Frying Pans and Nora Braves

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Over the last few days I have had a hankering to play some State of Decay.  This was a game that I originally started playing on the Xbox 360, then picked up when it was eventually released on the PC.  When the Year One Survivor Edition came out I picked that up too…  as well as buying it for a friend that I thought would enjoy it.  Since I had not actually tried streaming from my Xbox One, I decided to pick the game up on that platform and give it a go.  Basically Undead Labs is an awesome developer and I have no problem supporting them by picking it up on multiple platforms.  We don’t officially have a release date for State of Decay 2…  but based on the trickle of activity I am hoping we get some more news soon.  My hope is the sequel takes everything that worked well about the first game, but adds in the ability to hang out and explore the zombie filled landscape with friends.

Watch Hanging out playing some State of Decay YOSE on Xbox One from Belghast on www.twitch.tv
So as a result last night I fired up the stream while testing out a few new screen elements and bashed some zombies.  If you are for any reason interested you can check out the Twitch VOD here (or click the embedded player above thanks to Jaedia), but it involved a lot of me stumbling around trying to figure out what to do and a few gloriously brutal deaths.  I also may or may not have run over the NPC that was following me around and bashing things with a frying pan.  The kinda cool thing last night is I had a bunch of folks that were completely different from what I would consider the normal crew of people who take pity on me and hang out while I stream.  It’s really bizarre for me to have someone pop in the channel that I don’t actually know.  It was a surprising amount of fun to just hang out and publicly fail at playing a video game.

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Right now I don’t have much in the way of stamina as far as “being on” goes.  I lasted a little bit over an hour before needing to go do something else with less of an audience for a bit.  I am not sure if it was just that I was tired dying in State of Decay and wanted to play something else for awhile, or if I was tired of interacting.  I need to sort out a proper way to swap games when I am just not feeling the one I am playing, because in truth I wound up logging into Monster Hunter World and farming content and it would have been nice to have a little company doing so.  I originally logged in with the goal of doing a little SOS Roulette, but noticed a note in the Login Bonus about the Aloy event going live.  For those who are curious, the quest is titled “The Proving” and shows up under events as a 6 Star High Rank mission that requires the player to be Hunter Rank 11, so you may need to do a little bit of progressing to get there.

There are two pieces to the set, a full suit of armor similar to the Ryu gear that literally transforms you into the Aloy character model.  Additionally there is a version of Aloy’s bow that can be upgraded to a Rarity 7 weapon with some elder dragon bits.  The gear can be upgraded a total of 10 times allowing it to remain fairly relevant for a long while.  If you want to craft the gear you are looking at collecting the following….

Aloy Armor

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 4 – Obtained from Event Quest
  • Anjanath Pelt+ – 14
  • Anjanath Nosebone+ – 6
  • Anjanath Gem – 1
  • 30,000 Zenny

Aloy’s Bow

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 2
  • Anjanath Fang+ – 3
  • Monster Keenbone – 5
  • Anjanath Plate – 1
  • 16,000 Zenny

Aloy’s War Bow – Upgrade to Rarity 7

  • Nora Brave Trophy – 3
  • Anjanath Scale+ – 7
  • Elder Dragon Bone – 3
  • Wyvern Gem – 1
  • 32,000 Zenny

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Now it should be noted that the only part of this that you absolutely have to collect during the event are the Nora Brave Trophies which drop at least one per mission… and there was one time I lucked out and got four in one shot.  The rest of the bits can be gained from either normal High Rank Anjanath hunts or in the case of the upgrade by taking down Elder Dragons to get those bones.  I ran the mission a total of five times last night and got everything I needed to craft both the base rarity 5 bow and the rarity 5 armor.  The cool thing about this is that it not only makes you look like Aloy… but you also MOVE like Aloy.  Not really sure how to describe it other than that, because it feels like you are playing Horizon Zero Dawn set in the Monster Hunter World setting.  I have no clue how long this event is going to run, but personally I knocked mine out doing good ole SOS Roulette.  That said more than willing to help folks get their parts if they need them.  Honestly I might farm it a bunch while it is available because it seems to be a really good way to get High Rank Anjanath parts.

 

Bathtubs and Nonsense

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I’ve been partaking in some serious nonsense of late, not the least of which has been Dragon Quest Builders… and streaming me playing Dragon Quest Builders.  I figured I would lead off with this screenshot because it is absolutely amazing.  My townsfolk decided to build me a bath tub…  which I immediately installed in my private master suite.  So the funny thing about Twitch in its most modern incarnation is…  it makes it silly easy to be an Affiliate.  From the moment you start streaming it starts ticking off little achievements, which in some bizarro world way made me want to get them.  One of them is called “Path to Affiliate” and it shows up as a little quest of sorts in the sidebar of the achievements page.  It includes…

  • Stream 8 hours in the last 30 days
  • Stream for 7 unique days in the last 30 days
  • Reach 3 average viewers in the last 30 days
  • Reach 50 followers

The last one was easy because I have had my account so damned long that I have more than 50 pity follows at this point if nothing else.  In theory once you qualify and get that achievement checkmark… you are done.  Lately I have been dabbling around with streaming, and one by one each of the boxes got checked… and now I am apparently an affiliate.  I am not entirely certain why I did this thing, but it happened.  Now I actually sorta want to try and come up with a proper schedule, which is super difficult because with my managerial duties my arrive home time is super variable, as is whether or not I feel like playing any games in “live” mode.

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This did force me to contemplate what would happen if someone actually subbed to me.  As a result I named them appropriately to attempt to encourage people that this is not a thing that they should actually do.  I keep expecting Twitch to lower some hammer on me for discouraging people from giving them money.  Basically I would feel super awkward to actually take any money from anyone.  This is mostly a thing I did for myself… and in part because it will allow me to create a spiffy twitch emojii if I so choose.  I am not even sure what else Affiliate includes otherwise, mostly it was just…  a thing I felt like doing because it was available.

Now however I find myself involved in all sorts of other nonsense as a result.  I talked yesterday a bit about StreamLabs OBS… or SLOBS as apparently people are calling it…  why people why.  I’ve also been dabbling with their custom Chatbot that is apparently what happened when they gobbled up Ankhbot.  As a result I now have the beginnings of a custom channel bot named MrAggroBot that will do some of the basic functionality you see in chat bots… and at least in theory also works on Discord.

Similarly I have set up a “BelStreamTime” Discord with the sole purpose of joining it while streaming, and as a result allowing anyone else who cares to hang out with me join as well.  I realize no one actually needs a new discord to join…  but I also did not want to dirty up any of the other discords I am part of with my streaming nonsense.  The highlight of the night had to be getting everything actually working so that the Chatbot joined my quickie Twitch test stream, accepted commands and also announced that I went live through the Discord.  It was more proof of concept than anything useful but I sorta felt like Doctor Frankenstein bringing life into the world…  if that life was complete and utter nonsense.

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As far as doing actual gaming stuff…  I grouped up with Grace and took down some low rank monsters.  I never really reached the point where I farmed Low Rank content the way I now do High Rank, and as a result I am missing a ton of parts to make lower level items required to make the higher level versions.  I’ve been working slowly on building a Tobi Kadachi Longsword for its lightning damage, and we wound up farming Tobi a bunch of times for parts.  From there we started doing more esoteric hunts, like an Anjanath and a Pukei Pukei with a 30 minute timer in which I tried to hammer.  I am not exactly completely effective as hammer, but it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately I apparently completely phased out the fact that Tam was trying to invite me to a party and wound up heading to bed around 9:20.  It was a fun night, but also one where I did a bunch of silly things with minimal use to anyone.  So yeah… I am apparently a Twitch Affiliate now and am starting to build up the infrastructure needed to do “stuff and things” on that platform.

 

StreamLabs OBS

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Lately I have been dipping my toes in the streaming pool once more.  I have this weird relationship with Twitch as a whole and I have constantly tried to break out of team purple to give other services a try.  For a significant amount of time I tried to make Hitbox a thing…  which has apparently been either bought or rebranded to Smashcast.  After that I flirted with Beam.pro the Microsoft offering, which admittedly is pretty great…  but even it got rebranded to the awkward name of Mixer.  As far as any semblance of regular viewers go…  I have been my own worst enemy due to my indecisiveness.

The thing I noticed through all of it is that people treat Twitch as a destination that they go to for entertainment.  Folks only really watched Hitbox and Mixer when I posted a link on twitter and even then… not that many because it was a largely unfamiliar interface.  The key problem I have always had with Twitch is the latency between chat and screen making holding any sort of a conversation extremely awkward.  That negative aside though…  Twitch is the place where everyone already has an account.  This means it is the location that I am already watching the streams of my friends, and when I do stream I often have random people stop by and visit.  That was just not something that ever happened when I did anything on Hitbox or Mixer.  So after much flailing about… I am back and committed once more to team purple.

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One of the things I have been dabbling with is StreamLabs, an interface that provides some of the nifty widgets like the ability to have on screen twitch chat and notifications when events happen.  The other day I was playing around on the site and noticed that they offered up a Stream Labs branded version of OBS Studio and decided to give it a shot.  I have long been a proponent of OBS and while I have tried other options… it is the one I always go back to because in spite of its quirks it tends to be the most reliable.  Ultimately what the StreamLabs version promised was better integration with their widgets which in truth… would have been more than enough of a reason to install it.

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When first opened it asked me if I wanted to import my scenes from OBS Studio…  which took away the single reservation I had about this experience.  I have a bunch of scenes already set up and I was not sure how I felt about having to go through that process again like I did when I moved from OBS Classic to OBS Studio.  It asked me to log into Twitch, and then managed the whole stream key thing automagically.  Finally it ran a test on my internet connection and set a bit rate based on my throughput…  which may be a little high given that a few people have complained about now having the internet power to watch me.  I ran a speed test for reference…  and as a result OBS seems to think I should be streaming about 4500kbps which seems to be a bit much for a couple of people.

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For the most part the experience is exactly the same as the OBS Studio experience…  that is until you hit that big green [Go Live] button and start streaming.  Then it shifts to giving you a view that largely replicates the Twitch Dashboard all the while still giving you some basic control over your broadcast and allowing you to swap freely between scenes.  Even better when you click the big button to start streaming… it prompts you for a Stream Title and the game you are streaming.  So in theory no more going live with the wrong title and game.  There is still the problem however of not giving you a great way to swap the title when you switch between games.

Essentially this one app fixes a lot of the nonsense that happened while streaming.  If it somehow integrates with twitter and allows me to announce the stream it would cut down my interaction to a single screen.  Previously on my second monitor I would keep OBS up in case there were issues or I wanted to swap scenes, a window of the Twitch dashboard up so I could interact with chat and check the health of the stream, and twitter to go ahead and make a post that I was going live.  In all fairness there are also Discord and Slack windows up, but they are not directly related to the stream itself.  The end result was a super busy experience and one that made it awkward to interact with people as they popped into chat.

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Now I brought with me a bunch of elements that I had knocked out in Photoshop to give my broadcast some branding.  However not everyone has that option and often times ends up needing to commission someone to create them for you.  This is a great option and at some point I may even do it myself, however just to get started and piddle around with a stream…  you are more than likely not going to go live with anything.  Personally I use these elements to block the chat box when I am playing a MMO just to give me some semblance of privacy.

Inside of the StreamLabs client there is a Library tab that gives you access to a bunch of preset designs that you can then modify on the fly to create some sort of a style for your stream.  While this is not exactly something that I am super interested in… it is really damned cool that it exists.  Basically each design has a “Be Right Back” screen, a “Stream Starting Soon” screen, and then the on screen in game elements. More than enough doodads for someone to start with and then tweak and modify as they go forward and decide what the hell they want their stream to be.

I am still not a good streamer by any stretch of the imagination.  I find it hard to fill the time while I am playing and externalize my inner monologue.  However so far I am super happy with StreamLabs OBS and am starting to dip my toes into the other stuff like setting up a proper channel bot with games and such.  Right now the biggest challenge for me is finding a time when I can set up some semblance of a proper schedule.  At the moment I tend to announce my stream as I am going live and then maybe stream for an hour or two and disappear abruptly…  all things that are not exactly “best practices” for streaming.  For the moment though I am enjoying dabbling in this world again and I guess at the end of the day that is the most important part isn’t it?

Madness Setup

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I spent most of last night running around hanging out with my friend Grace and doing low rank hunts with weapons I have never used before.  The revelation from the night is…  I really like hammer.  The only problem there is I need to get better at timing my uppercut to boop things in the snoot.  However I did notice I can break a leg nice and fast as well in a pinch.  All in all I dig the weapon and want to play with it more and have upgraded through to currently the rarity 5 ore hammer, and am just a little bit of farming in Elder’s Recess away from the Rarity 6 version that is in parity with some of my other weapons.

I did make a solo attempted at Nergigante and got frustratingly close.  I had the monster limping and with a skull icon hovering over its head…  but that last phase had some brand new tricks up is sleeve that I struggled dealing with.  Namely a combination of knocking shards down from the ceiling and the prolific use of dive bombing.  I feel like I was pretty damned close to finishing… when he managed to pin me against a wall and get my final faint.  After 36 minutes of fighting that asshole…  I simply didn’t have another attempt in me so the rest of the night was fun low rank nonsense with friends.

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I’ve had a few people ask me about my gaming set up, namely the fact that I am piping all of the audio for all of my systems through my PC.  The primary reason for doing is for comfort while shifting between PC based voice chat like Discord and console specific offerings like Playstation Network party chat.  It allows me to comfortably have one set of headphones that I like wearing and flip back and forth between platforms without much hassle.  Since I had talked a little bit in the past about what I did to accomplish that, I thought I would just diagram out my entire setup this time.  Yes I did do this in visio…  mostly because I thought it would illustrate it the most clearly.

I like the concept of having all of my systems “on tap” and easily accessible.  Namely I started down this path because I wanted to at least in theory be able to capture video and images from any console that I chose without having to swap a bunch of cables.  The earliest version of this set up revolved around a 5 port HDMI switch which was relatively cheap on Amazon.  As I added in a few other systems that I wanted to capture from… I had to eventually seek out a bigger option and finally landed on an 8 port HDMI switch option from Monoprice.  It was more expensive than I would have preferred but the options for something with that many ports were super limited.

This 8 port switch feeds into the business end of my Elgato Game Capture HD, that I picked up for I think $30 on Craigslist.  At some point I would love to upgrade to one of the more modern models, but for the time being it does what I want it to do and was nowhere close to the $150-200 price tag of an upgrade.  Next up we need to defeat the HDCP lockout, or at least I wanted to… because I hate the concept of PS4 arbitrarily telling me when I can or cannot record something.  This is done using a cheaply constructed HDMI splitter…  so cheap that it unintentionally strips out the HDCP signal coming from the console and turns it into a open signal that the Elgato is capable of recording.

This splitter also serves the purpose of providing me a latency free copy of my video feed that goes directly into the television, as well as the leg that finally connects up to the Elgato and winds its way into my PC through USB.  The first time I streamed with my new arrangement after getting the 4k television… I realized I had a problem.  I had been relying entirely on the television speakers to give me access to game audio.  The problem there is that while broadcasting my voice through my Yeti setup… I would end up picking up a fair amount of background audio from the game leading to a questionable feedback experience.

So the problem at hand was figuring out a way to feed the audio from the gaming systems into my headset so that I could comfortably chat away with an open mic… without causing all sorts of auditory dissonance for anyone listening in.  The only audio out from the television was an optical out port which meant that I would need some sort of a digital to analog converter to step it down into something I could feed into the line in port of my PC.  I eventually settled on this device from amazon, and in the grand scheme of things it has been working excellent.

I had to do some fiddling in the television but I now have the audio being broadcast over the built in speakers and out over the optical cable.  This allows me to wear a headset if I choose to or just turn back up the volume on the television and listen to the playback there.  This also has the weird quirk of allowing me to pick up all of PSN voice chat and bypass their default state of not recording any of the voices.  All in all I am pretty happy with the way things are set up apart from one minor thing.

Right now I have a second monitor hooked to my gaming PC and it feels awkward to cram everything that I want to interact with while playing a game over onto that monitor.  At some point I am contemplating re-engineering this entire set up to be able to include a second machine to game capture.  That unfortunately would result in a top down rethink of the way I have everything set up because all audio would be piping through a second setup.  I think at that point I would have to upgrade to the Elgato Game Capture HD60 pro to give me more options.  So all of this is why I generally just say “I am doing some nonsense” when people ask me how I have things set up.

 

Angry Spiky Boy

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Before I start this mornings post I have a deep burning question for my readers that may be more in tune with the Monster Hunter lore than I am.  What are the flags representing that are displayed in Astera?  There is one more banner that is not displayed in this screenshot that makes up the main sail of the ship I happen to be standing on currently.  The only theory I have right now is that maybe that sail is the banner of the first fleet, and then each additional flag from left to right is the other four fleets?  The symbols are the ones that we see on the loading screen, but those literally mean nothing to me…  but I am guessing they are part of the monster hunter lore?  The most prominent one that we see on a regular basis is the Sapphire Star displayed on the far right banner which sorta lead me to believe that maybe it is the symbol of the fifth fleet that we are part of.  I’ve poked around a little bit online but have not really seen much talk of this heraldry.

As far as activities of the night, we spent a bit of time fighting with the multiplayer systems.  I was under the impression that if I logged in and joined the squad session…  that would be something easy for other squad members to do.  However as the evening drug on we realized that all of us had done this thing…  and we were in two completely different squad sessions.  There were two players in one and four players in the other… so nowhere near the session cap of 16.  Making life even more challenging was the fact that the group of two could not join the group of four without getting a network error.  The four of us in the first session had to join the newer session, so it makes me wonder…  do sessions eventually time out or something of the sort?

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Mor and I spent a good deal of time farming nonsense, before a few of us decided on trying to get past the Nergigante roadblock.  Ash had recently arrived at that step in the quest, and Kodra with a little bit of leg work was able to get there as well.  So the three of us combined with Tam decided to make a few attempts last night.  For the uninitiated, Nergigante is a fight where you simply cannot get hit.  There is a one two punch move that he pulls off that first stuns you in place and then decimates you.  If your team members are fast enough they can throw some crystal burst at him to distract him from pummeling your friends.  However we were not always fast enough.  The above screenshot is of Nergi just about to pound poor Ashgar into the ground.

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Similarly here is a screenshot of him completely wrecking my world.  The problem is you have three faints before the quest fails, and unfortunately things seem to go from “perfectly fine” to “oh god why” at a moments notice.  I’ve been told that this fight is a little bit more predictable solo with only you and your Palico to worry with and the buffer of two faints for yourself instead of having to share a pool for the entire group.  I will probably try this thing tonight, but whatever the case the fight feels really stressful because I simply cannot get in and deal much damage before needing to roll out to safety.  At first I wondered if ranged fighters had a better time of it…  but since I have been playing bow quite a bit lately for fun…  I am guessing not.  The biggest problem I personally have with bow is the lack of ability to dodge out of the way in the same manner as I do with longsword.

I’ve been on high center for the last two weeks and would really like to move past Nergi and on to other fights.  So in theory tonight if I actually make it home from the current icemageddon, I will likely spend the evening working on trying to get through this one on my own.  In other interesting news… Byf has started releasing lore videos for Monster Hunter World.  The first one came out yesterday and talks about the fall of what seems to be a pretty technologically advanced civilization that existed in the Monster Hunter universe before the current relatively primitive one we have currently.  Byf and Myelin were a good deal of what made the original Destiny so special for me, because they dug deep into the lore and assembled the fragments into a cohesive narrative.  I am hoping that Byf can do the same for Monster Hunter seeing as I am coming in so late into the series.  There is clearly a bunch of interesting stuff here, and I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Bludgeoned with Adorable

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I have been a horrible person and should feel bad.  One of the usual suspects missing from the Monster Hunter madness has been my good friend and often partner in crime…  Grace.  Her original line of logic was that she was going to wait until the PC release, and I was largely cool with that because when I started playing Monster Hunter World I absolutely intended to do what I did with Destiny 2.  That is to restart when the PC version came out and focus on that from that point forwards as my primary platform.  However the longer I have played Monster Hunter World the more I have doubted if I could actually do this thing.

Quitting Destiny 2 on the console and restarting on PC felt like it was a no brainier… and at the end of the day I was not really giving that much up.  However I already feel way more attached to what I have on Monster Hunter World than I ever did to a handful of weapons that I easily regained the moment I started grinding things out again on Destiny 2.  The other core problem is the fact that there is no announced date for Monster Hunter World for the PC.  When I decided to restart Destiny 2 only a month had passed since the launch of the console versions, and really…  it allowed me to redo all of those things I maybe should have done differently.

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When Monster Hunter World finally launches on the PC something along the lines of six months or more will have passed and that is more than enough time to get acclimatized to a game and pass the threshold of being willing to give all of that up to go elsewhere.  In part Monster Hunter World feels more like an MMORPG than Destiny 2 did, and those are the sort of games that you really move into.  I love my gear and my weapons and having to give all of that up would feel extremely alienating.  While I might have every intent of trying out the PC release, I have a feeling I would bounce pretty hard without my stuff.  Now in Destiny 1 I reached this point and it was in part why I had so much struggle getting any measure of traction on the Xbox One client.  I am not saying never to Monster Hunter World on the PC…  just that I doubt it will become my primary platform over night.

As a result Mor and I have been waging this guerilla campaign of deluging Grace with pictures of Palicos and Poogie.  Last night for example I sent her the above image of the two Palicos in my room playing harp music for me.  I think the final straw that broke her with adorable…  is when I sent one of the Tailrider Safari cutscenes.  Whatever the case she relented and downloaded the game last night, installing it and joining the madcap community of folks playing Monster Hunter World.  When she first started Destiny I made the mistake of trying to drag her around to experience all of the content that I loved.  However this wound up with a really choppy experience so for the most part I am going to be around to answer questions, but try my level best to just let her experience this game.

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That is not to say that shortly after taking down the Great Jagras I did drag her through a Kulu-Ya-Ku kill for completely “pure pure” reasons as PizzaMaid would say.  The Great Jagras costume for palicos is not exactly a good one… so instead I figured that a single kill of Kulu would get her more than enough parts to make that set of armor for her Palico so she could begin the process of dressing it in increasingly ludicrous costumes.  As a result she is now the proud owner of a lute wielding fake moustache cat, and I think the barbs of the hook are officially set.  The game is completely nonsense but has a charm to it that is undeniable once you experience it.  I also think that while taking down that Jagras, she got a taste of the other side of the coin that makes the game super fun to experience.

Regardless…  I should feel bad by bludgeoning my friend over the head with adorable pictures from the game until she caved.  However I don’t really because this is absolutely the sort of game that she would love and was only waiting for an undetermined PC release date that might see her playing alone.  For awhile I had said that Horizon Zero Dawn was worth every penny of buying a PS4 just to play it.  I feel like Monster Hunter World is also sort of in that category, with the exception being that it also exists on Xbox One.  The problem there is…  my core base is on PS4 and as a result I see very little reason to play anything but the scant exclusives on the Xbox platform.  Most Xbox exclusives eventually see a PC release apart from Forza and Halo, and in the grand scheme of things at least in that scenario I would rather wait.  PS4 is my console and ecosystem of choice and I am pretty happy about that.

Dragon Quest Builders Thoughts

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I thought I would take a bit of a break from the constant stream of Monster Hunter World posts to talk about something else that I’ve been playing.  Dragon Quest Builders was originally released on the PS4 and Vita back in October 2016 in the United States.  There is apparently also a version that runs on the PS3 in Japan, but seemingly that copy never made it over here.  I remember being super interested when I first saw the trailer, but by the time it was released was deeply distracted by other things.  Just scrolling back through my blog…  on the month it released I seemed to be dabbling in World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Destiny 1, Diablo 3 and a little bit of Skyrim.  Basically it released while I was distracted by other things…  and as a result I never actually got around to picking it up.

Scroll forward to February, a month where I am mostly in a Monster Hunter Shaped hole…  and I notice that it officially releases on the Nintendo Switch.  I’ve not really had any builder games in my life over the last few months, so in theory it was maybe a good time to dig into a new one.  It is really hard to describe what Dragon Quest Builders is because it is this sort of beautiful amalgam of a bunch of different games.  At times it feels like a Legend of Zelda game especially when you don a sword and shield and go out into the world to whack monsters.  There are times when it feels like Minecraft because you are absolutely collecting resources and building up your base.  Then there are times when it feels a bit like Actraiser where you are intervening in the lives of the NPCs that populate your village.

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The story of the game is pretty simple at face value.  The game world itself is that of Alefgard the world of the original Dragon Quest, and is essentially what would have happened…  if we had failed and the Dragonlord won.  It is also a world where over time the fledgling human populace has lost hope and forgotten the power of creation.  You as a builder are granted the ability to look at a set of raw resources and gain inspiration in how they might be shaped into useful objects.  As a result it is your place as the new hero… to start reclaiming the world through combat and creativity and push back the forces of the Dragonlord.

The world itself is divided up into a series of islands, and through the course of gameplay you can learn how to make teleporters allowing you to traverse between them for different resources.  All the while you continue running quests for the NPCs that start showing up in the town you are slowly piecing back together.  Placing blocks together in certain ways creates rooms that then the NPCs can inhabit, and you begin to create machines that they can then utilize giving you resources that then can be used as you go out venturing the “save the world”.

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I’ve loved Minecraft since the moment I first watched a YouTube video explaining the basics of the game.  The problem with Minecraft however is that it is awesome to go out and create things in…  but it also doesn’t really have a point.  Sure there is the whole Ender Dragon nonsense that was placed in game late…  but really there is no sequence of events that you need to complete to “beat” the game.  For me “beating” Minecraft is amassing enough Diamonds to be able to use full Diamond everything and not give a crap about it.  However regardless of how cool you build your world out… it feels hollow because there are no NPCs inhabiting it.

Dragon Quest solves this problem by allowing you to build a world… that then comes to life as various types of NPCs come live in it.  Sure you can get this sort of functionality with modding, but it always feels tacked on to the side of the game and not really part of it.  Dragon Quest gives you a reason for your wanderlust and harvesting and allows you to keep coming back to a place you call home and in doing so help out the people surrounding you.  This might be a subtle difference but it is the one that is the most important and is why I have been playing the heck out of this game each night before falling to sleep.  I like that I can pick it up, do a few things and feel like I have accomplished something.  If this sounds at all interesting to you, I highly suggest checking it out.

 

The Good Grind

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Over the last few days I have been thinking about where Monster Hunter World has succeeded and Destiny 2 has failed.  I know this is probably a strange way to start off a post, but I am playing MHW the way that I fully expected to still be playing Destiny 2.  If you add up the total time I have spent with the Destiny franchise across different platforms you wind up with 741 hours.  Given that sort of track record I fully expected to be playing that game currently.  That said I have missed two faction rallies, two iron banners and have not really even logged in during the current crimson doubles event.  Sure I could be getting all manner of cosmetic gear from them…  but the weapon and gear system just feels hollow given that I have collected most everything I am interested in using.

While I love the token loot system, Destiny 2 has a problem with not giving us a meaningful grind to be focused on.  Doing event after event hoping to get a Masterwork Weapon or Piece of armor doesn’t really count.  When I say meaningful grind I mean something that I can do on a nightly basis that is fun, but also feels like I am making progress towards some larger objective.  In many ways the fickle nature of loot in Destiny 1 and the existence of things like the Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge gave me something I could do… that felt like I was potentially moving in the direction of something that I wanted from the game.  As it stands there are too few interesting weapon options and the watered down version of exotics no longer really make them worth chasing in the way we used to before.

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It may simply be because I am playing on the PS4 with friends that I am drawing the conclusion…  but as I play Monster Hunter World I think about the ways that it has given me this path to madness paved with little incremental rewards.  When you kill or trap a Monster you are hunting you are showered with a bunch of monster parts…  some of which are useful and some of which are not as useful.  The thing is, regardless if I have 50 of an item… I am still sorta excited to see them because I know that eventually I might need to use them to craft some new weapon that I then have to upgrade up to the final version.  I might suddenly decide that Hammer is awesome and then have to start building up my collection of weapons much the same as I do for my beloved Longsword.

I know that every thing I kill, and every object in the world that I loot is taking me towards some bigger goal.  The number of times that I have had to go out lately and farm herbs…  one of literally the first items you encounter in the game…  is shocking given that I am dealing with a completely different set of monsters than I did back then.  However it doesn’t seem like tedium because they have placed value on almost everything you can encounter out in the wilds and while you may not need it today… there is likely going to be a time at some point in the future where you will be wishing you had more of it.  While literally every moment I am not hunting a big epic monster is busywork…  none of it feels like it because it feels valuable to the larger mission of the game.

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While Destiny has never really had something close to this grind, I am thinking maybe it should.  The central focus of all of this for me personally is the Smithy, which is a menu driven crafting system that allows me to turn all of these bits and pieces of critters I have taken down…  and meld them into usable gear with interesting stat combinations.  I’ve spent a good deal of time farming up Odogoron, which is a giant hairless blind hell hound looking thing.  I personally really like its armor set and I want to be able to wield the full thing a a potential replacement for my mishmash of gear I am currently wearing.  This gives me a goal, and the grind itself is slow enough that each kill feels like meaningful progress without ever giving me that landfall moment of getting everything I possibly need in a single round.

Imagine for a second if you had gear and weapons in Destiny based on a similar concept.  Each time you took down the Fallen example, there was a chance of getting an item that could be used in the crafting of Fallen themed weapons or armor.  The common items would drop from Dregs, medium rarity items from Vandals and the rare bits from Servitors and Walkers.  Then say you wanted to craft the Vex Mythoclast you would need to maybe take down a Gate Lord to get the focusing lens, and a bunch of Minotaurs to get the armored housing.  All of this is more meaningful than collect 40 of token Z and hope the RNG gods smile upon your en devour as you may or may not get the item you want from a relatively deep loot table.  It also turns Banshee-44 into more than the Gachapon machine that he currently is, by giving him the actual ability to craft specific items for you.

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What Monster Hunter World does better than almost anything is that it gives me a target for my nightly nonsense.  Granted right now I cannot craft the Chrome Slicer I because I lack the zenny to do so….  but I know where every single piece that it requires drops from.  I know that I can run loops around High Rank Wildspire Wastes for most if it, but to get the Fucium Ore I am going to have to make my way down into the Elder’s Recess.  If I notice a weapon requires parts off of a specific monster I am given a bunch of different ways to target that one specific encounter and run it over and over if I so choose.  In my case what I personally tend to do is answer SOS beacons for that specific encounter, feeling like I am actually helping out someone else in the community take down that critter for fun and profit as well.

More than anything what I think Monster Hunter World does so well is that it eases you into all of this.  You quickly learn the value of the items you can grab out in the world as new patterns start showing up that you can craft.  You notice that items have ??? beside some of the materials and it drives you to go out and explore until you find them.  All of this creates a feedback loop of take down epic feeling monsters, get items, craft interesting gear…  so you can take down even bigger monsters.  Sure a lot of the gear is not strictly required…  but for someone who is very gear focused it certainly makes the journey feel a lot more meaningful.  The monster battle portion being fun enough that while I am actively engaged in fighting…  I am not even thinking about what might drop which is not the case in most MMORPGs.

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When they first started talking about Destiny 2 being a much more open world and quest driven game…  this is honestly the sort of experience I had been envisioning.  What if you could fight a Destiny boss the same way you do a Monster in Monster Hunter World?  What if getting every player to focus on taking out a Gatelord’s weapon arm caused it to no longer be able to fire that weapon… and instead forced it to change up tactics and start engaging in melee attacks.  What if the way you fought a boss mattered just as much as the weapons you took into the fight?  When we got Destiny 2 and it was a stripped down version of what we had in Destiny 1…  I was disappointed, but the mechanical loop of the game kept me engaged for way longer than the game itself probably deserved.  I had enough hype built up to carry me through the console launch and restarting with the PC launch…  but now I just don’t ever feel like even logging in.

What I want is a good grind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean running Omnigul hundreds of times hoping that maybe just maybe you will get that one in a million perfectly stated Grasp of Malok.  What that means for me personally is something that I can do on a nightly basis that feels like I am eventually heading towards some goal down the road.  Maybe at some point in the near future I will feel like I am out of grinds in Monster Hunter World, but I can at least see a road map in front of me that seems like it is going to be an interesting ride.  Right now I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of objectives that I could be chasing, and as I move up… it feels like the world keeps expanding out rather than narrowing down to a pin point like the raid cycle does in an MMORPG.  Monster Hunter World is a really great grind, that is attached to a really fun experience of taking down giant monsters that fight in a fluid and believably organic manner.  Maybe Bungie will find its footing at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying discovering the Monster Hunter franchise.

Delightful Nonsense

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Last night didn’t exactly go as I had originally planned but what actually happened was probably better.  There were a couple of things that I knew I had on my list for the evening, one of which was to run to target and attempt to find clearance valentines candy for my wife’s classroom.  There are several candies that she uses in lab exercises like kisses, m&m’s and skittles.  The scene in that candy aisle was just insane with random display boxes strewn everywhere and essentially everything mostly gone.  We did manage to scavenge some plain old fashioned Hershey’s Kisses in valentines packaging for the 50% off discount.

Prior to going into the store I called in a take out order across the street at Baja Jack’s Burrito Shack, so we picked up our orders…  for me a steak fajita quesadilla and for my wife steak fajita nacho platter.  I flipped over to Twitch to see if anyone was streaming, and I appeared to be auto hosting Sushi so I tuned in to say hi.  I finishing “nomming my tasty noms” and fired up the PS4 when almost instantly I had a party invite waiting on me.  Pizza Maid was also just about to fire up her stream and was looking for people to hang out while doing so.  So I joined her, SitaDulip, Misiek, and a very drunk Welsh Fox and Wolfy in chat and prepared for an evening of delightful nonsense.

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One of the main reasons why Monster Hunter World has been scratching my MMO itch is for nights like last night.  While we lost Fox and Wolfy pretty early because they decided they were a little too sauced to be on a stream…  we had this great night of just wandering around and doing random stuff.  Sure I wasn’t necessarily moving my quest chain forward, but I was still having a lot of fun knocking out random stuff… some of it low rank and some of it high rank.  It was this furious blend of investigations, optional quests, and arena missions and a heck of a lot of fun.

I think the only high rank monster we actually took down was a Pukei Pukei at the very end of the night when the stream had whittled down to just me and Pizza hanging out.  The best moment of the stream however was when Pizza runs off to use the restroom only to find out that Aria her adorable asshole cat has rolled all the toilet paper off the roll.  Props to stealthy for clipping this because it is an amazing conversation happening off screen…  but I am chuckling along in my recognition that I have also had this thing happen.  Basically it was a really fun night and if you so care to… the entire VOD of our random adventures is available.

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Tonight however… I would actually like to make some progress.  If that means catching Pizza up to this point in the storyline and then taking down an asshole pink Rathian together then so be it.  Last night was all about hanging out with friends and tonight would be lovely if I could hang out with friends and also kill this horrible creature.   The other thing I am contemplating is doing a dueling banjos stream of sorts where I am also streaming while Pizza is streaming and then posting one of those links that allows you to see the stream side by side.  I will of course have to talk to her about this concept, also also I will have to figure out what PSN chat does to my streaming set up.  I am not sure if it is going to be a horribly echoy experience for my viewers.

Regardless if we take down a Pink Rathian or not I would love to engage in some high rank hunt nonsense.  Right now I have a handful of pools of people that I have been actively playing with and only time will tell tonight who I end up grouped up with.  Regardless though Monster Hunter is feeling like and MMORPG to me in spite of it not really being one.  It feels like I am doing all of these epic boss fights with friends and I guess at the end of the day… that was my most important requirement for MMO grouping.  I had wished Destiny 2 would feel like this, but for whatever reason the magic sauce just wasn’t there as strongly this time.  With Monster Hunter it is all brand new to me having never really gained traction in the series, and with Destiny 2…  I just kept thinking about all of the awesome things we had to give up from the first game.

Monster Hunter Online

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There are times I do things that don’t make sense at all…  but am nonetheless compelled to do them anyways.  Last night was one of those nights and the madness that my brain was targeting involved seeing if I could actually get Monster Hunter Online installed and running.  I had decided that I would end up hanging out with my wife last night and watching some olypmics while she graded, which meant I would be losing access to my beloved Monster Hunter World.  I mean sure I could play it through PS Remote Play but the experience degrades so drastically since I am used to playing it on a 4K display in HDR.  Early in the evening I had stumbled onto a video by Arekkz from June of 2016 where he attempted playing the game.  This for whatever reason  triggered something in my brain wanting to try it, much like I will sometimes devote way too much effort to trying to emulate something that I have sitting in my closet.

The first problem is that there are plenty of guides out there for playing Monster Hunter Online.  The key problem with each of them is that they involve downloading some random package of binaries from either a file dump website or in some cases google drive.  I do not trust downloading a “verified good” client from somewhere I don’t know as the originating source of the file.  Basically that ruled out all of those options and left me sorting out the steps by myself.  Essentially the step to get up and running look a little something like this.

  1. Register a QQ Account – this is essentially the Tencent version of AIM and has a really weird profiling system that includes details like asking you for your blood type which is not creepy at all.  I filled out only the minimum of information and found it hilarious that the QQ version of the Twitter Egg icon…  is a crying baby.  Apparently all Tecent games are driven by the QQ account and this will be a numerical address combined with a password.  SAVE THIS NUMBER… there is apparently no great way to recover an account.
  2. Download WeGame – WeGame is the Tencent version of Steam for lack of a better term for it.  There is no english version so you are ultimately going to be flying blind here.  All of the categories are in chinese except for FPS and MMORPG.  Since what we are looking for is an MMORPG it was pretty easy to select that category and find the Monster Hunter Online logo shown above to start the download process.
  3. Download Monster Hunter Online – there will be what appears to be an obvious download button when you find Monster Hunter Online in the menu.  This seems to download the game in the background…  so the process will show up in Task Manager but won’t actually be a window you can flip over to through Alt-Tab or through the task bar.  I have really fast internet so it did not take long at all…  but it involves two downloads one that is around 9 gb and another that is around 15 gb so it may take forever for you.
  4. Launch Monster Hunter Online – when the game finally finishing installing which is an awkward and largely blind experience… it will show up in the left hand bar of the WeGame client.  All the while it is downloading there will be what is the Monster Hunter Online theme playing in the background…  that you can literally do nothing about.  How I determined it was finished… was when the music went away.  Immediately upon launching the game you will be presented with the next hurdle.
  5. Fake a Chinese ID – You will immediately be presented with a page from QQ stating that the game cannot be played without some sort of national Chinese ID.  This was not super surprising because when you attempt to play a lot of South Korean games you run into a similar problem.  The difference here is that apparently the Chinese ID is an amalgam of a birthdate, region codes, and some randomized number all with a check bit to verify that it is “official”.  As result there are tons of places online that offer you a generator to create your own.  The one I linked is the one that worked for me… and quite honestly since I do not read chinese we engaged in a bit of pattern matching.  You will need to make sure that you match up the names of the regions in both the generator and the client and unfortunately google translate only goes so far.  I went with Bejing and what looked to be the most distinct pattern that I was able to match in both locations.  SAVE THIS NUMBER.
  6. Plug Code into QQ Page and Pray – The page that popped up when you launch Monster Hunter World should still be sitting there in the background, and for me at least I was able to pop that code into the box, hit submit and it worked first attempt. Your mileage may vary especially depending on your pattern matching skills on the earlier steps.
  7. Relaunch Monster Hunter Online – If everything worked you will now be able to play Monster Hunter Online and have the same fun I did guessing what the buttons actually do in the character creation system.  I managed to limp through the process of creating a character by guessing the logic that was used.  On the lower left hand side there is a menu that appears to be some sort of a batch of presets…  and then the button beside it to the right appears to be some sort of a confirmation that takes you to a prompt in the center of the screen that lets you name your character and enter the world.  It accepted my english named character without any problems.

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The next question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you should actually do this thing I just explained to you how to do.  The short answer is no… you should not.  You should really just stick to playing Monster Hunter World and waiting for the eventual PC release.  The positive take away from last night is that I have a fully functional QQ account and will be able to play things that get released by Tencent in China if I so care to at some point.  The bad part however is that the game is not great.  Sure it sorta looks like Monster Hunter but more importantly it FEELS nothing like Monster Hunter World.  If I did not know this was a purposeful collaboration between Capcom and Tencent I would have assumed the game was yet another asset flip mobile game because it is not pretty.

You are treated to this opening cutscene where some monster type I have never seen crashes into your airship.  All the while the monster is clipping through the airship and as you begin to crash land the ship itself randomly clips in and out of the mountain side.  When you finally get to ground level you have to fight yet another monster that I don’t recognize… but it could have been an overly stylized version of a Rathian.  During this fight you are provided with MMO style telegraphs on the ground to denote where the monster is going to attack.  These show up well before the actual animation sequence starts taking out a bit of the fun of playing Monster Hunter in the first place which is reading the monsters attacks.

I am not sure if everyone starts out as longsword but I lucked into that allowing me to try out a weapon that I already understand the attack patterns of which helped me get acclimatized quickly.  In the grand scheme of things the attacks were all recognizable and worked much the same as if I had been using a controller.  The equivalent of my Triangle attack was on the left mouse button and the equivalent of my R2 attack was on the right mouse button… with the short jab circle attacks being tied to E.  Z for whatever reason became the interact/harvest key which is only explained after you encounter your first herb plant to harvest.  You are not really given enough time after your first actual monster encounter to harvest the corpse.

It was playable but the post tutorial interface was clogged with tons of cash shop functionality that I never could figure out how to get rid of.  It was around the time I arrived in the first town that I finally decided to just stop playing and find something better to do with my evening.  The game did not feel great and the visuals felt cheaply thrown together and appear to be vastly different than the original images I saw from the first versions of the game.  The game appears to have been stylized a bit more away from the traditional Monster Hunter vibe, and in doing so the appearance and experience seems to have been cheapened significantly.

At the end of the day I highly suggest you not do the thing that I did last night.  I still felt largely compelled to explain how I did it though in case someone wanted to follow in my footsteps.  This methodology allows you to go to the original sources and get the actual files instead of hoping and praying that some google drive share doesn’t give you a bit coin mining virus.  I could not get any of the screenshots I took last night working, so instead I had to harvest a few from the interwebs for the purpose of this post.  Ash warned me away from this madness but sometimes I just feel compelled to do stupid things.

[Edit – 2/15/2018 – 10 am]

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After posting this…  Ashgar suggested that in fairness I should at least namedrop Dauntless here.  Right now it is in fact a PC based Monster Hunter like game available in closed beta.  To get into that said beta however you either need to be a media personality/streamer of some note…  or to pay for it.  There are varying levels of access that start at $40 and end at $80 (that used to be $100 and the way you got into alpha).  I’ve played this briefly at Pax South a few years back but can’t really speak to the state of the game.  If you are interested I would suggest you check out the video by Skill-Up that I will link below.  His take is that the game has promise, but it is not really a replacement for Monster Hunter yet.  So I return to my original advise of just waiting for World to be released on the PC.