Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Space Exploratin'

Something got me thinking about Elite Dangerous again, and I am back on my longest exploration jag ever.

I am coordinating my trip using the Elite Dangerous Star Map site, and I have resolved to explore the outer arm of the galaxy, to the galactic south of Sol. As of right now I am over 8,000 light years away from humanity's home system, looking for a way to cross over from the Perseus Arm where I am now, over the sparse field of stars between it and the Outer Arm, into what is known as the Outer Arm Vacuus.

I'm not sure where else I want to go after this jaunt, which will no doubt take a while. But as far as I know, I already have one of the best ships I could possibly get for exploration, so I don't see any real need to head back to the populated bubble for an upgrade. Though that would be the wise thing to do after vising thousands of systems.

I kind of would like to explore the entire outer rim of the galaxy. I wonder how long that would take.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Second Quarter Book Review

I've continued the Warhammer reading festival through Q2, with the following list, in reverse chronological order:

White Dwarf (June)

The Last Hunt - The White Scars 4th Company, the Tulwar Brotherhood, come to an honour world to defend it from the Tyranid hive fleet Cicatrix, and are nearly wiped out but for the help of a Farseer of craftworld Iyanden. In the end they avert a time paradox by heading into the webway in search of their long lost primarch, Jaghatai Khan.

White Dwarf (May)

The Bloodied Rose - Sister Augusta from Mercy returns with her squad to that same cathedral to combat a darker foe there.

Mercy - A squad of Battle Sisters fend of a force of Orks to protect a cathedral near an isolated village.

Requiem Infernal - A Sister of Battle returns on a sort of pilgrimage to her home world to seek medical help for a regiment of Astra Militarum she is attached to. Many strange things are happening on the Candleworld.

Macragge's Honour - The Horus Heresy graphic novel that follows on from the betrayal at Calth.

White Dwarf (Apr)

Blood Oath - A Warhammer World exclusive campaign book for 40K 7th edition. Ultramarines fight off Khornate Daemons on one of the chapter's protectorate worlds.

Legends of the Dark Millennium: Astra Militarum - A lot of novellas and shorts starring Commissar Yarrik, Colonel Straken, and Lord Castellan Creed. I really enjoyed all of these.

White Dwarf (Mar)

The Solar War - The first book of the Siege of Terra series, capping off the Horus Heresy mega-series. The story of how the Traitor Legions fought their way from outside the Solar system to Terra's orbit.

A Company of Shadows - Severina Raine leads a force against a witch cult

Endurance - A Space Marine falls to Nurgle

White Dwarf (Feb)

Vigilus Ablaze shorts - vignettes about Vigilus now as a war zone

Shadowspear shorts - stories highlighting the forces of Chaos about to attack Vigilus

Vigilus Defiant shorts - peeks into life on the Imperial world of Vigilus as it becomes the center of a giant conflict

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Games for Japan 2019

I picked up Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and so far, so good! I do wish the graphics were 2D pixel art like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but I'll take this. I'm not far into it yet, but looking forward to getting a chance to delve deeper.

On a whim, I decided to pick up New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe at the register buying my next game. I've only played a few levels so far, but it's good. It's nice to have on a console I'll play, as well.

Finally, and at long last, I got Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for Switch. I'm having a blast replaying this game. It's one of my favorite in the main FF series, with a system that is endless amounts of fun to optimize. This version of the game has some differences from the original release, most notably the more confined license boards that restrict you into more traditional FF job roles. It's one thing I missed in the game's original incarnation, where the license board was a total free-for-all, and you could end up making every character a bland jack-of-all-trades. I'm around 20 hours into the game now, having just gotten the full party roster and broken free of the moment-to-moment demands of the plot to go off on Ashe's own initiative and do something for the cause, the restoration of the rightful rulers of Dalmasca, namely herself.

I don't remember much at all of the plot of this game, so for that reason also it is nice to be replaying it. The scenario is of course created by Yasumi Matsuno, of Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Vagrant Story, more of my favorite games. I'm definitely into this replay and hope to not only finish it off, but get deep into the endgame as well.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

PC Shakeup and Xbox Game Pass for PC

On a whim, and wanting to be able to try a bunch of games but not necessarily buy them, and a good deal, I subscribed to Microsoft's new Xbox Game Pass for PC, for a dollar for the first month, and then five for every month thereafter. It's not a bad deal at all, considering I've refrained from buying many games over the last year or so (meaning there is a lot to catch up on), and that I do want to check out the first party offerings MS will be putting up, including the Halo and Forza series entries and whatever else.

It was a real ordeal getting Windows 10 updated to the newest version so I could get this new Xbox beta app; one that necessitated uninstalling a good deal of games from my PC. It wouldn't be much materially to go and reinstall them all, but for the time being I'll let the previously installed ones go.

Fallout 76

I got a chance to try out Fallout 76 this past week when Bethesda made it free to play for a week. I got in two or three sessions, enough to kind of get a feel for it. Despite my initial skepticism of the idea, and the critical failure of the game at launch, it seemed like a pretty good time, even solo as I insist on playing games like this.

I guess that is my main issue with 76; that it is built from the ground up to a purpose completely apart from my own in gaming. I find that with a lot of things, really. I find that I just don't want to play with other people the majority of the time, or play multi-player focused games much, either.

This all makes me thing I would rather go back and play more Fallout 4, like all that DLC I have for it remaining untouched, than buy into 76 anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Back to Titan Quest Again

I got curious about the pteruges on some space marines' armor the other day and went to research what they were actually for in real life, and while I didn't learn much, I did get a craving to play some Titan Quest from the whole thing, so I loaded that back up and have been wasting time therein.

My character had already been created back when I first picked up the Anniversary Edition of the game. He is a Defensive (carries a shield) Rune Master. At least I think that's what the classes are called. In the game you start out in Greece, and then move on to Egypt, China, and I believe Scandinavia now, since the Ragnarok expansion. I'm nearing the end of the Greece portion to this point.

I guess not every hour I put into the ARPG genre needs to go into Diablo III. After this, I also want to revisit Path of Exile to see how that may have changed since I first checked it out. I never did finish Torchlight II, either. And then there is Grim Dawn and Warhammer's Inquisitor - Martyr which I should check out, as well. Not to mention Klei's game Hades, and any number of other entrants to the genre that might be worth looking at.

Apparently Blizzard is working on Diablo IV, as well. That will be a happy day, when that is released.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Gothic II

An interesting mid-2000s 3D action RPG, from back when that was a newish thing, and with an open-world bent to it, as near as I can tell. The only thing is that by this point it is very outdated. The writing and voice acting is terrible. I would disclaim that as by today's standards, but no, it's just terrible.

The combat designers seem to have been going for something action-oriented, based around moving and slashing or swinging weapons in a certain direction in real time combat. I don't think it's totally successful, but it is an interesting attempt. I am reminded of The Witcher's tempo-based action combat.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Fuel

Fuel is a Codemasters-developed racing game from 2009, the early middle part of the PS3/360 console generation. It's claim to fame is a gigantic open world--the biggest, per the Guinness Book--, for the time it was released, anyway. It's set in a post-apocalyptic American Northwest, from about the Canadian border down to about the Californian one, and from the west coast east past the Great Salt Lake.

The land is full of racing events that you can drive around to, on dirt bikes, ATVs, dune buggies, and Mad Max-style muscle cars. It's good aimless driving fun, somewhere on the spectrum between arcade and simulation racing. I hope to play more of it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

English Country Tune

I have no idea what the title is a reference to.

The game is a 3D puzzle game where you control a square tile that flips end over end to move in one of the four possible directions, and knocks balls around or pushes abstract beams of light to accomplish puzzle goals.

Levels are played out on cubic, three-dimensional boards, so its possible and sometimes necessary to go around a corner to another facet of the level in order to come at your objective from the right angle to affect motion in a certain direction or orientation as required by the puzzle at hand.

It's a brain-bender, for sure, but that's probably required to stick out in such a packed genre.

Darklands

Now this is a cool game that needs and update. It's a 1992 DOS game from Microprose, set in medieval fantasy Germany, and plays out like a kind of proto-Baldur's Gate crossed with a text adventure game.

I would be head over heels into this game if not for the fact it plays bizarrely slowly for a 27 year old game. I guess the emulation must be to blame. Either it's terrible, or it's completely faithful. Either way, it makes the game impossible to fully enjoy in this day and age, though I wish that wasn't the case. I just don't have the time or patience. I wonder if there's anything out there more modern inspired by it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Crypt of the NecroDancer

It's a cool premise, and a surprisingly well-fleshed out execution: a rogue-like played to a dance beat, where moving and acting in time with the chiptunes is the key to success in the delving of the dungeon.

I played a couple of sessions, which these days is saying a lot!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Braveland

Braveland is a kind of neat little game that is obviously a port over to PC from a mobile platform. It's a lot like the King's Bounty series, as I recall it. You move fantasy units around a hex-based battlefield in a turn-based structure.

There are a million game like this, though, and it doesn't do a ton to differentiate itself. I believe I got it for free though, which is about right for this kind of game, in a market so saturated.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Awesomenauts Not So Awesome

Well, at least this game is still operational! I was dropped into my first real game with a full set of bots, though.

I really question the premise of this game. It's a MOBA, but in 2D, like an action platformer. I find that so much is lost when you no longer have freedom of movement like a top-down perspective allows.

Also, the art is garish and the presentation grates. I'd rather just play Dota 2 or HOTS, I think. Or even Arena of Valor.

A glance at the Steam discussions group for the game makes me think it's winding down in terms of playerbase, as well.

Ace of Spades Not in the Cards

I thought I would try out Ace of Spades to begin the next (third, I believe) round of alphabet backlogging, but the game was dependent on publisher-operated servers which were taken down not even a month ago. Damn! Missed my chance on that one.

I wonder if Awesomenauts will still be up and running...

Monday, March 18, 2019

First Quarter Book Review

I have continued to spend time this quarter reading Warhammer 40,000 material, and I have gotten through a large brace of it. I love this stuff.

I read the second and third volumes in the 7th Edition core book set, Dark Millennium and The Rules. The first is an exploration of the lore of the setting, where the second is exactly what it sounds like. The game is in 8th Edition at the moment, but a lot of the rules remain the same, and the differences are interesting.

I have also subscribed to the all-things-Games-Workshop magazine White Dwarf, and I am reading my second issue of that. They are now running new short stories in each issue, the first of which was called The Herald of Doom, and showed the Black Legion beginning to arrive at the planet of Vigilus, which was already under siege by both Orks and Genestealer Cults.

There was a Black Library Celebration week in February, during which they released the Horus Heresy stories Lantern's Light, Bringer of Sorrow, and Ghost of Nuceria. These were centered around Mortarion, Arkhan Land, and Angron, respectively.

I read the novel Vulkan: Lord of Drakes in a couple of days one week, and The Buried Dagger the next, which was the story of the fall of the Death Guard to Nurgle, and the beginnings of the Grey Knights chapter of Space Marines, out of the latter part of the Horus Heresy.

There had also been a Black Library exclusive anthology of Primarchs short stories called Scions of the Emperor which I bought and read and then quickly sold on again on eBay, since it cost me approximately four times what it should have. It was well worth it, though. The stories contained therein:

Canticle - Ferrus Manus in his earliest days on Medusa
The Verdict of the Scythe - Mortarion tries an alternate path in the Great Crusade
A Game of Opposites - The Khan foils Iron Warriors late in the Heresy
Better Angels - Sanguinius mentors one legion warrior artisan
The Conqueror's Truth - Konrad Curze shows his legion's truth to a remembrancer
The Sinew of War - Guilliman becomes the defacto leader of Macragge
The Chamber at the End of Memory - Dorn stumbles upon forbidden lore of the lost legions
First Legion - Late in the Great Crusade, The Alpha Legion approach The Lion with an offer to ensure he is made Warmaster

Foiled by Black Library's past collector's editions of books and their exclusive stories, I found alternate means to read a few of them.:

The Wonderworker, set between the first two books of the Black Legion series, about Khayon's recruitment of a fellow Thousand Sons sorcerer to Abaddon's ranks,

A Flash of Silver Among the Corroded Ghosts, set after the second book in the Black Legion series, about Khayon's first encounter with the Grey Knights,

and In the Grim Darkness, a companion piece to Guy Haley's Dark Imperium, about Decimus Felix, and the interesting treatment he received from Belisarius Cawl after being selected to become one of the first Primaris Space Marines.

At the moment I am reading Chains of Golgotha, a novella from the anthology Legends of the Dark Millennium: Astra Militarum, about the ongoing rivalry of Commissar Yarrick and Gazghull Mag Uruk Thraka, the canny Ork warboss, as well as February's White Dwarf.

Resident Evil 5

I've been having a good time lately playing Resident Evil 5, and that's not something I ever really thought might happen.

I played some of the demo on the Xbox 360 back when the game first came out, and fairly quickly wrote it off, or so I thought, due to how the controls felt in the new era of Gears of War and whatnot.

Shawn Elliott's words on the game on the old GFW Radio podcast stuck with me, though, and at some point much later I heard about the DLC expansion Lost In Nightmare that sounded interesting, in that it brought back Jill Valentine and the Mansion from the first RE. I bought the game for a low price on Steam in a sale, and it's sat on the backlog from that point on until just recently when talk of the now newly released Resident Evil 2 remake make me think back on how much I liked that game in its initial incarnation 20+ years ago now.

I felt like playing some RE. Which is maybe not completely unheard of, given the fact that I went back and played a little RE4 on PC sometime last year.

RE5 feels a whole heck of a lot like RE4, only with a co-op buddy along for the ride. I dislike multiplayer, and doubt anyone would be able to or want to play, so I am going through the game solo, but Sheva is a big help and no hindrance at all, so far.

The game's methodical pace and different take on combat from most shooters, which it's tempting to think of RE5 as--it's less that than survival horror--makes for a more laid-back and chill time, even when you are under attack from tens of infected townspeople. They move pretty slowly most of the time, and you are given enough time to run away and regroup a little bit if need be.

I'm not sure if I am making the most effective use of my bullets, though. It seems like the thing to do is to shoot to stagger, then knife where the opportunity presents itself, or punch if possible, though I haven't figured out the rhythm of making that an option yet.

I'm less focused on gaming as a whole these days, which might have the odd effect of making it easier to focus play on one title. I'd like to play through this game and the aforementioned Lost In Nightmare DLC. It's good fun so far.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fairly Light Februrary

Video gaming has been thin around my house lately. My daughters have probably spent more time playing Just Dance 2019, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros. on Switch, and Minecraft on PC, than I have playing altogether. I've spent a lot of time on painting and playing and reading about Warhammer, but that's another subject.

I have played some of a Warhammer 40,000 video game, though. I've continued through the Armageddon campaign, finding the game more comprehensible the more I have become familiar with the units of the Imperial Guard over the past couple of months. I have actually gotten to the point in the campaign where the Space Marines have decided to show up and help fight off the Orks. I'm excited to test out some of their units in the next missions.

I have also revisited the old favorite, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I am running a long-term game club for the game through the GameBytes Show discord and podcast. I plan to complete the series this way. At the moment, I'm halfway through Chapter 4 of the first game. I'm playing on an easier difficulty this time through, and it's keeping it nice and light and enjoyable, since I'm mainly along for the story anyway.

Z week came up for the backlog blitz, and I went with Zeno Clash II. I may have to skip Z next rotation, having used both Zeno Clash games, now. The second seems like more of the original, but refined. The graphics seem better, if still in that very strange and very original fantasy style that I kind of hate and kind of appreciate at the same time. Otherwise, its still first-person brawling. There are probably improvements and added mechanics, but I didn't play enough of the first game to really be able to say.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Shoot-a-thon

I've been experimenting with some of the more popular shooters out there these days, to see which, if any, I prefer, and would like to keep playing:

Anthem: Bioware's take on Destiny seems OK, but I dislike the hub area and writing. Pluses are flight and the potential of the story to end up something interesting despite the weak beginning.

Warframe: Has an endearing B-grade feel to it, fun mobility and melee combat. Long running, well supported. Not sure the shooting is great.

Destiny 2 Forsaken: Feels about the same as ever.

Of the three here, I think I like Warframe best at the moment, but all in all I don't feel like I love the genre. It really is just Diablo from a different perspective when you boil it down, and I honestly think it's inferior for the first/third person perspective and over-reliance on ranged combat.

Another new shooter on the block is Apex Legends, the free-to-play battle royale game from Respawn Entertainment that is set in the Titanfall universe. I like this one well enough, though it does seem a little bare bones here at the beginning of its life. It takes the PUBG idea also coopted by Fortnite, but then borrows the idea of unique characters who slot into character archetypes for play like those in Overwatch. It seems like a good mix, but for me I still find myself spending loads more time scrounging weapons than engaging in combat. I might spend some time trying to get better.

I've also played a couple more stages of The Messenger, which is fun enough. I may have had enough of that, though.

Lastly, I thought I would check out an interesting mod I had heard about called Dota Auto Chess, which is played within Dota 2. This is an odd beast. 8 players are selected for a match in which each plays a "chess" game against either CPU controlled creeps or the selected heroes of one of the other players. The battling is all done automatically, and the players only have control of which heroes they buy and select to put onto the chessboard. Heroes bought three times over can combine into a higher tier of that hero on the board, and the object is to have the best team win the most skirmishes so that you are the last player standing. A player's avatar, who wanders around the chessboards like a courier, but who is unable to interfere with battles, takes damage from the enemy team after ever loss, and eventually is eliminated. It's interesting. I'd like to see it made separate from the Dota 2 client, though, where it can have all the UI and mechanics tailor-made for the experience it is going for.

Monday, January 28, 2019

BATTLETECH

I have come to really like this game. You may have read that I considered it my game of 2018. It's great. It's got just about everything I love about tactical games like Final Fantasy Tactics, XCOM: Enemy Unkown, and the like.

On top of that, it's introduced me to a very cool new fictional universe adjacent to some of the stuff I like about Warhammer 40,000. I've been loving getting to know all the battlemechs and their various weapons and how best to apply them to the enemy.

I also love that the game puts you in the role of a mercenary company commander, so that you are not only issuing battle orders, but also managing your stable of mechs and pilots between missions. You have to be smart about which contracts to take up, looking both to your finances and potential for victory. I am presently in a tough spot in the game, having taken on a contract and found that it's too much for my lance of mechs to handle. I am waffling on whether to just keep bashing my head against the wall until I can break through, or to grasp the bare minimum of the objectives and withdraw with less than a full completion. The latter may be the way forward in this case, but it'll likely put me behind where I had hoped to be in terms of budget going forward.

I also love the terrain maps in the game, which offer a lot of different ways to break line of sight and take cover or take advantage of bodies of water to bleed off excess heat in your mechs. It's just a damn good tactics game overall.

I have had some complaints, like the spiky nature of the difficulty curve, technical hiccups, and the plodding pace of the game (which I have become used to, but at times can still frustrate). Overall, though, this is a fantastic game, and I think everyone should give it a shot. It'd be cool to see it get a console release. I want Harebrained Schemes to see as much success as possible with this and also the Shadowrun revival games they did previously. They are a great studio that seem to be punching well above their weight.

The Yawhg

It was Y game time a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to check out Yawhg, The. It's short and sweet. It's really just a series of choices and seeing how they play out, in a Twine-like game structure.

There's a medieval city that every so often is devastated by a giant hurricane-like storm called the Yawhg, and you choose the developmental actions of a couple of characters leading up to the coming disaster. Depending on what you have your characters do around town, they may be more or less prepared for the rebuilding effort in the aftermath of the Yawhg. There is no right or wrong approach, and no fail state that I saw in a couple of playthroughs, only decision making and taking a thoughtful approach to character development.

It's got a nice art style and decent writing, and it seems like it is meant for play with 2-4 people, talking through the choices you make as you go. I played it solo, but still found it engaging for a couple of times through it to see a decent amount of the events and scenarios.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 Books of the Year

I did a whole lot of reading in 2018. Nearly all of it was Warhammer related, though there were a few other books sprinkled in, some of which remain unfinished as yet.

Book of the Year: Slaves to Darkness
Honorable Mention: The Talon of Horus/Black Legion

I picked two Honorable Mentions last year, so why not. Aaron Dembski-Bowden's exploration of the emblematic Heretic Astartes faction is fantastic. I only had to give the BOTY nod to Slaves to Darkness for just how epic and primarch-studded it was.

This is a list of works I finished, including novels, short stories, and non-fiction books, with no real regard to how long any of them were, only that they were discrete purchases or documents. It makes a modicum of sense to me, at least.

There are 61 titles here in all:

Warhammer 40,000 7th Ed. A Galaxy of War
A Rose Watered With Blood
Getting Started With Warhammer 40,000
The Last Council
Child of Chaos
Champion of Oaths
The Atonement of Fire
A Lesson in Iron
Abyssal
Old Wounds, New Scars
Two Metaphysical Blades
Prologue to Nikaea
Warhammer 40,000 Campaign: Crusade of Fire
Restorer
Grandfather's Gift
Sons of the Emperor
Spear of Ultramar
Dreadwing
Heralds of the Siege
Dark Imperium: Plague War
Spelunky
Heroes of the Space Marines
The Armour of Fate
Warhammer 40,000 Gathering Storm: Rise of the Primarch
Warhammer 40,000 Codex Chaos Space Marines 2002
Warhammer 40,000 Codex Assassins 1999
Warhammer 40,000 Codex Space Marines 1998
The Last Son of Prospero
Treacheries of the Space Marines
Soft & Cuddly
Kingdom Hearts II
Jaghatai Khan: Warhawk of Chogoris
Slaves to Darkness
Sons of the Hydra
Unearthed
Truth Is My Weapon
We Are One
Hunted
Abaddon: Chosen of Chaos
Extinction
Born of Flame
Shroud of Night
The Red Path
Kharn: Eater of Worlds
The Weakness of Others
Enyalius, In Memoriam
Black Legion
The Talon of Horus
Ferrus Manus: Gorgon of Medusa
Wolfsbane
The Painted Count
Fulgrim: The Palatine Phoenix
Magnus the Red: Master of Prospero
Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar
The Burden of Loyalty
The Magos & The Definitive Casebook of Gregor Eisenhorn
Lorgar: Bearer of the Word
Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia
Leman Russ: The Great Wolf
Old Earth
Ruinstorm

37 whole books dusted off. If you compile all the short stories and other titles, 24 in all, I would put it near to 40 in all. Quite a bit more than usual, for me. Past years' totals follow.

2018: 40ish
2017: 20
2016: 20ish
2015: 4ish
2014: 18
2013: 9

I have a ton of books lined up to continue reading, as well. I don't know if I'll hit 2018 numbers again, but I will be turning pages for some time to come.

2018 GOTY Wrap-Up

This year, gaming has taken a backseat to reading for me, especially anything Horus Heresy or Warhammer 40,000 related.

I have also been modeling and painting (hobbying, as they call it) quite a bit more this year, having finished up several projects. I don't really care to blog about that, though. Not as such. I post to twitter with pics of those things. Maybe I will do a photo round-up sometime to show those off here.

I am also trying a new approach to my writing here about games; fewer catch-all playlogs, more single-topic posts about individual games. For a long time I have tried to record everything I played here, but so many little sessions are completely inconsequential. There's not really a need to document my 500th run of Spelunky or Diablo III, or that I spent a few minutes in Super Mario Odyssey with my children. I do like to post at least once about every new title, though. I need proof that I played them to remove them from the backlog, of course.

My Game of the Year: Battletech
Honorable Mention: Hitman 2

I came to the end of the year without a real candidate for GOTY, but in December finally made myself check out Battletech and Hitman 2, and you have seen the results. I have yet to actually post about Battletech, but there will be one coming on the game eventually. Just know for now that it is outstanding. Hitman 2 is excellent as well. I am a real fan of what they have done with this release, and as a longtime enjoyer of the series, it makes me glad to see its potential so well realized.

Past choices, for record:

2017: Mass Effect Andromeda/Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer
2016: World of Warcraft: Legion/Overwatch
2015: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain/The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
2014: Elite Dangerous/The Banner Saga
2013: Spelunky/Hearthstone
2012: Dota 2/Diablo III
2011: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings/SpaceChem
2010: Mass Effect 2/Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2009: Demon's Souls/Red Faction: Guerilla
2008: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots/Gears of War 2
2007: Bioshock/Halo 3

I have only a very meager offering to Khorne this year, for the pile of skulls:

Red Dead Redemption
Witch Doctor 70 (Diablo III Switch)
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy Tactics (all generics)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut
XCOM: Enemy Within (Normal)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Normal)
Endless Legend (Drakken, diplomacy)

Just those 9, where past years totals were:

2017:23
2016:23
2015:26
2014:32
2013:33
2012:23
2011:21
2010:23
2009:19
2008:26
2007:15

The game backlog has continued to balloon, mostly due to freebies picked up from various places. I'm not stressed about it. I couldn't even tell you how many titles were added or removed in 2018, but it does look big as ever.

As for 2019, I'm not sure what it has in store in terms of releases, or my plans for games to play. Right now I want to continue with Battletech and Hitman. I would like to catch up with Assassin's Creed and The Witcher, as well. Beyond that, I suppose just knocking more games off the backlog will do.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year-End Reads 2018

To close out the year I am working through some of the 40K source books I have been collecting over the last few months. I read through the introductory magazine Getting Started with Warhammer 40,000, which came with a free Primaris Intercessor miniature. It was nice and informative of basics of the universe, game, and hobby, which is nice for a completist like myself who even after all this exposure could use some shoring up of the basics. I have then moved into the 7th edition set of basic books for the game, the first of which is entitled A Galaxy of War, and serves mostly as a showcase for beautifully painted armies meant to represent the hobby, with some bits of lore behind their creation. The second volume in this set is the one I am reading now, Dark Millennium, which is a much deeper dive into the fundamentals of the lore of the 40K setting, for people wanting to add a bit of role playing to their hobby, or just to fill out background lore of the universe for those reading the novels. I am of course a real lorehound in any fictional universe I really buy into, and the grim, dark future is one I find very compelling indeed.

I also read the final Horus Heresy short story from the Black Library advent calendar, one called A Rose Watered with Blood, about the shipsmistress of the World Eaters legion flagship, The Conqueror, Lotara Sarrin. She is a real gem of a character in the Heresy setting, or even 40K at large.

Since finishing up all the loose Heresy shorts, I have started into the newest novel, book 53, Titandeath. I'm only a few chapters in though, having been busy with other stuff lately.

A Few Things for Year-End

I wanted to try out The Messenger, which is a game I got for free from the twitch.tv client somehow, for a potential mention during Game of the Year podcasting. It's pretty good as throwback action platformers go, but I just didn't make it far enough in to come to a conclusion. I may still go back and play more, though. I understand the game takes a turn after a few hours to reveal its true nature, and I haven't gotten that far yet. I will call out the humorous, self-aware, meta-layer aspects of the game's writing, though. I don't like them. I could always do without that sort of sneer.

Valve recently added a battle royale style mode to CS: GO, and I thought I'd give that a shot. It seems OK, but as usual Counter-Strike just isn't my speed. I am nowhere near devoted enough to multi-player FPS for it to make sense for me.

Lastly, my daughters were exposed to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and decided they wanted a copy for themselves. This is the first experience I have ever had with the series, aside from watching a friend play the Gamecube entry in the series. It's unintelligible at first, but it seems to be fairly simple to control, and so even my four-year-old is able to have a good time playing it. I hear the adventure mode is good in this one, so I'll have them check that out sometime.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Heresy Short Story Wranglin'

I have been going and collecting all of the various Horus Heresy and Primarchs short stories unavailable in anthologies lately, and reading those. The final novel of the Heresy series proper is coming up soon, and it's unclear whether or when Black Library themselves might gather these all up and publish them that way, so I elected to track them down piecemeal to catch myself up on the series before it transitions into the Siege of Terra sub-series to end the whole thing. Or at least wind it down to a dull roar.

Some of these have been Summer of Reading or Advent Calendar releases, from this year and last, and some have only seen light in Black Library event-exclusive anthologies, like Sons of the Emperor. 

I really would liked to have gotten Sons of the Emperor at the same time I was able to pick up this and last years' event anthologies, that is when a friend visited Warhammer World in Nottingham, but unfortunately they were sold out. I stumbled on another method of reading the stories contained therein, though. They were great. All of these were, in fact:

The Passing of Angels
The Abyssal Edge
Mercy of the Dragon
Shadow of the Past
The Emperor's Architect
Prince of Blood
The Ancient Awaits
Misbegotten
Grandfather's Gift
Restorer
Prologue to Nikaea
Two Metaphysical Blades
Old Wounds, New Scars
Abyssal
A Lesson in Iron
The Atonement of Fire
Champion of Oaths
Child of Chaos
The Last Council

I also read through one of the Tabletop 40K gaming books I bought recently:

Warhammer 40,000 Campaign - Crusade of Fire

This book was full of cool background and pictures of armies on tables as the GW team played through a long campaign made up of many separate battles, telling the story of one solar system being consumed by war. This kind of thing is more interesting as I get deeper into miniature painting.