October Gaming Goals

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Yes I’m still here after all!

Towards the end of every year, I have periods where I totally lose all interest in gaming. I’m never sure when it’s going to be but it’s usually around November/December. I never know how long it’s going to last and it’s usually because my interest shifts to reading more. I think sometimes I just need a break from the hobby. I always come back though, and with a renewed vigor. This year it happened to come in September and it turns out it’s hard to post to a gaming blog when you don’t actually play any games. It’s safe to assume I didn’t hit any of my gaming goals last month. Well except for Trove. Getting dragons isn’t too hard when there are a ton of podcasts I wanted to catch up on.

But alas, it’s October. I love October. In the beginning, Fall is starting to get underway and all the colors change., in the middle we have horror movies galore, and we cap it all off with Halloween,

As much as I love the horror genre, I’ve never played through a horror game. I picked up 2 in the summer sale this year, Outlast and Observer, for just this occasion. I’m hoping to get through at least one of them. They aren’t too long, 5 and 7 hours respectively, so even an hour a night I can finish them by the end of the month. I’m leaning towards playing Observer first due to its sci-fi setting.

Progression in Trove has been slow going. I’m still working towards getting more dragons that I already have the eggs for. Upon the docket this month is Aurym, Keeper of Histories andDraccolatl, The Mellower. Aurym because he looks cool and Draccolatl because the fragments have been sitting in my inventory for a good 6 months.

Finally, I plan on puttering around Star Wars the Old Republic a bit this month. One of the books I’ve been reading in September is Champions of the Force by Kevin J Anderson. It’s the third book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy and it’s reminded me how much I like the Star Wars expanded universe. Plus with an expansion on the way at the end of the month it seems like a good time to dip my toes in.

Quick Impressions: Remnant From the Ashes

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This fog door looks very familiar…

I don’t often buy games at full price. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I did so. This month I’m going to do it twice. I’m getting Borderland 3 at the end of the week and I purchase Remnant from the Ashes last weekend.

I learned about Remnant maybe a week before the release date. From the trailer, I wasn’t sure what kind of game it was. It looked like a third-person shooter that might have been a looter shooter a la  Hellgate London. All I know is that the setting and the monsters made me want to play it. I held off on release day though because I was out of spending money for the month and because I wanted to know what the game was.

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The reviews came out: “Dark Souls with Guns!” Which was confusing because it didn’t look like it had all that much to do with Dark Souls and it kind of put me off to the game. I don’t hate Dark Souls but I never got into them as much as other people. I enjoyed Demon Souls, some of my best memories from gaming were because of that game but Dark Souls-Bloodborne did nothing for me. To this day Bloodborne is the only game I’ve ever traded back in when I was done with it.

Anyways, a few more days passed and the reviews changed their toon. It wasn’t that much like Dark Souls, after all, it was it’s own game, imagine that. I had the money, I had the desire to play something new, I was kind of hoping my friends might pick it up on sale one day. So I bought it.

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I’m 5 hours in and I can tell you that I’m very much enjoying it. See, it is a little like Dark Souls after all but it’s taken the good things about Dark Souls. The level design encourages exploration to find hidden items, lore, and short cuts. Learning enemy attacks and movements and finding the most efficient way of taking them out. Most importantly, the combat isn’t clunky and the roll animation doesn’t take an unnaturally long time to finish

The boss fights are fair but difficult. Sometimes it does seem like they’re tuned more for multiplayer than single-player campaigns. Which is fine because as long as you’re playing in a public lobby, anyone can join you on your adventure. The first 2 boss encounters I had to do a few times before I beat them but, man, did it feel good when I finally downed them. Especially the first one. The first 2 boss encounters were so much easier with a second person and a third probably would have made them trivial. That’s ok with me too. I’ve always liked exploring the levels more than boss fights anyways.

It does seem like progress isn’t saved unless your hosting. I had a nice run with a stranger through a part of the game I was struggling with only to find out when I logged back in that I had to do that part over. It did give me a bunch of crafting materials though so it wasn’t all bad.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of the story and exploring more of the world.

Audio Drama Sunday: The Black Tapes Season 1

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The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

The Black Tapes is all I’ve listened to this week. It’s consumed my commutes, it’s taken over my gaming time, I can’t stop listening to it. I finished up season 1 on Friday and I’m on the first episode of season 2 now.

What’s keeping me hooked is the style and the consistency with how the story is told. It sounds exactly like a documentary podcast and sometimes I find myself forgetting that it’s fiction. The cast does a great job selling the authenticity of the story.

So let’s talk about that story. It starts with Alex Reagan, the host, going on a ghost hunt. While she’s talking to ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, the name Richard Strand keeps coming up. Strand turns out to be a skeptic in the field and has an institute that’s sole purpose is to disprove proof of the paranormal. There is a million-dollar prize offered for those who can provide unrefutable proof of the paranormal. Alex set’s out to interview him and in his office, he has a set of black VHS tapes. These are videos of paranormal occurrences that can’t be proven false yet because the technology isn’t there to do so. Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me…

The show focuses on Alex and Strand revisiting the Black Tapes and talking to people who were involved in them. The first few episodes lead you to believe that this is going to be the format of the show. But as Alex reveals more Black Tapes content the more connected they all seem.

What makes this show work for me is the opposites that are Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand. Alex is the journalist with an open mind and although she says she doesn’t believe in the paranormal it seems very clear that she wants to believe. Strand on the other hand, is a full-blown skeptic. Everything can be disproven with science and logic. Every time Alex brings up a piece of evidence that seems like it’s irrefutable, Strand is there to knock it down.  The show wouldn’t be as interesting without that dynamic. It would be like countless other horror shows and movies. It leaves me waiting for evidence so compelling that not even Strand can disprove it.

I’m glad I’m listening to the show after it’s finished so I don’t have to wait between episodes. Especially between season 1 and 2. Season 1 doesn’t end with wrapping any of the plot points up. In fact, there’s even more questions raised. It’s not a satisfying finale but luckily I can just press play on the next episode.

I’m a bit worried though. I’ve heard from friends that the podcast ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. The Black Tapes released it’s final episode on November 7th, 2017, it’s not coming back. But that worry is offset with just how well this story is told so I’ll take a disappointing ending to be able to listen to 2 more seasons of this.

 

RIP Fallen Earth

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Just a man, a horse, and his frying pans

There was some sad news on Tuesday. Fallen Earth will be taken offline on October 2nd, 2019 following its 10th-anniversary event. Little Orbit cited low population and bad server performance as the main reasons to shut it down.

Fallen Earth is one of those free to play steam games that I always like to go back to every now and then. Earlier this year, I was getting back into it and playing it fairly often. It has a unique setting, decent combat, and a very in-depth crafting system.

The player population was in the 50s on any given night. While it made the game feel as empty as a post-apocalyptic world should be it didn’t give me much confidence in the longevity of the game. Eventually, I just didn’t want to put more time into it because I didn’t know how much longer it was going to be around. I kept an eye on Fallen Earth to see if there were any updates to the game over the year. While there was some developement it wasn’t a whole lot to inspire confidence.  

There is some hope though. While the game in its current form is being taken offline there are plans to continue working on a new version. It’s hard to say how this will play out. I’m giving it a 50% chance that Fallen Earth will return to us. I personally hope it does. Fallen Earth is such a unique game in the MMO space I think a fresh coat of paint and better server performance could do it some good. I also think reworking the free to play model would also help in the future. When your game has such a heavy focus on crafting, it’s frustrating when you can only craft 2 items at a time that take 15+ minutes without paying.

This month  I plan on revisiting Fallen Earth one more time. I’d like to see as much of the world as I can before the servers shut down. Road tripping seems like the best way to say farewell to the game.

Backlogged: Borderlands 2

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Me and Jay have been playing Borderlands 2 on and off for 5 years. As of Saturday night, it took 5 years to beat our first playthrough.  In fact, it probably took more than that, I think we started a playthrough on PS3 before the PS4 version came out. Our playthrough predates this blog. I had just moved into my second ever apartment, and I was working like 3 jobs. 5 years later I’m married, I have an actual full-time job in a field with a career path, and I feel like I’m somewhat established as an adult.

When we beat it Saturday, we both breathed a big sigh of relief. It’s been on the back burner for so long, one of those games we said we’d play and then we don’t. In the beginning, we were on track. I bought it when it first came out and we played it almost nightly. At some point, we got sidetracked with DLC. I will say that I think Gearbox makes way better DLC than they do games. There is still a ton more DLC that we could have played but Saturday we were determined to get to the end.

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See, I like Borderlands as a whole. The looter shooter aspect is compelling and the dialog is off the wall, albeit sometimes kind of annoying. But I’ve felt like I’ve been held to it for too long. It’s always been nagging in the back of my mind when we decide what we want to play.  Most of the time, I didn’t want to play it because I don’t like shooters on PS4. I’ve never been good at aiming with a controller, it frustrates me. But the time was right to beat it now before Borderlands 3 comes out. And we are 100% getting it on PC.

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We were going to try and play through the DLC that ties 2 to 3 that came out in June. That is until we discovered it was no longer free. I’m trying to phase out purchasing games for ps4 so I wasn’t about to buy it.

All in all, I had fun with Borderlands 2. I would have liked it a lot better if I hadn’t spread it out so much. I would have liked it a lot better if it was on my preferred platform, but 5 years ago I didn’t have a capable PC. We had some good times with it over the years but ultimately, I’m just glad it’s finally over.

I am very much looking forward to Borderlands 3. I will be beating this game much quicker this time around.

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WoW Classic is Not for Me

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Rogue Stuff

I’m gonna be that guy. That guy that comes out and says, I’m not into WoW Classic. I tried,  I really did. I put in some hours over the long weekend and most of the time I asked the question: “Am I having fun?”.  That answer was no far more often than not and I’m trying to figure out why.

I managed to get an undead rouge to level 10 by the time I packed it in. At first, I liked the novelty of no quest markers on the mini-map. That ended fairly quickly when I had more than a couple active quests and couldn’t figure out where the NPC was for the turn in. Those quest markers have become such an integral part of games now it’s hard to imagine a game without them.

I tried a few characters. Before the undead rogue there was a dwarf priest who I got to level 9. I wasn’t enjoying having to wait for my health and mana to come back up after one or two rounds of combat. I rolled an Orc Rouge to check out their starting area. I stuck with that for a level or 2 until I had the idea that I really wanted to play an undead rogue.

I can see where everyone else is coming from. The sense of community in the game is great. General chat is full of people talking and sometimes even being helpful. There are roving groups, random invites, and even some conversations to be had while leveling. I joined a guild and had a good time chatting with the people there but that isn’t enough to hold my interest.

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I spent a good chunk of time on my priest like this.

I know a lot of that is because I don’t have that nostalgia to get me into the game. I don’t have friends who want to play it with me either. I came in curious to see how it all began, what it was like 15 years ago. Turns out, games have come a long way in 15 years, I’m sure to no one’s surprise.

I would have loved this game in 2006. I was a freshman in high school, this was exactly the kind of game me and my friends would have loved playing. Many of us were playing Runescape the year before and I think most of them would have been playing World of Warcraft if they could have gotten a subscription. Classic is grindy in a way my highschool self would have loved. Grinding weapon proficiencies, joining groups to level, finding quests in a giant world, and working on professions. There’s a ton of time to be sunk here and that’s just something I don’t have as much of anymore.

And I think that’s what it’s really all about. I spent a good 10 or so hours playing to get to level 10. Unshared tags make it hard to get quests done. Grouping up is a way around that for sure but the quests still take a while because others are also doing the same quest that isn’t in your group. Everything feels slow and I just don’t like the pacing.

Right now, I can’t see myself putting a ton more hours into Classic. I may dabble a bit more in the coming weeks, I still have a full month subscription after all. Or maybe I’ll go try out retail again and see how that goes. In the meantime, I look forward to reading everyone else’s stories from their time in Classic. I’ve said this before, and it may just be true, I enjoy reading about WoW more than I like playing it.

September Gaming Goals

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I’ve always felt like September was the start of fall. Though technically the autum equinox isn’t until the end of the month. But it’s around this time that Halloween decorations go up in stores, pumpkin spice late’s come out, and things start to cool off.

August Goals

Last month I had a few gaming goals and I completed exactly half of one, maybe 2/3rds of one. I wanted to get into Heavensward in FFXIV in the first half of the month. It turns out my playtime this subscription would be limited to one weekend and I that was enough for me. I just didn’t feel the need to go back and I’m not sure why. In general, I like FFXIV, I have fun when I play it but it’s never been sticky for me. Ah well, it’ll be there when the mood strikes again.

I wanted to beat 2 recent steam purchases. I was working on The Last Door Season 2 at the begining of the month. I did end up completing that game in the beginning of the month. I wanted to complete one more and was deciding between AgarestL Generations of War and Valkyria Chronicles. Ultimately, I went with Valkyria Chronicles. While I didn’t beat the game yet I’ve spent a good chunk of time playing it this month. It’s currently sitting at 7 hours. How Long to Beat says the main story takes about 31 hours so I have a ways to go.

September Goals

Backlog

As Valkyria Chronicles is a longer game I’m aiming to beat just this one game this month. I’ve been good about not buying more games than I’ve beaten over the last month. Of course purchasing a second monitor didn’t leave me with a whole lot of fun money to spend on games. I’m not sure that I’ll actually make this one though. Borderlands 3 comes out September 13th which will probably take up much of my gaming time.

WoW Classic

I’m still up for exploring WoW Classic this month. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to spend with the game since the release. I’m looking forward to this 3 day weekend to put in some serious time with it. We’ll see if I’ll be resubing at the end of the month

Trove

This may be the first time Trove has made it into one of these gaming goals posts. I’m still enjoying Trove on a daily basis and will be getting another patron pass this month. I’m looking to add another dragon, possibly 2 to my collection this month. I’m looking to get Dracocolatl, The Mellower and Erel, The Ironbolt as my next two. I’m only missing Dragon coins for these so it’s just a matter of time. For the major downtime earlier this week we were given a Golden Dragon Effigy. This unlocks a random legendary dragon and I would hate to use it and get one of these two when I’m so close to buying them.