Bel VS Mobile Gaming

The Eureka Moment

FalloutShelter_ScreenShot

I just had a moment of realization while checking on the progress of Vault 816…  I am not a mobile gamer.  While I really enjoy the idea of playing Fallout Shelter, I always have the same thought I have with any mobile game.  “Man I wish I could play this on my desktop or through a web browser.”  There are games that I enjoy the idea of playing… like Fallout Shelter, Alphabear, Dragon Coins, or Final Fantasy Record Keeper.  The problem is I get frustrated by the imprecise controls.  Using your finger to move objects around the screen feels so much more cludgy than doing it with a nice tight mouse pointer. Granted if I were a smaller person I would probably not be having any of these issues.

Sausage-Like Fingers

AttackOfSausageFingers

I am 6’4” and have huge hands…  I can palm a basketball. Attached to these huge hands are useless sausage-like fingers that have the fine motor skills of sleepy toddler.  The more I think about it… this fact has gotten in the way of my enjoyment of almost every mobile game I have played.  At first I thought the bulk of my problems would be resolved were I simply playing on a larger device.  However as I graduated from my iPhone 3s to a Samsung Galaxy S2 to a Samsung Galaxy S5…  each time the screen size increased sizably but the difficulty never went away.  When I finally got my own iPad I still felt like throwing it across the room anytime I was asked to do anything that required a modicum of detailed movement.

I realize there is such a thing as a stylus, but then I am having to fiddle with an awkward device on top of an already awkward control scheme.  The problem is…  there really are games that I want to enjoy on mobile devices.  Fallout Shelter for example takes two things that I have loved in the past…  the Fallout Franchise, and Sim Tower like gameplay.  During my pre-college and college years I spent silly amounts of my free time playing both of these games.  I spent enough time playing Sim Tower to be able to build freaking airports at the top of my towers.  I have played each of the Fallout franchise games multiple times, and even though I rarely play the original…  I feel like I could pretty safely pick it right back up and meld into the nostalgia nicely.  So I am the core demographic of this game…  except for the whole control scheme problem.

I honestly have no clue why I felt like I needed to write this post, other than having my own little Eureka moment.  For the longest time I thought my dislike of mobile gaming was more about the game experiences that you have on a mobile device.  Now I realize that is wrong… there are plenty of “gamerly” experiences available.  My problem is that I struggle to get any sense of control while playing a mobile game.  Finger based movement against a slick screen always feels chaotic to me.  It reminds me of how frustrated I get when trying to use a trackball.  I guess I am just accustomed to the mouse, keyboard and controller…  and when it finally comes down to relying on my own digits to make things work…  I find the experience frustrating.  I am wondering if anyone else out there with sausage-like fingers suffers from this same issue?  We should totally form a support group or something.

Needing Purpose

Of Bad Ass Mounts

rift 2015-09-02 17-59-05-30

This morning I suffered some pretty major technical difficulties on the blog.  Several months back I had a nasty DDoS attack against my blog from as far as I can tell some nasty video game extremists.  It happened the day after I made a post, so I have always linked the two.  As a result my ISP threw in a few rules to block access to the guts of my wordpress installation from anyone but me.  This morning apparently in the middle of writing a post my IP address changed on me, and I immediately lost access to do any of the things that wordpress does through Ajax…  which is apparently nearly everything.  My good friend Hiawani however once again is to the rescue and he got me fixed in a matter of moments.  I love this man so much, and in truth he is the only reason why I have stayed with my web host for as long as I have.  In the coming weeks I need to actually get off my ass and allow them to migrate me to a different server.  I mostly wanted to get through August before that happened, because I did not want any potential interruptions during Blaugust.

What you are seeing above however is a bad ass mount I just got in Rift.  It is slowly creeping up on Extra Life time, and yesterday I finally went through the paces and created the AggroChat team.  Last year we had tag teamed this even through the Alliance of Awesome group, and it was fun… but this year we kinda wanted to do it as AggroChat since we are a fairly large ensemble cast.  If we managed to pull in all of the folks who have appeared on the show with any sense of regularity we should be able to get more than enough people to cover all the slots.  All of this was pushed into motion however when Liore posted a link saying she was giving away the 4th Anniversary Arclight mount that she got from Pax.  She was going to give the mount to the next donation she got on her own Extra Life page.  Now while I am doing my own thing, I try and help others out as well, and over an hour had passed since she had posted the link so I figured I was out of luck.  Turns out that nope… apparently folks were either feeling stingy yesterday afternoon or I am just lucky because I now have a really amazing mount in Rift.  I buzzed around on it for a good hour last night not doing a damned thing other than riding…  it is pretty amazing.  Absolutely my favorite of the various Arclight rider designs.

Back to Eorzea

ffxiv_dx11 2015-09-02 19-39-12-88

 

The last couple of weeks I have been on a fairly extended vacation as I took a break from Final Fantasy XIV and played lots of other games.  Normally I would have been back on Monday but due to Pax that raid didn’t actually happen.  Similarly we were down a significant number of people for last nights raid, but instead we opted to help a guild member through Alexander.  She had managed to do the first turn only, and we helped her get through the last three.  I know at the very least she got a ring from it, but I am hoping she managed to gather up some various bits as well.  While waiting around on the raid however I spent time hanging out with guildie Tatafelo Rurufelo, who was doing his best warrior of light dark knight bad ass pose.  My biggest problem right now is I am just feeling absolutely no drive to accomplish something.  I should be out grinding Esoterics, but I am happy enough with my gear levels…  and that is frustrating.  I should be striving to get better, but instead I would rather just pop into another game like Diablo and grind there.

I feel like 3.1 is going to jump start my enjoyment of the game, because I am so tired of Neverreap.  My biggest concern is that the next set only includes two dungeons… so will we be right back into the situation of always getting one of those two dungeons?  My hope is that they make expert roulette be a combination of the first two plus the new two… giving us a pool of four dungeons.  One of the biggest selling factors to me to date has been that we got three new dungeons each patch cycle.  Them trimming it back to two per patch cycle kinda concerns me a little.  Are we just going to see less content as a whole throughout Heavensward?  Is this evidence that they are starting to work on a new expansion to follow Heavensward?   Listening to Soken this weekend at Pax, it seems like “Hellsward” as they call it took a lot out of the team, so it might simply be that they need a smaller patch to recuperate from the grind that was getting Heavensward out the door.  I guess only time will tell if we see a similarly small patch come 3.2.  For the time being… I just need to find a new goal in game.

Blaugust Results

A Phenomenal Blaugust

blaugust_2015_logo

The time has come and as I said in my original post this year, I would tabulate the results and post them on September 2nd.  This month really was an absolute deluge of content, and there is really no other way to say about it.  I know I personally struggled to keep up with it all.  I have to say however one of the best moments for me was reading the many “last posts” of the challengers.  They all seemed to have a theme of “this is what blaugust taught me” or “I am proud of myself that I survived”.  Reading each of those was so amazing.  As I remarked yesterday I feel like the bulk of the community is not quite sure if they want to give me a hug… or flip me the bird.  It is interesting being both Hero and Villain at the same time.  After reading the posts… I can be perfectly fine with either distinction because the end result was pretty awesome.

This year we had far greater participation, and I am still completely floored by it.  In 2014 we had 52 folks participating, and of those 28 managed to “win” the challenge of posting something every single day.  One of my frustrations however is that because of the way I was running the contest, it kept someone from joining late, playing catch up, and being eligible for the final prizes.  This year I changed the guidelines to something I am much more happy with, which is simply getting thirty one posts during the month of August.  We had a grand total of 88 folks who signed up and participated in the challenge, posting at least one blog post.  From there I made a separate distinction to give folks some credit who at least made it to the half way mark with fifteen posts and in that group we had 76.  The most impressive thing however is that we had 56 people who managed to complete thirty one posts during the month of August.  For added benefit I also kept track of who happened to participate last year as well, and we had 24 who were returning.  Without further stalling… here are the lists!

The Challengers

The thought of posting something every single day for a month is a scary prospect, so simply signing your name on the dotted line and participating is pretty awesome in my book.  This list is folks that joined the Blaugust initiative and posted at least one blog post during the month of August.  Some of them however got really damned close to the halfway point.  So lets take a moment to recognize them.  You have all earned the right to use this badge in whatever fashion you like!  It is available in a full resolution version and a sized down version ideal for sidebars.

blaugust_2015_challenger

Of this batch, there is a group that I want to give special recognition to.  These are folks that participated for the second year, and for them I have special versions of the badge also available in full resolution and sized down versions.

blaugust_2015_challenger_veteran

The Survivors

This year I made a special distinction for all of the folks that managed to make it through at least fifteen blog posts during the month of August.  We had some folks in the group that barely crossed the line, and others that damned near hit the final mark.  There were several that managed to hit fifteen only to decide that this daily blogging thing really was not for them.  In any case posting essentially “every other day” for a month is quite the feat as well, and I wanted to acknowledge this separately.  I’ve dubbed this group the survivors, and they have earned the right to use this badge and title in whatever form they wish.  Once again it is available in both full resolution and scaled down versions.

blaugust_2015_survivor

 

Once again I wanted to recognize the folks who managed to “survive” the challenge this year that also participated last year, so we have a special badge for them available in full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_survivor_veteran

The Conquerors

I hate the term “winner” for a challenge like this, because it doesn’t really encompass the purpose.  Just the simple fact that you signed up and made an effort to be more active and create more content makes you a winner in my book.  So when I was looking for a new term, I decided to go with Conqueror, because really every person on this next list did just that.  They conquered fear, they conquered apathy, they conquered doubt, and they conquered Blaugust.  I am so irrationally proud of every person on this list that I struggle to put it adequately into words.  Once again they have a badge available in both full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_conqueror

Once again we have a special group of Conquerors that returned from winning the previous year, to kick this one in the face.  I find it pretty awesome that 13 of the 28 “winners” from 2014 returned.  I feel like I also need to give special recognition to the Mystical Mesmer who managed to complete Blaugust on two completely different blogs this year.  If that is not a microphone drop… I am not sure what is.  Regardless this group also has their own special veteran badge in full and scaled resolutions.

blaugust_2015_conqueror_veteran

 

The Prizes

BlaugustDiceRoller

So now that all of the acknowledgement is out of the way… lets  talk prizes.  Since not everyone that crosses the finish line can actually win the grand prize, we have to unfortunately rely on random chance.  Last year I struggled with figuring out a good way to do this, and as a result this year I just wrote my own damned dice roller.  This allowed me to type in the number of folks who managed to get thirty one posts during the month of August, hit the big Roll the Dice button and get an output stream with one result per line perfect for pasting into a spreadsheet.  I sorted the thirty one club alphabetically and then pasted all of my results in a new column.  If you are curious what the final numbers looked like, I am working off of this spreadsheet as a award prizes.

There was a slight monkey wrench thrown in my original plans as to how to give out awards.  This was a good monkey wrench in the form of a bunch of prizes from Kings Isle entertainment.  This actually gave me more “big prizes” to spread around which was really awesome as they gave me three prize packs from Wizard 101 and three from Pirate 101.  Sometimes random chance is serendipitous.  I had said from the very beginning that I would purchase a steam game for whoever managed to get the grand prize.  It turns out… today is the birthday of this years winner.  The dice were in the favor of Paeroka from Nerdy Bookahs.  For winning the random number generator she got a Steam game of her choice… and she chose Valhalla Hills.  Additionally since Kings Isle was so damned cool to chip in prizes, I also gave her one of the Wizard 101 and Pirate 101 packs.

That left me four more codes to hand out… so starting last night I messaged folks and had them give me their preference of Wizard 101 or Pirate 101.  The next four in line were…

The Prize Closet

Since we had so damned many people manage to complete the challenge, I am going to try and give out as many prizes as I can.  I have a stack of various game codes largely left over from humble bundles gone by.  I have a spreadsheet that I am starting to circulate down the list of folks who managed to “conquer” Blaugust.  I may not have enough codes to get through everyone, but I am going to try!  So expect in the next few days to get a private message from me with a link, asking you to tag one of them items with your name.  This was a pretty crazy month, and I want to thank all of you for participating.  Next year I am going to start planning significantly ahead of time and am hoping to get more game companies to chip in goodies for the prize vault.  I know at this point you are saying “What about Anook?”.  Lonrem was up late last night tabulating the results, and since that prize is based on community participation on Anook I will be letting them make their own announcement.  I am really happy that they have been so supportive of us essentially taking over a chunk of their website during the month of August.  Blaugust will return next year and hopefully be even bigger than before!

Paragon Levels with Friends

Screenshot012

Blaugust Administrata

Blaugust is officially over…  I mean it… put your pencils down and turn in your papers.  Now begins the fun part of actually attempting to “grade”, and by that I mean tabulate the results.  I started doing this yesterday afternoon with some of the early finishers, and if everyone that was a day away crossed that finish line… we have a pretty huge bunch of winners.  Equally impressive as of yesterday we had 76 “Survivors” meaning that during the course of the month they managed to get in at least fifteen posts.  Mostly I wanted to say a little bit this morning about just how proud I am of everyone who attempted any length of posts this month.  The concept of daily posting is rather daunting and there are still days where I question my sanity as I plunk away at the keys each morning trying to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head.  So while I will be terming people as “winning” the challenge you are all winners in my book even if you didn’t make it to fifteen posts.

My goal all along has been to get more people creating more content about the things they love doing.  After a point folks stop caring so much about what you are writing, and focus in on the fact that it is YOU behind the screen that is writing it.  The whole idea behind Blaugust is if you can prove to yourself that you can churn out thirty one posts in a single month…  then posting a handful of posts every week on a fixed schedule is really not that terribly daunting.  Whether or not they realize it, people crave consistency.  I started this blog with a decent boost of readers, but over the years of my lack of posting…  I pretty much pissed all of those regular readers away.  When I became consistent, folks started tuning in every morning to read all of these seemingly useless thoughts I was dumping out of my head…  and apparently enjoying it.  Today is my day for calculations, but I wanted to close Blaugust with one thought.  Don’t let Blaugust be this marathon that you run once a year and then stick back on the shelf until the next year.  Let Blaugust be a spirit that you embrace every day, and an excuse to create regular posts throughout the year.

Boys Will Be Boys

First off I have to say that I have always hated this phrase… but sometimes it absolutely fits.  Last night I talked to my mom on the phone, because it had been a few days since I had called my folks.  They have had to deal with the fallout of a flood in one of the bathrooms, and this weekend they got into my childhood bedroom.  My closet backed up to the bathroom so it was a assumed that pretty much everything in it would be ruined.  The funny thing is… my Mom expected me to remember what I had in my closet over two decades ago.  Luckily it seems that for the most part all of my comic books, and various sundry cards that I never bothered to “move out” were left untouched.  Apparently some plywood seems to have wicked up the bulk of the water that made it through to the closet.  As she was pulling stuff out of the closet she kept stopping and asking my dad what various things were.  Then she got to an item that threw her for a loop.

I was a little skater kid, and there was a phase in my life where everything that mattered about anything…  was skateboard related.  She pulled out this baseball bat that was scrawled with all sorts of skater terminology and logos in a combination of sharpie and paint pen.  She wanted to know why this bat was all scarred like it had been hitting concrete and “defaced” in such a way.  My Dad just said that it looked like “little boys were playing”.  So I had to explain to my mother what the bat was used for.  We used to go to the tennis court with our skateboards, as much padding as we had, and baseball bats.  My friend and I would ride towards each other, each of us on one side of the tennis net like we were “jousting”.  At which point we would put as much padding on our left arms as we could and use the right arm to swing the baseball bat at the other person.  The goal of course was to knock the other person off their skateboard and the padding was in a vague attempt to block the blows.  It is a miracle we didn’t do serious harm to each other.  This apparently did not phase my father, because it turns out his childhood friend and he would fire arrows at each other from recurve bows…  so I guess in the grand scheme of things getting beaned with a baseball bat doesn’t seem that dangerous?

Paragon Levels with Friends

Screenshot012

Since a good chunk of our raid was still doing the whole Pax Prime thing, we were not able to put in any attempts on Ravana Extreme last night.  Instead I spent a good chunk of time fiddling with Bitdefender and ultimately uninstalling it.  I guess I should have known better when my good friend Wulf struggled to keep it from blocking the Final Fantasy XIV game client, but I went ahead and gave it a shot.  This time around it was the Glyph client for Trion Worlds that I could not get it to unblock.  I finally uninstalled it and went back to AVG because at least I am used to it.  That of course killed an hour, so by the time I finally logged into Diablo 3 it was fairly late in the evening.  Grace was already hard at work doing rifts and such so I joined her until she left to go eat dinner.  Then there was a block of time when the server was rebooted and patched, and I could not get reconnected to save my life.  All the while I am watching The Strain on Hulu, which is a show I would absolutely suggest if you like Horror.  The added benefit is you get to see Argus Filch playing a Van Helsing like badass… and yes I know the actors name is David Bradley but he will always be Filch to me.

Screenshot014

The big take away of the evening is that we managed to get Mor to 70 on his Crusader, and I managed to get up to 47ish Paragon levels before the end of the night.  I still cannot deal anywhere close to as much damage as Grace can at this point so I feel like I need to do some research into how best to gear and spec out a Barbarian.  I mean I do respectable damage but I think my gear just isn’t quite at the same level as hers.  She is still absolutely carrying both of us hard when it comes to doing group content.  Though last night I did manage to stay alive most of the time, I think I took two deaths throughout the night, which is significantly better than previous outings.  We spent most of the night on Torment IV, and I can personally solo Torment I pretty effectively… it is just that bosses seem to take forever.  I am not sure how long this current addiction to Diablo 3 will last, but for the time being I am rolling with it.

Blaugust and Nephalem

Last Day of Blaugust

As the subheading says, it is in fact the last day of Blaugust and as such very soon I am going to begin tabulating the results.  It has been an interesting month, but also a very quick one.  It seems like just yesterday I was kicking off this challenge, and now we are staring at the finish line.  It has also been interesting just how many people have participated in one way or another.  Even if you did something as simple as retweet a Blaugust post, you are part of this and I thank you.  In truth I was not really sure how the turn out for year two would end up looking.  The biggest surprise honestly was just how many year one folks came back for this year.  You’d think that they would have learned better by the time the second event rolled around.  As I sift through the results it is going to be interesting to see just how many folks have completed both years at this point.

The big take away this year is that we have already reached a point where we are just too big to be planned somewhat “on the fly”.  Up until July I was still questioning if I would actually go through with a second Blaugust.  I was somewhat shocked at the number of people who were looking forward to it.  So I pulled things together and we ended up with this year, that went significantly more smoothly than the first.  As a result I think for the 2016 Blaugust I will be starting to pull things together about four months in advance.  Folks offering to sponsor prizes was a brand new concept to me, and this year we had Anook and KingsIsle Entertainment both chipping in prizes.  I greatly appreciate them both, but I am hoping if I start the wheels moving several months ahead I will be able to get a few more people to come on board.  It would be awesome to get some game keys donated for a sort of “Blaugust Game Club” like our AggroChat Game Club.  Where every Blaugust writer has the opportunity to play a specific game and write about it, because it is super interesting when you collect a bunch of opinions on the same title.  I realize we are just how wrapping up, and folks are I am sure sick of it for the time being…  but I am already thinking about how to make next year better.

Nephalem Ascended

Diablo III 2015-08-31 00-01-16-066

Friday night when I got home from eating with friends I started a brand new Female Barbarian, and as of last around 8 pm I managed to hit 70 securing at least some of the Season 4 rewards.  While I managed to get drug along for a handful of levels, this is still the fastest and most dedicated I have ever leveled in Diablo.  In part a huge chunk of it has been that I have largely been leveling with my friend Grace, who keeps pushing me to go do content rather than just piddling around like I normally do.  Pushing is the wrong word because she was not even insistent… she just gave me a reason to keep grouping up and doing interesting things.  The other big change this season is that I pretty much completely ignored the story line.  In Season 3 I attempted to level my way through the story, which is apparently the worst possible way to level these days.  Instead I largely started adventure mode from the moment I created the character, and the result is as I leveled I tended to always have legendary weapons that I could craft for my character.

diablo3Season4Journey

One of the big changes that came with Season 4 was the introduction of the “Season Journey” interface that serves as a way of unlocking the various rewards.  Just for hitting level 70 on a seasonal character I unlocked the transmogrification pieces, but in order to get the Portrait Frame and the Pet I have to complete all four Chapters of the Season Journey.  As of last night I have completed the first three and they were honestly all pretty easy.  The final element that I needed was to defeat one of the major bosses on Master difficulty or harder.  Since Belial is the fastest to get to on Adventure mode I popped over there and took him out with relative ease.  Now I have to do some of the more grindy things like taking out each of the key masters on Torment difficulty.  I also need to finally use the Kanai cube to extract a Legendary power, but I am trying to sort out what sort of power I want to keep.  Honestly I feel like I need to read up on how exactly that process works before making any decisions surrounding getting powers from it.  I know that once you do this you can choose at least one power as a permanent buff, and I have a few that are really nice.

Diablo III 2015-08-30 21-57-05-55

I really did not spend much time playing Reaper of Souls, and as such I had never actually done a Rift of any sort until this weekend.  Grace on the other hand is an expert at such things and as a result I spent some of my “post 70” time last night with her working on Rifts and then the Greater Rifts that follow.  I have to say they are crazy amounts of fun, and I am trying to sort out how best to use my legendary gems.  Right now I have two of them, and I need to run more Greater Rifts to power up the second one.  The first one is now at level 6, but once again I think I need to do some research in how best to utilize them.  The game is so much more intricate than I remember it being, and in truth I have never played Diablo 3 seriously.  I am having a blast so I guess that is really all that matters.  My hope is that tonight our Final Fantasy XIV raid can down Ravana Extreme… but after that… I hope to put in big ole dent in some of these Chapter IV objectives.

Week In Gaming 8/30/2015

Diablo III 2015-08-29 21-48-57-149

Stressed but Still Here

This week turned out to be a shockingly stressful one, but thankfully all of said stress happened at work… and I could more or less leave it there as well.  There has been a twinge of sadness as well because months ago I had hoped to be able to attend Pax Prime and get to hang out with friends there.  However that didn’t quite work out, and since I lacked tickets to go there…  because AggroChat was not apparently qualified as a media outlet, I stopped pushing quite so hard.  The beginning of the school year is especially rough on my wife, and it would have been even more stressful to be travelling during this time.  As such I am doubting that Pax Prime will ever really be in my cards unless for some reason they decide to move it either earlier or later in the year.  I will always have Pax South however, and I fully intend to go this coming year.  I am going to be trying to talk as many people into attending as I can, and hopefully can organize a meetup or something while there.  There were plenty of people at Pax South last year but I was completely overwhelmed by it being my first real convention, and the internet was pretty horrible…  so I missed most of them.  Anyways…  on with what is I hope becoming a Sunday tradition, where I review the games I played over the past week.

Final Fantasy XIV

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-27 20-57-20-908

 

Currently “The Rising” event is going on in Final Fantasy XIV that marks the yearly anniversary festival.  This year the quest that goes along with it is one of the most touching quests I have experienced in a game before.  I don’t want to spoil too many details about it, but suffice to say there is a little bit of fourth wall breaching going on.  Diehard Final Fantasy XIV fans have this hero worship for Naoki Yoshida and the rest of the team, and it is absolutely well earned.  It feels like there is very much a symbiotic relationship going on there, and they understand fully just how important the loyal fans are to the continued success of the title.  The game is in this interesting place where it is extremely humbled by the fact that it launched in 2010 and failed to capture hearts and minds.  They are putting everything into the game and leaving nothing on the table, and it shows.  Other than the anniversary event we worked on Ravana Extreme attempts, and I have every hope that we will be able to down him this coming Monday.  Past that I have honestly been taking a bit of a break from Final Fantasy XIV, or at least not really logging in every day.

Diablo 3

Diablo III 2015-08-29 21-48-57-149

 

If you are wondering where the bulk of my game time was spent, you can look no further than Diablo 3.  I am not sure if it was my time playing Hellgate London, or the fact that I finally pulled my head out of the sand and realized there was such a thing as a “season”.  Whatever the combination I have been pumped to be playing Diablo 3 again and have been spending a lot of time with my friend Grace was we worked on pushing up our seasonal characters.  At the beginning of the week I managed to get my Crusader from last season to 70 with the help of Grace and her crazy torment farming ways.  Then Friday when the new season opened I started work immediately on a female Barbarian.  As of last night I am now level 60 and making the final push to 70.  That is really what I intend to spend most of my time today working on, and hopefully by tonight I will be sitting at 70 and starting to work on gearing up for doing torment and beyond.  I am having a blast, and I am not sure whatever mental block cleared that has allowed me to get involved once more with the click to attack madness.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2015-08-26 06-18-02-69

I can’t say that I have made stellar progress since last week, but I am continuing with my new tradition of trying to play Wildstar Tuesday nights.  At this point I am level 25 still in Whitevale but I think maybe I can see the end of the zone.  My hope is to move on past it this week and hopefully into something less desolate.  I feel about Whitevale the way I feel about most desert zones in MMOs.  I have come to realization this week that it is never the biome necessarily that I like or dislike, but instead the zone design.  I was warned that Malgrave is coming up, and a desert… but from what I have seen of the imagery inside it seems like something I will enjoy.  I want to devote more time to this game, but for now I am going to settle with making it a Tuesday night thing.

Hearthstone

Hearthstone 2015-08-27 19-13-43-765

The game that I played that shocked me the most this week was Hearthstone.  I have not really spent much time playing it since release, and with the addition of a new expansion of cards I decided to poke my head in.  This is where I found a brand new game mode called Tavern Brawl.  Apparently you have a different weekly challenge, and this week was essentially playing with a randomized deck.  I played hunter and had a good amount of success.  Playing with a random assortment of cards, including many of the brand new Grand Tournament cards gave me a nostalgic feeling much like the early days of Magic the Gathering.  I used to love the days when I was limited based on the  cards I physically owned and as a result made some odd decks to try and weave in my favorite elements.  In truth I would probably play Hearthstone more often if this random brawl option thing was a fixed item.  I know this coming week there will be a completely different Tavern Brawl, but I will likely poke my head in to see what it is and give it a shot.  This might breathe new life into the game for me, and for that I am kinda pumped.

Fallout Shelter

FalloutShelter_ScreenShot

My week in review would not be complete without at least talking a bit about Fallout Shelter.  Now I have been technically playing this game for awhile now but since I do not regularly use my iPad, the sessions were limited and I went weeks between opening the app.  With the release of Fallout Shelter for android I have been playing it far more often on my phone, and it has now become my default “moment of downtime” game as I check in on my little post apocalyptic ant farm.  All things said I learned a lot of lessons playing it on the iPad that I have now applied to this new vault.  Where Vault 999 was a relative failure, Vault 861 is pretty damned idyllic.  Through a bit of luck of drops, and some careful planning I have managed to create a pretty safe environment that can absolutely shred raider attacks.  I had a random person show up at the vault that was fairly warriorly, and once I equipped her with power armor and a plasma pistol she has been roaming the wastes dispensing justice.  At the same time she has become a major source of income and the gear she brings back I am slowly outfitting all of my settlers in.  I have jokingly started calling the restaurant on the first floor Cafe Death, because the raiders always go there…. only to get shredded by all of my shotgun toting vault dwellers.  The only thing that I feel bad about is that I essentially  have one couple that is slowly populating my vault.  I have left them in the room for weeks now and they have half a dozen offspring roaming around as a result.

Hatoful Boyfriend

hatoful 2015-08-22 09-16-54-74

 

The last game that I played a significant amount of this week was of course Hatoful Boyfriend, and last night we recorded the AggroChat game club show for it.  This was Grace’s pick and I think a lot of us went into this assuming that we would end up hating the game.  We were mostly wrong as the vast majority of us had lots of good things to say about the game. To make it even crazier this is the first game that the majority of us have actually played through more than one… but given that an individual play session tends to only be around the hour long mark that makes sense.   If you want to hear our length discussion about dating “Birbs” after the apocalypse you should totally listen into the show.

[AggroChat] [Direct Download] [iTunes] [Stitcher]

Second Winds and Diablo

Diablo III 2015-08-28 23-10-17-511

Desi Wonderfulness

Last night was a bit unusual as far as our Friday nights go.  Generally speaking we come home from work, and I play video games while my wife attempts not to fall asleep… always failing that battle around 9/9:30 ish.  Instead we went out for dinner with some friends, and I got to eat at one of my favorite restaurants…  Desi Wok.  I generally refer to it as an “Indian restaurant” but in truth it is a “Desi” restaurant as the name implies, focusing on an amalgam of traditional Indian cuisine mixed with some more Chinese inspired dishes.  My wife got the always tasty Chicken Tikka Masala, and I went with my most recent favorite an ambiguous dish called “Chicken Desi Fried Rice”.  The dish comes out bright red and spicy as hell, pretty much the way I like it.  The problem is it is way more food than you can eat in one sitting so I always end up taking home about half of it.  My wife decided to order a Mango Lassi which she had never actually done from Desi Wok, and in my confusion I wound up getting one for me too…  but no actual other drink.  This meant I consumed a lot of water in my vague attempt to control the spice of my dish.

By the time we finally got home last night I was drained.  We made a stop off at Target, and all the while I was moving around the store at a snails pace.  I literally think my wife would have been dragging me through the store if I had a rope tied onto me.  She kept having to stop periodically and look back at me to see if I was keeping up.  I am guessing it was the beginnings of a tasty food coma.  But in all honesty it could simply be the weight of this week crashing down upon me.  Each and every day there has been some major crisis that I had to deal with.  We had a production database get wiped one day, and another day we were trying to diagnose why a piece of software built in Visual Basic 6 wasn’t working any more.  For starters I had no clue that anything built in VB6 would run on a Windows 7 machine.  Visual Studio 6 was the brand new technology…. when I was in college almost two decades ago.  All the while during each of the issues I acted as the manager and facilitator, which is a bit of a new role for me.  I am not used to being the one directing the action rather than the one with my hands buried deep in the guts of the software trying to sort things out manually.  Putting your faith in someone else to fix things for you, is way the hell more stressful than being under the gun to fix something yourself.

Second Winds and Diablo

Diablo III 2015-08-28 23-49-17-587

Yesterday was the beginning of the brand new Diablo 3 fourth season, and this time I wanted to get in on the ground floor instead of creating a character a few days from the end.  Earlier in the week I had talked about my plans on what exactly to create for this new seasons and I finally settled on rolling a Femme Barbarian.  I have an absolute love of Sonya in Heroes of the Storm so any attempt to recreate that character seems amazing to me.  However I spent the first half hour or so of gameplay complaining to my friend Grace about her lack of armor.  She was awesome about it and I am sure was just patting me on the head as I complained about something that every woman on the planet has complained about at some point…  the shitty armor options they give female characters in video games.  Yes I realize the male barbarian starts in essentially a furry diaper, but  that changes pretty quickly as you find gear and at this point at level 37 I am still wearing a bra of some sort.  I finally learned to ignore it mostly and got on with the game play.

Diablo III 2015-08-28 23-10-17-511

 

Grace had started her traditional Wizard earlier in the night, and was about five levels ahead of me by the time we both managed to get on at the same time.  We proceeded to spend the rest of the night running bounties and rather quickly I was able to catch up in levels.  I am not sure what it is about Diablo right now but it is really hitting the spot.  The only negative being that the Barbarian starts out in a fashion that I don’t really enjoy that much.  The first attack and the first secondary attack… are both not really my thing.  Thankfully you get Cleave pretty quickly, and before the end of the night I finally was able to pick up whirlwind which serves as not only a great group attack but also a decent way of getting out of things since you seem to ignore slowing effects when you are spinning.  My hope is that at some point today we can hook back up and start leveling again.  Other than that I am looking forward to tonight’s AggroChat show because we are finally going to talk about Birb boyfriends and why that game is pure madness.

Pax Prime Hopes

The Big Show

It feels like we live in this world where there is always another big games show around the corner.  I remember when quite literally all that existed was the Consumer Electronics show, at least for the United States.  Now we have dozens of shows sprinkled throughout the year, all of which vying for exclusive announcements.  As a result companies have to trickle information out so that everyone that attends one of the shows feels like they are getting to see something unique or special.  This weekend of course is Pax Prime, and I had hoped this year I would be attending.  The truth is however that Pax Prime will likely never be in the cards, as the husband of a teacher…  August is a HORRIBLE time for me to be travelling.  During this month my wife is in full on panic mode as she gets adjusted to another school year, and while for a bit I was bummed at not being able to attend, I am realizing it was ultimately for the best.  As a result I will be a loyal yearly Pax South attendee and pretty much brush aside the thoughts of doing the Pax Prime thing.  Instead at some point I will just go out to Seattle to meet my friends that seem to be pooling there, instead of trying to make one big combo trip.  Having been to a Pax, I have to say in truth the folks at home have a much better view of what is going on there through the live stream.  As a result I am looking forward to spending much of the weekend watching as much as I can.  Which gets to the point of this mornings post.  I thought I would talk a bit about the various things I am hoping to get out of Pax Prime 2015.

Final Fantasy XIV

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-27 20-57-49-695

The thing that I want this weekend… is a release date for 3.1.  I know we are getting close, but I want to know a firm release date so I know just how long I am going to have to wait.  Right now Final Fantasy XIV is going through a bit of a content lull much like it did after the release of A Realm Reborn.  Quite frankly at this point I am tired of running Neverreap…  since that seems to be the dungeon I get most often.  Two dungeons in a roulette rotation simply is not enough, and I am honestly a bit concerned with the news that 3.1 is only going to add two more as well.  My hope is that they create a four dungeon expert roulette instead of moving Neverreap and Fractal to Hard Roulette and making expert just be the two new dungeons.  The other piece I am really looking forward to is the next 24 player dungeon the Void Ark, aka the creepy airship you sometimes seem flying around in the Sea of Clouds.  The game needs a shot in the arm of content, because folks are starting to slow down… myself included.  More so than this… I would like to see some future vision type stuff for 3.2 and beyond.  In the past we have usually had this list of things that Yoshi P had promised for “future” patches and we are a bit low on that right now.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2015-08-26 06-18-02-69

 

Similar to FFXIV…  and honestly a lot of the things I am going to talk about this morning….  I just want a date for when the Free to Play conversion will happen.  They keep putting new patches on the test server and it is starting to feel like maybe they are close, but what I need from them is a date.  I am enjoying Wildstar so much more than I have at any point in the past, and a lot of the changes that are coming in with the free to play conversion are going to be generally good for the game as well.  Past the free to play conversion… I would like to see some information about what their long range plans are.  I don’t even know if they have a presence at Pax Prime this weekend, but even if folks don’t they tend to time announcements around major shows as well.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

7f269Biome-Floor

Since the expansion announcement at Pax South, I have had a strange connection with this title.  Traditionally speaking I do not really enjoy Guild Wars 2 that much.  That said I have to say the revenant looks more interesting than any of the previous classes. I fully expect that I will be picking this title up when it launches if for no reason other than the fact that it is once again “buy to play” and I have gotten my original purchase out of the game.  This has been the year of announcements completely unfettered by timelines, and it is starting to get frustrating.  Once again we have a big title looming on the horizon with zero date announced for when we will be expecting to play it.  I am expecting that this one is going to be a lot like Heavensward was, where they announce the launch date and it is only a few months away.  My hope is that Pax Prime finally is going to be the show where they talk about this at.  Give your fans some firm dates.

Blizzard Titles

McCree_01

I am honestly not expecting anything new to come out of this conference from Blizzard.  They did their big reveal of the World of Warcraft expansion at Gamescom, and I fully expect that with Blizzcon coming up in November that they will be holding everything else closely waiting on their big show to reveal it.  I fully expect that they might announce a new Overwatch champion at Pax Prime, and potentially some more Heroes of the Storm champions or maps.  What I am really wanting from them is an announcement for when Overwatch testing will begin and a beta key delivered in my mailbox.  Everytime I launch the patcher and see that Overwatch button at the bottom of it…  I get a little sad in side.  I really want to play this game, and I sincerely doubt I will be doing so anytime soon.  Over the last few weeks I have come to the realization that I still very much love Blizzard games… it is apparently only World of Warcraft that I am on tentative terms with.  I would love beyond love them to announce something for Diablo 3…  like maybe another expansion?  They have already hinted that they might be doing a Warcraft RTS after they wrap up with Starcraft II… so that alone has me pretty pumped.

No Man’s Sky

NewEridu

 

I am so irrationally hopeful about this title, even though I keep telling myself that there is no way it can deliver on everything it has been promising.  I love exploring new areas, and I love killing strange and interesting creatures.  No Man’s Sky promises to give me a procedural generated world where I can do this… over and over again throughout the galaxy.  On top of that the graphics are kinda cool as well with their hyper saturated version of reality.  Again…  all I really want from Hello Games is a release date.  I have a feeling that we will have an announcement for some sort of beta testing to begin soon.  Supposedly Amazon UK is already taking pre-orders so hopefully we will get a date this weekend.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

horizon-zero-dawn-screen-01-us-15jun15

 

At this point I just want more information on this title.  We saw a short trailer from E3 and I have been wanting more information since.  Once again I have no clue if there will be a presence at Pax Prime, but I am hoping!  I want to know more about the nuts and bolts of how this title is actually going to work.  I want to know if there is going to be a multiplayer aspect, or if this is just one big single player skyrim-esc sandbox.  I also want to know more about the world that surrounds the game.

Devilian

DevilianKorean

With my recent foray back into Diablo 3, it has made me extremely interested in Devilian a Diablo like Korean game that Trion is going to be publishing.  I know Trion is going to have a good presence at the show so I am hoping we find out when the beta process is going to begin.  I ended up with a key from Gamescom and I keep checking my Glyph launcher expecting it to show up in the list of games that are playable at some point soon.  While on the topic of Trion Games, it is too soon to hope for a Rift expansion but I would still like to get more information about where that game is heading, and some more detail on the future plans for ArcheAge.  The folks at Trion Worlds are awesome so I am always interested in what they have to say.

 

 

Drag Experience

Youtube Gaming

GoogleGamingInterface

The big buzz worthy thing that is happening right now is that Google is rolling out its Youtube Gaming platform.  It proudly announces that finally there is a youtube for gamers!  Which causes me to pause and ask…  wasn’t YouTube already for gamers?  At least 90% of the content that I watch on YouTube tends to be video game related so… I think it was doing a fine job before.  What gets slightly lost in the marketing spin however is that they are now offering twitch like streaming services.  Which in itself is a big confusing because I have had the ability to stream to YouTube for roughly a year now.  There was even a page in my channel settings that explained how to connect OBS to the YouTube RTMP servers.  I guess the big difference is that people are starting to actually use it.  I played around a bit watching various folks streaming and there were a few issues.  The biggest thing I kept running into was the stream was hitching periodically.  It also seemed that people were confused and simply unprepared to field YouTube chat.  Also it feels strange that when I interact with other people I show up as “Tales of the Aggronaut” which is my YouTube channel and not “Belghast”.  I am wondering if this is a setting somewhere I can configure, but thusfar I have not found it.  In fact there seems to be really limited configuration options for channels in the first place, which means… I sure hope you had your YouTube channel set up how you wanted it before the gaming site imports it!

On some level I find this all interesting, but mostly in passing.  I’ve recently switched from attempting to make Hitbox a thing, to giving up and just using Twitch because I simply got more random viewers.  I felt like Hitbox was the superior service in every way, because the most crucial thing for me is minimal delay between your stream and the channel chat.  It becomes so awkward to try and hold a conversation with someone who happens to be watching your stream where there is a lengthy delay.  Twitch recently put in functionality to help alleviate some of this, and it works…  sometimes.  In order for me to even consider switching to YouTube, there would have to be a set up similar to Hitbox where there was little to no delay.  The problem being that what I am hearing in practice is that the chat delay is often longer than that of Twitch currently.  I guess at some point I will swap the configuration in OBS and give it a test to see how precisely it works.  The other thing that concerns me is that from what I understand your stream gets backed up to your YouTube channel regardless.  I liked being able to pick and choose what I exported from Twitch, keeping my YouTube channel as a cleaner version of whatever I happened to stream.  What are your thoughts so far if you have tried it or watched someone else streaming on it?

Drag Experience

Diablo III 2015-08-26 22-24-28-86

When Diablo 3 2.0 was released the AggroChat folks played it quite a bit.  For the most part all of us had characters in the level 60ish range… that is except for Kodra.  Kodra had not really played much Diablo 3, but we knew that the game granted some extreme experience to folks being drug along with you.  Over the course of a few play sessions we managed to catch him up, but it was an exceptionally fraught experience for him.  Last night after our Final Fantasy XIV raid, my good friend Grace asked if I wanted to tag along as she farmed in Diablo.  She would get bonus loot and I would be able to soak in the lions share of experience.  During the course of an hour and a half I went from level 40 on my Crusader to level 70 gaining about 5 paragon levels after that.  I got to experience first hand the sort of game play Kodra did, and I have to say I understand why it frustrated him.  I would have leveled so much faster…  if I could stay alive.  Grace was farming Torment V which meant if anything even glanced in my direction I exploded in a violent eruption of giblets.  I was simply playing a different game than what she was… which was more akin to dodgeball.  Carefully trying to stay in the part of the screen where the mobs were not spawning, and dodging projectiles as they came in.

Diablo III 2015-08-27 00-07-23-66

The resulting experience however was just silly.  There was no point in ever repairing my completely broken body, because I was leveling out of my gear too fast for it to matter.  Finally when I hit 70 I was able to piece together enough gear to be “passable”.  The biggest problem is just how behind the curve you end up being when you finally hit the level cap.  While I could survive damage for a bit, I lacked any semblance of gear to be able to actually do Torment V style damage.  We did manage to encounter a few bugs that kept us from getting loot.  The saddest of these occasions was when some treasure goblins died just out of bounds and I was able to watch a dozen legendary patterns rotting in a place I could not loot from.  However we also completed a number of bounties, and from those I got plenty of patterns as well.  This allowed me at the end of the night to craft a few legendaries and a green chest piece and get my gear at least to a point where I could function.  I am super thankful for the speed run, because this gives me something to dink around with until the new season starts Friday.  Right now the game plan is to start a Female Warrior, since I love Sonya so much in Heroes of the Storm.  The crusader is awesome, but I am not sure if I want to duplicate that experience again so quickly.

Too Much of a Good Thing

WildStar64 2015-08-26 06-09-41-33

Viva Proactivity

Yesterday I suffered from a bit of a dilemma and could have used the assistance of Hermione and her time turner.  Sometimes the stars align just perfectly, and a sequence of patches hit at precisely the same time.  This happened once again yesterday with the Final Fantasy 3.0.7 patch and Diablo 3 2.3.0 patch.  This also conflicts with the fact that lately I have been trying to make Tuesday my Wildstar night, as it is the raid night of my guild and I am sure to see lots of people on as a result.  In truth at some point I would like to get into a rhythm of Tues/Thurs being Wildstar nights much the same way as they were previously World of Warcraft nights.  As a result I game hopped a bit. First up I poked my head into Final Fantasy XIV but did not really stay very long.  At first glance I didn’t really see the people that I needed to pull together a full guild group expert, so instead of hanging out and waiting I moved on to the next thing.  I could have easily relied on the Duty Finder, but since my passions were already deeply split last night I figured I would not really press my luck.

I will be raiding tonight so I figured that I would get plenty of time to explore the changes, which mostly for me included the addition of a TP bar in the party interface.  This could be a huge thing if it means that Bards, Machinists and Ninjas start proactively feeding their tank TP when they are starting to get low.  I know when I play ninja I always find it hard to time when is the best use of Goad.  Traditionally I try my best to time it so that I use it at the mid point in a fight, figuring by then especially if the tank is a warrior they will be struggling a bit.  As a Bard I rarely if ever played Army’s Paeon unless specifically asked by a tank because there was no real viable way of knowing when best to time it.  Mage’s Ballad on the other hand… I could time easily when I saw that both healers were starting to hurt for mana.  As silly as it sounds I think the addition of the TP bar to the party interface is going to drastically change the way the game feels for tanks at least.

Whitevale is Huge

WildStar64 2015-08-26 06-09-41-33
They keep threatening to hug me.

Last night I continued to chew away on Whitevale in Wildstar.  I managed to ding 25 which technically would have been a historic level for me…  if not for the kitty hoverboard and the snarflex.  Those have given me a nice mount to use since the moment I started playing this character, and have honestly spoiled me more than a little bit.  I am hoping that there will be similarly purchasable mounts from the in game store when the free to play conversion happens.  That would honestly be the number one thing stopping me from alting in this game, is the thought that I will not have my stable of mounts to carry over with me.  While I started upstairs last night, I ultimately crashed on the sofa working my way through the various quests in zone.  I keep hearing that all of the zones after Whitevale get significantly better but this zone serves to be this endless and impassible white wasteland.  I’ve remarked before that ultimately on my Chua Engineer it was the zone that stopped me in my tracks and kept me from progressing forward and I am remembering why now.

I am not entirely certain what it is about the zones design but something just feels bad about it.  If you were to ask me what my favorite biome is… and I think I have answered this question as part of the Liebsters…  I would probably say snowy zones.  If I think back to all of my favorite zones in games, most of them are places like Iron Pine Peaks in Rift.  The problem here is it feels like a white desert more than a snowy climate.  Maybe it is the fact that the entire zone has a purplish/bluish overtone but there is just something off with the lighting.  It has this feeling of vastness that makes me feel like I am making absolutely no progress.  That said I have put a big dent in the zone and have whittled down the available quest hubs to only a few left.  If I actually devote some time I think I can push through it in a few more hours.  I am anxiously looking forward to putting it behind me and never returning again.

Insomnia and Demons

Diablo III 2015-08-25 23-38-00-77
Big demon spider thing, going down!

 

I had every intent of just saying that last night was a Wildstar night and being done with it.  I had patched up Diablo 3 earlier in the evening but had not actually popped in to check it out.  When I wife decided it was bed time around 9 pm I attempted to lay down with her.  Problem being my body intervened and decided that even though I was sleepy… I was not sleepy enough to actually sleep.  I have this nasty habit of catching a second wind just as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I waited around a bit, attempted to watch some television and lull myself to sleep…  but that didn’t actually work.  Instead I finally got up and decided to mindlessly kill demons until sleep claimed me.  Now that Season 3 is over the pressure is mostly off, and my Crusader is just another normal character that I will eventually get to maximum level.  Since it was a Seasonal character, I feel somehow obligated to continue the storyline that I started and I pushed through the never ending series of staircases to get to Azmodan.  On Hard difficulty the game is still exceptionally easy, which is fine because I didn’t really want to think much last night.

The real question I guess is that in two days the fourth season starts.  Will I finish the Crusader first or start a new character for the season?  Honestly I am leaning towards making another Crusader for Season 4 because I really love some of the abilities.  The other option is to make another warrior, because while I like my monk… I don’t think I like its game-play enough to run up another one.  Crusader seems to hit all of the finer points I love about classes and gives me a highly tanky and defensive character with some ability to damage lots of things at the same time.  I might end up making a female crusader just to keep from feeling like I have a duplicate character in my stable.  The problem there is I am notoriously unmotivated to play female characters in games.  I tend to project myself on every character that I play, and for whatever reason I struggle to get the same “this is me doing this thing” experience when I am playing a female character.  Diablo on the other hand… there really isn’t much “you” in the characters that you create.  You are playing a stock character and dressing them up in cool armor, but other than that there really is little “personal touch” to them.