Returning to Summoner’s Rift

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Wow, I underestimated how busy this month would be. Where the heck did it all go? Me and my fiance were doing some last minute wedding things before the big day next month and suddenly it’s the 23rd of September?!

I haven’t played anything most of the month partly because of a busy schedule and partly because I just wasn’t feeling it. Every now and then I’ll end up in a gaming rut and just don’t want to play anything for a week or two. Sometimes I just need something new whether it’s reading a book or watching TV. But I’m back to my regular gaming schedule now.

Actually, last week took an unexpected turn. One of my friends asked if I wanted to come over a play League of Legends. Feeling a little nostalgic I said sure. I used to be really into League of Legends in college right when the game was at its peak. My whole dorm floor played and we always played with and against each other. It was awesome. But after college, it just wasn’t the same playing alone so I drifted away from the game for the past few years. The last time I played, Braum had just come out. Now there are almost 2 dozen new champions I’ve never heard of.

We ended up playing 10 matches. We both hadn’t played in a while and made new accounts so we wouldn’t be placed out of our skill level starting out.  We won some, we lost some but it was a great time.  I don’t usually like PVP, I get in my own head too much about playing against other humans but playing with friends seems to take the pressure off. I still don’t think I’ll be playing much by myself. The community seems to be just as friendly as when I left it, which is to say not friendly at all. I found it amusing that Riot added voice chat. I guess when you get tired of being harassed in text chat you can take a break by getting yelled at over voice chat.

With a renewed interest in League of Legends, my friend also reminded me that LCS was a thing. I’ve always liked watching the League of Legends Championship series more than playing it. But every year I forget that it exists until the season is basically over. The same has happened this year, except I caught it right around the summer finals and right before the World tournament. I’m still surprised how good the production value is and I understand just enough about the game for pro play to be interesting. I kind of took a deep dive into the whole thing recently, listening to as many podcasts as I could find and watching the Gauntlet series to determine the 3rd team in North America to go to Worlds.

I do this a lot though. I find something super interesting and want to learn all about it and then after a point I lose all interest. This kind of feels like one of those things but I’m having fun learning about it all the same.

 

 

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Backlogged: Hiveswap Act 1

In an effort to get back into playing games I already own I fired up How Long to Beat Steam. I usually use this when I don’t know what I want to play and sort by the time to beat the main storyline. This is how I sort my Steam Games on Deck sidebar and I haven’t updated it in a very long time.

This game was next on the list with a playtime of only 2 hours. This cam as a surprise to me, I thought I had avoided the cliche of a PC gamer who didn’t know all of their steam games, but I have no idea where I got this from. My best guess is from Humble Monthly as this isn’t the kind of game I would usually choose to buy.

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Hiveswap is kind of a big deal if you look at its history. In 2012, a Kickstarter was put up by Andrew Hussie to make a video game based off is webcomic Homestuck. The Kickstarter raised $700,000 dollars in just under 32 hours and raised $2.4 million dollars overall. It became the third highest grossing video game in Kickstarter history at the time. The game was supposed to be released in 2014 after starting development in 2013 but arrived for purchase 3 years later in September 2017. It went through a number of iteration, starting as a 3D game and eventually scaling back into a 2D point and click adventure game.

Before playing this game I had no knowledge of either the Kickstarter story or the Homestuck webcomic. I vaguely remember reading something on Reddit about it when it was released but other than that it hadn’t crossed my radar. From the perspective of going in blind, it was a good game, a little short without much challenge.

The game bills itself as a tribute to 90’s adventure games without any of the frustration.I can agree with that, it pretty much leads you by the nose to what you need to do next to progress in the story. There’s hardly anything challenging about Hiveswap, it plays like an interactive webcomic. Luckily the art, music, and writing really make up for the simplified gameplay.

Hiveswap starts off with two kids playing with their dog in the backyard when monsters appear in the yard. The kids are separated as they are chased around by monsters and Joey Claire ends up being chased into her room. Her brother Jude is stuck in the tree house and one of the first things you’re tasked with doing is finding batteries for your walkie-talkie to talk to Jude. The first half of the game revolves around Joey trying to get to the attic because her brother is convinced is the safest place in the house.

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Hiveswap takes place in 1994 and as a result, every room in Joey’s house is chalk full of 90’s childhood nostalgia. Including but not limited to a Light Brite, street sharks, and pogs. The art is fantastic and there is so much stuff crammed into each of the areas. There’s a lot of interactable objects in each scene, most of them don’t do much besides give some funny flavor text.

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In the second half, Joey finds a mysterious device in the attic that is activated by a family heirloom. Suddenly, she is ported into a nightmarish sci-fi world in the middle of a revolution. Oh, and it’s inhabited by troll people.  It turns out Joey has been swapped with Dammek, the child leader of the revolution in Alternia. It’s more of the same gameplay as the first half with a funky sci-fi backdrop. Presumably, this is where the rest of the story will take place in the later acts.

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According to the wiki, there are suppose to be 4 acts of Hiveswap and the second game following Dammek called Hauntswitch. I’m not a fan of episodic games because I don’t like waiting for more story. I’d rather have a full experience than one broken up into pieces. The story of Hiveswap isn’t anything new but I like the characters enough to want to know what will happen next. Unfortunately, it’s hard to gauge exactly when the next act will be released if ever. The original release was supposed to be Spring 2018, but spring has come and gone without much talk of a new release date. Meanwhile, the studio has pushed out 10 volumes of a Hiveswap visual novel. Where that 2.4 million went is unclear. The game has high-quality art and music but 2.4 million for 2 point and click games seems a bit steep.

Halfway through the Living World Season 2

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Shortly after completing the Guild Wars 2 Personal Story, I purchased season 2 and 3 of the living world. This was mostly because I wanted to all the story Guild War 2 has to offer which might seem a bit strange since I didn’t much enjoy the last third of the personal story. But my thought process here was that maybe it would get better. Plus I already own both expansions so I might as well do the in-between stuff too.  I was confused when I went to buy the bundles and it said certain acts would be left out until I realized I had unlocked those acts making the seasons pretty inexpensive. I’m actually glad that it’s available for purchase instead of missing out on the two entirely.

First things first, the season 1 recap leaves a lot to be desired. I’m sure that the way the first season of the living world was structured did not lend itself to being replayable and that’s fine but I wish the recap would have been a little better. It gives you the gist of what happened, Scarlet is evil, Scarlet destroys Lion’s Arch, Scarlet dies. Oh and there’s also this cast of characters that will be briefly introduced and that’s it. Luckily the wiki has a lot more information but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

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Because of that, season 2 starts rather abruptly and assumes you know all the characters already. It took a little getting used to but after a few chapters, I think I have most of the characters figured out. So far season 2 seems a lot more like Guild Wars storytelling than the personal story. The first chapter where you are accompanied by all of the characters was like stepping back into Guild Wars with all the henchmen. I’m definitely enjoying season 2 much more than the personal story. I can see how it’s heading to Heart of Thorns and I’m anxious to see how exactly it leads to the expansion. I’m wondering if these characters will carry through or if I have to deal with the Pact again.

There is much more content than I’d thought there’d be with the living world. I assumed each chapter would have an instance or two around the map and I’d be able to wrap it up relatively quickly. I was pleasantly surprised when the first chapter led me into an entirely new map and had 5 parts to it. I’ve been making my way through season 2 for a week now and am still only halfway through.

For the most part, it hasn’t been too challenging. Chapter 3 was tough because it centered around doing open world events designed for groups of players instead of the instances like the proceeding chapters. I didn’t mind it because people could still be found running these events. Except for one where I had to take down a Modrem Wolf in the Iron Marches. There weren’t a whole lot of people around and I couldn’t take it out alone so I ended up waiting for people to show up. It didn’t take that long once I found another couple of players. That’s the only time so far I’ve felt like I needed others to complete story content which I don’t mind at all.

Where in the world…

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I was introduced to Geogusser by a friend over the weekend. I was getting Christian set up with OBS now that he has decent internet so he can stream on our channel. I ended up hanging out with him during his stream and trying to play along too.

The game puts you in a random place in the world in Google Maps street view and then you have to figure out where you are and mark it on the map. Each game is separated into 5 rounds and you’re awarded points based on how close your guess is to the location you start each round. There isn’t a time limit or a limit, unless you do challenge mode, on how much you can move around so some rounds take longer than others. Especially when you’re dropped in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road with no signs or landmarks. Also, good luck if you end up somewhere in Russia.

You can choose which maps you want to play in. They can be as broad as the entire world and as specific as, I kid you not, Call of Duty map locations. The world map is really challenging. I watched Christian stream a couple games. He’s played for a while and has come up with some great strategies for more accurate guesses. Like if you can find a sign with a web address you can usually figure out what country you’re in based on what it ends with. Or if you see the same word over and over again on signs it’s a safe assumption that the town name.

I’ve played a few games and I quite like the United States map. First of all everything in English and second I like the challenge of trying to figure out the state and town. For the most part, the town is easy to figure out and the state becomes the real challenge. I’ve only played a few games in the United States and it’s hard to find the state name unless you come across a state park or a highway. Also, it’s a challenge to find those small towns within the state.

Much like Euro Truck simulator, this is something that shouldn’t be as fun as it is. Geogusser even more so because at least in ETS you’re driving a truck. If you told me it would be fun to click on 360-degree photos for 20 minutes I wouldn’t have believed you. Adding that extra layer of scoring you on how close you can get to your exact location brings it all together in a rather pleasing way. It’s also relaxing and a fun way to see things you probably wouldn’t have seen any other way. I’m sure it will probably lose its charm after a while but I would highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it yet.

September Goals 2018

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It’s the beginning of September which means a few things.

  1. The weather will start to get cooler. As much as I love summer, autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year.
  2. Halloween decorations will be going up in stores and in my apartment.
  3. Pumpkin Spice will make its way into every imaginable food and beverage. I know I’m excited.

It also means I’m going to review my goals from last month and set some new ones for this month. So let’s talk about August. I had very few goals for August and only managed to complete one of them.

  • Post every day for the month of August. This didn’t happen but I did manage to get 16 posts out which doubled my post count for the year and pushed me above 100 total posts. It also rekindled my love of writing and blogging, so I’m counting that as a win.
  • Finally, beat Guild Wars 2 personal story. I totally did that, it took all month but I completed it and it was pretty meh. But I’m glad I went through it and can finally start moving on to the rest of the game.  In fact, Guild Wars 2 was my most played game in August.
  • Beat a game from my backlog. Nope didn’t happen I was too caught up in Guild Wars 2.

September Goals

  • Complete Guild Wars 2 Living World Season 2 and start Heart of Thorns. I’m not sure how long it will take to get through Season 2 but I’m already progressing at a steady clip so I’m thinking a month is plenty of time.
  • Beat at least one game from my backlog. I have them all sorted by time to beat and I’m still in the 1-3 hour playtime range so I should be able to get through one of them.
  • Figure out a writing schedule. This one is a little more ambiguous. Trying to post everyday last month was fun but I couldn’t do it consistently. I want to figure out a good time to write and a posting schedule that I can keep fairly consistent.
  • Finish a book. Not gaming related but I always participate in the yearly reading challenge through Goodreads and I always start strong and find myself scrambling at the end of the year to catch up. I actually need to read 2 books a month to complete my goal of 24 books this year but I’ve been slacking lately.

The End of Blaugust

 

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I had a lot of fun this month participating in Blaugust this year. I did fall off the wagon hard in the last week and a half but those first couple weeks were awesome. I think I managed to post for 2 weeks straight, something I’ve never done before. Towards the end of the month, I ran out of steam and other things got in the way as life got busy.

I wanted to reflect on this month and this exercise as a whole. Those first 2 weeks I noticed a change in how I approached blogging and how I felt about blogging. It was the first time in 2 years where I felt like I was a blogger instead of a guy with a blog. I was constantly coming up with new ideas of things to write about. It felt great. And you know what else feels great? More than doubling my posts this year. Total of 16 posts this month as of this post.

Then there was the inevitable lapse and then the complete lapse of the last week or so. Part of that was because I just couldn’t figure out a good writing schedule. For the first half, I was getting up a half hour early to write. That worked for a little while but eventually, I was just so tired in the mornings I couldn’t bring myself to write much of anything. So now I have to find a new time to write. I think it’s really just a matter of blocking out the time to write and just writing. I’ve come to realize over this month that I enjoy writing a ton.

I also want to take advantage of the weekends more to schedule out some posts. There were a couple lazy Sunday mornings where I sat on my balcony with my laptop and coffee and just wrote for a few hours. I should do that more before the weather gets cold.

As of right now, I can’t really say if I can commit to a posting schedule. I do know that posting every day is not for me. But I do want to find a nice balance where I can get that “I’m a blogger” feeling again.

I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone’s’ posts every day. I can’t wait to read more. This event really seems to have infused just a little more activity into the game blogosphere

2,185 Days Later

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2,185 days or 5.98 years. That’s how long it took me to get to the end of the Guild Wars 2 core personal story. I don’t know if that’s dedication or stubbornness. Towards the end, it felt a lot like stubbornness.

My problem with Guild Wars 2 is that I keep creating new characters but a few months ago I finally settled on a thief and I’ve taken him all the way through. I finished up the last story mission, Victory or Death, Saturday afternoon and now I can reflect on the story as a whole.

The first act was good with my character’s backstory, I liked the Durmahnd Priory part but as soon as they all formed the Pact I was no longer interested. It was less of a story and more of let’s go run these specific errands before we take down the big, bad, dragon. I really didn’t care for it but I was determined to see it through and finally get out of core Tyria.

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Some of the later missions were just plain annoying. Like the part where we were flying to Zhaitan’s lair on the airship and had to fight giant’s and dragons. I felt like I was too squishy as a thief to take out a lot of the spawning enemies and even though I had a bunch of allies on the airship, they didn’t want to help unless I was dead. And I was dead a lot during that mission. It also took me a while to understand what the heck I was supposed to so. Which was man the cannons and shoot until things spawned and then clear them out.

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The final mission, Victory or Death was done about as well as it could have been. It felt like an epic battle and I liked taking out Zhaitan with airship cannons rather than my character slapping him with a staff over and over. The cut scenes were pretty cool too. Destiny’s Edge showed back up after disappearing for half the game. I swear if I didn’t run a dungeon and figure out that’s where they all went I would have forgotten about them all together. I’ll have to get around to running all of the dungeons to get their story someday.

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What I did like were the Orr zones. They were desolate and weird but also strangely beautiful. I will definitely be visiting them later and fully explore them. I wanted to get the personal story out of the way so I was in a bit of a rush going from green star to green star. The Source of Orr is one of my favorite missions of the personal story. There is a part when fighting an Eye of Zhaitan where all of the sounds cuts out and is replaced by a nice piano solo. It gave the battle a calm, serene, and almost sad feel.

For as forgettable as the last act of the story was I’m glad I played it. It was fun leveling through the zones and seeing new places. after starting characters over an over again, I’ve seen the same things a hundred times. Buton this playthrough I actually got to see content I’ve never seen before. I’m looking forward to playing the living world season 2 and then moving into the first expansion with my thief. I think I’ll stick with him for a good long while. I’m kind of attached.

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