Games Played 2016 Edition

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actualbelghastFirst I want to take a quick moment to talk about the awesome avatar adorning the right side of this paragraph.  Some time ago I talked about doing the Icecrown Challenge and to the best of my knowledge most of the folks I challenged have since completed their own and donated some money to the cause.  I still feel slightly sorry for Mort who ended up taking almost 50 minutes to get through the raid because had apparently never actually raided during Wrath of the Lich King.  I did the challenge because one…  I end up doing Icecrown Citadel almost every week anyways, and two because of the weird connection that Ratsel and I just found out that we have.  Then of course there is always the part that it is a good cause.  Of all of the reasons however… none of them was to win any prizes but apparently I did.  The prize I happened to win was the amazing Faebelina doing an avatar, and instead of my character I chose to have her do a “Me”.  So I supplied her some images and set her loose in a specific direction… and largely wanted to see what she came up with on her own.  The end result is something really interesting that so far everyone has said “yup, that looks like you”.  In the end though I really need to get the hat, hoodie and shirt so I can cosplay myself.  I am mostly using it on my “real life” accounts but I wanted to show it off nonetheless because I think it is really cool.
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Full Spreadsheet Link

Last year I realized that with the whole daily blogging thing that I had a decent way of telling exactly what games I had played during the year.  Like I often do I took to Google Sheets and started a spreadsheet trying to track what games I played during what months.  This year I went sorta overboard with that concept and you see the image above as a result.  Essentially if I talked about a game during a given month… I put a 1 in that square and ultimately colored it it.  Then in the last column I did a calculation that added up all of the months that a given game appeared in… and as a result you have the sort above…  by number of months played and then alphabetically.  The first thing we can take away from this graphic is that there is no denying the fact that I am an online and MMO gamer.  Based on the data above I played the following MMOs…

  • World of Warcraft – All Twelve Months
  • Destiny – 10 Months
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 10 Months
  • Rift – 8 Months
  • Diablo 3 – 6 Months
  • The Division – 5 Months
  • Guild Wars 2 – 4 Months
  • Overwatch – 4 Months
  • ArcheAge – 3 Months
  • Elder Scrolls Online – 3 Months

As far as non-online games that I played…  you end up dropping down significantly into single digit territory with only a handful of games like Fallout 4, Skyrim, and No Man’s Sky making that repeat list.  The big shocker for me is always seeing all the various singlets I end up playing throughout the year that I completely forget about.  All told I played 57 different games during the year… which seems like a lot but is a bit down from last year and it’s 67 unique games.  So I feel like the real tale of the year is just how much World of Warcraft and Destiny I wound up playing.  Sure FFXIV is up there at 10 months but some of that is a technicality while I was subbed but only logging in once a week or every few weeks.  Destiny and World of Warcraft really were constant things throughout the course of the year.  This was the year I feel like I really learned to love WoW again, more than just a passing fancy that let me play with my friends.  With the launch of Legion I was legitimately and unabashedly happy to be playing the game for the first time since the launch of Cataclysm.  In fact Destiny dropped off the Radar only for the blip around the launch of Legion because I was just playing that game so damned much.

Even More Madness

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Full Spreadsheet Link

The problem with spreadsheets is that they crave more data… and once I start down a path I tend to go into really insane territory.  I had data that I had collected for 2015, and now data that I had collected for 2016.  I wondered what would happen if I went all the way back to 2013, the year I first started the daily blogging experiment.  Now of note… the 2013 data is super spotty given that I did not officially start the daily blogging thing until April.  However I managed to piece together some data based on my archive of screenshots mixed with actual data from the blog.  The end result is a view of the games I have played since 2013 copied into my weird google sheets format.  Once again you can see that I really am an MMO Gamer overall.  The top ten games played in total number of months is as follows…

  1. World of Warcraft – 37 Months
  2. Final Fantasy XIV – 35 Months
  3. Rift – 35 Months
  4. Elder Scrolls Online – 24 Months
  5. Destiny – 19 Months
  6. Diablo 3 – 16 Months
  7. ArcheAge – 13 Months
  8. Wildstar – 12 Months
  9. Everquest II – 11 Months
  10. Guild Wars 2 – 9 Months
  11. Trove – 9 Months

Of note… Trove and Guild Wars 2 are technically tied for 10th place with the same number of months.  The only one that gets a little weird is Elder Scrolls Online, because I am counting time spent playing in the Alpha and Beta process which I could not of course talk about on my blog.  However I entered that process in February of 2013 and we had one or two events a month through launch.  During that four year period I played 172 different unique games.  Again however if you look at the distribution of titles played…  you have to go pretty far on the list until you get into single player territory with Minecraft, Fallout 4 and Final Fantasy V leading there.  Minecraft technically can be a multiplayer game, but generally speaking I go on single player building binges.  Final Fantasy V pretty much accounts for all of the years I have gotten talked into participating in the Four Job Fiesta thanks to Ashgar.

At some point I want to true up the data even further by going through my screenshot archive and sorting it by dates.  I have literally every screenshot I have taken over the last several years archived and sorted by game sitting on a network attached storage device.  I am maybe a little obsessive about such things, especially since screenshots tend to play such a large role in my blog.  I like having a deep archive of things that I can go back to for getting reference material.  From that I should be able to get a few more games that maybe I played but didn’t actually write about.  However I think for the most part this represents a pretty true picture of my gameplay for the last four years.  It took awhile to compile, but much of it was done while hanging out downstairs on the laptop as we watched something on television.  The end result gives me a really interesting tool to use going forward, and I plan on keeping the spreadsheet up to date as I go through 2017.  The biggest thing we can take away from this however is that…  firstly I am a creature of habit and keep returning to the same games over and over.  Secondly I tend to be one of those players that keeps returning to MMOs that I have played in the past to see how they are getting along.  Lastly…  I really do not play the number of single player games that I would like to play, mostly because while playing them I get lonely.  It feels strange to roam around a world without lots of other people sharing it with me.

 

 

 

Tunneling Addiction

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I think we need to talk.  I have a significant problem on my hands… and that problem is Minecraft.  What I mean by that is that I have been obsessing about the game since Christmas day, and wound up staying up until 1:30 last night.  I apparently was digging more tunnels that never seem to end… and just when they appear that they might… I find a way to start a new one.  I’ve said before how my bases in Minecraft tend to be more a complex of interconnected tunnels and underground areas than really anything big and above ground…  and in truth that is happening again in a big way.  The project I happened to be obsessed with last night, however was my treasure room.

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When I play Minecraft, it is less that I am willfully building structures and more like discovering them in the existing land.  I almost always start out exactly the same way… which is burrowing into the side of a nice large hill with the purpose of creating a temporary shelter to survive that first night.  However what inevitably happens is that I then use that cave as a sort of starting point for burrowing deep into the hillside and connecting up a bunch of disconnected areas.  Then it is almost as though I am uncovering a lost civilization… and connecting up pieces to create a former empire or something.  Which lead to the thought that I really needed a proper warehouse/treasure room… and where better to put it than deep under the ocean.  I have a dock of sorts and off of it is a large building hovering out over the water… which then leads to my obsession of the night which is a large stairwell shaft that leads down into the water and underground beneath the ocean finally ending up in a room with tons of chests for storage…. and then apparently I dug a shaft back up to create a skylight of sorts.

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There was then a point last night when I realized that I had no real way of getting back out of my tunnel system other than jumping from one of the many bridges I have built.  As a result I constructed this entrance point of sorts that leads out onto the mainland…  and being me I then apparently started off a whole new tunnel complex to the left of the above screenshot.  Now my previous tunnels had quickly ended up in the ocean… where I built some sort of an outpost.  One of which literally is a staircase that goes deep down into the ocean and all the way down to bedrock.  That was a bit of a challenge to build and I ultimately flipped on creative mode since I had to be underwater for large chunks of time during its construction.  It is cool however because as you are going down the staircase I have windows that allow you to see out into the ocean and it is really cool when the sun is coming up and the water is swarming with squid.

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This new tunnel project however that has consumed most of today… is apparently going off in a direction where there is nothing but land and mountains.  So as a result each time the tunnel has broken free of the mountain briefly I have created a little outpost or at least an exit into whatever area happens to be surrounding it.  There are roughly five of these… and another that I discovered yet another ravine while tunneling, so I took time to build a ladder all the way down to its floor.  The problem with my tunneling obsession is that I have zero clue where exactly I am going or if I will ever reach a point where I consider it “done”.  This is ultimately the challenge I face each time I boot back up Minecraft, is that I get caught up in a project that I never quite know when it is going to let go of me.  However since it had literally been a few years since I last built anything in the game… I am guessing I had a lot of tunneling pent up inside of me.

A Shit Year for Idols

In the microcosm that is my life today was a pretty good one.  My wife and I spent it running around Northwest Arkansas… more specifically the sprawling corridor that connects Fayetteville to Bentonville and all points between.  We have family there and quite honestly… its just a nice place to go visit every now an then.  We always say we should do it more often… but in truth we seem to get there once a year…  almost exclusively over Christmas break.  However while running around and enjoying myself… I was also processing the news that this asshole of a year 2016… took yet another awesome person from us.  So now that I am finally home I thought I would write a thoroughly bummer post and talk about all of the amazing people we lost this year… or at least a small list of them.

The other day I commented about just how many people this year has stolen from us and my friend Squirrel gave some sage advice.  Firstly that we are getting old, and that the people that are dying… are finally folks we looked up to as kids or at least came to know through out our lives.  I remember my parents going through this same phase, and I guess it is my time.  They now joke that they attend more funerals than anything else… and since I have gone through the “everyone is getting married” phase, and the “everyone is having kids” phase…  I guess I am beginning to enter that territory as well.  Since the Idols we grow up with tend to be a generation ahead of us… I guess that it makes sense we are entering that territory with them first.  Tonight I am going to talk a little bit about some names that we lost this year.

David Bowie

This one hit me way harder than I expected it to.  Bowie was one of those presences that always just sort of existed as a beacon that you could literally be anything you wanted to be.  Throughout my life I watched this man re-invent himself every few years and still seem just as genuine in doing so as he did the very first time.  He was a force of constant evolution that made me realize that we never had to stop growing as people.  Tin Machine still will stand out as probably my favorite of his phases… but I can find something from literally every one of his phases that I can relate to.

Alan Rickman

Such an amazing actor that I am still pissed that this shitty year conspired to rob us of.  Sure he was Snape, but before that he was Hans Gruber, the voice of god, a hair stylist, and so many other roles that always played out in unique and interesting ways.  By Grabthar’s hammer, by the Sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged!

Garry Shandling

This is the theme to Garry’s show, the opening theme to Garry’s show… Garry called me up last night and asked if I could write his theme song.  I grew up during that weird time during the early days of the Fox Network…  and one of those early shows was the Garry Shandling show and I loved it so much.  He has a sense of humor that seemed to match mine and he even played a great bad guy…  as evidenced from Winter Soldier.

Prince

Now I am not the biggest Prince fan in the world, but no one can doubt how much of a force he was in music.  So insanely talented, and even though he become the brunt of many punchlines during the era when he shifted to being an unpronounceable symbol, he managed to continue trucking on and making solid music.  I guess the biggest thing about him is that he was an individual much in the same way as Bowie was, and served as this alternate focal point to say you could grow up to be any damned thing you wanted to be.  All of his music holds up today in the same way as the day it was released.

Morley Safer

For me at least this man represented seasoned journalism in a way that probably few could.  I grew up with him as the face and voice of so many stories on 60 minutes.  In many ways it feels like the end of an era…  and in this political cycle where the truth seemed not to matter much… we are far worse off for it.

Kenny Baker

This was the first of the Star Wars cast that we lost during 2016, and for those who might not know who he is…  he was the actor behind R2-D2.  For me he will always be Fidget from Time Bandits, or honestly a long slew of roles he played.

Gene Wilder

I am pretty sure if you did not like Gene Wilder you did not have a soul.  He was the only Willy Wonka as far as I am concerned.  There is an entire chunk of my childhood devoted to laughing at movies like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein.

Leonard Cohen

So if anyone is going to single out a single song by Leonard Cohen… they are going to bring up Hallelujah.  It has been covered time and time again… because in truth it is just that damned good.  It would be hard to find a more perfect song in composition or lyrics that conveys a certain feeling of lost innocence and longing and still a tinge of hope for better things to come.  I was late to know about him to be honest, because it was not until the Natural Born Killers soundtrack that I even knew he really existed.  There was something about his voice however that was just so damned unique and intoxicating.  I am personally partial to The Stranger Song.

Carrie Fisher

This one is possibly the hardest right now… because it is also the freshest.  It is impossible to put into words or adequately explain how much Star Wars meant to me growing up.  Luke and Leia were almost family members, and as those characters shifted into the very real world Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher they almost felt like the Aunt and Uncle you wish you had.  There has been a certain pride as I followed each of their careers, and it was absolutely glorious and triumphant to see both in Force Awakens this time last year.  Star Wars was the second movie I saw in my life…  and in many ways it was the character of Princess Leia that taught me that Princesses didn’t really need saving in the first place.  While that might sound cheesy it was a powerful lesson that I carried with me from that point on.  The real Carrie Fisher though…  was a freaking badass.  I angrily shook my fist at 2016 when she had her heart attack and told it that the year could not have her.  This year really is horrible, and I am saddened that it won.

There are so many others that I didn’t mention for one reason or another… but earlier I paged through a list of some hundred or so deaths this year…  and so many of them were really important figures that we lost.  With each one I think there was a certain feeling of “it can’t get any worse right?”…  but no it continued to get worse as the year went on.  I am ready to put a close to this chapter and hope the next year will start to get even the slightest bit better.  In the immortal words of Ripley…  take off and nuke the entire year from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.

 

Christmas Basebuilding

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My friend Grace calls today Super Xmas…  or the day that you get to chill out and rest after the manic running around that happens around attempting to make everyone happy on Christmas and Christmas Eve.  This absolutely used to be the case for me, but over the last few years Christmas has become a much more low key affair.  I’ve talked a bit about the concept of an anchor household, but for me most of those are now gone.  Instead we have to sort of make our own new traditions, and one of those recently has consisted of going out to dinner on Christmas Eve with my folks, and then coming back to our house and doing gifts together.  For years there used to be a strict schedule of… my folks and mothers side of the family on Christmas Eve, and my Dads side of the Family early early Christmas morning…  then my wife’s family for Christmas lunch and eventually another gathering Christmas evening.  Over the years deaths in the family have taken the corner stone of each of those gatherings to where there really isn’t a whole lot going on during the holidays on either of our families.

There were of course a few options…  one of which was the household that introduced me to the term “titty milk” a few years back and we opted out of that one.  Instead for the most part we just chilled out at home and enjoyed the fact that it was freaking 70 degrees outside for Christmas.  In the afternoon between thunderstorms we went out for a walk, which is something I need to start doing every day in an attempt to get myself prepared for all of the walking that is going to happen at Pax South.  As far as gaming goes… I spent a lot of time not actually gaming yesterday but more in an extended state of transitioning between games… as I checked twitter and surfed the web.  I did play a significant amount of the Sparrow Racing League, but largely playing remotely through the laptop.  I am getting surprisingly good at dealing with the input lag that comes from playing PS4 via PC, so much so that it actually takes a bit to get adjusted to using the real console again.  I am now in this place where I need two items to hit 400 light…  Ghost and Heavy.  I’ve since gotten two Exotic Heavy Engrams… but both of them decoded to 399 light instead of bumping on up to 400.  This seems like a massive bug because every engram seems to decode at 399 rather than giving me what is usually a level bump.  As far as the ghost goes… I tried some more forge only to have it bug out on me with the waves sitting at 100% for 10 mins and then eventually failing out without actually spawning the boss.

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Another thing that happened yesterday is that I fell into a giant Minecraft shaped hole as we hung out and watched some shows on demand.  It has been several years since I had legitimately played Minecraft and as a result I went back to pure vanilla for the moment at least while I get my bearings.  Before long I was back into my standard operating procedure which is digging a big hole and then eventually erecting some large structures.  I decided to have my main base out over the open water with a big tunnel leading from what is ultimately turning into my quarry.  I used the seed “BelChillingChristmas2016” and wound up with a pretty cool spawn.  My original cave opened into a giant chasm underground and I have been building the infrastructure needed to explore it more properly.  I wound up digging down into the rock and laying a bunch of ladders as I went which ultimately allowed me to create a shaft straight down to the chasm floor.  I have a hut of sorts down at ground level that lets me get down there in relative safety and at least see what monsters happen to be around.

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I plan on building a dock of sorts under my base that should allow me to launch boats easily for exploring new areas, and I also plan on building another big land bridge/tunnel to the other nearby coast giving me access to new areas.  Right now a lot of my time has been spent simply quarrying cobblestone and hollowing out the mountain side for that purpose.  There is a bunch of gold in the chasm, but I don’t really have much need for it yet.  I have not seen any of the more useful materials like Diamond or Red Stone so at some point I am probably going to have to do the whole dig down to bedrock thing and start some branch mining.  At this very moment however I am trying to expand my base of operations and make more safe space for me to travel in.  Minecraft is one of those games that triggers my base building instinct to the extreme, and I am ultimately falling back into the familiar patterns I do when I always play this game.  In truth I should be playing Diablo 2 since we plan on recording the game of the month show this coming week… but for now I am indulging myself in a little bit of structured madness.

Posts I Didn’t Hate: 2016 Edition

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With the impending arrival of the end of the year, I have been going through a lot of introspection.  As a result I have been thinking about a handful of posts as a sort of way of reviewing the past year.  One of the side effects of daily blogging, or at least week day blogging like I have been since the tail end of this year… is that you feel pressure to put out a post regardless if you have a lot to talk about.  After doing this so long I can sit down at the keyboard and come up with a post regardless if I think there is actually stimulant for it.  However occasionally I make posts that don’t actually embarrass me.  The point of this mornings post is to review some of the posts this year that actually made me feel sorta okay about this blog.

January – Virtual Reality

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My entire life Virtual Reality has been one of those things that is only a few years away from happening.  In the January post I am singling out I talk about how close we apparently are… and how generally unexcited I am by it.

February – Brightly Colored Tinker Cart

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During the February post I talk about nostalgia and how certain events just give you the warm fuzzies.  I tell a story about one of our World of Warcraft servers long time residents and originals.

March – Open Game ID

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During the March post I lament how many different systems and IDs that we have as gamers that we have to manage.  I wish for an Open ID platform that anyone could use, that would potentially supply cross game communication.

April – Seven Years

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The post from April that I singled out is the one celebrating the seventh anniversary of Tales of the Aggronaut.  More importantly it shows off the amazing artwork that I commissioned my good friend AmmosArt to do for me.

May – Cycles

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During the May post I talk about a weird sequence of events that lead a whole slew of bloggers to contemplate stopping.  I was personally going through a long slump where I was struggling to find the motivation to keep going.

June – For Azeroth

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During the June post I talk about how much I enjoyed the Warcraft movie and how much nostalgia it had wrapped up in it.  While it failed to make significant box office bank, it was absolutely a film out there for the fans of the franchise.

July – Revisiting Memory

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During the July post I talk about my experiences leveling through Wrath of the Lich King, and how we might have been wrong about it.  Wrath of the Lich King has been heralded as the best of Warcraft, and I talk about how we have largely been looking at it through rose colored lenses.

August – Expansion Retail Forgot

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The August post was ultimately misinterpreted by some reading it… however I still think it is an interesting post.  With the release of Legion I noticed just how non-existent the retail presence happened to be and talk about my experiences with retail and past expansions.

September – Operation Hey Folks

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During the September post I talk a bit about an attempt to return civility to the World of Warcraft random dungeons.  In Final Fantasy XIV it is common place for folks to talk… whereas Warcraft has been a traditionally silent experience.  As a result we started off with a simple “Hey Folks” and it had some interesting results.

October – Finally Grasp It

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This is an interesting post in October because it had been a long time coming.  From the release of Guild Wars 2 I never quite grasped why folks seemed to like it.  After spending a lot of time with the AggroChat crew running the “end game” content, I finally found some reasons and a sense of progression.

November – Family We Choose

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This post is a deeply personal one.  In November my friend Tam unveiled his side project in which he had Ammo draw how he viewed a lot of his friends.  Each and everyone one is so perfect and filled with details about that specific person.  This gets me talking about our friends and the family we choose.

December – Four Years of Thought

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Finally we end up with my December post, where in my current introspective state I have been going back through the last four years of posts since starting the daily posting thing.  As a result I noticed that bloggers don’t seem to collaborate with each other nearly as much as they used to.  I also talk about what seems to be a chilling effect in the sort of topics we discuss.

 

Curve Beating

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I can in all honesty say I did not really expect to be placing this clipping of a screenshot on my blog.  When we cleared Normal Emerald Nightmare… I was pleased as hell.  When we turned around and cleared Normal Trial of Valor…  I was ecstatic.  When we started work on Heroic Emerald Nightmare…  I figured that it would give us a challenge right up until the point that Nighthold Normal was released and that we would ultimately switch gears.  I mean Nighthold is supposedly slotted for January 17th… which is only 26 days away depending on how you count today.  We however started making some significant progress in Heroic Emerald Nightmare… and in truth I didn’t really dare to hope we would manage to get through it yet.  We have several friends who are raiding mythics in a much more serious capacity than our guild raid.  The awesome thing is… we are apparently the sort of raid that they still enjoy coming along on because of the interaction between all of the members.  So in part I chocked our Heroic victories up to the number of “ringer” dps we ended up bringing in as a result.  Last night we were extremely short on numbers and missing most of this overpowered dps that we had so often been bringing.  I had resigned myself to hopefully repeating our previous progress, and just enjoying the process.

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Now is the point where I tell you… that I can not possibly be prouder of my guild.  Instead of struggling with the absence of some mythic ringers…  we instead continued to perform at an admirable level as we not only defeated…  but one shot several of the bosses we have never attempted.  We had some early struggles as we essentially got back in the swing of the raid…  for me not being able to make the last two Friday nights I felt more than a little rusty.  However by the time we reached “Spiderbirb” we were trucking along nicely and managed the first new one shot of the evening.  Similarly we seemingly rolled over Ilgynoth… or at least pulled out a victory doing the fight in a single burn phase.  From there we worked on Cenarius and once again managed to pull out a victory in a single attempt, which lead us to only having Xavius to work on.  This was sitting at 9 pm my time… and I thought to myself that we were in a good position to get a bunch of attempts in… giving us at least 30 minutes before the official end of the raid.  I also thought that with it being the holidays… we might be able to extend a bit to get the kill if needed.  It turns out we didn’t need all of that time on attempts, because we had a very close first shot and managed to pull out the victory on attempt two giving us still about fifteen minutes to spare before our official ending time.  It was a really great night, and I am amped about our prospects going into Nighthold.  We will for the first time this expansion be starting new content on exactly the week it comes out, which is a bit of a point of pride for me.  I love feeling like we can be casual, but still extremely successful.

By the time the raid was over I realized that I had not actually spent any time with the Luna that evening.  So I took her into my office to chill out and get some attention while I opted to play some Destiny.  At this point I am 399 light… and have limited my list of needs down to replacing my 394 Ghost Shell, 399 boots, and 399 Heavy Weapon.  I had a moment of extreme excitement at one point in the evening when I got an exotic heavy engram…  which decoded at 399 instead of the 400 I have been getting from the SRL event.  Before long I was joined by my friend Grace and we hung out doing some racing.  She was working on one of the quest steps where you had to get ten races where you place in the top three… and I maybe just maybe played a little aggressively with the other drivers.  There was at least one time when I happened to ram into the person who was closing in on her then third place slot.  Who knew you could tank with a speeder bike?  In truth I had seen a few clans doing this over my time racing… where they were essentially clearing the way for their friend to come in and snatch the first place position so I considered it completely fair game.  That said she managed to pull out a few come from behind second place victories like the one I decided to screenshot here.  The bonus of the entire night was that in both cases we improved our light levels… and simply hanging out and chatting made the whole racing thing go significantly faster.

I have honestly had some extremely good luck during the SRL with crucible weapon drops.  Last night was apparently no different as I managed to pick up a really nice version of the NL Shadow 701X.  Firstly it has triple tap which is a stat I love for boss encounters… or anything else I am pretty certain to land three precision shots in rapid succession.  To crank up the stability is Hand-laid stock… which ultimately reduces the range but I can live with that at 47.  Finally hidden hand helps with triple tap in making it slightly easier to get those precision shots…  so all in all the weapon has some really nice synergy.  The only negative is this is a scout rifle… and I don’t really tend to use a lot of scout rifles.  This lives in the Mida Multi-Tool family, and actually has a higher rate of fire…  which makes it feel extremely spammy.  Now if I could have replaced Hidden Hand with Full Auto… this would have been just about my favorite scout rifle.  In any case this is definitely something worth holding onto and other than my Hand of Judgement from Challenge of Elders… I didn’t really have that many legendary scout rifles that I enjoyed using.  In any case that still gives me a good roll for Eyasluna, and god rolls for Hopscotch Pilgrim and potentially NL Shadow 701X coming from SRL so far.

Hopscotch Pilgrim

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Yesterday was a pretty great day.  I am still pestering the folks that I tagged in the Icecrown Challenge tweet to do their Icecrown runs…  and last night I managed to get Nik to do his.  I kinda feel bad though because apparently he never actually raided during Wrath.  That means he had no clue where to go and what to do… and we failed miserably at trying to direct him while streaming.  The biggest problem came with the boat… because he somehow failed to take down the boat before the cannons froze.  There is no quick and easy way to reset the boat as far as we could figure out… so he had to simply wait for our ship to die a horrible death and end the encounter.  The end result is that it took him around 50 minutes to complete the raid…  and I feel zero sorry since he was one of the ones egging me on to take on Dreamwalker as a warrior if I remember correctly.  Thankfully the British pound has recovered a bit… so that is 40 of his currency for charity.  That in itself was its own hassle because I had to give him my address for him to be able to make the payment… it seems like the charity website has no clue what to do with a UK zip code.  I want to thank Nik for being such a good sport about this and helping out a good cause.

While attempting to help Nik out… I was in Destiny playing Space Diablo.  I spent a good chunk of the night farming Archon’s Forge because prior to last night my two lowest items were my Artifact and my Ghost Shell.  Since the forge has a chance of dropping level 400 on both I spent most of the night there and didn’t even notice when I actually got the Artifact.  Of note… check those blues over carefully because apparently instead of getting a legendary artifact I got a blue one at light 400 and was this close to deconstructing it.  I had zero luck with the Ghost Shell, but did manage to get a 400 titan’s mark while grinding away.  I also picked up a But Not Forgotten with a reasonable roll…  but unfortunately I am just not a huge fan of that archetype… and prefer my Devil’s Dawn or my trusty 1000 Yard Stare that I have had since the moment I hit 40.  In any case I made a lot of forward momentum and while the above image doesn’t quite show it… I am sitting at 398.5.  Right now my sub 400 items are Ghost at 394, Heavy at 397, Helm at 398, Chest at 399 and Boots at 399.  Every single one of those slots can be obtained during the SRL event… I just need to get lucky.

My lucky draw of the night has to be my Hopscotch Pilgrim… a weapon that gets an awful lot of shade from the community right now because Bungie changed up its Archetype significantly in Year 3.  It went from being a high impact Pulse Rifle to being a medium impact variant like the Apple of Discord, Herja-D or The Villainy in the 66 rate of fire, 14 impact category.  This causes folks to kick and scream and declare their favorite weapon dead… but honestly…  for me personally I am loving it.  For whatever reason… I never seem to like the “in meta” weapons and prefer the ones sitting just outside of the bubble of what the community has declared as “good”.  For example I swear by my Year 2 Haakon’s Hatchet that sits somewhere between a high and a low impact auto rifle, but has stat and perk package that just “feels right” to me.  After a few hours of playing with the Hopscotch Pilgrim last night… I feel like I have finally found my equivalent to the Hatchet in Pulse Rifle format.  This roll in particular has Counter Balance, Perfect Balance and Glass Half Full.  That means I am going to have to get used to simply not spamming reload like I am used to so that I can get those bonus damage late magazine shots.  If nothing else… the SRL has provided a couple of really good feeling weapons.

I am going to be really sad when this event ends.  There is something relaxing about coming home and racing speeder bikes.  I uploaded this image because I am kinda proud of this victory.  It was a come behind after a few remote play lag spikes caused me to take a few bad turns….  and at the end of the match I hit one more gate than the person in the lead and zoomed past him at the very last minute to take first.  Racing with the lag built into Remote Play… has made me much better when I am actually upstairs playing on the physical PS4.  I has taught me to predict the track a bit more… and race a little more proactive rather than reactive to the terrain.  Also it is teaching me to exploit the shit out of the short cuts that are built into the map to catch up and make up for the fact that remote play occasionally lags out and causes me to miss something.  I mean I wouldn’t want to do crucible in this fashion…. but for simply farming loot like I have been it is a good option.  It lets me chill on the sofa and make attempt after attempt for those pieces I am needing.  At least at 398.5 I am pretty consistently getting 400 items whenever something finally drops.  I am spending Three of Coins like it is going out of style… just hoping for the right slots to drop.

Shaders and Eyasluna

We have one week down officially for the Sparrow Racing League… and I have to say I am still having a blast.  There is just something about this game mode that makes me happy… and the bounty of rewards available only serves to sweeten the pot.  It seems that when SRL goes away officially… it will still be available through the private match list so there is even talk of organizing an unofficial league of sorts to race during the off time.  There is just so much to like about this event that it hard to place my finger on what exactly makes it special.  You have entire sets of gear up for grabs, with light levels up to 400.  I have to admit a lot of my drive to keep on racing is for the glimmer of a chance at finding some light 400 items.  So far I have gotten one, that I ultimately infused into my best fusion rifle that I am not pretty partial to.  A good amount of my gear is sitting at 399 light with my two severe hold outs being my artifact at 393 and ghost shell at 394.  There are technically ghosts available through the SRL but I have not personally seen one.  As far as the Artifact I guess my option there is probably doing some Court of Oryx because I have heard they drop there up to light 400.

Probably my personal favorite thing about the event is the availability of all of these interesting shaders.  You can check my twitter feed for a shot of one I found last night called “Ghast” which given my name seems a little fitting.  The above shader is my current favorite called Krokos which is mostly white with purple accents… that just happens to look really cool with the PS4 exclusive Jovian armor set.  There are fourteen shaders up for grabs… and I have managed go get thirteen of them with the last one tied to the record book achievements.  According to Destiny Tracker I have raced 68 times and played a total of 7 hours 38 minutes of the Sparrow Racing League…  which is pretty much entirely this year given that for whatever reason I only raced last year on my Hunter and Warlock.  Generally speaking I do a few runs to clear up the bounties and then retire downstairs to racing through the remote client, because really…  me winning or losing doesn’t much matter when I am largely in it for the possibility of maybe just maybe hitting 400 light level.  The goofy part is that even with the input lag caused by remote play… I still generally end up finishing in the top three and have even managed to win a few maps in this fashion.

The other huge perk of the SRL is that it levels your crucible rep while at the same time giving you access to some older legacy crucible weapons.  Of these the one I have been wanting since initially coming back to Destiny during Taken King is the Eyasluna.  This weapon is essentially a legendary version of the Hawkmoon, a personal favorite of mine in the exotic hand cannon category.  Over time I strayed away from Hand Cannons due to the ammo issues, but have recently started getting used to them again and even bought the vendor Palindrome last time I was capped on Legendary Marks.  When I saw this weapon was on the list of available items…  it has been my hope to see it show up on my end of match rewards list and finally last night it did.  I am not really sure what a god roll looks like on this weapon, but I can make the one I got work with Triple Tap, Braced Frame and Grenadier.  While this is going to drop me down to 9 instead of 10 shots in the magazine… it gives me 5 points from maxed stability which should make it insanely easy to headshot with.  The range of 38 is pretty solid for a Hand Cannon as well and the 81 impact is nothing to complain about.  I spent some time running around with it last night… and I think I am going to like it.

If you were not around for the Sparrow Racing League last year, I highly suggest you get in on the Dawning event while it is available.  We still have two more full weeks of racing…  but at some point soon I am going to have to care about the other side of this event… which is the strike list scoring if I hope to complete my record book.  Playing SRL really has made me realize how much I miss games like Wipeout, and the fact that we will at least get to play this game type in private matches going forward gives me some solace.  The only thing that worries me is that a lot of my enjoyment right now absolutely comes from the fact that I have a shot at interesting rewards at the end of the match.  With this carrot removed… will I care about it nearly as much?  As a final side note….  I have to thank Playstation support for taking care of my issues yesterday quickly.  It took some doing… but I finally managed to find the correct link to get some resolution with.  Within a few minutes and a few questions answered… they reset my compromised account back to the original email address and I was able to get in and take control once more.  Additionally when I got home I added the two factor authentication…  which I did not even know they offered until yesterday.  I guess when they introduced it they didn’t make much of an announcement.  In any case… after talking to some folks who got compromised there was a pattern to these attacks.

  • They transferred 50 of whatever the local currency was to the wallet… for me it was Dollars for others it was Pounds Sterling or Euros.
  • They changed the Sign-In email for the account…  which frustratingly invalidates the links being sent out in email that allows you to quickly contest these actions
  • They created a sub account and set it up with unlimited purchasing rights.

What they were planning on doing from there is unknown because I think I maybe got things stopped in time to be able to find out.  I had already put in a Paypal dispute, and Sony asked me to cancel that and they refunded the $50 taken from within their system.  They were quick to point out that they had no legal requirement to do this… since all sales are final…  and that they were doing it out of the goodness of their hearts as a one time exception.  Whatever makes me feel better at the end of the night, because in the end I got my money back without having to claw it back through paypal.  The gotcha however is that instead of refunding it to the bank…  they just placed it in my PSN wallet, which in truth I guess is fine given that I was going to pre-purchase Horizon Zero Dawn at some point anyways.  It was a frustrating start to the morning, but in the grand scheme of things everything seems to be restored to normal.  The only thing that I am going to do as a follow up is to get them to completely remove the sub account.  For now I have changed its password and decimated it through parental controls so it really can’t do anything.

Point of Mythic Plus

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Well this is a generally shit start to a day… but I guess the show must go on.  I was just setting up to start blogging this morning and then suddenly I noticed an email in my inbox from paypal verifying that my $50 transaction from the Sony Playstation Network had succeeded.  My not nearly caffeinated brain took a moment to realize…  “Bel you haven’t bought anything from the PSN”.  When I went over to check the email account that PSN is attached to… at 6:19 in the morning…  literally while I was sitting upstairs drinking my coffee someone changed the email address on my PSN account.  Currently the link from Sony that you use to report this… is throwing a 404 error so I am wondering if there are broader issues happening currently.  I’ve since gone onto the Paypal website and put on a dispute on the transaction to attempt to claw it back, which was its own special version of hell.  I’ve verified that neither my primary or my secondary email accounts have been compromised because I leave all of my gmail accounts running with the IP logging thing turned on… and I recognize every connection in the last several days.  I hope this is not evidence of the sort of week I am going to have as a result.

The real point of this mornings post was going to be talking about how I was wrong about something.  For awhile now I have had the attitude that there was not really much of a point to Mythic Plus dungeons.  This is of course from the stance of someone who has access to raiding.  The risk to reward equation seemed to be pretty crummy considering just how high of a mythic plus you needed to run in order to start seeing upgrades over raid gear.  I am coming here this morning to admit that I was wrong about this stance…  not the part about risk to reward but the point about there being no real point.  Sunday night is Karazhan night generally, and instead of doing that this week my team decided to knock out the four mythics weekly quest to see if we could get any upgrades given that we have now killed enough Emerald Nightmare for it to be a heroic cache.  While gear may not really be the point…  they are insanely fun when you are running them with a solid team.  Over the course of the night we ran three plus two mythics, a plus five and eventually a plus seven.  The truth is… in our raid geared state none of them seemed that insane, and thankfully I had Kylana to keep directing me where I should be going and what I should actually be pulling.

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The other cool side effect of all of this madness is that they seem to be a really excellent source of chaos crystals, which given that I am not the raid enchanter due to the fact that the last one transferred off server…  this is maybe going to be a good source of mats to help fuel raid enchants.  When you can two and three chest the lower dungeons…  it means you have lots of purples to grind down into tasty enchants.  As a whole my Nightmare Cache ended up giving me a 5 item level upgrade with a gem socket… so that was well worth the time, and along the way I managed to pick up a ring that is situationally better than the one I had been using.  The long and short of it however is that I had a lot of fun last night running dungeons with friends and it brought back some life into a game experience that was starting to wear a little thin.  I now kinda want to see what my breaking point is when it comes to mythic plus madness…  and I want to try a ten or higher just to see what happens.  The best part of last night is the fact that we will all be seeing Mythic Seven chests in our Order Hall come Tuesday morning and in theory…  the possibility of decent upgrades as a result.  So if I can just sort out what happened with my PSN account… it is going to be a potentially great week.

Icecrown Challenge

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The world is a truly bizarre place sometimes.  There are a lot of folks that make up my twitter timeline that I know… but only in a slantwise way.  I recognize them, and am even happy to see posts show up as my feed scrolls by, but I really don’t know much about them.  ArcaneRatsel is one of those folks, and I largely followed her because she does amazing things for the Warcraft community as a whole.  She was part of an expansion of my timeline as I attempted to follow more positive Warcraft folks.  For example she did this crazy thing where she essentially created faction logos for anyone who was interested…. and as a result created a truly silly number of them.  She is also involved in the Running of the Gnomes that supports Cleveland Clinic, Running of the Trolls that supports the Trevor Project, and now the Icecrown Challenge that supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  To say she is a “good egg” is a big understatement… but again this is largely someone I only knew existed in passing and occasionally but rarely ended up in the same conversation with.  So yesterday all started with a really simple thing…  she said she was passing through my state to visit family.  It is not like Oklahoma is a popular destination spot, so generally when I see that I comment and welcome whoever it is to the state.

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After a handful of back and forths… the conversation quickly moved to DMs…  because in the oddest of coincidences apparently we grew up in the exact same town of 2500 people.  There is a little less than a ten year difference between us in ages, so we are for all purposes of different generations.  It is not like we should have had a lot of overlap…  but we absolutely did.  My Mother was a teacher at the High School for decades… and it turns out her Mom was as well.  In fact her Mom was my Freshman English teacher, and for a period of time went to the same church as I did.  Through either the church thing or the teacher thing… I know I wound up in their home multiple times throughout my “growing up” period, and as we found out last night my dad who was an armchair professional photographer took portrait photos at least once.  If you were to do an “as the crow flies” we grew up less than a mile apart, in fact from my house you could look out over the pasture and see hers.  Ultimately… the world is a really strange place sometimes and what seems like massive distances can be shortened in an instant.  I mean after all my wife and I grew up thirty minutes apart, and were in turn introduced by a mutual friend in Belgium.  It is also weird how someone who is a complete and total stranger can suddenly become of much more significance from a single thread of connection.

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Now when I first saw the Icecrown Challenge I was thinking…  “Bel you should do this thing, because you clear Icecrown weekly anyways”.  Now that I have some connection to at least one of the folks responsible for running the event…  it was simply something I couldn’t NOT do.  So last night I set my stream up and streamed my adventure across Icecrown…  with a lot of help from my audience.  By help I mean absolutely throwing a monkey wrench in the proceedings.  I was all set to try and clear as fast as possible, but things happened along the way.  You can watch the entire stream as a Beam VOD, but suffice to say…  I am not taking full responsibility for some of the madness.  I’ve been interspersing some of the wing boss kill times throughout this post that I lifted from my recording.  I am just going to lay them out here to see if you can find the problem…

  • Professor Putricide – 11:11
  • Blood Queen Lana’thel – 14:46
  • Sindragosa – 26:56

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It took me 3 minutes and 35 seconds to clear from Putricide to the Blood Queen, and based on some probably wrong math….  12 minutes and 10 seconds to get to Sindragosa.  The majority of that time was spent on attempting to do the Dreamwalker fight.  My viewers told me with the utmost confidence that I could absolutely heal the dragon to full with a single bandage, and I am sure that is absolutely the case…. but not on heroic where she is constantly taking damage over time.  So I wasted a good ten minutes and a I think eight bandages trying to make this work… only to get instantly interrupted when I started challenging the heal.  So essentially all of the time I had made up to this point was completely blown and I ultimately had to jump in a portal to reset the encounter.  Now were I choosing to run it on my Paladin, life would have been dandy.  I know that I can heal her to full with a few flash of lights and move on with my life.  In fact that was a large chunk of the reason why I used to always run this place weekly as a paladin.  However last night I had to simply move on with my Warrior.

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After the huge ball of frustration that was Dreamwalker… I finally looted Arthas and paused my timer at 31 minutes and 49 seconds.  As per are the rules of the Icecrown Challenge… I then turned around and donated $31.49 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Additionally as part of the rules of the contest… I challenged Mort, Ashgar, and Thalen to also take the contest and make their own donations.  The donation drive runs for I believe a month and officially started 12/13.  Right now they have roughly $400 in donations and I feel like we can get this higher.  Even if you are not directly challenged, you can totally start your own branch of the tree like I did.  I would love to see this trickle through all of the little offshoots of the community… because lets face it…  running Icecrown is fun.  While I might grouse a little bit about losing ten minutes… that “wasted” time just meant I donated a little bit more money towards a really good cause.