Parking Debacle

Pax Day One

The first day of pax was interesting, mostly because it started off on a bad foot.  I wrote about yesterday how I failed to charge my cell phone over the course of the previous night.  The positive of that however is that I learned my power bank does a phenomenal job of charging phones, and by the time it took me to drive from the hotel to the convention center it was sitting around 63% from the previous 15%.  Last year there was a plethora of parking options up and down Commerce and Market streets, but unfortunately yesterday every single lot had a full sign.  I finally ended up parking in a surface lot, having to pay $20 for 8 hours.  On the way to the convention I stopped and chatted with one of the attendants at the garage I parked in last year, just to find out what time of the day it actually filled up.  Turns out that some other corporate event is going on downtown, and that a company had booked pretty much all of the city run garages, greatly reducing the amount of available parking space.  She said that today they would be open again, so here is hoping that I can get into the garage I am used to.

As far as the day itself, it took a little while to connect with everyone.  I met up with Dallian in this coffee shop area near a giant Pax South sign, where we milled around until we joined up with Paragon and Damai… and eventually Ashgar.  Since we had not heard anything from Thalen yet, we wandered into the con and around the floor.  All the while I was on lookout for trying to sort out where exactly my first appointment was.  Turns out it was downstairs at the river level…. which is not something I even knew existed.  The rooms down there were super nice however, and in truth I liked them better than the area the Motiga suite was last year.  When I went to scope the place out I got nabbed by Deanna from Perfect World, and ushered into their room to hang out while waiting on time for my appointment.  They had this really great spread of brownies and other pastries, but unfortunately… I had just eaten a large breakfast at the hotel thinking it might be awhile before I found food on the con floor.

Livelock

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I will of course be writing a proper piece for MMOGames.com once I have more stable internet, but I still wanted to talk a little bit about it this morning.  I have to admit I was not really sure what to expect from all of the press announcements leading up to me actually getting to test it.  I had a basic idea that it would be a top down shooter, but I was not really certain past that.  I turns out that the game as a whole is a love letter to the twin stick shooters of the past, updated and infused with modern gameplay mechanics.  So in my head it feels like Ikari Warriors meets Diablo meets some almost MMO mechanics.  When the game is finished it will include three mechs that have specific niches, and in the discussion they mentioned tank/healer/dps holy trinity.  It seems as you level up your character to 30 you unlock ways to swap up your abilities and make them more defensive or more damaging.  I asked the ever important question about how big of a detriment a new player will be to seasoned players… and apparently the game is more skill based.  Level 1 characters and Level 30 characters have the same health, and the upgrades to abilities don’t really crank up the damage value, but instead change the way they work.  So in theory this might be a great game for impromptu co-op with friends.  That has always been the challenge in our own little circle, that if someone was not there on the first night… it is often difficult to play catch up and be viable until everyone simply hits the level cap.  The other nice thing about this game is that it is a straight up $19.99 game, and I grilled them a bit about future monetization plans.  It seems like right now they have no plans to offer a whole bunch of DLC characters or anything like that… they are just trying to design a really tight three player co-op experience and that is in many ways refreshing.

Ultimate Chicken Horse

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The other game I really want to talk about from yesterday is Ultimate Chicken Horse.  Now this is a title we have talked about before on AggroChat on our PAX Prime Show.  While Tam, Kodra, and Ashgar tried to explain the game to me… I didn’t really “grok” it until I was sitting there yesterday with a controller in hand playing it myself.   The idea is pretty simple…  you have a platformer that you compete with up to four other players.  The level designs are pretty classic and relatively simple to complete.  What makes the game amazing is that each round, each player gets a block that they can place somewhere in the level.  Some of these blocks help the players out like springboards or platforms…. and others will kill the player like crossbows that fire arrows, or spiked floors.  The goal of the game is the make the level difficult enough for at least one of the people you are playing with to die…. but not so hard that you cannot beat it yourself.  If everyone beats the level… no points are awarded.  If no one beats the level…  no points are awarded.  Things start to get really insane about five rounds in when the map becomes a field of death and destruction.  I can already tell this is going to be one of those must own “go to” games for hanging out with friends.  The best part about it is the fact that it does couch co-op and does it amazingly well.  The only problem I am going to have is that I am not sure if it supports network co-op, and I simply don’t have a group of people to play it with on a regular basis in local mode.  I am absolutely going to buy the game regardless because I want to support this flavor of insanity.  If you get a  chance, you should totally check it out when it ends up on steam shortly.

Ending the Day

The big problem with the day yesterday, was the fact that I was super paranoid the entire time about the crappy parking option I had.  Previously the $10 lots were for as long as you cared to stay, meaning I could be there late at night without much issue.  I talked to the parking attendant about the lot I happened to be in, and she mentioned that it was a privately owned lot and they were super quick to boot cars.  So the entire time while roaming around Pax I kept looking at my phone to check when it was time to walk out and get the car and try and move it to someplace better.  I finally headed out around 3:30 in the afternoon to do that, and in the time it took me to exit that surface lot… someone had already taken my space.  I drove around Commerce and Market streets and all of those lots still showed the “Full” sign, so I circled back around to the lot I had parked in… which now had a barricade across its entrance as well.  So everyone went off to Dave and Busters, and I instead went to the Hotel and played 3DS until my wife and friend got in a few minutes later.  Once the traffic had died down we went out roaming for a bit, because we needed some pop to throw in the hotel fridge.  The day took a lot more out of me than I realized, and I ended up crashing really hard about 9 pm.  Over the course of the day I walked a little over 15,000 steps, which is something I am just not used to right now.  It was fine and well while I was in motion, but once I got back to the hotel room… it took its toll.  Overall was a really good first day, other than the parking bullshit.  Next year I am going to sort out the bus system and just use it, because in theory there is a bus that picks up right outside this hotel and drops off near the convention center.

 

Scattered Evening

Orcs Must Die Unchained

SpitfireGame 2015-07-24 06-18-30-01 This morning I am struggling more than a little bit.  The last couple of nights have combined being up fairly late with not really sleeping that terribly well on top of it.  As a result I am significantly more groggy than normal this morning and also more than a little late getting started with the blog post.  A good chunk of this mornings posting time was spent playing the opening tutorial for Orcs Must Die Unchained.  A few weeks back I posted my treatise on exactly what I meant when I said I wanted a PVE MOBA.  One of the first comments came from a friend of mine…  who may or may not work for Robot Entertainment.  He said they were just patching in a new gameplay mode that sounded pretty close to what I was describing.  So yesterday myself and practically everyone I know who signed up for beta…  got into the game and I finally got around to testing it out this morning.

I have to say what I have seen briefly in the tutorial gives me hope that maybe this might fit the bill.  I am going to have to spend more time playing it to really see, but it feels less tower defense and more dungeon keeper which I am okay with.  Granted I did not play Orcs Must Die 2, and I am guessing a lot of the gameplay evolutions come from that title.  The tutorial starts you off playing the sorceress which was a strike against it, but I am sure as soon as I can get my hands on a melee champion I will be just fine.  It seems like there is a lot to figure out as far as trap placement, because I absolutely thought I would stop most of a minion wave… but barely phased them.  There is also an interesting card collecting aspect that allows you to summon specific minions in each “warcamp” which seems pretty interesting as well.  I will spend some more time this weekend playing this to give it a more proper test, but so far it seems interesting.

Astebreed

Astebreed 2015-07-23 18-25-25-16 This weekend is the AggroChat Game Club show devoted to Ashgar’s pick…  Astebreed.  The bulk of my evening was spent playing this and I made it to chapter five before my thumb got sore enough that I wanted to take a break.  I am really really hoping that the game will let me continue where I left off… because I am not really looking forward to playing back through the four chapters to get to the point where I left off.  My opinion of the game is somewhat mixed right now, but hopefully I will get some more play time in before Saturday.  I am not sure how far from the end of the game I really am, but based on some quick googling it looks like the game has six chapters as a total.  The game play has been fun, especially since it lets me win by slashing things to death with a sword…  which is not exactly something that most SHMUPS do.  I wouldn’t really call this a bullet hell shooter, but there are definitely moments where there is a silly amount of stuff on screen that you have to try and navigate.

The biggest positive is the fact that your ship actually has a surprising amount of health.  Usually in a SHMUP you get one or two hits before you lose a life, and in Astebreed you can actually soak up a surprising amount of damage before having to be concerned with death.  Essentially at the end of Chapter 5 I encounter what I would consider the first really hard boss, and quite frankly by that time my thumbs were sore and I was ready to just be done for awhile.  The boss had this super annoying attack that caused you to fly around the screen to avoid it…  which meant you were not putting ANY damage into the boss.  My theory is that you needed to use your missile lock type functionality while flying around to avoid damage…  but I didn’t put in enough attempts to really test this one out.  According to steam I have only actually put in 71 minutes… but it felt like significantly longer.  I did manage to get a very “Bel” achievement called “Too Much Destruction” where I apparently killed 30 of these missile batteries on the boss at the end of Chapter Four.

Scattered Evening

Skyforge 2015-07-23 22-27-16-48 The rest of the evening was significantly less focused, and I think a combination of sleep deprivation and having spent a little over an hour mashing buttons on a controller furiously left me in a bit of a stupor.  I ultimately went downstairs and booted up the laptop, patching things up so that I could do something.  I managed to watch through the first four episodes of the Humans television show, and I am actually enjoying it quite a bit.  It is an excellent mix of creepy and endearing at the same time… and I am happy to see Katherine Parkinson that I know largely from IT Crowd.  I attempted to play some Final Fantasy XIV but ultimately logged out after running a Vault on my Dragoon.  I was feeling super disconnected from the world and my free company, so I slinked off into the shadows and booted up something I could solo without any human contact.  Right now that game is SkyForge, and I spent some time working through another big open area…  and my desire to “complete all the things” is ultimately what lead me to stay up so damned late again… only furthering the zombie like state.

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The strangest thing about SkyForge so far is the fact that I do not have a single person on my friends list.  Even in games that I am only thinking of playing for a few minutes…  I still usually have a batch of people on my radar of sorts.  I think this is a side effect of Final Fantasy XIV being my social game right now… and this being a game when I just want to blend into the crowd.  I am not terribly opposed to having people on my friends list and you can find me there as Belghast Sternblade, but this is absolutely not a grouping game for me right now.  I am enjoying poking my way around and soloing the content, and as counter intuitive as it might sound… I am really starting to enjoy the fact that every mission seems to have both solo and grouping options.  Last night I very much felt like my interaction batteries were completely drained, so I just needed to spend some “me time” while slicing enemies with a sword.  All things considered though the more I play of it, the more enjoyment I am getting out of SkyForge.  It seems like just about the perfect foil to Final Fantasy XIV and does a good job at giving me an option to play that doesn’t require a lot out of me.

Mercenary Kings

Dinklebot is a Great Name

It was not until last nights stream that I had heard anyone refer to the Ghost in Destiny as the “Dinklebot”.  Kodra credits Matt Lees as originating the term, but whoever did it… it is absolutely priceless.  Not only does it clearly identify that the ghost is voiced by Peter Dinklage  but it also adquately sums up just how useless the Ghost as a whole feels in the storyline.  Last night once again we recorded AggroChat, and this week we had our regular cast of hosts Ashgar, Rae, Kodra and Tam.  Destiny has caused so much angst that we started talking about it even before we went on air, and finally I had to say “guys, we should save this for the show”.  This week a letter from the producer came out as well as some patch notes talking about upcoming changes to gameplay.  We lead off the podcast by talking about these changes and how they personally effect us and our gameplay.  I somehow doubt that any of us in particular will be mourning the loss of the loot cave.

From there I think we dove into Kodra and his morning stream of Hatoful Boyfriend.  I tuned in when he met a bird that is totally reminiscent of the vespa riding mad woman from FLCL…  except she drives REALLY slowly.  Carve it into your soul!  The game feels like it is complete madness… and also created using lots of clip art… and Christmas tunes.  I commented in the stream that I think the game probably cost about $50 in shutterstock credit to make.  The storyline is absolutely insane, so it is totally worth a watch.  From there we dive into Trove and the Closed Beta gameplay that just started.  Rae and I have been playing a ton of it, and we even managed to get Tam and Ash to try it out.  Then things turn to our present obsession with Fallen London.  I think everyone but Rae is currently madly playing this game.

Finally I give over the floor and let Tam, Rae, Ash and Kodra verbally faff about what is going on with League of Legends Worlds.  At this point my eyes glaze over as while I enjoy playing League of Legends… I do not grasp the concept of watching other people play it yet.  It was a good show that ran a bit longer than we had intended… but oh well.  In a rush to tie things up, I totally forgot to do the where you could find us bit… so instead I recorded a snippet later telling folks to please leave comments either on our AggroChat Nook or the @Aggrochat twitter account.  We apparently have some loyal listeners out there, and would love to hear from them.  By the time I record the show and post it Saturday night, to the moment I get around advertising it Sunday morning… we generally have a couple dozen listeners.  That seems like dedication to me.

Steampowered That Wasn’t

1303218406-witcher-2-wallpaper-hd-5 This morning I had every intent to play Witcher 2, as I have had many people in my thread talking about how much they love this series.  I have tried multiple times to play Witcher 1…  and the controls on that game feel like absolute shit.  I will boot it up, and the last time I didn’t even make it through the first action sequence before tossing it aside.  It might have the best storyline ever, but if the controls are horrible…  I cannot bring myself to suffer through it.  Maybe at some point I will see if there is a lets play series where I can watch someone else play the game… or at very least all of the cut scenes edited together.  Since folks had been talking up this game again in anticipation of Witcher 3… I figured I would play it for Steampowered Sunday.  Apparently I figured wrong.

I have had this installed on my machine for some time, and when I went to launch it this morning nothing happened.  After digging through the forums it seems to just not work for some users.  There were a bunch of red herrings that I chased down, but none of them ever caused the game to launch correctly.  The only thing I didn’t try was downgrading it to run under XP Compatibility mode… because honestly I just thought about it this very moment.  In any case it does not seem to like Windows 8.1 64 bit, or at least my machine.  There are numerous supposed problems that it runs into with virus scanners… but given my frustration with the first game…  there is a plateau to just how much bullshit I am willing to go through for this game.  Maybe at some point I will pick up a console version of it, because at this point I am done with the franchise on the PC.

Mercenary Kings

MercenaryKings 2014-09-28 10-45-38-516 Instead I fell back on a game I have also had installed for awhile but never gotten around to playing.  Mercenary Kings is a Metal Slug like shooter from Tribute Games with the amazing animator Paul Robertson.  I was originally made aware of him several years ago when I watched the video Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006.  The animation is in fact as insane as the title might suggest.  Later on he went to animate the amazing Scott Pilgrim vs The World console game, so quite frankly I picked this up because of him.  This morning… I flat out sucked at playing a side scrolling Contra/Metal Slug style shooter.  Maybe it was my frustration after trying to deal with Witcher 2, maybe it was the controller…. or maybe I just flat out suck.  In any case I died a lot, and die in some pretty silly ways.  I think I died to a kitten at one point.

MercenaryKings 2014-09-28 10-57-04-571 Many of my deaths could have been avoided to be honest if I had just read the tutorial level.  Me being my normal self…  wanted to simply rush head long into fate and totally missed the fact that I could do things like proactively reload my weapon for example.  No matter however as bad as I played I still had quite a bit of fun.  The game is not really your traditional Metal Slug or Contra clone, in that the game map can be traversed in many different paths.  One of the missions involved me hunting down and taking out 8 snipers, and as such this involved me covering the entire game map multiple times looking for the last sniper I had missed.  A lot of the terrain is gated by obstacles that you cannot cross in a specific direction, so many times you have to go a different way to get where you were hoping to get.  The game has a checkpointing system of huts that allow you to respawn in various points in the map… and I respawned over and over and over.

MercenaryKings 2014-09-28 11-14-22-904 I saw this screen an awful lot during the time I played the game.  You have two meters for failure of a mission.  Either you run out of fixed number of lives, or you run out of time.  I believe the initial timer is set to 20:00 and I mistakenly took this as having plenty of time to poke around the map.  If you know what you are doing I am sure this is more than enough time to find your objective and move along.  For me… I ran out of time several times.  The game play is not the stage after stage progression that I was expecting.  Instead you have a village full of members of your team, each of them interacting with you in different ways.  There is a village store, someone that will allow you to toggle on internet play, the general that will allow you to pick your missions and the chopper pilot that will drop you off as well as a few other characters that I didn’t really interact much with.  The game is at times reminiscent of a lot of classic arcade games, but it ends up being a really unique mash of of them.

You can check out my entire horrible play of the game in the above embedded Hitbox video.  It is still making its way to Youtube, but if you would rather wait for that copy you can check it out here.  I think I was mostly just having a bad morning.  I woke up late and am still in a state of stupor, and then combined with the frustrations with Witcher 2… that I has psyched myself up to play…  I was maybe not in the best place to do a recording.  In any case I had enough fun that I will be playing it some more.  It falls in a camp of being frustrating, but just frustrating enough to make you learn how to do things better.  In the little bit I had played I had already improved quite a bit.  When I got rushed however I would still make really dumb mistakes.  There are some enemies I could avoid, and others I couldn’t.  Quite frankly at this point I am really not that great at side scrolling platformers, even thought I continue to try and play them mostly in part to a huge sense of nostalgia for that genre.

MercenaryKings 2014-09-28 11-31-52-794 On a positive note I did manage to actually complete one of the missions.  The find the snipers mission, mostly was about exploring the level and not so much about rushing towards a final objective.  As such it seemed to fit my playstyle a bit better.  I got the first 7 snipers pretty easily, but it took me forever to find that 8th one.  It ended up being back near the start of the mission…  which Ashgar kept trying to tell me… but unfortunately I was not watching my stream chat.  I didn’t advertise this one so I didn’t expect anyone to actually be tuned it.  I just fine the process of streaming a considerably easier way to get a video up onto youtube than through actually uploading it myself.  If you like Metal Slug, Contra, Gunstar Heroes, or any of those style of games I suggest you give it a shot.  I might end up repurchasing this at some point on a PS4 because after getting used to that controller…  I have to say the Xbox 360 that previously had been my controller of choice felt really really odd.  I am wondering if I can hook up a PS4 controller to my PC…  but I guess that is a mission for another day.

#AggroChat #Witcher2 #MercenaryKings

Crimzon CLover World Ignition

Technical Difficulties

Last night was probably the roughest time I have had editing the AggroChat podcast in the eleven episodes we have been running.  Mostly this centers around us trying to change the way we record the show.  Since its inception we have been recording it on the House Stalwart mumble server in a private and locked down channel.  This worked pretty well and produced the first ten episodes without much issue.  However on July 19th that server will be going away and as a guild we will be permanently switching to the Alliance of Awesome Teamspeak server.  In theory Teamspeak does the same type of things that mumble does, so I thought we could simply record our channel without much issue.  Turns out that was not quite the case.

Mostly we had a lot of issues with Kodra coming through either garbled or not at all when he was holding down his push to talk key.  Apparently on his end it was me that was coming through like this.  Oddly enough Ashgar and Rae didn’t seem to have any problems at all.  It might be something we can fiddle with codec wise to make it work better, but honestly after the trouble I had with last nights podcast I am just of the opinion that we not try and record on teamspeak again.  We have access to a more private mumble server, and I am guessing from now on we will just use that one instead.  A lot of folks have suggested skype, but none of us are really skype users… so that would take its own trial and error to figure out how to really use it.

Last night we finished recording around 9:30 and I started editing by 10 pm.  I did not actually finish editing the podcast until well after 12:30.  The hard part was trying to glue together enough audio out of the garbled sections to make sense of what was being said.  I’ve listened to most of it while I was editing and I think the end result works.  However if you hear something that doesn’t quite make sense…  it was probably me trying to make the of a corrupted segment of speech.  While I don’t think the show was our weakest, it definitely made for some strained recording time since we kept having to redo segments that did not transmit.  Hopefully what did make it through is enjoyable.

Fly That Geek Flag High

In this weeks episode we have the original cast reunited again.  Ashgar is back from doing whatever it was that Ashgar was doing the week before, and Kodra is back from the awesome gaming convention Origins.  As we had talked two weeks ago, Kodra gave us a run down of what exactly he did at Origins.  This leads to a little discussion about something that is unfortunate in the gaming and geek communities…  geek on geek shaming.  Apparently Kodra catches some crap from the Magic the Gathering gamers for his choice of playing the My Little Pony card game.  But hey we pretty much support all potential diversions here on AggroChat.

Additionally we talk about the Warlords of Draenor expansion and my experiences so far with the Alpha.  We also talk at length about the Wildstar patch schedule and our hopes that they are actually able to maintain it.  Join us for these topics along with a bunch of other ones that just get slipped in here and there was we go.  Since neither Ash or Kodra were here to talk E3 2014, we do a bit of a callback there as well to talk about a few things that make people excited.  Remember to let your geek flag fly high, but remember to respect everyone else’s choice of flag as well.

Crimzon Clover World Ignition

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to get enough time to really give this game a proper playing.  My friend Ashgar and I seem to be the only folks in our immediate circle of friends that really appreciate the “bullet hell” shooter.  So when a new one comes out, he sometimes throws it on my game pile because he knows I will actually play it with him.  The latest one of these is a random gifting of Crimzon Clover, and if you want to see a more logical and proper write-up about the game check out Ash’s blog.  The other night when he was working on his indepth reviews of the game I took a break from Four Job Fiesta and Wildstar to play Crimzon Clover with him.  I say play it with him… but mostly we just happened to be on voice chat at the same time while both of us are in game.  It sadly does not support internet multiplayer gaming.

CrimzonClover_WI 2014-06-22 08-43-26-121 The game actually does a fair bit of bait and switch.  When I booted it up and started playing the other night I originally thought it was going to be a “Shmup” and not really a “Bullet Hell” shooter.  This however changes quickly as it somewhat eases you into the game play as you get used to the movement controls and various attacks.  By the time you reach the first boss however things have escalated to the point where you are dodging the attacks like crazy.  The game itself is extremely clean and the controls responsive.  This is the sort of game where you just hold down the fire button at all times and spend the rest of your time looking for the only safe spot on the screen.  I question in this genre why the fire isn’t just toggled on and left on, since there is never really a point at which you don’t want to be holding it down.

CrimzonClover_WI 2014-06-22 08-43-43-581 As is often the case with this type of game you end up with the choice between different ships.  Type-I tends to be the most baseline and the easiest to control, whereas Type-II and Type-III give you a benefit in one area but make another area variable through the play session.  I started off trying Type-II but quickly fell back on going with the tried and true “default option”.  Ash actually managed to beat the game, but I only made it through boss number four before deciding my fingers were too sore to continue onwards.  Apparently in order to truly beat the game, you have to make it through without hitting continue.  If you do that you get a different ending and I believe a different boss encounter.  This also seems to be a theme with a lot of these very serious games.  I remember in the BlazBlue games there were “good” endings and “bad” endings depending on how you did in the earlier content leading up to the final encounter.

CrimzonClover_WI 2014-06-20 20-02-18-571

I have to say this game is a really good entry into the genre, and combined with Danmaku Unlimited 2 gives some seriously good options for Bullet Hell shooters on steam right now.  I am happy that this genre is alive and well and did not die with the death of arcades.  This specific title is interesting in that it is what they call a Doujin or essentially the Japanese version of an Independent PC game.  This appears to be another thing that steam is doing right, in that it is giving these games a market in the united states.  Recettear is another one of these Doujin games and it has been wildly popular and also likely would never have been seen here without steam.  If you dig the Bullet Hell shooter genre, this is one of the more pristine examples I have seen in a long while.  You should totally check it out  because right now during the steam sale you can pick it up for only $7.  This game is more than worth that money even if you only slightly like shooters.

Next Gen Achieved

Aversion to Sports

image It started yesterday with a random dumbass quip that I am known to occasionally spout towards the end of the day.  Watching the internet be enthralled about the World Cup is a really surreal experience when you are living in the United States and soccer never actually makes the sports page other than during the World Cup.  I figured surely someone would give me shit about my statement, but I expected them to hone in on the World Cup portion.  Instead my friend Liore latched onto the root of the comment… asking why exactly I found the appeal of sports bizarre.  I rattled off a half truth and said that I just was not born with what I call the “spectator gene”.  I love league of legends for example, but no matter how many times I have tried to watch the LCS I find it completely boring.  All it does it make me want to boot up League and play it, instead of getting completely caught up in the matches like my friends do.

My aversion to sports however goes far more deeply than that.  When you grow up in a small town in Oklahoma or Texas… your entire school life revolves around the sports team.  I grew up in a town of 2000, with a graduating class of 60… and even though we had a horrible football team… the entire damned town revolved around it.  Growing up a big kid I was stalked from middle school on by coached that wanted to make me part of their “lineup”.  I played little league ball and gave an attempt to play football…  but I just didn’t enjoy it.  Additionally I have never bought into the bullshit drill instructor act that all coaches perform.  While that might motivate some people, all it does is make me want to flip them the bird…  because I had so many other options for spending my time.  It completely baffled them that anyone would not want to play football.

On top of that over the years sports have come to represent what was wrong with a small town.  You might have duct taped together supplies in the science classroom, and classes meeting in portable huts instead of actual buildings…  but by god if the field house needs renovated that is going to happen, and there is nothing that will ever stand in the way of our losing football team from getting shiny new equipment every year.  The focus on football means other things slide and the school as a whole graduated a ton of barely functional adults.  In my graduating class of 60, I would say 2/3rds of the kids who went to college flunked out their first year and are now working menial jobs in the same town.  Then we get to the problem of the coaches themselves… who always seemed to be History or Mathematics teachers.  My Geometry teacher was the head football coach, and would spend exactly five minutes writing something on the board… and then spend the rest of the hour as we worked on our homework assignment with the football players huddled around his desk talking about plays for the “big game”.  The history teacher, while a nice guy was equally incompetent.  He once told us that “Old Iron Sides” was named that because it was made of Iron not Wood.  So how can I respect sports when I grew up in this situation.

I realize that huge swaths of the population love sports, and love cheering for their team.  I try my damnedest to just ignore it, because I really don’t want to be a buzzkill.  Every now and then one of these quips slips out, and as I said while I really do not have the spectator gene…  there is a lot more driving that attitude.  I played little league ball, but for whatever reason the indoctrination never really took.  Which is humorous because I used to work in a baseball card and later comic shop.  I  even collected cards…  but then it was more about the artwork on the card or the value of a specific rookie… and not about me actually caring about the game itself.  I will say though that to this day Baseball is the only game I will really willingly watch.  There is something untainted about that sport, because at our high school they never got any attention either.  They had to play in old uniforms and on a crappy field…  because the football and basketball programs drained the system dry.  So in a way I felt almost a sense of kinship with them, since they too were damaged by the system.

Next Gen Achieved

I have for the most part avoided the “next generation” of consoles, and as all the hype surrounded them leading up to the launch I didn’t think much about any of them. Then something happened… and I saw the 2013 E3 presser from Sony. During the current generation of consoles I started out an XBox 360 fan… but over time I gravitated towards the Sony Playstation 3 when I picked up one used from a friend. The primary reason behind this shift in allegiance was the phenominal deal that is the Playstation Plus membership. For what is roughly $50 it gave me access to a massive game library of I think a dozen different playstation 3 titles at a time. So not only was the service cheaper than Xbox Gold but worth way more value in that it actually just gave me a curated collection of games every month for me to download. One of my good friends Ashgarshowed me a nifty trick that allowed me to log into the website and “purchase” the free games to add them to my account each month. After watching the E3 press conference last year, I knew sooner or later I would be getting a Playstation 4, but I was mostly waiting for the price to come down. Nonetheless this meant every single month I would add the new PS4 game to my account knowing that sooner or later I would get one and have a game library ready to play.

Awhile back on the AggroChat podcast, my friend Tam introduced me a rule he uses for the purchase of new console systems.  He waits to buy a new console until it has at least five games, either currently released or releasing within the next six months that he wants to play.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought this was an excellent and logical way to decide when to jump into a new console.  For me right now the list of games I am excited about looks something like this.

  • Infamous:  Second Son
  • Assassins Creed 4:  Black Flag
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
  • Last of Us: Remastered
  • Destiny
  • Kingdom Hearts III
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • The Order: 1886
  • Guilty Gear Xrd
  • Bloodborne

While many of those are not Playstation 4 exclusives… I am devoted to the playstation family of consoles thanks to the warm fuzzies I have about playstation plus as a whole.  In the time I have been subbed to the service I have gotten 151 games, and have a library of six PS4 titles waiting on me.  Granted most of these are not exactly AAA titles yet, but one of them at least is something I have amped to play since the moment I saw game play from it.  Microsoft on the other hand…  really has nothing to offer me.  As far as Microsoft Console exclusives… the only two that I am interested in that are not also coming to the PC are Killer Instinct and Sunset Overdrive.  Neither of which are going to be games I play enough to make that console worth my time.  Then again…  there is just a lot I don’t like about the target of the XBox One.  I was watching an excellent rundown video about the two consoles yesterday, and the guy admits that while he used the Kinect and TV integration features for the first month… he hasn’t used them at all since.

Getting the Goods

RESOGUN™_20140613234425 When it comes to buying hardware especially… I am a cheap bastard.  I rarely if ever buy game systems new… in fact the only game system I did buy new was the 3DS, and only because I had pretty much exhausted all options.  So when I started kicking around the notion of maybe picking up a PS4… I hit craigslist like normal.  I did a search of the site and noticed that someone had a PS4 incorrectly posted in the barter section for way less than normal.  They were wanting $280 and it came with two sports titles.  Since I have zero use for those… I opted to try and talk the guy into a price without them.  I honestly expected nothing to come of it, so when it texted me back a day later saying he would do $250 without the games… I was absolutely pumped.  I joked during the day yesterday that I hope I didn’t get killed meeting a stranger on craigslist… which apparently disturbed Rae considerably.  It was a little odd because generally I am not alone when I meet people from craigslist, but my rule has always been that we meet at one of the many QuikTrips in Tulsa… since they are ALWAYS busy 24/7.

RESOGUN™_20140613234507 The guy was running late…  as in he was an hour late at the time he finally arrived.  For awhile I was thinking that it was going to fall through like so many other “good deals” from Craigslist have.  However he arrived with a PS4 in hand, with the original box and everything that came with it.  It seemed that once again I was benefiting from the flighty nature of teenagers.  He bought the PS4 and games with High School graduation money… and then decided he needed that money to move into an apartment.  It is funny the stuff that folks you meet from craigslist will tell you, like when we bought my chromebook we found out that the guy grew up in the same town as my wife… and that they knew some of each others family.  I think maybe this stuff only actually works out this well here in Oklahoma… where people are generally well meaning and rather polite about everything.  But once again I am more than happy to take advantage of a good deal when I can find it.  I took the machine home, booted it up and everything works awesome.  It feels as though the dual shock four hasn’t really even been broken in.  The guy had not even registered an account on the playstation network, so after a wipe of the system it is now set up with all the plus games.

inFAMOUS Second Son™_20140614005549 So far I am mostly playing Resogun and Infamous Second Son.  I would like to find a cheap copy of Killzone Shadowfall because it looks pretty cool.  I am also kicking myself that I did not sign up for the Destiny Alpha.  At that point I had no clue I would actually be getting a PS4, so of course hindsight is 20/20.  Here is hoping I can figure out a way to get an alpha key and play it as well.  So far I am loving the system, and super happy with the purchase.  It is actually good timing considering my allergies are going completely haywire and right now I can barely breath.  Seems like the perfect time to hibernate with a console and play some games.  I might even try streaming to twitch later, just to see how well the service works.

#PS4

Grand Anniversary

No Free Lunch

Last night was Saturday night, and that means we recorded another episode of the Tales of the Aggronaut podcast…  AggroChat!  We had a few odd things going on last night.  Firstly Rae was off travelling in world visiting her longtime friends Ahi and Bez.  This means she was completely unavailable.  Additionally Kodra was travelling, and connected in from crappy hotel wifi in San Francisco… leading him to be a little bit robotty.  However we pushed through all of this and picked up a 4th player in the form of our good friend Tam.  He had been talked about plenty of times on the podcast already, and it only seemed fitting to have him sub in.  Super thankful for him to be willing to do it in a pinch.  We talked about all manner of things including Hex Closed Beta, ArcheAge and the concept of selling entry into the beta process, and our ideal scenarios as far as character building and abilities in MMOs go.

We are going to have to find a way to stay more on topic, because each episode has increased every so slightly in length.  The first one was right at an hour, the second an hour and fifteen minutes, and this one roughly an hour and thirty minutes.  We could have formal topics that we push through, but I personally like the meandering format, because it means it is more like the natural conversations we already have.  I wish I had kept rolling because moments after I cut the podcast off we had a pretty epic conversation about how Lucasfilm is disavowing the entire Expanded Universe concept… and while we will miss some things maybe it isn’t so much of a bad idea.  There were some really odd fan service things about the Expanded Universe that don’t really hold up story wise.

Steampowered Sunday #11

When Elder Scrolls Online released on a Sunday, it pretty much put a severe halt to my blog series known as Steampowered Sunday where I take some time and play a game from my backlog of titles.  Last night during the podcast we were talking about a game that Ashgar had been playing this week that fell firmly into the Bullet Hell genre.  Kodra seemed to think this was madness, and having been a big fan of Ikaruga I totally understood the draw.  There was a time period when I used to play lots of bullet hell shooters and pre-hell shooters.  Gradius, Darius Twin, Raiden Trad… all games I remember fondly.  I was never particularly good at them, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  I remember playing 1942 on the nintendo for hour upon hour trying to make my way through all the stages.

At some point I just stopped playing them.  I think it was during the death of the dreamcast, but when I bought my PS2 I just simply stopped picking up the games anymore.  While I have Gradius 5 on my PS2, I guess my tastes in games changed a bit.  This honestly more than anything represents a period of time when I stopped playing consoles very much and started consuming games almost exclusively on the PC.  Every now and then I would flirt with a new shooter like the ever amazing Jamestown, but I never really got heavily into it again.  Last night in an attempt to cold boot this series again, Ashgar griefed me by gifting me a copy of a really rather awesome bullet hell shooter on steam.  At face value Danmaku Unlimited 2 reminds me of a less technical cousin to Ikaruga.  The soundtrack is in part what makes the gameplay, and helps you do what is needed to make it through the levels.  The secret to a bullet hell is to zone out and focus only on the pattern and not so much about the rest of the noise on screen.  Only a few things can actually hurt you, so you focus in on those things.

The hilarity of my play through is that after years of not playing these games my reflexes that had built up are completely gone.  In addition I am playing this game roughly thirty minutes after waking up.  So yeah I do pretty bad.  Ashgar tried to make me feel better by saying that I did significantly better than he did the first time.  Essentially the gameplay video is roughly seventeen minutes and the point at which I ran out of lives to keep going.  I made it to about the mid point of stage four.  All in all I think I did a pretty good job.  The awesome thing about the game is it is really cheap.  So for the price you cannot beat this kind of bullet hell goodness.  I feel like there is a lot of customization in the way you set up the game.  I went with pretty generic options and was playing on easy, so I think there is a lot more depth to be had there if I dig into it.  Probably going to stream some more of me trying to play it later.  In any case… I have successfully rebooted the Steampowered Sunday feature.  Long live me playing through my steam backlog!

Grand Anniversary

Last but definitely not least… today is the one year anniversary of the Grand Experiment… my attempt to blog something each and every day.  This means as of today I have made a post every single day for a year.  That is a pretty significant feat and I am really damned proud of myself for sticking with it.  At this point I figure I am going to try and make it another whole year without letting the beat drop.  It hasn’t been the most easy thing to do, but I want to take a moment to thank my wife who has been extremely supportive in this adventure.  There have been days where I might not have made it through the post without her just assuming that it was going to happen and giving me time and space to do so.  Additionally I want to thank my friends who have supported me in this madness and my readers.  There have been moments when I felt alone in my mission, and was surprised at how many of you have reached out your arms to help me along the way.  Somehow I have gone from being the least regular of bloggers… to the most regular, and it is a pretty insane transition.  I feel like I have grown a lot in the past year, and I thank you all for helping me with it.

Big Dumb Broforce

Happy Friday

At the very least, Happy Friday to me!  This is the last day of my week as we have Good Friday off tomorrow.  I plan on spending the day in a near vegetative state playing Elder Scrolls Online and likely streaming quite a bit of it.  It seemed like today was going to be a day I could wrap up the loose ends.  I have a bunch of projects that each need a few hours of undivided attention to finish up the last bits of coding.  The problem is I am constantly getting interrupted at work by “fly bys” when some random person comes by to ask a question.  Looking at my calendar it was completely clear, so I thought I would be leisurely listening to the ESO soundtrack and working through the last bits of these projects.

WRONG! I generally check my work email a few times a night, and right before bedtime I noticed I had been invited to a meeting to discuss hopefully the technical details of a new project.  Then I panned down and noticed the time.  There is a special place in hell for people who schedule 12 am to 1 pm meetings.  Sure enough this damned vendor had done just that, so now I have to give up my lunch hour to listen to some vendor do a sloppy job of trying to explain the technical requirements of their product.  I hate vendors…  mostly because where I work the relationship of vendor and customer seems to be completely backwards.  We always end up having to jump through hoops to meet vendor needs… when it should be the other way around.

Big Dumb Broforce

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-13-57-71 One of the things that I lament about modern video game design… is the attempt to make them feel like interactive movies.  While I can appreciate the craftsmanship of the Mass Effect series, it is not the type of game I want to play every single day.  I like blowing things up, gibbing bad guys and generally saving the day.  I have massive amounts of notalgia over the big dumb games of my childhood.  Nobody really gave a shit about the storyline in Double Dragon, because mostly it was completely incoherent.  However we did know the bad guys by name and enjoyed punching them repeatedly.  The name Abobo still sends an irrational amount of fear through me.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-16-34-23 Broforce is basically one of these games with a storyline that is basically an excuse to blow a bunch of stuff up.  The game is very reminiscent of Metal Slug, another title that I absolutely love, with a few significant tweaks.  The gameplay is very similar, go through the map rescuing prisoners of war.  The twist is each time you rescue another prisoner, you gain an extra life and then transform into that prisoner.  This gives the game a huge cast of characters, all of which have extremely unique abilities.  In the above shot I ended up playing as J from Men in Black… known in this game as “Bro in Black”.  All of the various characters have been given bro names like “Brobocop” or “B.A. Broracus”.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-18-41-32 At the end of each sequence of levels there is a boss fight, this one is a helicopter that alternates between dropping bombs and firing a chain gun at you.  What makes it difficult is that both NPC weapons and your weapons can destroy terrain.  Meaning pretty quickly you are running out of places to stand.  One nifty tip that I have noticed is that the platforms the flags spawn on are indestructible, meaning you can use them as a shield when the bomb phase starts.  All of this said the gameplay is just infectious.  I’ve played roughly an hour so far, and am really enjoying myself.  The only thing that I find frustrating is that not all of the “bros” are created equal.  Some of them like the MacGyver clone are extremely situational.  It reminds me of playing Castlevania and getting stuck with the wrong alternate attack right before a boss fight.

Broforce_beta 2014-04-17 06-14-48-16  The one thing that would greatly improve the experience for me is the ability to swap back and forth between the bros you have rescued.  That would make the gameplay feel more strategic and less random.  Even in the modern Castlevania games you got a second chance to swap back to the weapon you had before.  It is bad enough that if I get MacGyver I tend to just suicide out to swap to a new character.  Playing mad bomber is just not as fun as it seems… even though his bombed turkey attack is hilarious to watch.  The game is available through steam early release, but it feels pretty damned complete to me.  If you like mindless shoot-em-up game play, I highly suggest you give it a look.

Wandering Rivenspire

Screenshot_20140416_220811 The rest of the night I ended up working on the various quests in Rivenspire.  This zone might be my nemesis, not because I don’t like it… but maybe that I like it too much.  I find it nearly impossible to focus while wandering around a landscape full of vampires.  I end up falling into vampire hunter mode and spending large amounts of time slaughtering the undead without really knowing I have done it again.  I desperately tried to stay focused last night and follow the quest chains.  I managed to ding 32 and at this point I am no longer getting drops from most of the encounters around me.  It seems like if you are not within five levels of the encounter it becomes trivial and stops dropping anything meaningful.

I am however using the opportunity to loot everything I see, and feed the cooking mats to Kodra and Sylladora depending on the level of the material.  I hit a lucky streak last night and managed to get both the Breton and Argonian racial motif books.  The Argonian one is still looking for a home by the way if any of my guildies need or want it.  A few days ago I managed to get an Imperial motif book, so they do apparently exist for everyone concerned the only way to get imperial gear was through the collectors edition.  I managed to find a buyer for it and got 10,000g… which I figured was pretty damned good considering that the other motif books started out around 2,000 and have quickly dropped to 500 as the market has become flooded.

For awhile I was trying to broker a trade for either the Barbarian or Primal racial motif, however I have heard they are pretty common drops in the veteran levels.  That ancient elves and daedra are far more difficult to find.  I figure getting the gold while I can for the imperial book was the best course of order.  Like always I am in a relative state of poor in this game, but I need to begin saving up for my fast pony.  I might have to give up on deconstructing everything I see and just start selling it to make a profit.  My biggest concern right now is that I am several levels ahead of the zone I am in… and this just seems to keep getting worse as I move upwards.  I just find it impossible to move on past a zone until I think I have gotten everything out of it.

Interesting Footnote

It seems as though I am going to be on two podcasts this weekend.  I will of course be recording the second episode of AggroChat… which I am looking forward to.  We have several topics that we may or may not get around to discussing.  It should be a fun time for me at least either way.  The second however is that I will be guesting on the Multplaying.net podcast.  So keep watching their site for the file because I am sure it will be a fun time.

#ElderScrollsOnline #ESO #BroForce #AggroChat #Multiplaying

Raining With Friends

Good Morning 4 am

At this point it is actually 5 am, but who is counting?  My body decided it had enough sleep at roughly 4:40.  I had planned on getting up at 5 anyways to get up and around early so I would have to deal with less traffic on the drive in.  The greater Tulsa area is still very much under a blanket of ice and snow, and we really did not manage to get too much melt yesterday.  I am hoping that once I get out of my immediate neighborhood that the roads will be clear, otherwise this is going to be an extremely frustrating trip into work.  I wanted to give myself as much time as I could to get in, before the madhouse that is winter driving starts.  As a result this mornings blog post is likely going to be somewhat abbreviated.

Raining With Friends

Risk of Rain 2014-03-03 20-32-07-42 When I started down the road with Risk of Rain last Sunday, my feelings about the game have evolved into something much more nuanced.  The friend that originally suggested that I play the game, had told me for some time that it was a much different experience multiplayer.  Once again Ashgar was not wrong.  We planned on meeting up last night and getting in on some epic tiny pixel multiplayer action.  Firstly with two people and attempting to follow each other around somewhat, the various encounters become easier.  There are many types of mobs that you can burn down well before it actually reaches you.  Additionally when you get power-ups you can filter them towards the person who can most benefit from each type.

Risk of Rain 2014-03-03 20-08-01-15One of the things the game does that is pretty cool is show you an indicator of where your friend is at all times.  So if they are up and to the left of you, you see their character moving along the very top left edge of the screen.  We got split up often, but having this indicator allowed me to find my way back to Ashgar.  I think on our first playing, with me as the default character we managed to get three worlds in before destructing horribly.  On the second play through I changed things up to one of the characters I had just unlocked… the Enforcer.  At face value he seems like I character I would like, with his shotgun and its pushback ability.  However playing as him felt extremely sluggish, and once a mob managed to get right up on me… there was really no way to get out of there.  Poor Ashgar carried me through at least two levels where I died and he finished up the map without me.

Risk of Rain 2014-03-03 20-53-40-85 Finally on play three I think I found “my” character.  The bandit has a super long rifle shot with a small amount of pushback, a sniper rifle shot, a dynamite throw and the ability to fire a smoke bomb and go invulnerable for a short period of time… just long enough to get the hell out of a bad fight.  During this play through we each focused on our strengths, with me building everything ranged combat and Ash building everything melee combat.  We managed to get through to world five, which involves staying alive for 40 minutes as everything tries to destroy you.  At this point I had an absolutely insane drone army of 5 machine gun drones and a flamethrower drone.  Stuff attacking us would just disintegrate as it got near.  With 60 seconds to go… something catastrophic happened.

There seemed to be a hiccup in Cox communications the local cable provider, because at exactly the same time I disconnected from the Risk of Rain co-op session and Rae disconnected from Diablo 3.  I think the game was just pissed at me, because Ash and I had managed to accumulate enough power-ups during that play through that we would have had the 40 minute timer without any issue at all.  I think that is what makes this game so enjoyable, the absolute silly number of power-ups you can get.  In a way it reminds me of R-Type or Gradius…. without a cap on the total number of abilities you can get.  So towards the end I had 6 drones, the ability to fire anime sidewinder missles, the ability to proc mortar fire, as well as the occasional grenade.  On top of all of this every shot slowed the enemies, I had insanely boosted crit damage… and a short term usage jet pack.  I can now say without a doubt, that I love this game.

Whirlwind of Doom

In addition to all the Risk of Rain, I am still playing a silly amount of Diablo 3.  It is funny how one patch can completely change my perspective on the game.  Previously there were things I liked about it, but it felt extremely tedious to level through… knowing there was not much of a chance of getting something truly nice.  However I think the change for me goes deeper than that.  I love having a Clan.  I love seeing across /clan when someone gets something cool, and the obligatory chorus of gratz when someone gets a really interesting legendary drop.  I also love not feeling completely alone in the game.  Granted right now I am mostly playing solo to catch up my Barbarian, but I like feeling that while I am doing my own thing… I am not completely alone in doing it.  This is the problem I tend to have with most single player games… I just don’t feel connected to anyone else while experiencing them.

As of last night I have managed to catch my Barbarian up to level 45, and have grown into the really nice axe my monk used for awhile that summons the ghostly protector.  At this point I am still using cleave as my main attack, but as of last night I switched it up a bit from a rend that heals, to the whirlwind that sucks mobs in.  So far I am really liking the change as it lets me set mobs up for my freezequake attack.  As of last night I was up to the realm of shadows step in the Zultan Kulle quest chain.  We have decided that “Hard” is the new “Normal” mode since pretty much none of us play anything less than that when we are soloing.  Normal just seems too easy now, and the xp and drops seem much better on Hard.  Even at that, Hard is not all that Hard… in that I have to be not paying attention at all to actually die.

Diablo III 2014-03-03 16-37-20-32 Granted I have done than more than a few times, but with my paladin healbot I can pretty much run around doing bad things.  Right now through the release of Reaver of Souls, there is a “community event” going on that buffs experience gained by 50%.  So my hope is to soak up as much of this goodness as I can.  Once I finish pushing my Barbarian to 60 I plan on shifting back to the monk for a bit and working on paragon levels.  We have quite a few people playing right now, so it is pretty easy to get a torment game going.  I am not sure how amped I am with the key farming madness, but right now my key priority is getting the last two items to make a Whimsyshire staff.  I want to go kill rainbows and ponies… for science.  I am sad that I was not on mumble when Warenwolf took Rae to Whimsy for the first time.  I am not sure if she recoiled in horror, from having to kill her beloved ponies… or if she squealed in glee.  Diablo 3 seems to do the same thing League of Legends does…  bring out her murderous side.

Snow Day Project

The very last cool thing I did yesterday while snowed in, was take a moment to organize my video game screenshots.  For most people this is not a big deal, but since my blog very much relies on access to decent screenshots…  it is slightly more important.  For some time I had standardized on using a “GameShots” directory and using Fraps to take them so that everything dumped into one directory per machine.  The problem is that each directory was getting unwieldy quickly.  So as I tried to look a picture up, it would take forever for livewriter to list the newest files.  What I opted for is a directory on my 4 terabyte network attached storage, with sub directories for each game.  After setting up that structure I proceeded to sift through three different machines worth of screenshot directories and file them away in the right places.

That in itself would have been a huge positive, but I decided to go one step further.  I installed Picasa on my secondary machine and am now synchronizing each of these game directories with google plus photos.  Now if I am away from my machine, I still have access to my screenshots if I feel like I need to cobble together a quick post on something.  My hope is this will make blogging from the lake this summer a bit easier, as there is no way I could have access to my entire archive of screenshots remotely otherwise.  So far it seems to be working well, the only negative is that each time I add a new game directory I have to manually log into the machine running Picasa and configure it to sync.  The next project will likely to to merge in a bunch of the screenshot directories I already have on google plus into the newly created ones.

The Anchors Fall

Snowbound

Tulsa once again is buried under a thick coat of ice, with a dusting of snow on top.  Luckily we were prepared for it, and I did the traditional grocery store run Friday afternoon before the madness really started.  Saturday we got out early in the morning and ran the few errands we had to run, and made it in well before the crap started that evening.  It was predicted that the ice would begin around 6pm but it started considerably later.  Thankfully it was just sleet, and not freezing rain or we would have been in trouble.  When we got up yesterday morning it really did not look like we had much accumulation, and as a result my wife was convinced that they would be having school today.

However over the course of the morning, it started in hard and heavy with the ice and didn’t let up until late last night.  While we only got roughly 3 inches of accumulation, almost all of that was ice in one form or another.  One of the more interesting things is we had what they call “Thunder Sleet” and “Thunder Snow”.  Essentially it sounded like a rain storm with lightning and thunder, but as the precipitation fell it turns into sleet on the way down.  After a day of this I texted my boss about 9pm saying that I was not even going to try getting out this morning.  At that point I was apparently the third person to say the same thing, and he was not sure if he was going to try and make it or not.

I am really questioning if my wife will be having school tomorrow either.  At some point today I need to go out and try and clear the vehicles, as I am sure tomorrow morning I will be driving into work.  Honestly when a day like today happens work pretty much shuts completely down, and it is their own damned fault.  Once upon a time we would work remotely during a snowstorm, and things would continue moving forward.  However the current management made a point of stating that there was no official working from home policy, and as a result we all take vacation days and ignore email.  I think they were far better off the other way around, because at this point… it damned well better be a crisis for me to deal with it when I have spent a vacation day.

The Anchors Fall

eso 2014-03-02 18-47-32-30 I spent I would say the majority of the weekend in Tamriel.  Not that I really felt the rush to play, since I have been part of the private testing group for roughly a year now, but I did want to get to hang out with my friends as they played.  By the end of the weekend I think we had 35 members or so in House Stalwart, and for the most part everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  There were a few people who simply could not get used to the “action mmo” perma-mouselook interface but overall I think we are going to have a large and bustling guild for launch.  Really that is the most I could hope for.  I entered the weekend with grand ideas of getting to the 15-18 range of Spindleclutch… the first dungeon in Daggerfall.  However i didn’t even get close, ending the weekend around 9.5.

I am really bad at leveling in Elder Scrolls.  There is always this cool thing over here to look at and explore, or this camp of baddies to clean out…  or this bit of ore to mine.  The Elder Scrolls Online is distraction city, and I am a willful participant.  In World of Warcraft, I have learned to “quest grind” and push my way through content extremely quickly.  However in the much more immersive world of ESO I tend to stop and smell the roses quite a bit.  One of the interesting things about the game is that I actually somewhat pride myself on making my own gear.  So the tail end of the night since I was roughly half a level from 10… I was in a mad rush to gather iron ore.  Up to this point I have tried to have a full set of the next level of gear ready to go for when I ding.

I realize I don’t NEED to do this, as you can pretty much get by fine in several levels old gear.  However I like the concept of making my own stuff.  Firstly it levels blacksmithing, but more importantly I always know where my next upgrade is coming from.  Granted it usually means I am well over level since wandering around mining ore, tends to mean you are also killing a ton of bad guys and soaking up extra experience.  Right now I am just ready for this to launch.  It feels like I have been waiting for this to happen for so long, and now we have a month left before go time.  I am ready for my characters to finally be permanent and my choices to matter for longer than a weekend.  Since I didn’t explain it… the above image is of a Dolmen moments before a Dark Anchor is about to fall.  If you see this scene… go somewhere else… because if the anchor falls on you… you end up taking massive damage.

Not on Easy Mode

Risk of Rain 2014-03-02 13-38-59-06 After my little Steampowered Sunday write up, my friend Ashgar informed me that even though it says “very easy” in the upper right corner… that is apparently a lie.  He said he could tell from the things on screen that I was not in “easy” mode, and that I should try that setting.  So sure enough I fired up the game a bit later in the day and noticed that I was not in fact on easy mode.  In fact when I DID set it to easy, I managed to get through the first level just fine.  Well “just fine” being relative, because the game is still maddening at times.  However after a few deaths I managed to progress to stage two “Sky Meadow”.

There I proceeded to die rather spectacularly over and over.  So while the game is a BIT less abusive on “easy”, it is still maddening.  I am probably going to fire this up every now and then, just because at this point I really want to see more of it.  I don’t know why I do… but I do.  This is like a puzzle that I want to crack, and I don’t understand WHY I want to open it…  but I really do.  Ash says this is one of his more played steam games, and I can see why.  There is just something about it that gets under your skin and makes you want to play more.  It is so brutally unapologetic in the way it kills you, that you want to keep getting back up just to try and piss the game off.