Assorted Turtling

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Yesterday was an exceedingly stressful day, and that combined with the fact that my wife is out of town…  lead to a sudden bout of turtling.  For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature…  I go through these periods where I feel like I need to pull my head into my shell to attempt to remain sane.  I’m thankful that I have a few friends that get it, and don’t give me too much hassle about it, but every so often I just reach this point where I need to disconnect from humanity.  Last night was one of those nights and I cycled restlessly through a whole bunch of games to see if I could find something that would fit well enough to pass the evening in.  The negative is that in theory this should have been a night I was tanking in Final Fantasy XIV, but I just could not handle communicating with others…  or having anyone I cared about relying on me.  The irony is that I wound up for a bit early in the evening in Destiny…  and absolutely wound up carrying two other players hard through a random strike.  I took a screenshot not because it is impressive…  but because it shows the massive difference between my participation and that of the other two.  This was on the Wretched Eye strike… and I wound up kiting the Ogre… and DPSing most things down…  and resurrecting the other two people constantly.  Now I know what Squirrel and Jex feel like when I run with them.

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From there I wound up back downstairs and watched the last episode of Handmaid’s Tale…  which is maybe not the best idea to watch when you are already feeling depressed.  While doing so I ended booting up Rift and playing around some there.  I am still level 67 and working on the Gedlo Badlands, which is not exactly my favorite zone so far.  Moonshade Highlands is my jam, and I have never been that big of a fan of desolate desert landscapes…  especially not ones where everything is on fire.  That said I did make a lot of progress knocking out various quests and while it still feels like my experience bar isn’t really moving…  the constant ding of planar levels seems to help the feeling of being mired.  I have been running around with a heavy Warlord hybrid build, and while I have been absent it seems to have been buffed significantly.  Previously I had a lot of problems with struggling to kill a given mob in time before it killed me.  Now I seem to be able to run around and wreck things pretty safely.  My biggest complaint with Starfall Prophecy now Prophecy of Ahnket… are the legendary morphs of abilities.  Each of them seems to read like it is going to be universally better than the original…  but after taking a few of them they seem to FEEL worse.  The biggest problem here is that you cannot undo them without paying for a respec…and then you have to remember what the hell you chose as a spec down to the point where you screwed up and chose the wrong legendary morph.  Personally I think the system should just be a toggle, and that you can have X number of legendaries toggled on equal to the number you have earned.

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I also played a little Secret World Legends, which is something I seem to do just about every day… or at the very least I am logging in to get the rewards.  I am not completely sold on the game but I am enjoying it enough to keep showing up and experiencing it.  The combat feels fresh enough to make going through a bunch of quests I did long long ago feel worth it.  My key complaint however is the game still does a piss poor job of clearly identifying which quests you have completed and which ones you have not.  That was one of my biggest problems with the game is to log in and roam around through a sea of cutely named quests… that all sort of blend together in my head making it impossible to sort out if I have or have not completed them.  This was even worse when it came to expansion content going into the game, and blending in among all of those other quests that I did a year ago.  So far blade and elemental is fun enough, but I find myself really missing the shotgun… and with the way gear levels up in this game I feel like I am really not in a great place to switch gears at any point soon.  I do have an extremely low level shotgun sitting in my inventory and I might try swapping it out at some point soon just to see if it is viable.  I’ve moved on to the Savage Coast but there is honestly still a lot in Kingsmouth that I have never really gotten around to completing.  My biggest complaint overall is as compared to the original… the drop rates of anything meaningful in the world is nonexistent.  All of your gear seems to come from lootbags gained through doing quests… so I have a feeling that a big part of the “endgame” is going to be repeating quests on the daily reset to get more stuff to fuse into your gear.  That doesn’t really bode well for those players that are not a big fan of grindy mechanics.

 

Regularly Playing: May Edition

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I had a realization over the weekend as I stared at my sidebar…  that it has been a significant amount of time since I last did the regularly playing thing.  The last one I was able to find was on October 3rd of 2016…  some 210 days ago.  I may or may not have completely fallen off the wagon on this concept.  The original intent was to take a moment once a month to “true up” the side bar and shift out what I was no longer playing for what I was currently playing.  As a result we are going to see some significant moving and shaking in the list as a result.

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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I am still going fairly strongly in Final Fantasy XIV, and while I might not log in every night I am logging in multiple times a week.  I am definitely still making the Tuesday night raid thing, and while we don’t always make progress each week we get together to do something.  Thanks to the wonder of cross server grouping we have been able to pull in our friend Kelesti into some stuff as well.  Largely we are all in a big holding pattern until the release of Stormblood which comes in July, and as a result I am still in the middle of my “level everything” binge.  Right now my Machinist is just shy of 40, and that leaves Astrologian the only thing that has yet to be touched.  The whole purpose behind all of this madness is so that I can purge my vault of anything at minimum sub 30… and the grand hope is to sort through anything sub 50 and be extremely judicious in what I choose to keep.  Still having a lot of fun in Palace of the Dead, just have had other distractions of late.

To the Returning and New

Skyforge

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This is one of those games that has not graced my sidebar in a very very long time.  In July of 2015 I played quite a bit of the game around the time that it launched, and while I enjoyed it… it always felt like it was missing something.  Apparently October of last year an expansion released that added in pretty much all of the features that I am finding myself enjoying now.  Additionally the game just works better with a controller than it ever did with a keyboard and mouse and while I returned primarily on the PS4… I am also dipping my toes back into the PC experience as well.  Both are extremely fun and I am not entirely sure how long I will be splitting time before I officially pick one platform.  Whatever the case if you have ever played this game I highly suggest checking it out.  It has some issues… namely you are limited to three classes at the start with no clear path to add new ones.  However each of the classes is doing something somewhat unique which makes them more enjoyable than the standard Tank, Mage and Healer that they represent.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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There are two things that are shocking about this game gracing my list.  Firstly that apparently I never actually made a “now playing” widget for it, and secondly… that I am back playing it again.  I blame a sequence of nostalgic events happening at exactly the same time…  all of the hype about the next Star Wars movie, the love of Rogue One, and my deep enjoyment of Mass Effect Andromeda has lead to an upwelling of love for both Bioware and Star Wars.  As a result I have returned to an old mission, which is trying to level through all of the class stories.  I managed to finish off the Sith Sorcerer and am now through Hoth so far in the Imperial Agent.  It seems as though I picked one of the best storylines for last, and even though I am not traditionally a stealthy/shooty type class…  there is something extremely awesome about this one.  I largely went Sniper because my Smuggler on the other side of the fence is Sawbones/Healer.  I am having a blast right now, so I am going to ride the enjoyment until it lasts.  The goal is to push forward into the story I have not touched on my Jedi Knight main after finishing the Agent story…  which involves Shadow of Revan, Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne.

Horizon Zero Dawn

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I do not normally put many single player games on the regularly playing list, but we have this sequence of amazing ones being released in short order.  One of those is Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a game that I hit hard at launch… and then for whatever release lost momentum to Mass Effect Andromeda.  As a result I have been slowly playing it here and there as time and desire allows.  I could force myself through the story, but I want to play it when I want to play it… and that is right now involving the occasional hour long session of hunting giant robot dinosaurs rather than pushing forward the main story.  I am still very much enjoying the game, but I need to find some catalyst that really gets me back into it and dying to play the next chapter.  In the mean time however I am still enjoying the “bowplay” if I can coin that term.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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This is very much another “as desire hits me” sort of experience.  When the game came out I picked it up on the Wii U and in the time between then and now I have managed to pick up a switch effecting starting back at square one.  This stalled my progress a little bit but for the most part I have returned to where I left in the Wii U and am once again moving forward.  I have designs on starting to take this to work and playing a little over lunch and on break times.  While I have the switch I really have not done a lot of handheld play with it remaining largely docked upstairs so I can play it with the pro controller.  It is a great game and in spite of having a lot of things that frustrate me about the game… is yet another in a long list of titles contending for my game of the year bid.

To Those Departing

World of Warcraft

While I still have an active account, I am just not really playing at all.  I logged in shortly after the last patch and got bored and logged out again.  I fell off the raiding bandwagon about halfway through Nighthold, and honestly just sort of reached the point I have in so many other expansions.  I think in theory I could come back and play casually and enjoy the experience but there are just simply too many other things I would rather be playing right now.  So as a result this is going to find its way off my side bar, but I did have the forethought to simply comment it out rather than remove it because I am sure at some point around Blizzcon time I will get hit by the bug once more.

Rift

Much like with Nightmare Tide… I just failed to gain traction with the latest expansion the Starfall Prophecy.  A large part of my struggle with Rift is that I can never seem to find a warrior spec that I really like anymore.  What I ultimately want is a juggernaut for doing PVE/Leveling content that can burn through the mobs with nonexistent downtime.  If I ever find that spec again I will return to the game and happily finish up leveling.  The other huge struggle is that the game lacks a reliable current font of knowledge.  The forums in theory have a lot of the information but it is this blend of current information and ancient and no longer reliable, and I just lack the mental fortitude to sift through it.  I am hoping that after writing this… Muspel or PK will come to the rescue once again with a viable Warrior build like they have in the past.  The other huge challenge with Rift is the fact that none of my gaming infrastructure is playing the game, nor do any of my regular suspects have any interest in the game at this point.

Destiny

It hurts more than a little bit to be adding this game to this space on my list.  The truth is I am just not playing it right now and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.  I have too many other games fighting for my attention, and while I absolutely know I will be returning with Destiny 2…  the amount of stuff that I can do solo or want to so solo is pretty limited.  At this point it feels like I would be working towards something that is ultimately going to disappear.  I also have a lot of questions because as it is right now… I am looking at making the leap to PC from PS4 for the second game… and I am not sure what if anything might transfer.

Guild Wars 2

Adding this one to the list really doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I was only into this game so long as some of my friends were actively playing it.  Once Tam and Ash and Kodra faded away… so did I.  It is still not my favorite game but I have developed a certain appreciation for it.  Most of what it is doing however isn’t really all that interesting to me.  I largely got to play along with my friends only because I had maxed out my Warrior soloing for ages without them.  He was geared and ready to go… and will still be there if it ever has a resurgence.  Much like Warframe this is a game that was not ultimately for me…  but somewhat enjoyable so long as I was playing with friends.

 

 

 

 

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.

Social Structure and MMOs

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I’ve talked off and on about Imzy, and how it is filling a niche for me at least that Google+ used to in that it allows for a sort of long winded discussion that twitter just simply doesn’t.  Yesterday I read a post there that made me realize something I had been trying to sort out in my head for awhile.  The vast majority of my gaming time is spent playing MMOs and I tend to have several that I am in various states of active in at the same time.  However I rarely if ever gain any sort of permanent traction in them, and after a few weeks of play tend to fade away again until the whim hits me to fire it back up.  I go through a cycle of curiosity that leads to excitement…  that leads to confusion and disillusionment that ultimately ends with me leaving once more.  I will pick up a game and for a few days to weeks it is going to be the most interesting thing in the world as I get adjusted to the systems and mechanics again.  However I always reach this point where an overwhelming sense of “what now” hits me.  When that happens I wind out going right back to whatever it is happens to be my core game…  which if we are being honest with me is an alternation of World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV.  I have been working on my games played during 2016… and decided to extend that out to all of the games that are easy to track thanks to my blog.  There is a clear pattern of when I start getting super excited about WoW I shift away from FFXIV and versa vicea.  There is of course some overlap, but you can see a back and forth pattern that emerges.

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So the question is then…. what do these two games seem to have that so many others don’t.  The answer was sitting there waiting for me to notice. I often talk about games having great communities…  but generally speaking this is in broad terms and extremely non-specific.  Most games have some excellent niches in them, but in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t really do much to add core enjoyment for me.  I keep returning to World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV… because those are the games that I have established communities in.  There was a time when I was willing to branch out and meet new people…  plunk myself down in a brand new game and start growing an entirely different infrastructure.  The community that I have right now… is in large part the result of me doing this over and over.  Each new game I go into I meet a whole new cast of people…  but at some point that began to change.  As I gathered a larger and larger core of players… I stopped looking outside to the community nearly as much and instead looking to my guild.  While I am still meeting a lot of new people… they are coming with the pedigree of knowing someone I already know and am familiar with…  which of course speeds up the social footnotes that come from meeting anyone new.

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Last night was a prime example of this happening, because we were raiding in World of Warcraft and had someone pop by and join….  that I had not personally played with in several years.  My personal community in House Stalwart within World of Warcraft seems to have this ability to stay evergreen… and always have a certain chunk of the population that is active and always happy to be there.  House Stalwart my guild has existed for twelve years…  in spite of my actions.  When I left WoW to start playing Rift I tried my best to burn down everything about the game… actively recruiting people away to play this new an exciting game.  I did the same thing for Final Fantasy XIV and Elder Scrolls Online… and countless other games.  However at its core… the guild still remains and not only that… but has remained viable for the purpose of doing interesting end game content the entire time. Similarly the Final Fantasy XIV guild… while considerably younger just seems to endure whatever boom and bust cycles we go through population wise, and in both cases….  I know that I can return at any point and will be welcomed back with open arms.  In truth I think pretty much everyone who has touched either guild feels the same way…  which is why folks are constantly showing up from out of the woodwork and reintegrating back into the core at least for a little while.

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So the problem that exists with nearly every other game…  is I just don’t have anything close to this infrastructure…  nor do I really have the emotional or intellectual strength to try and forge it.  There have been House Stalwart offshoots in damned near every MMO that has existed… or at least as a guild community we have chosen a specific server and faction to all roll on.  However for most… these interludes serve as a vacation from the game they were already playing… and after a break most folks wind up going right back to the familiar.  In a traditional MMO I need to have something that I am building towards, and that object on the horizon is usually doing interesting things with my friends.  So while it is absolutely fun to pop in and play Rift or ArcheAge for a weekend…  I find hard keeping motivated when I know I have no real facilities to do any of the big interesting things… other than pugging.  I am spoiled to be honest, and so many years of not having to PUG has soured my experience as a whole.  Any random person I encounter is somehow tarnished by the memory of all of the good times I have had with my guild throughout the years.  After generations of MMOs… this has lead me to be rather insular in my gaming habits and tending to return to the folks I already know and respect rather than trying to create something new.

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So now days I tend to operate in two modes.  I have the games that I am active in and have deep social connections… and the games that I slink off to when I need to limit my social connectivity and turtle for awhile.  I tend to gobble up whatever new content is available, and then happy drop that game by the wayside as I return to active duty again.  Games like Star Wars the Old Republic, The Secret World and Elder Scrolls Online are great for this role, given that they all have deeply engaging stories that you can find yourself completely lost in…  so much so that you forget that you are essentially alone in a crowd of strangers.  There are a lot of games that I think I would enjoy… if I had a similar stable infrastructure.  However at this point… to be honest… folks are pretty stratified in their gaming habits.  I can no longer really make an impassioned argument as to why they should abandon X game that they know and love for Y game that is new and different.  I know this boom and bust cycle all too well at this point… and while it is a hell of a fun ride, to some extent I am getting that fix elsewhere.  For me personally… the Diablo 3 season mechanism perfectly emulates the feeling of “unwrapping” a brand new MMO and rushing with your friends to level as quickly as you can.  This time however we all know it is perfectly fine to fade away once you have achieved your  goals…  because its a game we will all return to again and again as new seasons happen.  I have been the cause of so much frustration and disappointment in my gaming career…  that I guess in some part I would rather slink off alone… than get folks excited about yet another game that I am sure we will all abandon within three months time.  However that same instinct…  is what keeps any of these games from actually gaining traction.  What I realized this week when reading the post on Imzy is just how desperately I need that social infrastructure for me to be able to enjoy a MMO.

Working Weekend

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Well this morning is not getting off to a glorious start.  File this under the category of more issues with web hosting.  I seem to be unable to upload any new files to any of my blogs.  Some sort of permission issue, and unfortunately not one that I can remedy myself with the level of access that I have.  We had an issue over the weekend where my sites got peppered with a bunch of bad files that were being used to send spam mail.  As a result I think the web host maybe locked things down a little too tight.  I spent the bulk of my Saturday morning going directory by directory and deleting this fishy files that had gotten uploaded through some exploit somewhere along the line.  However in the meantime I can’t upload any new images… which kinda derails the whole process of blogging for me.  Instead of writing a proper post I have spent the last forty five minutes trying to resolve the issue on my own with zero luck.

As far as gaming this weekend I was all over the place.  I played some Rift and made it to level 67 in the Gedlo Badlands, and also partook of the weekend mount sale to pick up a couple of the previously lockbox only mounts including the back warmech thing.  Early in the week I had set my goals on leveling the Deathknight in World of Warcraft to 110.  Then I found out that the frost hidden appearance that drops from this weeks world boss… also requires Artifact Knowledge 4, which was not something I could hope to finish during the timeframe.  That said I still have been having an awful lot of fun on the Deathknight and even casually playing without a serious push… I managed to get him to just shy of 108.  In Destiny I worked on getting all three of my characters through the various weekly quests available from Shiro in the Iron Temple.  I now have all three classes at 385 or above with my Titan being the highest at 387.  Other than that I started Dishonored 2 and am struggling to get into it.  I am not sure what it is about the setting but it is far less interesting to me than Dunwall.  I am not terribly far in so I am going to continue giving it a shot until hopefully it clicks.

Other than all of this… my weekend was perforated by a lot of things happening at work that I ultimately had to log in and deal with.  A prime example is that I had been trying to finish a dungeon needed by my Deathknight when I had to drop the dungeon finder group… and hop on a conference call for an hour to try and sort out what was happening.  The problem with being salary…  and not having an official on-call rotation is that it means you are always on call.  We sorted it out but it was a something looming over my head because you are never quite certain when you are really “out” for the day.  I thought I put things to bed at 11 am… and I kept getting pulled back in until around 7 pm my time.  Something similar happened on Saturday as well, and I had to stop what I was doing and drive back to the house just to get in for thirty minutes to fix something.  As a result it felt like this really strange pseudo working weekend, and with us skipping the recording of AggroChat something felt off the entire time.  It is funny now our rituals ground us… and now badly I needed mine to make the weekend feel normal.  Raiding Karazhan I guess however helped to serve as a great cap to the weekend, seeing as we once again had a pretty smooth clear.

 

Fetching Cats

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I am not entirely certain how well this video is going to come across on the blog, since I am just using the default twitter embed process.  I’ve talked about playing fetch with my youngest cat Kenzie before.  She loves rubber bands, and whenever she wants to play will bring one and drop it beside me.  Traditionally this has meant tossing it around the room and her chasing after it.  However over the weekend my wife went to a craft fair and picked me up a basic rubberband gun.  Now at first the results were mixed, but I quickly realized it was because it moved quicker than she could actually track.  So firing it across the room in the air meant she would just look at me confused a few times and then give up.  However if I fire it across the floor so that it makes impact and slides the rest of the way…  she is able to track that and bolts off after it.  I decided to attempt to record this in the process and overall it turned out pretty well… including the batting of the gun to try and make me fire it.  This was my evening… and when she would get tired she would bring it back… and then lay down on top of it.  Later she would discover it again when she got up and the circus would continue.

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As far as gaming went… it was another mixed bag of an evening.  Firstly early in the evening before my wife got home I spent that time working on my Warlock and namely doing the Shiro and Tyra weekly quest.  The idea being that if I keep doing those every week I am bound to get some interesting stuff from the load of legendary engrams that they ultimately provide.  At this very moment I swap them all to the bank and then hop on my highest light character to open them.  However before long that won’t matter quite so much given that the only sub 385 character I have right now is my Warlock.  Today is the weekly  reset, and from what it sounds like it is a really good week to farm packages.  If nothing else this is going to be the week that I farm up all of the heroic strikes I need for Future War Cult quest.  Small Arms and Solar Burn means you can farm heroics, and Mayhem Clash means you can finish games in 6 mins making it an insane Crucible farm week as well.  Needless to say I am probably going to be playing Destiny tonight.

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In World of Warcraft last night was our traditional Mythical Monday night…  which is just a cute name for “oh shit we never did a mythic this week”.  It seems like Monday is the night that I always end up doing a keystone just in time to get a free item today.  This time around there was a double benefit, in that my friend Mor needed Black Rook Hold for the Karazhan attunement, and he also had a keystone for it.  It is getting to the point where these runs are largely pretty smooth and we managed to complete in with enough time to spare that we got two chests at the end.  Unfortunately I don’t think anyone managed to get any usable gear.  Quite honestly it has been a really long time since I have gotten anything useful out of a Mythic, and largely they are just something I do… because of the fear of missing out on something from the chest.  I enjoy them, and I am always happy to tank them pending I can dedicate 30 minutes of my time in one sitting.  However I am not necessarily running them because I need them.

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Lastly I finished the evening in Rift and managed to finish up Scatherran Forest.  I got so into the game that I completely did not watch the time… and wound up finally heading to bed when my wife started to wake up from the sofa at 12:30.  From there I had a pretty fitful night sleep wise, so it is definitely going to be an interesting day.  That aside…  Scatherran Forest was a great experience and the wrap up event was full of epic moments.  At the end of the zone you wind up going into a mini solo dungeon of sorts, with I believe four boss encounters that you take on with two companions.  As far as the story line and ramifications… they also felt pretty awesome.  There were some definite feels caused by the ending… that were not entirely attributable to the late hour.  I’ve now moved on to the Gedlo Badlands, with my general idea being to ping pong back and forth between the two as I work my way through the comet towards the Tower of Ahnket.  I had my first real run in with Ahnket and it was interesting…  definitely get a malevolent evil vibe…  but also that of a cat playing with a toy which makes it all the more fitting to talk about this morning.  I  talked a bit during the day about Time to Kill issues… and apparently a good chunk of that was my own damned fault in that I forgot to slot any planar fragments.  Once I did that… I noticed a significant boost in damage output, so if you are similarly struggling try that.  So far my favorite thing about this expansion is largely just a side effect.  I love that I am gaining planar levels insanely fast anytime I do pretty much anything… which is helping me flesh out those neglected trees.

A Good Weekend

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This past week was the week of seemlingly smooth and fast clears.  Wednesday night we worked on progression content, which mean’t that we spent the majority of the evening wiping to new and exciting things.  However the end result of that evening was that we downed Odyn and made a decent amount of progress on Guarm.  The only negative aspect of that is that it also means that none of us actually saw progress on the quest chain that haunts us.  We kicked around the notion of having an Emerald Nightmare clear night, that I ultimately decided would be Friday.  I set up a calendar invite and hoped, and then was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks that signed up.  In fact we technically had more than our normal raid nights, and other than some starts and stops while waiting on folks or dealing with disconnections…  it was a very smooth evening.  So smooth in fact that I seriously wonder if we could have cleared the entire place in an hour.  I mean because of the various time spent waiting… that was not a thing that happened however it seemed like we might have been on pace for it.  That general smoothness continued on last night with Karazhan, but so did the whole waiting business.  Thalen got sidelined with family stuff, and we had the option of either filling his slot or waiting.  It turned out we ended up getting started roughly an hour and a half late, but once again things went amazingly smoothly.  So much so that I think next week we are going to make a proper attempt at a Nightbane run.  We would have one shot every boss… were it not for the fact that we tried some madness for an achievement on Medivh.

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Another big part of my weekend was roaming around and exploring the Comet of Ahnket in the Rift Starfall Prophecy expansion.  At this point I am sitting around 66 1/3 and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the Scatherran Forest zone.  Firstly I have to say this expansion is charming as hell so far, namely because of the two companions that follow you around at times… but also because it is a great example of environmental storytelling.  Every area is packed full of little things to be scene and experienced much in the same way the zones are built in Guild Wars 2.  Lots of things are happening in the background and all it takes is you sitting still long enough to experience them.  The best of these vignettes has to be the hedgehogs who are stuck in a ball rolling…  until one of them realizes that they can just let go of their feet to stop.  Similarly there is this adorable sequence where you are playing hide and seek with baby unicorns, and you have to go out and find them so that you can lead them back home.  The only negative so far is that I feel woefully undergeared for some of the content, and there is a bit of an uneven difficulty level happening.  There was an area full of spiders… and they seemed literally twice as tough as any of the other equivalent level 66 mobs.  I could take down entire packs of humanoids… but a single spider was a race to see if I could finish them off before they finished me off.  Getting a second spider meant absolute certain death.  All in all though I am really liking the expansion and it feels much more like Storm Legion did as far as content goes.

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Finally I spent a good deal of time playing Destiny this weekend and was able to push my Titan to the 385 barrier.  This is the point where you stop getting upgrades from legendary engrams, and are stuck relying on faction rewards that stop at 390… and exotic engrams that will take you all the way to 400.  This means I am hoping tomorrow starts a small arms week for the heroic strike list because I absolutely need to spend some time farming.  In theory I believe the Archon’s Forge will go up to 400 when it comes to end of event rewards, but not anything coming from an engram.  I spent some time working on my Hunter and Warlock and getting both of them through the Rise of Iron story so I can have three sets of world bounties to work on each week.  I realize they just reward engrams at this point… but if nothing else it can be infusion fodder to help work up additional weapons and armor.  I need to find the free time to try and sign up for one of the machine raids so I can see the content and get some more tasty gear.  However 385 is a completely respectable place to be, and in theory during the next iron banner I should be able to make a decent dent into pushing that number up into the 390s.  It was a great weekend and especially considering we have a short week ahead of me.

Weasel Town

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Last night I was having one of those nights where I needed to just blend into the background, and largely avoid human contact.  That said I needed to schedule an invite for a potential Emerald Nightmare raid tonight, and finish up my Emissary quests that I had hanging out there.  However before long I had done just that and was off to Rift to explore some more of the Starfall Prophecy expansion.  This is the point where I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I never got the opportunity to play through the Comet of Ahnket 10 player raid instance, and learn more about the story of what is going on here.  From what I have been able to glean, Ahnket is this sentient creation engine of sorts that seems hellbent on destroying Telara.  I am sure at this point Captain Cursor is cringing like mad and will pop in and correct me, but like I said having not played that raid I only have impressions to go on.  This expansion we take the fight to the comet, which has grown into a landmass.  It seems like every time Ahnket crashes through a plane on the way to Telara it picks up a chunk of that world and carries it with it.  At this point the comet has traveled through the planes of Fire and Nature and as a result we have two new zones themed after each, and a fifth zone that seems to be a place where everything clashes in conflict.  We as ascended are sent here to try and stop Ahnket once and for all and help the friendly folk who have gotten uprooted as a result of the comet passing near their homes.  All of this is irrelevant however because all I really want to do is hang out with this lovely bunch of weasels.

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The other thing that has changed is this time around we have companions that tend to roam around with us as we complete the quest content pretty regularly.  Firstly there is Shyla Starhearth that you might recognize as being the formerly half naked lady hanging out in the throne room of Sanctum for the Guardians in the room.  This time around she managed to find some proper armor and is apparently now a super tanky badass.  Next up we have Tasuil the Dragon, that we last saw in the Dendrome… and has shrunk down a bit to make adventuring with a little easier.  At some point in the quest line you find someone who can Corgify him at which point he is both hilarious and adorable.  Then during my current sequence of quests I also have Windflower the babby Unicorn hanging out with me.  So I am hanging with a Corgi, a Unicorn, and a heavily armored elf lady…  who could ask for more?  It seems like with the impending doom the Guardians and  the Defiant have set aside their grudges because in the new hub town you can also find Asha Catari leading the offensive, which makes my little Defiant heart crackle to life.  I apologize for the image quality in the above two shots, but at some point during the evening I transitioned from my desktop upstairs to hanging out on the sofa with my laptop…  that cannot run the game in nearly the same graphical fidelity.

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In truth I feel like I have not experienced enough of the new content to give it a proper review at this time.  Overall I like it considerably more than I liked Nightmare Tides, but I think that is because this content brings back familiar landscapes.  Goboro Reef was just a completely foreign and alien looking zone, with its angry technicolor vibrancy.  These zones are similar to what I have been seeing in the game since launch, just subtle variations on the planar themes.  Of not I have only actually ventured very far into Scatherran Forest, as you are presented with two possible choices at first… and I could have similarly gone down the Gedlo Badlands path if I wanted to see a lot of fire themed landscapes.  Even then I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of the zones, and in the few hours I played I pushed about halfway through my first level.  The leveling is slow, but it feels not quite as slow as it did during Nightmare Tides which is definitely a good thing.  As far as crafting and such…  I have only barely scratched the surface because I am competing with everyone out there for ore pops.  If anything that would be my one complaint so far that the spawn rates maybe need to adjust up a bit to deal with the influx of players.  Completing any of the “kill x” style quests seem to require either a lot of luck or patience.  The best part so far however has been the music, which is more technological in nature… and it comes with an amazing remixed version of the main Rift theme.  If you have been a long time fan of the franchise, I feel like this expansion is already well worth checking out.  That said expect it to still feel more like Storm Legion or Nightmare Tides than the original content.

Seasonal Bits

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Tonight begins the next season for Diablo 3, and I have to admit much like season 7 this one completely snuck up on me.  Were it not for my friend Grace the beginning of the season would have passed me by completely.  For the last several of these we have done a Friday night vigil as we attempt to grind our way up to 70 on a brand new set of seasonal characters.  Once again I think I am going to go with a Demon Hunter, largely because they seemed super easy to push through the seasonal process and at least get high enough to collect the cosmetic goodies.  I am just not super into Diablo 3 right now, the evidence being that it just got removed from my side bar.  The challenge is that I can only have so many games that I actively care about at one time.  Right now I am spending the bulk of my time playing World of Warcraft, and attempting to steal as much time as humanly possible to feed my love of Destiny.  From there I am also juggling in some time for Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV…  while at the same time trying to keep a foot in Rift for when the expansion lands there.  This scattered approach at gaming has a lot to be desired at times, because it ends up leaving me feeling like no one game is getting the attention it deserves.  Diablo 3 fell off the radar once I managed to get last seasons cosmetic items, and I had not even realized the season had closed until Grace talked about merging in her seasonal inventory.  This in itself is one hell of a chore, but I find myself getting significantly more mercenary about this process as the seasons go along.  Pretty much any legendary that is not ancient quality or part of the actively equipped set of gear… gets sharded.

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The above screenshot is just because I wound up setting up a new outfit in Rift, and thought it was cool.  I’ve loved the whole shade touched effect since the very first world event, and this time around for their “fall” event they are offering a shade touched skull that I could add to my wardrobe collection.  I also picked up the scythe made of bone… because I kinda have a thing for scythes.  The other interesting thing that I learned this morning is that apparently FRAPs does not handle DSR well.  Dynamic Super Resolution is a thing that Nvidia cards can do, where they essentially run the game in 4k on a 1080p resolution.  That is an oversimplification of what it ACTUALLY does but we are just going to go for that simplistic definition for the time being.  I am going to need to go out hunting and see if I can find another all purpose screenshot program, because fraps apparently only takes a single 1080p panel of the larger image.  This wound up with some rather comedic screenshots while trying to capture something for this mornings post.  I finally wound up doing Alt+PrintScreen and pasting it into photoshop to get the results this morning…  which also caused the FRAPs framerate counter to come along with it.  DSR works great for a game like League of Legends or Diablo 3, but it does some weird stuff as a result.  I guess I need to do some experimenting with the nvidia screenshot tool that comes with the new version of “Experience” and see if it works well enough to kick fraps to the curb.  Thing is that is really all I use it for… dumping screenshots from every game into a single “gameshots” directory for me to sort through for the purpose of this here blog.  In any case… the plan is to hang out in Diablo 3 tonight and do another grind ritual with the start of this brand new season.  I always have a blast doing it, even when I am not exactly prepared for it.

Regularly Playing: July/August Edition

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I just realized the other day that it had been a long while since I had done one of my regularly playing posts.  The general idea is to true up my sidebar list of games and bring it into alignment with the games that I am actually playing on a fairly regular basis.  Some of these might not be every day occurrences but they represent the regular rotation of games you are likely to see me talking about.  At some point however I fell off the wagon and went the entire month of July without any form of an update.  As a result I am doing this to cover both July and August and get me up to date.

To Those Remaining

World of Warcraft

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I am legitimately playing World of Warcraft more actively than I have in years.  More than likely this is the most seriously I have played since before the launch of Cataclysm.  I am really enjoying the game, and the changes to the various specs… and even enjoying the Legion launch event more.  Over the last few days I have been using this event as a bit of a springboard to help level up some of my sub 100 characters because every two events you participate in seems to be roughly a levels worth of experience, even in the 90s.  So I took my Shadowpriest last night for example from 92 to 94 in two full rounds of the event.  As far as the rest of the game there is still a ton of stuff I want to do, that mostly centers around running older content and collecting appearances.  To say I am looking forward to the Legion Launch is a bit of an understatement.

Final Fantasy XIV

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Final Fantasy XIV on the other hand has fallen a little bit by the wayside.  It is that game that I am logging into only to raid… which ironically is traditionally my stance with World of Warcraft.  I am loving the Monday night raid team, and we are now starting to do more serious content.  I still have little to no drive however to level or gear, at least until the content we are doing requires it.  That might be a thing that happens soon because we have pretty much defeated all of the “easy” end game content and are now starting down the path of the more difficult stuff.  However it feels amazing to have “the band back together” and doing raids together  as a team.

Rift

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At the very least right now I am logging in every day to participate in the Starfall Prophecy launch event, which is namely collecting prophecies that I can then later turn in for rewards.  The pre-order bonus means that we will get access to some awesome stuff like the artifact finding mount, and I want to make sure I don’t miss out on any of that.  Otherwise I need to really hunt for a group of players that are more active.  I don’t want to disband the House Stalwart guild or anything, but I might consider moving Belghast off to another guild, because I would like to see Comet of Ahnket before the expansion lands since the lore seems like it will give me a headstart into understanding what is going on.  Additionally I want to spend a sleepy afternoon at some point doing more Intrepid Adventures.  Those things are just absolutely fun as hell and it is a style of “LFR” that I wish more games would look into implementing.

To The Returning and New

Diablo 3

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As stated when I originally removed it from the list, I knew that it would be a limited time thing.  With the beginning of this month came the launch of Season 7 of Diablo 3, and a return of several of us to actively playing again.  This time around we do not have nearly the throng of players that we did with season six, but myself, Grace and Thalen are all fairly active.  This time feels a little cheap though because we all seemed to opted for the fastest possible clearing class…  or at least our view on that.  The Demon Hunter is a powerhouse and one that you can get up and running insanely quickly.  By the time we dinged 70 we were already pushing content hard and fast, and after roughly a weeks time I am now clearing greater rifts in the 50s like they are a cakewalk.  The only question now is just how serious I am going to be on trying to get that extra stash slot.  Right now there is so much going on, that I am afraid Diablo 3 is going to fall by the wayside.

Pokemon Go

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Pokemon Go is something that did not even exist on my radar when I did the last “Recently Playing” and has been something that has dominated my life since.  I have gone through the stages of grief with this game, and have reached a point where I continue to play it without really understanding why.  I wrote the other day about some of my frustrations, and they are very real.  However still… anytime I leave the house I check for nearby Pokemon each time I stop and get out of the car.  As the heat starts to chill the hell out… and we no longer have 100 degree days I will probably start resuming my evening pokestrolls.  However when it is 100 degrees at 9pm at night… it is just too damned hot to go out roaming too far.  I hope this game gets some much needed changes, because the ones thusfar feel like they are taking it in the wrong direction.  Niantic Labs still does not seem to understand that they made a MMO.

No Man’s Sky

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This one is seriously brand new… but I have a feeling that over the coming weeks it is going to be a new obsession for me.  I called it Interstellar Skyrim, and it invokes the same sort of feelings in me.  The problem being… all of this is pending you can actually get it running on your machine.  There are lots of problems ahead of this title before it reaches serious mass adoption, and I hope that in the coming weeks they can push through them.  To say it has performance issues is the understatement of the century right now, and I am questioning my original plan to get this on the PC.  That said I am committed at this point and still very much enjoying the experience.

To Those Parting

Destiny

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I have so much love for Destiny, but for whatever reason I have drifted away from it in the last few weeks.  In both the month of July and August I have not really played much, so I am temporarily removing it from the list.  I know without a doubt in Mid-September when Rise of Iron hits, that I will be back and actively playing it again.  In the meantime however I feel like I have gotten it out of my system for the moment.  However if my friend Grace suddenly decides to start playing again, I will likely be right back there with guns a blazing.  I think a huge part of it is that I really have not been spending all that much time up in my office where my Playstation 4 is, and instead hanging out on the sofa playing on my laptop.  Much like when I remove Diablo 3 from the list… this is absolutely going to change in the coming months and I am sure I will have yet another resurgence.

ArcheAge

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I feel like ArcheAge is a casualty of simply too much other stuff going on right now.  At the beginning of July I had a bit of a renaissance with this game and managed to push through to fourty six… and then the content seemed to dry up a bit.  The quests are still there, but they seem to be generally less plentiful, and the progress I was making felt a bit bogged down.  As a result this sort of just fell by the wayside, and I am sure at some point I will reignite my fires for this game because at the end of the day I still very much like it.  The biggest thing that came from this last journey is that I realized that PVP isn’t as big of a hurdle as I was expecting.  I have technically spent the last dozen or so levels in pvp enabled areas… and really did not run into a single issue.  Flagged players avoided me, and I avoided them and we continued questing along happily.  At some point I am sure I will return, but for the time being I am removing it from my list of “active” games.