My 5 Favorite Podcast

It turns out it’s hard to write a game blog when you haven’t played any games. It’s busy season at work which has meant a lot of overtime and very little free time. It also turns out that taking one day off from writing turns into 4 days off. I’ll have to remember that one. So this Friday I’ll be channeling my inner Buzzfeed to bring you 5 of my favorite podcasts. I’ve been listening to a lot of those lately.

I’m always looking for more to listen to so if you have any suggestions let me know!

5. Myths and Legends

Myths and Legends

Each week, Jason Weiser, tell folklre stories from around the world and throughout history. He puts his own spin on the stories and injects a lot of sarcastic humor which I appretiate. Each episode is around 35 minutes and at the end always features a creature of the week. I’ve always wanted to hear weird folk lore stories from around the owrld and learn about mythical creatures s this is the perfect combination.

4. Hello From the Magic Tavern

Hello From The Magic Tavern

This is an entirely improvised show about a man who falls into a portal behind a burger king to the mystical land of Foon. Instead of trying to get out he decides to host a podcast where he interviews new guests each week. He’s joined by two co-hosts, a rather inept wizard and a talking badger. I didn’t realize how much I liked improv until I listened to this. Sometimes the story can get way off tangent and some of the most rediculous things can come up in their banter. It’s a long running show that started in 2015 and is still releasing weekley. It’s perfect if you have a lot of tie and need something to binge. Each episode is about a half hour.

3. Lore

Lore

Every 2 weeks, Aaron Mahnke, digs up paranormal stories from history. It’s a little bit like Myths and Legends but with a more historical bent. If you like ghost stories and weird stories from history this is a perfect podcast. It also features great original piano scores. It’s spawned an Amazon Prime show and a few books but this is one of my favorite podcasts.

2. Massively OP Podcast

Massively OP

No surprise here that one of my top podcasts is Massively OP Podcast. I’ve been listening to this since the old Massively that was. It got me through a lot of boring days at my previous jobs. Justin and Bree do a great job about being informative and entertaining about the MMO industry.

1.Mission to Zyxx

Mission To Zyxx

Mission to Zyxx is another improv podcast though it is heavily edited it still manages to feel very improvised. I love the production value on every episode complete with sound effects and voice effects.  It’s a sci fi podcast entered around of a crew of ambassadors in the backwaters of space. The cast is amazing and their guests are always fantastic. There’s not an episode that didn’t have me laughing.

I discovered it one night when looking for something to listen to while playing Elite Dangerous. That night I think I binged half a season. I’ve listened to it a couple ties over while waiting for the next season to come out. Now that we’re on season two, Wednesdays are my new favorite day of the week.

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One More Month of MoviePass

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I decided to stick out MoviePass for another month. Last week there was news that, while the service would be only offering 3 movies a month for $10,  they would also be doing away with the surge pricing. There wasn’t any answer either way about the new release restrictions. Originally, MoviePass said any movie opening in more than 1,000 theaters would be unavailable.

GOing from 31 movies a month to 3 seems at first like a downgrade. But I rarely go to more than 4 a month. One of the reasons I kept it this month was to see if the offerings were going to be any better after August 15th, when all the changes are supposed to take place. Lately, I haven’t had any movie listings at my local theaters on the weekends and if I do, it’s one showtime for one or two movies.

It’s a bit of a gamble but I can afford to lose afford to lose $10 in case the service doesn’t get any better. I’m visiting my parents in my hometown this weekend and just checking the app I can either go see Slender Man or the Meg. It’s a good thing I like terrible horror movies, not so great if I wanted to see anything else. I don’t know how they decide which movies are available what days. When I checked yesterday, all the movie listings in the theater were available.

Once August 15th rolls around I’ll see how the new changes are. If all the showtimes and movies are continually available I might continue to pay for the service. It is only $3.33 per movies and there is a discount being offered on tickets after your third movie. My fiance already canceled so the real test will be to see how many movies I’ll actually go to by myself.

This Week in Screenshots: Space, Space, and More Space

No Man’s Sky

It’s busy season at work so I haven’t had a ton of time to play games this week. But the time that I did have, I spent in No Man’s Sky. It’s so easy to take great screenshots and I just started playing around with the photo mode. I picked up the PC version on sale last weekend and played pretty much all day on Saturday. We streamed it on PS4 Tuesday but sadly I couldn’t find a USB drive to take the screenshots off the PS4.

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There Are No Bad Super Hero Games

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I’ve never played a bad superhero game. I don’t even know if it’s possible to make one. There’s just something about taking over an  iconic characters that instantly makes for an especially enjoyable time. With  new Spider-Man game coming to the PS4 this month I got to thinking about what superhero games I’ve played over the years.

Of course there is Spider-Man 2, a game I played for hundreds of hours on the Gamecube. Besides Super Smash Brothers Melee it’s probably one of my most played games ever and the reason why my original Gamecube controllers are so worn out.  I think this was my first open world game ever and I loved that you could go anywhere you wanted. I only beat the story once and the rest of the time was spent climbing buildings, swinging around New York, and fighting petty crime, and getting those sweet, sweet, collectibles.

Before Spider Man 2 there was Spider Man, naturally. This was another one of my favorites on the Gamecube. This one was more constricted, it had a set of levels you played through that were fairly linear. I remember how excited I was when I realized there was a cheat code to play as the Green Goblin.

The most recent super hero game I’ve played is Batman Arkham Asylum. Me and Batman have had our ups and downs over the years. Batman: The Animated series, easily one of my favorite cartoons growing up. Christopher Nolan’s edgy Batman turned me off to the character for many years. Then I started to read the comics around 2016 and I’m all for Batman again. I really liked Arkham Asylum and thought it was a good mix of a stealth game and an action game. I own Arkham City but haven’t played it yet.

It doesn’t matter the setting or the genre if it’s got super heroes I’m in. Marvel Heros’ (RIP) cast alone made me return to the game every so often  I’m not particularly a fan of fighting games but if i put in a ton of hours X-Men: Next Dimension for Gamecube. I even enjoyed the Incredibles game and I’m pretty sure that was just made to reap in the profits after the movie was released. Even the mobile games can be fun for a little while.

I know that there are a few super hero MMOs in the works right now. I never got to play City of Heros but I did play DC Universe Online for a little bit. Before playing DCUO I thought that the main appeal of super hero games would be being a specific character. But it turns out that flying and super strength are just as fun on characters you make up as well.

The point is there’s just something about Super Heroes that work for video games. Maybe it’s a dash of nostalgia mixed with familiarity. Maybe it’s getting to take control of the story now instead of reading or watching it. Maybe it’s seeing super powers come to life. Or maybe it’s the joy of my inner child getting to be a super hero for a little while.

Introducing Welp Squad TV

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Back in February of last year, 4 friends and I decided that we should try this whole Twitch thing. It’s been a great experience so far and we’re still at it a year and a half later. For the longest time I’ve been hesitant to mention that here. For some reason I thought that the blog and the stream should be separate, but these days I don’t remember the reason why I wanted that in the first place.

Starting the stream is one of the reasons my blog posts have been slacking. WWe played a variety of games and never stuck with one very long. The original idea was to have 5 streamers on one channel so that we could fill most of the week up with streams and then have a group stream at the end of the week. e were all very gung-ho about it in the beginning. It was new and exciting and it was a great way to share the fun we were having as a group with other people.

Things didn’t turn out that way though. What started out as a lot of solo streams turned into fewer co-op steams and then fewer streams all together. It eventually boiled down to one member streaming a lot more than the rest of us which was ok for a while until burn-out set in. We made affiliate last September which renewed our interest in the platform again. I tried to step up my streams a little but it was hard as I was studying for some IT certificates at the time and looking for a new job. As time went on, I was getting too caught up on the numbers and the fun was starting to be sucked out of it. I also had a lot of impostor syndrome that has kept me from streaming on my own on more than one occasion.

This summer we took a step way back from the numbers and the schedules and decided to just stream when we wanted to stream. I’ve been meaning to get back into it and try some streaming on my own again once my new job’s busy season is over. I think as a whole we’ve been enjoying it a lot more as a group now. We’re trying a few different things like D&D, silly character voices, and trying to play a lot of different games to see what we like. Greg and I had a long running weekley series of 7 Days to Die but I can only kill zombies for so long. Turns out after 150 hours it gets boring.

We’ve met a lot of great people through streaming. Our sole mod, Charmcuddler, has been with us since the beggining and I think we’d all consider her a dear friend. We’ve got a couple other regulars who always make our nights when they stop in to chat. This summer has been a lot more chill on the stream and I think it’s been good for us. Our plan now is to keep trying some stuff out and go full swing again in the fall.

So if you’re ever on Twitch and want to stop by you can find us here:  https://www.twitch.tv/welpsquadtv

My Gaming Besties

 

I’m writing this post much later in the day than usual. Work has been super busy and I’ve been trying to start a new habit of actually going to the boxing club I belong to. It’s all been eating up my usual free time. Thus an evening post instead of a morning post.

This was one of the topics Belghast brought up on the first day of Blaugust:

  • Write  about someone you met through gaming that has turned into a friend that transcended a single game.
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Greg (Left) and Me: Steve (right)

So every once and a while I’ll post about what me and my friend Greg (somtimes referred to as Jay) are up to in games. He’s my go to co-op partner for just about everything and we first became friends because of our love of gaming.

I first met Greg after I had just moved to a new town right third grade. We were in cub scouts together, for a year we went to the same school, we became really great friends and I remember the first game we were ever hooked on. It was a Pokemon Trading Card computer game, I’m actually pretty sure it was a demo. There were a couple of pre-made decks and you battled the computer AI for a bit and then it tried to sell you booster packs over the internet. We loved it though an spent a lot of time after our cub scout meetings playing it.

As time went on we went to different schools and kind of drifted apart. It wasn’t until around 10th grade or so that we reconnected over games. This time around it was free to play MMOs, mostly of the korean variety. We spent entire summers playing Grand Chase, Grand Fantasia, APB Reloaded, and others. Senior year of high school is when we got super into Monster Hunter Tri and Valhalla knights on the Wii.

When we both went off to college in different states we tried to stay in touch as much as possible. We used to talk on the phone and watch old episodes of Power Rangers and Digimon when I was having a hard time adjusting to being away from home. Any time I would come back home for a break I’d always go over to his house and we’d play as many games together as we could before we both had to go back to school. We played Demon Souls until 4am one night over winter break trying to finally beat it. There was another summer in college where we were determined to beat RoboPit for the Sega Saturn. To this day we’re still 5 victories away from beating it.

After college I wasn’t able to go back home as often but I was able to get a headset and a PS4. We mainly keep in touch these days via games. Without games I don’t know that we would be as close of friends as we are today. He’ll be the best man at my wedding this October and he’s basically a brother to me now. We’ve been friends for 17 years and none of it might have happened without that one Pokemon trading card game.

Through Greg I’ve also met some other people who have become close friends as well. About 3 years ago we all started playing Trove together and started a skype chat. I only knew Greg in the chat at the time but over the years Christian and Josh have become great friends too. We all even started a Twitch channel together a year and a half ago. I’m sure I’ll talk about that sometime in the near future. We’ve since stopped playing Trove but the skype chat has never ended. We all try to get together once a week to play a group game.

RMT: You can pay for that?

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I just finished reading Play Money by Jullian Dibbell. Half the book talks about the economics of Real Money Trading (RMT) in the early 2000’s and the other half is the author talking about his own foray into RMT with Ultima Online. Apparently  there was a lot of money to be made from selling items, gold, houses, and accounts in 2004. That tag line is a little misleading, I don’t think anyone in this book made millions from RMT.

It got me thinking about where RMT is today. I know it still exists because every time I’m in a large city in Final Fantasy XIV I see a whole lot of shouts from gold sellers plugging their websites. Our group tried out Path of Exile and sure enough the chat log was full of currency sellers.  I’m wondering how profitable it is these days? Are that many people buying gold?

I always thought it was weird that games were selling things like level boosts, trade-able subscription tokens, or in Guild Wars 2 case, converting cash shop currency into in game gold. But if a player really wants gold, or certain item,or to skip leveling and there isn’t a way to do that within the game then they’re going to go outside the game. So why not get in on the action by offering these services to their players directly.

Personally, I’ve never thought about buying gold but I’ve bought a few trade-able cash shop items if I needed some funds for an armor set or weapons. It’s basically the same thing but without the risk of trusting a third party on the internet to deliver the goods after sending them money.

Of course there’s still tons of way to buy large quantities of gold, individual item, accounts, and even raid clears. The strangest thing by far is division boosting in competitive games. I can understand buying items and what not for an MMO where at least your going to keep the item. But what is the point of paying for someone else to play a game for you to get you to a higher division if you’re not good enough to get there on your own? Your just going to lose it anyways and this stuffs not cheap.

Actually I’m surprised about how expensive this stuff is in general. The gold by far is the cheapest, items can range from few dollars to hundreds, and accounts are sold for hundreds of dollars each depending on the game. And the scope of games is huge. It seems like as long as there’s an online component to a game there’s some one selling something for it.

This is a side of games I’ve never though about before and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s just a game and if someone wants to drop $600 dollars on an account more power to them. If or when that accounts get banned well that’s what you get for not playing buy the rules. This of course is assuming the seller is the original owner. It’s also annoying to be spammed by gold sellers or see bots all over the place.