Bunny Samurai Returns

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Half Undressed

I am back on the wagon as far as cutting out caffeine during the evening.  During my post PAX illness without really intending to, I quit drinking pop.  Any time I attempted to it hurt my already ungodly sore throat so I switched to mostly drinking water, juice or fake koolaid.  As a result my intake of Caffeine seriously plummeted, causing a few side effects.  Firstly my operating range… was greatly stunted, and by that I mean that I am able to stay awake until 10 pm max instead of my normal Midnight to 1 am sleep times.  Additionally I noticed that I actually slept better and fell asleep easier…  so after all of these years of thinking caffeine had little to no effect on me…  I am guessing I was completely wrong.  Monday night I was being lazy and ended up drinking Mountain Dew, instead of making something else to drink and when I finally tried to go to bed around 11 pm I found it significantly harder to actually get to sleep.  As a result last night I opted to drink mostly water, and once again returned to being able to fall asleep easily.  This however has some strange side effects…  like my body is still used to getting 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night, and for some reason when I go to bed at 9 pm I end up waking up again sometime around midnight.

So last night I ended up waking up around 11:30 pm and my body apparently thought I had slept a full night.  The television was blaring because it seems that I crashed hard and forgot to turn it off.  In my brain I am guessing that I equated the television to the alarm clock, and I started going through the routine of grabbing underwear and taking off my night clothes and heading for the bathroom to take a shower…. only to realize that it was not in fact 5:30 am part of the way through that process.  It is one of those moments when I was glad my wife was still completely conked out… because I am sure I looked like an idiot… half undressed, holding my underwear stumbling for the door.  The point at which I realized was when I went to turn off the alarm clock only for it to finally dawn on me that it was the television.  Now I am not saying I am giving up caffeine completely… because I just finished a tasty cup of coffee.  I am however trying really hard to not drink anything with caffeine once I get home from work, and I have absolutely cut energy drinks out of my life completely.  I am still very much going through  the phase where every time I pass a cooler in a store that is loaded with them…  I get that desire to purchase one.  The positive however is that for the most part I don’t “need” one, and other than yesterday after not sleeping terribly well the night before… I haven’t had any real moments during the day where I was fighting drowsiness.

New Machine Thing

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For the next few days I will likely be installing games on the new laptop, playing them once or twice and then moving on to installing another game.  This seems to be my tradition when it comes to getting a new machine, because ultimately I am wanting to see how much better everything seems to perform.  Last night the first game on the menu was Dragon Age Inquistion, which I finished installing Monday night.  It ran beautifully and using the Geforce Experience settings it picked reasonably high settings, or at least high enough to NOT have playdough hair.   After that I played some Fallout 4 and once again… it ran beautifully on reasonably high settings.  The thing I am noticing is that there seems not to be nearly the gap in performance between the gtx 960m and the gtx 960 as there has been in previous generations.  For the most part I am able to run things in the same sort of fashion I have come to expect on my desktop machine upstairs…  which honestly makes me even happier.  I was fully expecting the 960m to perform something akin to the 760/860 which had always been the case before… where a mobile card was roughly a full generation behind the desktop equivalent.  Maybe Nvidia realized that this felt shitty and was also deeply confusing to the customers?  The next game on tap will be to install the Witcher 3, which was another in the long list of games that my laptop simply would not play.  At some point I will settle down and actually begin to play some of these games… rather than just launch them to see how pretty they look.

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Towards the end of the night however I did manage to settle into a single game… that is at least until sleep claimed me.  Yesterday was the release of the 3.2 patch in Final Fantasy XIV and I have honestly been fairly scarce in the game since well before the launch of 3.1.  I always said at some point I would get drawn back in, and I guess last night in installing the client that started to happen.  I am not sure yet if I will stick around for a long period of time… or if this will simply be another one of my “content locust” passes where I gobble up all of the new stuff and move on to something else.  I do however want to see the new story content in 3.2 before someone online spoils any of the key plot points, which considering that is already happening to folks…  I need to move fast.  Last night I didn’t get much more accomplished than the first few steps of the continuation of the main story quest.  I did however see several other quests that I am guessing are the new Hildebrand and new dungeon starter, that I will at some point have to pick up.  The thing is… there hasn’t been a moment where I didn’t care about this game…  I just wanted to play other things instead.  I have a feeling that it will be up to the MSQ to determine if I really want to stick around after finishing the content.  It seems like they also made some significant changes to the game, that I will have to sort through and determine how they effect me.  One of my guildies last night told me to respec out of Strength because apparently Vitality is now literally the only stat that applies for tanking, so thankfully I had enough company marks to do that.  This makes me wonder just how deep the rabbit hole of changes actually goes.

Witcher 3 Impressions

Losing Time

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-43-32-94 Last night I had these plans of coming home, and hopping into Final Fantasy XIV and working on crafting once again while chatting away with my Free Company folk.  However when I got home absolutely none of that actually happened.  I had left the GOG Galaxy client up on my screen during the day, and when I sat down at my machine it was the first thing I saw.  I had fixed myself a sandwich and chips and I thought to myself…  I will just play Witcher for a bit while I eat dinner, and before my wife gets home.  It seems like moments later she had gotten home and was hollering up at me.  When I say it seems like moments, it quite literally feels like I had just sat down at the screen.  In reality about an hour passed between starting Witcher and taking a quick pause to see my wife off to church before returning to playing again.  Then next thing I know it…  my wife is back home and heading to bed and I have managed to lose another several hours.

To say the game is immersive is a bit of an understatement.  The last game that I can remember losing entire nights to was probably Skyim, and that is a fairly apt comparison at least on a few levels.    The funny thing is I have just now moved to the “second” area of the game.  I say area because while the game has open world aspects it is not exactly completely open world.  The first “zone” is called White Orchard and it is made up of this huge sprawling seamless area with lots of villages and locations to explore.  This gives it a traditional open world Elder Scrolls feel, the problem being that the entire location has a bounding border drawn around it.  While I have not pushed my luck when the game starts telling me to turn around…  I am imagining that there is some sort of “slaughterfish” like mechanic that you encounter.

Gorgeous Environment

witcher3 2015-05-20 19-07-30-38 The real triumph of the game is the environment, and just how real it feels to be roaming through.  What makes the game world so compelling is the fact that everywhere you look there is action going on.  Nothing is static, and the weather patterns effect every last blade of grass it feels.  The only problem with this is at times you feel like you are suffering from a bit of sensory overload.  Like I said yesterday once I started playing I pretty much hopped off the path immediately and this is very easy to do, and at the same time rewarding.  When they were pitching this game I remember them saying that it would take either 20 hours or 200 hours depending on your gameplay style and after finishing White Orchard I can see why this is.  The main storyline in the zone was relatively straight forward and only actually required me to complete a few quests to get through it.  However I spent the next four hours working on various treasure hunts and exploring the world.

The map system works very similar to Skyrim except that you have missions of interest that you have yet to explore marked as question marks.  Now these are not ALL the locations in the world, and there are a number of other “hidden” things that you can find wandering the countryside, however if you explore each question mark it seems like you will get most of the content you would care about.  That is ultimately what I spent my night doing was wandering around completing these question marks.  The game has a waypoint travel system that allows you to pop from road sign to road sign, and I used the hell out of this functionality allowing me to get close to the destination that I was looking for and either taking my horse the rest of the way or just wandering of foot.  Pretty much anytime I saw monsters on my minimap hud I dismounted and took them on.  After some gear and some levels things like the Drowners and packs of Wolves became trivial, but the big monsters were still insane especially anything that spawned near a “guarded treasure”.

The Story Is Good

witcher3 2015-05-20 21-52-48-37 The thing that I find most interesting is that the game manages to make the narrative just as interesting as the free form exploration.  There is some crazy shit going on in the world of the Witcher, and as this game is my first experience of that world I am trying to soak it all in.  The game does an awesome job of giving you just enough of a primer in the setting for things to make sense, but also is unapologetic at times for talking about things that you have NO clue what is going on.  There was a point in the game where I had to answer a series of questions, each of which I think represent choices that were made in earlier games.  Knowing nothing about the setting I made my choices and it was interesting to see just how they played out in that discussion.  I have a feeling that those choices will ultimately color what the final results of the game end up being.

There was talk at one point of them rebooting the earlier Witcher games using the Witcher 3 engine… and I really hope this happens.  The engine itself is extremely robust and I can see the modder community is going to have a ball with this game.  This might dethrone Skyrim in that department, pending the game itself is that extensible.  The best review that I can give the game is the fact that I had to pry myself away from it last night to go to sleep.  I alt tabbed and noticed it was 10:30 and realized that if I did not stop then… I would likely end up playing until after one in the morning.  The funny thing about this game is that it literally came out of left field for me.  I had no intent to purchase it, and am only now playing it because I got a free copy with my video card.  Now I am looking forward to playing through everything the game has to offer and will more than likely purchase the season pass so that I can play the DLC as it releases.  I keep harkening back to this, but I think if the game keeps up at this pace and level of quality that it might very well be that go to game like Skyrim for losing myself in the world.  The only fear I have is that since this is so narrative focused, I am not sure if it will have the same sort of universal replay-ability that the Elder Scrolls games have had for me.

Mistakes Were Made

Thing that Happened

shiny_new_car The last few days have been extremely strange for me, in that I have been processing a sequence of events.  I wrote over the weekend that we had a bit of car trouble and found out there was a recall on our Pontiac Torrent related to it.  In a sequence of events we also found out that an earlier repair was in fact the source of a recall as well, so in theory we should be getting reimbursed for that work also.  Monday we scheduled an appointment with our local GMC dealer to get the new recall taken care of, but in the meantime my wife started looking at vehicles.  Both her Torrent and my Jeep Grand Cherokee had been paid off for well over a year and we were just reaping the benefits of no car payment.  Other than the recent recall however hers was in extremely good condition.  Mine on the other hand had some issues.  All of which were largely minor:  cracked windshield, broken drivers seat, and in desperate need of new tires.

As a result I had been looking for some time and kicked around all sorts of ideas for vehicles.  That said I have always been extremely happy with the Pontiac Torrent and fully intended at some point to get around to looking at the Chevy Equinox the modern cousin.  In my wife’s searches she stumbled across a phenomenal deal,  the kind that you can’t really say no to.  So part of me felt like the time table of events was extremely quick, but by the same token I also felt like we had to jump on the deal while it was available.  As a result I am now the proud owner of a shiny new 2013 Chevy Equinox with a truly silly list of amenities that I never actually expected any vehicle I owned would have.  I mean this has silly things like heated seats and a backup camera that makes driving a car kind feel like an arcade game.  I have yet to even figure out half of the things that are in it because I really have not driven it enough for it to feel “really” mine yet.  Last night I turned over the keys to my Jeep and I admit I was a little sad to do so, mostly because I guess I was more attached to that vehicle than I realized.  I think more than anything I am just trying to wrap my head around the notion that I have a new car.

Crafting to Eleven

ffxiv 2015-05-19 19-04-12-406 Before the World of Warcraft raid I managed to pop into Final Fantasy XIV long enough to push Culinarian to eleven.  This means I now have every craft to that tier, and can start getting rid of my early gear.  In fact it just dawned on me that other than fishing I have started literally every class in the game.  Right now my sights are set on pushing everything past fifteen, which is apparently where the interesting and unique abilities come into play from each crafting profession.  Up until this point they have all seemed to have exactly the same things: a success buff, a durability heal, and an ability to increase quality.  The positive about this setup is that right now all of my hotbars look essentially the same, so through muscle memory I can hit the ability that I need when I need it.  One of the things that I do like about crafting is that your control points seem to regenerate each time you craft an item.  I was half expecting them to work like gathering points and regenerate over time or per harvest.  This makes crafting a much shorter game, which I like significantly better.

While I have joked for some time that crafting in Final Fantasy XIV is a black hole…  I am here to report that this is actually a literal thing that happens apparently.  I cannot tell you the last time I ran an expert dungeon for poetics, nor can I really tell you the last time I was in non-crafting gear.  Because of the whole automobile thing, I ended up at a car dealership Monday night instead of attending our raid.  So quite literally for the last several times I have played the game I have done nothing but crafting.  The thing that shocks me is just how surprisingly “okay” I am about this thing that is happening.  I am finding that I really do enjoy the crafting system, and there is something oddly gratifying about it.  I expect by the time I hit 50 in every profession I will have a serious hatred for some aspects of it, but other than the fact that it is a constant gil sink…  I am completely fine with turning money into crafting ability.  I keep thinking about the final destination being an amazing place where I can craft anything I need on a whim.

Mistakes Were Made

witcher3 2015-05-20 06-00-32-71 I did a thing last night that I knew better than to do…  but ultimately did it anyways.  First off I feel like I need to get some baggage out of the way.  The Witcher franchise and I have a very checkered past, namely I have been told by friends that I trust that it is this amazing experience…  then I attempt to play it and it feels like shit.  The first Witcher game without a doubt has the most cludgy controls I have ever experienced, and I quite literally have not made it out of the tutorial fight even though I have tried to play it multiple times.  So I thought I would just skip the first one and start with the second…  the problem being for whatever reason I cannot get Witcher 2  to load on my machine at all.  It will boot up, but never actually starts and apparently this is a known issue with Windows 8 and that game.  So I had planned to completely write the series off and skip the third one, given my lack of success with the previous two.  Then several weeks back I ordered a new video card, and low and behold it came with a free copy of Witcher 3 delivered through the GOG Galaxy client.  Of note I have to say I am a big fan of the Galaxy client so far, it is extremely clean.

Last night after the raid I decided to fire up the game, expecting to play for only a few minutes.  The end result is that I played for an hour and a half without pause, and also without realizing it.  The game is really good, like Skyrim good and runs beautifully on my system.  There is a certain amount of narrative faffing that happens in the first few minutes of the game, but quickly you are dumped into a living world setting with only some vague suggestions on what you should be doing.  From there you can choose to follow the directions on the map, or just wander off on your own finding interesting things in the countryside.  Given my history with Elder Scrolls Games, I immediately hopped off the beaten path and started wandering around.  I found a Wraith guarding a place of power, defeated it… claimed the power of the location and apparently earned my very first ability point.  The entire sequence of events felt extremely natural and engaging.  Additionally I completed a handful of quests that involved using my “Witcher powers” to find clues.  Again it felt extremely nice, and I am finding myself getting enamored with the game without actually meaning to.  I’ve been switch hitting between 360 controller and mouse and keyboard, and honestly I think I like the 360 controller the best so far.  Looking forward to playing a good deal more of this over the coming nights.