The Memoir of Obscure Wanderings

stagnum obscuria

n. the feeling of being swamped by countless innumerable little things to get done and valiantly treading water just to stay in one place… only to look up and realize that you no longer recognize where you are… a shrouded foggy gloom of sombre silhouettes stands in the stead of where you thought you were… and the only thought in your mind is that you are now irrevocably lost.

That was me four weeks ago.

And the above is my little copycat nod to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a fun little word blog I discovered via a TED talk about made up words to describe inarticulable emotions, feelings for which simple English words like happy or sad or bored or angry just don’t encompass the entirety of the experience.

See, I wasn’t -unhappy-, I was just busy.

Busy getting necessary things done, at work, in real life, attending raids, getting the odd Pokemon caught and Pokestops spun here and there, not quite following the weekly priority wishlist of things I’d quite like to get done, but most definitely getting other equally pressing matters done…

… and before you know it, the week’s over and it’s time for a new week.

Eh, maybe it’s a bad week. We have all those at some point or another. Can’t expect every week of the year to be productive, right?

poe-mar1

The next week Path of Exile Legacy League launches. It’s a welcome distraction.

I jump straight into the new SSF (solo self-found) legacy softcore league, just to make things official and mostly to add to Grinding Gear Games’ stats, since I’d still be not talking or trading with anybody either way.

I’d previously been idly testing a life leeching axe duelist pre-Legacy League, wondering if I dared to make my own build and see how far it would get.

It seemed like a bad idea to try starting a league with a self-found melee self-created build though, so I went for a very safe previously-tested SSF starter, Pewpewpew’s cheap firestorm build that uses zombie meatshields. You can get away with ludicrously bad gear with this build and still function relatively well up to basic maps.

As RNG luck would have it, a +40% item rarity shield unique dropped very early on for me, and subsequently various rares all got rolled with +10% odd item rarity here and there. I went, “OK, what the heck, I guess we’re going to stack magic find instead of survival and see what happens!”

I end up collecting a stash tab full of uniques on my way to level 70, which is the point where my total disregard for any respectable resistances starts causing the occasional exploding into gory little bits by a single lightning spell hit.

Faced with the prospect of patiently re-gearing with more upgraded stuff and giving up the item rarity… and a bunch of shiny unique axes that are screaming “I would be awesome if you played a melee axe user…”

I decide it’s time to make an alt and try the experimental self-build, now armed with some shiny uniques.

poe-mar2

It’s a mix of sunder for long ranged rectancular AoE and lacerate for closer single-target or small AoE cone, a bit of life leech and the plan is to go for as much evasion / life as possible and stretch into acrobatics and spell dodging.

I have no idea if it will work, but the fun is in the trying.

It’s a strange little revelation that hit me in the midst of leveling this fellow, at like literally level 5.

poe-mar3

I was thinking, “whoa, two uniques have dropped,” “this melee cleaving is pretty fun” “I’m sure this will be really fun in the level 30-40s, though I have no idea how high I’ll reach before the build starts to not work”

and then it hit me, “So what? Killing things at level 30-40 kinda feels the same as killing things at level 60-70; cool unique stuff will still drop; you don’t trade so you have no standard of comparison as to what’s more profitable or no, everything to you is a potential cool thing that a new alt could use.”

I made it to level 82 or 83 once a long time ago with an ancestral warchief marauder, so the Atlast of Worlds and mapping is not exactly unexplored territory, beyond the bosses that are still beyond one’s knowledge and gear capacity.

So there isn’t any actual need to keep pushing ever so higher and higher. Ladder climbing is not a personal motivator. Until Legacy League ends and the ten acts of Path of Exile drop, one is essentially repeating the same scenery over and over in normal, cruel and merciless difficulty anyway.

The fun is in the random loot drops and the testing and tweaking of one’s knowledge of the game, and if I have to explode a hundred times from mistakes to do it, why not? 

gw2-deimos-hard

The last couple of weeks has also been tiresomely methodical on the GW2 front.

My raid group has developed an obsession with defeating Deimos on challenge mode, going for some 3 hours once or twice a week, not counting the additional normal clear day that is used to get all 13 normal mode bosses/raid encounters out of the way.

The issue with Deimos, and working as intended, is that one single person making a mistake essentially causes a raid wipe.

Since we keep going for three hours with no success, one can indeed conclude that mistakes were made.

It’s not any one person. It’s all understandable mistakes (or bad RNG with insufficiently thought out backup strategy.) People in critical roles like the tank or the flak (ie. nasty looking pink hands) kiters are under high pressure, they slip up once and bang, they die. Whoops. /GG. Restart.

Less adept people who have been carefully placed in less critical roles make the occasional mistake and slip up. Whoops, there goes the oil expanding and wrecking all in its path and the careful positioning and timing needed. /GG. Restart.

A teleport gets put on someone unexpected; people dodge reflexively in a different direction than previously agreed on; people miss a dodge; adds in later phases overwhelm players’ ability to process the encounter, causing panic which leads to a mistake…  /GG. Restart.

Well, it is challenge mode, after all.

And I believe the intent is to have some encounters that are difficult to the point of requiring a group to keep practising for days and weeks until they get the execution just perfect, collectively. Some people like that kind of thing, after all.

And I don’t actually hate it, or have a strong opinion about it. I keep showing up, after all. It is interesting, in a way, to keep rehearsing a particular part in a performance and analyze one’s mistakes and try not to keep slipping up in the same way (mea culpa: the moment I panic, I dodge early…enter flying soon-to-be-dead asura).

It is, however, tiring as fuck. Especially to do it for three hours after a long day at work with no dinner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not something I want to stop doing. I’m an opportunist and opportunity in my kind of timezone rarely knocks twice.

But it does put me through the wringer. And after two, three days a week, it pretty much drains all energy and desire to do much of anything else. Especially anything else GW2-related. *shudder*

At the same time, accomplishments in any game feel increasingly meaningless.

Today, I’m level whatever in Path of Exile. Or I collected X number of resources leading to Y goal in GW2. Or I caught a Z Pokemon for the collection.

It’s a made-up goal that the developers have designed, that you’ve agreed to suspend disbelief to want, for the purposes of “playing” the game.

I start getting restless and game hop.

I go for a short spin in Trove to revisit things. Still colorful, still pretty amusing, still laggy as anything for my geographical location.

I poke my head into my singleplayer ARK game, die a couple of times to random dinosaurs while trying to remember how to play, wind up with a lucky violent dinosaur-free respawn, build a slightly less pathetic thatch hut that is four squares big, and bully a couple of low level dinosaurs – mostly because they’re stuck in trees.

ark-mar

It takes forever and a few wiki browses before I re-remember how to tame anything.

ark-mar2

Huzzah, I have a tame turtle.

It still feels meaningless. Collect thatch. Collect wood. Collect berries.

I briefly consider playing my Minecraft: Terrafirmapunk game, but wuss out at the thought of needing to collect more wood and stone.

shelter

I give Shelter a go, it’s been on my Steam list forever and unplayed.

Before long I realize that I’m either emotionally dead to the plight of badgers beyond the metagame of trying to see which badger is the lightest in color to feed before it starves, or conversely too afraid of the eventual lesson of nature that one of the badger pups will wind up lost along the way or that death will inevitably come, for the badger mum if nobody else.

So I stop. The only way to win is not to play, and all that.

slime-rancher1

The real winner of my restless game wanderings is this delightful little Early Access game that was going on 33% off on Steam – Slime Rancher.

I almost never buy Early Access games.

I pretty much -never- buy a game at only 33% off, preferring to wait for 75% off, or at least 50% off if I want it badly enough.

I impulse bought it, mostly because the reviews were very positive and I -really- needed some cheering up and this seemed colorful enough to do it.

I don’t regret a single cent.

It is really that good.

It is unabashedly happy and cartoony and ridiculous as befits a game that is about collecting and selling slime poop… er, plorts.

It is also a game that works, has interesting content and a decent progression path, which is something quite unexpected for an Early Access game.

The slimes jiggle around and display interesting behaviors. If they’re hungry, they’ll mash themselves right against the walls of their corral, yearning towards the nearest piece of food they can see.

They start stacking atop each other, making little slime stack ladders, so that one or two of them will eventually hop over the walls and get out, the devious little blobs.

slime-rancher2

There are tabby cat slimes that will grab objects near them and play with them, tossing them willy nilly.

The fun is in the discovery though, and rest assured, there are more interesting slimes and and other things to be found in this game.

There are a few zones and objects still under construction, but by and large, the game is very playable even without them.

Recommended.

Especially when you want a mood lift. *Blorp*

The Elephants in the Room: Microtransactions and Mindshare

poeadvert

Four days ago, Path of Exile hypes up the coming 3.0 expansion (due earliest in June/July) and a day later, they post information about the next Legacy League coming in a fortnight that promises nostalgia revisiting old leagues and the faint dangling hope that maybe, just maybe, one will strike it lottery rich and pop a valuable legacy item that cannot ever be obtained by normal means.

They also post on their website Legacy Supporter Pack bundles of $30 and $60 USD to complement the usual $5, $10, $20 for points offerings, and if you were -really- happy, the Atlas of Worlds supporter packs in the $50, $110, $220 and $440 USD ranges have always been available.

Oh, and you can combine microtransaction point purchases within a certain period towards these packs, so if you bought stuff at $20 and$20 before, you just need to top up $10 and qualify for the first tier…

And if you were like me and bought a $50 pack previously, the “Upgrade for $60” button stares at you in the face until you can’t resist clicking it, raking in a bunch of cosmetics for $5 and the 550 points that you wanted in the first place for storage and additional cosmetics and lockboxes.

Oh, and if you don’t believe in transatlantic or transpacific shipping of free advertisement T-shirts, you can have additional points to bling out your digital avatar.

Did I mention that all stash tabs are now on sale for this weekend?

ffadvert

Three days ago, I sit and stare at the Steam store page where they advertise in large colorful banner headlines that Square Enix is having a 75% off sale and that Final Fantasy is celebrating its 30th anniversary with most games at 50% off.

And as much as I really like buying games at only 75% off, for the Final Fantasy series, 50% off is pretty much as low as it’s going to go, barring really aged games and the odd one or two day rock bottom sale offer.

I hem and I haw.

I look up reviews and try to decide between the better of one odd number or another. I’ve lost track of the franchise since playing through three quarters of 7 and a third of 8.

I have the sudden ambitious surge of an urge to attempt a marathon of Final Fantasy all the way from the original and up…

…except Steam doesn’t offer anything lower than 7 in my region, and it may make more sense to buy 6 and under for Android or IOS, since I’m always carrying phone and iPad around these days. Those aren’t on sale yet though.

I also kind of want to see improvements in what’s changed in the newer versions. Maybe I should attempt the marathon in reverse order!

There are THREE Final Fantasy 13s – the hell, that’s expensive, even at 50% off. Reviews for volume 2 are not great, claiming a bad port. Reviews for volume 3 are -very- good, but add that one should actually experience 1 and 2 for the story before playing 3. Reviews for 1 are mixed, some liking it, some disliking the linearity.

Ohh, this is confusing.

Reviews for Final Fantasy 10 are -very- very good. That seems like a good place to start.

Ha, maybe we should do it in descending order starting from 10 then.

But but if I don’t buy 13 now, it will probably be Christmas before it hits 50 or 75% off again…

Oh, what the heck, I haven’t spent anything on games lately. I can afford the equivalent of a collector’s box edition. Final Fantasy games are classics, after all, and offer tons of gameplay.

Long story short, I end up buying everything from FF8 to FF13, without 12 and the MMO in between (11). Local price $71, or $50 USD.

Given how little free time I actually have, this marathon will take me the better part of forever.

pokedex2

Two days ago, a family member interrupts my morning ritual with excited shrieks over unrecognized Pokemon appearing all over the place.

Oh. Looks like Pokemon Go has finally released the anticipated Gen 2 Pokemon.

I grab my own phone, braving the risk of cubital tunnel syndrome (“keep my arm straight” is a thing I chant to myself now) and have an immense amount of fun watching new silhouettes resolve into cute critters I’ve never seen before.

You know me, novelty is a big deal for me.

Overnight, the phenomenon of locals starting to carry their phones in their palms, stop and make odd flicking motions is visible once more. Less than at launch, but still more than previously.

Oh, and Pokemon trainers? Niantic would like you to know that Pokemon storage upgrades are 50% off, so you have enough space to hold all the extra Gen 2 Pokemon, for a mere 100 coins!

*twitches*

I’d bought storage upgrades some time before, in anticipation of the Gen 2 launch, but that was a very long time ago – a month or two – and I’d been taking full advantage of the extra space, packing in Gen 1 Pokemon to the tune of 550 of them until the last Valentine’s festival, which offered double candy to clean out the Pokemon.

Suspecting that this was my last chance to do so and get extra candy to boot before Gen 2, I forced myself one night to sit down and do inventory management, tidying everything up.

(Glad I did, because sure enough, it happened.)

But I did have firsthand experience in just how HANDY these pokemon storage upgrades were…

*twitches again at the temptation*

100 coins!

I grabbed one from the free coins I had from fighting and sitting in gyms, but but surely one cannot go wrong with MORE storage?

7 local dollars (or $5 USD) gets you 550 coins. That’s a LOT of pokemons that can be stored – 5 x 50 = 250 – at the current discounted offer.

*twitches*

I have until Feb 26 to think about it.

Less than a Starbucks coffee, y’know. *twitch*

gw2advert

Over in Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet would like you to know that Episode 4 of Living World Season 3 is called the Head of the Snake; that there’s a new raid called Bastion of the Penitent, and that And More includes one legendary rifle in the shape of a ship with a giant cannon on it….

…and here, have some screenshots and a wallpaper.

Our watchword: The less said the better!

Oh, and Evon Gnashblade would like to sell you a $5 USD mini of Demmi Beetlestone (who will never make it back to his office to collect), a $5 USD set of recolored white and pink wings and a $6.56 USD outfit of Gwen’s clothing.

The less said the better, indeed.

Path of Exile: Acts 5-10 Coming

I am 15 hours late into realizing this.

I blame work and living on the other side of the world.

I have no wall of text for this.

My brain just exploded.

Here, have some links to everyone celebrating this announcement instead:

http://massivelyop.com/2017/02/14/path-of-exile-the-fall-of-oriath-reveal/

Oh fuck it, just read the whole reddit while you’re at it.

https://www.reddit.com/r/pathofexile/

I will be nowhere else when this update comes, and probably so will many others, so all other MMOs better watch out for a population drop.

Now -this- is hype.