Oh, Right, a Title, I Forgot

I am apparently really irritable at the moment, and it’s rather, well, irritating, that I’m not certain why. On the bright side, being aware of it means I can compensate for it while I figure it out.

It was most apparent last night when I quit playing a game out of sheer frustration with back to back failures. The reasons for that were pretty obvious though, I was severely under leveled for the content I was trying to do, even managing to get about 75-80% through it, but simply couldn’t get that last bit. I’ll just round up some more xp and try it again, hopefully tonight.

In other news, I think I’m done with LotRO for now. It’s not really anything to do with the game itself, I just have other things that are higher priority right now. I’ve been trying to analyze the things I play, and have played, and there’s a discernible trend away from the things I traditionally liked.

Outside of trying to play something different each week, I don’t give much thought to single player experiences. Almost all of my time is spent in co-op style gameplay with my brother, even the MMOs. Single player games require a specific and deliberate choice not to do so, but I’d rather be playing games with him than by myself.

I’ve also noticed a general tendency towards what I’ve been calling “short-cycle” gameplay. That is, a game broken up mostly into “mission” style segments in the 15-60 minute per mission range. Each one is a standalone event with some manner of reward or compensation at the end. Warframe, Payday 2, most dungeons in FFXIV, the trade missions we were doing in Elite, all of these fall into that short(ish) timeframe.

My problem is that when I say that, I have a hard time finding a situation that can’t be shoehorned into it somehow. Any manner of themepark MMO one could make a quest = mission comparison. The part that fails is that quests are typically, but not always part of a chain or sequence of events that extends over a longer period of time. My other examples tend more towards isolated and disconnected experiences with no intended narrative. The only distinguishing factor then is the difference between “I want to do more in order to experience more ‘story’ content” and “I want to do more in order to meet some arbitrary advancement goal.”‘ Still not a whole lot of difference, really.

In fact, I almost feel like my statement is essentially “I like games.” At this point it seems to me that “short-cycle” is merely one aspect of the gameplay in addition to whatever “mid-cycle” and “long-cycle” might be.

I’ve had this post open and in progress for… eight hours. I’m just gonna leave it there for today, y’all take care.

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Bethesda and Fallout 76

Let me start by saying that I don’t own and haven’t played Fallout 76. I also don’t have any intention of doing so in the immediate future. I’m sure that’s going to color my opinion a little bit.

I do, however, consider myself a very casual Fallout fan. I’ve played all of them except Tactics and Fallout 4, I think. I tend to refer to them as “Elder Scrolls with guns” because it’s the playstyle that I like. The IP itself is… okay. I think the 3D games have lost the qualities that made the isometric version unique while remaining interesting enough to be enjoyable.

What I don’t know is what on earth is going on over at Bethesda. I actually had a post a while back about some of the statements being made about them using the Creation Engine for Elder Scrolls 6. I was, for the most part, defending that. A position I still hold, if maybe not as strongly. I think the engine itself is probably not the problem but more of a symptom.

Fallout 76 though just seems to be one misstep after another. I guess they got sick of Blizzard having all the fun and decided to get their piece of the PR pie too. Some of it isn’t all that surprising. A new Bethesda game full of irritating and game-breaking bugs? Huh, who’d have thunk it? When I bought my copy of Morrowind it wouldn’t even run until they released a patch. I used to think maybe it’s due to the open world and highly mod-able nature of their games, but y’know, maybe their QA is just bad.

I’m also put off by the move away from Steam. Yeah, everyone is doing it because it’s inconvenient to have a percentage of all sales go to Valve. Y’know what though, I like Steam and I like having a centralized platform for my games, warts and all. I’m still fairly resentful towards EA for making Origin a thing, and have refused to buy a copy Mass Effect 3 for PC due to it being an Origin exclusive. I more shortcuts for individual launchers I collect on my desktop the more attractive the Steam one looks.

It also helps that Steam made refunds a thing, albeit reluctantly. Bethesda on the other hand seems to be offering refunds only in places where they’re legally required to and this is naturally upsetting people. Rightfully so, in my opinion. Refusing refunds isn’t a very consumer-friendly way to do business. It’s complicated, and there are certainly cases where goods shouldn’t be eligible for refunds. I think in a “games as a service” type of model, where the develop/publisher retains the ability to revoke access, even digital goods should be refundable.

The second big thing Bethesda has working against them is this business with the collectors edition bag. Basically the bag featured in the image of the power armor edition is not the same materials and quality as the bag actually received. [reddit image] Someone allegedly contacted the support center for Bethesda merchandise and was told:

“The bag shown in the media was a prototype and was too expensive to make. We aren’t planning on doing anything about it.”

When this was brought to Bethesda’s attention on reddit, they said:

“The Bethesda Store’s Support member is a temporary contract employee and not directly employed by Bethesda or Bethesda Game Studios. We apologize to the customer who took the time to reach out. The support response was incorrect and not in accordance with our conduct policy. Unfortunately, due to unavailability of materials, we had to switch to a nylon carrying case in the Fallout 76: Power Armor Edition. We hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from enjoying what we feel is one of our best collector’s editions.”

All in all it was a bad move on their part. If this was the case it should have been communicated ahead of time so people could possible adjust or cancel their orders, especially since they’re not really up to doing a refund. They did end up giving all the power armor edition owners an additional $5 in cash currency, but that doesn’t look like it’s being received well.

In the long run, I’ll probably still pick the game up, eventually. Had I known is was steeply discounted last week I might even have found a way to buy it then, but that just another talking point for people upset with them now. I’ve done enough reading to know that while buggy and unpolished, not everyone is having this poor of an experience. A fair number of people are playing and enjoying the game, and I’m sure I would too.

It does raise some long term concerns about Bethesda as a developer though. To the extent that if Starfield or Elder Scrolls 6 exist only on their own launcher, maybe I won’t bother. Certainly not at release. I haven’t bought a Bethesda game within a year of release before or since Morrowind. I really want to be cautiously optimistic about their upcoming titles, but right now I’m feeling more cautious and less optimistic. Time to sit back and see how it all unfolds.

Y’all take care, especially you vault dweller types.

Warframe – Collection Update

I finally got around to updating my spreadsheet of what I have and was surprised at how much higher it was. My original post put me around the 40% of part collected mark. As of right now I’m sitting at around 65% and I have 23 completed warframes vs my starting point of 8. That’s almost three times as many!

Yet it’s only been four months, and honestly I haven’t been playing as much lately. It’s ironic, in a way, that I keep doing a blog post every day for this long but can’t be bothered to do the same content in a game for more than a few weeks at most without it getting really stale. I really need to get in and level all those frames so try and rank up some more. Part of that grind has to do with the daily standing cap which increases with every mastery rank.

Today won’t be any exception either. Wednesday is generally when I try to start playing and gathering material for a Something New post. As of right now I’m leaning towards EverSpace.

On a related note it’s been mentioned that some Destiny 2 might be back on the menu for a little bit. I never finished Warmind or bought Forsaken, so that should also be a relatively fun jaunt.

Y’know, if you told me of 10-15 years ago that I would not only play but actually enjoy so many shooters I’d have probably told you you’re crazy. I think that’s just the way of things though. I’ve heard similar comments from people about quilting, knitting, and many others, so I reckon it’s just a hindsight thing. They say hindsight is 20/20, but I’m not so sure. Surely you can be nearsighted or farsighted in hindsight?

Either way, I still have catching up to do, y’all take care.

I’ll Post Something Eventually

Well, bother. I’m only… sixish hours “late.” That’s what I get for being busy I guess. I actually only have about 20 minutes before I gotta go home and get started on dinner, which I believe will be burritos.

It’s funny, I got an email notification the other day about a blog I didn’t remember I had created. It had a massive one post. Don’t look for it, I deleted it, I think. It’s original purpose was to discuss my well intended but misguided attempt to alter my lunch meals. I think that lasted only a little longer than the blog itself did. How I could have gone through the effort and completely forgotten the thing even existed is beyond me. I actually assumed the email was some sort of weird phishing attempt at first.

Of course, google is weird like that. Targeted ads can get quite odd and my google news feed deciding what I should and should not be interested in based on browsing habits isn’t much better. Though for the time being it’s not doing a particularly good job. I told it to quit showing me things from Reddit because it’s a news feed not a social media activity report. Or, y’know, maybe it is, maybe it’s both, hard to say these days.

Either way, I’m going to toddle off now and try to accumulate enough stuff to get back on track in the morning.

It Was Only Supposed to Take 20 Minutes

You ever have one of those queues where you’re just gonna do this last quick run before you call it for the night and it proceeds to take an hour and a half? It’s usually a comically absurd number of failures at that point, though it’s rarely comical at the time.

Of course you have, pretty sure every MMO player has done this at least once, especially when you’re pugging away at it. While my latest one isn’t from an MMO, I know I’ve done this on several occasions in FFXIV, including being the party responsible a couple of times.

Aurum Vale is always a good go-to here because it’s so easy to misstep in that dungeon. The level sync strips you of most of your end-game tool-set and a fair number of the rooms have massive numbers of critters. I’ve seen multiple wipes just in the first room due to poor add management or just poor pathing choices.

I’m thinking about it because my brother and I were playing some Payday 2 for video capture and we had some new-to-us heists that were just one to two hour brutal learning slogs. These were both stealth-only missions which are brutally unforgiving. Honestly we’re only doing them to clear the “story line” section and get back into the feel of the game.

I was surprised when going through some of our Secrets of Grindea footage that we didn’t record the run where we died repeatedly to the big slime boss near the beginning. It’s comically absurd considering we’ve powered straight through it on other runs with no incident. Makes me wonder what kind of hijinks we’ll encounter before we’re done. In fact, we probably need to make an effort to record more of this before I get that second episode uploaded.

In fact, I wish these sort of obnoxious failures were easy to include, but they bloat run times horribly. I’ve even tried to speed stuff like this up in the past and throw some Benny Hill on it for good measure, but at that point it alters the tone of the video enough that it should probably be edited out and posted on it’s own. I need to give some more thought to this, I think.

I’m gonna go contemplate which random things I want to get done this week, y’all stay safe and watch out for the Mondays.

Something New – Secrets of Grindea

So we’re currently looking at doing a YouTube series of the two of us playing through Secrets of Grindea. One thing I think I like about this is it gives me a video to link inside my something new post in addition to still shots. Actually makes it a little easier to pull some of the stills because I can just pull frames from the video itself.

fae city

It’s a 2D overhead adventure game that plays a lot like Zelda or Legend of Mana with a few bits that remind me Ragnarok Online. Especially the rare card drops from mobs. The premise is that you’re an adventurer of sorts, called a Collector, that runs around, well, getting into trouble and ultimately collecting… things…

skill tree.png

As you gain experience and levels you accrue skill points that can be spent on a variety of different abilities. Blue point go up to rank five and after that it takes the much less common gold points.

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There are three general skill categories, melee and magic are fairly straightforward, general is mostly buffs and debuffs. There’s also three separate “Talent” areas with a variety of different bonuses that use the pink/purple orb things instead of the normal skill points.

customize

The game also has a basic character customization before you start. It doesn’t have a ton of options, but enough to make yourself a little unique.

Overall it’s a rather cute little game. It reminds me a lot of the SNES era rpgs with a dash of update thrown in. In the time that we’ve played so far we’ve broken a curse on a forest, awoken some sort of ancient floating fortress and defeated a giant robot thing inside. We also managed to impress the great announcer Senic Plott, beat up an arrogant rich kid, and buy a house that’s bigger on the inside. Not all of that has been made available in video form yet though.

Payday 2

So this is one of those mission based team shooters, not a lot unlike Warframe in some ways, that I’ve played off an on for years. It’s ultimate flaw is how repetitive it gets after a while, but aside from that there’s a ton of stuff to do. The game has some 1130 achievements for the avid completionist. I only h ave around 20% of them myself. I make an attempt at one here or there, but that’s it. Some of them are extremely absurd.

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The game has the ability to set up different loadouts for different situations, even allowing for different skill sets once you’ve unlocked them. All the gear is purchased using spending money once you’ve met whatever unlock requirement it has, be it level, achievement, or card drop.

The basic premise of any given mission is to avoid being detected by civilians, cameras, and various forms of law enforcement.

While opening things designed to keep you out, mostly by babysitting the most finicky jam-prone drills ever invented.

To get bags of loot that you have to take and drop off in a designated location that may or may not already be there or periodically leave.

All the while keeping an eye out for random collectibles. Some of which are for achievements and some of which unlock a mod or item after you collect a certain number of them.

police assault

And trying not to get “arrested.” In fact, if you try to leave during an assault without the proper perks/assets it has a chance of triggering an additional “escape mission” that you must do before you get your reward.

Which is generally experience, cash, and a card drop. Experience is actually received after every day of a mission. Cash is only at the end and is split between offshore account, usually used for account upgrades and mission contracts, and spending cash, which is used for gear and gear upgrades. The card drop is also once per mission at the end and basically gives you a random reward that’s typically not the thing you wanted. Most of the gear mods, masks, mask patterns, mask colors, and the rare “safes” that used to be a paid lockboxes, come from these drops. There are so many things that can possibly drop that getting any one specific drop is really unlikely, which is where a lot of the grind can be towards late-game.

Not shown here is that while the level cap is 100 they have an “Infamy” rank up system that gives you a small bonus and resets your level, allowing you to do it again, if you so choose. There are some good reasons to do this, aside from exclusive masks and such there are also xp bonuses and such.

Either way, that’s Payday 2 in a nutshell, so to speak. It’s not new, in fact I half expect we’ll hear about Payday 3 in the next year or so. It’s fun once in a while and actually on sale if for some reason it looks interesting to you.

Y’all take care, watch out for those cloakers and bulldozers, they mean business.