Advertisers Suck

Okay this is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal content.  However one of the things I get sick of as a blogger is dealing with the constant deluge of people wanting me to link to something, or do some sort of half baked paid content scheme to increase their SEO numbers.  I’m feeling a little vindictive today so I am posting the sort of thing that I deal with on a regular basis.

Hey quick question –

I hope everything is going well on your end 🙂

My name is [Dude You Can Google Keywords], and I’m on the content team at [Cloud Storage Company I Have Never Heard Of].

I just finished going through your article here: http://aggronaut.com/category/games/action/. Thanks for the resource!

My colleague [Some Writer At The Company] recently put together a pretty comprehensive piece on cloud storage for photographers. This really is good information for anyone in this realm. There is a ton of information out there; our guide was designed to cut through the noise a bit.

The post is here: [Link to a post about hosting photography]

Would you consider linking to it in the article of yours I mentioned above? I saw you linked to store.playstation.com in there, so I figured I’d see if you’d link to mine as well. Perhaps your visitors find it helpful, but hey, it’s up to you.

Thanks,

– [Dude You Can Google Keywords]

P.S. I respect the relationship you have with your readers, I wouldn’t ask you to link to anything I didn’t think was an excellent resource for you guys.

So firstly…  my blog is not a photography blog.  Secondly he is linking to one of my categories, this one specifically is for action games so nothing to do with photography.  The reason why he suggests I link to it… is because I link to store.playstation.com???  I mean I do this thing because I am talking about how to claim your Playstation Plus titles without logging into your console.  Anyways this makes zero sense given what my blog is.  As is usually my first line of defense I just ignore the email hoping they will go away.  However this doesn’t always work as is the case with the follow up email that I get.

Hey again –

I figured I’d try one more time 🙂

Did you happen to get my last email? If you have a moment, could you let me know what you think about this idea? Or maybe you could put me in touch with the person in charge of content?

I’d love any help you can give!

Thanks!

– [Dude You Can Google Keywords]

Now one of the things I have learned the  hard way… is that if they ever do this…  email a second time…  you are NEVER getting rid of them unless you give them a forceful shove off.  I had one person from a website on e-sports betting pester me on and off over the course of an entire month through a string of probably twelve emails where I kept trying to politely say that I am not interested… and that they kept trying to get me to allow them to post promotional content on my site.  So as a result I have to end up sending an email like this one…

Hey [Dude You Can Google Keywords],

I had not responded to the first email in part because I just get tired of responding to emails like this one.  Tales of the Aggronaut is a personal blog and anything that appears on it means that its there because I personally suggest people checking it out.  I don’t do paid ad placement nor do I link to products or services that I did not find organically and I am not actually using myself.  Firstly you included a link that makes zero sense given that it is the action games category of my blog and has nothing to do with photography.  Secondly…  the fact that I link to Store.playstation.com also makes zero sense giving that its a tutorial on how to retrieve your Playstation Plus games of the month through the web interface without having to log into the console.  Essentially nothing you wrote me fits in any way to what I actually write about.  Clearly you spent exactly as much time reviewing my website as was required to fill in what is essentially a madlibs style form email.
None of this makes me interested in your product.  Had you actually found a way to relate this back to my readers in any fashion, and simply approached me with an offer of “we have this awesome product, is this something you maybe want to review?  Here is an account to check it out.  Let us know what you think and tell your readers if you like it.” then bam that is a reasonable way to approach a content creator.  This just feels sleazy.
Anyways hope you have a good day.
Bel

Here is hoping that I never hear from this person again…  but deep down in the back of my mind I know that I will.  There is a slimy underbelly that exists when you get to a certain point with a blog, where all of these people start crawling out of the woodwork wanting to use an anchor on your site as part of some network to increase their search engine ranking.  Some offer to pay… somewhere between $50-100 for placing an article laden with links to their product on your site.  Others like this schmuck seem to want you to do it out of the goodness of your heart.  One guy claimed that it was unfair to my readers to only show part of the story, because I had linked to Libsyn a hosting provider that I use myself for AggroChat and have zero business relationship with.  I could go to the trouble of writing a rule or flagging it as spam, but that doesn’t stop the constant onslaught of people just like them.  Writing this post more than anything is for me personally… because sometimes I just want to scream obscenities at my email.  Instead I am creating a post which is at least somewhat therapeutic.  Monday we will return to our normally scheduled posts.

Faction Rally 1: DO Edition

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Once again by the time this post comes out it is going to likely be of zero use to anyone, because if I am understanding the Faction Rally correctly…  it would have just ended and we will be entering the phase where a winner will be chosen.  I am doing something super dangerous in that I am staging this content on the weekend to post Monday and Tuesday.  So by the time this actually goes live we should know which weapon we have available.  I took the route of choosing a different faction for each character, and this has also given me the opportunity to collect all twelve unique faction based drops that are available from packages.  Yesterday I wrote about New Monarchy, and last week about Future War Cult… so today is the time to talk about everyone’s favorite chromatically challenged faction…  Dead Orbit.  This faction will always have a special place in my heard due to the fact that the majority of my time playing Destiny… I was pledged to Arach Jalaal desperately hunting that cool emblem with the axes.  In Destiny 2…  I was swayed by just how damned good the weapon offering was in the Future War Cult camp.  That said there is at least one gem in this lineup, but your mileage may vary.

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Let me get this out of the way first.  I do not like sidearms…  they have always felt like crappier faster firing versions of hand cannons.  In Destiny 1 the only time I broke one out and used it…  was when I was working on a bounty that required me to get X number of kills with a specific damage type weapon that was not Arc.  Even then the only reason why I used a Sidearm was simply because of the extreme ammo reserves they tended to have.  With Destiny 2 they introduced a new class of Sidearm that burst fires…  which quickly caused me to start ignoring every single firing gun out there.  So needless to say the Eleventh Hour has a bunch of strikes against it out of the gate, but in truth it does have a few things going for it. This weapon is essentially a fast firing low impact weapon…  that has an insane upwards kick if you are firing it as fast as you can pull the trigger.  That said if you are slowing down and placing your shots a little more carefully this can two precision shot most minions and with a 17 shot magazine… you can pour through a bunch.  Where this starts to become useful is the fact that it has Rampage perk giving you a stacking damage buff each time you take down a target up to three.  I could see this being extremely good for clearing out thralls or something of the sort.  The problem I have though is that there are just dozens of energy slot weapons that I would rather use than this.  If you enjoy using it then by all means do so…  it just doesn’t really have a place in my world and I will likely shard it once I have finished writing this review.

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This is a fairly bizarre shotgun offering, and I am going to try and unpack why.  First off this is an extremely hard hitting, slow rate of fire weapon with abysmal range and reload speeds that are amplified by the poor handling stat.  What it does well is hit really hard…  a single time.  So if you think you can one-shot a target with this shotgun then it is probably going to do a great job of it.  Now if you combine the tactical mag perk… with the field prep perk the equation starts to change a bit and while crouched you can reload this weapon extremely fast.  Now initially I thought… maybe this works while sliding but after thirty minutes of trying to make this work it seems like you just straight up cannot reload while in the slide motion. So functionally in order to do this in the heat of battle I would probably slide behind some cover, reload quickly and then get back into the action.  Where the gun shines however is that it has a pretty deep well to draw from in that if you choose specific perks you can have 6 in the magazine and 12 in reserve.  For PVE this seems like a perfectly reasonable shotgun… but for PVP I think it is going to lose out every time to one of the full auto options.  The best part though is the look and the sound it makes when it fires a shell.

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I feel like Pulse Rifles are just in a really awkward place in Destiny 2.  They have always lived in this weird place between scout rifles and auto rifles… and in the current meta both are undeniably in better places than this weird hybrid.  Three Graves currently lives in the slowest rate of fire and highest impact flavor of pulse rifle, and it brings with it some really nice stability.  What it severely lacks however is handling and reload speed…  giving the gun a really sluggish feel as you shift between hip and ads modes.  The outlaw perk can help with the reload speed because it decreases reload time after a precision kill…  which is relatively easy to do given how much damage this thing puts out and how stable it is.  The thing that never really gets better though is the handling… so for me to feel comfortable with this weapon I would need to slot in some mods to improve that.  The biggest obstacle this weapon has is the fact that I have Innaugural Address the raid pulse…  that just feels better to use.

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Tons of players love The Old Fashioned, in fact it has shown up on a ton of the top X weapons in Destiny 2 lists.  I am not one of those players, and when I first saw Dire Promise in the drop list for Dead Orbit I was not extremely hopeful.  There are however a bunch of tweaks that have been made to this weapon that make it feel vastly different than the weapon that is so commonly sharded by me that I didn’t even have one available to directly compare against.  Functionally you are losing a little impact and range, and gaining a ton of stability and handing as well as a tiny bit of reload speed as well as 2 bullets in the magazine.  As far as perks… you are losing Kill Clip and gaining one of my favorites from Destiny 1…  Triple Tap which is shockingly hard to find on a D2 hand cannon.  If you feel like you can sacrifice a little stability… you can even push this gun into the 13 in the magazine club.  This means that if you can consistently hit precision shots…  you could in theory fire 17 78 impact shots without reloading… meaning that is a ton of damage in a very short period of time.  While I doubt this is going to dislodge either Better Devils or True Prophecy as my Hand Cannon of choice…  this is definitely going to be something I swap to situationally.

Now that you have seen all of the weapons available from the Faction Rally this go round… what are your thoughts?  Do you like me feel like Future War Cult had the strongest offerings or are you thinking I short changed one of the other factions?

Faction Rally 1: NM Edition

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Admittedly by the time I post this it will be of extremely limited benefit given that as far as I understand the Faction Rally should in theory reset on Tuesday.  For the unindoctrinated the Faction Rally is this event happening currently in Destiny 2 that involved choosing one of the three factions from Destiny 1 and representing them.  The goal of the event is to collect tokens while doing almost any activity in the game, and then turn these in 20 at a time to the faction leaders.  For my Titan I decided to rep Future War Cult, and I wrote a post last Thursday about the weapons that were available.  Each faction is offering four unique weapons from their packages and I thought it might be cool to attempt to get them all and do similar write-ups.  Now I had done this a week ago when the faction rally went live… it might be of some significant benefit.  Now however I am largely just doing for the fun of it, and it seems useful info in the long run.

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We are going to start off this New Monarchy edition with what was ultimately the hardest weapon for me to actually get to drop.  This weapon has gone through a name change since it first started dropping occasionally from Cayde-6 treasure caches to when the Rally proper began.  The Song of Justice VI  formerly the Sentencer IV is a nearly max range high impact scout rifle that trades these stats for really low stability and handling.  It is also relatively slow firing in the 150 rounds per minute class until the more popular and broader 200 rounds per minute class represented most noticeably by the MIDA Multi Tool.  It lives in a really weird place, but after spending some time using it while doing patrols and such I can see its charm.  It will probably never take the spot of my Manannan SR4 largely because I love explosive payload more than I can rightly express with words…  it does have a few of its own nice perks.  Armor Piercing rounds is extremely nice for destroying mob shields, which I have not seen on that many weapons so far.  Additionally it has auto loading holster which causes the weapon to reload itself while holstered, making this work extremely well in situations where you are not using this as your primary weapon.  I could see it working nicely on strikes when you are using an energy auto rifle as your primary weapon, and just swapping to this any time you need to snipe something at a distance.

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I am a huge proponent of the Auto Rifle and have loved them since the first moment I got one in my hands in Destiny 1.  In Year Three one of my favorite weapons was the Suros made Genesis Chain, which was a slow rate of fire high impact Auto Rifle…  that looked valuely like this weapon.  I got my hopes up and then they were quickly dashed when I saw what archetype this weapon fit into.  The 600 RPM bracket already has a few really good competitors in it and I think the problem is…  this gun just isn’t nearly as good as either of them.  The key problem is the lack of stability… this gun kicks weirdly and often times unpredictably making it significantly harder to control than Scathelocke or Ghost Primus that both live in this same archetype.  Now if you do not have access to either of those weapons… then sure this is a good option and once you get used to its quirks you can make it perform fairly well.  The biggest problem however is there just is no viable reason to use this over one of the other weapons I mentioned…  other than it just looks aesthetically cool.  However if that is really your thing… then grab a Martyrs Make and slap a New Monarchy Shader on it… because you are going to have a much more enjoyable experience.

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Up until now New Monarchy has been the tale of weapons that are just flat out outclassed by other options.  I think however we are going to finish strong starting with the Royal Dispensation II.  Sub-Machineguns for me at least are the new shotgun… when you absolutely need to wreck someone up close and personal much the same way as I used to do with my beloved Invective.  There are basically two competing categories the 600 rpm class and the 900 rpm class.  In the grand scheme of things I tend to prefer the slightly slower rate of fire because they are much more controllable and easier to keep trained on the precision damage markers.  That said this gun is shockingly stable for as fast as it is firing, and when combined with the Grave Robber perk…  gives you some really up close and personal power.  When I run a submac it is because I am getting up in peoples faces and the fact that if I get a melee kill it reloads part of my magazine… means I can stay there and be effective for longer.  The gotcha however… is with 900 rpm and 33 shots in the magazine…  this thing unloads extremely quickly.  This gun is effectively the Foggy Notion with slightly better handling speed and slightly worse reload speeds…  but that little tweak seems to make the gun feel so much better to use.  Well worth holding onto and playing with to see if you like it, because at the end of the day that is all that really matters.

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Up until this gun entered my life I carried around a pretty heavy crush on Hawthorne’s Field-Forged Shotgun…  because Destiny 1 spoiled me on insisting that if I was using a shotgun that it had to have full auto.  I was honestly shocked that I had not encountered anything else in game that seemed to have it…  and then I saw this weapon.  One of the big problems with the Hawthorne shotgun is the rate of fire…  not that it is too slow but it is way the hell too fast.  I cannot count the number of times I have fired shots into the void because I couldn’t pick my finger up off the trigger fast enough to stop from firing one round too many.  The Unification VII fixes this with its 55 rounds per minute rate of fire as compared to the frankly too fast 90 on Hawthorne.  Additionally we gain a significantly higher impact per shot and slight range increase…  at the loss of some reload speed and one round in the magazine.  What cannot be properly accounted for however is just how badass this weapon looks and how good it feels.  The weapon has High Caliber rounds, which causes it to stagger mobs which is always going to be useful.

I am curious how you feel about the New Monarchy offering this time around?  It has been leaked that each faction has a significantly deeper pool of available weapons than these four, so it is going to be interesting to see what arrives each time this event runs.

 

Xur Week Three: 9/29/17

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Since this is becoming a regular thing I am doing…  Happy Xursday!  This time around he is located on Io given that it is the flashpoint planet this week.  You can find him in the Giant’s Scar area of the planet in a cave off the lefthand side of the path coming from the fast travel location.  Once again the mobs seem not to be willing to follow you into that cave so you can duck inside to relative safety.  This is going to be the week where we see if Xur really does stick around until the reset, or if that was just a bug since we have had a patch since last week.  There was no specific mention of Xur but as is always the case with MMOs…  patches often times have a bunch of unannounced changes.  Lets get into the item rundown.

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Starting off we have the weapon Riskrunner, and for those who played the beta this was the exotic that Warlocks got from Lord Shaxx during the homecoming mission.  It is a really unique feeling weapon given that it fires what looks like an eruption of lightning.  As far as overall usefulness…  it is extremely situational.  The special ability Arc Conductor causes you to deal more damage and gain increased arc resistance…  upon taking any arc damage.  While in this overcharged state, getting kills with the weapon add additional time to the buff.  Without this buff the weapon is largely just another legendary tier sub-machine gun and is quite honestly outclassed by weapons like the MIDA Mini-Tool.  However if you can somehow be regularly taking arc damage…  then you can churn through encounters with this gun and it becomes a formidable beast.  Now if you just like the player fantasy of firing a lightning gun… then screw all of this and use it because it just looks badass.

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Last weekend I leveled my hunter at least in part to be able to take proper Xursday shots rather than swiping them off the interwebs.  As a result I am leading off with the Hunter item this week, the Mechaneer’s Tricksleeves.  These are mobility/resistance arms that have the perk Spring-Loaded Mounting which increases the ready time and reload speed of sidearms.  These are one of the choices you can make during the main story quest, and I thought they were really limited in their utility.  You have to love sidearms an awful lot to spend your exotic slot on an item that improves that one weapon.  That said… there are a fair number of really good sidearms in the game like Last Hope that seems to tear people up in the crucible.  I personally do not like sidearms at all… but I did pick these up this week simply for the unlock.  There is just not a lot more I can say about these… if you love sidearms or you also want the unlock… go for it.

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The Titan armor is one that I have gotten several times from exotics… and keep infusing away to increase my power level.  That is not due to the fact that it is not a good piece of armor but instead just to play the increasing your level game.  For whatever reason I am just not feeling the Sunbreaker Titan as much as I was in Destiny 1, that said… if you do this is an amazing item.  Functionally the perk is giving us back “Simmering Flames” from Destiny 1.  Sunfire Furnace causes all of your solar abilities to recharge faster while you are sitting on a fully charged super, which in truth I seem to do more often than not because I am looking for the idea time to unleash it.  That means more solar grenades and more solar melee abilities which are really the bread and butter of play for me personally.  I went ahead and picked this back up because while I had this unlocked it was at 205 light…  and I had shards to burn.  I might play with it a bit and determine if it is useful enough to start playing more Sunbreaker.

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Do you “Gotta Go Fast” and “Faster Faster Fa Fa Fa Fa Faster”?  These are a weird item that I have used quite a bit largely because they were the highest light boots I had on my Warlock for a good long while.  The perk Strange Protractor causes your sprint to move a heck of a lot faster…  like it is noticeably faster.  While sprinting it also causes your energy weapons to be automatically reloaded.  This again is one of those situationally good items.  I found it really useful in the crucible since I tend to mostly use Uriel’s Gift… and it also meant sprint cancelling a reload caused me to get the full reload.  If you greatly favor energy weapons or just want to go really fast… then these might be the boots for you.  Personally my exotic armor slot goes to Eye of Another World which highlights priority targets and increases the regeneration speed of my melee, grenades and class ability.  If these sound like great boots for you however pick them up, or at least get them so you have them unlocked in your collections.

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What are your thoughts?  Did Xur bring something you really wanted or did I completely miss the special utility of a given item when I talk about them?  I’d love to hear your feedback about this weeks offerings and in truth if anyone is actually finding this a useful thing for me to do on Friday mornings.

Racing Juggernauts

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This is going to be a bit of an odd post, but it is something that has been kicking around in my head lately and something that we have discussed a bit on AggroChat.  Back in 2015 when I attended Pax South 2015… I walked away with one game on my lips…  Gigantic.  It was what I felt at the time a fresh take on the whole MOBA genre and the state at which the game was in at the show… I fully expected it to be launching within the next six months.  Sure Blizzard had just announced Overwatch a few months earlier… but this was here and playable right now.  We scan forward several years… and Gigantic finally launched on July 20th of 2017.  It launched into a climate that has Paladins, Smite, Battleborn, and a plethora of other similar games vying for the same eyeballs on the same screens.  Most importantly though when Overwatch officially launched on May 24th of 2016 it sucked every last drop of oxygen from the room.  Sure there are a ton of differences between each of these games, but in the eyes of the customers…  I am not actually sure any of them matter.  They all fall into this broad category of cartoony stylistic shooter… and the one that gets the most time on the lips of players…  is Overwatch.  I’ve not played Gigantic in a long while in part because there is some nonsense of multiple competing versions for Windows…  but in truth because that moment passed and I moved on to other things.  To be fair I am not playing Overwatch either.

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When Dauntless was announced at The Game Awards in December of 2016, I thought it looked really interesting namely because there really isn’t a great PC resident Monster Hunter experience.  Sure there is Godeater but it is sorta doing its own thing that is not entirely connected to the Monster Hunter fame.  I realize Toukiden also exists but neither has really developed the same sort of following.  At Pax South 2017 I got to lay my hands on the game and give it a shot, and while I was completely horrible at it…  the experience seemed like something that with time I could get into.  However soon I started to see a very painfully similar pattern emerging with this game that I did with Gigantic.  At E3 2017 Capcom announced Monster Hunter World and with it for the first time in the franchise PC support.  At this point Dauntless was on a clock, they either had to get to market first or would have all of their available oxygen sucked out of the room as well.  A few days ago it was announced at the Tokyo Game show that Monster Hunter World would be shipping in all markets on January 26th 2018.  While they say the PC version will follow later…  this still adds additional pressure to Dauntless to release and firms up the time table of when they have to launch.  The game is currently in Closed Beta but has never really had a more firm launch window other than “2017” of which we are starting to run out of months.

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For me personally…  that time is already over.  Once Monster Hunter World was announced to be coming to PC, I for the most part stopped caring that much about Dauntless news.  I was going to get my Monster Hunter game on the PC and it was going to come from Capcom and share all of the traits and lore and history of the Monster Hunter franchise as a whole.  Dauntless on the other hand has to fight an uphill battle of coming up with a brand new IP and then trying to infuse enough into that world to make it feel alive and exciting and not just a sequence of arenas where you fight boss monsters.  Even the monsters themselves are a challenge because they have to come up with a whole slew of brand new creatures with their own mechanics and tactics…  whereas Monster Hunter world can draw heavily on fourteen years of experience and fourteen related games worth of monster battles.  Basically the oxygen is gone for me personally, but if they hope to get Monster Hunter devotees their clock is ticking down quickly because the moment the actual Monster Hunter is available on PC…  a whole lot of the unique gimmick factor of Dauntless goes away.  I might be overly grim here, but I watched this all play out for Gigantic and I have a feeling we are just about to see a repeat of that story.

 

After the Bomb

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Last night was one of those evenings when I just straight up crashed.  I wound up heading towards bed a bit before 9 pm and as far as I know I largely slept straight through without waking up.  I’ve felt like I had been coming down with something for a few days, but what I think instead is just that the allergens are going haywire.  The pollen index it seems has been stuck in the “Very High” state for the last few days which can absolutely account for why I have been generally sluggish and miserable.  All of this and the work load I am under has somewhat blunted what is generally a magical time for me…   convention season.  Right now both GamesCom and QuakeCon are happening and in a few weeks it will be Pax West.  This is in theory the time of the year when a bunch of announcements get made, but thusfar there has been nothing terribly groundbreaking.  At the moment I think the game I am most interested in of those announced this week is BioMutant by THQ Nordic.  While I generally don’t go in for the whole “Anthro” thing…  this game does however check all the forgotten and post apocalyptic world boxes.  I love games that are set in a time where technology is almost treated like magic and you have to scavenge the wastes to fortify yourself.  I wasn’t super sure about the game until I watched 11 minutes of gameplay footage that got released by IGN.

I really like that the game has a narrator, and that it chooses to have the characters speak in some sort of native animal language that we don’t understand.  Part of what made Bastion so damned infectious was the relationship between narrator and your actions… and I am hoping that BioMutant in many ways will feel similar.  Right now the game seems like Horizon Zero Dawn with TMNT style mutant animal people….  and in some what this reminds me a bit of Rage.  It is being described as a Post Apocalyptic Kung Fu Fable…  and I am generally okay with that notion.  The game play seemed really fluid switching back and forth between jumping swordwork and gunplay.  I have a lot of love for the concept of this because back in the day I was a HUGE fan of the After The Bomb setting in in the Palladium games Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pen and paper game.  It already has a page stubbed out on Steam so I am guessing it will be an early 2018 release and not something we are going to wait a super long time for.  The worst part about the game convention cycle is that you see a game well before it is set to release… and then by the time it actually launches the excitement has died down significantly.  I’ve long through the Bethesda system of announcing a game within six months of release is probably the ideal window.  Sure there are always rumors circulating before hand… but it is damned nice to see a trailer and see a firm release date at the end of it so that you know “this is how many months I have to wait”.  The truth is I find it harder and harder to muster the fever pitch levels of excitement that I once had for games… I think in part because we are deluged with so much information about it.  Every single rumor or half heard sentence gets dissected and churned into “exclusive” YouTube content….  that then gets copied by a half a dozen places because they are all desperate for eyeballs and clicks to try and pay the bills.  I think once you see the strings… or the great and powerful oz behind the curtain… the whole experience is a little less interesting.

 

 

 

Five Doctors

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rifftrax-doctor-poster-e6ff5abb7ba43188e4d31a7234bf8e8d-1One of the things that I do occasionally with some coworkers is go to the live broadcast of Rifftrax.  The concept there is a little odd given that the actual “live” show is in Nashville but is simulcast to theaters around the country…  two of which are in the Tulsa area.  Generally speaking we all meet for dinner first and then attend whatever they happen to be Riffing at that time.  Traditionally this is some movie down on the deep B and or Cult status list.  I think the last one I saw before last night was Samurai Cop back in March, and hands down the best one ever was them taking on The Room.  The weird thing about last night is that I was not terribly sure how I would feel about them Riffing on one of my Fandoms.  I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since my father indoctrinated me during the very long rein of Tom Baker.  Whatever concerns I might have had vanished quickly because their send up of the Five Doctors was amazing.  Pretty much everything we ever thought while watching some of the campy 80s shows…  took verbal form.  If you have a chance to see it I highly suggest it.  They are doing the traditional rebroadcast on August 24th so you might check to see if it is available at a theater near you.  I highly suggest the “live” Rifftrax experience in general.

Past this I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about.  The problem with a Rifftrax night is that I don’t get home early enough to really do much in the way of gaming.  It was not long before I was downstairs conked out completely.  The following story is related for humor… and for evidence of how generally dead to the world I was.  I turned in pretty early and at some point during the night I apparently got up to use the restroom.  I don’t remember this at all, instead it was just like I suddenly woke up and was on the toilet….  and had apparently been there long enough to have my legs completely fall asleep.  So in my sleepy state I had to figure out how to finish my business…  and then pull my pants up and somehow stabilize myself as blood goes rushing back into my legs.  There was a point where I legitimately considered crawling on the floor to bed.  Even weirder was when I managed to hobble my way to the bed and sit down…  I couldn’t quite reason how to lift my then “full on pins and needles with a vengeance” legs up into the bed so I could lay down again.  This is of course way more than you bargained for when you decided to click through to my blog this morning.  While I do suggest Rifftrax… I would not suggest this whole walking on legs that you can’t actually feel thing.  It is an overrated experience.

 

Praise Jick

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Another game that I have been playing a more than significant amount of is West of Loathing.  The attraction of this stick figure graphics clad game won’t make a whole lot of sense unless you too played an awful lot of Kingdom of Loathing.  For those not already indoctrinated… “KoL” was one of the early browser based role-playing games launching in February of 2003.  I am not entirely certain when I first discovered it but I believe it was sometime within that first year.  I would love to say that I have access to my original account…  but that is tied to an email address I no longer have access to.  What set Kingdom of Loathing apart other than the unapologetic programmer art…  was a sense of humor and a general aura of fun around the game.   You chose from classes such as Sauceror, Pastamancer, Turtle Tamer, Disco Bandit, Accordion Thief or Seal Clubber…  all with their largely goofy and nonsensical abilities.  Now you might exact the game to play like a parody of an RPG, but in truth it had a significant amount of depth and was fun in its own right once the gags became a little stale.  This was one of the first times I had encountered the “energy” mechanic that limits how many turns per day you could take, and in truth without Kingdom of Loathing I question of anything like a Fallen London would have ever gained traction considering it uses much the same format.

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What West of Loathing does, is combine all of the elements that I loved about the point and click adventure style RPG that was Kingdom of Loathing and bring it into the real time interactive gaming world.  Instead of navigating through a series of mouse clicks and menu items, you actually go out and explore the world with WASD and keys to interact with objects.  It has been awesome to see all of these scenes that are extremely reminiscent to that of KoL animated and moving on my screen…  with just as many physical gags worked in as I would have expected.  One of the early things you notice is that various objects in the world will add items to your configuration menu.  For example you unlock a check box that is labelled “Stupid Walking” which causes your character to cycle through a series of bizarre walking moves from the dog “butt scoot” animation to something similar to the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks gag.  Another option is “Best Font Mode” that shifts everything from a Serif font to something resembling Arial…  none of these really have any major effect on the game they just do goofy things because the game is goofy.

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Much like Kingdom of Loathing you are absolutely flooded with items that vary from the completely useless vendor fodder to things that you probably should hold onto just in case there might be a use for it later.  The game will gleefully allow you to consume or destroy a major plot device that will keep you from unlocking segments of the game.  As a result there were several things I failed to do in the introductory area…  that you can apparently never go back to.  The game will also gleefully push you in front of mobs that you have zero hope of actually beating.  It turns out at least in one of these cases I was supposed to allow it to beat me to unlock something I needed for another quest.  However I muscled through and used up my stock of dynamite to be able to succeed.  One of the best parts of the game so far is the fact that it is fairly forgiving of your mistakes when it comes to taking deaths… and will functionally respawn you in a save space as though you simply got beat up and had to retreat.  As far as classes go in West of Loathing you have a much more limited set to choose from.  I went with the Cow Puncher which serves as the Muscle stat class for the game, but you can also choose from Beanslinger the Mysticality class or Snake Oiler the Moxie class.  Pretty early in the game I started down a bit of a secondary path of Necromancy and can now summon all manner of skeletal creatures to help fight for me.

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At this point I have played around five hours of the game and have unlocked a decent chunk of the map so far.  The game itself feels like this weird mix of a Maniac Mansion style adventure game blended with the original Fallout.  As you move between objectives on the world map you encounter random events, and if you just want to partake of the random events…  there is the Wander button that makes your character literally roam around in a circle around your current objective.  In Kingdom of Loathing there were a number of endless combat areas that allows you to level up specific stats or farm for specific items, and this game keeps that concept with several locations including something that allows you to keep jumping into combat as often as you like.  One example of this is a fountain that is spitting out snakes… and you can walk up to it and grab a snake to fight as many times as you like if that sounds like something you actually want to be doing.  There is a bone pit that I go to rather often to find the components I need to summon skeletons.  The absolute best part about West of Loathing is the fact there is no energy mechanic.  That is ultimately my frustration with the original Kingdom of Loathing or Fallen London…  is that I play them in spurts.  I might want to play for a few hours and then will go for a month without playing it again…  and that goes specifically against their model.  West of Loathing on the other hand is something I can roam around at my pace without worry about encountering any hidden barriers.  Ultimately if you ever played Kingdom of Loathing I highly suggest you check out this game, and at only $10 I have gotten more than my enjoyment out of it thus far…  and feel like I have only barely scratched the surface.

Sehnsucht

I’ve been sort of circling around a drain lately that is Magic the Gathering.  I go through this every so often, thinking that I really wish I could play Magic again.   The key problem is when it comes to this game, I am largely a man out of time…  or at least out of synch with the community of the game.  I’ve talked about my experiences with this  before, but functionally I bought my first Magic the Gathering cards during Unlimited.  I managed to pick up a single starter deck, and then was ultimately confused how to make that starter deck work, not realizing that they were by nature completely unplayable without additional pack support.  I sat on that until around the release of revised when I finally pulled my head out and learned how to play the game.  At this point Magic was really not a big deal in the small town I grew up in, nor the neighboring town where I had a store where I could actually purchase it at.  During this time I picked up a smattering of things from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends… and by the time Dark was released I was 100% in on this game and bought a ton of it the day it was released at my local comic shop.

Back then we largely ignored the way we were supposed to be playing the game and instead ignored the 60 card deck size and played an assortment of whatever the hell the best cards we had were.  Most of these decks were somewhere in the range of 150 cards, and were deeply filled with cards we just happened to like playing with like the Sengir Vampire or Hypnotic Specter.   I bonded heavily with Black as a color and still to this day I cannot really fathom playing any deck that is not at least aligned with black…  my perennial favorite being Black and Green which I have later found out is also called Golgari.  The thing is you can pretty much hand me any color combination that includes black and I will be extremely happy to play it.  The other place where we broke the rules is that we tended to play with a ton of people around a table and this went down one of two ways.  Either we played in a free for all fashion where anyone could attack anyone else…  or after the release of the Jyhad card game we adopted some rules from it.

That game had the concept of Predator and Prey…  so you attacked the player on the left and defended against the player on the right.  We functionally adopted this concept for Magic the Gathering and it left some really interesting things going on…  namely you never could completely go full tap on your prey because you would then leave yourself completely open for attack from your predator.  Additionally there was a significant amount of bargaining going on… and collusion.  Functionally we had one friend who refused to touch Black anything due to I think some pseudo religious conviction… and instead played largely mono White or White and Green.  The moment he played Karma which is a card that causes players to take damage for every swamp they controlled during their upkeep…  there were deals to figure out a way to either disable that card or outright remove him from the game.  Similarly there was usually a significant amount of aggro generated by someone who played a Rack or a Black Vise that has similar effects based on your current hand size.

It was an era when we played whatever seemed cool without a lot of forethought into the deck design.  You would sit down and never really know what you were going to encounter, and a good part of that made it exciting.  It was less about “combo magic” and more a period of just playing whatever the hell felt good.  There was this period during college where I really was not playing much, and I skipped most of Alliances and Mirage…  tagging back in during the tail end of Visions and was completely back in my prime for the release of Weatherlight and Tempest.  My world largely shifted with me starting to care about what was then called “Type II” magic…  which I believe is now called “Modern”.  Functionally it is a limited format and was the birth of what became block play where you were functionally limited to whatever the current block was and the previous one for deck construction.  I had entered a few tournaments before, but they were largely big sloppy messes that were super fun until the last rounds where they were completely dominated by whoever had the power nine.  In college however I started actually caring about proper deck construction and the game shop I played at was both extremely supportive to players but also a fertile ground for really fun pick up games.

The shop was constantly opening boxes of product for singles to sell, because the massive internet sales thing was not really in place.  In fact the few sales that I made wound up with me meeting up on IRC with magic players and arranging trades.  This is how I completed my play set of Jester’s Cap and Helm of Obedience when I was working on my Millstone deck.  What all of these box openings meant more than anything was that the shop had a robust commons bin, and it became tradition to build cheap decks from it and then battle each other.  Some of the absolute best times playing magic were done playing with a few dollars worth of cards.  However I also had many competitive decks that I broke out when they had weekend tournaments.  This is the first and only time I have ever really been deeply engaged with the card shop life.  From there I graduated college and got busy with the real world… and largely stopped following Magic the Gathering.  It has always been something I am fond of, and over the years I pick up the occasional random booster pack just because I love that freshly opened pack smell.  There is something magical…  no pun intended…   about opening a pack of cards and having the possibility of getting something interesting.  I also find it somewhat magical about getting resented with a slate of possibilities in the form of all of those common cards that can potentially interact in interesting ways.

The problem is…  I just don’t have a card shop home to even begin to get involved with if I so choose.  Nor do I honestly really have the dedication to bring myself to go on a regular basis.  Sure there is Friday night magic, but it is a way more serious scene around here than I really want to be part of.  I wish there was a weird league of people who played oddball “fun” decks.  However for many Magic players…  “fun” seems to be “winning at any cost” and that is not exactly drift compatible with my views.  In this current nostalgia for a time that never really existed other than the scope of my close circle of friends..  I’ve found myself watching a lot of videos on Youtube about box opening.  The one linked at the beginning of this post takes me way back because while I’ve only ever cracked one box of anything… and it was Mercadian Masques that I happened to win from a drawing…  I have opened more than my fair share of old school packs of Magic the Gathering.  This is one of those moments when I lament not really having a good circle of geek friends in real life to hang out with.  Since college I have largely been focused on online communities and have let some of my real world ones atrophy to the point of simply no longer existing.  We have a pool of gamers at work and I keep kicking around the concept of trying to create some sort of magic the gathering scene there.  The only problem is I am afraid that it might end up not being what I am actually looking for.  More than anything I think I just want to travel back in time and partake of some of those big free for all matches that we used to play.

The Wall

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Originally I was planning on simply just calling this an off day and not making a post at all.  However you can blame Kiwi for suddenly summoning the desire to actually do this thing that she told me to do.  This is a segment of the wall behind my computer monitors and something I stare at a lot.  That map of Norrath has been up on my wall since the Kunark expansion to the original game.  The figures…  also have been up on the wall since I first got them…  and some random googling is telling me that the expanded universe line was released in 1998.  Considering we moved into the house in 1999 either my memory is lying to me or I got them awhile after they actually were released.  I am pretty sure the Cloud figure traveled with me to the house and then was put up in a place of honor.  I have a Vincent Valentine figure from the same set somewhere… but I have zero clue where that somewhere might be.  I have so many random figures and collectibles that I really do need to make an effort to display them in a more sane and rational manner.  Functionally like my original tweet states… I feel all glitchy this morning.  My brain is full of a bunch of segments of ideas but none of them really have cohesion enough to form an actual post from them.  So instead you are getting this non-post of a post largely because once the seed was planted I thought it was a funny idea.  I am sure I will return to being inspired and more or less functional tomorrow.  Today however you are getting complete nonsense.