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.

 

 

 

Double Dipping: Buying games more than once

img_20180805_153750.jpgThis weekend I picked up No Man’s Sky on PC after having a ton of fun with it earlier in the week on PS4. It was on sale for $30 which was just in the right price range for me to justify getting it again. I was put off by how poorly it was running on my original PS4 and by how small the text was on my TV. I’m not sure if it was always like this or if I’ve just been spoiled by PC games now.  I also thought it would play better with a keyboard and mouse; so far it has.

I don’t normally buy games more than once with the rare occasion that I get one in a Humble Bundle. I also don’t really go for the remastered or Game of the Year editions either. Over the years though there have been a handful of titles that I’ve bought on different systems for one reason or another.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Monster Hunter World hits PC this week and I’ve been debating on whether or not I want to get it. So I thought I’d share some games that I have bought multiple times in the past.

Borderlands 2

I own Borderlands 2 on PS3, PS4, and PC. The funny thing is I don’t even like borderlands that much. I bought it for PS3 because it was $10 and me and Greg were suppose to play it together but we never got around to it. Then the Handsome Jack Collection came out for PS4 and we both bought that because it was 2 games in one with all the DLC. We played a lot of it but still haven’t finished it because I got burnt out on it. Finally, I own it on PC because it was part of a Humble Bundle where I wanted some other games in that tier.

Diablo 3

I bought Diablo 3 on whim when I had the itch to play an ARPG and I found out that my college laptop could run it. This was a bit after launch back before Loot 2.0 when drop rates were terrible and there was still the Auction House. I ended up buying the expansion as well when it came out and put a ton of time into it. Sometime between graduating from college and buying a PS4 I had lost my battlenet account credentials that I had bought Diablo 3 with. So I bought Diablo 3 for PS4 and I have to say that I liked it even more on that platform. I also got a couple friends to get it too and we played it heavily for about a year. To this day it’s still the only game I’ve gotten a platinum trophy for on PS4.

 

Final Fantasy XIV

Yet another game I bought on PS4 because I didn’t have a PC that could handle it. Actually now that I think about it, I bought it on PS3 first before I owned a PS4. I was super excited that there was a full blown MMO on consoles and that it worked well with a controller. At the time there was not as many free to play MMOs on consoles as there are now. Once I got a PS4 I ended up upgrading to the PS4 version and picking up Heavensward. While I beat the original A Realm Reborn content I still haven’t gone into the second expansion. One day I saw that the PC version was on sale with all 3 expansions and jumped on it just to see how it was on PC. I go back to it every once and a while. I really like that the accounts are cross platform so that one day when my friends want to play on PS4 again I can still play with them from my PC.

 

The Elder Scrolls Online

I picked up a physical copy of ESO for $5 at a Gamestop. I played it for a while and was really enjoying it. So when I wanted to get the DLC’s I found it was cheaper to get a digital bundle that was on sale that included the base game too. I ended up giving my physical copy to a friend so that we could play together. Then I forgot to pause my Humble Bundle subscription one month and ended up getting the base game on PC. This is one of the only games I enjoyed a lot more on PS4 than PC. If I ever get back into it it’ll be on PS4 for sure.

Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning

This is one of my favorite PS3 games. This one game is why I still keep my PS3 in the closet in case I want to play it. I bought it on PC during a sale once because I’ve come to the realization that I’m too lazy to hook up my PS3 again and the PC version came with all the DLC I never played.

Destiny & Battlefield 4

For a couple months Destiny was my main game. I missed the upgrade window by the time I got a PS4 and had to buy it again to continue playing. The same thing happened with Battlefield 4. Luckily, I was able to pick up both disks fairly cheap.

 

Are there any games that you’ve bought more than once?

 

 

 

 

 

So Long, Moviepass

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Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

Moviepass is a subscription service that lets its users see one movie a day for a flat monthly fee. It’s been around since 2011 and has gone through a lot of pricing changes over the years. In August 2017 they changed their pricing to $9.95 a month and the service took off. They send you a debit card, you go to a theater and check in on the app, and then that debit card is loaded with a set amount of funds to buy a ticket and you’re in. The caveats being you can only check in 30 minutes before the show. All of the theaters around me have reserved seating so when I go to see popular movies theres a good chance I’m going to be sitting close to the screen.

Now paying $9.95 to see 31 movies a month is a fantastic deal considering movies tickets these days can be upward of $12. When I first heard about it I was skeptical, it seemed too good to be true. But I took a chance and paid my $10 to see what this was all about. 2 weeks later I received a Moviepass debit card and it worked flawlessly to the first theater I took it to. It’s been a really interesting company to follow. They’ve lost tons of money but their subscriber base since 2017 has exploded. I knew it wouldn’t last but I was going to get the most out of it that I could before the whole thing fell apart.

There have been a lot of changes since I signed up. Opening weekend for Avengers: Infinity War saw Moviepass limit the amount of times you could see a movie to one. Before that, you could see any movie as many times as you wanted in a month.

At the beginning of last month surge pricing was introduced on top of the subscription fee. Depending on the popularity of the movie and of that particular show time you’d have to pay $2-$6 dollars extra to get a ticket. From what I’ve seen this really applies on the weekends for showtimes later in the evenings. Also if a movie has been out for a while most of the showtimes aren’t effected by surge pricing. Admittedly, I’ve used the service less since they started doing this.

Last week there were major outages where nothing was showing up on the app as available. Moviepass said that they would no longer be offering showtimes for movies opening in 1,000 or more theaters. They weren’t very clear on if that meant for the first few opening weeks or ever while the movie is in the theaters. Now there are either no showtimes listed for theaters near me or just a handful for movies that have been out for a while.  On top of all of this, the monthly fee is increasing to $15 next month. I think it may be time to jump ship.

The deal has gotten progressively worse but what can you expect when you’re only paying $10 a month to see a whole lot of movies. If Moviepass was started to disrupt the theater industry I think it did it’s job. AMC and Cinemark have started offering a few movies a month for a subscription. Being a Moviepass subscriber has had me in the theater more often. Before my fiance and I signed up we’d see maybe a movie every couple months. With Moviepass we were seeing at least 4 a month and buying more concessions than we have in the past. We saw a lot of movies we otherwise would have skipped. It also devalued movies for me too. I don’t know what it would take for me to see a movie at full ticket price now.

She already canceled and I’m leaning towards canceling as things keep going down hill. With the surge pricing and limited showtimes it’s almost a better deal to go to my Regal Theaters $5 Tuesdays than to keep paying for Moviepass and it’s certainly more convenient now.  Part of me has a morbid interest in just how far things will fall before Moviepass throws in the towel.

 

This Week in Screenshots: Dragons, Fortresses, and Gnomes

I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while because there are a lot of screenshots that don’t make it into posts or their isn’t a whole lot to be said about them except this turned out pretty cool. Plus it’s Saturday and I don’t normally blog on the weekends.

I’ve always taken a lot of screenshots. Mostly for my own amusement or to share with friends. I find that games look a lot different when their not in motion and sometimes you can get some interesting shots.

 

 

Tales of Zestiria

I beat this game this week and these are some of my favorite shots from the end of the game.

 

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7 Days to Die

We wrapped up our second campaign last week my turning on creative mode and turning the umber of zombies per horde to max. The first one is our completed base with lots of blade traps, turrets, and spikes. The second is the aftermath of day 700 horde night. We were not prepared. In fact there was so much lag at the end the game kept crashing every few minutes and I’d have to invite my friend Greg back in.

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World of Warcraft

I did my annual tour of the WoW free trial with a Gnome priest. Still debating if I want to invest any more time into it.

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Two Man’s Sky

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Back in 2016, when the hype train was rolling in, I tempered my expectations for No Man’s Sky. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited and even preordered it so I could play right at release. Unlike the general public, I got exactly what I was expecting and wanted. It just turns out that what I wanted didn’t happen to be all that entertaining. I whiled away some hours and then put it down never to be played again until this week.

That’s when the big multiplayer patch hit. I had been following the development of No Man’s Sky and every time I saw a patch I thought: wow that’s great but still no multiplayer. Those first few days after the initial release I was in a voice chat with a bunch of other friends just talking about what we were seeing as we played. It would have been so much better if we could have played together and now we can!

But the most striking thing I found when I loaded up No Man’s Sky was the third person view. Now this is exciting for a couple reasons. It gives the game a whole new perceptive (sorry I had too). It makes everything feel bigger with your character as a reference point and the world feels that much more huge and lonely. Also, third person view also allows for dress up and dress up is the most important thing after game play.

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Di-hydrogen is the only thing keeping us alive out here

Now we haven’t gotten to delve that much into multiplayer but the hour or so we spent with it was fun. We decided to play survival mode because we wanted a challenge. Probably not the best idea after coming back to a game after 2 years. What I assume survival does is pick a barren wasteland of a planet, puts you in the middle of it, and says ok bye have fun now.

Our first planet was a frozen tundra of death. Our environmental protection was nothing and we ended up dying over and over again unable to find warmth anywhere. So we decided to try again with a new game. In a cruel twist of fate the game put us on a desert planet which is a cool 126 degrees at night. We survived long enough to find our ship and begin the tutorial, lucky us.

The next hour was spent fumbling around the menus trying to figure out exactly what we were suppose to do. It took us a few lives to figure out how to make charges for our life support and thermal protection. Then we spent a good chunk of time hording those resources because those meters don’t last very long with the current equipment. Once we had enough of that we started chipping away at the tutorial missions. The most harrowing part was trekking 700u away from the safety of our ship to get a analytics scanner in a little abandoned base. We almost didn’t have enough sodium to charge our thermal suit for the journey back. I’ll be glad once we get off this planet and out into space mostly because I’m tired of hearing “Thermal protection falling” over and over again.

We haven’t played around with the building aspect yet but I’m glad it’s been added to the game. One of the downsides of 7 Days to Die was when I was offline my friends couldn’t build in the game. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to work on a base while each other is offline in this game. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far out of No Man’s Sky after a couple years. While it was fun for a while when it launched there didn’t feel like there was a lot to do. The game seems way more fleshed out these days.