Not Having Fun IS a Personal Problem

I’m not having fun, but you are having fun. Isn’t that the very definition of a personal problem?

But what’s also none of your business is telling me how I -should- be playing, in order to have fun.

Maybe the environment is partially at fault.

But if I don’t proceed to change my environment, it falls back on me (aka personal again) as to why I’m not getting any. Fun, that is.

The $64,000 question though, “How do I know when I’m having fun?”

Of Fish and Blenders

The problem with playing singleplayer games is that it almost never occurs to me to share what I’m doing.

I mean, the very -point- of a singleplayer game is to toodle around doing things on your own having experiences of your own, right?

In contrast to some players who find they must have company when playing modded Minecraft, be  it for general camaraderie or friendly competition or to show off what they’ve made/done, none of those are very strong motivators for me when playing.

I mostly play to assuage my own curiosity, to learn the ins and outs of a particular game, to tickle an underlying achiever urge, and to be lost or immerse in another world/story for a time. None of which particularly require ‘sharing one’s experiences’ in order to tick the checkbox.

So I conveniently “forget” I have a blog and let it lie fallow, in favor of oh… playing Stardew Valley for an extra hour or two.

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We’re now into the Summer of Year 2, and getting a minuscule bit more serious with the farming thing. I’m trying to earn enough moolah to afford the larger animal barns, because it’ll be a really boring Winter if I don’t.

The fishing craze continues, and I’m fast running out of Summer days to catch my new obsession, the legendary Crimsonfish that lives in the east ocean.

It’s not that it doesn’t bite. Oh no. That dang varmint has chomped down on my bait more than ten times now.

It’s that it twists around so wildly, even at level 9 fishing skill (with an extra +3 from a Dish o’ the Sea reward I got from the community center, so I’m capped at 10)  that it escapes me every time. It is officially “the one that got away.”

I have been -sooo- tempted to install an easier fishing mod, just to nab the varmint, but that would probably just cheat myself of the satisfaction.

I spent the hour after I quit playing reading up on Tackles on the wiki, and am going to try a few new ones and see if they make the task any easier. I can also level up my fishing skill one final time to level 10 and see if that does anything. Failing which, there’s modding as the very last resort.

I got so pissed off by the Crimsonfish, I actually ran into the Sewers one night after an entire failed afternoon/evening at the ocean, thinking to use the last 30 seconds of my +fishing food on an attempt at another legendary fish.

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Well, it wasn’t an attempt. It was one hit, one reel. Super easy.

At least it proved there was nothing wrong with my fishing rod, or my fishing skill.

CRIMSONFISH, I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, I SWEAR.

On the Path of Exile front, I’ve been finding new fancy things to spent microtransaction points on.

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A currency stash tab is the newest thing GGG has come up with, and I immediately nabbed one.

Some people felt it condensed their wealth too much, into a numerical value that they couldn’t feel the tangibility of (an image I now can’t locate on Reddit said it best, a roomful of cash Scrooge Mcduck style versus a bank account transaction slip listing only numbers), but you know what, I don’t care.

I only care that I managed to empty the two Stash tabs full of currency that I had on the Standard league into one nice neat tab, and got 1/24th closer to having a usable stash in Standard (maybe it’ll happen, one day.)

Having a condensed currency page in the Perandus league ain’t bad either.

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I was mildly amused to see that Path of Exile also had its own share of lockboxes.

Albeit a fully cosmetic-only lockbox wherein you are confirmed to get the full value of the points you spent (just that you get purely random things you may or may not want), and the forum announcement also requested you to “spend responsibly.”

I dunno if that had any effect on the whales who promptly dropped some hundreds of dollars for 2000-3000 points to open a ton of them, but hey, people spend hundreds of dollars on various hobbies, so who’s to say they were irresponsible?

Everyone has their own spending limit.

I was feeling mildly curious, so I decided to open three. 75 points, or $7.50 USD. That’s more my kind of spending limit.

I popped a gargoyle decoration for my hideout, which I was quite chuffed about, and a radiant gloves that some people might have liked, but I personally didn’t like the look of, and decided to stop there, one less than originally planned.

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The hideout menagerie grows…  (The biggest gargoyle is the decoration.)

A day or two later, the infernal footprints went on sale, and I gladly nabbed those, to finish off the whole cosmetic look – essentially you leave fiery footfalls behind, just like carting around a GW2 legendary.

On the non-spending and actually -playing- front, my Righteous Fire/Searing Bond totem Marauder officially ascended to Chieftain a few days ago, by visiting a very outleveled Normal Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth is interesting, but the necessity to stay connected for an extended period of time sorta puts a damper in my enthusiasm to run it, as I don’t have that kind of time except on holidays/weekends, and I’m not 100% sure the servers will stay up even when I do have the time.

Instead, I’ve been enjoying running maps. He’s level 73 now, and still climbing, in spite of really horrible gear. I’ve been searching around desperately for upgrades and just not finding much of anything. The woes of the self-found.

Admittedly, I’m also reaching the limits of my understanding on how precisely to upgrade him further. Else it is always possible to grit my teeth and send a trade whisper out to someone when I’m feeling brave, but the truth is that I don’t even know what I want, how I want to slot further (even though there’s now a million and one skill gems available from the NPC vendors) and it’s going to take time to slowly work it all out.

In the meantime, he can still do maps, albeit exploding every now and  then when encountering the wrong type of boss sporting the wrong type of damage that he now lacks resistances to, because his gear ain’t up to snuff anymore.

For a change of pace, I decided to start up an alt, and make use of all the delicious uniques and stuff that the first character had been dropping.

On a whim, I decided on Blade Vortex, apparently a fairly new skill that was just introduced some few patches ago.

It took a bit of leveling with other gems to get past Merveil and the level you could start slotting Blade Vortex, but now that I’m in Act 2 proper, Blade Vortex is officially on the menu.

And it is hilarious. I now fully understand why folks say that this gem is for fans of “Will it Blend?”

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Essentially for each button press of the skill, you conjure up one blade circling around you for 5 seconds or so. The more you press the button, the more blades get conjured and spin around you.

Eventually of course, you want Faster Casting and Increased Duration to increase the number of blades you can have spinning around you at any one time.

As of now, it’s about 12 as the max, holding down and spamming while being stationary, and to be honest, about 3-5 blades is all that is needed to grind the majority of the throwaway mobs running around the maps.

They run towards you and literally explode on the blades of a blender.

This is cause for much unbridled giggling.

No doubt, the weakness of this build is going to be lethal ranged attacks from afar, but well, I’m following a guide, and let’s see what defences they propose later down the road. It’s a problem for another day.

In the meantime, the answer to the question “Will it blend?” is YES.

 

Holy Jumbo Humble Bundle!

Oh man, I am excite!

So excite I r losing powers of grammar! N speling…

A whole host of games that have been on my Steam wishlist for a long time just came together in one super mega awesome Jumbo Humble Bundle 6.

I practically threw money at the screen when I idly checked out the website this evening.

For $12 USD, I got:

Grey Goo – an RTS I’ve wanted to check out for some time, but was holding back due to mixed reviews

Magicka 2 – a sequel that never seemed as well-received as its predecessor, but that I was also interested in checking out some day

Warmachine Tactics + Mercenaries DLC – another mixed review game that trended towards negative, but which I was keen on checking out due to its miniatures background

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown – apparently some kind of semi-disappointing multiplayer-esque game ostensibly set in the Shadowrun universe, but what the hey, at this price point, can’t hurt to try it and dump it if it sucks

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – a relative unknown to me, but is apparently Zelda-like, and might pleasantly surprise

Dreamfall Chapters – some kind of adventure game. I didn’t really like The Longest Journey, never tried Dreamfall, but I’m perfectly open to seeing if the universe clicks with me with their third game

I “lost out” on Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, in that I already owned the game a long LONG time ago, but this is a stellar standout RPG in the fantasy cyberpunk Shadowrun universe that anyone should give a go if they haven’t yet.

And there’s apparently more unrevealed games coming soon, which would be an utter bonus icing on top of the cake thing, whatever they are.

Oversaturation Leads to Not Caring

Today’s mood: Nonchalant

A lot of blogs (too many to link, alas) are buzzing like a poked hive with the big news that Everquest Next will be no more.

Wildstar’s prospects don’t seem to be in ascendance either, with the news of a sizeable reduction in force.

What hit closer to home for me was news that Colin Johanson was leaving ArenaNet and GW2.

There’s been a very positive spin over the whole affair, but for the more jaded of us, there’s always a glass half-empty side as well.

Let’s face it, people don’t decide to leave a company if growth is in sight and things are going well. There are always niggling bits that push people out the door too. Maybe it’s not-so-great relationships with bosses or colleagues, work environment, family pressure, a pet project that got canceled, responsibilities that got taken away, new responsibilities being less easy to cope with than the old, no forseeable growth opportunities or openings to climb the career ladder, whatever. Not saying that any or all of the above might necessarily apply in Colin’s case, but who knows, right?

I do think HoT was a gamble that seems to be backfiring on Anet quite rapidly. (Launched last August; discontented rumblings throughout Jan-Mar.)

Reading between the lines, we see a bit of a scramble for extra revenue this quarter. Shared inventory slot bundle for $35? Glider wings of different color variations, $10 each? “Hey, guys, we’ve decided that March is going to be a whole month of discounted gem store sales daily! Keep logging in daily! Maybe you’ll see something you like!”

Translation: Daily-log in metric is falling.  Revenue is falling. We have a first quarter report to give to NCsoft soon.

Anecdotes suggest many casual players across various guilds have ceased logging-in over the past weeks and months.

Personally I’ve been seeing attendance at Oceanic TTS Teq and Triple Wurm shrinking. The Oceanic leaders called some kind of important community meeting yesterday. I’m kinda waiting to see the minutes to see what was decided.

Why couldn’t I attend and hear the discussion firsthand?

Ha. The exact same reason world boss raid attendance is shrinking, of course. I was doing the new content – Salvation Pass raids – and locked into my closed group of ten peoples (give or take 3-7 fillers.)

Presumably at least 50% of the people who would otherwise be filling up a TTS instance have been drawn away by  ten-man instanced raids, leaving the rest struggling to keep taxing in PUG fillers for world bosses or HoT zone events.

The inevitable divisiveness is upon us. The community has been fracturing into smaller and smaller bits, and I heartily doubt it’s ever going to recover.

We’ve been moving away from things that draw a server community together – megaservers, guild missions in the open world that can pull others in and let people meet, WvW server loyalty crumbles as the game mode diminishes, no large Living Story zone events like the Marionette or Lion’s Arch rescue, towards things that lock smaller and smaller groups of presumably likeminded people into instances. Players would now rather not play with others who don’t think like them. They would rather not waste time teaching new people stuff. Strangers are useless noobs who would drag the group down.

It’s been an interesting progression of emotions for me this past week anyway.

I’ve realized I can’t muster the energy to fight or complain anymore. I sounded the warning trumpets early on, and they were ignored and/or it was already too late to steer the oil tanker in another direction.

Certain Reddit veterans have taken up the grumbling about story being locked away in raids, while others are happily disagreeing with them. There’s rants about raid challenge – too much, too little, whatever. There’s people hating on raids, there’s people loving raids. Unsoweiter.

I have decided to resolve my dilemma very simply. Wallet vote. While the state of affairs that I personally disagree with continues, I’m not paying a dime for anything.

I like seeing new content. So as long as my current raid group holds up, I am also content to trundle along and see if there’s any chance of progressing further or no. Success or failure is up to the group as a whole. Patient play and practice will see the group through, assuming no critical fractures or drama – which would be also out of my hands and beyond my control.

The really interesting question I asked myself this morning, while I had breakfast: “If my current raid group falls apart, would I be willing to make the effort to find yet another raid group?”

At the moment, all signs point to no.

I have tried quite a few raid groups and most of them are incapable of rising to the challenge.

Nor can I seek out any more hardcore raid groups because those would be way too much stress (not to mention, they wouldn’t take a mic-less player anyhow.)

Most importantly, now that one has, more or less, gelled together into one static raid group, it has now become an in-group, out-group thing. Presently, I no longer care about the fates of anyone or anything outside of the nine other people, so to speak.

My time has been locked up /here/ and I can’t be /there/ or anywhere else. TTS world boss raids lack attendance? WvW needs people? Sorry, I’m raiding and it’s going to take up the evening. So… guess you’re outta luck.

If the raid group dies, I become yet another rudderless ronin once more.

It is -conceivably- possible that I could apply to join yet another group, undergo the gelling process once more and reattach to yet another nine people.

Or most probably, I would ask myself what would be the point of attaching to a game whose direction is drifting off god-knows-where or is pointed towards a destination I’m not interested in going anyway?

And then de-attach completely.

I mean, the process is almost complete anyway. I’ve stopped caring about the game as a whole. I’ve stopped caring about my server. I’ve stopped caring about the general game population. I’ve a teeny bit of care left about my mega-community and my personal guilds that is steadily crumbling as I stop attending the events held by them in order to run raids.

I definitely shouldn’t give a damn about any semblance of lore or story because it’s going to take a good half a year to get revealed every so slowly, and blocked by massive obstacles called raid bosses. If I see it, I see it. If I don’t, I don’t. Whatever.

Really interestingly, I’ve stopped worrying about the whole “competence” angle ever since Vale Guardian died.

Remember I had/have this little personal hangup and insecurity over whether I’m seen as competent in the eyes of others? Seems to be a number of reasons why this has become less critical, all of a sudden.

One, I managed to kill VG in different groups. So I’m evidently playing at a sufficient level that won’t automatically cause team wipes. This satisfies the baseline level of my insecurity.

Two, even if you’re competent, if too many of the group isn’t competent (yet), you aren’t killing VG or any other raid boss anyway. So personal competence does not correlate to raid boss kill success. The solution is merely plenty of group practice and/or teaching/coaching and addressing specific mistakes/issues (assuming the people in question are open to improving and won’t go defensively apeshit on you, which… can be a bit of an ideal dream.)

Three, apparently as I de-attach from caring or being passionately invested in a game, I also no longer care about whether I’m seen as an expert player or not. I mean, who do I have to impress? Nobody whose opinion I care about.

(My personal standards seem to be set much higher than the average anyway, so I may as well just listen to my own internal compass.)

I have “The Eternal” title now. Honestly, I’m not actually going to ever set foot into any PUGs that would ask for it to be displayed. Fear of strangers and toxicity is way too high now.

The only real meaning the title has for me is the memory of the nine people who came together to specifically help get me the title even after they already had theirs (and managed to not die, one by a thread, literally, he was downed as Sabetha died. Possibly another hero teammate managed to keep rezzing too.)

So I guess, six months later, I now have the answer to the question “What’s going to come out of the other end, once I fall down the raiding hole?”

A sort of separation aloofness, that can be perceived as a mild case of “elitism” by some.

A load of not-quite-burnout, but definitely detachment from the game.

P.S. I think it’s important to clarify what “not caring” means for me in this context, because the phrase often conjures up the image of a petulant individual throwing a tantrum and ragequitting, or someone with a trembling lip mumbling “I don’t care” while signaling with all their body language he or she patently does.

At the moment, it is very much an insouciant nonchalance, with a side sprinkling of resigned indifference.

In my mind, GW2 has taken a sudden drop in status to secondary game, and it seems the amount of importance I invested into it has also dipped as a result.

I still show up for raids, I still try my hardest because that’s the right thing to do when you’re participating in organized group content. If a kill happens, hooray. If a kill doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. It just means more waiting until the next time.

In between the actual mob fighting, during all the waiting and organizing and scheduling that would drive the sane mad, I just stand around AFK, swap screens and try to squeeze in as much alternate game playing as I can (Path of Exile is much better for this than Stardew Valley, since I can instantly drop from the former, while the latter only saves game progress per day.)

It’s better than taking delays like a personal affront, I should think. This maintains my mood to pretty cheerful levels all around and I end up looking at most things with equanimity. I like being mellow better than my youthful days of super-serious intensity.

In other news, my Path of Exile Perandus League character has just hit level 63. (Yes, I’m a noob. Yes, I take my time.)

He’s been doing pretty well with a dual Righteous Fire totems + Searing Bond build. It’s very gear-independent, I’m still sitting on highly backdated level 40 something gear with the barest minimum of slotting (Increased Burning Damage on the totems, is about it).

The Blasphemy gem is my new favorite thing (for some definitions of new, I think it was introduced quite some time back.) It can automatically apply curses slotted to it, as an aura, at the cost of some mana reserved.

Since Righteous Fire totems use no mana whatsoever, I’m running Flammability as an aura, that doubles as a very handy mob radar/spotter for shadowy areas as nearby mobs instantly light up with a glowy orange-red symbol on their heads.

I’m juust starting to feel the pressure in the Merciless areas, from insufficient resistances, armor and %life increases. So that’s my current focus, run around the lvl 60+ areas, kill stuff, hope some nice-linked on-level gear drops that I can upgrade for better resist and +life and hit the %life nodes on the skill tree each level from here till maps.

Stardew Valley Days

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This game is a dangerous time-suck.

I boot it up to get a few screenshots, and before you know it, I’m doing the “just one more turn” thing into the wee hours of the morning trying to make the crops grow up to the point where I can reap the rewards, and oh look, the seasons changed, my plants are dead, I need to plant more seeds and make them grow up to fruiting stage again.

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It probably didn’t help that I spent most of the spring fishing.

In every conceivable spot I could find. Because the minigame is devilish in a casino-like sense, involving just enough skill that makes you think you can control the outcome sufficiently and enough RNG from different fishing locations and different fish biting on the hook (and a high amount of variance on the basic rod) that the outcome is never guaranteed.

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Bought a farming game; Went fishing

Somewhere along the line, the community center quests were unlocked. This asks the player to turn in one of practically every item there is in the game for rewards, in themed bundles like fall crops or spring forage or night-caught fish.

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Naturally, this fed my hoarding tendencies to no end. Turning a profit is now tricky, because I’m more inclined to keep it in a chest instead.

Still, a sandbox is a sandbox.

Some people choose to min-max their farming to optimal sprinkler patterns and industrial crop generation.

Some people choose to decorate their house with pretty bits, or play the NPC dating sim portions.

Me, I’m tootling around on my dinky little unoptimized but immersive farm, watching the crops grow and the days go by, while I mostly fish the hours away.

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I’m also dead certain half my played hours are spent holding down “A” or “D” to criss-cross a multitude of screens “running” here and there, at a pace other games would call walking speed. Sneakiest time-wasting mechanic ever.

Before you know it, the natural tendency of humans to rationalize kicks in. “Gee, I just spent hours playing Stardew Valley. I must really like this game!”

(Not to mention the sunk-cost fallacy.)

For pleasant whiling away of hours to cheerful music and idyllic pastoral settings, especially if you only own a PC and can’t play Harvest Moon/Rune Factory variants, Stardew Valley can’t be beat though.

The inside of my modest chicken coop:

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With two extremely free-range hens.

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I’ve been keeping the bulk of the overgrown grass around, because they’re apparently a free source of hay.

The silo’s currently clogged with 240 pieces. Am still progressing toward a barn and larger farm animals ever so slooowly.

In the meantime, the hens are running amok in the tall grass and I have to admit that I rather like it that way.

(Fortunately, in-game hens are nice enough to return to the coop to sleep every night, and Stardew Valley doesn’t implement any “farm livestock happily run off and get lost without fencing” mechanics or have any free-roam hen predators around either.)

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Before you know it (or rather, 15 Steam played hours later,) fall is here.

And the Stardew Valley farming saga continues.