Goodness, it feels like barely an eyeblink has gone by since I last had the time to look at this blog but it’s close to the end of February already.
Over at MassivelyOP, there’s some grandiose hoo-ha about why games don’t cater to or market to the “women” and/or “over 35” demographic and all I can think about is:
a) the number of women that are part of my Oceanic/Asian raid group (or have joined now and then to fill available places – 5-6 confirmed feminine talkers, 2-3 indeterminate gender silents, contrasted with 7-9 confirmed masculine talkers
b) how few hours there are in a day to play all the -many- available games these days once you cross the “over 35” demographic
b) seems so much more of a problem than a)…
Oh, and c) the absolutely terrifying 20-40 persons strong crowd of retired “uncles and aunties” that spontaneously converge on a Pokemon Go raid location, all guaranteed to be max level 40, toting two or three phones, way more hardcore and ten levels higher than students or the poor sap demographic known as the “working adult” with zero time to traipse across the country throwing pokeballs
But back to lamenting about b)
I have been so busy -everywhere- and it still doesn’t feel like I’m done with or have accomplished anything -anywhere-. Everything is “work in progress – could do more if only I had the time.”
GW2 raids take up two days every week. The static has gotten comfortable with wing 5 and normal Dhuum and, in general, are reliably clearing on day 1 with day 2 as a backup for any stuff that arises, such as clearing leftover wings from day 1 or trying for raid achievements and so on. We’ve done everything but Dhuum CM, which is the new group project that’s likely to take a while.
I’ve dropped doing anything else in GW2 for the time being; dailies are time consuming, I was a little burned out and just really needed any time I could scrape up to focus on other things.
The effective break seems have rekindled a tiny smidgen of interest in trying to learn rotations for the new warrior/spellbreaker builds that have turned up after the last patch, and/or learn how to scourge properly… except I really don’t have the time right now to spend hours in GW2 getting the muscle memory just right on a combat golem or learning the individual skills by test driving it in the open world… so that’s on hold.
I’ve been a busy bee in Path of Exile’s Abyss League, which is slated to end in a few days.
I decided to seriously push an SRS (Summon Raging Spirits) build for once, and despite a humongous gap of a month or so for pre-Chinese New Year spring cleaning of hoarder-worthy storerooms, I’ve hit lvl 88 – the highest I’ve ever gotten in my solo self found puttering fashion.
Despite the usual deviations from following a build strictly (hey, in SSF, you work with what you got), SRS seemed quite forgiving on the whole of not terribly good gear, though there were some tricky levels where I hadn’t quite gotten around to figuring out what defences I wanted to use. I eventually did the standard cast when damage taken-immortal call linking and picked up decoy totem, which took a bit of learning to get used to, but it turned out quite nice in the end.
I’m hovering somewhere around the Tier 8-9 maps, with a foray once into a Tier 11 map, mostly limited by maps not dropping sufficiently and my molasses-slow pace of playing (I’m not really in that much of a hurry to get to the hurryhurryhurrygogogo speedrun style of play, enjoying my own tourist pace to learn at leisure, thank you.)
I think Path of Exile may have adjusted how Uber Labyrinth trials pop in a recent patch (I seem to recall skimming a patch note at some point) in that they toned down on the duplicate ‘repeats’. I hit a milestone in the last few days by actually finding ALL six types of the trial portals, which means I actually unlocked the Uber Labyrinth for once in a league. Mind blown.
I then proceeded to very carefully and very slowly trudge through the Uber Labyrinth, and do my best to keep moving and not mess up by absorbing too much damage in the Izaro boss fights, spamming some raging spirit skulls here and there. Eventually, they nickel and dimed him to death. Uber Labyrinth point get!
To top off the awesomeness, I decided I wanted to give Atziri another try this league since well, this is a nice build (even nicer with the last Ascendancy points from Uber Lab) and the league’s ending, so what do I have to lose by trying except time?
I have gotten -close- in the last couple of Leagues. The progression has been super slow but tangible.
The first time way back when, I struggled on the Vaal bosses and spent all six portals there. Welp. That was that. Over time fighting the normal Vaal Oversoul, I started to recognize the attack animations and understand how it worked. The thing I never quite understood and had to learn gradually over time watching videos where it was never explicitly stated was how to trigger the Atziri Vaal bosses in a staggered fashion so that their attacks don’t sync up or something like that. (I’m still a tiny bit foggy about the mechanics.)
Then I started getting past the Vaal bosses (first with a few deaths, then with zero deaths) and then running headfirst into the dead end of the trio bosses. More mechanics I didn’t understand. More wiping. More giving up.
Eventually, I spent a few lives on trio but managed to get to Atziri, at which point all the mechanics of HER phases overwhelmed me while I promptly died to not being fast enough to get away from her flameblasts. More insta-one shot deaths until I ran out of portals. (rage)
So. This league. League ending. Why not?
You know you might be a teensy bit overpowered and overleveled when you’re not even sure if you staggered the Vaal bosses correctly before all your skulls wipe them out in under a minute.
Oh good. Maybe I actually have a chance.
The trio rudely disabused me of any overpowered notions as I ran through 3 lives in quick succession. I honestly don’t even know what happened. My skulls killed one guy. I saw the cycloner spin toward me while I tried to run away from him and the black patch that had appeared where the guy died. The scary lady A’alai was doing her shooty rain thing, and the first death happened. Oh. Well. One down anyway.
Rinse and repeat, and I might take the second down, right? Right. Then the last trio member gets all superpowered, which I was sorta ready for, finger on the decoy totem key cursor pointing far far away from me, but as I ran away, I instagibbed. What? No idea what happened.
Went in again. One shot again without seeing anything happen. I just kinda died when I ran to a certain spot near the top of the map – which wasn’t where the two patches of black mist causing physical degen were (they’d been carelessly strewn near the entrance because I have zero control over what my crazy skulls are doing, but I lucked out with a thin path to run between them to get to the other side… where I kept dying.
Fortunately, the skulls have their own mind and in the short time I had from transitioning from living to dead, they kept taking down chunks of the last boss’ hp. After the third death, she finally died and I was free to move on to Atziri with two portals left. *gulp*
I’d skim-watched Engineering Eternity’s Atziri video once upon a time and -sorta- had a basic grasp on what each phase was… it was just a matter of executing and not dying to all the ridiculous flameblasts.
Turns out decoy totem is a godsend. It attracted a good half or more of the flameblasts, making my newbie dodging life considerably easier. I just kept stutter spamming skulls while dodging like a maniac and trusted they would do their thing. I exploded once with a flameblast I missed dodging.
You know you have zero experience with this when you step back through the portal praying that the boss didn’t reset and would still remain at half health. (Answer: Yes. Yes, she does. Thank god.)
Amazingly. Incredibly. She died.
And I was standing victorious at the foot of my first ever Atziri kill, staring at Atziri-dropped uniques earned-by-me. SSF, all the way.
Pro PoE players farm normal Atziri 100s of times a day like nothing.
And PoE has been power-creeping a lot too, which is a likely explanation for how my characters have steadily built up enough power in their not-fully optimized zero-trading builds over the various leagues.
But from where I’m standing, at the level of learning/progression I’m at… dang, did this feel good.
I actually have a character now that can conceivably kill her (and will head to Standard league intact), which means I have something I can practice with and get more familiar with the mechanics over time.
Some day… Uber Atziri. (lol)
And yet, and yet… I could have gotten SO much more out of Abyss League, if only I had the time. I mentioned the month long break of barely playing because I prioritized one must-do thing over another. Ah well.
The league will end soon, and another fun league will begin. Bestiary is coming and we’ll get to play Pokemon blended with crafting with monsters in PoE. Awesome. I might just do SRS again, if the new Ascendancy change didn’t overly nerf stuff. Or I might go back to my happy Marauder roots. Who knows.
As if I didn’t already have enough on my attention plate, I’ve recently gotten sucked into this recent Minecraft mod, Forever Stranded.
It’s ostensibly a sort of spiritual descendant of the oldie but goodie Crash Landing for Minecraft 1.6, except made by different people, and the previous modpack developer stopped the new one from naming it Crash Landing 2.
Which, frankly, I can see why. Well-designed or fairly balanced, Forever Stranded is not.
It’s distinctly rough around the edges. The quests do not handhold or teach you in gradual fashion step-by-step about mods you may be unfamiliar with; there are gaps in progression and evident assumptions that you already know about the mods or will research them yourselves to fill in the blanks between quests.
The quest rewards range from worthless and “do I have a use for this now?’ all the way to “wtf, how ridiculously lucky is this? I just broke the mod, I think!” due to the option to pick random loot chests containing a vast variety of stuff.
I failed the starting game around 3-4 times, stubbornly trying to work with my original materials sans reward chests, and winding up in very-hard-to-continue on world states of being swarmed by tons of mobs or running out of bonemeal to grow trees and trapped by the presence of way too many mobs for comfort, while overheating and having no source of water.
On one of those tries, the random loot chest offered me some compressed cobblestone (which would shortcut a tedious process) and a second random loot chest. Opening the second random loot chest produced an epic explosion of a set of diamond tools, and an infinite water source block shortly followed.
I sat there in full cognitive dissonance mode, staring at all the proffered items which would blatantly shortcut through the intended difficult grind of the early game, while also fully aware that the difficulty was unfairly hard if you tried to play fair. But then the modpack dev included these rewards so one could argue that it is also intended that you can “cheat” and take shortcuts through the progression if you got lucky?
I ended up with a compromise solution of trying to do it “legit” as much as possible… right up to the point where I was probably going to meet a bad end, and then dug into the chest of wonders to build stuff I needed to get past the early game hump.
And yet, despite the unsmooth not terribly balanced experience, there is something compelling about Forever Stranded.
The magic is in the way it recapitulates the theme of the original Crash Landing. Your ship has crashed. You’re in a desert, steadily overheating and dying of thirst. Survive. Oh, and there’s a mysterious city to the west of your ship that holds treasure and danger… and there’s possibly even more to discover than that besides. Can you make it to the point where you can repair your ship / build a new rocket and blast off again?
The magic is in the gaps between quests that make it a bit of a janky experience, but in so doing forces you to fill in the blanks with your own goals, if you want to get anywhere. (And as we all know, when you’re accomplishing something you yourself have chosen to do, you’re a lot more engaged.)
The magic is in knowing that it’s not that well-put together a modpack and that there will be glitches and oddball things where stuff rubs against the seams and that kinda gives you permission to break it further with any ingenuity you can think of, to exploit whatever you want to exploit because it sure isn’t going to give you a fair deal either. (Early game example, you’re going to overheat a lot. Yet there is a decorative lava/fuel drip made out of Chisel and Bits that registers as a kind of liquid -water- instead of hot lava. So you can actually stand in what looks like boiling hot lava… to cool off.)
The magic is in how -you- tame the wilderness.
Different people come to different creative answers. Me, I eventually put a dome over the whole thing.
Ok, ok, not a dome. More like a glass and cobblestone brick CUBOID.
I am the perfectly safe and snug, if messy, master of all I survey.
Before the dome, there was some necessary, if absurd, domestication of the crashed ship.
Yes, I fit an underground tree in the back compartment. Just in case.
I’m now at the stage of game I like the most. Things are safe and contained, the necessary needs have been met or solved, there’s room to breathe and take on more elaborate building and automation projects to make life easier and easier.
One such plan half in motion is to extend a covered sky bridge all the way until I hit the city in the west, which I can then use as a base to more thoroughly explore and comb through the place with a fine tooth comb.
The sky bridge is also going to be a nice garden/tree planting spot for the various tree species I eventually collect…
…though the 2×2 jungle tree in the picture above was more of a “I need a vast open space to grow this ASAP, oh yea, I have that outdoor project going” emergency. (It got chopped down. I needed the jungle wood to grow cocoa seeds in a more controlled fashion.)
Long story short, Minecraft is also taking up mindshare.
Tale 8 of A Tale in the Desert is fast coming up; I still haven’t decided if I want to commit one way or another.
I haven’t played Warframe in -forever-.
I meant to re-try Trove with the gaming proxy service I’m now subscribed to, no thanks to jittery and unpredictable ArenaNet servers, to see if I have a better experience with Trion’s servers.
I read one too many Blizzard emails offering me free Hearthstone packs for one festival or another and installed it on a whim, only making it past the tutorial.
I actually bought Starcraft 2 when it went on sale the other month, and haven’t even started the first mission, having promptly forgotten all the story of the first game last played decades ago. (Maybe I should buy and re-play the remastered one first? Yeah, right, like that’s ever going to happen between all the games I’m already playing…)
I still need to catch Rayquaza in Pokemon Go.
I was thinking of and eyeing a PS4 Pro console if the price is right during one of my country’s ubiquitous IT fairs – the first of which is coming up in March – in preparation for Detroit: Become Human. (Nor have I played Beyond Two Souls yet.)
You know what… The hell do we need more marketing for?
Just find me more fuckin’ free time. Thanks.