Many Demons

Allergy to Advertising

Yesterday in my travels I listened to a piece on NPR talking about the habits of TV binge watchers and advertising.  Apparently a study has found that binge watchers are far less susceptible to advertisements than your average viewer.  They went into some reasons behind this…  but I think as a whole we have just learned how to ignore advertising.  William Gibson is the oracle of our age, because he consistently predicts a thing being a thing… before it actually happens.  I remember in the book Pattern Recognition he introduced us to a person who is so allergic to branding and advertising that they would get the branding ground off the buttons in their jeans.  I feel like I am nowhere near this, but instead I am in this realm where advertising just really doesn’t work that well for me.  When I see the same ad over and over… especially if it feels like they are targeting me for some reason…  I find myself less and less likely to use whatever product that is.  There was a time when I actually like several post cereals for example…  but after watching commercials for honey bunches of oats between shows on Hulu I have nothing but a negative reaction when I see anything with the Post brand on it.

As far as advertising in general, I’ve gotten adept at ignoring it.  If I am going to be serious about a website I tend to snap it into my RSS reader, which also tends to trim most of the advertisements.  From a side effect it also cuts down on the exposure to Malware, since a large number of attacks on end user machines come in through infected ad providers.  While I might trust the hell out of a website, I don’t trust the advertising services that are well known cesspools of Malvertisements.  With Television however…. there is very rarely a time where I will be watching a show without also doing something else at the same time.  So I might be playing an MMO or fiddling around with this or that project… which means when an ad comes on the screen it gives me liberty to look down at my device.  I am vaguely listening, but only well enough to be able to identify when the ad has finished and the television show has started again.  Mostly I really don’t enjoy being advertised to.  I am not bought into the fantasy that they are trying to create that is supposed to tell me that my life will be better with this product.  Instead I prefer to just do my own research when I find that I need something.  There is never a moment when I purchase something, that I have not already googled it, youtubed it, and tried to find multiple seemingly trustworthy sources of information on how said product works.  That said…  I realize I am probably a huge aberration, but I would have to think its an aberration that is growing more and more common.

OrcLock Instead

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Last night most of the evening was spent going to RiffTrax where I saw Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny….  which is every bit as horrific as you might have imagined.  Well the movie was horrific… the riffing over top of the movie was absolutely glorious.  I would say this batch of shorts and the final movie… was quite possibly the best RiffTrax I have seen.  They are doing a rebroadcast of Starship Troopers early into January so I think we are going to rally the troops and go see it as well, since it was one of the ones they did before we started making this a regular outing.  When I got home however I spent some time piddling around and on a whim decided to roll a Female Orc Warlock rather than flipping over and playing my Dwarflock like I had talked about.  Essentially I am enjoying my time Horde side quite a bit, and I am feeling the need to develop a stable of characters.  I also really really need access to an enchanter and a potion maker, and there is no better way to do that than to make my own.  So in theory Belghula… because I am running out of ideas for Belg names… is more than likely going to be a Tailor / Enchanter…  since having access to crafted gear is always a useful thing.

This is I guess going to be an experiment in just how long I manage to stick with a female character.  This is a thing I don’t do terribly well, and mostly its because… I tend to keep creating versions of myself when I make characters.  At some point I need to do a supercut of my characters, but you will see there is a very specific pattern to them.  They all have beards of some sort… and if there is a game that doesn’t allow beards…  then honestly I don’t tend to stick around terribly long in it.  After that I tend to have long hair drawn back into a ponytail… or if nothing else just long hair in  general, and said hair is generally black or as dark of a brown as I can get it.  Essentially that character ends up being the idealized version of how I guess I wish I looked… or at least my ultimate version of myself.  Maybe I just really like the whole Adrian Paul Highlander thing…  because my Secret World character looks quite a bit like he did in the Highlander Television series.  In any case… I never seem to be able to fully immerse myself in a female character, because it pulls me out of the whole “this is me in game form” aspect.  That said, when it comes to horde in particular… I think the female characters look badass and less sexualized than the alliance versions.  I also like the female Orcs, Trolls and Undead far more than I like the Male counter parts.  As a result I am going to give this a try, and hopefully it works…  because seriously this Orclock looks awesome already.

Devilian Finally

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While I played quite a bit of Devilian in the various phases of alpha/beta/whatever… I had yet to actually install the game proper since its launch.  So last night when I got home… while I was dinking around on the Orclock I had it installing in the background.  I crashed pretty hard around 10pm but I managed to get in this morning and get a character created.  As a result I created Belghast the Berserker on Ravan…  because if you give me a server name that even vaguely sounds like Revan… I am going to play on it.  I am looking forward to seeing what the game is like after the handful of polish passes the late betas gave it.  If nothing else it should at least partially scratch my Diabloesc itch for awhile.  I have significant issues still with the fact that the classes are gender locked, but this is not really a Trion Worlds thing.  That is one of the frustrating things about playing a game that has been localized like this… is that you end up knowing that most of the things that might frustrated you… the company you actually have access to, can’t do a damned thing about it.  So as a result I am going to enjoy what is there, and try really hard not to worry about the stuff that isn’t.

I joined a Discord server yesterday being run by Zoltariel and having a bunch of the Trion folks on it as well.  So I started chatting like I normally do, to which point I was treated to a length rant about how essentially anyone playing a Berserker is a “casual” and that how no one would ever invite them to a group.  I am paraphrasing because this was a rant that took place over the course of twenty or so lines, but the gist was that Berserkers and melee in general had problems dealing with late game mechanics.  The thing is…  I enjoy melee.  If you give me the option between a bunch of characters, I will always without a doubt play a melee… and problem even further play a tank.  Since Devilian is the sort of game that doesn’t have a tank… then I am likely to play as much of a high survival melee as I can because I like being able to live through stupid things.  Melee is what makes me happy, and even if it is absolutely empirically worse than every other class in a game…. I am still going to play it because it is the player fantasy that I enjoy.  So I killed the chat channel when I quoted Tommy Lee Jones from the Fugitive after Harrison Ford just gave an impassioned plea about how he did not in fact kill his wife…   “I Don’t Care”.  Not everyone plays a game to win…  some of us play them to have fun doing the playing.

Week in Gaming 11/1/2015

Goodbye Summer

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This is the week where we finally started to see some colder temperatures.  Its funny that this has been the case for the last few years…  that October for the most part has still be warm and sunny and if we still had our pool open… we probably could have swam in it all month long.  We still have yet to see a freeze but this past week it was regularly in the 40s, when the week before it pretty much never dropped much down past the 70s other than the early morning.  As a result this means our hibernation instincts are starting to kick into overdrive.  We recorded the AggroChat podcast Friday night, which left us with all of Saturday to do whatever we wanted.  The end result… is that we pretty much just stayed inside apart from a mad dash out of the house around 4 pm to run a few errands.  I am perfectly fine with a weekend like this…  my wife however has some inborn instinct that tells her that we if did nothing over a weekend… that the weekend is somehow a failure.  Me… I see those as the most wonderful weekends ever.

Destiny

I had all of these plans to play some themed games for Halloween… but those plans pretty much died yesterday.  Instead I ended up working on my Warlock and getting it to 21 from about level 8.  I have to say the Warlock is growing on me over time… and I really really like Nova Bomb as a super goes.  It is this awesome mix of the way the Havoc Fist super and Shadowshot super feel, where I can deliver death from above…  but at a target instead of jumping down in the middle of everything.  Having played all three classes… I have to say they have done an excellent job of giving them all something really neat and special about them that makes it rewarding to play.  The hardest thing for me so far however has been adjusting to the Warlock jump.  It just works so different than all of the others… and while I am starting to get the hang of it…  I still have zero desire to do any of the platforming encounters with it.  We will see when I get to the dreadnaught if I can figure out how to do the various chasm jumps with it.  Hunter is simple…  double jump, and Titan is similarly simple… you just have to sort out when you want to hover over your target before you land.  Warlock…  is just fiddly and annoying and I never can seem to do the sort of jump I need when I need it.

The secret of my success honestly was getting high enough level to where I could break out my Stranger’s Rifle and I plan on riding that puppy up as long as I can.  That weapon is just so damned amazing…  and I am ultimately going to have to sort out the process for getting the modern version of it.  Sadly I don’t have much faction with Future War Cult, which is ultimately required to get the No Time to Explain exotic.  As it stands right now my hunter is running up Future War Cult faction, but since I don’t play him nearly as much as I do my Titan it is lagging behind.  I did manage to get my hunter up to 285 light, and I can now consistently him 297 light on my Titan.  Getting 300 and beyond items just seems to be the problem, and I still decode so many 260ish items that are just trash.  While I don’t mind so much if they are weapons… since I am consistently struggling to keep enough weapon parts on all three of my characters…  but armor…  I have more than enough to share.  I want to take a moment to talk about how much I love the Bungie.net website for swapping stuff between my characters, and the fact that you can do it in the middle of a game play session.  This is a really amazing feature.. and I have heard there are chrome plugins that streamline this process considerably.

For the last several weeks I have been on this mission to grind as many strikes as possible to get Exotic Engrams…  and there was a method behind my madness.  There was one weapon in this game that I wanted more than anything else… and that was.. the Zhalo Supercell.  From the moment I saw it in a video, I loved the look of it as some sort of futuristic AK-47/Bolt Action Hybrid thing.  What I loved more about it was the functionality of being able to chain lightning to all of the mobs around your target.  The only problem being…  I never seem to get weapon engrams.  I get Helms and Gloves… and the occasional Chestpiece… but have pure hell getting any sort of weapon to drop.  So you can imagine my excitement this Friday when Xur had none other than the Xhalo Supercell available.  The only negative of course is that all Xur weapons start at 280 instead of the 290 that they are usually dropping for me as.  I have managed to pour enough stuff into it to get it to 287 which will have to do for the time being.  I love this gun, and more importantly I love the way it rips through mobs that always frustrated me.  I’ve noticed when the lightning procs… it can hit Phalanx and Knights even if their shields are up which makes this gun freaking amazing.  When I wrap up my post this morning I think I am going to stream/record for a bit and talk about some of my favorite weapons currently.

Another huge positive from this week is that one of the Armsday orders was the above Suros DIS-43 Scout Rifle.  One of the rolls available had full auto… which makes this gun freaking amazing.  It has good impact, solid range and really great stability which makes it pretty much the perfect scout rifle for me.  This has now completely replaced Hung Jury in my current weapon load out.  My Hung Jury essentially has maxed range which is nice… because I can use it much in the same way as I would a sniper rifle, but the Suros DIS-43 is just a much better all around weapon.  I noticed it was available for Armsday orders again this week, and I put in for another one… so hoping that I can end up getting a third one for my Warlock.  I have two of these now and they are just excellent.  Hoping that everyone managed to get in on the full auto version from this past week because man… I am really enjoying it.  My only problem with Suros weapons… is that I really don’t like the Red and White paint job.  So this is another case that I would love to be able to repaint my weapons…  like if I could put a Dead Orbit paint scheme on this thing… it would be perfect.

Secrets of Grindea

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Another title that I played this week was Secrets of Grindea to get prepared for the Friday night podcast.  I of course talked about this at length on the podcast, but this is a game where I went through a few different phases with it.  At first… it didn’t really grab me.  This was my pick for the month, and I largely picked it because some of the game footage I saw reminded me of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana.  The early gameplay however… is kinda boring, and the first “boss battle” on the bridge felt a little uninspired.  That was quickly followed up by the Giga Slime boss… which was absolutely brutal to do as a melee character.  So I have to admit that knocked a lot of wind out of my sails as far as this game went.  I did however manage to pick it back up this week and saw the game that I had not quite gotten to yet.

All I can say is… boy was I wrong to doubt this game.  The quests are cute, and a parody of traditional RPG tropes…. without being cruel or slapstick about it.  It is kinda a sly nod and wink to the fans of this genre…  saying “we know” rather than trying to rub your face in it.  We talked about this on the podcast, but this is essentially the game I had wished Citizens of Earth was.  It is well written, has some interesting and often times hilarious characters, and presents a world for the grown up fans of the original Zelda games…  not necessarily the same audience those games were targetting.  The boss fights are really challenging, but each of them have a trick or a pattern that once you figure it out it becomes doable.  That said I do think this game might have significantly more challenging encounters than Zelda did, because the above Hydra was essentially the point where the game broke me.  After talking with my friends on the podcast… there was essentially a pattern that I was missing that hopefully means I can get in and wreck it now.  There was not a single boss that did not take me multiple attempts… other that the first bridge encounter mind you.  The game does a great job of check-pointing your progress so you start pretty close to where you died allowing you to get right back into the action and try again.  Even though this is early access… I highly suggest checking it out…  though admittedly you might just wait for the final version.

Devilian

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The other game that I spent some time playing is Devilian, that was having another beta test weekend.  I still have issues with the game, at least in the style of the character classes… and their gender locked nature.  That said I do actually enjoy playing it, and I think it is a cool take on a normally Diablo clone environment.  It feels like something different, and I find it significantly more challenging already than anything I saw in Diablo.  Diablo gameplay felt “cheap” at times… where bosses would just straight oneshot you if you were unlucky or lacked the armor/skills to deflect the blows.  This game requires you to react a lot more quickly to things happening and dodge out of the way of incoming damage.  I’ve already encountered a boss that I just cannot currently beat, and I am hoping to come back to it once I have picked up a few more levels.  I have this feeling that the boss is designed for multiple players to take him down…  because he is right there out in the open rather than hidden behind a bunch of mobs.

The game is really damned pretty, and I will give it marks too for running extremely smoothly.  I am still getting used to its somewhat quirky control scheme, but it makes sense.  If I were in the permanent test group I would probably be playing this more regularly but with only having weekends to play it… it somewhat disincentives my time spent.  My ultimate hope is that Trion has more control over this one than they do over ArchAge and that maybe just maybe they can get some of the changes in that will make the game more enjoyable.  Like for example the game is desperately in need of some inventory management tools…  like sort and compact.  It feels so odd to be playing a game without those things at this point.  I doubt the whole Gender locked classes thing will ever be solved, because that will mean a TON of art and animation work to get there.  In truth, as I look at the other classes… it is highly unlikely that I would play any of them other than the berserker in the first place.  I am just not much for ranged classes…  and I have zero desire to play a character with a habitually open shirt.  In truth I wish there was some sort of a “tanky” character like the Crusader in Diablo 3.  That would probably ultimately be the class for me.

Week In Gaming 10/25/2015

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The Sickly Bel

weekingamingThis week was an odd one in that I managed to catch some flu-like chest crud.  I felt pretty awful most of last weekend, and then struggled to exist Monday and ended up coming home halfway through Tuesday.  I chained Wednesday as well, and found myself in that place where I wanted to play something…  but anything seemed to require too much concentration.  This was after all the week I had early access to Star Wars Fallen Empire, and I did exactly none of the content.  I poked my head in a few times to attempt to play my Sith Sorcerer and failed miserably at it.  I have a few comments to make about my experiences, but the majority of my gaming time was spent playing Destiny.  Apparently that game is largely muscle memory, and I can play it without having to think too much about it.

SWTOR: Fallen Empire

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As I said in the intro, this week was the early launch of Fallen Empire the massively game changing expansion for Star Wars the Old Republic… and I barely touched it.  I did pop in enough to get sorted out how some of the new systems work.  Namely the way companions now exist as being independent of the abilities they use.  This means if you no longer have to deal with companions you cannot stand just because they fill the role you want.  As a result I swapped to using Andronikos Revel on my Sorcerer, because he loves it when I shock the shit out of NPCs that are not giving me my way.  Similarly I would probably never run with a companion that is not Vette on my Sith Warrior, or always run with Kira Carsen on my Jedi Guardian.  There is seriously nothing cooler than running around with Kira and feeling like a Jedi strike force, and having her also be a healer…  just icing on the cake.  As you can tell this is a super important change for me, and I am damned happy to see it go in.

Other than that the other big change for me is the fact that the NPCs are actually labelled as to what type of quest they give you.  For example in the above image you can clearly see that this NPC is going to give you the Belsavis planetary quest.  This makes it easy to ignore things like the non-soloable heroic quests or flashpoint quests you are not quite ready for… to keep them from cluttering your logs.  The other big thing that I noticed was the way that the level scaling works.  It seems like when you land on a planet you are scaled to the maximum level for that area, somewhat like Final Fantasy XIV scales dungeons.  This means you can overlevel content… but just barely making it a bit easier if you wait for awhile to do a quest rather than doing it when it is on level.  However there is never a point where content ever becomes useless to you, which means you can easily go back and farm early content if you are struggling a bit to progress forward.  The loss of 12x class experience however means that pretty much to stay current you are always going to have to do your class quests as well as the main planetary story arc.  In any case I think the expansion content is going to be enjoyable… if I ever actually play it.

All-Saints Wake

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I don’t have a lot to talk about when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV this week, but I did poke my head back in for a few hours.  This week was the release of the All-Saints Wake event that serves as Halloween for the game.  As we talked about last night, holidays in Final Fantasy XIV are largely the tale of incompetent villains and in this case it is a repeat appearance of the Impresario the mastermind behind the Continental Circus.  Over the years we have learned that this is really a group of voidsent that are trying to cause mayhem each year, and we the player finds new ways to thwart them.  As cute as the story line is… the reason why you do holidays in games is to get stuff.  This year we get the purple outfit that my character is showing off above, a new Pumpkin Butler minion, and for the first time this year an actual mount.  We get to ride around Eorzea on a flying broom… that actually does fly if you have unlocked flight in a given zone.  The thing I love about Final Fantasy XIV holiday events is that they are adorable, provide awesome rewards… and end up taking only a few minutes to complete rather than being a grindy mess that brings out the worst in players.  If you are subbed you should definitely check it out, because while the quest is more enjoyable if you have done the previous years… it is still fairly easy to follow without that ancestral knowledge.

Devilian

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I have some issues with this game, but since I am now in alpha/beta/whatever phase it is and the NDA has dropped I thought I would talk a bit about it this morning.  My number one issue is the gender locked classes and the fact that they have very specific styles to them.  The Berserker is a guts clone, the Shadow Hunter is a bare chested Bishi-elven alucard like character, the Evoker is spilling out of her dress, and the Cannoneer is a Loli.  Out of those options… there is exactly one I can stomach playing as, which is the Berserker.  The thing is…. all of these design decisions unfortunately have nothing to do with Trion Worlds which is the company bringing the game to non-Korean markets.  As fraught as the classes are… the game is actually rather enjoyable once you get past its slightly odd control scheme.  By all looks it is a Diablo clone, but it controls vastly different… and honestly reminds me a bit more of the way skill shots in League of Legends feel.  You use your mouse for character facing and then use your number keys to fire off abilities.  You can bind an attack to your left mouse button, and I am probably going to do that with my basic attack to make it feel more Diablo-like.  What I have seen of the combat is kinda interesting, and the dungeons are really enjoyable.  I am just struggling to get past the art direction decisions, because honestly…  they make me really sad.  This could be a really great game, if it didn’t have gender locked classes and the art design did not seem to be from a thirteen year olds “tee hee hee boobs” mindset.  It will be interesting to see if I am still piddling with it by the time the next beta comes around or if I have decided that the game is simply “not for me”.

Destiny

Magical glow of an Exotic Engram… only to be dashed moments later when you find out its a damned helmet.

This week has been almost entirely devoted to Destiny.  As I said before this was the game that I could play without having to apply much thought to it.  A good chunk of the week was spent working on my Hunter who is now I believe 270ish light level, and all of the way through the TKK content.  I cheated a bit and jump started the character to level 25 using the item I got from purchasing the Taken King.  I have to say if they want to sell something on the cash shop… I would absolutely buy a second one of these.  Going from 25 to 40 was not that bad, but I am just not looking forward to taking my Warlock from 1-25 to get there.  This week has also been the resurgence of my appreciation of Auto Rifles.  I completely the third Gunsmith faction quest and it ended up giving me an exotic rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  This thing is just a blast to use and I love the way it sounds and feels as I rip through mobs.  This has also caused me to dust off the auto rifles I had in my vault and I found a few others that I really like, one of which my hunter is currently using.

The other key activity for this week has been running level 36 strikes in an effort to get exotic engrams with three of coins.  I found out today that I could be just doing level 20s, but honestly I kinda enjoy the slight effort the 36s provide.  They go so much quicker than the heroics, but don’t feel like I am simply steamrolling them in quite the way that the level 20s do.  Essentially my pattern has been to run strikes using coins until I get an exotic, then take a break for a bit and do something else.  I am also attempting to keep both characters up to date on bounties each day, and my regular farming runs on the dreadnought manage to pay off big time… as I had more than enough Hadium Flakes to get my Hunter his sword almost immediately.  The big chore is still trying to increase my light levels, and the most 290 grind is extremely slow.  That said it still feels enjoyable because I am seeing a ton of drops in the process.  Even though half of the things are going to turn out to be something I cannot use… it still feels good to see drops.  Its like the game is giving me hope… even though moments later it is just going to dash them once again when I find out the exotic is another damned helmet.