Blapril Lessons Learned – Again

Blapril

Another month-long blogging event is almost in the books. It’s been yet another great experience for me personally and I’ll miss the constant content to read through every day. As always, a big thank you  Belghast for putting on another fun-filled event. And thanks to everyone who participated for giving me some awesome content to read this month!

In this final week of Blapril, the topic turns to self-reflection and lessons learned.

Earlier this week I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I went through and updated information on my sidebar,  About page, and Games Beaten page. My about page hadn’t been updated since May 29th 2016 which is the day I started this whole thing. I also went through and cleared up some categories and tags on my old posts starting at the beginning.

Then I got curious and started reading my old posts. I don’t know if I’ve done that in the almost 5 years that this blog has been running. It’s something I always said I would do at some point but never quite got around to.

So much has changed in my personal life in the last 5 years I was virtually a different person. As I went through everything, I could see my gaming interests shift from MMOs to more general single-player and co-op games. It was great to go back and read my thoughts from years ago. So much so that it’s motivation in itself to keep the blog going.

What I found particularly interesting were the other Blaugest Lessons Learned posts. I even found one from  NBI in 2016 when I was wrapping up participating in my first blogging event.

I wholeheartedly agree with Naithin here, maybe I should have looked at these before Blapril started. It looks like the lessons I’ve learned this year are the same lessons I learned every year.

  • I have time to write if I make time to write
  • I enjoy writing when I actually sit down to do it

I can’t say that I’ve learned anything new this time around either.

With this unique situation, we find ourselves in lately, there’s a lot more time in the day than there used to be. I’ve been trying to force myself to write in the morning but all that’s lead to is waking up to the thought that I don’t want to write. Not the most motivating thought first thing in the morning. I have found that it’s much easier to write on a lunch break or in the afternoon. This is very easy to achieve while working from home but I’m not sure I can keep it up once I have to go back to the office.

Once again, after writing a few days in a row I find that I enjoy the blogging process. I always come out of these events feeling so positive. This is the part of my wrap up post where I tell you I’m going to make more of an effort to blog. We’ll see about that. I find myself to be an “event” blogger.  In a week or two, it might be a while before you hear from me again given my track record.

We’ll just have to see how it goes.

 

 

 

Trove’s Delves Update

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The last time I played was just after the From the Deep patch dropped. Before then, my interest was already winning but I stuck around to see what the new update had in store. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep my interest. Random events that require cooperation from 10 plus random people in Trove…no thanks.

Just yesterday I learned that a new update was coming. And by coming I mean launched on the day I heard about it. Looking a little farther back, I’m actually surprised it launched so quickly. I found patch notes from the PTS server dated March 30th and a trailer was dropped sometime last week saying the update was coming this spring. I guess it is spring now. So, I messaged the old Trove crew and let them know we should check it out sometime this week.

You can find the full patch notes here.

 

Delves

Delves are the biggest chunk of content/ change in this update. I’m sure that surprises no one. These are procedurally generated endless dungeons that can hold up to 8 players. These dungeons mix the Geode side of Trove and the combat side of Trove as the players race through the dungeon completing an objective under a time limit. At the end of each floor, there’s a boss that must be defeated in under 3 minutes to progress to the next level. This, of course, comes with its own currency to collect for mounts, wings, banners, and allies.

There are 3 types of Delves: Public, Private, and challenge. Public Delves can be queued for in the Hub and will pair you with players of your similar power rank. You can craft portals for Private Delves at the Delve crafting bench which allows you to for premade teams of up to 8 people. Challenge Delves are generated each week so that players are on an even playing field for leaderboard competition. Rewards will be based on depth level reached in the Challenge Delve and for clearing 3 consecutive tiers the fastest.

Delves can be done by anyone at any level but this looks like more of an end game activity. Delves are replacing the previous end game dungeons, Shadow Towers, and all of the rewards from Shadow Towers are now obtainable in the Delves. I like this change, I was getting bored of killing the same bosses every week. Now I can run these and mix it up a little. Shadow Towers still exist but with no rewards. Shadow Tower portals will take you straight to the boss room now.

 

Tomb Raiser

I used to love the Tomb Raiser pre-Mante of Power update in 2016. That update took him from a viable class to the bottom tier. I haven’t touched him in 4 years. This patch brings much-needed buffs to the class. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s a playable class now.

 

Minor Updates

There are a lot of little things that were updated in this patch. Things of note were Class Leaderboards are no longer based on the Power Rank of the class and now “require effort on the class”. I would argue, getting enough power rank on a class to get rewards on the leaderboard was effort enough but it looks like now you’ll have to play the class to get rewards. There’s a whole list of activities in the Patch notes that boil down to things you’d typically do in Trove on a Weekley basis anyways. This is a little disappointing as a majority of my empowered gem boxes came from the class leaderboards every week.

Bomber Royale no longer gives Tome Experience. That’s a shame, it was an effective and fun way of getting those tomes done every week when your sick of running dungeons.

Legendary Tomes now nag the player once every 30 seconds if they are still equipped after being fully charged

This is my favorite patch note. So many times I haven’t noticed this was filled up. I welcome a notification that will “nag” me to change my tome out.

Thoughts

This looks like a decent update with content I can sink some time into again. I haven’t had a chance to test out any of the new features yet but I’m sure we’ll be playing sometime this week. The Public Delves are either going to be great or it’s going to be a few people trying to do the objective while 5 guys sit AFK. It’s Trove after all.

Apparently, the Shadow Towers were one of the main sources of lag in the game due to how they spawn a zone for each person doing them. I’m interested to see if the lag has improved. I’m not holding my breath though. Trove just wouldn’t be Trove if you weren’t rubberbanding every 5 minutes.

TemTem: It’s Not Exactly PC Pokemon

 

20200428070644_1.jpgI want to start this off by saying I know that TemTem is early access. It’s very difficult to forget as it’s plastered everywhere. There’s also this giant notification that you get when launching the game. I also know that early access games can change a lot from the time they “launch in EA” to the time they “actually launch”. You can see the roadmap here. There’s a lot still to come.

So I wasn’t expecting a finished game. From most of the reviews I expected a not quite finished but very playable game. And so far that’s what I’ve gotten.

This weekend I spent some time re-acquainting myself with the game and working towards beating the first Dojo. I bought this a few weeks ago after a friend picked it up. The main draw for me was a Co-Op pokemon game so I wasn’t too interested until someone I could play with had it. I played around 2 hours that first day and didn’t touch it again until last week. At the time of this writing I have 12 hours in the game but I haven’t done enough Co-Op to form an opinion on it yet.

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For the most part, TemTem is a reskinned pokemon you can play on PC. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After so many years of learning which pokemon are which type and what those type match-ups are, it’s refreshing to have to learn something new. This leads to situations where using certain attacks will do very little damage. But after a while, I’m starting to learn what moves to use when and when my TemTems are about to be at an extreme disadvantage.

I was going to list all of the similarities and realized it would just be easier to list what’s different: The Battle System. While it’s still turn-based and relies on knowing type match-ups it has a few key differences that make it it’s own.

The first is that every battle is a doubles battle. With two TemTems out at all times there’s some interesting strategies and synergies. My favorite is to use Chain Lightning with a partner who’s resistant to electric damage. Chain Lightning hits 3 TemTems clockwise so you hit both of your opponents and your partner. When you forget your partner is a water type things don’t go so well…

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Then there’s the stamina system. Instead of PP in pokemon where each move has a limited number of uses TemTem has stamina amounts for each move. Each TemTem has a different stamina pool based on their stats. You can use a move if it exceeds your stamina pool but it will take a chunk of your health depending on just how little stamina you have. If a TemTem overexerts itself by using all of its stamina it needs to rest for a turn. I find this adds a bit more strategy to battles. Do I go for the big hit and hope for a knockout or do I reserve my stamina for a few rounds with little attacks? Do I sacrifice some health and take out the opposing TemTem this round or take 2 rounds to KO?

I will say that TemTem is harder than recent Pokemon games. There is a lot of grinding involved to level up a newly added team member. In the first few zones, there aren’t a lot of effective type match-ups so battles go on longer. After the first Dojo when you h have access to the water, leveling new TemTems is easier but still slower than recent

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The whole game feels tougher thanks to the doubles format and the stamina system. I find that I have to switch TemTems mid-battle a lot more than I do in Pokemon. Beating Sophia, the first Dojo leader, took me two tries with about 2 hours of leveling in between. Unlike Pokemon’s gym leaders, Sophia had different types of TemTems so I couldn’t exploit one type match up the whole time.

Whether or not it’s worth the $35 price tag right now remains to be seen. Judging from the steam reviews there are 30-40 hours of PVE content right now. 12 hours in, I’ve only beaten 1 dojo and there appears to be 4 in the game right now so I’d say that’s about right. The game also just got competitive matchmaking, if you’re into that kind of thing, which is sure to extend the time you can spend with the game.

 

 

 

 

 

GTFO: We Were So Close…Twice

 

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This is a 9 round alarm door and it’s horrifying.

Slowly but surely our group is starting to get better each week we play. It’s nice to play a game where progression isn’t dictated by an XP bar or unlocks. It’s just pure player skill improvements and learning the game. The missions always have to same room layout but items may appear in different rooms from run to run. It makes each run unique but doesn’t have the randomness of a procedurally generated map.

We’re getting better at communicating and planning ahead of time as a group. We’ve also started taking a stealthier approach. There are some rooms that are filled to the brim with enemies. Sometimes, it’s easier to send one person in with a lock melter and silently open lockers instead of trying to take out everything in the room first.

It leads to some great moments too. We needed a tool refill for the turrets and the only one available was in a room with 2 big sleepers. I was sent in armed with glowsticks and my crouch button to get around the room without waking up the big guys. Nothing is more intense than having 3 people tell you one is waking up while your halfway up a stairwell in pitch-black darkness.

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We started the night off running “The Dig” again. One of our group members hadn’t completed it the last time we ran it. While you can drag your teammates into higher tier missions in the rundown we thought it would be a good warm-up. The run went as smoothly as it could have. No one was downed, we left extraction with ammo, and we completed it in 20 minutes or so.

Unfortunately, that would be our only completed mission of the night. That’s not such a surprise considering it took us 2 weeks or so to get the first mission done. The next tier of the Rundown has 4 missions, each with their own unique situations. We ran Sacrifice and Pathfinder a few times each.

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Pathfinder has a lot of little alarm doors which means there’s a lot of hordes to deal with. Some of the alarm doors are in the same rooms or in a connecting room. We found that we had to leave a door or two open in the first area so it wouldn’t be broken down when we needed it for the next set of alarms. Pathfinder is big too. Each run took about 30 minutes.

The objective in Pathfinder is to find a specific terminal and start an uplink. We found the terminal once. When the uplink is established you have to defend the terminal while someone typers in the codes. This leaves you with a man down for the enemy hordes that start to spawn. This was also the first time we’d been this far so no one quite knew what to do with the terminal. There were some great moments of sporadic shooting and furious typing all mixed together. I’m not sure how far we made it in the terminal but we only survived a few horde waves before we were taken down.

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That’s when we switched over to Sacrifice. Sacrifice is a much smaller map. The gimmick here is security doors open with 10 or so aggroed enemies waiting on the other side. They make this great thumping noise like the enemies are beating their fists against the door waiting for you to open it. However, the Bio Tracker doesn’t pick up what’s on the other end so you never know just how many you’re about to unleash.

The other mechanic here is the nine-round alarm door. So far, alarm doors have been a max of three rounds. The nine-round door mixes up individual circles and full squad circles. That means, at some point, your whole squad has to be in very close quarters while being swarmed with enemies.

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Taken seconds before I was downed on our last run of Sacrifice

The strategy we found most effective was having one person run around the room and try to take as much aggro as possible while the other 3 got the security scan circles. Once we had started getting good at this we were able to unlock the door. Sadly, we were out of ammo and large chunks of health by then. With my last 5% health, I started the door opening sequence but we were overwhelmed before the door opened.

Well. there’s always next week.

Game Plan: May 2020

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It’s the first of the month which means it’s time to get a game plan for next month. Hey, I like the sound of that…Let’s make it the title!

I can’t believe it’s May already. April felt like a long month but also a very short month thanks to focusing on Blapril. My personal goal for Blapril was to hit a post a day all month. I fell short on that by a few days in the beginning but I ended up with a decent amount of posts at the end. I always come out of these events with such a positive feeling about blogging. Technically, we have one more week to go as it doesn’t end until May 9th.

But it’s MAY! Which means it should start warming up here in Ohio and make this whole quarantine business a little less miserable. My job has extended our work from home arrangements until June so I’m looking forward to going outside a bit each day.

 

April Goals in Review

Finish Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX: I fired up this game up once to take a screenshot for this post. Otherwise, I haven’t touched it since. Most of my Switch time has been spent with Animal Crossing still since my wife is very much still into it.

Finish the Kingdoms of Amalur DLC: I actually forgot this was a goal. I thought 3 months away from the game was a big enough break. Turns out I need some more time away. I fired it up once, got to the DLC area, ran a quest or two, and never came back to it.

Start Tales of Berseria again: I personally blame this goal for the failure of the above goal. This was the majority of my gaming time in April. I had planned to start it but I ended up finishing it instead.

Read 2 Books:  In March I said I wanted to read Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky and was hoping to finish Deadhouse Gate by Steven Erikson. Neither of these things happened. Instead I read Unsouled by Will Wight which was super fun and a very quick read. I’m about half way through Imaginary Friend at the time of this writing.

 

May Goals

Try Out TemTem: I bought this a few weeks ago after my friend picked it up. I put about 2 hours into it and haven’t touched it since. I definitely need to spend more time with it to see if it’s something I’d like to continue playing.

Finish Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX: I’m doing it this time for reals. I’m pretty sure I’m near the end of it anyways. I may dabble in the endgame a bit but more than likely I’ll be satisfied playing through the campaign.

Play More Animal Crossing: As I mentioned before, my wife is super into this game right now. I on the other hand have not been playing all that often as of late. This becomes a problem when I’m the Resident Representative. By the time we figured out you couldn’t change this without deleting the whole island we were too far in. So I log in to do things that only the Resident Representative can do and then log off. Mostly so I could get back to Tales of Berseria But I’d like to get back into it like I was at the beginning of April.

Read 1.5 books: I’m going to finish Imaginary Friend this month. I also picked up the next book in Will Wight’s Cradle series SoulSmith from amazon since it was free along with the third book Blackflame.

Gamer Motivation Profile

I was tagged for this wonderful survey by MagiWasTaken over at Indiecator. I always find these types of things interesting even if they end up telling me things I already know. This particular one made me think less about why I play games (spoiler: they’re fun) and more about how I play games.

What are the Results? Share the link, headline and two motivation model graphs you received.

Without further ado, I present to you the Action-Oriented, Spontaneous, Relaxed, Social, and Creative gamer. Now say that ten times fast…

Primary Motivations

Motivation 1

 

Secondary Motivations

Motivation 2

 

How do you feel about your survey results?

Nothing surprises me from the primary motivations. If you would have given me a list of those motivations and told me to rank them you’d get the same result. Reading a little deeper into those motivations it seems like a list of answers to “How would your friends describe you?”

The secondary motivations were more interesting for me. Note the 72% in destruction. I don’t consider myself a destructive person. My immediate gut reaction was ” That’s weird I don’t go out of my way to destroy things in games.” But then I thought about it some more and I do tend to blow things up when I play with friends but not so much on my own. Which leaves me to wonder if how these motivations change when we’re talking about single player and multiplayer. There’s a blog post just waiting to happen…

Which Category is the Most and which one is the least accurate?

And the award for most accurate category goes to…Social (76%)!

Probably not much of a surprise there if you’ve been reading this blog lately. Most posts are revolve around some multiplayer experience. And that’s because the majority of my gaming time is spent with other people. Don’t get me wrong, I like single-player games and just finished a long one. But given the choice between playing a game by myself or with a friend nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to play with a friend.

The least accurate is going to be the Story sub category under Immersion. I would have expected to score higher. The story is one of those things that will keep me playing even if I don’t like the gameplay as much. Sometimes an interesting story is one thing I’ll go outside of my usual gaming comfort zones for. The Last Door for example.

Are there any major exceptions to your typical gaming motivations?

The way this survey defines achievement leads me to get a very low score. A) I’m not a completionist because that would drive me insane. B) I’m not a min maxer because that takes away some of my personal fun. But I feel like 16% for Achievement is low. I’d expect more of a score around 50%. I’m task-oriented so checking off boxes bring s me great joy.  I always have some sort of goal in mind when I’m playing a game. I’ll spend large chunks of my free time grinding for cosmetics.

Hey, wait a minute…

For gamers who score high on Design, this may mean collecting costumes and mounts in games like World of Warcraft.

I rest my case, Achievement should be higher than 18%.

Do any of these motivations carry over to your non-gaming life?

This is weird for me as I don’t really think of myself as a social person but I’d say the Social motivation as it’s described here motivates me in life as well. I love being part of a team, helping others to achieve goals, and doing stuff with friends. I get no enjoyment interacting with large groups of people in my free time but I’d rather hang out with a few of my good friends than be by myself most of the time

Which games in your experience best satisfy your gaming motivations and how do they compare to the suggested games list from the questionnaire’s follow up page?

I’ve played most of the games on the first page of the recommendations so I take that as a good sign. Warframe, FFXIV, Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, Overwatch, Destiny. The one oddball there is Ark: Survival Evolved. I understand why it’s there, I have high creativity and action, so a base building game with dinosaurs and guns is a natural conclusion…The thing is, my creativity doesn’t go much farther than how my character looks and maybe some house decorating. The whole “let’s build a structure out of blocks/pieces” has never appealed to me.

If I take this as 100% accurate, this is what motivates me as a gamer, it would finally explain why I have 700 hours in Trove. It’s flashy and fast(Action), it’s multiplayer (Social), it’s got plenty of character customization (Creativity), and it’s not very hard (Mastery)!

 

Tag, You’re It

I don’t often do a lot of self-reflection so this ended up taking way longer to fill out than I thought.  If you see this and you’re like “Hey that looks like fun!” Consider yourself tagged. I’ll warn you though, I had this nagging feeling that I was doing a homework assignment filling out these questions.

Hero Siege Season 9

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Hero Siege is a game constantly in flux. Every season/ major update seems to change the way the game is played drastically. It happens often enough that I find my self coming back to a completely different game each time I come back. Sometimes those changes are good so times not so much.  You can find the patch notes here.

Now I will admit that I didn’t enjoy season 8 that much. I got into climbing the wormhole ladders in season 6, season 7 had a new class to play around with, but when season 8 launched there were changes that made the game feel too different so I put it down. It’s been. Looking back through the patches, season 8 was only last September so it’s about 6 months since I played. We took last night to get through all 7 acts on normal difficulty to see some of the changes. This time around I’m playing the Shaman which is a class I’ve tried to play before but didn’t end up sticking with it for the long term.

Let’s start with the best and most notable change. The enemy sprites and the redone maps look fantastic. It’s nice to see that the visuals in the game are still being worked on and updated. Along with this there has been improvements to enemy AI and behavior. I haven’t noticed much of a change but I’ve only spent time on normal difficulty so far.

One of the major changes in this season is the addition of Ring, belt, and potion slots. More gear for those stats is always better right? They’ve done away with the random potion pickups that either gave a positive or negative stat boost until you died. Now, potions are an equitable item that provides utility on a cool down. So far I’ve seen potions that heal, replenish mana, give a shield, and give a speed boost. It’ll be interesting to see if there are potions that provid more than one type of utility.

You can save up to 3 load-outs now. Helpful not having to remember which piece of gear went with what build. I can’t say I’d use this option too often but I might find a use for it.

XP bonuses on items have been reduced. Maybe now I won’t out level the people I’m playing with by 20 levels in the same session.

There are elemental resistances as well as physical resistance stats now. I’ve never liked resistances and don’t usually pay attention to them unless it’s necessary to do damage or stay alive.

An herbalism profession has been added. I know there was mining before but I didn’t play enough when it was added to understand what it was for. I’ve tried some mining, it’s a mini-game where you time attacks to mine an ore vein. I haven’t run into the herbalism nodes yet.

My least favorite change after returning this time is there are no longer mini-bosses that spawn at the end of each zone. The gameplay loop used to kill the enemy spawns until a bar filled up to spawn the mini-boss. Kill the mini boss, get some relics, and move on to the next zone. Playing last night, it looks like that’s been replaced with just finding the portal to the next zone. I’m not even sure you have to kill any enemies at all. There are now Grim Reaper statues that appear on some maps that will spawn the mini-bosses now.

Now, Like I said earlier I haven’t played Hero Seige in 6 months so I have no idea when this changed. But it’s a big enough change that the game feels off for me. There have always been these mini-bosses. Most of the time you’d kill them fast enough that they wouldn’t matter but sometimes they’d get the jump on you and add a little variety to the combat. Now that they aren’t there, it’s mostly killing little enemies as fast as possible for loot and finding the exit as fast as possible to get to the act boss. Maybe I’ll get used to it but maybe I won’t it’s hard to say right now. I think I’ll definitely need another play session or two before I make my decision to stick with the game this time around.