Crusaders and Guardians

Diablo III 2016-05-01 11-14-05-01

Season Six

Diablo III 2016-05-01 11-14-05-01

While I greatly enjoy the concept of the Developer Appreciation Week… I am always somewhat happen when it is over.  During the week I feel like I have to be making posts along that them, so when things happen that I want to talk about…  I end up pushing them down until the week is ultimately over.  Now as I sit here for the first unfettered post in awhile…  I am finding it super hard getting started.  The biggest happening of this weekend is that Friday evening at 7pm my time the newest Diablo 3 season began.  For season six I opted to roll a Female Crusader, because I had so much fun playing as one last season.  I have this general goal of getting a male and female of each class eventually, but that also means that someday I will have to finish playing that mage and attempt to play a witch doctor.  The only problem I am running into is that it feels like what made the crusader so amazing last go round… was the fact that the Invoker set was just phenomenal.  Now that I have my six piece Akkhan set, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as powerful as I did last season.  In fact while the set dungeon was a breeze for me last go around, this one is only causing chain wipes.  Granted I am not nearly as geared as I was at this point last year, in part because I am not getting drug by Carthuun.

When the season started we ended up with six people on the guild discord, and as a result we split into two three player teams.  Ultimately ending up with me and Grace playing together, with Solaria and Kodra joining up for short periods of time.  Towards the end of the evening Kylana was with us as well as the other three player team ultimately disolved with Ashgar got pulled away for work, and Callalil went to bed.  I myself only lasted through level 60, because that was ultimately the point at which I was starting to fall asleep at the keyboard.  So I went to bed around 11pm and the rest of the group pushed onward.  Yesterday morning Grace and I ended up playing together, and she helped me get the rest of the way to 70, and unlock my gear set.  She was sitting over 100 paragon levels, which means that more than likely Carth is sitting around 300ish.  At some point I will join in his Torment X shenanigans because I really need some gear.  All in all it was a great start of the new season, and at some point I will sort out my spec and with gear should be able to solo more stuff.  Right now the challenge is finding thorns on gear, and I have ended up burning through all of my materials trying to enchant away useless stats and turn them into thorns.

Banana Split

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Another awesome happening this weekend is that yesterday while waiting on folks to show up for the AggroChat game of the month show, I managed to push my Hunter to rank 5.  This is the first month that I managed to get to characters to rank 5, and I’ve since started working on getting the warlock there as well.  My hope is that after I finish knocking out this blog post I will head upstairs and work on that.  Iron Banner has been really damned good to me, letting me amass a lot of gear and weapons that will ultimately either get used as is or serve as infusion fodder.  In theory I should probably be doing matches on my Titan with the hopes of getting more 335 items, but it feels good actually working on my other characters.  After playing the hunter I can absolutely see why they do so damned well in the crucible.  Throwing knives are amazing, and I had so much fun yesterday finishing off people with them.  I still feel like golden gun however is the least exciting of the supers, but I am getting used to using it to optimal efficiency.  There was one point where I managed to get three kills in a row with it and earned the way of the gun trophy.

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Over the course of the week I have picked up so much gear, with the latest acquisition being a 335 Tormod’s Bellows.  The only challenge here is that I am not sure if I will keep it or infuse it into one of my heavy weapons.  I could really use a 335 sword… just saying.  The funny thing is… I got the 335 drop on my absolute lowest level character while working on the Warlock yesterday.  So I am wondering if maybe the buff in faction that you get for pushing up additional characters does something as well to the chances of getting max light drops as well?  In any case another Iron Banner has come and almost gone, and I have loved every minute of it.  I finally sorted out why I like PVP in Destiny and never have in other games.  There is something about getting real loot at the end of matches, as opposed to a currency in lieu of loot that can maybe someday add up to be enough to get something interesting.  I love random chance, and I love being rewarded with interesting stuff.  More so than that… I love getting not quite perfect items… and then trying to figure out how to use them to my advantage.

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.

Malfunctions and Malthael

Diablo III 2016-01-15 20-25-52-04

Technological Betrayal

Yesterday was a really strange day, for several reasons.  Firstly I opted to take the day off since the week as a whole had been one of the worst in a very long time.  The summary can be that the project from hell…  went to hell.  During the course of the last two years, it has been common place that the vendor has invented new requirements on a regular basis.  For example in a meeting on Wednesday they produced a network diagram of how the system should be designed…  that would have been nice to see roughly two years ago when the project started.  As a result it was once again up to us to save the day and try desperately to make things function.  Over the course of 45 minutes I threw up a brand new reverse proxy server and configured a dozen or so redirects to get things functional again.  It was all for naught however… because even with things configured their application was still failing to function at an acceptable level.  So as a result the big launch was scrapped and we are now trying to regroup and decide when exactly the vendor application is working well enough to try this again.  Essentially I know exactly how the Healthcare.gov team felt when vendors failed to provide a fully functional product.

Yesterday was supposed to be a chill day that I stayed at home, worked a little bit… and overall relaxed but that was not apparently in the cards.  I woke up to find my cellphone locked beyond reason.  I pulled the battery and it began a pattern of locking up after 10-15 minutes of usage.  I tried uninstalling everything that was not critical, but the error message I kept getting was that TouchWiz was failing, that being the default shell of Samsung phones.  I tried booting into recovery mode and clearing the application cache, and eventually I was left with only the thermonuclear option of resetting to factory settings.  So I hurriedly started shifting all of my authenticators to running off of another device, and in several spurts of pulling the battery to reset the device I managed to use it long enough to do that.  I held my breath, and hit the button resetting the device….  which actually took far less time than I would have thought.  The thing is… all of the important stuff on the device other than the applications gets backed up to google drive, and all of my pictures to the google photos site.  In theory I didn’t lose anything, and the moment I logged into my google account it started downloading everything that I had on my device before and restoring the application states.  In any case… resetting a phone is not something I would want to do often because it caused more anxiety than just about anything I have done period.  There are basically three devices that need to function for me to be happy…  my phone, my laptop, and my gaming machine.

More Adulting

The other major problem of the day was our primary cable box.  We have the in home networking thing where all of the cable boxes are supposed to talk to each other, allowing us to record programs and watch content from the DVR from any room with a box.  This has not always worked as intended, but lately it just hasn’t worked at all.  The first symptoms were that we could no longer access the DVR remotely, then could no longer schedule something to record.  There have been a few situations where the box itself did not come up cleanly after a power spike… and I had to hard reboot it a few times.  Yesterday I attempted another one of these reboots hoping to clear up the problems, and what I got instead was a dead box.  I am extremely lucky in that I have a friend that I have known for years, that is a developer for the cable company.  So with his help we tried a bunch of different things to troubleshoot the problem.  The behavior that was happening is that after a hard boot it would throw two error codes Er:54 and Er:55 then start counting from H0:01 to H8:00 ish, and repeat that over and over forever.  This happened once before and I let it sit like this for an entire day and it never recovered on its own.

Essentially what this is a sign of if you ever see this on your own cable box is that apparently it is trying desperately to dial back home.  The H001-H800 is it cycling through frequencies from 1 mhz to 800 mhz trying to find a channel to communicate on.  It has to dial home for it to be able to do a health check and make sure that the software is up to date.  So until it finds a signal it won’t actually boot into the cable box software.  Now on the cable side my box was showing as being a “non-responder” so for whatever reason, the communication framework inside the box was unable to talk… and essentially the box itself was dead.  I unhooked the box and brought it to the local office, roughly a mile from the house and I have to say I am super impressed.  They scanned the barcode on the back of the unit and walked into the back and handed me a new one with really no questions asked.  Took it home, hooked it up… and at first I was only seeing the standard definition channels.  I had to call into the main office and they sent some signal to my box that caused a reboot and after that everything was back to normal.  I guess the box had been dying for awhile, because everything is much more responsive on this one with relatively no menu lag.  I seriously think I am one of the few people in the country who actually loves my cable company, because I have had almost nothing but good experiences with them.  At the very least I have had nothing like the horror stories I have heard about Charter, Comcast or Time Warner.

Diablo Day

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The focus of yesterday however was that Diablo 3 Season 5 started at 5pm pst, and that was pretty much the only thing on my mind all day long.  I am not sure what it is about Diablo season play, but it makes the entire experience more enjoyable for me.  It gives us all a reason to start from scratch and re-experience all of the aspects of gearing up and learning everything all over again.  There were a few hiccups at the beginning of the evening, right around the official launch time… but I assume those were all related to server load.  I was able to use the new Rebirth function on my Crusader, but I had to log out and back in for it to take.  Once we all managed to get in game four of us started a group and spend the majority of the evening rolling around together in a glorious murderball.  At some point Ashgar dropped out and a little bit later Mor did was well, which ended up changing the group comp to include Carthuun and Grace’s “Precious”…  otherwise known as the Kraken by the AggroChat folks.  It was awesome to get to meet him and have him on voice with us.

We spent the majority of the night doing bounties and quite honestly that feels like the fastest way to level.  We started playing at 7 pm my time… and I finally tagged out of the group around 10:30 and in that amount of time minus a few breaks I pushed from level 1 to 55ish.  Today once I wrap this blog post up I will be back to working on my Crusader, and trying to decide what abilities I actually want to use.  The problem with running around with three Wizards is that I always feel like I am way too slow to keep up.  As a result I had to generally focus on movement abilities to try and keep ahead of them.  Towards the end of our play session I started focusing on the few ranged abilities that the Crusader has, but regardless of what I do there will be no way I can really compete with the sort of damage that disintegrate throws out.  The other side effect of my build is that I am focusing on some of the crowd control effects that I have like the flail whip that stuns, and judgement that is a big targeted AOE stun effect.  The idea is that I am trying desperately to “tank” the stuff while the wizards burn it to death.  I think the thing I like the most about Diablo seasons is that we hit it hard and heavy for a few weeks, and feel like we accomplished something…  only to move on to other things until the next season comes along.  It gives me the feeling of a new MMO launch, over and over… which for me really is the best part of an new MMO.  That moment when all of your friends are super focused on the exact same thing for a period of time.

Paragon Levels with Friends

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Blaugust Administrata

Blaugust is officially over…  I mean it… put your pencils down and turn in your papers.  Now begins the fun part of actually attempting to “grade”, and by that I mean tabulate the results.  I started doing this yesterday afternoon with some of the early finishers, and if everyone that was a day away crossed that finish line… we have a pretty huge bunch of winners.  Equally impressive as of yesterday we had 76 “Survivors” meaning that during the course of the month they managed to get in at least fifteen posts.  Mostly I wanted to say a little bit this morning about just how proud I am of everyone who attempted any length of posts this month.  The concept of daily posting is rather daunting and there are still days where I question my sanity as I plunk away at the keys each morning trying to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head.  So while I will be terming people as “winning” the challenge you are all winners in my book even if you didn’t make it to fifteen posts.

My goal all along has been to get more people creating more content about the things they love doing.  After a point folks stop caring so much about what you are writing, and focus in on the fact that it is YOU behind the screen that is writing it.  The whole idea behind Blaugust is if you can prove to yourself that you can churn out thirty one posts in a single month…  then posting a handful of posts every week on a fixed schedule is really not that terribly daunting.  Whether or not they realize it, people crave consistency.  I started this blog with a decent boost of readers, but over the years of my lack of posting…  I pretty much pissed all of those regular readers away.  When I became consistent, folks started tuning in every morning to read all of these seemingly useless thoughts I was dumping out of my head…  and apparently enjoying it.  Today is my day for calculations, but I wanted to close Blaugust with one thought.  Don’t let Blaugust be this marathon that you run once a year and then stick back on the shelf until the next year.  Let Blaugust be a spirit that you embrace every day, and an excuse to create regular posts throughout the year.

Boys Will Be Boys

First off I have to say that I have always hated this phrase… but sometimes it absolutely fits.  Last night I talked to my mom on the phone, because it had been a few days since I had called my folks.  They have had to deal with the fallout of a flood in one of the bathrooms, and this weekend they got into my childhood bedroom.  My closet backed up to the bathroom so it was a assumed that pretty much everything in it would be ruined.  The funny thing is… my Mom expected me to remember what I had in my closet over two decades ago.  Luckily it seems that for the most part all of my comic books, and various sundry cards that I never bothered to “move out” were left untouched.  Apparently some plywood seems to have wicked up the bulk of the water that made it through to the closet.  As she was pulling stuff out of the closet she kept stopping and asking my dad what various things were.  Then she got to an item that threw her for a loop.

I was a little skater kid, and there was a phase in my life where everything that mattered about anything…  was skateboard related.  She pulled out this baseball bat that was scrawled with all sorts of skater terminology and logos in a combination of sharpie and paint pen.  She wanted to know why this bat was all scarred like it had been hitting concrete and “defaced” in such a way.  My Dad just said that it looked like “little boys were playing”.  So I had to explain to my mother what the bat was used for.  We used to go to the tennis court with our skateboards, as much padding as we had, and baseball bats.  My friend and I would ride towards each other, each of us on one side of the tennis net like we were “jousting”.  At which point we would put as much padding on our left arms as we could and use the right arm to swing the baseball bat at the other person.  The goal of course was to knock the other person off their skateboard and the padding was in a vague attempt to block the blows.  It is a miracle we didn’t do serious harm to each other.  This apparently did not phase my father, because it turns out his childhood friend and he would fire arrows at each other from recurve bows…  so I guess in the grand scheme of things getting beaned with a baseball bat doesn’t seem that dangerous?

Paragon Levels with Friends

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Since a good chunk of our raid was still doing the whole Pax Prime thing, we were not able to put in any attempts on Ravana Extreme last night.  Instead I spent a good chunk of time fiddling with Bitdefender and ultimately uninstalling it.  I guess I should have known better when my good friend Wulf struggled to keep it from blocking the Final Fantasy XIV game client, but I went ahead and gave it a shot.  This time around it was the Glyph client for Trion Worlds that I could not get it to unblock.  I finally uninstalled it and went back to AVG because at least I am used to it.  That of course killed an hour, so by the time I finally logged into Diablo 3 it was fairly late in the evening.  Grace was already hard at work doing rifts and such so I joined her until she left to go eat dinner.  Then there was a block of time when the server was rebooted and patched, and I could not get reconnected to save my life.  All the while I am watching The Strain on Hulu, which is a show I would absolutely suggest if you like Horror.  The added benefit is you get to see Argus Filch playing a Van Helsing like badass… and yes I know the actors name is David Bradley but he will always be Filch to me.

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The big take away of the evening is that we managed to get Mor to 70 on his Crusader, and I managed to get up to 47ish Paragon levels before the end of the night.  I still cannot deal anywhere close to as much damage as Grace can at this point so I feel like I need to do some research into how best to gear and spec out a Barbarian.  I mean I do respectable damage but I think my gear just isn’t quite at the same level as hers.  She is still absolutely carrying both of us hard when it comes to doing group content.  Though last night I did manage to stay alive most of the time, I think I took two deaths throughout the night, which is significantly better than previous outings.  We spent most of the night on Torment IV, and I can personally solo Torment I pretty effectively… it is just that bosses seem to take forever.  I am not sure how long this current addiction to Diablo 3 will last, but for the time being I am rolling with it.

Drag Experience

Youtube Gaming

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The big buzz worthy thing that is happening right now is that Google is rolling out its Youtube Gaming platform.  It proudly announces that finally there is a youtube for gamers!  Which causes me to pause and ask…  wasn’t YouTube already for gamers?  At least 90% of the content that I watch on YouTube tends to be video game related so… I think it was doing a fine job before.  What gets slightly lost in the marketing spin however is that they are now offering twitch like streaming services.  Which in itself is a big confusing because I have had the ability to stream to YouTube for roughly a year now.  There was even a page in my channel settings that explained how to connect OBS to the YouTube RTMP servers.  I guess the big difference is that people are starting to actually use it.  I played around a bit watching various folks streaming and there were a few issues.  The biggest thing I kept running into was the stream was hitching periodically.  It also seemed that people were confused and simply unprepared to field YouTube chat.  Also it feels strange that when I interact with other people I show up as “Tales of the Aggronaut” which is my YouTube channel and not “Belghast”.  I am wondering if this is a setting somewhere I can configure, but thusfar I have not found it.  In fact there seems to be really limited configuration options for channels in the first place, which means… I sure hope you had your YouTube channel set up how you wanted it before the gaming site imports it!

On some level I find this all interesting, but mostly in passing.  I’ve recently switched from attempting to make Hitbox a thing, to giving up and just using Twitch because I simply got more random viewers.  I felt like Hitbox was the superior service in every way, because the most crucial thing for me is minimal delay between your stream and the channel chat.  It becomes so awkward to try and hold a conversation with someone who happens to be watching your stream where there is a lengthy delay.  Twitch recently put in functionality to help alleviate some of this, and it works…  sometimes.  In order for me to even consider switching to YouTube, there would have to be a set up similar to Hitbox where there was little to no delay.  The problem being that what I am hearing in practice is that the chat delay is often longer than that of Twitch currently.  I guess at some point I will swap the configuration in OBS and give it a test to see how precisely it works.  The other thing that concerns me is that from what I understand your stream gets backed up to your YouTube channel regardless.  I liked being able to pick and choose what I exported from Twitch, keeping my YouTube channel as a cleaner version of whatever I happened to stream.  What are your thoughts so far if you have tried it or watched someone else streaming on it?

Drag Experience

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When Diablo 3 2.0 was released the AggroChat folks played it quite a bit.  For the most part all of us had characters in the level 60ish range… that is except for Kodra.  Kodra had not really played much Diablo 3, but we knew that the game granted some extreme experience to folks being drug along with you.  Over the course of a few play sessions we managed to catch him up, but it was an exceptionally fraught experience for him.  Last night after our Final Fantasy XIV raid, my good friend Grace asked if I wanted to tag along as she farmed in Diablo.  She would get bonus loot and I would be able to soak in the lions share of experience.  During the course of an hour and a half I went from level 40 on my Crusader to level 70 gaining about 5 paragon levels after that.  I got to experience first hand the sort of game play Kodra did, and I have to say I understand why it frustrated him.  I would have leveled so much faster…  if I could stay alive.  Grace was farming Torment V which meant if anything even glanced in my direction I exploded in a violent eruption of giblets.  I was simply playing a different game than what she was… which was more akin to dodgeball.  Carefully trying to stay in the part of the screen where the mobs were not spawning, and dodging projectiles as they came in.

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The resulting experience however was just silly.  There was no point in ever repairing my completely broken body, because I was leveling out of my gear too fast for it to matter.  Finally when I hit 70 I was able to piece together enough gear to be “passable”.  The biggest problem is just how behind the curve you end up being when you finally hit the level cap.  While I could survive damage for a bit, I lacked any semblance of gear to be able to actually do Torment V style damage.  We did manage to encounter a few bugs that kept us from getting loot.  The saddest of these occasions was when some treasure goblins died just out of bounds and I was able to watch a dozen legendary patterns rotting in a place I could not loot from.  However we also completed a number of bounties, and from those I got plenty of patterns as well.  This allowed me at the end of the night to craft a few legendaries and a green chest piece and get my gear at least to a point where I could function.  I am super thankful for the speed run, because this gives me something to dink around with until the new season starts Friday.  Right now the game plan is to start a Female Warrior, since I love Sonya so much in Heroes of the Storm.  The crusader is awesome, but I am not sure if I want to duplicate that experience again so quickly.

Too Much of a Good Thing

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Viva Proactivity

Yesterday I suffered from a bit of a dilemma and could have used the assistance of Hermione and her time turner.  Sometimes the stars align just perfectly, and a sequence of patches hit at precisely the same time.  This happened once again yesterday with the Final Fantasy 3.0.7 patch and Diablo 3 2.3.0 patch.  This also conflicts with the fact that lately I have been trying to make Tuesday my Wildstar night, as it is the raid night of my guild and I am sure to see lots of people on as a result.  In truth at some point I would like to get into a rhythm of Tues/Thurs being Wildstar nights much the same way as they were previously World of Warcraft nights.  As a result I game hopped a bit. First up I poked my head into Final Fantasy XIV but did not really stay very long.  At first glance I didn’t really see the people that I needed to pull together a full guild group expert, so instead of hanging out and waiting I moved on to the next thing.  I could have easily relied on the Duty Finder, but since my passions were already deeply split last night I figured I would not really press my luck.

I will be raiding tonight so I figured that I would get plenty of time to explore the changes, which mostly for me included the addition of a TP bar in the party interface.  This could be a huge thing if it means that Bards, Machinists and Ninjas start proactively feeding their tank TP when they are starting to get low.  I know when I play ninja I always find it hard to time when is the best use of Goad.  Traditionally I try my best to time it so that I use it at the mid point in a fight, figuring by then especially if the tank is a warrior they will be struggling a bit.  As a Bard I rarely if ever played Army’s Paeon unless specifically asked by a tank because there was no real viable way of knowing when best to time it.  Mage’s Ballad on the other hand… I could time easily when I saw that both healers were starting to hurt for mana.  As silly as it sounds I think the addition of the TP bar to the party interface is going to drastically change the way the game feels for tanks at least.

Whitevale is Huge

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They keep threatening to hug me.

Last night I continued to chew away on Whitevale in Wildstar.  I managed to ding 25 which technically would have been a historic level for me…  if not for the kitty hoverboard and the snarflex.  Those have given me a nice mount to use since the moment I started playing this character, and have honestly spoiled me more than a little bit.  I am hoping that there will be similarly purchasable mounts from the in game store when the free to play conversion happens.  That would honestly be the number one thing stopping me from alting in this game, is the thought that I will not have my stable of mounts to carry over with me.  While I started upstairs last night, I ultimately crashed on the sofa working my way through the various quests in zone.  I keep hearing that all of the zones after Whitevale get significantly better but this zone serves to be this endless and impassible white wasteland.  I’ve remarked before that ultimately on my Chua Engineer it was the zone that stopped me in my tracks and kept me from progressing forward and I am remembering why now.

I am not entirely certain what it is about the zones design but something just feels bad about it.  If you were to ask me what my favorite biome is… and I think I have answered this question as part of the Liebsters…  I would probably say snowy zones.  If I think back to all of my favorite zones in games, most of them are places like Iron Pine Peaks in Rift.  The problem here is it feels like a white desert more than a snowy climate.  Maybe it is the fact that the entire zone has a purplish/bluish overtone but there is just something off with the lighting.  It has this feeling of vastness that makes me feel like I am making absolutely no progress.  That said I have put a big dent in the zone and have whittled down the available quest hubs to only a few left.  If I actually devote some time I think I can push through it in a few more hours.  I am anxiously looking forward to putting it behind me and never returning again.

Insomnia and Demons

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Big demon spider thing, going down!

 

I had every intent of just saying that last night was a Wildstar night and being done with it.  I had patched up Diablo 3 earlier in the evening but had not actually popped in to check it out.  When I wife decided it was bed time around 9 pm I attempted to lay down with her.  Problem being my body intervened and decided that even though I was sleepy… I was not sleepy enough to actually sleep.  I have this nasty habit of catching a second wind just as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I waited around a bit, attempted to watch some television and lull myself to sleep…  but that didn’t actually work.  Instead I finally got up and decided to mindlessly kill demons until sleep claimed me.  Now that Season 3 is over the pressure is mostly off, and my Crusader is just another normal character that I will eventually get to maximum level.  Since it was a Seasonal character, I feel somehow obligated to continue the storyline that I started and I pushed through the never ending series of staircases to get to Azmodan.  On Hard difficulty the game is still exceptionally easy, which is fine because I didn’t really want to think much last night.

The real question I guess is that in two days the fourth season starts.  Will I finish the Crusader first or start a new character for the season?  Honestly I am leaning towards making another Crusader for Season 4 because I really love some of the abilities.  The other option is to make another warrior, because while I like my monk… I don’t think I like its game-play enough to run up another one.  Crusader seems to hit all of the finer points I love about classes and gives me a highly tanky and defensive character with some ability to damage lots of things at the same time.  I might end up making a female crusader just to keep from feeling like I have a duplicate character in my stable.  The problem there is I am notoriously unmotivated to play female characters in games.  I tend to project myself on every character that I play, and for whatever reason I struggle to get the same “this is me doing this thing” experience when I am playing a female character.  Diablo on the other hand… there really isn’t much “you” in the characters that you create.  You are playing a stock character and dressing them up in cool armor, but other than that there really is little “personal touch” to them.

Seasons Change

Fear and a Little Loathing

The Full cast of Walking Dead spin-off Fear the Walking Dead

I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead and have been watching the show since the first episode.  Well technically that is a bit of a fib, I intended to watch the show…  but ultimately bought the first season boxed set and used it as a way to leap frog me into caring about the show in season two.  I struggle to get into shows if I do not watch a deluge of episodes, because it takes a good four or five before I start to care about the characters.  Zombies have always been that one movie monster that freaked me out, in part because other than twitter I am really not that connected to the media.  So a movie opening like Dawn of the Dead where the entire world falls to shit while a couple is having an unplugged “date night” ends up resonating with me.  It has never been so much about the zombies, but more about the hopelessness of it all.  One bite or scratch and it is just over… and there are so many more of them than there are of you.  The Walking Dead started several months after the fall of society, so when AMC announced that there would be a show set in Los Angeles during the fall..  I was on board with it from the start.  As the summer drug on I looked forward to the premiere which was set for last night August 23rd.

Now that I have watched the first show…  I am decidedly “meh” about the show right now.  I guess part of it is that society is falling apart far slower than I had expected it to.  Usually in the zombie movie genre the world changes over night, and in this case the show takes place during several days and even at the very end…. the world has not fully woken up to the danger.  I expect that in episode two there will be a lot more action as people scurry about and attempt to get someplace safe.  Quite honestly I cannot think of a worse place to be than in Los Angeles.  The interesting thing about this show is we the viewers…  know more about their world than the characters on screen do which causes a strange frustration.  You want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and make them realize that the shit is going to hit the fan soon and they need to get the hell out of town.  The other strange thing that is going on is that as I am watching I am trying to figure out which character is going to die first.  There have been enough people introduced at this point as to assure that at least one of them will not survive the initial fall.  I am taking a wait and see attitude on whether or not the show is going to “feel” better.

The Talking Dead set is part of the experience
The Talking Dead set is part of the experience

One part that feels completely wrong however is the fact that there is no “Talking Dead” airing immediately after it.  This has become part of the experience for me and my co-workers as we watch the show.  It is like this grand after party where you watch other fans of the show hash out the details that were just seen.  To be truthful the entire Walking Dead > Talking Dead > Walking Dead rebroadcast thing has become a Sunday ritual for me.  I sit on the sofa with my laptop and periodically change the laundry while watching the first two shows, and then fold the laundry during the rebroadcast.  So just having Fear the Walking Dead without the Nerdist and friends…  left the whole experience feeling hollow.  There was a Talking Dead show ahead of “Fear” but it was to show off previews of Season 6 starting in October.  On that show he mentioned that there would be a special Talking Dead after the season finale, but I am really hoping that AMC fixes this for Season 2.  There was a hashtag going around twitter last night saying as much, so hopefully someone is listening.  Chris Hardwick is pivotal to my enjoyment of this series.

Seasons Change

Crusader season 3 character joins the stable of normal characters.
Crusader season 3 character joins the stable of normal characters.

Last night was also the end of Season 3 and I had wondered ahead of time how exactly the transition would work.  Starting about thirty minutes before the end of the season we started getting warnings piped across the server, and the strange thing is that when the season actually finished it did not disconnect us from the server. Being curious however I ended my game and went to start a new one and got a message telling me that the season was over.  I killed the Diablo 3 client and started it right back up, and immediately my new character was sitting in list of available normal characters.  When I logged in I had a bunch of mail messages waiting for me, and in each one was an item that had been in the bank for seasonal characters.  So I have to say the transition went extremely smoothly.  I knew that I would not hit 70 before the season ended, but I did make it to around 35 before it finished.  When season four starts I will absolutely make a brand new character, and it honestly may end up being another Crusader.  Right now I am pretty fond of the gameplay, and it mixes some of the things that I loved about the Warrior and Monk together into a more enjoyable package.

Demon go boom!
Demon go boom!

Right now I am using a combination of Slash for my main attack which hits multiple targets in an arc in front of me, and Sweep Attack for my secondary which does pretty much the same thing… but just deals a hell of a lot more damage.  My favorite ability however is Falling Sword which is an almost Dragoon like jump attack that crashes down on a target location dealing a radius of damage around where you landed.  I love the versatility of this ability, that I can use it as a strong AOE attack or just a way to move around the battlefield quickly.  It is great for chasing down runners like Treasure Goblins.  My original plan was to rush through normal mode and then start cranking up the difficulty, but I only actually made it to act three before things went offline.  While I might have had every intent to rush through the levels, I still found myself unable to skip up that option dungeon here or ignore that unexplored bit of map there.  In hindsight I should have cranked up the difficulty from the start and just played like normal.  I was under the impression that adventure mode did not actually work until you had unlocked all of the story content, but maybe I was wrong there.  I’ve honestly not really spent much time exploring the Reaper of Souls features, because my friends and I had a few weeks where we played Diablo 3 hard and heavy…  then never touched it again.  For the time being I am still focusing on my Crusader because I am having a lot of fun playing it, and it fits my current gaming attention span.

 

Week in Gaming 8/23/2015

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Stealing Ideas

This morning I am absolutely stealing an idea from Grace who happened to post something today called “What I’m Playing”.  Sunday is traditionally a rough day for me as far as posting goes.  One of two things has happened, either I have stayed up way late on Saturday night to finish editing and posting the AggroChat podcast, or I am rushing around Sunday morning to finish it.  This ends up making the morning feel like a big hassle either way, as my body thinks I just went through this epic struggle to get our podcast posted.  My brain is telling me… isn’t that enough?  Do I really have to make a blog post too?  At which point I tell my brain to shut the hell up and stop being so whiny, and btw give me a topic to write about while you are at it.  So now I am latching onto this week in review post idea like a life raft and just going with that.

Final Fantasy XIV

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A subtitle for this week could easily be called “failing to accomplish goals” because there is a lot of that going around.  Monday night we made solid attempts on Ravana Extreme, and Wednesday we didn’t quite have the people to pull anything together.  Other than that I have honestly been pretty scarce in game.  I get like this after finishing a grind to accomplish one of my goals, and for awhile now I had been grinding in so many different ways to gear both the Warrior and the Dragoon.  I had all intention of capping Esoterics this week, but as of last night I just have seventy five.  I could spend my day grinding to play catch up…  but I highly doubt that is going to happen.  Hopefully we can return to our normally scheduled Final Fantasy XIV play schedule next week.

Wildstar

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I am still very much playing Wildstar, but similarly to Final Fantasy XIV I didn’t really spend much time actually playing it this week.  I made a minor dent on Whitevale on Tuesday, but I spent more time talking about Wildstar with friends this week than actually playing it.  I am not really sure what was up this week but I was overly tired pretty much every day.  We had one horrible night where the storms woke me up and I never could get back to sleep fully, and I think this lack of sleep pretty much pushed the rest of the week out of whack.  Each night I felt like I lacked the mental fortitude to concentrate on an MMO, so ultimately just ended up playing something else.  I want to continue my climb on the Warrior because I am finding the game more enjoyable than I did at launch, and am actually really looking forward to the free to play drop.

Dragon Age Inquisition

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I spent an awful lot of time playing this game over the week, but my overarching goal was less about actually playing and more about figuring out how to play it from my laptop.  I maybe obsess about stupid shit sometimes.  As you can see from the screenshot I finally left the Hinterlands!  I am actually enjoying the game quite a bit now, but for whatever reason I am not finding it nearly as “sticky” as the previous Dragon Age games.   In Origin and even in 2 I had these moments where every fiber of my being just wanted to see what happened next.  It was like turning the pages of a really good novel, and this game doesn’t have that same feel.  It very much feels like I am playing levels in a video game and I find I care less about the story than I have in previous games.  That is not to say the game is not enjoyable, because I am absolutely having fun… but it is just a different sort of fun.

Diablo III

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I apparently worked the Hellgate London out of my system, but instead it has given me a desire to play Diablo III.  For most of the week this has been my go to game, as it has just the right amount of friction for my mental state.  I don’t have to think about it much, I can just push buttons and kill things…  and that works.  In the continued theme of setting myself up for failure, I apparently decided that creating a Season 3 character from scratch was apparently a brilliant idea.  Now in order to get any of the Seasonal rewards I need to get a character to 70…  before 5 pm PST tonight.  This is not a thing that is going to happen since I am just now sitting at 27 as the above screenshot shows the ding.  The positive is… I am actually really enjoying playing the Crusader.  I figure when Season 4 starts I will make another seasonal character and see what I can make it to with a full three months or so of playtime available.

Hatoful Boyfriend

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I curse everyone involved for introducing this game into my life.  It is so damned crazy, but I can’t seem to stop myself from playing it.  At this point I have now seen six different endings for the game.  From what I can tell I have yet to actually scratch the surface, but at least I feel like i have a lot to talk about for the upcoming show.  I imagine that I will play it some more and go for a few more endings.  The ending that I have not seen is the supposed “bad ending”, which I guess means you have to play the game without much thought taking random birds to do things.  At this point I have taken the approach of setting my sights on a specific bird during each play session.  I have a few more left to do that with, so that is probably going to be my focus in the sessions between now and the aggrochat show.

Heavensward Mega Episode

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For awhile now the AggroChat crew has deliberately put off talking about the events of Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward in an attempt to allow folks to catch up on the content.  However this week the gloves are coming off and we are dipping into a full spoiler episode where we hash out the events that have occured since the 2.55 patch show.  We trace the steps of our characters from setting foot into Ishgard to the final conflict of the expansion, with as much details as we can think about in between.  This is a roughly two hour long show because of the truly large amount of content to go over.  We considered chopping this into two halves, but figured we would release it uncut.  We talk about our favorite characters, our most emotional moments and what we are looking forward to with future content patches.

[AggroChat] [Direct Download] [iTunes] [Stitcher]

KingsIsle Blaugust Prizes

KingsIsle is Awesome

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Some of you may know KingsIsle games as the creator of the wildly popular Wizard 101, Pirate 101 and the upcoming mobile monster destruction game Rise and Destroy.  For those who do not they occupy a unique niche in the MMO industry.  They create these awesomely rich cartoon worlds populated with tons of content, and all of aimed at being appropriate for pretty much all ages to play.  I’ve not spent a ton of time playing these games but on a whim one weekend some of the AggroChat folks spent it rolling brand new characters in Wizard 101 and wandering around together.  The game just exudes charm and I had enough fun that weekend that I decided to spend a little money on the game even though I really didn’t intend to keep playing it regularly.  I’ve always heard they have an amazing community, and that KingsIsle in general does a lot to try and foster this.  However I was pleasantly shocked when I was contacted by a representative from KingsIsle yesterday and handed some prizes for our Blaugust event.  They handed me several codes for special bundles in both Wizard 101 and Pirate 101, each bundle having a retail price of between $29 and $39 bucks.  That is absolutely awesome, and I actually spent a bit more time playing my Wizard 101 character yesterday.  For those curious, I dug up the release videos for each of the trailers.  I have yet to decide how I will reward these but it is awesome to have more options in the prize pool.  If you interact with any of the KingsIsle employees, seriously give them a huge thank you!

Grand Tourney Gauntlet Bundle for Wizard 101

HooDoo Bundle for Pirate 101

Exhaustion Hits

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Last night is traditionally the raid night for my second static group in Final Fantasy XIV.  However we were missing a significant number of the key players, namely our second healer and tank.  For a bit we considered other options, and were on the verge of just running an expert for the day and calling it good.  Problem being as I sat there at the keyboard waiting for things to happen I kept dozing off while leaning forward, literally waking up when my head banged my boom microphone.  So instead of doing Final Fantasy XIV shenanigans I retired to the couch to peacefully doze in and out of consciousness while waiting on my wife to get home.  I didn’t really want to go to bed for real yet, because once I conk out I am often times dead to the world… and I wanted to make sure she made it home safely and didn’t have car trouble or anything out of the ordinary like that.  Before the attempt at raiding, and a small bit afterwards I continued playing some Diablo 3.  The game worked mostly because I had no one relying on me, and quite frankly I was playing on normal level which means I can doze off for a second here and there and suffer zero consequences from it.  After I beat the normal storyline and unlock the content I will end up dialing up the difficulty as I attempt to level to 70 before the 23rd.

This is really a stupid mission I have set out on…  largely because I really need to be in Final Fantasy XIV instead capping esoterics for the week.  The interesting thing about Season play in Diablo 3 though is it feels like they have ratcheted up the drop rates of everything.  While my profile has not updated to show it yet… at level 13 my crusader already has three legendary drops… including Genzaniku the awesome axe that summons a spirit to fight for you.  When I entered into this seasonal thing I fully expected to lose my character at the end of the season…  because I didn’t actually do any research before saying “sure” and clicking on the seasonal button.  I guess however everything you earn in season just rolls over into your normal characters at the end of a season which is pretty frickin cool.  So even if I don’t make any real progress in season 3, I will absolutely be starting a fresh season 4 character to play as well.  I guess in the coming days I will be popping into Final Fantasy XIV to get in an expert or two and then popping into Diablo 3 because it makes an excellent way to wind down for the evening.  I mostly enjoy soloing over there, but I am always looking for people to chat with while I am doing it.  I finally got around to adding my friend Byx last night to battle.net and I know there are tons of other people that I should as well.  I am finding that I am really enjoying the crusader, but in truth all of the classes I have played so far have been enjoyable in one way or another.  I just find it so bizarre that at this point, World of Warcraft is probably my least favorite Blizzard game.