Week In Gaming 9/6/2015

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The Long Weekend

This week was pretty crazy, and involved a whole heap of work related stress.  That said it is also the week before the labor day holiday here in the United States.  With that in mind the stresses seemed to be more manageable knowing that I had a four day weekend waiting for me.  The funny thing about doing these review posts is that I don’t realize I played quite as many games as I did until I actually sit back trying to sort it all out.  I am not sure how effective of an adult I am going to be today, because a combination of allergies and exhaustion are settling in and leaving me groggy as hell this morning.  Yesterday we did one of our whirlwind circuits of Walmart stores looking for back to school clearance… and of course for me… clearance Legos.  During the course of the day we hit six different stores in several towns just outside of the Tulsa Metro area, and I managed to get a Lego Star Wars Snow Speeder and Tie Interceptor which made me pretty damned happy.

Destiny

Bel Failing at Destiny

With all of the talk of the Destiny expansion, I decided to give the game a spin again since there are several content packs that I have yet to even touch.  That said a combination of lack of gear, and lack of skill kept me from really progressing.  I am not sure what sort of gear levels they are expecting players to have upon starting the new story content, but at 22 light it felt like I simply lacked the punch needed to chew through it.  I did have several nice weapons waiting for me when I logged in, so I guess that was awesome.  One of which was a nice hand cannon, which when I last played Destiny was the weapon I really enjoyed running around with.  I want to get in and figure out how best to increase my light score, and throw on a few levels before trying this out again.  Supposedly right now Xur has a night Titan helm available so I might boot this up after the blog post and see what that does for my total light bonus.

Grow Home

Quirky Robot Exploration Game

 

While on the subject of PlayStation 4 games, this week also saw the release of a whole batch of brand new PlayStation Plus free games.  If you own ANY Sony products… and are not a PlayStation Plus member, I highly suggest you do.  One of the big positives about the PlayStation platform is how well the various products ultimately interact with each other.  One nifty trick that my friend Ashgar showed me is that you can log in via the web interface and quickly “purchase” all of the free games even if you don’t happen to own a given platform.  So for example for the longest time I only had a PS3, but I was still picking up Vita and PS4 games every month so that when I finally broke down and bought the consoles I had an existing game library.  $50 a year ends up getting you a minimum of six new games each month.  You cannot beat that anywhere.

This month saw something slightly different for the PS+ process in that they allowed the subscribers to vote between a choice of three games for one of the September slots.  I personally voted for Armello, but it seems like the community as a whole really got behind the game Grow Home.  These is by the UbiSoft branch that does more “indie” titles, and quite honestly… it is not ready for prime time.  In my short period of time playing the game it locked up and froze numerous times on me.  It is in theory a quirky exploration game where you play a robot that has been dropped on a planet to explore it.  You collect crystals, climb surfaces, pick up items… all in an attempt to explore more.  It has some strange controls but I got used to them pretty quickly.  The only problem I have is the whole open world blocky exploration thing doesn’t quite hook me the way it used to… seeing as I have now played Minecraft for half a decade.

Teslagrad

Block Polarity for Fun and Profit

While Grow Home didn’t really grasp me…  Teslagrad absolutely did and I made the mistake of booting this up late one night…  and then ending up playing for over an hour before realizing just how late it had gotten.  The story of the game is that you live in the Kingdom of Elektropia and find yourself being hunted by the King’s guard.  You feel from them and find your way into Teslagrad the massive tower fortress of the technological wizards.  The game of course does not tell you all of this, but instead asks you to piece things together from bits and pieces of information you see in the levels of the game on tapestries and through little animatronic theaters.  The gameplay itself is simple and brutal at the same time.  The core mechanic of the game centers around polarity… hitting certain objects with your left trigger button will shift it “blue” and with your right trigger button shift it “red”.  This simply mechanic is used throughout this metroidvania puzzler to complete levels.  There is also a level of twitch gameplay as you have to use other abilities at just the right moment to get through the levels.  The challenge being that ANY damage taken will kill you.  Much like Ori and the Blind Forest the game employs a really nice checkpoint system so very rarely do you have to repeat much gameplay, allowing you to quickly learn your way through a given puzzle element through rapid succession.  The art style is this lovely hand drawn, hand painted feel that works really nicely.  I highly suggest you check it out even if you don’t have access to Playstation Plus.

Rift

Badass Flying Bike

While I did not really play a lot of it, I did spend time in Rift.  I ended up getting a code for the fourth anniversary aethercycle, which prompted me to want to return and play the game some more.  Funny how cosmetic items can do that.  I mostly spent time working on the “Intrepid Adventures” which sends you through a series of “Instant Adventure” style interactions deep within otherwise Raid only zones.  The experience was fairly slow going, but it might be an entertaining way to get to the level cap.  Right now I am 62.5 and I would really like to reach the level cap on at least one character before the next expansion lands.  I am not sure why but I have really struggled leveling in the post vanilla Rift game.

Final Fantasy XIV

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With folks at Pax Prime, it ended up being a bit strange as far as raiding weeks went.  We did not have the Monday raid and with tomorrow being a holiday I don’t think we plan on raiding that night either.  By the time we get back to work on Ravana Extreme we are going to be rusty as hell.  Wednesday night also lacked the people to meet, so instead we worked on Alexander for folks.  The 2nd anniversary event is going on in game and I highly suggest that you check it out because I think it is going away quickly.  Easily some of the most touching content I have completed in any game, because it breaks the fourth way in a good way.  Still going through a bit of a Final Fantasy XIV break, but poking my head in periodically to check and make sure everything is still going well.

Diablo 3

Greed Pays… at least when it comes to killing him

Once again this week I spent the vast majority of my time in Diablo 3.  At this point I am completely decked out in legendaries… thought not really the right ones.  I am also at Paragon 91 which makes my seasonal character far and away my most progressed character yet.  I think on the normal servers I am only something like Paragon 19.  At this point I am working on bounties and then grouping up with friends whenever folks are around, mostly for the highest chance of seeing set pieces drop.  I currently have a charge build, which helps me keep up with my wizard friends and also as soon as I can get one more piece of gear… deals a silly amount of damage.  I am having a blast, but still completely baffled that for some reason the game has just “clicked” with me where it did not for so long.  I am one achievement away from getting my season four rewards, and after I wrap this blog post I am probably going to pop in and work on just that.  It was a fun week, and I am really starting to enjoy doing these posts, hopefully you all my readers also like them.

 

 

Blaugust Games of Week – Week 1

Pre-emptive Thank You

Yesterday I freaked a lot of people out by calling it the Blaugust Eve.  As I have explained on twitter, I was accounting for my amazing time travelling Aussie and Kiwi friends for whom… right now IS the start of Blaugust.  For the rest of us at the time of posting this we have a little more wiggle room before the festivities kick off.  I have to say last year was an insane ride for me, as much as it was for the contestants.  The intent was to run everything through the Blaugust Nook but that didn’t exactly happen, and it quite literally made my life hell.  I ended up spending a couple of hours a day trying to sort out who posted what when and in what time zone they were posting from…  and then the people who posted after midnight in their own time zone…  only served to add to the complication.  There were numerous times I tried to track down people on twitter or IM to ask if they meant X post to be on Y day or not.

This year it seems like most everyone has registered on the Nook which is going to help, but what is going to be even more important is advertising your daily posts there with the day number you are intending it to be.  On your side that is a small amount of work, but on my side that is saving me literally hours of scouring… and is hopefully going to allow me to actually read blogs during the course of the event.  As soon as things start I have to flip into book keeper mode, and while I might be “reading” posts I was not necessarily enjoying them last year because of all of the technical foibles.  So I am thanking you ahead of time for complying with the list of rules, because it is going to make my life not horrible over the next thirty one days.  I’ve been a fan of Anook for awhile, so much so apparently that yesterday someone thought I worked for them.  I just think they do a great job of giving me guild forum like functionality but also giving the ability to interact with other gamers.  I am amped this year about them sponsoring the Community Award, and we will ultimately sort out the specifics of that as the event goes on.

Games of the Week – Week 1

Yesterday we launched the writing prompts forum, and I thought it was pretty amazing that Void spent a good chunk of the day yesterday populating it with a bunch of ideas.  I plan on adding a new writing prompt to this post every day during the course of this event, but I wanted to go a little bit further.  Nothing makes more interesting posts than exploring a new game, or revisiting one that you have been fond of in the past.  As such I plan on highlighting three free to play games a week, with an attempt to mix up the styles a bit.  My hope is that if you are lacking inspiration, you can download and install one of these games and find plenty of things to write about.  Lets get on with the games!

Dirty Bomb – Nexon/Splash Damage

dirtybomb This is a game I played a bit in beta but have not really played much after it officially launched, and I am actually looking forward to playing it some more.  I have long been a huge fan of games by Splash Damage, and I spent many an hour playing Wolfenstein Enemy Territory.  Hell I even joined a competitive clan while playing it, but never really did much more than scrimmage other teams.  Splash Damage creates a shooter quite unlike anyone else makes, and they tend to focus on these complex objectives that require multiple classes of players to complete them.  I always focused on the “Engineer” archetype because it made the game play more enjoyable for me as it gave me a higher purpose.  I am not big into “death matching” but I loved rushing headlong into a firefight trying to stay alive long enough to build a bridge or repair a tank.  This game is the logical extension of Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, Quake Wars Enemy Territory and even to some extent the critical failure Brink.  I think I am one of the few people out there that wholeheartedly enjoyed Brink, and lately I have been feeling the itch to play some FPS action… and Dirty Bomb seems like it is going to fit that bill perfectly.

Download From SteamDownload From Nexon

Everquest II – Daybreak Games

EQ2_000008 I will always hold a special place in my heart for Norrath, the setting of the Everquest universe.  When World of Warcraft launched I was torn because part of me wanted to be playing Everquest II.  Instead I went where the bulk of my friends went, but continued to periodically visit the setting of EQ2 throughout the years.  It has some of the best world building I have seen in any game, and the scope of the zones just feel so massive compared to almost anything else on the market.  They innovated in so many ways, and had so many rich systems like one of the best Mentoring systems out there for the time.  As the years have ticked by the game has felt more and more like a dated relic, however there is a simple nostalgic charm to it that I still find appealing.  They seem to be banking on taking this nostalgia to market, as they have opened a time locked progression server allowing players to go back and experience the world as it was during the early days.  This is making me seriously consider re-rolling and starting fresh on this new server, but I have had so many other competing goals that I just have not done it yet.  My goal is this week to roll a character and check it out, but unfortunately that means I am going to have to buy a new character slot on my already loaded account.  If you are looking for a world loaded with inspiration… this is a good place to start.

Download From SteamDownload from Daybreak

Marvel Heroes 2015 – Gazillion

MH_SCREEN_042314_013 Another game that I really enjoy but find myself not playing a lot of right now is Marvel Heroes.  This game provides Diablo II style game play, with a rich class based system in the form of all of the different heroes that you can play.  One of the coolest features of this game is the way that the you pick your first hero to level.  The game allows you to play a long list of champions to level 10, and then you get to unlock one of them and take it all the way to level 60.  This gives you plenty of time to get a feel for how they each play and their different abilities.  I personally tend to be a Captain America player, but there are heroes that fit just about any imagined play style.  The other thing that I really appreciate is the way that for the most part, the game gives me a pathway to unlock the things that I might want without hiding it behind an overly painful grind.  Champions are purchased with Eternity Splinters which drop fairly frequently while doing content in the world.  One of the complaints I have seen from friends is that the game play is extremely easy, and this is absolutely the case while you are playing on normal mode.  However after defeating the main storyline you can ratchet up the difficulty  much in the same way as you can in Diablo 3.  This is absolutely a really fun game and the freemium nature is not egregious in any fashion, so if you want some old school Diablo game play with MOBA inspired style character design…  you might check this one out.

Download From SteamDownload From Gazillion

Daily Prompt

Since I more or less posted a series of games that I have some connection to, or would like to have a better connection with.  The writing prompt for the day is somewhat connected to that.

What game that you are not playing, do you still have a deeply nostalgic connection to and why?

Let us hear what game you keep returning to even if you aren’t really actively playing it… or likely will never play it with quite the same fervor.  For me personally that game is absolutely Everquest II, and I still hold a torch for it even though at this moment I have not really played it over the course of the last two years.

Night of Primals

Juggling Games

Wow-64 2015-05-05 19-30-34-21 One of the challenges for me during the Newbie Blogger Initiative is determining which days I should make NBI related posts and which days I should do my traditional thing.  It is a bit of a juggling act because I want to keep pumping out articles in support of the initiative but I also don’t want my blog to stop being… well “my blog”.  As always I am juggling a silly amount of games.  Right now as it stands I raid Tuesday and Thursday in World of Warcraft, Monday and Saturday in Final Fantasy XIV and for the time being I am also filling in on Wednesday nights with another free company static group.  I would not mind staying with them indefinitely but I would love to get to a point where I am more optional than the current tank role that I am playing.  Finally on Friday nights I have been trying to join in the festivities with the Black Dagger Society as I play some Wildstar.  Other than this I am also trying to juggle playing Marvel Heroes and some Rift… and needless to say I feel like there is always something I want to be playing.

Last night was a WoW night and we once again stepped into Blackrock Foundry.  I did not place the sign above but I was wondering if it was going to foretell my evening.  At the beginning it did seem like maybe it was prophecy, because we had a rough start.  We wiped several times on heroic and tempers were flaring a bit.  Our raid leader made the right call and took us back outside flipping the difficulty to normal.  From there the night got significantly better.  I was once again being frustrated by Flamebender Kagraz not dropping pants or a sword for me, but that has now been par for the course so I really wasn’t that upset.  Last week we made serious progress on Furnace encounter so I was extremely happy when our raid lead said we were heading that direction.  Apparently we had not forgotten the progress we made because in a single attempt we downed our first new boss since March 19th.  While heroic difficulty is where we will find upgrades, there is a huge part of me that wants to be able to say we cleared at least normal difficulty before the 6.2 patch.  We are now two bosses away from being able to say that.

Night of Primals

ffxiv 2015-05-04 21-02-18-84 One of the things our Monday night group has decided to do is to spend no more than two nights in a row on any one encounter.  It has felt like we have ground our faces against turn nine for awhile now, so it is refreshing to get to see something else.  Monday night was our first “off night” in this rotation and we opted to get the folks that missed Leviathan Extreme their kill.  This fight went smoothly and by the numbers and other than some of the folks who were new to the fight struggling to stay on deck, we were able to make some serious progress.  I want to say it was on attempt four that we managed to push through and defeat Levi Ex unlocking Ramuh for a large number of the folks, and getting a nifty summoner book.  From there we moved on  to Odin as our group had not actually downed it before.  We made one night of attempts but then got enthralled by the push for Turn 9 never to return.  We shifted things around a bit this time and had me tanking it and Ashgar dpsing, hoping that my insane health pool would help soak the horrible Sangital attack.

ffxiv 2015-05-04 21-03-32-20 The assumption seemed to be correct as it would take me down to around half health instead of almost killing me.  The thing is… we have gained a lot of gear since when we last tried this fight so I am pretty sure Ashgar as a Paladin would have been fine as well.  We managed to take out Odin and get a piece of the armor set.  I believe it was the gloves, but I really want to take this guy down more because I need to be a Lala-Odin.  From here we opted to take on Titan Extreme in part because it was standing in the way of us working in Ifrit Extreme and finishing the first set.  When we downed Titan before we were missing a significant number of the folks that we had on last night.  This fight has been the bane of our existence for awhile because it is precisely the kind of fight we are generally bad at.  If a fight requires us to adjust to conditions on the ground, then bam we are on top of that.  If it is a fight that requires us to do the exact same thing over and over with laser precision…  went tend to fail.  Fortunately we managed to catch up to speed quickly and on I believe our fourth attempt we downed Titan once more keying a whole new batch of players for Ifrit.  It was one of the most enjoyable nights of raiding I have had in any game, because each of the primal encounters were so drastically different.

The Old Blood

WolfOldBlood_x64 2015-05-05 22-23-01-08 This game I honestly forgot was releasing yesterday, that is until in the middle of the raid I had someone message me over the steam client asking me if I was having trouble with the game.  After the raid I opted to boot it up and give it a look see.  I have agreed to play this game in part to let Kodra know if I think he would be interested in it.  He and I both loved Wolfenstein: New Order… but completely different reasons.  I loved the game because it felt like a throw back to the 90s shooter era, and he loved it for the complex character interaction and development.  It was awesome that the game supported both things so completely, and by the looks of “The Old Blood” it seemed like the 90s shooter part.  Essentially this game is a loving reworking of the classic Escape from Castle Wolfenstein game that I spent so many hours playing during High School.  If it is nothing more than Machine Games redoing that game… I would be completely fine with this.

WolfOldBlood_x64 2015-05-05 22-13-18-63 While I have only played a few minutes of the game right now, I have to say I am amped about it.  The game is just as gorgeous as New Order, and seems to have the exact same kind of dialog between characters.  The problem being that I have a feeling there is a much smaller cast given that the entire game takes place inside of Castle Wolfenstein.  This next bit is going to include spoilers because the introduction is pretty short, but still extremely fun.  Essentially the start of the game centers around this plan between you and a British agent to sneak inside Castle Wolfenstein and steal the blueprints to Deathshead’s compound… aka that thing you are storming at the beginning of New Order.  The problem being that when you get into the offices of occultist Helga Von Schabbs, the plans are missing.  There is nothing in the safe in the wall, and you and Wesley quickly draw unwanted attention and a firefight ensues.  While trying to make your escape you are captured by Rudi Jager and thrown in the cell that you in theory begin the original Wolfenstein in.  From there you have to escape the castle… and quite honestly I did not make it much further.  The game is rather short, supposedly only two chapters, but for the price that seems more than reasonable.  I think I am going to love this game, but I still question if there is enough story in it to appease Kodra.

The Future Is Now

Other Peoples Drama

Yesterday my wife and I went on an adventure to Northwest Arkansas.  We have a deep sense of nostalgia about the Fayetteville area, because I guess it was one of the first towns we knew nothing about and wandered around together in.  This is a thing we like to do, go to a new area without any real warning and see what all we can find.  Combine this with the fact that my wife has a really awesome cousin in the area, and it is a location we try and get to as often as possible.  For whatever reason however it had been a few years since we had managed to make the trek.  I mean its not extremely far, but it still ends up being roughly a two hour journey from our home… so something we don’t exactly undertake lightly.

One of the coolest things about going up there is hanging out at our cousins place of business.  She is a tattoo artist of some renown and the shop is always an interesting place.  It gives us a window into lifestyles that are just somewhat hard to fathom.  I guess I’ve always thought it was important to expose yourself to other ways of thinking, but there are times that I just sit back and cannot quite follow the logic that lead down some of the paths.  I mean  the family is awesome, but the shroud of drama that surrounds it is one part really bad luck and one part less than stellar decisions made in the midst of that bad luck.  But what I love is just how valiantly they fight back against whatever circumstances they are thrown into.  While constantly in struggle mode, you can feel the love and the life that they embrace.

The Future Is Now

6922-walmartpickup-459 Northwest Arkansas is known for a lot of things, but probably the biggest is that Bentonville is the headquarters of the Wal-mart corporation.  As such you see some interesting machinations take root there that will likely filter out into the rest of the country.  Yesterday while roaming around town we saw something interest, a Wal-Mart Pickup Grocery.  In essence it looks like a non-descript warehouse building with a series of bright green drive in stalls similar to a drive in restaurant like Sonic.  The idea apparently is that you order your groceries online, and then pull into the stall and punch in some code letting the folks inside know you are there.  At which point they bring out your groceries and help you load them into your vehicle.

I have wanted exactly this same concept for years… and I am pumped to see that it even exists in a test market.  For years I have wanted to be able to do my grocery shopping online and simply pull up to the store and load what I just bought.  I really hate everything about grocery shopping, from the journey from cold to humid within each store, to the slow moving shoppers, to the desperate for small talk and validation cashiers.  I mean I try my best to be pleasant through the average shopping trip, and keep from biting anyone’s head off…  but it is a frustration that I would be more than happy to abandon.  The prevalence of self checkout lanes greatly improved my shopping experience, and this is just the next step.  The only thing that would improve it beyond this is maybe if robots delivered my groceries.

Playstation TV

Today I am wrapped up in my fuzzy little cocoon on the sofa, with cats napping beside me.  After two days of heavy activity, I am ready to just be mostly comatose today.  I got home late enough last night that I didn’t really get much chance to do anything.  I did take a bit and hook up my Playstation TV and so far the results are mixed.  I feel like I need to probably hard wire my ps4 into my network, so that only one of the two units is using wireless.  Playing Destiny there was a noticeable lag to the gameplay.  I mean it is probably no worse than when playing on the vita, but playing on a tiny screen with already awkward controls seems to make it less noticeable.  I didn’t experience any of the graphical glitches that Pete Smith on G+.  I am hoping if I hardwire my PS4 that it will help out the latency a bit.

I essentially need another HDMI hub downstairs as essentially I had to unplug my Chromecast to plug in the PSTV.  The other thing that I guess I was not prepared for is that I would need another Vita memory card.  So I have an HDMI hub and another memory stick on order that should arrive tomorrow.  The base unit only has 1 gig of storage so there really was not much that I could even download to play on the unit.  I will likely keep the chromecast hooked up until I get the rest of the bits to connect things up.  Thankfully it recognized my Dual Shock 4 without any issue, and was able to play using that.  The only problem I see there is that the PSTV doesn’t seem to take advantage of the touchpad at all, which makes some of the “Vita” interactions a bit awkward like the motion to “swipe away” a current application to close it is performed by holding down a button as the corner slowly peels away.  I think once I get used to it, I will enjoy it more as it will extend the PS4 to yet another television.

Blood of the Werewolf

AggroChat Episode #26


I feel like last night was a really good episode, or at least I hope it is.  It is one of those nights where the conversation flowed freely and we had way more topics to talk about than we realistically had time to do so.  Even at that we still recorded for roughly an hour and a half and it is completely packed full of stuff.  The title of the show is the “Gospel of Galaxy Trucker” and that is because Kodra has become an evangelist for the power of that game.  He has always been a big fan of the board game, and has latched onto the iOS port with both hands trying to get as many people to play with him as possible.  Problem is for me at least I don’t have any iOS devices, and I sadly doubt that android and iOS users will be able to play together….  although in Carcassonne you could play across platforms so here is hoping.

Other than that we talked at length about Dragon Age: Origin and mostly how Kodra has been getting along in the game.  He had tried to play it before in the past but was unable to get into it, so it seems as though he is at least over the hurdle.  As we refer to it “Getting Off Citadel” because that was the big hurdle of when Mass Effect 1 started to become interesting, and getting past Lothering in Dragon Age is a similar journey.  I talk at length about my issues with Destiny right now and the mindless grinding that is required to keep progressing.  I am far more grind friendly than the rest of my cast mates but even I am starting to hit my limit.  Finally we talk about the tell tale blank spots in the Blizzcon lineup and contemplate what they might be announcing.  We throw out a bunch of ideas for a new game genre for them to polish to a mirror shine.

Blood of the Werewolf

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-11-13-894 I picked this up some time ago on a Steam sale because it had two things that greatly interested me.  Firstly the fact that you were playing as a female werewolf looking for revenge for her slain husband was an interesting spin on the genre.  Secondly it looked in many ways similar to the original Castlevania with a series of levels that show your progression in form of a minimap.  The dual mechanics of “human” and “werewolf” modes seemed interesting as well.  So for this mornings Steampowered Sunday I decided to give it a spin and play it for a bit.  I was not really feeling up to interacting with the world so I opted not to stream it, however I did take lots of screenshots along the way.  This however is a review that almost didn’t happen because apparently this game is essentially broken without massive intervention.  When I launched it the first time I started getting C++ debug errors, and since I am programmer by trade and have visual studio installed… it kept asking me if I wanted to launch a debugger to step through the code.

It turns out this is a “known issue” and simply has not been patched.  In fact there is a “helpful” thread on the steam forums on how to fix it.  I put helpful in quotes because the “fix” requires you to edit your registry and hard code the resolution you want to run the game at.  This is a horrible horrible decision, and I damned near stopped playing the game at this point.  If you put a game on steam you should at least have a way to configure your games resolution without resorting to the registry.  Quite honestly this right along makes me not recommend this game for anyone at this point.  I feel like more than likely the current $1.04 pricetag and the regular $7.00 pricetag maybe reflects the fact that this game has some shitty development behind it.  All of this said…  the registry hack seemed to clear up my problems.

Charming Narrative

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-11-19-648 The art style and voice acting are really nicely done.  I maybe should have used charming in quotes… since in reality you are going across the country side on a revenge fueled murder spree.  But I guess in reality the original Castlevania didn’t give you much of a reason why you were going after Dracula…  so it works here as well.  The game is told from the perspective of the mother telling her son what she had to do to seek revenge for the killing of his father.  I am not sure if this is like a journal that the son is reading, but it seems likely.  Which makes me wonder does your character simply not survive in the end.  I have not played enough yet to really be able to determine that, nor do I know if I will play enough, but I can get into the reasons behind that later.

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-10-01-407 The only problem I have is that the enemies you face are mostly random monsters…  and while the rats and crocodiles and even other wolves make sense… I have no clue why there are giant fireball belching deep ones in the sewer system as well other than a faint nod to Castlevania.  I feel like the game didn’t really explain who I was fighting against other than someone killed my husband and the father of the person reading the narration.  What helps me care less about all of this is just how nice the characters and background end up looking.  It is very stylistic but at the same time still richly detailed without going overly minimalistic.

Interesting Mechanics

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-08-56-566 The gameplay is split into two different kinds of mechanics.  The first is that of your character as a human.  She is equipped with a crossbow and here is where things get a little wonky.  You aim your crossbow with your right thumb stick and fire it with your right trigger.  Now if you fire your cross bow without touching your thumb stick it shoots straight at, but there are many times where you will need to angle a shot.  The ability to fire directed arrows allows you to hit switches and trigger traps and angle shots just right to be able to shoot from relative safety.  All of this however in practice feels like a lot to do as something is rushing at you.  I got the hang of it as my play test went on, but it did not feel exactly intuitive at first.

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-24-52-241 Whenever your character goes out into the moonlight, you change immediately into your werewolf form which has a completely different set of attacks but maintains the same basic control scheme.  Right trigger to attack, right shoulder to perform special ability.  In werewolf form you get the ability to double jump, so a lot of the puzzles involve you jumping just at the right time in the middle of the air.  One of the things they carried over from Castlevania is the constant cavalcade of bats timed at just the right spacing as to make it damned near impossible to ignore them, but futile to actually try and destroy them.  Later the bats develop the same kind of loping movement as the medusa heads from Castlevania which makes them even more frustrating.

Uneven Difficulty

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-19-30-539  Other than the fact that the game does not actually run when you install it through steam without registry hack intervention… my number one complaint about the game is that it seems to have very uneven difficulty design in the levels.  Granted the original Castlevania had this going on as well, but it was very much not a good feature.  I feel like this game as a whole is a nostalgic nod to Castlevania in so many ways, and it even managed to carry over the same brutal and frustrating bits that quite frankly were just the product of poor level design rather than actual planning I feel.  I played the first two levels this morning, and in each of them the bulk of the level was rather sedate with logical progression gradually ramping up as you went through the play field.

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-18-22-570 Then they would throw you at a bullet hell section, where for the course of a single area you would have to avoid three projectiles at a time from an enemy on the far side of the room, while avoiding environmental damage form above, bats flying in from the side, crumbling tiles beneath your feet and still having to make perfectly timed jumps between ladders and platforms.  These sections are maddening but not in a good way.  They feel completely misplaced when compared to the rest of the level design.  Why should this one room be that much harder than the others, and why did none of the rest of the level really prepare you for it?  The first time you really encounter the crumbling tiles… is during one of these sections so you really have no clue what that block does until you have already failed at doing so.

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-34-13-316

The above section is what finally made me decide I was done for the morning.  YOu have a series of crushers that are a one shot kill.  They move in all sorts of directions, and extremely quickly.  There are status indicators above or to the side of them that show you how long before the piston fires.  They require perfecting timing to get through.  There is a moment where at two lights, you have to wait a split second before jumping.  If you jump immediately after the second light you jumped too soon and die.  If you jump as the third light is coming on, you jumped too late and die.  I could have handled one sequence of these pistons but after doing three in a row… and having a fourth one at the top of the ladder in the above screenshot…  I just said fuck it and killed the game.  I was not in the mood for that, especially when the rest of the game was actually rather enjoyable.

Rhinestone in the Rough

Blood of the Werewolf 2014-10-12 10-08-44-846

Given that it is the season of monster themed games, I figured playing Blood of the Werewolf was a good pick this week.  Now comes the hard part… do I suggest this game to others.  I can’t really say this game is a diamond in the rough, because there is quite a bit of rough that you have to deal with to get to where you can play it.  The steam forums are full of issues folks have had with this game, and apparently if you are not using an  xbox 360 controller…  you are likely going to have issues with controller support as well.  Like the subheading says this is more a Rhinestone in the Rough.  There are definitely some shiny bits that are fun, but the thing that got me was the uneven progression of difficulty.  If you really like Metroidvania style games, and there is an aspect of collecting bits that make you more powerful… and you don’t mind frustration games that can be down right unfair like say the Mega Man series…  this might be a game for you.

If you wanted a game that you could install, boot up without issue and play through without the feeling of wanting to throw your controller… this is very much not a game for you.  Thankfully like I said earlier the game right now is super cheap on Steam through the 15th for only $1.04.  At that price, even dealing with the bullshit it is probably worth it if you are at all curious.  Sadly despite its charm I will likely never boot this game up again.  I feel like Outland is better at doing the things I like about Metroidvania in every single way, so in truth you would probably be better playing it or Guacamelee.  If however you have massive amounts of nostalgia over the original Castlevania… this might be just the game you were looking for.

#BloodoftheWerewolf #AggroChat

Wrestling with DRM

Laptop Weekend

Here in Oklahoma it is a rainy nasty weekend.  I pretty much rained all day yesterday, and this morning when I went out to get breakfast I ended up completely soaked.  As such I have declared this weekend a “hang out on my laptop while curled up in blankets” weekend, and so far it has been pretty glorious.  Unfortunately a good chunk of it has been updating my laptop, since it has probably been six month since I have regularly played down here.  All in all it is not going terribly badly as I have had both my Vita and phone to play on while the laptop downloads patches and such.  I have to say I have so much frustration over allowing myself to get sucked into a mobile game.

Dragon-Coins-27 Years ago my wife and I used to play a game at the state fair that involved throwing tokens in the path of a sliding shelf that pushes coins off of the edge.  I had always enjoyed this game, and that first year at the state fair we spent way too much money getting the swing of it.  We played for hours and after about $50 spent all we had to show for it was a bullet keychain.  In successive years I got better and started learning the little tricks, like you can trade in the crappy little gifts for more tokens to collect these poker chips in order to buy bigger prizes.  That second year we walked away with a nice sized stuffed animal, and I think the third year we walked away with like five as we had figured out how to game the system.

Unfortunately Dragon Coins by Sega is exactly this game, but made even more addictive.  You take the already addictive coin pusher mechanic and attach it to a pokemon like monster collection and evolution minigame… and you have a recipe for constant mobile addiction.  Right now I am cursing Liores and Aro for talking about this game on the Cat Context podcast several times because finally I got curious enough to try it.  Now I am afraid I am hooked.  Thankfully as far as games go this one doesn’t feel too egregious yet.  There is a ton of “free” content to play and so far I have not encountered any roadblocks that absolutely required me to purchase anything.  It at least gives me something to play when I am out shopping with my wife.

Wrestling with DRM

daorigins 2014-10-11 10-25-41-983 One of the things that I spent last night installing and updating was Dragon Age: Origins.  Since I intend to be spending a bit more time downstairs I figured playing DA:O while catching up on television was a good activity.  I did not even have Origin installed on my laptop, so I went through the motions of doing that last night and then set to downloading Dragon Age Ultimate Edition.  For whatever reason the DRM on that game and I have struggled throughout the years.  It worked miraculously well upstairs when I reinstalled it a few weeks back so I thought maybe, just maybe Origin had worked out the kinks.  When I went to set it up on the laptop apparently there are still issues because while it downloaded the base Dragon Age… it did not seem to download any of the addons.

To make matters worse windows 8 does not appear to like the Dragon Age Updater program and it just simply is not running on my laptop at all.  So all of the directions from the Origin support site for restoring access to your addons does not appear to work at all.  What I finally ended up doing was manually copying all of the addons from my desktop upstairs to the laptop over the network.  Now when I boot up the game it appears to see everything just fine.  But I could see someone with less patience giving up long before we reached that point.  Dragon Age seemed to be a problem child, because I never went through any of the issues while playing any of the Mass Effect games.  So here is hoping the DRM scheme for Dragon Age: Inquisition is equally unobtrusive.

Of note for those who have not played Dragon Age: Origins before and would like to in preparation for the launch of Dragon Age: Inquisition… it is now apparently available for free from origin.  This game is well worth your time spent, and going back and playing it has made me remember just how much I loved the original game as compared to Dragon Age II.  Honestly I am not in the “I Hate 2” camp, but the first game is simply better in every possible way.  I figure just playing through the first one is more than enough to introduce you to the setting and its characters and conflicts.  More than anything that was what I was trying to do while replaying the game, is to remember all of the intricate struggles.

The Grim Dark Future has Tradeskills

Destiny_20141009231722 One of the problems I am having with Destiny is the fact that you reach this point in the end game where your entire life becomes about grinding otherwise meaningless things.  There are folks who will farm level 2 mobs over and over for five hours in the rare chance of getting drops, or return to previous content areas feverishly hunting for spinmetal or any number of other crafting materials.  Unfortunately these are not extreme players, but representative of the expected gameplay that games at the end of your twenty level story arc.  The end game of Destiny involves the collection of otherwise unimportant bits that you then use to upgrade your armor slots, in hope of getting enough “light” out of it to push yourself up yet another level.   Right now my life is about getting Spirit Bloom, Relic Iron and Plasteel… so it has me wandering aimelessly through the hunting zones in search of ground spawn nodes and chests.

My tolerance for mindless grinding is considerably higher than that of my friends, so while I am still able to find fun in this process… most of them have long since tapered off their play time.  I have managed to push myself up to level 25 after doing a ton of upgrading.  The problem is even I am not sure how much further I care to take the game when the end result is  so damned repetitive.  I suppose I could start trying to do the crucible, but I didn’t really get into this game for its player versus player gameplay.  I realize I likely expected something out of Destiny that it will never really deliver, but up until the point I hit 20 I have to say I enjoyed all of the content from that point on.  I even enjoy running the patrol missions because they give me little bursts of purpose… I just wish the patrol missions had a chance of rewarding you the crafting materials you need to progress.  That ultimately would be a massive improvement that would breathe new life into the game for me.  As of now Destiny is that game I play while waiting on something else, either waiting on my wife to get home, or waiting on something to spawn in Final Fantasy XIV.

#Destiny #DragonAge #DragonCoins

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Ready for a Freeze

The last few weeks my allergies have been killing me, and this is not usually the case for fall here in Oklahoma.  It feels like the seasons are getting horribly confused, and ragweed that normally hits its worst during July has been still active in August and October.  As such my lungs have decided to betray me under the onslaught, and yesterday afternoon I ended up going home from work.  I took a few breathing treatments and got some sleep and this morning I feel marginally better, but still on the scale of “lousy”.  Right now I am just read for the first hard freeze to happen and kill off most of the allergens.  Sadly that doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon.  The temperature is dipping down today to the 60s, but otherwise we are still having 70 to 80 degree days.

dragon-age-origin-1024x640 The constant drainage and coughing just makes me want to stay inside and hibernate.  Thankfully right now I have a ton of good games to play.  With the impending release of Dragon Age: Inquisition several of my friends are replaying Dragon Age: Origin since like many Bioware games there is reportedly going to be a save game import feature.  I know my experience playing through all three Mass Effect games in a row produced a ton more quest options than when I played Mass Effect 3 without importing.  So it has me wanting to try going back through the past games as well.  My upcoming gaming schedule may be devoted to Dragon Age: Origins for a bit, but I still plan on poking my head into FFXIV, Trove and Destiny on a nearly nightly basis to see what is going on.

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Destiny_20141003060320 Thanks to the miracle of the Queens Bounty event I’ve managed to shoot up to 24 light through upgrading the two purple pieces of gear that I managed to get.  Through running various other things I have managed to pick up a handful of nice weapons and other light bearing blues.  Right now I am running around with a level 20 scout rifle, that while it doesn’t deliver as much punch as the hand cannon, it still has a bit of impact and can carry like 250 rounds with me.  It makes it extremely good for whittling down enemies at range with extreme accuracy.  I would still love to find a level 20 blue or purple hand cannon, but so far my only purple ingram has produced crafting materials instead of a weapon.  Upgrading gear right now seems to be my sole source of getting more light, as I have yet to find any items that can directly replace anything I am currently wearing.

Destiny_20141003060344 Last night my play time entirely revolved around trying to find more green armor to grind down into Plasteel, and finding Relic Iron… which so far is the hardest of the materials to spot.  I’ve gotten rather good at picking out the chunks of brown against the red brown landscape of Mars, and had a fair bit of luck finding chests that had quite a large quantity of it.  The problem honestly as you can see from the screenshot is that I just cannot seem to get enough plasteel.  I could in theory buy ingrams from the Cryptarch and grind those down… but that seems defeatist.  Instead I am mostly spending my time doing patrol missions on Mars since they give me reputation and have a fair chance of dropping greens.  I have now entered the grind phase of the game, and while I am still very much enjoying myself I can see how this might wear on folks with a lower tolerance to grind.

Tron and Infinium Ore

Trove 2014-10-03 06-23-24-633 With the release of Beta and the addition of the Neon Ninja, they added in a biome to go with that theme.  While this morning I was only able to find a very small one… this is what folks have dubbed the “Tron” biome.  In fact when you are in the biome a musical theme plays that reminds me quite a bit of some of the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  There are rivers of neon blue water, and instead of grass and brushes you have chips and resistors.  It feels like you are in a datascape and the various robots have similar tron coloring.  Each biome has a version of the skeleton, and in this biome they look like the Red MCP guards from the original Tron movie.  I hope that eventually I can build a table that allows me to spit out stuff themed like this biome, because I will completely switch my entire cornerstone to look like it.

Trove 2014-10-03 06-14-54-858 This little innocuous looking block is Infinium Ore, and it has become the bane of my existence.  After a certain point in the crafting system… every single recipe requires this.  The problem is that as you go up in level this doesn’t seem to get any more common.  You can find Shapestone and Formicite Ore until your heart is content, but Infinium still is a very rare occasional, and any given vein maybe gives you twenty if you are extremely lucky.  Most of my playtime has been wandering around looking for these ore spawns.  The problem with Trove is I simply don’t understand how the game works yet.  In Minecraft the spawns were based on a certain logic, and once you mastered that you could be plopped down almost anywhere and be able to find the resources you need.  In Trove it feels more like you have to be lucky.  I feel like I need to spend some time scouring the Reddit looking for tips and strategies for finding this ore node.  I won’t be able to do any of the really cool things without large quantities of it.

#DragonAge #Trove #Destiny

Months Behind but Loving It

Happy Bragtoberfest!

During the month of October Izlain and J3w3l of Couch Podtatoes are running a special event they are calling Bragtoberfest.  The idea is to share the fun you are having gaming with your friends.  You can check out all of the details on Izlain’s blog Me Vs Myself and I.  I thought it was fitting that on this fight October morning, that I do in fact have a handful of gaming achievements to “brag” about as it were.  The event however is not just for crowing about your gaming achievements, but instead sharing that magical feeling we all have while playing a game we are really into.  Over the past months there has been quite a bit of negativity either coming from or leveled against gamers.  Bragtoberfest is an opportunity to embrace the good and present a positive viewpoint of gamers having fun being gamers.

Months Behind but Loving It

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-12-52-679 Back in July a large number of us that played Final Fantasy XIV at launch, returned to the game to give it another shot.  I was the first to come back thanks to a free weekend, and enjoyed it so much that I ended up roping a lot more of my friends to join me.  We played for roughly three months after launch and then for various reasons all wandered off into the next big game.  As such we never really made much progression at the time.  As a guild we had managed to take down Hard Mode Ifrit while working on the relic weapon chain, but that was literally as far as we had managed to get.  So coming back we have had this whirlwind of catching up, and experiencing content that is almost a year old at this point, but still very new at the same time.  Over the last several weeks on Tuesdays we have been pulling together an eight man raid team and working our way through Binding Coil of Bahamut.  At this point we have defeated the first four turns and had originally planned on focusing on turn five last night.

However last night we had one of the members missing, and were subbing in a player that was relatively new to the Final Fantasy XIV end game.  As such we opted to set our sights on a different target, the first of the Extreme modes…  Garuda.  Most of us had managed to get attuned for this fight and had been for quite some time, however there is just something about the Garuda fight that is terrifying.  For starters it has one of the most awesome and at the same time creepy introductions.  The normal mode Garuda fight kicked our ass so many times while trying to get folks through it around level 43 when you encounter it in the game.  All of this gave me pause when I thought about the difficulty of doing the fight on Extreme mode.

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-16-200  One of the most interesting things about the Final Fantasy XIV endgame is that you have a fixed amount of time to make attempts.  For Garuda and most instances you have exactly 90 minutes to defeat the encounter before the game punts you from the instance and you have to start over from scratch.  For  the most part we all went into this fight last night without functional experience of how it works and learned on the fly as we went.  Each attempt we made adjustments to the strategy, shifting the targets between myself and Ashgar until we figured out an ideal mix of who needed to tank what where.  There are three phases to the fight, and the last two phases rotate back and forth between them until you defeat her.  Once we had managed to get through a single rotation of phase three we pretty much had the fight in our sights.  At that point we had roughly nine minutes to defeat the encounter as a whole.  We pushed through and managed to get it just in time, and as such finished a quest we all had sitting in our logs for some time allowing us to now move on to Extreme Mode Titan.

Flaming Axe of Doom

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-20-55-837 While bragging about cool stuff, I managed to finish gathering my 1300 Tomestones of Soldiery and am now the proud owner of the awesome flaming axe Conquerer.  While I would love to be wielding a Bravura Novus instead, that quite honestly is still a good long ways off.  I am still slowly working my way through the 9 Animus books, and then after that I have to do the Novus grind… which involves collecting a bunch of Alexandrite and binding 75 pieces of Materia to my weapon.  This step is not only time consuming but also extremely expensive.  As such I have been stockpiling money and Materia as I go to hopefully be able to complete this step.  As far as the current Animus grind, I am 2 books into it and still have 7 more to go.  My good friend Cylladora however is down to two books left, so I am pumped to see her progressing so quickly.

All of this made me decide a few weeks back to go ahead and gather up the Soldiery “bookrocks” and get the slightly easier to get level 110 weapon.  The process for that is somewhat contorted as well but involves winning an Unidentified Allagan Tomestone from Syrcus tower or Second Coil of Bahamut.  You then take this and 10 Rowena’s Tokens and trade for a Weathered Conquerer which in its own right is a really nice level 100 weapon.  Each of the Tokens is sold for 130 Tomestones of Soldiery in Mor Dhona for a grand total of 1300.  You then take your Weathered weapon to Drake in Hyristmill and trade both it and a Sands of Time to him to receive the level 110 “unweathered” version.

This is all possible thanks to the fact that in patch 2.38 they started allowing Sands of Time to drop in Syrcus tower.  Since you can only win a single item per week in Syrcus, that means that I gave up on usable gear for the last two weeks to gather up the UAT and the Sands.  Similarly I had to make sure I capped my Tomestones of Soldier each week to make sure I could get to 1300 in time, since you can only early 450 a week.  I am damned happy to have a level 110 weapon, which is almost best in slot.  You can technically get ilevel 115 weapons now either through the Second Coil raid or through the completion of the Nexus step of the Relic weapon chain.  My goal is still to complete the Relic weapon, because I love the feel of the quest chain and the look of the eventual weapon.  However for the time being I can feel happy knowing that I am going to be able to generate plenty of threat with a weapon at least as good as anyone in our little raid group.

The Queens Bounty

Destiny_20141001065107 Monday night I pushed through to level 20 and started working on the Queen’s bounties in anticipation of trying to get gear from the event before it goes away at the end of this week.  Last night after the raid I talked a couple of friends into helping me out with making this happen.  The only problem is that as a fresh 20, I could not actually RUN the Queens Bounty Strike.  Thanks to Kodra and Shiana we pushed through a couple of strike missions and after a few lucky drops and some upgrades… I managed to get to 21 light which allowed me to queue for the Queens Bounty content.  So it was myself, a 24 and a 27 queueing for the content, and the game decided to give us all 24 mobs.  As such I finally begin to understand the rage that some of my friends have felt while grouping with higher level players than themselves.  Quite simply I could not actually land decent attacks on anything.  I was aiming straight for the head and making content, but just simply not making a dent in it with my level 18 blue hand cannon.

My friends assured me that this was not anything I was necessarily doing wrong but instead just a simple component of the mobs being a few light levels higher than me.  As such I tried my best to limp along through the content but spent a lot of time hugging the ground.  At the end of the mission I managed to get the chest piece drop, but at that point it was already well past time for bed.  My hope is to go back tonight and try for the helmet and maybe the sniper rifle.  I still have four more tokens left to go and I just picked up a few more easily bounties this morning.  Level disparity problems aside I am still digging the way this game feels.  While I am not sure I would ever complete the raid, I am definitely going to shoot for gearing up in full purple gear.  The biggest thing is I wish to god I could get a purple weapon drop.  That would at least make me feel less useless.  At the end of the night I was sitting at 22 just a single upgrade away from 23, so I am pretty damned happy with the results in any case.

#FFXIV #Garuda #Destiny

Electronic Gaming Monthly

Tied to Screens

At least once a week I see a report in the news talking about how we have become too tied to our screens and we have lost social interaction.  While I agree that as a culture we are pretty damned addicted to technology, this view point that not interacting face to face is aberrant or strange seems to be a pretty extrovert centric.  For the introverts the era of instant non-face to face communication allows us to leave far richer lives than if we were left up to our natural curmudgeon tendencies.  I am not one of those people that goes out seeking face to face interactions, and while I can handle it in short doses…  it completely drains me and causes me to retreat inside my shell.  Whereas digital interaction, doesn’t really cause much stress at all as I can interact when I feel like it, but withdraw just as easily as closing down a chat window.

Dealing with people simply causes a lot of anxiety for me.  We have various friends that we will go out with semi-regularly… but even then I struggle.  When we make the initial plans it sounds like a great idea, then as it creeps ever closer to the time of the event… I start looking for ways out of it.  It goes from something extremely fun, to something I am dreading.  Then finally when I force myself to go through with it I have a good time in spite of myself, but this whole rollercoaster I put myself on is something I would rather simply avoid entirely.  It takes a lot out of me to go through it each time.  So when I see someone complaining that we are losing social interaction, I feel they simply are not taking me into account.  Sure there are fewer people for the extroverts to get their warm fuzzies from, but for us extroverts it means we are forced into a lot less awkward interaction as a result.  I feel like thanks to the internet I live a far richer and involved life than I ever would have on my own.

Electronic Gaming Monthly

magazine-electronic-gaming-monthly-super-street-fighter-ii-turbo-v7-5-of-12-_5-page-2 While on an oddly introspective tear this morning, I thought I would talk a bit about a little back and forth I had yesterday about something I miss.  In my travels I stumbled onto the Podcast A Life Well Wasted again…  which tragically only ever released seven episodes.  It is this great This American Life for Video Games feel, and I would love to have more of it.  I re-listened to the first episode talking about the death of EGM magazine and was struck with waves of nostalgia for that time in video gaming.  Electronic Gaming Monthly at the time was this inch think omnibus devoted to all things video gaming covering arcade, consoles, hand held and even on rare occasion PC gaming.  I read the magazine pretty religiously from roughly 1990 to around 1996.  It and White Dwarf were the magazines that I waited each month to arrive, and before I actually subscribed I would anxiously watch the news stand at my local grocery store for the next copy.

Back then a lot of my fervor for the magazine centered around them giving me the dirt on the next arcade fighting game.  I remember it was the first magazine to post full moves lists for Street Fighter 2, and I memorized them like some arcane text.  The arcades were this crazy place where people speculated about potential moves, and by the time Mortal Kombat 2 arrived there were all these unofficial moves sheets floating around the arcades with half of the attacks speculative or complete and total bullshit.  EGM was the voice of authority, only publishing things that they had verified as working.  At the same time they had this irreverent review style that appealed to me greatly at the time.  Gaming was still very much an insider thing, and an excluded subculture…  so it just felt awesome to have a magazine talking about the things I actually cared about.

I really don’t know why I stopped reading the magazine, other than maybe the internet got better at reporting the news I cared about…  or simply that I got busy and poor in college and could not long shell out the then $7.00 price tag for a magazine each month.  Before this episode I was acutely aware that Electronic Gaming Monthly no longer existed, but I never really knew when exactly it happened.  In fact the last time I went to a news stand I didn’t see any magazines devoted to video games, so I am guessing that is entirely a bygone era.  Once upon a time I used to think that working for EGM would have been the coolest job in the world.  There were times I day dreamed about becoming a “video game journalist”.  I guess in some way with my blog I have been, or I am at least as legitimate as that term ever really was.  I do miss an era when the magazines did not feel beholden to the manufacturers to make sure they got at least a 6 out of 10 score.  The aspect of the scoring system that I appreciated the most was that you usually got three different reviewers points of view, instead of just one.

Quite honestly I think a lot of what made that time in gaming history so magical is the actual lack of information we had about anything.  Right now we know everything about the games that are being made before they even exist.  Hell we obsessed over Titan and all we really knew about it was a name, but still folks managed to dig up little nuggets of information about it.  EGM worked, because we were starved for information on our hobby.  They were one of the few sources of this information, and while they might only give us 100 words on a single game… that was far more than we were getting anywhere else.  The wild speculation, the misinformation, the rampant rumors all got laid low by a single issue of this magazine giving fertile ground for the next crop to spring up until it arrived to quell them again.  I miss that era… and I think in a way that’s why the 16-bit games are so important to me… because they are wrapped up in that shroud of mystique.  I miss Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Beginning the Real Grind

Destiny_20140929175725 Last night I accomplished one of the goals I had set out to do Sunday and finally pushed through to level 20 in Destiny.  At this point I feel like the real leveling curve begins as I start searching for gear with +light on it.  Right now I have managed to find a blue chest piece with 5 light, so I am barely if at all moving in the right direction.  Similarly I started working on the Queens Bounty and managed to knock one of them out for killing Fallen Ultras.  I am roughly halfway through the 200 headshots one, so hoping I can grind that out in the next couple of days.  I am really not sure how many of these I can complete before I actually get to take my swing at the loot piñata.  I could really use an upgraded hand cannon as the level 18 green one I have been using feels not quite so epic any longer.  I have to say I am really digging Mars so far.  I find the Cabal extremely satisfying to kill, like even the relatively weak Legionaires.

Destiny_20140929174412 At some point around level 18 I got sent to the shipwright again, and she let me pick a new design.  I have to say I am digging this one a lot more than I did the collectors edition version.  The paint job is okayish, but I am really loving the design of this ship.  This is the first design I would have likely picked on my own.  I absolutely hate the style of the first ship, and the collectors edition ship still has enough elements that it annoys me.  This however is finally a good looking star ship.  I think mostly I extremely dislike asymmetrical designs, so as a kid I loved the X-Wing and A-Wing… but the B-Wing and Millennium Falcon frustrated me.  I could forgive the Millennium Falcon however since it was essentially cobbled together out of a bunch of other ships… but that B-Wing…  man no mercy for that.  In any case I am still digging destiny, and it is beginning to remind me more and more of Phantasy Star Online.  That was really my first venture into online gaming, so there is a large bit of nostalgia there as well.

#Destiny

Invaders from Mars

Weekend Goals

This weekend I set out with a handful of goals, and as always not everything got accomplished.  The first goal was to manage to get to 20 in Destiny.  Had the servers not gone down last night I might have actually hit it, as I am a little ways into 19 and still have quite a lot of story content t o do.  The second goal was to finish my second Animus book, and that one got wrapped up yesterday afternoon without much issue.  Sadly I don’t have the “bookrocks” stockpiled to buy another one, but in theory I could hop on the nightly hunt mob train and get there without much issue.  The third goal was to cap out my soldiery tomestones, and while I am not quite there I am close enough that tonight’s elite roulette will get me there.  Finally I had planned on trying to get to 10 on my Knight in Trove, which I didn’t quite make but I am now level 9 and also have a level 6 gunslinger.

All in all I think I had a pretty productive weekend full of focused faffing.  I think the Godmother would be proud of my little checklist of accomplishments… or at least almost accomplished items.  This is what keeps me motivated in games, is to have things that I want to tick off a list.  I am finding that I am exceedingly good at grinding headlong towards a goal, but when I lose sight of that goal I start to get bored.  One of the more interesting side goals of the weekend was to figure out how to configure JoyToKey and in part thanks to this tutorial video from Beau Hindman, I managed to get it running with little issue.  So now I am running around in Trove using my Xbox 360 controller and I have to say it works pretty well.  There are some wonky issues with occasionally my view drifting off slightly to one side or the other, but I think that is more an issue of the thumb sticks not entirely centering each time.  I might see if I can lower the sensitivity at some point to make it less twitchy.  The big thing I notice is the amount of time you spend mapping and remapping controls until you find the thing that feels most comfortable.

Invaders from Mars

Destiny_20140928212227 As always it was the love of loot and the desire to acquire more of it… that ended up lighting a fire under my ass in Destiny.  Previously I had been happy to slowly poke my way around the patrol missions, wandering aimlessly through objectives.  However due to the various loot issues going on that patch 1.0.2 intends to address,  they are basically having a loot giveaway event.  As we talked about in the podcast Saturday night, folks are frustrated with the grindy nature of the endgame, and as such they rolled out a limited time event that addresses that at least to some extent.    The event that is going on is known simply as The Queen’s Bounty, and through it a series of items appear on the bounty board.  Supposedly if you complete a handful of these you end up earning a legendary quality weapon.  Basically I want to get in on this loot grab before it goes away.

Destiny_20140927232244 I had managed to get to level 16 before setting foot on Venus, through just wandering about on the moon doing patrol missions.  As such I knew that if I just worked my way up through the backlog of story content I had waiting on me, I would ding 20 without much issue.  So yesterday I set forward doing just this.  I got to experience Venus and Mars… and so far I have to say I still prefer good old Cosmodrome and the Moon.  Venus can be extremely pretty, but everything seems to have this yellow green haze to it.  Additionally I have come to realize I am really not a huge fan of fighting the Vex.  The fact that I have to shift from aiming for the head to aiming from the yellow glowing spot in their belly can be frustrating at times.  Additionally fighting them is a bit like fighting a zombie horde.  The Fallen and the Hive had a fair amount of cowardice in their moves.  You can push and pull them around the map, but the Vex just keep advancing regardless of what you do like this unrelenting mass of shambling robots.

Destiny_20140928204249 Once you land on Mars however… the Cabal take heavy metal up to eleven.  This is very much the Warhammer 40,000 faction, in that they seem to have a cavalcade of ever more insane mechanized environmental suits to do battle with you.  There is this one baddie known as a colossus that has some sort of a chain gun that just pinned me down stunned as it ripped through my shield in a few moments.  The Phalanx however were what became super maddening.  They are basically a space marine with a giant riot shield.  They fire out from around the corner and appear to be deadly accurate regardless of how awkward that position must be.  The best tactic seemed to be either to toss a grenade, or try and bait them to move in one direction would looping around behind them.  In any case… my sequence of hand cannon one shots pretty much stopped when I reached Mars.

Destiny_20140928212751 At some point it appears that Destiny reset the player preferences, because apparently my grouping setting got flipped from invite only to allowing anyone to join.  In part I am thankful for this because I was joined by Nidrew who basically carried me through a few of the rougher missions, or at the very least kept me from having to start over.  So long as one of us stayed alive we could eventually respawn back up.  I find that aspect of the game interesting, that when a team mate has fallen, your focus goes from finishing the objective to just staying alive for 25 seconds so that they can revive and get back in the fight.  Of course you can go over and rez them youself, but often times they got pinned down in a fire fight and running back in there might end up being suicide.  In any case I am very thankful for the help, and when I stopped I was sitting at 19 so hopefully I can push on through to 20 tonight and maybe start working on the bounties.

Book of Deeds

ffxiv 2014-09-28 15-56-37-128 When you see this text pop across your screen it feels extremely epic…  until you realize that this was just one of nine books that you have to do…  and you have so many left to go.  I love the feel of the Relic weapon quests because they still remind me so much of just how difficult it was to get your epic weapon in the original Everquest.  The reality is that it is going to take me an insane amount of time to complete it, far longer than is reasonable considering lots of my FC mates are taking the significantly shorter route to a ilevel 110 weapon.  I don’t want to call it the easy way, because it is in itself a significant amount of grinding, but with the most recent patch it just got way easier to acquire the necessary bits.  In fact since that patch went in I already have everything waiting in my inventory to be able to get my ilevel 110 Axe, I just need a bit more soldiery which I should get Tuesday when the reset happens.

5OpoacO That said I still plan on going through with the Relic quest chain, because man… the Bravura Nexus looks amazing.  I borrowed this image from the FFXIV reddit, but man I really want to swing that weapon.  Granted the step between where I am currently and where you get that weapon involves months of work, but at some point I will be swinging it happily.  Granted by the time that happens they will probably add another tier of progression in there, and it will already be outdated but screw it… it looks awesome.  Final Fantasy XIV is really good so far at giving me things that I want to get that require lots of work to get them.  I’ve always been extremely luck with drops, so getting that item to drop off a boss seems to be an ineffectual way of keeping me engaged.  Giving me something that I have to do every week to slowly inch my way towards victory…  that seems to actually work at keeping me around.  I love the way that the books work so far in that each one slowly incrementally improves your current weapon.  Someday I will get there, I just hope that the rest of the people I am playing with will still be playing when it happens.

#FFXIV #Destiny