Rocket-Swords and Pig-Bees

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Last night I spent some time in Monster Hunter World because the Spring Blossom festival launched about halfway through my evening offering up a ton of things to do.  It is this weird blended festival that includes a ton of repeat chances to get items that were offered before as well as several new items including the Greatsword I am rocking in this image and the Megaman/Rockman Pallico Armor that I will ultimately have to get my hands on.  I will talk more about the Greatsword a little further down the list…  but first I want to talk about how generally happy I am with the pacing of events in this game.  It feels like every single week there is a reason for me to log in and do content,  and while I am largely stalled out at 49 behind Tempered Kirin there seems to still be a constant deluge of things to do.  Granted I have pulled back my playtime a bit given my recent infatuation with Project Gorgon and the return to doing stuff with people in World of Warcraft…  but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am completely disconnected.

I really love the flow of this game because it feels like I can log in any night and feel like I have interesting options to do.  There are also things on the horizon that I have to look forward to, like the Devil May Cry collaboration that brings a brand new Charge Blade into the mix.  This week however was all about the new fan designed Greatsword and helping me to fill in a weapon slot that I really had not put any effort into.  While I don’t think they necessarily have the intention of giving us an event weapon for every slot… so far I have gotten a really nice Bow and a really nice Greatsword with what felt like minimal effort when it comes to farming all of the missing bits I need to get from point a to point b in the crafting tree.  Sure the Greatsword and Bow both require a Wyvern Gem which is annoying to farm… but that is one part out of a whole list of parts that might be a pain to get.  I wound up using the Gold Wyverian print I had laying around to craft the Greatsword last night.

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Like I said before I was ultimately missing a decent Greatsword from my weapon lineup, and while it is an extremely cumbersome weapon…  it is one I want to learn how to use because it seems very much a “me” weapon.  In order to get this weapon you need to start running the low rank 5 star quest… Every Hunter’s Dream.  This involves taking down a Paolumu and a Rathalos…  which enter the fight staggered a bit so you can get a significant amount of damage in on the Lumu before having to deal with the poison and fire asshole.  I ran the first one of these solo and then grouped up with Thalen who also happened to be on to get the last few kills.  I think in total it took us four attempts to get the five Master Craftsman’s Blueprints needed to craft both steps of the weapon.  As far as the other items needed…  here is a list form breakout even though I crudely photo-shopped it all together above.

  • Master Craftsman’s Blueprint – 5 – Event Only Item
  • Dragonite Ore – 7 – I believe any zone after Low Rank Coral Highlands but not 100% sure
  • Paolumu Webbing – 2 – Low Rank Paolumu
  • Rathalos Marrow – 2 – Low Rank Rathalos – Green First Wyverian Print
  • Elder Dragon Blood – 2 – Kill an Elder Dragon – Nergigante, Vaal Hazak, Kushala Daora, Teostra, Xeno’jiiva
  • Firecell Stone – 2 – Found in Elder’s Recess
  • Wyvern Gem – 1 – Most High Rank Paolumu, Tobi-Kadachi, Lavasioth, Jyuratodus, Barroth, Radobaan, Diablos
  • 40,000 Zenny – yeah…. you are going to want to farm some cash

I have not really done anything serious with this weapon…  but in theory were I to use it regularly I would wear my fire longsword set of gear…  make sure I have some Handicraft and figure out a decent item to wear that gives me the hidden elemental damage.  510 is a lot of fire damage to leave sitting on the table with this weapon, so I need to sort out a decent item to slot to give me that back since I am no longer regularly wearing the Zorah Magdaros gloves.  I did a few minor quests last night with the weapon and really dig it…  even though it is just about the slowest thing in the world.  I had already started getting into the practice of sheathing my longsword anytime I was going to be moving for awhile just because the draw attack is really nice.  This training has served me pretty well for the greatsword given that you cannot move at more than a snails pace with it drawn.

If you are interested in the timing of everything going on you can check out the official Capcom PDF of events…  or better yet check out this site called 28 Games Later that has a really nice full breakout of everything.

Mythical Nonsense Tonight

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I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning, but in theory mythical nonsense begins tonight.  We’ve gathered up a group of players who are willing to join in this madness and set our sights on getting our first key through the easiest and coolest of the mythics…  Maw of the Damned.  From there we will shift around and try and determine what our next target is based on the keys that we get.  In theory we are going to run until 10 pm central or wherever there is a breaking off point somewhere close to that.  The idea being that we run for a few hours and see how many we can knock out…  and keep upgrading keys until we get to at least Mythic +15 so that we can walk away with shiny artifact appearances or something like that.  I have no clue how far we will get tonight, and I have no clue how long this journey is actually going to take…  however we have a list of adventurers ready to go.

In theory I need to try and get an Argus kill in tonight before go time since I failed miserably at playing WoW last night.  With the teacher strike going on the evenings have been weird for lack of a better term.  I didn’t want to get into anything serious until my wife got home… and yes while LFR is LFR…  the Argus section of that raid is a serious time commitment at the least.  Then after my wife got home we largely talked about the nonsense the State Legislators did during the day…  like shutting off the water to give themselves an excuse to go home early for the day and avoid the teachers.  My hope is tonight I can pop in for a bit, get an Argus kill so I can walk into Mythical Nonsense ™ with a second legendary and slightly higher item level.

I would totally stream this…  but a few of the folks I am running with have already objected to that notion when someone brought it up on twitter.  So I will just have to report in on our progress tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun, especially since two of the people I will be running with… I have never run with before.  Byx and Grace however…  have gone through many iterations of my nonsense over the years so they are largely immune to it.  So I will ultimately have to break Maryalee and Nayakhuut into the fact that I have no clue what I am doing 99.9% of the time and that tanks make the most annoying DPS.  It should be hilarious… or at least entertaining for all.

Unintentional Spiderman

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I had every intent of doing some World of Warcraft faction farming last night, but I ultimately did not really follow up on those plans.  When I got home we wound up running a couple of errands and going out to eat, and by the time we made it home I largely planted myself on the sofa and roamed around Project Gorgon some more.  Yesterday I looked like I was wearing some urine soaked bandages…  and today I am essentially the stuff of nightmare as some sort of living web creature.  The armor designs in this game are “interesting” but I have seen some completely reasonable options that give me hope that maybe just maybe I won’t look like an experiment for the entire time playing.

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A couple of things have transpired since last playing.  Firstly I realized that psychology is a combat skill, and apparently pairs extremely nicely with swords…  also freeing up my second hand for a shield while using it instead of needing to hold a bow.  I kept getting gear with both swords and psychology on it… and never could figure out how to level it.  I thought that it would involve talking to people since everything in this game seems to have a skill but after a trip to the wiki I realized that I needed to be assigning it to my secondary attack.  After doing so…  I started questioning the parentage of my enemies and applying damaging taunts that seem to debuff them making the sword hits a little easier.

The other thing that transpired is that I took a trip back to the starter island after figuring out which sequence of prompts would get me to that location.  This allowed me to do the hangout I missed…  get my louse comb and finally remove the lice debuff that I picked up by fighting a mangy wolf somewhere along the lines.  This also allowed me to venture down into the starter dungeon, defeat the monster that the game gives you tons of warning about…  and find a back way out of the dungeon because apparently previously I didn’t go down anywhere near deep enough.  It turns out there are two ways off the starter island…  one of which is through a series of spider infested tunnels that ultimately leads to a place called Serbule Hills.

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Of course this zone connects directly with Serbule proper which allowed me to get back to town and do some turn ins…  all without needing to take the return trip from the island.  The only problem with this concept is that the route does not go the other way quite so easily because there is a wall in the dungeon that requires someone from the Anagoge Island side to open it.  However while sitting there inside the dungeon the door was opening constantly so in practice you should be able to use this route to get back to the island if you ever need to.  As far as Serbule Hills… I personally found it way greener pastures than Serbule proper with a seemingly higher mob density and way more interesting camps to hunt.

I was introduced to the games version of the Froglok…  the Ranalon.  They are a race of fish creatures that don’t necessarily want open war… but absolutely have no interest in peace as they attempt to displace all of the other races.  They have these one eyed flying manta ray looking creatures called the Scray that they treat like guard dogs, and I now have quests to kill plenty of both.  Over in Serbule Hills I was also able to finish a bunch of quests that I picked up in Serbule Keep but struggled to find the appropriate spawns for like Deer and Tigers that actually drop eyeballs.  I see in my near future a bunch of time exploring this zone which is honestly a short jaunt away from the Keep and my normal hunting grounds.

Project Gorgon

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I am not entirely sure why, but this weekend I decided to buy into Project Gorgon on Steam.  Now in theory I could have been playing it for free all of this time given that based on the titles I have…  I played both in Pre-Alpha and Alpha.  I remember picking up the game in the past and finding it undeniably charming… but also very raw and unpolished…  which was not something I was looking for at that time.  However with several games either out or on the horizon that seem to be vying for the “Everquest Nostalgia” demographic…  I thought I should probably give it another shot.  Knowing how shoestring of a budget the game has been lead me to just go ahead and purchase it on Steam even though in theory I could have still logged in via my original account that I linked to while setting the game up.

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Part of the charm of this game is that it plops you into the game with no real warning or advisement about what you should be doing.  This can be a bit maddening if you are not in the right mindset, but in doing so the “newbie island” helps to set your focus on how this game works.  There are clues and directions out there…  but you need to spend time pouring over quest text and scribbling down notes as you go.  Which is handy because they do in fact give you an in game notepad to do so with.  One of the sequences on the island involves going around and scribbling down coordinates that you will ultimately need later on, and not writing down the correct coordinates could have dire consequences.

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I am extremely late to the game, because I know that some of my friends have been playing for ages.  However I still felt like I needed to talk a bit about it this morning to try and explain why it is so damned charming.  Compared to modern MMORPGs this is going to feel extremely spartan but I believe that is in large part the point.  This is a game where everything has an equivalent skill that can be raised, including death…  and a game where you have no classes or true levels to speak of.  You go out into the world and do things, and those things ultimately give you skills…  which you then blend together into something resembling your own personal “class”.

For example everyone can have a primary and a secondary combat skill.  I’ve chosen sword for my primary and bow for my secondary allowing me to play a EQ ranger sort of flavored character starting combat off with ranged attacks and finishing it up close and person with sword slashes.  I could have gone with other options which would have had their own leveling system and their own sets of attacks.  I’ve not actually encountered anything that would come across as traditional magic in the game, but I am certain it is in there…  just has to be discovered and unlocked like everything else seems to be.

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I am currently in a mode where I am just not sure what is useful and what is not.  It seems like everything that drops can in theory have a use…  but I may not be able to discover it yet because I lack the skill to do anything with it.  I spent a large amount of time yesterday learning how to cook and garden so that I could ultimately create some hashbrowns…   to gain favor with an NPC to be able to do something else.  Similarly there are half a dozen combat quests that I am slowly chipping away at as I go out into the world and take down mobs.  There is a significant amount of learning the lay of the land going on…  which of course has its own skill associated with it called Cartography… that increases as you clear the fog from various areas of the map.

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Like I said literally everything seems to have a skill associated with it that can be raised and that will ultimately unlock abilities if you get them high enough.  Combat right now can be extremely challenging because there is no formal “con” system like Everquest or DAoC had to guide you.  In theory you need to fight something… before you can really determine if you are strong enough to be able to hunt them regularly.  Since Death is its own skill…  dying over and over to something eventually makes you heartier and raises your maximum health and in theory doesn’t seem to have much in the way of negative effects.  There is some sort of a hardcore mode that acts more like Everquest or a similar game…  but that is not a thing I will ever be enabling.  What makes it even more entertaining is that you gain “Bonus Death Experience” for dying in new and interesting ways…  turning it into a bit of a mini-game to see if you can figure out new ways that you can shed the mortal coil.

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Anyone who played Everquest during the Shadows of Luclin expansion will recognize this scene…  with lots of vendors lined up in an area that looks very reminiscent of The Nexus.  The positive here is that each of these stalls is an NPC that can be rented by the players allowing for a much better shopping experience than players having to AFK all day to sell their wares.  One of the things you are going to need to get used to in playing Project Gorgon… is that it is a much slower paced game hearkening back to an era where there was plenty of time to throw out chat messages in between attacks in combat.  As a result from what I hear there is an amazing community that has grown up in the game and based on the forums at least… I would say they are more than willing to help new players get started.

There are certain aspects of the game that really lend to this…  for example it uses an EQ item drop system allowing players to just throw something on the ground that anyone else can pick up.  As a result there are often tons of viable items just laying around in town that high progressed players have discarded because they are not actually worth trying to sell.  One of the concepts that is hard to get used to is the fact that vendors have a limited amount of gold on them, and each of them will only buy certain items.  There is one vendor in town that will buy pretty much anything…  but you are going to run her out of gold very quickly and have to wait seven days real world time for her funds to regenerate.  This means that you need to get to know which vendors are the best options for buying which items…  either that or just drop it on the ground for someone else to use.

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Another really interesting system in the game is that you can “Hang out” with certain NPCs while offline, allowing you to do some measure of progression while not logged into the game.  You can only have one of these activities selected at a time and as far as I can tell you don’t need to be anywhere near the actual NPC when you log out to make it happen.  For example in the first image of this post there is a little note at the bottom the screen saying that I finished hunting Myconids with Mushroom Jack, which was a 4 hour long Hangout I chose before logging out for the evening.  Generally speaking you need to get to a certain faction level before these start opening up with NPCs, but doing so gives you an interesting way to push up their favor and also potentially gain items.

It took me awhile to figure this out, and in my sluggishness at arriving at this conclusion…  it lead me to miss out in a very important item on the newbie island that I am deeply wishing I had.  In fact I am starting a second character just to try and get said item…  and in theory will swap it over via the extremely expensive shared account storage.  The only problem I see with the game right now is that since I seem to be able to eventually learn how to do everything…  I question the need for alts.  At some point during my play through I decided to drop unarmed combat as my secondary attack and pick up a bow…  and even though it was grossly behind in skill I seemed to be able to catch it up quickly.  If you have the time and money… you seem to be able to do every possible tradeskill…  so I question what the hook is for running up additional characters?

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Over the course of the weekend I played eight hours of the game, and in doing so have become hooked.  While doing this Tam was apparently playing Shroud of the Avatar, which I myself booted up last night to see how the two compared.  They are both vying for that 90s era early MMO nostalgia… and quite honestly Project Gorgon scratches the right itches for me personally.  Shroud was extremely well funded and had a relatively large development crew to create…  but comes off as this extremely janky product.  Project Gorgon however has at its core a husband and wife development team, and a composer…  and a relatively low funded kickstarter…. and comes off as this completely charming and competent version of that Everquest era game that ultimately FEELS better to play.

Sure it needs more work, for example the game consumes a ton of system resources… far more than it should for the level of graphical fidelity.  However client optimization will come in time, and based on the little note you see before logging in the team realizes that is a problem.  However what is there is extremely sticky, and extremely impressive for such a small development team.  I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the game because each time I play I figure out something new.  Hell there are entire areas of the first major zone that I have not explored…  and with it likely NPCs that I have not talked to or encountered.  Ultimately this game is not going to be for everyone…  but if you ever wanted to see what playing Everquest felt like back during the early days Project Gorgon is a great starting place.

Bad Grind Good Grind

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I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

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The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

Nergal Reaver

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One of the more interesting things about Monster Hunter World is how your perspectives shift as you level through the game and ultimately get better at it.  There was a time during the pre-launch demo that I considered Great Jagras to be challenging, and now that encounter doesn’t even bear mentioning.  I’ve beaten that monsters several times before it even had a chance to run anywhere as a way of testing out new weapons.  Similarly I remember a time when Tobi Kadachi invoked fear in me, and now it is just a chill electrical squirrel lizard that I largely ignore unless I specifically need parts from it.  Similarly I used to run from Legiana and now…  if it really wants to start some shit I will end it.

So the question is… what changed?  Ultimately the answer is that I did.  Sure I have better gear but also I have a better understanding of each of those fights.  I also understand how the higher progressed players are always willing to take on whatever happens to be that fight that you are currently considering difficult.  I remember being terrified of Anjanath but just recently farmed it to help folks get tickets for the Aloy appearance and bow event.  It is all a matter of perspective and each time you move up in the game you reach a new plateau of difficulty… that tends to make everything below it pale in comparison.

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This moves us forward to last nights activities.  Nergigante was one of those encounters that I never thought would ever reach a point where I was comfortable with it.  For me at least it was an extreme challenge to get through this fight when I needed it to move the story forward.  In the meantime I have been fighting other elder dragons, that in truth are way more annoying than Nergi or at least have the potential to be more annoying.  One of the weapons I have wanted in my elder dragon slaying arsenal is a Nergal Reaper…  which does some dragon elemental damage but more importantly has high elderseal.  This unfortunately would require me to farm Nergi… and that is just what I did last night.

Instead of throwing myself at this encounter solo… I decided on the nonsense option.  That means I threw myself at SOS roulette over and over until I farmed the components I needed from Nergigante.  This also means that there were more than a few times when a single newer player used up all of our faints and I failed at my mission.  However even then…  I walked away with a point of pride because during none of the MANY times I did this last night…  did I actually faint myself.  I managed to get in… deal significant amounts of damage with my new friend the poison blade and get out each time Nergi’s gaze turned to me.

Once again I had climbed to the top of the pile through repetition and experience…  and even more importantly perspective.  I’ve now fought things way harder than Nergigante and as a result the fight while mechanically the same seemed way easier.  This is the aspect of Monster Hunter World that I think I like more than any, the feeling that I grew as a player more than my character did.  Sure I am methodical when it comes to tackling new content, and sure I seem to be moving at a snails pace…  but I feel like I am continuing to move the needle forward.  Nergi has now entered the realm of things I feel comfortable farming…  which is good I guess since my friend Grace is sitting at that step in the process meaning the cycle continues.

The Stronghold Chasm

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Last night I fell down an unexpected rabbit hole.  For a few weeks I have known that my good friend PizzaMaid has been dabbling in Neverwinter, but I did not actually know that we were apparently all playing on the same server until last night.  When I got upstairs to nom my noms and check into the world, I saw that she was streaming neverwinter.  Joining her were my friends and fellow Pom’s Wolfy, Jaedia and Starspun all logging in to run a dungeon in game.  We had some confusion earlier in the week as to which server we were all on, and I thought I remembered the name Dragon at some point.  Apparently yes we are all in fact on Dragon which allows us to do interesting things together.

I had my own renaissance of Neverwinter back in January as I installed and booted up the game on a whim.  For years I had been getting press releases about the game to my blogging/podcasting email and I guess over time it built up a desire to log in and see how things were going.  What I found when I got there was an extremely fun and also insanely intricate game…  that I struggled to grasp.  I already thought there was a wide chasm of features and functionalities that I did not quite understand…  but I was apparently only on the rim of said chasm.  Last night we full well opened the maelstrom and hopped right in.

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One of the activities were partook of was forming a guild, so as of last night the Owlbear Preservation Society lives in Neverwinter with the aforementioned members as the inaugural group.  This unlocked the ability to start messing around with our Stromhold which is essentially the equivalent of the Guild Hall in Guild Wars 2.  Now I had been carrying around items that assisted in the function of a guild hall for ages, likely since the game originally launched.  The problem is I never actually had a guild to spend them on… so I spent the first few minutes of my time in our stronghold trying to figure out what to do with them.

It turns out you feed them to the mimic friend that we are all taking a screenshot with, and he then applies them to the various costs associated with building things back to their grand status.  I thought Guild Wars 2 had a pretty deep rabbit hole when it came to a guild hall… but this one might be deeper.  The problem is at this moment we have only barely scratched the surface and unlike Guild Wars 2… there are no really easy gains that can be applied and instead everything seems to be pretty slow to acquire.  Right now we are being directed to build a lumberyard, which seems to be capable of producing at least some of the materials we need to start crafting things.

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Everything that is flagged with a green icon has a placard in front of it allowing us to build it.  I am guessing everything marked with a grey X is something that will eventually unlock… once we have built up a certain number of things in our Stromhold.  This is a really deep well we have fallen into and I am not entirely certain we will really make much headway.  The collection of items seems to be through “daily quests” of a sort that reset every 9 hours in the Stronghold.  I will not be playing actively enough to do these on cool down, however considering most of the activities are pretty chill I am likely to do a set of them each time I log in.

The biggest problem we have currently is the fact that there are only five of us and this seems to be a design feature that is intended to be sped through by mass amounts of players doing these and funding the building coffers.  I have no clue how wide this madness will spread, but I somehow doubt we will have a mass influx of players like we have had when a new game launches.  I might be wrong, but I am guessing this is going to be a pretty low key grind that takes place over several months.

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As far as the rest of my play session, I managed to ding 41 and now that we have our stronghold… I can see that the level cap is 70.  The Stronghold itself is populated with tons of heroic encounters designed for a balanced group of players to go out and tackle which is fairly slick.  We downed a few of them and failed one major event largely because we didn’t really know what the purpose was until it was a bit too late.  It was a really fun night of nonsense and it has sparked my desire to poke my head into Neverwinter more often now that I am actually part of a guild.

Trapping Anjie

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Watch PSO2 Nonsense because Sol requested it from Belghast on www.twitch.tv
Last night when I got home I fired up the stream and played a little Phantasy Star Online 2.  Over the weekend Sol made a comment over my Stream discord that I really should be streaming as I played…  I assume so she could see what the game was about.  The core problem with that is I am guessing based on some of the things I have seen is that the early game is very much not entirely like the late game.  One of the reasons why I loved PSO back in the Dreamcast days is that it was essentially “Space Diablo”.  Essentially you had a randomly assembled corridor dungeon crawler set on a series interesting tilesets that involved killing everything and getting loot drops as your reward.  This core design loop seems to be in place in PSO2, and while I absolutely knew what I was getting myself into…  I am not sure if most other gamers would view the title the same way I do.

There are certain aspects of the game that feel very dated from the relatively chunky terrain to the fact that everything is essentially a tightly closed in circuit.  Sure you can do more with your terrain than you used to be able to do…  like jump…  I don’t think you could jump in the first PSO.  This is actually used in many cases to hide secrets in the verticality of the level design… but as is also seen in a sequence in my VOD from last night it adds to frustration because the jumping mechanics are also relatively low fidelity.  There is a point where I am trying to jump between the individual islands of rock in a chain surrounded by lava, and I am constantly failing to hit the terrain at exactly the right spot allowing me to hop up onto the surface.  While the game is only five years old at this point… but in some ways it feels older.

One thing of note… it took me a bit to realize that my microphone was muted so for the first little bit of the VOD I am completely silent.  I was talking up a storm, describing the various things I was encountering…  all wondering why the folks watching were not responding.  Then I noticed the blinking red light on my Yeti telling me that I had muted it at some point.  I think I have this revelation about ten minutes into the video where I correct it and apologize.  I am not really sure how often I will be playing PSO2 but I am nonetheless glad I went through the process of installing it.  It is a fun game and the core mechanical loop of killing sci-fi monsters for fun and profit is one that I enjoy greatly.  Just not all that sure how fun it is to watch me doing this thing.

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The tail end of my evening was spent in Monster Hunter World hanging out with my friend Grace and working on getting her the last few tickets needed for The Proving quest.  I had originally hoped to grab Thalen as well and help him out, but he was nowhere to be seen last night.  Generally speaking I am assuming he had pressing family matters, which I hear is a thing when you are a parent.  I mean I sometimes have pressing family matters too with my cats, but they are on I feel a completely different plateau of general needs.  Usually what I am dealing with is Kenzie prancing around in front of me trying to make sure I see the rubber band that she just dropped on my desk…  that she wants me to fling out into the hall so she can chase it.  If you ever hear the sound of a rubber band zinging through the air while I am streaming…  then I am doing precisely that.

The whole Anjanath farm thing had a side benefit in that I had really wanted to create Flammensucher the crazy flame axe that passes for a sword and shield.  During our final run of the night I managed to get the last of my fangs allowing me to craft it… and I have to say while I love it…  I am having a little bit of buyers remorse.  The problem is not the negative affinity, because it deals more than enough fire damage to make up for that.  The core problem so far is that it has completely horrible durability and I got down to orange sharpness while killing ten Gajau for an investigation.  I am used to being able to fight the boss through two changes of venue before dropping out of blue sharpness…  so this is a significant change for me to get used to.  The positive however is that the fire damage is still potent regardless of the base sharpness.

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At some point I need to get back on the wagon and work towards downing the final boss of the game.  I’ve been sitting on that step since this weekend and have yet to really give it an attempt.  I think that is in part because I have a screenshot directory full of things that look like the above…  with me failing various elder dragon fights.  Granted I tend to fail upwards and learn from my mistakes, but it also takes a lot out of me.  This combined with the fact that I have zero burning desire to “finish the game” means I tend to languish around in the doldrums leading up to final boss fights most of the time.  My friends like Void/GrnMushroom have a deep burning desire to defeat games that propels them forward into throwing themselves against fights until they eventually batter them down.  Me… I just like to wander around and constantly find myself actively avoiding finishing things…  even in a situation like this where I know it is just the beginning of a whole new playstyle.

I do however want to uncap my level…  at least until 49 where I have to fight another roadblock…  and start farming elder dragons for bits and pieces to make interesting sets and weapons.  I really need to start throwing myself at Nergigante until he is no big deal and something I can down regularly.  The weird thing is…  I would far rather throw myself into the nonsense that is SOS Roulette most of the time than actually solo something in this game.  I am not sure what it is about soloing that feels bad to me, even though my palico does an amazing job of tanking the bosses and keeping me alive with a constant string of vigor wasps.  It just somehow feels better when I am running around at minimum with another player, and at best with a full party of varied weapons.

Sure it gets frustrating when folks are fainting and there is nothing you can do about it…  it even causes me to curse very loudly sometimes…  but the fights are interesting because I am having to deal with all sorts of random elements.  This weekend when I was attempting Teostra I was starting to feel like I needed to stop calling myself a positivity gamer given how much I was cursing.  However Sita hung out with me and we Duo’d the fight…  but even that took a few attempts.  Basically Monster Hunter World feels best when it is a game played with other players be they friends or completely random strangers.  As a result I doubt I will stop the madness of SOS Roulette any time soon.

 

Hiragana Boss

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Saturday night on the Podcast we talked a bit about the things that were announced during the recent Nintendo Direct.  This caused me to veer off topic a bit and talk about Phantasy Star Online 2 that was announced during the Japanese only segment of the show.  There is apparently a new version of the game coming to the Nintendo Switch which I guess makes sense given that the game currently runs on the PS Vita as well as PC and PS4.  Since the Switch is a region free console… it made me wonder if maybe just maybe we would finally get to play this game.  Unfortunately though there would still be the language barrier and I somehow doubt I will be learning to read and understand Japanese before the release of the game.

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Phantasy Star Online is an important game to me, because more or less I consider it to be my first real MMO.  I remember playing it for hours on the Dreamcast hooked in over the rather crappy dial up connection, eventually replacing it with the network adapter and a 50 ft ethernet cable run into my office.  I was serious about this game, enough so that I had a keyboard hooked up through a janky adapter to allow me to communicate with other players more easily.  If you are curious about where this screenshot comes from, there is another post on Aggronaut talking about getting the PC based Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst up and running.  That was another nonsense weekend project that I did some time ago and was able to flip back into playing a Cast Ranger almost as though no time had passed.

I have known for awhile that there was a way to play Phantasy Star Online 2 on the PC and that there was even the option of a good english patch.  However I was under the false assumption that it was complete insanity to get up and running.  It was around this point that Thalen reminded me that I did in fact go through some absolute insanity to get the Chinese exclusive Monster Hunter Online up and running on a whim, and that surely nothing else would be that amount of silliness.  I mean for that setup I had to fake a Chinese regional ID card…  so he had a point.  Probably unintentionally he started a thread in my mind that ultimately lead to me figuring out how to get PSO2 up and running yesterday morning shortly after editing the podcast.

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The truth is it is pretty straight forward.  You need a couple of things to get it working and I will quickly run down those and how to actually make it work.  I highly suggest using Chrome for the right click translate option on pages… which will get you part of the way but will not help at all for images.

  • Direct X 9.0c – if you do not for some reason already have this.
  • A Sega ID – will talk about this more in detail.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 Setup – straight forward install that is unfortunately in japanese
  • PSO2 Tweaker – assists in configuration and applies english patches
  • You Need 53 GB of Space – this game is huge
  • Choose Ship 2 – this is the unofficial English community

The Hiragana Boss

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The most crucial step here is setting up your Sega ID.  There are numerous resources that walk you through the process, for example I watched this video to get me started.  The truth is google translate can get you through most of this, but as the final step you are going to have to face what I call the Hiragana Boss.  The page has a captcha on it, but said captcha is not surprisingly in hiragana given that this is a Japanese market exclusive game.  They present you a sequence of handwritten characters and you need to respond in kind…  and for me at least I do not have my keyboard or windows configured to do this.  This mean’t I had to leverage a website that offered a keyboard and the ability to copy and paste characters from it.

I thought I was reasonable at pattern matching, and managed to get through the equivalent Chinese boss while doing my Monster Hunter Online nonsense.  However what makes this one so much more difficult is that people write characters slightly different than the perfect keyboard version.  Look at your own handwriting, when you create a lowercase h for example…  it is always going to be significantly different than a serif or sans-serif h on a keyboard.  It took me roughly fifteen attempts before I finally got the character sequence correct with a lot of trying to figure out where the “signpost” character was or which “L with an accent” was the one I needed to match up to the one I was seeing in handwriting.

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If you can pass this test however you are essentially there.  The install itself was relatively straight forward and my only suggestion is to ignore the text on the install buttons and just pretend it is any other windows installer.  The final step is to install the PSO2 Tweaker pictured above and let it patch your game.  It runs through a long file system check and then prompts you asking if you want to install the English patch, which you likely do given that you have gotten this far in the guide.  The only thing of note is… this is a volunteer fan patch and as a result not every possible instance of Japanese is swapped to English, however from my experience the critical path seems to be allowing you to progress and even enjoy the story bits.  If you run into issues there is a fairly active Discord community where you can ask specific questions.

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If everything went smoothly, you will be staring at the Character creation screen in no time.  I wound up creating a Cast Ranger like I played in PSO on Dreamcast, but you have a bunch of options that did not exist back then including the Summoner class.  At some point I plan on playing other things, but for the moment I am having a lot of fun with the Ranger which has a much wider skillset than the original.  Right now I have three weapons that I can swap back and forth between… the very familiar Assault Rifle, a semi-sniper/semi-rocket-launcher “Launcher” weapon, and an energy gunblade of sorts that lets me upper cut mobs into the air… and shoot them before they land.  I believe Ashgar was going to also do this nonsense and had planned on playing a Hunter so I will be curious to hear what his experience was as well.

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For a game that released in 2012 it still holds up graphically pretty well.  There are scenes like the above screenshot that are just gorgeous…  and then there are scenes that absolutely feel a little dated.  In some ways I think the fact that they have tried to make the game feel so familiar to PSO1 players is what is holding the graphics back.  It is very much the same sort of game where you explore a closed circuit map that is connected to other maps by for lack of a better term zone borders.  If you played the original game it will be deeply familiar to you, and if you didn’t…  it is going to seem a bit limited.  So far there seems to be a big boss battle at the end of every “zone” which maps up pretty closely to the way the original PSO was as well.  I remember fighting some big dragon thing at the end of the forest area for example, and this time around it is a giant rock ape thing.

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The game seems to have a ton of systems that I do not fully understand.  For example in the above image you see a blue and a green icon hovering above the ground.  These are harvest points…  but I am not entirely certain yet what I do with the things I harvest from them.  Some appear to be materials and others just ended up being food that I could get a buff from.  All in all though I had a lot of fun yesterday and now have PSO2 installed on both my gaming rig upstairs and my laptop downstairs.  I particularly like that you can shift the ranger into over the shoulder shooter mode which seems to fit most of the weapons available for that class turning it into a corridor shooter .  The nonsense wings I am wearing are from augments that the game gave me…  and thankfully the later upgrades I found were a little more low key.

I am sure over the coming weeks I will talk more about this game because the story is interesting…  but also a little crazy in that Persona series sort of way.  This morning I largely planned on writing out how I went about getting  connected for all the folks out there that are not a big fan of digging for information in YouTube videos.  It is not as silly a process as I feared and in truth other than the Hiragana boss it really is no harder than getting signed up for any other online account.  If I had even the most rudimentary understanding of Japanese it would have been significantly easier.  I have a feeling Ashgar for example… who has actually taken some courses will be able to breeze through the part that stalled me for a bit.  So far it appears to be a really fun game that is free to play, and while I see places where I could be spending money I have not really encountered the need to (nor do I think I can even figure out how to put money on my account).

 

Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle

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Last night was all about Monster Hunter World as I had made plans ahead of time to run around with Grace and do the various events.  First out of the gate we worked on the Wiggler quest that grants this truly questionable helm.  It truly is the stuff of nightmares and honestly would have been a pain in the butt had we not realized that you could register multiple wiggler catches at once.  We quickly fell into a pattern of sneaking up on the wigglers and getting one in our sights… then coordinating over voice a 3, 2, 1, GO! to capture both at the same time.  Sure it took three shots at the quest to get all of the tickets needed to craft this monstrosity but here we go…  I have a goofy helm that I wasted some zenny on crafting and will likely never actually use.

From there we spent some time doing the “The Proving” quest that involves killing a fairly beefy high rank Anjanath.  We ran into all sorts of problems with PSN connectivity which made it significantly more challenging than normal.  Throughout the night I kept getting disconnected from the quest with a “Left Quest” message.  At first Ash suggested that Grace was just going off and leaving us… but I think it was more than that considering Ash and Mor both got punted out of the mission after having successfully joined with no ability to get back in.  We struggled through two kills and called the process done for the moment moving on to other things.

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Grace is in that awkward in-between step where she is officially a High Rank player… but still is using a significant amount of low rank gear.  Considering her next quest is the Pink Rathian, that is probably something she needs to fix and as a result we farmed Zorah Magdaros a bit for parts.  I am still to this day wearing the Zorah gloves for the hidden element ability, and honestly its an easy farm considering the event mostly just finishes itself.  Now when I was farming this I SOS Rouletted my way into full groups that allowed us to quickly complete the event which for those who need Zorah bits is a completely viable option.  The biggest challenge I ran into… and why I kept running it was that Zorah is super stingy with gems which are unfortunately needed for the gauntlets.

As far as starter High Rank gear goes… I am way more in favor of the Alpha Bone set because it has a lot of good stuff as well as 10 fire, 10 dragon and I believe 10 lightning resistance.  All total to craft the full Bone Armor set you need…  12 Quality Bone, 10 Monster Bone +, 2 Warped Bone, 3 Monster Bone L, 3 Boulder Bone, 3 Coral Bone, and 3 Ancient Bone.  Basically you need to kill a few big monsters and run amok harvesting bone piles in most of the zones to get it.  The end result gives you a set with Health Boost, 3x Attack Boost, 3x Entomologist, Slugger, Horn Maestro, and Master Fisher.  Not all of those are winners…  but Entomologist can be super useful if you are farming bug parts.  All of that said I still think its a great starter set for High Rank shenanigans.

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The highlight of the evening however was getting a Tailrider Safari with Grace’s Neutrino and PizzaMaid’s Aria.  Normally I just send Tailriders out from my room back in Asteria, but for this combination I made the trek to the Research Base so I could get the cutscene.  I am also realizing that I need to trade cards with Pizza and Grace because neither of them are actually using these outfits anymore.  The PS4 always has a bit of a delay when you attempt to take a screenshot so I am super happy that I was able to catch a decent one of this party going out to fight.

Tonight however I am thinking about kicking back and streaming some Final Fantasy XV on the PC… all depending on how well today goes.  I will be in training and in theory will have homework tonight because I am going through one of those cram session courses.  As a result my brain may be too broken to do anything interesting.