Raiding Drama

Eleven Sads out of Ten

Ori 2015-03-12 11-52-32-79 Yesterday I ended up running home over lunch to fiddle with a server here at the house that was no longer responding.  While here I decided to boot up Ori and the Blind Forest and play for a bit while I scarfed down my lunch.  I had been prepared slightly for this intro by my friends and by watching the video from e3.  In truth I still was not quite prepared.  If you do not cry through this intro, or at least get really damned close to crying…  you likely have no soul.  We have joked a bit on the podcast that the video game industry seems to only really know how to do rage fueled revenge and soul crushing depressing sad as far as an available emotional range.  This game is most definitely in the crushing sads territory, and I would give it eleven sads out of ten as the title goes.  Quite honestly the best comparison I have is the introduction to the Disney film Up.  It manages to be so touching and adorable… and at the same time so unfortunately depressing.

The positive is however that once the game proper starts and you manage to get through the introduction… the tone does get quite a bit more hopeful.  The game itself is this wonderfully animation quality experience.  At its core the game is very much a metroidvania, and it is quite clear early on which obstacles you can pass and which you cannot.  Additionally the game has some interesting combat in that you have a light spark that follows you around and ends up flinging fireball like things that lock onto your target.  So this is vastly different from the traditional mechanism of slashing things with a weapon or firing directly at your enemies.  The game right now is $20 on steam, and as little as I have played of it… I am already hooked.  If you like beautiful games with excellent narration… of the metroidvania genre…  I highly suggest you check it out.  I will more than likely be streaming some of this over the weekend and playing a good deal more of it.

Raiding Drama

Wow-64 2015-03-05 21-06-19-69 We had a bit of an incident happen last night, and I have to say it was primly surreal to experience it.  Over the years I have been the guild leader of most of the guilds I have been part of, and even when I was not… I still was treated as such by most of the membership.  However for the past year in both World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV..  I am not leading anything.  I have taken up the role of cruise director and recruitment…  but have not been doing any of the heavy lifting that comes with the crown.  Apparently over the last several months I have finally gotten used to that role.  One of our problems over the course of this expansion has been a lack of critical lack of available healers.  For the most part we have struggled through, but are starting to get to content where we need the intended balance of dps, tanks and healing.  As such our raid leader opted to bench a few people of our dps to try and get our ratios more in line with what they should be.  Unfortunately it seems that at least one of our players took offense to this.

During the middle of the raid one of the players chain logged in all of his characters and de-guilded them one after another.  I have to give him credit for saying a rather nice farewell message when he got to the last one…  but all of this felt a bit over dramatic.  Normally I would have been tracking that player down, and trying to talk them off the ledge.  Last night however… I was content to watch the events play out in front of me, as I realized…  this was no longer my problem.  World of Warcraft is a game that comes with more than its fair share of drama, especially when it comes to raiding.  However I am not the guild leader any longer, nor am I responsible for raid leading at all… and I can simply sit back and watch the events unfold in front of me without feeling any guilt in the situation.  I have to say that was a pretty awesome feeling when I finally realized that I was fine with someone else dealing with things.  It sucks when anyone leave the guild, but I have to accept  that people are going to ultimately do whatever the hell they want to do.  I have a feeling the person in question will cool off and come back, but if he doesn’t it is not really that big of a deal anyways.

Thogar Down

Wow-64 2015-03-12 20-26-53-85 On the positive side of things, pairing the raid down to a more reasonable ratio of healers to dps…  did manage to improve our performance.  Before last night we had really only spent a single night of attempts on Operator Thogar in Blackrock Foundry.  For those unfamiliar this is the “train” fight and it takes place on a series of four tracks.  During the fight a dance happens of moving back and forth between the different lanes to avoid the oncoming trains that buzz through.  If the player is hit by a train it seems to reduce their health by a specific percentage, leaving the player on the edge of death…  but not quite oneshotting them.  Previously our big issue was that in two places during the fight… the entire raid needs to split into two groups.  The problem here is there is a fairly hefty tank swap mechanic so that the tanks need to time this swap in such a way so that the fresh tank is taunting Thogar as they are moving to the new position.  The margin here is super slim, and both sides have to burn through their adds extremely quickly so that we can join back up and let the then free second tank taunt back the boss before the damage gets to great.

Last night we managed to do all these things right, and very quickly got to the second one of these swaps.  Within another try or so we managed to push through the fight and down Thogar.  One of the things that made last night extremely difficult was the fact that we essentially had no battle rez.  Our druid healer was out for the night, as was our Deathknight DPS… meaning our only option was to have the bear tank stance dance and someone get a rez off before dying to the boss.  Needless to say we largely did this without a rez, and I have to say I am pretty damned proud of how fast the progress happened.  We spent the rest of the night working on the Heart of the Mountain event, and I feel like we need to sift through the logs and see exactly what was going wrong there.  It is one of those events where there are dozens of mechanics happening at the same time… and while we could consistently push into phase two without issue… we struggled to get elementalists down.  I have a feeling that we are going to have to split into teams and each focus on a finite number of mechanics.  Drama aside it felt like a really good night of raiding.

Movies, Roulette and ArcheAge

Little Projects

front_closet I am cheating a bit on this post, and writing it the night before I intend to post it.  The plan is for us to go running around in Fayetteville tomorrow, and as such I really need not to take my normal leisurely “not having to rush to work” amount to time to write a post in the morning.  Today was an insanely busy day.  Right now I am taking a few days off work because it is Fall Break here in Oklahoma, and since my wife is a teacher she is out.  One of the problems with living with a teacher is that you pretty much have to plan your time off around school breaks.  For awhile we had planned on doing a little project, originally the intent was to rip up all of the carpet in the bedroom and paint the floor.

As time got closer to fall break we backed away from that notion, mostly because it would quite literally take all four days of this little break… and since my wife has had an insane semester so far… she really needs to take an actual break, and not a working one.  Instead we opted to do a bunch of little things around the house today.  Our house for starters was in massive need of a deep cleaning.  Additionally we needed to gather up and take another load to Goodwill.  The front closet was our key mission, and for quite some time it had been packed with coats and shoes we weren’t actually wearing any longer.

Instead we took what was useless space and turned it into something useable.  Previously the closet was full with a bunch of coats that were too big for us since the weight loss.  The floor was full of shoes that we longer wore, and the top was full of a bunch of board games that we had not touched since college.  We kept the few things we were actually going to use from all of those categories and the end result left us a bunch of open space.  We moved an 8×2 cube unit into the empty space, allowing us to store our SLR equipment on top of it, and use the other bins for scarves and such, and the lower two bins for storage of our current shoes.  This left a spot on the right side that was perfect for our laptop cases, and just enough room to hang the handful of coats we decided to keep.  One of the nice things is once we end up organizing something…  it tends to stay organized so here is hoping that is the case with this as well.

Movies, Roulette and ArcheAge

ARCHEAGE 2014-10-16 20-28-16-05 When I finally crashed on the sofa after working on the house all day long, I logged into Final Fantasy XIV and ran my daily elite roulette with my good friend Cylladora.  It went pretty smoothly and when it was finished we both logged out of FFXIV for a bit.  I opted to poke my head into ArcheAge for a bit since right now it is pretty much a solo affair for me.  A few days ago I applied for Greymoon the guild that everyone I know is playing the game is in…  and was accepted, but I have zero clue how to actually go about getting an invite.  None of the folks I know have been around since I got accepted, so I figure I will just wait until one of them is on to ask them.  The guild requires folks to log into teamspeak, which seems a little odd to me.  Granted I spend most of my time connected to TS, but it feels strange to require that folks just log in out of course rather than for them doing so with a purpose.

I am still slowly working my way through the content, and I am closing in on 22.  I managed to get a pretty sweet katana to drop earlier which was a massive improvement over the blue sword I had been using for awhile.  I took a handful of deaths because I really was not paying nearly as close of attention as I probably should have been.  Lately I have been hanging out on the sofa and watching television while playing games, but tonight I opted for a movie.  I had yet to see the Amazing Spiderman 2, so I decided to watch it.  All in all I think it was a pretty good comic book movie.  I’ve never been a massive fan of Spiderman, but I think all kids who read comic books at least know a bit of the storyline and a few of the major villains.  It seemed like they did a good enough job at representing both the Green Goblin and Electro.  It was good enough to pull my attention from the game a handful of times leading to deaths.

8 Bit Boy

8bitboy 2014-10-13 17-18-19-378 A few days ago I watched the awesome Missy Mojo playing an interesting game on her stream.  The game reminded me of a mishmash of a bunch of the late 8 bit Nintendo games as sort of a combination of McKids and Super Mario Brothers 3.  8-Bit Boy pays homage to so many different games and is an absolute steal at only $3.99.  I have been playing it off and on, and while I don’t find it in the same league as the various frustration games like Super Meatboy, I find it plenty challenging.  I’ve reached a point where the game has started to feel a bit like the special levels in Super Mario World.  It isn’t the type of game I can play a lot of in one sitting, but I keep returning to it and whittling away at progress.

8bitboy 2014-10-13 17-13-14-757 There is a certain generic character to the game, that would normally turn me off.  The main character is just about as bland as you can get and at the same time looks somewhat like Mario, the character from Adventure Island, and even a little bit Alex Kidd.  I think I would have rather the game actually built a strong character for you to play than something that ends up being his amalgam that never is as strong as any of them.    The level design kinda feels super generic as well, borrowing elements from a ton of different games.  So all of these things would normally turn me off, but I have to say the game play makes up for it in spades.  It controls like pretty much the best version of all of the games it is trying to replicate.  If you are into that sort of thing, you should totally check it out.

#ArcheAge #FFXIV #8BitBoy

SteamWorld Dig

Steampowered Sunday #1

This is the beginning of a brand new segment for my blog.  In truth for awhile now I have been trying to come up with a good way to start this feature.  Originally I was going to call it “Sunday Indie Sunday” but that never really got off the ground.  The idea behind Steampowered Sunday is really simple.  Over the years I have built up a large backlog of titles from steam sales and the various humble bundles that I have never actually played or at the very least not really played enough to feel like I have given the game its due. 

My goal is to grab a “new to me” game each Sunday and give it a decent amount of play time.  Afterwards of course I will be writing a blog entry about the game.  This isn’t necessarily a review, but more my thoughts and impressions about the game play I just experienced.  My friends are already talking about griefing me by adding more games to my list.  So we will see how far I can actually make a dent and if I can actually keep up with this feature.

Steamworld Dig

2014-01-12_00001 The first title to explore seemed like an obvious pick… since the feature is called Steampowered Sunday, then why not delve into a game called Steamworld Dig.  This however is a playthrough that almost didn’t happen.  It seems that I found a bug in FRAPs, that no one really expected.  It seems as though frap is configured to ignore Steam, and instead of correctly searching for steam.exe in memory, they are just ignoring any process with steam in the title.  As a result…  SteamWorld Dig seems to be incompatible with fraps.  Luckily I remembered that you can also take screenshots through the steam overlay with f12.  While this is not exactly what I like to do… as I tend to disable screenshot functionality and have fraps do all the work… that way all of my screenshots end up in the same directory…  I made do.

2014-01-12_00004 I picked up Steamworld Dig some time ago during one of those insane steam sales.  Basically if it is a game that I have been wanting and it drops at or below $5 then it is pretty much an instant buy for me.  I know sooner or later I will get around to playing it, and especially now with this new Sunday feature.  The premises is deceptively simple…  Metroid-Vania with Mining.  In the game you play a robot miner who is coming to Tumbltown to follow in the footsteps of his uncle.  The uncle had the claim on the mine directly below the town, and as such your are exploring the mine looking for resources and upgrades.

2014-01-12_00009  The game employs an inventory system that looked deceptively like Minecraft, but in reality at least to the point at which I have played, you can only remove blocks, you cannot ever replace them other than with ladders that can be purchased for 5 coins each.  The result is that initially you can only store quantities of three different ores at the same time.  This quickly becomes an issue as before getting very deep you are regularly getting half a dozen different ores.  This involves a lot of running back and forth to the surface to sell your wares in the little town.  Each time you sell you are working towards an upgrade threshold cap.  Each time you earn a certain amount of money you unlock additional new upgrades.

2014-01-12_00013 The upgrades are then purchased with the coins you are earning from selling ore.  Initially you have access to the trading post and Cranky’s upgrade store, but I am assuming much like Bastion that over time other places may open for business.  The first upgrade you can get is to your pick axe which similar to upgrades in Minecraft allows you to mine existing ore types faster, and the ability to break new ore blocks that you previously could not.  Similarly in the second tier of upgrades you can add an additional bag slot allowing you to carry up to four types of ore at a time.  This of course means fewer trips back up to the surface, and more time down below mining.

2014-01-12_00015 As you explore, you will uncover caves that shoot off of the main dig.  These usually hide power ups and unlock new functionality.  For example the waygate above gave me the ability to equip run boots, which means while pressing down X on my 360 controller I can run, and in the style of Super Mario World, jumping while running increases the range and height of the jumps.  Additionally there are blocks that disintegrate as you walk over them, so in many of these puzzle caves the only way to get through is to run quickly over top of them.  All of this progression will seem extremely familiar to anyone who has played a Metroid of Castlevania game. unlock tools so you can get to new places and unlock more tools.

2014-01-12_00014

The game play gets progressively more and more difficult which adds an interesting spin on the Metroidvania genre.  Since you cannot replace rock, you are essentially making your own playfield at all times by the choices you make as to what to dig and where to dig it.  This means you can make life hell as you remove the wrong block at the wrong time.  The game play is more about what you choose to leave standing and less about digging down to a specific objective.  Above you can see my first death as I managed to get squashed by a rock that until this point I did not realize would fall down when I mined under it.  This is also a decent time to highlight the lamp bar on the upper right corner of the screen. 

As you dig down your lamp light decreases at a steady rate.  There are various fossils that will wake up when you get close to them and spawn worms.  Killing these will drop an item that does two things.  Firstly it will refill one bar of your health, and secondly it will add oil to your lamp meter letting you stay down longer.  The only problem is it becomes pretty easy to dig deeper than you can possibly return from on a single lamp charge.  There really seems to be no penalty for going without lamp other than the fact that you cannot see what you are doing.  This means that you cannot identify what type of block you are mining your way into… which is suicide since there are the boulders that can crush you placed throughout the levels at an ever increasing pace.

The Wrap-Up

2014-01-12_00003 The game play is extremely fun and I found myself spending an hour or so playing the game before reaching a point at which I thought I could realistically write up this blog post.  The only thing lacking with the game seems to be a point.  I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, but both Metroid and Castlevania and the modern equivalent Guacamelee all have a narrative that drives the pace of the story ahead.  SteamWorld Dig on the other hand has a series of small objectives, but I am not sure if I am really building towards anything meaningful.  I am digging so that I can get stuff that will let me dig faster.  I don’t really care about the cast of robots that inhabit Tumbletown… yet.  Over time this might change, but at an hour into the game I really am not feeling like there is some great purpose behind what I am doing.

That is to say, the game is completely enjoyable without this deeper meaning.  The game play is fun, the controls are responsible and it has as good of a wall jump implementation as I have seen.  The problem is it just feels like there should be something more.  I mean I realize you wander into the town and find your dead uncle, but this doesn’t seem to cause much intrigue or story to happen.  Hell at this point I would even take a pokemon-esc “I want to be the very best” dialogue sequence to explain why I care about mining.  I realize these are robots, but even robots should have a reason why they are doing things.

Would I purchase the game again after having played it?  Honestly yeah I would suggest folks picking it up, but only doing so at a deep discount.  The game play is fun enough and it seems like a glorious time waster.  It is the type of game you can just zone out and enjoy the mechanics of.  The animations are cute and the sound design is really nice in places.  I just keep hoping that eventually I will uncover something even vaguely resembling a plot.