Cars and Wielding Garbage

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I said this over the weekend and I feel like I need to reiterate it this morning. ¬†For a little over a month my wife has been passively looking for a new vehicle. ¬†When she hit 120,000 miles on her Pontiac Torrent all sorts of little things started failing. ¬†The latest is a check engine light being caused by something in the engine emission filters… which in itself isn’t a huge deal apart from the fact that it disables remote start while the engine is in an error code. ¬†So for a month now I have been receiving links to vehicles from my wife, and we’ve made a few ventures out to car lots to see what we think of various models. ¬†There is an auto lot within a mile of the house that leaves all of the vehicles unlocked so that it is sort of a tradition to go there on Sunday when you to check out various vehicles unmolested by sales people. ¬†There are a lot of vehicles that got marked off of the list simply because my knees would not fit underneath the dash, and some others the first time my wife test drove them. ¬†We had narrowed things down to a half dozen different models, and one lot about an hour from where we live seemed to have all of them. ¬†The irony is ¬†that when we ultimately bought a vehicle… ¬†it wasn’t even one that was on the short list. ¬†The whole car buying experience thought feels foreign to me, and grossly outdated. ¬†During this whole sequence of events we found out that no car lot has anything even resembling updated inventory on their website. ¬†Its like this entire process is stuck somewhere back in the 1960s and never quite graduated to modernity.

My wife and I are both very data-centric people… ¬†and actively reject the “personal touch” that car salesmen try and put on the deal. ¬†Fortunately we maybe found the perfect sales person for us, who literally just handed us the keys to the vehicles we wanted to check out and left us completely alone to wander around the small town. ¬†Over the course of the day we drove I think five different vehicles, and spent a ton of time on our phones researching each of them while sitting in said vehicle. ¬†The problem is… a vehicle seems to permanent. ¬†We are not the type to trade them off frequently and instead tend to buy a vehicle and drive it until past the point it is paid off. ¬†Finally it came down to a dance of “funny math” which is frustrating as shit. ¬†Ultimately the dance involved the monthly payment rate, and a thin line in the sand that we were not willing to budge off of, which meant that in order to seal the deal given that we were not trading in a vehicle… ¬†that the dealership had to come down off the price a bit. ¬†There was a funny sequence of events where the dealer and my wife were both on their phones using the exact same financing calculator app trying to reach a consensus of numbers. ¬†Whatever the case we wound up buying, after an ¬†entire day of looking at this one lot… ¬†and made it home just in time for the AggroChat podcast.

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The other big happening of the weekend is that I now have Zelda Breath of the Wild in my grubby little hands. ¬†No that does not mean I have a switch, but instead have been playing it on the Wii U. ¬†The screenshots I will be posting are not mine, but instead ones I have scavenged from the internet, because I do not have my Wii U set up so that it can go through a capture card… and I have never quite figured out how the hell to take a screenshot on the console itself. ¬†Even more so I have no clue how to POST a screenshot someplace I can actually snag it if I did take a screenshot. ¬†I have to say I have really mixed emotions about this game, and in truth I have barely just scratched the surface. ¬†I’ve cleared two of the early plateau shrines and have been trying to figure out how to get to a third one that is in a snowy region. ¬†Any time I get close to it, I start taking ticks of damage from the cold… ¬†and this is the point where I realized that there was a temperature gauge in the UI. ¬†The first hurdle that I have been trying to get past is the controls themselves. ¬†The default mapping of buttons is not that great to use… with jump being assigned to X at the top of the button layout… where I am much more used to it being B at the bottom of the button layout. ¬†This however apparently is something you can fix, but the other problem is I am so used to using triggers as weapon attacks in modern games and keep accidentally throwing whatever weapon I have equipped when I accidentally hit the right bumper.

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The other big problem I have been having is that so far the game has the “Halo problem” for me. ¬†What I mean by that is that in Halo you have to constantly keep switching off weapons and wind up using some absolutely trash to try and progress through levels. ¬†The same thing is happening here… where a given weapon seems to last maybe one or two combat sequences before it breaks and I have to hurriedly swap to some other random piece of junk I picked up along the way. ¬†I’ve killed plenty of things by beating it down with a skeleton arm and I am not super proud of it. ¬†This is a Zelda game… I want to use a sword and a shield and until the game gives me some sort of permanent option for this I am not going to be terribly happy. ¬†It gave me a foresters axe early on… and I loved that weapon… ¬†right up until the point that it broke and now I feel like I am constantly robbed of the amount of fun I had using it. ¬†My fear is that I am going to bounce pretty soon if the game does not end up giving me some unlimited durability weapons that I can just use as often as I like. ¬†As far as the goods however… once I got used to the clunky controls it does in fact feel like an open world Zelda. ¬†I like that I can choose my own battles and that I see enemy camps usually well ahead of them actually attacking me. ¬†There was a cool sequence where there were a bunch of bow wielding characters up in a tower with no visible way to get up. ¬†However there was a draw bridge and I was able to sever the ropes holding it up with arrows causing it to fall down below and giving me access. ¬†This is a primary example of the sort of visual puzzle solving that seems to be going on in this game, and the early shrines I believe are teaching you a toolbox that can then be used later in the game to solve more complex puzzles. ¬†I do however absolutely want to stab the “Old Man” or at least push him off the tower, because I find him really annoying.

Horizon Impressions

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Yesterday morning I warned my friends that there was a 99.9% chance that I would end up hunting Zoids all night long, and not to expect me for anything else. ¬†This was a completely accurate sentiment. ¬†Sure I popped into Final Fantasy XIV long enough to do my Ixal crafting dailies… ¬†which admittedly take way longer than any other set of quests… ¬†but after that I had a date with Aloy. ¬†Now Monday night I got in for about an hour as soon as the game unlocked, and spent at least a little bit of time getting myself adjusted to the world. ¬†My goal this morning is to give you my spoiler free impressions… or at least as spoiler free as I possibly can while still talking about the game and showing things off. ¬†When I logged in last night I descended into the valley for the first time on zip line to start my first off rails questing, and I have to say… ¬†I was instantly hooked on the game. ¬†Granted from the moment I booted it up and played through the first little bit… the hook was already setting pretty strongly. ¬†One of the things we do as gamers is try and compare every game that comes along to something else that already exists. ¬†The problem with doing this in regards to Horizon Zero Dawn is there is just a lot of things this game is drawing from. ¬†In theory if you took Skyrim and blended it with Fallout… ¬†then mixed in a huge dose of the modern Tomb Raider games with a little Mad Max and in truth a touch of Farcry… ¬†and you end up with a pretty good explanation of this game. ¬†More importantly than that… this game is what I wanted Turok Dinosaur hunter to always be…. stalking awesomely augmented dinosaurs with only my bow and my wits.

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What is most impressive about this melange of different genres is just how damned good it feels. ¬†Not only does the world have a high coolness factor but it also feels like it makes sense. ¬†Things exist for a reason, and as the player and observer… it feels like you understand the whys of the world better than the characters that participate in it because you can theorize about what each and every little Easter Egg laid before you might mean. ¬†In many ways you get the impression that this is an alternate version of Fallout… where instead of returning to the surface and finding the world a barren wasteland… ¬†the first survivors found a world reclaimed by nature and populated by the machines they created run amok and self replicating. ¬†Granted none of this is stuff that I know, just things that I have started¬†turning around in my head. ¬†What is absolutely true is you are existing in a world where the machine and the wildlife are equally at home on the grassy plains, and you as a hunter need components from both to survive. ¬†So with your bow and your spear you set out to scavenge what you need from the landscape. ¬†You play the role of an outcast, someone shunned by the tribe from birth… ¬†and the key driving force of your actions is more than anything to find out why. ¬†The shunning aspect feels a little odd, especially given how many of the tribe you end up helping out along your way as optional side missions. ¬†I was originally wondering if these wound up effecting the flow of the story at all.. but so far having played through the first little segment it really doesn’t seem to other than offering items and leveling opportunites.

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One of my problems with games that put a bow in my hands is generally that bows have extremely limited ammunition. ¬†I love bow weapons, but have always hated either trying to make sure I purchased enough arrows before I left town… or making a trip back to do so in the middle of doing something else. ¬†Given that the world of Horizon is a world of scavengers… ¬†they fix this issue with giving you the ability to craft most of your needs on the fly. ¬†So at any point… even in the middle of a battle which seems a little awkward… ¬†I can crack open my crafting pane and knock out a few arrows so that I can continue the fight. ¬†The same is true with traps when you eventually get the ability to use those, and upgraded ammunition like fire arrows. ¬†Similarly your gear can be modified to improve its stats and tweak its abilities… ¬†but I¬†question if this is going to be a key mechanic or if its just the equivalent of enchanting something and you will keep shifting bows and spears as you travel through the world and get exposure to better armor and weapons. ¬†I wound up getting the digital deluxe edition and on top of the pre-order bonus… I wound up with a bunch of different options for gear that you would not normally start out with. ¬†The only negative here is that there is a moment in the story where someone makes what is probably intended to be a significant upgrade for you… ¬†and it ends up not being an upgrade at all.

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At this point I have finished playing through what could ultimately be referred to as the “starter zone”. ¬†So many times in video games there is a closed off and protected area that you start the game in… and through a sequence of events you are pushed out into the much wider world. ¬†I stopped playing at roughly 11 pm last night and I had just literally crossed this barrier, and figured that I really should call it a night otherwise I would literally be up for another two hours. ¬†That means to complete this “intro” section it took me roughly five hours… one hour the first night and four hours last night, which all things considered seems to be like a fair amount of game play. ¬†Granted I always stop and smell the roses and I attempted to do all of the side quests I could possibly do, as well as spending some time gathering resources to upgrade my quiver and various other inventory elements. ¬†What I like the most about this game is that it feels like I truly am self sufficient. ¬†I can live off of the things that I scavenge from the land… be it herbs to fill my medicine pouch, or upgrading my various pouches to be more effective at gathering.

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The only thing that I don’t really like is that it feels like maybe the game sets you up a little bit to fail. ¬†There are some items that you scavenge off of the bodies of the machines that are clearly marked as “crafting” materials. ¬†So those make complete sense to hold into for long term use. ¬†However there is another category that is marked as “trade to vendors, sell for shards” given that metal shards are the universal currency as well as a crafting material. ¬†So my immediate thought was that these would be vendor trash and I could simply sell them with impunity. ¬†That is absolutely not the case and as I found out from later vendors… certain items require certain scavenged components as well as shards to purchase. ¬†So right now there is a set of armor that I would love to have… ¬†but it requires me to collect two watcher eyes… ¬†something that I have had plenty of in my inventory but had been selling them to vendors for shards up until that point. ¬†Basically… ¬†what I am telling you is to hold onto the various materials that you pick up off the machines unless you find out for certain that you are not going to need them. ¬†The game at least in theory tries to teach you this… but the lesson was not as clearly outlined as it should have been when you trade a part you scavenge for an item. ¬†I am used to bringing all sorts of random crap to NPCs for the sake of a quest… and did not realize that the game was attempting to teach me that this is a thing that could and does happen.

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Up until this point I have really only talked about the game play, which is generally a safe spoiler free den of information to dwell on. ¬†Now I am going to attempt to talk about the story, which is a section where I am going to get a lot more vague and general. ¬†For lack of better phrasing… as good as the game feels when you are fighting robotic dinosaurs… it also feels equally good when you are dealing with story elements. ¬†The game has created a world that I instantly want to know more about, and populated it with a bunch of interesting characters that I have feelings about be they good feelings… or bad feelings. ¬†I already care far more about this game than I do many others that I simply go through the paces because they are mechanically enjoyable. ¬†I really like that the game allows me to tailor the Aloy I want to play through giving me a series of dialog choices that are reminiscent of the Bioware games. ¬†There will generally be an option marked with a fist, an option marked with a heart, and an option marked with a brain. ¬†So far I have not really chosen the fist that often, but I tend to alternate between the heart and the brain depending on how I feel about a given character. ¬†These choices do at least somewhat effect how later interactions are going to work out… ¬†based at least in one small part on how I interacted with someone when I was a tiny babby Aloy. ¬†I chose to use the brain option… and sure enough the game remembered it and brought it up at a later time. ¬†The game does a great job of giving you characters that you are going to hate… and other characters that you are either going to genuinely like… or at least begrudgingly respect.

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All in all this game has lived up to every expectation I had for it. ¬†I wanted an awesome post-apoc game where I roamed around on an awesome bow lady and took down robotic dinosaurs. ¬†This game has paid that off in spades, but also given me a really interesting world that I already deeply care about, as well as giving me just enough call to action to make me want to move forward in the quest chain. ¬†This is where so many games fail for me when it comes to open world adventures. ¬†In Fallout 4… I simply did not give a single fuck about the main story arc. ¬†All I wanted to do was explore the world surrounding me and build up the settlement of Sanctuary. ¬†I didn’t care about my baby being stolen, and I most certainly didn’t care about trying to track it down. ¬†The game completely failed at giving me enough motivation to keep moving forward… ¬†however already in Horizon I care… I want to know more about why this world is the way it is and how exactly all of these different pieces that it keeps exposing me to fits together. ¬†Guerrilla games has somehow managed to create an open world with an infused sense of purpose behind everything you are doing… ¬†and I like it… I like it a lot. ¬†I am sure there will be some slow spots… as happens with literally every game but I feel both the desire to keep moving… ¬†but also at the same time the freedom to wander about and explore whenever I want to. ¬†At this point I am super hooked, and am fighting every desire to boot the game up and play some this morning because it would without a doubt make me super late to work.

Aloy and Horsebirbs

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We live in trying times… and what I mean by that is right now there are entirely too damned many great games coming out in a very short period of time. ¬†I was already woefully behind in my progress in literally everything, and when compounded by the fact that I am apparently bingeing the hell out of Final Fantasy XIV you end up with a lot of stuff simply not getting accomplished. ¬†For example… this month the AggroChat game of the month is Final Fantasy XV. ¬†It is in fact MY pick… ¬†but I have been high center in the game for a long time and last night I attempted to fix that. ¬†I kept telling myself that I would only do the main story quest, and that lasted for a little while but not long. ¬†Firstly I wound up bumping into a bunch of ridiculously higher level mobs on the way to my next quest objective. ¬†One of which was freaking Midgardsormr… ¬†just hanging out chilling on the river bank. ¬†When I made a tactical retreat and pushed forward into the cave… ¬†I found that pretty much the mobs inside were also going to kick my ass. ¬†So that means I have hit the wall that my gear and level seems to be able to get me to… ¬†so as the evening went on my purpose seemed to disintegrate and I was once again wandering aimlessly and doing all of the side quests in a vague attempt to catch up level wise.

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Ultimately I am suffering from the exact same problem that I had when we were doing Fallout 4 as a game of the month. ¬†For many of the folks in our podcast… ¬†winning the game is the goal and seeing the story to its conclusion. ¬†For me that really isn’t a thing… and instead I like doing all of the little objectives and inhabiting the world, participating in it. ¬†So in many ways moving the story forward… ¬†defeats that purpose because I keeps moving me past things that I kinda want to get out and roam around and explore. ¬†When it comes to trying to push a game like this… ¬†it ends up making me miserable. ¬†Ultimately I am not going to be even closed to the end of the game when we record the podcast this weekend, and largely I think I am going to be okay with it. ¬†Final Fantasy XV is still one of my favorite games from last night, and I really don’t much care about story spoilers in the first place. ¬†That was never why I was playing the game, and never why it clicked with me. ¬†It clicked because it was finally a Final Fantasy game that embraced my desire to roam around and get off the beaten path… ¬†and then actually rewarded me for doing so. ¬†Now I wish I had been playing the game all of this time, because last night I really enjoyed myself. ¬†However I end up getting caught up in wanting to be around actual living breathing people… and for me that means MMOs. ¬†Getting bit by the Final Fantasy XIV bug hasn’t helped lately either in my push to get everything to 50. ¬†However this is still a game that I am enjoying moving through, albeit slowly.

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The game that is going to be the death of me right now however is Horizon Zero Dawn. ¬†During the mishap with my account and a bunch of others getting compromised on PSN, I ended up getting $50 funded to my Playstation wallet. ¬†They were unable or unwilling to reverse the charges on my credit card, so I had this pot of cash that was sitting there needing to be spent on something. ¬†As a result I ended up pre-ordering Horizon and when I checked my PS4 yesterday morning it had already installed and was simply waiting on the magic moment to launch. ¬†This is going to fall down into the “bel knows better” category… but by now I should have learned not to attempt to play a game at 11pm central when things generally officially launch for me. ¬†However I did this thing… and as a result I wound up getting to bed significantly later than I would have liked. ¬†Also as a result I am groggy as hell sitting down this morning to write this blog post. ¬†That said I need you to marvel at how adorable babby Aloy is… ¬†and that you end up playing as her for a bit and not just through a sequence of cut scenes. ¬†I’ve barely scratched the surface and not even really made it through the tutorial section… and this game already has me hooked in both game play and its world.

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Admittedly this game did not really have to try terribly hard to hook me given its theme. ¬†Awesome bow lady that fights zoids for fun and profit. ¬†What I didn’t expect was just how damned good the controls feel and how responsive combat actually ends up being. ¬†Things have happened already in the story line that I did not expect to happen… and I am super intrigued as to how they end up playing out in the long run. ¬†I don’t want to get too much into my thoughts about story events, because literally the game just unlocked last night and I don’t want to spoil anything really. ¬†What I do find interesting is that so far this game has confirmed my theory about something. ¬†Several years ago I would have told you that I simply did not enjoy playing female characters in games. ¬†I now know that is completely wrong… and I do absolutely enjoy female characters so long as they are the equivalent of the sort of male characters I enjoy. ¬†I like warriors… ¬†I like playing badasses that are armed to the teeth and more importantly armored. ¬†Over the last few years there have been a long list of characters that I have really enjoyed from the modern reboot of Lara Croft, to Zarya in Overwatch, to Sonya in Heroes of the Storm. ¬†Aloy is just another in a long line of these characters that I enjoy playing, and apparently it was never a gender thing… ¬†and just a warrior thing. ¬†I will be anxiously watching the clock today at work, so I can get home and play some more Horizon and see where the game takes me. ¬†I know that Tam stayed up late last night to go ahead and start playing, and he seems to be enjoying it as well.

Falling Crows and Ghost Moose

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This weekend I largely set out to do one sequence of things… but instead of actually accomplishes it I spend a good chunk of the weekend piddling around in the Palace of the Dead. ¬†For those keeping score at home I am on a mission to get all of my classes to 50. ¬†Last week I pushed Summoner/Scholar and Black Mage and as a result this weekend I started in on my Dark Knight in an attempt to shift things up a bit. ¬†Originally I was not super keep in Dark Knight as a tanking class, but I have to say after having played a lot of it during this grind it is definitely growing on me. ¬†Last night while watching Talking Dead I managed to hit level 46 which means I have roughly 8 more runs of floors 51-60 before pushing this class to 50 as well. ¬†Up until around 42 I seemed to still be getting most of a level every single trip into the dungeon, but at that point it shifted to getting roughly half of a level so I guess that is something to note as you push your own characters. ¬†After the Dark Knight I am more than likely going to start up with the Ninja given that it is my next highest class sitting at 38. ¬†That will leave Monk, Astrologian and Machinist… ¬†the later two I still have yet to even accept the introductory quests. ¬†In part I am focused on the goal of 50, because up until that point the levels in PotD seem completely reasonable. ¬†The 50-60 grind however seems to take almost as much time as the 1-50 does, so in theory… ¬†when I actually pick up doing that side of the equation I will begin with my Bard who is already sitting at level 55.

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In other weird weekend news… I apparently am now in the Crowfall pre-alpha? ¬†I talked a bit about it on AggroChat this week, if you are interested in more of my thoughts. ¬†Normally I would be posting a “Crowfall Impressions” post, because that seems to be the sort of thing I do when I get my hands on a new game. ¬†Unfortunately I am not really sure if I have a full post worth of feelings about the game. ¬†It is very alpha for start, so it feels like it isn’t exactly fair to really give the game anything resembling a review. ¬†That said… they are doing an alpha with zero NDA so I feel completely free to at least talk a little about the game. ¬†As I described it to my friends… ¬†Crowfall is in fact a piece of software that I installed and that offers the ability to¬†launch when I click in the patcher. ¬†Past that I am not exactly sure what is going on in the game, and I am not really sure that I felt anything close to fun during the hour and a half that I spent grinding away to make a basic set of armor and weapons. ¬†It doesn’t really feel like there is much game yet, and maybe the murder box that is the PVP servers are more enjoyable. ¬†However based on the apparently cross shard server chat, it sounds like there is just a lot of spawn camping and ganking going on there. ¬†The big challenge I had was that there was simply not much to actually fight in the PVE server, and when I did find a boar or a bizarre crystalline cat my hud would lock up on loot allowing other players to come swoop in and harvest the leather and meat on the thing I just killed. ¬†Right now the game feels less fleshed out than Landmark did when it opened its doors to early access. ¬†It feels like it is trying to do a lot of things but I am not entirely certain if those things blend all that well.

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Now in the “I want my Sunday back” territory… ¬†I logged in yesterday morning to work on my Archaeology questline in World of Warcraft. ¬†Of note… it has been 181 days since the launch of Legion according to the handy google “days since” query ability. ¬†The last two weeks have been the very first occasion to actually complete the Laying to Rest archaeology quest that rewards the Spirit of Echero mount. ¬†The last thing I really wanted to do was go grind arch nodes until I collected 600 moose bones… ¬†but then again I thought to myself if I ever wanted this mount I should probably do it now, since who the hell knows when it will be available again. ¬†I am not really sure how long it took in minutes… but I started watching Sword Art Online again somewhere during the first 100 bones… and I was able to watch three episodes in their entirety and started the fourth before I collected number 600. ¬†It was a slog of a grind, and while I am happy it is done… ¬†it feels like maybe a waste of time given that I am never likely going to ride the mount anyways. ¬†I chock this one up to simple and honest fear of missing out… because if I didn’t get it there might be a version of myself someday that wishes I had. ¬†Regardless it is done, but the second I turned in the quest I stuck around long enough to take the above screenshot and then bolted quickly from the game. ¬†In other happenings at some point during the grind I hit 800 Archaeology so that was at least something cool that happened as well as finishing up the Handle With Care achievement.

Tiny Black Mage

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My madness continues… and last night I joined in with Grace and eventually Storm and Muspel to do some Palace of the Dead. ¬†Essentially PotD is the new FATE grinding, and while it can be sort of repetitive, I never seem to get tired of it. ¬†I mean I thought Tam was insane when he went through his own period of time where he lived in dank dungeon, but now I finally get it. ¬†What I am loving about it is that I can just hop in… run a bunch of Palace of the Dead… ¬†mentally be somewhere else like watching a movie or a television show and then still feel like I made significant progress at the end of the night. ¬†The first goal has been to catch up my classes to 50, because it is going to allow me to have a massive house cleaning of everything that has been clogging my retainers. ¬†I have a problem with gear, because I know that eventually I would love to have every single class to the level cap. ¬†That is just the sort of person I am. ¬†In World of Warcraft I actually achieved this goal prior to the launch of legion and had at least one of every alliance character sitting at 100, and three horde characters as well.

Currently I have my Warrior sitting at 60 and he is my only viably geared character for doing big kid stuff. ¬†Then you have my Dragoon that I also leveled to 60, but promptly abandoned because playing that class in Heavensward was just so much less enjoyable for me than it was in ARR. ¬†When I was last furiously playing the game I was working on my Bard, which had become my defacto dps class for awhile and I managed to get it up to 55. ¬†Then we drop down to my 50s which are Paladin that I have not touched since Heavensward because I simply don’t really like playing a Paladin tank. ¬†We have my newly raised trio of casters in the form of the Scholar, Summoner and Black Mage all sitting at 50. ¬†Then we drop down to some 30 somethings with Ninja at 38, Monk at 33, and Dark Knight at 33. ¬†I have yet to even pick up the quest to be a Machinist or an Astrologian but at some point I probably need to do that so that I can weave those into the rotation as well. ¬†Now I am sort of torn as to what I should pick to level next, but for the moment I am leaning towards either the Dark Knight because I miss playing heavy armor classes… or the Ninja because they are just really fun to play.

The other set of goals that is staring me in the face is that when I last left my crafting… I had managed to push everything up to 21… with mining and foraging sitting at 50. ¬†At some point I really want to start this grind again and push everything up to at least the point where I can make glamour prisms. ¬†In theory I should be doing my beast tribe dailies to use those to level my crafting, but I just haven’t reached a point of getting back into the game enough to sort everything out to be able to do that. ¬†Once I finished with the Sahagin I sort of let the beast tribe thing die once again… ¬†but in theory should be doing the Ixal at least for crafting levels. ¬†Whatever the case it seems like I have been assimilated back into Final Fantasy XIV, and have more goals than I can realistically accomplish. ¬†My Warrior gear could also always be improved, but I am just finding PotD a relaxing way to spend my evenings… ¬†but sadly one that is not terribly interesting to write blog posts about.

Random Screenshots #3

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This is another one of those mornings when I feel like I don’t have much of anything to talk about. ¬†Work encroached upon my gaming time, first with a meeting that I did not get out of until 6 pm… ¬†when I normally get out of the office around 4/4:30. ¬†Second when I did get home I had a bunch of things that I needed to look into given that we are still ironing out the issues with a brand new website launch. ¬†As a result by the time I finished up I largely just crashed on the sofa and watched some Black Mirror as I had not touched season 3. ¬†That show is extremely creepy, but also something that I cannot really stop watching. ¬†It is a sort of technological tales of the crypt, and if you have never watched the show… ¬†be prepared for some disturbing content. ¬†That said it is still very much worth your time and the latest season has at least one gem scattered among the digital nightmares in the form of the San Junipero episode. ¬†Anyways this morning is going to be a random screenshot post morning because I am not sure what else to really talk about. ¬†I am still fairly groggy and probably shouldn’t have finished the 4th episode last night, and instead just headed on to bed.

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I am not entirely certain of the context, but this is of course a screenshot from Wildstar. ¬†I believe it is from the moon mission where you have to figure out what happened to all of the miners. ¬†Even though I have long struggled to really click with this game, I cannot deny how much of an interesting¬†vision it really is. ¬†The art direction was on point and everything feels like it exists in the same shared technicolor delusion. ¬†For whatever reason I never really liked how spastic their flavor of hotbar combat felt. ¬†Most recently I paid a little money to be able to create a Chua Warrior and I found it enjoyable… ¬†but still not really clicking as hard as I would have liked. ¬†Honestly this game and Guild Wars 2 sort of exist in the same space for me… ¬†where they are equally interesting to visit but not exactly the same of place I want to call home. ¬†I will say though that the people who do play the game regularly are amazing and I am super happy to have a whole bunch of them occupying my social media streams. ¬†This is one of those games that I root hard for… ¬†just from a distance.

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We go from a game that I don’t really get fully, to one that I absolutely do… ¬†but still don’t end up playing that often. ¬†I believe this screenshot is from one of the opening shots of Makeb which was the sequence of content I last played during a December 2015 binge of the game thanks to Force Awakens Star Wars hype. ¬†I honestly thought I would similarly return during the Rogue One hype machine but it never actually materialized. ¬†I realize I am missing so much great content, and I keep saying that one of these days when I hit a lull in whatever other games I happen to be playing that I will swoop back to Star Wars the Old Republic and gobble up all of the goodies I have missed. ¬†I still have yet to start any of the Shadow of Revan content… ¬†let alone Fallen Empire or Eternal Throne. ¬†I did have an active sub, but I let that lapse at some point… ¬†they keep roping me in with offers of “subs get X shiny bauble” and then I never actually end up playing. ¬†I should in theory pop back in before this last bit of sub time lapses and I am stuck playing in freemium hell.

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On to yet another game that I have really fond memories of but never end up playing. ¬†This is I believe a screenshot from one of the betas for The Secret World. ¬†To the best of my knowledge this was me creating my very first character. ¬†To be truthful I never was a huge fan of the character creation system in TSW, as it always felt like I never could create exactly the character that I wanted to create. ¬†However on so many levels I loved this game, but the biggest problem is attempting to return to it. ¬†Since you can repeat almost every quest it becomes extremely hard to see just what you have completed and what is new and something you should focus on. ¬†When they release an issue I find it hard to actually track down all of the things that have been added and given that I last actively played during “Last Train to Cairo” which was issue number six… and they are currently on fifteen there is a ton of content I have missed. ¬†I just find it extremely hard to get back into the game after being gone for so long… ¬†and given all of the systems that they have seemingly loosely tacked onto the base experience.

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I don’t have an awful lot to say about this screenshot other than I thought it looked cool, so I decided to post it. ¬†This is of course from Farcry 3 Blood Dragon, which is this insane 80s movie romp. ¬†If you took every 80s sci-fi film and distilled it to its campy roots, then dumped all of that pure essence in a blender… ¬†you wind up with Blood Dragon. ¬†If you have never checked it out, you probably really should given that it regularly dips down into the $5 territory. ¬†It is a completely stand alone experience and does not require Farcry… ¬†nor does it really have anything to do with the Farcry Franchinse at all other than modeling some of the open world roaming gameplay.

 

One Hundred Floors

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So yesterday I mentioned that I had plenty of Aetherpool to get a weapon, but found out that I apparently needed to have completed the full 1-100 Palace of the Dead experience to purchase it. ¬†Confession time here… before last night I had never actually completed any further into PotD than floor 70. ¬†Most of my running lately has been resetting and running 51-60 over and over which tends to give between 1/2 and 3/4 of a level worth of experience depending on your level. ¬†I am sure this slows down in the post 50 grind, but regardless considering how fast most of the runs go it is well worth my time. ¬†Given how fast the queue is… I am guessing the community as a whole has also decided it is well worth their time. ¬†For the moment I have been focused on getting up my characters to 50, which would allow me to clean out a significant amount of gear from my extremely clogged retainers. ¬†Last night I hung out in a holding pattern until my wife got home, and then we both walked to dinner and finally around 7:30 I had arrived at a place where I could get committed to running something serious. ¬†I mentioned that I really needed to get to floor 100 and within moments Tam, Ash and Grace had volunteered for the run. ¬†All told it took roughly 2 hours to get through the 51-100 content, which no matter how you chop it is a raid like effort of sitting still in one place for a long period of time. ¬†As far as experience goes I went from 33 to 37 and am just barely shy of dinging 38 so just a little less than a half¬†level per flight of floors. ¬†I also managed to bump my Aetherpool up to 85 weapon / 87 armor as seen in the final score shot from the dungeon.

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The first five sets of floors were pretty chill, but quickly things kinda turned to madness. ¬†We had a sequence of floors with just a silly amount of Chimera and Dragon on them, and in truth we pomander of rage’d the last three floors just to go quicker. ¬†We picked up plenty of silver chests and exited with 9 treasures… ¬†but we didn’t exactly go out of our way to do full clears either. ¬†If we had unexplored rooms and the portal activated… we were far more likely just to hop straight in than to spend any more time. ¬†This become more so as we got into the last few flights and it was clear that we were all getting tired of the run. ¬†I am super thankful to my friends because I probably would not have successfully pugged my way through that one. ¬†I have had great luck with 1-10 and 51-60… ¬†but pretty much any other set I try they end up failing miserably and I am just out thirty minutes worth of frustration in the process. ¬†Grace on the other had has somehow managed to pug her way to 100, and I salute her. ¬†Her intestinal fortitude for dealing with strangers is so much stronger than mine. ¬†After running 1-50 for Muspel over the weekend, and then running 51-100 for me last night… ¬†I think it might be a long while before I sign up for another complete run of Palace of the Dead. ¬†I greatly prefer speed running the first flight over and over to trying to do the entire thing in a single sitting.

Weekend of the Dead

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This weekend it finally happened… I finally reached a point where I am full saturation once again in Final Fantasy XIV. ¬†I am not really sure if it was the Fan Fest news trickling out over the weekend, or the introduction of Stormblood. ¬†Whatever the case I spent the majority of the weekend plunked down on the sofa playing FFXIV. ¬†Now the bizarre part of this however… is that I played a bunch of classes that I traditionally never play. ¬†I almost exclusively played finger wigglers, which lead my guild to wonder if I had been replaced by a pod person. ¬†Would I even know if that actually happened? ¬†I mean do the pod people actually know that they are pod people? ¬†Whatever the case two different things were happening this weekly. ¬†Primarily I was using the Palace of the Dead to level classes that would be cool to have at max level… but that I don’t really want to level properly. ¬†Namely Scholar and Summoner, which admittedly is the same leveling process… ¬†but I spent most of the weekend running around with Garuda Egi in dps form. ¬†I finished the grind Sunday Afternoon and then went rummaging through my vault to find something to wear. ¬†Thankfully I managed to scrape together enough gear that I picked up along the way to hit somewhere in the vicinity of 110.

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From there I spent a good amount of time catching the Summoner and Scholar up on their quest chains… ¬†which were laughably easy now that I overgeared them by a significant portion. ¬†The thing that is making the leveling process awkward is that I switched Grand Companies between now and the last time I leveled… and as a result my vault is full of a bunch of Immortal Flames gear that I cannot actually use. ¬†Side note… ¬†Maelstrom completely fails because the low level Black Mage weapon is a one-handed item. ¬†Regardless I managed to catch up quickly and now have four sets of awesome gear… 2 for summoner and 2 for scholar because I guess they just straight up give you the recolored version now? ¬†The recolor was pretty different on scholar so I went with the good ole classic. ¬†On summoner however they both looked pretty samey and I went with the evoker set not really knowing if that is the original or the reskin. ¬†Side note… summoner “Egis” are hilarious as a Lalafel since they are always larger than you are.

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After getting Summoner and Scholar to 50… and through their class content… ¬†I shifted gears and started working on Thaumaturge. ¬†I had managed to get it to 26 a long time ago only because it was the level needed for a cross class ability. ¬†I stopped there expecting to never pick it up, but instead tonight I dusted things off and tried to make a viable build work. ¬†I guess in part I am wanting to get all of my casters to 50… so I can have a massive cleaning out of my vault given that I have so much gear laying around and there is zero way I can survive another expansion with the vault in its current state. ¬†In truth I think it would be kinda cool to get ALL of my classes to 50, but given that I have not even started on Machinist and Astralogian…. and only have Dark Knight to 33 that might be awhile off. ¬†I do however find Palace of the Dead extremely relaxing, especially the manner in which I am running it. ¬†I am simply running 51 to 60 over and over which still seems to move the bar up nicely on weapons. ¬†The other side benefit of the weekend is that I can now purchase my next weapon upgrade for the Warrior… ¬† however in order to do that I am going to actually have to beat level 100 at some point. ¬†I can begin pestering my friends about that now… ¬†but having run 1-50 for a friend this weekend… I know just how much of a slot doing an entire PotD can be in one sitting.

Box of Spoons

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I feel like I was given a box full of spoons. ¬†One of my friends said that awhile back and I had no clue what it meant at the time… ¬†but after some research… yeah I totally get it. ¬†I have been largely functioning on adrenaline and fear for the last several weeks as I had this big looming deadline swinging dangerously over my head. ¬†Yesterday however was the day… and we launched… ¬†and despite having a flurry of activity and a pretty active bug tracker we largely survived. ¬†We had a happy hour yesterday where our boss picked up the tab, and I cannot fully express how awesome it was that he did that… ¬†and even more so that I work with a group of people that I enjoy working with enough to go to happy hour. ¬†This site had a heavy toll on both myself and Rae who has been the mastermind of its design. ¬†By the time we sat down at the pub… ¬†I felt like I had several weeks worth of tired crashing down upon my shoulders. ¬†Last night I flailed about a bit trying to play various games… and even succeeding in doing a few delves in Elder Scrolls Online. ¬†However before long I was back to staring blankly at my laptop and decided it was time for sleep. ¬†I slept better than I have slept in a long time… with my periods of waking up being replaced by dreams where I thought I woke up and did things. ¬†Apparently Kenzie was going nuts and it woke my wife up… but I seemingly was blissfully unaware.

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We still have a hefty list of things to sort out, and bugs to fix… ¬†however they all seem so much less significant than the overarching goal of launching. ¬†The chief content provider remarked that launching a website was like giving birth, and given that she has a teenage daughter I am going to take her word for it. ¬†It is definitely like something, given that yesterday was the culmination of a few years worth of planning and a years worth of furious development and re-development and then ultimately trying to hop up and down on the trunk until the various components fit enough to close the lid. ¬†You always start out with these lofty pristine goals, and then as you start managing towards a date you have to sacrifice some of that naivety and start trying to focus on what actually works or will work well enough for the time being. ¬†I hate managing to a date… because it feels like you are doing development wrong, especially when you are doing something that you have never actually done before. ¬†I mean I have launched plenty of sites… ¬†but we essentially threw away most of our comfortable tools this time and launched out into a brand new direction that if we managed to pull it off was going to be amazing. ¬†What is also the hard part is this is the first time I was the one actually managing the timeline and making sure things were getting done. ¬†I would have been so screwed if like I said before… I didn’t have a really amazing group of people to work with.

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The images you are seeing are not from my random screenshot tool, but I would forgive you if you thought that given that up until this point in today’s post I have not actually talked about gaming. ¬†Instead these are sort of post cards from the gaming that I did while in this state. ¬†I have been playing quite a bit of Elder Scrolls Online, because of the segmented nature of its questing allows me to get in… turn a single symbol on my map from black to white… and feel like I have accomplished something. ¬†I am still slowly pushing my way through Malabal Tor, but if I get a full day of questing this weekend I might be able to get through it. ¬†Last weekend during the AggroChat podcast I started working on my Warlock in World of Warcraft, and was shocked that it pretty much took the entire podcast to get through the intro scenario, artifact weapon, and class order hall quests. ¬†I really should have done what so many of my guildies did and chain ran all of my characters up to the point where they choose the first zone in Legion. ¬†In that intro scenario there were two of us… ¬†which made it take significantly longer than it was intended. ¬†As a result they maybe need to scale that back given that we are reaching a point where no one is running it. ¬†Finally at some point over the last week I participated in all four turns of the third section of Alexander and man… ¬†is that a thing. ¬†I greatly enjoyed the fights so much more than I did the middle section of Alexander, because Voltron sorta broke me. ¬†The final boss was sufficiently epic, and both 9 and 12 required a bunch of attempts to finally push through it. ¬†I rolled lucky and managed to get two helm tokens and two of the four needed pants tokens… so I guess I will be wanting to run more of this? ¬†It was a lot of fun, but was sort of dulled by the stupored state of being in constant stress mode. ¬†I am looking forward to feeling like I can actually enjoy the world once more.

Four Screenshots

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Last night was another fairly anxiety fraught night, and I simply didn’t feel capable of tanking a World of Warcraft progression raid. ¬†I feel bad about it, but by the time I got home… ¬†my mind was spent racing through all of the possible things that could fail today. ¬†This is it.. the day we launch the new website and I am terrified. ¬†In the grand scheme of things I know that we will deal with everything that comes down the pipe and triage issues as they arise. ¬†However on the eve of the event I can’t stop thinking about all of the things that could go catastrophically wrong. ¬†I need this to launch and I need it to go successful… because honestly I need a few days to simply fall apart. ¬†I have been functionally working sick for over two weeks because I knew things had to get done. ¬†Granted I have not been running a fever, so I didn’t think I was likely contagious… but that didn’t necessarily stop me from feeling downright miserable. ¬†One thing I did do last night was get my little Random Shots project out on GitHub since Scopique mentioned I should do this thing. ¬†Since I don’t really have a whole lot that I feel like talking about this morning, I am going to try one out of these random screenshot posts and see what happens.

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I have this weird relationship with Rift. ¬†I love it or at least I really want to love it… but I have issues playing it. ¬†I talked a little bit about my issues with combat over on Syp’s blog yesterday in the comment section, but another huge issue I have is that I simply cannot bring myself to purge things from my vault. ¬†I love their housing system… but I also cannot seem to be bothered to actually spend time building a proper house. ¬†However I have this long term desire to do so… ¬†and because of that my vault is horrible. ¬†With Nightmare Tide they introduced the Minion system and for months I logged in dutifully every day hoping to get housing caches with the thought of putting all of this cool stuff to work in building a really great dimension. ¬†However what actually happened is it filled up both my vault and inventory with a bunch of items that I never could quite bring myself to part with. ¬†I could bring myself to part with the deluge of crafting materials that my minions kept bringing back, but those housing items were just too rare feeling. ¬†Sure most of them go on the auction house for a few silver…. ¬†but that doesn’t actually seem to alleviate the problem. ¬†What I wish is that Rift had a housing system that worked similar to Wildstar in that you chuck items in a sort of housing inventory that you can then place items from. ¬†I would happy wander the world collecting housing items, knowing that one day I might actually sit down and devote the hours to building a proper home.

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I had honestly forgotten about the events that happened during this screenshot. ¬†Back in 2014 the Halloween event included the ability to transform into one of the various signature characters in the game. ¬†There were a bunch of different clones running around in Uldah, and I wound up as Nanamo Ul Namo. ¬†It was a lot of fun but largely was just an occasion to take funny photos… like there is one floating around of like nine Minfilia’s on a bench sitting beside one Merlwyb who is looking exasperated. ¬† That is one of the really cool and frustrating things about Final Fantasy XIV is that each holiday event is unique and will never be repeated. ¬†They sometimes put the rewards you could have earned on the cash shop for a pretty cheap price… but each year and each holiday offers something truly unique. ¬†Over the years I have missed several, and there will always be a small bit of me that feels a slightly sense of loss over not getting to see whatever content that was.

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This is one of those screenshots where I know what it is and what it is showing… but can’t be terribly certain of the sequence of events. ¬†Essentially I know that this is a beta test build of Elder Scrolls Online, during one of the most public test weekends and not one of the Psijic Order/Team Akatosh weekends. ¬†The screenshot is somewhere in the middle of Stonefalls, because I spent so much time in Stonefalls. ¬†By the time the game launched I was pretty sick of both the Daggerfall Covenant starter area and the Ebonheart Pact starter area. ¬†The reason why I know it is a public beta client, is because there is no obnoxious watermark that says my email address over and over across the screen. ¬†I still have plenty of alpha screenshots floating around that are watermarked to hell and back and this is obviously not one of them. ¬†I also know this is not a live screenshot… in part because of the time stamp on the image and also because I have yet to make it to Ebonheart Pact on my main character. ¬†The funny part about this shot is that I had been in alpha/beta testing on the game roughly a full year when we reached this point back in February of 2014. ¬†I was an extremely dutiful tester, repeatedly reporting bugs every time I played. ¬†To the best of my knowledge I never missed a weekend testing event, even if it simply meant that I popped in for a few hours somewhere during it. ¬†It just seems shocking that in April we will be coming up on the third anniversary of the Elder Scrolls Online.

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This is a screenshot from one of the early alpha builds of Skysaga, a minecraftian sort of voxel building game. ¬†The game had a really awesome style to it, in everything other than the character models… and their weird floating arms and legs that were detached from the torso bothered me. ¬†I realize that was part style decision and part that they simply didn’t want to have to properly animate arms and legs. ¬†I mean if it worked for Rayman… why not for a construction/exploration game? ¬†I cannot really tell you why I checked out of this game, but I did… I think in part because it was the sort of experience that handheld you through the process of building by continually throwing new crafting achievements in front of you. ¬†Then each time a new build was released… we would get wiped back to square one. ¬†I am sure the game has changed massively given that this is a screenshot from February of 2015 and I am still actively getting emails talking about alpha builds of the game. ¬†When I just checked the website they list that they are in Alpha 9… and this screenshot is from what I can only term as a 0 alpha build given the version number. ¬†If you are still in alpha after two years… ¬†something tells me you are using the nomenclature completely wrong. ¬†If you are selling a product… you aren’t in alpha. ¬†You are just in a buggy release mode.