarthal Amulet Good
Changes the spell cost reduction from 3% to 10%. This is quite a nice change because it actually makes the amulet worth wearing in the early game. The Saarthal Amulet was probably not meant to be artifact-level, and this improvement doesn't suddenly make it artifact level. Also, if you are using the Mighty Magick - Fortify Magic School Enchantment and Alchemy Reversed module, then it is one of the few permanent ways to reduce the magicka cost of spells. It would have been nice to incorporate this into the Gauldur Amulet.

Saviour's Hide Overpowered until late game
The original Saviour's Hide provides +15% Resist Magic and +50% Resist Poision. The Mighty Magick version provides +50% Magic Resistance, 100% Poison and Disease Resistance, and +50% movement speed. This is a huge boost, especially if you are specifically going against poison-using enemies that have no other attacks.
Eventually you will hit the 85% Magick Resistance cap, but a concentrated +50% Resist Magic bonus here frees up your other enchantment slots for other things. It definitely makes this cuirass a solid choice for never choosing anything else to wear.
The movement speed bonus can possibly be unbalancing because of the tactical advantages, but it also lets you have a reasonable chance of evading some of the faster animals, such as Sabre Cats and Bears.

Staff of Corruption Overpowered
The vanilla staff does 20 or 50 damage with dreams. The Mighty Magick version does 100 or 200, plus an explosive (area effect) Fear effect, which is also applied to dream-stealing, which means when you try to steal dreams you end up assaulting people and making them hostile and will have the guards after you.

I feel that the worst aspect of this change is the now hostile dream stealing, which greatly changes the feel of how this staff works.
A more moderate change would have been to up the damage only of the dream-empowered shots, and also limit the fear effect to dream-empowered shots. With Mighty Magick, you can still do 100 damage with the staff normally, and the Mighty Magick mod gives all artifacts unlimited shots without recharging -- which is pretty potent on its own, and possibly overpowering in the early game considering how easy it is to get the Staff. Throughout the game 100 damage, a fast direct-fire projectile, and a fast fire rate makes this staff a dragon killer.
You can mod the staff somewhat easily:
  • To make the fear effect work only on enemies and when there are dreams stored is apparently NOT as easy as copying conditions from Magic > Magic Effect > "DA16Skull04WakingMajor" to the fear effect in the Enchantment entry for the Staff. Instead, I recommend just deleting that magic effect from the staff's enchantment and living without it.
  • To change the damage done when there are no dreams stored, adjust the Magnitude for the effect "Psychic Agony: Health". I recommend a value of 20 and reducing the area to 5, the same as the DreamSteal effect.
  • To change the damage done when there are dreams stored, adjust the Magnitude for the effect "Waking Nightmare: Health". I recommend a value of 100.
We ended up modding the staff in a more complicated way into something with increased utility instead of increased power.
  • 20 damage or 50 damage with dreams, with area 5 or 15 (as vanilla Staff of Corruption). Left it as 0 charge requirement.
    • Even at 50 damage, it is a potent dragon killer unless you are in the mid to late game or use a mod so dragons have much more Health.
  • Soul Trap with area 15. Due to a bug or unforeseen scripting issue, when a soul is captured the staff will also reduce the dream count by 1.
  • No effect on Undead.
  • Changed projectile attributes:
    • Speed 4000 -> 400,000 -- Makes it very good against dragons in flight because it is basically instant
    • Range 2048 -> 4000
    • Collision radius 10 -> 5
    • Impact Force 5.0 -> 0