Real Life “Mons”

PokeCat

Garden Guardian

PokeCat

Yesterday was an interesting day for a bunch of reasons… not the least of which was the massive gale force storm that blew through downtown Tulsa.  Over lunch yesterday I decided to go for a walk in Woodward Park in a vague attempt to catch some new Pokemon.  Unfortunately the entire time I was there it seemed as though the servers were acting up horribly.  The park is littered with a dozen or so stops, and most of them were not loading for me when I attempted to spin them.  So I roamed around a bit in the 94 degree heat and humidity and finally wound my way around to the Linneaus garden where I met the adorable cat above.  I am guessing it belongs to someone in the neighborhood behind the park because it is very much obviously a pet… and obviously one that has been tagged to roam freely.  This is also where I encountered what I believe were my first geohackers.  Pokemon Go has had a few unofficial releases as folks have modded it like the somewhat humorously named Pokemon Go Anywhere that lets you click to move.  This is obviously a one way trip to ban city because it will be relatively trivial for Niantic to determine these folks are running an unofficial release of the game.

However there is a whole other batch of folks that have installed fake gps tools on their rooted android phones, that allow them to essentially teleport to anywhere in the world.  This is the sort of behavior I think I was experiencing yesterday at lunch.  The Linnaeus Garden is a Poke Gym and is out of range of any of the nearby parking lots and streets.  As a result the only real way to go over there and check on it is to get out of your car and walk up to the path leading into it.  While I was there it was just me and this cat, and no one else within range of the Pokestop.  When I rolled up on it the stop was Blue so I opted to plop down in a bench and do some battling to increase its prestige levels.  The adorable cat came up and was friendly and I managed to add a few hundred prestige points before I got bored and wandered off.  As I was walking out of the garden area, the gym flipped from Blue level 3 to Red level 3 instantly… still zero people around.  So either someone was registering legitimately wrong on the GPS, or someone was actually geohacking to take over the gym.  This makes me wonder just how many gyms are being flipped by folks cheating like this?

After this incident I made my way to the car and was just about to leave the park, when I gave the app one last check.  While I had really found nothing of interest the entire time in the park, suddenly there was a Bulbasaur within a single footprint away from my vehicle.  So I hopped back out of the car, locked it and began the search.  There are lots of supposed methods to make tracking down a Pokemon easier, but I largely just wander around aimlessly until I find it.  Within a few minutes of going the wrong direction I finally doubled back and found it rather quickly.  After that it was a lot of wasted Pokeballs before I managed to catch the orange border critter and make the trip to the park not a complete failure.  I grabbed lunch really quickly and headed back to the office where I was greeted with this giant wall of evil looking storm clouds.  As I pulled into the parking garage the tornado siren was blowing… and in true Oklahoma fashion there was some guy out there live streaming the storm rolling into the downtown area from his phone.  When I got up to my floor everyone had been told to stay in the central area and away from the windows.  Shortly after that they called the all clear on the tornado warning, but the storm still raged on for two and a half hours.  From what I hear there is quite a lot of damage in various areas of town from the straight line winds, that can be just as destructive as a tornado.

Big Bunny Returns

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I’ve talked about my love of our backyard and all of the critters that show up there periodically.  There is one however that I love above all of the rest… and that is big bunny.  Yeah I realize it is kinda a stupid name for him, but he is literally a massive bunny as seen above in the phone.  After the storms blew through apparently he decided to hang out in our backyard for awhile.  A few months back he essentially called our backyard home for a few days… and since then I have seen him all over the neighborhood so I am guessing this is a shared phenomena.  Firstly I am shocked and amazed that any rabbit would survive this long in our environment to get that damned big.  Secondly… we’ve wondered if he is a pet that someone let loose because he seems super chill around human beings.  All of this said… I may or may not have walked over to the grocery store with no purpose other than to buy something to feed the Rabbit.  When I got back he was nowhere to be seen, but I set out a pile of lettuce leaves on the deck and then thirty minutes later or so I peered out the window and sure enough… he had chomped down on the pile.  Afterwards of course I was told that lettuce was a less than ideal and often times dangerous food for Rabbits so I will have to adjust that.  Nonetheless I keep thinking that if we feed him, he might hang out in our yard more often.

Past that I took advantage of the cool evening and went out roaming looking for “mons” with little luck.  It was quite literally seventy two degrees last night, so given how often I had walked in near hundred degree temperatures… I figured I could not pass up that opportunity.  After striking out in my own neighborhood I hopped in the car and drove to a few parking lots that I have had luck in the past.  Not sure if they were scared away by the storm, or if the servers were crapping out again… but I found next to nothing.  That is until I pulled into the Aldi parking lot on a whim and found the bane of my existence… the Oddish.  I had managed to find one earlier and after a single Pokeball throw it ran away on me.  So this time around I was hoping that I would be able to catch it and finally fill that hole in my Pokedex.  The truth is the most important part of this game for me personally is catching new stuff, and when I can’t do that I get a little flustered.  So I threw a ball and it landed really well…  and got two twitches, before the damned Oddish broke out again and ran away.  So another close call but still zero luck in actually catching it.  As far as new finds for the day I did alright racking up a Bulbasaur, Koffing and Abra taking my total to 58 caught and 61 seen.

Zubat Infestation

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So Many Zubats

Screenshot_2016-07-11-13-50-05I’ve slowed down a bit on the Pokemon Go namely because it is getting harder and harder to find new ones.  At this point I have captured 49 different critters out of the 52 I have seen, and I’ve noticed an extreme deficiency in the number of electric, fire and plant types.  I’ve spent my lunches roaming around to other areas of town, attempting to sort out where they might be hiding.  I would assume that plant types could maybe be found in a park, but as far as Electric and Fire types…  I have no clue at all.  The single Fire type that I have managed to pick up comes from a Chilli’s parking lot… which I found more than a little hillarious.  As far as electric types I have been near the electrical switching station in our neighborhood with little luck, but past that there is really nowhere that streams “electrical types”.  I’ve heard rumors that they often times come out during thunderstorms, but considering we have had several and I have not seen any yet I am doubting that one.  The reality is there are as many rumors for how to find specific Pokemon as there were for how to summon the Ancient Cyclops in Everquest, and I figure none of them are really true.  Given that this is a map based game, in theory everything should be based on some sort of obvious landmark.  Following that logic I keep wondering if I can go to a graveyard to find Ghost types, but I have not been willing to cross that line yet.

The huge truism however is that we have an over abundance of Zubats.  Right now they are way more common than quite literally any other type of Pokemon.  There was a point where I recently had 25 that I had captured and had just been too lazy to hand them in to the trainer.  I’ve made six different Golbats, and now am simply just ignoring the flappy critters when I see one.  Someone has been pretty much chain summoning lures on one of the Pokestops that I walk past on the way in and out of work… and every single time I get within range it is loaded with nothing but Zubats.  As I walk through the parking garage… more Zubats.  All of this is hilarious when I hear from Ashgar that he has yet to even catch a single one.  Then things that are super common for other people like the Oddish…  are next to impossible to find around me.  At some point I am thinking I need to make a trip over to Fayetteville because my friend TangerineDada has all sorts of Pokemon that I have not seen anywhere near me.  Then I ask myself… is it silly to take a road trip just for capturing Pokemon? Almost certainly but it is nonetheless entertaining.

Necropolis

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For a little bit now my friend have been talking about Necropolis, a new dungeon crawler from Harebrained Schemes the makers of the very awesome Shadowrun tun based RPGs.  This game keeps getting compared to Dark Souls, but I am not completely sure why the reference.  Essentially this is a rogue-like dungeon crawler with procedural generated levels.  This is the sort of game where you are not designed to get terribly attached to your character, because more than likely you are going to die quickly and often.  Similar to Rogue Legacy it has a mechanic built into the game where your deaths serve a greater purpose in that your actions garner favor with the deity of the labyrinth.  You can then purchase abilities at the scriptorium which tweak your experience allowing you to have more health, or hit harder all in an attempt to fine tune your character experience.  The concept of the game seems right down my alley, and the art style is reminiscent of Journey or any number of not quite realistic cartoon shaded games of late.

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The game however has a bunch of problems, that I am not sure if they are intentional or if they are simply bugs that will be patched out later.  Combat feels more than a little bit maddening at times in that there seems to be no limit to the number of things that can be registering attacks on you at the same time.  So this means that if you are unlucky you might round the corner and get six or seven mobs swarming you at the wrong moment.  Normally speaking in brawler type games this is manageable in that the game gives you invincibility frames in the form of being staggered… so that not every thing attacking you can actually register damage on you at the same time.  In Necropolis you can absolutely get surrounded and watch your health go from full to zero in seconds.  However for all I know there might be a scriptorium ability that changes how that works.  The other slightly frustrating thing is that combat feels a little sluggish.  I played with an xbox controller and right bumper is the light attack and right trigger the heavy.  Even light attacks are nowhere near as responsive as I would hope them to be, and heavy attacks require near perfect timing because of the extremely lengthy swing animation.  All of this said…  I enjoyed the little bit that I played and I want to figure out more of the game.  There are two kinds of unfair gameplay… the ones that make you just want to throw your controller across the room, and then the ones that make you want to figure out how to avoid the pitfalls of the system.  This at least for me appears to be the later, so I fully expect to play a bit more tonight and get a bit further.

 

Pokemon By Night

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No Seriously… Walking Simulator

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Screenshot_2016-07-07-17-23-48I named yesterday’s blog post “Walking Simulator” half jokingly, but after two days of Pokemon after dark…  it is really a truthful statement.  You can look at my activity tracker and see very clearly the impact of the launch of Pokemon Go.  While my wife thinks I am insane, I am however outside and getting exercise without really noticing it.  Last night for example I walked quite literally for an hour without really realizing it.  Sure I had broken a sweat because it was 94* outside, but thankfully there was a nice wind to greet me oddly enough in pretty much any direction.  The best part about this is… I am not the only one doing it.  This is the second night I have gone wandering, and Wednesday night I was really hoping I would not run into server issues.  However for the most part starting around 8 pm the server seemed to be more or less stable, or enough so for me to risk trying to find some of the night spawning critters.  Additionally bolstering that confidence, my friend Void had posted a link to a fledgling server status page for the Pokemon Go gateways.  So with all bars reporting green I ventured out into the world.
I had barely made it into the neighborhood next to mine when I saw a couple walking along staring at a phone…  and a few minutes later I saw the unmistakable action of throwing pokeballs at some critter.  I smiled and held up my phone and they held up theirs as a sign of recognition, which caused a round of chuckles from all of us.  It turns out they too were trying to take advantage of the shockingly good server connectivity and had just managed to catch a Pidgeot.  Unfortunately the critter did not seem to still be around but a few minutes later I found my own rareish Pokemon in the form of a Weepinbell.  I say rareish, largely because don’t know how common this or that Pokemon is… but the pre-evolved forms seem to be significantly rarer than the base forms.  I found this list last night which attempts to list the pokemon caught in beta based on relative rarity.  Which also made me super happy about one of my finds earlier in the day.  For the last several weeks I have been going by after work each evening to water the flowers of a friend of ours while she is out of town.  I had just pulled into the parking lot in front of her apartment and thought… I should probably check to see if there are any cool Pokemon around.  Sitting right there almost literally in the parking space was a Tauros, a critter I had never actually caught in any of the games.  It took a bunch of tries but sure enough a mixture of RNG and finger crossing got me that third little twitch that meant it was captured.

Screenshot_2016-07-07-08-14-53At this point I have seen twenty eight different pokemon, and captured twenty six of them.  I missed a Butterfree on that first lunch outing, and then failed to catch the Fearow Wednesday night due to server issues.  I say not bad at all for two days worth of effort and doing all of this legitimately… aka not using the cash shop items to “attract” Pokemon.  Some things I have learned through hitting Pokestops apparently forty seven times based on the stats kept within the app.  Pokeballs are plentiful… I now have over 140 of them so don’t fret too much about tossing several to catch a single Pokemon.   Potions and Revives are also plentiful given that I have 54 and 36 respectively.  Pokestops also seem to have the rare chance of giving you some cash shop type items given that I have received at least one incense off of a stop, and one of the 3 charge extra incubators that let you keep more than one egg going at once.  Things I have learned from friends is that apparently you can bolster the defenses of a gym held by your team if you place Pokemon on it as well.  Right now the gym in my town is held by the team I ultimately chose, Mystic aka Team Blue.  So on my way out of town this morning I plan on stopping by just long enough to slap that hefty Weepinbell I got last night on the roster.  I have no clue if I will lose said Pokemon or if it will return to me if fallen, or if I can heal it with potions etc.  I do however know that if you hold a gym for your team you can earn pokecoins the cash shop currency as well as other in game items.

The other thing worth talking about this morning is that through a combination of friends and a super helpful Reddit post I finally have a handle on what the tracking system in the game means.  When you click in the lower right corner of the screen you can see which Pokemon are near you.  Each of them will show a number of tracks out beside them with the default seeming to be three.  Number one thing I learned is that the list is sorted in order of distance from you, meaning the ones at the top of the list are closer than the ones at the bottom.  Second thing I learned is that if you click on a Pokemon it begins to track that specific one.  If while tracking your bar flashes, that means you are walking in the direction towards the Pokemon, and as you get closer the number of tracks will start decreasing.  When you eventually get down to zero tracks it should spawn near you, and allow you to try and capture it.  This would have been extremely helpful to know last night as I seemed to be wandering around trying to find one of two Psyduck in my neighborhood.  I will say years of seeing silhouettes of Pokemon have greatly prepared all of us for knowing precisely what might be in our neighborhood based on the outline.  Last night there also appeared a blip of a Tentacool for a bit, but I never found it either.  Hopefully you too are getting out and walking and finding your own stash of critters.  If you are curious what I have actually caught I am for the moment keeping a crappy spreadsheet until I figure out what I want to do properly.

Walking Simulator

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Gotta Catch Em All

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If I had any topic to talk about today, it was immediately erased from my mind as soon as I got my grubby hands on Pokemon Go.  I was in fact one of those bastards that went through the relatively simple process of installing it to bypass the region lockouts.  First off I want to address something that is frustrating me, is that for some reason people seem to think defeating region lockouts is “hacking”.  Region lockouts are dumb, and at least on Android devices, any time you download anything you are already downloading the APK as that is how anything installs.  The beauty of the android platform is there isn’t just one app store, in fact on my device I currently have Google Play, Amazon Underground, and APK Pure all installed and living happily together.  These are especially handy when confronted with a device that for whatever reason is trying to block the actual Google Play store and instead keep redirecting you to their carrier run store.  Anyways with that out of the way, I downloaded the APK and had it sitting on my device while I ran out to lunch yesterday.  On my way out of the building I caught my first Pokemon which was one of the original three starters….  Go Team Squirtle!  Then before I had even left my building I also happened to encounter a Staryu…  things were getting off to a great start.

Screenshot_2016-07-06-16-23-51I had errands to run so I drove out to one of the nearby hubs of shopping that houses a ton of big box stores.  I needed to pick up some cat
food and cat litter from Target, and also wanted to pop by Rackroom shoes to see if I could find any sandals that I did not hate this season.  When I pulled into the parking lot of Target I opened up the app and noticed several Pokemon nearby where I parked.  When you are anywhere, you see critters within the vicinity of you… and when you get close enough to one you can attempt to capture it.  Sadly I have no screenshots of the capture process because it goes quickly.  Essentially it is playing Skeeball, and for those who don’t have that cultural frame of reference… you are flicking the Pokeball with your finger and trying to hit essentially a target that represents the sweet spot for capturing each specific Pokemon.  If you tap on the Pokemon you will see a set of rings with a green spot being the best possible place to land your hit in order to capture.  You have a limited number of attempts before the Pokemon runs away and cannot be seen on your map.  Of note all of this stuff tries to place your Pokemon in your surroundings using Augmented Reality via your phones camera.  I however didn’t really want to see the real world and would far rather have a cartoony Pokemon world to be wandering around in and capturing critters.

Screenshot_2016-07-06-12-33-01So there I was wandering around a Target parking lot, I am sure looking like an idiot… but you know what I didn’t care.  I was having fun and capturing all sorts of cool Pokemon.  By the time I left that parking lot I had managed to gather up a whole bunch of new critters
including a really nice Eevee.  Now each Pokemon you catch has a CP level…  which doesn’t mean much to me as of yet because well I just started playing this yesterday.  However from what I have been able to tell the higher the number the better, and this factors into what sort of stat package that they have.  So my Eevee in question came out of the box as it were with 104 which is significantly higher than any other Pokemon I have seen yet.  Ironically the hardest capture yet was my Magikarp, namely because it kept flipping around aimlessly anytime I tried to toss the Pokeball.  Not only do you have to try and land the sweet spot, but most Pokemon will move around on you while trying to do this.  Similarly I utterly failed at capturing a Butterfree because apparently it is a little stronger willed than others.  I captured it three times… and all three times it broke out of the ball… eventually flying away never to be seen again.

The reason why I titled this post Walking Simulator, is because that is a genre name that folks have tacked onto games that are about walking around and exploring virtual worlds… but without any combat to speak of.  Pokemon Go however is quite literally a game about walking.  The world has all of these objectives out there in the form of PokeStops and Gyms that seem to appear based on the previous Ingress player portal locations according to Thalen who had apparently played that game way more than I ever did.  So for me I have one right around the corner from my house in the form of a statue.  So last night I convinced my wife to go for a walk… under the guise of exercise but she knew that really I just wanted to go out and capture Pokemon.  Now we get into the larger problem of Pokemon Go right now… the servers and uptime.  For most of the day yesterday things were crashing in spectacular ways, likely because Niantic was simply not ready for the crush of folks who like me decided to bypass the silly region lockouts.  This immediately started a ban rumor floating around that anyone who downloaded the APK was going to get banned from the application.  Yet in all of the threads I never saw anyone reporting anything other than normal intermittent service issues.

Screenshot_2016-07-06-13-56-40Pokemon Go is a deeply connected application.  Not only do you need to stay in fairly constant communication with the Niantic servers over what I am guessing is some sort of a Web Service call… you also have to have unfettered connectivity to GPS satellites in order to keep your positioning true.  This means two things…  namely that gameplay can be unpredictable, and that your battery will weep in misery at the drain.  When I went out to lunch I had about 85% on my battery… and after about an hour of running errands and capturing Pokemon I was sitting around 52% if I remember correctly.  Ingress players are notorious for carrying a bunch of portable battery packs just to make sure that their gameplay is uninterrupted and truthfully that is probably going to be the standard operating procedure with Pokemon Go as well.  So in the middle of my walk last night I encountered a Fearow in the grocery store parking lot.  When I went to try and capture it however I threw the ball… and the screen locked up with the ubiquitous spinning Pokeball icon in the left corner of the screen working madly on trying to reacquire a signal.  I finally had to shut down the application, and reboot my phone… to restore any semblance of connectivity… and even then when I got to the PokeStop outside of my Neighborhood I couldn’t actually retrieve anything from it.  While the game has launched officially now… it is very much not without issues.

However what exists is extremely awesome.  For me Pokemon was always a game about capturing interesting critters, and the combat and story always took a backseat.  When I caught all of the available Pokemon in an area I stopped caring about it and simply wanted to move on to the next area so I could see fresh critters.  For me… this game is likely going to be crack, but also going to be an excellent excuse to get out of the house and walk around my neighborhood.  Where I work downtown there are a couple dozen different PokeStops within easy walking distance so more than likely I am going to start venturing out at lunch to go find them.  What is disturbing is the level of saturation this app has already gotten.  There are four or five different gyms located in downtown Tulsa, and by noon yesterday when I went out to run errands… each and every single one of them was already claimed by a player.  Now these might be beta players or “Beaters” as the community has taken to calling them, but it might also be folks like me who grabbed the APK and just started playing.  There are so many aspects of the game I can’t really talk about yet… because I have not experienced them.  There is apparently a whole team mechanic that will happen at some point, but as I am sub level 5 that is not something I have encountered yet.  I do plan on going Team Blue, and I believe that is where the rest of my friends are leaning as well.  In any case… if you have ever loved Pokemon I suggest at least checking it out.  I have this feeling that it will be something I obsess with for a few weeks… and then never touch again…  much like the other Pokemon games I have played.  However it does at least make walking and running errands a far more interesting experience.

Attack of Miitomo

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Strangest Social Network

struggling_miitomoYesterday is the day that Nintendo finally rolled out it’s My.Nintendo.Com rebranding of their account system.  For years Nintendo has made some pretty confusing choices when it came to social connectivity in their applications.  The obtuse friend code system in the 3DS was often times more trouble than it was really worth to connect up with your friends under most situations.  The short lived Nintendo ID seemed to work better, but since I only recently purchased a Wii U I have not had a ton of experience with it other than accessing the eShop.  “My Nintendo” is their new attempt at gluing together all of these old systems along with the social media that we actually use on a regular basis… namely Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook… with what appears to be integration with Instagram and Line but these are not super intuitive.  With this network they also rolled out a new app called Miitomo that attempts to be something along the lines of those street pass apps that let you play with your friends Mii avatars.

The only problem is…  that the app refuses to work on my phone.  They have chosen to block rooted phones from being able to use the network… which honestly accounts for a not insignificant portion of the android market share.  The only problem here is…  my phone isn’t rooted.  At one point I absolutely unlocked root so I could run tethering apps, however since then I restored back to the factory settings.  When you use any of the “root checker” programs my phone gets as clean bill of health, and Samsung KNOX is still showing a valid warranty so zero strikes there either.  So for all purposes my phone is not rooted and the app should not be able to tell that it has EVER been rooted.  However I am still encountering the same damned black screen and crash that rooted users seem to experience, so I am guessing somehow the Nintendo app still thinks I have a rooted device.  The only problem here is… if my phone were actually rooted I could fix this problem easily by using cloaking software to keep the Miitomo app from seeing the root access.  So honestly if I ever want to run this on my phone it is looking like I am going to have to redo the root and install Rootcloak… which sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it Nintendo?

dancing_miitomoAll of this said I did manage to get it to install on my Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, which in itself is a bit of a goofy situation given that this is not on the Amazon app store yet.  If you also have the $50 Kindle, and would like to be using the Google Play store instead…  check out this video that I used to install the play store and the related applications on my tablet because it doesn’t require root to actually make it happen.  The only game I have yet to get to work on the Kindle is Final Fantasy Record Keeper and I am guessing if I did some digging I could probably make that work too.  On the Miitomo front…  I am not entirely certain I get it.  I mean it is a very cute presentation and it allows me to dress my Mii up however I want.  The only problem is I am not really seeing the point, other than earning nebulous rewards on the “My Nintendo” website like 15% off coupons.  Once you get past the window dressing, what the app ultimately ends up being is a super cumbersome chat program that lets you comment on your friends status updates.  If I could take items earned in this app and have it trickle down into the 3DS and Wii U then that would be really awesome, or if I could unlock extras for the games I am already playing…  then that would be really cool.  For the time being however it falls into the “nifty” bin but I am not sure how much myself or anyone else will really be using this once the new and cool factor wears off.

[Edit] – as of this morning I noticed there was a 1.1.2 update waiting on my phone.  I tried that and sure enough it seems to have fixed the crash.  I do have to admit this is a much better app for a phone than a tablet, so maybe I was overly harsh in my initial review.  I am not sure if this actually fixes things for rooted users, but it fixed my problems.

 

Super Good Advice

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I’ve been playing a silly amount of Iron Banner over the last few days, because I am finding that I really do enjoy PVP in Destiny.  This is just such an odd revelation for me given that I have purposefully shied away from fighting other players in any other game.  At least on some level it makes me wonder if I should dust off some of the other titles and give PVP a real chance to see if it sticks with me.  I remember enjoying playing Arena in World of Warcraft during Burning Crusade, but in large part we were doing our matches to get epics… to help our characters in raiding.  That is the most interesting thing for me is that I thought I was going into Iron Banner just for the loot, and while I have managed to get two of the chestpieces… that really doesn’t seem to be my core drive.  I actually like playing the maps, and while there are some that I absolutely hate… several of them are beginning to feel extremely comfortable.  The other thing that I find shocking is that I actually seem to be improving quite a bit.  There have been a few matches where I topped the score for the entire match, which is something I find completely bizarro.  I still consider myself a very shitty Destiny player.

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I think my ultimate goal for this weekend is to be able to get up high enough in the ranking to start to see the weapon drops.  I believe these start at rank 4 with the hand cannon, and rank 5 for the machine gun.  Both of them are weapons that I would probably actually use, but I am more excited about the Hand Cannon right now for some reason.  I miss using my Hand Cannon, and it feels like maybe this one would be a good legendary to run around with.  I need to honestly just dust off my Hawkmoon and give it a go again… but the big problem that I always run into is the fact that I never seem to have enough ammunition.  It is my huge hope that in the weapon re-balancing coming in the April patch that we see some love for the reserve ammunition size of the various Hand Cannon archetypes.  For now my weapon of choice in the Crucible is the Antipodal Hindsight that I now have up to 303.  There is just something about this weapon that I love, especially now that I have a roll on it with Rodeo.  Seriously… Rodeo on any weapon will take it from crappy to completely viable for me at least.  It is my hope that through today’s daily bounties I will hit rank 3 and get my first Iron Banner package.

 

Cats and Wolves

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Cattes a Plenty

NekoAtsumeAt some point last year, lots of folks in my feed showed up with this Japanese app on their phones called Neko Atsume.  From what I can tell it roughly translates to Cat Collector, and it is one of those passive things that I tend to refer as a “maintenance game”.  The thing is….  I like cats.  In fact as I write this post I have one on either end of my desk sleeping on their blankets.  I for the most part avoided the game until recently when for some strange reason I decided to give it an install.  Firstly I’ve talked about my problems with mobile gaming in general.  I tend to install a game, play it a few times… and then never touch it again.  Largely my life is not exactly mobile friendly, and if I have access to games….  I am generally at home when I can use a more traditional gaming system.  This game however…  fits that realm of do something…  leave it sit for awhile… check back in on progress for a minute or two.  I’ve found myself popping it open while waiting on a meeting to start, and the jolt of happy kittehs doing stuff seems to help my mental state.

The concept is really simple.  You purchase cat toys, place them in your virtual yard… and the neighborhood cats will come visit you and leave you gifts if they enjoyed themselves.  The gifts come in the form of silver or gold fish… with the later also serving as the cash shop currency of the game.  As far as advancement… I have zero clue how that works.  I know I have seen screenshots of folks with much bigger yards, but I have no idea how that actually occurs yet.  The starter yard has a fixed number of mount points for items, and at any point you can pick the items up and replace them with other items from your inventory.  I have a pretty simple yard right now, but it seems to draw cats in pretty well.  You can play the game completely free and there is a conversion between silver fish and gold fish… but it is pretty painful.  You can get 10 Gold fish for every 250 Silver fish, which is doable because over the course of a few days I have earned over 250.  Right now it gives me tiny doses of happy especially when I pop over and my yard is completely full of cats doing adorable things.  I fully expect that within two weeks time I will have abandoned this mobile game just like I have abandoned so many others.

Slowly Leveling

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The other big project I have had over the last several days is working my way through the content in Destiny on my Xbox 360.  This has been a somewhat crazy side mission, and I have to say…  it has been interesting leveling from scratch for a second time.  There were a lot of things I struggled with in Destiny playing through it that very first time, and for the most part none of them are big deals this time.   I guess all of the time I have played on the Playstation 4 really has made me significantly better at the game, because swapping consoles has been a non-issue.  Sure the 360 controller feels a little strange, but I seem to be able to switch hit between it and the dualshock without much problem.  Admittedly I find the dualshock 4 significantly more comfortable, and if there was a way to make it work on the 360 I totally would.  I guess you might ask yourself why exactly am I leveling on a last generation console…  well I still have friends playing it.  I have been really damned impressed at just how well the game plays.  I mean admittedly it feels like someone smeared vasoline on the screen because everything feels a little fuzzy… given the lower resolution and with it lower texture detail.  However the moment to moment game play is exactly the same… and the weapons and movement all feels just as responsive.  I am sure at some point I will pick up an Xbox One, and at that point…  in theory my 360 characters get to transfer over so any work I am doing now I can carry forward into the next system.

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There are so many lessons that I have learned from playing through the first time.  This time around for example I am stockpiling every single blue engram drop that I happen to get.  The idea is that if I can wait to open any of them until level 40, I will be able to push up my light level quickly and get to a viable position to start doing content.  I am investing a lot of time right now in this platform, but the hope is that eventually it will be the sort of thing I only play when I have people to play with.  I still greatly prefer the Playstation 4 version, and those are the characters that I really care about.  In theory I could have spent my level 25 boost on my Titan and probably would have been done by now, but there is something fun about doing this legitimately again.  At this point I have beaten the main storyline of the original game, and darkness below.  I am also a fairly significant way through the House of Wolves storyline, but it was getting late last night and I did not really want to deal with the Vault of Glass mission, so that is where I will pick up next time I play.  I’ve reached level 25, which concerns me a bit… given that I have quite a bit to go before I can function very efficiently in the Taken King content.  I mean in theory I could already be doing that… but sub 35 some of those later missions are a pain in the ass.  Generally speaking on Destiny alts I push all the way to 40 before even really starting Taken King, so that I can burn through it easily.  Given I need leveling fuel… I will more than likely start Taken King as soon as I finish up with House of Wolves.  I guess I could do some Strike grinding, but I really really hate the Omnighoul strike, and that seems to be all I ever get in the level 20 range.

Week In Gaming 8/30/2015

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Stressed but Still Here

This week turned out to be a shockingly stressful one, but thankfully all of said stress happened at work… and I could more or less leave it there as well.  There has been a twinge of sadness as well because months ago I had hoped to be able to attend Pax Prime and get to hang out with friends there.  However that didn’t quite work out, and since I lacked tickets to go there…  because AggroChat was not apparently qualified as a media outlet, I stopped pushing quite so hard.  The beginning of the school year is especially rough on my wife, and it would have been even more stressful to be travelling during this time.  As such I am doubting that Pax Prime will ever really be in my cards unless for some reason they decide to move it either earlier or later in the year.  I will always have Pax South however, and I fully intend to go this coming year.  I am going to be trying to talk as many people into attending as I can, and hopefully can organize a meetup or something while there.  There were plenty of people at Pax South last year but I was completely overwhelmed by it being my first real convention, and the internet was pretty horrible…  so I missed most of them.  Anyways…  on with what is I hope becoming a Sunday tradition, where I review the games I played over the past week.

Final Fantasy XIV

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Currently “The Rising” event is going on in Final Fantasy XIV that marks the yearly anniversary festival.  This year the quest that goes along with it is one of the most touching quests I have experienced in a game before.  I don’t want to spoil too many details about it, but suffice to say there is a little bit of fourth wall breaching going on.  Diehard Final Fantasy XIV fans have this hero worship for Naoki Yoshida and the rest of the team, and it is absolutely well earned.  It feels like there is very much a symbiotic relationship going on there, and they understand fully just how important the loyal fans are to the continued success of the title.  The game is in this interesting place where it is extremely humbled by the fact that it launched in 2010 and failed to capture hearts and minds.  They are putting everything into the game and leaving nothing on the table, and it shows.  Other than the anniversary event we worked on Ravana Extreme attempts, and I have every hope that we will be able to down him this coming Monday.  Past that I have honestly been taking a bit of a break from Final Fantasy XIV, or at least not really logging in every day.

Diablo 3

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If you are wondering where the bulk of my game time was spent, you can look no further than Diablo 3.  I am not sure if it was my time playing Hellgate London, or the fact that I finally pulled my head out of the sand and realized there was such a thing as a “season”.  Whatever the combination I have been pumped to be playing Diablo 3 again and have been spending a lot of time with my friend Grace was we worked on pushing up our seasonal characters.  At the beginning of the week I managed to get my Crusader from last season to 70 with the help of Grace and her crazy torment farming ways.  Then Friday when the new season opened I started work immediately on a female Barbarian.  As of last night I am now level 60 and making the final push to 70.  That is really what I intend to spend most of my time today working on, and hopefully by tonight I will be sitting at 70 and starting to work on gearing up for doing torment and beyond.  I am having a blast, and I am not sure whatever mental block cleared that has allowed me to get involved once more with the click to attack madness.

Wildstar

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I can’t say that I have made stellar progress since last week, but I am continuing with my new tradition of trying to play Wildstar Tuesday nights.  At this point I am level 25 still in Whitevale but I think maybe I can see the end of the zone.  My hope is to move on past it this week and hopefully into something less desolate.  I feel about Whitevale the way I feel about most desert zones in MMOs.  I have come to realization this week that it is never the biome necessarily that I like or dislike, but instead the zone design.  I was warned that Malgrave is coming up, and a desert… but from what I have seen of the imagery inside it seems like something I will enjoy.  I want to devote more time to this game, but for now I am going to settle with making it a Tuesday night thing.

Hearthstone

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The game that I played that shocked me the most this week was Hearthstone.  I have not really spent much time playing it since release, and with the addition of a new expansion of cards I decided to poke my head in.  This is where I found a brand new game mode called Tavern Brawl.  Apparently you have a different weekly challenge, and this week was essentially playing with a randomized deck.  I played hunter and had a good amount of success.  Playing with a random assortment of cards, including many of the brand new Grand Tournament cards gave me a nostalgic feeling much like the early days of Magic the Gathering.  I used to love the days when I was limited based on the  cards I physically owned and as a result made some odd decks to try and weave in my favorite elements.  In truth I would probably play Hearthstone more often if this random brawl option thing was a fixed item.  I know this coming week there will be a completely different Tavern Brawl, but I will likely poke my head in to see what it is and give it a shot.  This might breathe new life into the game for me, and for that I am kinda pumped.

Fallout Shelter

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My week in review would not be complete without at least talking a bit about Fallout Shelter.  Now I have been technically playing this game for awhile now but since I do not regularly use my iPad, the sessions were limited and I went weeks between opening the app.  With the release of Fallout Shelter for android I have been playing it far more often on my phone, and it has now become my default “moment of downtime” game as I check in on my little post apocalyptic ant farm.  All things said I learned a lot of lessons playing it on the iPad that I have now applied to this new vault.  Where Vault 999 was a relative failure, Vault 861 is pretty damned idyllic.  Through a bit of luck of drops, and some careful planning I have managed to create a pretty safe environment that can absolutely shred raider attacks.  I had a random person show up at the vault that was fairly warriorly, and once I equipped her with power armor and a plasma pistol she has been roaming the wastes dispensing justice.  At the same time she has become a major source of income and the gear she brings back I am slowly outfitting all of my settlers in.  I have jokingly started calling the restaurant on the first floor Cafe Death, because the raiders always go there…. only to get shredded by all of my shotgun toting vault dwellers.  The only thing that I feel bad about is that I essentially  have one couple that is slowly populating my vault.  I have left them in the room for weeks now and they have half a dozen offspring roaming around as a result.

Hatoful Boyfriend

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The last game that I played a significant amount of this week was of course Hatoful Boyfriend, and last night we recorded the AggroChat game club show for it.  This was Grace’s pick and I think a lot of us went into this assuming that we would end up hating the game.  We were mostly wrong as the vast majority of us had lots of good things to say about the game. To make it even crazier this is the first game that the majority of us have actually played through more than one… but given that an individual play session tends to only be around the hour long mark that makes sense.   If you want to hear our length discussion about dating “Birbs” after the apocalypse you should totally listen into the show.

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