Four Necros

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diablo-iii-2017-07-21-06-08-11-79

Last night was the beginning of a brand new season in Diablo 3, and once again Grace and myself did our hang out and level new characters thing.  Traditionally these season opens happen on a Friday night, so there is always the ability to stay up until we hit the level cap.  Granted that has not actually happened in awhile with us usually crashing somewhere in range of 60.  Yesterday was a bit of a weird situation with the season open happening on a “School Night” as it were, which curbed our play session around 10 pm my time.  I finally called it because I was starting to drift off at the keyboard and when I did none of the other three players seemed to complain much about it.  I’ve been on this odd kick of going to bed around 10/10:30 which is significantly earlier than my traditional midnight.  Maybe my age is finally catching up with me?  Whatever the case… we managed to hit somewhere in the range of 47 before calling it a night.

Considering this is the first season post Rise of the Necromancer…  you can probably already imagine that we were a party of four…  and an army of dozens and dozens of undead following us around.  Can I just tell you how glorious it is to see four Necros doing their Necro thing?  We ran a bunch of Neph Rifts as is the traditional best leveling practice… and we got some insane spawns out of the gate that wound up boosting our characters significantly in the few hours we actually played.  There was one relatively small rift map that literally had almost nothing but yellow and blue packs which mean’t we had summoned the guardian well before we were actually prepared for it.  Necromancers have a really weird power curve in that they still start out a little weak, at least when it comes to raw damage output.  That Rift Guardian took forever for us to whittle down with our undergeared level 5 selves…  but within a few levels we were easily breaking apart and churning through a full round of bounties solo style.  At the point I left the seasonal content last night, I had reached effectively the same build of abilities that I was using on my level 70 necromancer.

  • Left Click – Bone Spike (Path of Bones)
  • Right Click – Blood Rush (Transfusion)
  • 1 – Revive (Purgatory)
  • 2 – Command Skeletons (Frenzy)
  • 3 – Command Golem (Bone Golem)
  • 4 – Skeletal Mage (Skeleton Archer)
  • Fueled By Death Passive
  • Commander of the Risen Dead Passive
  • Extended Servitude Passive

Path of Bones is my favorite builder in part because I can sit back a long ways from the targets and still be gaining essense while my bone army chews stuff apart.  Transfuion is largely as a reasonable way of getting back some health while also providing an escape mechanism.  There is rarely a time when I would need to use it… that I am not going to at least pass through a few enemies during the travel time.  Bone Golem just makes for a really nice AOE damage dealer… and it was hilarious when the four of us needed to do a boss and unleashed that all at the same time. Revive becomes the bread and butter way of getting extra attackers and quickly becomes more useful than the meat firework option that is corpse explosion.  What I like about purgatory is that it means I can keep recycling targets because when your revives die they turn back into corpses.  Functionally what I do is play with Flesh Golem up until the point I get this ability and then thankfully you can switch over to Bone Golem without losing a source of corpses.  The necromancer is insanely fun and if you have not played it yet, I highly suggest checking it out.

Army of Bone

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diablo-iii-2017-06-27-22-58-14-74

As I said yesterday morning I took a break from Final Fantasy XIV and the trial that has a good number of us completely high center on finishing the game.  For those unaware Diablo 3 released its first in what I hope is a series of smaller addon packs that infuse the game with a little new blood…  or skeletons in this case.  While not really an expansion pack, Rise of the Necromancer adds the much wanted class to Diablo 3 and it is implemented in a way so that it blends seamlessly with the rest of the game.  I will talk a bit more about that later, but here is functionally what you get for your $14.99…  which is amusingly easily within the bounds of converting a single WoW Token to Blizzard Balance.

  • Non-Combat Pet – disgusting half baked flesh golem thing
  • A Pair of Cosmetic Wings – you can see me rocking them in the above screenshot
  • Necromancer Themed Banner Shape, Sigil and Accent
  • Necromancer Portrait Frame
  • Pennant – looks similarly Necromancery
  • Two additional character slots – which I was apparently close to being out of
  • Two additional bank stash tabs

Lets be honest… I probably would have paid $15 for two more bank tabs but as far as I am concerned that is plenty of goodness for the price.  The Necromancer itself is insanely fun and most of last night I went around being followed by an army of undead minions.  I cheated a bit in that I crafted a full set of Cain set gear and hung on to my Leoric’s Crown which had a 95% multiplier on it…  for the Flawless Royal Ruby that I slotted in it…  giving me 130% bonus experience and 112 bonus experience per kill.  Now in my travels I have never leveled a Gem of Ease, which was the route that my friend Grace took to leveling significantly faster than me.  Regardless the experience is flying and last night I managed to make it to level 56.

The key difference this time as compared to my normal seasonal characters is that I opted to play through the original game story as is to try and catch any changes that were put in place for the necromancer.  I have been pleasantly surprised at just how well this new class blends with the original experience because they have shimmed in Necromancer specific responses from NPCs and Companions alike.  This is the first time I have actually run the game with the scoundrel as my companion and he regularly makes comments about not needing any more empty skulls following us around.  There was an event in Act II where I encountered a Necromancer out in the desert… which I greeted as a long lost friend rather than a strange traveler.  Sure it feels a little weird to have the Paladin accept you as a friend… when you functionally defile the dead and bind them into your service…  but whatever if you can manage a minor bit of hand waving what is left is a really enjoyable experience.  The other thing that was awesome… is that it has been years since I last saw these cinematic and I was impressed with just how well they still hold up.  I have so much love for Diablo 3 and it is the game that I am always rooting for good things to happen to… and small content packs like this one definitely seem like a viable way to continue growing the game.  I am more than willing to keep plunking down this $15 price point to get new classes and assorted stuff to go with it.

I am really hoping this means we might see the Druid or Amazon as a result.  Even more than rehashing characters from Diablo’s past… I would love to see them branch out and start giving us brand new concepts for characters.  What about giving us a redeemed demon, or a fallen angel to control for ourselves.  I just feel like there is a lot of life left in this game and I want to see them keep moving forward with expanding it.  What I think is cool is that functionally this expansion pack was split into two halves… the first being the content listed above… and the rest being simply patch 2.6.0 which adds three new areas to the game for everyone regardless if they purchase the pack or not.  Something called Challenge Rifts also went into the game as well as the usual number of tweaks and balances preparing us for the next season.  I like this idea of expanding both the free content at the same time as giving us an additional way to keep spending money with the game and supporting its development.  This is a weird balancing act that all of these “buy once, play forever” type of games seems to struggle with…  as in what is content that should just be free because you bought the game, and what is content that is reasonable to charge an extra fee for.  I feel like this balance with Diablo 3 seems about right and I think at this stage in the game it probably works far better than releasing a full expansion with a complete new act and 10 more levels to grind through each time you start a new character.  I would love to hear my readers thoughts on this one.  I for one am a happy camper, but I would be curious to hear some dissenting opinions.

 

Mixed Feelings

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This morning like so many mornings I have been feeling largely uninspired in my attempt to find something to write about.  In Star Wars the Old Republic I am in an odd space of doing some miscellaneous clean up before moving on to the Knights of the Fallen Empire content.  This is enjoyable but not exactly the sort of thing that makes a good blog post because it doesn’t necessarily reveal anything worth mentioning.  As a result I have spent way too much time looking at twitter, and almost like a miracle a tweet came across my timeline.  It seems that Secret World Legends is releasing on June 26th, which is admittedly way sooner than I was expecting.  It seems like it literally just went into beta about a month ago, which means one of two things.  One either the beta has gone so amazingly well that they are moving up their time tables… or two that they were always going to launch on the 26th regardless of what happened in testing.  Admittedly I have a lot of mixed feelings about this game relaunching.

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I have a lot of love for The Secret World…  but much in the same way as you might love that one movie you saw back in your childhood that you through was really damned cool and remember fondly as a sequence of memories.  It will probably always be one of the best story driven MMO experiences I have had.  They also did some interesting things with the deck building style ability system that let you mix and match actives and passives until you crafted a character that fit your specific play style.  For example I fell in love with Blades/Shotgun which was this amazingly fun build with a mix of ranged and melee abilities that let me adapt to pretty much any open world situation.  The problem being that these extremely custom builds all fell completely apart when you entered the end game.  The game saw every single one of my circle of friends, having to abandon whatever path they were on to choose something new and group friendly to be able to even start to make a dent in the nightmare content.  This is the point where most of us checked out, because we loved being whatever character fantasy we had built for ourselves…  and having to abandon that just ruined the game experience.

All of that said… my twitter time line is full of moments when I broadcast the game out to my friends in an effort to get everyone to experience it.  Each time it went on sale I talked about how good of a deal it was.  I love the setting and I love the challenge of some of the quests that force you to figure out how to do silly things like decode things from base 64 encoding.  In the trailer above they talk about switching the game from an MMO to a shared world action RPG…  which largely sounds like marketing nonsense.  They are switching the game to be reticle targeting, which can be a positive if all of the movement and interaction keys work nicely with it.  In many ways this could be an attempt to make it a more console friendly design, because that sort of a control scheme seems to simply work better with a controller than it does with mouse and keyboard.  All of the individual weapons seem to have a mini game aspect.  About a month ago Elemental was shown off on the dev stream to have a “heat” mechanic that you are trying to keep in check.  This makes me wonder however how well custom builds like my beloved Blades and Shotgun will work in this scenario.  Will we have to choose a single weapon and stick to that?

Mostly I think I am going to have to fall into the “wait and see” camp at least until I get my hands on the game.  I want it to work well, because I would really love to see a game like The Secret World succeeding.  It did a lot of interesting things that no one else is still doing, and presented a game setting that is unique and interesting.  The big problem however is all of that interesting bits came in a package that never quite worked as well as I thought it should.  The user interface was always a bit of a disaster that you learned out to work around, rather than something that really reinforced the enjoyment of the game.  Similarly the combat was scattered with a bunch of really great ideas that never quite coalesced into something that felt really good to play.  There were elements of sheer brilliance, but those were what helped you get past all of the things that you found yourself barely tolerating.  My ultimately hope is that with Secret World Legends they can go back and fix all the bits that never quite worked right, and then arrange the copious amounts of story they already have into a cohesive narrative.  If they can do that and give me fun moment to moment play…  then without a doubt I will be playing a lot more Secret World in the near future.  They are however launching during a super tight window following ESO Morrowind on the 6th and FFXIV Stormblood on the 20th.  That fact means without a doubt that while I might be playing this game… it is not going to even come close to being a primary game for me.

Diablo 3 Season Start and Anniversary Event

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diablo-iii-2017-01-08-23-39-56-42

My weekend was largely dominated by the launch of Diablo 3 Season 9, and the Darkening of Tristram event.  Up until this point I had not really touched any of the anniversary content, and to be honest the season beginning had completely slipped my mind until Grace asked me if we were doing our usual push.  It has become a bit of a tradition to hang out Friday night and push as far as we can.  While I rarely actually make it to 70 that first night, we both end up with a good head start into the season.  This time around however we opted to do the Darkening of Tristram content… which is essentially a 16 plus level Greater Rift.  I say plus because there are a number of offshoots that grant access to boss battles like the Skeleton King and other side areas.  The interesting thing is that as much as I was not feeling Diablo 2…  I absolutely enjoyed the weird nostalgic romp that is the darkening content.  Basically glorious retrovision was cute… but did not destroy the fact that the underlying game is one that I still greatly enjoy.  However for Diablo 2… I had simply moved on past that style of gameplay and the sort of character decisions that game asked you to make…  permanently or at least relatively permanently.

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As far as Season 9 goes I opted to play a Crusader once again… which is honestly my favorite of the Diablo 3 options.  Primarily my decision this time around was due to the fact that the Invoker set was one again the freebie, allowing me to play quite possibly my favorite build… the one I loving refer to as “stop hitting yourself”.  It is all about maximizing your thorns damage and then watching the mobs grind themselves to death on your armor.  Essentially it plays into my ultimately player fantasy… and that is being this immovable object that survives being swarmed and walks out unscathed.  The unscathed part however is a little open to interpretation since there are a handful of mob types that can just eat my lunch, but overall I am extremely happy with the progress so far this season.  So far I have soloed up to a 42 greater rift, and had more than enough breathing room to probably be able to bump that up to 45 without issue.  The most interesting thing is… I am already doing the equivalent of Torment 8 while still missing most of the items I need to do my proper build.  I am following the traditional Thorns/Invoker build and am still missing: Traveler’s Pledge, Compass Rose, Heart of Iron, Justice Lantern, Akarat’s Awakening and Convention of Elements…  and in truth I could probably use a better Hack than the one I managed to pick up.

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I managed to complete through step 5 (Slayer) in the Seasons journey and am just now starting to slowly work on the Champion aka step 6.  However the bulk of my time has been spent working on finishing the various Anniversary events.  There is an excellent guide up on Icy Veins that I have been working on, and to the best of my knowledge I have completed them all.  The one that took the longest however was “Protector of Tristram” which I included a screenshot of the completion above.  Essentially as you go through the Darkening of Tristram Rift each floor has specific mobs that can spawn.  You are usually only going to see a single spawn per floor, but in at least one rare case I didn’t see any rares up.  Similarly in other rare cases you have a shot at seeing all three mobs up on a given floor… because that happened to me for certain on the fourth floor of the dungeon.  Where the guide comes in handy is after a few runs of the event you are going to get your list of 40 whittled down to something more manageable.  Towards the end of my grind I realized that I needed mobs on floors 5, 6, 7, and 12… so I began focusing those specific floors and simply rushing to the exit on any floors that I didn’t need.  Finally both myself and Grace wound up needing the same mob… which feels like a rare spawn on floor five Foulwing.

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The other item that took a long time to finally complete was the collection of Cultists pages which can be found off special Temporal Priests that spawn in amongst existing cultists out in the world.  In theory there will only be a single Temporal Priest in a given spawn location, so once you have found it it is probably safe to move on to the next area.  The Icy Veins guide has the zones that are likely to have them up at a given time.  That said we did manage to find quite a few of them while doing normal rifts, and it seems like the “one per area” bit is unique to a given floor because we wound up with multiple pages in the same run a few times.  For those curious about drop rates of pages… by the time I finished I managed to obtain:

  • Page 1: 1 copy
  • Page 2: 4 copies
  • Page 3:  3 copies
  • Page 4:  1 copy
  • Page 5:  3 copies
  • Page 6:  1 copy
  • Page 7:  3 copies

I doubt any of the pages are intentionally rarer than others, but for me I spent a lot of time grinding away still needing the very first page to drop.  At this point I am extremely happy to have finished up all of the anniversary event and can now just start pushing towards that stash tab.  This feels like a good season so far, and I am hoping that my drive maintains itself as I get into the harder content.

Literal Ankle Biter

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LET IT DIE_20161211164207

This was a bit of an odd weekend.  Lets get the bad out of the way.  For several months we have been trying to figure out how to get Luna to a point where she does not attack the other two cats on sight.  We’ve kept her sequestered in my wife’s office and each night I grab her and we hang out in my office while I play games.  She almost always ends up snuggled on my desk, and in truth is just about the sweetest cat ever…  when not around our other two.  This is an important distinction before I tell you this next bit… because she is adorable and cuddly…  when she is by herself.  In my infinite lack of wisdom I decided that I wanted to make one last attempt to socialize them since she had seemingly bonded with me so tightly after our many many weeks of chilling in my office.  We locked our eldest cat up in the bedroom and brought Luna out, at first carrying her and holding her on the sofa.  Before long thought she wanted to explore… and for the most part our youngest and her were not interacting at all.  However there came a point where we were moments away from a cat fight, and I tried to gather Luna up and carry her off to my office.  She struggled to try and get away but I got her up to the office without much issue.  I turned to shut the door and I felt this searing pain on my leg around my lower calf.  She had bit me… and now I was left with the decision of how the hell to get out of my office without letting her out so she could go after Kenzie.

I snuck out and by the time I got downstairs I was bleeding pretty badly.  There are five marks…  so I am guessing one is maybe a claw mark or she drug off of me and raked me with her fang again.  Two of them are about a half inch in length and pretty deep… and two others are deep puncture wounds where she chomped down hard on my leg.  It hurts quite a bit to walk and just generally exist in the world right now, but I don’t think there is any real damage.  After going through the crap with my wife when she got bitten we are being extra cautious, and using the super duper antibiotic creme that they gave us back then.  Walking is not comfortable and today is going to be interesting.  I had to venture out to get more extra large band-aids, because in theory you can hit all of the spots with two of the largest size.  After getting bandaged up I went back upstairs where she seemed as freaked as I was by the event.  She sat on the floor in the back of my office up against the accordion closet door for a long while looking freaked.  Eventually I peeked down underneath the desk towards where she was at and said “it’s okay, I’m not mad” and almost instantly her demeanor changed and she bounded over and hopped up on the desk laying down beside me.  The thing that is breaking my heart is that I now know that this is probably never going to get any better, and we really do need to find her a new home.  Unfortunately the friend that we thought was going to take her… had her landlord say no.  It was in their contract that they could have pets if landlord approved… but I am guessing the asshole is biased against cats, because he assumed they were talking a dog.

Other than the cat thing…. and hurting…  I streamed a lot of Iron Banner.  I think it was Friday night at some point that I managed to hit Rank 5 with the Banana, and from that point on it was just gravy as far as loot went.  I guess in theory I should have been swapping to the Warlock or Hunter to get them to Rank 5 but instead I simply made a poor attempt at farming some more gear to increase my light levels.  This last 10 points is going to be slow as hell, but I entered the weekend at 390 and exit at 392 which I guess is reasonable.  According to beam I have now streamed seven hours of game play, which I guess isn’t a bad start for my first week.  Now a good chunk of that on Sunday at least was to an empty audience, but I entertained myself and have a bunch of footage to sift through.  There was one Iron Banner match where for whatever reason I started humming the Super Mario Brothers theme song inserting “Nope” instead of some of the notes.  All in all I think I like Rift for an Iron Banner match type, but like I said before I struggled a bit at first because the game play feels so vastly different from anything I had been used to.  The best item I got all weekend is still the above Branded Lord with Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery and Range Finder… which I now have fully leveled and am almost using exclusively.

LET IT DIE_20161211162544
LET IT DIE_20161211162544

Lastly I played some “Let It Die” as evidenced by the first screenshot in the post today, and streamed it as well…  except for whatever reason my audio was being overpowered completely by the game audio.  I will have to fiddle with that and adjust it some.  This game is just strange as hell, and I guess in many ways it feels a little Dark Soulsian, in that the mobs that you encounter are somewhat brutally powerful at times.  There will be times that you get stunlocked to the point where you simply cannot do anything to deal with the encounters other than die.  The strangest part so far is the types of weapons you encounter…  hot irons, router drills, hammers…  firework launchers.  As you ascend the Tower of Barbs you encounter all sorts of monsters that should be in a silent hill game with bizarre implements that are trying to kill you, all the while you are using a zombie corpse thing as your avatar.  You start out buck naked each time and have to scrounge up armor and weapons to be able to survive for terribly long in the tower.  This is of course a “free to play” game and where the money aspect comes in is that in order to resurrect yourself using “death insurance” you need to spend a rainbow skull currency, that the game gives you a handful of to start out.  However in the brief period of time I played yesterday I wound up using two of them before realizing… that in truth I had not really made any actual progress and should stop doing that.  I’ve not quite figured out what the point is yet…  as far as how you actually improve your character.  I thought after I cleared a level I would be taken back to the lobby… but apparently I have to do that manually so I essentially lost all progress on that character and had to grab a fresh corpse to start the climb all over again.  It has some deep rogue like elements, all the while mixing in bizarre Neo Tokyo and Silent Hill tropes…. with a dash of Dark Soulsian difficulty.  Given that several of those checkboxes are things that Kodra likes, I think he maybe should try this game out.  What I am wanting to know is if you can play it multiplayer, because this would probably be super enjoyable with friends.

 

Journey Completed

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This weekend represents quite possibly the quickest I have “finished” the Diablo 3 seasonal journey.  I say finished with quotes because there is still a lot more that I could be doing, but I think I am ultimately as far as I intend to go.  Of note… when I logged in this morning I got an anniversary achievement and  the above Diablo pet so if you are interested you might check it out and make sure you log in within the next few days.  For lack of a better word…  Season 8 completely caught me off guard.  Unfortunately the rotating three month schedule means that this is going to happen more often than not these days.  Season 7 released during the Legion pre-launch event… so it too was a fairly truncated effort.  I know my friend Grace managed to make it in on the day before Season 7 ended and push hard enough to get her extra bank tab.  It would have been a great season to do that for, given just how good the hunter set was for pushing content.  I however just let my attempt at getting that bank slot slip away because I couldn’t bring myself to push any further.  This time around… we have a new set and a new optimal build.  We started the season once again on a Friday night, logging in and beginning the push within moments of the season going live.  Generally speaking we make it pretty close to 70 on that first night… but this time both Grace and I lost our “oomph” at around 54.

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I managed to pick up the next day with another group and we ground together from the 50s through to 70 making it to roughly paragon 20 before needing to bail and get some dinner.  Yesterday afternoon I focused on getting the various achievement bits needed to get the first four chapters of the seasons journey and unlock the cosmetic options, and finished gear set.  This time around with the Demon Hunter it was Natalya’s set, which is a bit of an odd one given that it focuses on dealing damage with rain of vengeance.  This is the basic build that I followed, substituting a few abilities for ones I prefer, namely I found Stampede way harder to control than Shade for Rain of Vengeance.  I played a little of both but given how much I was in constant motion having the stampede actually pointed in the right direction was always a thing.  Towards evening yesterday though I finally started to feel like I was getting a handle on the play style and soloing my GR20 was actually far easier than I had expected.  The biggest problem is that this build just clears so much more slowly than the equivalent Multishot build did last season.  If I were to actually push for the full compliment of seasonal achievements… I would more than likely try and farm up a full set of Unhallowed Essence again and just go back to the tried and true multishot.

However it is highly unlikely that I will spend much more time on this season.  There was just something lackluster about it, given that nothing had changed since the previous season.  All of the same builds worked as we left them in the previous patch.  I was one of the people cheering on the three month seasonal cycle, but having been through it a few times now…  I am thinking that maybe it is just too short a time period between them.  Previously enough time had passed for me to start to miss the seasonal grind… enough to be truly excited for another opportunity to hang out and push to 70 together.  This time… it just felt like we were doing it to get shiny cosmetic baubles instead of to really enjoy the experience.  This makes me a little sad given just how pumped I have been in the past for the season to roll around and start anew.  This time around I literally had no clue it was happening until Grace told me.  In the past I almost marked the date on my calendar and started to get excited for the whole process.  Who knows maybe in a weeks time I will feel differently and want to pick up where I left off… grinding out more seasonal achievements.  That said I am perfectly happy leaving Season 8 as is, because I feel like I did what I set forth to do…  collect another batch of exclusive cosmetic appearances.

 

Breaking Routine

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This weekend was a bit of an odd one, namely when it came to Sunday morning.  Generally speaking I have the process of finishing up an AggroChat episode down to a fairly regimented process.  Saturday night before I crash I try to do what I call the initial edit, which is most of the actual edit work.  Then Sunday morning I write the small bit of copy, and upload and syndicate the podcast to the various sources where it gets put.  However this week was the first week doing all of this on the new machine… and I was not prepared.  For starters we recorded a really long show mostly about the Final Fantasy XIV 3.4 main story quest.  We did not unfortunately ONLY talk about that, and that meant we had almost three hours of recorded audio to process… and didn’t actually finish things up until around midnight my time.  Instead of staying up further, I decided to crash and deal with it in the morning.  Then Sunday it was a carnival of errors, as the version of audacity on my new machine was apparently slightly newer than the version I had been using which means a lot of the filters had different options… or at least were arranged in different ways.  Additionally there was the process of trying to find all of my source files off of the old machine, which is thankfully still accessible over the network.

The worst part of it however was the changes to the Truncate Silence filter…. which is a crutch we lean on heavily for AggroChat.  We are fairly pensive folk, and as a result there are a lot of lengthy pauses in conversation.  With truncate silence that 3 hours of audio becomes 2 hours…  but on my first attempt it maybe clipped a little more than actual silence.  For whatever reason it was clipping the hell out of anytime Kodra talked, giving his speech a record skipping characteristic.  However this is not something I realized until I was just about to upload the files to our host.  Thankfully I caught it in time and was able to redo that portion, lowering the granularity of the filter.  This mean’t what is normally a couple hour process… ate up I think four hours in total.  Admittedly I was piddling around in Guild Wars 2 during much of it, so there were probably moments when I didn’t notice a filter had finished here or there.  The positive however is that every filter applied went massively faster than on the previous AMD FX-6300 based processor.  That was really my hope with the new i7 based system, is that it would be able to chew through rendering tasks far more successfully.  As with any system there is going to be an adjustment and moving in period, and I am hoping that now that I have finished a single podcast on this machine additional ones will be much quicker.

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As far as the weekend itself went, I was all over the place.  I played a significant amount of Destiny, completing a bunch of bounties and discovering the Archon’s Forge… or more so how easy it was to get a pick up group.  Much the same way as the court of Oryx, you seem to be able to just show up and folks will either be doing it… or quickly swarm when they think anyone else is.  I also played a lot of World of Warcraft, completely a few mythic dungeons as well as successfully completing my first Mythic+ keystone.  I’m looking forward to seeing that upgraded loot in the weekly order hall chest.  In addition to that I completed the five time-walking dungeons on both Belghast and Exeter, and on the later I used it as a way to gear him up.  I am now sitting over the 825 cap needed to get into LFR so my hope is tonight I will be able to run the two parts available and potentially get more upgrades that way.  Generally speaking on Belghast the 835 rewards are not super enticing, but I still ran it this week for the purpose of getting some rune stones.  I also need to do a bunch of fishing, as I now have the pattern to turn the 300 versatility food that I spent a chunk of the weekend crafting… into a 375 version.  I am only using this stuff for raiding and mythic+ attempts, as I keep a bank full of Faronar Fizz for other stuff.

The biggest take away from the weekend is that I am actually finding myself legitimately enjoying Guild Wars 2.  Recently it had been a game that I was dipping my toes into for the sake of my friends that were also playing it.  However before the podcast we ran several of the story mode dungeons and they were pretty enjoyable.  Enough so that when I sat down to decide which game I would play during the podcast, I decided to go ahead and stay with Guild Wars 2.  That means that I spent the next three hours roaming aimlessly completing little objectives here and there, and mostly finding my way to the next story mode dungeon.  The post 80/ Heart of Thorns mastery leveling is pretty slow.  In all of that time I only managed to get about half of a mastery level…  and then I ended up wasting a bunch of experience because I didn’t notice I needed to click through and train it.  I am pretty not sure what my purpose in game is, but I am still fairly dead set on the warrior… and more importantly hammer warrior.  That makes me the make shift tank for the group, and I have been using rifle lately as my dps weapon because it allows me to have something that I can hit things with at range.  At some point I want to pick back up where I left off in attempting to level armor smithing, but right now my craft window looks somewhat like madness to me.  All in all I feel like I have come to terms with the game in accepting what it is… and more importantly what it is not.

Bumbling Around

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Yeti Power

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After a Tuesday night spent chasing Legion Invasions and being an Illidari, I felt like last night I needed a nice relaxing night of being a completely different sort of Demon Hunter.  By nice and relaxing I mean a night spent pushing rifts and causing anime style rocket explosions as I cleared entire rooms at the same time.  It is strange how Diablo has morphed over the years for me.  Originally it was that game that I wished I could play with friends… but didn’t have stable enough internet to be able to play it.  Then it when the second game was released it absolutely become a game I played almost exclusively with friends.  When three was released, I was in a place where I was largely soloing and found it a less than amazing experience.  Now several years later each time a new season is launched it becomes this focusing force that brings a bunch of us back together for another trip happily through the paragon and gear grind.  For most of the night last night I was joined by my fairly regular demon slaying buddy Grace, and we also managed to snag Thalen and bring him along for the fun.  The night as a whole was pretty great because on our first tag team attempt at bounties… a Menagerist Goblin spawned dropping this extremely awesome Yeti pet named “The Bumble” for me to go wandering with.  Additionally I was able to knock out several pieces of gear off of my list, and I finally managed to get the last of the three legendary gems needed for this build.  The highlight of the night however was getting an Ancient Yang’s Recurve to drop…  which admittedly made Grace super jealous.  However because of this it is now my duty to tag along in any D3 madness to push hard for folks so they too can get their sweet ancient drops.

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The other thing that happened last night is that I attempted the “Numlock Trick”.  One of the more annoying things in Diablo 3 is that most builds have some sort of buff that they want to cast essentially anytime it is available.  The goal of the build is usually to get enough cooldown reduction so that you can keep it up 100% of the time.  For the Multishot build I am using for my Demon Hunter, it is focused largely around getting keeping Vengeance up 100% of the time… and right now I have it close enough that I maybe have a second without it up at any given time.  The other day I heard something mentioned in a build video talking about “using the numlock trick” on one of these buffs… and I had to investigate to satiate my curiosity.  There is apparently a strange glitch in the game that allows you to essentially constantly be spamming a button press.  I mean in theory you could do the same thing with hardware macros on a keyboard, but this just sort of “works”.  The idea is to bind the 1-4 hotkeys to have a secondary key which relates to Numpad 1-4.  To toggle on autocast for any of the abilities you turn your Numlock key on, hold down the keys you want to autocast and then turn off your Numlock.  Just like that the key keeps repeating over and over… which causes some weird behavior.  Firstly if you are holding any key the cast will not fire… so if you are holding force move or the left mouse button down… just ease up on it to let the next cast go off.  Secondly… it has the strange behavior of interrupt abilities like identification or teleport.  What I do to get past those is to start the channeled cast, and then hold any key.  In my binding I have S set as an alternate bind for Shift… which is to stop moving and hold still.  Holding this down while channeling works well to keep my auto casts from interrupting whatever ability I want to do.

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The other “strangeness” that happens is that any time you shift games, and sometimes when you just downgrade difficulty it can turn the autocasting off completely.  In this case you just flip back on numlock, hold your keys down, and turn it back off to set the glitch back up.  Now that I know this exists…  I am wondering what other uses can be had for it.  Supposedly folks use this regularly for Taeguk builds on the monk side to keep the stacks.  In theory I could do the same trick to make sure I am evasive fire shots in with my hunter, to build hatred and keep up the damage shield.  For the time being however I am keeping it simple and only using this to try and keep Vengeance up as often as possible as well as my Companion ability.  I was always horrible at using these cooldowns, and tended to save them until I reached a point where I had a lot of elites to attack rather than just constantly using them knowing that I had another cooldown just around the corner.  I need to spend some time working on achievements so I can catch up to the point Grace is currently in the seasonal journey.  I am still not sure if I am going to go for the stash slot this time around…  but for the moment I am going to keep playing so long as the game feels fun and fresh.  Tonight however I have earmarked to go do Broken Shores scenario on my various alts… because I have yet to actually see the new cinematics.

Kittens and Gaming

TinyBabyKitteh

Tiny Babby

TinyBabyKitteh

It was a good weekend, if not a very rainy one as a whole.  This made for an extremely humid evening last night for fireworks and festivities.  Our plans largely backfired because in the past we have been able to see the fireworks from the comfort of our back yard.  This time around however they apparently switched locations, and the bulk of the fireworks were hidden behind a stand of trees.  All of that aside however the highlight of my weekend was the little guy that I am feeding above.  Now to clear up some confusion… we did not adopt him but did however drive like an hour and some change to go up and see him.  My Mother-In-Law found this little guy abandoned, but I am a bit fuzzy on the details.  All I know is zero sign of mother and probably about a week old when she found him.  She has been nursing him with a bottle as pictured, and at this point we think he is somewhere between two and three weeks old.  Completely sweetheart who seemed to really like my beard.  He would curl up under it and start kneading the underside of my chin.  My wife took lots of pictures of me feeding him…  as to why it ended up with me feeding him that is anyones guess.  He seemed to take the bottle better from me, and growing up we had barn kitties… who sometimes were not that keen on being a proper momma.  So I remember occasionally having to nurse a litter by hand so I guess that muscle memory just kicked in.  We have no plans to adopt this little guy because he seems to be in just fine hands already.  Though I will admit… it was hard not to try and take him home with us.

Forty Five

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I spent a good deal of my weekend playing ArcheAge and as of last night I am level forty five.  This means that for the last two zones I have been leveling exclusively in the mixed faction regions that are more or less open PVP.  This was a huge point of anxiety around launch that ultimately I could not hit the level cap without venturing out into zones where folks could gank me.  As it turns out…  everyone seems to have something better to do with their time.  I’ve spent many an hour out in the mixed zones and while I have seen a ton of “red” players not a single one has bothered me.  Granted that might be simply because I am higher level than they were, or it might also be that they are focused on more important things.  So essentially I have leveled the same as I did before, and enjoyed questing…  with just the slightest awareness in the back of my head that I am not entirely safe.  Largely I just shifted to a point of view where if I am going to go afk… I go find a Nui shrine to do so near because of the peace aura surrounding them.  As far as leveling goes… I am slightly ahead of the curve more than likely thanks to the Patron buffs.  I am largely ignoring crafting and spending a meager pittance of labor points on opening lootbags and gear, which has kept me outfitted and is a shocking amount of experience.  I tend to let the bags collect while I am working on a quest hub, and then before moving to the next open them all and stash the crafting materials in the warehouse before moving on.  I had honestly wondered if I would hit a wall when I moved into the open pvp zones, but so far the game is just as fun as it was beforehand and I am moving along smoothly.

Taming Familiars

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Another game that I have been poking around in is Riders of Icarus after talking about it over the week with the AggroChat crew.  The character on the right is my Beserker, and the character on the left is Tamrielo’s rogue of some sort.  It is shocking how when left to our own devices… we end up creating pretty similar looking characters.  In both cases we even purposefully decided to go with a hairstyle that is unlike what we normally choose…  yet we still seemed to have chosen the exact same alternate appearance.  The game as a whole is doing some interesting things, with the central feature that makes it special being that you can go around taming mounts and combat pets.  Unfortunately unlike ArcheAge you cannot have both a mount and a combat pet at the same time… or at least I couldn’t figure out how to make that work.  There are certain aspects of the game that remind me of a whole slew of other games, but more than anything they seem to be focused on the player fantasy of mounted combat…  namely mounted aerial combat with a crossbow or lance.  This so far is the least enjoyable part of the game for me, because well… so far I suck horribly fighting in the air because it feels like I lose all situational awareness and often back into another mob while dancing around the one I am currently fighting.

Launcher 2016-07-04 23-39-04-29  Last night I managed to get to some sort of a proper dungeon and was pleased to see that you could complete it in a solo fashion, or with a full group.  The feel of the zone is extremely similar to Ragefire Chasm in World of Warcraft, but nonetheless fun and interesting.  I am wondering if on higher difficulties you have more than the single boss at the end of the cavern which is the golem pictured above.  I’ve played this game quite a bit and I am still not sure if I like it or not.  I think I might need to play the Guardian tank class a bit to see if that is maybe more my speed, because generally speaking I enjoy playing dps… but my heart is never really in it.  The game can be set up to run in a traditional action bar combat method or through left/right mouse button action combat style.  What I find personally works best is a bit of a hybrid between the two… namely setting the game into Action Mode but also using hotbar combat.  The biggest challenge for me right now is the fact that all of my attacks are fairly slow… and animation locked so dodging and avoiding attacks becomes a challenge.  I am enjoying the game enough to keep playing, but just not sure if it is different enough from the other games I am playing to keep my attention for the long haul.  If you are out there playing Riders of Icarus feel free to throw Belghast a friend invite.

Crafting Away

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As for Rift I am stuck in a bit of a holding pattern for the moment.  Each night I focus largely on completing all of the daily crafting quests for the various purple, blue and green currencies.  However I guess I have reached a point where I should probably venture into the world for real.  Over the weekend I managed to cap both the purple and blue currencies, and even though I spent them down a bit… that tells me that maybe I have focused too intently on this one aspect of the game.  I’ve been making almost nightly trips out into Goboro Reef…  that I found out from Captain Cursor I have been calling by the wrong name all of this time.  The zone was one that I did not really like a first, but for Karthite and Sarleaf farming I find it extremely relaxing.  At some point I need to just break the pattern and focus on pushing my way further into the Planetouched Wilds.  Either that or start up with the running of experts again, because I am still far from ideally geared.  However I am not sure if Experts or Intrepid Adventures are the better option at the moment.  I am really looking forward to the change to the Warlord soul that is up on the PTS, because I have always enjoyed playing it… at least significantly more so than the Paragon soul that I am currently using.  I always liked the rhythm of landing Piercing Thrust after a combo point dump attack.  It feels good to see a single attack deal that sort of damage, and supposedly the PTS changes restore the soul to general viability, which I am absolutely looking forward to.

 

Evil and Phones

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Society and Cell Phones

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

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

Return of Thorns

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

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