Enjoy the Path

gw2-64-2017-08-22-19-33-46-47

gw2-64-2017-08-22-19-33-46-47

The first image of the evening is what happens when you catch the daily completion bonus train.  I am still floored by the sheer number of people actively participating in events.  One of the cool happenings of the night though is that I organically crossed paths with @vbarreirojr who was one event behind me in the progression.  I sort of love the concept that happens in this game of the commander…  because you can see the telltale icons on the corners of your map and generally speaking are a reasonable indicator of where some manner of activity is going on.  I’m also starting to learn to get a bit better at watching chat.  Often times as new events are starting up someone will link a waypoint to allow folks to jump to it relatively quickly.  Through a combination of follow the catmander and waypoint jumping I managed to knock out the daily completion bonus in what felt like record time.  I think part of it as well is I am starting to develop a little ancestral memory, as to which are the best areas to harvest resources and which are the easiest vistas to view to get completion and such.  It’s funny how I almost look forward to the daily completion bonus because it ends to give me some focus…  and from there while participating in it I come up with some other game play for the evening.

gw2-64-2017-08-22-21-43-12-29

Early in the day I was talking to a friend who is contemplating trying to restart the game, and was questioning what sequence of things she needed to purchase.  Firstly I think Guild Wars 2 is either something that feels good or doesn’t… and lord knows it took me five years of trying it to finally figure out the secret to being able to enjoy it myself.  You can scan back through the history of this blog and you are going to find a bunch of posts that are pretty negative about this game.  I wrote one in particular where I called it one of my five biggest MMO disappointments just so you have an easy reference.  You are going to ultimately have to decide if the game works for you or not, because it absolutely did not for me for a very long time.  However the truth that I finally landed on is that you have to forget everything you know about how an MMO works to ultimately make Guild Wars 2 work.  What I mean by that is for the most part MMOs are very task oriented and involve you completing a sequence of objectives in order to move on to the next sequence of objectives.  The quest is the most common version of this and that least to more quests and ultimately provides a ladder for you to traverse a given zone with.  When you attempt to play Guild Wars 2 in this fashion…  your brain rebels against you.  There is no quest structure and the concept of hearts are what I tried to latch onto as the replacement.  The end result felt like this grindy busywork as I attempted to complete my way across a zone so that I could then move to the next area, making sure to 100% everything in my path.  In doing so I kept getting frustrated each time something took me off path or off whatever my current task was, and as a result I bounced exceedingly hard off of the game.

gw2-64-2017-08-22-19-48-50-17

Instead I personally find Guild Wars 2 works better if you view it like an ocean that you happen to be floating in.  If you allow yourself to move along with the current you get to experience all sorts of interesting things that happen along the path.  Instead of staying focused on some large overarching goal…  I find it works best to focus on whatever is presented in front of you.  If there is an event spawning near you, go over there and participate because it often times leads its way to other events in the same zone.  Instead of trying to traverse things in an A B C D E F manner…  I find it just feels better to let the zone explore itself almost.  Sure you end up often times going from A to F to G to C to E and eventually back to B and D…  but it is done so in a more organic manner.  The only negative to this approach is that I find it completely impossible to stay on task.  Ultimately I started playing Guild Wars 2 like I play Skyrim or Fallout…  just letting myself wander off into the horizon and check out the next shiny object in my field of view.  If there is a commander on the far side of the zone…  then I should probably head that way to see what all is going on.  Sometimes this has lead me to zone events that I didn’t even realize existed.  To some extent at times it feels like the game is playing you… but I think in this case it is probably perfectly okay.  This game is full of these extremely intricate micro objectives and feedback loops to keep you caught in their gravity and constantly doing stuff.  The fact that everything scales…  means that you are never going to be doing stuff that isn’t potentially valuable or lucrative.    Basically my advice to learning how to enjoy Guild Wars 2 is to stop focusing on the goal… and start enjoying the path.

 

Saltines and Weaponcraft

eclipsedaystuff

eclipsedaystuff

Yesterday was a weird one, namely because everyone seemed to have eclipse fever for lack of a better term.  As a group we had largely made a plan to go over to the roof of the parking garage next door, and by the time the festivities actually started there were between fifty and a hundred people that had the same idea.  The positive is that everyone was more than willing to share their assorted ways of viewing the eclipse.  In Oklahoma we only actually had about 90% occlusion, which made the world feel like a storm front was just about to blow in.  The sky darkened, the temperature dropped a very small bit… but for the most part you could have easily not noticed anything going on unless you happened to look up.  I took the first image with the selfie cam on my old phone and that was just about the peak of occlusion…  and as you can see the day star still seemed pretty formidable.  The second shot is the idea of using a saltine cracker to project the shadow, and the third shot is this awesome box that the same coworkers husband had rigged.  The last shot is the eclipse through the filter of a pair of those shades…  but unfortunately it was hell to get the focus to latch onto it at all.  There were so many sets of shades that people were passing them around pretty freely, and I got to take more than a few peeks at the spectacle.  The only problem is…  my eyes felt really funny afterwards.  Like in part they felt like they were strained… or like I had been driving into the sun’s glare for too long.  It took about 2 hours for the effect to fully wear off, so I was concerned for a bit that maybe we ended up with some cheap knock off shades and I had done some actual damage.  My eyes are super sensitive to light in the best of conditions…  so forcing myself to be out and looking up…  probably just caused them to strain a bit.

gw2-64-2017-08-22-06-32-11-18

When I made it home for the evening I was still feeling a little off though.  So my evening activities ended up leaning towards the chill side of things.  Other than doing my daily completion bonus I largely focused on crafting and pushing up my weaponsmithing.  I had this weird sequence of events happen where I saw my character hit 402…  then somehow was back at 392.  Guild Wars 2 has this problem where the UI sometimes freaks the hell out, and in order to fix it I sometimes have to log out and back in.  In doing this I went from the 402 I was supposedly sitting at before I logged back to the 392, which is a bit frustrating.  However since for some reason I didn’t have the pattern to Orichalcum Ingots…  I am leaning to the side of this just being a presentation bug since the UI was acting up anyways.  I still had the materials though to push my way through to the 400s and now everything I craft seems to take a ton of time and materials.  I need to do a heck of a lot more farming of the level 80 zones because I only had the materials for I believe 64 ingots of Orichalcum.  I was in even worse shape in the Ancient Wood department, so I know I will be spending a lot of time in the end game zones doing content.  I am largely going down this path because I want to be able to craft my own ascended gear, and be able to craft my own exotics for  the purpose of trying to gamble and get that precursor.  I realize I should just focus on making a lot of money and buying the damned thing…  but I have a long ways to go until I will be able to do that.

Merry Eclipsemas

gw2-64-2017-08-20-15-39-45-62

gw2-64-2017-08-20-15-39-45-62

Friday I was apparently smoking something and I decided to attempt to participate in one of those internet meme quiz things.  I was planning on doing it my own way where I just made a giant blog post about it.  However thankfully I did not get enough likes to actually trigger me to release the post.  Side note… I did actually write it and it is sitting in my saved drafts bin but I am somewhat relieved that I didn’t hit the threshold needed in my mind to make that post.  In other news today is in fact the Eclipse and while I am not anywhere near the totality…  it should still be interesting.  There is a big of a gathering happening on the roof of the parking garage next to work in order to celebrate it, but my meeting schedule will ultimately determine if I can attend.  The only negative is that I don’t have any way to view it safely.  I remember watching one as a kid, that had to be the one that happened in 1979 and my grandfather who was a welder by trade had me wear his welding hood.  I have no clue how best to really watch this one… I mean I guess in theory I could do the pinhole camera thing.  The awesome big is that this time we have the internet and live streams… and in theory can get a much better view sitting at the computer than we can outside.  It is extremely unique though to have the feeling that it was daytime minutes before and now you are standing in darkness.  There have been many warnings about not pointing your camera directly at the eclipse, but I was going to attempt this using my old phone’s front facing camera as a sort of way to know when it is safe to look at not safe to look.  Dealing with the eclipse always sort of reminds me of Perseus and Medusa, and trying to use a shiny surface to get a glimpse without turning to stone…  or in this case completely wrecking my eyes.

gw2-64-2017-08-20-17-13-48-39

I spent most of my weekend playing Guild Wars 2 and attempted to make further progress in the Living Story Season 2 content.  Before I get into that however I want to make another side note about just how damned active people are in this game.  It is really hard to get the scale from a single screenshot given how much people in general move around avoiding mechanics… but I was needing to do an event in Frostgorge sound for one of the steps in the quest chain.  While waiting for it to kick off I noticed a significant number of people gathering… and by the time we actually started there were a good fifty plus players participating.  Over the weekend I discovered Dulfy’s boss timer thanks to my friend Solaria…. and I spent a good deal of time bouncing around and doing world boss fights.  The weird thing about the Frostgorge Sound event though is that this isn’t on the timer…  it is just something that happens occasionally and apparently there are enough players out there wanting to complete it that we end up with the numbers that we had each time it runs.  When I first got to the zone I caught the tail end of the event and did not participate enough to be able to get credit.  However during that running there were still a significant number of players participating in the content.  It just floors me that there are enough players in the game that you can pretty much show up at any single event timer…  and know without a doubt that it is going to happen.  Now maybe during the wee hours of the morning this might not be the case but over the course of the weekend I kept hitting various encounters and each time we had more than enough to make sure it was a success.

gw2-64-2017-08-20-14-47-44-19

Another big happening of the weekend is that I managed to get my Ranger to level 80.  I managed to get him pretty close through the use of a bunch of Tome’s of Knowledge but I still needed to pour on the last five levels the old fashioned way.  Right now I think I am pretty happy with the combo of Greatsword and Longbow for this character, and have tweaked my spec to emphasize both of these weapon selections.  I cobbled together a set of gear once I dinged and am now out doing a secondary mission with the character… and that is popping between zones and taming animals.  For the most part I seem to have the best luck with my traditional Arctodus and River Drake combo…  but the longer I play the Drake seems to keep pulling ahead in most departments.  They just seem to be universally good… reasonable dps and excellent survival.  All of that said it does nothing to stop my desire to tame all of the things and have a completely filled out pet window.  I’m extremely torn as to which character I should be spending most of my time on… and this is one of those moments when I wish the map progress was shared.  On my warrior I managed to 100% a few new areas and am continuing down that path that I will ultimately need for the Legendary weapon madness.  As far as gambling for weapons…  I’ve decide more or less to stop that nonsense until I can actually craft the weapons myself.  On that front though I am now in Mithril territory as far as leveling goes and considering how much of that I have in my vault it should go pretty quickly.  I am however going to have to focus any of the zones that mine Orichalcum because I am severely lacking in my reserves of that metal.

gw2-64-2017-08-20-17-34-21-17

The other big take away from the weekend is that I am pretty sure the designers of this game intended you to be grouping up for the Living World content.  I say this because I just finished the second part of Chapter 4 and towards the end of that mission I had died so many times my character was completely naked.  The thing is… it hasn’t just been that one encounter because the last few major fights have taken a significant amount of time and put me up against some extremely hitpoint spongey bosses.  I am not going to go into specifics for the sake of spoilers…  though I guess the above image is in its own way a little spoilery.  I should in theory be grouping with friends to complete this content, but on some level I am getting a sense of pride in being able to do it all solo.  Sure sometimes it hurts, and I always have to repair afterwards but it is also forcing me to actually deal with the mechanics which I am hoping will make adjusting to the later fractals all that much easier.  I also in truth really need to spend some time optimizing my gear on the Warrior because right now other than the few ascended items I have… it is a little all over the place.  I am hoping to push up my weaponsmithing and armorsmithing in part to help fill out some of these gaps as I am already sitting on quite a few patterns that would be useful.  Long story short… still having an awful lot of fun in Guild Wars 2 and still finding tons of casual activities to accomplish.

 

Five Doctors

rifftrax-doctor-poster-e6ff5abb7ba43188e4d31a7234bf8e8d-1

rifftrax-doctor-poster-e6ff5abb7ba43188e4d31a7234bf8e8d-1One of the things that I do occasionally with some coworkers is go to the live broadcast of Rifftrax.  The concept there is a little odd given that the actual “live” show is in Nashville but is simulcast to theaters around the country…  two of which are in the Tulsa area.  Generally speaking we all meet for dinner first and then attend whatever they happen to be Riffing at that time.  Traditionally this is some movie down on the deep B and or Cult status list.  I think the last one I saw before last night was Samurai Cop back in March, and hands down the best one ever was them taking on The Room.  The weird thing about last night is that I was not terribly sure how I would feel about them Riffing on one of my Fandoms.  I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since my father indoctrinated me during the very long rein of Tom Baker.  Whatever concerns I might have had vanished quickly because their send up of the Five Doctors was amazing.  Pretty much everything we ever thought while watching some of the campy 80s shows…  took verbal form.  If you have a chance to see it I highly suggest it.  They are doing the traditional rebroadcast on August 24th so you might check to see if it is available at a theater near you.  I highly suggest the “live” Rifftrax experience in general.

Past this I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about.  The problem with a Rifftrax night is that I don’t get home early enough to really do much in the way of gaming.  It was not long before I was downstairs conked out completely.  The following story is related for humor… and for evidence of how generally dead to the world I was.  I turned in pretty early and at some point during the night I apparently got up to use the restroom.  I don’t remember this at all, instead it was just like I suddenly woke up and was on the toilet….  and had apparently been there long enough to have my legs completely fall asleep.  So in my sleepy state I had to figure out how to finish my business…  and then pull my pants up and somehow stabilize myself as blood goes rushing back into my legs.  There was a point where I legitimately considered crawling on the floor to bed.  Even weirder was when I managed to hobble my way to the bed and sit down…  I couldn’t quite reason how to lift my then “full on pins and needles with a vengeance” legs up into the bed so I could lay down again.  This is of course way more than you bargained for when you decided to click through to my blog this morning.  While I do suggest Rifftrax… I would not suggest this whole walking on legs that you can’t actually feel thing.  It is an overrated experience.

 

Cruel Grey Button

battle-2017-08-17-06-20-35-04

battle-2017-08-17-06-20-35-04

I honestly don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning.  The world has been crazy between me and my work and juggling managing four different initiatives…  and my wife and her normal back to school frantic rush.  In theory at least in my world I am hoping that in the near future one of those initiatives wraps up and I can at least drop one team from my radar temporarily.  On the school front tomorrow is the first day back with kids, but my wife has been in “back to normal” mode since Monday.  The new normal however is extra stressful this year because there were some fairly severe last minute changes.  I know I have talked in the deep past on this blog about the forensics class she tag team teaches with a science teacher.  On Monday, the first day teachers reported back… that other teacher that she relies on…  decided to quit.  This of course throws everything into a state of immediate turmoil because moment now is about preparing to have a completely different teacher doing the co-teach thing with her.  Thankfully someone she is pretty close with ended up getting the position, but yesterday abruptly turned into a full day of helping this other teacher move classrooms and set up.  Today in theory is going to be about trying to discuss what the hell they are going to do…  when the kids arrive tomorrow.

The only thing I really have to talk about is the fact that yesterday I fired up the Battle.net launcher… and got super excited when I noticed that they have added a new Activision section to the side bar of games.  This is starting to feel super real at this point and I now have a greyed out install button that should in theory become available at some point before the August 29th beta date.  It has been a really long time since I longed for access to a beta… but holy shit do I wish I could play Destiny 2 right now.  I mean don’t get me wrong I am loving my rediscovery of Guild Wars 2…  but I need some Destiny in my life.  The problem that I keep running into each time I boot up Destiny 1 is the fact that it feels like I am playing a game that is ultimately going away.  I mean I fully expect that the game will remain active for a period of time after the launch of Destiny 2…  but it feels like I am not really devoting time to anything meaningful.  I have a hard time getting excited about the concept of completing the achievement books.  The fact that they tied gear and rewards to them this time made it a little bit better, but it still feels like I am spending my limited time playing what is ultimately a disposable experience.  I admit this is a little ironic considering that I wish I could be playing Destiny 2 beta which is in itself a completely 100% disposable experience.

I am really excited about the prospects of playing the game on the PC and having access to my battle.net friends list.  I am really hoping that cross chat with other blizzard games is a thing that exists and that I can keep tabs on my WoW playing friends while I am off shooting Cabal for shiny loots.  I do however need to have a bit of a “come to jesus” with my friends list and prune it in preparation of the launch.  Not saying that there are people from my past that I really am happy that are in my past…  but also not saying that.  I am sure there are a handful of those people still hanging out somewhere in the bowels of my battle.net friends list.  I am also really hoping that with the launch of Destiny they introduce some sort of appear offline mode that they have been talking about.  There are nights when I just cannot deal with other human beings.  Counter intuitively the feature that I want the most from BNet is cross server chat channels.  My social connections have evolved to this state where I sort of have a guild without actually having a game.  What I mean by that is I have this stable group of people that I interact with on a daily basis… and slacks and discords that have become the new “guild chat” as it were…  but that it isn’t necessarily completely encompassed by a single game.  Having a social channel that spanned World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Starcraft Remake and now Destiny 2…  would be pretty great.  Sure one on one conversation is a thing that exists across game but it would be cool to have that extended guild chat feel to it.

Active World

gw2-64-2017-08-14-23-30-22-60

gw2-64-2017-08-14-23-30-22-60

As you know from the last several posts I have made on the subject…  I have been playing a shocking amount of Guild Wars 2.  I am still a little surprised myself considering how many years I just did not like this game at all.  Something clicked in my brain and I am honestly happy that I stuck around long enough for that moment to happen.  It’s weird just how much of what we like and dislike happens is related to the experiences we are ultimately comparing it to, and our present frame of mind.  One of the things that I am finding shocking right now is just how damned active the game actually is.  My frame of reference there has been mostly World of Warcraft, where not too long ago I spent some time on low level characters namely in the Ashenvale area.  When pushing up my Orc Warrior I could go the entire night without seeing another single player.  It legitimately felt like I was the only person in zone most of the time, and even if I made a trip to the Crossroads…  it was a bit of a rarity that I actually encountered anyone there either.  The weird part about this is the fact that I play on Argent Dawn and for the most part have every other role-playing server blended together…  including the extremely high horde population Emerald Dawn server thanks to Alea Iacta Est and their presence.

gw2-64-2017-08-16-06-41-53-49

Conversely while running around in Guild Wars 2 there is rarely a moment when I don’t have another player on screen.  Last night I spent a good deal of time in Snowden Drifts which is a third tier zone in the Norn area, so not exactly a hub of the game.  However each and every time I started to engage with an event or a hero challenge… moments after starting there were a slew of other players hanging out and doing the content as well.  Now I gave the WoW reference not to somehow prove that game is dead…  but just to highlight how vastly different the two games feel right now.  Admittedly with World of Warcraft…  the vast majority of the players are simply not leveling characters because if they are like me they have a stable full of post 100 characters in various states of completion.  Guild Wars 2 has something else going for it though in that it serves to make every bit of content relevant by allowing the world to scale.  Why this becomes interesting is the fact that if you do any major event…  you have droves of players that show up to participate.  The above event screenshot is from a random Ley-Line Anomaly from Gendarran Fields a level 25-35 area.  By the time I saw the server message… and ported over there were already hundreds of players fighting the Anomaly.  What makes this encounter so interesting is the fact that every so often it straight up kills a handful of players, and like clockwork there is always a chunk of players that stick around and rez the fallen before catching up.  Thankfully in the case of this fight the mob drops these beacons that will allow you to leap ahead significant distances to try and keep from penalizing those community minded players.

gw2-64-2017-08-16-06-38-02-61

One of the cool parts about Guild Wars 2 as well is the fact that at some point in the recent past they decided to open up the base game to everyone.  Now you can pick up the “Standard Collection” for $49.99 which includes the base game, Heart of Thorns expansion and the as yet to be released Path of Fire expansion as well as 2 level 80 character boosts.  That is pretty cool but if you are just wanting to dip your toes in to test the water, you can play the game for free with this registration link.  In truth I suggest that option first given that it has legitimately taken me five years to reach a point where I am finding that I really truly do love this game.  Now that free account has a bunch of restrictions on it, which thankfully they outline in a support article.  Namely it seems like this is the standard protecting the environment MMO fare of limiting communication options.  However there are a couple that are going to be annoying…  namely the limit of 2 character slots and only 3 bag slots given that the game I feel has too small of bags in the first place.  You are also limited to only the starter zones until level 10…  but given you were probably going to stay there regardless that is not a big deal.  Unlocking of Lion’s Arch around 35 is I believe about when you would normally go there through the story quests.  Regardless if you decide you like the game you are probably going to at least pay the $50 to unlock the two expansions.  The biggest annoyance to me would be Living Story Season 2 and 3 which are treated as separate purchases if you were not around to unlock the content when it was initially available.  Now they go on sale periodically, however to purchase them outright would be around $16 per season.  That said I have yet to complete Season 2 or in truth really get started in earnest on it, so that isn’t that big of a deal.  The seasonal content helps you understand the lore of the world and the events that are going on around you.  If you just want to smash things in the face with a hammer like I often do…  this becomes optional content.

Praise Jick

west-of-loathing-2017-08-15-06-11-09-82

west-of-loathing-2017-08-15-06-11-09-82

Another game that I have been playing a more than significant amount of is West of Loathing.  The attraction of this stick figure graphics clad game won’t make a whole lot of sense unless you too played an awful lot of Kingdom of Loathing.  For those not already indoctrinated… “KoL” was one of the early browser based role-playing games launching in February of 2003.  I am not entirely certain when I first discovered it but I believe it was sometime within that first year.  I would love to say that I have access to my original account…  but that is tied to an email address I no longer have access to.  What set Kingdom of Loathing apart other than the unapologetic programmer art…  was a sense of humor and a general aura of fun around the game.   You chose from classes such as Sauceror, Pastamancer, Turtle Tamer, Disco Bandit, Accordion Thief or Seal Clubber…  all with their largely goofy and nonsensical abilities.  Now you might exact the game to play like a parody of an RPG, but in truth it had a significant amount of depth and was fun in its own right once the gags became a little stale.  This was one of the first times I had encountered the “energy” mechanic that limits how many turns per day you could take, and in truth without Kingdom of Loathing I question of anything like a Fallen London would have ever gained traction considering it uses much the same format.

west-of-loathing-2017-08-15-06-11-20-06

What West of Loathing does, is combine all of the elements that I loved about the point and click adventure style RPG that was Kingdom of Loathing and bring it into the real time interactive gaming world.  Instead of navigating through a series of mouse clicks and menu items, you actually go out and explore the world with WASD and keys to interact with objects.  It has been awesome to see all of these scenes that are extremely reminiscent to that of KoL animated and moving on my screen…  with just as many physical gags worked in as I would have expected.  One of the early things you notice is that various objects in the world will add items to your configuration menu.  For example you unlock a check box that is labelled “Stupid Walking” which causes your character to cycle through a series of bizarre walking moves from the dog “butt scoot” animation to something similar to the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks gag.  Another option is “Best Font Mode” that shifts everything from a Serif font to something resembling Arial…  none of these really have any major effect on the game they just do goofy things because the game is goofy.

west-of-loathing-2017-08-15-06-14-10-20

Much like Kingdom of Loathing you are absolutely flooded with items that vary from the completely useless vendor fodder to things that you probably should hold onto just in case there might be a use for it later.  The game will gleefully allow you to consume or destroy a major plot device that will keep you from unlocking segments of the game.  As a result there were several things I failed to do in the introductory area…  that you can apparently never go back to.  The game will also gleefully push you in front of mobs that you have zero hope of actually beating.  It turns out at least in one of these cases I was supposed to allow it to beat me to unlock something I needed for another quest.  However I muscled through and used up my stock of dynamite to be able to succeed.  One of the best parts of the game so far is the fact that it is fairly forgiving of your mistakes when it comes to taking deaths… and will functionally respawn you in a save space as though you simply got beat up and had to retreat.  As far as classes go in West of Loathing you have a much more limited set to choose from.  I went with the Cow Puncher which serves as the Muscle stat class for the game, but you can also choose from Beanslinger the Mysticality class or Snake Oiler the Moxie class.  Pretty early in the game I started down a bit of a secondary path of Necromancy and can now summon all manner of skeletal creatures to help fight for me.

west-of-loathing-2017-08-15-06-13-21-28

At this point I have played around five hours of the game and have unlocked a decent chunk of the map so far.  The game itself feels like this weird mix of a Maniac Mansion style adventure game blended with the original Fallout.  As you move between objectives on the world map you encounter random events, and if you just want to partake of the random events…  there is the Wander button that makes your character literally roam around in a circle around your current objective.  In Kingdom of Loathing there were a number of endless combat areas that allows you to level up specific stats or farm for specific items, and this game keeps that concept with several locations including something that allows you to keep jumping into combat as often as you like.  One example of this is a fountain that is spitting out snakes… and you can walk up to it and grab a snake to fight as many times as you like if that sounds like something you actually want to be doing.  There is a bone pit that I go to rather often to find the components I need to summon skeletons.  The absolute best part about West of Loathing is the fact there is no energy mechanic.  That is ultimately my frustration with the original Kingdom of Loathing or Fallen London…  is that I play them in spurts.  I might want to play for a few hours and then will go for a month without playing it again…  and that goes specifically against their model.  West of Loathing on the other hand is something I can roam around at my pace without worry about encountering any hidden barriers.  Ultimately if you ever played Kingdom of Loathing I highly suggest you check out this game, and at only $10 I have gotten more than my enjoyment out of it thus far…  and feel like I have only barely scratched the surface.

Breached Wall

gw2-64-2017-08-11-22-27-22-71

gw2-64-2017-08-14-06-07-09-70

This weekend was largely one about me playing quite a bit of Guild Wars 2 while doing other things.  We’ve been binging a few Netflix series, and GW2 is just about the perfect sort of game for that activity.  First we went on a tear of watching through all thirty episodes of The Ranch, a comedy helmed by Ashton Kutcher and a whole slew of other That 70’s show alums like Danny Masterson and Wilmer Valderrama.  There are currently the two “seasons” of the show and that is in quotes because the show has one of the most jacked up naming conventions I have seen yet.  Whatever the case its funny, and reminds me so much of the people I great up with.  While I did not grow up on a ranch…  I grew up knowing someone that pretty much was the same as a character on the show.  From there we finally started watching Orange is the New Black and have barely made a dent in it, but it gives us another thing to watch whenever we are in the mood to watch something.  So far I am digging it.  Again it is another show that pairs nicely with Guild Wars 2 because it is a largely verbal show… and far less about what is happening on screen.  This is ultimately why I don’t watch nearly as much Anime as I would like, because I have reached this point where I cannot bring myself to “only” watch television.  I need to be doing something else at the same time, and I cannot play a game and “read” television at the same time.  How I managed to watch Train to Busan is a bit of a miracle…  because it held my attention enough to keep me from wandering back to playing something at the same time.

gw2-64-2017-08-13-17-05-57-21

As far as game time goes, I have been slowly working on world completion.  In theory I know I should be spending my time catching up to the story…  but I find myself instead preferring the slow pace of working on knocking out various objectives on the map.  At this point I have 64% zone completion, and am slowly focusing the early zones to get them out of the way.  Over the weekend I wrapped up all of the capitol cities and have been doing the first few zones in each area of the map.  I posted the above screenshot not necessarily because it is majestic, but represents what felt like a significant achievement.  Side note…  even to this day I cannot keep myself from snapping a screenshot when I am viewing a vista for the first time.  This vista in particular is in Diessa Plateau at the Breached Wall, and it is a fairly contorted jumping puzzle.  I wound up spending about an hour working on getting things just right so that I could get up there and score some hero points and the vista.  One of the things that floors me is just how damned many people are still active in this game, because during that hour of working on the Vista… I encountered a couple dozen other players trying to do the same thing.  When a group of us finally made it across there was much spontaneous cheering.  The other weird thing about this game is the way that players will seemingly beeline out of their way just to rez someone.  I’ve found myself doing the same thing, and I think largely it is because the game messages it to players that maybe it is something that they might want to do.

gw2-64-2017-08-11-22-27-22-71

I remember in 2015 at Pax South when they were unveiling Heart of Thorns… the speakers talked about it being one of the friendliest communities in MMO gaming.  At the time I thought this was a weird boast, because I had never really encountered anyone striking up a conversation with me.  However this time… coming back to the game…  I am finally grasping what they meant by this.  The Guild Wars 2 community is not one of words but instead one of actions.  I cannot count the number of times someone has veered off course to come resurrect me, or seemingly stopped what they were doing to participate in some random event that just happened to be passing their way.  I myself have done both of these and if you allow yourself to just sort of ride along in the current of the game is is an extremely rich experience.  My problem previously was that I kept trying to play Guild Wars 2 like I played other MMOs, where I focused in on a very finite series of goals and expectations and at the same time closed myself to the random happenings.  In some way I have started playing GW2 much the same as how I play Elder Scrolls or Fallout games…  where I allow myself to wander aimlessly and participate in whatever happens to cross my path…  or catch my eye.  As a result the game finally makes sense and finally seems as fun as everyone has made it out to be.  I still marvel that it took five years to reach this point of realization…  but I never claimed to be particularly swift.

Sehnsucht

I’ve been sort of circling around a drain lately that is Magic the Gathering.  I go through this every so often, thinking that I really wish I could play Magic again.   The key problem is when it comes to this game, I am largely a man out of time…  or at least out of synch with the community of the game.  I’ve talked about my experiences with this  before, but functionally I bought my first Magic the Gathering cards during Unlimited.  I managed to pick up a single starter deck, and then was ultimately confused how to make that starter deck work, not realizing that they were by nature completely unplayable without additional pack support.  I sat on that until around the release of revised when I finally pulled my head out and learned how to play the game.  At this point Magic was really not a big deal in the small town I grew up in, nor the neighboring town where I had a store where I could actually purchase it at.  During this time I picked up a smattering of things from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends… and by the time Dark was released I was 100% in on this game and bought a ton of it the day it was released at my local comic shop.

Back then we largely ignored the way we were supposed to be playing the game and instead ignored the 60 card deck size and played an assortment of whatever the hell the best cards we had were.  Most of these decks were somewhere in the range of 150 cards, and were deeply filled with cards we just happened to like playing with like the Sengir Vampire or Hypnotic Specter.   I bonded heavily with Black as a color and still to this day I cannot really fathom playing any deck that is not at least aligned with black…  my perennial favorite being Black and Green which I have later found out is also called Golgari.  The thing is you can pretty much hand me any color combination that includes black and I will be extremely happy to play it.  The other place where we broke the rules is that we tended to play with a ton of people around a table and this went down one of two ways.  Either we played in a free for all fashion where anyone could attack anyone else…  or after the release of the Jyhad card game we adopted some rules from it.

That game had the concept of Predator and Prey…  so you attacked the player on the left and defended against the player on the right.  We functionally adopted this concept for Magic the Gathering and it left some really interesting things going on…  namely you never could completely go full tap on your prey because you would then leave yourself completely open for attack from your predator.  Additionally there was a significant amount of bargaining going on… and collusion.  Functionally we had one friend who refused to touch Black anything due to I think some pseudo religious conviction… and instead played largely mono White or White and Green.  The moment he played Karma which is a card that causes players to take damage for every swamp they controlled during their upkeep…  there were deals to figure out a way to either disable that card or outright remove him from the game.  Similarly there was usually a significant amount of aggro generated by someone who played a Rack or a Black Vise that has similar effects based on your current hand size.

It was an era when we played whatever seemed cool without a lot of forethought into the deck design.  You would sit down and never really know what you were going to encounter, and a good part of that made it exciting.  It was less about “combo magic” and more a period of just playing whatever the hell felt good.  There was this period during college where I really was not playing much, and I skipped most of Alliances and Mirage…  tagging back in during the tail end of Visions and was completely back in my prime for the release of Weatherlight and Tempest.  My world largely shifted with me starting to care about what was then called “Type II” magic…  which I believe is now called “Modern”.  Functionally it is a limited format and was the birth of what became block play where you were functionally limited to whatever the current block was and the previous one for deck construction.  I had entered a few tournaments before, but they were largely big sloppy messes that were super fun until the last rounds where they were completely dominated by whoever had the power nine.  In college however I started actually caring about proper deck construction and the game shop I played at was both extremely supportive to players but also a fertile ground for really fun pick up games.

The shop was constantly opening boxes of product for singles to sell, because the massive internet sales thing was not really in place.  In fact the few sales that I made wound up with me meeting up on IRC with magic players and arranging trades.  This is how I completed my play set of Jester’s Cap and Helm of Obedience when I was working on my Millstone deck.  What all of these box openings meant more than anything was that the shop had a robust commons bin, and it became tradition to build cheap decks from it and then battle each other.  Some of the absolute best times playing magic were done playing with a few dollars worth of cards.  However I also had many competitive decks that I broke out when they had weekend tournaments.  This is the first and only time I have ever really been deeply engaged with the card shop life.  From there I graduated college and got busy with the real world… and largely stopped following Magic the Gathering.  It has always been something I am fond of, and over the years I pick up the occasional random booster pack just because I love that freshly opened pack smell.  There is something magical…  no pun intended…   about opening a pack of cards and having the possibility of getting something interesting.  I also find it somewhat magical about getting resented with a slate of possibilities in the form of all of those common cards that can potentially interact in interesting ways.

The problem is…  I just don’t have a card shop home to even begin to get involved with if I so choose.  Nor do I honestly really have the dedication to bring myself to go on a regular basis.  Sure there is Friday night magic, but it is a way more serious scene around here than I really want to be part of.  I wish there was a weird league of people who played oddball “fun” decks.  However for many Magic players…  “fun” seems to be “winning at any cost” and that is not exactly drift compatible with my views.  In this current nostalgia for a time that never really existed other than the scope of my close circle of friends..  I’ve found myself watching a lot of videos on Youtube about box opening.  The one linked at the beginning of this post takes me way back because while I’ve only ever cracked one box of anything… and it was Mercadian Masques that I happened to win from a drawing…  I have opened more than my fair share of old school packs of Magic the Gathering.  This is one of those moments when I lament not really having a good circle of geek friends in real life to hang out with.  Since college I have largely been focused on online communities and have let some of my real world ones atrophy to the point of simply no longer existing.  We have a pool of gamers at work and I keep kicking around the concept of trying to create some sort of magic the gathering scene there.  The only problem is I am afraid that it might end up not being what I am actually looking for.  More than anything I think I just want to travel back in time and partake of some of those big free for all matches that we used to play.

The Wall

img_20170810_064545

img_20170810_064545

Originally I was planning on simply just calling this an off day and not making a post at all.  However you can blame Kiwi for suddenly summoning the desire to actually do this thing that she told me to do.  This is a segment of the wall behind my computer monitors and something I stare at a lot.  That map of Norrath has been up on my wall since the Kunark expansion to the original game.  The figures…  also have been up on the wall since I first got them…  and some random googling is telling me that the expanded universe line was released in 1998.  Considering we moved into the house in 1999 either my memory is lying to me or I got them awhile after they actually were released.  I am pretty sure the Cloud figure traveled with me to the house and then was put up in a place of honor.  I have a Vincent Valentine figure from the same set somewhere… but I have zero clue where that somewhere might be.  I have so many random figures and collectibles that I really do need to make an effort to display them in a more sane and rational manner.  Functionally like my original tweet states… I feel all glitchy this morning.  My brain is full of a bunch of segments of ideas but none of them really have cohesion enough to form an actual post from them.  So instead you are getting this non-post of a post largely because once the seed was planted I thought it was a funny idea.  I am sure I will return to being inspired and more or less functional tomorrow.  Today however you are getting complete nonsense.