Nothing Much to Say

destiny-2-screenshot-2018-03-27-23-08-59-07

destiny-2-screenshot-2018-03-27-23-08-59-07

This morning I feel like I don’t have an awful lot to talk about, but still feel obligated to say words and things.  The last few nights have mostly been what I would refer to as maintenance gaming, where I log into something…  do a few repeatable activities and then log right back out.  The majority of this time has been spent in World of Warcraft since I apparently have set forth a goal of unlocking the alliance races which will involve copious amounts of reputation grinding.  At this moment I am about 6500 out of 21000 towards exalted or some close equivalent in both of the necessary factions.  At the suggestion of my friend Grace I have started hoarding faction tokens for the Darkmoon Faire buff, which admittedly is not a thing I have really partaken of in its modern format.

I still find it super annoying that the Alliance route to new races is way harder than the Horde route.  As a “Mostly Alliance” player for most of my wow career I have always felt like Blizzard favored The Horde…  not in the least because of the constant insistence that we should care deeply about Green Jesus.  Weirdly enough however for the last while I have been almost exclusively playing The Horde and the character I am grinding up is my Orc Warrior not my Human one.  There are certain things that just work easier on that side of the pond than the other…  for example jumping the wall from the flightmaster to the Horde area in Dalaran is so much faster than having to fly all the way across the map to the Alliance area.  Having a reasonable foothold on both continents is another nice point…  with ways to get there quickly.  Sure you can still use the Theramore boat as Alliance… but it feels weird to do so.

Grace had this idea of doing a sort of “raiding light” group one night a week that worked on trying to get the Mythic+ number as high as we could.  So far however that is struggling to get off the ground given in our most immediate aggrochat crew we represent the only viable folks for this mission.  I am heavily favoring Horde side since my Warrior there is 927 but most of the connections I would have to pull in people for nonsense are Alliance side.  Over the coming days I might start reaching out to individuals that play horde side to see if they would be interested in shenanigans but for the moment the idea has taken root but not seen much progress.

As evidenced by the screenshot I used for this post I fired up Destiny last night and played around in it for a bit.  The changes have made a lot of the weapons feel odd so in theory I will need to test everything out again to see what I do and do not like now.  The fast rate of fire valkydyn that I am pictured holding above no longer feels that great.  The general movement speed however does and it feels like Titan Skating is back to being a fairly viable thing once more.  I am not sure if this is “just me” but I swear the grenade recharge rate was lowered once again, either that or I am still struggling to adjust to how generally slow that is.  Even with double charges it was rare that it would actually be up when I wanted to use it while roaming around Mercury and doing events.

I miss Destiny 2, and more importantly I miss wanting to play it.  I am not sure why I bounced so hard with the release of Curse of Osiris, and why I never actually managed to get any of the other classes in my stable through the story.  Ultimately I was expecting something along the scope of The Taken King, and then was disappointed that we got something the scope of Dark Below instead.  Additionally there just isn’t a grind I want to be doing there, because the weapons at least prior to yesterdays patch all sorta felt the same.  Maybe now with the sandbox update there will be some reason to grind content to attempt to get masterworks for the things I want to be playing with.

The other side note is that I have started attempting to play some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate over lunch, but quickly realized that if I want to do this thing I will need to leave the floor.  We have a gaming area set up for folks to mostly play the WiiU that is hooked up there, but it does offer a bunch of really comfy chairs.  Over lunch yesterday I attempted to camp out in one and do a few hunts, and within minutes had someone do a drive by and start up a conversation about some project we were working on.  Basically now that I am 100% in the management world I cannot bump into someone without a conversation about something we need to deal with happening.  Ultimately I like the concept of playing a little 3DS or Switch over lunch, but I need to find a hidey hole to go do this thing in.

 

Bad Grind Good Grind

wow-64-2018-03-27-06-34-56-28

wow-64-2018-03-27-06-34-56-28

I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

box_art-mh4u_n3ds

The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

Fast Boat

world-of-warcraft-screenshot-2018-03-21-18-43-48-09

world-of-warcraft-screenshot-2018-03-21-18-43-48-09

One of the interesting things that has happened over the last few days is that I apparently got invited to the Battle for Azeroth expansion alpha.  I happened to notice this Tuesday night when I opened my battle.net launcher and found the World of Warcraft tab was trying to patch something.  Sure enough upon further inspection I did appear to have access to the alpha client in my version selector drop down.  I also noticed from social media that a few other people seemed to be indicating the same, so I am guessing there was a whole new wave of folks entering the testing.  The thing about alpha testing that is legitimately an alpha…  is it is as much a burden as it is a privilege.  Yes you have access to something that most people don’t and that in some ways is inherently cool…  but also it becomes your responsibility to go out into the unfinished world and help stop bugs that you will encounter.

world-of-warcraft-screenshot-2018-03-21-18-49-02-13

First off let me get this out of the way…  Battle For Azeroth Alpha is in fact an alpha in functionality and in name.  I’ve been in so many different versions of Alpha programs over the years and even in Blizzard terms occasionally those Friends and Family Alphas feel “almost finished”.  This time around BfA feels very much a work in progress and with significant functionality either missing or not entirely working.  For example I spent the beginning of my evening testing an area of the game where quest tracking was not functional at all, and I sorta had to wing it given that I could not really see what was required to finish any of the quests.  One of the more interesting things of note is that the Kul Tirran side of the house appears to have a flight path system that is in truth a series of extremely high speed boats, example is the one I am on above.

After spending some time bug noting Alliance side I rolled a Horde character and the Zandalari areas seem to be a bit more finished.  Those areas had a proper quest flow with tracking working and advisement of where I should be going for the next quest.  In truth that probably means that I should not be spending too much time in Kul Tiras until they have had a bit more time to flesh it out.  I did however report a ton of instances where things were clipping oddly, or in one case where my camera was being pushed up through a when I stood in a certain spot.  I guess that is part of the responsibility side of Alpha testing, that you need to vary your feedback based on what phase in the zone development they are in.

Sure I bug noted the fact that quest tracking was not working…  but after doing that it seemed nonsense to keep reporting it each time I turned in a quest in that area of the game.  Instead I started working on reporting the base pop and terrain anomalies, since they are likely the parts that are being worked on at that very moment.  Ultimately my goal is to spend a little bit of time each night working on testing content, because I feel like since I have eyes on the game…  I should be helping to make it better for launch.

dy4z9xjvmaaraaj

The gaming for fun side of the evening was spent over in Monster Hunter World which received a patch.  I did not actually defeat a Deviljho last night, but I saw several of them as they interrupted my other hunts.  It is in fact as nonsense as everyone seemed to make it out to be and I am hoping that maybe tonight I can devote some time to actually purposefully hunting one or two of them to get used to how those fights go.  The focus of my evening last night however was finally getting Thalen through Nergigante.  It has been a goal to make sure that everyone gets off high center with this fight in part because it seemed to take me so long to do that myself.  Everyone was more than willing to lend a hand in my hour of need so I feel like it is only right to keep paying that forward.

dy40dmevaaexvqt

Additionally I like the fact that I now feel pretty comfortable with this encounter and could always use more monster bits.  While waiting around for Thalen to finish up a hunt we started talking about our stats…  at which point I joked that I changed my guild card title to Pure Long Sword at some point.  I really have in fact been focused on only this one weapon for awhile as you can see by the fact I have done 253 hunts with Long Sword and the closest second is hammer with 7.  Both Tam and Ashgar have way more spread graphs when it comes to weapons, and in truth I probably should as well.  I should make a point of trying every weapon and seeing if there are hidden gems out there that I might ultimately like.  My biggest problem has been that I just didn’t want to take resources away from my current longsword crafting projects to create other weapons.

Indigo Blade Get

dyx35vuvwae-koz

Yesterday I engaged in some serious nonsense, which is not super surprising if you follow this blog in the least.  For whatever reason I got it stuck in my head that I would really like to have the Wyvern Blade “Indigo”, which is an alternate line of the poison weapon I have been using off and on for some time.  This unfortunately would involve starting over from scratch and building a new base weapon and upgrading it completely.  I had no clue what exactly that mean’t part wise so I created a little hit list adding up everything.

To craft the Wyvern Blade Indigo… and all of the precursors I would need…

  • 05 – Rathian Shell
  • 01 – Rathian Plate
  • 10 – Machalite Ore
  • 04 – Poison Sac
  • 03 – Rath Wingtalon
  • 02 – Flame Sac
  • 03 – Rathalos Marrow
  • 02 – Rathalos Shell
  • 06 – Rathalos Scale+
  • 04 – Rathalos Carapace
  • 02 – Rathalos Wing
  • 01 – Rathalos Plate
  • 14 – Azure Rathalos Scale+
  • 04 – Azure Rathalos Carapace
  • 03 – Azure Rathalos Wing
  • 01 – Rathalos Medulla
  • 02 – Teostra Horn+
  • 03 – Azure Rathalos Tail
  • 01 – Rathalos Ruby
  • 120,000 Zenny

I spent some time yesterday streaming and originally thought I would be just clearing out optional content like I have been doing the last few days.  However rapidly that descended into madness as I started chasing the bits and pieces needed to craft the Indigo weapon.  This meant a significant amount of farming Rathalos and Azure Rathalos…  neither of which are necessarily super difficult encounters, but also not exactly quick farms either.  Because I am weird and me… I opted to mostly farm these using my method of SOS roulette and in truth this rapidly allowed me to get down to a single item needed.

dyx35vuvwae-koz

The core problem there however is that “gems” from monsters seem to drop super infrequently…  if you actually want them to drop.  I have a string of bird wyvern gems for example, but now that I actually need one it would not drop.  I am not honestly sure how many Blues I took down during the stream, but after stopping I continued the madness… and by the end of the night had probably defeated at least eight…  potentially more.  It was around about this time that Ashgar came in to alter my thought patterns.

dyx312su8aa9dca

This theory was that it would be simply faster for me to knock out the five elder dragon kills needed to do the weekly, than continue farming Azure Rathalaos over and over forever without getting a drop.  It turns out you can take the Gold Wyverian Print that you get from the weeklies and turn it into a guaranteed gem from any monster.  So this lead to me farming Xeno’jiiva over and over until I had knocked out the five kills.  Ultimately according to Ash… Zorah Magdaros, Nergigante, Teostra, Kushala Daora, Vaal Hazak, and Xeno’jiiva all count.  The low effort versions would have been to just farm Zorah until I got my five kills but I figured I might as well work on something that had a chance of giving me useful monster parts.

dyx3yrjv4aabyyu

As a result before I went to bed I managed to farm up all of the bits needed to craft the weapon, and then took it on a ceremonial trip to High Rank Great Jagras to see how well it works.  The final clock said just a second or two over two minutes for the kill, but I also wandered around aimlessly collecting herbs and honey at the beginning of that fight so I am guessing I actually finished the kill a little under a minute.  All in all I am super happy with the end result in spite of the process itself being a little nonsense.  Why exactly did I do this thing?  Mostly because Kirin is weak to fire… and I will have to ultimately do Tempered Kirin to uncap my level again.

Optional Cleanup

dyuiwdyu8aazs-q

dyuiwdyu8aazs-q

Last night I spent a good deal of time roaming around in Monster Hunter World cleaning up all of the things I had been ignoring.  One of the problems with this game…  if it can be called a problem at all…  is that you get so many missions that you can run.  At any given time I have 250 investigations constantly swapping themselves out for newer investigations and a seemingly endless number of optional quests opening up as you do things in the world.  So yes…  I just called too much content a problem, which is ultimately why I backpedaled that a bit because so often we complain about not having anything to do.  The game is an endless generator of things you can do.

My play style is apparently not normal, and as a result I have ended up with tons of optional quests left unfinished and I am working through them slowly.  Last night for an hour and some change I hung out with my friend Ashgar as we tackled various missions that had been sitting there waiting.  The only problem is I am not sure which quests I am missing…  because a good number of the star ranks are giving me the indicator that I have in fact finished all of the quests I have available…  but that there are more I have yet to unlock.  Ash explained that these are probably quests for which I have not actually captured the monster opening up the special arena version.

dyuis58voaahfph

The truth is…  Low Rank was a bit of a blur as I attempted to push forward to start doing the big kid content that I thought at the time was High Rank.  Additionally I have played like some sort of a maniac in doing my SOS Roulette thing way more often than actually soloing any optional quests.  Occasionally this finishes up missions but more often than not it is simply rerunning content I have already seen.  I tend to open up the SOS menu and pick out whatever looks to be the most interesting…  which tends to be the combo monster quests so oddly enough I have almost all of those finished.

What I am lacking in a major way however is anything that requires a capture…  or anything that requires me to take something and run it back to camp.  The delivery quests are maddening, and I just find it so frustrating to carry something slowly across the map only to get derailed by some nonsense along the way causing you to drop whatever you were transporting.  I should in fact make a set of Kulu gloves so that I can do this nonsense faster because I have a couple more sitting in my optional quest menu that at some point I will need to deal with.

dyuizgsu0aaepnx

So you might ask yourself… why do I even care?  Well the true end game in any title is the cosmetics… and at the end of doing every single optional quest is quite possibly the most nonsense of cosmetic items.  Apparently in Monster Hunter there is a proud tradition of a special rainbow pigment that you can die your gear with.  Upon completing all of the optional content you get another quest that ultimately rewards this thing, and apparently while using it your gear constantly cycles slowly through all of the colors of the rainbow.  Why do I want this thing…  I honestly have no clue…  but knowing it exists makes me want to collect it.

In truth I didn’t make anywhere near as much progress as I would have liked last night.  I ran around eight missions before needing to take a break…  and I have untold more to go.  It was more entertaining to do with a friend, but most of what I have left is not exactly extremely challenging.  The hardest part with low rank content is making sure you get the capture instead of just getting the kill.  There was a point last night when I thought I was just severing the tail off a Rathian…  but at the exact same time I wound up getting the kill in.  I mean I could in fact dig out a lower rank weapon…  but I am not going to.  Hitting things for big numbers is fun, and it will at the very least be a source of enjoyment while I retread this mountain of older content.

Tempered Nonsense

dypbfapvwaalylj

dynim7hvwaa_is4

This weekend in theory was the weekend that I played catch up with Monster Hunter World.  For awhile now I have been stalled out at the final boss of the game the insanely huge elder dragon Xeno’jiiva.  First off… the fight is an annoying pain in the butt as melee.  I am not sure if this is just a longsword thing or if it is an “all melee” thing but you spend all of your time trying to avoid being stepped on while roaming around trying to hit weak spots.  Basically there are three glowing bits that seem to be weak…  the tail, the front paws, and the head.  Normally as a longsword you spend your time focused on the tail… but given this thing is about three times as tall as a normal monster it spends most of its time up in the air.

The fight as a whole is a lot of running around and avoiding breath attacks while attempting to pour damage into the front paws.  After a point this will cause the monster to fall down exposing the head for a few minutes allowing you to get off a combo.  The biggest problem I had was the monster has several things that can be a one shot if you are not careful, so my first attempt was mostly me sussing out what I should be doing and what I should not be doing.  I am one of those people who learn by doing, and I doubt that reading a guide would have helped.

dyniioruqaabkia

The second attempt was largely a ballet of attempting to do the right thing at the right moment.  I managed to take down the monster but only had one faint left.  Its funny how when you know there are no more faints… you shift into a sort of hyper focused mode because every move has potential success riding on it.  Ultimately I really didn’t want to fail because the fight itself is cumbersome and has several phases of tedium while you are waiting for Xeno to finishing doing its nonsense and land so you can begin attacking again.  I am sure those air phases are way more enjoyable if you have any semblance of a ranged attack…  or if you are Tam and just playing the nonsense weapon.

dyniwhyvqaa7tat

Whatever the case I defeated a Xeno, and immediately shot up to 29 which was the next Hunter Rank plateau.  It turns out you are phantomly gaining levels while you are playing the game, in spite of it appearing as though you are presently capped by a quest.  I’ve talked about this before, but when you finish a game like this it always feels like you are obligated to sit and watch the credits as a sort of homage to the folks who poured all of the love into creating the game in the first place.  The credit roll was on the short side allowing me to get right back into the action and as soon as I zoned into my room and back out… I picked up the next quest that was gating me.

dyhg2hlumaatlkv

The real highlight however is that I managed to pick up enough pieces from Xeno to craft the Extermination’s Edge…  ultimately what is likely to be my primary end game weapon for awhile.  The next quest involved hunting my very first tempered monster, and what did they give me as a target…  a pair of Bazelgeuse.  Until yesterday I had not ever actually killed a single Bazel… or Bagel as folks seem to call.  It always seemed like it was more hassle than it was worth, and since I had never fought one… I personally found this quest insanely difficult and failed out completely on my first attempt.  This lead me to believe that I should do some research, and wound up answering a few SOS flares for Bazel fights to learn the flow of how combat against it works.

dypblcaumaee86m

Before going to bed last night after finishing Walking Dead, I decided to give it one more shot.  It took me what felt like an eternity, but I managed to get both Bazel’s down and this time around I only managed to faint one time.  This fight is a mess because Bazels interact with each other much the same as you would expect Bazel to interact with any other hunt.  That means when they are dive bombing each other there are just giant fields of nope on the ground…  and I spent most of the time rolling out of the way of impending doom.

Ultimately I focused on detailing both of them which seems to cut down on the sheer number of bombs by a bit and then worked one down to skull, attempting and failing at a trap only to wind up killing it outright.  The other I tediously fought until it ran and finally managed to get a trap off finishing the nonsense.  While I still hate this encounter… in a way I get why they forced us to do it.  Fighting a Bazel as melee if nothing else teaches you that you absolutely need to call your shots and get in some strategic hits while you can…  even if the rest of your time is spent avoiding everything else.

dypbfapvwaalylj

Now I am sitting at level 41, which I believe leaves me in an uncapped state until 49.  In truth I have no clue how leveling works now… if I just gain some experience each time I take something down, or if I need to focus on tempered monsters to make forward momentum.  Whatever the case I have lots of things to be hunting and lots of need for cash considering I went bankrupt making the armor and power talons…  then rebuying the charms after getting bazel parts.  In truth I am pretty happy with my gear as it stands…  and I simply need to pour cash into it to level it up to maximum.  I believe at some point Thalen still needs a Nergi kill, and ultimately Grace will need a slew of elder dragons as well so there is likely much monster slaying in my future.  It was a good weekend and now I feel less lazy than I was for sitting high center on Xeno as long as I did.

Nergal Reaver

dyuzo92u8aa-abk

dyu1idpumaemurd

One of the more interesting things about Monster Hunter World is how your perspectives shift as you level through the game and ultimately get better at it.  There was a time during the pre-launch demo that I considered Great Jagras to be challenging, and now that encounter doesn’t even bear mentioning.  I’ve beaten that monsters several times before it even had a chance to run anywhere as a way of testing out new weapons.  Similarly I remember a time when Tobi Kadachi invoked fear in me, and now it is just a chill electrical squirrel lizard that I largely ignore unless I specifically need parts from it.  Similarly I used to run from Legiana and now…  if it really wants to start some shit I will end it.

So the question is… what changed?  Ultimately the answer is that I did.  Sure I have better gear but also I have a better understanding of each of those fights.  I also understand how the higher progressed players are always willing to take on whatever happens to be that fight that you are currently considering difficult.  I remember being terrified of Anjanath but just recently farmed it to help folks get tickets for the Aloy appearance and bow event.  It is all a matter of perspective and each time you move up in the game you reach a new plateau of difficulty… that tends to make everything below it pale in comparison.

dyuzo92u8aa-abk

This moves us forward to last nights activities.  Nergigante was one of those encounters that I never thought would ever reach a point where I was comfortable with it.  For me at least it was an extreme challenge to get through this fight when I needed it to move the story forward.  In the meantime I have been fighting other elder dragons, that in truth are way more annoying than Nergi or at least have the potential to be more annoying.  One of the weapons I have wanted in my elder dragon slaying arsenal is a Nergal Reaper…  which does some dragon elemental damage but more importantly has high elderseal.  This unfortunately would require me to farm Nergi… and that is just what I did last night.

Instead of throwing myself at this encounter solo… I decided on the nonsense option.  That means I threw myself at SOS roulette over and over until I farmed the components I needed from Nergigante.  This also means that there were more than a few times when a single newer player used up all of our faints and I failed at my mission.  However even then…  I walked away with a point of pride because during none of the MANY times I did this last night…  did I actually faint myself.  I managed to get in… deal significant amounts of damage with my new friend the poison blade and get out each time Nergi’s gaze turned to me.

Once again I had climbed to the top of the pile through repetition and experience…  and even more importantly perspective.  I’ve now fought things way harder than Nergigante and as a result the fight while mechanically the same seemed way easier.  This is the aspect of Monster Hunter World that I think I like more than any, the feeling that I grew as a player more than my character did.  Sure I am methodical when it comes to tackling new content, and sure I seem to be moving at a snails pace…  but I feel like I am continuing to move the needle forward.  Nergi has now entered the realm of things I feel comfortable farming…  which is good I guess since my friend Grace is sitting at that step in the process meaning the cycle continues.

The Stronghold Chasm

gameclient-2018-03-14-06-29-45-89

gameclient-2018-03-14-06-29-14-84

Last night I fell down an unexpected rabbit hole.  For a few weeks I have known that my good friend PizzaMaid has been dabbling in Neverwinter, but I did not actually know that we were apparently all playing on the same server until last night.  When I got upstairs to nom my noms and check into the world, I saw that she was streaming neverwinter.  Joining her were my friends and fellow Pom’s Wolfy, Jaedia and Starspun all logging in to run a dungeon in game.  We had some confusion earlier in the week as to which server we were all on, and I thought I remembered the name Dragon at some point.  Apparently yes we are all in fact on Dragon which allows us to do interesting things together.

I had my own renaissance of Neverwinter back in January as I installed and booted up the game on a whim.  For years I had been getting press releases about the game to my blogging/podcasting email and I guess over time it built up a desire to log in and see how things were going.  What I found when I got there was an extremely fun and also insanely intricate game…  that I struggled to grasp.  I already thought there was a wide chasm of features and functionalities that I did not quite understand…  but I was apparently only on the rim of said chasm.  Last night we full well opened the maelstrom and hopped right in.

gameclient-2018-03-13-19-37-58-86

One of the activities were partook of was forming a guild, so as of last night the Owlbear Preservation Society lives in Neverwinter with the aforementioned members as the inaugural group.  This unlocked the ability to start messing around with our Stromhold which is essentially the equivalent of the Guild Hall in Guild Wars 2.  Now I had been carrying around items that assisted in the function of a guild hall for ages, likely since the game originally launched.  The problem is I never actually had a guild to spend them on… so I spent the first few minutes of my time in our stronghold trying to figure out what to do with them.

It turns out you feed them to the mimic friend that we are all taking a screenshot with, and he then applies them to the various costs associated with building things back to their grand status.  I thought Guild Wars 2 had a pretty deep rabbit hole when it came to a guild hall… but this one might be deeper.  The problem is at this moment we have only barely scratched the surface and unlike Guild Wars 2… there are no really easy gains that can be applied and instead everything seems to be pretty slow to acquire.  Right now we are being directed to build a lumberyard, which seems to be capable of producing at least some of the materials we need to start crafting things.

gameclient-2018-03-14-06-31-30-98

Everything that is flagged with a green icon has a placard in front of it allowing us to build it.  I am guessing everything marked with a grey X is something that will eventually unlock… once we have built up a certain number of things in our Stromhold.  This is a really deep well we have fallen into and I am not entirely certain we will really make much headway.  The collection of items seems to be through “daily quests” of a sort that reset every 9 hours in the Stronghold.  I will not be playing actively enough to do these on cool down, however considering most of the activities are pretty chill I am likely to do a set of them each time I log in.

The biggest problem we have currently is the fact that there are only five of us and this seems to be a design feature that is intended to be sped through by mass amounts of players doing these and funding the building coffers.  I have no clue how wide this madness will spread, but I somehow doubt we will have a mass influx of players like we have had when a new game launches.  I might be wrong, but I am guessing this is going to be a pretty low key grind that takes place over several months.

gameclient-2018-03-14-06-29-45-89

As far as the rest of my play session, I managed to ding 41 and now that we have our stronghold… I can see that the level cap is 70.  The Stronghold itself is populated with tons of heroic encounters designed for a balanced group of players to go out and tackle which is fairly slick.  We downed a few of them and failed one major event largely because we didn’t really know what the purpose was until it was a bit too late.  It was a really fun night of nonsense and it has sparked my desire to poke my head into Neverwinter more often now that I am actually part of a guild.

Trapping Anjie

dykgyrwumaap60y

Watch PSO2 Nonsense because Sol requested it from Belghast on www.twitch.tv
Last night when I got home I fired up the stream and played a little Phantasy Star Online 2.  Over the weekend Sol made a comment over my Stream discord that I really should be streaming as I played…  I assume so she could see what the game was about.  The core problem with that is I am guessing based on some of the things I have seen is that the early game is very much not entirely like the late game.  One of the reasons why I loved PSO back in the Dreamcast days is that it was essentially “Space Diablo”.  Essentially you had a randomly assembled corridor dungeon crawler set on a series interesting tilesets that involved killing everything and getting loot drops as your reward.  This core design loop seems to be in place in PSO2, and while I absolutely knew what I was getting myself into…  I am not sure if most other gamers would view the title the same way I do.

There are certain aspects of the game that feel very dated from the relatively chunky terrain to the fact that everything is essentially a tightly closed in circuit.  Sure you can do more with your terrain than you used to be able to do…  like jump…  I don’t think you could jump in the first PSO.  This is actually used in many cases to hide secrets in the verticality of the level design… but as is also seen in a sequence in my VOD from last night it adds to frustration because the jumping mechanics are also relatively low fidelity.  There is a point where I am trying to jump between the individual islands of rock in a chain surrounded by lava, and I am constantly failing to hit the terrain at exactly the right spot allowing me to hop up onto the surface.  While the game is only five years old at this point… but in some ways it feels older.

One thing of note… it took me a bit to realize that my microphone was muted so for the first little bit of the VOD I am completely silent.  I was talking up a storm, describing the various things I was encountering…  all wondering why the folks watching were not responding.  Then I noticed the blinking red light on my Yeti telling me that I had muted it at some point.  I think I have this revelation about ten minutes into the video where I correct it and apologize.  I am not really sure how often I will be playing PSO2 but I am nonetheless glad I went through the process of installing it.  It is a fun game and the core mechanical loop of killing sci-fi monsters for fun and profit is one that I enjoy greatly.  Just not all that sure how fun it is to watch me doing this thing.

dykg-jwvwauaen7

The tail end of my evening was spent in Monster Hunter World hanging out with my friend Grace and working on getting her the last few tickets needed for The Proving quest.  I had originally hoped to grab Thalen as well and help him out, but he was nowhere to be seen last night.  Generally speaking I am assuming he had pressing family matters, which I hear is a thing when you are a parent.  I mean I sometimes have pressing family matters too with my cats, but they are on I feel a completely different plateau of general needs.  Usually what I am dealing with is Kenzie prancing around in front of me trying to make sure I see the rubber band that she just dropped on my desk…  that she wants me to fling out into the hall so she can chase it.  If you ever hear the sound of a rubber band zinging through the air while I am streaming…  then I am doing precisely that.

The whole Anjanath farm thing had a side benefit in that I had really wanted to create Flammensucher the crazy flame axe that passes for a sword and shield.  During our final run of the night I managed to get the last of my fangs allowing me to craft it… and I have to say while I love it…  I am having a little bit of buyers remorse.  The problem is not the negative affinity, because it deals more than enough fire damage to make up for that.  The core problem so far is that it has completely horrible durability and I got down to orange sharpness while killing ten Gajau for an investigation.  I am used to being able to fight the boss through two changes of venue before dropping out of blue sharpness…  so this is a significant change for me to get used to.  The positive however is that the fire damage is still potent regardless of the base sharpness.

dykgyrwumaap60y

At some point I need to get back on the wagon and work towards downing the final boss of the game.  I’ve been sitting on that step since this weekend and have yet to really give it an attempt.  I think that is in part because I have a screenshot directory full of things that look like the above…  with me failing various elder dragon fights.  Granted I tend to fail upwards and learn from my mistakes, but it also takes a lot out of me.  This combined with the fact that I have zero burning desire to “finish the game” means I tend to languish around in the doldrums leading up to final boss fights most of the time.  My friends like Void/GrnMushroom have a deep burning desire to defeat games that propels them forward into throwing themselves against fights until they eventually batter them down.  Me… I just like to wander around and constantly find myself actively avoiding finishing things…  even in a situation like this where I know it is just the beginning of a whole new playstyle.

I do however want to uncap my level…  at least until 49 where I have to fight another roadblock…  and start farming elder dragons for bits and pieces to make interesting sets and weapons.  I really need to start throwing myself at Nergigante until he is no big deal and something I can down regularly.  The weird thing is…  I would far rather throw myself into the nonsense that is SOS Roulette most of the time than actually solo something in this game.  I am not sure what it is about soloing that feels bad to me, even though my palico does an amazing job of tanking the bosses and keeping me alive with a constant string of vigor wasps.  It just somehow feels better when I am running around at minimum with another player, and at best with a full party of varied weapons.

Sure it gets frustrating when folks are fainting and there is nothing you can do about it…  it even causes me to curse very loudly sometimes…  but the fights are interesting because I am having to deal with all sorts of random elements.  This weekend when I was attempting Teostra I was starting to feel like I needed to stop calling myself a positivity gamer given how much I was cursing.  However Sita hung out with me and we Duo’d the fight…  but even that took a few attempts.  Basically Monster Hunter World feels best when it is a game played with other players be they friends or completely random strangers.  As a result I doubt I will stop the madness of SOS Roulette any time soon.

 

Hiragana Boss

pso2-2018-03-12-06-46-26-37

pso2-website

Saturday night on the Podcast we talked a bit about the things that were announced during the recent Nintendo Direct.  This caused me to veer off topic a bit and talk about Phantasy Star Online 2 that was announced during the Japanese only segment of the show.  There is apparently a new version of the game coming to the Nintendo Switch which I guess makes sense given that the game currently runs on the PS Vita as well as PC and PS4.  Since the Switch is a region free console… it made me wonder if maybe just maybe we would finally get to play this game.  Unfortunately though there would still be the language barrier and I somehow doubt I will be learning to read and understand Japanese before the release of the game.

psobb-2017-07-30-14-50-37-51

Phantasy Star Online is an important game to me, because more or less I consider it to be my first real MMO.  I remember playing it for hours on the Dreamcast hooked in over the rather crappy dial up connection, eventually replacing it with the network adapter and a 50 ft ethernet cable run into my office.  I was serious about this game, enough so that I had a keyboard hooked up through a janky adapter to allow me to communicate with other players more easily.  If you are curious about where this screenshot comes from, there is another post on Aggronaut talking about getting the PC based Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst up and running.  That was another nonsense weekend project that I did some time ago and was able to flip back into playing a Cast Ranger almost as though no time had passed.

I have known for awhile that there was a way to play Phantasy Star Online 2 on the PC and that there was even the option of a good english patch.  However I was under the false assumption that it was complete insanity to get up and running.  It was around this point that Thalen reminded me that I did in fact go through some absolute insanity to get the Chinese exclusive Monster Hunter Online up and running on a whim, and that surely nothing else would be that amount of silliness.  I mean for that setup I had to fake a Chinese regional ID card…  so he had a point.  Probably unintentionally he started a thread in my mind that ultimately lead to me figuring out how to get PSO2 up and running yesterday morning shortly after editing the podcast.

pso2-2018-03-11-16-35-19-64

The truth is it is pretty straight forward.  You need a couple of things to get it working and I will quickly run down those and how to actually make it work.  I highly suggest using Chrome for the right click translate option on pages… which will get you part of the way but will not help at all for images.

  • Direct X 9.0c – if you do not for some reason already have this.
  • A Sega ID – will talk about this more in detail.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 Setup – straight forward install that is unfortunately in japanese
  • PSO2 Tweaker – assists in configuration and applies english patches
  • You Need 53 GB of Space – this game is huge
  • Choose Ship 2 – this is the unofficial English community

The Hiragana Boss

hiraganaboss

The most crucial step here is setting up your Sega ID.  There are numerous resources that walk you through the process, for example I watched this video to get me started.  The truth is google translate can get you through most of this, but as the final step you are going to have to face what I call the Hiragana Boss.  The page has a captcha on it, but said captcha is not surprisingly in hiragana given that this is a Japanese market exclusive game.  They present you a sequence of handwritten characters and you need to respond in kind…  and for me at least I do not have my keyboard or windows configured to do this.  This mean’t I had to leverage a website that offered a keyboard and the ability to copy and paste characters from it.

I thought I was reasonable at pattern matching, and managed to get through the equivalent Chinese boss while doing my Monster Hunter Online nonsense.  However what makes this one so much more difficult is that people write characters slightly different than the perfect keyboard version.  Look at your own handwriting, when you create a lowercase h for example…  it is always going to be significantly different than a serif or sans-serif h on a keyboard.  It took me roughly fifteen attempts before I finally got the character sequence correct with a lot of trying to figure out where the “signpost” character was or which “L with an accent” was the one I needed to match up to the one I was seeing in handwriting.

pso2tweaker

If you can pass this test however you are essentially there.  The install itself was relatively straight forward and my only suggestion is to ignore the text on the install buttons and just pretend it is any other windows installer.  The final step is to install the PSO2 Tweaker pictured above and let it patch your game.  It runs through a long file system check and then prompts you asking if you want to install the English patch, which you likely do given that you have gotten this far in the guide.  The only thing of note is… this is a volunteer fan patch and as a result not every possible instance of Japanese is swapped to English, however from my experience the critical path seems to be allowing you to progress and even enjoy the story bits.  If you run into issues there is a fairly active Discord community where you can ask specific questions.

pso2-2018-03-12-06-47-19-87

If everything went smoothly, you will be staring at the Character creation screen in no time.  I wound up creating a Cast Ranger like I played in PSO on Dreamcast, but you have a bunch of options that did not exist back then including the Summoner class.  At some point I plan on playing other things, but for the moment I am having a lot of fun with the Ranger which has a much wider skillset than the original.  Right now I have three weapons that I can swap back and forth between… the very familiar Assault Rifle, a semi-sniper/semi-rocket-launcher “Launcher” weapon, and an energy gunblade of sorts that lets me upper cut mobs into the air… and shoot them before they land.  I believe Ashgar was going to also do this nonsense and had planned on playing a Hunter so I will be curious to hear what his experience was as well.

pso2-2018-03-11-16-46-41-28

For a game that released in 2012 it still holds up graphically pretty well.  There are scenes like the above screenshot that are just gorgeous…  and then there are scenes that absolutely feel a little dated.  In some ways I think the fact that they have tried to make the game feel so familiar to PSO1 players is what is holding the graphics back.  It is very much the same sort of game where you explore a closed circuit map that is connected to other maps by for lack of a better term zone borders.  If you played the original game it will be deeply familiar to you, and if you didn’t…  it is going to seem a bit limited.  So far there seems to be a big boss battle at the end of every “zone” which maps up pretty closely to the way the original PSO was as well.  I remember fighting some big dragon thing at the end of the forest area for example, and this time around it is a giant rock ape thing.

pso2-2018-03-11-13-38-03-04

The game seems to have a ton of systems that I do not fully understand.  For example in the above image you see a blue and a green icon hovering above the ground.  These are harvest points…  but I am not entirely certain yet what I do with the things I harvest from them.  Some appear to be materials and others just ended up being food that I could get a buff from.  All in all though I had a lot of fun yesterday and now have PSO2 installed on both my gaming rig upstairs and my laptop downstairs.  I particularly like that you can shift the ranger into over the shoulder shooter mode which seems to fit most of the weapons available for that class turning it into a corridor shooter .  The nonsense wings I am wearing are from augments that the game gave me…  and thankfully the later upgrades I found were a little more low key.

I am sure over the coming weeks I will talk more about this game because the story is interesting…  but also a little crazy in that Persona series sort of way.  This morning I largely planned on writing out how I went about getting  connected for all the folks out there that are not a big fan of digging for information in YouTube videos.  It is not as silly a process as I feared and in truth other than the Hiragana boss it really is no harder than getting signed up for any other online account.  If I had even the most rudimentary understanding of Japanese it would have been significantly easier.  I have a feeling Ashgar for example… who has actually taken some courses will be able to breeze through the part that stalled me for a bit.  So far it appears to be a really fun game that is free to play, and while I see places where I could be spending money I have not really encountered the need to (nor do I think I can even figure out how to put money on my account).