Borderlands 1 – Completion Update

I don’t have anything lined up for today, but I did use some extra free time to push forward a bit and figured I would take inventory.

I managed to successfully kill Crawmerax, though it was a bit of a pain to do so. The boss and the adds all hit for my entire shield and most of my health. There’s a trick that can animation lock the boss for a bit, but I still had to trigger him and finish him off the old fashioned way. I managed, but it was barely. Unfortunately I didn’t get any cool or useful loot to help me wrap up the rest of these. Still, it was one I was really concerned about and it’s out of the way now.

This is what’s left. I don’t think the top one is an issue. All I have to do is find someone who has it already and join their game.

The brains mission is apparently an optional one that I overlooked when I did the zombie DLC. It’s not in my quest list for either playthrough, so I’ll have to do it from scratch. All tiers combined it’s about 435 brains. That’s a lot of headshot zombies, but that’s how it is.

Those next four I’m not sure about. I haven’t touched them in a very long time. I’m hoping that the higher end gear I have now will make it less dumb. If it doesn’t seem doable any other way, I’m not above enabling demi-god mode if they’re all I have left. I’m considering that a last resort option though, but it’s still possible to die and they take a good bit of time to complete.

The completionist should be easy enough. I was working on this a bit on my higher level playthrough, but it looks like it will be easier to go finish it on Playthrough 1. I’ll have to take out Crawmerax again, but some of the other quests such as the Circle of Duty colosseum quests are proving absurdly difficult at max level. I’ve managed to clear about four out of five at max level though.

My desire to get all this done by 160 hours was apparently a bit optimistic. I’m at 159.9 hours now, and I have at least another 8 hours to go. Oh well, maybe by 175.

As of right now, I’ll still in the mood to move on to Borderlands 2 when I’m done. My oldest child has expressed an interest in joining me, though I doubt he has the patience required to do 100% I’ll take whatever help I can get though, and it’s always nice to have those shared memories.

Y’all take care, onward and upward.

Rambling Thoughts – Habits and Timing

I’ve mentioned in the past that Blaugust, done daily for a month, is a good way to build a habit. At the very least, you get used to making time to do something. Once you’re used to it, it’s relatively easy to continue. To a point.

Something I hadn’t really thought about though is the little components that make it easier. Recognizing a good topic when you see one, for instance. While I managed to pull off Blaugust this time around, having taken such a long hiatus often made it feel like I was having to fight for it. It was significantly harder to find a daily writing topic than I recalled. One of my answers was to re-evaluate my topic criteria and pass on a few self imposed restrictions.

What I hadn’t realized is how habitual “topic mining” was before. Like a mental background process that watches for subjects that feel ripe for expansion. It’s not exactly a cure-all, but it helps keep the gears greased. What really surprises me is that it took a month and a half or so to kick in. A month ago I was just throwing every idea onto paper and hoping something would jump off the page. Also a perfectly valid tactic, but one that wasn’t working as well. There were a lot of days where I stared at the list thinking I didn’t really want to write about that right now..

A few bad habits have kicked in too. Automatically avoiding the same topic on consecutive days. Perhaps I should lean into those things a bit, but I’ve been putting at least one post between them so far. This has also led me to consider when a post should go live in relation to others that it’s connected with. I have also thought about how related the posts really need to be before that heuristic gets used. Just how related do they need to be before they get spread apart?

I don’t actually have a solid answer to that last one yet. At a glance, it seems related to the main topic. No consecutive posts about a specific game or topic, but it’s okay if the main topic is technically different. I sometimes go a step further though and simply neglect to mention the connection. The two recent Borderlands posts are obviously connected, but also led to my thoughts about fandoms nested between them, and the organizing of those posts and ideas spawned from bhagpuss’s comments led directly to this one. A very organic network of ideas that may not appear connected from the outside.

This post itself was brought about by choosing not to address some of those ideas immediately, and questioning if they should even be addressed separately. Also wondering which topic(s) they should or shouldn’t be distanced from. If I even care, at this point. No good rule goes unbroken and all that.

Y’all take care.

Borderlands 1 – Quest for Completion

Between my oldest child using Borderlands: Pre-Sequel as a benchmark for his recently revived desktop and the plethora of news coming through about Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, it’s no wonder that I’ve had Borderlands on the brain. It reminded me of a project I once undertook quite some time ago. When I went to look it was 2016 when I last worked on it. Well before blogging. Almost five years to the month.

That project was reaching 100% completion on the original Borderlands. Not for any specific reason, really, just because I could. I didn’t do half bad either. I had 86% (69/80) when I stopped. Mostly because my brother had lost interest. The burden of grind and repetition took its toll and I never really went back to it. I don’t normally do the 100% thing. It’s not so bad when there are interesting things to do, but a lot of the “find all 200 turboencabulators'” stuff really isn’t much fun. That’s just the video game equivalent of busywork. For me anyway. To each their own.

I do know that one of the last things I’d worked on was the absurdly long “The Collector,” which requires you to collect a ridiculous number of Claptrap parts. I had tried without much luck to do it the “long” way, before I looked up a guide and found the easier way to do it. There’s a small nook in that DLCs final boss room where you can hide and not die. The boss is large and has a penchant for running over and killing the claptraps that spawn. You basically just hide in the corner and leave the game running overnight. Get up, finish the fight, collect the game-freezingly absurd amount of loot.

The real nail in the coffin was trying to reach the 60+ level range. I had managed to reach the end of playthrough 2, leaving me in the 2.5 portion where everything becomes level-synced. I was poorly equipped for that task, making the experience grind quite difficult and slow. Eventually I got tired of trying.

Five years later I figured I may as well try to hammer the last few nails in the coffin. With a little research I was able to reach max level in a few hours and spend another 6 or so getting some passable gear. I had a very convenient Mordecai build that could almost one-shot the end game enemies due shield bypass and their low physical health. I finished the Claptrap DLC far enough that I could repeatedly open the 20ish red chests in the “gift shop” area. It took several dozen runs, but it’s easy to do.

With the low-hanging fruit out of the way it’s mostly just trying to get through content. Half of the remaining achievements are from the Underdome coliseum. Throw in Crawmerax the “secret final boss,” a couple of quest chains I never completed, and the “viral” achievement and I should be done. It’s not nearly as easy as that makes it sound, but it should be doable. Then I can check that random and nonsensical challenge off the list. It’s a testament to how much I like the game that I’m bothering at all.

The time I spent just getting that far is around 146 hours, though that includes the time spent idling in the boss room and the time I spent just playing the game instead of hunting achievements. I’m hoping to be done by or before the 160 hour mark. I’ve debating working on Borderlands 2 afterward, but we’ll see. It really depends on how I’m feeling once I get done. Not like I don’t have plenty of other things to be doing.

Y’all take care. Don’t let Claptrap talk to you on the way out.

Rambling Thoughts – Fandoms, Identity, and Attachment

I’ve often wondered what’s at work with the various levels of interest and involvement with any given activity. The world is full of people who have found something and developed a unique level of devotion to it. They invest large quantities of time and energy, often incorporating it into their very identity. For most non-gaming friends, I would compare it most reality to the near-religious devotion some show to sports teams. In reality, it can apply to anything.

While I have been known to use the word fan to describe myself in some contexts, there are also some I actively avoid referring to in such a way. Situations where being a fan of something carries extra context that I do not wish to be associated with. A slightly less than prescient example would be Rick and Morty. I “kinda like” it, but apparently not enough to pay for the latest season. It’s just not worth it. It has a very loud and cringy following as well, which I typically don’t wish to be associated with. All things do, to some extent, though most of them are less over the top.

There are few things in my life that approach that level of devotion. Even those that do, such as the Discworld series of books, don’t quite meet the higher standards. There are some very valid criticisms of Pratchett and Discworld. What fascinates me is when it reaches a point where criticism of a work, team, game, etc, is emotionally the same as criticism of the self. How does that happen? Is it a desire to educate others? Is it a desire to help someone else feel the positivity that they do?

Whatever it is, it can be quite strong and overpowering at time. Strong emotional attachments are, I guess. I’ve often wondered how much overlap there is between this behavior and hype trains. They seem very similar in nature, though one is personal and the other is communal. Like any attachment, the loss that occurs at the end is quite poignant. Whether it’s the realization that you no longer feel connected with it, or the sudden crash of things not living up to expectations. Perhaps avoidance of that discomfort drives the more fanatical defense.

I’m certainly not immune to the occasional hype train. I try to recognize it and distance myself when it happens. Hang onto the caboose ready to bail if things get ugly. My yardstick for measuring that attachment is actually pre-order status. If I want to pre-order a game, for example, I’m a bit too close to the inside. I would say that I’ve only done it once or twice and it went very poorly, but perhaps that’s just confirmation bias.

That’s enough of that though. Y’all take care.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands – A First Look

While not discussed often, I must admit that I enjoy the Borderlands series from time to time. It also just so happens that the somewhat D&D spoof DLC from Borderlands 2, Assault on Dragon Keep, is among my favorite DLCs for the game. Taken together you’d think I would be a bit more excited about what appears to be a new entry to the series based around that general concept.

It was announced several months ago, but only came to my attention recently when the official gameplay trailer dropped.

I am cautiously optimistic, but some of the things we know are changing have me a bit concerned about the game’s overall design. The new “classless” system is of particular concern for a number of reasons. Having said that, the flow of information seems rather rapid-fire at the moment. Fast enough that I’ve had to revisit, rethink, and rewrite parts of this post.

We’ll start with some of the more subjective elements of this. One of the things that makes Borderlands, well, Borderlands, is its over the top cast of characters. Right off the bat this system seems like it would strip the player characters of any specific personality. There are ways to address some of this, like the ability to change how they sound. If this is a simple matter of tonal quality or specific voice packs complete with one-liners and commentary. The latter would be much more consistent with the standard Borderlands experience, and could be combined with the former to create a much more interesting system for those who want more flexibility.

Having said that, they’ve been a bit more clear in a GameSpot interview. It hasn’t added much detail to the voice selection, but it does at least mention personality. This doesn’t mean it will live up to the normal level of Borderlands-ness, but they’re at least thinking about it.

At first I wondered if the listed cast members were related to voice options, but instead they seem to be connected with major story characters. It’s been said on video that the Dragon Lord is the game’s antagonist, and I’m just going to assume the other two are protagonists of some sort.

I’m a bit curious what level of visual customization will be allowed as well. Historically the Borderlands series only has two real customization options, a head and a color/texture skin. What we’re seeing here seems to be a bit more thorough, including both functional and appearance armor pieces. “Shark fins on your head” could just be a standard Borderlands head skin or it could be something with individual parts. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.

Mechanically I have some concerns with the class system as well. Earlier I said “classless” because it felt like it was being billed that way, but what they’ve done is divorce the class system from the character’s appearance and personality. You’ll still choose a primary class, which is a permanent choice, and later on pick a secondary class that remains until you finish the playthrough. This seems pretty similar to the existing Character/Class Mod system in previous Borderlands games, but a bit more locked-in.

I’m a little concerned about the six different class trees as well. Are they small trees like a traditional Borderlands character or something larger or more fleshed out? There’s no real indication of what this means, but I’m personally hoping for somewhat larger trees if we don’t have multiple different progression options.

The GameSpot interview also mentions a separate Hero Point system with traditional tabletop stats like Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Attunement. Not a whole lot of information has really been made available about what they do, but it’s a separate progression path from the skill trees. I’m thinking something along the lines of the Badass Points and metals that existed in other titles, granting small boosts broken out into categories.

Another strange difference is this chibi-style overworld that’s used to travel between different areas. It’s very thematically appropriate I guess, but seems like an odd break from the normal action present in a Borderlands game. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or negative, but simply something I’ll need to know more about before I can develop an opinion beyond it’s strange stylized nature.

Still, most of the game seems to be a pretty standard loot shooter stuff with the normal “gun parts” system applied to all things, including spells and melee weapons. I think I like the overall idea, but will remain cautious for now. I’ll try to keep on eye on information as it develops, though.

Much like Borderlands 3, the PC version is be or begin as an Epic Games exclusive title. Not a problem for me, but I know not everyone is fond of the platform.

Y’all take care. Catch-a-Ride!

Physical Currency

I got a rather amusing email from one of my banks today, encouraging the use of coinage. A large part of that amusement comes from the fact that I actively avoid physical currency in practically all forms. I’m not in the habit of having or using it, so the idea that I might be preventing it from circulating borders on the absurd.

I realize this isn’t a universal stance. In my region it’s a fairly rare one, as far as I know. More interestingly, even though I may not have a giant secret coin stash, the fact remains that coinage is a bit short at the moment and the bank has decided that individuals are to blame. They’re just echoing the same talking points as the Mint.

According to the Federal Reserve it isn’t a shortage of actual coins, but rather one of circulation. Since one of their solutions is to place caps on distribution quantities in order to “ensure fair distribution,” I can see where individual banks might feel pressured to incentivise turn-ins and deposits to alleviate their own personal shortages once they’ve hit the cap.

The stated reason for this is primarily that COVID has altered and disrupted normal circulation patterns. I’m not sure I’m willing to buy that explanation at this point though. I’m sure it played a part, but we haven’t had the widespread lockdowns that many other countries have had. Certainly not in my part of the country. To what end would people collectively be holding on to change more than normal?

I could throw a few things at the wall, but it’s pure conjecture with nothing to back it up. Perhaps the stimuluses combined with upward wage pressure and a volatile labor market have put people in a position where they aren’t having to cash out their “coin jars” to pay for expenses. Perhaps some are stockpiling it out of some expectation of social upheaval. Perhaps there’s several construction companies going around and epoxying it to floors and other surfaces as a decorate finish. Beats me.

It’s just an amusement and curiosity at the moment though, at least within my own life. I’m not impacted in any way by it and I have no meaningful way to assist with the problem.

Y’all take care. Remember, the bank really wants your coins, but not enough to pay more than face value.

Over 500 – My Post Level

Apparently yesterday marked my 500th post. It’s not nothing, I suppose. Had I actually been paying attention I suppose I could have put something together to commemorate the event. Oh well. Yay, I guess.

I managed to get the New World open beta added and downloaded. I may attempt to get some time in tonight, but this is my short weekend for the month. That will limit my ability to poke around.

I skimmed the patch notes (available here) and none of it seemed relevant to me or what I was doing in the closed beta. A quick look at twitter suggests that there are a few performance issues in the new client and that a lot of people are confused or put off by the “request access” method of distribution. I’m curious why they decided to do it, but it’s done now.

Y’all take care.

Overlooked or Forgotten Bits of History – The Third Wave Experiment

I have found myself listening to a nearly constant stream of episodes from the Behind the Bastards podcast. Any space that isn’t otherwise occupied by another more pressing podcast. I would like to say that the events discussed in the podcast are somewhat exaggerated, but the few that I’ve followed up on to fact check seem more or less correct. In the broad strokes, at least.

There are a few things with which I’m already familiar, but many of them I’ve never heard of, or only know in bits and pieces. One of the ones I’d never heard of was the Third Wave “experiment” in 1967. An extremely unfortunate but effective lesson on how easily fascism can take root. The podcast episode is here, if you’d prefer, and there are some good references in the show notes.

The general story is that a history teacher was having a hard time explaining why fascist movements like the Nazis weren’t stopped from within when they got out of control. He attempted to display how easy it was by radically altering his lesson plan for a week, and it quickly created a miniature fascist movement of 200 or so students. Both horrifying and impressive at the same time. Also not exactly ethical or a mentally healthy environment.

I find it curious that I’d never heard or read about it before. Perhaps it is simply one of those uncomfortable truths that we don’t wish to see. I may make an effort to check out some other material about these events in the future. It’s entirely possible that I’m simply in the wrong age group in much the same way my own children will never remember 9/11 or Columbine quite the way I do.

When I began listening to the podcast I was a bit concerned that it would darken my overall outlook on humanity. Listening to stories about evil people can do that. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to have happened. I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m optimistic, I am in fact quite cynical, but there’s nothing to do for it but try to be better. I’d rather fail trying than do nothing.

Y’all take care. Don’t accidentally create any fascist movements while trying to show how easy it can be.

New World – Open Beta

I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone, but beginning September 8th at 10A EDT you can opt into the Open Beta for New World. That’s 8 hours from the time of publication. It’s another nice chance to take if for a test drive if you haven’t already. I hadn’t yet committed any money to a pre-order, but I’ll probably stick my head back in briefly.

Now that the dust from the “closed” beta has settled, it will be nice to see if those systems still seem interesting. I’m guessing the point of this is much like any other open beta, and a combination of stress test and gauge of interest. It also helps nab some more interest and extra pre-orders right before the launch proper.

It’s obviously not an early start either. At the very least, they’re claiming that progress will be wiped, so you can’t “get ahead” by participating. I suspect that might dampen participation just a bit, but there seems to be enough hype around the product that I’m sure there will still be plenty of people involved.

The official twitter account is also stating that the status of pre-load is currently unknown. It’s entirely possible that some people may not be able to download it in time if it’s brief. I haven’t seen any official comments regarding duration of this test. My personal best guess would be a week or two.

We also don’t have access to the patch notes yet, so we don’t know what will be different or how just yet, though they’re supposed to be available in the next couple of days.

Y’all take care. Beware the hype train. It has no brakes.

FFXIV – Warrior of Rust

I did something I’ve done remarkably little of in the last year or so and logged into FFXIV to do more than just step into the FC house to keep it from poofing. I not only did some main story stuff, but surprisingly enjoyed it for a change.

It’s not the first time I’ve done MSQ stuff this year. Merely the first time that I’ve done so and felt interested rather than just going through the motions. I did a little bit a couple of months ago and it was a little… whatever. It probably helps that this last session helped confirm something I’ve suspected since the end of the expansion. I won’t get into much detail here, as it dives quickly into spoiler territory.

I feel like my opinion of the game has drifted quite a bit, though. I no longer have much interest in doing much raiding. At all, really. I’ll do the bare minimum needed to progress through the story, but at the moment that’s all I feel invested in. While it may all come back in time, the idea of working on crafting/gathering stuff or doing relic gear stuff no longer feels interesting.

I’m also not feeling particularly attached to the new jobs coming up. I did the healing thing somewhat ad nauseum for a while. Even sticking with Astro through what was largely considered a bad time. It’s apparently slated to get yet another rework or something, I don’t know. All my information is second or third hand at this point.

I’ve been dreading the point of reaching a mandatory dungeon, which I’ve not done yet. My best geared job is Dark Knight and the idea of tanking anything through the layers of rust is off-putting. I’m still figuring out where all the buttons are and what I should be doing. On the other hand, tank is generally pretty easy. If all else fails, spam enmity generation and use cooldowns on boss mechanics and you’ll at least be functional.

A quick look at the list indicates that I have 25 quests, 3 dungeons, and a trial to do in order to get caught up, and the first dungeon is literally my next quest. Go figure. Guess I should consider checking out a video in the near future so I at least know what’s up.

Last, I’m mildly annoyed that there isn’t really any new Hildebrand stuff. Yeah, it’s a really dumb and absurd series, but I had grown slightly attached to them, if not exactly to the man himself. Perhaps there simply wasn’t time given all the pandemic problems, or maybe it was just too difficult to make it make sense. Not that it ever does, mind. Oh well, at least I needn’t concern myself with any wild gazebos.

Okay, that’s enough rambling about something I probably won’t play for at least another week. Don’t have time for that dungeon business on a work day.

Y’all take care. Don’t need the echo to see where this is going.