Regularly Playing: March 2019 Edition

We’ve passed the official first day of Spring this week and with it will come a lot more engagement with the out of doors and less sitting at home and playing games.  As a result over the spring and summer months this list tends to dwindle down to significantly fewer titles.  For the uninitiated I do this thing where I semi-monthly update my blog sidebar and talk about the games that I am regularly playing.  During the month of March I am being honest with myself and allowing several titles that have been holding on by a thread to drop down to inactive status.  However anyone who has read my blog for any length of time will realize that I regularly revisit older titles when I am feeling nostalgia or otherwise restless.  I am notoriously bad at keeping up with series, however this marks three months in a row!

To Those Remaining

Anthem – PC

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While I am taking a little bit of a break this week because there is an upcoming patch landing on Tuesday that should increase drop rates, I am still very much enjoying Anthem.  March more than anything has been about me championing the cause of this beleaguered game.  There is so much that so many people dislike about it, but I am consistently impressed at how fast we are seeing patches being released to address these issues.  At the end of the day it is player fantasy about me flying around in a Robotech style mech suit.  It’s a good game brent.

Destiny 2 – PC

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You sir are hanging out by the slimmest of threads.  In fact I didn’t have any modern screenshots so I had to pull back into the annals of the blog to find something to use.  The Season of the Drifter appears to largely be a dud and I am not entirely certain how engaged this whole era of “No DLC” is going to be.  I liked the story driven stuff, as limited as it was.  I’ve popped in several times but have struggled to engage.  As much as it saddens me, my time in Destiny may be waning.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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I swear Dragalia Lost is the poster child for how you do reoccurring engagement in a game…  and I sorta wish that all of the MMO-lites that I enjoy would take note.  In general you have roughly two weeks with an event going on, so plenty of time to earn whatever rewards you want without feeling pressured to play constantly.  Then within days of the finish of one event a brand new one starts causing you to engage all over again.  Because it is Nintendo and they purposefully limit that sort of thing… there really isn’t much in the way of excessive monetization either.  You just have a pure diablo-lite experience with a character collecting gacha mini game.  Sure it feels super bad when you waste your five star pull on a wyrmprint, but I keep coming back for more.

Pokemon Go – Android

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Another game that is sorta holding on by a thread is Pokemon Go.  If it were not for the fact that I was getting credit for walking from my watch… I would probably not be interacting with this at all right now.  As it stands I spend most of my time hatching pokemon… and even then I have like 3 eggs ready to hatch and I can’t seem to be bothered to open the damned app and do that.  However with spring and better weather I might be spending more time out and about and reinvigorating my use of this game.

To The Returning and Brand New

Baba Is You – Switch and PC

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This puzzle game is so good, and I have not talked about it much yet since we are probably going to talk an awful lot about it on the podcast.  However it is probably seriously in the running for me for game of the year honors… and we are only in March.  You hack reality to help you get to the “Is Win” condition.  It is one of those things that is really hard to explain but once you grasp it you find yourself thinking in “IS” statements.  So part logic puzzle part programming language.

The Division 2 – PC

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To be honest I was not terribly certain how I would feel about this game, but it has been taking up most of my game time since release.  The Division 1 was a setting without any semblance of hope… and The Division 2 has lots of hope.  Instead of helping out a government that is dying…  you end up helping out the communities of survivors trying to struggle to make it in the post biological apocalypse future.  Division 2 is everything about the first game but more finely detailed and expanded upon.  This is what a game sequel should feel like.

To Those Departing

Assassin’s Creed Origins – PC

I more or less got it out of my system when I became frustrated with what exactly the ending of the game would entail.  I have a feeling at some point in the future I will force myself to finish it, but for now…  I am just letting it slide away.

The Elder Scrolls Online – PC

I know without a doubt that I will return to this game because I always seem to, but for now that just isn’t the style of game I am interested in for the moment.  I seem to be enraptured with the whole MMO-lite emerging genre because I can drop in and out of them really easily and don’t ask an awful lot of me in the process.  ESO is a game of excellent storytelling and questing, and I just haven’t been in the mood for that.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

I am literally one dungeon away from finishing the Stormblood storyline and I could not seem to push myself across that finish line.  For now Anthem and Division 2 have stolen my attention, but I am certain I will be returning at some point soon.  However due to the rules of this game, I did not play it during the month of March and as such it is leaving the list.

Magic the Gathering Arena – PC

Another game that I did not expect to leave the list, but is doing so anyways.  Still very much love this game and what they are doing with it… and will probably return soon with the upcoming patch that adds a bunch of additional functionality.

 

Monster Hunter World – PC

This one saddens me quite a bit, but I have not logged into Monster Hunter World in a really long time.  Again this is just a problem of limited play time and Anthem and Division 2 stealing my focus.  This will absolutely return to the list and potentially sooner rather than later given there is a high quality texture patch incoming on April 4th.

Summary

This was a month with a lot of movement, as I allowed things that were hanging on barely to slip by the wayside with the release of two back to back juggernauts.  Most of the things that are falling off the list will return and probably soon.  However for the sake of the way this post is supposed to work they are getting removed for the time being.  This is absolutely the shortest my sidebar has been in a really long time.

Regularly Playing: February 2019 Edition

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For most of this month I have been battling some respiratory crud that keeps circulating and recirculating through the office.  I’m currently in another under the weather spell which means that my gaming habits are a bit off.  However it is approximately that time again where I should post what all is in circulation at the Belghast household during the month of February.  For those who have not seen this post before, it is essentially my process of semi-monthly truing up the sidebar of the blog and talking about the various games contained within.  I am notoriously bad at sticking with series but one of my 2019 goals is to try and keep this up to date throughout the year.

To Those Remaining

Assassin’s Creed Origins – PC

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I legitimately do not expect this game to stay on the list much longer.  I’ve reached the point where I am a few hours away from the end of the game and as such going through my stalling tactic that avoids actually playing it out.  I think part of this is my wanting a story to not be over, and part of it is knowing how frustrated the ending is going to make me since it will be forcing me to NOT play my actual character.  One way or another however I expect by March this one will drop off the list.  For now however I spent a significant amount of time early in the month and late January playing this so it stays on the list.

Destiny 2 – PC

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I’ve not played nearly as much Destiny 2 this month as I probably would have liked.  I spent a lot of time logging in and back out again because for whatever reason it did not seem to scratch whatever gaming itch I was having at the time.  A lot of this lost time went to Assassin’s Creed Origins, which really did hold me in thrall for a few weeks there.  I am sure at some point in the near future I will return to being active again, but for now I am logging in doing a few objectives and then logging right back out.  Still keeping it in the rotation but my weekly play time has decreased significantly.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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The thing this game does better than pretty much anything else I have seen… is keep a constant flow of content coming out that makes you want to pop in and participate in each and every event.  Right now there is a Valentines event that isn’t really my jam…  but I am still participating regularly and I applaud them trying to break up the formula.  Most of the story in Dragalia Lost is completely nonsense…  so when you create an event that is almost entirely story driven… it is equally nonsense.  However it has served as a great way to stock up on some of the rarer items that you can purchase with the extremely easy to obtain “rose” currency.  It has however made me burn down my stack of skip tokens so that is a bit of a negative.  Still playing… still engaged.

Elder Scrolls Online – PC

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Another game that is sort of holding on by a thread is Elder Scrolls Online.  While I love this game I am just not playing nearly as much as I probably should be of it.  I need to start the Morrowind content because it would give me a sense of grounding in the story that I need to keep logging in on a nightly basis.  That said I have had plenty of games on my plate so I am fine with a few of them slipping off the easy to reach shelf for a moment.  I need to buy that 1 TB SSD/M.2 drive I have been contemplating because I don’t have a ton of space on my current boot drive.  I think this is a game that would DEFINITELY be improved by an SSD given how much loading happens.  A big problem with me and this game right now is knowing how long it is going to take before I load all of the way into it.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

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I’ve been going through a bit of a renaissance here this month as I finished leveling Blue Mage to the level cap of 50 and am a single dungeon away from being caught up with the story.  That said… Anthem happened and sorta threw any time that I would be devoting to Final Fantasy for a loop.  However I am starting to feel like I am back in the swing of things.  I am focusing on the Samurai since tanking for strangers seemed like a bit too far off the path for me to wander.  Weirdly I find the dungeon queues for DPS to be massively improved over what they previously were… so maybe that isn’t a horrible choice.  Samurai is a really fun class but it still very much feels like I am “alting”.

Magic the Gathering Arena – PC

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Still in the regular rotation but not spending an awful lot of time there on a weekly basis is Magic the Gathering Arena.  I’ve participated in a few events this month with the release of Ravnica Allegiances and all in all still enjoying the format.  The biggest problem I am having at the moment is that formats I am likely to enjoy the most… Pauper and Singleton are dominated by degenerate decks like Rat Colony or Persistent Petitioners.  Both of which are entertaining the first time you encounter them…  but end up with me just conceding out of the match so I can move on with my life.  I is not that the decks are unbeatable…  it is just that it isn’t worth my time to go through the motions.  What makes it worse is the mechanics of MTG Arena make them super easy to field given that if you have 4 copies of a card in your library you effectively have an UNLIMITED number of that card in your library since the system can only keep track of 4 copies.  That means instead of forcing someone to burn through 24+ common tokens…  they have to use 4 at most.  I should build up a proper standard deck and just play that format, but for now I only really play MTGA when I am not feeling like anything else.

Monster Hunter World – PC

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Another game that is holding on by a thread is Monster Hunter World, and it isn’t for lack of wanting to play…  but more a case that I have a wealth of other games to play right now that all function similarly.  I consider Anthem, Destiny and Monster Hunter to all be filling the same basic niche of the MMO-Lite style of game.  For now I am devoting those efforts to Anthem, but I am sure in the coming months some of that time will be spent killing monsters.  When some of the console exclusive quests start trickling over to PC I am sure I will come back in and participate in them again.  That is a major problem I have with the PC version right now however is the staggered release schedule.  It should have been their goal to catch the PC up at a hyper inflated rate so that they could have events going on in both locations at the same time.  However Capcom seems to be fine with leaving PC as a less than equal version of the game… which I find maddening.  I am hoping with the expansion that all of this shakes out and they can both be on equal footing once and for all.

Pokemon Go – Android

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I have to admit that the only thing really keeping me engaged with Pokemon Go right now is the fact that Android Wear integrates with it.  What means my TicWatch E is constantly logging steps made and giving me credit so…  I spend most of my time hatching eggs.  That means I am also using my backlog of friend gifts as a repository for getting more of the eggs that I want to hatch.  At this moment I spent some coins on the store and am hatching ALL the eggs at once so I can clear all 9 slots for more friend egg hatching nonsense.  Side note… I love my TicWatch E and at some point should probably write a post about it since I have been using it for months after my formerly beloved Pebble Time stopped synchronizing with my phone.

To The Returning and Brand New

Anthem – PC

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This is the new hotness in my life and I am loving the game.  Seeing a lot of negative reviews floating about and I keep thinking that they are playing a different game.  Flying around in a mech suit has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.  There were some folks that loved the Valkyries from Robotech…  but for me… it was all about the Cyclone armor.  In the Rifts pen and paper game… it was all about the S.A.M.A.S. and the Glitterboys.  In Fallout I have sought out wearing Powered Armor as soon as I could possibly get a suit.  So as a result there may be a player fantasy that Anthem is providing that fits neatly into my wheelhouse.  I am having a blast and look forward to seeing what the world as a whole feels about the game on Friday.  I think the big publication game reviewers in general consider being bitter fucks about everything to be “on brand”, so as such I largely ignore them.  Instead when it comes to games…  my focus tends to be how my friends with similar play styles are feeling about a new title.

To Those Departing

Ashen – PC

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This game while super interesting… just did not stand the test of time for me personally.  I stalled out and never wound up returning to it.  This was not helped by the fact I went through a week where the Epic Games launcher kept crashing constantly for me.  I probably will return to it at some point because I still find what it is doing interesting, it just lost out to other games that were holding my attention a bit better.

Far Cry 5 – PC

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Ultimately I beat the game and as a result it fell off my radar.  At some point I will probably play through the Zombie Survival mode of the game just to see what it is all about.  However I more or less moved on to Assassin’s Creed Origins and as a result this is dropping off the list.  You can follow down some of my post about the game to track my sentiments, because while I loved a lot of the experience it had real flaws when it came to the forced narrative.  Still would absolutely play again… and it makes me want to spend some more time in Far Cry 4.

Minecraft – Windows Store

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Not shocked at all to see this dropping off the list because this tends to be how I play Minecraft lately.  I will go through an obsessive building phase for a few weeks… and then stop playing altogether for several months.  Still a great game and shocked at just how evergreen the experience of virtual legos ends up being for me for the long run.  I do not care at all about the survival aspects and tend to play the game mostly on creative mode.  I return to this when my mind wants me to build something… and exit again once I have finished tinkering with it.  It serves a glorious purpose in my life and I am thankful to have it.  Playing Minecraft calms me.

Summary

All in all there was not a ton of movement this month, but I will say there are a bunch of games in danger of dropping off the list come next time.  I also know that Division 2 is looming on the horizon and I am not sure where it will fit into the entire apparatus since it is launching roughly a month after Anthem.  All in all… question to the readers.  Do you enjoy this column of sorts or do you wish I would just drop it and do normal posts in place of them?

 

 

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.

 

 

Games Played 2018 Edition

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Over the years I have developed two habits that help me keep track of what games I am playing in a given month.  The first is that I take a lot of screenshots and archive them on network attached storage so that I can reach out and get one for this blog when I need it.  The second is that since April of 2013 I have been blogging at a minimum every weekday…  and for the first three years and some change…  every single day.  This gives me a pretty good record to know what I happened to be playing in a given stretch of time.  Years ago I used to use the Raptr gaming service to track what games I happened to be playing, but as that got sold and my game time fragmented between multiple console platforms as well… it became harder for me to get a high level view of what I happened to be doing at a given period of time.  As such I crawled back through my screenshots and my blog posts and started piecing together a map of what games I played in a given month.  Now this is not necessarily tracking the length of time played…  but instead that I played a given game during a specific month.

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This is going to look like nonsense to my viewers but this image represents the top 25 games played since May of 2012…  that I had either written or screenshot proof that I was playing at the time.  Essentially I question the reliability of this record any further back than April of 2013, but I decided to extend it out as far as I could just for sake of tracking patterns.  There are years when I play an awful lot of games… and then there are years when I don’t play many at all.  This year for example I played seventy two different games throughout the year and eight of them I played for more than five months.  On the other side of that coin 32 of the games that I played were singletons… where they were only played in a single month.  Now some of these were new games that failed to gain traction like State of Decay 2 that I had been looking forward to greatly… and others are games like Horizon Zero Dawn where I booted it back up to return briefly to a game that I had played an awful lot more in the previous year.  If you are curious enough to dig into the madness you can see the full google sheet that I maintain here.  The biggest trend you will notice is that I am one of those people that revisits old territory quite often, especially when it comes to booting up an older MMO and spending a weekend or two exploring it again.

The problem with this concept is that it is really hard to keep track of a nice clean “Top 25” list as there are ultimately a lot of games that end up being tied for the same number of months.  As such for this specific year if we set the benchmark at three months played…  because there were thirteen games that spanned two months sorta skewing the results a bit.  For games that I played three or more months however we end up with a list of twenty three games.  So as a result lets run them down.  One thing that I have done since last year is combined time played in Destiny 1 with time played in Destiny 2 since there was effectively a clean cut-over there with no real overlap.

  • Destiny/Destiny 2 – 12 Months
  • Elder Scrolls Online – 12 Months
  • Pokemon Go – 12 Months
  • Monster Hunter World – 12 Months
  • World of Warcraft – 10 Months
  • Magic the Gathering Arena – 9 Months
  • Diablo 3 – 6 Months
  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate – 5 Months
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 4 Months
  • Neverwinter – 4 Months
  • Dauntless – 4 Months
  • Dragalia Lost – 4 Months
  • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr – 4 Months
  • Fallout 4 – 3 Months
  • Minecraft – 3 Months
  • The Division – 3 Months
  • No Man’s Sky – 3 Months
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins – 3 Months
  • Path of Exile – 3 Months
  • Warframe – 3 Months
  • Fallout 76 – 3 Months
  • God of War – 3 Months
  • Hollow Knight – 3 Months

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So if we look at just 2017 against 2018 there are some interesting things at work here.  Firstly mobile games played way more of a presence in my gaming diet than they have ever before with Pokemon go effectively being played at least once a month since it released in July of 2017 for a grand total of 18 months of it being on my radar.  Dragalia Lost similarly has been played every single month since release, and in many cases almost every night before I fall asleep to at a minimum do the dailies.  Another thing that happened this year was that Final Fantasy XIV seemingly feel completely off my radar with playing it only 4 months instead of the previous years 7 months.  Destiny looks a little bit weird because there were two months of overlap between the games so 2017 shows it as “14” months because I didn’t have a great way of accounting for that…  but during the last two years there has not been a month that I did not play the Destiny franchise and in truth that reaches all the way back to September of 2016 in contiguous play.  Elder Scrolls Online held way more of a presence this year as being another one of those games that I played at least once a month all year long going up from 2 months the previous year.  The real story of the year however is Monster Hunter World that sort of came out from nowhere and then was the game that I probably played the most throughout the entire year, and also inspired me to latch onto Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate when it released in August.  Similar to Destiny 2 this is a game that I started on the Playstation 4 and then moved to PC when the staggered release for it happened…  so my time accounts for leveling essentially twice.

This year also made a bunch of changes in the months played all time list, but considering how entrenched World of Warcraft is it is highly unlikely that anyone will dethrone it until I just completely quit cold turkey.  Thankfully I can create a nice clean top 15 list here so lets review the “All Time” list.

  • World of Warcraft – 57 Months
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 46 Months
  • Destiny/Destiny 2 – 45 Months
  • Rift – 39 Months
  • Elder Scrolls Online – 38 Months
  • Diablo 3 – 29 Months
  • Pokemon Go – 20 Months
  • ArcheAge – 13 Months
  • Fallout 4 – 13 Months
  • Guild Wars 2 – 13 Months
  • Wildstar – 13 Months
  • Monster Hunter World – 12 Months
  • Everquest II – 11 Months
  • Minecraft – 10 Months
  • Star Wars the Old Republic – 10 Months

This list is going to continue to shift over time, but with the selling of Trion Worlds to Gamigo… I have a feeling that ArcheAge and Rift are frozen in time and will likely not be gaining any more months played.  Similarly Wildstar has officially shuttered and it is equally frozen on the list and will eventually work its way out of the top.  Monster Hunter World and Pokemon Go are both climbing significantly and I feel like there is a good chance Destiny franchise will climb into the second place at some point in the future as I am playing it way more regularly than I am Final Fantasy XIV.  Elder Scrolls Online is going to seize the third spot early next year as well.  Diablo 3 is sort of the little engine that could and it will probably always be on the list, but the sporadic nature in which I play that game keeps it from really gaining ground.  Fallout 4 is the one that sort of shocked me… but I guess I keep returning to it much the same way as I did Fallout 3 or New Vegas before.  If you are curious you can see last years list on the Games Played 2017 Edition post.

This is largely a thing that I do for myself, but I guess the question is… does anyone find it interesting?  What games did you play the most often this year and why?  I would love to hear your answers in the comments.

Capped for A Day

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Morning folks… I am struggling today.  Both in the waking up department because there is simply not enough coffee in the world… and in the illness department because I seem to be coming down with whatever the hell is going around the office.  I’ve yet to decide if I can make it to work today, so we will see what happens between now and finishing this post but I am taking a breathing treatment as I type.  As far as the weekend I did a bunch of assorted gaming because that seems to be how I roll right now.  Instead of focusing hard on one thing I seem to be splitting my time between a bunch of things, and as a result I spent a good deal of time making tiny images and updated my “Recently Playing” sidebar.  It mostly follows the post I made last week with the major exception of me apparently forgetting to include Elder Scrolls Online which I still dip my toes into occasionally.

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In the Destiny 2 front I spent a good deal of the weekend knocking out anything that could get me a Powerful/Prime Engram and wouldn’t you know it… I reached 600 light the current cap.  This is a cap that I will enjoy for another whole day…. because when the black armor DLC releases on December 4th the cap is going up to 650.  The truth is I am fine with this.. because the last cap was quite the stretch to get to from the levels I was sitting at when Curse of Osiris released, which is unfortunately the last time I really seriously played the game.  Sure I got in and did the Warmind story content and a little bit of planetary stuff but I really was not pushing myself to cap out at that point.  Additionally Forsaken made it way easier for someone to play casually and reach the cap, so I am looking forward to Black Armory and some of the new open world “Forge” content as I have always dug things like the Blind Well or Archon’s Forge and Court of Oryx from Destiny 1.  I need to get serious about trying to wrangle folks for the purpose of having a raid night… Squirrel keeps volunteering himself but at my count that still leaves us down four people.  So if you are interested in that sort of nonsense on the PC platform drop me a line.

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Since this is the first post of December I thought I would talk a bit about InPiPoMo which just finished.  For years I had not joined in because I largely considered my blog cheating given the nonsense number of screenshots that I post.  I apparently have a problem because the goal was to hit 50 “pictures” during the month of November to parallel NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 word count goal…  since a “Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  During the month without really attempting to do so I posted 93 screenshots if my quick count was correct, so yeah…  that is a thing I do.  Like this morning I had a screenshot of Diablo 3 on the Switch that I wanted to post but nowhere really to post it so I sort of shimmed it into this paragraph.  Huge thanks to Chestnut for keeping this going this year and you should totally check out her blog Gamer Girl Confessions.

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Over in Monster Hunter World the Winter Star festival is going on and with it a set of gear that you can farm.  For both PC and Console players this also means that almost every event that has ever been active is active once again allowing you to farm anything you might have missed.  That list is considerably smaller for PC players unfortunately, but it does let you get things like the Wyvern Ignition Great Sword and cosmetic nonsense like the Wiggler head.  From what I can tell the only event that is not active is the Code Red event tied to the Devil May Cry cross over potentially because it just ended right before this event.  You can however farm Kulve Taroth again until your heart is content.  There is a set of lackluster armor that you can craft, or you can do what I did and cash in your tickets towards the layered armor set so you can make ANY gear look like Santa Claus.  I plan on farming up enough tickets to also be able to purchase the super adorable Snowman Palico outfit… or Snow Woman in the case of Kenzie who regardless of the game is canonically female.

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I’ve talked about how awesome the screenshots are at the end of fights, because they always capture you doing something interesting.  In this case it is me dodge rolling out of the way of a line of lightning while everyone else is apparently downhill engaged with the monster.  When you hit Hunter Rank 49, in order to make forward momentum you have to face this monster in particular…  Tempered Kirin.  It took me forever to manage to get this on the console and in truth it was probably only because I was getting carried super hard by Shiana that Ashgar and I wound up getting it at the same time.  On the PC I’ve been dipping my toes into these waters for awhile now, and I have reached the point where it is not me that is fainting and causing us to fail…  but regardless still end up failing out most of the time.  Monster Hunter does this thing where the screen freezes and it can mean either you beat the encounter or someone other than you got carted and caused the whole group to fail.  When the screen froze at this point… I just assumed we failed it… but in truth it turns out with one life left to go we managed to take down Tempered Kirin.  I will probably NEVER fight this again…  that is unless someone who has recently started the PC winds up needing help to get through it.  Super happy to be moving again on the other side… which caused me to instantly shoot up to 58.

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I also spent a good chunk of the weekend fiddling around in Final Fantasy XIV… which frustratingly has started doing this thing where it does not exit cleanly and strands a black fullscreen window that seemingly has the power to block task manager.  This is really only a problem for me personally… since I have been streaming every bit of gaming recently from gaming desktop upstairs to my laptop downstairs.  When this happens I have to go upstairs and fiddling with it in order to restore functionality, which can be a bit maddening considering how regularly I am hopping games in a given evening.  Regardless I have reached my first wall gear wise in the Main Story Quest and it requires me to get to 335 I believe which means I either need to buy my way out of that hole or start doing enough content to farm up some gear.  I am probably going with the later given that I never was rich in Final Fantasy XIV terms.  In the meantime however I have decided to revisit my old friend the Palace of the Dead to push my Dark Knight up high enough to be able to do the Heaven on High content the rest of the way to 70.  Probably a significant amount of my time will be spent catching up classes so that they are ready when Shadowbringer releases tentatively next summer.

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All Things  Geekery is a great podcast by my friends Detached and Victus that among other topics tends to be a great source of Destiny 2 related conversations.  They have been doing this thing recently where they highlight a member of the community at the beginning of their show, which I thought was a really great idea when they started this concept with the very amazing Chestnut.  However I am now starting to question their mental state because apparently they saw fit to include me in this construct as well.  This week I apparently am leading off the show, but really you should probably just fast forward past that and listen to their interesting discussion of Red Dead Redemption 2… a game I am super interested in but waiting to see if it releases on the PC given that is my platform of choice and I have a bad habit of rebuying games for it.  You can find the podcast at…

Finally there is of course the podcast we recorded this weekend where we talk about Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter World Winter Star event, what happens when MMORPGs close down, Tetris in Virtual Reality and a few other topics shimmed in between.  I tend to be really bad about promoting the thing that I actually do, so I should get in the habit of talking about it more on this blog so there is some cross pollination.  I am still shocked anyone reads this thing… let alone listens to me ramble on the other thing.  At this point I have decided to stay home and crash this morning because I had very few things on my calendar for today.  If I had a packed day of meetings I might have struggled through it and probably infected the rest of the office.  Now I am going to get in some fuzzy pants and forget the world exists.

 

 

Regularly Playing: Late November 2018

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One of the constants of Tales of the Aggronaut is my sheer inability to keep any form of a series going for any length of time.  There is a thing that I used to do semi-monthly where I trued up the regularly playing widget on my blog’s sidebar and talked a bit about the games that I have actually been playing.  I would talk about the things that I was adding to the list, the things that I was for whatever reason still playing… and then talked about the things I was removing from the list and a bit about why.  Unfortunately based on a quick search of my blog…  this is not something that I have done since August of 2017.  A lot has changed since then and a lot of games have come up and gone away, and quite frankly I am not sure how valid any sort of a comparison might be.  However I wanted to get this started again.  So from now on I expect to be updating these towards the end of the month rather than at the beginning of a new month.  I’ve also decided to start including the platform I am playing on, since in a few cases that actually does matter a lot.

Destiny 2 – PC

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I’ve been having a bit of a renaissance with Destiny 2 and I spent the vast majority of the weekend hanging out downstairs and playing it while remoted into my desktop upstairs.  My nonsense Parsec setup is amazing, and this really has become my default gameplay method most of the time.  I mean who doesn’t want to play sitting on the sofa, wrapped up in fuzzy blankets…  with two cats snuggling into them?  I got the Trinity Ghoul to drop after completing Ikora Rey’s bounty objective, and it is awesome…  unfortunately I will probably never actually use it.  The fact that we can only use one exotic weapon pretty much means that choice is always going to go to the Thunderlord.  If they introduce some legendary HMGs into the game again…  that decision might shift…  but for now it feels damned good to have access to one again.  For the most part I am spending my time knocking out various things that award Powerful/Prime engrams, and other than that I started leveling the Hunter last night while watching Walking Dead.  The game really is in the best state it has been in period… and I am probably counting all of the awesome stuff that was available during Year 3 of Destiny 1.  If you are not playing this game you owe it to yourself to check it out again.

Monster Hunter World – PC

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The other primary game that I am spending most of my time playing is Monster Hunter World on the PC.  This game is so much more enjoyable with a mouse and keyboard, and I have recently been grinding away for the Dante weapon and armor set that came in with the Devil May Cry cross over event.  I also had no clue how often I use the term grinding… until this weekend when a Chinese Cutting Wheel and Grinder company reached out to me to see if I wanted to do a paid product placement.  It is weird how things like that happen… how the  gaming sphere takes a perfectly normal and reasonable word and shifts it into something else.  I still have yet to get over the level 49 hump that is Tempered Kirin…  but I figure in the coming week I might start devoting some of my play time towards doing that.  I would really like to be uncapped again by the time the Winter Festival starts up, so that all of the time spent doing those events can bolster my hunting rank.  The highlight of the weekend was the Code Red match when three of us were using Kulve Taroth Paralysis weapons…  and it was shocking just how often we had the mob locked down tight…  even Teostra.

Final Fantasy XIV – PC

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Somewhat shocking to me… I am apparently back playing Final Fantasy XIV regularly after my extremely long absence?  The last update from August 2017 was just about when I started to peel away from Stormblood, because that was also the month that I played a significant amount of Guild Wars 2… enough to probably consider it my main game back then.  In the year and some change that has passed since that post… I really have not spent all that much time playing the game.  I came back a few times attempting to get caught up with the main story quest, only to stall out in this place or another.  However lately it has felt really good to roam around and play something like this, especially when paired with my more action oriented main squeezes of Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World.  I can only take so much of that in a single setting and need to retreat back into something slower paced…  and for now at least hotbar combat works nicely for that.

Diablo 3 – Switch

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Another game that I have been enjoying the hell out of is Diablo 3 on the Nintendo Switch.  It is a really great platform for the game and I had never really given the console version any serious play prior to this.  My only gripe is the way it requires connectivity to play seasonal characters.  Essentially if you want to play these in a disconnected state, you need to have the forethought to start up a game before you leave the safety of WiFi… and then place your switch into Airplane Mode.  From there the game will allow you to continue playing your seasonal character, and eventually synchronize everything when you get connected once again.  This is somewhat maddening, but at least I have the ability to tether to my phone if for some reason I did not think ahead to do this thing before I left the house.  I am spending a lot of my “while trying to fall asleep” time playing Diablo 3.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee – Switch

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While I did not play much of it this weekend, I am still very much enthralled with Let’s Go Pokemon.  When I last played I had just beaten the third gym and was grinding my way towards the next one.  However when I get back into game I want to do some backtracking and train my Eevee with some of the silly named abilities that the mentor is offering.  Based on Ashgar’s suggestions, these are apparently really good moves.  This is the biggest problem that I have with Pokemon games in general, is that I never know what moves I should be allowing it to learn and what ones I should be ignoring.  As a result I tend to largely favor straight damage attacks and ignore the more fiddly nonsense of raising and lowering accuracy and such.  Pokemon is a game about collecting cute pets for me… and the combat nonsense is largely just something I have to deal with in order to collect said cute pets.

Fallout 76 – PC

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This game is still very much on the list but I have not devoted near enough time to it.  Largely this requires me to be upstairs… and since I have been spending most of my time downstairs it just isn’t getting played.  I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stress and that makes me turtle and avoid doing any manner of group activity that requires voice communication.  This is coupled with the fact that I don’t really have a great comms set up downstairs, and as a result simply avoid joining voice servers.  I could of course go into “listen only” mode but that doesn’t really work in situations where the in game chat is not amazing.  I did spend some time this weekend hanging out with Rae and walking her through the finer points of Monster Hunter World… or at least answering a bunch of the questions anyone has starting that game.  I know Tam, Kodra, Shiana and Waren have been having a massively fun time running around in a big group… and as cool as that sounds… I just can’t bring myself to be that interactive.  I am hoping when the private servers release that there will be a second awakening of this game and I can hop on the bandwagon at that point.  In the meantime however I am playing a very quiet and crafting-centric version of the game as I expand my nifty roadside base.

Hellgate London – PC (Steam)

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As generally “not good” as the Steam version of this game is…  I find myself still regularly booting it up and playing around with it.  I did however dig out my copy of Hellgate London on DVD, and plan on going through the nonsense to install it and get set up to use the London 2038 emulator servers to see just how well that version of the game plays.  In the mean time however… it is still Hellgate London,  no matter how cludgy it might be and I love this game.  I am guessing this would be on my list of guilty pleasure games that no one else really understands…  like Vagrant Story…  or Simon’s Quest.  Remember kids…  Excessive game play may affect your lifestyle.

Dragalia Lost – Android

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While this is not necessarily an every day thing anymore… I am still very much playing Dragalia Lost on a regular basis.  At this very moment there is a special summon event going on, and I seem to have missed the guaranteed five star adventurer summon…  and currently it is a wyrmprint.  No one gives a shit about wyrmprints…  so I will wait to use mine until the five star dragons kick in at the end of the cycle.  The current event is somewhat enjoyable, but I do greatly prefer the cycles where we have a raid open and a new character that we can gain faction with.  So far it seems to alternate back and forth between kill a boss and get bonus loot…  and earn a new character and do a raid.  Since this is a wind event and that tends to be the crew that is the least used overall… I am using it to work up their levels and have largely coalesced on using Melody the Samurai Maid as my main for the event.  Admittedly I mostly like her because it reminds me of my friend PizzaMaid… only because she is a maid that kicks lots of ass as well.

Pokemon Go – Android

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With the connectivity between Let’s Go and Pokemon Go… it has also spurred me to be a lot more active in this game as well.  I don’t have an awful lot to say about it other than the fact that I am regularly checking what “Mons” might be around when I am out about in the world.  The fact that I got a Google Wear watch has also increased this experience because I am now getting credit via Google Fit for the time when I don’t have the app open.  As a result I am hatching a lot more eggs than I did previously, since it seemed inconvenient to keep the app open all of the time.  Mobile games are generally a massive drain on the battery, and none are harder on it than Dragalia and Pokemon Go… so as a result I tend to play them sparingly when I am at fear of running down my battery and without a way to charge it again.

Walking Dead Our World – Android

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This game is barely holding in there and since being punted from the clan I was in…  a lot of my reason for playing on a nightly basis has disappeared.  It was enjoyable to feel like my little bits of play were adding up to larger objectives, but without that incentive…  I am just not motivated to play that often.  The game has a problem of not making it really reasonable to acquire better characters or weapons.  99.9% of the activities you do will give you white cards, which might as well go straight into the dumpster.  The only things worth using really are purple or orange the highest tiers, and they have tied a number of objectives to doing things with specific legendary weapons making it really hard to knock those out each week.  They really want you to spend money on the game, and I feel like I am just not getting enough joy out of the game to do so.  I’ve lucked my way into a few items and they were running a special where Legendary Morgan and Rick were super cheap to purchase with one of the in game grindable currencies.  I fully expect however that by the time I do my next update this game will be on the outs.

There are other games that I might boot up here or there but for the most part this is the crux of games that I am playing regularly as the title of the post suggests.  What are you my wonderful readers playing lately?

 

 

Blaugust 2018 Wrap Up

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The time has come to close Blaugust 2018 and as such you are all owed a post wrapping up the numbers.  Firstly I want to give special thanks to Armagon/Nogmara for chiming in and volunteering to help when I posted on twitter this morning.  I went from the top down on the list and they went from the bottom up and we knocked out the official tabulation of posts way faster than would have been the case were I doing it entirely by myself.  Things I have come to appreciate…  blogs that have a monthly tabulation of posts.  Things that I have come to dislike…  themes that do not clearly show the date a post was made.  Regardless we made short work of the counting and as such I have a bunch of numbers to share.  Of course we are fallible human beings and if we failed to count your blog correctly, please let me know and I will remedy this.

First some general commentary.  This is without a doubt the most successful running of Blaugust to date.  The discord turned out to be a pretty excellent way of interacting throughout the month and while I got super busy with the start of the school year and things getting crazy at work…  we maintained an active community from start to finish and I am super proud of everyone who participated.  I am especially proud of my mentors and all of the time they spent answering questions for the other folks participating.  I am also super happy for all the folks who just wanted to join into the community without actually participating, so a shout out to all of the supporters.

Here are some general statistics for the month…

  • 90 blogs signed up in Blaugust Reborn 2018
  • 83 bloggers made at least one post during the month
  • We added 1404 new blog posts to the community as a result of Blaugust Reborn
  • This equated to an average of 45 new blog posts per day
  • 26 Bloggers had 31 posts during the month or in a few cases considerably more

I have to say that is some pretty impressive numbers, and I am very pleased with how things turned out as a whole.  As such now is the time to start showing the progress.  While I traditionally don’t consider myself part of the festivities, I’ve included my numbers in the list just to show as a baseline for folks to compare again.  There are a lot of people who did WAY better than I did this month.  Additionally I thought it would be interesting to track the progress of mentors versus participants, because again…  some of the participants blew the mentors out of the water as well.  For sake of making tracking easier, folks who signed up with multiple blogs were counted as a single tally rather than a tally per blog.  Without further stalling on my part… the numbers.

Bronze Award Club

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Now if you go back to my original post outlining everything, these are folks who made at least five blog posts during the month of August 2018.

Silver Award Club

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Again based on the original outline these are folks who got at least fifteen posts during the month of August 2018.

Gold Award Club

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As outlined in the original post, these are folks who got at least 25 posts during the month of August 2018

Rainbow Award Club

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Finally we have a rather large number of people who hit 31 posts in the month…  and a few went considerably over.  Grace with her two very active blogs managed to get the single highest post out which is super impressive.

I am exceedingly impressed with just how much content was put into the world by Blagust Reborn 2018, and I thank you all for particpating.  I want to give a special honorable mention however for the folks who started but never quite made those five posts to get on the chart.  Signing up and starting something is the first step and hopefully next year they will find the oomph to post a little more frequently.  The discord community will be here supporting them as they keep their blogs going throughout the calendar year.

Honorable Mentions

So there it is folks…  some amazing work for Blaugust Reborn 2018.  I am humbled by the sheer amount of support I got from the community on this, and without a doubt we will be making a come back with Blaugust Reborn 2019 in the near future.  My hope is that through the Discord community the planning process will go a little more smoothly in the future as I was sorta doing this by the seat of my pants as I went.  Thanks for proving that blogging is not in fact dead, and maybe making a bit of a resurgence.  For now I am going to close this post and go play some games, but sincerely I love this community.

Dealing with Absences

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Yesterday was crazy.  It was one of those days when moments after checking my phone I realized things had gone south with the patch cycle from the night before.  I tried remoting into things from home and had no luck, so I hurriedly shower, dressed and drove into work to see if I could raise anyone to get the matter resolved.  I left so rapidly that I freaked my poor wife out who was out on a walk…  and she came home to my vehicle being missing from the drive way.  The other bad thing is that I didn’t actually get breakfast meaning I was probably more grumpy than intended during the entire day.  The problem with running on adrenaline is that there is an inevitable crash…  which came about noonish.  All of this said…  I didn’t get to do a morning blog post yesterday and I was not in the proper frame of mind when I got home to do one either.

As a result this morning I am going to use this incident as a teaching moment.  There will be times when you just cannot force a blog post out of yourself…  and that is okay.  When I was doing my “Grand Experiment” that involved posting every single day I managed to make it 1121 days without missing a post or a little over three years.  That streak sorta developed a life of its own as time went on, but I knew sooner or later I would need to break it for my own sanity.  Knowing that regardless of the day that you had to get up and write something was fairly oppressive.  I would literally day dream about stopping cold turkey, and then ultimately talk myself back down off that ledge.  Ultimately when the time came I made a compromise and switched the blog for the last couple of years over to week days only, that way I could have the weekends to myself to leisurely do whatever comes along.

The truth is…  I would have probably been a lot happier with my streak of posts if I had allowed myself to have the occasional day off.  The thing with posting is that you need to be doing it regularly to gain reader traction, which for me at least translated into forcing myself to post something regardless of circumstances every day.  The truth however is that you simply need not to allow yourself to fall completely off the wagon.  It is fine to take a few days off here or there but for me at least the most important aspect is to get back to posting as soon as you feel able to.  The early days of my blog were a tale of a flurry of posts with massive gaps in between…  some of them months long.  The longer I was away the harder it seemed to create a post worth the justification of how long I was gone.  It was as though I needed to come up with some epic reason why I just wasn’t feeling up to writing about myself or the games I was playing.

In my experience however you just need to post something…  anything…  to get yourself over the hump after an absence.   You could post about what you had for breakfast…  or in my case yesterday the lack thereof.  You talk about whatever stressers caused you to need to duck your head back into your shell and turtle for awhile.  You could write about something on the horizon that you are looking forward to, or about something that you just accomplished that you are still thinking about.  The point is just to write something to get yourself over that initial gap in content and back into the habit of regularly posting again.

One of the things that I like about my current schedule is I feel like it gives me the room for these gaps.  Is it an extended weekend that includes a few days of vacatrion?  Then I have the option of writing on those days or just saying screw it and taking the entire time off from the blog.  Is there a time when life has just become too much and I cannot fit proper writing in?  Then a gap in the middle of the week is honestly no worse than a gap at the end of it.  Basically the schedule that allows for absences and not holding myself to some nonsense like those 1121 posts in a row…  makes the blogging experience far more livable.

I think ultimately that is why I have shifted things around this year for Blaugust is that I realized over time I was trying to get people to sign up for something that was largely unrealistic.  After that first Blaugust I noticed that the majority of “winners” that managed to get in all 31 posts in a month…  also wound up taking a full month off as a result.  A not insignificant number of those blogs simply ceased to exist afterwards…  or maybe had a few false starts at getting back at posting without ever really returning.  Basically Blaugust and that schedule had killed blogs…  which was the exact opposite of what I was hoping would happen.  I kept shifting around the format until in 2016 I simply couldn’t handle taking anything else on that year…  as was apparently the case with all of the events in our community.  So now as Blaugust has returned…  my hope has been that the focus be on just posting more regularly and also participating in the community…  rather than trying to run some race.

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I am not entirely certain if this post will help anyone, but I thought it was worth talking about the mindset I now take towards dealing with absences.  I hope you are having an awesome day and I highly suggest getting out and checking some of the other blogs participating in Blaugust.  Here are some resources to help you get started…

There is still plenty of time left in the month to participate.  If you are interested check out some of these links.

Side note:  The images don’t mean much of anything but I played some Monster Hunter World on PC last night and am getting tired of just posting the Blaugust logo over and over on these.

 

Jason Jessee Board

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This week was originally designated as “Get to Know Each Other Week” in my master scheme but I feel like that is well under way in part thanks to the existence of the Blaugust Discord.  If you have not joined the discord I highly suggest doing so, also if you have not signed up for the event then there is still plenty of time to get involved.  For as generally open as I am with my readers about a lot of things… I still find it fairly hard to actually talk about myself in any sort of directed way.  Sure while I am in the middle of writing about a topic there are a bunch of real life details that end up getting thrown into the mix for flavor, but to sit down and write a specific topic about me as a person…  that is a whole other challenge.

I was born in 1976 on the wane of the seventies and the cusp of the eighties…  then spent my high school and college years in the nineties giving me a really odd blend of cultural experiences.  Each of those decades left its own indelible mark on my psyche.  Another piece of the puzzle is the fact that I was the only child of a machinist by day and occasionally professional photographer by night and weekend…  and a home economics teacher.  I grew up in Rural Americana in the middle of the part of Oklahoma aptly referred to as “Green Country” in a town with a population of around 2000 give or take a few.  We lived just far enough outside of the city limits to prevent us from getting cable…  or me having many kids to play with.

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That means a good deal of my life was spent entertaining myself through copious amounts of imagination and a strong dash of public television.  I’ve talked a bit about my attachment to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood but I was equally attracted to adult programs like Nova.  For the first several years of my life I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother and grandfather who served as a babysitter while my folks worked.  My grandmother also doubled as my companion on so many adventures from learning how to cook, to roaming around in the pasture…  to playing rousing games of candyland.  There were many times come Friday night when my folks came to pick me up, that I would announce that I was staying the weekend.

As time passed and I aged those weekends with my grandparents were replaced with staying over at friends houses.  There was a circle of two other close friends that I had and it seemed like every single weekend we were gathered together at one of the houses.  I always enjoyed the act of getting out of my own family and melding into another one for the weekend.  In late middle school one of the trio moved away and we were left with a duo.  By the time high school rolled around things started to get a little strained, since my partner in crime was largely forced into sports by his father who wanted him to follow in his own footsteps…  and I didn’t really have the equivalent pressure pushing me in that direction.

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We all saw each other pretty often because around about this time skateboarding was a massive thing.  My first “real” deck that I planned for and bought on my own was the Jason Jessee Neptune deck, and I wish I still had it if for no reason other than to hang it on the wall.  I’ve contemplated buying one of the modern reproductions to do that, but its an awful pricey expense for a piece of kitch.  Skating lead its way to other drift compatible activities…  like playing in a band that ultimately formed around the nexus of a few of us that hung out frequently.  I played the drums, the friend from middle school played the bass and patterned himself after Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the other friend with seemingly unlimited means bought a sweet telecaster and played lead guitar.  We never really coalesced on a proper band name… we were FSU for awhile which we thought was edgy because it stood for Fucking Shut Up.  Later we performed under the name Jive Daddies… which I always thought was kinda dumb but was overridden by the other two.

During my junior year however I got really sick.  I started having these black outs and managed to park my car perfectly in a ditch down from my house once.  It was ultimately sorted out that I had a pinched blood vessel in my neck, that was the side effect of getting rear ended in a car wreck and developing a minor case of whiplash.  However it took awhile to sort that out and during this time I sorta drifted away from that circle of friends and built a new one.  One of the truths of small time life is the lack of things to do… leads kids towards copious amounts of alcohol and drug abuse.  My original duo of friends found their way into more serious paths leading towards hard drugs, and that was not a journey I was willing to follow them on.  So really my illness became a convenient excuse to simply stop participating and extract myself from that situation.

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Another thing that happened around this time is that my family finally got a computer.  It was a 386SX 16 MHz without a math co-processor with 2 meg of ram and a 90 MB hard drive that at the time seemed like all the space I would ever need.  It had no sound card because those simply did not come with computers standard at that point and was largely designed for business products running Windows 3.0 originally…. and later upgraded to the revolutionary 3.1.  I learned computers through necessity, because I kept doing something to jack the machine up and then needing to figure out how to fix it before my dad got home.  Largely these interludes involved me trying to sort out how to get more than 16 colors in windows paint…  it was simpler time.

The new circle of friends and I vacillated between two activities…  pen and paper gaming and pouring over whatever bootleg games we managed to get from someone that had a relative in college and would ship us home boxes of pirated games.  Getting anything new was pretty much out of the question because at this point we had no access to stores that sold anything even vaguely related to PC gaming.  At some point I stumbled upon a bookstore that happened to have 5.25 inch floppies with shareware on them and got my first copy of Wolfenstein 3D and an editor that someone made for it.  We obsessed over building levels to the game and the result was usually one person building a level and another person trying to run through it.

I feel like at this point I have already typed too much information about myself, so I am going to cut things off at this point.  We are now circa 1992 and on the cusp of Magic the Gathering being a thing.  I’ve recently gotten back in touch with one of the members of the little crew that I played table top games with, so I fully expect him to respond here at some point.  I do miss those days when things were so much simpler and it seemed like we had all of the time in the world to hang out and do stuff together.  Time moves so much faster as you get older, and busier, and have your attention fragmented by dozens of things at the same time.  I might pick up tomorrow with some more details that I maybe glazed over, but like I said…  getting any sort of coherent narrative out of me about myself is a challenge.

 

Mining The Past

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This week was at least in part supposed to primarily be about generating topics for your blog that you can sustain yourself on for the rest of the sprint.  Unfortunately only one of my posts has actually accomplished this.  I brain stormed together a list of topics on August first and never really revisited it because I was ultimately dealing with some of my own things.  However one of the general pieces of advice I can offer you is to be willing to mine your own experience for topics.  Each of us tends to think our own experiences are banal and not actually worth writing about.  The thing is…  those experiences are unique to you and tell the reader an awful lot about your own feelings on a subject.

This is where I break into a story to illustrate this point.  I started leading guilds with the launch of World of Warcraft in 2004 and since then have been the helm of many offshoots be they connected to House Stalwart or later Greysky Armada.  In addition to that there has been an awful lot of experience leading various communities from the Argent Dawn Exiles that I started when the Blizzard mods made the official server forums completely unpalatable to the things like BelEffect that I largely started as a joke but developed a life of its own.  Every single bit of that experience, while I didn’t necessarily know it at the time was relevant to what I would ultimately do for a living later.

While I have never listed it on my resume, that solid decade and some change has been a hardcore training ground for management in the real world.  I first had my taste for managing others at my first job back in 1999-2000 and I did not like it at all.  The whole setting the vision for the group was fun, but what ultimately broke me was a situation that happened with one of my employees.  I had been placed in a position of power because I was the one with the answers…  not with none of the training to actual manage others.  I had a boss at that time for whom the most important thing you could do was be sitting at your desk at 8 am.  I didn’t believe this and still don’t for that matter…  and was put in the awkward position of having to discipline an employee for an infraction that I didn’t myself believe in.

This bad taste made me actively avoid taking on the mantle of supervisor or manager for a significant time.  However in the gaming space I found myself pushed into that role because no one was willing to take it upon themselves to create the sort of gaming environment I wanted to play in.  So out of necessity I became the Guild Leader and set forth the build the best possible guild I could…  and immediately stumbled about six months into the game.  However I learned how to deal with different personalities and outlooks on the game play experience and about a year and a half into World of Warcraft we picked ourselves back up and rebuilt House Stalwart.

Throughout Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King we forged the guild and the raid associated with it into a strong community.  So strong that when my account got hacked while raiding Ulduar and said hackers disbanded the guild and moved my main off server…  we immediately picked back up the pieces that night.  The community had the guild up and running before I managed to get my account restored, and then handed back over the crown willingly.  The hack itself is a story that is buried somewhere in the annals of this blog, but I had somehow managed to forge something strong enough and loyal enough to keep on going without me even being in the picture.

So much so that all these years later without me really at the helm since Cataclysm…  the guild continues on through a succession of leaders from Elnore, Rylacus and now Kylana keeping things alive and actually in a constant state of growth.  I admit it was a bit of a hit to my ego at first to see that the guild was doing well without me.  However over time I came to appreciate the fact that I built that organization and it managed to survive succession which is a truly rare occurrence in either the gaming world or the business world.  While I spend significantly less time playing Alliance right now, I am still happy each time I hear about them downing some new boss or getting some new achievement.  I am proud of what that guild and community became.

When my boss moved up from Manager to Director, I was presented with another challenge.  Did I stay in the comfortable development lead role I had carved out for myself, or did I step up to management not quite knowing if I would be able to make it work.  The truth is it was the years of experience I had leading other people in situations where I often times had no actual power of authority to use as a crutch…  that gave me the confidence that maybe i could do this thing.  If you can convince forty strangers to work towards a singular goal, then you have a significant bit of work experience there leading people and understanding how to adapt your message so that others will be able to consume it.

So this morning I had sat down and mined a bit of my own experience to convert it into a blog post.  Each of us has deep reserves of information just sitting there waiting to be harvested, talking about past experiences in games or how they have effected you in the real world.  The challenge however is being willing to open up and talk about your past and present it with a new perspective.  I would say most of what I write about draws deeply upon all of the decisions that I made to get me to where I am today.  Often times when I write about things I omit details here and there to clarify the narrative that would otherwise muddy the presentation, but the core of the experience is still effectively what happened.

With time you develop your own personal methodology for which things to talk about and which things to skip over because it won’t translate into words that well.  However the only way to really sort this out is to start trying to adapt your own life story.  Our experiences also change over time…  because how you view something at age 20 is going to be different than how you view an experience at age 40.  In all of my time working there has only been one boss that did not like me.  While I was going through those experiences it was a very dark time for me…  but after exiting that shroud I have come to realize that even that horrible experience was a blessing in disguise.  Effectively it gave me the piece of experience that I was missing…  how not to lead others.  I had a use case of the exact wrong way to do leadership and I have been able to mine it as well to make sure I was not following in his footsteps.

Basically mining your past experiences allows you to dust them off and view them from a different perspective, which is helpful for you to grow personally…  but also can be exploited to make something relate-able for your readers.  Like I have said before… there comes a point where the readers stop caring about the subject matter you are writing about and start caring about you as a human being.  These are the posts that effectively set that process in motion.  When you share of yourself… it makes others more willing to share of themselves.  I realize this has probably turned into a really contorted esoteric topic, but I still feel like it is useful information.  So often we look outside for assistance when occasionally the answers we need are buried deep down inside of our own experiences.