Happy Strain Day

I’m a Dargon!

home-headerLast night I had every intent of playing World of Warcraft, but that didn’t actually happen.  One of my good friends decided to re-up WoW for a bit, and since we had not played in ages we made tentative plans to hang out on horde lowbies over on Scryers.  July 3rd The Scryers is merging with Argent Dawn the server that I have 11 Alliance characters on, and this will give me 11 Horde characters as well.  I’ve always had friends on both side of the fence, but had trouble choosing to roll a character over there and give up a potential character on the alliance side.  The merger of the two servers solves all of this.  However last night didn’t actually happen and while I logged in a few alts and loaded them up with the few heirlooms I had laying around, I didn’t actually play them much.

Instead I fired up Divinity II again and continued questing my way through their extremely interesting world.  Apparently none of the screenshots that I took actually recorded, which is a problem I am noticing more and more with Dxtory.  If it has been open for any period of time, it seems to forget how to work.  So as a result I am pretty much going to have to start shutting it down and reopening it every night before I sit down to play.  I thought I had recorded quite a few nifty things, but in reality it is probably best that they didn’t record given that they probably were spoilerific.  A lot of interesting stuff happened last night and I am not entirely certain how I feel about some of the choices the game made me choose.  When a game makes me feel like that, it is probably doing a good job.

Happy Strain Day

home-header This morning the first “Ultra Drop” as they call it is now available for Wildstar.  This big patch weighs in at well over 3 gig and includes two new max level zones, a slew of new housing options and various cosmetic customization.  While I am nowhere near high enough level to appreciate any of this I am amped to see it happening.  Basically I am always happy when a game releases content for free to its players that expands the footprint of the game.  So many companies have promised a progressive patching schedule but to date very few of them have actually manages to keep up the promised pace.  The holy grail seems to be a patch a month, but the problem is that real life gets in the way, and things often don’t work out quite like they intended.  So far the only company that has come close to this sort of schedule is Guild Wars 2, with its bi-monthly story updates.  The problem there is that it didn’t actually expand the game, and was just a sequence of self expiring quest content.

The funny thing is that apparently some of the player base considers this too soon.  I was floored to read on twitter when a friend of mine lamented that she was not even close to finished with the current content, and was frustrated that she already felt “behind”.  Me personally I want to be flooded with content, so I can pick and choose what I want to complete without feeling the need to actually play every little morsel that comes out.  Now my tune will change completely if I find out that this is some sort of limited time or expiring content.  For the longest time Rift had done an amazing job of pushing out little content patches, but over the last year they have put in a number of limited time events that have caused me to really want to stop playing entirely.  We talked about this a few weeks back on Aggrochat, but when a company tries to force me to log in every day for a period of time…  I ultimately get frustrated and just stop playing entirely.

Day One DLC

WildStar64 2014-06-25 21-18-34-634 The early patch like this is really designed to give the player base confidence at the end of the 30 day trial period.  It essentially is a way of stringing the player on and making them want to renew their subscription that should be expiring around the time the patch lands.  The thing is… this is so commonplace now that it is literally meaningless.  The patch landing at almost exactly the one month mark, is really the equivalent to a brand new game shipping with day one DLC on the CD.  This is content that was in the works and ready to go at the time of launch, that was essentially held in reserve to land right at the one month mark and reinforce player loyalty.  That is not to say that it is actually content that COULD have shipped in the game, generally speaking it is done but not stable or untested, and requires a month or so to incubate and get ready for prime time.

Even games as notoriously slow at patching as Star Wars the Old Republic, had their one month in patch that introduced a brand new dungeon “Kaon Under Siege”.  The real test is going to be if we see a similar “Ultra Drop” timed for August 1st and September 1st as well.  No company has really proven that they can continue to expand their game content on a month by month basis, thereby justifying the expense of a subscription fee.  I would love to think that Wildstar is going to be the exception here, but when no one has actually managed to accomplish it once the subscriptions start slipping…  I just don’t have much confidence.  That is the unfortunate reality is that a number of players are already “done” with this game, as evidenced by a string of tweets saying as such.  Will be interesting to see how the numbers shake out once all of these people flake off.

I’m Around Awhile

I personally am subbed for at least another six months, but I am hoping that this will be my new MMO for a long while.  There are a number of players that are showing extreme commitment and subbing for an entire year at a time.  Right now I want to be playing, I just can’t handle the large scale social interaction at the moment.  Coming home and crawling into my own private single player world is just too comfortable at the moment.  However within a few weeks I will get tired of being alone and will happily return to Wildstar.  Here is hoping that there are still a large number of people playing it then.  If not I might end up switching factions to Exile.  I feel as though we probably picked the wrong side to play on Evindra since every person on my twitter feed seems to be playing Exile there, and since they are locked to only 6 character slots are not wanting to play Dominion as well.

I don’t feel like Wildstar is going to be a game that I stop playing just because my current circle of friends stops playing it.  I played Rift for most of a year successfully by relying on the good graces of other circles of friends with their established guilds, and I figure I can do the same with Wildstar if it comes down to it.  The sad truth is that unless the game is World of Warcraft, House Stalwart and the Alliance of Awesome so far don’t have the best track record of actually staying in any game for any period of time.  I think this is mostly a multi-gaming thing, and I am just as guilty of it as anyone.  Right now I want to play Elder Scrolls Online as well… but I just don’t end up logging in and doing it on a regular basis.  So I feel bad for the folks that are over there and playing in relative silence.  Once my current crush on Divinity 2 wears off a bit, I will likely return to ESO and try playing that since it is a much less frenetic game.

#Wildstar #DivinityII #Evindra #ElderScrollsOnline

Finding a Franchise

Dolly the Donkey

dollythedonkey Since I didn’t really have a place anywhere else this weekend to post this, I figure I will lead off this mornings post with it.  Meet Dolly the Donkey, she and the other donkey Carl are freaking adorable.  I’ve never been a huge fan of horses, but there is just something cute about Donkeys.  They are kind of like the corgi of horses, and these two are super good natured.  While they were obsessed with their food Saturday when we were visiting a friends ranch, on previous times they have been all too happy to come up to the fence and have their heads scratched.  Nothing miraculous or spectacular to see here, I just wanted to post a picture of this awesome animal.

The last time we were out there was for a end of school cookout, and at that time they had these adorable kittens.  You could pick one up and it would just collapse into a fit of purring in your arms.  We already have three cats, but there have been multiple times in the past we have had four.  The neighbor down the street has this adorable kitten, and off and on throughout the summer I have had to go down and feed their animals for various reasons.  So in the following weeks I had almost talked myself into getting a kitten.  However Saturday when we actually went to visit again, they were all sweet and adorable… but I just wasn’t feeling it.  All I could think about was the glorious mess that having a new kitten is, and the fact that I would be woken up at all hours of the night as it was off exploring.  I passed for now, but it may or may not be my final answer.

Finding a Franchise

Divinity2 2014-06-29 20-48-23-455 So all of this time while playing the game, I kept thinking in the back of my head…  why had I not played this game before now.  I originally thought it was a pretty good product offering considering it was released in 2012, but apparently I was looking at the wrong date.  2012 is when the last version of the game was released that rolled in both Divinity 2: Ego Draconis and the Flames of Vengeance expansion.  This game was actually released back in 2009, which makes it all the more impressive.  The problem is that it launched in a really tightly packed crowd of new releases.  Apparently this released opposite both Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock 2, which probably accounts for why exactly I had not played it before.  I was simply too busy with those two games to give much of a damn about anything else.  The thing is…  that is kinda sad considering just how good of a game it is.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 19-51-22-875 What is awesome about this experience is that it feels like I am discovering Fallout of Elder Scrolls for the first time.  Divinity is apparently this extremely storied franchise that I have not played at all.  At this point I have played Divinity Ego Draconis for over eight hours according to steam, and I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface.  I have only just now left the very first area of the game.  I would imagine that Divinity 2 is at the very least going to be a 100+ hour game for me, in the amount of detail it already has and how much I am finding myself backtracking to unlock past content.  The whole game reminds me so much of if the original Fable and Guild Wars 1 had a love child, because it seems to embrace the best qualities of both of these titles.  The further I get into the game, the more enjoyable the content and the various puzzles are.  This game is currently the king of jumping puzzles for me… in that they are challenging but not so frustrating that you want to throw the controller across the room.

Disappointing Skills

Divinity2 2014-06-29 17-53-29-549 The only real complaint that I have so far is that the skills that you unlock with your talent points, feel like they are not that exciting or powerful.  As a result you can see in most of the screenshots I only actually have 2 to 3 attacks unlocked.  I’ve found it far more beneficial to dump my mounts is sword and shield proficiency and lockpicking.  Both of which I have managed to max out currently, and both of which make the game so much more enjoyable.  Essentially the magical attacks for the warrior archetype are just “ho hum”.  Right now I have a whirlwind attack that knocks the enemies back sometimes, and a charge attack that I can use as a gap closer.  Neither one hits nearly as hard as a standard basic swing attack.  So I guess my problem is that it feels like I am wasting points if I continue to dump more into either of them.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 19-01-07-121 The only one I find myself really using much is the gap closer, because all of the ranged type enemies absolutely love running away and attacking from a distance.  Overall however the combat has been really fun, and there are several special abilities that you can perform based on a combination of movement and jumps along with your swings.  Nothing extremely powerful, but it can make a huge difference when fighting extremely tough encounters like the couple of Trolls that I managed to take down so far.  The game can be brutal, and this is definitely one of those games where you want to save often as there have been more than a few occasions where I screwed something up permanently… and had to reload from a previous stage.  One of the more interesting things about the game is that you can mindread NPCs when you talk to them…  you should do this every time because in some cases you will not get a second chance.

Gorgeous World

Divinity2 2014-06-29 17-49-07-764 This game is very obviously no Skyrim…. but it also predates that game by a years time.  For what it is, the game is extremely pretty and runs stable for me with absolutely everything cranked up.  In 2009 I am sure this game was a sight to behold, and was probably among the prettiest titles on the PC.  I still have no clue at all why this was not bigger news here, and why it managed to skirt under my radar.  I mean I knew the series existed, but quite honestly I never picked the previous games up on steam because they confused the shit out of me.  The first game is called Divine Divinity and the second game Beyond Divinity…  I kept looking for a game just called “Divinity” because I hate starting in the middle of a series.  I am not exactly sure when I purchased Divinity II but I am guessing it was a flash sale and extremely cheap for me to try and start in the middle of a series.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 18-25-46-594 Now however I have both Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity waiting to be played once I have reached a point where I feel like I am done with this game.  Additionally I went ahead and picked up Divinity: Original Sin the new game for when I finish with those.  I have a feeling that this franchise is going to become a favorite for me.  Honestly I think one of the things that kept me from picking up the game in the past is the Gothic series.  That game series looked so amazing and was apparently extremely popular in Europe, but each time I have tried to sit down and actually play it… the games have felt like complete crap.  So since this is also a European title, no matter how cool it looked… I kept remembering my continued disappointment with Gothic.  I guess there are probably a few other games out there that I should give a second chance, because there are likely more diamonds in the rough that simply did not get the press needed to make them a great success.

#Divinity #DivinityII

Divinity II: Directors Cut

Old Time Rock and Roll

Something interesting happened this weekend, I was hit with a critical case of nostalgia.  This all started while playing Wasteland 2 the other night, and seems to be continuing on today as I search for more games to give me that classic PC role-playing game experience.  I said yesterday that I was in a bit of an existential funk, and that seems to continue.  While I like the concept of playing Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online… for whatever reason right now they are just too fast paced for my current mood.  Essentially I am needing games that are a bit more prodding and deliberate, and preferably without other players bothering me.  I am going through one of my retreating phases, and I right now I just want to be lost in my own little world.

Divinity II: Directors Cut

Divinity2 2014-06-29 08-29-05-500 I’ve had this game in my steam inventory for quite some time, but for one reason or another I never actually fired it up.  I had heard really good things about the Divinity series and the other night my friends Tam and Ashgar were off playing the brand new Divinity: Original Sin.  So when I cranked this game up I was expecting a Baldur’s Gate esc game along the lines of the original Divinity and Original Sin.  What it is instead however is something more akin to Knights of the Old Republic.  The control scheme is a behind the back pseudo action combat setup that still somehow manages to feel old school at the same time.   The controls are a bit prodding at times, but this is not exactly a high action game that allows you to dodge out of combat here and there to avoid enemies.  Instead there are minor flourishes that you can do here and there to improve your success, but for the most part it is stand up fighting.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 08-01-20-776 The character creator is adequate, as I was able to create something that I liked, however there really are not a lot of options.  Essentially you can be blonde or brown haired, and with a few different facial and hair choices for each color.  This allowed me to create something I liked enough to make me happy, but there really is not a lot of configuration available.  Thankfully in Divinity: Original Sin the newest game they seem to have fixed all of this and given players a bajillion different options.  I would say the customization is “passible” if only because it allows me to give my character long hair and a beard, which is “close enough” to the Belghast appearance.  The limited appearances makes me really glad the game is not Asian inspired, because I am pretty sure I would not have been able to create any character that I could stand.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 08-02-00-559 The game utilizes a silent protagonist with text dialog options for most of the interactions, and quite honestly I am happy with this.  I always find it jarring when my character has a voice that is not my own.  So if I am given the option of a well voiced character, or a silent one… I will almost always choose the silent one.  These games are about me inhabiting the space of the character, and not about watching the lives of someone else.  So in a game like Uncharted… I am watching a movie unfold in front of me that I am not a part of, this type of game however… it is all about the character being an extension of me.  The dialog is charming at times, but nothing I would call spectacular.  But then again I am not really playing this sort of thing for the dialog, I am playing it for the overall adventure.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 08-52-12-425 The game is several years old at this point, but it still looks extremely good.  This is no Skyrim mind you, but the world definitely looks believable and something I don’t mind spending a significant amount of time in.  Occasionally there are some really nice vistas and lighting effects like this one that I find really nice looking.  During some of my screenshots I was running on the default settings, but once I cranked everything up to max the game started to look extremely beautiful.  The visualization options like the mini-map and where we are supposed to go for various quests is pretty much non-existent.  The end result means you need to pay attention to the dialog and spend a good deal of time wandering around in order to figure out how exactly to complete each of  the quests you are given by townsfolk.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 09-00-14-372 I’ve not really played enough to get a good handle on how exactly character progression will work.  However when you first start the game you are set up as a Dragon Slayer, and as part of the ritual that gives you the powers of a dragon… it also wipes your memories, giving you a clean construct for picking a brand new path for your character.  You essentially have the choice of following the path of the melee warrior, the ranger or the mage.  In the first town you can freely switch between them, but once you leave the village your choice is locked.  There is thankfully a little testing ground that allows you to try each of the combat styles and see what fits you the best.  I of course went with the melee warrior, but I feel like the ranger would probably be extremely fun as well.  Mage on the other hand…  felt odd because there was a significant cast timer on each of the attacks.

Divinity2 2014-06-29 08-28-54-664 Admittedly so many times with these Steampowered Sunday games, I play it for a little bit but then never return to it.  I don’t think that is going to be the case with Divinity II.  This honestly seems like about the perfect game for my current mental state.  It feels the right speed, and I can cocoon myself in this fantasy world and explore it without the need to feel like I am letting anyone down in the process.  So while I have taken a break to knock out my morning blog post, as soon as I finish writing I am going to return to clearing the goblin camp I was working on when I paused the gameplay.  Right now on the summer sale this game is only $8 for the directors cut, and so far I am loving it.  If you are looking for an old school Knights of the Old Republic style adventure, then it might also be the game for you.

Enter the Waffles

Last night we had an odd recording of AggroChat as has happened before in the past, we had two of the original cast otherwise busy this week.  I butchered the hell out of the explaination, but thankfully I was corrected.  Essentially this week Tam and Ashgar are off to visit Kodra and to somehow have an intervention to replace his current machine, that we have not so lovingly referred to as a toaster.  That said I feel like maybe that is a disservice to toasters everywhere, as they seem to be far more functional.  As you’ve listened to our podcast in the past, when Kodra goes robot on us, it has nothing to do with his internet connection but is instead his machine freaking out.  Here is hoping operation replace Kodras machine has been a success.  In the meantime that left us down two people for the podcast and thankfully we had replacements all too happy to step in.

This is the first show to include Warenwolf, another one of our multi-year old chat group, also lovingly referred to as Waffles thanks to Mumble pronouncing his name oddly a few times.  In addition to Waffles we are joined by Dallian once again who is the best fill-in guest ever, and pretty much is just now our regular “5th man”.  We talk about the Steam Sale, Wasteland 2, Saints Row IV, Lego Minifigures Online, Wildstar, and Warlords of Draenor alpha among other things.  We ran a bit short this week due to some technical difficulties causing chunks of the show to get edited out, but I hope you will all still enjoy the results.  I believe next week we should be returning to our regular format.

#AggroChat #SteampoweredSunday #DivinityII

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.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

Steampowered Sunday #12

This weeks episode of Steampowered Sunday is chock full of self indulgent cheatery.  Firstly we have plans on going out and about Sunday morning, so I am technically playing the game and doing this review Saturday night shortly before recording AggroChat.  The second bit of cheatery is that normally I play through a game in my steam back catalog.  That however is not the case this week as currently steam is having a sale on all Activision titles.  Among the list was one that caught my eye.  I had noticed it a few times in the past but was never at a price point I was wiling to snap it up for.  However yesterday for $5 I figured it was well worth that just for a trip down memory lane.

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-32-02-65Something you need to know about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise is that I played the hell out of it.  I was one of those little skater kids, and I even went so far as to have the “Tony Hawk” style “hangover” haircut.  As a result when this came out for the original Playstation I latched onto it with both hands.  One of the things I always wanted was a really good skating game, however we were stuck with either Skate or Die that at least had a free style ramp mode, or 720* which lacked any kind of free skate option… and if you took too long you were chased by an angry swarm of bees.  No game gave me what I wanted, which was the ability to faff about without a timer ticking and do all sorts of nifty tricks.  This game franchise had exactly that, and I spent countless hours playing and it and it’s higher resolution cousins on the Dreamcast.

Memory Lane

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-34-59-10 When the I got my Playstation 2 one of the first titles I picked up was Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3.  So I knew one of two things was going to happen.  Either I would have a wonderful romp down memory lane, or I would be severely disappointed by the crappy remake.  Thankfully the game is pretty much a 1080p remake of the original playstation title, and this is a good thing.  Playing the game with a XBOX 360 controller on my PC feels almost exactly like I remember playing it on the PSX.  All the tricks worked essentially the same, and I struggled with the same problems I ever did.  The game works the same way, each map has a ton of objectives and as you move your way around the area you get bonus scores for collecting them.  As always the first objective I generally go for is for grabbing the letters S K A T E scattered around the room.

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-35-37-03 Additionally all of the old secrets are exactly where I remember them, and accessed through the same kind of tricks.  I really was not expecting anything more than a graphical update, so I was not terribly disappointed to find that literally nothing had changed.  I got the same enjoyment crashing through the room on top of the ramp as I ever did.  One of my favorite things about the series was trying to find all the named “gaps” and a lot of these work the same as they always did.  The only thing that is confusing really is that the game is like a remix of all of the Tony Hawk titles.  There are maps from the early THPS games as well as the later Underground games.  Overall this gives you a good mix of things to go and explore, and Free Skate mode is just as much of a guilty pleasure as it ever was.

Stripped Down Game

THHDGame 2014-05-03 19-34-43-14 My biggest complaint about the game is that it is greatly stripped down.  Gone is the ability to create custom skaters, and also gone are the weird unlockable characters like the Neversoft eyeball guy, and Spiderman.  The lack of ability to create your own skater really hurts my overall enjoyment of the title.  I liked creating a skater that was a reasonable facsimile of myself and customizing his stat package to be only the things I cared about… namely street skating.  I found that overall Eric Koston has the closest stat package to what I would want, so I have been using him.  The game has been out for two years, so I doubt that we will be seeing any kind of DLC that adds in the missing functionality.  My only hope is that maybe just maybe someone cares enough to create a mod that lets you do the same thing.

The other missing feature is the skate park creator.  I spent hours building interesting skate parks to go explore, and I remember THPS 2 for the Dreamcast had a wide variety of items you could choose from.  I realize this title was released not only on the PC but also tablets and phones… so there is a limited amount of stuff they could realistically squeeze into the game given those constraints.  Even with these missing features, I have definitely gotten my $5 worth of fun.  Sure I still have my playstation, playstation 2 and dreamcast…  but I am not going to go dig them out of the closet and hook them up just to play Tony Hawk.  This little download has allowed me to relive some of those memories without having to do that.

Watch Me Suck at THPS!

As has been the trend lately, I recorded the entire play though of THPS, or at least a good chunk of it.  You can see just how bad I suck at the game these days, and how many jumps and tricks I miss.  I had a blast doing it, and I need to figure out a better option for a push to talk key while playing a game that requires a controller.  As a result there are huge blocks of time where I say nothing.  But it is fun nonetheless.  If you had good memories of the game like I did, you might check out the sale while it is still going on.  Well worth the few bucks, and the game performs extremely well.  I didn’t notice anything glitchy about it, so it seems like a pretty solid experience.

Episode 4:  Mentors for Everyone

Last night we recorded Episode 4 of the AggroChat podcast, and once again we had our regular cast in place.  Kodra was back from his business trip, and Rae was no longer trying to join the circus.  I tried a little experiment last night, that I probably won’t repeat again.  I had been concerned that I had been overly directing the flow of conversation, so I tried to take a step back and let the rest of the hosts introduce topics.  The end result lead me to do way more editing and massaging on this episode than normal as I deleted a ton of awkward pauses.  The end result is still fairly interesting.  We ended up talking about the current state of Elder Scrolls Online with its launch and remaining bugs.  We talked quite a bit about ArcheAge and how intrigued I am by it.  Finally I nudged the rest of my panel into talking about League of Legends.  They had been threatening for weeks to derail the podcast, and I encouraged it… and the end result was not terribly derailed after all.

#SteamPoweredSunday #AggroChat #TonyHawkProSkater #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO

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.

Assassin’s Creed II

Steampowered Sunday #10

I have had a really lousy week, and if you have followed my blog you know why.  However that said, I did not want to break the Steampowered Sunday tradition.  This week we had a tie between Assassin’s Creed II and Evoland, and in order to settle the tie I essentially flipped a coin.  As a result I played roughly and hour and a half of Assassin’s Creed II.  At face value this seems like a game I would not like very much, considering in general I do not like stealth titles.  However so many friends of mine have been so into this game series that I felt like I had to give it a try.  I feel like I am somehow losing gamer cred by admitting that I have never played ANY of the Assassin’s Creed games before today.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
All of my friends have said that the essential title that I needed to start with was Assassin’s Creed II, so as a result that is the title I have placed in the running for a few weeks.  Initially the title suffers from many of the console game tropes that I hate.  Namely the “long introduction” and the forced “stealth” to get to an area where the game opens up.  Then when you finally get into the action, there is yet another trope that I cannot stand…  “the un-skippable mini-game” namely in the form of the rooftop race with your brother.  So early on… things were not looking really good for this title.  Within the first 15 minutes it had committed three cardinal sins.  That said I kept playing and eventually got a grasp on why exactly this game is fun.

AssassinsCreedIIGame 2014-03-23 11-16-19-93

Where this game shines is the open world exploration aspect.  While they only give you a small area at a time to roam around, for the most part you are allowed to get to your objective in whatever fashion you like.  Additionally the “stealth” aspect of the game is extremely forgiving.  If you are “feeling your wheaties” you can beat the shit out of your pursuers, or if you don’t feel like fighting you can simply run away and in a grand theft auto style wait for the coast to be clear again.  Your enemies show up as very clear red dots on the map, and in many times you can simply blend into the crowd to avoid them.  The only time they seem to notice you is if you are extremely close or doing something like running about or doing something to draw attention to yourself.

AssassinsCreedIIGame 2014-03-23 11-22-55-66 I realize at an hour and a half into the game I have barely scratched the surface.  So far it seems like the game progresses in a very GTA style, where you are presented a series of small quests.  Some of them involve going and fetching something, others beating up a person, and others still following around NPCs and helping them with some task.  All of this is pretty boring, but the fact that you can accomplish these missions by wandering around the rooftops of the city make it far more enjoyable.  I can see why people are into this title, and I think I would like it even more if it were more open and free.  I can only imagine how great this title would be if it were presented in a more “fallout” type sandbox manner.  Right now you are given pretty clear direction in what the quests do and which ones you should take.

AssassinsCreedIIGame 2014-03-23 11-18-25-82 So far the only real frustration is when I manage to get a “timed event” style quest.  I find movement in this world to be cludgy at best, especially after being used to the parkour of newer games like Titanfall.  There are many times where I do something like leap off of a building that I did not intend, but did so because I either didn’t wait long enough for my camera angle to readjust or waited too long.  If I can get used to the quirks of the movement I feel like my enjoyment will improve, however when you put me under a timer and the  movement does something screwball I feel like throwing the controller across the room.  I have to remind myself that this game was initially released in 2009, and since then game controls have become so much more responsive.  I am sure if I cracked open Assassin’s Creed IV many of these issues have been solved.

AssassinsCreedIIGame 2014-03-23 11-15-41-64 Overall I think this is going to be a title I play quite a bit more of.  In fact once I finish a few chores this morning, I will probably boot it back up and play some more.  I am hooked enough on what is there to make me want to play some more.  Right now I am also feeling deeply antisocial, so a single player title is a good option.  At this moment I am tentatively positive about the game and considering I got it as part of a massive package of other Assassin’s Creed titles, I can see maybe going back and playing the others as well.  My friends all told me to start with 2, because there were some serious controllability issues prior to that point.  If that is the case I am very glad I did, because I already feel like 2 is more than a little awkward, I would not have likely made it this far in a title where the controls were worse.

Heroes of the Storm

Odd Weekend

With all the excitement of the weekend, yesterday I needed to just recharge a bit and do a bunch of stuff around the house…  namely lots of laundry.  My wife got up early yesterday morning, as she had planned a trip to Dallas for the day with friends, so this left me completely up to my own devices all day long.  I ended up sleeping in until around 9:30 at which point I did my FTL Steampowered Sunday play, and the subsequent blog post.  Then it was lots and lots of laundry for several hours.  I feel like I might be coming down with something, so I really wasn’t much more useful than that.

On the Grandmother front, she is doing as well as could be expected.  She woke up yesterday for a bit before they sedated her again.  Her kidney functions have not returned, but she was severely dehydrated.  They have a nephrologist coming into the hospital today that is going to look at her and see what they can do to stimulate activity.  Once the kidneys start working again they will be much closer to “in the clear”.  Mostly they think she just needs to rest and let the body do its natural recovery.  She is a really tough woman, so I have faith that she is going to pull through this.  Her vitals all look okayish and seem to be improving by the day. so here is hoping time is really all she needs.

As far as the sick cat, she seems to be doing much better.  She was extremely needy of attention yesterday, and her appetite seems to have returned.  For the majority of the week she had not eaten much of anything, so yesterday whenever she acted hungry I was opening a cat of food for her.  I think she ended up eating five different times yesterday.  She had lost quite a bit of weight over the course of this ordeal so while I will taper back her feeding eventually… for now I am just happy she is eating.  She demanded attention, which is good… because while she was sick she was pretty scarce.  Preferring to just lay down on the couch by herself instead of wherever we happened to be in the house.

Elder Scrolls Final Beta Weekend

Since this past weekend is the final beta weekend before launch in a few weeks, and since we had been given leave to stream whatever we wanted…  I did as much playing and streaming as I could fit in.  All told I think I streamed a little bit over four hours, split up between four different videos.  Most of the time was spent faffing about on my Orsimer Dragon Knight in the Daggerfall covenant area.  I closed the weekend sitting a little bit away from thirteen.  However because of the absolutely illogical pattern I followed I know I missed a good number of the quests from the first area of Glenumbra.  I would love to say that the beta weekend was completely smooth, but it seemed as though a lot of the systems were bugged out.  Dark Anchors for example seemed to spawn, and then just stay active even after the forces had been defeated and a player got credit for destroying them.

One of the systems that was completely new to me, were the Dark Fissures.  These are essentially mini versions of the Dark Anchors and can just spawn almost anywhere around the map.  Think of these as “soloable” Rifts.  I say soloable in quotes because really unless you are prepared to take on boss level monsters they will be pretty freakin hard.  I defeated two of these and did so just barely.  If you go into them make sure you have your health potions hotkeyed and ready to go.  The awesome thing about the Dark Fissures is that they seem to drop really awesome stuff.  The final one I closed out yesterday evening dropped a level 12 blue fire staff, which I am sure would have been awesome… had I used staves.  If the beta weekend were going longer I would have tried to find that a good home.

Heroes of the Storm

I know I mentioned this the other day, but I am still pretty pumped that I am in the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha.  One of the really cool things about it is that it is completely sans-NDA.  This means that I can stream the hell out of the game, and I intend to.  I recorded a few videos over the weekend, the first of which was just me playing around in practice mode working on the weekly quests for getting victories with heroes from each of the franchises.  The second video however I dipped my toes into cooperative mode fighting bots with other players.  I have to say I found the jump in AI to be quite extremely between practice mode and cooperative.  I earned enough gold through the various quests to purchase two of the cheaper heroes Muridan and Raynor.  At some point I hope to pick up Falstad, because while he is in the free to play rotation currently… I am sure this will change similar to how it does in League of Legends.

Right now I am enjoying the game far more than I ever did League.  Basically it has all of the aspects of league that I really enjoyed… namely fighting people with awesome champions, and none of the aspects that I didn’t like.  League build path was always an enigma to me, and I tended to play champions that I could use the same build on over and over.  League gameplay is far more nuanced, but Blizzard has done for League what they did for the MMO genre.  Streamlined, simplified, polished and created something that the masses can latch onto.  Instead of a huge list of items for you to purchase, you build your character by making a few simple choices.  In the beginning at least all of these are either or choices like “survival” or “damage”.  Over the course of the map this ends up building a semi-custom champion.

However once you reach level 8, they open up these choices significantly.  While playing Muridan yesterday there was one of these levels where I had five different choices for how I wanted to proceed.  Each choice causes you to give up other options with no real way of getting those back.  For me… a player that found the item buying system of League completely unfathomable this works so much better.  For a player who wants a deeply nuanced and unique approach to each match… they are probably still going to favor League.  The champions as a whole feel more well rounded than League champions, in that they have a wider “kit” of abilities and the option to choose between two different “R” attacks really seems to help this.

Play 2014-03-14 10-13-23-03

The place where the game really shines is in their map creation.  At their core, each of the maps is essentially “Summoner’s Rift”.  That said each of the maps has a unique sub game to them, while League tries to do this with the various map types… it simply does not work as well as it does here.  For example in the map shown above Blackheart’s Bay… you have a really awesome coastal city/pirate theme going on.  When one team collects enough doubloons they can turn them in to call in a bombardment from the pirates on the enemy team.  In one map the mini game is all about controlling two shrines which allow you to waken the Dragon Knight.  When you do so the player transforms into this unstoppable juggernaut perfect for diving straight into towers and destroying the enemy resources.  I have only played the game a little bit, but I have to say I am deeply hooked.

Gamer Hangout

Another odd happening this weekend is that I ended up participating in Beau Hindman’s Gamer Hangout show.  I’ve been friends with the members for some time, and there was a week where they had asked me to join in the show… but I until recently I simply did not have a camera.  Now you will be able to see the WHY I didn’t have a camera.  I have always been pretty closed with separating the real me from the gamer me… so it took quite a bit of courage to appear on camera like this.  I am always far more comfortable behind the scenes than being out front and animated.  What was cool about the show is that in essence they based this week on one of my blog posts.

It just happened to be where I was available to join in and chat about it.  While most of us only actually got through two different games on our list, we somehow managed to talk over an hour about them.  They have apparently extended an open invitation for me to participate more in the future, so I guess that means I did not completely make an ass of myself.  My office is a pit, and if I do this more often I think  I would want to rearrange things some… however that involves me cleaning and moving and not sure how likely that is to happen.  It was really enjoyable, and the other folks were great.  Was very much an odd end to an odd weekend.  I just wish that youtube would not have picked a thumbnail of me talking for the video.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Steampowered Sunday #9

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
This week I am doing something a little differently with my Steampowered Sunday post.  Since streaming is new and shiny… and as a result I am doing a ton of it…  I decided to livestream my playtime in FTL.  This was after all the game you chose for me to play this week.  Previously I had done a few things wrong with my voting.  Firstly I made the link super hard to see at the bottom of my post.  Secondly I gave you guys like ten choices to choose from, which ended up with a bunch of widely dispersed results.  This go around I opted to have you all choose from the three that did not win last week, but had the highest number of votes.  You all apparently wanted me to play FTL, because it managed to net 53% of the vote.

Steep Learning Curve

OBS 2014-03-16 11-24-01-08 Like most of the games I play for Steampowered Sunday, I went into FTL with absolutely no information.  This is one of those titles that was insanely popular in the internet zeitgeist a few months back.  I picked it up on a steam sale but never actually got around to playing it.  As a result it sat there sadly in my steam library until you guys resurrected it.  This is one of those games that is really hard to go into cold.  I liken it to trying to play Minecraft for the first time without any guides.  So I had no clue how to do anything in the game, and ended up dying horribly to the first encounter I happened across.  I thought my weapons would fire themselves I guess.  It was not honestly until my third ship that I managed to glean that you could toggle on and off your weapons with the number keys, and fire them that way as well.

Similarly it took me a bit to understand that moving your crew around the ship would help to put out fires, fight boarding parties and repair damaged systems.  Essentially playing FTL you die a lot, and hopefully you learned something from the death that you can carry forward into the next ship.  That said sometimes you just get fucked by random chance.  In the above screenshot I happened to wander into a star system with active solar flares.  Just like in Star Trek episodes… solar flares are murder on your shields.  Had I happened across the system with no hostiles I could have potentially pooled my resources in the shield room and kept myself repaired long enough to jump out.  That said I had a pretty nasty fight with a mantis drone and by the time that was finished my system was a mess.  I fought the death of my ship in vain as the solar flares slowly destroyed me.

Belghast Gameplay Not Suggested

OBS 2014-03-16 11-27-31-41 I really do one thing in video games… I run in guns-a-blazing and hope for the best.  In an FPS I am the king of the spray and pray arsenal.  In an MMO I am the guy that habitually charges everything.  It is the thing I do.  This is very much not the way you want to play FTL, unless you like resetting constantly.  If you wander into a system and encounter an “advanced tactical drone” chances are you should really not screw with that.  I had that happen, and it started neutral to me…  but moments after attacking it, it had disabled all of my ships systems and I was left to sit and watch as all things blew up around me.  I feel like that is the real lesson of FTL…  stuff happens, often times bad…  so hope you can learn from it and not be dumb in the next iteration.  The game is pretty brutal about punishing you for your bad decisions, and that is okay… because it tends to be brutal about everything.

I feel like there are so many things I am still missing about success.  While playing one of my friends told me over twitch chat that I could vent the compartment to space to put out fires.  Which is awesome… except I couldn’t seem to do that when I had attackers in a compartment.  The learning curve is exceedingly steep and unforgiving.  Much like that first time I played Minecraft, I feel like I need to spend an entire afternoon wandering around a wiki somewhere to figure out what exactly I was doing wrong.  I feel like there is a “oh! That is what Coal looks like” moment waiting to happen.

Deathcab for Cutie and Starships

FTLGame 2014-03-16 11-42-20-31 One of the things I enjoyed the most about the game is the soundtrack.  It is this really pleasant postal service/deathcab type soundtrack that makes you not care so much that the world is burning down around you.  This is one of those moments when I happened to get trapped behind enemy lines and had to fight a far more advanced ship than I had.  Notice how they pretty much disabled everything I had and are essentially unharmed.  I feel like this is where tactics come in, which is never a strong suit of mine.  I tend to be a “shoot first, ask questions never” type player… and this is going to be something I have to get over if I ever want to succeed at FTL for more than a few minutes.  Tactics matter a lot, and one of the things I learned early on is… if they have drones, for the love of god kill the drones.

Right now I am really bad at deciding what thing to attack first.  I tend to have the best luck destroying ships by killing their engines.  That said I feel like i would have a lot more success disabling their weapons, then shields, then engines.  When they are charging the engines to escape it seems like a single shot to the engine can slow them down enough to kill them before they jump.  So I know this is a good theory, but getting me to do that when everything is burning on my ship seems to be the problem.  To quote Wash… “Oh god, Oh God, We’re Gonna Die”.  I have trouble keeping focused when my cute little people are dying horribly fighting fires.  In the immortal words of my friend Vexa… “Fire is pretty much the worst.”

More Play Warranted

FTLGame 2014-03-16 11-42-45-38 I feel like I am fundamentally bad at this game.  That said I feel like this is an okay thing.  Much like MInecraft, one of the simple joys is rolling the dice and seeing what combination of events you happen to get this time.  I felt completely fine resetting and starting over from scratch.  In many ways this reminds me of an early Shareware title called EGA Trek that I used to play the hell out of.  The gameplay basically was the same, it involved warping around the galaxy looking for trouble.  I played this game for hours upon hours… rolling the dice and seeing what trouble I could get myself into.  Combat was very similar, and I would not be shocked at all if the FTL folks had played this game at one point or another.  Granted FTL is all of this in much higher detail, but the same pure fun is there.  Sometimes it is just fun to die over and over horribly.  May the “SS Were Gonna Die” continue to fly onwards.

Mystery Game Time

I’ve decided to shift things up a bit, and start giving away random games instead of a specific title per week.  This weeks winner will be contacted today and given a copy of Brutal Legend.  However this coming week I will be grabbing something from the stack of mostly indie games that I have laying around.  If you win, and it is a title you already have… share the love and give it to a friend that doesn’t already have the game.  Another thing I am doing is leaving the two losing titles on the list, and replacing FTL with a brand new title…  this week Evoland enters the ring.  This way I actually have a shot of playing through the games that were the losers of previous weeks.  As always to take the survey click the big bright button below.

Savior of the Heavens

War of Guilds

A few days ago on a whim I decided to reinstall Guild Wars 2 and patch it up, which is not an insignificant process at this point.  Last night before getting into anything else I decided to give it a spin.  I have done this a number of times since launch, with essentially the same results.  After a few minutes of running around I decided that I still don’t like the game.  I figured this post is relevant with all of my recent Elder Scrolls fanboyism…  that yes it is perfectly okay for you not to like a game.  Guild Wars 2 is one of those titles that I want to like, because so many people have so many great moments with the game.  However for whatever reason I just cannot see the magic in it that others can.

Guild Wars 2 stands alone as the only alpha program I have ever resigned from.  I just did not like what the game was, and how it deviated from all of things I had read into their manifesto about the game.  When it came close to release I got into beta and had a marginal amount of fun, and with it launching in a relative dead spot I decided to take the plunge and try it.  On the initial play through I managed to make it through to about level 40 before running out of care to continue pushing forward.  This is round and about the place most of us dropped out of it.  Largely it was the chaos that is GW2 group combat that soured the milk for me.

All of that said… I want to see the magic that others see in this game.  So every few months I patch it up and give it another try.  I have always prided myself in being able to see the good in something despite its flaws, and as a result it drives me absolutely insane that I cannot grasp why people love this game.  I don’t want the game to change to fit my desires, so after a bit of playtime every few months we agree to disagree and I end up uninstalling it again.  Other than the chaotic game play, there is just something about the game that feels largely pointless… and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I love faffing about as much as the next person, and I do so happily in many other games…  but there is just something about this games style of faffing that seems hollow.

I am not going to rage against this game and bash it for being bad… because it very obviously is NOT bad if so many people seem to be enjoying themselves.  It is just not a game for me.  I don’t pretend to believe that I could have built it better, nor would I even know where to start to make it feel more like a game I would want to play.  So I guess in writing this… I want to show that it is perfectly okay to not like the game that everyone else likes.  In doing so you can not like it, but also not seek to spoil the fun of those who really do enjoy it.  There are a long list of games that I just don’t “grok” for one reason or another, but it is okay.  They exist, and people like them… and it is just fine for me not to.

Savior of the Heavens

Diablo III 2014-03-06 22-18-57-78 Last night I finished my play through of Diablo 3 this time on Hard mode.  I am not sure why, but for whatever reason I prefer to level my characters linearly.  I know I can jump around a bit after beating the game ages ago on my Monk, but it seems pleasing to see the story play out in front of me as I trudge through it.  Last night I played with a handful of friends, and managed to get a few nice legendary drops.  Traditionally I have stuck with dual wield, because in general I prefer that in most games.  However last night I managed to get an early 50s version of the Zweihander and it good enough to get me to abandon my dual wielding ways…  at least temporarily.

Diablo III 2014-03-06 22-41-41-28 I am pretty sure at some point I flipped a slider and the game decided I needed “more spikey bits”, as I now am this bladed lord of death.  The appearance is growing on me, and when you see it in small form on screen I look a bit like I imagined the Shrike looking from the Hyperion series.  Upon defeating Diablo I promptly restarted the game, this time bumping the difficulty up to expert.  As a result I have had to tweak my build a bit to add in a bit more survival.  It is not quite as faceroll as it was during my run through Hard.  Mostly I am noticing that my healbot spec Templar is starting to struggle to keep up, or at least allowing me to drop quite a bit before topping me back off.  Wondering if this will change as I upgrade his gear a bit.  I have been trying to keep it upgraded, mostly with my handmedowns.

Diablo III 2014-03-06 22-07-22-52

At the close of the night I managed to ding 56, so hopefully tonight I should be able to finish off my push to get this character to 60.  At this point, I can’t really see playing up another character until the crusader.  I am sure the Witchdoctor, Demon Hunter and Wizard are cool in their own way… but each of them is very much a ranged/finger wiggler class.  They are just not the type of character I enjoy playing.  I realize you can tweak them a bit to make them play in different ways, but at the core they will still be more glass cannonish than I care to play.  I enjoy tanks and tanky dps…  and I feel like the Barbarian, Monk and Crusader fit that bill just fine.  If I continue to struggle a bit I might switch to a sword/board build on my Barbarian as I have done in the past.  For the time being it is working, but I am having to finally start using my heal pots on elites and champions.

Steampowered Sunday Bioshock Contest

Just a quick reminder that I am running a contest of sorts to let you guys pick what I will be playing this Sunday for my Steampowered Sunday feature.  The idea behind Steampowered Sunday is to get me to install and play a game from my steam backlog.  Then I will write about the game play experience.  Sometimes it is extremely glowing, other times not so much.  This week I decided to mix things up a bit and post a google form that allows you guys to vote on which title I will be playing the following week.  I have had a handful of votes to date, but I am really hoping for more.  As of this morning it looks like if nothing changes I will be playing Alan Wake.  Tomorrow when I blog I will be tabulating the results and declaring a winning game.

Additionally to make this more interesting, I have decided to use this as a way to get rid of some of the duplicates I have in steam and have gotten through the various indie bundles.  This week I will be giving away a copy of the original Bioshock for Steam.  So when you vote, make sure you let me know if you want to be entered in the running for the copy of Bioshock.  If so make sure you include your steam id in the form.  Saturday morning when I blog I will be picking a winner for this as well and sending off the free game.  So get out there and vote… and decide my Steampowered Sunday Fate.

Vote Here!