Catfish Dargon

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At least on some level I feel like I might be playing this game wrong.  I’ve put a little over eleven hours into the game at this point and I am just now hunter rank 4.  At this point I have managed to take down Great Jagras, Kulu-Ya-Ku, Pukei-Pukei, Barroth and Jyuratodus.  Now some of those I have taken down multiple times like I keep farming Barroth for bits and pieces to craft gear and I have taken down Kulu several times just because killing the angry chicken is fun.  Side note…  hunting Kulu in Wildspire Wastes is so much easier than Ancient Forest because it doesn’t keep running away up into the canopy of the trees.  My mission for last night was to farm some Barroth and attempt to get better gear… and another Monster Bone M which I did in both cases.  I don’t have a full set of gear yet, but I did manage to upgrade two pieces of Barroth gear and one piece of Jyuratodus.  It is around this point that I decided to start using the Samurai cosmetic armor because wearing Barroth armor makes you look like you are a walking rack of prime rib.  Jyuratodus so far has been the most annoying thing I have fought to date because it cannot decide if it as a Catfish or a Dragon…  so from now on it will simply be known as Catfish Dargon.  I never really got to a point where I was in danger….  I just found it terribly annoying to fight because being in the water and mud is dumb and I never want to do that.

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On my Palico front I now have Kenzie kitted out in a full set of Pukei-Pukei armor which seems to be working well.  I am completely in love with my Palico, and it sorta makes me sad that in the above screenshot she ever doubts that I will be bringing her along on the next hunt.  Side note… I have no clue if my Palico has a gender but in my head canon Kenzie the Cat is female so Kenzie the Palico is also female.  I feel like I am improving at the game largely because of the continued shortening of time it takes me to hunt certain things.  My first Barroth kill was a complete bear and I wound up firing an SoS flare because I had run completely out of mega potions.  On kill number two at the beginning of last night I still struggled a bit, but never really got close to either fainting or running out of resources.  On kill number three…  it finally felt like I knew what I was doing and simply executed a sequence of attacks I had rehearsed over time.  The other thing that I finally started getting the hang of last night was mounting the monsters and going into rodeo mode.  I think more than anything that has probably sped up my process because when I finally knock them down I can get in a bunch of really powerful attacks.  When I took down Kulu last night after my first ride the monster was already limping.  So far all of the monsters have been challenging, but I feel fairly comfortable in my longsword abilities and it is mostly me just executing on the same things I have learned to this point…  which I guess is maybe the point of the game?

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I love the cheesy grin and weird uppercut pose on my guild card, so you are likely going to keep seeing it over and over.  The biggest thing I am not quite grasping at this point is how the hell multiplayer actually works.  My theory was that I could potentially hop in on quests that folks were doing in the game session I happened to be in.  However when I click on a name everything seems to be grayed out.  I have no clue how social connectivity is supposed to work in this game and I have no clue what throwing someone a guild card actually does but I keep receiving a bunch of them.  Connecting with other people to play the game just feels way harder than it should be.  It should be as simple as…  is a friend of yours on…  okay click to join their game and kill monsters together.  Instead it feels like this weirdly contorted system that makes absolutely zero sense to my western brain.  I keep thinking back to the madness of Final Fantasy XI and World Passes…  and trying to place my mind into that sort of mindset because I just do not get it.  If someone could explain to me like I am five how this system works… I would greatly appreciate it.  I would love to be able to just hop in on someone else’s session and kill monsters because at this point I could give a shit about quest progression and just want more crafting bits.  Based on what I heard from Grakulen last night apparently people can’t join me when I am in an expedition, which seems sorta broken.  Regardless I am having a lot of fun in my own little sandbox… but sorta want to start learning how to group to take things down.

Barbecue Heroes

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Last night was apparently all about Monster Hunter World.  The game seems to have gotten its hooks into me because quite honestly all I could think about all day long was getting home and playing.  More than anything I spent a fair amount of processing cycles trying to figure out how I was going to shift up my attack combos to be more efficient with the Long Sword.  Right now I am focusing on a single weapon, and mindset wise…  I am tending to think about this game much the same way as I would a fighting game.  Traditionally with a fighting game I will focus on a single character and learn them first, so for example… with Street Fighter II I originally focused in on Ryu and learned everything I could about playing him before branching out and picking up Guile or Chun Li for example.  Additionally I tend to focus on finding a workable sequence of attacks and getting the most out of those before introducing new things into my mix.  For the moment this largely means building spirit gauge with triangle four times and then dumping spirit gauge with r2 four times.  I’m trying to work in fade slash in place of just rolling out of the way, but the press X to survive behavior is already deeply ingrained.  I need to sort out how to actually do the fade slash that turns you blue and gives you invulnerable frames…  but I am not quite there yet.

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As far as the evening went… I spent a good deal of it wandering around in the desert.  I made it far enough in the quest chain to unlock the next major area of the map and immediately found myself going into explorer mode trying to scout everything I could find from the new area.  One of the things I did not realize was that objectives do not show up on the map until my scout flies have found them…  so as a result I spent a good deal of the night trying to train up my scout flies for the new area while working on bounties.  I am still desperately hunting a M class monster bone, which I am guessing I cannot really get unless I take down something else big.  I have been sitting on one for awhile and need another to move up to the Bone Shotel III.  Ultimately I think I need to take Barroth down a bunch of times because I could use the materials from him to upgrade the armor for both me and my palico given that is the next big boost stat wise from the bone set I am wearing.  Unfortunately Barroth is also the first monster I have had to call for help on… not necessarily because I fainted too many times…  but because I saw myself quickly running out of resources.  I was down to my last two mega potions and I was having hell gauging how close to finishing it up I was so I went ahead and threw up an SOS flare to get someone to come help me.  Unfortunately by the time it was answered I had almost managed to take him down solo…  with Barroth falling within a few minutes of the new hunter joining me.

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Hunting with a second player though does make things like needing to sharpen your weapon way easier, and stopping to do that constantly really made a difference in my kill time and efficiency.  When I fought Pukei Pukei it took me forever to actually find the damned thing because it wasn’t pathing where I had seen it the night before.  However once I did… I managed to take it down way faster than I had almost any other monster to date.  It ran twice but I managed to kill it at the third location by I believe disabling its wing.  I am constantly ripping parts of monsters but also sorta not really understanding exactly what I am doing.  I’ve taken off a bunch of tails largely because that and the hind quarters in general seems like a place where I can get solid combo hits without fear of bouncing the attacks.  I wish I more fully understood what causes a bounce versus what causes a solid hit.  I struggled with bounces constantly with Barroth and I am guessing that was just a side effect of its armor coating.  Once I knocked off some plates and exposed the sinew below I managed to land really good hits and started dealing serious damage.  I am guessing this is where a weapon like the hammer comes in handy for knocking off the armor plates.  I can definitely see how each weapon is functionally deficient against specific types of monsters and why something like the charge blade that is flexible becomes a huge boon.  For now however I am focused on my Long Sword and getting the most out of it before moving to something else…  which admittedly may be the hammer or great sword next to see how bigger slower weapons feel.  The goal for last night was to finally get in the squad and I managed to do that finally towards the tail end of the evening.  Monster Hunter does not make grouping with others very easy, and I feel like it is still stuck in the mindset of having a bunch of 3DS around a table where everyone is physically present with each other.  All in all though…  I’ve already gotten far more out of this venture into the Monster Hunter world than I have with any other version of it I have played in the past which was my ultimate hope.

Bone Bunny Cat

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I spent a good chunk of my weekend roaming around aimlessly in Monster Hunter World.  I was not terribly certain about this game…  until I unlocked expeditions.  I’ve talked a little bit about my aversion to timed content, and I was deeply concerned that everything I had been picking up from the quest board involved some sort of a timer.  While I had managed to complete most of them well within the time limit…  my initial Great Jagras hunt was roughly 27 minutes out of the 50 minute limit.  The problem is knowing there is a timer hanging over my head keeps me from doing the things I want to be doing…  which is largely exploring and learning the map.  Once I realized there was a mode of gameplay that worked much like patrols in Destiny 2…  I was all on board with this concept especially since it meant that I could still hunt the big monsters freely on my own time table there.  I’ve been spending most of my effort trying to learn the longsword and at this point I have upgraded to the Bone Shotel II…  and need a M class monster bone to upgrade to the third step.

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My biggest challenge however is now that I have found expeditions…  my desire to do any other than bounties has pretty much dropped off the face of the planet.  I know I should be progressing the main story through the quests, because I realize I am on somewhat of a timer to complete the Horizon Zero Dawn quest before it disappears.  I’ve heard you can join missions from folks already doing that quest and just get your six parts that way, but I would actually like to reach the level required to properly do it.  As of last night I got a full set of Bone Armor equipped on both me and my palico and have upgraded all of my pieces to rank 2.  I did what so many others seem to have also done… and named my Palico after my real life middle cat Kenzie.  It’s fitting because if I was going to go out adventuring with one of my animals… it would absolutely be her.  She is my shadow most of the time and can deliver quite a wallop with her paw if she needs to.

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If you look at my card it looks like I have made ZERO progress in the game, but I am just sorta doing it in my own style.  At this point I have fought Great Jagras and Kulu-Ya-Ku and have been training up tracking on Pukei Pukei and Anjanath which I will tackle before too much longer.  My biggest problem right now is the fact that I know going into a big monster fight is a serious time commitment, and as a result I am reluctant to start one because I am not entirely certain when I will get pulled away from my screen.  My wife needed my help with something in the middle of the Kulu-Ya-Ku fight yesterday and I was trying desperately to finish it off quickly.  Side note…  until last night I had no clue I needed to be sharpening my weapon in the middle of these fights so in theory things might go a little smoother next go round.  There are so many of those little things that I am starting to pick up this time… that I absolutely did not in Generations.  It almost makes me want to go back and give Generations another go…  but I realize a big part of why I am starting to grok this game is the fact that it isn’t on a tiny handheld screen.  I am definitely not bouncing the way I have in the past and I want to spend more time getting into this title…  but also I still have the desire to play other things as well so it is a bit of a juggling act right now.  At some point soon I hope to meet up with Stormrazer in game and join his Squad.  The whole grouping thing feels like it could have been a lot more transparent and still feels like it was designed for handheld interactions where you are sitting across the room from the people you are playing with.  Hopefully they will tweak it over time and make it less obtuse.  All in all though I am enjoying myself quite a bit, and I am happy to finally grasp at least the basic concepts of the game that allow me to hunt things without fainting all of the time.

The Gospel of Faff

The importance of pee

I just thought the sub heading would be humorous, but really it heralds some good news.  Yesterday my Grandmothers kidneys started working again.  Apparently when the body is dehydrated they completely shut off.  The body is all “nope!” no one can have any moisture at all.  This apparently was the last crucial step before she was mostly out of the woods.  She is still in pretty bad shape, but they have been waking her up periodically to make sure she is responsive.  They are keeping her mostly sedated however so she will sleep and rest.  All of the hospital staff have been impressed with just how much of a fighter she is.

So I want to thank all of you for your thoughts during the last few days.  This is the woman who at least gets half of the credit for raising me to be the person I am today.  I didn’t go to daycare, I went to Grandmas house, because she was local and available… and more importantly willing.  We’ve always known she is strong, but this whole episode just proved that to any shadow of a doubt.  So while we are not in the “all clear” yet, we are probably up to a 70% chance of her making it out of this little episode unscathed.  I am sure she will need some therapy after laying in bed for several days immobile.

The Gospel of Faff

This word has been in my vocabulary since I believe high school but I don’t really know how exactly I picked it up.  So when I encountered the Godmother of Faff, I latched onto it with both arms to represent a certain game play style.  However the more I use it, the more it seems to draw confusion among my friends.  Sometimes it gets misread with a certain “self flagellating” connotation, or if you are Scary you apparently read it as some kind of shorthand for flatulence.  So I thought I would spend a bit of time this morning clearing the air about all things faff.  Since this is essentially British slang, I felt we had to go to the official source…  the Oxford dictionary.

image So there is the definition, copied and pasted via greenshot from the oxford dictionary website.  The thing is…  this leads one to believe that it is a bad thing.  I tend to take a much more zen approach.  “Faffing about” is just another in a long line of words used to describe enjoyable but often purposeless activity.  I’ve used many versions of this over the years.  I’ve “piddled” and I’ve “dinked around” and occasionally “goofed off”.  I had a bit of an odd childhood, in that my mother to some extent lived vicariously through me.  She wanted me to do all the things she always wanted to do… but never could afford.  So as a small child I was drug through a series of activities like piano practice that I had no real interest in, but felt no less obligated to do.

As a result I felt like I never got to just be a kid, without purpose or direction.  When I was allowed that time I savored it.  Now as an adult, I am really cautious about anything that places undue burden on my “free” time.  While I feel like Godmother and I probably use the term “Faff” in different ways, our viewpoints are very complimentary.  For me “Faff” represents a play style of allowing myself to get lost in the minutiae of little things that happen along the way.  It is a freedom of not having to have a goal or a focal point for the evening.  That I have permission to log into a game and “mess around” for awhile without necessarily having a tangible reward at the end.

HDPlacard_BelFaffsAbout_720 So as I have begun to stream my game play when possible, I have brought this same idea there as well.  I am not doing something important or grand, but instead just doing what I always do.  I log into mumble, into a special channel called “Bel is Streaming” and then proceed about my normal business and what happens… happens.  Sometimes I do something really interesting, other times I just piddle around leveling.  Last night for example I recorded one of my normal Onyxia and Tempest Keep clear nights, where I run through characters through Onyxia and the two that can solo Tempest Keep all in search of mounts.  Sure there is purpose there, but it is not the kind of big overarching and soul crushing purpose that you feel forced to do it.  Before last night it had probably been three weeks since my last mount farm night… and I am perfectly okay with that.

As is the way with Faff

eso 2014-02-15 11-33-23-02 I had every intent last night to play some more Heroes of the Storm, however that simply did not happen.  Sometimes you get caught up in doing the things you are doing and next thing you know… it is bedtime.  Part of the “Gospel of Faff” is accepting that this is going to happen and being somewhat okay with it.  Some people thrive on goals, and lord knows I have a bunch of little ones.  But for me it is the journey that is so much more important than the destination.  I think in part that is why I have enjoyed The Elder Scrolls online so much.  The game presents before me a whole bunch of rabbit trails that I can get hopelessly lost following.  It is arranged in a way that keeps me from being able to “quest efficiently”.  WoW has made me really good at gathering a bunch of quests, and doing them all before returning to the hub to get more.

The freedom to wander around and get lost in the process of leveling is a really awesome thing.  While World of Warcraft is a really on-rails experience most of the time, I am trying to embrace ways to play it where the objectives don’t matter nearly as much as the journey.  This is far more about my mental state while playing, than what I am actually doing.  However I am trying really hard to always endulge the rabbit trails.  If my addon alerts me to a rare mob in the vicinity…  even if I am on my way to some important objective I try and pull myself from the path to try and track the foe down.  As a result I end up seeing things I may have never seen before in the process.  I had spent most of my time playing WoW trying to avoid the quagmire that is Kalimdor, and now I feel like I am trying to embrace it.