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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Games (page 1 of 2)

Passing The Days, June 2019 Edition

My life itself isn’t anything to write about, as it’s really just “eat sleep work lather rinse repeat” for the most part. I decided to share a bit of how I spend my leisure time lately, though…

Reading

  • I finished Martha Wells’ “Murderbot diaries” novella series (starting point: All Systems Red). I cannot recommend it highly enough if you’re at all into Sci-Fi style adventure heavily seasoned with snarky commentary and a few musings on the place of non-human sentient beings in a mostly-human society.
  • I… keep trying to finish Cat Valente’s Space Opera. I see rave reviews and while I get why people love it, I suspect it’s better for folks who can handle audiobooks as the writing style is clearly meant to be read aloud. It’s a love letter to Douglas Adams as much as it’s anything else, and I can’t deny the craft. It’s just… a bit too much. I can get through a chapter at a go, then I have to walk away from it for a while. Weeks, sometimes.

Playing

  • I dabbled in Warframe and Diablo III on and off this past few months, and that’s about it on the PC side.
  • My phone has AFK Arena, Pokemon Go, and Egg Inc installed, only one of which takes very much time on any given day.
  • My (new) tablet runs Valkyrie Connect and King’s Raid, both “gacha” style games, as well as the superb match-3 game, Gems of War. I can also recommend mobile version of the Ascension deck-building game.

Watching

  • We just started the new Aggretsuko season (so far so good) and after that we’re probably going to tackle Good Omens.
  • I took Kyla to see the new Godzilla movie in the theater for her birthday and bought her the Blu-Ray of Shin Godzilla, so we’re having a grand kaiju-loving time, indeed. (We enjoyed both, quite a lot.)
  • Also in the theater, we saw Captain Marvel (loved it) and Avengers: Endgame (not so much).
  • The only anime this season I’ve cared about at all is the Fruits Basket redo, which has been a delight thus far. Everything else has left me cold.

Listening

  • I delved into the back-catalogs of Mono Inc (2013’s Nimmermehr) and Assemblage 23 (2004’s Storm) and so far I’m pleased with both purchases. I don’t expect to go much further back, however. I like where each act is headed, musically speaking, more than I’m interested in where they’ve been.
  • I finally broke down and forked over a lot of money for Yuki Kajiura’s Fiction II which… was not as good as I’d hoped. Sigh.

And that’s about that, entertainment-wise. If I forgot something, hey, that’s fodder for another post…

 

The things I do for the rubber duck brand

40 cards in 8 stacks, 300 diamonds (in-game currency) to flip each card, and on the 32nd try I get this:

Admiral Nautica in her bathtime ducky costume

The game is Valkyrie Connect, a “gacha” mobile game of collecting fighters to defeat monsters blah blah blah whatever, it’s an amusing way to pass an hour or so per day, give or take. When this latest event appeared in which the publishers clearly expect folks to plunk down ridiculous amounts of money, my first thought was, “Like hell I will.”

My second thought was, “oh crap Nautica gets a rubber duck, I’M DOOMED.”

Turns out, I didn’t need to spend very much money. Ahem.

Better Living Through Video Games

It’s been a long couple of months. Bad weather, bad news, grim mood, no enthusiasm for much of anything.

So, I’ve been playing a lot of games lately. Here’s what’s keeping me occupied:

Stardew Valley – I never played Harvest Moon or its ilk but for some reason I decided to jump on the hype train when this came out, and I have not been disappointed. You play as a farmer, struggling to get your inherited run-down farm up and running. You plant crops, you raise animals, you sell the vegetables and eggs and milk and crafted products for money, you collect things to restore the dilapidated town center, you delve into the mines (too deeply, perhaps) for more raw materials and artifacts, you earn friendship with your new neighbors (and perhaps marry one of them)… there’s a lot going on, is what I’m saying. It’s a very casual game in most ways but you have to pay attention to really prosper.

Guild Wars 2 – It’s an MMO. It’s published by the bastards who shut down City of Heroes, so yes, I have moral qualms about giving them my money. But it’s as good of an MMO as I can find at the moment. I’m not really into it as much anymore but it scratches that particular itch.

Diablo III – Until they release a proper HD patch for Diablo II, this is where I’m getting my isometric-perspective monster-smashing fix. It’s repetitive, sure, but sometimes it’s not about the novelty or the challenge, it’s just about making horrific demonspawn go “sputch” in satisfying ways.

Catan Universe – This is the second computerized rendition of the Settlers of Catan board game that I’ve tried. The first one is… buggy, to put it mildly. This one is very German and very very pre-release quality, but hey, you can play with/against friends and/or against the AI, and it’s a solidly playable experience. If you can’t get friends to your house to play around a table, it’s the next best thing.

Overwatch – I haven’t really played many “shooters” this past few years. Sometimes I’ll sign into one of the first two Borderlands games for a bit but I think I’m just out of touch with that playstyle. I know I started out playing Doom & Doom 2 quite well but it’s a whole different world now. And while Overwatch tries to match people up “by skill level,” I’m almost always the least-skilled person in any given match. I don’t regret the purchase but I’m not compelled to play, either. I probably need to find a group to play with; that was always most of the fun in the old Doom/Quake/UnrealTournament days, after all. Hmm.

…yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve been playing the last few months.

Hashtag Poke Mongo

With only a day (mostly) of Pokemon GO under my belt, I have some thoughts, presented in bullet point form… or Pokeball-point, if you prefer:

  • Boy howdy is this a Niantic game or what. This is Ingress with a thick layer of Pokemon slathered on top. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but we should be clear that Pokemon GO is more the former than the latter, at least at this point.
  • The in-camera effect is surprisingly effective! (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) I mean, it’s far from perfect but if you’d shown me video of someone playing this game ten years ago, I’d have considered it nigh-unattainable science fiction. I won’t say it’s convincing, but it achieves the right level of immersion and that’s the key part of it, as far as the game is concerned.
  • You have to either find out online how to capture a Pokemon with your Pokeball, or get lucky and figure it out, because nothing in the terse tutorial tells you to swipe to throw the ball.
  • This is unlike a modern Pokemon game because so far as I can tell, you can’t trade and there are no battles of the type any Pokemon player has become accustomed to (hence nothing actually being “surprisingly effective”). It remains to be seen if this remains to be the case, and how much of a downside it’ll be.
  • This looks very like an iteration of Ingress, where you have to team up to take key points on the map, etc, etc. Which is… what turned me off from Ingress because there was zero incentive for solo play and a huge requirement to form some kind of mid-to-large size team of fellow players. If solo play in Pokemon GO is similarly discouraged, I’m out.
  • A “Pokestop” (low-key supply station) near my work is based on a window mural from an aquarium supply store. Too bad that store is gone, and what’s on that window now is the name of the insurance company at that location. There seems no way to report these inaccuracies, unlike in Ingress. Presumably that will be remedied at some point.
  • I was a “smurf” in Ingress, I’ll probably be on the blue team in this game as well. Convince me otherwise if you can.

Starred Due Valley

Having wandered away from Guild Wars 2 lately, I dabbled with Diablo III for a while until someone sent me a gift on Steam: Stardew Valley.

You may have heard of it.

It’s really working for me. I can farm crops, I can raise animals, I can craft things, I can arrange my domain how I please, there are goals to meet (both “kill X in the mines for a reward” and “bring one each of all these things for a reward”), and some days it’s nice to just run around the farm cleaning up debris. And sometimes the game surprises you.

20160402102548_1When life hands you giant melons, reach for your axe…

In the upper left corner you’ll note that I have a duck and a bunny, named Plucky and Harey respectively. (Chickens are named Henri, Etta, Clucky, and so forth.) I am bad at pet names, let’s be honest.

Now, I’m not min-maxing my gameplay. I’m just… having fun. If you’re a casual gamer, Stardew Valley may in fact be an ideal game for you. Possibly.

Of course, every now and then the game gives you the middle finger.

20160321200516_1All that gold, no way to reach it because the only exits from my current square are up and out of the mine, or down to the next level…

If you’re on the fence about trying it out, get in touch. Maybe I could be convinced to send it as a gift. That’s how I got my copy, after all. (I turned around and bought copies for Kyla and my daughter, so paying it forward is accomplished.) It’s only $15, and money well spent.

 

Why I Left WildStar

I canceled my WildStar subscription this morning. Admittedly, most of the reason for this comes down to finances: It’s a tough time of the year, this month’s tighter than most, and so forth. Fifteen bucks for a game I rarely play is fifteen bucks I could put toward… food, let’s say.

To be fair, WildStar is a great MMORPG-type game. It’s inventive, it’s colorful, it’s clever. It features the best housing system I’ve ever seen in a game. I love the “telegraph” feature, which lets you know exactly where a given power is going to strike. (Those of us who cut our MMO teeth in City of Heroes know the pain of having to guess where that cone AoE is going to land.) The worldbuilding detail is incredible.

However, what a lot of people love about the game is what I don’t love at all: WildStar is MMO gaming on Hard Mode.

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