Wide Screen, Narrow Focus

The biggest piece of news for me on the games front has been the upgrade of an ailing six-year old monitor to something about three times as ludicrous. Literally.

As in, super-ultra wide.

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I had the opportunity to pick up one of Samsung’s 49″ CHG90 monitors for 25% off and decided to go for it. You only live once and all that.

It’s currently being powered by my new-old PC (that is, it’s still new in my mind but objectively old by now) and putting the then-awesome GTX 980 through its paces (eh, it’s about time it gets a workout.)

Any further upgrades will have to wait a little, as the monitor, even discounted, costs about the same as an entire PC, but damn, is it glorious.

Naturally, I’ve been doing very little with it beyond playing the same old games.

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But in a whole new way.

It’s not been all smooth-sailing. One of the sticking points that are nigh immediately surfaced is the fact that very few games and developers have thought about ultrawide displays as an important consideration until recently, so UI can be a major problem.

Resizing it, moving it, not having it so far away in your peripheral vision that you can’t see any health reports and thus immediately die because you have no idea how you’re actually doing. Each game can be a whole new exercise in tweaking and customizing the UI until it becomes acceptable.

For someone who really values immersion as a motivation while playing games though, that feeling of being lost inside a wholly different world, and revels in the awe and inspiring nature of a fantastical landscape, the experience of playing on an ultrawide is something not to miss.

If VR is about wrapping a screen around your face so that you feel like you’re there in a different environment, then a super-ultrawide is about having a screen attempt to take up as much of your actual field of vision as possible, while still giving you plenty of room for air.

It is strangely sating.

I can play less, and feel completely satisfied. A couple of Warframe missions and I’m bowled over by so much visual spectacle that it’s hard to crave more.

Which is all very well because I’ve been splitting up my time into Path of Exile’s Synthesis League. Being SSF blissfully insulates me from any dissatisfaction of the general population.

The Spectral Throw claw-wielder I’ve been attempting is a bit of a slow bloomer, reliant on gear I probably don’t have, so it’s been a little more challenging than usual. Something I was quite aware of going in, so I don’t have any complaints on that front, but it’s slow going and tempting me to make a second character to try another build.

PoE is one of those games where going super-ultrawide does NOT do survival any favors, thanks to putting UI way beyond any visibility. So I’ve been playing it in a more sedate windowed “wide” view that expands my field of vision some, but not absurdly.

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It does, amusingly, provide enough room for me to have Path of Building up in another window right next to it, so that’s a nifty bonus when I want to refer easily to it.

You’d think one of the best games to be messing around with a super-ultrawide display is Guild Wars 2, and you’d be right, from a visual spectacle standpoint… except that I’m still struggling with overall veteran burnout – it all feels pretty boring doing the same old thing.

I did get a few cool screenshots while doing the same old thing:

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These are in the middle of raids, so graphics have been cranked down to middling to eke out every last drop of FPS.

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I got a WvW screenie for kicks, even though I don’t WvW much at all.

If there’s one thing I figured out right quick from the above, it’s that there can be very much hardware-related reasons as to why person A might perform differently from person B.

I felt like I had a noticeable amount of greater situational awareness just from the wider field of view, though smaller detailed nuances (like where your feet might be standing) might be harder to spot as a result.

If some WvW person seems to have a better grasp of their surroundings, it may very well be that they’re not looking through a porthole and do indeed have a broad overview of the entire field of battle, as it were.

Ah well, I suppose that’s life.

I certainly wouldn’t advise picking up an ultrawide display just to be competitive – if only because the words GW2 and competition go together laughably, if at all.

Eventually, I’ll get tired of Path of Exile and maybe that will bring enough time to broaden out to testing other games. Minecraft, Shadow of War, and others. But for the moment, slaughtering hordes of mobs in pretty surroundings is checking all my boxes.

I did take five minutes of random touring in order to leave you with some “proper” GW2 screenshots as I sign off till next time…

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Slime Rancher Free Till Mar 21

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At the risk of sounding like a complete shill, it behooves me to advise that Slime Rancher is currently free and everyone should go download it now.

Yes, it is on the Epic Games launcher. Yes, you may have perfectly valid reasons as to why you will not support Epic Game’s launcher. I’m not asking you to pay any money to Epic Games. You can, in fact, drain Epic Game’s coffers by just utilizing their free games and bandwidth to download without paying them a cent. After you try the free game out, you can uninstall and wipe it and the launcher clean off your hard drive for all I care.

However you rationalize it, you should just go effing download Slime Rancher right now.

Because anyone who doesn’t give themselves the gift of bright colors, round cuteness, and adorable squeals is missing out on a whole load of happy.

You are only excused if you can scroll through two or three pages of the /Aww Subreddit without feeling at least the glimmer of a smile creep up for at least one picture.

Even if you’re convinced this type of game is not for you, at least give it a try. 15 minutes, see how it goes from there.

There is something about Slime Rancher and its simple formula that somehow yields engagement. The basic objectives are easy to grasp. You’re a farmer (well, rancher.) You rear slimes. Feed the slimes, they give you plorts (ie. cute slime poop.) You sell the poop and make $$$. Rinse and repeat.

The game opens up with more and more discoveries. You have to go look for said slimes. Your map expands with each exploration. Said slimes may have unexpected interactions with other objects. You make simple plans and strategies to cope with these interactions. Forays out in ever widening radius, and returning home in cyclic fashion to tend to what you already have.

It is satisfying. It is perfect for a mild case of the blues.

There are small little chores on the ranch which must get done; there are slimes counting you (not to mention the possibility of staving off absolute chaos and disaster of bored, escaped slimes). Yet they are easy enough that they sneak past lethargic resistance and inertia and you get going. One thing follows another.

As you shovel slime manure out of one pen (hey, it’s money), you realize you better feed those other slimes. So you go to the vegetable patch, hoover up the veggies and return. But when you’re there, you pass yet another pen, which reminds you that fruits are needed. so that becomes task number 2 after you’re done.

At the end of it, you brush your brow and look back at a neat, tidy, well-maintained ranch full of happy bouncy slimes and feel good about yourself.

And now you have time to go check out something new and unknown that you may not have seen before, collect something new to bring back, which starts the whole process all over again.

Until you’re done for the day and log out. They’ll be waiting for you when you need them.

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Well, unless they’re quantum slimes. I came back to absolute chaos when popping back into the game to take screenshots for this post. I was out far far away on the map and wandered around for 2+ in-game days trying to remember my way back home. Whole place needed massive tidying up after.
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Cleaned up. Stuffed the escaped slimes back in. Now with all the food inside the pen attracting them inward, rather than outward. Plus new slime toys.

P.S. I took time out from Path of Exile’s Synthesis League and Warframe’s recent patch drop just to write this post and evangelize. That’s how good I feel the Slime Rancher experience is. Everyone should try it, if only for a little while. As for me, it’s back to the grind of leveling up and getting all the things.