Moon Raider

Edition Madness

2014-07-22 06_07_13-Save 81% on Two Worlds II_ Velvet Edition on Steam I feel like the colorful descriptors that companies tack onto iterative versions of games has hit an all time low.  Since the 80s we have been forced to play a progressively extreme number of versions of a game.  During the 90s the Street Fighter franchise for example proved to us all of the ways it could not actually count to 3.  We’ve suffered through Super, Hyper, Ultra, Zero, Alpha, Game of the Year, Ultimate, Legendary and innumerable other hardcore and extreme versions of the games we love.  This morning as I idly checked Steam I spotted something that made my eye stop dead over it.  We really have a game that is a “Velvet Edition”?  What is next suede or cordura?

I keep thinking maybe this is a translation error somehow, but “Samten” doesn’t really sound much better.  Maybe it is me, and I just have a negative connotation towards the word velvet, and maybe it is completely normal for someone to use that word in place of say “deluxe”.  This is just a first for me, and I think maybe this whole descriptor thing has gone a bit far if we have arrived at fabrics now.  I mean even though “game of the year” bundles are completely inappropriately named, considering very few of them have actually won a “game of the year” award…  at least for awhile they were something standardized.  I personally would rather they go with something like “complete edition” considering that is what we are talking about… the version that includes all the damned DLC in one place.  Though I guess game companies would probably frown on admitting they have been rationing game content to us for years.

Moon Raider

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-02-13-441 We had a few errands to run last night, and by the time I got home I was not sure what exactly to play for the evening.  Since this weekends podcast, Kodra has been urging me to finish up Wolfenstein so he could have someone to talk about it with.  So I opted to work on that, and while I did not quite make it through the game I figure I am pretty close to the ending.  I suffered a series of technical difficulties where I would crash out and have to load back in restarting me at the previous save point.  When this happened the last time I figured I would call it a night, as it seemed like I was probably going to have to repeat a significant chunk of the previous level.  It seems to be related to when I go into a cutscene and then come back out of it.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-50-29-397 It is really hard to find screenshots that I can show off that don’t really give away anything major about the game.  Well other than the fact that you get to experience Nazi’s on the moon…  but that doesn’t really give much away plot wise.  I feel like that is the aspect of the game I enjoy the most is seeing how this alternate reality evolved without the influence of the United States.  So much of everything we experience today is because of the global export of American goods and American values.  As a culture we have had a death grip on the entertainment industry and the internet as well… and as a result everything that comes from other countries often feels like an odd remix of something we would see in the United States.  So to see this reality that evolved entirely in a different direction is interesting to me.  I applaud the level designers because all of the little details feel like they come from a completely different place.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-07-21 21-05-26-813 This game is definitely going to warrant a second play through, because there is a single decision that you make early on that causes the game to go in different enough directions that from that point on the chapters of the game branch depending on your choice made.  It seems that Kodra and I picked completely different routes, and I think it will be interesting to talk about the differences between them.  I don’t feel like this is probably a discussion we can really have on AggroChat because it would be impossible to do this in a way that is not spoilerific.  I really hope all of you took advantage of the QuakeCon pricing and picked up this awesome game when it was essentially half price.  I have a feeling that this game is going to experience quite a bit of third party modding, and I hope that sooner or later they bring out a multiplayer addon.  One of the more enjoyable game play and narrative experiences I have had in awhile.

Sparse Next Few Days

The next few days are going to be interesting for me.  Today is technically my last day at work this week, but just because I am off does not mean I won’t actually be working harder.  My wife is part of a crew putting on a mathematics conference here in town, and I have opted to take off from work to help her with it.  I know Wednesday for example I will be operating an impromptu shuttle service, and then the other days I will likely be filling in a tech support role and general “gopher”.  With all of these constraints it will be interesting to see what I end up blogging about, as I doubt I will be playing that many games.

Magic-2015-M15-Core-Set-Fat-Pack That said it sounds like at least one of the conference attendees is a Magic the Gathering fan, so I will be bringing up a box of decks just in case that happens.  Speaking of Magic…  I really have no clue what Wizards of the Coast was thinking when they came up with the 2015 product designs.  Once upon a time the off brand products that you can get in your grocery store that are branded as Always Save or Best Choice or even Sam’s Choice were simply called “Generic”.  They featured white labels with start sans-serif writing on them, similar to government commodities.  So I cannot look at this magic the gathering set without thinking “oh its generic magic”.  I feel like we arrived at this point out of some sort of hipster minimalist design ethic…  but yeah it is just not working for me.  I guess they have used every other color of the rainbow lately for the primary theme of a set…  so sooner or later they were going to get around to white.

It will be interesting to see how the next few days shake out.  Likely you will be getting some more personal posts.  Right now the plan is to take my laptop and work on editing my NaNoWriMo novel between times I am needed.  The only problem with this is that the guest wifi at the school is horrible.  My phone will allow me to tether to it, but not sure how much I can do that without AT&T getting pissy with me.  We are grandfathered in on one of the unlimited plans, and I don’t really want to do much to jeopardize that.  The positive is that the Galaxy S5 shipped with unlocked tethering software, and it is not like I had to do anything to get it up and running.  I just expect that all of the websites I would want to look at would be blocked without it.

#Wolfenstein #MagicTheGathering

Follow the Shiny Bauble

Too Many Things

So for whatever reason this weekend has conspired to have a bajillion competing things happening at once it seems.  Firstly this weekend is like the prep weekend for the conference that I will be taking off from work next week to help my wife with.  Three years ago her and several of her twitter buddies decided to make a conference appear out of thin air, and this year it is being hosted here in the Tulsa metro.  As a result I am being a dutiful husband and helping out however I can.  That means today I will be moving things and testing out the various technology in each of the classrooms that will eventually host random speakers.

Right now my only fear is that the systems are designed to be hooked up to a VGA out and 3.5 mm jack.  Some of the newer laptops only actually have HDMI out…  especially the Mac laptops.  So here is hoping those people bring their own hookups because otherwise we might be pantomiming some of the power point presentations.  Needless to say my entire day today will be spent running around like a madman trying to get things set up as much as we can.  The problem is there are lots of other things going on this weekend.  Honestly I think game companies do this shit on purpose…  where they should time their events to be on opposite weekends as a thank you to the fans.

Destiny Beta

Destiny Beta_20140719081821 This weekend is the return of Destiny to my PS4.  I wish I could embed some video from my play sessions to date, but alas the Hitbox export to Youtube is still on the fritz and I have not figured out how to embed videos directly.  But if you are so inclined you can check out the first and second videos.  At some point this weekend I want to record some more footage in the hopes that someday I can upload it somewhere meaningful.  The second video is especially hilarious because I did not realize that it was picking up teamspeak while I recorded as well as my PS4 chat.  However once again it seems like the PS4 only picks up MY side of the conversation even though I am picking it up from an external capture card.  I really wish I knew a way to hang out on teamspeak, but have my voice from teamspeak get transferred as mic input to PS4 party chat.  I have some ideas but it involves a massive rube goldbergian effort.

Destiny Beta_20140719082406 I have to say I still very much love this game, and compared to the Alpha weekend… it seems extremely polished now.  A lot of the issues with voice acting are gone and the end product feels really good.  Similarly I seem to get items that are way over my level a lot less, so I am actually able to use and equip the various ingrams I find.  Ingrams for un-initiative are basically like unidentified loot from Diablo or similar games.  You get them while out in the field and you have to take them back to town… or in this case Tower to have a scribe identify them for you.  Most of the time the items you get are way better than anything you have access at that level, and they often have the side effect of “leveling up”.  When an item reaches a certain point they unlock special abilities that you can purchase on the item.  I have a pair of gloves for example that greatly increases the striking power of my grenades.

Destiny Beta_20140719082201 Everything about this game is awesome if you really want to get down to it.  You take a really good shooter, probably one of the best I have played in years and wrap it in a warm blanket of MMO style progression… and you have a game that is right in my wheelhouse.  My only question is just how many of the traditional Call of Duty/Battlefield crowd will be jumping ship.  I really don’t feel like the game is for that demographic, but instead for the players that absolutely love Borderlands 2.  While the loot doesn’t drop quite as frequently as it does in BL2, all of the leveling options feel really good.  The one thing I wished from BL2 was that I would have a persistent character that existed on the server, instead of one that existed in my local save game, with all of the things that come along with that.  Destiny gives me that, and I really think we are looking at the new model for MMO gaming.  Player Interaction light, action oriented co-operative and competitive environments.  That is not to say that grouping is not key in Destiny, but it is on a scale that is much more casual friendly in that you only need two other people to really tackle the most intense of situations.

Destiny Beta_20140719081907 Once again I am playing a Titan, because it fits my personality.  I want to be able to rush in, gun things down and throw them the hell back with a shockwave.  I don’t remember the name of the attack but you get it around level 5 or 6 and it is executed by pressing left and right shoulder buttons at the same time.  There are few more satisfying things in a game than jumping up in the air and watching everything fly away from you in brilliant slow motion ragdoll physics.  This class makes me feel powerful and mighty, and about as subtle as a nuke.  All of which fit me perfectly in how I like to play.  Kodra was playing through Wolfenstein last night… and to make a point Tam asked if I could remember what the crouch button was.  Kodra immediately chimed in “you mean the most important button?” and I was like “Nope! I have no clue what crouch is… I just baited the enemies to come attack me in the open and gunned them down.”  Subtlety feels like a complete waste of time when you could just kill every last thing that moves.

An Old Friend

ffxiv 2014-07-19 08-45-57-846 Another thing going on this weekend that is fighting for my attention is that they are having a free weekend for Final Fantasy XIV ARR.  For whatever reason lately I have been missing the game, and I feel like it is one of those games that I parted on good terms with.  I simply ran out of things that I wanted to do.  Right now the biggest problem I have with the game is that the people I know that are still playing it… are spread out in various tiny puddles scattered across a long list of servers.  When I first connected to the game it had me choose my Data Center, which temporarily gave me some hope that they had done something to consolidate the long list.  Apparently that is not the case and each server is still its own little island as far as grouping and guilding, but instead the Data Centers serve the purpose of the Battle Groups in World of Warcraft.  They are essentially your pool of players for doing anything that requires a group.

ffxiv 2014-07-19 08-46-45-762 The game is just as enjoyable as it ever was.  The hardest thing so far was remembering where the hell I kept my abilities and getting my hotbar back in order.  I think I got most everything to a place where my fingers can return to muscle memory for hitting.  I am sure a few things are out of place but the key combos that I hit constantly are all in the right places.  The main thing I did last night was participate in a hunt, which is a kind of daily event that appeared in a patch while I was out.  Basically each day you got to a hunt NPC and they give you this card… which is a physical item in your inventory with a bunch of wanted posters for the day.  These involve wandering around the world and killing specific mobs that appear in specific places.  The first three were pretty easy, and then the tedium set in for the last two.  Apparently these mobs were part of rarely occurring FATEs so I had to just sit around waiting for it to spawn.  For the most part it wasn’t too bad except one of them occurred in a level 3 area…  so I couldn’t even work on leveling my chocobo while I waited.  I am not sure if there is enough here to keep me for very long, but I am enjoying playing for the time being.

The Path Not Taken

archeage 2014-05-08 22-34-42-478 Another big thing happening this weekend is the beginning of ArcheAge closed beta.  Up until this point there were only two ways to get into Alpha testing.  Either you had to know someone like I did, or plunk down your $150 and buy the most expensive founders pack.  This weekends the floodgates have opened letting everyone in that has bought even the cheapest of founders packs.  The problem is I feel like I have been burned by my experiences in Alpha.  The community was so heinous and toxic that I just don’t want to have anything to do with it.  At this point Glyph is running in the background right now downloading the 21 gig patch that is needed to get it up and running in closed beta, but that said I am not sure if I will play it much.  There are a lot of problems I have with the game, not all of which can be improved.

I still have a fundamental problem with the character design.  While I managed to find one I could live with, I am still not terribly happy with it and the lack of “real” beards in most Korean games.  I do want to give it a try to see if letting in all of the closed beta players may have fixed some of the problems with the community.  One of two things is going to happen… either the super toxic voices are going to be drowned out in the sea of not so horrible…  or they will adapt to the “young eating” culture that is the Alpha game.  I know Trion is working hard on trying to find ways to moderate the toxicity, but I am just not sure if it will be enough for me.  At the end of the day I am a huge carebear and want to spend my time collaborating with other players… and not competing with them.

Follow the Shiny Bauble

The thing that frustrates me the most about this weekend and weekends like it when it seems like every single company is fighting to steer the hype train, is that it trains us to be flighty.  I feel like what is happening right now is that each of these companies is trying to fight for front page presence against any news that might be coming out of QuakeCon.  The problem is…  your player base is nowhere near as loyal as you might want them to be.  By constantly dangling shiny baubles in front of our faces… all it really does is train us to constantly be on the look out for the next shiny bauble.  So many weeks when it comes to gaming I feel like the James Woods character from Family Guy “Oooh a piece of candy”.  Ultimately I feel like the constant vying for our attention is only serving to make us less interested in staying any one place for terribly long.

Look at me for example… I already play a long list of games with no real signs of landing in any one place for terribly long.  This weekend I am looking at playing three more games that I was not really playing before.  But I didn’t start out this way, because I played Everquest for 3 years, Dark Age of Camelot for 3 years, and then World of Warcraft for a solid 7 years before the launch of Rift and the beginning of my rampant nomad phase.  Now I just follow whatever happens to suit my mood, and as a result I am popping between games on a weekly basis.  I feel like in part I was trained to be this way by the game industry constantly dangling an every tastier steak in front of me.  So I feel like stacking all of these events on the same weekend is just the highly of how frenetic things have gotten.  I decided long ago that life was too short to be playing something I was not enjoying, so I doubt I will be changing my nomadic ways any time soon…  but folks have to stop and thing that the constant fight over the hype cycle is only serving to make more people nomadic in the process.

#Destiny #FFXIV #ArcheAge

Pairing Down

The Struggle

One of the biggest challenges about this whole “blog every day” concept is that some mornings there is just nothing at all in my head to talk about.  When I am sick like I was yesterday, I tend to turtle and pull my head up inside my shell, disconnecting me from the interwebs and all of you fine people.  Unfortunately when my biggest source of inspiration is gone, I can get a little bit of writers block.  It is mornings like this that I feel outline the importance of just allowing yourself to write whatever happens to pop into your head.  It might not be epic and exciting, but it is staying true to the mission as a whole.  Unfortunately we are well based the NBI 2014 initiative, otherwise I would spin this into some sort of an inspirational post about struggling through.

This is not a slight in any way to the previous NBI groups, but I have been really impressed with just how tenacious the Class of 2014 has been.  Generally speaking there is a significant drop off the month after the initiative as folks take a massive breather after having survived being the focus of so many folks attention.  When the spotlight fades a bit, it is rough to keep posting when you inevitably notice fewer people are reading.  However this group either is blissfully oblivious to the existence of blog statistics, or they really are writing for themselves, because they seem to still be going strong.  A few of the “newbies” are among the most prolific posters in my blog reader, and I am amped to still see them enjoying the whole experience.

Pairing Down

WoWScrnShot_061314_062051Right now I have come to realize that I am playing entirely too many MMOs to feel like I am making any significant progress in any of them.  Over the last two months I’ve played Warlords of Draenor, Rift, ArcheAge, Wildstar, Star Wars the Old Republic, Elder Scrolls Online, Defiance, Everquest II, Landmark, The Secret World, Diablo 3, Lego Minifigures Online and Trove.  While I embrace the whole polygamerous thing, I think even for me this is a bit too much especially when you throw in League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm on top of those… and occasionally some Hex and Hearthstone.  Mostly I think I need to drop some of the games that feel similar to me from the rotation, or at least games that scratch the same itch.

rift 2014-02-13 06-28-10-40 I feel like I have to keep testing Warlords of Draenor in part out of remembrance for River, and him being so damned excited to have gotten into the alpha process.  While I won’t be playing with the same wide eyed amusement that he would have, I am trying my best to enjoy the experience in his honor.  However I can safely say that I will not be playing the actual live World of Warcraft anytime in the near future.  I think maybe WoW has run its course with me for awhile, and Wildstar has stepped in to take its place in my heart without me really wanting it to.  Wildstar really is a much better version of WoW, and I am just embracing that fact.  As a result Rift and SWTOR are also losing out, because to me they still fill the same “wow-like” niche.  As a result I won’t be renewing my patron account in Rift.

The Non-WoW Itch

ARCHEAGE 2014-05-08 20-13-50-11It was fun trying to get into Defiance, but the problem is I got into the Destiny alpha… and it was pretty much everything I had hoped Defiance would be.  So I won’t be spending much more time trying to get into that game when I know there is something I will like much better coming later this year.  ArcheAge I want to like, but it has without a doubt the worst community of griefers I have experienced anywhere.  So unless Trion comes out and announces there will be a co-op server… it is pretty much a nonstarter for me and no sense really spending much more time on it.  Landmark on the other hand has an amazing community, but right now there just isn’t much game there for me to play.  They have built this amazing crafting sandbox, but without combat it isn’t all that interesting to me past the initial build phase.  They have added caves so I figure at some point I will poke  my head back in, but exploration without combat just sounds boring to me.  I’ve officially allowed my claim to be repossessed at this point.

EverQuest2 2013-10-02 06-37-39-56 I still have a special place in my heart for Everquest II, and I can’t say I won’t return to it in the future… but for now I think there are just too many other options.  EQ2 was one of those games where I hated the combat system but loved everything else about it.  Wildstar with its systems within systems is really filling the niche that EQ2 always did, which might be why it is feeling so sticky considering it is replacing both EQ2 and WoW for me.  The Secret World is one of those games I love to remember fondly, but never seem to have a desire to log into on a regular basis.  I know there is a bunch of storyline that I have yet to participate in, and I keep thinking that some weekend I will play through all of it.  That weekend just has yet to arrive, and lately the only time I seem to log in is when I get new hardware and want to test how it performs.

The Also Rans

Diablo III 2014-03-06 22-07-06-52 Diablo 3 is enjoyable, and at some point I would really like to get a crusader to 70…  hell I would like to get my monk to 70.  I just struggle to find any drive to play it when my own personal internet zeitgeist… aka the folks I hang out on voice chat nightly, are not also playing it.  It was really fun up until the release of Elder Scrolls Online and then boom we all vacated the premises.  For the time being I am pretty much crossing it off my list until there is another upwelling of desire among my friends to play it.  Trove is similarly really fun, but without a lot of people that I know playing it on a regular basis I have fallen back out of love with it.  I will likely continue to poke my head into the game irregularly but when I do play… so much has changed that the experience feels very off-putting.  The game is in a pretty much constant state of flux, which is awesome if you are devoted to this game, but confusing if you are a “sometimes” player like me. Play 2014-03-14 10-12-29-25 League of Legends will be a permanent fixture in my gaming rotation so long as I have friends who are devoted to playing it.  I don’t necessarily love the game, but I enjoy playing with my friends.  I personally like Heroes of the Storm so much better, but the problem is with it being in a limited release “technical alpha” state there just are not enough people around regularly to play with.  The MOBA genre is really only fun for me if I am playing with a group of friends, and in this scenario League wins out every time.  That is not to say that I won’t keep poking my head into Heroes especially as they add new waves of players.  As far as Hearthstone and Hex…  I am back playing Magic the Gathering in real life with friends at lunch time…  so the draw of these games is minimal right now.

Those Who Made the Cut

WildStar64 2014-06-20 22-30-01-908 So after spending all of this time culling games for this or that reason, I figure I should talk about the games I am deciding to keep in the rotation.  Warlords of Draenor I am actually enjoying when I do manage to get in and play it.  So yes I am partially doing it in honor of River, and his desire to be in the Alpha, but there is something charming about the new content.  I don’t feel like it will be enough to keep me in WoW, but for the time being I am enjoying it while I can.  Wildstar has pretty much filled the corner of my heart that desire to play a theme park MMO, and it really is the most glorious theme park of experiences once you give yourself over to it.  I feel like I have barely scratched the surface on what it has to offer, and I am intrigued at the schedule they have put out before us.  I really like that they are choosing to put in “hardmode” single and small group content before augmenting the raid game.  That says a lot that they understand that they need to focus on both going forward to keep players.

eso 2014-02-23 12-41-25-63 I still feel like I have so much more that I want to do in Elder Scrolls Online.  I want to finish the Aldmeri Dominion content and see the Ebonheart Content, as well as spend time exploring Craglorn.  I love this game even though I am not playing it much, and I can’t see dropping it from the rotation anytime soon.  I realize that not many players feel the same way about the game as I do, but really for me it is like the best possible version of Skyrim.  I have been out so long at this point that I feel like I am going to be extremely rusty.  There game has problems, namely it is awkward as hell to do anything as a group other than Cyrodil.  They really need to fix this, and I hope that the good folks at Zenimax are looking into things like mentoring.  Right now it is a really awesome single player experience, but gets cludgy when you start adding in more people.  That said it still does have amazing dungeon design, and there are so many of them that I have yet to experience.

LMO 2014-06-23 06-41-14-037 Last but not least is a game that has come in and taken my heart by storm.  Lego Minifigures Online is absolutely adorable and I love everything about this game.  Last night this was the only thing I actually played, and grouped up with Rae she managed to catch me up almost to her level in experience.  Right now we have a vastly different set of mini figures, and it is really enjoyable to group together.  We have both opted to get memberships, and the pocket dungeons are awesome… some of them ending up extremely challenging like the Dragon’s Lair dungeon with I think five different boss fights in it.  I’ve already gotten more than my moneys worth of enjoyment out of it, so this is definitely going to be in my weekly rotation for a long while.  It basically scratches the itch that Diablo 3 did, and cashes in on my absolute love of all things Lego.

So there you have it, going forward I am mostly going to be focused on Wildstar, Elder Scrolls Online and Lego Minifigures Online.  I of course reserve the right to change my mind and undo all of these in the blink of an eye.  That said I do have a ton of single player games that I want to play through, and both the PS3 and PS4 ready to stream content.  I spent a good chunk of the weekend playing Assassin’s Creed 4 for example… and I am absolutely horrible at it, but enjoying myself quite a bit.  As far as online games, I am going to try and limit myself to just these games above for the time being.  I know in September I will be digging into Destiny and playing that online with friends quite a bit, but it doesn’t directly conflict with the types of games I chose above.  Maybe with this abbreviated list, I won’t constantly feel overwhelmed when I sit down at night and try and figure what exactly I am going to do.`

The Devil’s Lair

Bad Decisions

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-06-16 06-08-24-229 I am still feeling pretty lousy from this allergy induced stupor, so last night I just was not really feeling Wildstar and interacting with other human beings.  I ended up logging out about 9:30 and attempting to lay down.  I hung out in bed for awhile snuggling with our cats but sleep just refused to take me.  So as a result I ended up getting back up and decided I would begin my four job fiesta run.  My intent was just to go through the process of backing up my savegame files from the previous draft run we were doing, and simply start the game going… maybe get to the first crystal.  Next thing I know it is midnight and I am moments away from getting the fire crystal.

Now however I am paying the price because I feel nice and groggy to add to my allergy induced stupor.  It is funny how a game you have played so many times can be so enthralling.  So far I am off to a pretty good start.  My first job was the Knight which lead to a really easy start to the game and me just being able to roll over the top of almost every encounter thanks to the power of “Two Handed”.  The second pick from Gilgobot was the Red Mage, which still worked okay since I did not have either the black or white mage in the first round.  Also the Red Mage can totally use a Two-Hander if equipped with that ability, so still pretty much rolling over the top of everything without having to cast any magic at all.

Since I am just a little ways from getting the fire crystal I went ahead and requested my fire job.  Now is when things start to fall apart.  I wound up with the Geomancer, which is one of my least favorite classes.  This means I do have a use for bells…  but I’ve always felt the geomancer was somewhat of a useless pick.  Basically I have a couple of options… I can either deal with it and struggle through or I can donate money to Four Job Fiesta to buy my way out of geomancer hell.  I have yet to decide what to do, and ultimately this is why I chose to request my job a little early so I could mull it over.  Basically I have to make a decision before I collect the fire job crystals with which way I am going to go.  I would have far rather had ninja or ranger, but then again I would have rather had mystic knight than red mage. but more than happy to roll with the punches there.

Destiny Group Play

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615142316  Yesterday afternoon after I had finished editing the podcast and writing my morning blog post that almost turned into an afternoon one, I opted to do some Destiny with Tamrielo and Ashgar.  At this point Tam and I were both completely sold on the game, but Ash however was not really feeling the game.  While I was finishing up my blog post, Ash and tam ran through the first mission in good time and the three of us entered the “Explore Cosmodrome” map point which was a free roaming version of the Old Russia area you visit in the first static mission.  We wandered around out there for some time getting both Tam and I to level 7 and Ashgar to level 6.  The mobs we encountered ranged from level 2 near the entrance to the area, to level 4 in the instanced areas… and finally level 8 or 9 deep in the zone.

I had the forethought to set this up and stream while we ran around.  The interesting thing about the playstation party communication is that apparently it ONLY records my voice.  This leads for some odd one sided conversation going on as you watch the video.  After having a blast running around in a free form area, we decided to take it to the next level and do what is in essence  their first dungeon set in the same basic area.  I have to say the concept works… like the boss fights in Borderlands 2 were interesting, but they never really reminded me of the level of complexity found in an MMO boss fight.  Destiny seems to bridge that gap and provided us with a number of extremely challenging encounters.  The first one was a sort of “hold this spot” fight where we were flooded with really horrible things in the room with us.

The Devil’s Lair

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615152929 The first encounter essentially involved setting off one of our ghosts to work on scanning an objective, while it does this we have to hold the position.  During this time we encountered a brand new mob type that we had not seen to that point called a “Stealth Vandal”.  These are the sniper type mobs but they spawn in stealthed and remain so until they actually strike.  Now their form of stealth is not truly hidden, but they blend in with the background “predator” like.  It took us several tries to get a feel for how the encounter worked and manage to place each of us strategically around the room.  Even after doing so it still involved a lot of running around chaotically looking for a safe bit of cover to attack from.  Every so often one of us would have to stay alive long enough for another one to spawn back in.  This becomes a crucial skill since when the last player dies… the entire team respawns back at the checkpoint and you have to redo the encounter from the start.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155733 The second encounter was the one we had been waiting for.  Periodically when in the open world version of the zone these group encounters spawn in.  One of them is this insane walking tank that has a blast attack that you simply cannot hide from effectively.  If you are on the other side of the wall when it goes off, it will still very much one shot you.  The idea behind the encounter is that you have to take out a piece of leg armor, which causes it to fall down temporarily and expose a weak point behind the red cockpit looking shell.  You can only whittle down so much health during each one of these phases.  So the biggest problem we ran into during the fight is that we simply ran out of ammunition.  Every so often another drop ship lands, and periodically it spawns the little drones… all of which are decent sources of ammunition.  But this also forces one to make a suicidal run dangerously close to the walking tank to be able to gather it up effectively.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155846 I wish I had thought to fire up the stream before going into the mission, because I swear we were fighting the tank for a good thirty minutes.  Once we got to the other side of it, things started to get super creepy.  You walk through an area littered with hundreds and hundreds of bones strewn everywhere.  I started to wonder if I accidentally teleported into a Doom game, but I have to say I am loving the atmosphere so far.  I really have no clue what exactly the “Fallen” are yet, but they seem to be some sort of incectoid baddies similar to the Prothean/Collectors from Mass Effect.  Honestly there can be parallels made between those two games in many ways, as the atmosphere often feels like you would imagine Mass Effect would feel if the Reapers came and decimated the planet.  So far I am hooked, and looking forward to getting to play more of it.  Right now we have managed to hit the cap allowed in this first alpha test, which sucks a bit because each of us have gear that will never be equippable as we cannot get higher than level 8.  That said it was a really good time, and I hope to play some of the other classes to see if I like them better.

Wildstar

My plan is tonight to play Wildstar, and work on finishing Auroria on my Engineer.  Right now I have reached a point where I am just tired of that zone and want to move on.  The southern area of the zone is extremely nasty, and I feel like I am almost underleveled to be able to complete it successfully.  I am wondering if I need to go back and finish some of the challenges that I didn’t quite make to see if I can finish off 22.  I am also considering making myself a secondary hotbar setup with non-tanky abilities to see how much more smoothly questing goes.  Right now my biggest problem is that it takes forever for me to kill anything, and while I can stay alive for a really long time… that time is not infinite.  I feel like I am high center right now on my engineer, so I need to do something to get back into the swing of playing it.

#Destiny #DevilsLair #FourJobFiesta #FinalFantasyV

Manifest Destiny

The Doldrum

Last Tuesday my wife flew off to her first conference of the year, and for the most part I had been unaffected by this.  Sure I’ve missed having her around, but during the work week my time is so metered that I barely notice that I exist, let alone another person.  However the first Saturday is always the day it really hits me.  It doesn’t help that we are struggling with record pollen counts and the cottonwood is blowing with a vengeance that means I cannot breathe at all… and feel generally shitty.  As a result I have completely fallen off the walking wagon, I am sure Monday I will get back into the swing of things, but the last several days I have walked a rather pitiful amount.

Right now I feel very lonely, and as a result have been forcing myself to hang out on Teamspeak as much as possible.  For the most part the whole dumping of mumble thing has gone relatively smoothly.  The folks I chat with on a nightly basis have just transitioned cleanly, leaving only a few stragglers on mumble.  I am looking forward to Wednesday when she flies back into town, and in the meantime I am trying to busy myself and surround myself with as many friends as possible.  My natural instinct is to “turtle” and pull my head up inside my shell, never to be heard from again.  But I know based on past experience that is exactly the wrong reaction to feeling a bit depressed.  I just have to get through a few more days for this current salvo.

Manifest Destiny

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140614185716 Literally within moments of posting yesterdays blog entry, I had a friend of mine hook me up with a Destiny alpha code.  I love our community so damned much, and I am not sure if this person wants to be named by name… but yeah thanks so much.  After a 6.9 gig download that went remarkably faster than I expected and next thing I knew I was logging in and creating a new character.  My instinct was to go human, but for whatever reason they do not have any facial hair options.  I cannot create a “proper” Belghast without a beard, so instead I choose to go their robot option called the Exo, which had some really slick configuration choices.  The other racial option was some sort of tank grown looking protohuman called an Awoken that seems to be based on vampires/ghosts/elves in appearance.  If you are familiar with Defiance, they feel a lot like the Castithans.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615113330 So this won’t be the only comparison I make the Defiance, because really so far Destiny feels like Defiance done better.  I feel like Defiance was an MMO with Shooter elements, whereas Destiny is a Shooter with MMO elements.  Subtle difference there, but being a really solid shooter first… and gear swapping mmo second seems to make all the difference in the world.  Defiance was a cool idea, but the moment to moment gameplay felt unexciting, because it lived halfway between two worlds.  Everything about the shooter elements of Destiny is solid, and while I fail miserably at playing console shooters… I was able to pick up the controls quickly and felt like I had more control that I normally do with a gamepad.  Right now I am somewhat hooked, and hope to get in and play with some friends and explore the ruins together.

I still do not know quite how to hook up a mic and get it working, but I streamed most of my gameplay yesterday to twitch and then dumped it to my youtube channel like I normally do.`  In the beginning I was super uncertain of the controls, but by the end of my play session I was starting to feel far more confident with aiming the dual analog sticks.  Destiny is a title that I went from mildly interested in, to really looking forward to the release.  I fully expect to pre-order this title and play it when it launches in September.  I chose to play the Titan which is the closest thing they have to a tank in the game.  I’ve you’ve played Mass Effect, it feels really similar to the paragon, in that you have a mix of ranged weapons with super powerful melee attacks.  I would like to see how this plays with a group, because I kept encountering things I definitely could not take by myself.  At this point I’ve beaten the first “on-rails” mission and opened up the more open world missions.  Look forward to playing this a lot more over the next months.

Dances with Orcs

WoWScrnShot_061514_115209 While I was piddling around and streaming things, I also spent a good chunk of yesterday playing Warlords of Draenor.  I figured since I have been granted the ability to play the Alpha, I should probably be testing it.  Also in a way I am playing it in memory of River, since he was so amped about being invited to the alpha.  The game is trying super hard to be modern and relevant, but under the covers it still feels like a ten year old game.  I am still working my way through the quests which have the added benefit of building my Garrison.  Yesterday I completed a sequence of quests to unlock the Alchemy Hut and in theory the ability to run alchemy crafting missions.  I have not however gotten enough Draenor era herbs of the right kind to be able to complete this.

WoWScrnShot_061514_115151 Something I am highly enjoying is the fact that while I am out in the world, I am constantly gathering new followers for my Garrison.  Some of them are even call backs to the TBC era Draenor.  If you are like me and completed the netherwing dailies to get those mounts, you will remember the fel orc that buzzes past the tower constantly…  Mulverick!!!!  Well one of the early quests involves rescuing him from an Ogre strong hold.  When you do he agrees to join your garrison as a follower.  While I spent most of my time playing alliance, I am really hoping when that content opens up that we see similar nostalgic references.  Ultimately that is going to be the hook for people if they can manage to wield it correctly.  Nostalgia is a pain, and even as jaded as I currently am about the experience… this game can still manage to hit me in the feels occasionally.

So while streaming yesterday, some random stranger in the channel suggested that I run the first instance… and while I had nothing better to do, I figured sure… what the hell.  So I joined a group in progress that had cleared to the first boss of Bloodmaul Slag Mines and apparently lost their tank.  It got off to a bit of a rocky start as as soon as I pulled the boss I disconnected from the server.  Warlords of Draenor is very much an alpha, and as such I have had more than my fair share of issues staying connected.  However once I got back in the run went relatively smoothly from that point on with zero deaths.  I still am not sure how I feel about the current state of Deathknight Tanking.  The rotation feels off with large empty spaces where I can really do nothing at all.  I am slowly moving things around, using soul reaper a lot more and using death siphon each time it is up… and things are starting to feel a bit better.  I will continue to test and see if I can hit on the magic feel good spot for the class, but in its current state… I am considering going back to warrior tanking.

AggroChat Talks E3 2014

This week we were without Kodra and Ashgar because of various real world commitments, so once again we grabbed Dallian and Tam and talked about the various things that happened during this years E3 show.  I have to say I thought this years show was strong enough that I actually went out and bought a playstation four at least in part to what I was seeing.  We talk about so many different things that it ends up being a bit more disjuncted than normal, but overall upon listening to it and editing all morning… I think it is a pretty strong show.  You can hear our take on what is coming down the pipe gamewise.  Right now the game I am looking forward to the most is No Man’s Sky, and we talk at length about it.  I would be curious to find out what you thought of this years showing as well.

Four Job Fiesta 2014

One last quick blurb… this years Four Job Fiesta is now open!  I have officially registered by not started.  It looks like this year I will be starting as a Knight, which should be pretty simple.  If you are interested at all in Final Fantasy… or better yet are interested in making money for a great charity… you should totally sign up and play along with us.  I will likely be streaming good chunks of my gameplay.  I am pretty much forced to play this because Ashgar holds a gun to our heads and makes us sign up each year.  We love him dearly and do not want to face his wrath.  But really it is a pretty fun time, and there is a lot of community spirit going on as folks complete the game.  Here is hoping I do not get stalled and actually finish this year.

#FFV #FourJobFiesta #AggroChat #WarlordsofDraenor #Destiny

Too Many Games

I’m a Cheater

Once again I am doing what I consider cheating… which is writing up a post at night that I intend to post in the morning.  Basically tomorrow is another one of those “ride in together” days, because directly after work we have a big end of school cookout thing to go to.  So I simply won’t have much time to do my faff about verbally thing tomorrow morning.  As such I am staging a post tonight, and doing the same thing everyone else… but for whatever reason I feel like I am somehow betraying the ritual by doing.  Today’s topic I have been kicking around for awhile, so I figure this is as good of a time to spring it on my adoring readers…  look I like to pretend I have adoring readers okay.

Too Many Games

Right now things have reached a sort of critical mass with me, and there are entirely too damned many games right now that I want to be playing.  This could not have hit at a worse time considering how busy the tail end of school is combined with the fact that we have weddings and graduations and such to attend.  Normally I feel like I can reasonably juggle three to four games at a time bouncing back and forth between them.  The other day I posted saying that multi-gaming was even an awesome thing to do… considering it kept you from getting bogged down in the decisions a game company makes that you don’t necessarily agree with.  However for me, I am spreading myself super thin with a ton of different activities that I want to be doing.  So today I am going out outline each of the games that I am playing and lament the things I would love to have time to do in them.

Elder Scrolls Online

eso 2014-05-23 19-34-45-037 Right now I still consider Elder Scrolls Online my primary game.  At roughly two months since headstart I am still very much loving this game.  It has some problems, namely with difficulty of grouping, but as far as the game itself goes I dig it massively.  I’m working my way through Auridon and slowly creeping up on Veteran Rank 2.  I have so much that I still want to do in this game, but lately my schedule has limited my time in it.  This is the type of game that I can only really play if I am fully focused on it, and this is doubly so with the veteran content.  Shit can go wrong in a heartbeat if you are not doing all the right things, so it means on the nights I am not feeling all that… I end up playing something else.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2014-05-14 17-55-10-794 This game is the new hotness it seems and it launches tomorrow, at least for the headstart folks.  I mostly preordered this game in case I decided I was in love with it, and I wanted to make sure I secured the preorder bonuses.  I really dig the pre-order house, and I did not care for anything in the Collectors Edition pack… so I went with the normal.  I am still so up in the air about this game… there are things I like and things I don’t like.  Right now I am simply not sure who is going to win out, however since everyone is playing it, and it scratches the same itch that World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic do… going to give it a good college try.

ArcheAge

archeage 2014-05-13 21-43-39-052 Speaking of games I am conflicted about…  welcome to ArcheAge.  I find so much about this game intriguing and repulsive at the same time.  It is this fusion of one of the most interesting games system wise and class wise… combined with one of the worst communities I have experienced.  This game has invented new ways for you to grief your fellow players… and this is the sort of thing I have zero interest in.  That alone would be enough to make me go running and screaming into the night… but the class system is so damned interesting to me.  I love the concept of “Rift without Restrictions” and that is pretty much what the open class system seems like.  It reminds me so much of the way the class system for Horizon worked… and that is a great thing.

Heroes of the Storm

Play 2014-03-14 07-51-05-19 I want so badly to be playing this game right now… but I also want so badly to not be playing this game with strangers.  The MOBA thing is one of those things that I really only enjoy if I am queuing with people I know.  That said supposedly the queue times are greatly improved with the new client.  If you are in the HoTS alpha… please let me know!  I need more people to queue with, and I feel horrible for being in this game when so many people want in… and not playing it much.

Defiance

Defiance 2014-05-29 06-30-42-873 The last few nights I have been playing this game again and really enjoying myself.  The whole shift in how I approach it has really helped quite a bit.  I would love to see more people playing it because I think it would be far more enjoyable to run around as a group.  I still have yet to really scratch the surface of any of the story content, and feel like I should do that.  Really enjoyed the first season of the television show, and would love to get caught up on the in game content before the next season starts.

Final Fantasy 5

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-56-13-507 At this point I am behind my friends in this game, and quite honestly I am struggling to get the oomph to play it.  That said I feel like I should really finish this game as part of the FF5 draft thing we did.  I feel like I would be a horrible person if I didn’t finish it.  That said I also know I am going to get talked into doing the Four Job Fiesta in a month…  so not sure if I will finish before then either.

Trove

Trove 2013-11-25 16-57-34-42 There is something about this game that makes my inner child squeal with glee.  Things are just so damned much fun, and the mob design is amazing.  That said I have been out so long and so much is changing on what seems to be a near weekly basis that I feel hopelessly lost.  At some point I need to resort to reading through all of the patch notes starting around the time I last played in the hopes of understanding how things have changed.  The combat in this game is just enjoyable, I only wish I could play it with a controller.  I guess in theory I could use one of the keypad mappers but I have been lazy.

Landmark

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-04-40-22 Oh Landmark… how I love you and am completely bored with you at the exact same time.  Right now it is less a game and more a toybox for you to build in, with a ruleset wrapped around it.  This was really fun while I had giant things to build… and while I was progressing through the ranks of collecting the next best mining pick.  Now that I have topped out, and have fleshed out most of what I wanted to build… I log in pretty much only to mine copper and pay my upkeep.  What I need to make me care about this game is the combat system.  Here is hoping I will fall back in love with it when I can run around the world killing things.

Diablo 3

Diablo III 2014-03-29 19-54-54-44 I still don’t have a character to 70, and I feel like I have somehow failed for not doing this.  Basically this released way too close to the launch of Elder Scrolls Online… and I never gave the game the attention it deserves.  At some point soon I really want to work on leveling my crusader, since I have technically beaten the game on my Monk.  I am struggling with the desire to simply grind the last two levels to ding 70.  I figure at some point I will have a renaissance of caring about d3… but it might be awhile before I cycle around to it again.

Rift

rift 2014-05-08 06-09-17-50 The new souls were released and I have yet to even check them out.  I really would like to level my cleric to 60 before the 3.0 patch hits, but I have no clue how long that is.  Right now I am logging in on a weekly basis to get my patron gifts and that is about it.  I thought it would be really cool to do a streaming series where I try and remember how to tank, and do a public service of tanking elites.  I’ve heard the queue times are absolutely insane, and I know personally I have waited over two hours without getting a DPS queue.  I still love this game, but at the same time don’t really know what I want to do in it.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

swtor 2014-05-05 22-32-57-22 A few weeks back I was playing the hell out of SWTOR and enjoying myself.  While I have let my subscription lapse again… I would love to pick back up on my Sith Juggernaut and see what happens after Balmorra.  I have never actually made it off this planet imperial side, but I was really damned close to doing this when I was last playing.  The real challenge will be if I can manage to play the game without subscribing… or will I re-up again only to cancel a few weeks later.

World of Warcraft

Wow-64 2014-03-25 07-16-07-71 Finally there is good ole World of Warcraft.  Once upon a time I had a grand idea of getting everyone to 90 before the expansion.  I have failed miserably at keeping up with this ambition, but who knows if I will actually do this or not.  Right now all I have left are the Priest, Monk and Warlock… all of which are over 60 at the least.  The Warlock and Priest are both in Pandaria content, but at the very beginning.  I might get a wild urge to play again and push these guys across the finish line.  Either that or I might completely abandon this until the release of Warlords of Draenor.  In any case the account is still active, because I pop in periodically to dink around with stuff for the guild.

Nothing at All!

Tonight I will be playing…. nothing more than likely.  We have an end of school cookout and by the time we get done there… we will likely crash, or walk… or walk then crash.  If anything I launch Wildstar and create my characters.  Right now I am planning on having my Chua Engineer and an Exile Warrior of some sort… just not sure if that will be Human or Granok.  In any case I have nothing exciting to report about my master plan for the evening other than hanging out in the real world and eating some good food.

Faffless Wednesday

Banging Doors

Well it happened again last night, I was woken up by one of our cats banging on the closet door.  The problem is after I finally got her crackhead self settled down and up into bed with us…  I once again was completely wide awake.  Problem is this time it was at 12:45 when it started, so there I lay in bed at 1 am completely unable to get back to sleep.  So I sat there for a bit, finally deciding to get up and go upstairs and play something for awhile to hopefully tire myself back out again.  The game of choice was Defiance, but I will go into that more later.  I managed to get to a state where I thought I might sleep around 2 am, but the rest of the night was extremely fitful.

According to fitbit I was awake 9 times during the night.  I have no clue what is going on with me that my body keeps thinking I am fully awake at any point I wake up.  I have always struggled with sleep, and as a result cannot nap for fear of not being able to sleep that night.  This whole waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep thing that has plagued me the last two nights is brand new however.  Right now this morning I feel mostly normal, albeit a little sluggish… I just fear for what this will mean as the day wears on.  Yesterday was rough since I had been up since 3:45, especially about 2 pm or so it became torture to try and do anything productive.  I might have to start resorting to taking a sleep aid, but I hate how groggy they make me feel in the morning.

Faffless Wednesday

eso 2014-05-29 06-28-44-860 Last night for whatever reason we simply did not have a good turnout for our normal “faff about” in Elder Scrolls Online event.  It could be that people were just busy, or it could be that the Wildstar servers were up for some reason yesterday and folks are anxious for the head start coming Friday.  In any case there were just three of us that showed up with the purpose of doing the event, so we decided that it was really too few to do a dungeon, and too few to really do anything meaningful in Cyrodil.  As a result we just kinda piddled around doing our own thing and chatting back and forth.  PK and Delevax joined the rest of us on mumble and we hung out while playing.  I have not really as much time to play Elder Scrolls Online that I would have liked.

Lately my weekends have been scattered with little landmines of not being able to play anything, and then last weekend the amazing single player games Transistor and Wolfenstein: New Order got my devoted attention.  At this point I think I am about two hours away from finishing Wolf, and transistor was a punch in the gut…  but a very good one.  I had been looking forward to Wednesday because I knew I would devote myself to playing nothing but Elder Scrolls Online, even if the “event” didn’t happen.  I have to say I love the veteran content, and more importantly I love that mobs are once again difficult.  There were always a couple of types of encounters that were painful for me…  I am looking at you Harvesters…  but for the most part I had reached a place where I could steam roll in entire packs of mobs.  There were several late game public dungeons that I solo’d my way through, so my skill level with the game had reached a point where it was simply greater than the challenge.

Veteran content reset that equilibrium.  I literally can get my ass kicked by a mudcrab if I happen upon a pack of three, and even in the case of two at a time I have to use Green Blood to heal myself while dealing with the second one.  I like that the game instantly became a challenge again the moment I completed the storyline.  The result is that while I do the Aldmeri Dominion content, the game feels fresh to me since I am having to relearn how to manage tough encounters.  Last night I finished up Kenarthi’s Roost and moved on into Auridon.  Since this is the content I have done the least, I am really enjoying winding my way through elfland.  I’ve decided that I really like the Bosmer…  I was talking last night with Euron that they remind me quite a bit of the Witch Elves from Warhammer Fantasy.  As much as I want to dislike her, I have to admit that Queen Ayrenn is pretty awesome as well.

Figuring out Defiance

Defiance 2014-05-29 06-30-42-873 I wrote yesterday mornings blog post at about 4 am, and then proceeded to faff about in Defiance for the next hour until 5:30 when the alarm normally goes off.  During that time I think I finally figured out how to enjoy the game.  There was always something I liked about it, but the experience just felt lacking in some way.  Like I didn’t quite grasp how the questing system worked or how the world exploration worked.  The first change I made is that I started playing the game with the Xbox 360 controller.  While it controls competently with the keyboard and mouse, everything feels like it just works better with the controller.  I guess this is the side effect when you develop a game for consoles, but I am slowly getting used to playing an FPS with a controller.  I find the lack of focused aiming to be far less of a detriment that I thought it would be.

Secondly I had a major epiphany while playing as I stumbled across and Arkfall.  I started treating this game like it was Rift, in that so many times in Rift I just spend my time ping ponging from tear to tear closing the Rifts.  Doing this so far has been worth a ton of experience and my Ego rank is slowly climbing.  Additionally you seem to get some really good rewards for doing it, and I am starting to bump into other players as well which makes the experience overall more enjoyable.  I always felt like the thing that was lacking was that I didn’t really have anyone to play the game with.  I am hoping as this game transitions from “buy the box” to “free to play” that folks will start filtering back in.  It might just be the recent time spent playing and FPS, but I am enjoying the game quite a bit.  Therein lies the problem however…  I simply have too damned many games to play.

League Beginner Night

Tonight I’m Playing League of Legends.  Once upon a time in House Stalwart we did these league beginner nights, when we coaxed new players to League of Legends onto mumble and did some vs bots or custom 5v5 gameplay.  The purpose was to ease folks into the game and let them soak up some of the knowledge of a few of our more veteran players.  When the Alliance of Awesome folks started talking about League, I figured it was a good time to try and resurrect this concept.  So tonight I will be playing some league and hanging out on mumble with folks while doing it.  I am just hoping to get in some practice playing Braum, but if not I will probably default back to Wukong, Garen or Darius.  I would actually love to play some Varus since I have yet to do so since picking up the PAX skin.  If you are interest in joining up check out the Anook event, the goal is to start around 9 PM CST to make it doable for the West Coasters.  There are technically only a couple of people signed up, but I know we will have a lot more just from word of mouth.

#ESO #ElderScrollsOnline #Defiance #LeagueofLegends #LoL

King of Monsters

An Odd Day

Sometimes on the weekends you have days that feel like they last significantly longer than they should, and then you have days like yesterday that feel like they are over in a blink of an eye.  I guess in theory what made yesterday feel so odd is because the entire day was planned around hanging out with some friends and meeting them for lunch at 1:30.  So by the time I got up, grabbed breakfast, wrote a blog post… it was pretty much time to shower and get ready to go out.  None of this is to say that yesterday was not a really fun day, but it was just over in a flash.

We ate lunch at a trendy restaurant downtown called the Rusty Crane… which for as trendy as it is, was extremely reasonably priced.  My wife and I ate for $16, but then again we ate off the brunch menu.  I had this weird breakfast enchilada thing, that while tasty is not likely something I would order again.  It was a tortilla filled with egg, sausage, avocado and what was billed as grilled onions and peppers.  So that to me made it sound like they would be nice and soft and caramelized, but in reality they were mostly raw and maybe spent a few minutes on the grill lightly singing the edges.  Had they been like the veggies inside of a Chimichanga it would have been awesome…  but me and crunchy veggies tend to disagree.

But the food overall was tasty and cheap… and the company was the important part.  We had not seen our friends in several months, and normally we like to see them at least once a month to hang out and get dinner and a movie or something of the sort.  The hard part about being non-parents is finding other couples that don’t have kids in tow to go out and do things with.  As a result we tend to hang out with a lot of older couples, and this pair is a really odd situation.  He is the very first “pimp” I had, aka the guy who first recruited me into the dark art of consulting.  She is a teacher at the same school as my wife.  We only realized the connection one year at a back to school barbeque, and ever since we’ve kind of integrated into each others families.

King of Monsters

godzilla-trailer-header-image After we ate we decided to go see a movie.  Since my wife and the other two had not seen all of the X-Men films leading up to Days of Future Past, they opted against that one.  In reality right now there just isn’t much on at the theatre that is not a comic book-y type film.  In the end we decided to go see the new Godzilla film as it aligned up time wise better than almost anything else.  Just a heads up…  I am not sure you can call them spoilers, but be warned this section is going to have something vaguely resembling them.  If you want to be surprised when you see the new Godzilla… feel free to skip ahead, but unfortunately if you have seen ANY Godzilla movie, you have also seen this one which is part of the problem I have.

I am not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this movie literally plays out like every Godzilla movie… or in truth damned near every Anime story as well.  Mankind does something stupid > Horrible Monster is spawned > Hero (Godzilla) shows up and is misunderstood and attacked by mankind > Sage/Elder/Scientist explains something about nature balancing itself > We put our fate in the Hero (Godzilla) > Hero gets its ass kicked royally and is defeated > Just when all hope seems lost the Hero rises again using last ounce of strength to defeat the Monster.  That is pretty much the template for half of the anime I have seen, not to mention every single Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Power Ranger or anything else in the same “big things battle other big things” genre.

Final_Four_Jaegers I blame Pacific Rim for giving me hope, that a tired old movie construct like Godzilla could have new and interesting life breathed into it.  I love everything about the concept of monsters battling monsters, or giant robots saving the day…  it fills my inner thirteen year old with glee.  The problem is the 37 year old brain is still there and unable to be detached.  There were so many things in the movie that seem to have no explanation and made zero sense.  There is a scene where a coal fired train is travelling across the country to deliver a payload of nuclear warheads.  It is super foggy, and a bunch of the troops are sent ahead to scout the track to see if it is safe.  Next thing we know the train is on fire and coming out of the fog.  How exactly did that train catch fire?  Sure it looks cool as a special effect but it makes zero sense because the monster attacking doesn’t breathe fire or anything.  The train just apparently spontaneously combusted while it was coming across the tracks.

The biggest problem I had with Godzilla is that the movie just felt like it was going through the motions.  They so closely followed the template of what a Godzilla movie has to be, that the character actors that participated in the movie just felt like window dressing.  There was never a single moment in the movie that I did not feel like I knew the next three scenes that were about to happen.  Obviously going into it we know that Godzilla is going to win the day…  but if we have that as a fixed ending… sure you can do something to mix up the space between the beginning of the movie and the end.  So as much as I am railing on the movie, I do have to give it credit that the monster battles looked good.  The monsters were well animated and you can tell they spent large amounts of money trying to make Godzilla feel like the original “man in suit” version without making it look cheesy as hell.  If you love the original Godzilla movies and can suspend disbelief and ignore the fact that it is following a very tired template…  you might just enjoy this movie.

Right in the Feels

Transistor 2014-05-20 17-51-41-79 Now for a game that I will not give any spoilers for…  because it really is worthy of cherishing.  Last night when we finished with our festivities, I went upstairs, threw my headphones on and sat down with the purpose of getting through Transistor.  When we recorded the podcast both Kodra and Ashgar had beaten the game, and I had heard that the ending is really heart wrenching.  They were correct…  the game got me right in the feels and I think maybe I even bled a little.  Everything about this game is wonderful, and if they do not win awards with it… it is a major fucking tragedy.  Basically Supergiant Games has a loyal customer now, after loving Bastion and seeing how much more intricate this game is…  I have a feeling that anything they could create would turn out phenomenal.

My only disappointment is how generally short the game is.  It took me roughly three hours of game play to beat and is the equivalent of I think four areas that you traverse, maybe five.  Now one cool thing that happens is when you defeat the game you can play a “recursion” that allows you to play through a second time with all the abilities that you earned the first time… and everything becomes more difficult as well.  So instead of Creep 2.0 you start seeing Creep 3.0 etc.  I love the way this game embraces code lingo to produce a world that is both Tron and French Noir at the same time.  I would love to see a movie made from this game… would be absolutely phenominal.  I have to admit as cool as the gameplay is… I mostly wanted to play through this game for the story.  I wanted to know what happened and why things were the way they are.  The problem is after completing the game it feels like I have more questions than answers.

Beer and Pizza Action

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 19-51-03-03 After the emotional rollercoaster that was Transistor, I felt like i needed to play something far more run and gun.  So I picked back up on Wolfenstein: New Order, and at the point in which I went to sleep I was roughly three hours into the storyline.  There is something compelling about the game, but at the same time something that leaves me completely uneasy about the potential of a fascist future.  So far I am loving the game and look forward to playing some more.  Oddly enough this game seems to be able to get me to stealth around.  There is a sequence where you sneak into a prison, and I loved lurking about and sneaking up on mobs and taking them out with the knife.  Normally I do not do stealth at all, but for whatever reason it felt as though I HAD to use stealth.  If you fire a gun anywhere near an officer they will sound the alarm and bring on all sorts of really bad shit like these flying robot things that are damned near impossible to take out with anything other than the shotgun.  The game is action packed and focused, and precisely what I needed to recover from the case of the feels.

#Godzilla #PacificRim #Transistor #Wolfenstein #NewOrder

Transistor Gushes

Good Bye Old Man

smokeyYesterday was a rough day for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I had to bury my old man ferret Smokey.  In 2009 we got a pair of brothers from a ferret rescue, and at that point they were several years old already.  Bandit passed away several years ago from Insulinoma, and it was one of the hardest things I had been through.  I feel like maybe him passing quickly was a godsend.  For the last several months Smokey had been deteriorating of old age, and it was hard to watch him go through it.  For the last couple of months we had kept him in a separate cage in our bedroom, where he could have easy access to food and water since he was not moving around very well at all.  His hind legs simply did not obey him any longer and he had developed cataracts in both eyes.

Our goal was to try and keep him as comfortable as we could until he passed.  The old man had some fight in him because there were several nights that we were certain he would not make it through til morning.  When morning came it was still friendly and very much alive.  When we got up yesterday morning we did our normal “check to see if he made it through the night”, and he seemed about as normal as he ever does.  Raised his head, sniffed my hand and went back to sleep.  While we were out running errands yesterday it seems like he passed in his sleep because he was curled up in the same little ball he always was.

I am thankful at least that it seems as though he went peaceful.  He was a good boy and a friendly ferret, even though he never did bond as tightly to us as his brother did.  The above photo is of him in much better days, snuggled up with one of our girls Shiloh in the hammock.  Bandits passing was so sudden and jarring, but with Smokey we have had months to get used to the idea and just tried to make him as comfortable as we could.  So while part of me is definitely sad that he is gone, another part of me is relieved that he no longer has to struggle.

The Big Clean

Pet funeral aside, yesterday was a good but very tiring day.  If it tells you anything I managed to hit 10,000 steps on my fitbit before we actually went for our evening walk.  As I said before the house needed cleaning badly, and I got up and around yesterday morning and picked most of it up.  However there are still a few deep cleaning projects that need to happen.  We needed to run to the bank, so we got out and about and did some shopping.  The shirts I had been wearing were getting huge on me, and my wife would visibly sigh each time I wore one of them that now hung from my shoulders like a drape.  JC Penny was running a door buster sale that we just happened to luck into without really meaning to.  I picked up a bunch of new and better fitting shirts and this prompted me to remove a ton of older shirts from the closet.

Similarly both myself and my wife needed new bathing suits.  I found a nice pair of trunks that are far more colorful than anything I have ever bought in the past, and she found a nice one-piece at Old Navy.  All of the shopping inspired her to come home and tear apart the closet both figuratively and quite literally.  The bedroom for several hours yesterday was a warzone, and among other projects we cleaned out the catch all corner that had jewelry, perfume and lotions on what used to be a typewriter desk.  For some time I have been hauling around a cabinet to go into that corner that we picked up on craigslist, but simply lacked the time to do the necessary cleaning to make room for it.  It fit in nicely, and honestly could have been a bit bigger.

Similarly she tore apart the bathroom that joins to our bedroom and set up one of those wire divider shelves underneath to segment what is normally just one big space.  My biggest contribution was culling my wardrobe by literally half and folding it neatly for a garage sale.  As mentioned yesterday in a few weeks we are getting pulled into a garage sale, and I am wondering exactly what else I will be selling.  I have tons of compact discs in my office, that I simply never listen to anymore.  The idea of listening to a CD just feels foreign, since I stream almost everything thanks to Google Music. I don’t feel the need to own music any longer, I just want access to said music when I want it.  As a result I am probably going to get rid of my entire collection, but I seriously doubt any of the regular garage sale fare will want the type of stuff I listen to.  Not a single CD could you really classify as “pop”.

Transistor Gushes

aggrochat_bubbles_trans Finally last night we recorded our seventh episode of Aggrochat.  Once again Rae was travelling, so since Dallian has been so gracious to be a kind of unofficial fifth member of the cast, he stepped in at literally ten minutes notice.  I called the episode “Transistor Gushes” because quite literally… that game has hijacked the podcast.  For those who don’t know we keep a running shared Google document for the show notes, and during the week we jot down ideas, and recycle ones that we didn’t get to from previous weeks.  This week the only thing mentioned is Transistor written in 72 point font, with a much smaller blurb below it that says “things that are not Transistor”.

We successfully covered both, and we discussed Transistor, Wolfenstein: New Order, the Final Fantasy 5 draft, Watchdogs, Dark Souls II, Comics, and a few other things along the way.  I feel like it was a really good podcast, and while most of the topics only actually engaged 2-3 of us at a time, the mix of which 3 people were talking was pretty evenly distributed.  We plan on having a follow-up show in a few weeks to talk about the actual storyline and elements of Transistor, but for the time being we limited ourselves to just talking about the interesting game play elements.  We will of course start giving a massive spoiler warning when we get into discussion of plot points.  When talking about Wolf, I tried to limit myself to only discussing things that happen as part of the introduction to the game.  Hopefully this works for people, but if not let us know in the comments… hell if it does work let us know… we love feedback.

Re-Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Cyrodil Faffed

eso 2014-05-19 20-58-55-644 It seems like none of the screenshots that I took last night… actually got saved to the disk.  Not sure what is up but over the last few days I have had Dxtory flake the hell out on me.  I’ve used it lately to capture screenshots while streaming because OBS and Fraps seem to piss each other off.  That said something seems to have changed in the mix and I couldn’t get Dxtory working on steam games Tuesday night, and last night it apparently was not taking any screenshots while streaming.  Anyways as a result you get a cool screenshot of Coldharbor instead of a screenshot of what actually happened last night.  What happened you ask?  Well we had our second “Faff About in Cyrodil” night as a guild and while we had fewer people than last time I feel like we got more cool stuff accomplished.

We started off hunting skyshards and that morphed into delving into a whole bunch of dungeons.  Along the way we had a few blips of PVP that surprisingly enough we not only survived by dominated.  We of course has the numbers advantage, but last week that did not matter at all as I saw a dozen of us get taken down by 3 veteran players.  That seems to be the key difference, this week I was a veteran player, and could in theory “tank” the players we were up against.  We found a really awesome town full of repeatable quests that just happened to have a dolmen in the center of it.  We managed to get two Dark Anchor spawns while we were there, and towards the end of one of the battles we had another guy jump in and try and gank us while we were fighting the demons.  Thankfully once again the power of veteran rank won the day.

It is disturbing how much of a difference that makes.  Just being 50 out in Cyrodil seems to completely even the playing field.  At one point we ended up getting attacked by a Veteran Rank 8 player, and still we were able to dispatch him handily.   So the moral of the story is…  Cyrodil sucks if you are not at least 50.  I have an idea of maybe pairing up into dungeons next week during the same time slot, but if that doesn’t work we will just break out and do more cyrodil.  There is still a ton of area left to explore.  The map is huge, a point that was not fully driven home until the end of the above video when myself, Delevax, Horli and Scopique attempted to run back to the way shrine.  It was a really really long run.

Re-Return to Castle WolfensteinWolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 20-15-44-19

First let me get this out of the way… I have a boyish untarnished love for all things Wolfenstein.  The original game is on my 15 gaming influences list, because it truly was the game that turned me away from console gaming in the first place.  All of that said… I found the last jaunt through the Wolfenstein universe extremely disappointing… even for an admitted fanboy.  In theory Wolfenstein: New Order is a continuation of the story arc started with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, continued in the self titled Wolfenstein and finished up in this game.  That story arc involves trying to stop the dastardly Wilhelm Strauss otherwise known as Deathshead.  Whereas the original game was all about tackling Hitler himself, the modern incarnations have shifted into something more malleable, and it works for the most part.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 19-21-29-71 I am fairly notoriously against game introductions, and prefer the game just to plunk me down unceremoniously at the beginning of a level.  That said I have to say the easing into the storyline here in Wolfenstein is one of the more enjoyable introductions I have played through.  They manage to pepper just enough action into what would other be a cinematic to make me feel like I am actually part of it.  The game starts with us trying to land on the island held by Deathshead, and having to content with both Anti-aircraft guns and the ubiquitous Nazi flying V attack fighters.  I am not sure of the specific hardware we are flying into the base but it is some sort of bomber with a forward mounted ball turret, that you actually end up manning at one point during the sequence.  When you finally land on the island you are sent ahead to try and break through the defenses and allow the rest of your team to move forward.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 19-50-31-03 All of this works really well, and I found the storming gun nests aspect of it exhilarating.  Moments later you are involved in what I feel is the single coolest sequence in a modern shooter.  You fire up these really cool grappling hook guns and then walk up the side of the castle as the winch slowly retracts the cable pulling you up with it.  As you go up you encounter all sorts of obstacles, not the least of which are German soldiers opening the windows and firing out at you.  I am not sure exactly what it is about this sequence, but I wish I could play it over and over.  Everything about it just feels really damned epic.  Once you get to the top, your job is to unlock the gate so that the rest of the party can come up from the bottom to meet you.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 20-01-57-56 I am not really sure how they pulled this off, but the game FEELS like a spiritual successor to the original Wolfenstein and even to Doom.  Sure there is the standard sneaking about trying to knife soldiers before they see you gameplay that all of the modern shooters seem to be riddled with.  However there is also a much more arcade “run and gun” feel to the game that works.  I don’t have to play it in a style where I duck behind cover every few seconds for fear of taking a bullet.  You can ping pong around taking out soldiers left and right in an insane ballet that only works in the movies.  I mean you can dual wield machine guns… and it feels amazing, so if it is hyper realism you are looking for… go somewhere else.  This feels like a return to the area when these games were actually fun to play, and not simply this seasons multiplayer fodder.

WolfNewOrder_x64 2014-05-20 19-56-49-48 Right now after seeing and playing this for awhile, I have so much hope for what this might mean going forward.  Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and the eventual Enemy Territory addon… represents the most fun I have ever had playing an online shooter.  I hope and pray that they give us a multiplayer DLC that is every bit as brilliant as RTCW and ET were.  This is a game I actually want to play online.  In the meantime I am going to devote more time to beating the single player campaign as at this point I literally have not talked about anything that is not included in the “introduction”.  Things get gloriously strange as you move forward and the entire world is a sort of nod to the book Fatherland, setting up a dark and stranger alternate history for the events of World War 2.  Thank you Machine Games, and ID for giving us the Wolfenstein we have wanted for so long.

#ESO #ElderScrollsOnline #Wolfenstein #RTCW