Cycles

Something in the Water

Yesterday the very amazing Aywren posted a bit on her blog to serve as a bit of inspiration and support for bloggers out there, and a bit of it was directed at me.  There is something going on and it is bigger than me or this blog, but seemingly effecting a lot of other bloggers out there.  Its like this growing dissatisfaction with whatever we have been doing, and trying to find a way to tweak and change it to make our lives better.  IronWeakness for example has been frustrated lately with the lack of attention to his family and faith, and as a result is quitting cold turkey.  Liore has reached a point where she just doesn’t really want to write about games because of a lot of reasons… not the least of which is how toxic gaming has become.  As far as me, I have written about my frustrating inability to get into MMOs lately.  I guess the thing is… this feels different from your average lack of creativity.  I can sit down at the keyboard and summon a post at will every single day and I have done so for the last three years.  More than anything I have started to question why and if I actually want to do it.

In part I have felt this massive amount of pressure to keep moving the ball forward.  It is like I have all of the plates spinning in the air and I am desperately trying to make sure that none of them stop and come crashing to the ground.  The past year has not been amazingly well for me when it came to gaming, and more importantly writing about gaming.  I made an attempt to do the whole writing for a paycheck thing when it came to MMOGames.com.  The problem is… turning it into a job… no matter how sporadic and supplemental it was… drained all of the fun out of the experience for me.  Similarly I used to love to write code on the weekends… until I became a programmer for a living…  and now the last thing I want to see once I exit work is code of any form.  This was only compounded by Blaugust which took a significant toll on me, and my ability to enjoy reading blog posts.  During that month, the insane number of people we had signed up… meant that every morning I was getting up and religiously checking this long list of post and tabulating data in a spreadsheet.  Nothing drains the fun out of anything like a spreadsheet.

Backing Away

So I have slowly backed away from MMOGames and the thought of taking any assignments there, thinking that distance would make the enjoyment come back.  I also took a long break from reading blogs, because I thought with time the desire to read them would come back.  In both cases things regenerated over time, but I feel like a part of me died in both cases that can never come back.  Right now I just feel somehow out of phase with the world.  There are days when I am mostly okay, and can hold normal conversations… but the rest of the time it feels like everything is washing over me in a manner that is just impossible to grasp.  There are so many times I contemplate interacting, but it is so damned hard to take that first step.  Most of the time I am this bundle of anxiety and awkwardness that I am trying desperately to make seem normal.  The worst is that I have turtled for a very long time… and what I mean by that is that I have this tendency to tuck my head into my shell and just stop interacting other than when forced to do so.  In part I think a lot of the games I have been playing like Diablo 3 or Destiny… I am doing so because I can play them in a completely solo way with brief intermissions of group activity.

I am not sure exactly when I stopped logging into voice chat on a nightly basis, but this has caused this wall of stress surrounding my interacting with the folks I podcast with each week.  I still love them and feel the same way about them… but I struggle to interact with them outside of our weekly recording session.  I can handle one or two people at a time… but the possibility of logging in to a whole room of people… no matter how familiar I am with them just makes me want to run screaming.  Always in the past I have come out of one of these periods within a month or so… but this one feels like it has lasted the better part of this year and might have started last year.  I know that I need to force myself to interact… but all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and forget the world exists.  It is really hard to be any form of myself when I am like this… because I am known as being this gregarious sort that is kind and happy to see new people.  There are just times when I can’t be that version of myself, and I am not sure how to knock myself free of this current slump.

Expectations

I guess I felt like I needed to be open about these struggles I am dealing with, because maybe it explains a bit why I am the way I am sometimes.  All of this is in part why I have seriously contemplated just hanging up my spurs and stopping the blog for awhile.  The truth is though… that I don’t really want to.  I’ve built this dialog between you the readers and myself… and I enjoy it.  I can rattle off a post and it is blissfully one sided.  Sure folks comment, but I can deal with responding to those as I am ready.  I don’t have to be prepared to have a bidirectional exchange immediately… I can sit down write what I feel like writing and then walk away feeling like I have gotten whatever it was out of my system.  The only problem there is this giant looming pressure that I need to post something every day.  I think the whole daily thing has been good for me as a whole, but now it just serves as this point of failure that is waiting to happen.  I know at some point I will not write a post, and the streak will be over… and it honestly scares me a little bit.  Part of me is wondering if I should just plan to have an outage and get it over with to remove a chunk of the pressure.

The truth is my readership on the weekend has always been limited, so I have been kicking around the notion of posting weekdays, but then making the weekends optional.  I know coming up for Memorial Day weekend I will be out of town… so that might be the moment I just let the ball drop.  My blog can survive without three days worth of posts, or at least I keep telling myself that.  Part of me is afraid that if I stop the pattern, I will fall back into my old habits of being the least reliable blogger out there.  I would love to be able to say that I would only blog when I have something really important to say… but then that barrier of what is important versus not important would throw me into paralysis.  As it stands… I think at the end of this month I will be taking a break, and hoping that this lull with no gaming and no blogging will help to repair whatever schism has formed inside of me.  I don’t really want to quit blogging, but I feel like I need to at least take a break, and a planned break is better than just getting up one day and being unable to do it anymore.  So anyways… that has been what is going around in my head and I hope now that I got it all out on paper… it makes a little more sense.

Thanks as always for being there and reading.

 

E1M1

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Doomed

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Awhile back I wrote about my feelings regarding the Doom multiplayer tests on both the PC and PS4.  It felt so much like they had missed the mark, and it seemed very much like someone trying to recreate the experience of the original Doom… without realizing that certain parts of that experience were due to a limit in the ability of the technology at the time.  The experience just was not fun, and that is the most scathing indictment you can honestly give any game.  So as a result I had for the most part decided to ignore that there was ever a Doom 4… or in this case a weird reboot.  Then yesterday I started seeing the first impressions of the single player campaign come in, and they were positive enough that I thought I would take a look for myself.  Even though at this point I have only really played an hour and a half of the game, I am glad I wound up grabbing it.  The impressions I had of the multiplayer were correct, in that this is an attempt to boil the game down to its original roots.  While this doesn’t really work for a multiplayer experience, it does work really well for single player.  The game functions in a way that you don’t really see games function in recent years, in that the game is not open world.  It is a series of closed loop levels that are designed to be approached as a single map.  The first one is quite literally E1M1 as the title of this blog post suggests, borrowing the same naming as the original Doom.  They are a closed puzzle that needs to be solved and involves opening a familiar series of Blue, Yellow and Red key card areas to progress through.

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The combat itself is also really interested and reminds me of the way these games used to play, where you would have a truly frenetic amount of enemies spawn in on you and have to deal with them rapidly.  However once you dealt with that room you were granted time to roam around the area freely before moving ahead and engaging the next set.  In many ways it reminds me of the way that the Painkiller games felt, where each room is this challenge to survive and then you restock your ammunition and health in an attempt to prepare for the next such room.  What helps make this manageable is the games “Glory Kill” system.  When mob is near death it will glow slightly and stagger around letting you know that you can sweep in and with the F key engage a sequence where you do an almost Mortal Kombat like fatality.  Sometimes you rip the head off of the monster, other times you rip the arm off and beat it with it.  Other than just being a carnal ballet, they serve the purpose of giving you life or ammunition back allowing you to keep up the killing streak a little longer.  I found it very needed for getting through some of the later rooms.  Often times the mobs will spawn in with such number that you have to keep running around the room to avoid getting wrecked.  The imps are also more frustrating than they have ever been with their ability to hang off the edge of things and gun you down with their fireballs.

Nothing Will Save You

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Unlike the original Doom, there is no “save game” that you can rely on.  Instead there are a sequence of Checkpoints that unlock as you go through the level.  When you die you either fall back to the last check point or restart the level in its entirety.  These checkpoints generally coincide with the various lulls in the action that I talked about.  The only frustrating thing is that they sometimes encompass several rooms worth of encounters.  I ultimately stopped last night playing because I died and rolled back to a check point a few rooms back… and simply didn’t have the strength to deal with the shit storm I had just waded though to get there.  Even on normal difficulty that game is really tough at times, and you find yourself having to keep glory killing just to maintain your health long enough to push through to the next room.  Ammunition also feels like a constant problem with both the 20 round shotgun and the 50 round or so Heavy Machinegun.  Similarly the Chainsaw this time around relies upon gas tanks that you find scattered throughout the levels.  What was surprising is just how fast you get into the action, similar to the original doom you are planted in a room with mobs that you have to chew your way through with only a pistol.  The secret areas that can be found feel every bit as meaningful as they used to in Doom, with them often granting access to a weapon before you would find it in the normal flow of the game.

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One of the more interesting aspects of the gameplay is the weapon modification system.  Each gun has an Unreal Tournament style alternate fire system but these are unlocked by finding weapon kiosks scattered through the levels.  Each mod package changes the way your right mouse button interacts, and once you have unlocked multiple modes you can change between them with your R key.  For example with the shotgun its two alternate fire modes allow you to choose from what is ultimately a grenade launcher and a three round burst that can both be accessed by holding the right button for a charged shot.  I personally tend to favor the grenade launcher because it allows me to bounce a grenade between several different mobs taking out the entire pack.  However for boss fights or tougher enemies I could see how the three round burst would be extremely beneficial.  The problem there however is that when you only have 20 rounds in the weapon, chewing those up 3 rounds at a time means you empty the gun quickly.  The big takeaway is that the game is very much a 90s shooter, with 90s shooter sensibilities…  remastered for the 1080p and beyond world.  Some of these work amazingly well in single player, but not in multiplayer.  However I might change my tune once I see how the snap map system works.  In any case I am definitely enjoying the single player campaign, and it has just enough story and intrigue to keep the game moving forward…. but not so much that you get bogged down in character development.  This is in no way the rich narrative environment that Doom 3 was for me at least, but it has enough atmosphere to keep my interested.  If you want a good shooter, give it a shot… but if you are looking for a deep storyline…  this is not the game for you.

Stolen Will

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Challenging Elders

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Over the last few weeks my friends Squirrel, Jex and myself have started what is turning out to be a little bit of a tradition.  Generally by the time Thursday night rolls around we have done Challenge of Elders on our mains, and since there is traditionally nothing going on Thursday night on the Axioma raid calendar we’ve opted to make it a sort of “Alt Challenge” night.  In the first week we managed to get two sets of alts nearly complete with the challenge.  This week however I had not actually run Challenge on Tuesday as is usually the case, and as a result I ended up running my Titan main with Squirrel and Jex alts.  That said we did extremely well and managed to get the requisite 90,000 cumulative score in only two matches.  The one thing I am certain of however is that I am sick of the melee objectives.  Last week the Challenge was Melee Bonus damage with Super bonus score, and this week it was Bonus Damage from Airborne kills and Bonus Score from Melee.  So basically for the last two weeks of Challenge of Elders we have been running around and punching mobs until they are dead.  Essentially it is time for something else, and I could definitely go for a modifier like secondary kills or something like that, but also have an increased ammo drop rate.  I could also go for another precision kill week with small arms, because it would allow me to farm all of the exotic weapons that I wish I had farmed the first time around.

After doing a round of Challenge of Elders, instead of starting another set of alts we opted to do the Nightfall which Bungie had the grace to give players something they had been wanting anyways.  For weeks since the launch of the April patch players have been figuring out ways to somehow farm the Taken variants of the Winter’s Run strike.  The reason is that this is the only place that will drop the Stolen Will “Taken” appearance shotgun.  Even folks in my own clan have sorted out all sorts of methods to try and dictate that you are getting this strike versus some other strike.  This is also what is causing the Heroic Strike playlist to be pure shit, given that very rarely is someone actually going to run a strike to completion that isn’t Winter’s Run.  By setting this up as the weekly Nightfall it is allowing all of the folks who are desperately farming for the shotgun to get it out of their system.  Sadly of the three of us… the one who seemed to want it the most was Jex…  however Squirrel and I both walked away with one.  Mine has usable stats so I am definitely keeping it… I think for Squirrel his is already infused into his 1000 Yard Stare.  As far as the loot haul for the evening… I got a 335 Lethe Noblesse that I have already infused into my Hakkon’s Hatchet because one… I don’t really like Scout Rifles and two…  the roll on the one I got was pretty crappy.  I ended up getting a 335 Cruirass of the Witness that is more than likely also going to serve as infusion fuel.  As far as the exciting bits… I picked up the 335 Stolen Will, 335 Exotic Lord of Wolves Shotgun, somewhere along the way a 335 Zhalo Supercell that will probably be infusion fodder…  and finally a modern light level version of the Helm of Saint-14 also at 335.  It was a really great night in both the hanging out and doing various stuff… and the walking away with lots of shiny baubles department.  At this point I just need a Titans Mark and a Titan Artifact to push me over the barrier and hit 335 light cap.

Agent Carter

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I just wanted to write a quick blurb about this to finish off this mornings post.  Yesterday afternoon it was officially announced that the ABC series Agent Carter had been cancelled and would not be brought back for Season 3.  This of course is causing a lot of frustration among the general geekdom community that I am plugged into.  I personally think it is a show because the bit of it I have watched… it was really good.  The problem with that statement however is the “bit of it I have watched”.  I am part of the problem.  This show is absolutely in my wheelhouse, but I am not watching it… because I am not watching Television.  I do however watch a lot of Television through streaming, and as a result I am completely not used to the concept of watching something on a specific schedule anymore.  As a result I am woefully behind in so many shows because I ultimately wait for them to show up on Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime.  I feel like Agent Carter is a victim of a disconnect between how Televisions really want us to watch, and how people are actually watching.  What I mean by that is that Agent Carter the only place I could find to stream Agent Carter was on Amazon… and by that I mean purchase each episode for $2.99 and that is not going to happen.  Hulu offered the show but in their ultra shitty 5 episode window, which means that if I for some reason get behind in a show… as was the case with this one… I can never actually catch up because those first episodes are gone to the sands of time.

So the truth is this is absolutely a show I would have watched, had they simply put it in the format I consume broadcast media.  The problem is much like was the case with the music industry…  Television is desperately clawing, kicking and screaming… trying to hold onto the power base that they built over the decades.  Shows like Agent Carter that resonate with the generation that has already moved past the “TV Guide” era are unfortunately going to be the casualty until they sort out how to make this function.  I feel some guilt here, because if folks like me were watching then maybe it would be getting that third season.  However I am just not willing to watch television on someone else’s schedule, and even the DVR concept seems foreign to me these days.  I don’t have the number of tuners to be able to record all of the shows I am vaguely interested in, and I certainly don’t have the hard drive space on said DVR to keep them until I am ready to watch them.  I am perfectly fine with watching commercials in my stream…  just let me stream it… and from the platforms we already use.  This is not permission for yet another proprietary video network that requires a login and a bunch of hoops to jump through.  Sit down and cut a deal with Hulu or Netflix… and get over this shit.  Unfortunately if networks don’t get with the program soon they are going to continue to watch their market share slip through their fingers as a generation finds other ways to entertain themselves.

 

 

 

Hype Cycle

Shiny Baubles

I guess it is time to actually start writing this morning, considering I have stared blankly at the screen for roughly fifteen minutes.  A bunch of storms blew in over night, and I am guessing they woke me up because I feel like I just did not get a single bit of rest last night.  I struggled quite a bit to actually go to sleep, and in the in-between time of laying down and conking out I spent some time browsing the 3DS Nintendo eShop looking for Pokemon Sun and Moon.  I guess somewhere in the whole mix of discussion about the various starters… that I apparently missed that this game is not releasing until November.  The amount of hype floating around twitter yesterday made me think that clearly I had apparently missed the launch date.  However it was just apparently an announcement of the three starters which caused folks to go running and screaming in the aisles.  The amount of pre-hype surrounding games has reached a critical point, and I am just as guilty as anyone.  I pre-bought Warlords of Draenor, Legion, and Overwatch…  because it gave me goodies in game immediately for doing so.  That is ultimately the hook that gets me is when you offer something limited that I potentially won’t be able to get any other way than the pre-order something.

However I feel like today it reached a new level with Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, considering all that has been released is essentially a description of the game and a few screenshots… and it is now 3rd place in the current “top sellers” list on Steam right now.  I mean Bethesda did something similar with Fallout 4, but the pre-orders didn’t start until after the e3 demonstration that gave us a few hours worth of video outlining all of the features going into the game.  It feels like you could hold up a crudely drawn picture of a famous franchise, and money would literally start being thrown at the screen.  Don’t get me wrong… I know that more than likely I too will order Civilization VI because its Civ… and that game makes me lose entire weekends.  However the big takeaway for me is that I have is that I ultimately played way more Civilization IV than I ever did of V.  There are just too many things competing for my attention, and I feel that this is happening to pretty much everyone.

Digging a Hole

I remember a time in PC gaming where you could go several months between the launch of big titles, but now companies seem to revel in stacking similar titles on top of each other at exactly the same time.  I am certain that this information trickle about Civilization VI was to combat and somehow sour the milk of all of those folks thoroughly enjoying Stellaris right now.  It gets frustrating to see this play out,  when everyone is fighting for our very limited amount of attention.  Battleborn is probably a good game, and the little bit of it I have played in the PVE campaign has been enjoyable, and has the same sort of Borderlands style humor liberally sprinkled in.  However its launch has completely been gobbled up by the Overwatch hype machine.  I’ve heard many folks utter the words “oh wait, Battleborn is out now?” or the equivalent because its launch week was completely consumed with the release of Open Beta for Overwatch and the floodgates opening allowing all of the folks who never managed to get an invite into the game.  Now roughly a week after launch, this title that in any other Climate would have drawn huge attention due to it’s pedigree lists below Civilization V in the 16th spot on the current top sellers list on Steam.

It just feels like we are reaching a point where the games industry as a whole is going to eat itself.  What I am seeing is the level of marketing bullshit associated with video games that I last saw prevalent during the big reality television boom of the 2000s.  For all I know a ton of marketing flacks from that era took up roots in the gaming industry because it seemed to provide more stability… which in itself is a stretch given that very few of the folks I know in gaming have been in the same position for more than five years.  What I find frustrating the most is that I say all this… and I still find myself wanting to pre-order this or that title so I can get the shiny bauble or widget that gets discarded about two hours into the game because it is now utterly meaningless and replaced by actual progression loot.  I am very much part of the problem, and I have a disturbing back log of games sitting in various states of minimal play.  Instead I keep logging into Destiny or Diablo or the MMO of choice this month… and spending hour after hour treading the same ground instead of truly giving the new games a chance.  I’ve dug a hole that I will never be able to dig myself out of, because the amount of time needed to finish all of the games in my backlog is more time than I probably have years left to live… given that I have to you know work and stuff.

I don’t have a brilliant conclusion that I can tack onto this discussion like a pretty bow, it is just what happened to flow out of my fingers when I sat down at the keyboard this morning.  The only way things will change is if we stop giving into the pre-sale cycle, but the problem is that the current financing model for games… depends heavily on that early trickle of money.  So this is both “why we can’t have nice things” and “the only way we will have nice things”.  Ultimately it feels like the Video Games industry is being propped up by the same sort of hedge fund shenanigans that lead to the great recession.  There was a time where I thought it would be amazing to work in the Games Industry, but now… I am thankful I chose another path.  I also need to credit Talarian who ultimately planted the seed of this mornings post in my head yesterday, which then I started going over in my head as the night went on.

Fickle Electron

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Curse Your Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal

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Yesterday was the final day of this brief vacation, and I knew that unlike Monday I needed to actually get some adulting done.  So I scurried around like mad in the morning and knocked a dozen things off of my list all before eating breakfast.  The day was going to be awesome, and to make things even more interesting it turned out that yesterday was “Spindle” day, meaning that the Lost to Light mission was the daily heroic.  Now the Black Spindle weapon in Destiny has been the bane of my existences for some time.  I’ve spent probably a grand total of ten hours working towards getting one now, in the various weeks that it has been available.  Always something goes wrong, and either the group I have managed to assemble doesn’t stand a chance due to low light levels…  or we struggle and get super close to pushing across the line but never quite get it.  On my best attempt we had two mobs left standing at the end of the mission.  The worst part of it is that trying to get folks for this mission is like pulling teeth…  because nobody likes it.  It is that one mission that no one wants to do but everyone feels at least slightly obligated to help with.  So I feel horrible anytime I even begin to ask.

One of the big problems with my clan is that so many of them are only online during what is my “daytime”.  So with me being on vacation I was hoping that would mean that pulling together a crew for it would be easier.  Initially I got pulled into a Challenge of Elders group and then as we were waiting in orbit for someone to take a bathroom break…  there was a power spike.  Instead of the power coming back on…  it flickered a few times and then was off for good.  Sure enough there was a major power outage.  There is a local website where folks post rumors of stuff going on, and it turns out that most of my town was without power or at least most of the shopping district.  This was just too much after the internet outage the other night killing my plans, having a power outage do the same was just frustrating beyond belief.  I reported the outage and the power company was unable to give me any sort of an estimate as to when it might be back on.  I mean I guess it could have been worse… and the outage could have happened at night.  So I went downstairs and fixed myself a sandwich resigned to wait for the power to come back on.

Civil War

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It was around then that I got an idea and called the local movie theater to ask if they had power.  Sure enough they must have been on one side of whatever the divide was that flicked off the power to the rest of the town.  I had been planning on going to see Captain America: Civil War at some point over the minication so in theory there was no better time than while the power was out.  I normally shun watching movies in 3D but the showing this time was an hour earlier than the non-3D one so I went for it… and resigned myself to wear an awkward pair of glasses over my glasses for the entire film.  Now some theaters have glasses that have actually taken into account that someone might not have perfect vision and wants to watch a movie, but ours has the cheapy disposable RayBan look-a-like glasses.  In any case I sat down to watch the movie without realizing that it was roughly three hours long… and this would ultimately gobble up any time I had left in my day off.  The positive is however that the movie was really good, but I guess the bar is pretty damned high at this point for the movies in the Marvel franchise.  Awhile back I created a playlist in chronological order and it takes over 26 hours to chew your way through it.  This is not taking into account either of the television shows or any other potential direct tie-ins.  This makes this quite possibly the most massive movie series ever created…  and honestly the general high level of quality across all of the movies gives me some huge hope for what Disney will do to the Star Wars franchise.

As far as the movie itself…  how do I talk about it without spoilers.  There are a lot of references to Empire Strikes back during one part of the movie, and I feel like this is apt.  This is very much the Empire Strikes back moment of this series.  It is the first time in the series where there are more unanswered and unsolved problems at the end of the film that were before it started.  Previously each movie was this call to action that was more or less neatly wrapped up by the end credit roll.  Now of course traditionally there are after credits sequences that open up a whole new can of worms and tee up the next film, and this does that nicely.  What it does not do is give the viewer closure.  Things are still pretty screwed up at the end of the movie, and it feels natural that we have another movie waiting in the wings to fill in the rest of the details.  I was honestly afraid that having this movie essentially cut and half and spread between two different years would make it feel like the Harry Potter finale did where it felt like things just were abruptly cleaved in twain.  Instead this feels like a complete movie, but one that we know there will be another complete moving coming behind on its heels to finish things up.  The pacing is much slower as well, which fits the Empire Strikes Back comparison but it happens in a way that adds weight to the movie and not one that makes things feel stretched thin.  In any case it is well worth your time going to see it, but I highly suggest you watch the rest of the series… because this one makes so many references to past movies that I feel like someone might be lost if they started here.  As far as the rest of my plans yesterday…  they more or less didn’t pan out and once again Lost to Light passes without me getting a Black Spindle.

Endless Rockets

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Action Movies

This so far has been one of the stranger breaks from work I have experienced.  Yesterday I was a complete waste of space in all possible versions of that term.  I think I was just overly drained from the weekend and spent most of the day starting things but not quite getting into them.  I played some Rift, patched up Final Fantasy XIV but never actually logged in, played an awful lot of Diablo 3 in very short spurts and occasionally connected to Destiny over remote play to attempt to get exotics from the Ultra Knight on the Dreadnought.  For much of the day though I aimlessly drifted along with whatever happened to be on television.  Namely for whatever reason yesterday was apparently classic action movie day or something, because I caught all of Die Hard and Rambo: First Blood Part II, as well as bits and pieces of others.  The funny thing about action movies is with time they usually seem worse than you remember them… this was absolutely the case with Rambo.  There were so many things in that movie that just seemed silly, from the fact that the helicopter he was piloting at one point seemed to have an endless supply of rockets, to the fact that he fired a ton of bullets and never seemed to stop and change the magazine…  nor did it actually seem to have any place in his outfit to store extra magazines.

Diehard on the other hand, for the most part holds up just as well as I remember it.  In fact in many ways, I appreciate the movie more these days.  The only part I ever really had trouble reconciling was how he ended up without shoes.  I mean I get the point… he was taking the advice to de-stress, but before I went off to be a hero I would have put my shoes on rapidly.  Also the concept of undressing in a strange bathroom is not really something I would ever be comfortable with.  However once the movie starts proper that movie makes a strange amount of sense.  It comes off as more a heist film than a traditional action movie, and we are getting to watch both the heist and the guerrilla resistance to it.  The movie has so many tropes that play out to make it work… from the cokehead hotshot, to the incompetent police chief…  to the equally incompetent federal agents.  I am sorry but Bruce Willis is still a bad ass even when I see him in a modern movie, but he seems to have lost a lot of his early “moonlighting” charm that gets displayed in the original Die Hard.  Sure he makes snarky comments, but I feel like Die Hard really was more a reprisal of the Addison character in a different setting.  The other big takeaway from watching both movies back to back is just how many visuals have been stolen from these films.

Crusaders are Slow
Diablo III 2016-05-09 22-23-00-48

Last night was also a mixed bag in that we had been warned for the last several days that a major weather event was coming.  Most certainly it was because it absolutely wreaked havoc on Wynnewood area, but for the most part in the Tulsa area we got nothing but spotty rain.  That did not stop us however from going into storm mode where we both hung out downstairs watching the constant scroll of weather reports and storm chasers across our screen.  As a result I didn’t do the normal Destiny thing because it didn’t really feel safe to be upstairs and oblivious to what was happening.  Instead I played quite a bit more Diablo 3, and eventually took to helping my friend Thalen level.  Later we were joined by Grace and the pace of leveling increased greatly.  As my crusader I can take a lot of damage, but I just dish it out ever so slowly.  The unfortunately part about my seasonal journey is that I am now to the point where I need to do some sort of a conquest to move on to the next step, and none of them look really doable for a crusader.  I mean the “easiest” and most grindy one is to level three gems to 65, and at this point I am working on that every so slowly.  I have all three of my normal gems to over 45 and am ever so slowly working my way to 65.

However to get that bank tab I am going to need another conquest somewhere.  We made a quick attempt at the kill 350 in a cursed chest and came up very short with our group getting 292 which normally would feel awesome…  but still very short of the goal.  I have a couple of friends playing Demon Hunters and in theory they can solo it, so I might pester them for assistance.  The chest in question that supposedly is the easiest to do is one that spawns in the Paths of the Drowned in Act V, and spawns a ton of bogglings.  The problem being for me to kill things as a crusader I need to get them super close to me… and trying to wrangle all of the mobs is the big challenge.  I really either need an disintegration wizard or a rapid fire demon hunter that can wreck things as fast as they spawn to get through it.  The only problem here is that I am definitely behind the curve when it comes to this season and both demon hunters already have their extra bank tab and are now playing significantly less.  My fear is that this is going to be the equivalent of the Black Spindle in Destiny… aka that thing I try a bunch of times but can never seem to do.  As far as today goes…  I am not sure what is on the radar.  I know I need to adult like mad, and do the laundry.  I am also hoping to sneak off to go see Civil War, largely because I know some of my co-workers will be wanting to talk about it upon my return.  As far as gaming goes, that is entirely up in the air and more than likely I will just end up playing a lot more Diablo 3.

No Internet Blues

Vault of Glass

I am on vacation the next two days, so as a result you are getting a post a bit later than normal.  I had every intent of getting up like normal, but the world was rainy…and the bed was warm, and the room nice and dark so I just kept sleeping.  I got up long enough to make my wife some coffee and then went right back to bed, and while I thought I wasn’t really asleep I apparently missed her departure.  I largely survived the moms day festivities and other than getting choked up due to some backwater yokel burning wet leaves…  thing went pretty smoothly.  So much so that I thought we would be back home at a decent hour last night.  My Destiny clan does a Sunday night Retro raid trip through Vault of Glass, and I am in desperate need of an Aetheon kill so that I can finish my No Time To Explain exotic pulse rifle quest.  Generally speaking Sunday is television night in our household, but given that te rest of the day was kinda messed up I decided to take a pass and instead signed up for the raid.  It was going to be awesome to finally have that quest out of my log.

When we got home from an extended dinner/conversation with my parents, I went upstairs and sat down at my computer.  I brought up a single website…  the one that allows me to sign up for a clan event.  When I then turned around and hit the Bungie website to transfer some items I got a no internet connection error in Chrome.  Sure enough I was setting the caution light symbol on my ethernet, and it was around this point that I noticed the cable modem disconnected.  I fiddled a few times to try and get it reconnected, and then hollered down at my wife to check the cable.  Sure enough the television part of the equation was out too.  The biggest frustration is that there was an error messaging showing up on the television with a phone number, but when we called that number and waded their their annoying menu of options, we finally received an answering message stating that the office was closed.  At this point it is 8:30, and the raid starts at 9 pm…  so a mild bit of panic is setting in but there isn’t much I can actually do about it.

Life Without Internet

Thankfully our mobile phones were working because my wife managed to find a different tech support number, and we called that.  Once again we had to wade through a frustrating sequence of message prompts.  We finally get to someone and sure enough there is a major outage in our area, one that is not planned to be resolved until 10:06 so an hour after the start of the raid.  I manage to fiddle with the mobile app for the clan and de-register from the event, and sit there resigned to my fate.  The problem with our modern connected society is that most of the things that I like to do… simply don’t function without internet.  Thankfully I had managed to log into the PS4 before the internet went out and it seemed that Ratchet and Clank didn’t care about having connectivity.  I ended up playing that for a bit until at some point  looked to the side and the blue lights were back on our cable modem.  My Wife verified that in fact we did have cable television back as well, and things seemed pretty peachy.  It seems like they managed to fix the issue by 9:30 instead of 10 something whcih was awesome, but unfortunately the Vault of Glass raid didn’t actually make.

Instead we ended up watching the rebroadcast of Fear the Walking Dead, and then going to bed a it later than we normally do.  Losing internet is this strange roller coaster of emotions which I guess in some way troubles me that this one thing is that important.  We found out that apparently there was a lightning strike that took out a connection point for both the power and cable, and that a large swath of my town was out of power.  I remember the thought going through my head of “Whats the use in having power if we don’t have internet” which when I thought it kinda jarred me.  I guess it was a weird conclusion to what was ultimately a really strange weekend.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad strange, just way busier than we are used to.  On a positive note my “flower children” seem to still be happy and we have failed to kill them off in the week we have had them.  They require way more water than I had originally thought which has me watering both morning and evening to keep them looking healthy.  The “Sunpatiens” especially seem to need a thorough soaking both times to make them nice and happy, which was not something I was expecting.  I had always been told that over watering was just as bad as not watering at all.  However it seems like whatever we ended up with combined with Oklahoma temperatures really need that water.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be back to normal gaming style posts, but this is all I really had for today.

Mothers Day Prep

Searching for Thing

Yesterday was a strange day, in that we got up and ate breakfast like normal… but upon finishing my wife went off to work.  She spent the entire day either working in her room or later proctoring a mock AP exam.  This meant that I was largely left to fend for myself, which is admittedly a happy place for me.  I grew up an only child, and instead of going places I didn’t want to I often begged to stay home alone.  So even today I am pretty happy just chilling by myself for long periods of time.  Yesterday however there was a mission, and that was to acquire a Mothers Day gift for my mother in law.  Now early in the season we had figured out what we were going to get her, but did not honestly have a great place to store it.  So yesterday after eating breakfast and showering I got out and cleaned my vehicle so that I could set down the seats and haul said item.

The only gotcha was that when I got to the store, the huge stack of said item that was there several times during this season…  somehow vanished.  I spent awhile poking around in the store and looking for the item, and even harassed several employees that lead me through a sequence of departments I had already checked.  So I sent the obligatory “We Might be Screwed” text to my wife and as it was getting to be lunch time I figured I would get some take out and call various stores to see if anyone had some.  I am purposefully being vague here, because while I know that my mother in law doesn’t read my blog… it still feels weird to talk about a gift I have yet to deliver.  My brilliant wife suggested that I go onto the stores website to see if it shows any in stock near by, which is great because I hate making phone calls.  The funny thing is…  the store in question shows that they have 20 available and in stock at my local store.  Aka the store I just went to that told me they didn’t even know what I was looking for.

Inventory Black Hole

On a whim I figured it was worth a shot… the worst thing that would happen is that they would have to refund the purchase.  So I added two of the item I was looking for into my shopping cart on the website…  somehow expecting at any moment for the site to come to its senses and realize that the store didn’t have the product.  I added in my credit card information and hit purchase, verifying that it was in fact available for pick up that day before finalizing the order.  I got a confirmation email saying that the store would call me when the item was ready for pickup.  Then I began waiting…  and in my boredom, anxiety and frustration I noticed that Audacity was open in the background.  Maybe this is a bad thing for me to have open in the background because I apparently recorded this.  Firstly I am horribly sorry for the thing you are about to listen to…  but it made me giggle so I decided to share it.

Sure enough about an hour and a half later I get the phone call from the store telling me that they have two ready for pick up, and asking when I will be there.  I hop in the my vehicle and head straight there, where they have two of said item loaded on a flat bed trailer thingy ready to go.  I have to show my ID and sign a piece of paperwork and almost too good to be true I am walking out to the parking lot with said items.  Funny story…  while moving the items on the cart began to jostle and next thing I notice they are sliding off the back end of the cart.  This is the point at which I learn about physics and how if you have an item that naturally moves on its own… you apparently should orient it in such a way as to NOT cause that movement to happen.  Thankfully nothing was damaged and I got them loaded into the back of my vehicle, and even had a nice person who really wanted my flatbed cart so I didn’t have to push that back up to the store.

 

Crusadering

Diablo III 2016-05-07 16-04-06-54

What was left of the day I spent playing Diablo 3 and pushing my way towards some of the conquest achievements.  I was happy that I didn’t have to end up running all over hells have acre yesterday trying to find the thing on short notice.  I still feel like having my Mothers gift drop shipped more than a week ahead of time was the way to go, but that doesn’t always work out.  Yesterday was honestly oddly stressful because the moment my wife got home from work, we had to get right back on the road and head to dinner.  We do this once a month dinner thing with her siblings, and because reasons… it somehow got shifted from Friday night to Saturday night.  Which meant we had to watch the clock and make sure we were out of the restaurant in time for us to drive the roughly hour home so I could be here for the podcast.

Today we are doing something similar, with the moment my wife gets out of church we are heading to her mothers to deliver the gift, and then that afternoon seeing my mother.  I am actually super glad that I have both Monday and Tuesday off because otherwise this would have been a crazy weekend.  This is also probably one of the strangest posts I have made in awhile, because it is like 99% real life and 1% gaming.  Hopefully you all will take it in stride because it is what happened to come out once my fingers started moving this morning.

 

Bag Bloat

Overflowing

rift 2015-04-16 06-33-09-55

Last night I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about MMORPGs and she mentioned that she had logged into a game recently and had a visceral reaction.  Upon logging in she saw what a state of disarray her bags were, and when she tried to go to the bank to simply just stuff it all in there… was confronted with the same thing going on there.  She ultimately just logged out and went on to play something else.  This exact sequence has happened to me time and time again and is the biggest obstacle for me playing certain games.  A big game on that list is Rift.  Right now every single corner of my bank is full, and most of my bags as well.  Every so often I have the desire to play the game, but when I log in and see a few hours worth of sorting ahead of me to get my bags into a state where I can feel comfortable playing…  I just log back out frustrated.  In my case the bags are full of non-critical items like dimension stuff and crafting materials…  but it isn’t stuff I am willing to part with either.  So instead of playing the game like I originally wanted, I just lament how I don’t have a good solution to fix the problem.

I am in a similar place right now with World of Warcraft.  My bags, bank, and void storage are completely full with cosmetic gear for transmogrification.  I know that with Legion they are putting in a system that will allow me to save the graphic and not have to keep the item.  However in the mean time I am stuck juggling all of this loot with no real end in sight.  Sure I could get marginally larger bags, but that would only buy me a few slots worth of reprieve rather than being a permanent solution.  So with World of Warcraft, I honestly doubt I will be seriously playing that game until the pre-legion patch launches… that hopefully gives us the transmog solution.  This is a situation I am very familiar with because I have struggled with it for years in Everquest II, but in that case it is simply because the inventory maintenance systems they have are pretty horrible and I can’t remember what half of the items I have looted actually do.  I wish games would have tool tips that clearly identified what an item is used for, because in the past I have accidentally sold that one important item that I could never get back to complete a quest, and I am in constant paralysis when it comes to potentially doing the same thing again.

Bulk Storage

Since Rift is the king of adding in new and interesting systems to solve problems.  I would like to humbly suggest two more be added to the pile.  Basically for me personally I need bulk storage for Dimension items and Crafting materials.  So what I propose is an account wide bulk storage system.  For the dimensions some sort of toolbox that you can dump items into and then place them directly from a panel that collects and shows you how many of each item you have.  In order to remove items from the economy and not allow players to just horde items that they might later sell, I would suggest that adding a dimension item binds it to you so that it can only be used in dimensions attached to your account.  There would probably need to be a limit to the number of a single item you are storing, but in theory it just goes into the void and then is summoned inside of your dimension via the toolbox panel.  This solves a bunch of problems other than storage, namely that the toolbox interface would allow you to see just what you had to place, and even more so what you were lacking so you could go off and acquire those items in particular.  Wildstar has a system very similar to this, and it works amazingly well.  Having something in place similar would allow me at least to tame my bag bloat.

From the crafting side of the equation I suggest a similar system.  When you dump your crafting materials into bulk storage they again go into the void and are only extracted through crafting.  Once again this keeps players from stockpiling materials that could then be used to flood the market at a later date.  Putting them into bulk storage would essentially remove them from the economy.  Once again it would be best to have this system be account wide, so that you could farm materials on any of your characters and share them for the purpose of crafting.  I would absolutely love something like this because I obsessively harvest nodes…  but often times have nothing I really need to do with them.  I simply stockpile them for that moment I will eventually need them.  If I were smart I would simply sell them on the open market, knowing that I could buy them once more if I actually needed them for a project.  Instead I dump them in my bank and they take up space.  What I envision for an interface is a pretty minimal on, with just each of the crafting materials listed out by category… and a number beside each indicating how many you have in bulk storage.  Guild Wars 2 has a similar system that works amazingly well, and seeing something like that in Rift would make my day.  Basically having these two systems, combined with the “appearance saving” systems that Rift and Wildstar already have… and World of Warcraft is about to get… would fix almost all of my bag woes.

Evil and Phones

Diablo III 2016-05-05 22-37-36-15

Society and Cell Phones

This morning I am going to talk about something that I have been kicking around in my head for awhile, but haven’t really been able to shape into a full fledged commentary.  It feels like each week there is some new alarmist piece of media talking about the degradation of society, and placing the blame squarely on the cell phone.  For awhile I have had this working theory, that these articles for the most part are written by extroverts, and I am sure for that group of people the landscape has changed in a very scary way.  I use my cell phone as a cloaking device, and what I mean by that is I am fiddling with my phone in order to create just enough social friction to convince you that it isn’t worth the time to engage in small talk while standing in the elevator next to you.  For years I’ve been frustrated by the fact that apparently standing in the same vicinity as someone is passive consent to be deluged with a bunch of conversation that I have no interest in.  Having my smart phone at the ready has greatly cut down on that unwanted interaction, because they see that I am engaged… or at least LOOK like I am engaged.  It is the same cloaking device mentality that I apply at work by wearing headphones every single moment I am sitting at my desk.  I may not actually be listening to anything, and honestly often times am not.  However the act of wearing the headphones stops a lot of “drive by” conversation.

More so than that I feel like access to the internet and social media allows me to engage people safely.  I’ve had to learn how to be “normal” but face to face conversation with someone I am not extremely familiar with is a massive anxiety ridden trap.  While talking I am actively trying to be normal, running through a checklist of things and constantly aware of how much or how little eye contact I am making.  When I am hanging out with someone I am familiar with most of this goes away, and I can just let my guard down.  The thing is…  non face to face communication lowers all of these barriers for me.  I can be a social butterfly in a text only interaction.  When I first stepped foot onto IRC back in 1994, it greatly broadened my horizons and introduced me to a world of new people and new places to learn about.  So for me, as an introvert… it allows me a certain measure of extrovertedness because it hacks my brain into thinking it is perfectly okay.  However for the Extroverts out there… I have a feeling that this does in fact seem like an epidemic.  They no longer have all these passive participants that they can forcibly engage in dialog, and instead have to seek out other Extroverts who are equally hungry for that interaction.  What I think is happening is that finally introverts are getting a vehicle where they can express themselves more comfortably.  I might be wrong, but this is my working theory.

Return of Thorns

Diablo III 2016-05-05 22-37-36-15

The last couple of days has seen me completing my Invoker set for my Crusader, and gathering up most of the items needed for the build I have been working towards.  I am just not a fan of the Akkhan’s set and I lacked a handful of the pieces really needed to make it a viable option.  A big part of the Season are the Seasonal rewards, and the last major bottleneck for me was the set dungeon for Akkhan.  In spite of having tried it numerous times I simply could not stay alive long enough to complete it.  However with the Invoker set I was able to muscle through that dungeon and come damned near close to getting “mastery” on my first attempt.  The thorns set just feels better to me and as such I have been testing the limits to which I can push it.  I am still missing a handful of items, but last night I managed to solo a level 50 Greater Rift without much issue.  Earlier in the evening my friend Grace and I who are similarly geared… managed to complete a Greater Rift 60 together.  In theory I could probably do the 60 right now solo, but even as a duo there were some pretty sweaty moments.  The big problem for me are still a handful of mob types that can straight up one shot me, or come damned close to it.  I think that is the sort of thing that only improves with slightly better gear and more paragon levels.

Diablo III 2016-05-05 19-35-00-58

I am still in a constant search for the goblin that drops pets.  Some of my friends have found one but so far neither myself nor grace has seen one.  Last night we burned through two of the rings that summon the goblin realm thinking that there are three to four goblins in there.  However we still had zero luck, but I did fine a cute easter egg.  Notice the name of the boss I am fighting in the above image.  Essentially right now I need to spend a significant amount of time running Torment X bounties with the hopes of getting the rest of my gem patterns to drop.  I think that would go a long ways into improving my overall survival and output, by upgrading to the highest tier of gems available.  I am also still in search of the best in slot main hand, and I need to get a shield to throw in the cube.  For optimum performance I also need to get another Aquilla chest, because right now I have those reversed with the Aquilla in the cube and the Heart of Iron on my person… when it really should be in the cube.  In any case I am just happy that I am functional at Torment X and above.  Now begins the long wait to get just the right items to drop when I need them.  I also need to start working on the various conquests if I hope to get the extra bank slot for this season.  This honestly is a point of frustration for me…  I hate that you can ONLY get the slots through conquests.  I think that they should sell the extra stash tabs, but also allow players to do the conquest to get one as well.  That means if you are doing conquests you are getting the new cap twice as fast.