Glitchy Oryx

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Rookie Revenge

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Last night was one of those nights that went in a completely different direction than I was expecting.  If you remember last Tuesday we had a combination of one of the smoothest runs for me personally in Kings Fall with the jumping bullshit.  That then quickly became one of the glitchiest runs once we hit Oryx, and though we put up the valiant fight we simply ran out of time for attempts.  We had agreed to meet up last night, given that it was the night before reset… and give taking down Oryx another go.  We had a checkpoint already saved sitting at that encounter, so in theory it should not have taken terribly long.  That was at least my line of thought going into the night.  However we ran into a myriad of issues, but in part that is why this “Rookie Raid” exists is to get folks through the fights and teach them the things they need to succeed.  I absolutely resemble that remark given that this week was just my third time into the Kings Fall raid at all.  There is still so much about the raid and the various encounters that I simply don’t know… but I am trying to assimilate information as fast as I can.

One of the things that threw off the rhythm of the raid early on was that Wet had to rush to the hospital with his mom.  Jex filled in admirably, and instead of snuggling with Wet in the middle I got to snuggle with his Titan while doing bubble duty.  For leadership we had an alternating mix of Jex and Squirrel depending on the situation, and they both did a great job stepping up to the plate and helping folks through the Oryx fight.  That said there is something almost talismanic about Wets presence, and when that is gone it is noticeable.  It is almost like we need his snarky commentary as a good luck charm to get us through the encounters.  We tried our best to fill in with talk of “MacGuffins” and “Tummy Wumzles” but it just didn’t quite feel the same.  So Wet if you are out there reading this you were definitely missed.

The Haul

On the positive side though it took us an hour and a half worth of constant attempts we managed to get down Oryx.  This was made even sweeter when we all realized that this was Warman’s first Oryx kill after apparently having gone to various Kings Fall raids for the last year on an almost weekly basis.  That right there is why the Rookie Raid exists, to get folks access to this sort of content and I am super thankful to be part of it.  I had wanted to raid myself for ages but never really had the opportunity, and then Squirrel, Wet, Jex and the rest of the Axioma Clan stepped in and bam… I am now doing awesome stuff in Destiny.  I am also falling off things quite a bit because I can’t jump for shit.  My biggest need right now is simply raw light levels, which I am working on a little bit at a time through exotic farming.  Unfortunately I seem to mostly get the same slots… that don’t really need leveling up, however I figure during this weekends Iron Banner I should get a few more exotics.

As has been my habit of late, now the haul for the night.  I was sitting at 25 moldering shards so apparently the “bonus loot” business is in full effect now.  The portion that I did not realize however is that it seems like the moldering shards are consumed upon getting said bonus loot?  I ended up getting three drops from Oryx plus additional shards, but it takes my total shards to 7 so it means that I guess I got two off the boss.  Anyways the awesome thing about last night is that I have a full “set” of armor from the raid and can now look like a Hive Knight.  I also picked up a second Smite of Merain which will just serve as either a spare copy for an alt… or infusion fodder to try and get my Mida Multitool up in level.  What I am looking forward to this weekend however is the return of Iron Banner which supposedly also has a decent chance of dropping me some upgrades.  It seems like the clan as a whole is planning on running stuff with it, and hopefully even though I suck at PVP in general I can get in on some action.  It would really be awesome to be able to hit rank 5 so I can start getting the good drops.

Scattered Gaming

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This weekend was an odd one.  After a string of relatively nice weekends, we ended up getting one that was either cold and windy… or cold and rainy, both of which drove my instinct to stay inside and hibernate.  The only problem is… with all this play time I largely squandered it and spent more time staring without purpose at games… than actually playing them.  It feels like I am starting to go through another one of my “funks” because nothing seemed to fit “just right” as far as games go.  I flitted between lots of different titles, playing them for a bit before shifting to something else…  often times ending right back up in the game I started in.  For a good chunk of the weekend I had the desire to play Destiny…  but wanted to instead be hanging out downstairs which only left me the unofficial remote play app as a solution.  Then there were games that I felt like I needed to make progress in like Division where I am still not at the level cap.  Friday was largely devoted to Undertale, and I think after forcing myself to play that game… it maybe soured the rest of my weekend.  So this morning I thought I would run down some of the progress I made in various games.

Undertale

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I wrote about this at length but after hanging up my controller as it were… I opted to instead watch several of the different endings.  I still feel fine in my decision to just abandon this game in an undefeated state.  I guess I don’t have a primal urge to finish games, and more often than not I get to the ending and just don’t finish.  I reach this point where I have gotten out of the game what I wanted, and I don’t see the point in expending that effort to push it across the finish line.  In the case of Undertale the thing that was driving me forward was to understand the story, and now between the podcast and the various youtube ending videos… I feel like I do.  Once that carrot was gone, the game play itself doesn’t make me want to ever touch this game again.  On the podcast folks talked about ways to lower the impact of the mechanics, like the Temmie armor…  but that isn’t even really an interesting option to me.

Destiny

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I really did not do much in Destiny other than a little bit of Crucible.  I am constantly amazed at how much I actually enjoy player versus player content in this game, when traditionally that is just not my thing.  I think a lot of it is that in this game it feels like there is zero negative impact on the rest of the game.  It is just another option I have to play, and gives me the same sort of PVE rewards that I expect to receive elsewhere.  Other than specialty modes like Trials of Osiris it feels like I am rewarded equally for just doing whatever I happen to want to do at the time.  I started down the path of the crucible simply as a way to get more Legendary marks, and then recently when I was grinding out sword kills I came to realize…  I was actually legitimately enjoying myself.  What is great about the crucible is that I get the central game play loop that I enjoy of shooting awesome weapons and charging around… without zero downtime.  It seems like it is easier to get Three of Coins to proc on Crucible than it is while doing strikes… or it might simply be that Crucible itself is just about the perfect amount of time per coin use.  While I have not actually gotten any of the really cool PVP drops…  I do get a fair amount of strange coins, motes and random pieces of armor that end up getting deconstructed.  Tonight I will hopefully be finishing up the rest of the Kings Fall raid that we had to abandon on Oryx last Tuesday, and beforehand it is my goal to hang out upstairs and run some more Crucible.

The Division

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This weekend I managed to push Division a little harder than the rest of the games and caught up with my friend Tamrielo at least.  At the start of the weekend I was sitting at roughly level 20, and as of this morning I am just about a third into 22.  While I absolutely could play this and only give it partial attention at lower levels, as I have gotten into the twenties this is not really the case.  As a result this weekend I managed to die probably more than I actually managed to accomplish anything.  There are two missions that I know I attempted at least a half dozen times before finally giving it my full attention and pushing through.  My standard operating procedure while hanging out with my wife downstairs is that I essentially have one eye on the game and one eye on whatever we happen to be watching…  not literally but you know what I mean.  The problem with this is that in doing so I am not exactly paying attention to the best possible tactical spot that I could be in while shooting incoming mobs.  The addition of snipers really changed how the game works, and now that I have guys that rush me with shotguns as well..  I am having to be way more careful about how I take on content.  That said I feel like I made some decent progress, but most of it was in short bursts of me playing for thirty minutes to an hour… and then logging out and doing something else.  Thankfully much like Destiny… short batches of play time feel just as rewarding to me as multiple hour long sessions.

World of Warcraft

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The other major happening of the weekend was me poking around on my Forsaken Hunter in World of Warcraft.  Recently Blizzard added an achievement that you could unlock by leveling a character in WoW to 20, aka the free mode level cap.  For doing this you end up getting Lady Liadrin as an alternate Paladin hero in Hearthstone.  Not that I really play Hearthstone… and even more so… not that I really like playing Paladins in Hearthstone…  I have this drive to get the achievement and unlock the extra shiny bits.  The negative of this achievement is that it only counts if you have recently leveled to twenty after the launch of the achievement, that means my army of level 100s are doing me zero good for this goal.  As a result I opted to level something on The Scryers Horde side since that is where the bulk of my lower leveled characters are these days.  I largely played during the podcast on Saturday night, and as a result managed to get to I believe 18 before giving it up for the night.  The goal is to spend some time this week pushing it over the line, so that I at least can feel like I got this out of the way.  I honestly think this whole promotion is a brilliant idea to try and cross pollinate some of the players actively playing Hearthstone and get them to try World of Warcraft.  I know Hearthstone is a major nostalgia bomb for me… but I wonder if it is the same for a player who has ONLY played Hearthstone, now being able to see where those cards they love are actually from.

 

 

Death and Taxes

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A Very Bad Day

Tuesday night I slept fairly horribly, and spent most of it tossing and turning and unable to regulate my body temperature between too hot and too cold.  So yesterday I went into the day on a low point, with being extremely groggy and fumbling through activities.  Unfortunately this also seems to be the sort of day when something horribly goes wrong.  About 10 am yesterday morning we had a freak incident occur where a publish went wrong in the content management we use at work, that caused the entire xml cache to jettison itself and our main public facing website started throwing a “no nodes” error instead of serving content.  I proceeded to spend the next five hours trying to fix the problem by republishing every single piece of content on the site…  which is roughly 20,000 nodes worth.  We got the bulk restored really quickly, and then spent the next three hours fighting with a handful of tricky node trees, that seemed to be super picky about the order in which things were published.  By the time I exited work… all I really wanted was a drink…  or four.

When I got home however we decided to get the monkey off our backs of our taxes.  We itemize, and we also have them prepared…  not that I think we can’t do our own taxes but I will happily throw money at someone for the piece of mind that come an audit we can point the finger at someone else’s legal team to sort it out for us.  There is a level of stress that taxes invoke in me that is far higher than just about anything…  so doing them on the day I was already having a shitty day was maybe not a great idea.  Then again it wasn’t like the day could get much worse.  The problem being that as we were flailing about the house trying to gather the last two or three bits of information before going…  my wife and I were fussing with each other in a way that never really happens when money isn’t on the line.  All of the stress and anxiety, is generally for naught as we get our taxes done… and generally get back a decent refund.  The bigger stress last night was that I felt bad for missing the WoW raid… but thankfully it sounded like they had enough people to pull together without me.  I hear they even managed to down Iskar which is a brand new boss for our group.

Today however seems like it is starting off much the same way as yesterday.  I got to bed at a decent hour and it felt like I was getting good sleep… that is until about 2 am when I woke up thinking the alarm had gone off.  For whatever reason it seems like we fell asleep with the television on, and that noise made me think the alarm was going off.  In the middle of my trying to get ready, I noticed the smell of smoke.  Like enough to make me start freaking out about if the house was on fire.  So I started roaming the house to see if the smell that permeated got worse anywhere to indicate where it was coming from.  I woke my wife when I decided to leave the house and go wandering outside to see if it was something from a nearby house.  The smell was far worse outside, but once again it seemed to be diffuse without any real direction that it was coming from.  I finally hopped in the car and drove the neighborhood, and when the smell was the same up the hill from us…  I finally reached a point of solace that it was very much “not our house” and was able to attempt going back to sleep.  This morning on the news we found out that apparently there is a massive grass fire burning north of us, but still about a thirty minute drive… so that has to be one hell of a fire to generate that thick of smoke as far away as we were.

Hilt Punch

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Ultimately I ended up getting settled in after taxes and getting some food in me, roughly an hour after the start of the raid.  I could have of course logged into World of Warcraft, and gotten pulled into the raid as a late comer.  After the day I had however I was not exactly fit to be around other human beings, so instead I opted to chill out upstairs with the PS4 and some Destiny.  One of the missions that has been eluding me for awhile has been the continuation of the quest that upgrades my legendary quality sword to exotic.  There is a step early on where you need to get 50 “yellow bar” kills with the sword in PVE and 25 kills of players in the crucible.  While I occasionally poke my head into the Crucible… I am not exactly a regular PVP player.  That said last night I felt as combative as I was ever going to be… and my clan had suggested doing it on a week when Mayhem Clash was one of the highlighted modes.  Supposedly “heavy ammo drops like candy” or so someone said and in truth… sure it is more common than other modes but not exactly easy either.  There were so many times I picked up heavy ammo and instantly got gibbed by another player coming up right behind me before I could even get my sword out.  So instead more often than not I simply punched players with the empty hilt of my sword, which counts as a sword kill nonetheless.  Ironically in a lot of cases… the hilt without any ammo… still one shot players.

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Spending an hour or two doing Clash had a few awesome side effects.  Firstly I gained a fat stack of glimmer, more than enough to purchase the ship above from Petra in the Reef since I had recently reached rank 3 there.  It also meant that after bashing my face against it for a bit… I managed to get all 25 of my kills…  strangely enough the last six were gained in a single match, and single ammo pickup.  I just got lucky and managed to time my jumps just right as to slash folks as they came at me in the air.  This allowed me to knock out the next step pretty quickly, which was a special boss on the Dreadnaught.  I remember when I read up on the quest folks talking about how challenging that encounter was and that how they really needed to use sword block effectively.  In truth I would start out each foray by blocking an attack and then landing a succession of quick hits… but then would jump away and wait for my shields to recharge before repeating.  Doing that it took roughly three engagements before I had that boss down.  Now I am on a step that seems considerably more time consuming than any yet… where I need to collect special materials from the moon that supposedly occasionally drop from helium filament canisters and chests.  At the same time I need to use my solar abilities, which is pretty easy given that I am rocking the Armamentarium for double the grenades and some item that allows me to pretty much do nonstop solar punches.  Supposedly this means I need to kill 500 mobs with solar abilities and farm at minimum 100 helium fragment containers to get the drops.  My goal is to finish that part so that the next Armsday I can pick up the final piece which is the Sunless Cell strike… and convince Squirrel and Jex to help me get through that.  It feels good to get the crucible step out of the way… but I also know that next up is working on First Curse.  That said I actually really enjoyed playing the Crucible and managed to get a couple of legendary engrams out of the process and a handful of exotics including a 310 Twilight Garrison.

Sometimes We Fail

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The Rookie Raid

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For a little bit now, one of the highlights of my week has been the Rookie Raid night with my clan in Destiny.  I think mostly after playing the game for roughly two years… I was really wanting to raid, and getting to step foot in Kings Fall each week has been a blast.  There are still a lot of things that I absolutely screw up, but I feel like I am getting better.  I have always been one of those people that learns by doing, and it simply takes several repetitions before something actually gets cemented in my head.  The highlight of the night was the fact that I actually made it through the ship jumping puzzle on the very first time… and it only took me two tries to get over to the wall and get into the chest nook just after the ships.  This is serious progress because some of those jumps on past attempts took me dozens of tries to actually get.  Similarly I seemed to make it through the piston wall without a ton of issues this week which also felt good.  I ended up jumping to the final platform…  and then got confused thinking I went the wrong direction.  So I guess even I shocked myself that I had made it through with I think two deaths this week, instead of the literally dozens in previous outings.

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I’ve had to develop the practice of sitting down with my character once I have reached the final platform of a jumping sequence.  I wouldn’t go so far as the say that I am afraid of heights, because in real life I can look out over balconies or off the roofs of buildings without much issue.  I can climb up on things without much issue either…  well apart from the fact that I have zero dexterity.  However for whatever reason in video games… I get disoriented and almost dizzy when dealing with jumping sequences.  There are certain games that have triggered this feeling more than others, like Mirrors Edge.  However there are other games that are just as parkoury for lack of a better word… like Dying Light that don’t seem to bother me at all.  It has to be something about the perspective or some technical detail that does it… but whatever the case…  Destiny absolutely triggers these feelings.  So as stupid as it sounds, I feel like every time I don’t fuck up a jump… it is a pretty major victory for me.  It takes so much mental stamina to get me through one of the jump sequences that when I finish… I am constantly afraid that I will do something stupid that leads to me plummeting back down below and having to do it all over again.  So my little practice of sitting makes it seem like it is far less likely for me to somehow get bumped and fall.

Oryx Cheats

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One of the cool things about this week is that I got to learn a few slightly different roles during the fights.  Namely I moved from platform duty to Ogre duty, which is way more my style.  When our group does Oryx we do it “challenge” style which involves making sure the Ogres do not move before they die, allowing all of the blight orbs to spawn in essentially the same place.  This allows us to pop them all at the same time, and deal almost all of the damage to Oryx in a single turn.  That is at least when things work out.  As one of the Titans assigned to this duty, we run complimentary bubbles making sure Weapons and Blessing are both up and dropped in the same place.  This allows us to take advantage of our Touch of Malice and keep from killing ourselves in the process.  The goal is to dip back into the shield between ogres to replenish the shields and give us more life to spend while pummeling the adds.  This works great… until we have to go into the fight without a super bar.  We somehow managed to make it through that round but it was getting super dicey as far as the whole “not killing ourselves” part.  It was during the Oryx fight however last night… that shit just got weird.

I had heard before of the bugs in the Kings Fall raid… but luckily in the previous two weeks we had never really encountered any.  This week however they struck back with a vengeance, starting with several of us mysteriously dying to “misadventures”.  Other times the platform sequence got messed up, or our runner was unable to grab the orb for some reason… having the platform disappear beneath them before the transfer actually happened.  The scariest was when we saw an ogre appear in the default T state that models are generally modeled in… and then disappear quickly… coming up through the ground with the normal animation.  Essentially there was something seriously wrong with the server, and even though we tried several different tricks to right the ship… we ultimately had to call it to time.  The goal right now is to pop back in Monday night and see if we can wreck Oryx given that we have a check point right at the boss.  Sometimes we fail… but even in failing I had a really good time.  The loot on the other hand is starting to get more scarce, and I got some relatively low light level versions of things…  but I did manage to pick up another much needed slot in the arms.  I’ve posted a gallery of the various things, including the 310 Armamentarium chest that was waiting on me at the mailbox.  I am not really sure where along the way that dropped but  but it is much appreciated because I love having the extra grenades.  However as long as I am running Defender, I kinda feel like the Saint-14 helm is a must have.

 

Light and Poms

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Losing Light

This marks the second weekend of attempts to get a black spindle, and I am quickly reaching a point where I no longer want it.  The first weekend was a tale of me largely spending the entire day either waiting to get a group or making attempts on it.  For whatever reason Bungie seems to keep choosing Sunday as the day for Spindle runs… which is not exactly prime time for people playing the game.  On top of that… Sunday is normally a day that I have stuff that needs to get done, and instead for two different weekends my world has focused around trying to get a Black Spindle.  I reached a point yesterday where I wanted to reach through the internet and punch whoever it was that designed this mission.  The individual parts aren’t all that bad… but combined together is just maddening.  If you could simply respawn at a checkpoint before the 10 minute timer starts on the Ketch it wouldn’t be so bad.  I would happily grind that until we finally got it… but instead it is the frustration of having to clear to a boss… then do the run across the temple… then unlock the various chambers… then FINALLY go up into the ketch and do the “real” mission.  So you have 10-15 minutes of bullshit before you reach the point at which it is omg serious mode.

We tried several different methods of attempting to down the boss, the main one being that we jump to the middle and burn him down with swords.  Towards the end we started trying to just whittle his ass down while keeping the adds under control, and honestly neither really worked well.  Anytime we ducked outside of the entrance tunnel we would get wrecked, and almost one shot.  I guess that is the biggest frustration is that the room has no place where you can really set up OTHER than the entrance tunnel and clean out the adds.  The geometry of the room means that someone is always getting hung on something and stuck awkwardly out in the open… which means they are essentially dead.  I am not sure what is up with the mission but it felt like we did significantly worse than the last time…  and this time around I am 304 and decked out in raid weapons that deal extra damage to taken.  I know I am the albatross around the neck of the group, but I am not exactly sure what I am doing wrong there.  At this point I am not likely to spend another weekend of attempts on this stupid weapon… when I have two sniper rifles that I enjoy using already.  Sure this is the best sniper in the game, but if it quite literally makes one of my party members slam their controller down against the desk breaking it…  it is not worth the hassle or frustration.

Pom Pom Squad

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The highlight of the weekend however for me was getting a Pom Pom Beanie on Friday evening while playing Division.  Strangely enough this seems to be the chase item for most people because they are actually rather rare.  I have given food and water to every single person that I meet along the street asking for it… and have a huge amount of clothing options… and have gotten exactly one pom pom beanie.  Now these also can apparently appear on the appearance vendor that unlocks with the security tier, but I have yet to see any there.  What is awesome about mine is the fact that it fits so perfectly with the colors that I already choose…  black and green.  Other than that last night I got a string of awesome weapon drops…  and I finally abandoned my beloved LSW for a couple of ACR variants and eventually a P416…  which all seem to feel the same when firing them.  I also found an upgrade for my SRS marksman rifle but unfortunately the upgrade was only a green so it won’t last nearly as long.  That seems to be my combo of weapons of choice… a fairly accurate assault rifle that fires well in single shot/bursts and a marksman rifle for headshots.  This allows me to either spray and play, for random two mob encounters on the street… or get more strategic for larger groups.

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I am consistently amazed at the wide variety of feelings this game can make me feel.  There are moments when I feel stirrings of patriotism and sentimentality like when I come across a memorial like the one above, or improvised banners hanging out of windows that say slogans like “Can’t Keep NY Down”.  Then other times the game gut punches you with feels when it comes to finding a phone message from before the infection, or as society was crumbling.  Like last night I picked up a message from two parents that were coming into town to see their child because they missed them… and it feels all the more tense knowing that they had no clue what they were walking into.  We had a lengthy AggroChat show talking about the morality of this game… and for whatever reason it stirs something completely different in me.  I absolutely feel like the good guy, the one trying hard to bring some sort of order to a fallen city.  Sure the only thing that separates me from the looters is the badge I am wearing… but I am also saving countless random people from executions or muggings as I roam the city streets.  I might be more vigilante than righteous crusader, but I am okay with that.  I think you miss some of the nuance of the game if you are constantly focused on this objective or the next, and aren’t really participating in the events that happen on the street.  I cannot count the number of times I have rolled up on a group of Rikers with their guns drawn on a civilian, and even though it is a nameless faceless NPC…  I saved them from certain death.  Had I been a little slower on the trigger finger they would be dead on the ground, and those are the moments I feel heroic.  Those are the moments when I don’t question what I am doing in this game.

Deforestation

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So Much Change

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So one of the things you will pick up on if you have read my blog for terribly long, is that I don’t exactly handle change well.  I can do pretty well with juggling new information or new ideas… but when it comes to fundamental changes in my home or work lives it stresses me the hell out.  Basically I need a place of stability somewhere, and right now that is very much not home.  There has been this sequence of changes that are all positive, but all worrisome for me personally.  The worst of it was during the renovation work on the house, namely the fact that it drug on as long as it did and that there were constantly other people inhabiting my space.  Last night however…  it reached a new point when I got home from work.  We’ve never done much of anything with our backyard, and this year we are trying to change that.  We set up the patio off the new door to our bedroom, changed out the deck boxes, got a bunch of new chairs…  and even a wind chime (something I have always wanted) all in the name of making the backyard space more usable.  I don’t have a great “before” picture of my back yard, but I will be using one from this winter as a point of reference.  You see the trees that we have around our back deck?  Those are apparently not trees at all, but are intended to be a hedge.  The hedge in the photo is supposed to be about a foot and a half or so tall in front of the other hedge that is now a tree.  As a result of this we talked to a friend who does landscaping with the hope that he could sort things out for us and get things back under control.

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The problem is I was not exactly prepared for the reality of what that meant.  There is what looks like the limbs of an entire forest dotting the backyard, and this panoramic shot was taken before they were actually finished.  They have since taken out the bulk of the second tree and cut it back hoping that it will start greening up again in a more manageable fashion.  Neither my wife or I were really prepared for the fact that we went from having lots of green blocking the view of the green belt behind our house and the neighborhood across the way… to having almost zero.  I have faith that things will grow back and the end result will be much better…  but man does it look like shit right now.  I guess this is what happens when plants are allowed to grow unchecked for twenty years.  At some point I guess I need to learn how to trim things like I probably should have been all this time.  I grew up in a house without any real landscaping so I guess I just assume that things needed to be left alone and allowed to do whatever they hell they wanted to.  This just adds one more stresser to the pile that seems to be growing.  On a positive note that garage is awesome again, and I have been going out each night to work out in our gym…  that we have not really had access to for a decade it feels.  I even went out quickly for a bit after the raid last night to work out some of the excess post raid energy, which was kinda awesome.

War Priest Challenge

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Last night was also my second time attending the Axioma Clan Rookie Raid night.  I have to admit I have been looking forward to this since going to the last one on the previous Tuesday.  While I have been enjoying The Division, there will always be a special place in my heart for Destiny and I have been logging in and playing for a bit pretty much every day.  I have to admit part of this has been easy access on my laptop while downstairs using Twisted’s Remote Play app.  The only problem that I have so far is the fact that there is no way to really chat over PSN party chat, which means that while I can do random strikes with strangers… I can’t really group up with friends reliably.  Otherwise the connectivity is good enough that I could in theory use it all of the time.  Now I doubt I would want to trust it for something like the Kings Fall raid when timing is extremely tight on things like the jumping puzzles.  Speaking of that I failed considerably less this week… at least on the ships.  On the annoying bit where the giant penis shaped pistons push you off of the wall…  I think I actually did worse but I am choking that up to the fact that I am normally in bed by the time we got to that area.  The raid itself started an hour and a half later than the previous week, which was a bit of a thing… given that I get up at 5:30 each morning, and my friend Squirrel had to get up at 4.

Regardless I had a great time last night, and I felt like more of a useful member of the team.  I still failed quite a bit at various things… like for example on the Daughters fight I ended up getting torn, which meant I had to do the jumping puzzle.  The only problem there being that I had never done the jumping puzzle before.  I sadly failed and wiped the raid, but I feel like I could probably do better next time.  Of all of the dumbass things that I did the cake is the fact that apparently in the two years I have been playing this game… I never realized that a Titan could cancel their jump by pressing x in midair allowing you to pretty much drop straight down at will.  All of this time I have been doing jumping puzzles by trying to time just the perfect amount of momentum to carry me over a gap and still be able to land safely on the other side.  Once I was told this…  and actually Grokked what people were saying…  the jumping puzzles seemed way easier.  Once again the loot gods were favorable, because I managed to pick up a bunch more items… the highlight of which is probably a 310 raid sniper rifle.  I also managed to pick up a 308 fusion rifle, but given that I have Telesto… and I don’t really even like fusion rifles I will probably eat it to power up another sniper rifle.  A couple of the other items will likely get fed to my hunter or warlock to help them get their light up.  Now that I can hit 304 light, I need to apparently farm all of the strikes in the hopes of getting Exotics that should have a fairly decent chance of dropping at 310, that I can then turn around and use to power up my other gear.

 

 

 

Sleeper Awakens

Real World Rifts

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Yesterday I took the day off to manage getting a dumpster delivered.  This was one of those odd situations where they would not really give us a time of day for it to be delivered, but instead wanted to call on their way.  As a result I felt like I was pretty much in a holding pattern until that event happened, largely because we wanted it dropped off in the yard… not in the drive way.  So I treated yesterday like a normal work day, except instead of shuffling off to work after posting a blog post…  I booted up and played The Division for a bit.  I had been months since I attempted to stream anything, and I was also kicking the tires of the new OBS Studio…  which seems to obfuscate a bunch of the settings.  So the first few minutes of the stream were apparently a slide show narrated by my voice.  After that I fiddled with some settings until I finally landed on a combination of levers that seemed to produce a nice watchable streaming experience.  The thing about The Division is that I feel like I am constantly doing something… even if it is not the thing I intended.  One of the aspects of Rift that I loved was the fact that the world was constantly spawning rifts and invasions that I had to deal with.  It felt new and fresh…  up until the point that it didn’t anymore.  The happenings in The Division are varied enough that I hope they remain fresh, but I worry that there will be a time where I start avoiding the little things going on around me… just so I can complete the thing I am actually trying to focus on.

The other potential issue due to the dynamic interactions is that most of the time I feel like I am not actually making any progress.  I might set off in search of this or that… and get distracted by six things that happen along the way.  For example last night I was trying to do one of those missing agent location quests, where you pick up on their trail and follow them to what unfortunately usually ends up being a log book.  While on the final step of one of those chains… I also got the shout over the radio that looters were attacking a supply drop.  Instead of going over and defending I tried so hard to keep following the trail of clues.  All the while I was actually feeling like a horrible person for not helping those NPCs.  The game makes me feel the weight of my decisions in a way that most games don’t, and I think it is because this game bridges the uncanny valley gap so damned well.  The world I am wandering around feels so real to me…  that I could step out of the screen and into the real Manhattan and not really notice the difference.  It also makes me wonder how amazing a game like City of Heroes would have been… if it were rendered with this level of detail.  Right now I am feeling so completely behind in everything I am doing, but I am currently knocking on the door of level 10, whereas lots of other folks are hitting the level cap.  I am not really going to worry about grinding my way up, because really…  I don’t want to burn out on this title.

Completing Quests

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The strange thing about yesterday was that I had the entire day to play The Division, but instead I largely focused on working on stuff in Destiny.  I have been a slacker when it comes to completing any of the end game content, especially if it requires tedium.  For example one of the big goals is collecting Calcified Fragments, and they are hidden damned near everywhere on the Dreadnaught.  Most of them can be obtained “in the open” while doing patrol missions, but a handful of them are only exposed during strikes or story missions.  Even others involve doing events like Skyburners Deployment Code or Wormsinger Rune.  The other night while doing the Kings Fall raid, the nice folks made sure that I got all of my fragments from there, which took a big obstacle out of the way.  There is a long drawn out quest called “Hunger Pangs” that involves doing a bunch of silly stuff for Eris Morn.  Several of the steps are gated by the number of Calcified Fragments you happen to have collected at that point.  To do the final part of the quest you have to have found 45 of the 50 total fragments that currently exist in the game.  So yesterday during the day I managed to solo most of the quest line, including a rather tough version of the Undying Mind strike.  I was however stuck on the final quest, which is a pretty insane version of the Phobos quest that starts the Taken King.  Thankfully Squirrel and Jex helped me out last night, and I now have a shiny new Touch of Malice which will come in handy during the raid.

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Since they were looking for something else to do… I coerced them into also helping me out with my Sleeper Stimulant quest.  I had been on the final stage of this quest since I believe last October, but didn’t have a ready group of people to talk into helping me with it… and had zero luck pugging it.  The quest requires you to run a Nightfall level version of the Saber strike, which is somewhat insane to survive given that you get bombarded by Fallen ships at the start.  I had always heard that if you could simply manage to make it through the first sequence… that the rest of the strike was really not that bad.  I agree at least in part, that is until you reach the final boss.  That encounter was absolutely insane…  but we managed to take it down pretty easily.  Then feeling our Wheaties turned around and attempted the exact same strike as the weekly Nightfall.  The combination of Match Game and Fresh Troops made it so much worse.  Towards the end we were ping ponging around the room trying to stay alive long enough to resurrect the next fire team member, usually only ending up getting wrecked ourselves in the process.  Through a bit of dumb luck and perseverance we managed to pull out the victory on our third attempt at the final encounter.  After that I was needing to log, because in truth I only really intended to do the Malice event but ended up staying upstairs on the PlayStation for like three hours.  Was a pretty great night and I feel better having knocked a couple of big goals off of my list in the game.

 

Division Thoughts

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Busy Week

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The last few days have been unexpectedly busy, which is at least a little unfortunate since The Division launched late Monday night/early Tuesday.  Work as always gets in the way of my fun, but even more than that there have been various activities that I needed to be coherent for.  On Tuesday I had a blast doing the Kings Fall raid in Destiny, but that also meant a night that I could not really devote much time to Division.  Last night I had the World of Warcraft raid, and we managed to duplicate our progress from the previous week… this time with fewer ringers.  Granted we still had ringers… just about half as many as we did the previous week so the progression felt more “real”.  Today I took off work because I am having to coordinate the delivery of a dumpster.  Then tonight, Friday night… and Saturday afternoon we will be cleaning out the garage which is our spring break project.  It is going to be awesome to reclaim that space because for the last decade it has been a space where we just threw anything that we wanted out of sight.  So there is an old dresser out there, a couple of benches… countless insanely large boxes that we didn’t want to haul to the recycling dumpster at that moment.  So in theory I think most of it will go really quickly.  The only major concern I have is that I also know there are various chemicals out there as well, and have no real clue what to do with those.

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All of this said I have still been trying to squeeze in as much Division as I possibly can during the week and have managed to hit level eight so far.  I’ve been loving the insane amount of clothing that I have managed to pick up while wandering around.  With all of the options I have cobbled together an outfit that feels uniquely me… in a way I have not experienced in a game since The Secret World.  The only problem is… the character models themselves are pretty limited.  See the glorious beard that I am wearing?  That beard is only available for a single face…  which seems insane considering that I might want to have a beard like that on any model.  A similar situation is the state of glasses in this game…  I ended up going with the round Lennon lenses because they were the only ones that I felt actually fit my face.  There were however zero options for actual glasses… like corrective style which I would have happily put on my character instead of permanent sunglasses…  even in the middle of the night like the above picture.  These frustrations however are relatively minor, and after not being able to get into the game on opening night…  I’ve played pretty reliably ever since.

Rewarding Exploration

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One of my favorite things in video games is to wander around unfettered by obligations and just explore the world.  This is my Bethesda games are such crack for me, because I can absolutely jump off the beaten path at any moment… and am generally rewarded for doing so.  One of my subtle frustrations of the beta was the fact that so many areas like the sewers and subway system seemed to have no real purpose.  In the live game however… these locations are chock full of interesting encounters.  On Tuesday night I was playing for a bit ahead of the Destiny raid, and popped into a sewer… largely because in beta these served as ways to get over to the next city block pretty easily.  However while down there I encountered a chest that notified me that I had discovered a gun runners cache or something of the sort.  When I opened it up, it had a very nice level 4 blue SMG that I have yet to be able to replace at level 8.  I feel similarly awesome when I wander through abandoned buildings and explore them looking for treasure, and this time around it is great that I am not constantly hitting walls that I cannot cross into other areas of town.  Sure there are absolutely some places where I really should not be yet due to my level…  but I like that the game lets me go there anyway.

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The problem with being so exploration based… is that I feel like I am getting absolutely nothing accomplished.  I can happily wander around the streets doing random encounters that I happen across for hours…  and then realize…  oh shit I really meant to be doing this or that objective.  I am slowly whittling down the objectives that I have open to me… and I think today I will work on some of the missions that involve rescuing this person or taking out that baddie.  I remember there being a whole slew of things around the Hudson camp that I did during beta that I probably want to go back and explore.  Granted I might be over level for them… but it should be fun in any case.  The big thing that I have to talk about this game is that while I kinda wish you had random encounters with other players…  after getting some grouping going I finally understand why that isn’t a thing.  When we were running around as a group the other night it was a VASTLY different experience to me wandering the streets solo.  With Ashgar and Tam, we were constantly running up against huge groups of mobs, and I have to say….  huge groups of cleaners are the absolute worst.  Those damned fire bombs that they throw out…  I guess I had gotten used to the looter smoke bombs not being that bad.  In any case I hope to do some more grouping over the next few nights, but at this point everyone is going to be massively out of my level range I fear.  I wonder how the game handles staggered level ranges…  I think a lot of the difficulty we had the other night was due to the fact that Ash and I were level 4, and Tam was level 8.  So I cannot imagine what it would be like with a larger disparity.  All in all however I am still enjoying myself and having a good time.

 

 

 

The King Fell

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The Ship Boss

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Since the launch of Destiny I have had a desire to do the raid content…  because that is the sort of thing I would do in any of the MMOs.  Unfortunately Destiny never really gained the sort of traction that I would have liked among my circle of friends.  Initially Tam and Ash and Kodra all played…  but petered out pretty quickly.  With the launch of The Taken King there was a bit of a resurgence, but similarly did not last terribly long.  Another friend that would have probably happily joined in raid time fun… plays on a completely different console.  I had gotten to the point where I kept considering trying to brute force a raid to happen by coaxing various friends who I know that play the game casually into joining me for madness.  Then out of the blue my good friend Squirrel almost strong arms me into joining the raid with his clan Axioma, which in truth I jumped at the opportunity.  Last night was that raid and I have to say I am hooked.  Firstly the group of folks I went in with are amazing, and super chill about newbie failures.  I cannot fathom how the first people to do this raid figured out some of the crap that you need to do.  I swear it took me a solid thirty minutes to get through the ship encounter, where you have to jump from one ship at the right time as another one is fading from underneath you.  All the while Wet was super supportive and coaxing me through the process, and while I felt horrible to taking so long to grasp the jumps…  it was kinda awesome that they were willing to let me keep attempting it.

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The entire night I was admittedly largely clueless and doing everything I could to listen to the directions and execute them to the best of my ability.  When playing with a new group of folks, there is always the strong desire to “not fail miserably”.  That said I still managed to cause us to wipe a few times, and regardless of the situation everyone was really relaxed and just kept plugging forward.  I have to say this has done more than anything to validate my decision to follow Squirrel and jump clans, because it seems like this really is an amazing group of folks.  I am just floored that I have gone from being a pre-raid super casual, to having defeated Oryx in a single night.  I fully expected the rookie night raid thing to be a much harder slog, but I am guessing we had more than enough ringers to make the entire process feel more manageable.  I would happily sign up for this every week, and while the loot is a huge draw…  I really enjoyed the process of doing the fights and want to see them keep going more smoothly.  My favorite of the fights was probably Golgoroth just because there is something special about taking down a jump sized Ogre.  We managed to do the “challenge” version of Oryx… which suddenly makes me wonder just what the challenge versions of the other bosses are.  I somewhat doubt that I will be able to attend the hard mode content, but I have to say normal mode was a freaking blast.

Shining Light

 

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I think the thing that I appreciate the most about the King’s Fall encounter is the way that even though I was a first timer… I was still forced to do “real” mechanics.  Sure the fact that everyone else was adept at the fights gave me significant more wiggle room, but I still had to do a job in the encounters.  Being “carried” is not nearly the thing that it is in other games.  For example when I got my Moose in World of Warcraft…  my friends in the Praetorian Guard straight up carried me to victory.  You could have completely removed my warm body from the equation and none of the fights would have gone any differently.  Last night it felt like I had a purpose and I had a role to play, and when I failed to complete my assigned task…  we wiped or at the very list struggled for a bit.  I think this is largely because of the small raid size of only having six players.  The bigger the raid the more padding, and just like in a ten player raid in WoW everyone has to be on point to succeed at a fight.  We apparently took roughly three hours to clear the entire raid, but I have to say that the time flew by because all of it was fresh and new and exciting.  I am sure the more you do this the less that will be the case, but for right now I am completely enamored with these encounters.

More amazing than pretty much anything however is the fact that I am finally off high center in this game and now have breached the 300 light barrier.  You have to understand that I have been struggling bit by bit to get over the 300 light barrier for roughly six months in this game.  Now admittedly that is not six months of constant play, but at very least I am spending a little bit of time on my titan every single week.  Honestly after having played this game for as long and as often as I have… I am not sure there really is a viable way to hit 300 light apart from the raid.  Above is a gallery of the items that I ended up snagging.  The only thing not shown is a 300 ghost shell, which I have subsequently passed on to my hunter since I had a better option already on my Titan.  The highlight of the evening however is the two weapon drops from Oryx.  I guess because we did the challenge mode we were guaranteed a weapon, and I just happened to roll well and get one from the other chest also.  Having both the raid Pulse Rifle and Auto Rifle would have honestly been the two weapons I would have chose had I been able to snag any of the ones available.  Those tend to be my two favorite weapon types in Destiny, and while I have heard that the Auto rifle is less than amazing…. I want to give it a shot for myself.  Basically over the next week I need to spend some time leveling all the new stuff that I managed to pick up.  It was one hell of a night, and I greatly thank the Axioma Clan folks for taking me with them.

Day of Destiny

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Axioma Clan

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This weekend largely was a weekend for playing Destiny, or at the very least this was the primary activity for Sunday.  The whole sequence of events started when my friend Squirrel mentioned that it was Black Spindle day, and that we needed to get that done.  Which itself is a continuation of a conversation I had yesterday with him and several members of his clan.  I mentioned it at the tail end of Saturday’s post, but one of the activities that I have really wanted to do over in Destiny is the Oryx raid.  One of the challenges seems to be that you get stuck trying to get to 300 light level without access to the much higher light level raid items.  For what feels like six months I have been hovering around 298 light, with no amount of activity seeming to push me over that barrier.  As a result when Squirrel invited me to partake of a Tuesday night “newbie” raid for King’s Fall I jumped at the chance.  Granted Tuesday night is also the prime night for playing The Division since it launches what I believe is essentially midnight EST tonight.  That said I am more than happy to blow off that first night of a new game to be able to do the thing that I have been really wanting to do in Destiny.  It had gotten to the point where I was going to try and twist a bunch of arms to try and get them to build a raid team to at the very least let me see the content.  The prospect of being able to attend a more regular thing however…  seems pretty great.  It probably won’t be something I can do every week, but this week works out nicely.

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So we zoom forward to yesterday, and I get the message that it is Black Spindle day.  Now when I got this message it was like 8 in the morning and I was still having to wrap up the post production stuff for AggroChat, and then knock out my own Aggronaut blog post.  Sadly by the time I finished everything…  the Australian leader of the clan had gone to bed, and we were left with the normal non-primetime Sunday morning group of players.  That did not stop Squirrel and I from running a Nightfall and a ton of Heroics back to back.  From all of those strikes I managed to pick up a couple of decent exotics, and a few blues that are worthy of feeding into other things.  I picked up Claws of Ahamkara for the Warlock, which gives me an extra melee attack which is always amazing.  For the titan I picked up a new favorite chest piece, the Armamentarium which gives me an extra grenade.  Finally I picked up the above weapon, the Thunderlord which fills a hole in my itemization that I had been looking for.  I snagged Truth the rocket launcher and am extremely happy with it, but I had been wanting an Exotic Heavy Machine Gun…  and bam I manage to pick one up today.  Now I just need to go through the frustration of doing crucible with a sword to finish getting my exotic sword there.

The Spindle Hunt

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The problem with yesterday is that I had a fixed time frame that I could do things in.  I ultimately needed to be downstairs by 8 pm and so I could wrap some things up, and preferably be in bed at a decent hour.  That gave me all day yesterday, but unfortunately for most of the time we were online we lacked a viable third.  I am so thankful to Squirrel for the constant attempt to stir the chat and try and find someone.  You might have noticed that among other things this weekend you will see that I now have the “Axioma” tag under my name, so that is something that happened as well.  During all of my running around I also managed to get another level of Dead Orbit faction which rewarded me the sweet ship that you can see in the above image.  Both of us ended up needing to take breaks every few hours, to go off and do a small bit of adulting here and there.  The funny thing is… it is amazing how fast two hours can just evaporate when you are chain running heroics.  It doesn’t seem like each of them takes that long, but when you stack a bunch of them end to end it really adds up.  Finally around 5:30 we managed to get a spindle group together, which meant I needed to quickly learn the role of the Defender Titan on the fight.  Please note… while I have a Defender spec, I don’t often play in it other than PVP… and even then its just for the Helm of Saint-14 procs that stun people in my bubbles.  I am neither proficient or even effective as one most of the time…  so I had a lot of ground to catch up.

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We grabbed another Axioma member Jex who was also awesome in helping me sort out what I should be doing.  For those who don’t understand the Black Spindle, it is an exotic sniper rifle that comes from the end of a daily heroic mission.  The gotcha is that you have to do some stuff that is not intended to actually get it, and it is hands down the roughest thing I have done in this game so far.  Essentially at the end of the normal mission you have to rush out of the final chamber and down a series of corridors, where you can’t really fight anything…  but instead just need to keep moving forward and avoiding taking as much damage as you can.  I believe there is some sort of time limit that you are under during that part, and you have to reach another area before it is considered safe and you can ease up a bit.  You have essentially moved into the area where another strike takes place… and from there you proceed as normal for a few rooms until finally you take a detour down the path that would normally lead to the Ketch in the Shadow Thief strike.  Now is where the difficult part begins… you take the elevator up into the Ketch and when you enter the first room with mobs, a timer starts.  You have ten minutes to get to the end of the strike, take down the boss and destroy all of the taken.  We were so damned close… and on my last attempt we literally had TWO mobs up when the timer ran out.  There are a bunch of things that I can do to help… namely get my damned exotic sword so that the next time this is available it will be a little easier.  Similarly I hope I pick up some gear in the raid on Tuesday so that my overall light level will be higher.  I was frustrated that I felt like given another attempt or two…  we would have gotten it.  However I had pretty much all day to make attempts and simply ran out of time before I needed to pop off the PS4.  There will always be a next time.