Goodbye NBI 2016

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Today is the last day of the Newbie Blogger Initiative this year, where did the time go? I feels like just a few days a go I was setting up the blog and getting ready to publish my first post.

NBI gave me the motivation to finally start something I’d been thinking about doing for a while. I finally started a blog and I’ve posted at least once a week this month, often times more. It’s also taught me that if I don’t actively make an effort to stick to a posting schedule, the writing doesn’t get done. After a month of keeping up with it, I’m hooked. I enjoy the writing process and I like having my own little slice of the internet.

I’ve played a lot of games this month and I thought about games in a way I hadn’t before. Instead of just playing, I have started to think about what I think about a game or what would be interesting to post about.

I enjoyed most of NBI taking place on Discord. It felt more alive and interactive than a forum would have. While I may have not posted a lot in the Discord, I was always around checking out peoples articles and trying to keep up with chat. There are so many great people in the community with excellent advice and support. I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Until next year, So Long NBI!

 

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Exploring The Elder Scrolls Online

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I’ve been wanting to try out ESO for a while. For one, it’s on PS4 which means it’ll look pretty and two I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. I’ve been putting off actually buying it though. I rented it when it first came out and couldn’t get into it. The combat felt weak, the story was ok, and the character models looked kinda ugly. I returned it after a day and forgot about it. Lately it’s been creeping up in the news and I’ve met some people over PS4 that have had nothing but good things to say about it. Plus they just released a new DLC.

I found a copy of the game for $5 dollars at a local used store and fired it up. A friend of mine wanted to play together so we made some new characters and started our adventure. We ran around the starting city for a while racing through quest he had already done. I got acclimated to the combat and the skill system. It was nice to play with someone who was so knowledgeable in Elder Scrolls lore, as I have barely played more than 20 hours in Skyrim. I was having a bit more fun with it playing together. It really wasn’t until I sat down and played by myself for a couple hours to get my bearings that I started to click with the game.

My one dilemma so far is choosing a class. I’ve created 8 different characters trying out a lot of the different classes and skills. This is the one time I’m glad there aren’t a ton of classes to choose from, it’s hard enough with four. And then you have to decide between magika and stamina, and then what kind of weapon you want to use, and then what kind of armor there’s a lot of choice. Once I figure out the class I’ll have to figure out what race I want to play…so many decisions.Speaking of the character creator, I can’t remember the last time I was able to make a character with a beer gut.

The friend I’ve been playing with has his characters in the Ebonheart Pact faction and after restarting so many times, I’ve become very familiar with Bleakrock Isle. I really like the sturcture of the main quest there, gathering all the villagers in town before evacuating. And each villager only goes back to town after you complete their side quest. After the 8th time doing it all I’m so ready to move on.

After a lot of testing I’ve at least figured out the class I want to play formy first time around Tamerial, a magika nightblade. At first I was sure I wanted to be a bow and dual weilding stamina night blade but I liked the idea of a nightblade healer so much I just started over.I;m glad there are restats in this game if I ever want to try something different.

Even though I’m playing on PS4 there seems to be a ton of people in the starting zones even before Dark Brotherhood launched. I was actually surprised considering the game is about 1.5 years old on consoles now.One of my only complaint so far is that there is only voice chat, which I quickly opted out of while exploring. It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t people constantly blaring music, eating, or screaming for no apparent reason. Of course I’ll opt back in for group content but while I’m out in the world alone, silence is golden.

 

 

 

 

 

Game 4: Out There Somewhere

Screenshot (130).pngDeveloper: MiniBoss

Time to Beat: 2 hrs

It’s a puzzle platformer with teleportation and shooting aliens how could it not be fun? After getting shot out of the sky and landing on an unknown planet one loan astronaut and his trust teleportation gun must make his way across the planet collecting ship upgrades and health canisters to repair his ship and beat the big bad boss.

I’ve been playing this game off and on for months. It came in a bundle with Polarity and a few other indie games. Every once and a while I remember I have it and complete a level or two, get stuck and stop playing. My backlog challenge has actually forced me to finally beat it.

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The mechanics are quite simple. You can jump, you have a teleportation gun that will teleport you to a location where the beam hits a wall, and while teleporting you carry your momentum with you. This leads to a lot of puzzles being solved by jumping, firing the beam, landing on the ground and then jumping as soon as the beam hits the wall to jump higher. Along the way there are (insert name of item here cause I can’t remember it) that you can collect that will make your ship stronger, I think, I didn’t go out of my way to collect them which is why  the boss fight at the end was so difficult.

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Let’s talk about the last boss real quick. So most of the game is a puzzle platformer except for the very  beginning and the very game. At these two points in time, the game is a side scrolling space shooter a la R-Type.

I was not prepared for this, the game didn’t prepare me for it, it just threw me in there and said “hey, if you want to actually beat this game play a completely different game.” It’s not that it was hard, it was unexpected and took more than a few tries to get through. I’ve never been that great at dodging bullets and missiles in games like that. What I enjoyed a lot more was the mini boss fight which actually had you use the skills you’d developed through the game and put them to the test. That fight was a lot more fun and a lot less frustrating.

I actually want to go back after the backlog challenge is over, and try to find all the ship upgrades. I would like to know how much easier it makes the final fight plus it’ll add some extra puzzles. I’m not going to lie, I actually had to look up the solutions to two puzzles. As a rule I don’t like doing this but I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out where exactly to jump. In my search for the solution, I saw that the entire game can be beaten in 17 minutes which gives me hope my next play through can be under 2 hours.

 

NBI 2016: 6 Features I Want in My Perfect MMO

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This may have been last weeks NBI 2016 writing prompt, but it’s been a busy week and not a lot of writing has been done here. I really need to stop telling myself I’ll write tomorrow, because that doesn’t happen.

Thank you Faeldray at Lair of the Wolf Dragon  for coming up with the prompt.

 

1. No Mini Map

One thing I notice myself doing a lot in RPGs and MMOs is spending more time watching the little arrow cross the mini map when traveling than actually looking at the character and scenery in front of me. I think ESO’s compass bar to show you which direction the objective is really helps to limit  map starring.

2. Training Skills By Using Them

I’ve always liked when skills have to be used to make them more powerful. It makes more sense  that if my character never uses a skill then it shouldn’t get more powerful when he levels up or puts an ability point into it. Games like FlyFF used to have this and it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Runescape so much. While I can see how some could see it as a grind or a time sink, it’s another enjoyable layer of progression for me.

3. Voice Acted Quests

I’ve seen arguments against the voice acted quest. That people can read faster than the character can talk, that it ruins immersion, that it’s usually poorly done. If I have an option between reading or voice acting I’m going to choose voice acting every time..It’s not that i don’t like to read, I love to read, but in a game I’d rather the characters talk to me, it feels more alive that way. I noticed when I was playing FFXIV that I’d read through the quest dialog or story dialog and by the end of it I had no idea what I just read. Maybe I’m just lazy when I play a video game.

In MMO’s I do prefer the silent protagonist though. In Guild Wars 2 it irks me that every player character sounds exactly the same. I like the Secret World’s approach where the NPC’s are voice acted and my character asks questions via text

4. In-depth Gathering Classes

If I could play a game completely and utterly as a gather I would. I love to gather. I love going into the world, finding the resources, and hording collecting them. Runescape had this to some extent, it wasn’t super in depth but a lot of the skills weren’t either, you leveled up and could collect different things and use different tools. I wasted many a summer day cutting down yew logs. Finaly Fnatasy 14 has some pretty fun gathering classes as well. I kept hearing they were a grind but when I finally tried them out, I spent almost as much time leveling them up as I did running dungeons with my combat class.

5. Classes Advancements with Branching Specializations

I first experienced this in Flyff. You started out as a vagrant, after level 15 you chose a more specialized class like a mercenary or a magician, at level 60 you picked an even more specialized class like a Knight or an Elementalist. It added this carrot on a stick that if I grind out a few more levels I can wield a new weapon or get some better skills. I wouldn’t have had so much fun though if the title didn’t change. Outside of Korean grinders I’ve only seen this in Final Fantasy 14. I’ve been eying Tree of Savior because of their immense class system but haven’t heard great things about the game so far.

6. Robust Wardrobe System

Let’s get to the real reason to play MMO’s dressing up virtual dolls. It’s odd, it bothers me knowing everyone has the same voice in a game but it doesn’t bother me that everyone looks the same. I have no problem looking like the guy next to me as long as the armor looks awesome. Through Diablo 3, I have found the joys of transmoging and mixing and matching armor. I like the way Diablo 3 saves the style of the armor/weapon when you pick it up and it can be applied like a skin whenever you’d like later on. One of the strong points of Trove for me was collecting different weapon, hat, and face styles to mix and match later on. I also want some vanity items to drop even if their stuff like extra hair styles or slightly different looking armor, or weird outfits, but then I guess there would be nothing to sell in the cash shop.

Diablo 3 Platinumed

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition (English)_20160607123140

I’ve been playing Diablo 3 since it was released for PC. I remember the dark days of the Auction House, the atrocious drop rates, and playing the story mode over and over and over again. Diablo 3 was the first ARPG I’d ever played, I didn’t know any better, I liked the game for what it was. I started to drift away from the game right before Reaper of Souls was released, and had forgotten about it for a while.

I got a PS4 at the beginning of 2015 and the first game I bought for it was Diablo 3. I wanted to try out the new expansion and I thought the game would be fun on the big screen with a controller. It turns out I liked the game even more with the controller set up. I also liked the new adventure mode and I was actually getting legendary drops for my class. It was all very exciting.

Over the past year and a half I’ve been playing Diablo off and on. Its one of those games that I remember I have and proceed to play it exclusively for a month or two and then move on to something else. I always come back and it’s always just as fun as when I left off.

One of my goals for June was to Platinum the game. This involves getting all the shiny virtual trophies Sony throws at you for certain achievements. I’m not really one to trophy/achievement hunt but I was so close for this game. The only trophies I had left were  were the two grindiest. One was to get 6 characters to level 70 and the other was to complete 500 bounties.

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The 6 characters were easy, one of each class and I had already leveled most of them to cap earlier. For this one I had to level up a witch doctor, which was my main on PC, and a barbarian, who I had never played before. The Witch Doctor dinged 70 after playing through the campaign again with a friend who was new to the game. I leveled the Barabarian with gem of ease on a high powered weapon in Torment 6 Adventure Mode. He died a lot but after a few kills he was gaining 5 or 6 levels at a time. Toward 60 experience really started to slow down, but he was fun to play so it didn’t feel like a grind to get the last 10 levels.

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I’ve been working on the 500 bounties trophy since last summer when I found out about it. I had been playing it since January so I thought I would be somewhat close. Turns out I had only completed 150 bounties. Over the course of a year of sporadically playing I  finally knocked out the additional 350 bounties. Now I never want to do a bounty again. It’s not that bounties are hard, it’s that they’re time consuming. Completing 5 bounties took me around 20 minutes if I only ran to the objective. It was daunting to think about and after 10 I was bored and wanted to do something else. If I had been smarter I would have recruited a friend to do them with me and run two at a time but alas I haven’t had people to play with regularly until very recently.The only saving grace with the bounties is that they give much needed crafting materials as a reward. It’s not as shiny as a legendary item but it’s still worth the effort. Thankfully, after 500 I’ve gathered enough materials to stop doing them for a very long time.

Now that I have one, I don’t feel the need to achieve a platinum trophy ever again. Of course its fun to hear the ding while playing a game. I always pause to look up what I just did to get that particular trophy but I don’t actively seek them out. I’m just not really an achievement guy, unless they unlock titles…I love me some titles.

 

 

Looking For MMO: Dusting Off GW2 and TSW

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Choices, Choices, Choices

The great thing about  MMOs is that there are so many to choose from. There’s the AAA Acronym titles we all know and love. There’s  free to plays, like a lot, where do you even start? And then there’s even more free to plays from really small developers that you can find on Steam if you look hard enough. Games where the entire server population is 30 people and the graphics are pixelated 2d stick figures. I’m not really sure why, but I find some of these really charming sometimes.

This past week I’ve been exploring the MMOs I already own, which admittedly adds up to grand total of 2.  I patched Guild Wars 2 for the first time since the expansion released and I reinstalled the Secret World after picking up the Complete Edition on sale last weekend.

I have been reluctant to play both of these titles  because of the low performance on my laptop. I’ve been “saving” them for when I finally get a PC good enough to run them well. It’s not that they are unplayable, the graphic setting just has to be on low.  Well life happens, the PC keeps getting  pushed further and further into the future. So I figured, life is short let’s play through them right now.

Taking It Slow

The last time I put any serious time into Guild Wars 2 was maybe two years ago. I was home for winter break and a couple of college buddies mentioned they wanted to start playing again once the semester started back up. I didn’t get a chance to play with them when the game released so I was excited to finally do some group play with friends. I spent the whole 4 week break trying to get my character to 80. This wasn’t exactly the most fun way to play, it turned into kind of a chore. I was clearing zones as fast as I could to get the xp and not so much to take in the game. By the time I was at level cap I didn’t really know what was going on in the story, I barely knew what all my abilities were, and I had blown through the game without really seeing it. By the time school was back in session, I was burned out and my buddies never actually started playing again .This time around I’m slowing it down. I’m setting out to see the whole game instead of just the endgame.

As for the Secret World,I bought the Secret World at the wrong time. I saw it’s urban fantasy setting and unique weapons and classes and bought it on an impulse. I wanted to play  a lot of combat and I didn’t much care for story. It turned out the Secret World wasn’t great on combat and had a lot of story, so I put it down and didn’t come back. Over the years, I’ve heard about how good the writing is and how unique of a game it is so I decided to try again with a more patient attitude.

My Thoughts So Far

Splitting time between two games hasn’t lead to much progress in either of them. I did get enough time in to settle on a class and do some of the starting zones.

Usually when I play any game that lets me pick a class I tend to gravitate towards the ranged DPS. There’s just something about running around with a bow that appeals to me. Also I always hate spending money on health potions and prefer to take out my enemies before they reach me. When I started my new character in Guild Wars 2 I almost picked the Ranger. I decided I wanted to try a class I don’t play very often and get up close and personal with a melee playstyle. I have enjoyed running around the Plains of Ashford with my Char Warrior. I managed to get him to level 10 and start the personal story.

I really need to sit down and with The Secret World and sink some time into it. So far I’ve picked my faction, the Illuminate, I’ve got some weapons, and I’ve been running around Kingsmouth. I have really liked the voice acted quests and the stories so far, I just haven’t had as much time as I would have liked with it. Hopefully I can change that in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Games 2 and 3: Polarity and Cosmic DJ

The great thing about short games is that they’re short. You can sit down, start the game, beat it, see the credits, and have plenty day left to spare. This week I was able to check two games off my backlog list. Well, one was a game. The other was more of  a muppet infused fever dream.

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Total Play Time: 2 hours

Polarity has you take on the role of a hacker trying to break in to one of the most secure systems in the world. And by hacking, I mean solving 3D platforming puzzles. It’s kind of like portal except the portals are replaced with moving colored cubes around.

You can switch between 2 polarities, blue and red. While your polarity is red, you can pass through red gates and lasers and vis versa for blue. There are blue and red cubes that when placed on corresponding platforms, will unlock doors, turn on jump pads, and raise or lower platforms. The  levels are a mix between puzzles solving and obstacle courses that test how well you can switch polarities on the fly.

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Each level has 3 data pieces to collect that unlock additional levels

I think this one is also a mobile or tablet game. It ran really smooth on my laptop even with the graphics all the way up. I finished the first 11 “story” levels in just under an hour but I enjoyed the gameplay so I took a swing at completing the bonus levels as well. I’m glad I did, the bonus levels were a lot more interesting. They took longer to complete and required a little more thinking and reflexes. There was only one pesky data piece I wasn’t able to collect in the single player puzzles but I can live with that. Sadly I was not able to try out the co-op campaign because the game didn’t recognize the PS4 controller.

Cosmic DJ

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Pure Nightmare Fuel

Total Play Time: 70 minutes

This was an experience. I have no idea why this game was in my steam library, maybe a friend gave it to me, maybe it came in a bundle I honestly don’t know but it was there. I played it and it was glorious.

You are a Cosmic DJ  spoken to by a disembodied voice who calls himself the Cosmic Conductor. Steve4 (really that’s not a typo) has invaded the universe and is pumping out bad vibes. The Cosmic Conducter decides it’s your job to fight off the bad vibes and fix the 5 Jamtennas. Each Jamtenna has its own weird story to play through including but not limited to headless corgis, robot bands, and two felt puppet best friends.  You’re only goal is to make sweet jams by looping sounds togetherr, eventually filling up the jam bar, and moving on to the next scene.

It’s hard to put into words exactly how strange this game is so here’s a bunch of screen shots instead:

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So if you ever find this game lurking in your steam library turn the lights off, put on some headphones, and save the universe with the power of music.