Regularly Playing

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Yesterday I decided to start “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” section of my hot bar.  This area has been through many changes throughout the years and the whole idea was just to let readers know what I am actually playing right now.  It originally started as me simply i-framing in the information from Raptr… but since I don’t actually use that server or any other equivalent games tracker that isn’t going to work.  I shift games quite often, and I wanted a way to indicate what games are currently “on tap”.  So this shifted from “Now Playing” to “Frequently Playing” and eventually wound up with the verbiage of “Regularly Playing”.  The goal now is to evaluate the list once a month and make adjustments to keep it “mostly true”.  I realize I am finger quoting a lot of shit in this post, but the truth is I come home and log into whatever seems enjoyable unless I have a specific activity planned that night.  Over time some stuff fades away and other games get added, so I thought as part of this process I would talk a bit about where I am currently in each game on the list, as well as a bit about any that I might have removed or didn’t quite make the cut.

Destiny: The Taken King

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I am still just irrationally enthralled by this game, though over the last week I have not played quite so much because I am starting to get back into MMOs once more.  This week has been all about Iron Banner, because I am trying my best to get my Hunter to Rank 5…  in spite of not being here for the weekend due to travel plans.  The major goal of the month was to hit 335 light and I have managed to do just that on the Titan, however I am still lagging on the Warlock and Hunter with the primary slot that they need the worst being literally any legendary quality artifact.  I need to sort out what I can do to get one of those because I have plenty of infusion fodder to feed into an artifact… they just have 320 blues currently equipped.  The only real frustration that I have with Destiny right now is that Bungie is apparently shit at math.  We were told that several activities would drop an item equal to your current light level of better.  However now sitting at 335, there are still a truly silly number of activities that drop 334 items.  From Challenge of Elders turn-ins last night I got both a 334 weapon and 334 arms, and from an exotic engram I got a 334 secondary…  all while showing up in game as 335 light.  This is pretty maddening since 334 is useful for infusion if you are desperate but what you want to see is 335s so you can bring up ALL of your gear to that light level.  Regardless I am still loving the game and I am hoping that the next big patch will address this problem.  Also hoping that when I get back from my trip I can finish the push to Rank 5 because I am roughly halfway to Rank 4 at the moment.

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

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This marks the second week of me being “back” at least as far as doing the Tuesday night raid content is involved.  I am still very much in “catch up” mode, but I am enjoying myself.  As far as downtime activities I have started the grind to get elemental crystals for the first Anima weapon, aka the Relic 2.0 or 3.0 depending upon how you are counting.  I am loving being Lala-Bel once more and I guess whatever funk I was going through that was keeping me from playing MMOs has passed because I am enjoying myself again.  I very much need to be doing a nightly Expert but that has yet to happen quite yet.  After yesterdays post however I found a whole slew of people willing to be tagged and pulled in for expert running.  Now I just need to get back from this weekend and get started on this proper.  Also apologies ahead of time for the nightmares that will be induced by the creepy-assed Calcabrina dolls.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

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Season Six is very much winding down to a close, and I have managed to accomplish pretty much everything that I could have hoped for… at the very least I got my additional stash tab.  I have friends who still have things to knock out to get theirs so I am very much in a help as needed mode.  That said I am still poking my head into the game on a regular basis to farm for Menagerist Goblins…. something I have yet to actually see.  The highlight of the season was something that I did not even realize was a thing until it dropped.  I guess the cosmic wings are among the rarest item this time around.. because it is RNG on top of RNG on top of RNG.  You have to get one of the rainbow goblins to show up… and then have to get it to drop the Whimsydale portal… and then have to get a specific mob to show up in there to get them.  In any case pretty much any time I get a Whimsydale portal I holler at anyone who happens to be on to come along with me now just in case they drop again.  I’ve made it way further this season than at any other time… the only thing I am not looking forward to is trying to merge my current seasonal bank into my non-seasonal bank once more.

Overwatch

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This is the newest addition to the list and also the one I have spent the least time playing.  This week was the official launch of Overwatch, and my friends list has been completely on fire about this game.  I played it enough in beta to know that I liked it, and then ceased to play it any further waiting for launch.  Now that launch is here however… I have all of these competing priorities.  The game is really good and so far I have yet to find a champion that I don’t like… pending I give them a serious chance.  I was largely diametrically opposed to D.Va largely because the mech looked like a killer whale mixed with a guardian mode veritech.  However after getting the carbon fiber skin from a loot box… and giving her a proper try I found out that I really enjoyed it.  The game is probably the best designed shooter I have played in a very long time.  The thing that is going to keep me from really sinking my teeth in however… is it has no PVE/Exploration gameplay like Destiny.  If I could have Destiny set in this universe with character progression and collecting awesome weapons…  I would be completely hooked.  This will likely always be a game relegated to the “once or twice a week” column for me largely because I am just not that competitive.  Earning loot boxes is a cool reason to keep playing, but eventually there will come a point where I run out of things I care about that came come from lootboxes.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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This is the backburneryist of backburner games for me right now.  I’ve gotten in the habit of logging in daily and collecting my free money from the garrison… especially now that I put a massive dent in my finances and bought the Grand Expedition Yak.  That said every now and then I do play one of the characters that I am still in the process of leveling.  I have this grand idea that it would be fun to roll into Legion with a full list of level 100 characters, however I somehow doubt that is going to happen… much the way as it has never actually happened during any of the other expansions.  However that said the alt of choice right now is my druid that I am slowly pushing up.  In truth I am in a holding pattern until Legion and largely not paying a ton of attention to the game in the meantime.

Things Removed From List

Elder Scrolls Online

The truth is the MMO Funk hit and I never really returned to playing this regularly.  I still very much want to, but it is going to need another lag in some other game for me to really sink my teeth into it.  The game that exists today is amazing and they have done a really good job of keeping the content fresh.  The biggest problem is I really don’t have anyone to play with over there on the North American server cluster.  Now if I were playing on the EU side… I know lots of active and happy guilds.  I would absolutely play with the Whitestar folks were that really a viable option.

Warframe

While initially interesting to me, this game just did not sink its teeth into me the way it did the rest of the AggroChat crew.  There is just something that I don’t like about it… and I have tried to reason out what exactly it was.  I still have an account and still have some cool stuff on it, so I might at a future date return to it, but it never really replaced my love for Destiny.

The Division

While technically it was never actually on the sidebar… it probably should have been.  I was all about The Division at launch and that excitement did not even manage to carry me through to the level cap.  I am sitting around level 26 and I am just not sure what is holding me back.  Largely the content at that level doesn’t feel nearly as interesting or rewarding as it did at lower levels.  The packs of mobs out in the world seem to be scaled for group play, and when you down folks… they don’t seem to be dropping anything interesting.  In theory I could hold my nose and grind through it… but what would  I be grinding for?  I am so far behind the curve in gear and it doesn’t feel like the game really gives you a lot of great options to catch up.  There has been a sequence of changes that I really didn’t feel like had me in mind.  At first I liked that it felt like you could progress through the game on many different vectors and end up at the same loot goal.  However the crafting material nerf really hurt that feel for me.  This is something I might return to later, once they offer some Destiny like catch up mechanisms to give players a hand up.

Chasing Unicorns

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Random Number Generators

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For a bit now I have been trying to sort out why Destiny as a game is so damned appealing to me, and more so why it isn’t appealing to a lot of the AggroChat folks.  While I am still very much enthralled by the game, the rest of the crew seems to be having that same experience with Warframe.  While there are absolutely aspects of that game that I enjoy, as a whole I just find the experience less interesting.  So while trying to reason out one day what the difference was… other than he design aspect and third person view.  Then it finally hit me… that I really find the whole modding system in that game far less interesting than the random item rolls in Destiny.  In theory Warframe is predictable and you can build each weapon to function exactly like you want it to, through the application of very specific mods.  Once you have those mods and have leveled them you can then apply them to any weapon you can equip, allowing you to have a very predictable experience.  The problem is I think it is that predictability that I find boring.

I’ve come to realize that I really do love chasing unicorns.  What I mean by that is that for as long as I have played MMOs I have been enthralled by the random number generator aspect of loot.  From the early days of Everquest, to Dark Age of Camelot and their completely random drops that came with Shrouded Isles…  to even modern World of Warcraft with its chance of dropping Warforged items… I love the possibility of getting something truly amazing to drop for me.  I think in many ways this is why I am so susceptible to grinding, because I know every single thing that I kill has an admittedly slim chance of dropping something truly magical like a BOE world epic.  So when I play a game like Destiny I love knowing that the weapon I just got to drop for me, is a fairly unique package of stats…  with randomized perks.  I also love knowing that somewhere out there is a “God Roll” just perfect for my playstyle.

Imperfect Items

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However the thing I appreciate the most is how I honestly enjoy using “imperfect” drops.  Because while they may not work exactly the way I want them to work, there is always a way to make them function, and in doing so they give me a window into different play styles.  Like I love the Rodeo perk on almost anything, but there are lots of weapons that I use without it and in each of them it has just made that gun feel more unique in the way it handles and the ways I can use it.  So I love seeing what some might call a bad roll, and then trying to make it work for me.  This keeps the game fresh and keeps me constantly falling in love with new weapons until I find something else that catches my attention.  Through the course of playing Destiny I have played with so many different guns, and each of them had their own unique style and feel… and often times I get nostalgic when I dust them off in the bank and take them out to do bounties again.  The Zarinaea-D for example I have used so many times, and each time I pick it up I get warm fuzzies over the way it handles and the way the gun sounds and looks.

The problem is I just don’t feel that in Warframe.  Weapons have stats and then those stats are augmented by mods…  that themselves are always going to be the same as they level up.  Tam and I talked about this at length one day, and for him that is the perfect scenario… because it makes him feel like he is never using something inferior.  For me however I actually kinda like knowing that there is always a slightly better version out there somewhere.  I am admittedly focused on loot when I play any game, and when I reach a point of having the “best in slot” I get bored and the game starts to stagnate for me.  I like situations where there are lots of “potentially right” answers to a problem, and that I can choose whichever option feels the best.  Right now this is one of the problems I am having with The Division is that while I enjoy the game… the loot feels realy boring, or at least it doesn’t seem to be doing anything interesting to my game play.   I’ve not picked up a weapon that completely changed how I approach combat, and that forces me to focus on this aspect or that rather than continuing to do the same thing I always seem to be doing.  In the meantime however I will keep chasing those unicorns and looking for that really awesome item to drop just around the corner.

Kitten Assist

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Helping Hand

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This is becoming a pretty regular occurrence in my office, where Kenzie decides to “lay” behind one of my two monitors and then spend time poking her head out under the bottom and bopping things with her paw.  This morning she has been desperately trying to drag my phone that is attached to a usb cable towards her…  which is making me rethink the placement of that charger cable.  For the most part this weekend we hibernated to avoid the cold, and while we had nothing to deal with like the blizzard folks on the east coast…  I am not equipped to handle 20* temperatures that well.  The biggest news of the weekend is that we got our new dishwasher set up on Saturday.  Its stupid but right now it feels like we are purposefully dirtying dishes just so we can “play with it”.  I know it sounds like we truly are deprived of fun when you put it into those terms.  The truth is… we’ve gone without a dishwasher for a very long time.  The order of business was to rinse things out, and set them in the sink… until we had enough there to warrant washing dishes.  Now we simply dump the dirties in the dishwasher as we dirty them….  which is making me have to rewire a bunch of my internal processes.

We also used this as an excuse to buy new silverware… and by silverware I really mean stainless-steel-ware because it is not like we are the “good silver” type.  I am getting used to not eating on a mishmash of seven different patterns that we have had since college, but it is taking some doing.  A few years back we standardized on one set of dishes and gave away the equally mishmash set of plates and cups and bowls that we got in college, and I guess it was time for us to do the same with utensils.  So we are now eating with the best forks target can buy!  Well not exactly… there were apparently ritzier sets available.  The whole experience is just strange… its like I have to reroute how I exist in the kitchen now and it is taking some getting used to.  One of the themes that you can catch running through the blog is that “bel doesn’t handle change well” so… it will take a few weeks before I really can tell you if I like it or not.

Crusader Weekend

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I spoke a little bit about this one but on Friday night I got carried hard in Diablo III.  On the night season 5 opened, several of us ran around together as a group… but one of that group has eclipsed the rest of us by a huge margin.  On Friday night my friend Carth was nearing 500 paragon levels, and I am almost certain that by the time I am writing this today he is probably around 600 given his meteoric rise.  Me however… I was sitting at only around 10 paragon when I joined the madness that was our leveling binge.  Over the course of roughly three hours I got drug up in level to a point where I was actually somewhat functional.  During that time I pieced together what was a pretty damned good set of gear, and Saturday morning I managed to wrap up the last few requirements for the season 5 chapter 4 rewards.  At this point you can check out the particulars on my Diablo 3 profile, but there are still a handful of things that I am working on upgrading.  Damai linked me this build and I am following it to some extent, but there are some places where I plan on diverging… namely on the choice of weapons.

There is no world where I would ever use the pig sticker with its constant squealing.  The entire point of using it, is to have a fast attack speed… and technically my current sword already has a faster attack speed than the pig sticker.  Most of the weekend past Friday night was about me figuring out just what I could do on my own.  I can solo Torment VIII pretty easy, but it is slow enough going that for bounties I have decided to just stick to Torment VII as they go so much faster.  While recording the double AggroChat this weekend, I managed to do one full circuit of Torment VII bounties and while I added a few paragon levels I didn’t really get much loot to write home about.  At some point I plan on trying to solo more greater rifts to increase my blood shard count, but right now I have done through level 30 without much issue.  I really hate doing timed events… they just bring out all of the horrible anxieties in me, so in truth greaters are not exactly my favorite thing to do in the world.

Rhino Prime

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The other big happening of the weekend is the fact that I managed to finish up both my Rhino Prime and my ArchWing.  The only problem is that I have a silly amount of things that now need leveling.  I still have not capped the Lex sidearm, or my Drakgoon, Boltor, Latro…  or even my Dual Skana.  The frustrating thing about all of that is that I really don’t know how best to level them.  This is one of those games where I really like running around with other people and playing it…  but have not really enjoyed soloing much at all.  So whenever I had a “solo” moment this weekend, I fired up WoW and did Garrison stuff or popped into Diablo 3.  I need to sort out a solid and reliable way for leveling, and I thought just maybe it would have been a low level survival mission.  While I got lots of loot from it… I didn’t exactly get lots of levels and only managed to put four levels on the Rhino frame.

I am in this strange state of limbo where I think I might want to like Warframe more than I actually like it.  I absolutely enjoy playing with my friends, but unfortunately without also playing it solo… I am falling massively behind.  The friends who are really super serious about playing this game… are playing it all of the time as their primary game right now.  Which means I will always be behind in my ability to actually help them out in missions.  It gets frustrating sometimes when you realize you are being carried hard… and there isn’t much you can do about it.  I was slow abandoning the bow, and as a result I am struggling to play catch up with my other weapons.  The bow is this awesome solo weapon…. but pretty useless for group activity.  The problem there is that I feel like the non-bow weapons are less useful for soloing… so when I am stuck going through missions by myself to level them it feels like a sub optimal experience.  So as a result… I really didn’t play much warframe this weekend because I am still sorting out my feelings about the game.

Literal Pay to Win

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Actual Pay to Win

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One of the bogeymen of the MMO industry for years has been the concept of “Pay To Win” or the fear that those with the most money can end up with the best stuff.  The cycle of what makes an MMO has been right or wrong built on this illusion of a meritocracy.  The general idea being, that if you work hard and get really good… you can have the best items in the game for your efforts.  The problem with this is that it in itself has always been a lie.  Last night I spent several hours hanging out with friends playing Diablo 3, and during that time I simply was along for the ride… getting carried so unbelievably hard that during greater rifts I was gaining a paragon level damned near every-time my friend Carth killed something.  Nothing about this situation is me actually having any real merit, but instead was a situation of I knew someone who was willing to drag me along for fame and glory while at the same time increasing their own magic find chances.  The same has always been the case with raiding in general, that it is more about who you have an “in” with and that can get you into this or that raid… rather than pure skill.  However these games are built under the pretenses that these obstacles need to be there in order to maintain the social order, and keep the gamers from rioting.

In the past when there has been even an hint of “Pay To Win” there have been riots in the streets.  The problem being that, there are many games right now with ways to shortcut your way to victory.  Granted in many cases they don’t take you all the way there, and you still have to do a lot of things to truly catch up.  It has become perfectly acceptable for games like World of Warcraft or Everquest II to sell character boosts, that allow you to jump instantly to an end game equivalent level and be decked out in equivalent gear, saving you the time of actually leveling.  So the question is… why is this acceptable but it is not acceptable to sell armor and weapons?  I’ve been mulling over these questions while playing Warframe over the last few weeks.  The truth is… that game is absolutely a pay to win scenario.  If you were to spend multiple thousands of dollars on that game, you could in theory have the absolute best in slot gear for every single frame.  The funny thing is that while I know this is the case… it doesn’t actually hinder my enjoyment.  I don’t feel like I am somehow being robbed of my experience, but instead I know in the back of my head there is always an out… if I ever get down a path that ends up being too grindy.

Money for Time

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“Pay to Win” in the case of Warframe is a bit of a misnomer, because in the purest sense that would mean you are getting something with your money that no one else can get without stepping up to the plate and spending an equal amount.  There are lots of games with lootbox grab bags…. and these always seem super insidious to me…  I am looking at you Rift and your mounts.  Warframe however just feels honest about it.  You can farm a planetary boss over and over until you get all three parts of a Warframe to drop… and then purchase the equivalent blueprint off the market for in game credits, or you can just bypass the entire process and pay 200-400 platinum to have it in your grubby hands right then and there.  You are paying to speed up time…  because there is the act of actually grinding the components… and then gathering up the materials through running missions on planets.  Finally there is the actual time of crafting the thing.  Each of the three sub components take about 24 hours to craft, and then the final Warframe craft takes between 2 and 3 days depending on if it is a normal or a prime frame.  So if you absolutely have to have something right then and there…. you can pay a premium to get it delivered into your hands.

What I find more interesting though is just how thriving the secondary market is when it comes to purchasing items.  There are so many things that you can trade in this game, and for almost every single one of them there is a secondary market.  Players are limited to a specific number of trades per day, but you can often times find what you are looking for in the secondary market for prices cheaper than the official shop.  So while you can’t actually buy the Prime Rhino Warframe from the shop right now, you can find a player that has collected the four component pieces and essentially pay them platinum for the act of farming it for you.  So the cycle is interested, in that those who have the time to run missions over and over to farm up complete pattern sets….  can easily turn that time into money.  The folks who don’t have the time, but can afford to spend some money… can turn that money into the resources that help them play the game more efficiently.  It is far from a utopia, but it is nowhere near the apocalypse that most MMO players would predict.

Two Way Street

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I think the key to this feeling overall “fair” is the fact that it is absolutely a two way street.  There are lots of times in MMOs where the “house” steps in the middle and offers a not entirely fair deal to both sides of the equation.  For example in the case of the World of Warcraft token… it is not literally a case of one human selling a commodity to another human.  Instead there is an algorithm in the middle, that buys tokens from players for a floating amount of in game gold… and then sells that token back to players who want to use it in lieu of subscription time.  The problem is… this formula takes human nature out of the equation, the thing that makes the whole experience interesting.  In games like Rift and EQ2, that have direct exchange of subscription token to currency between two players….  the patient player can wait out the best possible deal.  There were many cases where I sat on a token for weeks until I found someone who absolutely had to have that token right then to continue their substitution, and wound up getting a premium for it.  Similarly I am sure there are players who took advantage of market surplus to stock up on tokens when they were cheap and ended up spending far less in game currency as a result.  The reason why that felt better, was that there were options… that you were not essentially dealing with a vending machine that took its on theoretical cut.

What I think I like the most about this situation in Warframe is that it feels like I have a lot of options.  I can go much more slowly and solo the planets trying to collect the items I need, or I can pester my friends to run it with me multiple times .  I could go to the aftermarket and hit the trade channel and look for the items I need to finish out a blueprint set.  Or if i am really desperate I can simply open my pocket book, but in all cases I have several different paths to the end goal, and as a result I don’t feel nearly as trapped as I often do in other games.  For example right now I would love to have a Moose in World of Warcraft, but the raid I have connections with… that can easily get me one… happens to run at the same time as we record AggroChat.  Do I want a moose because it is some status symbol, that somehow places me above other players?  God no… I just like collecting mounts, and I like the idea that it looks like a normal group mount but can also fly.  If I could plunk down money and pick that mount up on the store…  you can bet I would rather than trying to do the copious amount of social engineering it will actually take to get me that damned mount.  Warframe…. I can take either path.  I can work with friends towards a goal… or I can simply grease the wheels and get everything I feel like I want faster.  In truth…  I feel like we as players are far more scared of “Pay to Win” than is really warranted.

 

Squirrelghast

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Flak Cannon Time

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When it comes to playing Warframe I have quite literally spent almost 99% of my time playing the game…. in a full or partial group.  This greatly colors my feelings about the game, and in truth it has allowed me to play in a super inefficient manner.  Last night we had several group missions and then when Tam went to class and Ashgar went to bed…  it just kinda broke up and never reformed in spite of us having several people there.  Instead of grouping I opted to start working on some of the missions I had not actually unlocked, and I have to say…  I am pretty bad at this game.  At the very least my chosen play style is not exactly a solo friendly play style.  When I am playing my Excalibur with a Bow….  it works great, because I can sneak around and get a bunch of stealth kills.  However last night I was trying to level my Atlas with a Braton…  and the ability to stealth kill anything was non-existent.  In truth I feel like most of the problem is the fact that I have yet to really sort out how I want to mod anything.  At some point I need to spend an entire evening leveling mods, and deciding which ones work best with which weapons.

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On the positive side of things, I did manage to finish up all of the sub components of the Rhino Prime and now simply have to wait the 72 hours crafting time to get it.  I also managed to finish up the Drakgoon Flak Cannon last night, so I spent some time playing with that as well.  I keep calling it a Flak Cannon because it very much reminds me of the Flak Cannon from Quake 3.  At close range it can be fired like a shotgun, but if you charge up the attack it can be fired from a much longer range and still be effective.  I am digging it quite a bit… and managed to have quite a bit of good luck with it running some missions.  I still think that the Strun is probably a better choice for a charge in and sword damage playstyle like I tend to favor, which is something that Ashgar suggested.  For the time being I am having a blast with this weapon…. and yes that pun was intended.  The other thing I did last night was start building a Boltor rifle, to see if I like that as was suggested to me by Scarybooster.  I mean in theory I could have gone shopping for a Boltor prime, but I happened to have all of the crafting mats available to make one without really dipping low in anything.  I guess tonight I will give it a shot and see what I think about it.

Blade and Soul

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Right now the new hotness at least among the blogosphere seems to be Blade and Soul, which just launched this week.  In fact at this moment it seems like unless you are paying for the game, it is highly unlikely that you are going to actually get to play it.  My twitter timeline has been full of folks posting pictures of the insane queue times just trying to log in.  The other big problem that I have seen is that it seems like no one is actually playing on the same server.  I did a few quick queries and it seemed like everyone I know is playing on completely different servers.  I had no real interest in this game prior to launch, and honestly….  there isn’t much about it after launch that interests me.  That said…. since it is a freemium game I have this overwhelming desire to at least give it a shot.  I have to admit I have some pretty severe biases against Korean MMO art styles.  There is just something about the art aesthetic that annoys me…  the cloyingly pretty men, and the insane “Jessica Rabbit” style women…  its just not my thing.

The positive is that there is a Lalafell like race in Blade and Soul so I decided to try and focus instead on the maximum cuteness potential of that.  The problem there is…  it just isn’t as good as a Lalafell.  I created what I am dubbing Squirrelghast on the Old Man Cho server…. simply because I liked the name.  At some point if I end up liking the game I will try and sort out another server to roll on that actually has people I know.  The only negative is that I have yet to get any further than character creation because I end up getting dumped into a massive queue… and decided that I would simply rather play Warframe or Diablo 3.  It is my hope that over the weekend I will be able to get in and give the game a proper try.  The only thing I really know about it from clips is that it seems to be an MMO about the whole flying wire “crouching tiger hidden dragon” style of combat.  These movies never really appealed to me either, because they just felt so over the top silly to see someone calmly flying across the screen.  I’ve heard however that the localization job that Carbine did on this title was really damned good, and much like Final Fantasy XIV they slipped in a ton of cultural references.  If for no reason other than that… I kinda want to play it.  I really love the folks at Carbine and they seem to do a great job with the games under their care, so it is my hope that I will be charmed enough by the localization effort to overlook all the things I don’t care for.

 

Rhino Prime Incoming

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Secondary Market

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Once again last night I spent most of it running around with friends in Warframe.  At the moment this seems to be the new hotness among the AggroChat podcast crew, and I guess in part I am going to ride the bubble as long as it lasts.  I know like many games this one is likely to burst at some point, when either we enter the endgame grind….  or one of us tries to do something that the game doesn’t really allow for.  However in the meantime I am enjoying my space ninja action, and spent most of last night leveling “stuff”.  Another really important thing that I discovered yesterday was the trade market.  Now Tam and Ashgar had both been talking about the deals that they had been getting in trades with players, and I never really spent much time thinking about it…  that is until I realized that I was quickly becoming the only player without a prime frame.  In many ways the prime frames are just flat out better than a normal frame, and since I had already been laboring towards trying to get a Rhino, I thought maybe I would check out the potential of just bumping that up to prime.

Within a few minutes I was able to find a Prime frame for considerably cheaper than the price of the base Rhino frame on the game store.  So I guess in truth if you are willing to spend ANY money on the game at all…  you can pick up some bargains.  I know some of our crew have picked up really nice weapons…  and managed to get some freebie mods thrown in to fill out the rest of the trade window.  So for me in particular… last night was all about farming up the rest of the components I needed to craft my Rhino Prime over night.  Unfortunately when I checked in this morning I still have a few hours left to go on the build, and then 72 hours after that before I actually get to drive my frame around.  In the meantime however… I need to sort out exactly what I want to use for weapons on my stompy mech.  I love my excalibur, but there are just times where it does not seem well suited for some activities.  Mostly I feel like I need to have a solid backup for when running around like mad and slashing things with a sword is not necessarily the best idea.

Atlas Rising

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The other big activity of the night was to begin work on my Atlas frame, that I had picked up some time ago… but never spent much time working on.  For the time being I have it decked out in a Braton, those starter fist weapons, and a Lex pistol…. all pretty much for the purpose of leveling them since we were running low level content.  Early in the evening we were trying to make it through Phobos, and we ended up struggling quite a bit… so it forced us all to switch back to our “main” frames for the purpose of finishing up that planet.  However after that we shifted to doing low level defense runs which are pretty amazing for leveling stuff.  By the end of the evening Altas was hovering around 14 with the weapons I think in the 16-18 range.  The big draw right now of Atlas is the rock shield ability that I can also push forward as a ball of stone to bowl over enemies.  This was absolutely amazing for “wave clear” when the Grineer were stacked up in neat little columns.  Nothing yet has beaten the pure joy of hitting the giant “Nope!” button that is Excalibur’s Radial Blind, but this comes close.

I absolutely feel like an earthbender though, and there are several of the abilities I have yet to even play with… like the ability to summon rock golems to fight by my side.  The other takeaway of the night is just how damned awesome the Braton is.  I was looking for a good light machine gun, to give me that almost destiny  like feel… and that really does it.  I also plan on building a Latron soon, because several other members of my team have had good luck with that.  From the sounds of it… the Braton is more of an Auto Rifle in Destiny terms, and the Latron would be something more like the Scout Rifle.  Both are weapons that I really enjoy, but for vastly different purposes.  The only thing I wish this game supported was the changing of loadouts while in a mission.  Because sometimes you hit situations where your weapons are just ineffective and it would greatly improve the experience to be able to swap things up planet side.  Maybe there is a way and I just have not found it, but in any case…  because I don’t think I can do it… it makes me pick more generalized builds so that if my primary is ineffective, then my secondary will work as a backup.  Regardless… I am still very much enjoying myself and looking forward to getting to play with a Prime frame.

 

Banking and Bosses

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Busy Morning

Trying to knock out a really quick blog post, because if I don’t right now I am not entirely certain when I will get the chance.  Both my wife and I are off today for the holiday, and as a result we have tried to schedule as much as humanly possible to do today.  Largely this means finally getting in to talk to the bank about refinancing our loan.  Adulting is frustrating and horrible… and hopefully it will go smoother than I have made it out to be in my head.  In a perfect scenario we will be able to do this without much hassle.  In theory it should only really be a case of someone from the bank coming to look over the house and appraise it, and after the recent renovations that should go a hell of a lot more smoothly.  I mean we have a relatively new roof and very new siding, so the house has looked better than it has in years.  All of that said… there is still so much anxiety for me anytime you are dealing with finances and banks and such.

After that I have this feeling that we are going to run around looking at dish washers.  For whatever reason… it is suddenly a big deal to my wife that we have a non-functional dish washer.  Don’t get me wrong I understand, I hate washing the dishes but for reasons entirely different from probably hers.  When you are 6’4″ they simply do not make a sink that is comfortable to stand at, and by the time I finish washing dishes my back is killing me from stooping over the sink.  Why it is suddenly a crisis is the part that I am not quite understanding, because the thing has been dead for several years now.  All of that said…  if she wants a new dishwasher we are getting a new dishwasher.  I know she has looked at a couple of them, and I know she wants my input…  but basically whatever one she wants I am completely happy with.  I just hope this one I can actually figure out how to use…. because the last one…  every time I seemed to run a load of dishes something horrible went wrong.

Boss Farming

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It was fairly late by the time I finally filtered downstairs and got set down, and by then a bunch of my friends were in Warframe so I decided to join them.  We spent the next hour and some change farming a boss mission trying to get myself and Thalen the last pieces of the Mag Warframe that we needed.  Unfortunately…  we didn’t have much luck.  It seems that through killing planetary bosses you have a chance of getting parts to drop to a specific type of warframe.  The boss in question was at the end of Mars, and drops all three parts of the Mag frame.  I am not really sure why we cared so much about it, other than the fact that we both had all but one part… and it was the same part we were missing.  I am in that same position with Rhino, and that is a mech I am far more likely to use.  But whatever the case we were wrapped up in the moment of killing stuff for loot, and I have to say… we walked away with a bunch of awesome stuff.

If nothing else… it was a great source of the various crafting materials needed to create mechs.  There is a single piece that I am missing for a couple of helmets that I will need to track down at some point.  I also had plenty of materials to craft a bunch of weapons, including two new swords, a new bow, and a set of fists for me to use on my Rhino frame.  Right now I am really liking the moment to moment feel of this game, and it seems to be the ideal drop in and hang out type co-operative experience.  The question will be how long it takes for one of us to get super serious about the game, because this feels like the sort of game that is fun to play casually… but deeply frustrating to play seriously.  There is one mission type that I absolutely hate, and that is the sneak up and capture the target type mission.  I never can seem to get in close enough to them to keep from triggering them to make a run for the escape vessel.  Then when they start running… I am simply not fast enough to take them down before they get away.  There is one mission that I tried four or five times yesterday and never seemed to be able to finish successfully.  Other than that mild frustration… I am enjoying pretty much every other mission type I have done.

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.

Pumpkin King

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The Hammer

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All day long yesterday I had been craving some more Victor Vran, so when I got home last night… I fed the animals… fed myself… and plunked down on the couch to play some more.  Firstly I have to say how nice it runs on my aging gaming laptop.  For many games that I would want to play downstairs… like Dragon Age: Inquisition or Fallout 4… they simply do not run well on the dual 650 video cards that the laptop has in it.  This game however looks gorgeous and runs at a solid 60 fps, which makes me happy.  Granted graphically it is a much more simple game than the ones I rattled off, but nonetheless it makes me happy.  While roaming around last night I found this crazy boss fight, that spawned after taking down several other bosses in an area.  Upon defeating the specter it announced that if I would only spare him…  I could have access to his truly rare wares.  When I opened up the vendor window I saw my very first purple weapon…. the Pumpkin Hammer.  So I proceeded to liquidate everything in my inventory except my handful of favorite weapons… and was barely able to afford it.

It is every bit as cool as you might imagine.  Firstly you are running around with a giant jack-o-lantern on a stick which in itself has a cool factor.  To add to the effect however, when you hit anything…  it spawns a pumpkin bomb on the ground… which moments later then explodes taking out more stuff.  The only negative here is it actually cost me an objective last night.  The objective was to take out a handful of monsters with the hammer… problem being that in one case at least the pumpkin bomb went off and finished off the monster and as a result it did not count.  So that is something to watch, but what I like about it is the fact that the attack animation seems much faster than the standard hammer.  It hits for slightly less than my previous hammer, but since I am able to hit more often it balances out in the end.  Other than the hammer the ghost sold a few spells, that also looked pretty great…  but after bankrupting myself I could not afford anything else.  From the sound of the message it seems like the creature appears at random in various levels, so hopefully I can build back up my gold reserves by the time I see him again.

Guyver Time

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Warframe and I have this strange relationship… where I have downloaded it for PC, PS3 and PS4…  but never actually played it.  I’ve seen friends on my various social media timelines playing it for ages, and been intrigued.  The problem being that I apparently had the wrong impression of what sort of game it actually was.  In my head I had this filed away as some sort of PVP experience, when in truth it is largely a PVE team based experience.  Over the weekend Ashgar and Tamrielo discovered the game, and Monday night I was going to join them.  Unfortunately there were some complications…. namely that for whatever reason my ISP could not connect to Warframe.com or any of the game servers for a period of time.  As a result I instead spent the entire night playing Victor Vran and had a blast doing so.  Since I spent the evening on the sofa, it meant that I needed to download the client again, and about half way through the evening I switched games.

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So far I have to say I am pretty impressed.  I am only running the game at 720p because I didn’t want to have any possible frame rate issues on the laptop, however the game itself looks gorgeous.  In many way its missions remind me of the missions from Mass Effect 2 and 3.  The most fun I had was this mission we did as a group where we entered a ship, triggered an alarm and then tried to hold out as long as we could.  We managed to make it up until the point that the ship started spawning in waves of level 5 mobs…  at which point we retreated to the extraction zone and held that tunnel for as long as we could before making a break for it.  Towards the end these firebombing mobs started coming in and we damned near lost Ashgar.  I myself came precariously close to dying a few times, only to get revived in a similar fashion to how you can players in Destiny.  All in all it was a really good experience, and I think honestly the Excaliber warframe suits me pretty well.  I like the blade, and for my main weapon I ended up choosing a bow.  Later I spent a little money on the game and got some upgrades and now my secondary weapon is a heavy double firing pistol called the Kraken.  I also spent some time making the suit look more “me”.  Look forward to playing more over the coming weeks.