X-Files and Grifts

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Mulder and Scully

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Last night really was a night all about one thing.  The previous night my wife had fallen asleep during the X-Files premiere, because she is sick as hell… so we had planned on watching the first episode again while eating dinner so that we would be primed and ready for part two when it aired at 7 pm my time.  I have to say I have been looking forward to this television return just about as much as anything you might imagine… other than maybe the start of a new Walking Dead season.  During the 90s I was a huge fan of the X-Files, and I am guessing I watched it more religiously than I ever realized.  When watching the show again recently with my wife on Hulu…  I remembered the major plot points of every single episode we saw.  For the most part… the original show holds up pretty well other than the technology aspects in a largely pre-internet world.  I tried to temper my hopes about how the continuation of the show might end up, but regardless I was pretty hyped.  Be warned that I am going to spoil various plot details so if you have not had a chance to watch the show, I suggest you skip down to the Diablo block below.

For the most part… I think the show ended up really damned good.  I was kinda shocked to see them using the same television intro sequence that they did in the original, but I guess they wanted to paint a clear picture of the fact that this directly connects to the original.  We find out that Mulder and Scully did in fact get together… and had a child together… but ended up having to put him up for adoption to project him from the powers that were after both of them.  Mulder has essentially lived a life in relative seclusion, whereas Scully has returned to medicine and is doing surgery to correct defects that may or may not be caused by Alien DNA.  Where the show starts to go a little off the rails is the introduction of a new character played by Joel  McHale.  “Tad O’Malley” is a caricature of the right wing conspiracy theory types, and he vehemently believes that the government has been in a massive cover-up of alien activity since Roswell.  All of this fits the original vibe of the show… but then something happens that I just cannot reconcile.  Mulder is introduced to a woman that he apparently interviewed when she was a child, during her first abduction… that tells him that she was abducted by men not by aliens.  Without much additional information…  Mulder goes through this “change of religion” and is instantly equally convinced that the government has been fiddling with its own people, and that the Aliens are no longer even a thing anymore.

I guess my problem here is… how does someone who has devoted his life to the thought that Aliens were fiddling with the human populace, quite literally turn on a dime and adopt a completely different conspiracy mythology. Thankfully Scully plays the skeptic here, and calls him on his shit.  By the end of the show however his change of religion is essentially confirmed, but the way this all plays out just feels pretty abrupt.  We are treated to a very sweet shot of the “Smoking Man” who is now having to smoke out of a tracheal plug.  Then we shoot forward to last nights episode, as both Mulder and Scully are apparently back in the saddle working for the FBI under Walter Skinner again.  This episode felt perfect.  Everything about this felt like we are just picking up the legacy of the original show and moving forward, this time acting upon the theory that mankind has been fiddling with Alien dna and fusing it with people.  We are eventually presented this super creepy ward filled with kids with rare deformities, that we suspect are the cause of Alien intermingling . Basically if they can keep cranking out episodes as good as the second part of this “six part event”, I am down to gobbling up whatever the X-Files puts out there.  The best part about all of this… is Duchovny and Anderson still work amazingly well together.

Grifts with Friends

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While watching our little mini X-Files marathon last night, I was also fiddling around in Diablo 3.  I initially started simply piddling around and doing bounties, however once Damai logged in he rallied the troops and before long we had a full team alternating between regular and greater rifts.  There are still several pieces of gear that I am hunting for, so I was totally down with the cavalcade of legendaries and set pieces.  The big takeaway from last night was just how well I seemed to be able to hold my own.  For the most part we were doing the same Torment X stuff that was wrecking my face the last time we were together as a group, but I have reached a point where honestly it doesn’t really phase me.  Sure I still need to get out of exploding bits..  but most of the mob and environment damage is at a point where it is reasonable.  The only gotcha is the fact that I still do way less damage than would be needed to quickly clear this content.  Fortunately however we had plenty of dps to chew through the mobs, and Carth who is now well over 600 paragon levels is a brutal machine.

By the end of the night I managed to climb to 297 Paragon which places me within the realm of the big kids finally.  I am still pretty sold on my thunderfury, and I managed to pick up a temporary chest piece that serves nicely until I can find the one I am actually hunting for.  Other than that the big acquisition was the thorns epic gem, but I am running very low on sockets for my jewelry.  This is a point of contention for me with this game actually.  At 70, no piece of jewelry should come without a socket.  There is never a point where you would not want an epic gem in every piece of jewelry, yet the random item generator is constantly spitting out socketless rings and necklaces to serve as  disenchant fodder.  Instead I went through 35 diamonds trying to socket a ring before finally getting the lucky roll, which ends up super frustrating.  Mostly this just feels like a design flaw, since the key to doing awesome things at high level seems to be based around rocking as many maxed out legendary gems as you can throw in there.  I still don’t have all of the gems that I need, so I am guessing that my new idle activity is going to be clearing greater rifts just to level the ones I have up.

 

 

Kitten Assist

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Helping Hand

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This is becoming a pretty regular occurrence in my office, where Kenzie decides to “lay” behind one of my two monitors and then spend time poking her head out under the bottom and bopping things with her paw.  This morning she has been desperately trying to drag my phone that is attached to a usb cable towards her…  which is making me rethink the placement of that charger cable.  For the most part this weekend we hibernated to avoid the cold, and while we had nothing to deal with like the blizzard folks on the east coast…  I am not equipped to handle 20* temperatures that well.  The biggest news of the weekend is that we got our new dishwasher set up on Saturday.  Its stupid but right now it feels like we are purposefully dirtying dishes just so we can “play with it”.  I know it sounds like we truly are deprived of fun when you put it into those terms.  The truth is… we’ve gone without a dishwasher for a very long time.  The order of business was to rinse things out, and set them in the sink… until we had enough there to warrant washing dishes.  Now we simply dump the dirties in the dishwasher as we dirty them….  which is making me have to rewire a bunch of my internal processes.

We also used this as an excuse to buy new silverware… and by silverware I really mean stainless-steel-ware because it is not like we are the “good silver” type.  I am getting used to not eating on a mishmash of seven different patterns that we have had since college, but it is taking some doing.  A few years back we standardized on one set of dishes and gave away the equally mishmash set of plates and cups and bowls that we got in college, and I guess it was time for us to do the same with utensils.  So we are now eating with the best forks target can buy!  Well not exactly… there were apparently ritzier sets available.  The whole experience is just strange… its like I have to reroute how I exist in the kitchen now and it is taking some getting used to.  One of the themes that you can catch running through the blog is that “bel doesn’t handle change well” so… it will take a few weeks before I really can tell you if I like it or not.

Crusader Weekend

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I spoke a little bit about this one but on Friday night I got carried hard in Diablo III.  On the night season 5 opened, several of us ran around together as a group… but one of that group has eclipsed the rest of us by a huge margin.  On Friday night my friend Carth was nearing 500 paragon levels, and I am almost certain that by the time I am writing this today he is probably around 600 given his meteoric rise.  Me however… I was sitting at only around 10 paragon when I joined the madness that was our leveling binge.  Over the course of roughly three hours I got drug up in level to a point where I was actually somewhat functional.  During that time I pieced together what was a pretty damned good set of gear, and Saturday morning I managed to wrap up the last few requirements for the season 5 chapter 4 rewards.  At this point you can check out the particulars on my Diablo 3 profile, but there are still a handful of things that I am working on upgrading.  Damai linked me this build and I am following it to some extent, but there are some places where I plan on diverging… namely on the choice of weapons.

There is no world where I would ever use the pig sticker with its constant squealing.  The entire point of using it, is to have a fast attack speed… and technically my current sword already has a faster attack speed than the pig sticker.  Most of the weekend past Friday night was about me figuring out just what I could do on my own.  I can solo Torment VIII pretty easy, but it is slow enough going that for bounties I have decided to just stick to Torment VII as they go so much faster.  While recording the double AggroChat this weekend, I managed to do one full circuit of Torment VII bounties and while I added a few paragon levels I didn’t really get much loot to write home about.  At some point I plan on trying to solo more greater rifts to increase my blood shard count, but right now I have done through level 30 without much issue.  I really hate doing timed events… they just bring out all of the horrible anxieties in me, so in truth greaters are not exactly my favorite thing to do in the world.

Rhino Prime

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The other big happening of the weekend is the fact that I managed to finish up both my Rhino Prime and my ArchWing.  The only problem is that I have a silly amount of things that now need leveling.  I still have not capped the Lex sidearm, or my Drakgoon, Boltor, Latro…  or even my Dual Skana.  The frustrating thing about all of that is that I really don’t know how best to level them.  This is one of those games where I really like running around with other people and playing it…  but have not really enjoyed soloing much at all.  So whenever I had a “solo” moment this weekend, I fired up WoW and did Garrison stuff or popped into Diablo 3.  I need to sort out a solid and reliable way for leveling, and I thought just maybe it would have been a low level survival mission.  While I got lots of loot from it… I didn’t exactly get lots of levels and only managed to put four levels on the Rhino frame.

I am in this strange state of limbo where I think I might want to like Warframe more than I actually like it.  I absolutely enjoy playing with my friends, but unfortunately without also playing it solo… I am falling massively behind.  The friends who are really super serious about playing this game… are playing it all of the time as their primary game right now.  Which means I will always be behind in my ability to actually help them out in missions.  It gets frustrating sometimes when you realize you are being carried hard… and there isn’t much you can do about it.  I was slow abandoning the bow, and as a result I am struggling to play catch up with my other weapons.  The bow is this awesome solo weapon…. but pretty useless for group activity.  The problem there is that I feel like the non-bow weapons are less useful for soloing… so when I am stuck going through missions by myself to level them it feels like a sub optimal experience.  So as a result… I really didn’t play much warframe this weekend because I am still sorting out my feelings about the game.

Pax South: Lessons Learned

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I am in fact apparently a wizard.  Last night we recorded a double episode of AggroChat, and even though I purposely took an hour and a half nap… by the time we wrapped up and I go into bed at one in the morning I was completely toast.  Generally speaking when we record AggroChat I tend to do what I call the “rough edit” that night, which mostly means putting all the pieces together in the right order and then head on to bed rather than wrapping up all of the small details like I used to.  Then Sunday morning I get up, have breakfast, have coffee and by the time I can actually form words…  I do all of the bits that end up posting the episode in various places.  This morning I did apparently everything related to two separate podcast episodes, and pre-staged it all so that in theory everything will publish next weekend while I am at Pax other than the anook thread since there is no way that I know of to schedule one of those.  I absolutely positively feel like a wizard… and the only downer is that all of this work… and I still need to make interesting words on Aggronaut.

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As I am writing this blog post I am realizing that I have roughly four days left to plan all of the shit I need to do before Pax South.  This is the point where my anxiety kicks into overdrive.  I think of the most part I have everything ready that I need to have ready for the show.  Once again I am doing the “unofficial media” thing as MMOGames.com has me booked for a few media appointments.  This time around I think I am far more mentally prepared for this reality than I was last year.  I also feel like I know more things about Pax in general and especially the Pax South setup than I did last year.  This time around I am also going to have a bunch more friends to hang out with, so while I am overall less interested in the panels this time around…  I am far more interested in the people.  The only bummer is that a bunch of people that I failed to connect with during the inaugural year…  are not going this year.  So this morning, largely for my own benefit to get my shit in order… and partially for the benefit of people who didn’t attend last year…  I am going to run down some of the things I learned.

Things Learned at Pax South 2014

Internet Sucks

The biggest takeaway from last year is the fact that the internet is going to suck.  I guess part of me expected that a major convention center to have open wifi access, since I just assume that is as integral a part of anyone’s life as it is mine.  They don’t… in fact several of the media appointments last year we had sidebars about how frustrating it was to get their own network up and running so they could run their own games.  There will be of course cellular internet through your phone provider… but I would not expect it to work.  I tried to live tweet the Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns announcement…. and two hours later those tweets were still slowly filtering their way to the internet.  If you need to meet up with people… trade cell phone numbers.  For the most part while text messaging was a little sluggish, they were still going through because non-media texts really do not require much of a connection to go through.  As a result our master plan for keeping connected is to start a group text message thread that hopefully everyone can keep running throughout the weekend.

Pax Pizza Sounds Better than It Is

Now I am not picking on Pax Pizza in general, because they are trying their best to feed the masses.  However if you have ever had one of those small round microwave pizzas that Sams Club and CostCo sell by the case, you’ve had Pax Pizza.  The food options inside of PAX were pretty limited, but do include standard fare like hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, pop and water.  There is a food court just down the Riverwalk that includes a lot of things… but this was pure madness the night we tried to go there.  My big suggestion is to bring some food with you, for the most part I survived in Cliff Bars and Beef Jerky and brought my own water bottle that was relatively easy to refill.

Messenger Bag not Backpack

This suggestion might seem a little counter intuitive at first, since backpacks are FAR easier to carry than a messenger bag… but hear me out.  Everywhere you go at PAX you are going to get crammed into very tight spaces with a bunch of strangers.  You know what you cannot really do when you are stacked front to butt with a bunch of people?  Guard your valuables…  and you are getting jostled so much that you really honestly could not tell if someone was getting into your backpack.  So sure you can group up in a way so that your buddy is on watch, but it is just easier to be wearing something that you can sling over your shoulder so that your hands can rest on the bag in front of you.  Thankfully I thought this though last year, and took with me a new canvas messenger bag…. but my reasoning was that it seemed like it would be easier to get into it at a moments notice.  However after seeing the queue room…  I was super glad I didn’t have a backpack for sheer paranoia and anxiety reasons.

You are Constantly Walking

It is hard to fully appreciate just how much walking you are going to do at PAX.  The convention center is pretty large just by itself, and things are spread out all over… and in addition to that if I am remembering correctly there are three distinct floors…. with something happening on pretty much all of them.  The amount of time I spent sitting was pretty non-existent, with “Statue Hall” and the tables near the concession stand being the only real areas for hanging out while seated.  So absolutely wear comfortable shoes…  but even then… it won’t really matter.  The biggest complaint I had was by the time I hit the hotel room I was just dead to the world… and still had to somehow knock out a blog post and do any of the other things I need to do to check into the world.  The lack of internet during the day meant that there was pretty much no way I could do this during bits of downtime.  I am honestly concerned about this one, because I am not walking nearly as much as I was before Pax last year…  I will survive.

Nowhere to Charge Devices

You ever seen people huddled around a single power jack at an airport?  That is absolutely going to happen at PAX.  There were a handful of places where you could sit down near an outlet, and they were essentially the most heavily guarded spots available.  As a result… bring a power bank.  These devices are pretty ubiquitous and since it is inevitable you are going to be on your phone for much of the show…  I highly suggest having one and plugging in while you attend panels.  I ended up getting a pretty cheap one for this year from Amazon that in theory will charge my phone three times, but if I can get one good charge I will be relatively happy.

Patch Your 3DS Streetpass Now

One of the traditions I was indoctrinated into by Ashgar last year was collecting StreetPasses on my 3DS XL.  For whatever reason… every single person walking around seems to be carrying their 3DS almost entirely for this purpose.  A single pass through the main room and I would need to find someplace to stop and clear out my streetpass queue to allow new people in.  Why this is awesome is that when you get a game like Bravely Default… that has a minigame based on the number of street pass users you have available… it is absolutely amazing to bring an army.  That said in order to get the full benefit… you need to make sure that all of your games and apps that can collect streetpasses are all patched up and running the latest revision.  Since you won’t have internet access… do it either now before you leave, or from your hotel room.

Ask an Enforcer

If you have any questions or need help with anything…  your friends in orange are there to help.  The enforcers are a great part of the PAX experience, and they will quite literally be directing you to where you need to be.  If you have any questions about what a given line is for, or where you need to be to attend a specific panel, these fine folks are going to be able to point you in the right direction.

Daily Carry Bag

As I said before last year I carried with me a canvas messenger bag, and it worked out excellent.  The biggest thing I liked about it was just how easy it was for me to fiddle with it while waiting in line.  I could fish out my power bank, 3DS, or chomebook quickly based on whatever I needed to deal with at the moment.  It also serves as a handy way to keep any swag you happen to pick up along the way.  There will be booths on the main floor that have really nice shopping bags… but these are awkward to juggle while standing in line.  Bring a good bag, it will be your best friend.  Right now here is what I am looking at carrying with me, just as a way of helping you think through what you might need.

  • Water Bottle – seriously this is key. Stay hydrated by making sure you have something easy to refill.
  • Cliff/Quest/Whatever Bars – these are easy ways to get some food in you when you are hangry.
  • Beef Jerky – easy portable protein, I can live off this stuff.
  • Dried Fruit – going to add this one to the list this year, thinking some dried fruit might help mix things up.
  • Chromebook – lightweight, easy to carry device for taking notes.
  • Small Physical Notebook – because sometimes you need to actually write something down.
  • Digital Recorder – this is new this year, instead of trying to record audio on my phone I got a small digital stereo recorder.
  • Nintendo 3DS – because streetpasses are awesome.
  • Business Cards – last year was shocked at the number of times I was asked for one… this time I came prepared.
  • Power Bank – for recharging your phone or anything else that will recharge off of a USB port.
  • Tiny Bottle of Advil – the floor is loud, and without a doubt it is going to give me a headache, so the scout in me wants to “be prepared”.
  • Hand Sanitizer – because humanity is a messy huddled mass… and you want to stave off the PAX Pox.

This is essentially what I carried last year and it worked out well.  The only two things that I am really adding new this year are the Dried Fruit, because I think it might be beneficial for me to be able to snack on.  I am also adding a dedicated Digital Recorder, because trying to record audio on my phone was complete bullshit last year.  I contemplated trying to add a proper camera, but I didn’t want to add another device to my bag.  I am once again going to make do with my phone camera, but I will just need to take into account that I cannot simply snap a quick photo, do to the horrible lighting conditions on the floor.  I am really hoping the whole text message network thing is going to make meeting up with people easier.  If you too are going to be on the floor, let me know… because I would love to catch as many people as I can.  It is my hope that this is going to be an amazing year, and the goal this time now that I feel like I have my feet under me… is to see as many people and games as I can.  One last quick note is… that if you find yourself getting overwhelmed there are actually lots of relatively quiet places you can go hide out.  There is always the AFK room that PAX runs specifically for this purpose, but even then I found lots of other places on the third floor of the convention center where I could get away for a bit.  The further from the main floor you get, the more sane and rational the crowds become.

 

 

Literal Pay to Win

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Actual Pay to Win

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One of the bogeymen of the MMO industry for years has been the concept of “Pay To Win” or the fear that those with the most money can end up with the best stuff.  The cycle of what makes an MMO has been right or wrong built on this illusion of a meritocracy.  The general idea being, that if you work hard and get really good… you can have the best items in the game for your efforts.  The problem with this is that it in itself has always been a lie.  Last night I spent several hours hanging out with friends playing Diablo 3, and during that time I simply was along for the ride… getting carried so unbelievably hard that during greater rifts I was gaining a paragon level damned near every-time my friend Carth killed something.  Nothing about this situation is me actually having any real merit, but instead was a situation of I knew someone who was willing to drag me along for fame and glory while at the same time increasing their own magic find chances.  The same has always been the case with raiding in general, that it is more about who you have an “in” with and that can get you into this or that raid… rather than pure skill.  However these games are built under the pretenses that these obstacles need to be there in order to maintain the social order, and keep the gamers from rioting.

In the past when there has been even an hint of “Pay To Win” there have been riots in the streets.  The problem being that, there are many games right now with ways to shortcut your way to victory.  Granted in many cases they don’t take you all the way there, and you still have to do a lot of things to truly catch up.  It has become perfectly acceptable for games like World of Warcraft or Everquest II to sell character boosts, that allow you to jump instantly to an end game equivalent level and be decked out in equivalent gear, saving you the time of actually leveling.  So the question is… why is this acceptable but it is not acceptable to sell armor and weapons?  I’ve been mulling over these questions while playing Warframe over the last few weeks.  The truth is… that game is absolutely a pay to win scenario.  If you were to spend multiple thousands of dollars on that game, you could in theory have the absolute best in slot gear for every single frame.  The funny thing is that while I know this is the case… it doesn’t actually hinder my enjoyment.  I don’t feel like I am somehow being robbed of my experience, but instead I know in the back of my head there is always an out… if I ever get down a path that ends up being too grindy.

Money for Time

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“Pay to Win” in the case of Warframe is a bit of a misnomer, because in the purest sense that would mean you are getting something with your money that no one else can get without stepping up to the plate and spending an equal amount.  There are lots of games with lootbox grab bags…. and these always seem super insidious to me…  I am looking at you Rift and your mounts.  Warframe however just feels honest about it.  You can farm a planetary boss over and over until you get all three parts of a Warframe to drop… and then purchase the equivalent blueprint off the market for in game credits, or you can just bypass the entire process and pay 200-400 platinum to have it in your grubby hands right then and there.  You are paying to speed up time…  because there is the act of actually grinding the components… and then gathering up the materials through running missions on planets.  Finally there is the actual time of crafting the thing.  Each of the three sub components take about 24 hours to craft, and then the final Warframe craft takes between 2 and 3 days depending on if it is a normal or a prime frame.  So if you absolutely have to have something right then and there…. you can pay a premium to get it delivered into your hands.

What I find more interesting though is just how thriving the secondary market is when it comes to purchasing items.  There are so many things that you can trade in this game, and for almost every single one of them there is a secondary market.  Players are limited to a specific number of trades per day, but you can often times find what you are looking for in the secondary market for prices cheaper than the official shop.  So while you can’t actually buy the Prime Rhino Warframe from the shop right now, you can find a player that has collected the four component pieces and essentially pay them platinum for the act of farming it for you.  So the cycle is interested, in that those who have the time to run missions over and over to farm up complete pattern sets….  can easily turn that time into money.  The folks who don’t have the time, but can afford to spend some money… can turn that money into the resources that help them play the game more efficiently.  It is far from a utopia, but it is nowhere near the apocalypse that most MMO players would predict.

Two Way Street

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I think the key to this feeling overall “fair” is the fact that it is absolutely a two way street.  There are lots of times in MMOs where the “house” steps in the middle and offers a not entirely fair deal to both sides of the equation.  For example in the case of the World of Warcraft token… it is not literally a case of one human selling a commodity to another human.  Instead there is an algorithm in the middle, that buys tokens from players for a floating amount of in game gold… and then sells that token back to players who want to use it in lieu of subscription time.  The problem is… this formula takes human nature out of the equation, the thing that makes the whole experience interesting.  In games like Rift and EQ2, that have direct exchange of subscription token to currency between two players….  the patient player can wait out the best possible deal.  There were many cases where I sat on a token for weeks until I found someone who absolutely had to have that token right then to continue their substitution, and wound up getting a premium for it.  Similarly I am sure there are players who took advantage of market surplus to stock up on tokens when they were cheap and ended up spending far less in game currency as a result.  The reason why that felt better, was that there were options… that you were not essentially dealing with a vending machine that took its on theoretical cut.

What I think I like the most about this situation in Warframe is that it feels like I have a lot of options.  I can go much more slowly and solo the planets trying to collect the items I need, or I can pester my friends to run it with me multiple times .  I could go to the aftermarket and hit the trade channel and look for the items I need to finish out a blueprint set.  Or if i am really desperate I can simply open my pocket book, but in all cases I have several different paths to the end goal, and as a result I don’t feel nearly as trapped as I often do in other games.  For example right now I would love to have a Moose in World of Warcraft, but the raid I have connections with… that can easily get me one… happens to run at the same time as we record AggroChat.  Do I want a moose because it is some status symbol, that somehow places me above other players?  God no… I just like collecting mounts, and I like the idea that it looks like a normal group mount but can also fly.  If I could plunk down money and pick that mount up on the store…  you can bet I would rather than trying to do the copious amount of social engineering it will actually take to get me that damned mount.  Warframe…. I can take either path.  I can work with friends towards a goal… or I can simply grease the wheels and get everything I feel like I want faster.  In truth…  I feel like we as players are far more scared of “Pay to Win” than is really warranted.

 

Blade and Soul Impressions

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Change of Plans

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This morning I was all ready and prepared to go on an angry tear about the change to specs in World of Warcraft on Legion Alpha.  Then I thought to myself… my blog has already hosted more than enough “I’m Angry at WoW” posts that I really did not need to add another one to the pile.  I still think the idea is quite possibly the dumbest I have seen yet, but I figure if it does go in… I can either deal with it, or stop playing again and no amount of gnashing of my teeth is going to make a change.  I have next to zero clout when it comes to things like that, so better just to ignore it for the moment and try not to get worked up over it.  In the meantime however I finally was able to pop into Blade and Soul and give the game a proper try.  I talked yesterday about some of my misgivings…. of which there were many, so the game started off on negative footing before I even entered.  Last night my friend Liore mentioned that the newly added servers had no real queues, so as a result I ended up rolling a new version of Squirrelghast on that server.  I am guessing that names are game wide, since I could not create a “Belghast” on Gunma the server I ended up rolling on.  So while I will always probably think of it as Squirrelghast I am guessing technically I am some sort of black fox…  but the tail is so fluffy and curvy that it reminds me of a squirrel.  Also if I was being super pedantic about it… I would be Squirrelgrave since I ultimately had to go with Belgrave for the reboot character.

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The game is shockingly charming… and I say shockingly… because I really did not expect much.  The localization team has done an amazing job of shaping the story into something that I cared about.  I admittedly cannot really remember any of the names, but the opening story arc involves you training at the Hongmoon academy under a guy that I am going to forever call “Dog Grandpa” because he is a Lyn and grandfatherly.  Then a lady with a name that I also don’t remember so I am just going to call her “Evil Bayonetta” comes into the neighborhood and causes a ruckus.  You watch her kill your fellow classmates, and find out that one of them…. that is pretty much exactly like Byakuya Kuchiki from Bleach… betrayed you for the special school scrolls.  At this point Dog Grandpa transforms into Akuma from Street Fighter and whipping some ass, until Evil Bayonetta threatens your life…  and he pays his own life and the blade he had been guarding to save you.  At which point you get blasted off of magical sky castle place into the ocean and are found by a village guard captain that also just happens to be a former Hongmoon student.  With this you begin your journey to be the best that ever was… and I am guessing we will travel to other towns… and meet other conspicuous former Hongmoon students that have life lessons to teach us.  The entire game intro really does feel like watching Anime, and while I made up names for people…  it was enjoyable and I did actually have some feels when Dog Grandpa sacrificed himself for my characters life.

Rise of Cricket

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Honestly I have to say the game itself is really rather fun, or at least fun in the same ways that TERA was fun.  The primary difference here is that the quests that you do seem to have some merit to them… rather than just being random grindy nonsense.  The localization team has given the various people you meet, including the random peasants…  personality and humor and it makes going off and fetching five healing salves or slaying 10 blackrams enjoyable.  The mechanics work out really similar to TERA where your left mouse button is used for your resource builder/default attack, and your right mouse button is your resource spender.  Then in addition to that you have various numbered special attacks and openers that you can use during battle, in addition to some quick time events that occur that allow you to for example stomp your enemy when they are knocked down.  The combat feels really fluid and the animations are awesome.  While I don’t normally go for that running on wires nonsense from kung fu movies…. when you sprint with your arms swept back… it just feels nice and when you do the whole glide thing in mid air it is surprisingly addicting.  The game progresses smoothly and most interactions are doing using the F key which serves the purpose of the generic “interaction” key that some other games have.  If you are used to TERA or Neverwinter or an “Action” MMO of the sort… then you should get accustomed to this game rapidly.

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The world itself is gorgeous… and works well.  Sure the textures are not always the best in the world… but the overall presentation “works”.  I think what adds the most to this is the fact that the soundtrack itself is really well woven into the game.  It changes regularly based on area of the world, so when you step foot near the graveyard it suddenly becomes more sinister, and when you are back in town it becomes a happy market tune.  The only nuisance so far is the fact that a number of the areas are instanced, and there is a slight hitch when you zone into them. I am not sure if this is due to server load, or if there will always be this little hitch but it gets frustrating at times.  Some areas are completely seamless, so I am guessing this is mostly happening where there are phasing or in a location where the actors change frequently.  For example the Mayors Office or the Healers building… are instanced… but in both cases I have had several different interactions in those buildings.  Its a quirk and you get used to it, but just something to expect.  There also seems to be quite a bit of delay on waiting for NPCs to load in on your screen when you first arrive in an area, but this is nothing worse than the stuff I am used to dealing with in WoW.

Reservations

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So far I am enjoying myself, but not sure if I am enjoying myself enough to actually spend money.  Nor am I really certain how long I will remain playing.  I was plenty fine with logging out and playing some Warframe after a few hours of gameplay, knowing that I would likely not make it through the queues again that night.  So when you contrast that with a game like Final Fantasy XIV when we played at launch…. and I got so damned angry about the prospect of ever having to log out and fight the login boss again…  that tells you it was enjoyable but nothing world shattering.  There is also a lot of silly bullshit that is happening in the game that is super cringeworthy.  When you first meet the character of Namsoyoo above, you get the impression that she is a very young girl…  then when it pans out for the first time you see her wearing some sort of gauze based dress with insane anti-gravity boobs.  The games bread and butter seems to be gratuitous T&A action in a way not dissimilar from the Dead or Alive franchise.  All of this is sad, because the game and the localization are actually rather good… and don’t really need the oversexed window dressing.  Now I have yet to run into super insidious, but right now it just seems a little much like somewhere the original artists were blushing and going “tee hee hee boobies”.

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The game certainly has some character, and the first time you meet a really important character you get this cool cinematic intro thing….  which unfortunately has these insanely pixelated fonts that send my eye twitching like mad.  I mean I realize that this game has been out since 2012… but we had better computers than that back then right? As far as performance… I am running this at 1080p on my GTX 960 card with pretty much everything cranked up as far as I can tell because their sliders are also somewhat nonsense, and I am getting a smooth 60 fps all of the time with little or no dips, so I am guessing the game will run smoothly on a toaster.  So long as I focus on Squirrelghast I am pretty happy playing the game and being an adorable but super serious blade dancer.  The other big negative right now is that everyone that I know seems to be spread out pretty evenly among the servers.  However the gold spam is so horrible that honestly I am completely oblivious to the fact that chat even exists, so if someone were trying to message me and have conversations I wouldn’t notice.  I have this feeling that Blade and Soul is going to be a very solo experience for me, and one that I will work out of my system in a few weeks, rather than a game I am going to set down roots.  However if you are looking for a pretty fun action based MMO, you might give it a look.  I didn’t expect anything… but enjoyed a couple of hours of running amok in this pretty landscape, and I suspect that if you also go into it with similarly lowered expectations you might enjoy yourself too.

 

Squirrelghast

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Flak Cannon Time

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When it comes to playing Warframe I have quite literally spent almost 99% of my time playing the game…. in a full or partial group.  This greatly colors my feelings about the game, and in truth it has allowed me to play in a super inefficient manner.  Last night we had several group missions and then when Tam went to class and Ashgar went to bed…  it just kinda broke up and never reformed in spite of us having several people there.  Instead of grouping I opted to start working on some of the missions I had not actually unlocked, and I have to say…  I am pretty bad at this game.  At the very least my chosen play style is not exactly a solo friendly play style.  When I am playing my Excalibur with a Bow….  it works great, because I can sneak around and get a bunch of stealth kills.  However last night I was trying to level my Atlas with a Braton…  and the ability to stealth kill anything was non-existent.  In truth I feel like most of the problem is the fact that I have yet to really sort out how I want to mod anything.  At some point I need to spend an entire evening leveling mods, and deciding which ones work best with which weapons.

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On the positive side of things, I did manage to finish up all of the sub components of the Rhino Prime and now simply have to wait the 72 hours crafting time to get it.  I also managed to finish up the Drakgoon Flak Cannon last night, so I spent some time playing with that as well.  I keep calling it a Flak Cannon because it very much reminds me of the Flak Cannon from Quake 3.  At close range it can be fired like a shotgun, but if you charge up the attack it can be fired from a much longer range and still be effective.  I am digging it quite a bit… and managed to have quite a bit of good luck with it running some missions.  I still think that the Strun is probably a better choice for a charge in and sword damage playstyle like I tend to favor, which is something that Ashgar suggested.  For the time being I am having a blast with this weapon…. and yes that pun was intended.  The other thing I did last night was start building a Boltor rifle, to see if I like that as was suggested to me by Scarybooster.  I mean in theory I could have gone shopping for a Boltor prime, but I happened to have all of the crafting mats available to make one without really dipping low in anything.  I guess tonight I will give it a shot and see what I think about it.

Blade and Soul

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Right now the new hotness at least among the blogosphere seems to be Blade and Soul, which just launched this week.  In fact at this moment it seems like unless you are paying for the game, it is highly unlikely that you are going to actually get to play it.  My twitter timeline has been full of folks posting pictures of the insane queue times just trying to log in.  The other big problem that I have seen is that it seems like no one is actually playing on the same server.  I did a few quick queries and it seemed like everyone I know is playing on completely different servers.  I had no real interest in this game prior to launch, and honestly….  there isn’t much about it after launch that interests me.  That said…. since it is a freemium game I have this overwhelming desire to at least give it a shot.  I have to admit I have some pretty severe biases against Korean MMO art styles.  There is just something about the art aesthetic that annoys me…  the cloyingly pretty men, and the insane “Jessica Rabbit” style women…  its just not my thing.

The positive is that there is a Lalafell like race in Blade and Soul so I decided to try and focus instead on the maximum cuteness potential of that.  The problem there is…  it just isn’t as good as a Lalafell.  I created what I am dubbing Squirrelghast on the Old Man Cho server…. simply because I liked the name.  At some point if I end up liking the game I will try and sort out another server to roll on that actually has people I know.  The only negative is that I have yet to get any further than character creation because I end up getting dumped into a massive queue… and decided that I would simply rather play Warframe or Diablo 3.  It is my hope that over the weekend I will be able to get in and give the game a proper try.  The only thing I really know about it from clips is that it seems to be an MMO about the whole flying wire “crouching tiger hidden dragon” style of combat.  These movies never really appealed to me either, because they just felt so over the top silly to see someone calmly flying across the screen.  I’ve heard however that the localization job that Carbine did on this title was really damned good, and much like Final Fantasy XIV they slipped in a ton of cultural references.  If for no reason other than that… I kinda want to play it.  I really love the folks at Carbine and they seem to do a great job with the games under their care, so it is my hope that I will be charmed enough by the localization effort to overlook all the things I don’t care for.

 

Rhino Prime Incoming

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Secondary Market

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Once again last night I spent most of it running around with friends in Warframe.  At the moment this seems to be the new hotness among the AggroChat podcast crew, and I guess in part I am going to ride the bubble as long as it lasts.  I know like many games this one is likely to burst at some point, when either we enter the endgame grind….  or one of us tries to do something that the game doesn’t really allow for.  However in the meantime I am enjoying my space ninja action, and spent most of last night leveling “stuff”.  Another really important thing that I discovered yesterday was the trade market.  Now Tam and Ashgar had both been talking about the deals that they had been getting in trades with players, and I never really spent much time thinking about it…  that is until I realized that I was quickly becoming the only player without a prime frame.  In many ways the prime frames are just flat out better than a normal frame, and since I had already been laboring towards trying to get a Rhino, I thought maybe I would check out the potential of just bumping that up to prime.

Within a few minutes I was able to find a Prime frame for considerably cheaper than the price of the base Rhino frame on the game store.  So I guess in truth if you are willing to spend ANY money on the game at all…  you can pick up some bargains.  I know some of our crew have picked up really nice weapons…  and managed to get some freebie mods thrown in to fill out the rest of the trade window.  So for me in particular… last night was all about farming up the rest of the components I needed to craft my Rhino Prime over night.  Unfortunately when I checked in this morning I still have a few hours left to go on the build, and then 72 hours after that before I actually get to drive my frame around.  In the meantime however… I need to sort out exactly what I want to use for weapons on my stompy mech.  I love my excalibur, but there are just times where it does not seem well suited for some activities.  Mostly I feel like I need to have a solid backup for when running around like mad and slashing things with a sword is not necessarily the best idea.

Atlas Rising

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The other big activity of the night was to begin work on my Atlas frame, that I had picked up some time ago… but never spent much time working on.  For the time being I have it decked out in a Braton, those starter fist weapons, and a Lex pistol…. all pretty much for the purpose of leveling them since we were running low level content.  Early in the evening we were trying to make it through Phobos, and we ended up struggling quite a bit… so it forced us all to switch back to our “main” frames for the purpose of finishing up that planet.  However after that we shifted to doing low level defense runs which are pretty amazing for leveling stuff.  By the end of the evening Altas was hovering around 14 with the weapons I think in the 16-18 range.  The big draw right now of Atlas is the rock shield ability that I can also push forward as a ball of stone to bowl over enemies.  This was absolutely amazing for “wave clear” when the Grineer were stacked up in neat little columns.  Nothing yet has beaten the pure joy of hitting the giant “Nope!” button that is Excalibur’s Radial Blind, but this comes close.

I absolutely feel like an earthbender though, and there are several of the abilities I have yet to even play with… like the ability to summon rock golems to fight by my side.  The other takeaway of the night is just how damned awesome the Braton is.  I was looking for a good light machine gun, to give me that almost destiny  like feel… and that really does it.  I also plan on building a Latron soon, because several other members of my team have had good luck with that.  From the sounds of it… the Braton is more of an Auto Rifle in Destiny terms, and the Latron would be something more like the Scout Rifle.  Both are weapons that I really enjoy, but for vastly different purposes.  The only thing I wish this game supported was the changing of loadouts while in a mission.  Because sometimes you hit situations where your weapons are just ineffective and it would greatly improve the experience to be able to swap things up planet side.  Maybe there is a way and I just have not found it, but in any case…  because I don’t think I can do it… it makes me pick more generalized builds so that if my primary is ineffective, then my secondary will work as a backup.  Regardless… I am still very much enjoying myself and looking forward to getting to play with a Prime frame.

 

Embargo Over

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Finally Time

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On December 18th I walked into a theater, and had my faith in my favorite childhood memories restored.  So powerful was this restoration that I had to talk about it immediately…  so I went onto slack and joined a channel that we had created just for this purpose.  Similarly powerful was my desire not to spoil the experience for anyone else.  So after some thrashing about, I declared over twitter in the above tweet that I would give it a month…. that on January 18th I would feel able to finally talk about Star Wars Force Awakens in the open.  Today is January 19th, the day after my self proposed embargo ended, and I am ready to talk.  This however it is a bit of a lackluster statement, given that it seems like the global internet embargo was something along the lines of “any time after the first of the year”.  While we recorded the AggroChat spoiler show a few weeks back, I kept to my original stated date.  Now the floodgates can open and you can expect me to be less measured about information regarding the movie.  Essentially my theory is that if you cared at all about this movie… you had a month to go see it relatively unscathed…  any spoilers are now on your own damned head.
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For starters…. I love this film.  I love so much about it.  Largely because it made me realize how much I really did love Star Wars after all.  In the post Phantom Menace era I spent much of my time suppressing my joy about the franchise even though there were really awesome offshoots like Star Wars Rebels and the Clone Wars cartoons that absolutely redeemed just how frustratingly bad at times the prequels were.  I guess part of me didn’t want to get hurt again, and while I started off trying to fight the hype… by the time Force Awakens launched…. I was a gibbering mess of fandom.  The most awesome part of all of it, was sitting in the theater and listening to the entire place erupt in applause when the opening scroll came on screen.  I did find it funny that in my theater a few people booed when they saw the Lucasfilm logo, but that quickly gave way to much cheering.  Then at various moments, like BB8 flipping the thumbs up…  made everyone laugh and cheer as well.  I am so happy that I got to see it on opening night, because I feel like the energy was so amazing that it would have been painful to have missed that.  Now to delve into some of my characters and thoughts about them.

Rey

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Rey for me is the Star Wars equivalent of Amy Pond… the girl who waited.  The question is who exactly was she waiting for.  Right now there are two competing camps in fandom…  that peg her at either being the daughter of Luke Skywalker or the grand daughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  There is another group of people who seem to think she is the lost child of Han and Leia…  but I seriously think that someone might have known about this before now and maybe just maybe they would have recognized her.  I mean this is the universe where a Senator can go from pregnancy through delivery without receiving any prenatal care and be completely baffled by the fact that there are twins.  So maybe they lose babies all the time.  Part of me wants it to be as simple as Luke’s kid, because Disney talked about how the “Saga” movies centered around the Skywalker legacy.  If Rey is not a Skywalker… that means that the focus of the movie according to Disney has to be on a Skywalker… and the only one of those that we know is Kylo Ren.  I want this movie to be about Rey, because she is hands down the best character we have seen.  Part of me still hopes that Mara Jade gets brought back from the now destroyed Expanded Universe… and we end up seeing Rey as the child of Luke and Mara.  I could see Mara having to hide her on a backwater planet.  Going to go into more about the staff she carries around all the time….  but mostly I love Rey with all of my heart and she is the sort of character we need to carry forward the franchise for the next generation.

Finn

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Finn is super awesome… and I think his story arc of how the reluctant Stormtrooper escaped to join the Rebellion is great.  I fully expected him to be the new Han Solo in that he is the one that is super reluctant to “do the right thing”.  This over reaching desire is to get as far as humanly possible away from the First Order, and rightly so… given that he was abducted as a child and placed into their creepy mind control scheme for breeding perfect warriors.  I need to actually read the novel related to Finn, but enough of a summary was that basically the other Stormtroopers you see him interact with… were all in his four member pod that he trained with.  He served as the captain.. and the guy who plants the bloody hand on his helmet is suggested to be the “screw up” of that team named Slip.  When Finn is confronted by TR-8R the shock baton trooper…  it seems super personal… which makes us think that maybe he was either Zero or Nines one of the other two members of that team.  The Finn story arc is one of redemption, but he comes across as such a likable character from the moment we meet him.  Like there was part of me that wanted Rey and Finn go to off into the sunset having amazing adventures together.  As far as how he works into the trilogy…  there are folks that seem to think he is going to be Lando’s kid but that would just cheapen the character of Finn.  If anything I think Finn might somehow end up being related to Sana Starros, a character introduced in the “in canon” comic book series.  I just keep thinking that the various characters that have been carefully introduced in those comics will eventually make their way into the movies in one form or another.

Poe Dameron

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Poe is one of those characters that I thought I would end up being annoyed by.  In every single pre-release shot had this strutting and preening nature to it… and I guess in theory he does do that.  His character however is super likeable and ends up being this awesome character from the moment he hits the screen.  Firstly he wins huge points with me by being devoted to his droid… since droids are in essence the pets of the Star Wars universe.  The folks that care about them as more than just a walking toaster…  always win huge points with me.  On top of that he is like the best damned pilot legitimately.  I don’t remember what Tam had his kill count at, but it was irrationally high.  What makes it even better is the fact that Poe and Finn make such an amazing team.  There is talk as to whether or not this is a “bromance” or a romance and I am honestly fine with whatever that ends up being.  I don’t necessarily feel the need to ship these two together, but at the same time I wouldn’t mind if that was the direction the movie was going.  For me the interactions in the Tie Fighter mimic those of Han and Luke in the Millennium Falcon  taking out Tie Fighters.  I personally feel like Finn was so interested in seeing that he survived, because he is super loyal to his team members…. and from the moment they escaped together Finn I think considered Poe as part of his “new” team, just like he seemed to have the same instant loyalty to Rey.  Supposedly there is a bunch of backstory about his parents in a comic series leading up to Force Awakens and I need to track it down… but the lineage ties back to the Rogue Squadron from what I am hearing.  Which makes me wonder if Poe is going to be the star of the Rogue One movie.

BB-8

tumblr_o054r0tSw91rz3r03o1_500I had some serious reservations about this droid before the launch of the movie, because it seemed like Disney was setting this character up to be the new Jar Jar.  Disney films all have quirky often annoying animal sidekicks… and I think that is precisely what Jar Jar was trying to be… and what BB-8 seemed to be based on the insane amount of merchandising.  On top of everything else…  the design seemed to make no sense.  Like I could not sort out what the robots primary function was, and I guess in theory… they are designed to be small compact astromech droids.  Seeing BB-8 on screen however melted all the ice, and made me just simply gush.  The thing about BB-8 and its head tilt ability… is that it makes the droid far more emotive than any other to date.  Sure R2-D2 could convey a bunch of emotion with his antsy little back and forth dance…. but BB-8 can simply tilt its head to the side or let it drop… to convey curiosity or sadness.  From the moment the little guy flipped open the lighter to signal a Thumbs up…. I was completely sold.   I think BB-8 is pretty much the best dog ever… and if they ever made an open world Force Awakens game… I would want to run around the wasteland with BB-8 in the same way as I do Dogmeat in Fallout 4.

Kylo Ren

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Kylo Ren was exactly the type of bad guy we needed in this film.  We had heard before the film released that he was a Vader groupy, and I was not really sure how that would play out on screen.  However they made it work… because he is still very much a boy trying to play for the affection of his grandparent.  He never fully grew up… and far as much as he wants to be like Vader… he ends up nothing at all like him other than the same taste in clothing.  Vader was this stoic force that made you afraid to even be in the same room with him… in part because his emotions were unreadable.  Kylo on the other hand lets the entire world know at all times what he is feeling, and throws these temper tantrums anytime something does not go his way.  He is a brash child, demanding to be respected…. when in truth no one actually respects him.  Any fear they have of him, is not because of his power, but instead because he serves as this loose canon that does more harm to the First Order that he actually seems to do to the Resistance.  There was one plot point that I knew would happen somehow… and that was the death of Han Solo.  Once we learned the parentage of Kylo it pretty much decided that by the end of the movie he would end up killing his father.  While I saw that scene coming… I still thought it did an excellent job of showing just how NOT in control Kylo really was.  How he was continuing to struggle with his light side up until the very moment he ignited his saber into his father.  I have this feeling that by the time we see Ren in the next movie, he will be more like Vader and be significantly more machine than he is man.

Snoke

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The last character that I am going to talk about specifically is Snoke, the enigmatic leader of the First Order.  There is a lot of speculation as to who he really is… and I am absolutely putting my hopes in the Darth Plagueis basket.  There are so many little things that are either purposefully trying to mislead us… or are there intentinally.  Firstly the music that plays when they go talk to Snoke is apparently the same music that plays in Revenge of the Sith during the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise scene.  Also Snoke is referred to as “wise” in the movie, which might also be a bit of foreshadowing.  Similarly on the cover of the Darth Plagueis novel he is shown appearing to Palpatine in a hugely inflated hologram much the same way as Snoke does.  When you look at his face… there is something going on… almost necrotic which would make you wonder if he is being kept alive through the sheer force of the Dark Side.  Now on the other side of things… Plagueis was a Muun apparently at the request of Lucas.  However since this series is departing from the Lucas approved universe… he could in theory be brought back and just about any damned thing they wanted to.

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The other thing that I keep coming back to as well is Rey’s staff looks oddly like pretty much every single incarnation of Plagueis’s Staff Lightsaber we have seen in comics and the toys.  I think there would be an interesting symmetry if she had this Sith artifact with her all along.  Also given that Plagueis was essentially betrayed by the old Sith ways… he would be suspicious of the old “Rule of Two” thing and even the Sith lineage in general.  So instead we have the Knights of Ren, which is a group of force users…. that he even talks about have not completed their training, in that he tells Hux to bring Kylo’s body so they can finish.  Since he was thought destroyed by Palpatine his apprentice, it would absolutely make sense for him to create an order of a bunch of “less powerful” force users, instead of bestowing all of his knowledge onto a single apprentice that could easily depose him again.  If we believe the whole “vergence in the force” stuff from the prequels… it would also mean that Plagueis either intentionally or not… created the Skywalker lineage.  This loops back to the whole Saga movies being about the Legacy of Skywalker, which would be a pretty nice bookend especially if Plagueis ends up legitimately destroyed by the end.  In any case… I need to wrap this post up because it has gotten pretty long.  At another date I will talk about some of my disappointments in the movie, albeit super minor ones.

Have an awesome week.. and May the Force Be With You!

 

 

Banking and Bosses

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Busy Morning

Trying to knock out a really quick blog post, because if I don’t right now I am not entirely certain when I will get the chance.  Both my wife and I are off today for the holiday, and as a result we have tried to schedule as much as humanly possible to do today.  Largely this means finally getting in to talk to the bank about refinancing our loan.  Adulting is frustrating and horrible… and hopefully it will go smoother than I have made it out to be in my head.  In a perfect scenario we will be able to do this without much hassle.  In theory it should only really be a case of someone from the bank coming to look over the house and appraise it, and after the recent renovations that should go a hell of a lot more smoothly.  I mean we have a relatively new roof and very new siding, so the house has looked better than it has in years.  All of that said… there is still so much anxiety for me anytime you are dealing with finances and banks and such.

After that I have this feeling that we are going to run around looking at dish washers.  For whatever reason… it is suddenly a big deal to my wife that we have a non-functional dish washer.  Don’t get me wrong I understand, I hate washing the dishes but for reasons entirely different from probably hers.  When you are 6’4″ they simply do not make a sink that is comfortable to stand at, and by the time I finish washing dishes my back is killing me from stooping over the sink.  Why it is suddenly a crisis is the part that I am not quite understanding, because the thing has been dead for several years now.  All of that said…  if she wants a new dishwasher we are getting a new dishwasher.  I know she has looked at a couple of them, and I know she wants my input…  but basically whatever one she wants I am completely happy with.  I just hope this one I can actually figure out how to use…. because the last one…  every time I seemed to run a load of dishes something horrible went wrong.

Boss Farming

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It was fairly late by the time I finally filtered downstairs and got set down, and by then a bunch of my friends were in Warframe so I decided to join them.  We spent the next hour and some change farming a boss mission trying to get myself and Thalen the last pieces of the Mag Warframe that we needed.  Unfortunately…  we didn’t have much luck.  It seems that through killing planetary bosses you have a chance of getting parts to drop to a specific type of warframe.  The boss in question was at the end of Mars, and drops all three parts of the Mag frame.  I am not really sure why we cared so much about it, other than the fact that we both had all but one part… and it was the same part we were missing.  I am in that same position with Rhino, and that is a mech I am far more likely to use.  But whatever the case we were wrapped up in the moment of killing stuff for loot, and I have to say… we walked away with a bunch of awesome stuff.

If nothing else… it was a great source of the various crafting materials needed to create mechs.  There is a single piece that I am missing for a couple of helmets that I will need to track down at some point.  I also had plenty of materials to craft a bunch of weapons, including two new swords, a new bow, and a set of fists for me to use on my Rhino frame.  Right now I am really liking the moment to moment feel of this game, and it seems to be the ideal drop in and hang out type co-operative experience.  The question will be how long it takes for one of us to get super serious about the game, because this feels like the sort of game that is fun to play casually… but deeply frustrating to play seriously.  There is one mission type that I absolutely hate, and that is the sneak up and capture the target type mission.  I never can seem to get in close enough to them to keep from triggering them to make a run for the escape vessel.  Then when they start running… I am simply not fast enough to take them down before they get away.  There is one mission that I tried four or five times yesterday and never seemed to be able to finish successfully.  Other than that mild frustration… I am enjoying pretty much every other mission type I have done.

Week in Gaming 1/17/2016

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weekingamingIt has been awhile since I have done one of these, and of the various failed columns that I have tried over the years…. I think this one is the best for me personally.  Sunday is a rough day in general, in part because I wake up and have to finish up AggroChat and get it out to the various locations.  As a result it helps to have a fairly formulaic option I can lean on when I am not feeling super inspired.  As a result I am leaning once again on the Week in Gaming series just to talk about a bunch of stuff I played this week.

Pax South Hype!

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I am starting to get super excited for Pax South.  Last year I had various companies ask me for a business card, and I was somewhat kicking myself for not having any.  I mean I guess part of me never really thought that having a business card for a blog and podcast was a good idea.  This year however I have gotten my ass in order and if everything works as intended the cards will arrive at the beginning of next week.  I only ordered 250 because I could not in any circumstance think of a reason why I would need that many.  The design was done by Rae and was originally intended to be our Pax Prime cards, but since we were denied media access to that convention they never actually got made.  I resurrected the idea because I thought it was pretty slick.  In the original design each of the hosts has their own color, and given that I love green I latched onto that one.  As far as a back design I went with something simple because I felt like it needed something on the back….  and in truth that is the crux of our thing…  daily posts, weekly cast.  If you are also going to be at Pax South let me know, I would love to meet up with everyone that I can while I am there.

Undertale

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I have some mixed feelings about Undertale so far.  On one level I really like the game and it feels like something that is going to be an interesting experience.  The negative is I absolutely HATE the combat system.  I hate mini-games, and while I was corrected last night on the podcast…. I am sorry but that isn’t a real combat system.  Part of me just wants to run away from every single fight so that I don’t have to do it.  I mean granted I was using arrow keys and maybe that makes it worse than it actually is, but I just hate the concept of breaking out of an otherwise fun old school RPG style game….  and having to deal with move the heart to avoid shit.  For now I have essentially abandoned the game, in the hopes that some distance will in fact make the heart grow fond.  Essentially I love everything else about the game… other than the combat system.  This might be one of those games that is more enjoyable to watch.

Victor Vran

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I’ve already talked about this game quite a bit throughout the week but I feel like it still deserves additional mention.  The only negative about this game is that I started playing it essentially the week before a bunch of other things that I wanted to play happened.  My hope is that once the recent infatuation with Warframe and Diablo 3 Season 5 have calmed down, I can return to this and play my way through the main story some more.  I really want to see what multiplayer feels like in the end game experience.  Playing it was fine for me… but essentially locked the other players that I was dragging along with me… out of some of the experience of interacting with the voice floating around in your head.  If you are not partaking of the Diablo 3 Season 5 madness…. and still want a ARPG fix… I highly suggest you check it out.

Warframe

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This game….  is so good and I am kinda kicking myself for never really giving it a proper attempt at playing.  I have downloaded this game numerous times in the past on the PC, PS3 and PS4 when I saw other folks in my various social media timelines talking about it… but never actually tried it.  I guess in my head I had this absolutely misrepresented as to what sort of game it was.  With a super generic name like Warframe… I kept getting it jumbled up with the other game Warface.  Warface being a super generic Call of Duty/Counterstrike style PVP shooter.  So in my head I equated Warframe to a PVP experience… not this deeply nuanced cooperative PVE experience.  There are so many aspects of this game that remind me of an MMO, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.  The game as a whole feels like this amalgam of Destiny, Phantasy Star Online and Tribes.  If that combination sounds like something you would be interesting, I highly suggest you check it out.  I think I was largely luckier than most in that one of the freebie mechs, the Excalibur is right down my alley.  I am slashing everything with my space ninja ways, and really enjoying myself.  For those curious, I have pretty much set down roots on the PC, and while I might give it a shot later on the PS4, I have no real intention of moving at the moment as the AggroChat crew seem to all be playing it.

Diablo 3

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The floodgates for Diablo 3 Season 5 opened on Friday at 7pm and from that point until 10:30 or so my time I was running around in a group leveling like mad.  At this point I have managed to get to 68, which puts me behind the curve of folks like Grace that are 70 with over 150 paragon levels.  That however is fine by me, because I am just happy I am almost to the cap with at least one character.  I am going to be interested in seeing what the various challenges are that unlock the various seasonal rewards.  What makes the season play so addictive to me is the fact that it mimics a MMO launch.  Everyone on your friends list for a period of time is playing Diablo 3 and excited about it, as though they were playing a brand new game.  So you have a few weeks of focused play, and then don’t feel guilty at all when you shift back to playing other games until the launch of the next season.  This focused excitement is really fun to experience, and this is technically my third season so far.  There is part of me that wishes I had gotten on board with the concept earlier.  My goal today is to finish up my Crusader and then probably focus on some more Warframe.  Hopefully all of you readers out there have had an equally fun week, and Pax South seriously could not get here soon enough.