Captain K

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I am all over the map right now when it comes to video games.  I am in this weird holding pattern where I am playing a ton of different games, but none of them for terribly long in a single sitting.  I also managed to garbage out my left pinky this weekend which is making typing surprisingly painful.  Right now my average night involves at least one Kulve Taroth match in Monster Hunter World, and then flipping over Destiny 2 to try and score another powerful/prime engram for the evening.  From there I bounce all over the place… lately that has included some time spent in The Division which actually lead me to hit the level cap of 30 and start unlocking end game activities.  One of the things that I loved about this game was just how detailed its world was, in that it felt like a real place that I was going to visit.  Yes I realize it was patterned off of New York…  but I have supposedly visited New York in a bunch of different games and this was the first time it really felt like an actual place.  The game looks gorgeous at 4k… but then again so far MOST games look gorgeous at 4k.

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I poked my head into Neverwinter as well this weekend and finally claimed my Purple Owlbear mount from Twitch.  This game has a lot of positive things going on, but it is an inventory management nightmare…  which ultimately prompted my little burst of posts on twitter.  Inventory Management is just not something that is fun… and out of the tons of favorites I only got one person who chimed in stating that they actually like cleaning their inventory.  There are games where having a nonsense inventory is enough to make me log right back out, and many times… I feel this way about Neverwinter.  Side note another game that I often feel this way about is Everquest II because so much of what ends up dropping is not terribly useful, and when you can have bags that are getting close to 100 slots each…  you can carry around a lot of junk.  I think the theory is that people get excited when they see loot… but that excitement quickly passes when you realize that 99.9% of the stuff that drops is useless crap.

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Which leads me to Path of Exile… a game where the common practice is to install a loot filter so you just don’t see the useless shit you shouldn’t be looting in the first place.  I am using the NeverSink filter, largely because it seemed to be the one that was most widely recommended.  I will say however… it does greatly improve the experience… even though that I still feel like inventory space is a nightmare in this game.  I spent way more time this weekend playing POE than I expected, and I will say that the game has gotten significantly more enjoyable once I crossed the line into Act II.  Unfortunately I didn’t take many screenshots this weekend…  especially now that I apparently unleashed an ancient evil and blotted out the sun.  POE comes in both Grim and Dark flavors…  but apparently I shifted into Grim Dark mode.  The other issue that I have with POE is that my character looks stupid… which I realize is fixable if I drop a bunch of money on the cosmetic shop.  Right now I am wearing a leather diaper, plate booties, a metal old-timey football helmet…  while wielding a camp axe and a cabinet door for a shield.  This is not a good look on anyone…  and no matter how much gear I swap out I seemingly cannot get rid of the diaper.

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Lastly I am still spending quite a bit of time before falling asleep each night playing various mobile games and one of the ones that I am finding myself enjoying in spite of it not making any sense… is Lineage II Revolution.  During the podcast I talked a bit about this and apparently I completely missed the whole cookie clicker like games thing.  Games that play themselves are apparently a genre… and this one is weirdly enjoyable.  What I found odd though is once I hooked up ADB to play the game mirrored on PC from my phone… it had built in support for WASD so in theory…  this game was designed for a PC interface?  I am legitimately wondering about trying this through an emulator like Memu and mapping it in a fashion to allow for keyboard and mouse play.  At the moment you can do that… but it means you are clicking buttons on the screen instead of having things bound to mouse buttons/keys.  It is weirdly entertaining…  but it isn’t like I can actually suggest it as a “good” game.  It is pretty and some stuff is happening on screen but I am largely just letting it play itself since mobile controls are garbage.  Maybe that is the way these games are getting around that fact…  letting the game navigate for you and then just hit attacks periodically in a sort of on rails shooter type experience.

Kulve Farming

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This morning we return you to your regularly scheduled posts, instead of whatever yesterday’s post happened to be.  I started typing in Google Docs… and it just sort of kept going on and on.  Yesterday was of course election day, and a lot of my staging a post ahead of time was due to the fact that I was trying to get in and out of the polls in the morning quickly.  As far as gaming goes I am still very much all over the place.  Right now as it stands Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter World tend to be the staples that I play at least some of every single night.  Over in Monster Hunter this largely involves getting into a Kulve Taroth group and trying to farm weapons and tickets for the layered armor set.  At this point I still have a ton of pieces left to collect but this is way more of a goal for me than collecting gear, given that I already have enough glimstones for a full set of crafted gear.  I am simply missing the various elder dragon gems needed to craft most of the pieces.  That however can be done after the event.

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As far as weapons go… I have been nowhere near as lucky as I was on the Playstation 4 version.  I have literal pages of blue weapons which are fine… and can provide a specific element if I need one.  However the above image shows off some of the weapons I thought were generally worth keeping around for the long haul.  Probably the weapon that interests me the most right now is the Taroth Blaze “Numb” because it has nonsense Affinity, plus a Defense bonus…  plus 450 Paralysis… and from the look of it it might have some white sharpness if I equip handicraft items.  The other item that I am probably going to wind up using is the Taroth Sword “Mire” just because there are occasionally fights where decent water elemental damage are useful.  I think the Sleep daggers might be useful to play with given how fast you can build up elements with that weapon type.  The Water damage Lance is decent, especially with the level three gem on it.  One positive is it does give me a Charge blade to play with… which is not a weapon type I have crafted any or messed with on the PC.

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Another game that I have been poking my head into is The Division, largely because I wanted to see what it looked like on the new graphics card.  However I noticed that I am really damned close to level 30 which I believe is the level cap.  I really want to see what the game becomes when I finally reach that plateau and somewhere along the line I picked up a handful of set pieces ready to be equipped at that level.  For now I am casually roaming around and killing stuff out in the world, and I find that relaxing and enjoyable.  Previously I was focused on TRYING to level… and getting frustrated that it was going so slowly.  Now I am just sort of running amok in the town and not paying attention to anything past that.  It seems to be working and I have been spending a few hours here and there on it.

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With the Diablo kerfuffle, I have also been exploring some other ARPGs just in case Diablo 4 really isn’t in the cards… or at least to have options to tide me over until it releases in a few years.  The most obvious game directly competing with the Diablo franchise is Path of Exile, but I have never really been able to get into it.  Coming back however it does feel considerably better, apart from the fact that you are given showers of loot…  most of it not useful… and nowhere near enough inventory space to ferry it back to town.  As such the loot itself feels a little frustrating, as does combat at time since it seems to vacillate back and forth between “nothing is attacking me” and “an entire screen of things is overwhelming me”.  Right now however the biggest problem with the game… happens to be its community.  In trying to settle in I started looking up the answers to a handful of questions and for the most part the community answer seems to be some derivation of “go back to diablo noob”.  That is not helpful, nor is it making people want to stick around for very long.  It has really interesting mechanics but a much slower pace, which can be both positive and negative.  The lack of a forward walk button without giving up an ability slot…   is also a little frustrating.

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The game that appears to be more my speed when it comes to methadone for Diablo 4…  is Torchlight II which admittedly is an aging game at this point.  However it is also serving to prepare me for Torchlight Frontiers which looks extremely interesting and fun.  Hey Perfect World folks… if any of you happen to be reading my blog…  hook me up with a key?  I love the setting of Torchlight, for example last night I was going through this awesome clockwork dungeon and since I play an engineer it felt really cool to be busting up mechs with a giant hammer.  This also has the shower you with loot, most of it useless problem… but at the very least you can keep sending your pet back to town to sell it.  This is another high point for this game is it allows me to run around with a Ferret friend.  Super glad I installed it and definitely enjoying poking around in it again… even though I am largely confused as to where I left off in the story the last time I was playing.

Upcoming Lapse

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I don’t really have much of a proper post to make today, but I did want to give my readers a heads up that it is highly unlikely that I make a post before next Tuesday.  Nothing bad is happening, it just won’t be reasonable for me to be posting much.  This makes it all the more inexcusable that I don’t really have much to say today.  I’ve been playing a lot of The Division and have managed to get back into the swing of things after the gear swaps I talked about last night.  Unfortunately I am having hell taking screenshots right now because both Fraps and the Nvidia Experience based fall back seem to not be picking up and taking the shots.  I am not exactly sure what is up but whatever the case I’ve been going into gaming sessions thinking I was taking a bunch of captures but not ending up with anything in the end.

The one new thing I have been playing around with is Survival mode, which was suggested to me by a lot of people.  The premise is you are trying to get to the dark zone in order to extract some cure that was found for the small pox based super bug that started the whole problem in the first place.  This in itself would probably be reasonable but there is a massive blizzard hitting New York and upon approach your Helicopter crashes…  puncturing your hazmat suit and leaving you stranded with only a pistol.  Essentially as you roam around you are fighting two problems…  the extreme cold and the fact that you have been infected and are trying to stave it off.  Either of those things can straight up kill you.

For the cold you wind up moving from building to building or fire barrel to fire barrel trying to stay warm while wandering out in a whiteout blizzard.  For the infection you can pick up medication periodically and use it to pause the timer that is ticking down.  On top of this… you lost your filter in the crash and need to gather up enough materials to craft a new one in order to move into the dark zone, get the cure and successfully extract.  If you choose to queue into a PVP session you are also up against other players who are trying to compete for the same resources and the same eventual cure.  To spice things up… you will also encounter the various factions from the game roaming the streets that will of course start firing on you the moment you come in range.

There are a number of things that you can do to improve your odds, because you drop in with a base set of green gear.  Drops occasionally upgrade your weapons or your armor, but everything is limited to this one survival session starting you back at square one.  The cosmetic clothing increases your survival against the cold letting you stay out longer before needing to run back and warm up somewhere.  The entire process is really interesting because it is basically this intense survival game in the middle of an MMO complete with hunger and thirst meters that you need to keep an eye on.  Basically the entire world is dead set against you and you need to keep moving, keep searching and keep looting to gather enough resources to be able to survive for a long periods of time as you attempt to cross New York, get into the Dark Zone and retrieve your cure.

From what I understand there are also a number of other gameplay modes that show up once you reach thirty… and as I am sitting at 28 I am feeling close enough to the finish line to try and push through this.  Super thanks to everyone who tipped me off to Survival since there were several of you.  I linked a guide video since I didn’t have much in the way of screenshots.

Bel’s Fake Game Awards

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

Something Is Missing

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Pokemon Go

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

You Can’t Go Back

Diablo 2
Diablo 2

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

But Maybe Sometimes You Can

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World of Warcraft: Legion

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

But Sometimes It Doesn’t Last

Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV

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

With Guns Blazing

Destiny
Destiny

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

Bad Christmas Was A Bust

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The Division

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

Awesome But Not My Deal

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Overwatch

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

 

Regularly Playing

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Yesterday I decided to start “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” section of my hot bar.  This area has been through many changes throughout the years and the whole idea was just to let readers know what I am actually playing right now.  It originally started as me simply i-framing in the information from Raptr… but since I don’t actually use that server or any other equivalent games tracker that isn’t going to work.  I shift games quite often, and I wanted a way to indicate what games are currently “on tap”.  So this shifted from “Now Playing” to “Frequently Playing” and eventually wound up with the verbiage of “Regularly Playing”.  The goal now is to evaluate the list once a month and make adjustments to keep it “mostly true”.  I realize I am finger quoting a lot of shit in this post, but the truth is I come home and log into whatever seems enjoyable unless I have a specific activity planned that night.  Over time some stuff fades away and other games get added, so I thought as part of this process I would talk a bit about where I am currently in each game on the list, as well as a bit about any that I might have removed or didn’t quite make the cut.

Destiny: The Taken King

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I am still just irrationally enthralled by this game, though over the last week I have not played quite so much because I am starting to get back into MMOs once more.  This week has been all about Iron Banner, because I am trying my best to get my Hunter to Rank 5…  in spite of not being here for the weekend due to travel plans.  The major goal of the month was to hit 335 light and I have managed to do just that on the Titan, however I am still lagging on the Warlock and Hunter with the primary slot that they need the worst being literally any legendary quality artifact.  I need to sort out what I can do to get one of those because I have plenty of infusion fodder to feed into an artifact… they just have 320 blues currently equipped.  The only real frustration that I have with Destiny right now is that Bungie is apparently shit at math.  We were told that several activities would drop an item equal to your current light level of better.  However now sitting at 335, there are still a truly silly number of activities that drop 334 items.  From Challenge of Elders turn-ins last night I got both a 334 weapon and 334 arms, and from an exotic engram I got a 334 secondary…  all while showing up in game as 335 light.  This is pretty maddening since 334 is useful for infusion if you are desperate but what you want to see is 335s so you can bring up ALL of your gear to that light level.  Regardless I am still loving the game and I am hoping that the next big patch will address this problem.  Also hoping that when I get back from my trip I can finish the push to Rank 5 because I am roughly halfway to Rank 4 at the moment.

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

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This marks the second week of me being “back” at least as far as doing the Tuesday night raid content is involved.  I am still very much in “catch up” mode, but I am enjoying myself.  As far as downtime activities I have started the grind to get elemental crystals for the first Anima weapon, aka the Relic 2.0 or 3.0 depending upon how you are counting.  I am loving being Lala-Bel once more and I guess whatever funk I was going through that was keeping me from playing MMOs has passed because I am enjoying myself again.  I very much need to be doing a nightly Expert but that has yet to happen quite yet.  After yesterdays post however I found a whole slew of people willing to be tagged and pulled in for expert running.  Now I just need to get back from this weekend and get started on this proper.  Also apologies ahead of time for the nightmares that will be induced by the creepy-assed Calcabrina dolls.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

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Season Six is very much winding down to a close, and I have managed to accomplish pretty much everything that I could have hoped for… at the very least I got my additional stash tab.  I have friends who still have things to knock out to get theirs so I am very much in a help as needed mode.  That said I am still poking my head into the game on a regular basis to farm for Menagerist Goblins…. something I have yet to actually see.  The highlight of the season was something that I did not even realize was a thing until it dropped.  I guess the cosmic wings are among the rarest item this time around.. because it is RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG.  You have to get one of the rainbow goblins to show up… and then have to get it to drop the Whimsydale portal… and then have to get a specific mob to show up in there to get them.  In any case pretty much any time I get a Whimsydale portal I holler at anyone who happens to be on to come along with me now just in case they drop again.  I’ve made it way further this season than at any other time… the only thing I am not looking forward to is trying to merge my current seasonal bank into my non-seasonal bank once more.

Overwatch

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This is the newest addition to the list and also the one I have spent the least time playing.  This week was the official launch of Overwatch, and my friends list has been completely on fire about this game.  I played it enough in beta to know that I liked it, and then ceased to play it any further waiting for launch.  Now that launch is here however… I have all of these competing priorities.  The game is really good and so far I have yet to find a champion that I don’t like… pending I give them a serious chance.  I was largely diametrically opposed to D.Va largely because the mech looked like a killer whale mixed with a guardian mode veritech.  However after getting the carbon fiber skin from a loot box… and giving her a proper try I found out that I really enjoyed it.  The game is probably the best designed shooter I have played in a very long time.  The thing that is going to keep me from really sinking my teeth in however… is it has no PVE/Exploration gameplay like Destiny.  If I could have Destiny set in this universe with character progression and collecting awesome weapons…  I would be completely hooked.  This will likely always be a game relegated to the “once or twice a week” column for me largely because I am just not that competitive.  Earning loot boxes is a cool reason to keep playing, but eventually there will come a point where I run out of things I care about that came come from lootboxes.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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This is the backburneryist of backburner games for me right now.  I’ve gotten in the habit of logging in daily and collecting my free money from the garrison… especially now that I put a massive dent in my finances and bought the Grand Expedition Yak.  That said every now and then I do play one of the characters that I am still in the process of leveling.  I have this grand idea that it would be fun to roll into Legion with a full list of level 100 characters, however I somehow doubt that is going to happen… much the way as it has never actually happened during any of the other expansions.  However that said the alt of choice right now is my druid that I am slowly pushing up.  In truth I am in a holding pattern until Legion and largely not paying a ton of attention to the game in the meantime.

Things Removed From List

Elder Scrolls Online

The truth is the MMO Funk hit and I never really returned to playing this regularly.  I still very much want to, but it is going to need another lag in some other game for me to really sink my teeth into it.  The game that exists today is amazing and they have done a really good job of keeping the content fresh.  The biggest problem is I really don’t have anyone to play with over there on the North American server cluster.  Now if I were playing on the EU side… I know lots of active and happy guilds.  I would absolutely play with the Whitestar folks were that really a viable option.

Warframe

While initially interesting to me, this game just did not sink its teeth into me the way it did the rest of the AggroChat crew.  There is just something that I don’t like about it… and I have tried to reason out what exactly it was.  I still have an account and still have some cool stuff on it, so I might at a future date return to it, but it never really replaced my love for Destiny.

The Division

While technically it was never actually on the sidebar… it probably should have been.  I was all about The Division at launch and that excitement did not even manage to carry me through to the level cap.  I am sitting around level 26 and I am just not sure what is holding me back.  Largely the content at that level doesn’t feel nearly as interesting or rewarding as it did at lower levels.  The packs of mobs out in the world seem to be scaled for group play, and when you down folks… they don’t seem to be dropping anything interesting.  In theory I could hold my nose and grind through it… but what would  I be grinding for?  I am so far behind the curve in gear and it doesn’t feel like the game really gives you a lot of great options to catch up.  There has been a sequence of changes that I really didn’t feel like had me in mind.  At first I liked that it felt like you could progress through the game on many different vectors and end up at the same loot goal.  However the crafting material nerf really hurt that feel for me.  This is something I might return to later, once they offer some Destiny like catch up mechanisms to give players a hand up.

The Secret Stash

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Comfort Gaming

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One of the things I always have trouble sorting out, is what game I plan on playing during the AggroChat podcast.  Now there are casts that have a strict no gaming rule while talking, but I honestly think that would damage some of the discussion.  Essentially we are hitting record on conversations that naturally happened already on our voice chat server.  Part of that equation is the fact that we are talking while gaming, and for the last couple of weeks the game of choice has been Diablo 3.  I think partially it is that I know the season is coming to an end, and as a result it is fresh in my mind again.  The ultimate irony however is that I am not playing seasonal characters at all.  While recording two shows ago I ended up pushing my non-seasonal monk to 70 and last night I started working on trying to get my non-seasonal warrior from 60 to 70.  That would leave only my Wizard as being sub max level, which honestly…. I am considering giving another chance.  I am not a huge fan of finger wigglers… but after running with a lot of wizards over these last couple of seasons…  I have to say I see the charm.  They can simply melt anything that they come up against, and there actually is a semi melee range option that I would probably be able to stomach.

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The other thing that I tried my hand at this week was Path of Exile.  I find it shocking that the game has been out this long and I have yet to even really give it a shot.  The talent screen honestly scared me off a bit because it looked as complicated as the final fantasy x sphere grid.  However for some time my friend Carthuun has been talking it up, pretty much anytime we brought up Diablo 3.  It is entertaining and I feel like I could play it happily, but I have to say I was somewhat shocked how relatively difficult that it starts.  I mean it is not super hard, but you can’t simply mow through the mobs in quite the manner that you do in Diablo 3.  All this really means is it makes me realize just how watered down the latest Diablo installment really was.  The only disappointment was that there didn’t seem to be any sort of a real “knight” light character with a sword and shield in the manner of the Crusader in D3.  I ended up choosing the big brute character, and at some point I will probably try and go sword and shield.  I am not sure exactly how I am building the character yet because I have yet to get terribly far.

Pre-Patch Farming

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The majority of yesterdays game time was spent running around in The Division and attempting to farm crafting components.  At the current moment I have a decent stash of materials, or at least am in a better position than I was before I knew the crafting changes were coming down.  I am not super pumped about the patch, because it feels like it is taking the game in a less player friendly direction.  However that said I am still slowly making progress towards the level cap.  While running around yesterday I managed to ding 24, and encountered some areas that I had not seen yet.  The strangest of course was this marijuana farm that was nestled deep inside a building.  As the day goes on today my goal is to continue trying to level because I would really love to be able to participate in some of the big activities, but I am absolutely certain I will not hit the cap before the patch.  I am somewhat frustrated that it sounds like gearing is going to be harder for me, than it was for the folks who rushed the leveling process.  That however always seems to be the case… the first few you get to cap get easy epics, and those who level slowly have to struggle through the throttled drop rates.

 

Scattered Gaming

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

Undertale

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

Destiny

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

The Division

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

World of Warcraft

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

 

 

Light and Poms

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Losing Light

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

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

Pom Pom Squad

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

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

New Mailbox

The Final Project

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This spring break has been pretty crazy… but nonetheless extremely productive.  I mostly wanted a pretty chill weekend, but that didn’t exactly happen.  Firstly for some reason I got it in my head that I wanted to change out the mailbox yesterday.  I should have really taken a picture of it before we started, because it was leaning forward and to one side… and had been that way for the better part of the fifteen or so years we have lived in the house.  The door was almost always leaning open because of the tilt, which really didn’t do much to keep our mail dry and safe.  Not to mention it was a post… with a notch inexplicably cut into the side… and the box itself was hanging loosely from a bracket.  On a whim the other day I started looking at options and finally settled on the step 2 fake rock model you see above.  The big thing that I liked about it is the fact that if you go on vacation you can remove the bottom of the mailbox and all of the mail drops down into a larger locked chamber below.  The mailbox is fairly square with the world… my picture taking in the bright sunshine…  not so much.  I relied heavily upon the expertise of my dad, but he was mostly there in an advisory role… which meant I  got to do the bulk of the work.  I am super thankful for him coming over though,  if for no reason other than the fact that he had a really nifty auger tool for essentially “drilling” the post hole into the ground.  That alone saved so much time and effort that I could just corkscrew down and pull out plugs of earth…  or in my case super wet and dense clay that was kinda hell to chew through.

The postive there however is that since it was really dense clay, we could simply pack it back in tight around the post rather than pouring in some quickcrete to stabilize it and set it up.  It took about two and a half hours from start to finish to remove the remnants of the old post, dig a new hole beside it, set the post and install the “easy to install” mailbox.  The last step honestly felt like it took the longest because the manufacturing tolerances were not quite like one would hope.  A lot of the steps involved us banging pieces of plastic together trying to get them together.  After a bunch of frustration… and what would have been a lot of cursing had my parents not been around.  We got the mailbox up just in time for its first delivery, which happened sometime before we had the black top on it.  When we finished with the mailbox I decided we should probably go finish the rest of the errands before I collapsed, which just involved a trip to Sams Club and a trip to Aldi.  As we were coming back from Aldi we got word that our neighbors father had fallen off a ladder and broken his pelvis.  So instead of settling in for the evening to relax, we went up to the hospital to visit and since our neighbor was stuck out of town… we tried to fill in as best we could.  This process took long enough that I was roughly an hour late for recording aggrochat… and even though we had a slew of technical difficulties we just went with it…  because ANY show is better than no show, or at least that was my stance last night.

Relaxation Day Hopefully

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So needless to say… yesterday was pretty damned hectic.  It feels good however to have accomplished as much as we did over a pretty short period of time.  My hope is to mostly just chill out today, and I am wearing all the flannel I can muster because it is pretty chilly in the house.  I really do not want to have to turn on the heat, because I know come next week we will be back in reasonable temperatures.  It is once again Black Spindle day in Destiny, but I am thinking that ship has sailed.  Two weeks ago Squirrel and I struggled to try and get someone to help with that all day long, finally only getting some assistance about 6 pm…  with my end time needing to be 8 pm.  My goal is not to sit around waiting all day to see if that happens and instead go off and enjoy myself in other games.  Not that Destiny is not enjoyable… I just hate waiting around for something.  Right now I have a 1000 Yard Stare that I really like, and the raid Sniper Rifle and between them… I am okay.  I am not planning on doing any content white nail enough to matter that the Black Spindle will make the difference.  I am enjoying casual raiding in Destiny, and I think that will be pretty much where I leave it.

As far as The Division… I am level 18 I believe or otherwise super close to it and still feeling like I need to play catch up.  I am enjoying myself especially now that I once again got a fresh infusion of weapons.  Man do new weapons make a huge amount of difference in this game because struggling… to taking things down in style.  One of the activities that I have been playing catch up on is the phone recordings… and I have to say some of them are just heart breaking.  Some are also showing me a side of characters that I completely without any reservation hated.  There is a phone call from the leader of the cleaners to his granddaughter, talking about how he had to do something for the city… and that she might hear some bad things about him… but not to believe them.  It kinda puts an entirely new spin on what I thought was a mad man, and felt completely happy about putting a bullet in his skull.  The game has a lot of grey area… and so far it has been enough to cause a good chunk of the AggroChat folks to bounce from the game.  For me… I am very much still enjoying myself, but I need to group up more so that I can see what that end of the game feels like.  Right now I kinda like wandering the streets like a nomad and righting wrongs.  Even though I am having to build that hero narrative for myself…  because what I am seeing out in the world is pretty bleak.

 

Contagion and Chill

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Sofa Time

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It’s been a shockingly busy week for me, and most of it was completely unexpected.  Monday through Wednesday I had my boss out, which means I get to not only be myself…  but also him for all purposes.  Which means my “general and administrative” time goes through the roof while attending meetings, and juggling things from the other managers in our department that need resources for this or that.  On the gaming front I was equally busy, with Monday and Tuesday largely being either prep time for the raid or actually raiding.  Then Wednesday night we had the World of Warcraft raid, and while it didn’t actually make I was ended up getting pulled into tank some Mythic Dungeons for Valor.  So when I got home last night, that was the first night of the week when I didn’t already have something planned.  After doing a round of exercises in our newly reclaimed home gym in the garage…  I plunked down on the sofa and spent the rest of the evening playing The Division.  A whole bunch of stuff happened that has greatly improved my outlook on the coming levels.

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Firstly I did in fact move on towards the higher level areas, and there I started getting either upgrades for just green drops like crazy.  The other big change is that I have started vendoring most of the stuff I get because I am simply not getting enough blueprints fast enough to be able to keep myself outfitted in crafted gear, namely not the weapons.  Because of this influx of cash I managed to pick up a nice new marksman rifle, and a brand new LSW that have greatly improved my ability to kill things.  The biggest splurge of the night was a purple chest piece I found on one of the vendors that has over 250 armor.  At the end of last night I was just shy of level 17 and have been cleaning up on the higher level stuff.  I unlocked a security tree perk that allows me to see all of the intel that I missed along the way once I complete all of the side missions for an area.  As such tonight I will likely be poking around and picking these up for quick and easy experience boosts, and start cleaning out the low level zones again.  I had been concerned about how roaming the low level areas meant I was only going up against lower level mobs… but then I quickly did the math and realized that the bulk of my experience is coming from quests and objectives… and grinding mobs is next to meaningless.  I kinda miss the days when grinding lots and lots of mobs was a viable means of leveling…  since that is ultimately my instinct anyways.

Focusing In

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Right now I think my best path is to try my best to push through to level thirty.  I want to run around and spend time in the Dark Zone, but I feel like that is largely useless until I get somewhere near the cap since the items dropping won’t be staying with me all that long.  I also noticed that before I upgraded to the 15+ DZ area the mobs were dropping level 11ish gear which really wasn’t that useful.  Now that I have moved up to the next tier, everything is way over my level and simply not doable without a group.  The fact that you get zero leveling experience while in the Dark Zone really makes me want to avoid it at least until I have capped out my character.  So as we go through the weekend I plan on slowly prodding along and picking up as many levels as I can.  Now that I am almost 17… 30 seems significantly closer and given that I went from 15 to 17 in essentially a single night.  Tonight I plan on picking up the rest of the intel that I missed, and then focusing on going back to higher zone questing.  I’ve completely most of Central Park, and then will move on the higher tier zones after that.  The side missions and encounters all seem to go pretty quickly, it is the missions that are ultimately the ones that I end up having to rez multiple times while doing.

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The game is honestly much more difficult than I expected it to be, especially as a largely solo player.  The gear really matters, and when I got the two new weapons I am using… I saw a massive increase in how successful I was in completing encounters.  The thing I struggle with right now is how much I like to snipe and how hard it is to remain in cover when there are a bunch of mobs gunning for me.  I’ve never tried the turret but I am contemplating using that as a way to draw fire away from me so I can get off a round of head shots to whittle down the opponents quickly.  In truth there are simply a lot of time with the Rikers folks that I have better luck just bobbing and weaving in and out of cover while firing my light machine gun.  Really it is the other snipers that are the bane of my existence, and the folks who fire off a heavy machine gun.  Though the last is largely due to my impatience and not wanting to always wait for them to need to reload.  I am still very much enjoying the game, I just wish I had more time to play it.  I hope this weekend I will have some more time to just hang out and chill out on Sunday and can maybe get into some grouping time with friends also playing.