Regularly Playing: August Edition

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It has been most of the summer since I last updated my sidebar, and a lot of things have changed.  I figured it was high time that I true things up since we are just about to go into the school year, and starting to enter a pretty tightly packed release schedule for the rest of the year.  For those unfamiliar with this feature, I functionally talk about the things that I have added… the things that are remaining… and the things that I am ultimately removing from regular rotation.  I play a lot of games at any given time… and generally speaking the moment I update my sidebar…  I have a wild mood swing game wise that leads me somewhere completely differently.  So here goes nothing!

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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Since I last posted there has been a lot of movement in this game, namely the release of a new expansion called Stormblood.  As a result I swapped my Heavensward icon out for a Stormblood one.  As far as my time in the game…  I’ve reached 70 and 310+ gear on both my Warrior and my Samurai and have fallen off significantly in the amount of time I am actually playing.  There is still plenty to be done, and I want to get back in the swing of playing on a regular basis, however lately I am deep within my own turtle session which means I tend to be favoring games where I don’t have much of a crowd.  Still well within the realm of active games, just only logging in once or twice a day instead of devoting all of my time to it.

To The Returning and New

Guild Wars 2

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This is the first time since picking up the game at launch that I can legitimately say that I am really enjoying myself while playing this game.  For whatever reason it took five years to actually click with me, and now it is like discovering hidden treasure.  I am attempting to do all the things and it is fitting the bill really well because I don’t have much infrastructure in the game currently.  My current goal is reaching 100% in all of the old world zones, which I believe is one of the requirements for starting down the Legendary weapon rabbit hole.  Another huge boon for my enjoyment of the game is the fact that there are now proper beards for non-norn characters.

Rift

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To be honest since its release in 2011 it has never really been far off my radar.  Crawling back into Rift is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket, because it is so familiar.  In the past six years I’ve had highs and lows with the game, but I know that regardless I will always return and always be interested in whatever happens to be going on.  Recently during my turtle mode game play in general, I have been spending a bit of time trying to catch up and hit the Prophecy of Ahnket level cap.  I am also digging the tweaks I made to my default outfit.  Rift in many ways feels like this snapshot of what everyone wanted in a game around its release, and in some ways it is still ahead of its time.  In other ways though it feels like a time capsule to a time when MMO games were slower paced and more methodical.  I still find it enjoyable and am always proud to feature it on my sidebar when I am playing.

Diablo 3

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Another game that is never far off my radar is Diablo 3, and with us currently being in the thrall of another season…  it is obviously occupying some sidebar territory.  This is the first season to feature Necromancers and it has been hilarious to see literally bone spikes for days.  I really don’t have a whole lot to talk about the game because if by now you don’t get my attraction you probably never will.

World of Warcraft

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I have honestly all but stopped playing World of Warcraft, but I am keeping a space on my sidebar for it because of the RoboSquid Armada.  This is effectively our weird brain chain of trying to run every dungeon and raid in World of Warcraft at level in minimal gear.  Prior to the launch of Stormblood we had left off at Blackfathom Deeps and it seems like everyone is coalescing towards starting this up again.  I am more than happy to do some madness with my baby monk.

To Those Departing

Star Wars the Old Republic

If I am being completely honest… I have to say I love what this game has become.  I had this awesome time playing through the Shadows of Revan, Ziost and Fallen Empire content and then I sort of needed a break from deeply story driven gaming.  It was also around about this time that we were ramping up for the release of Stormblood.  At some point in the future when I need to completely dive into something wholly immersive… I will pick this back up and run through the Eternal Throne story line.  I still poke my head in from time to time, but not enough to keep it on the sidebar.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This is one of those games that I really need to finish, but I have a feeling by the time I ultimately get back around to it…  I will functionally need to restart the experience.  This game is a casualty of too many other games coming out at the same time… and ultimately its playtime got eaten up by Mass Effect Andromeda that for whatever reason clicked way harder with me than Horizon did.  I really enjoyed the game but I feel like I am going to have to be in the right frame of mind to actually return to it.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Another game that has fallen off the radar that I want to start back up at some point is Breath of the Wild.  Two things happened to harm this experience… firstly a bunch of other stuff got released.  Secondly… I picked up the switch and decided to restart the game.  I still play this occasionally but not enough to really keep it hanging out on the right side of the screen.

A Warm Blanket

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Today marks the beginning of the whole “Daily Creative Thing” business and while you might have been expecting something from me…  unfortunately you can’t really expect me to get up and do creativity by six in the morning.  Sitting down and writing out a blog post is challenging enough.  I am however planning on making something happen today or tonight depending upon when the muse hits me.  The other big thing going on today is that it is my Nineteenth wedding anniversary, and while I am not entirely certain what we are doing to mark the occasion yet I am sure we will come up with something.  In truth what it will probably mean is that my wife and I go out to dinner, and then wander around hitting the various stores and checking to see if they have started marking down their back to school stuff yet.  “School Supply Season” is like Christmas for my wife, and while this is not exactly the normal thing for people to get excited about…  it is for a teacher.  I’ve spent many an hour over the years scrounging for one last folder or ruler or package of gluesticks for her classroom.

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Work is still madness and I am still finding myself deep in the throes of turtle mode.  Honestly more than anything what happens during these times is I resort to comfort gaming.  I end up dusting off a game that I had not been playing that much and spend a significant chunk of time roaming around its world.  Lately that has meant an awful lot of Rift because much like Phantasy Star Online yesterday… I carry a significant torch for this game as well.  In honor of the occasion I decided to vary up my default wardrobe a bit from what I had been running around in the first screenshot… to what I am now running around in…  which is honestly mostly just some dye and swapping a few pieces.  I never managed to hit the “Prophecy of” level cap and I’ve just been working my way through any of the content that I had left to do in various zones.  So far the thing that I am liking the most about the content is the way that each zone has this major event that takes place at the very end of the zone that ties up a bunch of loose threads from various quests and packages it neatly in this really epic fight.  In many ways Rift feels like a game from a different time, and this has both good and bad aspects to it.  The bad is it feels much slower than other MMOs and the time to kill and time to level can feel a little grating at times.  However on the good side this is also this same thing that makes it feel familiar and lived in…  and something that I can return to over and over to wear it like a blanket.  The main problem that I have with Rift that ultimately causes me to wander away is that I don’t have my social infrastructure here.  My circle of friends that I record the podcast and game on a nightly basis with…  have moved on past this game and will likely never return.  At this point I think I am just too set in my ways to branch out and build new communities, and I also know that I will soon return to the fold and wander away from the game myself.

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Another game I have been playing a not insignificant amount of is Fallout 4.  This runs pretty damned smoothly on the laptop and it has been a recent go to for when I want to wander around a world and explore a bit.  In the theme of carrying torches for games… I have loved Fallout since I saved up my pennies to buy the first game when it released back in 1997.  I was going to college at the time and not really buying many games, but still made a beeline to Walmart to pick it up once I knew they had it in stock.  Side note… that was literally the only place in town that sold PC games and was before the mass expansion of Game Stop.  At that point Software Etc and Babbages still existed as separate entities as well as Comp USA and the unrelated Circuit City and Computer City.  When the games made the tradition to the open world format I was skeptical but quickly got on board thanks to my love of the Elder Scrolls games.  Now the modern Fallout games serve as this familiar touchstone that I can keep returning to anytime I need solace.  I’ve started countless games of Fallout 3 and New Vegas and it seems like now I am carrying that tradition over into Fallout 4 as well.  My default play mode tends to be to wander towards a corner of the map and do whatever happens to be there.  I am not really big for following larger quests in this game, and I likely would have never actually beaten it were it not for the fact that we chose this as a game club game… and I felt obligated to do so.  Gaming in general for me is not ever really about beating the game… but more about existing in that game world for a period of time.  The game world of choice is determined by whatever mood I happen to be in.  Fallout for me tends to be for when I am in a slower paced mood and want to wander around aimlessly dispensing frontier justice on the raiders.

 

Assorted Turtling

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Yesterday was an exceedingly stressful day, and that combined with the fact that my wife is out of town…  lead to a sudden bout of turtling.  For those unfamiliar with the nomenclature…  I go through these periods where I feel like I need to pull my head into my shell to attempt to remain sane.  I’m thankful that I have a few friends that get it, and don’t give me too much hassle about it, but every so often I just reach this point where I need to disconnect from humanity.  Last night was one of those nights and I cycled restlessly through a whole bunch of games to see if I could find something that would fit well enough to pass the evening in.  The negative is that in theory this should have been a night I was tanking in Final Fantasy XIV, but I just could not handle communicating with others…  or having anyone I cared about relying on me.  The irony is that I wound up for a bit early in the evening in Destiny…  and absolutely wound up carrying two other players hard through a random strike.  I took a screenshot not because it is impressive…  but because it shows the massive difference between my participation and that of the other two.  This was on the Wretched Eye strike… and I wound up kiting the Ogre… and DPSing most things down…  and resurrecting the other two people constantly.  Now I know what Squirrel and Jex feel like when I run with them.

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From there I wound up back downstairs and watched the last episode of Handmaid’s Tale…  which is maybe not the best idea to watch when you are already feeling depressed.  While doing so I ended booting up Rift and playing around some there.  I am still level 67 and working on the Gedlo Badlands, which is not exactly my favorite zone so far.  Moonshade Highlands is my jam, and I have never been that big of a fan of desolate desert landscapes…  especially not ones where everything is on fire.  That said I did make a lot of progress knocking out various quests and while it still feels like my experience bar isn’t really moving…  the constant ding of planar levels seems to help the feeling of being mired.  I have been running around with a heavy Warlord hybrid build, and while I have been absent it seems to have been buffed significantly.  Previously I had a lot of problems with struggling to kill a given mob in time before it killed me.  Now I seem to be able to run around and wreck things pretty safely.  My biggest complaint with Starfall Prophecy now Prophecy of Ahnket… are the legendary morphs of abilities.  Each of them seems to read like it is going to be universally better than the original…  but after taking a few of them they seem to FEEL worse.  The biggest problem here is that you cannot undo them without paying for a respec…and then you have to remember what the hell you chose as a spec down to the point where you screwed up and chose the wrong legendary morph.  Personally I think the system should just be a toggle, and that you can have X number of legendaries toggled on equal to the number you have earned.

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I also played a little Secret World Legends, which is something I seem to do just about every day… or at the very least I am logging in to get the rewards.  I am not completely sold on the game but I am enjoying it enough to keep showing up and experiencing it.  The combat feels fresh enough to make going through a bunch of quests I did long long ago feel worth it.  My key complaint however is the game still does a piss poor job of clearly identifying which quests you have completed and which ones you have not.  That was one of my biggest problems with the game is to log in and roam around through a sea of cutely named quests… that all sort of blend together in my head making it impossible to sort out if I have or have not completed them.  This was even worse when it came to expansion content going into the game, and blending in among all of those other quests that I did a year ago.  So far blade and elemental is fun enough, but I find myself really missing the shotgun… and with the way gear levels up in this game I feel like I am really not in a great place to switch gears at any point soon.  I do have an extremely low level shotgun sitting in my inventory and I might try swapping it out at some point soon just to see if it is viable.  I’ve moved on to the Savage Coast but there is honestly still a lot in Kingsmouth that I have never really gotten around to completing.  My biggest complaint overall is as compared to the original… the drop rates of anything meaningful in the world is nonexistent.  All of your gear seems to come from lootbags gained through doing quests… so I have a feeling that a big part of the “endgame” is going to be repeating quests on the daily reset to get more stuff to fuse into your gear.  That doesn’t really bode well for those players that are not a big fan of grindy mechanics.

 

Regularly Playing: May Edition

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I had a realization over the weekend as I stared at my sidebar…  that it has been a significant amount of time since I last did the regularly playing thing.  The last one I was able to find was on October 3rd of 2016…  some 210 days ago.  I may or may not have completely fallen off the wagon on this concept.  The original intent was to take a moment once a month to “true up” the side bar and shift out what I was no longer playing for what I was currently playing.  As a result we are going to see some significant moving and shaking in the list as a result.

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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I am still going fairly strongly in Final Fantasy XIV, and while I might not log in every night I am logging in multiple times a week.  I am definitely still making the Tuesday night raid thing, and while we don’t always make progress each week we get together to do something.  Thanks to the wonder of cross server grouping we have been able to pull in our friend Kelesti into some stuff as well.  Largely we are all in a big holding pattern until the release of Stormblood which comes in July, and as a result I am still in the middle of my “level everything” binge.  Right now my Machinist is just shy of 40, and that leaves Astrologian the only thing that has yet to be touched.  The whole purpose behind all of this madness is so that I can purge my vault of anything at minimum sub 30… and the grand hope is to sort through anything sub 50 and be extremely judicious in what I choose to keep.  Still having a lot of fun in Palace of the Dead, just have had other distractions of late.

To the Returning and New

Skyforge

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This is one of those games that has not graced my sidebar in a very very long time.  In July of 2015 I played quite a bit of the game around the time that it launched, and while I enjoyed it… it always felt like it was missing something.  Apparently October of last year an expansion released that added in pretty much all of the features that I am finding myself enjoying now.  Additionally the game just works better with a controller than it ever did with a keyboard and mouse and while I returned primarily on the PS4… I am also dipping my toes back into the PC experience as well.  Both are extremely fun and I am not entirely sure how long I will be splitting time before I officially pick one platform.  Whatever the case if you have ever played this game I highly suggest checking it out.  It has some issues… namely you are limited to three classes at the start with no clear path to add new ones.  However each of the classes is doing something somewhat unique which makes them more enjoyable than the standard Tank, Mage and Healer that they represent.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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There are two things that are shocking about this game gracing my list.  Firstly that apparently I never actually made a “now playing” widget for it, and secondly… that I am back playing it again.  I blame a sequence of nostalgic events happening at exactly the same time…  all of the hype about the next Star Wars movie, the love of Rogue One, and my deep enjoyment of Mass Effect Andromeda has lead to an upwelling of love for both Bioware and Star Wars.  As a result I have returned to an old mission, which is trying to level through all of the class stories.  I managed to finish off the Sith Sorcerer and am now through Hoth so far in the Imperial Agent.  It seems as though I picked one of the best storylines for last, and even though I am not traditionally a stealthy/shooty type class…  there is something extremely awesome about this one.  I largely went Sniper because my Smuggler on the other side of the fence is Sawbones/Healer.  I am having a blast right now, so I am going to ride the enjoyment until it lasts.  The goal is to push forward into the story I have not touched on my Jedi Knight main after finishing the Agent story…  which involves Shadow of Revan, Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne.

Horizon Zero Dawn

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I do not normally put many single player games on the regularly playing list, but we have this sequence of amazing ones being released in short order.  One of those is Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a game that I hit hard at launch… and then for whatever release lost momentum to Mass Effect Andromeda.  As a result I have been slowly playing it here and there as time and desire allows.  I could force myself through the story, but I want to play it when I want to play it… and that is right now involving the occasional hour long session of hunting giant robot dinosaurs rather than pushing forward the main story.  I am still very much enjoying the game, but I need to find some catalyst that really gets me back into it and dying to play the next chapter.  In the mean time however I am still enjoying the “bowplay” if I can coin that term.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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This is very much another “as desire hits me” sort of experience.  When the game came out I picked it up on the Wii U and in the time between then and now I have managed to pick up a switch effecting starting back at square one.  This stalled my progress a little bit but for the most part I have returned to where I left in the Wii U and am once again moving forward.  I have designs on starting to take this to work and playing a little over lunch and on break times.  While I have the switch I really have not done a lot of handheld play with it remaining largely docked upstairs so I can play it with the pro controller.  It is a great game and in spite of having a lot of things that frustrate me about the game… is yet another in a long list of titles contending for my game of the year bid.

To Those Departing

World of Warcraft

While I still have an active account, I am just not really playing at all.  I logged in shortly after the last patch and got bored and logged out again.  I fell off the raiding bandwagon about halfway through Nighthold, and honestly just sort of reached the point I have in so many other expansions.  I think in theory I could come back and play casually and enjoy the experience but there are just simply too many other things I would rather be playing right now.  So as a result this is going to find its way off my side bar, but I did have the forethought to simply comment it out rather than remove it because I am sure at some point around Blizzcon time I will get hit by the bug once more.

Rift

Much like with Nightmare Tide… I just failed to gain traction with the latest expansion the Starfall Prophecy.  A large part of my struggle with Rift is that I can never seem to find a warrior spec that I really like anymore.  What I ultimately want is a juggernaut for doing PVE/Leveling content that can burn through the mobs with nonexistent downtime.  If I ever find that spec again I will return to the game and happily finish up leveling.  The other huge struggle is that the game lacks a reliable current font of knowledge.  The forums in theory have a lot of the information but it is this blend of current information and ancient and no longer reliable, and I just lack the mental fortitude to sift through it.  I am hoping that after writing this… Muspel or PK will come to the rescue once again with a viable Warrior build like they have in the past.  The other huge challenge with Rift is the fact that none of my gaming infrastructure is playing the game, nor do any of my regular suspects have any interest in the game at this point.

Destiny

It hurts more than a little bit to be adding this game to this space on my list.  The truth is I am just not playing it right now and I don’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.  I have too many other games fighting for my attention, and while I absolutely know I will be returning with Destiny 2…  the amount of stuff that I can do solo or want to so solo is pretty limited.  At this point it feels like I would be working towards something that is ultimately going to disappear.  I also have a lot of questions because as it is right now… I am looking at making the leap to PC from PS4 for the second game… and I am not sure what if anything might transfer.

Guild Wars 2

Adding this one to the list really doesn’t take a lot of effort.  I was only into this game so long as some of my friends were actively playing it.  Once Tam and Ash and Kodra faded away… so did I.  It is still not my favorite game but I have developed a certain appreciation for it.  Most of what it is doing however isn’t really all that interesting to me.  I largely got to play along with my friends only because I had maxed out my Warrior soloing for ages without them.  He was geared and ready to go… and will still be there if it ever has a resurgence.  Much like Warframe this is a game that was not ultimately for me…  but somewhat enjoyable so long as I was playing with friends.

 

 

 

 

Working Weekend

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Well this morning is not getting off to a glorious start.  File this under the category of more issues with web hosting.  I seem to be unable to upload any new files to any of my blogs.  Some sort of permission issue, and unfortunately not one that I can remedy myself with the level of access that I have.  We had an issue over the weekend where my sites got peppered with a bunch of bad files that were being used to send spam mail.  As a result I think the web host maybe locked things down a little too tight.  I spent the bulk of my Saturday morning going directory by directory and deleting this fishy files that had gotten uploaded through some exploit somewhere along the line.  However in the meantime I can’t upload any new images… which kinda derails the whole process of blogging for me.  Instead of writing a proper post I have spent the last forty five minutes trying to resolve the issue on my own with zero luck.

As far as gaming this weekend I was all over the place.  I played some Rift and made it to level 67 in the Gedlo Badlands, and also partook of the weekend mount sale to pick up a couple of the previously lockbox only mounts including the back warmech thing.  Early in the week I had set my goals on leveling the Deathknight in World of Warcraft to 110.  Then I found out that the frost hidden appearance that drops from this weeks world boss… also requires Artifact Knowledge 4, which was not something I could hope to finish during the timeframe.  That said I still have been having an awful lot of fun on the Deathknight and even casually playing without a serious push… I managed to get him to just shy of 108.  In Destiny I worked on getting all three of my characters through the various weekly quests available from Shiro in the Iron Temple.  I now have all three classes at 385 or above with my Titan being the highest at 387.  Other than that I started Dishonored 2 and am struggling to get into it.  I am not sure what it is about the setting but it is far less interesting to me than Dunwall.  I am not terribly far in so I am going to continue giving it a shot until hopefully it clicks.

Other than all of this… my weekend was perforated by a lot of things happening at work that I ultimately had to log in and deal with.  A prime example is that I had been trying to finish a dungeon needed by my Deathknight when I had to drop the dungeon finder group… and hop on a conference call for an hour to try and sort out what was happening.  The problem with being salary…  and not having an official on-call rotation is that it means you are always on call.  We sorted it out but it was a something looming over my head because you are never quite certain when you are really “out” for the day.  I thought I put things to bed at 11 am… and I kept getting pulled back in until around 7 pm my time.  Something similar happened on Saturday as well, and I had to stop what I was doing and drive back to the house just to get in for thirty minutes to fix something.  As a result it felt like this really strange pseudo working weekend, and with us skipping the recording of AggroChat something felt off the entire time.  It is funny now our rituals ground us… and now badly I needed mine to make the weekend feel normal.  Raiding Karazhan I guess however helped to serve as a great cap to the weekend, seeing as we once again had a pretty smooth clear.

 

Fetching Cats

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I am not entirely certain how well this video is going to come across on the blog, since I am just using the default twitter embed process.  I’ve talked about playing fetch with my youngest cat Kenzie before.  She loves rubber bands, and whenever she wants to play will bring one and drop it beside me.  Traditionally this has meant tossing it around the room and her chasing after it.  However over the weekend my wife went to a craft fair and picked me up a basic rubberband gun.  Now at first the results were mixed, but I quickly realized it was because it moved quicker than she could actually track.  So firing it across the room in the air meant she would just look at me confused a few times and then give up.  However if I fire it across the floor so that it makes impact and slides the rest of the way…  she is able to track that and bolts off after it.  I decided to attempt to record this in the process and overall it turned out pretty well… including the batting of the gun to try and make me fire it.  This was my evening… and when she would get tired she would bring it back… and then lay down on top of it.  Later she would discover it again when she got up and the circus would continue.

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As far as gaming went… it was another mixed bag of an evening.  Firstly early in the evening before my wife got home I spent that time working on my Warlock and namely doing the Shiro and Tyra weekly quest.  The idea being that if I keep doing those every week I am bound to get some interesting stuff from the load of legendary engrams that they ultimately provide.  At this very moment I swap them all to the bank and then hop on my highest light character to open them.  However before long that won’t matter quite so much given that the only sub 385 character I have right now is my Warlock.  Today is the weekly  reset, and from what it sounds like it is a really good week to farm packages.  If nothing else this is going to be the week that I farm up all of the heroic strikes I need for Future War Cult quest.  Small Arms and Solar Burn means you can farm heroics, and Mayhem Clash means you can finish games in 6 mins making it an insane Crucible farm week as well.  Needless to say I am probably going to be playing Destiny tonight.

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In World of Warcraft last night was our traditional Mythical Monday night…  which is just a cute name for “oh shit we never did a mythic this week”.  It seems like Monday is the night that I always end up doing a keystone just in time to get a free item today.  This time around there was a double benefit, in that my friend Mor needed Black Rook Hold for the Karazhan attunement, and he also had a keystone for it.  It is getting to the point where these runs are largely pretty smooth and we managed to complete in with enough time to spare that we got two chests at the end.  Unfortunately I don’t think anyone managed to get any usable gear.  Quite honestly it has been a really long time since I have gotten anything useful out of a Mythic, and largely they are just something I do… because of the fear of missing out on something from the chest.  I enjoy them, and I am always happy to tank them pending I can dedicate 30 minutes of my time in one sitting.  However I am not necessarily running them because I need them.

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Lastly I finished the evening in Rift and managed to finish up Scatherran Forest.  I got so into the game that I completely did not watch the time… and wound up finally heading to bed when my wife started to wake up from the sofa at 12:30.  From there I had a pretty fitful night sleep wise, so it is definitely going to be an interesting day.  That aside…  Scatherran Forest was a great experience and the wrap up event was full of epic moments.  At the end of the zone you wind up going into a mini solo dungeon of sorts, with I believe four boss encounters that you take on with two companions.  As far as the story line and ramifications… they also felt pretty awesome.  There were some definite feels caused by the ending… that were not entirely attributable to the late hour.  I’ve now moved on to the Gedlo Badlands, with my general idea being to ping pong back and forth between the two as I work my way through the comet towards the Tower of Ahnket.  I had my first real run in with Ahnket and it was interesting…  definitely get a malevolent evil vibe…  but also that of a cat playing with a toy which makes it all the more fitting to talk about this morning.  I  talked a bit during the day about Time to Kill issues… and apparently a good chunk of that was my own damned fault in that I forgot to slot any planar fragments.  Once I did that… I noticed a significant boost in damage output, so if you are similarly struggling try that.  So far my favorite thing about this expansion is largely just a side effect.  I love that I am gaining planar levels insanely fast anytime I do pretty much anything… which is helping me flesh out those neglected trees.

A Good Weekend

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This past week was the week of seemlingly smooth and fast clears.  Wednesday night we worked on progression content, which mean’t that we spent the majority of the evening wiping to new and exciting things.  However the end result of that evening was that we downed Odyn and made a decent amount of progress on Guarm.  The only negative aspect of that is that it also means that none of us actually saw progress on the quest chain that haunts us.  We kicked around the notion of having an Emerald Nightmare clear night, that I ultimately decided would be Friday.  I set up a calendar invite and hoped, and then was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks that signed up.  In fact we technically had more than our normal raid nights, and other than some starts and stops while waiting on folks or dealing with disconnections…  it was a very smooth evening.  So smooth in fact that I seriously wonder if we could have cleared the entire place in an hour.  I mean because of the various time spent waiting… that was not a thing that happened however it seemed like we might have been on pace for it.  That general smoothness continued on last night with Karazhan, but so did the whole waiting business.  Thalen got sidelined with family stuff, and we had the option of either filling his slot or waiting.  It turned out we ended up getting started roughly an hour and a half late, but once again things went amazingly smoothly.  So much so that I think next week we are going to make a proper attempt at a Nightbane run.  We would have one shot every boss… were it not for the fact that we tried some madness for an achievement on Medivh.

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Another big part of my weekend was roaming around and exploring the Comet of Ahnket in the Rift Starfall Prophecy expansion.  At this point I am sitting around 66 1/3 and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the Scatherran Forest zone.  Firstly I have to say this expansion is charming as hell so far, namely because of the two companions that follow you around at times… but also because it is a great example of environmental storytelling.  Every area is packed full of little things to be scene and experienced much in the same way the zones are built in Guild Wars 2.  Lots of things are happening in the background and all it takes is you sitting still long enough to experience them.  The best of these vignettes has to be the hedgehogs who are stuck in a ball rolling…  until one of them realizes that they can just let go of their feet to stop.  Similarly there is this adorable sequence where you are playing hide and seek with baby unicorns, and you have to go out and find them so that you can lead them back home.  The only negative so far is that I feel woefully undergeared for some of the content, and there is a bit of an uneven difficulty level happening.  There was an area full of spiders… and they seemed literally twice as tough as any of the other equivalent level 66 mobs.  I could take down entire packs of humanoids… but a single spider was a race to see if I could finish them off before they finished me off.  Getting a second spider meant absolute certain death.  All in all though I am really liking the expansion and it feels much more like Storm Legion did as far as content goes.

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Finally I spent a good deal of time playing Destiny this weekend and was able to push my Titan to the 385 barrier.  This is the point where you stop getting upgrades from legendary engrams, and are stuck relying on faction rewards that stop at 390… and exotic engrams that will take you all the way to 400.  This means I am hoping tomorrow starts a small arms week for the heroic strike list because I absolutely need to spend some time farming.  In theory I believe the Archon’s Forge will go up to 400 when it comes to end of event rewards, but not anything coming from an engram.  I spent some time working on my Hunter and Warlock and getting both of them through the Rise of Iron story so I can have three sets of world bounties to work on each week.  I realize they just reward engrams at this point… but if nothing else it can be infusion fodder to help work up additional weapons and armor.  I need to find the free time to try and sign up for one of the machine raids so I can see the content and get some more tasty gear.  However 385 is a completely respectable place to be, and in theory during the next iron banner I should be able to make a decent dent into pushing that number up into the 390s.  It was a great weekend and especially considering we have a short week ahead of me.

Weasel Town

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Last night I was having one of those nights where I needed to just blend into the background, and largely avoid human contact.  That said I needed to schedule an invite for a potential Emerald Nightmare raid tonight, and finish up my Emissary quests that I had hanging out there.  However before long I had done just that and was off to Rift to explore some more of the Starfall Prophecy expansion.  This is the point where I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I never got the opportunity to play through the Comet of Ahnket 10 player raid instance, and learn more about the story of what is going on here.  From what I have been able to glean, Ahnket is this sentient creation engine of sorts that seems hellbent on destroying Telara.  I am sure at this point Captain Cursor is cringing like mad and will pop in and correct me, but like I said having not played that raid I only have impressions to go on.  This expansion we take the fight to the comet, which has grown into a landmass.  It seems like every time Ahnket crashes through a plane on the way to Telara it picks up a chunk of that world and carries it with it.  At this point the comet has traveled through the planes of Fire and Nature and as a result we have two new zones themed after each, and a fifth zone that seems to be a place where everything clashes in conflict.  We as ascended are sent here to try and stop Ahnket once and for all and help the friendly folk who have gotten uprooted as a result of the comet passing near their homes.  All of this is irrelevant however because all I really want to do is hang out with this lovely bunch of weasels.

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The other thing that has changed is this time around we have companions that tend to roam around with us as we complete the quest content pretty regularly.  Firstly there is Shyla Starhearth that you might recognize as being the formerly half naked lady hanging out in the throne room of Sanctum for the Guardians in the room.  This time around she managed to find some proper armor and is apparently now a super tanky badass.  Next up we have Tasuil the Dragon, that we last saw in the Dendrome… and has shrunk down a bit to make adventuring with a little easier.  At some point in the quest line you find someone who can Corgify him at which point he is both hilarious and adorable.  Then during my current sequence of quests I also have Windflower the babby Unicorn hanging out with me.  So I am hanging with a Corgi, a Unicorn, and a heavily armored elf lady…  who could ask for more?  It seems like with the impending doom the Guardians and  the Defiant have set aside their grudges because in the new hub town you can also find Asha Catari leading the offensive, which makes my little Defiant heart crackle to life.  I apologize for the image quality in the above two shots, but at some point during the evening I transitioned from my desktop upstairs to hanging out on the sofa with my laptop…  that cannot run the game in nearly the same graphical fidelity.

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In truth I feel like I have not experienced enough of the new content to give it a proper review at this time.  Overall I like it considerably more than I liked Nightmare Tides, but I think that is because this content brings back familiar landscapes.  Goboro Reef was just a completely foreign and alien looking zone, with its angry technicolor vibrancy.  These zones are similar to what I have been seeing in the game since launch, just subtle variations on the planar themes.  Of not I have only actually ventured very far into Scatherran Forest, as you are presented with two possible choices at first… and I could have similarly gone down the Gedlo Badlands path if I wanted to see a lot of fire themed landscapes.  Even then I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of the zones, and in the few hours I played I pushed about halfway through my first level.  The leveling is slow, but it feels not quite as slow as it did during Nightmare Tides which is definitely a good thing.  As far as crafting and such…  I have only barely scratched the surface because I am competing with everyone out there for ore pops.  If anything that would be my one complaint so far that the spawn rates maybe need to adjust up a bit to deal with the influx of players.  Completing any of the “kill x” style quests seem to require either a lot of luck or patience.  The best part so far however has been the music, which is more technological in nature… and it comes with an amazing remixed version of the main Rift theme.  If you have been a long time fan of the franchise, I feel like this expansion is already well worth checking out.  That said expect it to still feel more like Storm Legion or Nightmare Tides than the original content.

Seasonal Bits

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Tonight begins the next season for Diablo 3, and I have to admit much like season 7 this one completely snuck up on me.  Were it not for my friend Grace the beginning of the season would have passed me by completely.  For the last several of these we have done a Friday night vigil as we attempt to grind our way up to 70 on a brand new set of seasonal characters.  Once again I think I am going to go with a Demon Hunter, largely because they seemed super easy to push through the seasonal process and at least get high enough to collect the cosmetic goodies.  I am just not super into Diablo 3 right now, the evidence being that it just got removed from my side bar.  The challenge is that I can only have so many games that I actively care about at one time.  Right now I am spending the bulk of my time playing World of Warcraft, and attempting to steal as much time as humanly possible to feed my love of Destiny.  From there I am also juggling in some time for Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV…  while at the same time trying to keep a foot in Rift for when the expansion lands there.  This scattered approach at gaming has a lot to be desired at times, because it ends up leaving me feeling like no one game is getting the attention it deserves.  Diablo 3 fell off the radar once I managed to get last seasons cosmetic items, and I had not even realized the season had closed until Grace talked about merging in her seasonal inventory.  This in itself is one hell of a chore, but I find myself getting significantly more mercenary about this process as the seasons go along.  Pretty much any legendary that is not ancient quality or part of the actively equipped set of gear… gets sharded.

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The above screenshot is just because I wound up setting up a new outfit in Rift, and thought it was cool.  I’ve loved the whole shade touched effect since the very first world event, and this time around for their “fall” event they are offering a shade touched skull that I could add to my wardrobe collection.  I also picked up the scythe made of bone… because I kinda have a thing for scythes.  The other interesting thing that I learned this morning is that apparently FRAPs does not handle DSR well.  Dynamic Super Resolution is a thing that Nvidia cards can do, where they essentially run the game in 4k on a 1080p resolution.  That is an oversimplification of what it ACTUALLY does but we are just going to go for that simplistic definition for the time being.  I am going to need to go out hunting and see if I can find another all purpose screenshot program, because fraps apparently only takes a single 1080p panel of the larger image.  This wound up with some rather comedic screenshots while trying to capture something for this mornings post.  I finally wound up doing Alt+PrintScreen and pasting it into photoshop to get the results this morning…  which also caused the FRAPs framerate counter to come along with it.  DSR works great for a game like League of Legends or Diablo 3, but it does some weird stuff as a result.  I guess I need to do some experimenting with the nvidia screenshot tool that comes with the new version of “Experience” and see if it works well enough to kick fraps to the curb.  Thing is that is really all I use it for… dumping screenshots from every game into a single “gameshots” directory for me to sort through for the purpose of this here blog.  In any case… the plan is to hang out in Diablo 3 tonight and do another grind ritual with the start of this brand new season.  I always have a blast doing it, even when I am not exactly prepared for it.

Game Changer

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In Another Castle

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Last night was my raid night in Final Fantasy XIV, but before hand my key focus was trying to get my Mage to 100.  I am not exactly sure what has lit a fire under me, but I am on this mission to have at least one server full with level 100 characters.  As you can see in the above image, I am actually extremely close to getting there.  Now granted I have the OTHER side of my linked server to start working on…  but Belgaoh my Monk remains the only sub-100 character I have on Argent Dawn.  The only problem there is he is SIGNIFICANTLY behind the curve sitting at only level 53 right now.  I keep thinking that if I can get on at the right time, and have at least one easy to get to invasion event I will be able to push him through to 60 so that he can fly, which is going to be the key to getting more events on him.  As of yesterday I thought I was nearing the end of the gear grind and even created a spreadsheet as an attempt to track progress in outfitting my characters in level 700 gear.  The take away from that process seemed like I was going to spend the next several days working on my leather wearers to catch them up in progression.

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Then this happened.  I opened I believe 34 chests that I had gathered up on the mage in leveling from 90 to 100, and out of those chests seven different items came up as warforged.  Apparently yesterday during the day at some point they patched in the ability for chests to spawn warforged gear, meaning that all of those characters I thought I had finished with really have only scratched the surface.  I still think however my core mission is to get all of my characters outfitted in at least 700 gear, and if some of them get more trips to the candy shop in the hopes of finding warforged… then that is fine too.  Ultimately I realize that all of this gear is going to be replaced within the first few minutes of questing in the Broken Isles.  However for the time being I think this is probably a brilliant idea.  The longer they can keep players actively participating in this event the better, because for the time being it is an amazing source of leveling and gear for everyone involved.  I somehow doubt I will be able to get my monk all of the way to 100 in the short time available without focusing ENTIRELY on the monk, but I am definitely going to ride the elevator for as long as I can.

End of Expansion

One of the things I am realizing is that I apparently love the end of expansions.  Cataclysm was the expansion that broke me and my desire to be playing World of Warcraft, causing me to fade away and go play other games.  However I remember clearly that towards the end of the expansion I came back and really enjoyed myself.  There was so much to be doing, and everyone had a great casual attitude about it all.  For me personally I knew that nothing I was doing really mattered in the grand scheme of things, because as soon as Pandaria was released every last piece of gear I gathered would be replaced with greens.  So in this low pressure environment I allowed myself to piddle around without purpose and had a complete blast.  Similarly I remember coming back at the end of Pandaria and having the same fun experience, running around aimlessly on the timeless isle and doing all the little things that were fun but served no major purpose.  Here I find myself once again in a similar pattern with Draenor, and I feel completely in my zone.  The problem is that I wish I knew how to bottle this feeling and keep it alive during the rest of the expansion.

I am not sure how to take the joy that I feel at the end of an expansion when I am unfettered by expectations and pressures…. and keep that alive during the rest of the game.  There is a switch that flips in my brain when an expansion launches that says “okay Bel, you need to be useful… go grind your face off”.  I wish I knew how to turn that switch off completely because I think that is the thing that keeps getting in my way when it comes to enjoying an MMO for the long haul.  I essentially burn myself out, over and over… game after game… by focusing on some lofty goal that I cannot accomplish without significant help from others.  I end up ignoring the goals that are entirely up to me to complete, and those are probably the things that I technically enjoy more.  I have had a blast alting my way to 100 over the last few weeks and bringing my own personal army up to snuff.  As I look towards Legion, and Starfall Prophecy and whatever the Final Fantasy XIV expansion ends up being… I need to figure out how to keep this magic from the end of an expansion alive every single day I play the game.