Angry Spiky Boy

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Before I start this mornings post I have a deep burning question for my readers that may be more in tune with the Monster Hunter lore than I am.  What are the flags representing that are displayed in Astera?  There is one more banner that is not displayed in this screenshot that makes up the main sail of the ship I happen to be standing on currently.  The only theory I have right now is that maybe that sail is the banner of the first fleet, and then each additional flag from left to right is the other four fleets?  The symbols are the ones that we see on the loading screen, but those literally mean nothing to me…  but I am guessing they are part of the monster hunter lore?  The most prominent one that we see on a regular basis is the Sapphire Star displayed on the far right banner which sorta lead me to believe that maybe it is the symbol of the fifth fleet that we are part of.  I’ve poked around a little bit online but have not really seen much talk of this heraldry.

As far as activities of the night, we spent a bit of time fighting with the multiplayer systems.  I was under the impression that if I logged in and joined the squad session…  that would be something easy for other squad members to do.  However as the evening drug on we realized that all of us had done this thing…  and we were in two completely different squad sessions.  There were two players in one and four players in the other… so nowhere near the session cap of 16.  Making life even more challenging was the fact that the group of two could not join the group of four without getting a network error.  The four of us in the first session had to join the newer session, so it makes me wonder…  do sessions eventually time out or something of the sort?

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Mor and I spent a good deal of time farming nonsense, before a few of us decided on trying to get past the Nergigante roadblock.  Ash had recently arrived at that step in the quest, and Kodra with a little bit of leg work was able to get there as well.  So the three of us combined with Tam decided to make a few attempts last night.  For the uninitiated, Nergigante is a fight where you simply cannot get hit.  There is a one two punch move that he pulls off that first stuns you in place and then decimates you.  If your team members are fast enough they can throw some crystal burst at him to distract him from pummeling your friends.  However we were not always fast enough.  The above screenshot is of Nergi just about to pound poor Ashgar into the ground.

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Similarly here is a screenshot of him completely wrecking my world.  The problem is you have three faints before the quest fails, and unfortunately things seem to go from “perfectly fine” to “oh god why” at a moments notice.  I’ve been told that this fight is a little bit more predictable solo with only you and your Palico to worry with and the buffer of two faints for yourself instead of having to share a pool for the entire group.  I will probably try this thing tonight, but whatever the case the fight feels really stressful because I simply cannot get in and deal much damage before needing to roll out to safety.  At first I wondered if ranged fighters had a better time of it…  but since I have been playing bow quite a bit lately for fun…  I am guessing not.  The biggest problem I personally have with bow is the lack of ability to dodge out of the way in the same manner as I do with longsword.

I’ve been on high center for the last two weeks and would really like to move past Nergi and on to other fights.  So in theory tonight if I actually make it home from the current icemageddon, I will likely spend the evening working on trying to get through this one on my own.  In other interesting news… Byf has started releasing lore videos for Monster Hunter World.  The first one came out yesterday and talks about the fall of what seems to be a pretty technologically advanced civilization that existed in the Monster Hunter universe before the current relatively primitive one we have currently.  Byf and Myelin were a good deal of what made the original Destiny so special for me, because they dug deep into the lore and assembled the fragments into a cohesive narrative.  I am hoping that Byf can do the same for Monster Hunter seeing as I am coming in so late into the series.  There is clearly a bunch of interesting stuff here, and I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Space Goats and Paid Content

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WoW Chronicles

WoWChroniclesLast Friday I managed to find a copy of the regularly back ordered…  World of Warcraft: Chronicles Volume 1.  One of the huge problems World of Warcraft has had to date is that a lot of the lore just feels somewhat tacked on.  I feel like much of the story was written during some late night unbridled “wouldn’t it be cool if” sessions, and there was a lot of hand waving going on from about Burning Crusade onward.  What the chronicles project is trying to do is to set in stone a true canon about the world, and how all of the interlinking pieces actually fit together.  I wholeheartedly support this notion… I just wish someone had the foresight to do it a decade ago, or at least when they decided to start really mixing things up with the first expansion.  I am sure there has been a penciled together napkin sketch of what the world was intended to look like, that at least partially exists in the minds still of the people working at Blizzard.  The problem is when something is not written down and set into print… it becomes too easy to erase a line here and graft on a new segment of lore there that really conflicts with something that came before.

What I am wondering is how much narrative cleanup are they committed to do to make this canon really a living document? While this project doesn’t exactly burn down what was in place before… it does invalidate a lot of things that happened and in other cases it simply explains things that already exist.  For example… the book indicates that the Spirit Healers that we have used for years are essentially a rogue faction of Val’kyr.  The book goes into depth about the relationship between the void lords, the titans, the old gods, and classifies things that lacked classification like the wild gods which now include the pantheon of August Celestials.  What I really hope to see is some of these lore fixes making their way into the game in either the form of new quests, or old quest revisions.  I will say that having some sort of concrete font of lore that they can keep going back to, makes me at least somewhat excited for the future of the game.  Lore has always been one of the big problems I had with World of Warcraft, and how confused and messy…. and downright incomplete it always seemed.  Hopefully we will start to see the fruits of this project with the coming expansion Legion… which even before this seemed like it was going to be a complete loregasm.

Paid Promotional Content

I am going to take the tail end of this mornings post to complain about something that has been bothering me.  Granted I know it will do absolutely zero good since it is quite obvious the forces in question are not even reading my blog.  For years I have gotten messages from various companies wanting to place paid content on my blog.  There is a practice that is frighteningly common that gets called by a bunch of names… but essentially marketers want to pay established blogs to place pre-written and pre-approved articles which serve as a sort of advertising for a product.  Essentially the practice makes me feel dirty inside that they are even targeting my blog… but most end up getting caught in the spam filter.  Here lately several have made it through on my About page, and I have taken to responding to them directly.  I realize I should just brush these off as the byproduct of having blogged for as long as I have, but it really sticks in my craw.

I get super excited about products, and games… and the other things that interest me in the world.  I’m a geek and a lot of geekdom is geeking out about something.  That said I want to make sure it is understood that when I get excited about something… it is because I am legitimately excited and that there is not some nefarious force behind the curtain pulling my strings.  Sure I would love to make money on my blog, or at least love to reach a point where it is self sustaining… the problem is every option to monetize means I am giving up some of my control.  For example if I were to install advertisements… I wouldn’t be able to curate WHICH advertisements I allowed onto the site, I would have to accept anything the ad network wanted to place there.  So the notion of “supporting” products that I don’t necessarily believe in, really bothers me.  As a result I have shunned pretty much all advertising, and while I freely accept alphas and betas to games… I only end up writing about the ones that really interest me.  I have friends in the gaming industry, and it is awesome…  but no one is paying me to like their product.

Basically what it all boils down to is that my opinion is not for sale.  None of the folks that have been approaching me will actually read these lines, but I still feel like it is important to say it loud and publicly.  Tales of the Aggronaut has been a work of love for going on seven years now, and while my opinions shift and change based on new data… they are still very much my opinions and not carefully scripted speaking points.  That said I will always be open to reviewing products if someone wants me to do so.  That said I will only write about the product when I feel like I have had enough time to see the entire picture, and when I have something interesting to say about it.  I also will never guarantee a positive review.  I am not really a ranty blogger, but I do talk about the points that disappoint me in games or products and that is likely to happen.  If someone finds this in a search later on…  hopefully they will actually read it before asking me to do something shifty like accepting payola for content.  I am extremely luck in that I have a day job that can support my blogging shenanigans, and that I don’t need to somehow turn this into a profit center.  I don’t begrudge those who are trying to monetize their content, but I can’t ever really condone shillery.

Media Consumption 10/17/2015

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Television Lite Week

This week has been one that has seen me absolutely consumed with Destiny on the PlayStation 4, and as such I have simply not spent much time watching television.  I have however watched quite an excessive amount of YouTube videos, namely as I try to find information about Destiny.  There is this shift that is happening where certain games with certain audiences… simply do not have information blog posts about them.  I’ve gotten spoiled in a world with Dulfy.net and WoWHead.com in that I expect pretty much every game I have to have this quality of resources.  Instead for many games lately all I am ever able to find is YouTube videos on a given subject.  I am sorry to all the YouTubers out there… but I am of a generation where I feel like a video is the least useful way to disseminate information.  I will take a written explanation and some good screenshots any day over a lengthy video walk through.  At some point in the near future I hope to take some of these things that I found frustrating and attempt to write some blog posts outlining how to do this thing or that thing in Destiny.  Granted that is not to say there are not a lot of really good Destiny YouTube channels…  but I would still rather have an informational post.

Destiny Lore

The first time around when the AggroChat crew played Destiny… we joked that it was a game almost entirely devoid of story.  That apparently is not the case…  they just go to strange lengths to hide it from you.  The story of the game is told through a series of grimoire cards, item descriptions, quest text, and hinted at in cinematic scenes.  In fact there is actually apparently a TON of information about the characters in the game, their background, how they arrived at the tower… and all sorts of legends from the golden age, the city age, and the now tower age.  In my search for information about Destiny I happened to stumble across a really awesome YouTube channel called Myelin Game… which is not to be confused with long time friend Mylin1.  The channel is chock full of videos where Myelin digs into the lore of Destiny and connects the dots, weaving all of the known information… and speculated information into a narrative around a certain subject.  I linked the Black Garden video since the game does a pretty poor job to explain what the hell it actually is…  but I also highly suggest the trilogy of videos talking about thorn, last word, and first curse.  I have always guessed there was this rich story somewhere behind Destiny… because the dots connected too neatly at times not to be well planned, but now that I am starting to learn some of the actual story I am loving it.  I still feel it is a strange choice to make players dig for this knowledge, rather than letting you experience chunks of it through the story.  The Fallen King expansion does a much better job of being more forthcoming with information… and it gives characters that previously did not have much of a personality… plenty of chance to show it off.  I’ve spent a lot of time listening to these lore videos while doing other things and I highly recommend them.

Star Wars Minute

Another thing that I stumbled across this week is Star Wars Minute, which is a great YouTube channel that takes segments of the Star Wars universe and condenses them into roughly one minute long narrative explanations.  Much like the Destiny Lore, this feels as much podcast as it does YouTube video because the narrative explanation is the important part… and the images going along with it are nice to have but not 100% necessary.  I ended up finding this as I started doing some googling related to the Star Wars universe, namely for the upcoming pen and paper game that should have its first session tomorrow.  The funny thing about this is how much of the universe I already had a full grasp on but have no clue why.  I guess even though I have been a sleeper Star Wars fanboy since the prequels… I was still subconsciously hungry for knowledge about this favorite of universes.  Star Wars Minute is great to play in the background as you do something else and they release three new episodes a week, so there is a silly amount of content available already.

Arrow Season 3

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Be warned I am going to go into some serious spoilers here, so if you have not watched Arrow Season 3 or if you intend to at a later date…  you might want to skip this section.  Here is the point at which I get really frustrated with this show.  Generally speaking I am all for a television show deviating from the source material to make the universe work better for the TV audience.  For example most of the Batman movies have worked really well… and they are essentially a condensed soup version of the batman universe…  gathering up all the good bits and trying to weave a story out of them.  You have a very limited amount of time on television, and what might work fine to slowly build over the course of several years of a comic run… needs to happen in an under two hour long movie.  Television shows have a bit more leverage when it comes to pacing something out, and this is also cool.  The thing that apparently pisses me off though… is when you take actions attributed to one character and apply them to a completely different character.

What I mean is that this story line that has played out throughout the season around R’as al Ghul didn’t happen to Green Arrow…  ever.  Essentially this is a Batman storyline, and all of the events that are playing out happened at one time or another to Batman.  This caused me to think about Arrow the television show in a different light and realize that essentially… they have been turning Arrow into Batman this entire time.  Maybe it is because Batman has been tagged as a “film” universe and is not available to be done in a Television version that they feel the need to create someone that is Batman-like.  Green Arrow was admittedly a comic that I did not really follow.  I mean I knew that him calling his sister Speedy when that was the character that would ultimately become Arsenal was wrong… and I knew a few other points seemed less than correct.  However I lived in this world of relatively little knowledge about the show so I was able to pretty much ignore any differences… until they started stepping foot into the Batman universe.  THAT is a universe I know considerably more about, and after a whole lot of research and the council of Thalen…  I pretty much determined that nope…  Green Arrow has never really interacted much with R’as al Ghul at all.  So I am sitting here two episodes away from the end of the season… questioning if I care to finish watching it.

Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere

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Thank god Walking Dead is back.  “Fear The” was such a pale imitation of Walking Dead, and I am exceptionally happy that they chose to back up the start of Season Six to the end of the first season of Fear.  I do have to say though that it makes me extremely happy that Talking Dead has been pulled in officially for Fear as well, because for me at least that has become so much of that experience.  This is one hell of a first episode, and I really liked the way they handled Flashbacks in this episode by making them Black and White.  That is always the challenge with a show, how to visually tell the watcher that the events they are seeing are not happening in real time but instead an imagined replay.  When you are dealing with older characters and younger characters, it works naturally… but when you are dealing with only a few hours or days passing… it becomes much more challenging.  So the choice of black and white gave a nice clear demarcation point between the two time-frames.  As to the rest of the episode…  Rae sent me a text as the show as going on that simply said “Nosh Pit”.

The premise of the show has to be one of the most Rube Goldberg style plot devices I have seen in awhile.  To figure out a way to draw the walkers out of the pit and along a fixed path to get them away from Alexandria.  The parallels to herding cattle…  was extremely strong in this episode.  They even managed to draw them down a chute just like you do cattle for a period of time… and then cleared out the farm supply store just to make sure nothing would spook them and draw their attention away…  kinda like you do cattle.  The slightest noise can distract cattle and get them to move in a different direction, and that apparently is the case with walkers.  The thing is… going into this episode… you knew something was going to go wrong.  There were scenes in the Season 6 preview show of Walkers in Alexandria or at least the hint of that happening.  This show is really good about misleading us, for example the above poster would seem like we are heading towards some central conflict between Morgan and Rick… and in truth… it seems like Morgan instead manages to back Rick down from the ledge a bit.

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As far as the walkers…  when they are nearing the clear zone…  someone sets off a horn in Alexandria, causing the mega horde to turn that direction.  So the question is… who did it.  At work the popular theory for awhile has been that Enid is a spy from the Wolves, and that the scenes of her in the car with the walker outside…  hint that she set off the horn.  My personal theory is it is Father Gabriel once again trying to destroy everything around him.  He wanted to go out on the mission to herd the walkers, but Rick shut him down immediately.  My theory is he is vindictive, and after being shut down by Andrea as well…  he is still on some mission to destroy this community and in the process allow himself to be kill in some sort of twisted act of contrition for letting his parishioners die.  In truth it could be the wolves themselves, who have been watching everything happening and see this as their opportunity to let the zombies batter down the defense of Alexandria and allow them to come in after they are done… and loot the resources.  If nothing else this episode explained why Alexandria had been left fairly unscathed… because the giant pit of zombies had been drawing in more zombies and keeping them away from the town.  It is going to be interesting to see how the next few episodes play out, and who we lose in the process.