Week in Gaming 1/17/2016

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weekingamingIt has been awhile since I have done one of these, and of the various failed columns that I have tried over the years…. I think this one is the best for me personally.  Sunday is a rough day in general, in part because I wake up and have to finish up AggroChat and get it out to the various locations.  As a result it helps to have a fairly formulaic option I can lean on when I am not feeling super inspired.  As a result I am leaning once again on the Week in Gaming series just to talk about a bunch of stuff I played this week.

Pax South Hype!

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I am starting to get super excited for Pax South.  Last year I had various companies ask me for a business card, and I was somewhat kicking myself for not having any.  I mean I guess part of me never really thought that having a business card for a blog and podcast was a good idea.  This year however I have gotten my ass in order and if everything works as intended the cards will arrive at the beginning of next week.  I only ordered 250 because I could not in any circumstance think of a reason why I would need that many.  The design was done by Rae and was originally intended to be our Pax Prime cards, but since we were denied media access to that convention they never actually got made.  I resurrected the idea because I thought it was pretty slick.  In the original design each of the hosts has their own color, and given that I love green I latched onto that one.  As far as a back design I went with something simple because I felt like it needed something on the back….  and in truth that is the crux of our thing…  daily posts, weekly cast.  If you are also going to be at Pax South let me know, I would love to meet up with everyone that I can while I am there.

Undertale

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I have some mixed feelings about Undertale so far.  On one level I really like the game and it feels like something that is going to be an interesting experience.  The negative is I absolutely HATE the combat system.  I hate mini-games, and while I was corrected last night on the podcast…. I am sorry but that isn’t a real combat system.  Part of me just wants to run away from every single fight so that I don’t have to do it.  I mean granted I was using arrow keys and maybe that makes it worse than it actually is, but I just hate the concept of breaking out of an otherwise fun old school RPG style game….  and having to deal with move the heart to avoid shit.  For now I have essentially abandoned the game, in the hopes that some distance will in fact make the heart grow fond.  Essentially I love everything else about the game… other than the combat system.  This might be one of those games that is more enjoyable to watch.

Victor Vran

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I’ve already talked about this game quite a bit throughout the week but I feel like it still deserves additional mention.  The only negative about this game is that I started playing it essentially the week before a bunch of other things that I wanted to play happened.  My hope is that once the recent infatuation with Warframe and Diablo 3 Season 5 have calmed down, I can return to this and play my way through the main story some more.  I really want to see what multiplayer feels like in the end game experience.  Playing it was fine for me… but essentially locked the other players that I was dragging along with me… out of some of the experience of interacting with the voice floating around in your head.  If you are not partaking of the Diablo 3 Season 5 madness…. and still want a ARPG fix… I highly suggest you check it out.

Warframe

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This game….  is so good and I am kinda kicking myself for never really giving it a proper attempt at playing.  I have downloaded this game numerous times in the past on the PC, PS3 and PS4 when I saw other folks in my various social media timelines talking about it… but never actually tried it.  I guess in my head I had this absolutely misrepresented as to what sort of game it was.  With a super generic name like Warframe… I kept getting it jumbled up with the other game Warface.  Warface being a super generic Call of Duty/Counterstrike style PVP shooter.  So in my head I equated Warframe to a PVP experience… not this deeply nuanced cooperative PVE experience.  There are so many aspects of this game that remind me of an MMO, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.  The game as a whole feels like this amalgam of Destiny, Phantasy Star Online and Tribes.  If that combination sounds like something you would be interesting, I highly suggest you check it out.  I think I was largely luckier than most in that one of the freebie mechs, the Excalibur is right down my alley.  I am slashing everything with my space ninja ways, and really enjoying myself.  For those curious, I have pretty much set down roots on the PC, and while I might give it a shot later on the PS4, I have no real intention of moving at the moment as the AggroChat crew seem to all be playing it.

Diablo 3

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The floodgates for Diablo 3 Season 5 opened on Friday at 7pm and from that point until 10:30 or so my time I was running around in a group leveling like mad.  At this point I have managed to get to 68, which puts me behind the curve of folks like Grace that are 70 with over 150 paragon levels.  That however is fine by me, because I am just happy I am almost to the cap with at least one character.  I am going to be interested in seeing what the various challenges are that unlock the various seasonal rewards.  What makes the season play so addictive to me is the fact that it mimics a MMO launch.  Everyone on your friends list for a period of time is playing Diablo 3 and excited about it, as though they were playing a brand new game.  So you have a few weeks of focused play, and then don’t feel guilty at all when you shift back to playing other games until the launch of the next season.  This focused excitement is really fun to experience, and this is technically my third season so far.  There is part of me that wishes I had gotten on board with the concept earlier.  My goal today is to finish up my Crusader and then probably focus on some more Warframe.  Hopefully all of you readers out there have had an equally fun week, and Pax South seriously could not get here soon enough.

Malfunctions and Malthael

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Technological Betrayal

Yesterday was a really strange day, for several reasons.  Firstly I opted to take the day off since the week as a whole had been one of the worst in a very long time.  The summary can be that the project from hell…  went to hell.  During the course of the last two years, it has been common place that the vendor has invented new requirements on a regular basis.  For example in a meeting on Wednesday they produced a network diagram of how the system should be designed…  that would have been nice to see roughly two years ago when the project started.  As a result it was once again up to us to save the day and try desperately to make things function.  Over the course of 45 minutes I threw up a brand new reverse proxy server and configured a dozen or so redirects to get things functional again.  It was all for naught however… because even with things configured their application was still failing to function at an acceptable level.  So as a result the big launch was scrapped and we are now trying to regroup and decide when exactly the vendor application is working well enough to try this again.  Essentially I know exactly how the Healthcare.gov team felt when vendors failed to provide a fully functional product.

Yesterday was supposed to be a chill day that I stayed at home, worked a little bit… and overall relaxed but that was not apparently in the cards.  I woke up to find my cellphone locked beyond reason.  I pulled the battery and it began a pattern of locking up after 10-15 minutes of usage.  I tried uninstalling everything that was not critical, but the error message I kept getting was that TouchWiz was failing, that being the default shell of Samsung phones.  I tried booting into recovery mode and clearing the application cache, and eventually I was left with only the thermonuclear option of resetting to factory settings.  So I hurriedly started shifting all of my authenticators to running off of another device, and in several spurts of pulling the battery to reset the device I managed to use it long enough to do that.  I held my breath, and hit the button resetting the device….  which actually took far less time than I would have thought.  The thing is… all of the important stuff on the device other than the applications gets backed up to google drive, and all of my pictures to the google photos site.  In theory I didn’t lose anything, and the moment I logged into my google account it started downloading everything that I had on my device before and restoring the application states.  In any case… resetting a phone is not something I would want to do often because it caused more anxiety than just about anything I have done period.  There are basically three devices that need to function for me to be happy…  my phone, my laptop, and my gaming machine.

More Adulting

The other major problem of the day was our primary cable box.  We have the in home networking thing where all of the cable boxes are supposed to talk to each other, allowing us to record programs and watch content from the DVR from any room with a box.  This has not always worked as intended, but lately it just hasn’t worked at all.  The first symptoms were that we could no longer access the DVR remotely, then could no longer schedule something to record.  There have been a few situations where the box itself did not come up cleanly after a power spike… and I had to hard reboot it a few times.  Yesterday I attempted another one of these reboots hoping to clear up the problems, and what I got instead was a dead box.  I am extremely lucky in that I have a friend that I have known for years, that is a developer for the cable company.  So with his help we tried a bunch of different things to troubleshoot the problem.  The behavior that was happening is that after a hard boot it would throw two error codes Er:54 and Er:55 then start counting from H0:01 to H8:00 ish, and repeat that over and over forever.  This happened once before and I let it sit like this for an entire day and it never recovered on its own.

Essentially what this is a sign of if you ever see this on your own cable box is that apparently it is trying desperately to dial back home.  The H001-H800 is it cycling through frequencies from 1 mhz to 800 mhz trying to find a channel to communicate on.  It has to dial home for it to be able to do a health check and make sure that the software is up to date.  So until it finds a signal it won’t actually boot into the cable box software.  Now on the cable side my box was showing as being a “non-responder” so for whatever reason, the communication framework inside the box was unable to talk… and essentially the box itself was dead.  I unhooked the box and brought it to the local office, roughly a mile from the house and I have to say I am super impressed.  They scanned the barcode on the back of the unit and walked into the back and handed me a new one with really no questions asked.  Took it home, hooked it up… and at first I was only seeing the standard definition channels.  I had to call into the main office and they sent some signal to my box that caused a reboot and after that everything was back to normal.  I guess the box had been dying for awhile, because everything is much more responsive on this one with relatively no menu lag.  I seriously think I am one of the few people in the country who actually loves my cable company, because I have had almost nothing but good experiences with them.  At the very least I have had nothing like the horror stories I have heard about Charter, Comcast or Time Warner.

Diablo Day

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The focus of yesterday however was that Diablo 3 Season 5 started at 5pm pst, and that was pretty much the only thing on my mind all day long.  I am not sure what it is about Diablo season play, but it makes the entire experience more enjoyable for me.  It gives us all a reason to start from scratch and re-experience all of the aspects of gearing up and learning everything all over again.  There were a few hiccups at the beginning of the evening, right around the official launch time… but I assume those were all related to server load.  I was able to use the new Rebirth function on my Crusader, but I had to log out and back in for it to take.  Once we all managed to get in game four of us started a group and spend the majority of the evening rolling around together in a glorious murderball.  At some point Ashgar dropped out and a little bit later Mor did was well, which ended up changing the group comp to include Carthuun and Grace’s “Precious”…  otherwise known as the Kraken by the AggroChat folks.  It was awesome to get to meet him and have him on voice with us.

We spent the majority of the night doing bounties and quite honestly that feels like the fastest way to level.  We started playing at 7 pm my time… and I finally tagged out of the group around 10:30 and in that amount of time minus a few breaks I pushed from level 1 to 55ish.  Today once I wrap this blog post up I will be back to working on my Crusader, and trying to decide what abilities I actually want to use.  The problem with running around with three Wizards is that I always feel like I am way too slow to keep up.  As a result I had to generally focus on movement abilities to try and keep ahead of them.  Towards the end of our play session I started focusing on the few ranged abilities that the Crusader has, but regardless of what I do there will be no way I can really compete with the sort of damage that disintegrate throws out.  The other side effect of my build is that I am focusing on some of the crowd control effects that I have like the flail whip that stuns, and judgement that is a big targeted AOE stun effect.  The idea is that I am trying desperately to “tank” the stuff while the wizards burn it to death.  I think the thing I like the most about Diablo seasons is that we hit it hard and heavy for a few weeks, and feel like we accomplished something…  only to move on to other things until the next season comes along.  It gives me the feeling of a new MMO launch, over and over… which for me really is the best part of an new MMO.  That moment when all of your friends are super focused on the exact same thing for a period of time.