Cruel Grey Button

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

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

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

Active World

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

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

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

Praise Jick

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

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

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

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

Breached Wall

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

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

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

Sehnsucht

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wall

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

Regularly Playing: August Edition

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It has been most of the summer since I last updated my sidebar, and a lot of things have changed.  I figured it was high time that I true things up since we are just about to go into the school year, and starting to enter a pretty tightly packed release schedule for the rest of the year.  For those unfamiliar with this feature, I functionally talk about the things that I have added… the things that are remaining… and the things that I am ultimately removing from regular rotation.  I play a lot of games at any given time… and generally speaking the moment I update my sidebar…  I have a wild mood swing game wise that leads me somewhere completely differently.  So here goes nothing!

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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Since I last posted there has been a lot of movement in this game, namely the release of a new expansion called Stormblood.  As a result I swapped my Heavensward icon out for a Stormblood one.  As far as my time in the game…  I’ve reached 70 and 310+ gear on both my Warrior and my Samurai and have fallen off significantly in the amount of time I am actually playing.  There is still plenty to be done, and I want to get back in the swing of playing on a regular basis, however lately I am deep within my own turtle session which means I tend to be favoring games where I don’t have much of a crowd.  Still well within the realm of active games, just only logging in once or twice a day instead of devoting all of my time to it.

To The Returning and New

Guild Wars 2

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This is the first time since picking up the game at launch that I can legitimately say that I am really enjoying myself while playing this game.  For whatever reason it took five years to actually click with me, and now it is like discovering hidden treasure.  I am attempting to do all the things and it is fitting the bill really well because I don’t have much infrastructure in the game currently.  My current goal is reaching 100% in all of the old world zones, which I believe is one of the requirements for starting down the Legendary weapon rabbit hole.  Another huge boon for my enjoyment of the game is the fact that there are now proper beards for non-norn characters.

Rift

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To be honest since its release in 2011 it has never really been far off my radar.  Crawling back into Rift is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket, because it is so familiar.  In the past six years I’ve had highs and lows with the game, but I know that regardless I will always return and always be interested in whatever happens to be going on.  Recently during my turtle mode game play in general, I have been spending a bit of time trying to catch up and hit the Prophecy of Ahnket level cap.  I am also digging the tweaks I made to my default outfit.  Rift in many ways feels like this snapshot of what everyone wanted in a game around its release, and in some ways it is still ahead of its time.  In other ways though it feels like a time capsule to a time when MMO games were slower paced and more methodical.  I still find it enjoyable and am always proud to feature it on my sidebar when I am playing.

Diablo 3

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Another game that is never far off my radar is Diablo 3, and with us currently being in the thrall of another season…  it is obviously occupying some sidebar territory.  This is the first season to feature Necromancers and it has been hilarious to see literally bone spikes for days.  I really don’t have a whole lot to talk about the game because if by now you don’t get my attraction you probably never will.

World of Warcraft

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I have honestly all but stopped playing World of Warcraft, but I am keeping a space on my sidebar for it because of the RoboSquid Armada.  This is effectively our weird brain chain of trying to run every dungeon and raid in World of Warcraft at level in minimal gear.  Prior to the launch of Stormblood we had left off at Blackfathom Deeps and it seems like everyone is coalescing towards starting this up again.  I am more than happy to do some madness with my baby monk.

To Those Departing

Star Wars the Old Republic

If I am being completely honest… I have to say I love what this game has become.  I had this awesome time playing through the Shadows of Revan, Ziost and Fallen Empire content and then I sort of needed a break from deeply story driven gaming.  It was also around about this time that we were ramping up for the release of Stormblood.  At some point in the future when I need to completely dive into something wholly immersive… I will pick this back up and run through the Eternal Throne story line.  I still poke my head in from time to time, but not enough to keep it on the sidebar.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This is one of those games that I really need to finish, but I have a feeling by the time I ultimately get back around to it…  I will functionally need to restart the experience.  This game is a casualty of too many other games coming out at the same time… and ultimately its playtime got eaten up by Mass Effect Andromeda that for whatever reason clicked way harder with me than Horizon did.  I really enjoyed the game but I feel like I am going to have to be in the right frame of mind to actually return to it.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Another game that has fallen off the radar that I want to start back up at some point is Breath of the Wild.  Two things happened to harm this experience… firstly a bunch of other stuff got released.  Secondly… I picked up the switch and decided to restart the game.  I still play this occasionally but not enough to really keep it hanging out on the right side of the screen.

Finally Invested

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Sometimes I do not understand my own gaming whims.  In theory I should be logging into Final Fantasy XIV every single night and working on collecting the last bits of stuff I need from Omega, or at the very least trying to cap the latest limited tier of bookrocks.  However instead I am finding myself wandering around in a bunch of different games where I have little to no online gaming community.  I’ve been in pretty deep turtle mode, and as a result I have been dodging other human beings left and right.  I’ve talked about the “spoons” concept in the past, but right now it feels like every last spoon I have is getting used up before I hit the house in the evening.  So what this means is a much higher percentage of passive activities like watching stuff from netflix, and a lower percentage of things like gaming that requires active participation.  Effectively at this very moment I am managing two different teams at work…  one of which my normal crew of developers and the second being a sort of response team to an issue that has been going on.  This is eating up every last drop of my time and attention.  There was one day last week where out of what turned into a 10 hour work day… I had 7 hours worth of meetings…  followed by furious periods of attempting to get anything done.  The glorious lie of being salaried is that in theory you get the same amount of money if you work 4 hours as if you work 40 hours…  but what that means in reality is I have never worked less than 40 hours anywhere I have ever been.  Most weeks I work significantly over because I wind up working through lunch.  Needless to say all of this sustained madness leaves me pretty drained when it comes to interactions with other human beings.  To make matters worse in a short amount of time we will be going through the upheaval that comes when my wife starts back to school for a new semester, and having to double down on my support infrastructure as she adjusts to having to leave the house every day.

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I am not sure if it is due to my current state of mind… or if I have just slowly warmed to the game over time…  but at some point I decided that Guild Wars 2 was apparently something awesome to be playing.  I have a really tenuous past with this game that I won’t go into now because I have talked about it at length in the past on this blog.  At some point however it started to feel decent to run around in this world and have all of these little micro objectives that I could be doing…  without feeling like I was terribly tied to completing any of them.  This week however I for some reason started working on the main story quest yet again… and almost five years after the launch of the game I managed to beat it and have officially entered the “living story” content proper.  I cannot tell you how initially turned off I was on the concept of living story being this limited time thing.  The fact that all I can see from Season 1 is a short montage of the events that happened in it still frustrates the shit out of me.  However the fact that Season 2 and Season 3 are sitting there waiting on me actually gives me some reason to keep moving forward in the game.  There is just a deluge of content available spread across a whole ton of games that I enjoy playing…  and in order for me to keep being interested in a game it needs to sit there waiting on me.  In truth I juggle a bunch of games at once, flipping to whatever game happens to feel good at that very moment.  Recently I have been playing a sizable amount of Rift as well because it similarly is devoid of a social community that I have to worry about interacting with.  I have a feeling that if this turtle keeps up…  I will be revisiting SWTOR and Elder Scrolls Online as well… and in all of those cases I know there will be fresh content patiently waiting on me to return and enjoy it.

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What has kept me engaged thus far in Guild Wars 2 was that the story picked up.  For a long time I thought the main arc was a little nonsense, and it involved a lot of characters that I was not that deeply endeared to largely because they were all dicks to each other.  However at some point the tide turned and I got engaged in the race to discover Orr and uncover its mysteries.  This process kept pushing me into zones I had never seen before, which lead to me wandering around and exploring…  which lead to me doing little side missions and objectives.  What used to feel like an unsatisfying loop…  suddenly felt extremely sticky as I slowly became invested in the game world.  Now I legitimately can say I love this game, and it took a really long time to get there.  For years I didn’t understand why people enjoyed it.  There was a point last year where the AggroChat crew and I did some Fractals… at which point I thought I had understood where the core fun of the game was.  However after spending some more time wandering around it feels like the core fun of the game…  is that there is just so damned much stuff to be doing at any given time.  All of it feels equally rewarding and equally likely to give you something that might be useful.  The difference here is that I am effectively in the same gear I have been wearing for the last few years…  but that the game has given me all sorts of horizontal leveling paths that do everything from increase my mobility…  to simply increasing my luck chance.  The best part of all of this is that a good deal is unlocked at an account level so regardless of which alt I decide to be playing…  I am getting a good deal of the benefit.  How I got around the old world without gliding is beyond me… and I have a feeling with the upcoming expansion once I get the ability to ride mounts I will have a similar feeling.  Another major change is the fact that with the expansion character models…  I can now have a proper beard as you can see me sporting in the first image…  as well as a nifty eye scar.  I am not exactly sure when the turtle will end, but in the meantime I am finding interesting ways to enjoy new worlds.

Why No New AggroChat

This past goes down as one of the more bizarre weekends in a long while.  Those of you who listen to AggroChat are waking up realizing there was no new podcast episode and this is due to some extenuating circumstances.  Saturday for the most part was a pretty chill day, and I had settled into my office to prepare to record.  I was just literally about to start trying to cobble together some semblance of show notes… when I had a knock on the door.  My wife was on the phone with my mother in law and she had been in a wreck out on the turnpike.  Granted this is 9 pm and there was a massive storm bearing down on us, so while my wife offered to go pick her up alone…  I didn’t really want her going out there completely alone especially considering that we knew it would mean a two hour plus long round trip to take her mom home eventually.  I gave my apologies to the AggroChat crew and threw some actual outside style clothing on…  and rushed out the door.  It turned out she was on the Turnpike slowing down to get off at the next exit, when someone hit her from behind.  It came out while sitting on the side of the highway that the guy had been reading a text with cruise control locked in about 80 mph, and when he realized he was coming up fast on her…  he swerved attempting to dodge and only caused his car to spin out and flip…  and then catch on fire.  Thankfully both car loads of people were okay, but this also set in motion a whole string of events.

We dropped mom-in-law off at home and I stopped to get some form of caffeine for the trip back.  It was about when I got back on the turnpike that the skies opened up and began what would ultimately be this massive storm.  Thankfully it remained a pretty chill drizzle until we made it back to town.  Around about midnight thirty we ended up in bed and were both conked out pretty fast.  Our niece lives on property adjacent to where mom-in-law lives… and she agreed to spend the night just to make sure nothing was wrong.  The ambulance had checked her out at the scene of the accident but we were still concerned because when you take an 80 year old person and put them through a pretty severe car wreck…  there is going to be at least some soreness.  Because of this… when we did make it to bed my wife turned her phone up fairly loudly as it sat on the nightstand charging.  Thirty minutes after falling to sleep we were woken up by a weather app on her phone going off and informing us that we were under a thunderstorm warning.  It was around about then that the skies opened with this hurricane style deluge of rain.  We fought through it and attempted to go back to sleep…  when about another thirty minutes afterwards we were awoken again by the same app informing us that we were under a Tornado watch.  Thankfully the area of rotation was not near us and unlikely to come our way…  but it still shifted us into a night of trying to sleep while listening to the television just in case that changed.

Yesterday was a bit of a blur as we sort of slept walked through the day.  After church our niece dropped mom-in-law off at our house, and my wife and her made a trip to go see the car.  Functionally the entire back half of the car is gone…  the trunk is now functionally pushed into the back seat and thankfully no one was back there.  Now Saturday night while on the side of the road my wife attempted to cram everything she could find in one of those giant blue IKEA bags that I keep in the back of my SUV as a just in case…  but then we always forget it is there and wind up buying a new one when we do make it to an IKEA.  However in this case it was super handy, but there were a handful of things that they missed under dark of night that were visible during the light of day.  There is little doubt that the car is going to be totaled, and and at the scene of the wreck the guy confessed to texting while driving so there is going to be zero doubt on whether or not his insurance should cover this.  I feel like this is a not so subtle time to state that this should serve as a reminder why you shouldn’t be futzing with your phone while driving.  Especially not while going 80 on a pretty congested turnpike with limited visibility because a massive storm front was bearing down and blotting out the stars.  The most frustrating part about all of it… is that mom-in-law had no intention of being on the turnpike and was simply there because she missed her turn due to some construction and was trying to find a way to route back to where she needed to be.  All of this is why there is no new AggroChat episode, and why I am still groggy as shit from lack of sleep.  My hope is that tonight I will be far enough removed from the events to be able to get a normal nights sleep, because last night it felt like I didn’t get great sleep either because I was almost too tired to sleep.  The Tornado that blazed through town was rated as an EF2, and I was so groggy yesterday that it did not dawn on me until this morning that I have a few friends in neighborhoods that were in the storm’s path.  So here is hoping they made it through okay.

Last Banana

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It has been a very gaming light week for me, and I wound up heading to bed something like 8:30 or 9 ish which is very much not normal for me.  Functionally I am coming off of a few really rough weeks at work where I have been in firestomper mode 24/7.  As a result I get home and I am just too drained to deal with human beings… or in truth the possibility of human beings.  This is where my “I” streak comes out with a vengence, and it has lead me to play a lot of games in a very low key and solo manner.  Last night however I decided to go ahead and play some Destiny.  Right now the very last Iron Banner before the release of Destiny 2 is going on… and with it the chance to get the sniper rifle and hand canon…  neither of which I have a decent roll for.  Additionally with the thought about going into Destiny 2…  I am finding myself more than a little nostalgic for Destiny 1 at the moment.  I’ve never been one to really work on the book achievements, but I am finding myself doing so at least in a limited fashion.  September 6th begins a new adventure into the Destiny universe… and with it we are leaving behind all of the trappings of the last.  As flawed at times as the original might be… it still very much feels like home.

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The match type for this last Iron  Banner is Control, which is also in part what is pushing me back to play some.  Control is my favorite game mode because it gives me a reason beyond killing other players to be engaged.  Deathmatching was something that I was a fan of when I was in High School… but once I have gotten older I find myself craving some larger objective to be working towards.  While I would love to have role based gameplay along the lines of Enemy Territory…  holding points on a map at least gives me some measure of that core focus.  What ends up happening in truth is that players form what I call a “muderball” and then ping ping back and forth across the map capturing points.  In Destiny 1 this game play is actually to some extent rewarded because the more people you have standing on a point… the faster it shifts to neutral and then to captured.  In Destiny 2 however…  points capture at a fixed rate so it is going to be interesting to see if players actually spend some effort focusing on defense rather than just constantly retaking points.  I saved the above screenshot largely because this was as good as it got last night as far as kill to death ratio.

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As far as a load out…  it just feels like the special weapon slot doesn’t mean much of anything anymore.  The limited amounts of ammunition you get, and the fact that it seems like Invective no longer recharges at a reasonable rate meant that for the most part I was using nothing but primary.  I tried a few things as the evening went on.  At first I had some early success with Oversoul Edict, but as the night went on I wound up breaking out my friend the Genesis Chain.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the Suros aesthetic but I absolutely love this weapon…  especially if you get head shots and trigger the firefly explosion effect.  I love the way that sounds… its like a tiny “fuck yes” as you are running away to find the next engagement.  What cracks me up about me and Destiny… is that I tend to bond with whatever weapon everyone else says that you should just shard.  This lives in an archetype that no one seems to like and is functionally just a better version of “An Answering Chord” that is a available on the Vanguard Quartermaster.  However it just feels better and seems to work better for me than that weapon ever did.  I mean I also love the Fabian Strategy… which is a weapon everyone else seems to hate so my particular tastes seem to consistently go against the meta.  Last night I managed to finish all of my quests from Lady Efrideet, but I have yet to get any weapon drops so I am thinking I might want to go ahead and try and make rank 5 during this final Iron Banner in the hopes of maybe seeing some decent versions of the Hand Cannon along the way.