Be The Battery

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Yesterdays post was a little more bleak than they usually are, and the bizarro thing is…  I think writing it helped a lot.  It helped putting the frustrations and dread into a single post and sending it out into the world.  Its almost as if typing the words lessened the hold the malaise had on me.  Then again the activities of last night helped quite a bit as well.  However I will get to that shortly.  First off I want to show off my home in Elder Scrolls Online.  I went back and forth on a few different homes before finally settling on Mournoth Keep in the Halcyon Lake area of Bangkorai.  I remember being extremely fond of the main campaign in Bangkorai so that fit for me as well as the fact that since I chose Daggerfall Covenant as my original faction… I wanted something to call home in the same area.  In truth I have not done much with it since getting it, largely because I have not had much luck in getting pattern or furniture drops.  I am being told that looting furniture seems to be the best way to do that.  In theory I could resort to stealing, or instead just fine one of the many towns controlled by enemies and run amok looting there.  I have a feeling through with the focus on housing there is going to be a lot of competition for lootables.

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Now on to the events of last night and how they seem to have turned around my spirit.  For awhile now Squirrel, Jex and myself have had an informal Thursday night thing where we go off and do small group content in Destiny together.  Originally this was the night when we took on the Challenge of Elders, but more recently we have been running all three of our characters through the weekly nightfall.  I have yet to get an icebreaker, so I largely think they are humoring me until I actually get one.  Whatever the case it is a lot of fun, but due to the bizarre schedule since coming back from PAX it had been a few weeks since we last did one of these nights.  In truth I had not actually played Destiny since probably January 19th now that I am thinking about it.  I was extremely rusty, and by the sheer number of times that they had to rez me it showed… but regardless I think we all had a lot of fun.  This week the Nightfall is Dust Palace which is something that has been in the rotation since year one… and that everyone has memorized at this point.  As a result we were able to run through three characters worth of Nightfalls in way less than an hours time.  During the Nightfall runs they asked me where I was on progress on the quest line to unlock the Outbreak Prime weapon, which requires you to group together in a fire team with a Titan, Warlock and Hunter to make forward momentum.

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The truth is I had not really made it terribly far other than picking up the occasional progress from our Thursday night runs when the stars happened to be aligned and we wound up choosing to play different classes on a given run.  Like they often do… they set out to change that and we ran a sequence of Archon’s Forge to finish out the step I happened to be on since those apparently count as “public events”.  It was around this point that we realized that we did not have three characters with the devices needed to do the decoding step of the quest chain.  There is a phase that needs to be completed in a social area where a titan, warlock and hunter input a sequence on this item that drops from the quest chain.  If all three sequences are correct you can click through and get to the next step.  After a little shuffling we realized that Jex’s warlock had already completed the quest, and Squirrel’s hunter was on the step I had just completed.  So we continued on to catch Squirrel up in the process and ran a sequence of three heroic strikes, and then three public events to get us all on the same stage of the quest.  After that back to the social area to complete the matrix and move on to the next step.

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It felt like the night was still relatively young, so instead of hanging it up for the evening we pushed on into the next quest which involved collecting a bunch of SIVA tech by killing splicers.  This also required us to run the Sepiks Perfected strike, which we knocked out in short order by simply doing the 320 light version.  From there it was back into Archon’s Forge to complete three events, and farm up the rest of our SIVA Tech fragments.  All of which went extremely quickly and before we had finished the three events, we had gotten 100% of our fragments.  Watching those things scroll by 2 at a time on the right side of the screen was madness as we tore apart the forge event.  Finally it was another trip back to a social space, this time to solve a four by five matrix.  It took a half dozen attempts but we finally got the right numbers on all three of us, allowing us to move to the final step.  Now both Squirrel on his hunter and myself on my Titan are on the step that requires us to simply kill any three bosses in the Wrath of the Machine raid.  Then I will have my very own Outbreak Prime pulse rifle, and can do silly damage to SIVA targets with my nanites.  All it all it was exactly the sort of concentrated fun that I needed to pull me out of my funk, and even though I am staring down the barrel of what will almost certainly be an extremely stressful day…  I suddenly found a new packet of spoons with which to confront it.

Flawless Royal Warlock

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Last night I had every intent of attempting to get a Nightfall going.  As a result when I first got home from work I grabbed some food and popped upstairs to fiddle about on my warlock.  It is odd how my order of enjoyment has shifted when it comes to my alts.  Nothing is ever going to dislodge Titan as my primary class in Destiny, but the other two appear to be in a state of flux.  Originally speaking my secondary character was always my Hunter, and my Warlock generally sat in this realm of just one or two steps removed from “afterthought”.  However with Rise of Iron and even some of the late Taken King content…  that sort of shifted around and I tend to enjoy my time spent on the Warlock far more than the Hunter.  I think part of it is that the movement options for the Hunter seem awesome at face value…  but double jump just feels more limited than either the Titan or Warlock jumps.  Admittedly I have constant issues with the Warlock jump because it essentially works backwards of that of the Titan.  However in both cases it feels like I can get where I am needing to go more easily than trying to time a bunch of jumps in order to get up to anyplace high.  On the Hunter I feel like there is never a situation where I do not want to be using the Bones of Eao…  so much so that I question if it would not simply be better for the class if that Exotic were phased out and that function just defaulted.  I still wish there were artifacts that allowed you to switch which jump your class had… because in truth I would still give everyone the Titan jump if given the chance.

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Now I said I had every intent of running a Nightfall last night, but instead when my wife managed to make it home I popped back downstairs to fix her some dinner.  After doing so however instead of filtering back up to my office, I decided to chill downstairs on the sofa with her…  which mean’t no PS4.  I realize I am one of the only people on the planet for which “sofa gaming” does not mean a console, but I have all of my consoles hooked up next to my gaming PC in my office so I can capture from them easily… and also that is where the Television that I can dominate lives.  Before long I was on the laptop and playing some more Diablo, and eventually connected with some friends chain running Rifts for fun and profit.  All in all it was a really good night for me and progression, because firstly… managed to get all of my gems to “Flawless Royal” level.  Additionally I managed to knock out a few more items from my set build namely that I now have the right armor and “weapon” in my cube.  I am now down to a place where the only things I am missing are my jewelry…  but these are also some of the more expensive items to buy from Kadala.  There is a more powerful Legacy of Nightmares build that I am working towards, largely because I have never actually tried doing a build using that pair of rings.  The game apparently wants me to try it however since I wound up with an Ancient version of one of the rings last night.  However I am in the very awkward place of needing Justice Lantern, both pieces of the Endless Walk jewelry set, and the ever present Convention of Elements in the cube.  On a positive note last night I managed to pick up a pair of Nemesis Bracers which I can swap with my Heart of Iron in the cube to make farming runs go more smoothly.  Additionally I managed to get all three of my primary build gems over level 25 so they finally start doing interesting things.  All of these things combined seem to now allow me to pretty easily farm Torment X content, which means that 7/10 of the next Seasonal step is knocked out…  with the only truly heinous thing left being mastering the set dungeon.  For that I am largely going to need to tweak my build because I don’t actually use consecrate anymore, although it is definitely worth trying given how bed of nails works with it.

Tonight however… will most definitely be a night for Destiny because in theory it should be easier to get two characters through Nightmares on reset day 🙂

Exotic Towels

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This morning is a truly bizarre morning because we went to sleep not even thinking about snow…  and then it apparently happened over night.  I live in a town on the northern border of Tulsa, and I say apparently because there is zero snow on the ground here.  However there was enough in Tulsa proper and the southern communities for the public school system, including the town my wife teaches in to call a snow day.  She is super pumped because it means she has a day to try and play catch up, and me…  I have a weird commute ahead of me because I know at some point on my drive in things will go from peaceful and snow free…  to a winter wasteland.  I promise I did not intend to write three days in a row about Destiny, however that is ultimately what is happening.  Since the launch of the dawning I have not touched any of the supposedly lucrative bounties from Commander Zavala, which are in theory the only way you can currently get the Icebreaker.  Now before I took a break Squirrel, Jex and I had this tradition of running through some content on Thursday nights given that it was a big empty space in our calendars.  Originally the tradition was to run as many characters through the Challenge of Elders as we could in an evening, but last night we rebooted it for the purpose of running a Nightfall.

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From there we chain ran six heroic strikes in a row, because we were already considering doing it…  and I have been sitting on the Champion of the Cult quest for ages.  This is a quest you get when you reach level 25 with any of the given factions, and it rewards an exotic version of your class item.  For Titans this ends up being a rather ornate looking towel…  and I still question the good folks at Bungie for thinking that a flag football towel was a great idea for a glass item especially when Hunters get amazing and iconic looking cloaks.  In order to finish the quest you have to do content while decked out in your factions gear… wearing a shader, emblem and class item for that faction.  The quest ultimately requires you to do the following…

  • Slay 500 Minions of the Darkness
  • Complete 10 Heroic Strikes
  • Slay 250 Crucible Foes
  • Win 10 Crucible Matches

Now this used to be considerably easier because folks were constantly chain running heroic strikes.  However with the changes to the system that essentially make them mini nightfalls…  folks are just not running them as often which meant that if I was ever going to get through this step I was probably going to need a group of friends to do it with.  However since I had already done the more annoying part which involved Crucible wins and kills… there was zero chance that I was going to actually abandon the quest.  So for months it has been sitting in my progress tracker taunting me, until my good friends Jex and Squirrel helped me knock it out by chain running six heroics in a row.

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Now earlier I mentioned that the weekly bounty from Commander Zavala was supposedly the only way to get an Icebreaker currently.  Unfortunately however this week was not my week, and instead of getting an exotic I wound up with a relatively decent version of the Shadow Price legendary auto rifle.  Now I had been sitting on one of these in the bank that I was using on my warlock, and it falls into the medium rate of fire/medium category.  The biggest problem with this archetype is the fact that it generally has a low magazine size… for example this weapon has one of only 25 which is really too small for most Auto Rifle friendly activities.  This roll however is good enough that it bears further notice since in the first slot I have Range Finder which greatly boosts the range while aiming down the sight…  something I am never not going to do.  In the second column I can choose between Perfect Balance or Hand-laid Stock to give it extra stability…. and after playing around last night I think I prefer Perfect Balance.  Finally in the last column I have Third Eye, which is a way for me to break my dependence on my crutch…  the Memory of Gheleon and equip my far better itemized artifact from Year 2 Kings Fall raid.  Once you get used to having tracking all the time while aiming your primary… it is really really hard to go back to NOT having it.  I still do not think this is going to come close to replacing my beloved Range Finder/Perfect Balance/Counterbalance Year 2 Haakon’s Hatchet… but it will make a decent primary to swap over to my Warlock and Hunter alts.  The real take away of the evening however is that I had a blast… and I am hoping we can get back in the habit of doing the Thursday night shenanigans.

Finding the Forge

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bel-colorsFirst off I have to start this mornings post by talking about the surprise I got last night.  For awhile now I have had my friend AmmosArt working on a series of avatars to use for anything AggroChat related.  When I do the title cards it always somewhat bugs me that we don’t have a set of Avatars drawn by the same person, because I think that would end up looking a lot nicer.  As a result I commissioned her to create a set for the main cast, and we kicked it off with mine…  however I think she has a few of them waiting in the pipes as well.  Since I have “Fantasy Bel” thanks to the project that Tam started, and now “Realistic Bel” thanks to the prize commission from Faebelina I thought it would be kinda cool to have a “Sci-Fi Bel”.  So when she asked me what I wanted drawn for my AggroChat avatar I sent her this overly complex idea for me wearing a bunch of named armor pieces from Destiny.  Here she has expertly rendered that idea with me, a giant flaming Iron Lord axe, my Sunbreaker hammer and Nolandroid.  I could not be happier, and while she was concerned about how the fire effects would feel… I think they work amazingly well.  Thanks once again Ammo for taking mad ramblings and converting them into a picture format.  You should also check out some of her other works on her website or on her daily art tumblr.

I have to say… it is truly bizarre getting back to the task of blogging in the morning.  It is 6:23 and I have consumed my first cup of coffee and am trying to get on about the business of blogging like I know what the hell I am doing.  Today is a day I have been dreading because it means that I have to give up the comfort of my sofa blanket cocoon and venture forth into the cruel and now very chilly world.  Of note… I have been off work since Friday December 23rd.  So I have had two blissful weeks that have allowed me to get completely out of the habit of functioning on any sort of a schedule.  Those weeks have been shockingly busy with only a couple days where I could truly hang out dawn til dusk in my flannel pajama pants and pretend the world didn’t exist.  During that time we dealt with a handful of crisis that involved changing out a leaking faucet in our bathroom… and then ironically rushing some big air mover fans to my mother in law who had a major leak in her front bathroom.  In between that there were numerous Christmas celebrations, and an attempt to properly recognize my father’s birthday…  which also coincides with New Years day.  I have not even really gotten around to making some proper resolutions, and while I don’t really buy into them much, the New Year is a decent time to start new things.  At the moment however my mind has turned towards preparing for Pax South which is coming up in a few weeks.

The Forge Trick

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Yesterday I posted a mammoth Destiny guide of sorts that I had been meaning to create.  I have a number of friends in various stages of getting sucked into the game… and when I try and give them advice it often comes off as mad ramblings filled with a bunch of topics that they don’t quite understand yet.  The guide was my attempt at writing something for someone just getting started but also still focused on pushing through the light levels as quickly as possible.  As I said yesterday…  I failed to do 99% of the things mentioned in the guide but I am following a similar thought process on my Xbox One account since it is largely starting from zero.  One of the things I mentioned doing was Archon’s Forge… and you might of thought to yourself “But Bel, that is a Group Activity… how did you solo it?”.  Some time ago my friend Shadoes gave me some tips on how to reliably make Archon’s Forge spawn with a group in progress.  Firstly you have to understand how patrol zones in Destiny work in order to make this happen.  Each named area is essentially a match made zone that the game tries to pair you with other players also in that area.  However you usually zone in and out too fast for the game to effectively do this, so there are things you can do to force the game to match you up with other players.  Inside of the Archon’s Forge there is a path behind the forge that leads down to an area that a number of missions and patrols send you to, but is effectively open at all times.  You can see this path as the opening with the ride SIVA cables coming out of it in the above image.

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What I find works is to run down this tunnel to the next area, you will be able to tell you have transitioned by a title card coming up identifying that you have entered “The Warrens”.  From here I tend to kill the various splicer mobs that spawn in… which may include a handful of 2-4 Vandals, 2-4 Stealth Vandals, 2-4 Dregs… and potentially a Captain.  The mix varies slightly, but essentially I spend enough time in this area to clear out whatever happens to have spawned.  From there I slowly walk back up towards the Archon’s Forge, and for me personally it helps for me to crouch while walking just to force myself to slow down.  In Destiny I am so used to constantly sprinting that I find myself doing it without realizing it.  Essentially you are trying to give the game plenty of time for it to notice that you are entering an area with an event… and that it should match you up with additional people.

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If it works, you should hear the familiar Fallen Klaxon as you near the tunnel leading out of the area and into Archon’s Forge.  If you make it to the Forge without getting matched into an open world group…  then simply head back down to the Warrens and start the process over.  I would say 99% of the time by the moment I reach the top I hear the Klaxon and am up and running with a viable open world team doing Archon’s Forge.  The longest so far it has ever taken to get matched is three trips up and down the tunnel but your mileage may vary depending on the time of day you are trying and your platform.  I’ve not tried this on Xbox Live, but considering the person who tipped me off to this method plays there I am going to assume it works fine as well.  Basically doing this method is going to allow you to hop into the Plaguelands and farm the forge until your heart is content, just remember to keep going to orbit every so often to make sure you are not losing loot.  Your mailbox can only hold 20 items… and while it takes longer for your inventory to fill up now that greens turn immediately into materials…  it still happens frighteningly fast while doing the Forge.

Bel’s Fake Game Awards

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This break has been a bit of an odd one…  namely because I have completely screwed up a few times and failed to blog.  Even worse… I forgot I forgot to blog.  It is as though I have been in a bit of a weird time warp where I lived a bit separate from the rest of the world for awhile.  So instead of being connected like I usually am…  everything has just sort of flown over the top of me without ever really sinking in.  I have not been logging into MMOs hardly at all… and when I did it was for a specific focused purpose rather than just hanging out there.  The break has been about falling into a number of game shaped holes…  including Destiny, Minecraft, Bloodborne, and most recently Tyranny.  However today represents the beginning of me trying to get into the swing of things.  I technically have two full days left…  well not full given that its 9 am when I am finally getting around to writing this morning.  However it is time for me to do my sham of an attempt at an Awards Show…  that I started last year, where the categories really don’t exist and no one actually wins.

Something Is Missing

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Pokemon Go

Recently in the name of better health and that whole tradition of trying to start the New Year off right…  my wife and I have been spending a lot more time walking.  One of the things I greatly miss that was a huge part of my life during 2016… is Pokemon Go.  One of the updates essentially screwed me over and locked me out at least semi-permanently from playing the game.  The Google Safety check… seems to think my phone is rooted even though it is not.  My only work around is to actually root my phone and install one of the many applications that will hide root from Pokemon Go…  defeating the entire purpose of their safety check.  However I am reaching a point where I really want to play the game… and I might just resort to this.  Essentially this game was a good chunk of my year… or at least I was obsessive about it for two months.  Pokemon Go did something that no game really has…  made me care about mobile as a gaming platform and as a result it should get a significant shout out.

You Can’t Go Back

Diablo 2
Diablo 2

For the AggroChat Game Club, we tend to pick a game for both November and December…  since once you take the holidays into account… you really have a single functional month.  Last year the game that spanned the two was Fallout 4, and this year Grace chose Diablo 2 as her pick.  At first I was all about this because I have some seriously rose colored lenses about this game and my memory of it.  I remember trying to see who could get through all of Act V in a single lunch break, and so many farming runs to see if we could get the coveted set pieces.  However on replay…  I have changed drastically in my tastes since this game released, and while I was on the Diablo 3 doesn’t feel right bandwagon initially…  I have evolved.  Diablo 2 now feels like a grindy mess of a click fest with very little carrot and a hell of a lot of stick.  So I am honestly wishing I had NOT replayed the game…  and could leave it sitting happily in my memory untouched.  My recent experiences…  are proof of that adage that sometimes you can’t go back home.

But Maybe Sometimes You Can

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World of Warcraft: Legion

Saying that however… there are apparently times when you can go home and enjoy yourself in the same ways you used to.  There was a period of time when I was convinced that Warcraft would always only tangentially matter to me.  That I mourned a time and a place and a specific group of people that were long going and could likely never been aligned and arranged in the same pattern again.  I’ve devoted a lot of digital ink to this lament throughout the years…  and then Legion comes along and proves me to be completely full of shit.  I am not exactly sure what it is about this expansion but for the first time in seven years…  I feel more hope for the game ahead of me… than nostalgia for the time that has long passed.  I thought I was done raiding in World of Warcraft… and instead I am actively raiding three times a week…  one night of progression, one night of farmed content, and an amazing karazhan team.  I am super happy with the state of the guild, and the game… and how far we have come.  I am amped about the prospects of starting Nighthold on time when it releases…  and while I have not spent much of this break in game it still very much feels like home.  While I still have issues with some of the disjointed feeling of the forced faction storyline at times in Legion…  the bulk of the content is amazing and just seems to keep getting more interesting.

But Sometimes It Doesn’t Last

Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV

The other subtext of the year is how I have apparently fallen out of love with Final Fantasy XIV.  We made an attempt to get the band back together and start raiding once more… and it worked amazingly for awhile.  Honestly the Free Company is still an active and happy place…  just with myself not really playing much of a role in it.  I keep thinking that it will be fun to return…  but I knew something was a miss when I started completely blowing off the holiday events that I used to love so much.  Now I am significantly behind in gear and in story… and it is going to take a significant push to catch back up.  This push however is just something that I have not been willing to do as of yet.  I am excited about Stormblood…  but nowhere near as much as I was prior to the launch of Heavensward.  I guess the scale of Heavensward felt limited… with two dungeons per patch instead of three, and that alone wore on me.  When you are grinding two dungeons in an expert tier… it gets super old really fast.  They have since added in other content to occupy time like the deep dungeon…  but it also feels extremely grindy in nature.  I know at some point I will return and happily do so… but in the meantime I have simply not been forcing myself to log in and play a game I was not entirely into.

With Guns Blazing

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Destiny

The real winner of the year as far as my total time spent… I feel is probably Destiny.  This game has gone from being something that never quite clicked…. to turning into a game that I obsessively play on an almost nightly basis.  Over the break I spent a good chunk of my time playing “Not-Wipeout” and participating in the Sparrow Racing League.  I managed to hit the currently light cap of 400, and instead of it diminishing my desire to play… it seems to have only spurred me on further trying to get infusion fodder to upgrade all of my favorite items.  I cannot tell you how much being able to bring my favorite weapons from Year 2… into Year 3 has improved the game for me.  Traditionally MMO items are just stat sticks with a look and a feel…  and cosmetic systems make it so that you can look however you want therefor really negating any need to keep using older items.  Destiny however…  your items have a feel and a purpose and greatly effect the gameplay.  I have guns that I love… that feel amazing to use… that I cannot actually quantify in words as to why.  For example I love the Fabian Strategy… even though I technically have far superior legendary items that don’t eat my single exotic weapon slot.  I just feel sorry for my friends who are casually interested in the game… because I go from zero to “let me show you my pokemans” in a frighteningly short amount of time.

Bad Christmas Was A Bust

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The Division

This time last year… I was looking forward to the impending launch of The Division.  I thought this game would end up being my new Destiny, and even better so because it allowed me to get the sort of gun play and looter shooter action I craved without having to resort to consoles.  Unfortunately that was not the case and I never actually made it to the level cap.  Going into Division I thought I would have a strong community to support me… but one by one my friends checked out quickly for a lot of reasons not directly connected to the game play.  Largely they objected to the themes… and enough so that at least one of them immediately turned around and refunded the game through steam.  I could have reached outside of my circle of friends and found new communities…  but I was left with the awkward situation that my PS4 clan was of course playing on that platform and that I just didn’t really want to have to pester folks to play with me on the PC side.  As a result I solo’d a hell of a lot… and reached a point where to progress at the speed I wanted to progress I needed some people with me.  There was also the technical problem that I just don’t really like playing a third person over the shoulder shooter nearly as much as I enjoyed playing Destiny.  Even more than that…  the thing that was missing was the futurism of Destiny weapons.  None of the guns felt any different than any other gun to me… so ALL SMGs felt the same, ALL LMGs essentially felt the same etc…  they were more stat sticks than something that felt unique or individual.  I still hold hope that at some point that I will be able to get back into the game and push the last bit to hit the level cap and start doing interesting content.

Awesome But Not My Deal

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Overwatch

Sometimes there is a game that I am way more into the game world… and the lore than actually playing it.  This is very much the case with Overwatch.  I love the characters, and all of the storyline that is coming out surrounding the game… and while I enjoy playing the game in small bursts it just never seems to be the game I choose to play on any given night.  As a result I am something ridiculous like level 6… and have only logged a few hours in total playing the game.  I think much like with League of Legends… I would enjoy playing with a team of friends… but then you run into the issue of getting bored with bots… and not having the chops or desire to learn them to play against other pre-made teams.  I also tend to be most happy when I am playing Torbjorn, but always end up playing Reinhardt or Mercy because I end up getting randomed into a team full of Hanzos and Genjis.  I wish I had the burning desire to play this game because I love everything about its world and what it is doing with its narrative.  In truth I find myself mourning the game it could have been…  back when it was originally slated to be a new MMO.  I would to play a Destiny like game… set in the Overwatch universe.

 

Christmas Basebuilding

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

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

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

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

Curve Beating

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

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

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

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

Hopscotch Pilgrim

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

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

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

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

Shaders and Eyasluna

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wipeout Simulator

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Yesterday was the release of the Destiny 2.5.0 patch which brought in a brand new holiday event called the Dawning.  However lets not kid ourselves that the part of this patch that really matters is the fact that once you hit max rank… every green you pick up with simply automagically get converted into Weapon Parts or Armor Materials.  I guess another important part is the fact that the SRL has returned… or the Sparrow Racing League for the uninitiated.  I spent my entire day pumped for this event… and then I got home and had to wait an hour for my PlayStation to patch up.  This is sincerely one of the more painful patches I have experienced as far as download times go.  Generally speaking I am used to booting up my PS4 and having the patch install and being in game within a few minutes given that I leave my PS4 in that pseudo online mode to allow for patching.  Unfortunately this patch appeared to be a two parter, with one piece installing almost immediately…  and then following up after that was another 2 gig download.  This is the point where I wish that invest in some better patching infrastructure because with my internet connection… I should not be having this issue.`Given that how much else is “peer to peer” in modern gaming… I would not be shocked if someone on a DSL like in Lexington, Kansas is slowing me down.

There is a truly silly amount of changes, including an entirely new strike scoring system that seems to work very similar to that of the Prison of Elders event.  With it comes a whole new set of bounties that involve you completing various things in the strikes in order to complete them.  Another massive change is that Skeleton Keys that are used to open chests containing strike specific loot… are supposedly dropping significantly more often.  On top of this your first Nightfall of the week per character will include a guaranteed Skeleton Key drop.  There are other nice quality of life changes, like supposedly Xur now sells Exotic Shards for Strange Coins rather than you having to break down an existing Exotic to get one.  There are new quests from several of the tower vendors, including a Dawning Holiday themed one started with Eva Levante.  Like with the Halloween event this year there are hidden items available like a green and black sparrow that can be obtained through collecting a dead ghost fragment on the  Bannerfall map and then using that to open the chest hidden underneath the Future War Cult staircase back in the tower.

The highlight of the patch for me however is the introduction of SRL again, and all of the bounties and such that come with it.  The sub highlight of this however is the fact that Sparrow Racing counts as a Crucible match…. and rewards drops that can scale all of the way up to 400 light.  Of note… it seems like the Crucible reputation booster absolutely works on SRL and I was running them last night while doing some racing.  Right now I am getting mostly gear that is going to serve as infusion fodder, but wearing it at the moment until I figure out what I plan on doing with it…  because for now I am really only doing racing.  The above rocket launcher for example is nothing I would ever use because it is missing either Tracking or the Grenades and Horseshoes perk.  However for the purpose of infusing it into another item… I will absolutely take that 395 light level.

What makes this event so much better than a normal Iron Banner event for light levels… is the fact that complete sets of gear for all slots can drop from it.  In addition to some blast from the past crucible weapons…  there is a full set of “racing” gear that can drop.  So far I have only managed to get the chest piece but it too dropped at 396 light… which was significantly higher than anything I had equipped.  it is not exactly the sort of gear you would want to go out adventuring in… since its perks are exclusive for sparrow racing.  However for the purpose of getting that light level up… I am absolutely going to wear it and hope to keep getting better drops.  The weirdest thing about Sparrow racing is the way it makes me change my controller grip.  Traditionally I grip my controller with my index fingers resting on the L2 and R2 triggers respectively, because in theory if I need to hit L1 and R1 it is not too painful to simply move my finger up briefly.  However in the SRL you literally never want to take your finger off L2 ever….  or at least not unless you really plan on doing it purposefully to bank a corner at the right speed.  While racing sparrows however L1 and R1 serve the purpose of shifting your sparrow slightly in that direction…  think using collar buttons to bank turns in F-Zero.  You can get the same effect by pressing in your thumb sticks for L3 and R3 but I find this pulls my steering off significantly.  So when I am doing the SRL event I essentially move my hand up on the controller and use my middle fingers to hit L2 and R2 resting my index fingers then on L1 and R1.  It takes some getting used to but for me personally it seems to just “work better”.  I could never handle this as my standard grip, but for the short length of a racing match it works well enough.