Fun Money

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Mission to Zyxx has been my go-to weekly podcast for the last year and a half and I was very content listening each week for free. They had a Patreon and released bonus content there but I was never intrigued enough to actually donate. This season they have moved to the Maximum Fun network which allows users to donate to the show through them with reward tiers and such. It seems like a more specialized podcast focused Patreon. In episode 2 of season 3  Seth Lynn said something that really stuck with me. It was: “Think about what your life would be like without Mission to Zyxx.” I know the whole point of this 10-minute spiel was to get people to donate but at the same time, it made me realize that I can’t expect other people to support the things I like if I don’t support the things I like. While it may be a silly improvised sci-fi podcast it’s something that’s important to me and if it went away I’d be heartbroken. So I subscribed, good on you Seth you’re a guilt marketing genius.

I’ve come to this realization that It’s OK to spend money on things I like. Especially things that I enjoy and have been enjoying for a while. I know this sounds like common sense but it really struck me only a few months ago.

I was playing Black Desert heavily for a while. When I first started, I looked at the prices of cash shop items and thought ” $40 for an outfit, that’s outrageous.” But after 100+ hours in a month, I bought 5 pets and a value pack for $50 and felt no guilt. I’ve gotten more enjoyment and playtime out of BDO than a $60 AAA title.

I’m starting to feel the same way about Trove. I actually bought the starter pack because it gave me 4 inventory expanders for $5 instead of $20. Did I need those inventory slots? No, but they are nice to have and make the game a little more enjoyable. I also have picked up the freemium subscription, the patron pass that gives a lot of great boosts for 2 months now. I’ve complained in the past that free to play games tend to milk their customers for money and I felt that way very strongly about Trove under Trion. But I look at steam and see 500 hours played. Maybe after 500 hours, they deserve a little compensation no? A little too late for Trion but at least Trove is still around.

I remember the first time I asked my parents to buy something for me for an online game. They looked at me like I had 2 heads. Why would you want to spend real money to dress up a character in a video game and why do you need to pay monthly for a video game. I had no disposable income of my own so I lived the F2Per’s life and grinded through Runescape, Flyff, and countless other free to play MMO’s. Thank god Guild Wars was a buy to play the game without a subscription otherwise I may never have played my favorite game of all time.

This carried over even when I had a disposable income of my own. Why would I pay for this virtual item when I could buy a whole game. Why would I pay a subscription every month when I can buy a game and play it forever. But here’s the thing. Those microtransactions are in games I actually enjoy playing. Those subscriptions have been the price of admission to some really great games. And those games I bought for $20 on steam are still sitting there unplayed.

My budgeted “fun money” is going to be spent anyways. Might as well spend it on something I’m enjoying right now and support the continued development or existence of it.

Backlogged: The Last Door: Season 1

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I love horror. Across all media, it’s my favorite genre. My favorite kind of horror isn’t in your face slashers and monsters. It’s the psychological, creepy, unsettling horror that not only makes your skin crawl but makes you think as well. That’s exactly the kind of horror the Last Door is.

Originally released episodically, Season 1 provides the first 4 chapters of The Last Door. It follows Jerimiah Devitt after he receives a letter from an old boarding school friend Anthony Beechworth. Devitt arrives at the Beechworth Estate,  in Victorian-era Sussex, only to find that his friend has hanged himself. He discovers another letter instructing him to seek answers at his old boarding school which has been turned into an end of life care facility. There he remembers the events of him and 4 others conducting a ritual to see “beyond the veil”.  Throughout the game, Devvit sees a huge bird eye and there is a heavy emphasis on crows. There is another story with 2 psychiatrists talking about their patient Devvit. It is unclear whether this is taking place before, during, or after the events of the game.

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I didn’t think a game that looked like this could be unsettling. If there is a game that proves you don’t need fantastic graphics to convey a great story and have a great gaming experience it’s this one. The sound design makes the experience very immersive. In fact, the sounds are the scariest parts. The auditory jump scares they are placed sparingly and in just the right moments. The original music by Carlos Viola carries the game. The piano is haunting, sad, and creepy. Plus, there’s a different track for almost every room.

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Okay, that’s a little creepy
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And that…..

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Point and Click games are hit or miss for me. Sometimes the gameplay gets in the way of the story. It can be frustrating when I can’t figure out a puzzle but I want to continue the story. That isn’t the case here. The items and their use are very logical. There was only one time, in episode 4, that I had a hard time figuring out what to do next. after about a half an hour using objects on anything and everything, I ran to the internet for help. Turns out I had missed an entire area and a lightbulb had to be used with a dead deer to make a light for a photography darkroom. Other than that the puzzles were logical without being too easy.

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My favorite part of Season 1 was in episode 3. There’s an area that is covered in fog and throughout the episode, the characters tell you it cannot be traversed without a map. It turns out the map is actually a poem and you have to match the sound clues in the foggy area to lines in the poem to make it through. This section highlights the best parts, the sound design, and the writing.

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After the first 4 chapters, there are 4 mini-scenes in the extras.  They don’t give any answers to the original chapters and provide a lot of questions for the next season. I wan’t expecting these when I finished the game and clicked the extras menu. It was a nice touch.

It took me 5 hours to complete Season 1. That’s more time than I initially thought I would get out of it. I’m very much looking forward to playing through season 2 and seeing how the story plays out.

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Steam Sale 2019: And Actually Playing Them

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I’m trying something new with the games I own. Play them as soon as I buy them. I know, what a novel idea. I haven’t bought many games this year because I know I don’t play them. Then like clockwork, the steam sale comes around and suddenly I have 8-10 new games that then sit there collecting virtual dust while I play something else.

I remember when I first discovered Steam and the magic of that first steam sale. Texts and calls would be flying among friends about which games we have to get right now because of the amazing flash sales. I ended up with a lot of games that year because they were cheap, not necessarily because I wanted to play them.

After a few years of being a PC gamer, the steam sale loses it’s excitement and just becomes a fact of life. Don’t buy any games in June/July because that big sale’s coming. I for one am glad they did away with the flash sales. Sure the discounts aren’t as big but there’s no fear of missing our and constantly checking steam for the game you want.

These days I don’t buy much on steam unless there’s a sale. I browse games, I wishlist them, and then when the big sales come around I see what still interests me and I buy it. God forbid I ever buy a game at full price. I rarely go off my wishlist now unless a friend gets something they want to play with me. I even cleaned some games out of my wishlist this year. If I haven’t bought it in the 5 years it’s been sitting in there, I don’t think I ever will.

My biggest change this year is how I organize Steam. Before I had a bunch of genre categories and placed games accordingly. When I beat a game I  put it in the completed category and hid it from my library. This year I decided to make a new category called Current, place all the games I just bought in it and collapse everything else. I’m only going to play these games until there aren’t anymore on the list and then add more based on what I feel like playing. I like it better this way. There’s artificially less choice in what I want to play. We will see how it turns out

Steam Sale Games 2019

Agarest: Generations of War – A strategy JRPG series that I’ve been eying for a few years now. The bundle with the 2 other games wasn’t that much more than the first game so I picked it up.

Dragon Cliff – I’ve been into idles games this year for some reason. This game bills itself as a semi idle game where you manage a guild of adventurers. From the few hours I’ve played, it has a story and some interesting mechanics.

Elminage Gothic – I’ve been craving an old school dungeon crawler ala Wizardry for a while now. I had read that this one was pretty good. The interface is a little weird, I believe it’s a port from the PSP.

Stranger of Sword City – Another Wizardry style dungeon crawler. This one is supposed to be more beginner-friendly and I like the art style.

Fictorum – I don’t remember where I first read about Fictorum but it’s been on my wishlist for at least a year. From what I understand it’s a wizard simulator with a great destructible environment.

Has-Been Heroes – So far this is my favorite purchase this year. It’s a rogue-like and the combat system is amazing. You have 3 heroes and each one occupies a lane. They all have spells and basic attacks with various cooldowns so you have to swap them between the lanes to deal with the encroaching enemies. It feels a little like a tower defense game.

It’s A Wipe – A parody simulation of MMO raiding. I love the tagline: “All the fun of leading a guild without the people.”

The Last Door Seasons 1 and 2 – a pixel art point and click horror game. I’ve been playing a lot of story-heavy games recently and I’ve heard this one is good.

Observer – a story-heavy game with a sci-fi setting.

Outlast – I’ve never played a proper horror game. SOMA is the closest thing I’ve played. It was $3 and on my wishlist so why not.

Sanctum 2 – I’ve looked into getting this game for years now. A friend and I put a ton of hours into Orcs Must Die! 2 and this looked just like that but with guns. Plus it’s up to 4 players which is perfect for my gaming group. I bought a 4 pack so everyone could play. After playing it together we also got the DLC.

Strange Brigade – 2 of my friends got this and it looked fun so I picked it up too. Played it once so far and this is my second favorite purchase this year.

Valkyria Chronicles – I wanted to play this when it came out for PS3 and never did. Then I wanted to play it when it came out for PS4 and never did. Then it was on PC for a while and I still never bought it until this year. There are apparently 4 games in this series now. It’s just such a different concept, JRPG anime World War 2.