Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weekly Game Reporting

I made it my goal last week to report (on GameBytesShow) on Dungeon of the Endless. I have a quick update to that. I attempted to play through on "Easy" (hard) mode, a couple of times, and my progress was abruptly cut short at about floor 7. After having finished the game on "Too Easy" (normal), though, I feel pretty good about my experience with the game, and have elected to uninstall and move on.


This week, I'm reporting on Democracy 3, which I found to be pretty great! It's a series of interlocking menus that represent the levers of power in government, and the cause and effect relationships there. It's fairly simplistic and makes some dubious assumptions and gross simplifications, but it's not meant to be a completely accurate simulation or model (one hopes).
You are given the reins of power to one of several western democracies and are able to spend your political capital, replenished each quarter (turn), to implement new policies or tweak existing ones, trying to win or maintain the support of the citizenry, or to accomplish whatever goals you set for yourself. I've been playing as POTUS, and mostly trying to balance the budget while making various changes to US policy. I once tried to stamp out religion, and was assassinated by zealots. Another time I was assassinated by leftists(!) presumably because I put too tight of restrictions on alcohol consumption, and ramped up policing too much. I had attained the Crime Free Utopia status that game, though. In my current game, I am just focusing on the GDP, and trying to maximize that by driving education, productivity, and employment as hard as I can.


I finished off Titanfall 2 last night. I kept putting off playing more of the campaign, but in the end I really had a great time with it. I don't play FPS campaigns much anymore, but this one was a blast. Every level was nicely varied and paced very well. Even the titan vs titan boss encounters were fun. Just good stuff, all around. I recommend it.


A few other quick hits:


Super Mario World - made a few levels' progress yesterday. The Vanilla Dome castle is tough! I will complete this game again for my kids, though, and for myself. It is definitely my favorite Mario game.


Duelyst - I had a bunch of unopened card packs, so I went and opened those. I don't have any actual drive to continue playing, though. It does seen very well done, and has an insane amount of lore built into it. I can't imagine anyone really cares about it, but I applaud the effort. I wonder if they'll spin the out some other implementation of it. Another game type, I would hope, a la Amplitude Studios, and not a comic or novel or what have you.


Heroes of the Storm - The game that was too good. I can't let myself play this. It would be irresponsible. One quick round, and I was out, and uninstalled. All the other RTSs have to come first.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gratifying Gaming in the New Year Twenty-Seventeen

The first 10 days or so of 2017 have been pretty good for my gaming regimen.

I kicked it off last week by progressing further into the Titanfall 2 campaign, through the much vaunted mission Effect and Cause with its time travel mechanic, and later through a very cool multiple titan battle toward the end of the campaign. There are two or three missions left at this point.

Soon thereafter, the Diablo 20th anniversary event in Diablo III went live--a recreation of the original game's 16-floor dungeon complete with boss encounters like the Butcher, King Leoric, Arch-Bishop Lazarus, and Diablo himself. The whole thing is framed as being from the memory of Adria, down to the graphical filter to make the game look more pixellated and grim like the first Diablo. There are also a couple of other conceits, such as only being able to move in eight directions and at a reasonably fast walk, and the vintage UI bar. It was fun to jump back into Diablo III for a bit. I ended up picking up my Crusader for this, and earned a few Paragon levels while I was at it. I'm more excited for the addition of the Necromancer class, which is supposed to see the light of day this year, I believe.

My favorite thing from the last several days has been finally clicking with Amplitude's rogue-like, tower defense incorporating dungeon crawler Dungeon of the Endless. When I first attempted to play it, it wasn't immediately apparent how to do so, or why I kept losing so quickly and so decisively. Somehow something drew me back to the game a few days ago, determined to figure it out, and I think I've done a fair job of it. I finished my first game of it tonight, getting through all twelve floors of the dungeon, unlocking a bunch of characters and starting ships (game modes) and achievements in the process. And it's been really fun, too. It's a pretty unique blending of genres, and it exists in the world of Endless Space and Endless Legend, and actually serves as a sort of narrative segue from one to the other, which is interesting.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Wrap Up with G and B OTY

2016 has been a kind of off year. I've felt my enthusiasm for a lot of games seem to wane a bit, and so even with my top picks, I feel less than completely rapt. Without further ado, though:

My Game of the Year: World of Warcraft: Legion
Honorable Mention: Overwatch

Two Blizzard games, as it turns out. I went into the year unenthused by either, but it turns out I probably had the most unreserved fun with them throughout the year. There were a series of others games in 2016 I was more looking forward to, but for one reason or another just didn't stick, things like The Witness and Firewatch. Even stalwart series I enjoy like HITMAN and Dishonored didn't hook me the way I look for in a GOTY candidate. At least not in time for the end of the year. I still have hope for some of these.

In terms of backlog maintenance, it seems 2016 was another draw, if not a net add to the pile. I didn't exactly go crazy buying games, but at the same time I only knocked relatively few off the list, and most of those were just dabblings and dismissals. Here are the skulls I took this year, those achievements and milestones I felt notable. It's not as easy as rolling the credits on a game anymore; these days games try to be perennial, perpetual, and otherwise endless, so you have to be able to define your own goals more than ever:

Super Mario Run (Tour)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 110)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 100)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 90)
No Man's Sky (Atlas)
Eisenhorn: Xenos
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 85)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Dungeons)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 80)
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade (Dungeons)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 70)
Warcraft III (Undead)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight intro)
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution (Space Marines)
Dark Souls
Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Mass Effect 3: Omega
Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
Talisman: The Horus Heresy
Firewatch
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

That's 23 recorded milestones this year, however charitable I am about the definition. About average with past years' totals:

2015:26
2014:32
2013:33
2012:23
2011:21
2010:23
2009:19
2008:26
2007:15

At this point I'm not going to try to put together a 2017 syllabus of any sort. I made some progress through the one for this year, but those always end up falling apart. It seems like a bit of a fool's errand. A few things I'd like to do, though, are finally crack Paradox strategy games, probably with Stellaris, which I am now familiarizing myself with, to get around to really playing The Witcher 3, and to play more real-time strategy.

2017 releases I'm looking forward to? Mass Effect Andromeda, Dawn of War III, and Nintendo's Switch and all that comes with that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now on to the page-turning side of things. I read a decent amount this year:

Deathfire
Legacies of Betrayal
The Keeler Image
The Unburdened
The Honoured
Altered Carbon
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 1
Origin (Wolverine)
Warcraft III and WoW Manuals (Lore)
Remember
The Damnation of Pythos
Vengeful Spirit
Scars
The Unremembered Empire
Vulkan Lives
Mark of Calth
Paradise Lost
Betrayer
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
Angel Exterminatus

That's 20-some odd works, by my hackneyed accounting. Figure a few additional, based on all the single issue comics I've read (several large volumes' worth, easily). A pretty good sum from the few years I've been keeping track. Definitely better than 2015:

2016:20-some odd
2015:4ish
2014:18
2013:9

Book of the Year: The Unremembered Empire
Honorable Mention: Betrayer

Two Horus Heresy novels, which is patently unfair to other quality work, such as Altered Carbon, or mind-benders like Flatland or Paradise Lost, because of how much they draw from the surrounding Heresy universe, but there you have it. Both books were incredible, and you are missing out if you aren't reading The Horus Heresy.

I have a lot more reading queued up for 2017, including a lot more Heresy, among other things, so I'm pretty psyched about that.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Last Call for Playahol

I played some Wipeout HD/Fury on PS3 the other day. That is a very cool game from yesteryear that I could see myself revisiting more often now that I have it re-installed again. Zone mode still feels ahead of its time.

A loyal Call of Podcast listener gifted me Downwell, so I put some time into that, too. Pretty simple, pretty fun. Very arcadey in feel, since it is a score attack game, divided up into stages like a Spelunky or something. It only uses 3 colors in its aesthetic, but it lets you unlock and swap between different palettes, which is nice. You are a guy falling down an endless well with guns shooting from the bottom of his boots. You must progress as far down as you can without taking too many hits from the monsters on the way down.

I finally bought this year's DOOM remake/sequel, which oddly seems to be an alternate universe Doom ]|[? Unless Doom 3 is somehow set farther in the future or something... anyway, I'll suffice it to say that it feels very faithful to the first couple of Doom games, which is to say it moves very fast and feels very relentless. I like it.

Another new, 'let's get ready for GOTY talk' pickup is Stellaris. I am really going to try to hunker down and familiarize myself with a Paradox strategy game. This one seems close enough to the type of 4X games I've played before (mostly Civ) that I can get a toehold on the climb to competence. I've played a few hours, and am starting to feel like I know what I want to do next, at the very least. That being to conquer the galaxy in the name of the Commonwealth (Imperium) of Man. Yes, I will be enacting my own Great Crusade soon to claim the galaxy for humanity alone.

Revisiting The Witness tonight, I miraculously solved several puzzles that had previously given me grief. The bad part is I did them without knowing exactly why or how the solution was valid. I wouldn't call it brute forcing them, because each only took one or two tries, but perhaps it was some obscene luck. This is a nice and relaxing game to visit.

Otherwise, I've been spending more time in Skyrim, figuring out my inventory situation and what I want my character to be doing--tough when the choices consist of everything. I also jumped back into Overwatch briefly, trying to sort out where it will land in my GOTY rankings.

Finally, I reinstalled and played some more Space Marine tonight. I can confirm that it does play feel better than Eternal Crusade. I managed to get into a match of the cooperative horde mode for a while, which was actually a lot of fun. I didn't have any luck getting into a game of the PVP, however. Maybe next time. I did pop into the campaign briefly, though. This is still a very fun game.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Twisting in the Wind

The last little while has been characterized by a general sort of funk or malaise around gaming. Instead, I've been doing other things, and prime among them, reading Deathfire, the 32nd book in the numbered Horus Heresy series. There are a number that are not numbered, as it were. The series continues to ride high and epic. I should come away from 2016 with a pretty healthy, at least in terms of numbers, of titles read.

Game-wise, it's just been a smattering of things. Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade took most hours played, though it's not a great game. It wants to be Battlefield in the 41st millenium, but I think the focus is too much on close-quarters arena battling for it to work. The vehicles really seem to be of questionable value. There seem to be some other balance concerns, as well, like my Imperial Fists Astartes withering under about 1 second of Eldar fire. That's just not right. I don't really think this game has the budget to excel, and I doubt it maintains the community, either. It's too bad, because those Space Marines look pretty glorious.

Second in play time recently would be Skyrim, though I don't have much to report. I've decided to follow the main quest for the time being. It's led me to High Hrothgar to speak to the Graybeards.

In a fit of not knowing what else to do last week, I played the first mission of the Orc campaign in Warcraft III. Great game!

Cube World got in a little time, too, oddly enough. @wollay tweeted out an update of something he was working on that inspired me to go back and play a bit. I don't think a downloadable update has been made available to players since about three and a half years ago, though.

I put a couple more hours into Tyranny, making my way to the Disfavored war camp and resolving a few situations verbally on my way to locate a missing shipment of arms. It seems like a pretty good game.

Stellaris is, from what I gather, Paradox's attempt to bring their grand strategy games into space sci-fi. I have been curious to give it a shot, having always wanted to make sense of Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings, and not having been able to do so. After my first session, I don't feel all that enlightened just yet. Again, more play time will be needed, here.

I've been playing both Super Mario World and Super Mario Run lately. As a rule, I don't talk about mobile games here, but I'll just say I was very curious to see what Nintendo's first real game outside their own platform would be. I quite like it. I think it hangs as a Mario game, and I think it takes advantage of the lateral shift in genre to introduce some new mechanics that wouldn't make sense in the usual Mario platformers. I'm impressed. Nothing much to say about World, other than it feels way damn harder now than it used to, whatever the reason.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Out of Sorts with My Sort

I've been in a strange place lately with gaming. I don't know if my tastes are changing and evolving, or if I'm just getting tired of my usual things, or what. I have had a hard time drilling down into things lately, things that should really most definitely be my sort of thing. I'm trying to just go where my whims take me, though, and trust that I'll get to where I need to be that way.


So far, this has led me directly back to The Last of Us. I've always had issues with the play in Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, while yet still wanting to play through each for their cinematic aspects. The same goes for this game. I've decided to take another run at it, having lost the save of my first attempt. I'm about 2 or 3 hours in, and not quite back to where I had left off previously. I'm trying to look at it like a dramatic TV series as opposed to the kind of video game I typically enjoy, because it (and the Uncharted series) excel at aspects of the former, but are deficient at aspects of the latter. Maybe I can buckle down and get through this game with that mindset.


Super Mario World - I want to get through this on my SNES with my daughters. It seems harder than I remember, though. I wonder if lag on my HDTV might be to blame. Probably not, it's probably just faulty memory and degrading motor skills, though. I made it to the Vanilla Dome, though.


Skyrim - I wanted to play some yesterday, but wasn't too attached to any of the quests in my log. I am still not sold on either side of the civil war going on here, either. I figured I would chase down the next leg of the main, dragon related quest, then, to compensate for my jack-of-all-trades approach to character specialization with some draconic superpowers. I walked halfway across the province to a barrow, having small adventures along the way.


Titan Quest Anniversary Edition - Long story short, it is still a dull action roleplaying loot game, but one that has been nicely spruced up by its new publisher, THQ Nordic. I wish them success in future endeavors.


Duelyst - I played a few more puzzles and practice matches. I don't have too much more to say other than I'm using this to substitute for Hearthstone for the time being. I need to get into it at least to the point where I can appreciate the 20 booster packs I got for it.


Elite: Dangerous - I made a conscious decision to get away from playing this game and try to find things that are more novel in the same space. There may not actually be a real replacement for it, but at the present, I just can't justify spending any more time in it without investigating alternatives.


Assassin's Creed Unity - I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't care about the plot, and I wasn't looking forward to Syndicate at all. Uninstalled. Maybe I'll be back with the next incarnation of the series. I am planning to see the upcoming movie, but I don't have high hopes for it.


WoW - Filling out my trilogy of quit games this entry. My flame with the game has run its course this time around, and longer and brighter than previously. The Suramar quest grind and lack of additional zones to explore finally bored me, and the idea of powering up my artifact even more, while attractive, was not ultimately enough to get me to play enough that I felt it was worth the subscription.


Finally, I began Obsidian's new 3/4 view party RPG (not Infinity Engine), Tyranny. I'm only a couple of hours in, but it seems very cool so far. I'm enjoying the very gray territory the decisions I am making are in, being a sort of enforcer for a conquering power as the conquest winds down, bringing the conquered lands and people into compliance. The emperor Kyros seems like a really bad guy from afar, capricious and uncaring. The whole setting is very reminiscent of 40K and the Horus Heresy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Giving Thanks for Gaming This Thanksgaming

The last week or so has been a whirlwind tour of many games. Progress updates!


Skyrim - Got back into it with my Nord character, who is by turns a brawny two-hander warrior and a stealthy backstabber ranger. Fence sitting in this way makes the game more difficult in terms of combat, but in the end I should rule all. I have a whole lot of ground to cover, though. I'm not fast traveling at all in this playthrough.


Dishonored 2 - I found the Crown Killer at the Addermire Institute, and solved that affair peacefully.


Hitman - I did the Paris mission at the fashion show for the first time, using a spiked drink to lure the male target into a bathroom, where I drowned him, and then snuck up on and strangled the female target in an empty room, and stashed her body in a corner somewhere before escaping via helicopter.


Dawn of War II - I was really only revisiting this to earn the Steam trading cards and badge. I played a couple of campaign missions and a few rounds of The Last Stand. Can't wait for DoW III!


Assassin's Creed Unity - Jumped back into this in an effort to go ahead and finish it off at some point, after not having played it for maybe a year and a half. I'm about to begin sector 8, having just found out and killed the murderous mutinous Assassin brother. I am trying to ignore most of the ancillary content in this game and just focus on the core story missions, which are all I care about in the series at this point. Paris is nice enough, though.


No Man's Sky - I returned to the game with the recent Foundation update, only to be very quickly overcome with boredom and despair at having to jump back on that resource grind. 45 hours of this was probably enough, I am thinking now. I should go back to Elite: Dangerous, instead.


Hearthstone - A few savage losses and the meager enjoyment felt when winning have put me off it again. And on the eve of the new expansion, as well. I think I'll play more Duelyst instead. I did leave my account with enough gold to do an arena run at some point in the future, though.


World of Warcraft - More Suramar quest progress. I made a few levels of artifact research and upgrades, and got a 5th piece of class armor (of 8). I kind of feel my enthusiasm flagging, but I'm going to continue playing here and there for now.


I should also give a booklog update here. I finished The Honoured and The Unburdened, the Calth novellas, then read the new Eisenhorn short story, The Keeler Image, and have now begun Horus Heresy book 31, Legacies of Betrayal. I'm really looking forward to the next grip of Heresy books, especially book 41, Master of Mankind, just released. Not sure when I'll make it that far, though.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Game Weekend

I had several good game sessions this weekend, wherein I really feel like I made some good progress. In chronological order:


Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - Friday afternoon after I got home but the family had not, yet. I found my way from Shinjuku to Yoyogi park and Shibuya, where I met Chiaki and Hijiri again, and got access to the magical webway to head toward Ginza to meet a human male there, either Hikawa or Isamu, presumably. The game is pretty light on plot, so far, which I think kind of works. You have the odd premise, and a general goal, to either return the world to how it was, or to remake it in whatever way you wish. It's kind of Fallout-like in that regard.


Dishonored 2 - Friday night, late. Made it through the first mission in Karnaca, on my way out to Addermire to meet with Hypatia. Stealth seems harder than in the first game, but then I am playing it on the Hard setting for Dishonored veterans. I've tired repeatedly to engage guards after being caught, but most of the time I end up being killed. That may be because I'm trying not to kill them, but incapacitate them instead. I should probably just retreat and lose them unless there is only one.


Hitman - Saturday evening. Being a longtime fan of the Hitman series, the unanimous praise the new episodic game has been getting finally convinced me to pick it up. The 50% off sale on Steam this weekend helped, as well. At first blush it does seem pretty great. I have played the first 3 training scenarios, and poked around briefly in the first real mission, in Paris. It really seems like everything good from Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money just brought forward to the modern era. I have never played Agent 47 or Absolution, though I guess I should at some point just out of curiosity.


WoW - I made some more progress through the Suramar quests and a few other odds and ends Sunday midday. I need to focus mostly on order hall resources for artifact research and order hall modifications. I want to finish the thrust of the questing before concentrating on world quests and dungeons and raiding, though. I think there is quite a bit of that left, yet. Suramar got a whole other load of that stuff in a patch, recently.


Duelyst - Sunday night. I had been meaning to get back in and play more of this, especially to contrast it to Hearthstone. I played a couple of rounds last night as the Lyonar(?) faction, including my first match online, which I won. It's a cool game, most definitely. I have to wonder at the size of the playerbase, but I was able to find a match partner right away, so that's a good sign, hopefully. I'll try again tonight and see how it goes.


Hearthstone - Sunday night. Playing Duelyst and chatting with Esteban made me want to hop back in, and I did, after a good long while. As a welcome back, the game awarded me with three free packs of cards and a quick 3-round onboarding of games against easy opponents, I guess to refamiliarize myself. I did all of that and then, again, played a match of ranked online and won, using a Shaman deck the Innkeeper had assembled for me. What a nice guy, what a nice tavern, what a nice game. I'll play more, I'm sure. There is quite a bit of new stuff in the game since the last time I'd played, which was around the time the Goblins vs Gnomes card set was coming out. I think since there has been a grand tournament set, an Old Gods set, and soon there will be a Gadgetzan set.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Playlog: First Half of November, 2016

Dishonored 2 is out now, but I haven't had as much time to play it as I'd like quite yet. I began a game on Hard playing as Emily Kaldwin, and I'm currently beginning the second full mission, the introduction to Karnaca.


Titanfall 2 - continue to play some multiplayer, still have not finished the campaign yet, despite all the positive word of mouth around it. Have enjoyed what I played so far, though.


World of Warcraft - Focusing on Suramar zone quests before moving on to more dungeon running and world quests toward the end of finishing Order Hall and Artifact quests, or what is currently available, anyway.


Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne - Picked this up on PSN on a great sale price last night. I'd like to put more time into it again this time. I never got past maybe halfway in, if that, when I tried it years ago, but I never lost interest in its premise.


The Egyptian Prophecy: The Fate of Ramses - a 3D-in-the-sense-of-Google-maps adventure set in ancient Egypt, one with a sort of magical realism. I didn't get too far in, not caring for the genre, but that's one more off the backlog.


Reading, I'm in the middle of the Horus Heresy novella The Honoured, set in the aftermath of the betrayal at Calth, in the underworld war on that world following the poisoning of the local star.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Warcraft Booklogsta Spook-y Mechany

I finally finished off Altered Carbon, the cyberpunk noir novel starring Takeshi Kovacs. It was pretty entertaining. There are a couple more books with the same character, but I'm not sure I'll read those. It's a big bookshelf and booklog. I'll go back to some Horus Heresy material soon, but I'm also in the middle of a couple of other things, one being the Warcraft chronicle.


Speaking of Warcraft, much of the last couple of weeks I have spent plowing through the remaining quest lines of the new Broken Isles zones. At some point I'll run out of the authored stuff and into a sort of endgame phase where what's left is to either do PVP, more hardcore PVE, or seemingly repetitive World Quests, which it seems are procedurally generated. I'm not sure how much of that I'll be interested in doing. I do like how podcast friendly the game is, though, and I would enjoy finishing off my Artifact!


I mentioned Endless Legend previously. I went back and completed the tutorial to re-familiarize, and then jumped back into the game I was playing before. I feel a little more acclimated to the game now, but it'll definitely take more time to satisfy myself. I haven't even finished one game yet.


I seem to have stalled out in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I finished a bunch of side objectives in Detroit and have been sent elsewhere to a mission, at this point. Some sort of industrial location. I forget what the objective is.


New on the agenda as of late is Titanfall 2. I lucked into a copy at no out of pocket cost, so I have been giving it a go. I'm two missions into the new single player campaign, which is fun, and I've played a few rounds of multiplayer, too, which is also fun. I'll put more time into this for sure, even though I feel more and more distant from the FPS genre as time goes on.

Friday, October 14, 2016

God from Endless Warcraft

Amplitude's Endless series of games was on sale on Steam the other day, and it occurred to me that I still wanted to play more of Endless Legend, and that I could economically substitute that in my rotation this week as compared to purchasing the newly released Civilization VI, even when accounting for the 10 bucks' worth of DLC I purchased to bring me more up to speed with the state of the game. I thought I should probably replay the tutorial, since it had been a while, and I don't think I ever finished a game when I played it, previously. I'm about 45 minutes into that tutorial now, I think.


I also began Deus Ex: Human Revolution over the last week or two. I should have played this game sooner, because it seems to have aged kind of roughly. The graphics are below my expectations for a game of the prior generation, and there are ugly 720p loading screens and CG cut-scenes everywhere. The play holds up, though. I suppose it's pretty timeless, since it feels more or less identical to that of the original Deus Ex, which released in 2000, if I'm not mistaken. The game has style, too. A roundly mocked style, admittedly, but a style nonetheless. I happen to like this genre, known to some as the immersive simulation, so I'll keep playing it, but I don't know for how long. Dishonored 2 will be out in about a month's time, after all.


I also managed to make it all the way to 110, the level cap, in WoW with my Death Knight, Phoenixian, and I'm working through all the questing content in Legion in order to see everything in the expansion and power up my Artifact weapons as far as possible. There are a million things to do in this game, of course, but for my own purposes, I plan to do all of the one-time quests I can, and play through all of the dungeons and raids I can, at least once or twice. Given an abundance of time, I'd also like to go back and explore the rest of Azeroth/Outland/Draenor some more as well. In other words, no end in sight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

13 Days' Round-Up

It's been about two weeks of fairly varied play.


Varied play beginning with the Battlefield 1 beta, which I thought was entertaining, but ultimately left me questioning why. This was followed fairly close on by some Battlefield 4 play, after EA made all of the DLC free for a short time. Also entertaining, but I can never quite get over the sensation that I would get more out of playing another game.


Final Fantasy IV is still serving for Japanese practice, but I've put only a little time into it since the last post. My party talked to some people in Fabul, and are about to depart there on a ship, bound for Baron once more, if I understood properly.


Castle of Illusion, the Mickey Mouse platformer, or more precisely the recent remake of the original, was to be pulled from sale due to a licensing issue, so I picked it up very cheaply before it disappeared, thinking that my daughters would probably enjoy it, or watching me play it, at least. It's a little beyond their game skills at this point. This is actually a very good game. I am not familiar with the original, which I think was a Sega Genesis game, but I knew this version was well regarded going in. I can see why. First, its gorgeous. The locales are varied and vibrant, and perfect for Mickey. Second, the platforming is also very well done. Mickey controls well, and the levels are put together in a good, fun way. I was impressed.


I've been bringing together a small, high quality library of games for my 3DS(s), including a game I had not played since 1998 and in the meantime has become, I feel, one of the most over-celebrated games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nevertheless, I felt it deserved a place in my collection, so I picked up the 3DS remake, which is 99% the same game, but with some good tech and usability improvements. I do maintain it is widely over-appreciated by nostalgia junky fanboy manchildren, but it is still a very good game. I've played through the first few sections of it, and I'm on my way to Death Mountain now.


Another recent addition to my 3DS library is Mario Kart 7, which, alongside the original Mario Kart on SFC, I have been playing some of along with Mia. She still can't drive, but she's kind of learning.


There's a new video game CCG, a Hearthstone-like, out now called Duelyst. The twist here is that instead of just putting cards out on a table, cards summon creatures onto a tactical grid where positioning is a very real factor in how fights turn out. I thought the art looked nice, and so was interested to begin with, but 20 free card packs through a Humble Bundle newsletter promotion tempted me into actually downloading and trying out the game. It seems like a cool thing after a few practice games, and I'm happy to have an alternative to Hearthstone, which I do not particularly relish going back to play more of, even while I recognize the near inevitability of such a thing, given how well Blizzard supports their games in the very long term. Perhaps Duelyst will attract enough of an audience to remain on the scene for a while. I wouldn't bet on it, though, regardless of the game's quality.


Speaking of Blizzard games, I have also been spending a lot of time indeed with World of Warcraft. I have my Death Knight at level 100 now, and I am enjoying the Legion content a good deal. The Death Knight class-specific and spec-specific content has been really cool so far. It's a novel experience to be more or less current with the game for the first time ever, and I'm looking forward to playing to the cap and beyond.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Never Gonna Get Hooked On Adventure

That's my only supposition based on my repeated attempts to get into games in the graphical adventure genre.


Most recently, I tried The Blackwell Legacy. It fared better than some, but within a couple of hours I got to a part where I couldn't readily figure out what to do next, and gave up. I don't plan to go back, not to this one, at least. I still have 3 other Blackwell games to try out sometime in the future. I was kind of enjoying the characters of Rosangela and Joey, I'll admit. And I do enjoy the Wadjet Eye graphical style and musical choices, as well.


I got Mia (5) to sit down and try out SFC Mario Kart the other day. She of course doesn't really get the whole concept of driving, acceleration and braking, etc., but it'll come to her in time. She wanted to play as Peach, and expected I'd play as Mario. I obliged, though I always used to go with Koopa Troopa when I played the game as a kid on SNES.


In Final Fantasy IV JP edition playthrough news, I got over Mt. Hobusu and recruited Yan into the party. We're saved right outside Fabul at the moment.


No Man's Sky-wise, I was able to hunt down about 5 black holes and make my way closer to the center before too many resources and modules were burned. I finally had to set down on a planet to start the rebuilding process. Maybe I'll finally try to get a ship upgrade. Maybe not. I did already sink a lot of resources into the better warp drives for the one I have. It would probably be worth it at some point, though.


In WoW, I am continuing to level up (94 now) and do quests in Draenor. I have yet to move on from Shadowmoon Valley, though. There are a ton of quests to do there. At this rate I probably won't get more than 2-3 zones through Draenor before I head off to the Broken Isles for Legion content. I am definitely looking forward to that.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Backlog Patrol Round 2

Well, I decided to hop back into the backlog this week with another A game on my second trip through the alphabet of gaming. I played some ARMA: Cold War Assault, which was originally released as Operation Flashpoint. While I'd never played an ARMA game before, I had played an Operation Flashpoint game (Dragon Rising) in the past, and knew sort of what to expect--a relatively realistic military simulation, at least in comparison to something like Battlefield or Call of Duty. It delivers on that point, if its age and contemporary tech level and conventions hinder it somewhat.


What I was not prepared for, though, were the cinematics, especially the introduction to the Resistance campaign of missions. Someone there at Bohemia Interactive was clearly inspired by filmmaking techniques and giving that sort of thing a go in their game scenario design. The choices of camera angles, blocking, direction, and music were all pretty striking, especially for a game of that era. It was wild. Are all the ARMA games like this?


I made some progress on my Japanese FFIV play through, getting through the antlion cave bit with Gilbert (Edward in the US version) and Rydia to get the cure for Rosa's sickness. She's now joined the party to be with Cecil, and next we're headed over a mountain to try and prevent Golbez from getting any more crystals than he has already.


I made some progression through No Man's Sky, as well, gearing up my ship and exosuit with upgrades that make it easier to get to the black holes on the way to the center of the galaxy. That game has a way of grabbing me and holding onto me for as long as I can possibly make a session last.


In World of Warcraft, I'm playing through all the quests in the first zone of Draenor, gathering stuff for my garrison and learning what's going on with the Draenei there as the Iron Horde rises. I'm about halfway through level 93 to this point. I think I'm finally starting to accept that I'll never see the whole of Azeroth and the outlying areas, and that I should be okay with that. No one sees the entire world they live on or does everything possible in life, do they? It's more about where the journey does take you, and the paths that you yourself choose, at the opportunity cost of choosing others, that determines who you are.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dedication and Study

I reached the end of the Atlas path in No Man's Sky, and turned from there to head toward the center of the galaxy making use of black holes along the way to warp me closer and closer in. This is where I am now, still searching for a bigger ship I can either afford or repair, and trying to scrounge enough materials for fuel along the way. I am curious what other mysteries the game holds, and hope to get to the bottom of them eventually. I don't love this game, but I like it well enough.

My SFC copy of Final Fantasy IV arrived last week, and I'm beginning a play through of the game in its original Japanese incarnation, both as a study exercise, and just for fun. I haven't really played the real FFIV, aside from some of the 3D version they released on the DS several years ago. So far I've made it to the desert oasis town where Rydia decides to travel along with Cecil after he protects her from the soldiers from Baron who have come to kill her on their king's orders. Kain is not currently around; he was lost in the earthquake in Mist.

One odd thing about the SFC version is that it's all in hiragana, with no kanji. That makes it both easier and harder to parse, actually, for different reasons.

I made my way back into WoW over the past couple of days, as well, after having focused so much on No Man's Sky for a couple of weeks. Legion releases tomorrow, and leading up to that, there are Burning Legion invasion events all around Azeroth that are great for getting experience and gear. I went from 86 to 90, almost 91, just by participating in 6 of these events, maybe an hour's play. I'm going to milk these for all their worth tonight, which is probably the last chance I'll get, assuming they go away with tomorrow's weekly update coinciding with the launch of the expansion proper.