Kitten Assist

KenzieHelping

Helping Hand

KenzieHelping

This is becoming a pretty regular occurrence in my office, where Kenzie decides to “lay” behind one of my two monitors and then spend time poking her head out under the bottom and bopping things with her paw.  This morning she has been desperately trying to drag my phone that is attached to a usb cable towards her…  which is making me rethink the placement of that charger cable.  For the most part this weekend we hibernated to avoid the cold, and while we had nothing to deal with like the blizzard folks on the east coast…  I am not equipped to handle 20* temperatures that well.  The biggest news of the weekend is that we got our new dishwasher set up on Saturday.  Its stupid but right now it feels like we are purposefully dirtying dishes just so we can “play with it”.  I know it sounds like we truly are deprived of fun when you put it into those terms.  The truth is… we’ve gone without a dishwasher for a very long time.  The order of business was to rinse things out, and set them in the sink… until we had enough there to warrant washing dishes.  Now we simply dump the dirties in the dishwasher as we dirty them….  which is making me have to rewire a bunch of my internal processes.

We also used this as an excuse to buy new silverware… and by silverware I really mean stainless-steel-ware because it is not like we are the “good silver” type.  I am getting used to not eating on a mishmash of seven different patterns that we have had since college, but it is taking some doing.  A few years back we standardized on one set of dishes and gave away the equally mishmash set of plates and cups and bowls that we got in college, and I guess it was time for us to do the same with utensils.  So we are now eating with the best forks target can buy!  Well not exactly… there were apparently ritzier sets available.  The whole experience is just strange… its like I have to reroute how I exist in the kitchen now and it is taking some getting used to.  One of the themes that you can catch running through the blog is that “bel doesn’t handle change well” so… it will take a few weeks before I really can tell you if I like it or not.

Crusader Weekend

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I spoke a little bit about this one but on Friday night I got carried hard in Diablo III.  On the night season 5 opened, several of us ran around together as a group… but one of that group has eclipsed the rest of us by a huge margin.  On Friday night my friend Carth was nearing 500 paragon levels, and I am almost certain that by the time I am writing this today he is probably around 600 given his meteoric rise.  Me however… I was sitting at only around 10 paragon when I joined the madness that was our leveling binge.  Over the course of roughly three hours I got drug up in level to a point where I was actually somewhat functional.  During that time I pieced together what was a pretty damned good set of gear, and Saturday morning I managed to wrap up the last few requirements for the season 5 chapter 4 rewards.  At this point you can check out the particulars on my Diablo 3 profile, but there are still a handful of things that I am working on upgrading.  Damai linked me this build and I am following it to some extent, but there are some places where I plan on diverging… namely on the choice of weapons.

There is no world where I would ever use the pig sticker with its constant squealing.  The entire point of using it, is to have a fast attack speed… and technically my current sword already has a faster attack speed than the pig sticker.  Most of the weekend past Friday night was about me figuring out just what I could do on my own.  I can solo Torment VIII pretty easy, but it is slow enough going that for bounties I have decided to just stick to Torment VII as they go so much faster.  While recording the double AggroChat this weekend, I managed to do one full circuit of Torment VII bounties and while I added a few paragon levels I didn’t really get much loot to write home about.  At some point I plan on trying to solo more greater rifts to increase my blood shard count, but right now I have done through level 30 without much issue.  I really hate doing timed events… they just bring out all of the horrible anxieties in me, so in truth greaters are not exactly my favorite thing to do in the world.

Rhino Prime

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The other big happening of the weekend is the fact that I managed to finish up both my Rhino Prime and my ArchWing.  The only problem is that I have a silly amount of things that now need leveling.  I still have not capped the Lex sidearm, or my Drakgoon, Boltor, Latro…  or even my Dual Skana.  The frustrating thing about all of that is that I really don’t know how best to level them.  This is one of those games where I really like running around with other people and playing it…  but have not really enjoyed soloing much at all.  So whenever I had a “solo” moment this weekend, I fired up WoW and did Garrison stuff or popped into Diablo 3.  I need to sort out a solid and reliable way for leveling, and I thought just maybe it would have been a low level survival mission.  While I got lots of loot from it… I didn’t exactly get lots of levels and only managed to put four levels on the Rhino frame.

I am in this strange state of limbo where I think I might want to like Warframe more than I actually like it.  I absolutely enjoy playing with my friends, but unfortunately without also playing it solo… I am falling massively behind.  The friends who are really super serious about playing this game… are playing it all of the time as their primary game right now.  Which means I will always be behind in my ability to actually help them out in missions.  It gets frustrating sometimes when you realize you are being carried hard… and there isn’t much you can do about it.  I was slow abandoning the bow, and as a result I am struggling to play catch up with my other weapons.  The bow is this awesome solo weapon…. but pretty useless for group activity.  The problem there is that I feel like the non-bow weapons are less useful for soloing… so when I am stuck going through missions by myself to level them it feels like a sub optimal experience.  So as a result… I really didn’t play much warframe this weekend because I am still sorting out my feelings about the game.

Literal Pay to Win

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Actual Pay to Win

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One of the bogeymen of the MMO industry for years has been the concept of “Pay To Win” or the fear that those with the most money can end up with the best stuff.  The cycle of what makes an MMO has been right or wrong built on this illusion of a meritocracy.  The general idea being, that if you work hard and get really good… you can have the best items in the game for your efforts.  The problem with this is that it in itself has always been a lie.  Last night I spent several hours hanging out with friends playing Diablo 3, and during that time I simply was along for the ride… getting carried so unbelievably hard that during greater rifts I was gaining a paragon level damned near every-time my friend Carth killed something.  Nothing about this situation is me actually having any real merit, but instead was a situation of I knew someone who was willing to drag me along for fame and glory while at the same time increasing their own magic find chances.  The same has always been the case with raiding in general, that it is more about who you have an “in” with and that can get you into this or that raid… rather than pure skill.  However these games are built under the pretenses that these obstacles need to be there in order to maintain the social order, and keep the gamers from rioting.

In the past when there has been even an hint of “Pay To Win” there have been riots in the streets.  The problem being that, there are many games right now with ways to shortcut your way to victory.  Granted in many cases they don’t take you all the way there, and you still have to do a lot of things to truly catch up.  It has become perfectly acceptable for games like World of Warcraft or Everquest II to sell character boosts, that allow you to jump instantly to an end game equivalent level and be decked out in equivalent gear, saving you the time of actually leveling.  So the question is… why is this acceptable but it is not acceptable to sell armor and weapons?  I’ve been mulling over these questions while playing Warframe over the last few weeks.  The truth is… that game is absolutely a pay to win scenario.  If you were to spend multiple thousands of dollars on that game, you could in theory have the absolute best in slot gear for every single frame.  The funny thing is that while I know this is the case… it doesn’t actually hinder my enjoyment.  I don’t feel like I am somehow being robbed of my experience, but instead I know in the back of my head there is always an out… if I ever get down a path that ends up being too grindy.

Money for Time

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“Pay to Win” in the case of Warframe is a bit of a misnomer, because in the purest sense that would mean you are getting something with your money that no one else can get without stepping up to the plate and spending an equal amount.  There are lots of games with lootbox grab bags…. and these always seem super insidious to me…  I am looking at you Rift and your mounts.  Warframe however just feels honest about it.  You can farm a planetary boss over and over until you get all three parts of a Warframe to drop… and then purchase the equivalent blueprint off the market for in game credits, or you can just bypass the entire process and pay 200-400 platinum to have it in your grubby hands right then and there.  You are paying to speed up time…  because there is the act of actually grinding the components… and then gathering up the materials through running missions on planets.  Finally there is the actual time of crafting the thing.  Each of the three sub components take about 24 hours to craft, and then the final Warframe craft takes between 2 and 3 days depending on if it is a normal or a prime frame.  So if you absolutely have to have something right then and there…. you can pay a premium to get it delivered into your hands.

What I find more interesting though is just how thriving the secondary market is when it comes to purchasing items.  There are so many things that you can trade in this game, and for almost every single one of them there is a secondary market.  Players are limited to a specific number of trades per day, but you can often times find what you are looking for in the secondary market for prices cheaper than the official shop.  So while you can’t actually buy the Prime Rhino Warframe from the shop right now, you can find a player that has collected the four component pieces and essentially pay them platinum for the act of farming it for you.  So the cycle is interested, in that those who have the time to run missions over and over to farm up complete pattern sets….  can easily turn that time into money.  The folks who don’t have the time, but can afford to spend some money… can turn that money into the resources that help them play the game more efficiently.  It is far from a utopia, but it is nowhere near the apocalypse that most MMO players would predict.

Two Way Street

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I think the key to this feeling overall “fair” is the fact that it is absolutely a two way street.  There are lots of times in MMOs where the “house” steps in the middle and offers a not entirely fair deal to both sides of the equation.  For example in the case of the World of Warcraft token… it is not literally a case of one human selling a commodity to another human.  Instead there is an algorithm in the middle, that buys tokens from players for a floating amount of in game gold… and then sells that token back to players who want to use it in lieu of subscription time.  The problem is… this formula takes human nature out of the equation, the thing that makes the whole experience interesting.  In games like Rift and EQ2, that have direct exchange of subscription token to currency between two players….  the patient player can wait out the best possible deal.  There were many cases where I sat on a token for weeks until I found someone who absolutely had to have that token right then to continue their substitution, and wound up getting a premium for it.  Similarly I am sure there are players who took advantage of market surplus to stock up on tokens when they were cheap and ended up spending far less in game currency as a result.  The reason why that felt better, was that there were options… that you were not essentially dealing with a vending machine that took its on theoretical cut.

What I think I like the most about this situation in Warframe is that it feels like I have a lot of options.  I can go much more slowly and solo the planets trying to collect the items I need, or I can pester my friends to run it with me multiple times .  I could go to the aftermarket and hit the trade channel and look for the items I need to finish out a blueprint set.  Or if i am really desperate I can simply open my pocket book, but in all cases I have several different paths to the end goal, and as a result I don’t feel nearly as trapped as I often do in other games.  For example right now I would love to have a Moose in World of Warcraft, but the raid I have connections with… that can easily get me one… happens to run at the same time as we record AggroChat.  Do I want a moose because it is some status symbol, that somehow places me above other players?  God no… I just like collecting mounts, and I like the idea that it looks like a normal group mount but can also fly.  If I could plunk down money and pick that mount up on the store…  you can bet I would rather than trying to do the copious amount of social engineering it will actually take to get me that damned mount.  Warframe…. I can take either path.  I can work with friends towards a goal… or I can simply grease the wheels and get everything I feel like I want faster.  In truth…  I feel like we as players are far more scared of “Pay to Win” than is really warranted.

 

Squirrelghast

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Flak Cannon Time

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When it comes to playing Warframe I have quite literally spent almost 99% of my time playing the game…. in a full or partial group.  This greatly colors my feelings about the game, and in truth it has allowed me to play in a super inefficient manner.  Last night we had several group missions and then when Tam went to class and Ashgar went to bed…  it just kinda broke up and never reformed in spite of us having several people there.  Instead of grouping I opted to start working on some of the missions I had not actually unlocked, and I have to say…  I am pretty bad at this game.  At the very least my chosen play style is not exactly a solo friendly play style.  When I am playing my Excalibur with a Bow….  it works great, because I can sneak around and get a bunch of stealth kills.  However last night I was trying to level my Atlas with a Braton…  and the ability to stealth kill anything was non-existent.  In truth I feel like most of the problem is the fact that I have yet to really sort out how I want to mod anything.  At some point I need to spend an entire evening leveling mods, and deciding which ones work best with which weapons.

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On the positive side of things, I did manage to finish up all of the sub components of the Rhino Prime and now simply have to wait the 72 hours crafting time to get it.  I also managed to finish up the Drakgoon Flak Cannon last night, so I spent some time playing with that as well.  I keep calling it a Flak Cannon because it very much reminds me of the Flak Cannon from Quake 3.  At close range it can be fired like a shotgun, but if you charge up the attack it can be fired from a much longer range and still be effective.  I am digging it quite a bit… and managed to have quite a bit of good luck with it running some missions.  I still think that the Strun is probably a better choice for a charge in and sword damage playstyle like I tend to favor, which is something that Ashgar suggested.  For the time being I am having a blast with this weapon…. and yes that pun was intended.  The other thing I did last night was start building a Boltor rifle, to see if I like that as was suggested to me by Scarybooster.  I mean in theory I could have gone shopping for a Boltor prime, but I happened to have all of the crafting mats available to make one without really dipping low in anything.  I guess tonight I will give it a shot and see what I think about it.

Blade and Soul

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Right now the new hotness at least among the blogosphere seems to be Blade and Soul, which just launched this week.  In fact at this moment it seems like unless you are paying for the game, it is highly unlikely that you are going to actually get to play it.  My twitter timeline has been full of folks posting pictures of the insane queue times just trying to log in.  The other big problem that I have seen is that it seems like no one is actually playing on the same server.  I did a few quick queries and it seemed like everyone I know is playing on completely different servers.  I had no real interest in this game prior to launch, and honestly….  there isn’t much about it after launch that interests me.  That said…. since it is a freemium game I have this overwhelming desire to at least give it a shot.  I have to admit I have some pretty severe biases against Korean MMO art styles.  There is just something about the art aesthetic that annoys me…  the cloyingly pretty men, and the insane “Jessica Rabbit” style women…  its just not my thing.

The positive is that there is a Lalafell like race in Blade and Soul so I decided to try and focus instead on the maximum cuteness potential of that.  The problem there is…  it just isn’t as good as a Lalafell.  I created what I am dubbing Squirrelghast on the Old Man Cho server…. simply because I liked the name.  At some point if I end up liking the game I will try and sort out another server to roll on that actually has people I know.  The only negative is that I have yet to get any further than character creation because I end up getting dumped into a massive queue… and decided that I would simply rather play Warframe or Diablo 3.  It is my hope that over the weekend I will be able to get in and give the game a proper try.  The only thing I really know about it from clips is that it seems to be an MMO about the whole flying wire “crouching tiger hidden dragon” style of combat.  These movies never really appealed to me either, because they just felt so over the top silly to see someone calmly flying across the screen.  I’ve heard however that the localization job that Carbine did on this title was really damned good, and much like Final Fantasy XIV they slipped in a ton of cultural references.  If for no reason other than that… I kinda want to play it.  I really love the folks at Carbine and they seem to do a great job with the games under their care, so it is my hope that I will be charmed enough by the localization effort to overlook all the things I don’t care for.

 

Rhino Prime Incoming

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Secondary Market

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Once again last night I spent most of it running around with friends in Warframe.  At the moment this seems to be the new hotness among the AggroChat podcast crew, and I guess in part I am going to ride the bubble as long as it lasts.  I know like many games this one is likely to burst at some point, when either we enter the endgame grind….  or one of us tries to do something that the game doesn’t really allow for.  However in the meantime I am enjoying my space ninja action, and spent most of last night leveling “stuff”.  Another really important thing that I discovered yesterday was the trade market.  Now Tam and Ashgar had both been talking about the deals that they had been getting in trades with players, and I never really spent much time thinking about it…  that is until I realized that I was quickly becoming the only player without a prime frame.  In many ways the prime frames are just flat out better than a normal frame, and since I had already been laboring towards trying to get a Rhino, I thought maybe I would check out the potential of just bumping that up to prime.

Within a few minutes I was able to find a Prime frame for considerably cheaper than the price of the base Rhino frame on the game store.  So I guess in truth if you are willing to spend ANY money on the game at all…  you can pick up some bargains.  I know some of our crew have picked up really nice weapons…  and managed to get some freebie mods thrown in to fill out the rest of the trade window.  So for me in particular… last night was all about farming up the rest of the components I needed to craft my Rhino Prime over night.  Unfortunately when I checked in this morning I still have a few hours left to go on the build, and then 72 hours after that before I actually get to drive my frame around.  In the meantime however… I need to sort out exactly what I want to use for weapons on my stompy mech.  I love my excalibur, but there are just times where it does not seem well suited for some activities.  Mostly I feel like I need to have a solid backup for when running around like mad and slashing things with a sword is not necessarily the best idea.

Atlas Rising

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The other big activity of the night was to begin work on my Atlas frame, that I had picked up some time ago… but never spent much time working on.  For the time being I have it decked out in a Braton, those starter fist weapons, and a Lex pistol…. all pretty much for the purpose of leveling them since we were running low level content.  Early in the evening we were trying to make it through Phobos, and we ended up struggling quite a bit… so it forced us all to switch back to our “main” frames for the purpose of finishing up that planet.  However after that we shifted to doing low level defense runs which are pretty amazing for leveling stuff.  By the end of the evening Altas was hovering around 14 with the weapons I think in the 16-18 range.  The big draw right now of Atlas is the rock shield ability that I can also push forward as a ball of stone to bowl over enemies.  This was absolutely amazing for “wave clear” when the Grineer were stacked up in neat little columns.  Nothing yet has beaten the pure joy of hitting the giant “Nope!” button that is Excalibur’s Radial Blind, but this comes close.

I absolutely feel like an earthbender though, and there are several of the abilities I have yet to even play with… like the ability to summon rock golems to fight by my side.  The other takeaway of the night is just how damned awesome the Braton is.  I was looking for a good light machine gun, to give me that almost destiny  like feel… and that really does it.  I also plan on building a Latron soon, because several other members of my team have had good luck with that.  From the sounds of it… the Braton is more of an Auto Rifle in Destiny terms, and the Latron would be something more like the Scout Rifle.  Both are weapons that I really enjoy, but for vastly different purposes.  The only thing I wish this game supported was the changing of loadouts while in a mission.  Because sometimes you hit situations where your weapons are just ineffective and it would greatly improve the experience to be able to swap things up planet side.  Maybe there is a way and I just have not found it, but in any case…  because I don’t think I can do it… it makes me pick more generalized builds so that if my primary is ineffective, then my secondary will work as a backup.  Regardless… I am still very much enjoying myself and looking forward to getting to play with a Prime frame.

 

Banking and Bosses

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Busy Morning

Trying to knock out a really quick blog post, because if I don’t right now I am not entirely certain when I will get the chance.  Both my wife and I are off today for the holiday, and as a result we have tried to schedule as much as humanly possible to do today.  Largely this means finally getting in to talk to the bank about refinancing our loan.  Adulting is frustrating and horrible… and hopefully it will go smoother than I have made it out to be in my head.  In a perfect scenario we will be able to do this without much hassle.  In theory it should only really be a case of someone from the bank coming to look over the house and appraise it, and after the recent renovations that should go a hell of a lot more smoothly.  I mean we have a relatively new roof and very new siding, so the house has looked better than it has in years.  All of that said… there is still so much anxiety for me anytime you are dealing with finances and banks and such.

After that I have this feeling that we are going to run around looking at dish washers.  For whatever reason… it is suddenly a big deal to my wife that we have a non-functional dish washer.  Don’t get me wrong I understand, I hate washing the dishes but for reasons entirely different from probably hers.  When you are 6’4″ they simply do not make a sink that is comfortable to stand at, and by the time I finish washing dishes my back is killing me from stooping over the sink.  Why it is suddenly a crisis is the part that I am not quite understanding, because the thing has been dead for several years now.  All of that said…  if she wants a new dishwasher we are getting a new dishwasher.  I know she has looked at a couple of them, and I know she wants my input…  but basically whatever one she wants I am completely happy with.  I just hope this one I can actually figure out how to use…. because the last one…  every time I seemed to run a load of dishes something horrible went wrong.

Boss Farming

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It was fairly late by the time I finally filtered downstairs and got set down, and by then a bunch of my friends were in Warframe so I decided to join them.  We spent the next hour and some change farming a boss mission trying to get myself and Thalen the last pieces of the Mag Warframe that we needed.  Unfortunately…  we didn’t have much luck.  It seems that through killing planetary bosses you have a chance of getting parts to drop to a specific type of warframe.  The boss in question was at the end of Mars, and drops all three parts of the Mag frame.  I am not really sure why we cared so much about it, other than the fact that we both had all but one part… and it was the same part we were missing.  I am in that same position with Rhino, and that is a mech I am far more likely to use.  But whatever the case we were wrapped up in the moment of killing stuff for loot, and I have to say… we walked away with a bunch of awesome stuff.

If nothing else… it was a great source of the various crafting materials needed to create mechs.  There is a single piece that I am missing for a couple of helmets that I will need to track down at some point.  I also had plenty of materials to craft a bunch of weapons, including two new swords, a new bow, and a set of fists for me to use on my Rhino frame.  Right now I am really liking the moment to moment feel of this game, and it seems to be the ideal drop in and hang out type co-operative experience.  The question will be how long it takes for one of us to get super serious about the game, because this feels like the sort of game that is fun to play casually… but deeply frustrating to play seriously.  There is one mission type that I absolutely hate, and that is the sneak up and capture the target type mission.  I never can seem to get in close enough to them to keep from triggering them to make a run for the escape vessel.  Then when they start running… I am simply not fast enough to take them down before they get away.  There is one mission that I tried four or five times yesterday and never seemed to be able to finish successfully.  Other than that mild frustration… I am enjoying pretty much every other mission type I have done.

Week in Gaming 1/17/2016

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weekingamingIt has been awhile since I have done one of these, and of the various failed columns that I have tried over the years…. I think this one is the best for me personally.  Sunday is a rough day in general, in part because I wake up and have to finish up AggroChat and get it out to the various locations.  As a result it helps to have a fairly formulaic option I can lean on when I am not feeling super inspired.  As a result I am leaning once again on the Week in Gaming series just to talk about a bunch of stuff I played this week.

Pax South Hype!

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I am starting to get super excited for Pax South.  Last year I had various companies ask me for a business card, and I was somewhat kicking myself for not having any.  I mean I guess part of me never really thought that having a business card for a blog and podcast was a good idea.  This year however I have gotten my ass in order and if everything works as intended the cards will arrive at the beginning of next week.  I only ordered 250 because I could not in any circumstance think of a reason why I would need that many.  The design was done by Rae and was originally intended to be our Pax Prime cards, but since we were denied media access to that convention they never actually got made.  I resurrected the idea because I thought it was pretty slick.  In the original design each of the hosts has their own color, and given that I love green I latched onto that one.  As far as a back design I went with something simple because I felt like it needed something on the back….  and in truth that is the crux of our thing…  daily posts, weekly cast.  If you are also going to be at Pax South let me know, I would love to meet up with everyone that I can while I am there.

Undertale

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I have some mixed feelings about Undertale so far.  On one level I really like the game and it feels like something that is going to be an interesting experience.  The negative is I absolutely HATE the combat system.  I hate mini-games, and while I was corrected last night on the podcast…. I am sorry but that isn’t a real combat system.  Part of me just wants to run away from every single fight so that I don’t have to do it.  I mean granted I was using arrow keys and maybe that makes it worse than it actually is, but I just hate the concept of breaking out of an otherwise fun old school RPG style game….  and having to deal with move the heart to avoid shit.  For now I have essentially abandoned the game, in the hopes that some distance will in fact make the heart grow fond.  Essentially I love everything else about the game… other than the combat system.  This might be one of those games that is more enjoyable to watch.

Victor Vran

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I’ve already talked about this game quite a bit throughout the week but I feel like it still deserves additional mention.  The only negative about this game is that I started playing it essentially the week before a bunch of other things that I wanted to play happened.  My hope is that once the recent infatuation with Warframe and Diablo 3 Season 5 have calmed down, I can return to this and play my way through the main story some more.  I really want to see what multiplayer feels like in the end game experience.  Playing it was fine for me… but essentially locked the other players that I was dragging along with me… out of some of the experience of interacting with the voice floating around in your head.  If you are not partaking of the Diablo 3 Season 5 madness…. and still want a ARPG fix… I highly suggest you check it out.

Warframe

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This game….  is so good and I am kinda kicking myself for never really giving it a proper attempt at playing.  I have downloaded this game numerous times in the past on the PC, PS3 and PS4 when I saw other folks in my various social media timelines talking about it… but never actually tried it.  I guess in my head I had this absolutely misrepresented as to what sort of game it was.  With a super generic name like Warframe… I kept getting it jumbled up with the other game Warface.  Warface being a super generic Call of Duty/Counterstrike style PVP shooter.  So in my head I equated Warframe to a PVP experience… not this deeply nuanced cooperative PVE experience.  There are so many aspects of this game that remind me of an MMO, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.  The game as a whole feels like this amalgam of Destiny, Phantasy Star Online and Tribes.  If that combination sounds like something you would be interesting, I highly suggest you check it out.  I think I was largely luckier than most in that one of the freebie mechs, the Excalibur is right down my alley.  I am slashing everything with my space ninja ways, and really enjoying myself.  For those curious, I have pretty much set down roots on the PC, and while I might give it a shot later on the PS4, I have no real intention of moving at the moment as the AggroChat crew seem to all be playing it.

Diablo 3

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The floodgates for Diablo 3 Season 5 opened on Friday at 7pm and from that point until 10:30 or so my time I was running around in a group leveling like mad.  At this point I have managed to get to 68, which puts me behind the curve of folks like Grace that are 70 with over 150 paragon levels.  That however is fine by me, because I am just happy I am almost to the cap with at least one character.  I am going to be interested in seeing what the various challenges are that unlock the various seasonal rewards.  What makes the season play so addictive to me is the fact that it mimics a MMO launch.  Everyone on your friends list for a period of time is playing Diablo 3 and excited about it, as though they were playing a brand new game.  So you have a few weeks of focused play, and then don’t feel guilty at all when you shift back to playing other games until the launch of the next season.  This focused excitement is really fun to experience, and this is technically my third season so far.  There is part of me that wishes I had gotten on board with the concept earlier.  My goal today is to finish up my Crusader and then probably focus on some more Warframe.  Hopefully all of you readers out there have had an equally fun week, and Pax South seriously could not get here soon enough.

Pumpkin King

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The Hammer

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All day long yesterday I had been craving some more Victor Vran, so when I got home last night… I fed the animals… fed myself… and plunked down on the couch to play some more.  Firstly I have to say how nice it runs on my aging gaming laptop.  For many games that I would want to play downstairs… like Dragon Age: Inquisition or Fallout 4… they simply do not run well on the dual 650 video cards that the laptop has in it.  This game however looks gorgeous and runs at a solid 60 fps, which makes me happy.  Granted graphically it is a much more simple game than the ones I rattled off, but nonetheless it makes me happy.  While roaming around last night I found this crazy boss fight, that spawned after taking down several other bosses in an area.  Upon defeating the specter it announced that if I would only spare him…  I could have access to his truly rare wares.  When I opened up the vendor window I saw my very first purple weapon…. the Pumpkin Hammer.  So I proceeded to liquidate everything in my inventory except my handful of favorite weapons… and was barely able to afford it.

It is every bit as cool as you might imagine.  Firstly you are running around with a giant jack-o-lantern on a stick which in itself has a cool factor.  To add to the effect however, when you hit anything…  it spawns a pumpkin bomb on the ground… which moments later then explodes taking out more stuff.  The only negative here is it actually cost me an objective last night.  The objective was to take out a handful of monsters with the hammer… problem being that in one case at least the pumpkin bomb went off and finished off the monster and as a result it did not count.  So that is something to watch, but what I like about it is the fact that the attack animation seems much faster than the standard hammer.  It hits for slightly less than my previous hammer, but since I am able to hit more often it balances out in the end.  Other than the hammer the ghost sold a few spells, that also looked pretty great…  but after bankrupting myself I could not afford anything else.  From the sound of the message it seems like the creature appears at random in various levels, so hopefully I can build back up my gold reserves by the time I see him again.

Guyver Time

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Warframe and I have this strange relationship… where I have downloaded it for PC, PS3 and PS4…  but never actually played it.  I’ve seen friends on my various social media timelines playing it for ages, and been intrigued.  The problem being that I apparently had the wrong impression of what sort of game it actually was.  In my head I had this filed away as some sort of PVP experience, when in truth it is largely a PVE team based experience.  Over the weekend Ashgar and Tamrielo discovered the game, and Monday night I was going to join them.  Unfortunately there were some complications…. namely that for whatever reason my ISP could not connect to Warframe.com or any of the game servers for a period of time.  As a result I instead spent the entire night playing Victor Vran and had a blast doing so.  Since I spent the evening on the sofa, it meant that I needed to download the client again, and about half way through the evening I switched games.

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So far I have to say I am pretty impressed.  I am only running the game at 720p because I didn’t want to have any possible frame rate issues on the laptop, however the game itself looks gorgeous.  In many way its missions remind me of the missions from Mass Effect 2 and 3.  The most fun I had was this mission we did as a group where we entered a ship, triggered an alarm and then tried to hold out as long as we could.  We managed to make it up until the point that the ship started spawning in waves of level 5 mobs…  at which point we retreated to the extraction zone and held that tunnel for as long as we could before making a break for it.  Towards the end these firebombing mobs started coming in and we damned near lost Ashgar.  I myself came precariously close to dying a few times, only to get revived in a similar fashion to how you can players in Destiny.  All in all it was a really good experience, and I think honestly the Excaliber warframe suits me pretty well.  I like the blade, and for my main weapon I ended up choosing a bow.  Later I spent a little money on the game and got some upgrades and now my secondary weapon is a heavy double firing pistol called the Kraken.  I also spent some time making the suit look more “me”.  Look forward to playing more over the coming weeks.

 

Cats and Wolves

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Cattes a Plenty

NekoAtsumeAt some point last year, lots of folks in my feed showed up with this Japanese app on their phones called Neko Atsume.  From what I can tell it roughly translates to Cat Collector, and it is one of those passive things that I tend to refer as a “maintenance game”.  The thing is….  I like cats.  In fact as I write this post I have one on either end of my desk sleeping on their blankets.  I for the most part avoided the game until recently when for some strange reason I decided to give it an install.  Firstly I’ve talked about my problems with mobile gaming in general.  I tend to install a game, play it a few times… and then never touch it again.  Largely my life is not exactly mobile friendly, and if I have access to games….  I am generally at home when I can use a more traditional gaming system.  This game however…  fits that realm of do something…  leave it sit for awhile… check back in on progress for a minute or two.  I’ve found myself popping it open while waiting on a meeting to start, and the jolt of happy kittehs doing stuff seems to help my mental state.

The concept is really simple.  You purchase cat toys, place them in your virtual yard… and the neighborhood cats will come visit you and leave you gifts if they enjoyed themselves.  The gifts come in the form of silver or gold fish… with the later also serving as the cash shop currency of the game.  As far as advancement… I have zero clue how that works.  I know I have seen screenshots of folks with much bigger yards, but I have no idea how that actually occurs yet.  The starter yard has a fixed number of mount points for items, and at any point you can pick the items up and replace them with other items from your inventory.  I have a pretty simple yard right now, but it seems to draw cats in pretty well.  You can play the game completely free and there is a conversion between silver fish and gold fish… but it is pretty painful.  You can get 10 Gold fish for every 250 Silver fish, which is doable because over the course of a few days I have earned over 250.  Right now it gives me tiny doses of happy especially when I pop over and my yard is completely full of cats doing adorable things.  I fully expect that within two weeks time I will have abandoned this mobile game just like I have abandoned so many others.

Slowly Leveling

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The other big project I have had over the last several days is working my way through the content in Destiny on my Xbox 360.  This has been a somewhat crazy side mission, and I have to say…  it has been interesting leveling from scratch for a second time.  There were a lot of things I struggled with in Destiny playing through it that very first time, and for the most part none of them are big deals this time.   I guess all of the time I have played on the Playstation 4 really has made me significantly better at the game, because swapping consoles has been a non-issue.  Sure the 360 controller feels a little strange, but I seem to be able to switch hit between it and the dualshock without much problem.  Admittedly I find the dualshock 4 significantly more comfortable, and if there was a way to make it work on the 360 I totally would.  I guess you might ask yourself why exactly am I leveling on a last generation console…  well I still have friends playing it.  I have been really damned impressed at just how well the game plays.  I mean admittedly it feels like someone smeared vasoline on the screen because everything feels a little fuzzy… given the lower resolution and with it lower texture detail.  However the moment to moment game play is exactly the same… and the weapons and movement all feels just as responsive.  I am sure at some point I will pick up an Xbox One, and at that point…  in theory my 360 characters get to transfer over so any work I am doing now I can carry forward into the next system.

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There are so many lessons that I have learned from playing through the first time.  This time around for example I am stockpiling every single blue engram drop that I happen to get.  The idea is that if I can wait to open any of them until level 40, I will be able to push up my light level quickly and get to a viable position to start doing content.  I am investing a lot of time right now in this platform, but the hope is that eventually it will be the sort of thing I only play when I have people to play with.  I still greatly prefer the Playstation 4 version, and those are the characters that I really care about.  In theory I could have spent my level 25 boost on my Titan and probably would have been done by now, but there is something fun about doing this legitimately again.  At this point I have beaten the main storyline of the original game, and darkness below.  I am also a fairly significant way through the House of Wolves storyline, but it was getting late last night and I did not really want to deal with the Vault of Glass mission, so that is where I will pick up next time I play.  I’ve reached level 25, which concerns me a bit… given that I have quite a bit to go before I can function very efficiently in the Taken King content.  I mean in theory I could already be doing that… but sub 35 some of those later missions are a pain in the ass.  Generally speaking on Destiny alts I push all the way to 40 before even really starting Taken King, so that I can burn through it easily.  Given I need leveling fuel… I will more than likely start Taken King as soon as I finish up with House of Wolves.  I guess I could do some Strike grinding, but I really really hate the Omnighoul strike, and that seems to be all I ever get in the level 20 range.

The Pathfinder

Flying Again

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Not being able to fly in Draenor has been an interesting experience, and mostly one that I did not fully realize what I was missing until recently.  I had got so used to NOT flying… that it always felt strange when I entered the old would and could suddenly take to the skies again.  I would lift off the ground in Stormwind or Ironforge and have this momentary pause where I couldn’t quite remember what I was supposed to do now that I was up above the world.  I can’t say I gnashed me teeth wanting flight, in fact I think it was probably a much more enjoyable experience for me because I was forced to be on the ground.  I made me actually learn the lay of the land in these zones, and it also got me using the flight point system again.  However over the last few weeks I have been working on the final requirements for Draenor Pathfinder, and being shuttled around by one of my friends on her rocket makes me realize just how much easier everything is with flight.  Why clear your way through a camp when you can just drop down on top of your objective?  But it also has made me realize exactly why they disabled in the first place.  Flight is overpowered when it comes to questing, and there is nothing more frustrating than working your way to a treasure chest in Tanaan only to have someone swoop in from above to snatch it from you before you can get to it.  When I was wrapping up the last bits of faction yesterday I had this happen three times in the course of a ten minute period.

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I honestly don’t so much  care about flight for my max level characters, but instead for my characters that I have yet to level further.  This means that I can pretty much chain quest my way to 100 by doing ONLY the objectives, and while this means I will be skipping a bunch of content… it is also content I have seen several times.  The biggest boon to me is that it will make collecting treasures so much easier, especially the ones that involve a jumping puzzle.  The negative is…  that I will no longer be cycling through my collection of ground mounts, but in the grand scheme I think I will live.  I realize this is months late, but it is still exciting to me to be able to return to the skies.  While Draenor Pathfinder was kind of a pain in the ass….  I got lucky and managed to get several medallions from the current Christmas event that helped me leapfrog 1000 faction at a time.  The problem is…. now that I am done with this achievement I am not really sure what to do with myself.  I could either start pushing the rest of my alliance characters from 90ish to 100….  or I could return to working on my Orc Warlock to hopefully have a second 100 to play with Horde side.  In any case… I topped a big goal off of my list and am pretty happy.

Last Gen Destiny

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Over the week I have had a friend of mine talking about picking up Destiny now that he realized you could get it for the Xbox 360.  I myself have considered picking it up on that console for awhile, especially since I feel bad that my 360 doesn’t see much love.  I had been trying to use PSTV to play PS4 downstairs where we have the exercise bike set up, and the lag is just enough that it makes Destiny largely unplayable for me.  The answer on all of the forums seems to be to hard wire your PSTV into your network…. but I don’t have the ability to have Ethernet downstairs, and I question how well powerline adapters would work in my house.  Which moves me to potentially relocating my Xbox 360 to downstairs and playing some Destiny on it.  I ended up picking it up and I have to say… I am pretty impressed.  The game for the most part “feels” the same…  just at a much lower resolution.  To some extent playing on the 360 feels like you are squinting while playing it on the PS4.  Everything is just slightly lower resolution, which would make sense considering that Destiny runs at 1080p 30fps on the PlayStation 4 and it runs 720p 30fps on the Xbox 360.  The difference is noticeable when you are standing still but for the most part in the heat of the battle I don’t really notice it that much.

The only negative of playing on the Xbox 360 however is that I am starting completely over.  I’ve read that apparently you can log your characters in on either Xbox 360 or Xbox One… and the same goes for PS4 and PS3.  So if I ever get a Xbox One at some point all of the effort I have done on the 360 will port over.  Interestingly enough though that means that I guess I could have picked up a copy for the PS3 and played my existing PS4 characters on it.  That said…  I have heard some really bad issues with Destiny on the PS3.  Everything I had read about the 360 made it sound like it was just a downgraded resolution… but I’ve heard the PS3 version is only running at a strange 624p and also has some framerate dip issues.  Mostly I am still amazed at just how well it runs on last generation hardware, and while I won’t have that constant desire to take screenshots because the game is so damned pretty….  it will give me something interesting to do while riding the exercise bike.  I have a woefully small number of people on my XBox Live account so feel free to add BelghastStern, and especially if you play Destiny on the 360 please let me know!

 

 

Bel’s 2015 Game Awards

Year in Review

 

First off let me start this post by wishing all of you my readers a Happy New Year.  During the course of this past year nearly 70,000 of you have visited my blog, and I am still scratching my head as to why.  Whatever I am doing, I guess I will keep doing that in the next year.  I do have some cool ideas for things to keep me moving forward, but I don’t really want to go into those right now….  mostly because it will involve some programming on my part to make it function.  The thing I have learned over the years of blogging and this coming year will make seven…  is that I am really really bad at columns.  I will start a feature and then after a few weeks to months it peters out.  The MMOs Worth Playing feature was one of my favorite so far, but it was also one of the more time consuming.  That said in the  coming year I would really like to bring it back, and maybe change its focus to be a little big more manageable….  sort of a MMO of the Month Club type thing.  Each week during the MWP thing I was trying to log into that game, play it a bit to remember the things I liked about it… take fresh screenshots and get up a post every single Friday.  As we got into the pre-Holiday crunch time it failed miserably.  Maybe an MMO of the Month will work better because it gives me more time…. though honestly if the AggroChat Game Club is any evidence I will probably just end up waiting until the week before we record the show before attempting to play the game.

This morning the idea is to do my Awards for the year, since we have officially wrapped up a year now.  These are not exactly your normal awards and more like the back of a high school year book…  most likely to succeed etc.  Though from what I understand…. there are a lot of schools who are no longer doing that for sake of potentially damaging students self esteem.  More than anything I want to thank all of you for joining me on this continued journey.  The last few months of the year were pretty rough on this side of the equation, but you all kept with me and kept supporting me, and for that I am immensely appreciative.  Without further rambling…  here is the inaugural edition of “Bel’s Game Awards”.

Biggest Surprise

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Hatoful Boyfriend – Feel the Birblove!

I absolutely did not expect to like this game, and in truth I probably never would have played it were not for the fact that my good friend Grace chose this as her aggrochat game of the month.  I expected it to be largely played on a goof, and even went to the extreme of recording my first game play session because I expected it would be a maddening experience for me.  The end result however was something I did not expect, I really enjoyed it.  I laughed more while playing this game than I have laughed in a long time while playing any game…. maybe since initially playing Sam and Max Hit the Road.  What is even more shocking is that I continued on after the initial play through and ended up getting six or seven different endings by the time we had recorded the AggroChat show.  There has been a whole side discussion since about whether or not Hatoful Boyfriend is actually representative of Otome and Visual Novels in general…. or if it just lampoons the genre.  I think more than anything it opened my eyes to the fact that this sort of “non-action” game can be extremely fun, and would make me at least try some other games.  So kinda like WoW is an ice breaker for MMOs… this might be that sort of Icebreaker for Otome.

Biggest Disappointment

Citizens of Earth
Citizens of Earth

I remember when I first saw this game… it seemed like this amazing callback to the Super Nintendo era of RPGs where you had such oddball genre bending hits like Mario RPG and Earthbound.  The problem is that in application…  the game ended up as this soulless hull that simply was not fun to play.  This was our very first AggroChat game club game… and none of us really liked it.  This was the game that essentially we all unanimously voted that we wanted to play… and was also the game that  caused us to change gears and start letting individual members pick a game for us to play, rather than trying to all decided together what the next game we would play might be.  The game was frustrating from a technical level, but the level of grind needed to get very far just made the experience simply not enjoyable.  The idea of being able to recruit hundreds of potential party members was amazing…  until you realized that not a single one of them was interesting at all.  The part that ruined it for most people was the fact that the main character, the mayor was so completely unlikable.  I think it was Kodra that said that the game would have been salvageable if you could simply leave him at home and go off adventuring without him.  The stereotypes were caricatures were humorous for the first fifteen minutes, and then quickly became painful to keep playing.

Most Improved

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Destiny – The Taken King

What can I say about Destiny the Taken King that I have not already said.  I had no real hopes for this expansion because for the most part I had abandoned all hope for Destiny before the time the first expansion patch landed.  Year one was a grindy mess whose light leveling system left me scratching my head and simply not caring anymore about trying to progress.  I believe I managed to get to Light 26 before hitting a wall of resource gathering, that I simply lacked the desire to keep pushing through.  In year one engrams in general felt few and far between, and you were constantly having to judge whether or not an item provided enough light to make it worth swapping it in, even if in other ways the item might be superior.  Year two fixed a lot of this in the same way that the Diablo 3 2.0 patch just magically fixed that game, or at least made it FEEL better.  That is the thing with me and games, the moment to moment game play has to feel good and also feel like I am getting something for my time spent.  While I could say that technically there is way more grind in Year 2, it feels like you are at least getting something for your time…. even if it is just weapon and armor parts.  I would rather see things drop… and all of those things be crap rather than never seeing a drop… and when you finally do it decodes into a lower level than the face value of the engram.  The biggest change however is the fact that the Taken King has a story… and it is actually a cool one.  Through both the quest narrative and the item descriptions that can be found on the website for each of the items you pick up… the game has started to tell this epic tale of both the Traveller and the Darkness, and how the two have battled through countless races and star systems since time began.  For me, I patched up my game and tried the year 2 experience long before picking up the expansion….  and I highly suggest anyone who has not given it another shot do the same.

Game I Still Can’t Get Into

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

I love the Dragon Age franchise…. or at least I did.  I’ve been a fan since Dragon Age: Origins… and I have beaten at least six different endings of that game.  Which as a person who rarely if ever finishes video games… that should tell you something.  I even managed to play through Dragon Age 2 a few different times, and largely enjoyed my experience.  However when confronted with Dragon Age: Inquisition it feels like this insurmountable wall.  Firstly I think the game just looks ugly out of the gate with its overuse of object shine and its strange playdough hair.  The other big problem I have is that generally speaking I play roleplaying games on the sofa, where it is nice and comfy… and none of the laptops that I own are capable of playing this game with decent settings, or at least good enough settings to make it look not like shit.  Recently I have picked it up for the Playstation 4 over the recent sales and it is my hope to maybe try playing it on the vita.  The first statement anyone ever seems to make to me when I talk about my problems with the game… is that I need to leave the hinterlands.  I promise I have left the Hinterlands… but the main storyline is just boring to me.  It is nothing as awesome as Dragon Age Origins was….  and I think that’s because I just don’t like the Inquisition.  I could get 100% behind the Grey Wardens… I believed in their cause and was ready to go into battle for them.  I could give a flying fuck about being the Herald of Andraste.  I hate this green shit that comes out of my hand… and I hate the feeling that I am constantly fiddling with the magic of the world… and my key goal in life seems to be to close rifts full of annoying demons.  I like some of the characters that I interact with, but some of my favorite characters so far are characters you can’t take with you on missions like Scout Harding.  My party of choice would be Cassandra, Sera, and Harding….  but instead I tend to go with Cassandra, Sera and Dorian.  I wish I knew why this game is just so not enjoyable for me…. but I want to play it… I really do.

Lived Up to the Hype

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Fallout 4

The game this year that I was the most hyped about has to be Fallout 4, and that hype cycle started from the moment it was officially announced at E3.  This game did so many things right, and really it was starting with the way it was announced.  They held off to show any information on the game until it was already pretty damned polished, and then they hit it out of the part by saying that it would be in our grubby little hands only a few months later.  In the meantime they gave us a pretty fun mobile game to keep us interested…. which I will talk about later.  Fallout is one of those franchises that I place up on a pedestal for always giving me exactly what I wanted out of the game.  A big open world with lots of little things to keep me interested, and a complete inability to ever truly “finish” the game.  There is more content in Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and now Fallout 4 than I will ever have time to see.  Hell in the few days ahead of the launch… I played some more Fallout New Vegas and was still finding things that I had never seen before… and I considered that game pretty damned well trodden.  As far as Fallout 4…  everything about the game makes me happy… apart from maybe the main storyline.  The thing is… I don’t play Fallout games for the story… I play them to go off and inhabit the wasteland and weave my own storyline around me as I go.  I thought the voiced protagonist would annoy me…  but for the most part I have been able to ignore it.  I really like some of the companions this time as well…. namely Piper and Nick.  I wish so much that I could adventure together with Piper, Nick and Dogmeat at the same time because I love them all.  The biggest moment for me though was when I realized that in this game through the  settlement system I could finally make the world a better place.  I have a dozen or so different settlements at this point, and I have spent time building on each of them.  I feel like I am making things work….  and improving live as I go.  As far as the Storyline…  I find parts of it frustrating namely that I did not see a good option to broker peace between the three main factions.  I would have loved a “Can’t We All Just Get Along” ending option… and maybe it is there but I just have not found it.

Hype That Didn’t Last

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Final Fantasy XIV – Heavensward

If I had to pick a game of the year based on sheer amount of time I played it during this year…. the award would go to Final Fantasy XIV.  It has been my constant companion… that is until the last quarter of the year when I started to lose interest.  I can’t say I am disappointed in the game, because the content leading up to Heavensward… and the launch content was really amazing.  The problem I have had is like after the launch of A Realm Reborn there just doesn’t seem to be that much to do to keep me engaged.  I guess in truth the game has always been this way… because I remember us running into the same wall a few months after the launch of 2.0, that ended up leading us to un-subscribe shortly after.  Coming back when we did July of 2014 meant we had roughly a year worth of content waiting for us to progress through.  This content kept us busy up until the point of the Heavensward launch, with us not actually defeating Bahamut until we did it unsynchronized.  With Heavensward we lack that backlog of fun older content to work through, and our casual gameplay style just does not really fit with the Final Fantasy XIV bleeding edge.  So we managed to down Bismarck Extreme, Alexander normal, and made some pretty good progress on Ravana Extreme before we petered out and started to lose interest.  What is making it extra hard is the fact that there are only two max level dungeons at a time this go around.  Previous expansion each content patch came with three new dungeons…. and having to run experts by only alternating between the same two dungeons gets old really really fast.  I am sure at some time I will get the bug and go back to playing this as my primary game…. but for now I am just basically only playing the new story and holiday content as it arrives and the rest of the time…. simply not logging in.

Shocked I am Playing

Wow-64 2015-12-20 16-29-02-08
World of Warcraft – Warlords of Draenor

At the beginning of the year, I had quite a bit of fun raiding in World of Warcraft, but as Blackrock Foundry drug on…. and the launch of Heavensward loomed I simply lacked the care to keep playing like I have done so many times.  In June I quit playing as the chart at the end of this post shows and focused solely upon Final Fantasy XIV, and I think maybe it is this single minded focus that caused me to burn out of that game so quickly.  Blizzcon is a primal force of nature that no one can avoid… and I have to say it got me started down this nostalgia trip that ended with me playing the free version of the game on my sub 20 horde characters on The Scryers server.  This ultimately ended up with me resubbing to the game and I have to say I am really enjoying myself.  I am playing the game in a much more casual fashion than I am used to, and while I am raiding every single week…. I am doing so with a group that only raids on Sunday nights, and during a time slot when I am normally downstairs watching television anyways.  I know there is technically no new content, but what can I say… I am having fun.  Playing Horde has breathed new life into the game because it is allowing me to not only play with friends I never really got the chance to play with… but also see the world from a slightly different perspective.  No clue how long this will hold out but I think so long as I am playing it and OTHER games at the same time… it might just hold for awhile.  I think the key for me not getting burnt out is to allow myself the freedom to play whatever I feel like playing in a given moment and not really forcing myself to keep playing something that feels stale.

Made Me Almost Care About Mobile

Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter

As I said above, one of the things that Bethesda did right with the launch of Fallout 4, is that they gave us a fun app to play with in the meantime.  Fallout Shelter is essentially Sim Tower or the later Tiny Tower mobile game….  set in a Fallout Vault.  This was actually a lot of fun for a few weeks and gave me a reason to play games on my phone.  The problem is I eventually got bored with it the same way I seem to get bored with all mobile apps.  There were a lot of times I thought that I would keep playing it, were it for the ability to play on my desktop while doing something else.  But for a brief period of time I found myself caring about a mobile game, and that deserves some recognition.  My lifestyle just doesn’t really support mobile gaming, in that if I am going somewhere… I tend to be the one driving.  Then when I am at work… I should be you know… working and not playing games.  When I am out shopping…  most games simple require too much to get into them and do a few moves before you need to move on to the next area.  Then when I am home…. I would far rather be using my laptop, gaming desktop, or one of several different consoles than spending time on a mobile device.  The one thing that might change this is the fact that I have started spending some time on my new Kindle Fire before going to sleep.  Right now that time is mostly occupied with reading comic books… but I could see eventually playing a game like Fallout Shelter while trying to fall soundly asleep.

Game I Wish I Enjoyed More

rift 2015-09-02 18-23-49-80
Rift – Nightmare Tides

If you were to write out every single feature that I would want in an MMO on paper… you would pretty much get the feature set of Rift.  That said for whatever reason I have struggled to get into this game since the launch of the first expansion.  I will come back and play for a bit but find it far too easy to walk away from.  I love Trion, and I love the awesome people that work there.  I love some of the awesome folks engaged in that community like Kiwi.  All of this said… I just struggle to get into the game itself.  I think it is several problems, namely that I just don’t have a large friendly and active community to be part of.  I mean I have the House Stalwart guild but it has been dead since the last resurgence several years ago that lead me to go found it.  For a long time my hope was Machiavelli’s Cat community, but during Storm Legion the Rift contingency pretty much died, and it lead us to merge into Alea Iacta Est…. who then also seemed to die out.  During this awkward period I tried a few other guilds, and never found a home… eventually creating House Stalwart on Faeblight.  The big problem that Rift has that WoW does not… is the fact that there is no cross account id system that you can use for communicating with friends regardless of what character they happen to be playing.  However with the recent “Glyph ID” that is now showing up in the launcher… I am wondering if they are crafting that infrastructure.  I feel like I simply have not put in the necessary legwork to find a new home, because it seems like so much effort.  That combined with the fact that finding a workable spec itself is a challenge, has left me in this phase of logging in… playing for a bit and then fading out again.  I want to love this game, but it has been a struggle.

Most Emotional Experience

The Beginner's Guide
The Beginner’s Guide

This is a strange one for me… because I’ve technically never played this game.  The game itself is more of an experience… a visual novel of sorts… than a true game.  Sure there are gameplay elements and mechanics… but those remind me of the video game equivalent of one of those pop up books that has levers and such that allow you to move the characters or animate a specific story element.  I watched a let’s play video on this game, and in that I pretty much experienced all of it.   The end result evoked some of the strangest emotions in me.. and actually lead me to cry at a few points.  I think any creative type can understand the emotions that you go through in the experience, and I know for myself…. who tends to suffer from a fairly unhealthy amount of imposter syndrome… it hit incredibly close to home.  I am not sure if it was a positive experience, and for all I know given the timing… it might have been the start of my recent funk.  The rollercoaster I went through…  was not exactly healthy.  That said I feel like I have to give the game credit, because it made me feel things… like deeply feel things.  Very few video games can do that, and ultimately I ended up purchasing the game as a thank you for the experience…. even though I doubt I will ever actually install it or play it.

Game of the Year

BelsYearInGaming

The only thing I can really give you… is a hearty shrug.  I don’t know what my game of the year would be.  If you judged it on sheer excitement and the eventual execution… it would probably be Fallout 4.  If you judged it based on the amount of time I spent playing it through the course of the year, then it would be Final Fantasy XIV.  If you based it on the sheer shock that someone got me to play the game in the first place… then Hatoful Boyfriend.  Basically every game on my list deserves its recognition, and for the most part that recognition is positive with the exception of Citizens of Earth.  I played a lot of games this year… and I hope to play even more next year.  Game of the Year is honestly a silly concept… and just like I can’t really give you a firm answer for “Favorite Movie” or “Favorite Song” I could never tell you my absolute favorite Video Game.  My mood plays such of a huge role in what I want to play at a given moment…. and if I want mindless destruction right now Destiny is giving me everything that I could ever want.  But as soon as my mood changes… so does my preference in games… and I often times fall back on sheer comfort gaming like whatever MMO I happen to be into.  So yeah…  all of the games on this list… I mentioned because they were important to me, so they are all my Games of the Year.