Old School New School

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Doomed

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Firstly if you didn’t check it out I highly suggest you read yesterday’s blog post if for no reason other than the amazing custom artwork by my friend @Ammosart.  As far as this weekend went, it was a bit of an odd one.  I once again played a lot of Destiny, but this morning that is not one of the shooter experiences I am going to be talking about.  I really hate it when game companies gang up on each other, because this weekend there were “special” beta tests going on for Overwatch, Battleborn and Doom.  While at first they might not seem all that related, they are each chasing a multiplayer experience that they would really love you to care about.  Battleborn is not even on the list of games I was interested in, thanks to a really bad alpha experience causing me to pitch it to the curb.  Doom however…  I really want to like and keep giving it ample attempts to sell me on its regressive notion of what first person shooter multiplayer should be.  Now please note…  I’ve had access to the alpha for quite awhile now thanks to a strange presell deal that they had for Wolfenstein The New Order.  I have not really talked about it before now however due to the NDA it has been wrapped in, but with this weekends big beta event… that has been dropped.

Doom Multiplayer is a game that really hopes that you remember Quake 3 Arena fondly, and have been craving that sort of gameplay with marginally better graphics.  The gameplay honestly gives flash backs to playing Rocket Arena… during a time when even then I thought the Quake Arena experience was far inferior to Unreal Tournament that I tended to play more often.  If you miss the days of being shot across the map from someone you can’t even see as you spawn in… then this is going to be the game you have been hankering for.  The big problem I had was in all of the matches that I have played… I never really found myself having fun.  I mean I did okayish, but it very much felt like wandering around the same claustrophobic hallways that we used to in Quake.  The worst sin however is the movement… it feels completely unrealistic and the same sort of stiff speedy running that those original Quake games had.  What it is trying to be is fast paced run and gun action, but in an era when we can do that without sacrificing animation and design aesthetics.  I’ve now played several different PC alpha tests, and installed it on the PS4 to give it a go there… and no matter what I keep coming up with the same impression.  This is not a fun multiplayer experience.

Molten Core!

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The general “unfun” nature of Doom was only drilled home thanks to also being in Overwatch this weekend.  It feels like both games are trying really hard to deliver something similar, at least in the department of a faced paced shooter department.  Also both games really want you to want to watch them as some sort of an e-sports extravaganza.  However Doom is a world that traded the drab green and brown nothingness of Quake for various shades of orange and blood red… whereas Overwatch is almost more game world than it actually needs to support the combat.  As you wander around the world there is a constant barrage of tiny details.  Posters on the wall, images up on computer screens… advertisements for murloc themed restaurants.  The world is vibrant and feels alive, and almost begs you to inhabit it, and what makes it even better is that every single character is just as vibrant and well designed.  Playing Torbjorn feels unique and completely different from playing Pharah or Reaper or Reinhardt.  The only negative here is that at times they almost feel too unique, in that the control scheme of one champion doesn’t begin to map up to playing another one.  It is fairly normal for “league” style champion design to differ wildly, but at least in League you are always going to be using QWE, but for Overwatch champions there is essentially an array of hotkeys that get used… and not all champions use all hotkeys.  The most confusing aspect of this is how some champions have a movement key and others don’t…  and even among the ones that do they don’t always sync up to exactly the same key.

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So what ended up having to happen is that I started to compartmentalize “this is how I play this champion” from “this is how I play overwatch”.  The only unfortunate thing about this game is that you can see how much effort they put into building the world, and personally I get a little nostalgic about “what might have been”.  Titan was supposed to be Overwatch the MMO, and I would have loved that.  Even if they had given me a game along the lines of Destiny or Division I would have eaten it up completely.  So as you are playing through the levels you see signs of what might have been.  As far as the game play itself it centers around running multiplayer matches, to rank up… to unlock loot crates… to get sweet skins and other cosmetic stuff…  that improve your game play experience for those champions that you really love.  At its core this game is a really tight multiplayer team based shooter, and if that is not the experience you have been looking for… this probably isn’t the game for you.  It plays like a modern version of Team Fortress 2 and feels tighter than that game ever did.  Every aspect of the experience seems like it has been painstakingly planned and the awesome thing about it is that for once Blizzard is probably being more forthcoming with information than any other multiplayer game has been.  For example they went into more detail about the netcode behind the game play than any company I have ever seen.  The only unfortunate thing is that I am going to have to likely wait until May 3rd to get to play the game again, given that is when the pre-launch open beta period begins.  The game lived up to all of my expectations, and I am amped to get to play it with friends.

Seven Years

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Interesting Journey

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It feels so immensely strange to be sitting down to write this post.  As of this morning it marks the seventh year of Tales of the Aggronaut.  I am not exactly sure why but seven years seems like a significantly more auspicious number than five or six or even eight.  Culturally we place a strange importance on the number seven as either lucky or magical, and I have to admit that I fall for this same trap myself.  As a web developer by trade, I started this blog with a purpose and had all of the trappings of a proper website.  One of those is of course Google Analytics integration, and I spent some time this morning going over the numbers before sitting down to write this post.  In the Seven years I have published 1260 posts, and they have been read a grand total of 235,304 times at the moment of pulling the stats.  Over the course of this blogs lifespan I’ve had 110,359 unique readers from 182 countries, and roughly 40% of them are return readers.  What I found shocking was that there are a little over 4000 of you out there that have read my blog more than 200 times.  As far as my readers go it seems that the bulk from from the United States as one would expect, but the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Australia also make up large chunks and round out the top five countries with France coming in a not too distant sixth.  The web developer in me was also curious to find out that the vast majority of my readers are using Google Chrome (go them!) with the next highest batch using Firefox (also good choice)…  and then unfortunately a large block are still using Internet Explorer and I was shocked that it actually beat out Safari.

The thing is…  these numbers are utterly meaningless because at the end of the day it still very much feels like I am a little kid pretending to make a newspaper or sitting in a cardboard box pretending to tell the news.  Every day I get up and make my post, and mentally I feel like I am talking to myself.  I have a hard time reconciling that there are people out there reading each and every day without fail.  I know there are mentally, because when I am late getting a post up… folks will come out of the woodwork to check on me.  However emotionally I cannot quite comprehend that I have people that are that interested in the boring things that I do each and every day.  I am not a terribly interesting person, and most of my life is spent going to work, trying to be a good husband, juggling family and friends… and attempting to get in as much game time as humanly possible.  The truth is I share a lot of my life with you my readers, and if I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself…  I am not sure if I would have the courage to say some of the things I have said.  I’ve shared my high points and my low points… and attempted to be honest with my struggles and frustrations.  The result has been more support from my friends and readers than I ever thought possible.  When am feeling down, you all reach out to me and lift me back up… and in truth you are a huge part of why I keep going each and every morning.

Evolution of the Aggronaut

I still look back on the early days of this blog and wonder what exactly caused me to start it in the first place.  I guess in truth I was always a blogger, I just didn’t realize it.  I was one of those folks that haunted game forums, and was prone to writing huge wall of text posts about this subject or that.  As to what prompted me to make the switch from forum goer to blogger, that one is a bit harder to nail down.  I know I was ultimately prompted to start thinking about it by WoW Insider and their focus on a single blog called The Wordy Warrior.  Since I was a Warrior trying to lead a raid, I felt a certain kinship with this blogger and that lead me to start my own “warrior blog”.  Aggronaut itself has gone through so many changes over the years.  It was originally a Warrior Tanking blog, and then shifted to a general warrior blog… to a raid leadership blog…  to a general World of Warcraft blog…  to a Rift blog…  until finally it was rebooted in its current form which is MY blog.  For so long I kept trying to make it into something more than just an open discussion I was having with my readers about whatever happened to be on my mind.  I was told that in order to be “successful” you had to find a niche and then exploit the shit out of that niche… and that never really did feel amazing.  The end result after all of this back and forth is that Tales of the Aggronaut is a blog about me and whatever the hell I happen to be doing.  If you are going to read me for long at all, you have to be interested in me as a person because I am not always going to be all that interesting.

The strangest thing to get used to over these years is that once you have made a post it often times develops a life of its own.  There have been many times I have written something and then someone came along behind me and got some other meaning from my post that I never intended or even thought about.  Sometimes this is good… and other times it just serves as fodder for someone else’s rant blog.  The one harsh reality is that the posts that become popular, are never the ones you actually thought were worth reading.  Looking back through my analytics…  here are the top five posts in the seven years of Aggronaut.  At least one of them completely makes me cringe these days.

Of those the only one I am actually proud of in any fashion is my GroupCraft series of posts.  The Keyboard Turning one I am actually actively embarrassed by largely because I don’t even recognize the “me” that wrote that post because I guess I have mellowed out significantly since I first started this blog.  However I feel like it would be dishonest to remove posts from the annals of time, so I leave them…  even the ones that make me cringe.  If nothing else this blog charts my evolution as a player and a decent human being.  However I admit that a lot of that evolution didn’t really start until I began my mad mission of blogging every single day.  In a few weeks it will mark the third anniversary of blogging every single day, and it is funny how I have gone from being one of the least prolific bloggers to being among the most.  In the first four years of my blog I made 148 posts…  in the last three years I made 1112 posts, so a huge difference.

Faces of Bel

Like I said in the start of this very long and probably self aggrandizing post…  seven feels like a special number.  For years I have joked that I really only play one character, and then try and recreate that character in every single game that I play.  I’ve even posted pictures of my various characters to drill home that point.  This got me thinking, and since I am really good friends with the amazing artist @Ammosart I decided I would try and commission her to create a special graphic to commemorate this occasion.  The idea was to have an image that showed off several of the “Faces of Bel” and I have to say I was completely blown away when I saw the end result.  She went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for, and now I will have to be tempted to have her create something for every anniversary…  if I can afford that.  I absolutely wanted this on a shirt, so at my suggestion she has throw it up on her t-shirt store.  I wanted every last penny of the proceeds to go to her, so instead of me creating a “Tales of the Aggronaut” store this seemed like the better option.  For I believe the first 72 hours it is only $14 and then after that they go up to the normal price of $20 and $22 for bigger sizes.  Once I finish writing this post I plan on ordering one for myself because I am so floored at just how well this turned out.  I am super thankful to have awesome friends like Ammo, that I can pester to do little side projects like this.

I feel like I need to wrap things up, because this post has gone on quite a bit longer than I thought it would.  I am very thankful to have all of you out there reading my words, and without you I am not sure I would have the strength to get up every single morning and commit text to page before I have finished my cup of coffee.  Through this blog and the awesome community of folks that I have met through the various social media accounts connected to it… I have forged a family that I will take with me for the rest of my life.  It doesn’t matter if we have only interacted one time…  you’ve left an impression on me and given me the will to keep going.  Sure there are mornings where I question myself why the hell I keep doing this, but all of you out there that ping me over twitter or slack or countess other methods…  give me that drive to keep moving forward.  I realize this post has sounded a little bit like a farewell at times, and I haven’t meant it to.  Seven is a magical and special number, but so is Thirteen…  so as I top the hill of this goal I set my sights on the next one.  Thank you for joining me in this journey, and hopefully we will have a lot more of them before I decide to call it quits.  Also side note… please take some time to tell @Ammosart just how damned amazing this image is!  I’ve had it for about a month now… and it has been pure hell to keep it under wraps because from the moment I got it I wanted to share it with the world!

Children are Strange

Unexpected Evening

Last night I had one of the strangest evenings I have had in a very long time.  Firstly you have to understand that I sometimes take photos as a hobby.  While I have not really mentioned this in the blog in a very long time, it is still one of those things that is at least somewhat in my life.  My wife and I used to go off on these photo shoots on the weekends, and now that it is getting nicer we probably need to start doing it again.  The problem with being into photography is that people seem to think that you might be interested in taking photos for them.  You have to understand that the sort of photos I enjoy taking are landscapes, buildings that show “urban decay”, and interesting advertising signs.  People photography has always bored me, and while I used to help my dad as an assistant while he did portrait photography…  it is not exactly something that I feel I am very good at.  However when asked by friends I will give it the good ole college try.  Several years ago I photographed a wedding of some neighbors, and another time I did some family photos for them.  Recently when they decided to adopt two kids there was talk of needing photos for the adoption ceremony.  This always seemed like a far off destination, but a few weeks ago they got back the date and it was the first part of May meaning we needed to get something done quickly.

So as a result we settled on meeting up after work yesterday, hoping that maybe just maybe we would have some light to work with.  All in all I think it went pretty well and over the course of about thirty to forty minutes I took close to 400 photos.  Now granted some of those were rapid fire to account for blinks and eyes closed etc, but it was still a lot of posing and trying to keep two small children 2 and 4 from going into full blown meltdown.  I am thankful to my wife especially who is not bored by portrait photography and actually somewhat enjoys it, who helped to figure out how to pose people and wrangle them.  Afterwards we had planned on having a quiet dinner at IHOP because for whatever reason breakfast as dinner sounded amazing.  However when we mentioned that we were going out to eat everyone seemed to want to tag along.  This was fine, just unexpected and before we knew it we were dining with five adults, 2 kids and 1 kiddult…  developmentally still a child but otherwise seems like an adult.  The two soon to be adopted children, you could tell spent a good chunk of their lives just not receiving enough attention.  Both are hungry for adult interaction, and at numerous points during the evening I ended up with one of them up on my knee answering a bevy of questions…  or with them being completely enthralled and fascinated by my beard.

Solitude Required

The evening also thoroughly cemented in my mind how much we don’t want children.  I mean the kids were awesome and I am more than happy to be an unofficial “uncle”, and this summer will be fun given that they already think our backyard is a “water park”.  However given that we went to dinner around 7 pm and didn’t end up getting home until 9:30…  I couldn’t handle the sheer amount of time it takes to do anything with a car load of children.  The other aspect was the fact that at no point during the evening was there anything I could ever term as “peace and quiet”.  I need my solitude and time to recharge my batteries without having to deal with any other human being… especially not one that is thoroughly dependent on me.  This is why I have ferrets an cats… because in both cases they are completely happy entertaining themselves…  but also equally happy to get attention.  I know as a kid I used to think I wanted this huge family, because after growing up a single child I craved the big family life that always seemed so much more fulfilling.  However I feel like I have a huge family… just pieced together out of my huge tapestry of friends.  There are lots of opportunities for me to be an awesome uncle, official or otherwise… and that is more than enough child interaction for me. In other news the photos seem to have turned out well, and I need to sift through the stack and pull out the best ones to pass off today.

 

Rising Light

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Unintended Kings Fall

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The original plan for last night was to chill on the sofa and play some Ratchet and Clank over the PC Remote Play application.  However as the day went on yesterday I noticed that there was a new raid scheduled for last night that my good friend Sagacyte would be attending.  Since the Tuesday night Rookie Raid… now called the Squirrel Squad didn’t make due to the patch and too much newness for folks to be exploring, I thought it might be a good idea to pop in and at least get some boss kills for the week so I had a shot at loot.  Things went pretty well overall, but I think I blew all of my jumping skill early on.  I managed to make it through the ship puzzle without falling and even make it over onto the ledge that leads up to the chest.  However by the time I got to the wall puzzle, I was apparently out of juice because I fell so many times trying to get over to the exotic chest.  There was one jump where I kept bouncing off the damned wall.  The jumping is the only thing that I dread each week when I run Kings Fall, and while I seem to be improving… there are times where it feels like I can simply do no right and either land too hard, or can’t quite get over the gap.  In any case I eventually gave up and headed to the end of the puzzle and managed to do that without much issue.  It was just the ledges leading up to that chest that I seemed to be having problems with.

As far as the raid itself things went really smoothly other than that time that I got torn during sisters… and had no clue what platform I was supposed to start from.  Now I know however that you apparently look up and find the orb and then start counterclockwise to it.  While we wiped on that round we managed to pick it up and wreck them on the next.  Probably the best moment however was one-shotting Oryx doing it the challenge mode, especially considering how much issue we had with him in the previous few weeks.  I failed to get back from the exploding balls in time, but we still managed to get the kill.  The best best part however was getting a bunch of loot that were upgrades, and finally getting a Red Death.  Smite of Merain has been my go to weapon for awhile now, and I ended up picking up a 318 version of exactly the same roll.  Getting Red Death however was the icing on the cake since that was one of those exotics that I had been hoping to see.  All in all the run went really well, and while Squirrel keeps trying to tell me that I am no longer a Rookie, I still very much feel like one.  I know the fights, but I still feel like there is a certain amount of skill that I am lacking.  The fight I feel the most comfortable on is Oryx oddly enough, because I really like the bubble titan duty there.  Above is a gallery of all of the nifty things I picked up throughout the evening of playing.

Rapid Increases

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The thing that has felt insane for me is how I floundered at sub 300 light level for the better part of a year, and over the last two months I have shot up to as of last night 318.  I guess it is like any game, that if you have access to raiding your gear levels increase rapidly.  Early in the evening I spent some time with Broken and Squirrel running the Challenge of Elders, which was one of the new pieces that went in with the patch.  The idea is that once a week you grab a scorecard from Variks, and then there are two challenges that need to be completed.  The first is to finish the three round Challenge of Elders while earning at least 30,000 total team score.  We failed barely to get this on our first go, but on the second and third attempts we blew the score completely out of the water.  The second challenge is to get a weekly total accumulated score of 90,000 which we easily hit within three outings in the area.  Each match rewarded some decent infusion fodder, and at the end we managed to score a guaranteed weapon for the single match objective, and a guaranteed armor piece for the cumulative challenge.  Unfortunately the roll on the helm and machine gun that I got were kinda crap, but they did serve nicely as infusion fodder taking my Iron Companion helm and my Bretomart’s Stand to 318.  I have to say the Challenge of Elders was really damned fun, and I look forward to doing this one at least once a week.

Quite honestly all of the Prison of Elders content has been great, and it is the sort of thing that I am not really going to turn down if anyone is looking to run it.  Squirrel mentioned that he plans on running Prison of Elders quite literally all day Sunday and that doesn’t seem like a horrible idea.  I am wanting to see how doable the level 41 version of the event is to complete with total strangers.  I am assuming that you can queue for a group like you can for a strike, and after experiencing it… it seems like it would be doable with strangers.  As far as for farming gear this seems like a decent way to go since every match I ended up walking away with at least one if not two legendary engrams with a chance of one of the special legendaries to drop.  Honestly the thing I am enjoying the most about this patch is it feels like I have lots of different ways that I can be increasing my light level.  I’ve run a handful of crucible matches and each time I managed to get something at the end.  The getting nothing problem seems to have either been fixed or greatly reduced, because now the consolation prize seems to be coins or a few motes… and the best option is some infusion fodder.  Either way I am down with it, and will probably try and use crucible to farm a few more motes before Xur disappears this week.  I need to replenish my stock of three of coins.

 

Blog Unbroken

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Technological Betrayal

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Yesterday was a really rough day.  It was the sort of day that makes you question why exactly you do anything.  It started yesterday with WordPress indicating that I should really patch my blog to the latest version.  These are the sort of warnings that I take heed, given that generally speaking the way you end up with a hacked blog is by not patching constantly.  Everything seemed completely normal, and I started soldiering on with my morning post.  About 90% of the way through the morning post I noticed that I was having some odd issues with the wysiwyg editor, so I decided to save a draft and reload.  Upon hitting that save draft button, it cleared everything I had just written giving me a painfully blank screen.  This is what ultimately lead me to post my blog broken post, because I ran out of time to write something, and I was testing to see if it was only the save draft functionality or if it was the actual publish functionality as well.  So I rattled off a post really quickly, hit publish and boom… it posted only a title with no content which told me more than I knew before.  It seemed like something that was interacting with the editor was causing problems.  This second time around I had the presence of mind to write my post in google docs, so I was able to log in through the WordPress.com interface and try making the post there, which is ultimately what added text to my post.

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After a bunch of fiddling and turning things off I found that apparently the Twitch Embed Suite that I had used for awhile to embed my twitch stream into a page on my blog, was causing all sorts of issues.  So after disabling that I managed to make an update to the post, which is giving me hope this morning that all of this typing is not in vain.  I’ve also already saved a draft successfully so we are in a much better place than we were yesterday morning.  Unfortunately these problems didn’t stop with the blog yesterday, and my entire morning at work was spent chasing down insane issue after insane issue.  One of which had been plaguing me for a few days now and over the course of six and a half hours working on the problem and trying everything I could think of it solve it… I finally remembered that about six years ago we had something similar happen and I followed down a hunch of what had caused that issue.  The issue with problem solving is that often times I need to let a problem percolate in my brain for awhile before the answer presents itself…  which is not exactly conducive to fixing something rapidly.  So by the time I had fixed this huge issue, and a few others… it felt like I had run some sort of a mental marathon.  The day improved after that…  well that is until I found out that the daily heroic in Destiny was once again Lost to Light…  the mission that can in theory reward the Black Spindle.

Lost to Light Sucks

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Mostly I am just sick of trying for a Black Spindle.  Through the grace of my friends Squirrel and Jex, I have likely put in more than twenty attempts at this thing over the course of several different occasions with no luck in walking away with one.  On our best attempt we were one or two mobs away from completing when the timer ran out.  Last night Squirrel was available as always and willing to help, but we struggled to find a second and Jex was nowhere to be found.  So as a result I ended up trying with an old World of Warcraft friend and his co-worker.  I was feeling pretty good when I heard that the two of them duoing it somehow managed to make it to the final room with a couple of minutes to spare.  I thought surely with a third person in the mix that would make all the difference in the world.  Unfortunately we could get to the final room with about six minutes left and from there everything seemed to break down when it came to juggling clearing the adds and also working on whittling down the boss.  The closest we have ever gotten was the bubble in the middle method where we took down the boss with sword attacks and then worked on clearing the room.  This time around we largely got corralled in the center corridor “safe spot” and anytime we attempted to poke our heads out either ate a sniper shot or a taken centurion ball attack.  In any case this is another week without getting a spindle, and honestly I am not sure how much more I am even going to attempt it.  I get my hopes up and then when I fail to get it again I just end up feeling like shit.

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Now other than this little hiccup the patch has been excellent.  Yesterday I had written a huge post talking about all of the things I was enjoying in the patch, but sadly that bit of prose is lost to the sands of time… or at least wherever the internet garbage collector deposits things.  Suffice to say that I am enjoying the update and that it has lit a fire under my ass to go out and do things.  It is not entirely as magical as I would have hoped because the confusing text blurb I have talked about before from the Bungie website was exactly that…  confusing.  Originally the statement had said something to the effect that engrams would now decode to at least your current converted light level.  What that really means in practice is EXOTIC engrams will now decode to at least your current converted light level.  I am still getting a ton of trash blues and purples, but I don’t really mind them that much because I no longer have to go through a complicated process to decide if I should break it down immediately or if I should save it for infusion fodder.  The math is simply… is it higher than the light level of the gear I want to be using?  If so eat it and bump up an item… if not deconstruct and get tasty materials.  The awesome thing about this is that it is letting me dip into my bank and dust off items that I never actually used because the light was simply too low.  For example I found this amazing Byronic Hero which is an extremely high impact hand cannon with a decent magazine size.  It has triple tap, hand loaded and hidden hand giving me decent stability, better than average range… and great target acquisition with the ability to get a bonus round if I precision shot multiple times in a row.

Treasure Room Raiding

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The other thing that needs to be talked about is Prison of Elders.  When Destiny launched, I played for a few months and then got frustrated with my inability to improve my light level and moved on to something else.  I did not return until after the launch of the Taken King, which means I largely missed both House of Wolves and the Dark Below and never actually played the original Prison of Elders.  Now my friend Squirrel runs this every single week, and has for a very long time… but tends to run them on Sunday which was a lousy time for me to be doing much of anything.  So when we set foot in there a few nights ago it was completely fresh and new to me… and I loved every moment of it.  For years I have wanted an MMO to give me a dungeon that is a sequence of random encounters pulled from a larger pool of encounters… and that is pretty much precisely what Prison of Elders is.  The first four rounds of the match take place on various battlefields themed after either the Fallen, Vex, Cabal or Hive and in new incarnation apparently each one of these has the chance of spawning in as a Taken version.  The fifth round is a boss encounter and will take place on the battleground that links up to the type of mob you are facing.  In the couple of outings so far I have only seen the giant Vex Minotaur and the Cabal Primus, but I believe there a bunch of options that you can end up with, as well as some new Taken versions.  Your reward at the end is a trip down to the treasure room where you get to open three chests and each time through I have gotten at least one legendary engram for my troubles.

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The other thing of note has been the introduction of loot boxes, for purchase from the in game shop or from doing activities.  It seems like you earn a loot box for doing each type of activity per week, meaning that your first crucible match of the week, your first prison of elders/heroic of the week…  and I am guessing your first raid of the week earns you a loot box.  I also ended up opening several of the boxes with silver and managed to get a full set of the Taken themed gear as well as a full set of the Spectrum gear that allows you to change the color of its glow.  I thought I was just super lucky, until I found out that most of my friends got nothing but Titan armor regardless of who they opened them on.  There are angry threads all over the place right now talking about how crappy the randomizer is on these boxes, and folks have posted pictures of their inventory full of nine copies of exactly the same item.  I guess in the grand scheme of things I lucked out because I got all of the armor I would want, as well as a white tron themed sparrow, and a really damned cool ship.  Unfortunately it was not the taken themed ship that I really wanted…  but I am happy enough to use it for the time being and will simply hope that my future weekly boxes end up giving me the other.  In any case… I am really happy with the patch and have been slowly getting enough higher level engrams to start upgrading my gear a little at a time.  I went into the patch sitting at 309 and can now hit 312 which while not a huge difference is enough to keep me engaged.

Broken Blog

Bad Morning

This morning is already not off to the most amazing start.  I had a blog post roughly one paragraph from posting and for whatever reason things went south.  This morning I patched WordPress and with it a number of plugins…  including the text editor that I use to edit my blog posts.  I am guessing something went south in the process, because it just ate a blog post.  As a result you are going to get a very shallow shell of the post that I was going to make, because I am running out of time.  Yesterday itself was a rough day for me,  because it seems like I picked up some sort of a stomach bug.  As the day went on I was running a low grade fever, alternating between chilling and smothering…  and suffering from what I can only term as “intestinal panic” in polite company.  I managed to make through a super important meeting that I had scheduled last week… and that could dictate the success or failure of a big project at work.  However after that I went home and spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa, consuming Gatorade and not trusting myself with anything more substantial than saltine crackers.  It was not exactly a joyous occasion, however as the afternoon turned into evening I managed to feel a bit better and eventually filtered upstairs to check out the Destiny patch.

The most vexing problem this morning however is that my blog seems to keep clearing out my posts.  What makes this all the more frustrating is that I am only a few weeks away from hitting three years of posting every single day… and my blog appears to be broken.  Anyways this is somewhat of a half assed post but I am going to continue trying to make it until it finally takes.  Hopefully by tomorrow morning I will have sorted out what caused my blog to break and will be able to make a proper post.  If this worked…  I had to go through WordPress.com to post on my blog…  which is just not sustainable for the future.  Testing something really quickly to see if I sorted out what plugin was causing the issue…  if you see this message I apparently did.

All Hail Patch Day

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Light be Praised

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Today is the most magical of all days…  patch day in Destiny.  There have been times in the past when something so cool was being released that I have been giddy about the patch, and today is definitely one of those days.  If you have not been following Destiny since the original launch, I have to say you have been missing something.  This is one of those games that a lot of people wrote off completely after being frustrated with the original release.  To be truthful even among the AggroChat folks… even though I talk about Destiny constantly… there are a handful of people that were burned so bad on this game that they never want to play it again.  This is however a huge unfortunate thing since Taken King was for Destiny what the 2.0 patch was for Diablo 3.  It was that period of time where so many things were just “made better”, because in many ways it was the start of Bungie realizing that a somewhat adversarial loot policy was a bad idea.  That said there was still quite a bit of grind in Taken King, but it was the sort of grind that never made me feel like it was utterly hopeless.  I could go out, get a bunch of engrams… and maybe just maybe one of them would be worth using to help infuse up all of the 280 weapons that I had sitting in my vault.  The infusion system was so much better than hoping for a drop… and then not being able to use it because it didn’t have enough light on it like happened so often in Year One.

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That said the infusion system was still a pain in the ass.  I had my vault lined with 285 items that I could use as stepping stones to get those 280 arms day and vendor drops up to decent levels of light to make them usable in most activities.  Last night I cleared every last bit of that out of my vault, because with today’s patch infusion will be 1 to 1.  Meaning that if I get a 280 weapon, I can drop a 310 item into it and it becomes 310… no fiddling or calculations required.  With today’s patch the light level is also being increased… to 335, with pretty much all of the “end game” activities from Iron Banner to Court of Oryx to the existing raid being able to drop high light level items.  There is a part of the patch preview on the Bungie site that is a bit ambiguous talking about engrams now decoding to a minimum of whatever your equipped light level is.  If that is the case I will sing the praises of this game from the rooftops because I have a vault full of weapons I would LOVE to use… but they are simply too low of light level to be viable.  While I didn’t start saving nearly as far back as my friend Squirrel did (simply for lack of bank space) I did start saving pretty much every engram I have gotten in the last few days.  The hope is that tonight when I log in I can start decoding them and hopefully get some really nice upgrades to my overall light levels.

Hope of Stability

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As is often the case on various game subreddits, some user has created a really excellent list of all of the content that players might need to know about coming back to the game.  While I fully expect there to be a deluge of returning players, this really is the ideal time to reinstall the game and start once more.  This patch packed some pretty massive quality of life issues, and if the grind bothered you before… that should be significantly lessened now.  As far as how I spent my last night before the patch…  we were attempting to play clean up on the stranded Kings Fall raid from Tuesday.  I’m part of the group formerly known as the Rookie Raid, that has now been renamed to the Squirrel Squad.  Though based on the folks that sign up instantly…  I was going to suggest Jexy Squirrelghast for the unofficial name.  While I still very much feel like a rookie, I guess I have picked up more information than I realize.  Granted I still suck horribly at the jumping puzzles and more than likely always will.  I died so many times to the wall last night it wasn’t even funny.  That said I wasn’t the last person to get to the chest, nor the last person to get up through the rock pillar vertical puzzle either.  As far as the stranded raid…  well we spent most of our time attempting to get the Warpriest challenge mode, and as a result we simply ran out of time to move on beyond it.  We wound up simply killing the Warpriest in non-challenge mode, which I felt was at least in part my fault… given that it was my first time doing platforms.

Last night we more or less cruised along nicely thought Golgoroth, and Sisters… only to run into some logistical first timer issues on Oryx.  The fight has a lot of things to take in and we straight up got robbed of at least one kill when half of the orbs didn’t detonate even when players were standing on them.  The raid ended in frustration, because we simply ran out of time and available resources to keep pushing.  I greatly appreciate all the non-rookies that stuck in and pushed forward trying to get Nidrew his first kill, and it is my hope that tonight the servers will be stable enough for us to give a good push at trying to get that kill this evening.  Part of the becoming “Squirrel Squad” is that we moved the start time back to 8pm CST giving us an extra hour worth of attempts on stuff to hopefully get the clear.  That 9pm start just guaranteed that by the time we hit Oryx we were all a little loopy and out of it.  The only gotcha tonight is that given my history of big landmark patches in the various MMORPGs I have played…  I totally do not expect the servers to actually be playable tonight.  I will be totally fine with just doing small activities roaming around this evening, and maybe taking in some Court of Oryx.  However I am still holding out hope that we might be able to do the 320 version of the Kings Fall raid tonight, and get folks some new and shiny upgrades.

 

Good TV Bad TV

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Fear Season 2

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Something you need to know about me, is that I love Walking Dead.  I started watching it during the first six episode season and have been a fan since.  Over time it developed into a sort of watercooler moment for me and my coworkers, where we watch it every Sunday night and discuss it the next morning at work.  This is the first time in my life that I have really had a show that I wanted to talk about like this, and even more so had people I wanted to talk about it with.  So naturally when Fear the Walking Dead was announce we were pumped, because it would be our methadone to help weather the long dry spells between episodes of the main franchise.  That said…  season one was a massive disappointment, for me at least.  It centered around a cast of characters that I simply struggled to relate to.  I spent most of the first season rooting for them to get eaten by zombies, and now that we enter the second season I had hopes that maybe just maybe they would finally turn into characters worthy of the franchise.  As it stands the only characters that I can honestly say I like…  are Daniel Salazar and Victor Strand…  the characters that the show runners are very much setting up to be the “bad guys”.

The biggest problem I have with the show right now is that the characters seem so phenomenally dumb.  Admittedly the world has just fallen, and they are not quite adjusted to it… however they should have spent enough time by now to realize that the dead are dangerous.  They should also know however that humans are even more dangerous.  It just feels like they have exited the first season with zero lessons learned.  It is like they still keep expecting life to return to normal… even as they are heading out to sea with Los Angeles burning in the background.  I don’t want to get into any spoilers, but honestly that is pretty easy so far because nothing of any importance has really happened yet.  Right now I am still very much rooting for the zombies because I keep thinking if we can thin the herd of our cast a little bit… maybe just maybe they will start to take the threat seriously.  I guess the problem that I am having is that I keep expecting this to be Walking Dead, when at its core it just isn’t.  I will probably give the show a few more episodes, because until Game of Thrones starts up in a few weeks I don’t have a Sunday evening show to be watching… and I have gotten into the habit of watching something on Sunday nights.  That said…  so far the second season is off to a pretty boring start.

Daredevil Season 2

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As disappointed as I am in Fear… if there was a polar opposite I would feel that about Daredevil season two.  While the season did not have the strong single story arc that the first one did, it chopped up into what felt like three smaller separate story arcs that were equally enjoyable.  This is really the season where we see Daredevil emerge to be the hero we recognize from the comics.  Its like over the course of season one and the first half of season two… the pieces were falling into place one by one.  I guess that is part of what I have loved so much is that you can see the progression from a vigilante wearing essentially black sweatpants to the badass hero that we have come to expect.  There are going to be spoilers in this write up because I am not sure how to talk about it without really going into spoilers.  The quintessential moment for me was the creation of his “cane” weapon.  From that point on this show turned into exactly what I always hoped it would be and I was constantly getting rewarded with awesome shots of him throwing it into baddies and then retracting it just in time to hit someone else with it.  While he has better armor in this show… I like that it still shows the personal toll that being a hero has on not only his body but his relationship with Karen and Foggy.

The highlight of the season however has to be the introduction of the Punisher.  “Shane” was a character that I loved to hate in The Walking Dead, and when that character left the show there was a big hole that never quite got filled…  that is until Rick himself started to fill that role.  Jon Bernthal makes a phenomenal Punisher,  and I hope beyond hope that eventually we will see his own spin off series.  As a kid my favorite comic book character was The Punisher, and my friends was Daredevil…  so it was always an extremely special moment whenever we got to read comics where the two characters interacted and teamed up to fight the Kingpin.  I have this feeling that we are heading in that direction, because in this season the Kingpin also finally became the Kingpin that we love to hate.  As far as the Elektra arc I have to say it was done pretty well, and the whole hand vs chaste concept.  The season was essentially a condensed version of all of the story lines that I can remember relating to Elektra/Daredevil/Stick/The Hand.  Unfortunately the whole “Black Sky” concept is not something that I remember from the comics, because in that version The Hand worship a demon called the Beast.  So this appears to be the point where we leave the story line and go off in a different direction.  Regardless I am sure we will see Elektra once again, and I am certainly hoping that Season 3 will show us more of the Punisher and Daredevil team up as well.

The Secret Stash

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Comfort Gaming

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One of the things I always have trouble sorting out, is what game I plan on playing during the AggroChat podcast.  Now there are casts that have a strict no gaming rule while talking, but I honestly think that would damage some of the discussion.  Essentially we are hitting record on conversations that naturally happened already on our voice chat server.  Part of that equation is the fact that we are talking while gaming, and for the last couple of weeks the game of choice has been Diablo 3.  I think partially it is that I know the season is coming to an end, and as a result it is fresh in my mind again.  The ultimate irony however is that I am not playing seasonal characters at all.  While recording two shows ago I ended up pushing my non-seasonal monk to 70 and last night I started working on trying to get my non-seasonal warrior from 60 to 70.  That would leave only my Wizard as being sub max level, which honestly…. I am considering giving another chance.  I am not a huge fan of finger wigglers… but after running with a lot of wizards over these last couple of seasons…  I have to say I see the charm.  They can simply melt anything that they come up against, and there actually is a semi melee range option that I would probably be able to stomach.

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The other thing that I tried my hand at this week was Path of Exile.  I find it shocking that the game has been out this long and I have yet to even really give it a shot.  The talent screen honestly scared me off a bit because it looked as complicated as the final fantasy x sphere grid.  However for some time my friend Carthuun has been talking it up, pretty much anytime we brought up Diablo 3.  It is entertaining and I feel like I could play it happily, but I have to say I was somewhat shocked how relatively difficult that it starts.  I mean it is not super hard, but you can’t simply mow through the mobs in quite the manner that you do in Diablo 3.  All this really means is it makes me realize just how watered down the latest Diablo installment really was.  The only disappointment was that there didn’t seem to be any sort of a real “knight” light character with a sword and shield in the manner of the Crusader in D3.  I ended up choosing the big brute character, and at some point I will probably try and go sword and shield.  I am not sure exactly how I am building the character yet because I have yet to get terribly far.

Pre-Patch Farming

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The majority of yesterdays game time was spent running around in The Division and attempting to farm crafting components.  At the current moment I have a decent stash of materials, or at least am in a better position than I was before I knew the crafting changes were coming down.  I am not super pumped about the patch, because it feels like it is taking the game in a less player friendly direction.  However that said I am still slowly making progress towards the level cap.  While running around yesterday I managed to ding 24, and encountered some areas that I had not seen yet.  The strangest of course was this marijuana farm that was nestled deep inside a building.  As the day goes on today my goal is to continue trying to level because I would really love to be able to participate in some of the big activities, but I am absolutely certain I will not hit the cap before the patch.  I am somewhat frustrated that it sounds like gearing is going to be harder for me, than it was for the folks who rushed the leveling process.  That however always seems to be the case… the first few you get to cap get easy epics, and those who level slowly have to struggle through the throttled drop rates.

 

Sword Logic

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Conversions Away

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Last night I had every intent of logging into The Division and playing it all night long.  If nothing else I knew I needed to pop in long enough to convert all of my materials to orange or blue quality.  This Tuesday there is a pretty horrible nerf coming down the pipe in crafting.  In the case of high end crafting it is more than doubling the amount of materials needed to craft something through the form of an extremely lossy conversion of materials.  Right now it takes 5 greens to make 1 blue, and 5 blues to make 1 orange crafting material.  Which has always felt like a pretty fair method.  However after the patch it will take 10 green mats to make a single blue, and 15 blues to make a single orange.  To make matters worse they are also nerfing the amount of materials you get off of deconstruction which right now usually yields two materials…  but after the patch it will more consistently yield a single material.  Essentially all of the love I have for Destiny and the quality of life improvements…  I am feeling the opposite for Division and what seems to be some very unfair changes for the casual player.  As a result I highly suggest you get into the game and convert everything you have up to the highest tier of material you can make.

Unfortunately there is no batch conversion option so you will be holding space bar and hitting escape a bunch to burn through your materials.  It took me about twenty minutes to convert everything up because I really did have a lot of materials.  I need to focus on farming some more weapon nodes this weekend so that I can hopefully convert up at least enough to get 10 for one weapon.  Right now high end craftables take 8 orange mats, and after the patch they are going to require 10.  I didn’t notice any mentioned nerfs to the world nodes, so I am wondering if these changes are designed to get players to prioritize going after them instead of simply killing a bunch of stuff to deconstruct.  In any case I know today/tonight I plan on farming as many nodes as I can get my hands on with the hopes of converting it all upwards into shiny orange materials.  In the process of screwing around yesterday I did manage to complete a mission and hit 23 so at some point I really need to make the final push to 30 so I can join in all the fun end game “reindeer games”.

Unintended Exotics

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As unexcited as I am about The Division patch…. I am insanely so about the Destiny patch.  Yesterday I was super pumped to see what the next Playstation exclusives would look like, namely I really really want that new exotic sniper because it has an almost Tex Mechanica vibe.  I also think the new Jovian Guard armor set is probably the coolest Titan armor to date, so I will absolutely be farming up a set of it, which should go a lot more smoothly given that I can infuse things much easier.  On the infusion department there is some conflicting information up on the Bungie site, but it makes it sound like we will no longer get engrams to decode to less light than our converted light total.  Meaning that if you are 309 light when you decode you should get items of level 309 or higher.  What is confusing is this seems like a massive change, but one that I really welcome.  I am sick of getting 260 blues and 270 purples from engrams.  I’ve been holding onto a vault full of interesting weapons, that just need to be infused to use…  so I am amped that this might mean that process becomes super simple.  At some point before Tuesday I really need to sort through my vault and deconstruct all of the lower level items that I was holding onto as stepping stones for leveling higher stuff from 280 and beyond.

I didn’t intend to play Destiny last night, but at some point during the evening I flipped over to the clan messaging app and saw that my friend Jex was trying to get ahold of me.  Now I have needed to finish up the Exotic sword quest for some time, but I wasn’t really pushing the issue.  It turns out that Jex and Squirrel were looking for something to do last night, and thought that it would be the perfect time to work on that quest for me.  The sunless cell is probably my least favorite strike because I don’t like the whole “not being able to see” aspect, and the exploding thralls coming out in close proximity.  That said the worst part about it last night was the anxiety of not wanting to screw up the pattern.  You have to bleed down the main boss to where you can finish him off in a hit or two… and then drop the warden of your elemental type and then within 30 seconds finish off the boss to complete the quest.  The problem being that the flame sword warden is apparently the most annoying because he could almost one shot all of us.. and we were well above the suggested 300 light.  We managed to do it in a single attempt, but with a lot of resurrections in the process.  Afterwards we popped over to the dreadnaught and did some Court of Oryx, with the goal of finishing some antiquated runes so we would each have a stack to go through with the patch on Tuesday.  I know personally I have six, but it sounded like Squirrel had a full stack of them.  The hope is that we can farm up one or more of those 335 artifacts to boost our light level before the raid that same night.  In any case I am super grateful for the group, and my shiny new exotic 310 sword.