Backyard and Banana

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Last night was a pretty chill night and was spent either gaming or hanging out on the patio off our bedroom.  Here is a photo from my chair as I waited to top off the pool and played Monster Hunter Generations.  There was a nice breeze and it was making the wind chimes do all sorts of happy sounds.  My wife was hanging beside me doing school work…  because unfortunately it is both hobby and job rolled all in one.  I love our backyard even though I don’t spend anywhere near as much time as she does out in it.  Last night however was a perfect storm of overcast and cool which is about my sweet spot for outdoors.  My eyes are super sensitive to light and there are times where while I am sitting in the shade… the world itself is just too bright for my tastes.  The flowerbabies of course are doing okay still, and I need to wrap up this post soon so I can go out and give them all a drink.

As far as Monster Hunter Generations…  I am largely playing it over 4 Ultimate because of the impending release of Generations Ultimate for the Switch.  Monster Hunter is way too complicated a game for me to really enjoy playing it on a tiny screen with a thinkpad trackpoint nub serving as my second thumbstick.  That said I do know that whatever effort I make is going to transfer over to the Switch so it feels like it is allowing me to have a bit of a headstart as it were.  There are still three months until the release of Generations Ultimate and that gives me some time to casually work on leveling my Palicos and progressing through the quests to a point where I might not be completely on ground one at launch on August 28th.  I am super looking forward to having a newish to me Monster Hunter experience to sink my teeth into…  that I will be able to play on my 43 inch monitor upstairs.

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The tail end of the evening I settled into playing some Iron Banner in Destiny 2 as I had not honestly played much of that since Curse of Osiris.  I am nowhere near as good at Crucible as I once was because I am simply out of practice, but then again I never was terribly good in the first place.  I did manage to turn in a couple of packages, one of which getting me the Auto Rifle that looks like Scathelocke.  I am super pumped about it because firstly I love Auto Rifles and secondly…  I had really wanted to try that weapon out and was afraid that I lost my chance when the season changed.  There is another auto rifle available as faction rewards so I am wondering if I want to try grinding out 30 packages…  and I pretty much figure the answer is no.  I do however want the super high rate of fire weapon because it has auto loading holster and high impact rounds and seems like a much better version of Perseverance/Valakadyn…  which are both weapons that I hated on the console but have come to enjoy with a mouse and keyboard.

I have significant problems with Destiny 2… but damn does that mechanical loop still feel fun.

Elves I Don’t Hate

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Yesterday I pulled an example from World of Warcraft and after doing so I realized that I never actually talked about the character that was hiding underneath the fold of the Destiny 2 image.  I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Allied races, the Horde races were super easy to unlock but the Alliance ones required a level of commitment that I was simply not willing to offer them.  They were one of those things that I worked on off and on as I had time or wanted something mindless to do while watching television or a movie.  It was a few weeks back when I realized that I was actually getting pretty close to exalted with both of the factions required to unlock them.  Even then I largely failed at doing the quests on a daily basis because I really am not a huge fan of Argus.

Nevertheless I managed to push across the finish line and unlock them both a few weekends back and as a result I have been poking around on a brand new Void Elf hunter during the AggroChat podcasts.  I’ve found it super relaxing to just roam around and take things down at low levels and for whatever reason Void Elves don’t trigger that “I hate elves” instinct that I have built up over all of these years.  In part I think they mostly register as Drow to me, which is something I occasionally played in D&D or the games like Everquest that had decent implementations of them.  Honestly it weirdly makes me want to go back and farm the single piece of Dragonstalker that I am missing, because in all of my years of running Blackwing Lair…  I never got the boots to drop off Broodlord Lashlayer.  The only thing keeping me from soloing it each week is the fact that I really hate doing the Razorgore event.

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I realize that I recently started a Tauren Hunter, but the whole being assigned a pet at the start of the game thing still seems a little weird.  On the Tauren your start with a Plainstrider which isn’t really my sort of pet, but even then I kept using it for a significant amount of time before taming anything else to replace it.  As Void Elf though you start with Voidstalker… that is both my kind of pet and also extremely cool looking.  I’ve found myself with zero drive to go out and tame something else, but that might change as I am now interesting Stranglethorn Vale.  I might grab something rare if I happen across it but for now I am more than happy to run around with my void pal…  even though I have yet to give her a proper name.

It is weird to me that I have lost any forward momentum in World of Warcraft thanks to Battle For Azeroth and the direction they are taking the game.  However I still enjoy dinking around on low level characters because to me that is the purest version of the “WoW Experience”.  BfA really has been a let down as far as the information coming out about it.  Additionally my time playing beta…  hasn’t really done anything to hook me on the direction the game is going.  For years I thought that maybe Metzen was what was holding the game back…  but now I wonder if he was a force of stability keeping the game from dropping off a cliff.  Note I loved Legion “for the most part” but the one bit that I could push right into the sea was the factional nonsense that happens in Stormheim.  Battle For Azeroth feels like an entire game made out of those factional nonsense moments and I am not really looking forward to it.

Red and Gold

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One of my favorite aspects of Monster Hunter World has been the constant revolving door of limited time events.  It seems like at some point we will run out of brand new ones, and that they will begin cycling through the past happenings…  but for right now it seems like every time I turn around there is something brand new and shiny to interact with.  Starting on April 27th we got the Code Red event which involves fighting four “red” monsters in the standard arena, one after another.  So you have to work your way through Anjanath, Odogoron, Rathalos and then finally the Elder Dragon Teostra.  Doing this gives you a special currency that looks like a monster gem called a Red Orb.  Collecting seven of these and a slew of parts from all of the monsters included in the quest allows you to craft a set of rank 8 gear patterned off of Dante from Devil May Cry.

What makes this set really interesting is unlike past offerings…  this is not a complete suit but instead individual pieces allowing for some interesting Mixed Build options.  For the unindoctrinated…  armor pieces have specific stats on them and by mixing and matching them you can often times come up with really interesting builds that benefit specific weapons.  The boots for example have two levels of weakness exploit which I can see very easily mixing into other sets to achieve the desired affinity boost while hitting weak areas.  The other special thing about this event is the fact that we get a brand new Charge Blade that is themed after Devil May Cry as well and starts out Rank 8 without any need to do a follow on upgrade quest.  Instead of a sword and shield… it is a short sword with a run that serves as the shield…  that then turns into a giant two handed sword giving it a very unique appearance and feel while using.  A good chunk of my last week and some change has been spent collecting bits for this set and weapon… and last night I finally managed to craft the final piece when Teostra dropped that last piece of webbing.

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The other big thing I have been participating in is the Kulve Taroth “raid” quest that drops materials to create a really awesome set of armor that you can see me wearing in the above image.  Other than that it is also a chance for a lot of really interesting semi-random weapon drops.  During the course of the runs that I have participated in I have managed to get a purple or better weapon for every slot other than bow…  which seem to be extremely stingy for some reason.  I had enough blue weapons that when I sold them all last night I jumped from 10,000 zenny to just shy of 300,000 zenny.  The keepers have been 9 orange rank 8 weapons and 23 purple rank 7 weapons.  Like I have talked about before the real benefit of this quest is it gives you a stable of usable weapons that allows you to branch out a bit.  Like I have a decent Hunting Horn now…  why not try it out and learn to use it?

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Among the weapon drops I have gotten one of the more interesting ones is this Rank 8 longsword with 330 paralysis on it.  If a monster is at all susceptible to this status effect… it seems to proc quite often.  I was clearing out some of my quests last night and took out a Lavasioth and during the short time it took me to lower it to skull territory and trap it… I managed to proc paralysis four times.  While these weapons won’t likely ever outdo a truly tuned weapon… because they are spending some item budget on defense…  I like them as well rounded general use options that I didn’t have to spend a lot of materials to create.  The Kulve Taroth quest goes away May 5th and the Dante quest goes away on May 10th.  I am curious to see what replaces each of them which I guess we will start to see late in the evening on Wednesday?  The content release schedule is odd and ends up with some things releasing Wednesday night and others releasing Thursday night.  I want to get some more farming in of Kulve tonight for more attempts at shiny gold weapons, but in the grand scheme of things I am pretty happy with the progress I managed to make.

 

 

Monster Hunter and Destiny

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While I am not quite ready to throw out a complete post about it…  I am swirling around in my head the notion of rebooting Blaugust this year.  If I did so it would be a slightly different affair and I am sorting out in my head exactly what that might entail.  There was a period of time when we had a bunch of events happening at the same time…  Developer Appreciation Week, Newbie Blogger Initiative and Blaugust.  None of which really exist today in their current form and have not properly for a few years.  So in remixing Blaugust I would be also attempting to fill some of the niches that the others provided as well by laying out a series of themed weeks.  The rough idea is it would start with the last full week in July as a sort of “Prep Week” where the remaining elder bloggers would sorta throw out “how to get started” posts from an inspirational, logistical or technical manner.  It is still an idea that is incubating however so I will do some sort of a larger post once it has solidified completely in my head.

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The other general thought that has been going around in my head is that Monster Hunter World has become my new Destiny: The Taken King.  That sounds counter intuitive I know since Destiny 2 is a much closer simulacrum to the original game than Monster Hunter World given that they are two completely different genres.  However what I am talking about is more the way I engage with the game rather than the way the game actually plays.  Destiny 1… especially during the Taken King era was this game I was completely obsessed with and wanted to know every tiny bit of lore I could find for it.  It was this giant box of content that allowed me to engage with it in whatever method I chose to, and also always gave me one more goal to complete once I had finished the previous one.  It was this title that I could just log in and play any given night without needing to bring into it a predetermined purpose because there were so many layered purposes available that I could easily latch onto one of them and proceed happily for an evening.

I had a small group of friends playing it, that allowed me to do bigger activities if I so choose like the various raids I completed with Axioma and later Tequila Mockingbird.  That said most of my time playing the game was just me roaming around and doing stuff that suited whatever mood I happened to be in.  There was always one more obstacle to overcome and one more piece of loot that I was chasing and never quite obtaining.  It was a perfect storm of hooks for me personally and kept me entertained right up until the point when my head was filled with daydreams of Destiny 2 and what might be.  I realize I can still log in at any point I want and play the game again…  but it almost feels tarnished due to the greatly diminished community surrounding it.

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Destiny 2 for reasons I cannot fully explain does not contain the same hooks for me that the original did.  I tried very hard to stay focused on it, and for some time I have blamed my eventual malaise towards the game on the fact that I tried to play it twice.  What I mean by that is that I played the game hard and heavy when it released on Playstation 4 and then immediately turned around and went through the same manic leveling process on the PC one month later.  Effectively I ran up six characters to high gear levels back to back, and I had managed to hit 305 the then cap on PS4 before swapping over to PC and grinding up to that point again.  That is a lot to ask of any game to sustain interested during that sort of nonsense and I largely explained my fading away from the title as simple burnout.

The problem is there was so much more that I have yet to completely unpack.  The moment to moment game play in Destiny 2 feels amazing…  but there is a problem with its feedback loop.  What was missing was my drive to keep doing more of it once I had obtained whatever shiny baubles I wanted to obtain weapon wise.  What was missing was some larger overarching pull that kept me going off and doing individual tasks that ultimately felt like they were adding up to some big payoff.  In part the problem is a lot of those items that I used to grind for…  now exist as Eververse cash shop exclusives.  The other problem is that when they have put in longer grinds like the weapons of osiris…  they feel extremely hollow because they are so horribly repetitive and involve you doing the same limited number of activities over and over.  I realize they are still trying to fix this broken loop and some of the upcoming changes might help it…  but I feel like their over reliance on timed mechanics is going to be a bridge I just cannot cross given now much anxiety they inflict.

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On the flip side you have the game Monster Hunter World that I honestly did not expect to get into, given my lousy track record with the handheld versions.  However I am engaging with it much the way as I engaged with Destiny during the Taken King era.  I find myself looking up lore for the monsters if they have existed in the series before, and if not speculations about their origins and such that are floating around on Reddit.  I find myself researching bits and parts for armor and what interesting builds surround them that exploit their specific attributes.  I find myself able to log into the game any given night and just find something to do because I have this massive laundry list of things I want to go acquire.  I can always use more elder dragon parts….  but similarly can use the gemstones that are rare drops off of almost any creature you can hunt.  I became completely ecstatic last night when I got a double gem drop off Zorah Magdaros…  that I cannot fully explain why I was bothering to do in the first place.

This is the feedback loop that used to drive me while playing Destiny 1 and it is the feedback loop that keeps me doing nonsense.  I have an addiction to SOS Roulette which isn’t even really a thing…  just something I made up in my head to relate it to the various roulette’s in Final Fantasy XIV.  I like dropping into the middle of an assortment of random events happening that people need help on and trying to push the scenario to a win condition by my interaction with it.  Sure there are times we fail miserably like Monday night…  but then there are nights like Last night where we somehow managed to win every single boss fight I attempted including Val Hazaak and Nergigante.  There will likely NEVER be a time when I cannot use at least one or two things off the elder dragons.

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What makes Monster Hunter World so sticky is that eat time I get the parts to craft a new piece of gear, it ends up opening a whole bunch of possibilities to solve other problems…  and often times leads me down a path of wanting something else to try some new build out.  The way the gear sets interact in interesting ways means I am constantly searching for another piece of gear to complete a specific stat packages that I have decided in my head that I need.  This was the same sort of nonsense that happened for me in Destiny 1 where I was constantly seeking out a slightly better stat package that interacted more perfect with the gear I had.  I had a vault full of items that I didn’t want to shard because they were useful under certain circumstances and led me to want to keep them.  I am having this same problem in Monster Hunter World where I am afraid I will legitimately hit the 1000 item hard  cap on equipment.

Effectively what I have realized is that Monster Hunter World is my new Destiny, and hopefully I have explained a bit this morning what that actually means.  It is that game that I can pick up and play without any real reason… and find a constant stream of activities that I want to be doing…  that also feel like they are working towards some larger objective.  Capcom is doing an excellent job of keeping a constantly flow of events and activities happening almost every week to keep us engaged and wanting to do new an interesting things.  Kulve Taroth is phenomenal and might go down as some of my favorite content in any game…  but the fact that they sprung it on us completely unannounced makes it all the more exciting.  While I have had friends who have bounced off of this game… I still maintain an active enough community to be able to do things together if need be.  The only problem is that right now I seem to be a couple of hours off what would be prime monster hunting time…  given that I tend to wind down around 9:30 my time and that is when folks are getting online.

Ultimately while this might seem counter-intuitive…  if you loved the original Destiny but largely have bounced off Destiny 2…  you might give Monster Hunter World a try.

SOS Failures

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The thing about SOS Roulette is that sometimes you win big…  other times you fail miserably.  Last night was more in the fail miserably column as I decided to attempt to farm some of the gems I need to create the full Kulve Taroth set of gear.  That means I will need a Kulve Taroth Gem, a Val Hazaak Gem, a Xeno’jiiva Gem and a Nergigante Gem.  As a result I spent most of the night joining in on Nergi and Hazaak fights without much luck.  The truth is these are not the best things to queue into because the elder dragons represent a steep climb in difficulty.  More often than not last night we carted out of the fight with someone taking a faint and finishing things out without getting any measurable loot.

The night did however make me realize how desperately I need one more Miasma gem so I can become immune to Effluvial build up and just wreck that fight without much issue.  The truth is Hazaak is way easier than I remembered him being, which seems to be a common theme I am feeling as I go back and redo these fights.  The truth is I have mostly been in a mindset of fighting tempered or similar things over the last few weeks and as a result all of those high rank “tough” fights feel a lot easier as a result.  The truth is I should just be doing these solo where I can predict what is going to happen better….  but that just always feels so lonely.  I admit most of the time I do the SOS Roulette thing just because it feels like I am doing things with people…  without the need for actual human interaction.  I realize I am not normal.

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I did manage to get in a really good run of Kulve Taroth where I walked away with two decent items that represent weapons I had not really gotten before.  First up is the Taroth “Blitz” Erupter which appears to be pattered off of the Deviljho Light Bowgun…  and I have no clue at all if it is even a reasonable weapon but it does give me at least a Rank 7 one to play with.  Next up you have the above image of the Taroth Buster “Water” which lets me start playing around with Gunlance, another weapon I have not so much as even equipped.  I think more than anything that is what this event represents for me…  a way to get a bunch of decent versions of weapons to start playing with and testing out.  Sure I could have crafted likely better versions of all of these things…  but I feel like I sorta need to know what types of weapons I like before I sink a lot of resources into them.

I think tonight I might start getting used to soloing things again, either that or see what Ashgar is up to because I know he needs Nergi parts as well.  I need to get serious about trying to farm that last Kulve gem because when the event is over my opportunity closes there.  Shiana has somehow managed to get four of the gems already so has enough to craft both the alpha and beta sets.  For me… I am mostly just focused on crafting a single set and unfortunately I only have one gold ticket waiting in the wings to fill out whatever gem I have the hardest time getting.  I think I blew my luck the other night when I managed to carve a Wyvern Gem and then get two more from the end of mission loot window….  for a total of three that night.

 

Gold Dust Woman

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Right now in Monster Hunter World there is a brand new type of event happening called a Siege.  The idea is that an entire 18 player session is working towards one objective… taking down a Zorah Magdaros style massive elder dragon.  In order to start the process you need to find a gold pile somewhere out in the wilds.  By default this should be somewhere near the start of any of the outdoor zones.  In talking to the AggroChat crew last night I was told to do an investigation…  which absolutely worked… but I believe that Tam originally intended to tell me to do an Expedition which according to Ash also works.  The pile will be very obvious and very out of place and by looting it you will then have a quest as soon as you zone into Astera.  From there the quest takes place in the Gathering Hub and will show up as a unique quest type called Siege at the bottom of the quest givers list.

From there you join a party in progress or start your own.  There is no SOS Roulette for this so my standard practice of joining a clan session to hang out only really works if you are all focused on doing the event.  The AggroChat crew apparently did this with only four players on Wednesday night when it opened, but I largely just kept joining public sessions until I found one with players actively doing the quest.  For the most part every instance I joined had two active groups so a total of eight players chipping away at the progress meter for the event.  Functionally all groups are working in their own separate instances with progress made each time you meet a milestone… like knocking off a specific part of the body.

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There are functionally four phases that I am aware of in the fight.  In the first phase Kulve Taroth moves around the zone completely oblivious to the players allowing you to hit it with canon fire perched atop cliffs much like the Zorah Magdaros fight.  During the second phase she is still covered in the gold plating but begins to take notice of your actions and will actively but very slowly attack you.  During the forth phase she enters a room where there are some magma eruptions that heat the gold up making her go significantly faster as well as allowing for better damage to knock parts off.  During the final phase she goes into a room where magma is dripping down from the ceiling and all of her armor is knocked off making her extremely fast and very Nergigante like in damage when she hits you.

Ultimately the goal is to survive until one of two things happens…  either she gets bored and wanders off “leaving the area” which counts as success weirdly enough.  The other option is that through the actions of all teams that her horns are broken…  which allows the team that broke them the ability to carve them for all sorts of tasty loot.  The other thing that makes this fight extremely interesting is that she is constantly dropping parts on the ground so you have to juggle fighting with looting on a regular basis.  Additionally there is a tribe Gajalaka that will constantly be getting in the way, throwing things at you, knocking you down…  so you will be dealing with this in additional to avoiding very wide sweeping attacks.  You can take them out however and the ones with gold shielding on their back drop Kulve Taroth bits… and the others have a reasonable chance to do the same.

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This is a massive time sink, given that it often takes a full instance two or three attempts to take down the dragon.  What makes it worth it however is the interesting semi-randomized loot drops that introduce the relic system that has existed in other games.  While you are in the fight picking up drops, there is a chance that you can get a relic weapon.  These then are appraised at the quest giver after you have exited the instance in a fashion similar to decorations.  Last night I ran three complete Kulve Taroth fights and walked away at the end of the night with 22 blue rank 6 weapons, 5 purple rank 7 weapons and 3 orange rank 8 weapons.  The above screenshot is an amalgam of all of the best items that I got from the fights.  Apparently that Insect Glaive is good enough to make Tam our resident Glaive master general drool a bit over it.

What I am more interested in however is the fact that this is giving me an infusion of weapons that I might have not actually tried on my own.  The truth is I have played with a very small subset of weapons in the game and there are others like lance that I have wanted to try… but had no clue which one to work towards.  Last night I got myself a reasonable sleep lance to start taking down things like everyone’s favorite target dummy…  Great Jagras.  More than this, it is giving me a smattering of different elemental damage types which gives me more leverage when we start looking at other fights in the game.  The other big thing I am working towards is being able to craft a full set of the Kulve armor because it too is really nice…  but will involve a lot of elder dragon farming since each piece requires a gem.

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Lastly there is both new layered armor and palico gear associated with this quest and I am wearing two pieces of the set… shoulders and waist in the above screenshot.  Kenzie my palico is wearing the full set of her gear.  This is crafted by combining Bushi Tickets that drop upon turning in the Kulve Taroth quest when your instance had defeated it and combining them with a bunch of varied monster parts.  I am working towards the Bushi Homare set which involves a bunch of elder dragon bits…  whereas the Bushi Sabi set has a broken down battle worn appearance and requires a bunch of parts from alternate high rank mobs like Black Diablos.  All in all I love the feel of this event because it is essentially Monster Hunter World doing a raid.  I’ve been extremely impressed with the sort of things they are continuing to patch into this game giving us reasons to keep coming back and interacting with content.  The event itself runs for a few weeks and I can already tell I will be spending at least some time each night farming Kulve Taroth for interesting weapon options.

Unintended Night

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What I was supposed to be playing last night is World of Warcraft as Wednesday is our normal mythical nonsense night.  Unfortunately we were down two people already and I myself wasn’t really in the mood to do it either.  I’ve been dealing with some stuff and yesterday was a bit of a bad mental health day.  When those situations happen I tend to turtle up somewhere quiet and hang out by myself until whatever it is has passed.  World of Warcraft is such an inherently social game that even the act of logging in ends up prompting a bunch of people to poke me and say hello…  and it feels bad to ignore them when I need to ignore them.

Sure there is now “Appear Offline” mode but even then that is not a perfect scenario.  For me at least there are a handful of people that I am generally okay with interacting with, because they know the drill.  They understand deeply because they go through their own periods of turtle time, and as a result there is no need to attempt to keep up appearances as it were.  However if you are in Offline mode and you reach out to one of those people who are on the closest rings of your monkeysphere…  they cannot respond.  You will be able to send them messages all day long but they will always get the offline message when attempting to respond back to you.  As a result when I am feeling like this I just avoid WoW like the plague because it isn’t worth the hassle.

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What I wanted to be doing was to sit on the couch and play some Everquest while watching some more Mighty Boosh streamed through the television.  Unfortunately they seem to have had a rather traumatic maintenance yesterday.  The servers went down at 5:00 am EDT on the 18th and did not come back apparently until 2:30 am EDT on the 19th.  I have no clue at all what was going on…  but I kept trying to fire up the launcher and getting the maintenance message.  I have been enjoying myself a shocking amount in Everquest, but I realize that I am riding the drug that is nostalgia.  I am not sure how long that drug will last but for the moment I am riding its high.

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What I did instead was play a lot of MTG Arena as I got it set up on my laptop.  Yesterday Scopique wrote an interesting response to my post about Arena…  or at least one that mentioned it because it wasn’t exactly a direct response.  The funny thing is I wouldn’t necessarily call myself much of a competitive gamer.  I traditionally shy away from player versus player situations, but games like MTG Arena or the Crucible in Destiny don’t seem to bother me that much and I am not entirely certain why.  I stumbled across a post from Tobold who very much did not enjoy his time with Arena, but for the moment I don’t mind at all that it is largely just a stripped down 1v1 client.  I think ultimately if you are going into Arena expecting Duels of the Planeswalkers or MTG Duels either one… you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Arena is simply a Magic the Gathering Online that isn’t horrible.  Sure MTGO is serviceable but nothing about it is really intuitive and it feels like you are jumping through a lot of hoops to make anything work.  MTGO was absolutely less cludgy than the days of trying to arrange a game on IRC and then getting both parties to fire up and connect to each other through the Apprentice application.  However card gaming on a PC has changed drastically since then and Hearthstone more or less has led that charge.  Arena is that Hearthstone-esc interface for the far more seasons and complicated game of Magic the Gathering, and the thing is… it works amazingly well.

There have been a few times I have been bit by the game trying to move forward without me…  but in the grand scheme of things it seems to do 99.9% of the right things at the right time.  The other moments don’t bother me too much because I am not placing a lot of my personal ego into whether or not I am winning.  I am simply enjoying playing cards and occasionally I do really well.  I do feel like Tobold’s comment of not feeling like he could be competitive with the decks presented was a bit nonsense given that I have been entirely playing the stock Golgari Exploration deck.  I felt like I was able to pick it up and start winning matches almost immediately…  and sure as my rank has risen I am winning less matches but even that doesn’t bother me much.  I am still winning more than enough to complete daily quests getting me packs and gold…  to buy more packs.  All in all I feel like Arena is going to shape up to be a very solid version of Magic the Gathering Online…  but we need to stop the comparisons there for our own sanity.

Boosh and Barroth

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It was a pretty great weekend as far as gaming goals go.  Saturday I largely roamed around aimlessly in Everquest while hanging out with my wife downstairs watching various stuff on the television.  Then at some point before the podcast I headed upstairs to see if I could knock out the megaman event.  This entails fighting the most laughably small Odogoron you have ever seen…  and one that is slightly larger than normal.  In truth I am not completely sure it is larger than normal…  or if it just seems massive compared to the tiny tiny one you fight first. Ultimately you need to get five tickets to get your full palico armor and I managed to finish mine up in three events…  with the last one dropping three event tickets…  something I was not sure could actually happen.

After the Podcast Thalen and I wound up hanging out and working on our Ryu costumes, which entails doing a challenge arena where you fight a massive Barroth.  This thing is so large that really your only option is to wail away on the legs until it falls over….  then start scoring hits on other parts of the body.  This event scores event tickets based on how fast you get the kill…  if I am remembering right getting it in less than 5 minutes nets you a gold and three tickets, less than 9 minutes a silver and 2 tickets, and finally finishing at all before the 50 minute timer is up earns you bronze and a single ticket.  You need seven tickets in total so we wound up running it four times in a row allowing us to craft the Ryu suit…  that in all honesty we will probably never actually wear.

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When Thalen and I both got on I created an open chat channel and we both joined the Greysky Armanda clan session, and at some point during our Barroth nonsense our good friend Shiana joined us in both.  Thalen and I were talking for a bit about both needing Kirin and what sort of gear we were prepping for the fight.  It was around about this point that Shiana offered to help us get some attempts in seeing as he was in the 90s rank wise himself.  Granted this is like at 11 pm we are starting this madness…  but my desire to kill the stupid unicorn was greater than my desire for sleep.  So we continued forth with me wearing my mostly Xeno’jiiva set that nets 40 lightning resist with a veggie platter buff.  In truth with multiple people the fight already seemed way easier because I was not having to spend my entire time trying to shed aggro from the lunatic horse.

One by one we each got carted…  with me taking the last hit and closing out our first attempt somewhere around the 25 minute mark.  On our second attempt we managed to get feline insurance, and in truth only managed to get carted the one time if I am remembering correctly.  We had better luck as far as where exactly Kirin decided to fight us, shifting back and forth between two relatively open areas.  When we managed to whittle it down to enough hitpoints to make it run back to it’s “nest” we barrel bombed it into oblivion then threw on our thunderproof mantles and proceeded to wale away on it.  All the while this was going on… I was still very much on edge… afraid something would go terribly wrong and we would fail the fight once again.  So when I saw the above screenshot…  crediting a kill for Kirin I was ecstatic…  making getting to sleep when I finally crawled into bed a little after midnight a bit harder than normal.

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Sunday I spent the day swapping laundry and hanging out upstairs playing Monster Hunter while watching The Mighty Boosh on my second monitor.  I am not exactly sure what prompted me, but for some reason I fired up Hulu to see what was available and it suggested to me this show.  Now I had watched most of it some time ago when reruns were being played as part of the adult swim block late at night.  This was back during my wow raiding days… and many of the sayings from the “Old Gregg” episode became constant quotation fodder during fights… especially “Fuzzy Little Man Peach”.  So yesterday I hung out watching the Hulu feed of the episodes while doing random nonsense in Monster Hunter World.  It was a day truly well spent.

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I’ve been slowly adding weapons to my repertoire and then learning how to use them.  It seems extremely bizarre but I have been crafting purple and orange versions of weapons that I have maybe never actually used…  because I figure as I learn them I at least have an “end game” version to get used to rather than mess with all of the steps in between.  For the moment I have solid versions of Charge Blade,  Switch Axe, Great Sword and of course the Longsword of which I have developed quite the collection.  One of the weapons that I have kept wanting to try is the Dual Blades which seem really cool when I see someone using them, but for whatever reason I have never actually tried.

I really really like the look of the Sin dual Chain Kama looking weapons, and thanks to farming the Odogoron quest I managed to get not only one but two gems.  This allowed me to craft the weapon and the complete set of Alpha Odog gear to go with it.  Sure it might seem weird that I have a full set of gear largely because I think its cool looking…  but whatever.  Now I am setting my sights on getting the Zorah blast lance…  before giving that weapon a go.  Sure I could just go into the training room…  but as I keep being reminded I am the patron saint of bad decisions and that simply would not be my way.

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Another project for this weekend was finishing farming the Anjanath claws needed to upgrade my weapon I can’t pronounce into the final form of said weapon I can’t pronounce.  I then took the firey axe and shield out on a few test runs having really great luck with it.  It could use a few more ranks of handicraft to give me more time in the blue zone, because it takes an awful lot of sharpness loss as you use it…  but it also dishes out a lot of damage and is crazy fun to use.  I am sure there are probably better options for sword and shield, but I like this one and it at least gives me an end game suitable weapon in that category.  All in all it was a pretty great weekend…  apart from one incident…  but that is a tale for another day.

 

Everquest For Reasons

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Last night I did some nonsense “for science” or mostly to refresh my mind so that I was no longer talking completely out of my arse about Everquest.  Prior to last night the last time I had played was apparently in 2013 if my screenshot archive was to be believed.  So not exactly the most up to date information about the game considering it is still receiving updates and tweaks.  Prior to starting up… or more correctly as the game downloaded I watched a video from Cohh to sort of re-familiarize myself with the game.  This video included a link to Brewall’s Everquest Maps pack… which I then installed to have slightly better guidance than the default options.

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The game presented a series of servers… some of which were flagged as preferred…  something I am not completely certain what it actually means.  However it did get me to end up rolling on Vox instead of one of the classic servers that slowly got joined over the years.  This is technically a newer account than the one that I had while playing the original Everquest, but it is the one that I have the vast majority of my EQ2 characters on…  so if I am going to sub somewhere it would be here.  On my older account however my characters are spread between Veeshan and Xegony…  neither of which sounded like an amazing option for starting fresh so I just went with Vox the new standard ruleset server that was being presented in the preferred list.

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Originally I created a Gnome Shadowknight…  but the fact that I could not change the color of the eyebrows from grey to something else caused me to ultimately delete that character and roll something completely different.  This time around I went with a Troll which  was a more min-maxery choice given that the latent regeneration has always been a little broken.  Essentially there are three races that are large enough to be able to Slam…  or essentially shield bash without the requirement of having a shield.  So you if you play a Troll, Ogre or Barbarian you can interrupt casting while using a two handed weapon…  which always seemed to fit the feel of a Shadowknight better than sword and shield.  Yes these are things that I was somehow able to dredge up from the past and summon forth to advise my judgement.

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The user interface still makes me deeply frustrated because it is sort of a much worse version of Everquest 2…  and I have never thought the EQ2 interface was that brilliant.  After about thirty minutes of tweaking I managed to get things moved in a way that didn’t make me quite so frustrated…  though still not entirely happy.  The hardest part was the mouse but after tweaking both the X and Y sensitivity I managed to get mouse look feeling a bit more normal.  The next step was trying to figure out how to get tab targeting to work properly which lead me out onto the forums to sort out which of the keybinds would actually do what I wanted it to do.  It turned out that basically I wanted to bind two things to tab…  nearest npc and cycle extended targets…  which combined sorta give me the style of tab targeting I am used to which is target the nearest thing or cycle through the things I am currently engaged with.

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Over the course of the evening things started feeling significantly better as I got adjusted to this window on time.  The combat is still largely non-interactive at low levels for a melee character and it was not long before I set up my old “Taunt and Slam” macro so that I could have a single button to train both abilities up with.  Originally I had lumped Sense Heading in there but it seems that you maybe no longer need to train that like you did before.  Most combat involved me pulling with my single spell Spike of Disease then starting up the auto attack and hitting my single ability button anytime taunt or bash/slam were up.  It was not glamorous…  but also pretty chill to hang out downstairs while watching television.

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Unfortunately as of writing this…  I am finding out that they apparently moved the spells so you start to get something new every level instead of not giving Shadowknights much of anything until around level 10.  So I just bought Sense the Dead, Locate Corpse, Invisibility vs Undead, Disease Cloud and Siphon Strength which should serve to make combat significantly more interesting.  The other thing that makes this entire experience more reasonable is the introduction of mercenaries… so I am running around with I believe a Human Cleric allowing me to do my tanky nonsense almost indefinitely receiving the occasional heal to keep me alive and functional.

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All in all it is not a bad experience so I do need to back pedal a bit regarding some of my comments the other day when talking about Project Gorgon.  That said I do think the interface for Gorgon is leaps and bounds ahead of this one, and it is probably the single most frustrating part of the experience for me.  I feel like I will spend some time soon trying to clean the interface up a bit or seeing if I can hide some of the interface elements to reduce the size of everything.  I am linking in a picture from Project Gorgon for reference…  as there is just way less stuff on the screen but providing most of the same information that the Everquest screen does.  Regardless it was interesting enough for me to get to level 8 and it is highly likely that I will keep leveling for a bit just to see how the experience expands once I leave the newbie cave.

 

 

Wandering Aimlessly

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Right now I find myself struggling a bit to gain purchase in most of my MMO options right now.  World of Warcraft I am back and active in because of the Wednesday night Mythical Nonsense thing we are doing.  I was logging in every night to try and eek out the last bits of experience needed to unlock the Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei but even then…  I have faltered considerably.  I really do not enjoy Argus, so logging in every night and grinding every single quest available just seems grossly unpalatable.  Final Fantasy XIV failed to catch my attention with Eureka, and I lost momentum catching up on the main story quest patched in with the latest expansion.  Destiny 2 is sitting there largely untouched because when I log in…  there is really nothing that I want to be doing which is ultimately where that game falls short of the original..  there are no long running breadcrumbs for me to follow when I spin out and lose purpose.  Monster Hunter World is always easy to get back into…  but there are nights that I just don’t want to spend my evening upstairs and the fact that my PS4 is there limits my play time.

In the end I keep coming back to Project Gorgon and its weirdly charming neostalgic experience.  On the podcast Tam talked about the game feeling like the way we remember playing Everquest.  While this might sound confusing at first… this is exactly what this game feels like.  We have incorrect rose tinted feelings about how Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot for that matter felt to play.  If you go back today you end up with a cludgy mess of a game that feels ancient and quite honestly not that enjoyable.  However our in our memories the Everquest experience is still vibrant because we have edited out the rough spots and filled in the way those actions made us feel in place of the hard facts of just how limited that game actually was.  Project Gorgon remembers those things that were lacking in Everquest and has supplied the spackle and paint needed to make those memories feel true and vibrant.

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Sure I am doing the same kill ten rats quests I have been doing my entire MMO gaming career, but the fact that I seem to have a relatively limitless quest log…  and the fact that I can complete the quests by killing ANY ten rats…  not just the ones five feet away from the quest giver makes the experience feel more open ended.  If I have a quest to kill wolves…  Sickly Wolves, Mangy Wolves, Supporting Wolves, just plain wolves…  specific named character wolves…  all count towards a quest that says “kill wolves”.  This means you can do the quests while roaming around the world and exploring… rather than feeling tethered to a specific location to be able to clear out your log.  There are quests I picked up on my first day that I just managed to finish two weeks later because I had not actually encountered the thing I was needing to find yet.  I dig the long tail that this cycle has and the fact that it feels like you are “questing” for something more than just completing a task list.

I am sure some of this is just my inherent lack of familiarity with the world or the fact that the maps don’t really have locations marked on them, or my habit of running the opposite direction I need to go.  Whatever the case the specific combination of broad objectives and happy accidents along the way lead to a very immersive experience in spite of the fact that you spend a good deal of time running along and encountering nothing at all.  The only real complaint I have so far is the fact that most of the gear that I use looks like complete nonsense…  like right now it feels like I am wearing thermal long-johns…  but they were unfortunately the best item I had and finally got rid of that horrible yellow bandage appearance.

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At this point I have managed to hook two more people on this game, in part because I knew it would be down their alley.  For the most part I am limiting myself to just Sword and Psychology…  but I am contemplating trying out a few other secondary skills.  I spent the 2000 councils aka gold to learn beast taming so it might be interesting to try a pet secondary for awhile.  Similarly I now have the ability to learn fire magic, so that might also be interesting to shim in over top of Psychology.  The one thing that I am finding weird… and cannot quite reconcile is that our hotbars have six abilities on them…  but right now I have seven in both psychology and swords.  I cannot however seem to be able to replace the spells from my bar…  so how exactly do we use that last one?  I might try dragging it to the optional bar and see if it becomes usable that way.  Among all of the other games that I have access to at this very moment…  this one feels the most comfortable and suited to whatever I am needing at this very moment.  I’ve not really streamed much because nothing I am doing right now seems interesting enough for someone to watch.  Grinding factions in WoW is boring as hell… and I am afraid me wandering around aimlessly in Gorgon will also be boring to watch.