Self Exodus

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Here comes some random commentary.  I have for the most part been in support of the Epic Games store and snagging some of their exclusives…  like for example Hades and Ashen.  Those are games for which pre-orders had not started on any platform and announcing that they would only be available on this somewhat new storefront was perfectly reasonable.  I was largely okay with The Division 2 but I felt it was a little shady to shift gears a few months before the launch of the game.  I had not pre-ordered, and if I had been planning on doing so… I would have probably just ordered through the UPlay store to cut out the middle man.  However what just happened with Metro Exodus is in the “shady as fuck” territory, given that the game is roughly two weeks from launch and had been in pre-orders since at least E3.  That is way too late in the game to be massively shifting gears like that and THQ Nordic the sub company should have known that they would be screwing things up for THQ Nordic the parent company.

Still I am largely cool with Epic Games store as a vehicle for grabbing games.  Sure it feels a little spartan, but it is still a way better store front and client than Origin…  a point that has been reminded of late given how much I have had to fiddle with that client thanks to Anthem.  The problem I have is with the practice of taking pre-sales way the hell ahead of the games release, because frankly the term pre-order is a lie when it comes to digital software.  You are not plunking down $5 to reserve your copy of a game…  you are handing over your credit card information and often times being charged up front for the purchase.  The thing is… whenever that process starts those vendors should be locked in stone and unchanging.  If you didn’t want to support Steam six months ago…  then you shouldn’t have allowed sales of your product to begin.

In truth I don’t so much fault Epic for making offers, but the company for taking that offer in Bad Faith.  I get a regular stream of offers from people wanting me to place links on this site to whatever the hell it is that they are pushing…  often times some sort of a casino.  I don’t take the quick money because I feel like it would be violating the trust my readers have in me.  I don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight however because while I have been looking forward to Metro Exodus… it was never really a day one title for me and instead something I would play considerably after release.  However for those who were harmed by this action…  I get the outrage.  The biggest part I am confused by however is how they have stated that Steam Pre-Orders would be fulfilled and the game would be updated through that platform…  but the game itself would no longer be available there.  That just feels really odd and awful.

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As far as gaming last night… I got the Blue Mage to 40 through lots of grinding that was relatively boring and not worth talking about.  Then I swapped over and played some Destiny 2 where I completed a bunch of bounties… one of which being the weekly for Eververse.  I lucked out and managed to pull the Last Word ornament…  which will sit there waiting until I complete that quest chain.  I did manage to push through the step where you collect a bazillion hive cores or whatever it was we were collecting.  I also managed to make a little progress on the Malfeasance where I believe I am on the final step involving killing Guardians and getting invasion kills in Gambit.  I had fun… but man movement felt weird after getting used to Anthem.

Speaking of which…  who all will I be seeing in the weekend test happening Friday-Sunday?  I’m BelghastStern over on Origin so hit me up with a friend invite.

Guardian Blues

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I’m struggling a bit this morning to pull together a blog post.  In theory I think I am fighting a cold or something because the last several days I have just felt lousy.  Last night for example I really wanted to pop into some Destiny 2 and do the weekly tasks that are set in front of me on a brand new day.  However I roamed around the tower a bit before logging out for the evening because I could not seem to focus enough to actually do something as intensive as playing a guardian.  I didn’t really play much last week either, so I have not been helping push the clan level up and for that I feel bad.  I have so many things that I need and want to get accomplished but have just been lacking the drive to actually do them.  The quest for the Last World exotic went in yesterday but after looking what all is involved…  I am really not looking forward to more crucible grinding.  I had to do plenty of that already for the Malfeasance quest line that I have yet to actually finish.

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What I ultimately spent my night doing instead was working on the Blue Mage some more.  There are probably more productive ways to go about this process, but what I wound up doing was spent some time in Coerthas before eventually settling into Outer La Noscea grinding the 41-44 Goblin camps.  I managed to get Blue up to 37 so the progress was moving pretty well, but solo grinding largely involved controlling the camp spawns since I was many times the only person out there.  It reminded me a lot of the way that we used to play in Everquest, where you would work your way into an area and then try and hold that position while avoiding getting overrun as too many things spawned in at the same time.  There were a few moments where things got a little dicey if I had two bombs and two goblins on me at the same time, but all in all I reached a comfortable pace and thanks to Sticky Tongue I could yoink mobs over to my perch of relative safety.

The biggest challenge however is that 1000 Needles has started to miss a significant amount lately.  I am guessing its the fact that I have been hitting higher level mobs than my own level, but whatever the case it occasionally makes things a little questionable.  At this point I should probably be able to solo Haukke Manor just fine, but all of the remaining abilities that I can pick up are going to require some significant shenanigans to collect.  For similar reasons to why I didn’t play Destiny 2 last night…  I just did not have it in me to attempt soloing a dungeon.

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What I ultimately want to be playing however…  is more Anthem.  So I am guessing that the Demo did it’s trick of embedding that world deep into my psyche.  This weekend we are supposedly getting access again and I am looking forward to it.  I am hoping the various connection issues are resolved and I can spend some time playing with friends and doing missions together.  I am also hoping they maybe give us a bit more of a drip feed of content…  at least more than the one strike mission.  Regardless I am looking forward to suiting up again because it feels like it is going to be a game that latches hold of me pretty tight.  Ashgar introduced us to the FashionLancers reddit, which I am finding super interesting… but also realizing that I didn’t do anywhere near what I could have with the cosmetic system.  Here is hoping we get a newer build this weekend and with it a bunch of the issue have been put on ice.

1000 Needles

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I’m still not as engaged with Final Fantasy XIV as I would like to be, but I have been using the new Blue Mage limited job as a sort of way of easing my foot back into the water.  While I am not the fanatic for Blue Mage’s that Ashgar is…  I’ve always had a soft spot for the concept of learning abilities by getting hit with them.  As a result I’ve found it really fun and interesting to go around the world trying to learn new abilities.  I started playing the Blue Mage during the Podcast last week and have now made some significant progress, though from what it sounds not nearly as much as the folks that power leveled it in two hours.  Side note… there is apparently a glitch in the game that has been acknowledged that cannot be fixed until 5.0 that involves killing a monster with a single hit and then rapidly switching classes.  Since the first class never actually got flagged into combat… the second class that you switch to gains the experience.  The only problem with this theory is that most of the one hit classes are all casters… and the only thing I have to 70 are some melee classes.  As a result I have mostly been leveling the old fashioned way.

At this point my spellbook looks like this…

  • Water Cannon – Default Ability
  • Bomb Toss – Level 5 Goblin – Middle La Noscea – 23,21
  • Blood Drain – Level 7 Cave Bat – Lower La Noscea – 27,16
  • Ice Spikes – Level 9 Trickster Imp – Central Shroud – 27,24
  • Self-Destruct – Level 12 Glide Bomb – Western Thanalan – 27,17
  • Off-Guard – Unlock 5 Spells to Purchase
  • Final Sting – Level 13 Killer Wespe – Middle La Noscea – 15,13
  • Mind Blast – Solo Tam-Tara Deepcroft – Final Boss
  • Acorn Bomb – Level 17 Treant Sapling – North Shroud – 26,21
  • Bristle – Level 21 Wild Boar (supposedly Lvl.17 exists but never found)  – East Shroud – 18,24
  • Sticky Tongue – Level 24 Laughing Toad – Western Thanalan – 14,16
  • White Wind – Unlock 10 Spells to Purchase
  • Mighty Guard – Unlock 10 Spells to Purchase
  • Toad Oil – Level 24 Giggling Toad – Western Thanalan – 14,6
  • 1000 Needles – level 26 Sabotender Bailaor – Southern Thanalan – 15,15
  • Bad Breath – Level 31 Stroper – Central Shroud – 14,21
  • Faze – Level 32 Qiqirn – Eastern La Noscea – 26,32
  • Flying Sardine – Level 32 Apkallu – Eastern La Noscea – 30,34

I’ve more or less been following this guide on PCGamesN and am thus far missing Level 5 Petrify from the order they suggest and then we get into a bunch of abilities that come from bosses.  I attempted to solo Haukke Manor and just got wrecked so I effectively need to put some levels on before I can realistically do that.  I think at this point I am going to grind up to 32 so I can equip a full set of Battlemage armor and give it a shot.  The leveling thusfar has largely involved me wearing a bunch of random gear that I happened to have available in my bags rather than actually trying to go for something optimal.  The other answer is of course to simply grind the rest of the way to 50 and then deal with going after abilities after having a decent set of gear on.  Whatever the case I am finding this interesting and fun and it is super satisfying when you see the animation indicating that you learned an ability.  The money combo tends to be Acorn Bomb to put something to sleep, 1000 Needles to deal 1000 damage…  that ignores the debuff of Mighty Guard and repeat that until whatever it is you are fighting is dead with the occasional White Wind to heal yourself back up.

Too Pure for the World

So I have not related this story, but the other day I was roaming around outside of Aleport killing things for experience.  A FATE had just started and I began chipping away at it…  and someone responded in /say that I would not actually get bonus exp as a Blue Mage from those mobs.  This lead to them offering to kill stuff if I tagged it… so we ran amok for a bit in zone but at the time the fastest spell I had was Water Cannon.  So they suggested that I meet them at Costa Del Sol and ran me over to pick up Flying Sardine which is an instant, and then proceeded to have me run around the zone tagging things for a bit until I legitimately needed to leave.  This was not something I asked for, nor was it something I expected… but some random stranger on this awesome server called Cactuar just volunteered to help me out.  I shot up something silly like from level 10 to level 28 in a few minutes, but more than anything I was just shocked that someone was willing to do this random act of kindness…  which makes me realize how long I have been away from this community.  That is the kind of game that Final Fantasy XIV is… and over the years I have had so many of these random encounters that wind up with both of us friending the other so we can see orange text run past.  Hell I have struck up conversations just while hanging out on the Gold Saucer that wound up with me getting invited to run stuff with their Free Company.

Final Fantasy XIV as a community is just too damned pure for this world.

 

 

Anthem Demo Impressions

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This morning I am going to talk for a bit about the Anthem Demo that a good number of us participated in this weekend.  If you did not have access to the demo or one of the many friend codes that were floating around…  the truth is what you missed more than anything is a lot of frustration.  However the game that was buried under that layer of frustration was apparently good enough to keep us engaged and trying to log in over and over.  I want to talk a bit about my expectations for the game before going into it.  First off this comes from the pedigree of Bioware, so I expected a great world  with good character development above pretty much everything else.  Mass Effect was not a series known for its amazing gun-play, but instead the interesting things you encountered along the way.  My ultimate hope was that Anthem could be a game that was fun to the Destiny players, The Division players and the Warframe players and act as a unifying vehicle that was “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll” and create an experience that felt familiar and enjoyable to all of them.  Essentially my hope was that it could be the game that folks rallied around in my community rather than having a group of us split loving Destiny and another group split loving Warframe.

Connection Issues

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So lets get the bad stuff out of the way first.  This is a screen a saw a lot of this weekend… otherwise known as the 95% freeze.  The game would load fine into Fort Tarsus the social lobby, but as soon as I picked a mission and attempted to start it the screen would freeze with 5% of the loading bar to go and stay there indefinitely while consuming near 100% cpu and gpu.  Now the weird thing about this is…  I am used to these sorts of bugs happening on the PC version of games…  but it was apparently fairly ubiquitous across all three platforms the game is appearing on which leads me to think this is infrastructure related.  There are individuals however that seemed to be completely un-phased by it… so I am also wondering if there is a connection/location based component.  Whatever the case the only way to get past it was to go into Windows Task Manager and kill the Anthem process, and then upon loading back into the game you would be prompted to join the expedition already in progress…  at which point you could load into the mission.

Experience and Loot Issues

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Last night I started being hit by a different bug, where I could not return to base from a Free Play mission.  This was remedied by killing with Task Manager and then when prompted to rejoin the mission…  saying no.  The only problem with this however is that in doing so I sacrificed all of the experience that I had gained while doing the mission.  This is the second major problem with Anthem…  everything in the game is considered to be a “match” and nothing is rewarded until you successfully complete said match.  That means if you get disconnected and for some reason cannot rejoin that session… you are going to loose out on all of the achievements and experience that you gained from that mission.  The only consolation prize here is that loot that you picked up seems to be independent of this annoying cycle, that said…  it isn’t ACTUAL loot until you have been through the exiting a mission screen to turn those generic loot indicators into physical items.  So I knew I had a few blue items in my inventory but had no clue what they were until I had joined another freeplay session…  which again required me to kill the game, relaunch and join the abandoned session…  before finally exiting out of a free play session successfully so I could acquire the stuff that I had looted in the previous rather length session.  This is some horrible nonsense…  loot should not live in this transitory state until you have successfully jumped through the right hoops… and also the exp you have gained should not be held hostage by buggy connection code.

Flight and Movement

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Now we move to something that is both one of the biggest strengths of the game… and one of the biggest weaknesses if you happen to be playing with a Mouse and Keyboard.  Freedom of movement is a massive part of this game and it feels awesome to be running along and simply lift off into the skies flying towards your next objective.  I think the overheating mechanic does a good job of giving you a reason why you can’t simply fly around in GM mode like you effectively can as soon as you get a flying mount in an MMO.  It is cool that you can dive quickly down to cool yourself back off or fly through a waterfall to get the cooled buff to extend your flight time.  Those are all really great mechanics…  but the mouse and keyboard controls feel awful without a significant amount of tweaking.  Huge credit goes to my friend @_KateyLee for providing me a link to a post on the Mouse Sensitivity forums where they worked through a bunch of different configurations.  Ultimately just zeroing out all of the sliders related to flight and swim movement seemed to provide me a good baseline…  from there I will tweak things up when the real game launches until I reach the most comfortable setting for me personally.  However if you also felt like flying and swimming was a horrible experience…  you might just try dropping the sliders down to zero and seeing if that works for you too.

Gunplay

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Another big part of a game like this is how the moment to moment gun-play feels…  and to this I can give the game a resounding “okay”.  It feels passable and quite honestly this game as a whole feels like they took the Multiplayer components of Mass Effect 3/Andromeda and built a brand new game around them.  I never really thought that any of the weapons in a Mass Effect game were terribly inspired feeling, but they got the job done and I guess that same admonition carries forward to Anthem.  I liked Assault Rifles and Shotguns in Mass Effect, so it is zero shock that my default loadout so far for Anthem is an Assault Rifle and a Shotgun.  I am hoping as we get into the wider game that we will start to see a greater breakout of weapons… because right now we have a couple of different variants of the weapon types but there is a general sameness to the way they feel.  The bar that I hold a game up to is Destiny, and the gun-play in Anthem is nowhere near as fluid or tight as that.  It however feels better than I remember Mass Effect Andromeda feeling…  which in itself felt a lot better than Mass Effect 3…  so baby steps?

Exploration

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Where the game excels is in exploration…  the world while relatively small in the part we have actually seen…  feels massive because every inch of it seems to be peppered with things to explore.  While out in free play mode which is this games version of “patrol mode” I got a tip from my handler about activity happening in a certain area… that there was a shaper relic that needed silenced.  So I moved over to that area of the map and went through a sequence of fighting things and collecting orbs until I finally silenced the relic.  This awarded me a chest and a bunch of experience points, but also had the unexpected side effect of now opening up a new area of the world map which lead to the ruins that I am exploring in the above screenshot.  This eventually lead me to a boss fight where I took down an elemental titan, which again counted as a world event with its own rewards.  This is the sort of thing that happens in game is that one thing chains into another thing and another and means that the world feels extremely fluid and rewarding to explore.  Since I tend to spend most of my time in these games solo… this means I will have a rich experience that is unfettered by walling up anything interesting in the game behind group content.  Just in my short time playing I have encountered a ton of areas that would be thought of as Lost Sectors in Destiny terms, that are hidden behind a waterfall or at the bottom of a lake or quite honestly in plain sight as you happen to be zooming past it.  This game is exploration porn and the suit gives you enough tools to be able to get pretty much anywhere.

The Suits

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Another huge positive of the game is that the Javelins all feel different.  In Destiny for the most part it is all about gun-play with your supers and abilities adding flavor to the experience…  which quite honestly the jumps being the biggest differentiation between the classes.  In Anthem the Ranger is effectively your Destiny style class with grenades and a super and a weird weapon ability…  mixed in with a wide range of weapons.  As a result I really really love the Ranger because it is what I was looking for in a game.  However the other classes are playing totally different games…  with the Colossus being sort of a Reinhardt shield tank that happens to have the heaviest weapons but pays a penalty in movement because of it and completely loses the over-shield in favor of a physical barricade.  The storm is legitimately a caster and will spend most of its time in the air casting elemental attacks down on opponents rather than spending a ton of time shooting the weapons.  The interceptor feels like Zero from Borderlands… and is a literal Ninja and moves and has attacks that feel completely appropriate for that sort of game style…  but has a massive penalty to the amount of harm it can soak up.  When you are running with a balanced party the game feels extremely cool as each of the abilities feed off of each other, and in turn they all feel completely reasonable when moving around solo as well…  but also sort of dictate a different way of approaching problems.

Fort Tarsus

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Now we are going to loop back around to another negative.  While gorgeous as evidenced by this painting like screenshot from in game…  Fort Tarsus does not feel great to explore.  Now I realize a lot of the functionality was turned off completely during the demo… as we were constantly reminded any time we tried to interact with anything.  However shifting from third person suit mode to very slow first person human mode feels awkward and weird.  I mean I get what they were going for… they were trying to create a clear delineation between “mech mode” and “operator” mode.  The biggest problem that I tend to have is how freaking slow I move while running around without my suit.  The layout means that I am going to be traversing this location over and over as I do the functional things that are required to play the game…  which also means I am going to hear that same partial Bhangra synth loop over and over and over… side note if you stand there it doesn’t actually go anywhere and just keeps looping over the same little sample.  At a minimum I would like to see them give me a sprint option.

Characters and Story

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The demo does not really give you a lot to go on.  You are essentially sent on what feels like a side mission to recover a relic and then deal with the ramifications of using this weird tech.  However the brief amount of time that we got to spend with characters, makes me extremely hopeful for how this game is going to feel as a whole.  I already care about Zoe the mechanic who keeps my Javelin running and has a casual back and forth about how we are ALL her favorites.  Matthias my Arcanist also seems like someone I am going to be perfectly fine getting to know better through the course of the missions.  The dialog itself seems to be a simple A or B set of answers…  or in Mass Effect terms… Paragon or Renegade.  However so far in the most simple of interactions…  Zoe at the forge for example seems to remember what I have said before and use it in later dialog so there is some manner of branching already in place for the few instances it has come up.  NPCs that seem to remember our past interactions is going to go a long ways to making me feel more engaged with the game world as a whole.  This was something that would have helped Destiny quite a bit… if the NPCs remembered our past adventures.

In Summary

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As a whole I am really looking forward to playing Anthem legitimately, and I am booned that each of the AggroChat crew seemed to find some element or specific javelin that they really enjoyed.  I am hoping this very rough weekend helps them make the necessary tweaks for a successful launch.  Next weekend there is going to be another demo, but I think this time the floodgates are going to open a bit further.  I am going to hope that the various connection issues have been ironed out and that my tweaks to mouse settings continue to provide me a better than default experience.  If so…  I think Anthem is going to be a great experience.  That said I am preparing myself to weather the storm of a rough launch, and I have to give Bioware a lot of credit for taking to social media and Reddit early this weekend and trying to stay in constant communication as they were working through the issues.  This scores me a lot of points that they were being open about the struggles, and in the grand scheme the fact that they are listening is going to win them points with the community as a whole.  Ultimately this isn’t going to be the game for everyone… and if you already bounced off this style of game then it probably isn’t going to be the one that causes you to see the light.  However it does already appear to be welding the breach between the Destiny and Warframe factions of AggroChat, so I have hope that maybe it will be something we can all play together.

So if you took the time to play it this weekend, what were your thoughts?  I would love to hear them.

 

MMORPG.Social

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It has been roughly a month since we embarked on this journey of the MMORPG.Social Mastodon instance and I have been wanting to report back how things have been going.  For the uninitiated Mastodon is as social microblogging platform that runs on a technology called ActivityPub  which provides the functionality of decentralizing your access to a larger network.  What I mean by that is all of the individual Mastodon/Pleroma/PixelFed/GNUSocial and a bunch of other similar ActivityPub based tools “federate” with each other and effectively link up to form what folks commonly refer to as the Fediverse.

What this means in practice is that you address people not only by the @name convention but also @instance following the name.  In doing so you can follow and communicate freely with anyone using any of the ActivityPub based federating instances.  Because of this freedom it becomes more about choosing the local instance that most closely reflects your interests than simply dog-piling on the largest one.  Some numbers for example of the biggest instances…  Pawoo.net which is a mostly non-english speaking instance has as of the time of writing this… 441,376 users.  Mastodon.Social which is lead by the creator of the Mastodon software and largely considered to be the flagship is at 306,065 users.  On the other end of the spectrum you have thousands of single or handful of users instances that cater to very small communities.

Why Change Instances?

I’ve moved around quite a bit on the Fediverse, largely because as I got more engaged with the community I had reasons for popping elsewhere.  Thankfully Mastodon specifically gives you the tools to direct users from one profile to another profile and export/import the users you were following to make picking up your home and moving it a little easier.  Just for reference…  here is a run down of the people I have been on the Fediverse.

  • @Belghast@Mastodon.Cloud – a large generic instance that was being used as overflow for Mastodon.Social when I first found out about the existence of the Fediverse.
  • @Belghast@Elekk.xyz – I quickly realized that having a good local was more important than being on a big instance and this was an amazing home run by @Noelle who also serves as one of the moderators for Mastodon.Social and in general does an awful lot to help support the Fediverse in general.  Even though I am not actively using Elekk.xyz I fund her Patreon just to help support her efforts.
  • @Belghast@Nineties.Cafe – My good friend Liore decided to start her own Mastodon instance, and with that I migrated myself from Elekk.xyz to Nineties.Cafe.  The first month was a glorious time, much like the launch of a new MMORPG but over time folks stopped posting and now there are only a handful of us that seem to check it these days.
  • @Belghast@MMORPG.Social – I initially just signed up here to support the very awesome Gazimoff who is running the instance, and in the end wound up migrating completely because it has become a really cool environment.  Lots of MMORPG players hanging out and talking about the games they are playing.

Ultimately I didn’t have to move at all and I could have continued communicating with people from Elekk, Nineties and MMORPG all through my original Mastodon.Cloud account.  However one of the things I love about having a good local instance for a home, is that you get access to the Local feed that shows what everyone is publicly talking about on that server.  Each time I have moved it was because I wanted to be part of that local environment and keep taps on what was happening.  There is of course the Federated timeline which shows you everything being said by anyone that your instance is federated with, but that can be at times like drinking from the firehose.

Admittedly one of the hardest things to get used to for a long time avid Twitter user like myself, is how generally slow the pace is on the Fediverse.  You have to sort of think back to those early days of twitter when you weren’t following a couple of hundred very chatty people to get the same sort of experience.  Over time I have found people from lots of different instances that I follow, and because of it I have knitted together a community of people that I talk to on a regular basis.  However I want to throw out the warning that Mastodon and the Fediverse in general is going to feel like a really quiet place at the beginning before you branch out and find your tribe.

Why MMORPG.Social?

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The instance has been going for roughly a month at this point and we have way more users than I ever expected at this point.  Gaz also has been working super hard to give lots of different options for the user base and even got us an official Mascot.  I have no clue if the mascot has a name… but I propose Mortimer.  Normally folks just stand up and instance and call it good, but Gaz has been doing a lot of fiddling under the hood to stand up infrastructure to support growth.  Here are some examples…

  • https://mmorpg.social – this takes you to the default TweetDeck inspired interface that personally I find super comfortable since I generally use either that or a mobile client to access Twitter.
  • https://lite.mmorpg.social/ – for those who prefer the twitter web client experience, Gaz stood up Halcyon which is a lightweight twitter clone interface.
  • https://blog.mmorpg.social – is a WordPress site where he posts information about the instance which is pretty new but also super useful.
  • images.mmorpg.social – is not directly reachable but serves as the infrastructure for AWS S3 where he is now hosting all of the images for speed and reliability
  • mail.mmorpg.social – is also not directly reachable but is a dedicated mail server that handles that functionality again for speed and reliability since registration requires email notification

On top of that I believe he is experimenting with PixelFed which is an activitypub implementation that gives you a more Instagram like experience, but the challenge there is making it blend in seamlessly with the rest of the network so folks who prefer that Insta experience can still hang out and communicate with those who prefer the Twitterish one.  So much of this is contained in a really excellent “Getting Started” post that he crafted as a way of easing new users into our little corner of the world.

Adjusting Expectations

I think one of the challenges of the Fediverse is that so many people hop on that bandwagon thinking it will immediately replace Twitter as their daily driver network.  I too went into it with those expectations and quite frankly I was placing too much pressure on it to fill some predetermined niche I already had carved out.  As I have moved through the Fediverse and tempered that opinion…  I’ve realized that more or less it is a completely new continent to explore.  Sure you are ultimately leaving a bunch of people behind in that journey, but you are also going to meet a ton of people you might never have met if you didn’t hop on that boat to the new expansion content.

At it’s core MMORPG.Social was created to fulfill three basic goals.

  • To build a microblogging home for fans of MMOs and online games
  • To eliminate excessive and uninvited advertising
  • To bring back features like chronological timelines, and add new ones like editing statuses and custom emoji

I personally think it is excelling at all of them and they have a pretty reasonable code of conduct statement as well.  The awesome thing about the Fediverse is somewhere out there is an instance being run in the manner that you want.  The fediverse in general gives the admins a lot of latitude in dealing with problems…  like the ability to block entire instances that end up being problem children.  This means that the fediverse experience is going to be very different for each user and especially on each local instance.  So far I am greatly enjoying my stay and if you are interested in Mastodon, the Fediverse or MMORPG.Social I am always more than willing to answer questions.  If you are interested in signing up check out the sign up link here.

Cloud Gaming

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A few weeks back I got a DM out of the blue from whoever manages the ParsecTeam twitter account.  Essentially they said that since I talk about Parsec all the time that they would like to send me a shirt as a sort of token of appreciation.  So yesterday said shirt came in the mail so I thought I would post a picture of it here.  It is REALLY bright blue, and the photo I took with it laying on the bed doesn’t exactly do it justice.  Basically think how bright Twitch Purple is… but blue.  I have this weird thing with products, in that I really only want to support the things that I truly believe in…  and Parsec is definitely one of those given that I use it pretty much every night.  I do not however have any sort of a formal relationship with the company and I am paying for services the same as anyone else.  I opted into the Warp account thing more than anything as a way of helping fund development which I THINK is around $50 a year but I am not 100% certain of that.

The reason why I keep talking about Parsec is because it has been a game changer for me personally in opening up my options to play games on a system that effectively no longer supports decent gameplay.  I’ve talked about this at length, so really don’t feel the need to dig back in this morning but if you are curious what I am talking about you can find the tales in these two posts:  “In Home Streaming” and “Wireless Ethernet”.  I guess throughout my life I have experienced a lot of things that I loved…  that for whatever reason did not stand the test of time.  As a result this has made me really want to show support for the things that products that make my life better.  Parsec has definitely been one of those products and as such I keep mentioning it any time someone brings up wanting to swap around the way they game, or have a better mobile gaming option.  I still would love to see native clients for the consoles, even if they can’t do bi-directional play and simply offers streaming from PC to console.

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The thing I am the most curious about are the cloud options that they offer to rent.  One of these days I am going to try out that Amazon Web Services g3.4xlarge even though I have no real need to do so.  Mostly I am curious at just how viable it is for modern gaming and just how cost effective it would be to purchase one.  If you were going to try and recreate my current gaming rig right now…  even though it has some older parts in it… it would still cost around $2300.  You could effectively game 24/7 for 52 days straight before you spent in cloud charges as you would on that system.  My real question however is just how nice is the performance.  At the moment I am streaming Parsec across my LAN with it configured to always try a local connection first, so I am not really sure how it is going to feel going out to AWS.  One of these weekends when I don’t have another competing project I am going to give it a shot because I am super curious.  I’m also curious what that big box feels like as compared to the much smaller specced $0.51/hour set up.

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This morning went down a rabbit hole that I did not intend to go down.  Originally I was going to make fun of my character in Assassin’s Creed Origins for somehow having two different bows, a battle axe, a sword and a shield slung across his back.  Instead I talked more about Parsec, but legitimately I am going to try out the cloud option at some point.  Mostly for folks that want to have a PC gaming experience a few hours a week without affording a PC…  it might be a really cost effective solution.  This is one of those things that I don’t need myself at all, but I would like to know how well it works before I offer it as a possible solution.  I’m in a weird spot gaming wise where I am still playing a single player game, but not really feeling like I have much exciting to say about it.  I’ve also been super exhausted this week, and need to wrap this up so I can get to work.

So readers…  How is your week going?

Fun Police

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Yesterday during the day I posted a list of Ravnica guilds in order of my likelihood to play them.  For the uninitiated the guilds themselves simply represent the various two color combinations that are available in Magic the Gathering.  So instead of saying you are playing Black and Green…  a lot of players simply say that they are playing Golgari as a not as short as saying GB sort of shorthand.  The truth is I think it goes deeper than that and is instead a sort of tribalism that allows players to indicate that they are in fact “in the know” and part of the community.  Whatever the case… they exist and I have certain proclivities.  Here is my ordered list of guilds in decreasing likelihood that I would play that color combination.

  1. Golgari – aka Green and Black
  2. Gruul – aka Green and Red
  3. Rakdos – aka Red and Black
  4. Orzhov – aka White and Black
  5. Selesnya – aka White and Green
  6. Boros – aka White and Red
  7. Simic – aka Blue and Green
  8. Dimir – aka Blue and Black
  9. Izzit – aka Blue and Red
  10. Azorius  – aka Blue and White

Later that night Kodra chimed in with a comment that I expected him to make at some point.

You notice that pretty much on my list every combination that includes the color blue is sorted to the very bottom as in general it is the color that I am least likely to play at any given time.  Also note that pretty much any combination of Black and Green gets sorted pretty high given that those are my favorite colors to play.  So why then do I hate one specific color of magic.  The truth is I hate what it stands for… which is control magic.  The challenge of the color pie is that in modern magic every color has specific themes that it excels at.  Black for example plays with dead things, and also things that are just as likely to backfire and harm the player as the opponent.  Green wants to go big and go fast and stomp stomp stomp stomp.  Red wants to burn you…  GIVE ME FUEL GIVE ME FIRE GIVE ME THAT WHICH I DESIRE!  White does a bunch of things… but mostly small creatures with tricks, flyers and ways to prevent damage from being dealt.  Blue on the other hand…  while it also has a bunch of flyers… it excels at the magic of denial.

Now I will admit that pretty much every color has some form of denial built into it.  Green is good at blowing up flyers and artifacts, Red can nuke stuff…  black has a lot of straight up death to a creature cards, and white can throw creatures into time out exceptionally well.  Blue however just has a lengthy library of ways to keep you from actually doing anything.  If a control player is doing what they are intending to do… they effectively shut you down from being able to cast anything.  This means that one player is having fun tormenting you… and the other player is frothing at the mouth and wanting to flip the damned table.  Blue players tend to couch this commentary as that they like doing tricky things, but those tricks are played at the expense of someone else’s fun.

Don’t get me wrong I have played control before and fiddled around constantly with my “Mill” deck for years.  For the uninitiated “Mill” is a deck style named after the card Millstone that forces the player to place the top two cards from their library into their graveyard.  One of the alternate win conditions in Magic the Gathering is that when one player cannot draw a card they lose the game.  So in Mill you are playing a constant stream of cards that force the player to discard over and over until they have nothing left.  Right now there is a card called Persistent Petitioners that if you have 4 of them in play…  can force the player to mill twelve cards at a time.  Sure it is weird and entertaining the first time you encounter it…  but if you keep encountering it the fun wears off for everyone but the person playing the deck.  Ultimately the reason why I do not enjoy Blue… is because too often the fun of a control player comes at the expense of everyone else.

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Of note this is also why I generally do not like broken combos like Krark-Clan Ironworks that if encountered you might as well just concede and move on with your life.  There was an unlimited combo in Amonkhet that involved players creating a bajillion cat token creatures.  The first time I encountered it…  I let it play out just to see how nonsense it could get.  Notice the opposing player has an army of token creatures…  and is at 183 life to my 15.  Once again this was entertaining the very first time I encountered it, but not at all from that point forward and if I even got the whiff on the wind of someone playing this combo…  I could concede out and move on to the next match hoping for something more manageable.  The players who love combos like this feel a sense of gratification for breaking the game…  and everyone else just feels like the game is dumb for allowing something like that.

The times I am happiest playing Magic the Gathering is when you have some random back and forth interactions, the type that you see often among brand new players.  I love two people sitting down with a bunch of random jank and hoping to succeed, and I guess that is why in general I prefer draft formats for the randomness.  I’m working on a pauper singleton league at work as I have said before, in part because those constraints do a lot of things to stamp down power combos.  If Arena had a format where they literally gave you a randomized deck that aligned to some basic color themes…  that would probably be my favorite format ever.  I think ultimately I am chasing the joy we felt first playing this game when we absolutely did not know any better and had six of us sitting around a table playing in a grand melee.

Giza and Memphis

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Today we return to my normal nonsense.  Yesterday felt really weird, but not as weird as I guess I expected it to feel?  I am still very much engaged in Assassin’s Creed Origins…  or in the way that I play it…  Egyptian Skyrim?  I’ve made it to Giza and can now die happy…  or actually at this point I have made it past Giza.  Climbing to the top of the pyramids was an interesting challenge as you effectively had to work your way from gap in the capping to the next gap all the way up to the top.  That is one of the bizarre things about this game…  in some ways it feels very much like Breath of the Wild where it seems like you can climb everything in your view…  until you suddenly can’t.  When the game wants to cut off a route it makes something un-climbable which just feels really odd considering the rest of the game you are pulling off crazy moves that would be impossible to actually do in real life.

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One of the mechanics that I both love and hate is the torch, because I am having to use it an awful lot here in Giza as I explore the depths of many tombs.  It feels cool because in theory the torch shows about as much as you would expect from an actual torch.  The negative however is the game knows this… and regularly presents you with rooms that have dimensions that do the torch no favors, and in those situations I find myself working around the edge in a vague attempted to not fall into some pit or something.  So far I have not actually encountered an actual pit, but by god my mind knows that the moment I stop being vigilant…  BAM A PIT.  Additionally I love that the game shows me actually equipping weapons…  but it really shows the nonsense of my inventory as I am equipping two different bows… a sword and shield…  and a giant freaking battle axe.

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Another thing we need to continue talking about is how freaking gorgeous this game is.  I’ve always been enthralled by Egyptian history… and roaming around all of these locations in virtual avatar form is amazing.  Memphis is pretty much how I imagined it…  a swampy mess.  I also love the fact that there is a dedicated croc hunter in a vague attempt to keep the waterways clear enough for the people to safely traverse.  I am not entirely sure why I am on this single player kick, but I am going to roll with it at least until Anthem starts going through its pre-release posturing early next month.  I will say… all of this is really making me want to pick back up Witcher 3, which is even less linear than Assassin’s Creed Origins… and quite literally something I could play for six months and never have seen everything.  The biggest thing about this game…. is I am always happy to return again the next night.

So readers… what are you up to that is interesting?  Playing anything great?

Anker EufyCam E Review

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This morning we are going to do something a little bit different from the normal fare.  If you have read this blog for any length of time you know I have specific opinions of brand partnerships.  However at the start of the year I was contacted by Anker Innovations to see if I was interested in reviewing any of the products in their Eufy product line.  Now I have specific requirements when I consider reviewing a product.  First and most important, I expect to have full control over the process and want to make sure that I am not getting into a situation where the vendor is expecting a fluff piece out of me.  Secondly it should be something that I am actually interested in, and that I think my readers would actually be interested in.

The Need

To the first point Anker was extremely open to however I wanted to review the product, and to the second point I’ve had a want for years that one of their products solves.  Our house offers some odd problems, and one of them is the fact that there is a door length window beside the front door.  As such there is no angle of approach that the person on the other side of the door cannot see you.  This is an issue if you want to stealthily see if you actually want to open that door, and to complicate this there are often times I am upstairs in my office when the doorbell rings.  Additionally there are times when my wife is home alone and as such we have been looking for a solution that allowed us to check who is out there before making an effort to answer.

The challenge in our case however is that we don’t have a great source of power on the front porch.  There are a number of doorbell replacement options that would normally work in this situation, however in our house the doorbell is not in a forward facing position but instead is on the sidewall of the porch.  This means that even with a crazy fisheye lens set up that most of those have… I would be capturing a picture of the persons backside and not be able to see face or anything to actually identify who was there.  So as a result this has largely just sat as an unfilled want…  that is until Anker contacted me about the EufyCam E.

The Product

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The claim of the EufyCam E is that you can effectively charge it once a year, and from that point forward it only needs connectivity to your wireless network to dial back in to the home base unit.  This seemed to fit my need perfectly, so I agreed to participate in the review process.  A few days later the package arrived on my doorstep drop shipped from Amazon.  I unpacked everything in the box so you could have a visual reference for what all comes with the unit.  Here is a breakout list of everything you see above.

  • Eufy Security Base Unit
  • EufyCam E Security Camera
  • Indoor Magnetic Mount
  • Outdoor Swivel Mount
  • Mounting Hardware with Anchors
  • Slimline Ethernet Cord (approximately 4 foot)
  • Power Adapter for Base Unit
  • Home Security Sticker
  • Quick Start Guide
  • 16 Gigabyte SD Card (pre-installed in base unit)

The magnetic mount works extremely well, and quite honestly I am not sure why it is not considered to be outdoor compatible.  However I personally chose to use the outdoor mount since I would be placing the camera attached to the ceiling of my front porch and hanging down looking at the front door.  There is effectively a third usage mode that is not necessarily covered in the very limited quick start guide, but the device itself has a thick grippy rubber pad on the solid flat underside so you could in theory place it on a bookshelf or other similar surface.  There are some challenges with this that I will get into later.

The Setup

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The Setup of the device is largely straight forward and while there is a quick start guide, the bulk of the instruction resides within the Eufy Security App that is available through both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.  You need to connect the base unit to your wired network, and for most folks this will mean placing it beside your wireless router.  There are some challenges surrounding this, but again I am collecting those into their own section of this review.  Once powered on the device will find your network and the light on the front will turn white signifying that it is ready to be configured.  This is where the mobile app comes into play, and the above screenshot shows off some of the screens that it walks you through in the process of getting configured.

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Once the home base has been configured you can then add a device, and since this kit comes with a single EufyCam E, I configured that but it appears to support a wide range of other devices that may not yet be on the market.  Once again you are given a sequence of screens to walk through as you go through the mounting process including one that gives you a live preview to assist in placement.  I did not screenshot this sequence as I was a little busy trying to attach the mounting hardware in the position that I actually wanted it.  The above picture shows the placement of my unit and because of the angle of the overhang and the relatively small size of the EufyCam E unit it also makes it largely undetectable from the street. The connection is nice and sturdy and fairly easy to preposition, while at the same time not being too easy that it is susceptible to the pull of gravity.

The Functionality

The EufyCam E comes with motion detection functionality, and the app does a good job of alerting you any time it senses motion.  After using it for a bit it does a fairly good job at not being triggered by things like leaves blowing across the field of view.  It also has let me know that the outdoor cats that I have talked about more than a few times on the blog are coming to visit way more often than I realized.  The above video is an example of the short clips that are stored each time it detects motion.  These are stored to the SD Card on the base unit and can be exported to a directory on your phone.

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It also seems to do a really good job of handling low light situations and switches into a black and white image like the above picture that I exported last night.  Of note… there is no light at all on my front porch and I had turned off the inside light just to see how well it handled little to no ambient light.  All in all I am pretty happy with the device and its functionality.  It is currently in a pre-release state and as such I have not been able to find any real world pricing on it.  Anker lists the device as $259.99 as its Manufacturer Suggested Retail price, but ultimately the market will determine how much of a discount is applied to that in retail.  For my needs it does what I wanted it to… provided a camera that I can use to check the front door without needing wired connectivity back to either network or power.

The Challenges

The biggest problem I had with the EufyCam E and its Home Base unit is the fact that there is very limited documentation.  I covered the golden scenario as far as set up goes, but when I went through all of those steps and encountered problems…  there was nothing in the very slim manual to actually help me through troubleshooting the process.  The first challenge is as I said before… the home base device requires an Ethernet connection and since most of us do not have RJ45 or fiber run through our walls that means you are going to snuggle this up beside your wireless router.  This meant the Home Base was located fairly centrally in my house, but not necessarily close to where I would be using the camera.

Upon the initial set up I kept encountering a problem where the EufyCam E stated that it had limited to no connectivity back to the home base.  This made no sense to me as standing on my front porch I had full bars of wifi on my phone and pretty much any other device that I drug out there.  So when it said it had limited connectivity, it must not have mean’t wifi.  I theorized that I needed to move the Home Base closer to where I would be using the camera and as such needed to figure out how to get a wired connection elsewhere.

Now if you have read this blog for awhile you will be familiar with my Wireless Ethernet post, where I took an AC1200 wireless repeater and used it as a very heavy duty wireless dongle.  I happened to have a spare one of these and opted to install it near the entertainment center which is about 8 foot away from the front door.  After some fiddling and rearranging, I got the Home Base installed there and sure enough this immediately resolved any connectivity I had between the EufyCam E and the Home Base.  So not only does this mean that you need a wired connection for the Home Base…  but that wired connection needs to be pretty close to where you intend to actually use the EufyCam E.

This was something that I could personally mitigate because I happened to have spare hardware on hand that I could utilize, but this might prove to be more of a challenge for other users given its very “quick startup” approach on the documentation that expects everything to follow the ideal path.  If I could change anything about the device I would beef up that documentation and make it clear to the consumers that you have to have that base station within a very short distance from the EufyCam E.  That also presents the challenge of how this would function in a multi-cam set up.

The Conclusion

I traveled down this path in part because I trusted the Anker name.  I went through my Amazon purchases before sitting down to write this post and over the years I have picked up a dozen or so products by this company.  They range from spare batteries to replacement chargers and even a usb-c dock, all of which have worked just as well as I expected them to.  They were also willing to let me review the product however I chose and gave me the freedom to say whatever I wanted about it.  I had a need to fill, which was to provide some sort of a security camera cable of watching the front porch without the need for running dedicated network or power.  In all of those the EufyCam E has lived up to my needs and I find it downright useful to be able to check the front door from bed when the motion sensor trips.

The downsides however are the fact that it is designed for an ideal scenario where you have conduit in the walls with network connectivity run to every room.  Most of us have our wireless router in a back office somewhere and not necessarily close to the area where you would want a security camera.  So that means that most users are probably going to need to do some fiddling to make it work.  Essentially you are trading the hassle of getting dedicated power and network run to the location of the camera…  to doing some internally rerouting to make the device fit the need.  All of that said though… I like it quite a bit and will probably be looking to add a second camera or two for the back of the house when The EufyCam E starts being sold retail.

If the $259.99 price point is within your budget, this product does a good job of what it is supposed to do.  I of course will provide updates as I live with it over the coming months.  I can probably wrangle some discount codes in the future if any of my readers are interested in that sort of thing.  Now I need to stop writing and go put out some food on the front porch…  since during this entire process my ticwatch has been buzzing and one of the outdoor cats keeps checking to see if I have fed yet.

Regularly Playing: January 2019 Edition

I took the day off to deal with some stuff around the house and hopefully catch some of the opening festivities of Pax South.  Unfortunately the timing did not work again this year and I will be missing the show.  I have to admit I am more than a little bummed about that, and I figured hanging out and watching the twitch streams was honestly the closest I could get to attending.  In many ways the stream watchers get a better view of some of the show than the folks that are there…  given that I quite honestly found it a challenge to hit all of the presentations that I wanted to.  Ashgar is there and I am hoping he has a blast and comes back to the podcast with all sorts of cool things to talk about.  In the meantime however I thought I would use the opportunity of not having a time scheduled associated with my morning post…  to do some administrative work and push out a Regularly Playing post given that they tend to take significantly longer than the usual morning fare.

To Those Remaining

Destiny 2 – PC

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While I have been spending a lot of time playing single player games right now…  I am still very much engaged with Destiny 2 and popping in every few nights to do stuff.  Yesterday they released a “This Week at Bungie” post or TWAB as the community calls it this time penned by Luke Smith who is now donning the title of Franchise Director.  In it he goes through a bunch of tweaks and some of the things that they are working on… and I personally think we have some good times ahead of us.  There is some discussion of catch up mechanics… and quite honestly that is the weakest part of Destiny.  The onboarding process for new players is atrocious if you were not playing from day one and somehow remained relevant.  I am on board with this game and while my time is pretty split right now I am still keeping one food in so I can experience the cool stuff.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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I am shocked as hell that I am still engaged in Dragalia Lost given my previous history of bouncing pretty fast from mobile games… especially those with Gacha mechanics.  This is essentially my wind down every night before going to bed… I play through the five things that make up the dailies and then anything else that happens to suit my fancy that evening.  I think what keeps me engaged is the fact that there is either always an event going on or one just about to start…  so the release cadence is such that it always keeps me poking my head back in to get whatever happens to be the new stuff.  The accumulation of whatever the hell the rainbow currency is called is fast enough that I can pretty reliably get one 10 times summon every single week, which also keeps me interested in spite of quite regularly getting nothing of use.  For whatever reason this game seems to be the perfect blend of action-ish combat, raid bosses and interesting backstories for the characters.

Monster Hunter World – PC

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While I am playing significantly less of Monster Hunter World… I am still very much engaged and have been in one form or another since launch.  This past year has more than anything been the tale of my changing tastes in how I want to interact with a game.  MHW and Destiny 2 both have a sort of drop in and get to playing quickly style that I find greatly appealing right now.  Whereas there are other games I will talk about on this list that I am struggling to stay interested in.   I played an awful lot during the Universal Studios of Japan event, and will likely engage shortly during the release anniversary event when all of the things that they have put into the game to date are available once more.  The only part that I am a little bummed about is how they have yet to catch the PC version up to the Console… and because of that it feels like a second class citizen.  I am really concerned that Icebourne may not release at the same time for PC and Console…  because at this very moment I am deeply committed to the PC release and have not touched the console since August.

Pokemon Go – Android

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PoGo stays on the list but honestly it is sort of holding on by a thread.  I am still engaged because my TicWatch and the integration of Pokemon Go with android wear devices means that I can capture movement without the application up.  As such I am spending a lot of time hatching eggs and not a lot of time actively catching Pokemon.  I will go in spurts with this one, where I play religiously for a week… and then do not touch it at all other than clicking on the egg hatching notifications.  Shocked however that I have maintained at least a passing interesting in the game since release.

Elder Scrolls Online – PC

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This game is one of those games that I keep poking my head back into every few weeks, but not really gaining traction.  I think more than anything I am struggling to engage with the MMORPG style of gameplay.  In theory I should just start Summerset and be done with it, as that will keep me engaged for awhile because what I have seen thusfar looks pretty great.  I am also really interested in the Elsweyr expansion that they just announced.  I should really pop in and spend some time on my Warden or quite frankly ANY of the other alts that I have rolled…  because since launch I have been almost 100% devoted to the Dragon Knight main.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

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This is another game that is just barely holding on by a thread.  I am pretty much logging in every week when we do the podcast to collect my Cactpot winnings…  and not logging in any other time.  The Blue Mage just went in and I should do that…  but there are a few things that are stopping me from engaging.  The anxiety over starting tanking again…  mixed with the frustration of the queues for DPS…  give me a lack of things that I feel like I can realistically do in game.  Probably more importantly…. my inventory is nonsense and I need to spend time dumping things into the glamour vault but I have not wanted to do the gaming equivalent of filing my tax returns.  I hate inventory management… and if there was a button that would just dump everything that was not relevant to any of my classes into the glamour bin… I would absolutely have pushed that awhile ago.  I deal with paperwork at work constantly… and I have not wanted to do that in the gaming world so I keep running away from the game.  Stays on the list however since I keep popping back in for short periods of time.

To The Returning and Brand New

Ashen – PC

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I’ve not really talked much about this on the blog, but Ashen is a game I started playing over the break that currently is only available Xbox One via the Game Pass or on the Epic Games store on PC.  On some level it reminds me of what you would get if Dark Souls and Breath of the Wild had a love child…  but somehow wound up without a face.  That is quite frankly the most disturbing part about the art style is the fact that NO ONE HAS A FACE.  You roam around with a companion that is assigned to you based on what quest you happen to be doing… or have the option to play with another person.  The game escalates rather quickly and I have been roaming around an area…  where the first and second boss of the game just straight up become normal mobs that you have to face ALL THE FREAKING TIME.  I like it though…  but I can’t exactly explain why I like it.

Far Cry 5 – PC

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If you’ve read my blog over the last couple of weeks you will know without a doubt that I have been playing this game.  While I have technically beaten it… there is a new game plus option as well as a ton of DLC content so I am keeping it on the list.  I enjoyed aspects of it greatly and other parts… frustrated the shit out of me.  However I have said plenty in recent memory so just leaving it at that.

Assassin’s Creed – PC

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Similarly I have been playing a not insignificant amount of Assassin’s Creed, but again you have heard a lot of that talk on this blog in the last few days and are probably going to hear a lot more in the future.  I am enjoying the game a lot and expect to see more of it in the coming weeks.  It’s a good game brent.

Magic the Gathering Arena – PC

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I got into the alpha of this game pretty early all things considered and have been engaged since that point…  and as a result I am shocked that today is the first time it is making the sidebar.  I love Magic the Gathering and always have since high school when I really got deeply engaged with the release of Revised edition.  Sadly it was not something on my radar until then, so I don’t have that many high dollar cards apart from a SUPER beat up Time Vault and Library of Alexandria…  and of course a big stack of dual lands.  I’ve flirted with pretty much every digital card game that has come down the pipe over the last few years… and all of them were lacking in some way.  Arena is the game I was looking for, because it is actual Magic the Gathering…  and not Elder Scrolls MTG or Warcraft MTG.  I am happy as a clam and have been playing this at least once a week since I first got my hands on it.  I find the mechanism for gaining cards to be enjoyable and the prices for purchasing packs to be not too terrible.  I also dig the way they are starting to put codes into some of the constructed physical products that give you all of those cards in MTG Arena.

Minecraft – Windows Store

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I’ve been oddly back playing a lot of Minecraft lately because I find the freeform building aspect to be extremely relaxing.  Also shockingly it has apparently never made my side bar?  I am not exactly sure what I can say about the game that has not already been said by a bunch of people.  I will say however that since playing on the Windows Store version that I consider infinitely superior to the java client (apart from the lack of modding) I have been having a bit of a renaissance.  If only they could take the freeform modding functionality of Java and shim it into the far better running Windows client…  the would would be a better place.

To Those Departing

Fallout 76 – PC

I am not exactly sure what happened here… other than the fact that it was a timing thing.  The game did not grab me in the way I thought it would.  I fully expect to explore it once again when private server options are available, but I missed the boat on getting engaged with the group that was playing it among the AggroChat members…  in part because of time zones.  I don’t think it is the horrible game that so many other people seem to think it is…  I just found myself lacking in drive to really do things.  I have to admit… a lot of my frustration with the game was the constant drive to find food and water because I generally don’t like that level of survival in my games.  When I can roll a custom server that turns off hunger and thirst… I will probably love exploring.

Diablo 3 – PC/Switch

I am sure it will come back, but for now I am not really playing it.  The fact that the new season is upon us tonight, and Grace does not have a functional computer right now also greatly harms my desire to play it.  We largely did seasons as a team, and I can’t really see myself going through the grind without a partner.  I might poke my head in and work through it slowly at some point… but for now I am not really expecting to play much given the other games on my plate.

Hellgate London – Steam

The Steam release is not exactly a great game, and has some fairly significant performance issues that have not really been addressed by Hanbitsoft.  As such I am not playing it, and if I do again… it will be me installing all of the unofficial patches and trying out the emulator server community.  For now however this game has gone to bed.  I don’t regret picking up the steam version, because it gave me a week or so of joy.

Pokemon Let’s Go – Switch

I am sure I will return to this at some point, but for now I am just not playing it.  One of the things that harmed my enjoyment was the fact that I could not use my pro controller at all.  I keep hoping that they give me the ability to play with the pro controller in the same manner as I do in handheld mode.  However given Nintendo’s desire to make us deal constantly with fiddly bullshit… I doubt that is going to happen.  I am constantly asking myself…  why the fuck can’t Nintendo just make normal games.  I’ve never enjoyed motion controls and probably never will.

To Those I Flirted With

This is a new feature to add to this semi-monthly list…  the games that I poked my head into but am not sure if they are for me yet.

Breach – PC

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I am not sure if I am on board for this or not, but I did pick up the cheapest starter pack so I would have a fair number of classes that I owned to play now that it has entered Steam Early access.  I am intrigued… but not entirely sure how much I will be playing.  It is well worth a look however because like I said the other day… it is a bizarre love child of The Secret World, Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm.

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe – Switch

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I’ve been playing a bit of this but not really enough to properly add it to the list yet.  The switch version performs extremely well and the switch feels like a better controller option than the WiiU did.  I’ve just gotten started playing but I expect to be poking my head in off and on throughout the month.  I still think this has one of the worst names …  because Nintendo also cannot name things properly.