Tiny Featherballs

babbybirb

Babby Birbs

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Right now the highlight of our backyard adventures is the fact that my wife found a nest full of babies.  I am guessing these are “Babby” Robins, largely because anytime I got near the nest a Robin would make a horrible racket I assume trying to drive me away.  The cute little things have been trained well because they went from happily playing around with each other to being completely still the moment I got anywhere near them.  I am guessing that is a defense mechanism to freeze up completely as to keep motion from attracting a predator.  They are freaking adorable and they are in a location where we can pretty easily watch them as they do their stuff.  There is a leaf in the way so I had to get pretty close to get this clear of a shot, but as far as seeing their general well being we can track that from the comfort of our patio.  I am absolutely certain there are more babies out there, but I am guessing this might be the only group that is actually inhabiting one of our bushes…  that they probably mistook for a tree considering how overgrown they were.  It makes me wonder if there have been Robins nesting in it all this time.  I know last hear there was a group of Robins that nested in a gap in the stonework on the side of our house near the garage.  Unfortunately a huge windstorm came up and the next morning I found that nest on the ground with both eggs cracked open.  I am kinda worried about how precarious this nest looks, but I guess since they have already hatched and are already fat little feather balls…  hopefully they could function if something happened to the nest.

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I talked yesterday about the batch of flowers that I thought were the first fatality of the backyard.  Sure enough all of the red flowers died out, and the white ones looked pretty sickly for a bit.  However yesterday after finally getting some solid sun, the white ones seem to be pulling out just fine.  It is my hope that now that we have freed up most of the space from the dead plant, that the white flower will go ahead and fill that space in.  I snapped this photo largely because of the droplets of water on the pedal.  All of the other flowers seem to be thriving which is awesome, especially after getting some tasty sunlight.  Honestly I wonder if the red one struggled not because of the watering situation but due to the fact that we went several days without much direct sunlight.  In any case the backyard is just as peaceful and relaxing as ever…  with the slight problem of it being insanely muggy.  The pool however seems to have finally warmed up so I am looking forward to using it in the near future.  I had stuff to do last night or I would have potentially taken a dip.

Challenge of Thursday

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On Thursday nights I have a standing date with Jex and Squirrel to do some Challenge of Elders, and often times a Nightfall.  Now the entire idea behind this is just to make sure that no matter what we get at least one set of characters through the Challenge of Elders that week.  Often times folks start running these like mad on Tuesday nights, a night where I already have a commitment in the form of the FFXIV Pony Farm/Raid night.  So that means I miss out on a bunch of the easy clan pick up group action.  Now most weeks I slide into another Clan group without problem, but  we simply set aside this night as a way of making sure that we get at least one set of drops from the challenge.  I look forward to the night because I greatly enjoy hanging out with Squirrel and Jex, because the two of them are the folks that revitalized Destiny for me and introduced me to the amazing Axioma clan.  Last night we got started a little earlier which means we also had time to squeeze in a Nightfall afterwards.  This weeks Challenge included a score bonus for super abilities, so a couple of us were rocking the Bad Juju as a way of feeding our super/orb generation machine.  One of the rounds we managed to score around 50,000 points which I am pretty damned proud of.  Unfortunately we still were just shy of the 90,000 armor score, which allowed us to have one match where we broke out our Sleeper Stimulants and just tore down the bosses.

As far as drops worth mentioning… I picked up a 330 Aegis of the Reef, which is the Taken themed Pulse rifle.  So far I have to say I am in love with this thing and it dropped with a solid set of perks.  In the first slot it came with Send It and Reinforced Barrel… which since the gun already has decent stock stability I have chosen Send It.  In the second tier it came with Full Auto, which is an interesting perk to get on an already stable pulse rifle, but unfortunately you can really burn through your ammo reserves quickly.  In the last slot it has a very interesting situational case of Third Eye and Life Support, letting me swap between the two based on what I need worse.  For the time being I am rocking Third Eye because I love having radar up all of the time.  When we got around to running the Nightfall I managed to pick up a second Darkblade Helm, this one sitting at 335 with almost exactly the same stat package as my original one that was only sitting at 305.  It was a straight upgrade and I guess I will wear it for awhile to get it nice and upgraded as an option.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed running around with this helmet just because it looks cool.  All in all it was a pretty great night, and through all of our shenanigans I managed to gain rank from Variks, Vanguard, Future War Cult and the Cryptarch netting me a bunch of random infusables and legendary marks.

Everybirdie Knows!

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The Hunter Gatherer

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This morning I am getting a bit of a late start because the weather is dreary out and everything seems to distract me.  I’ve had to contend with the kitten knocking all manner of things onto the ground from the cabinets, and the other two cats intent upon pinning my arms down so that I can’t effectively type.  As a result I am getting a later than usual start on composing my morning blog post.  This mornings post is going to be inspired by the sheer madness that Grace has bestowed upon me.  What I am saying.. is everything is her fault.  For those who have been following me over the last few days, you will know that the August AggroChat Game of the month is the bizarre bird dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend.  I had been avoiding playing it so that I could stream my first moments, and finally the stars aligned for me having enough time to devote my attention to doing just that.  Since this is a largely text based game, I figured I would act out the dialog as best I could.  I set a time for 6pm last night, and I had an awesome audience of friends joining in the fun.  I only actually made it through one play through however because by the end of all of that talking…  my throat was killing me.

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What can I say about Hatoful Boyfriend that has not already been said.  The game is completely insane.  You play the role of a “Hunter-Gatherer” human girl, having to fit into bird society and attending Saint Pidgeonations a prestigious school….  for you know…  Birds.  If that premise itself was not insane enough…  in order to make progress in the game you have to develop a relationship with one of a cast of different birds.  From what I understand if you have failed to gain the attention of at least one suitor by a certain point… the game just ends.  From start to finish it takes about an hour to play, and last nights play through ended up running about a hour and twelve minutes in total.  The game while short…  has a lot of replay-ability as apparently there are secret endings that you can only unlock through repeated plays of the game.  Having done this or that ending unlocks new options, and at this point I have completed the game three times and unlocked a total of three different endings as well as a bonus romance of sorts.

Birb Boyfriend

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While absolutely none of this sounds like a game I would be interested in… there is something quirky and infectious about the game that makes you want to keep playing to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.  One of the nice features of the game is that there is a fast forward of sorts that lets you skip through some of the often long sequences of dialog that require no player action.  In truth you are only really making a few choices per game session, and watching the events of those decisions play out before you.  In many ways some aspects of it remind me of Persona 4 Golden, which is a game I need to return to playing at some point.  I keep hearing there is an actual “bad” ending, but I have yet to find it.  In many ways playing this game feels like the first time I watched the movie Brazil, with even stranger and more surreal experiences the longer I kept playing.  In fact this morning I actually got up and started playing again, so maybe I am not hooked on the insanity?

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If nothing else it is going to make for a very interesting AggroChat in a few weeks when we record that episode.  I feel like so far maybe Grace has done the best job of picking a game title that generates conversation.  I feel like There Came an Echo probably would have as well if I did not suffer so many technical problems that kept me from finishing the game.  Thalen also has an interesting game picked for us, so I think the next few months are going to be a blast as far as the Game Club goes.  I had a lot of fun recording the play through of this game, and it was so damned bizarre trying to act out the different birds.  I stumbled pretty massively on some of the names and had to rely on some assistance from Ashgar a few times.  However I made it through and now at least have some fodder to talk about for the show.  I am not sure how many more endings I will try and unlock before we record but I still have some time.  The gameplay goes fast enough, and in many ways it is like a train wreck…  you just can’t help but keep watching it.  As someone who went into “Birb Boyfriend” as deeply skeptical, I highly suggest everyone pick this title up and give it a chance.  It is just too damned strange not to experience it for yourself.  If you want to watch my play through if you missed the live stream I embedded the video below.

Remote Play Working

Remote Play Continued

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I am not exactly sure why but I have been obsessing over the whole concept of using my laptop downstairs as a remote thin client for my gaming machine upstairs.  My grand hope has always been to be able to devote time and resources to the gaming machine, and just use any laptop in the house to play games remotely.  After last night I think maybe I have it working as intended.  For the last several days I have been struggling with Splashtop Personal, and in spite of lots of folks reporting good results with it… I never could get anything even vaguely close to playable.  Namely the biggest problem was mouse lag, and when you are playing games that require mouse movement… this is a huge problem.  I spent time crawling the forums, looking for answers and after trying a series of supposed registry hack fixes…  the best I could ever seem to get out of Splashtop was something in the neighborhood of 25 fps which a more common stable 20 fps.  Yesterday I installed a brand new AC1200 wireless card in my laptop, so that should literally rule out ANY connectivity issues.  I was seeing 650 Mbps stable wireless and did not see any significant improvement in performance as a result.  Now on the other hand…  web surfing and downloading anything is now absolutely amazing…  so I don’t regret the $20 spent on the new usb 3.0 wireless dongle.

Now I said I thought I had solved it… but as to this point have talked nothing about the failures.  What finally worked is Steam In Home Streaming…  with some hackery.  Steam Streaming has worked fine for steam games, but not every game that I want to play is on steam.  The biggest elephant in the room is games on Origin, but I think I found a workaround for this one.  If you add Dragon Age Inquisition to Steam and attempt to launch it directly, it will fail every single time.  However the workaround seems to be that you add the Origin launcher to steam and then remotely launch it…  and while that window is up you can launch the game you want to play.  The caveat is that you have to completely exit Origin after every game play session or it won’t actually work.  As a result Splashtop Personal is coming in handy anyway as a way of making sure I do not have Origin running before heading into game.  The same thing seems to work with the Battle.net launcher, and the Final Fantasy XIV launcher.  Having steam open those gives you access to the application that you are actually wanting to play over the remote session.  As far as performance goes, there was some strangeness with audio that I ultimately solved by setting both the client and “server” machine to 2 channel 16 bit 48000 hz  audio.  After that I was able to play Dragon Age Inquisition remotely with the exact same frame rate I was seeing sitting at my machine upstairs.  I am guessing the new wireless made all the difference in the world because I could feel zero lag input, and it made for a pretty amazing experience.  As a final thought if you want to play a steam game that does not have a launcher of its own… I have heard having steam open notepad.exe works the same.

The Heavensward Episode

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I just wanted to take a moment to talk about the upcoming episode of AggroChat that we will be recording Saturday night and releasing Sunday morning.  After all of us had completed the 2.55 content, we recorded a full spoiler episode where we hashed out out ideas about what just happened and where the game would be heading.  This week we plan on doing the same thing for the 3.0 story content to date as a preparation for whenever we receive 3.1.  We had put off the show in an attempt to get as many people through the 3.0 story as possible, but at this point we figure the statute of limitations is officially up for these spoilers.  I am mainly writing today because we are taking input from the community.  There are several ways you can send us your ideas either through the aggrochat email or the aggrochat twitter account.  Of if you feel more comfortable you can leave your thoughts below.  Our goal is to talk through our own ideas and the ideas that we receive on air Saturday.

There is a lot of stuff that happened between 2.55 and 3.0 and some of it had some pretty major ramifications for the games story.  I’ve been extremely careful not to spoil too many details even with the screenshots that I use.  That said there are things I just need to talk about.  There are characters that we lost along the way, and new characters that we gained… and it is going to be good to finally be able to openly talk about all of this.  The final cinematic for 3.0 sets up a brand new villain that we will likely be facing, and I have so many ideas on what that one is going to mean.  Also there are less spoiler theories as well like this being the expansion of multiple element primals.  If you think of Ravana, he is very clearly a mixture of Fire and Earth.  Bismarck similarly is a mixture of wind and water.  Would that make the next primal a mixture of Lightning and Ice?  I cannot think of any existing summons from other Final Fantasy games that really fits that theme, so I am guessing they would be crafting a brand new one just for FFXIV.  That only covers three primals however and I fully expect that each patch will have its own new one.  So are we going to start seeing new elements, or are they going to tie directly into the new primary enemy that I mentioned above.  Essentially… we have stuff to talk about and would love to have your input.

Of Bird Boyfriends

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The AggroChat game club game show is also quickly sneaking up on us, and I think of all of the hosts I am the only one who has yet to touch this months title.  Grace picked Hatoful Boyfriend as the game of the month title, and I have to say at first I had a small bit of trepidation about this title.  If you remember Kodra has gushed about this title numerous times and even streamed a bunch of his gameplay.  I watched some of it… and it seemed like pure madness.  At the core this is just not a me game, largely because there is not death and destruction.  That said I am actually starting to look forward to finally giving this a try, because it DOES seem like pure madness.  I could use a bit of surreal insanity in my life, and some of the possible endings sound so damned bizarre that I have to see them for myself.  I’ve been largely putting off starting however because I thought it might be funny to stream my first moments in the game.  As such I have been trying to find a time when my streaming would not be too much of a nuisance for my wife who is going through the normal “back to school” frustrations.  It seems like tonight however might be an excellent time and right now I am planning on starting my stream at roughly 6 pm CST for anyone who wants to see me attempt to date some “birbs”.  I plan on playing on voice activation so you can get all of my subtle responses and not just the ones that I want coming through over push to talk.  I am not sure exactly what will happen, but I have a mixture of excitement and dread at the same time.