The Blogging Month of Love

This is a rhyme about blogging, and nothing else
Get your mind out of the page gutters

Hey guys, are your pens dry?
Any unproductive ladies trying to get by?
I know the best way for the girls and boys to
Come together for some tips and pointers
So you're waiting on the date that's one-a-million?
This conversation ain't the way that you envisioned
You say it's strange, who dares to share their opinions?
On the off-chance it could be something brilliant

They're elegant and eloquent and so entertaining
You, you're over, feeling lower, feverish and straining
Never thought you'd find the one to listen without complaining
Problem is, your brain's firing blanks, so physically draining 
So you're sittin' in your seat without an idea
Do you mind if I text others for some help, my dear?
A little tickle or a talk to know what's trending
I'm just try'na reach some kind of happy ending

So get your hands on the blogging month of love
And pick that cozy little home that you've been dreaming of
If you're cursed with the verse of a lonely man
You can get your juices flowing with some OnlyPens
Every single mind has a need to be heard
So I hope that you can handle 330 words
Get lost in the site as the head expands
Get your lovin' whilst you're bloggin' on with OnlyPlans

I double, triple, quadruple dare any blogger to write new blogging advice they haven’t seen or read or even written before.

UltrViolet – Endgame Viable – “Blogging Pep Talk”

Challenge accepted.

With apologies to The Stupendium’s Vending Machine of Love.

Funny story, I decided to be a Patreon supporter for The Stupendium after enjoying so many of his songs and waffling a long time on the decision, and a couple days later, this was the first, unforgettable song that popped up on his Youtube channel that now had my name in the credits list as a Patreon.

I have never been happier to have my name irrevocably attached to something before.

GW2: Turning Back The Clock

Since Bhagpuss and Azuriel have both offered their hot takes on the return of the Twisted Marionette in GW2, I felt like it was finally time this weekend to get off my reluctant-to-interact-with-people arse (the pandemic has only been feeding the grouchy misanthropy) and head back into the multiplayer *shudder* fray. Even if I feel completely done with MMOs as a concept.

Oddly enough, the biggest revelation of the first night was a deeply personal, deeply weird one.

Harvesting wood feels so much better and smoother in GW2 than in Valheim!

It’s ludicrous, I know. But it’s true. Glide up on a mount, hit F and seamlessly transit into a wood-chopping animation that hits three times, wood harvested, mount up and zip to the next node. Wow, the feels. Of all the things, I f–king missed harvesting in GW2?!

But what was I even doing harvesting elder wood, stacks of which were probably bleeding out of my banks and bags and the trading post?

The finger of blame points squarely to the pretty darned good idea that ArenaNet had (as Bhagpuss mentioned, roughly a month ago in Try Anything Twice) to offer a new set of achievements to cajole players back to replaying super-old content.

A returning player to GW2, like me, already overwhelmed by looking at the plentiful and unrecognizable junk in their bags, will grasp on to any offer of focus and direction. It so happened that the Return To Bitterfrost Frontier week was running. This is good! Bitterfrost is a small, compact map. Let’s narrow down focus and just collect these laundry list of achievements while trying to remember what all these buttons do.

No joke, while skills are still super comfortable on my main, I stared at the buttons when I mounted and couldn’t recognize any of them. Especially the green thing. It’s probably the newest, which I must have blanked out some time ago.

Foraging 30 things, mining 30 things, and woodchopping 30 things are perfect goals for this state of confusion.

Adding on some dynamic events, a story mission or three (my god, the voice acting really talks too much in the earlier episodes) and even a diving goggles plunge helped to recapture some of the essence of GW2 gameplay.

Then it was time for the Marionette.

I went for the public one, because the word on the street is that the public one is easier than the private one.

I think this is one of those strokes of accidental genius that ArenaNet are so good at stumbling into unknowingly.

The public one has a map cap of 75 players, allowing for an extra player or more per platform, to basically paper over potential mistakes made by players; whereas the private squad one caps at 50 players, meaning the two per platform better know what they’re doing, or else…

The “public” one only pops up every two hours, on the even hour, in a super sekrit location that presumably more aware players know to access; the “private” one is advertised by squad commanders in LFG and the popup that you can only enter in a private squad is there 24/7 for the supremely casual to walk into and think “oh, I need to join a squad to enter.”

The former is probably intentional and is great. Casual play should be a little more forgiving to be enjoyable. Let those who like organized group content challenge themselves as desired.

The latter is probably not intentional and is doubtlessly producing hilarity (because the reaction to community toxicity is to laugh despairingly or cry, and I’m done lamenting) when people with distinctly different values collide with each other. But in the sense that it’s pushing people who don’t want to bother with such organized drama into cramming the public instance to get their achievements done on the week the Marionette sticks around… it’s pretty good. The success rate of the public instance goes up. More people want to join. It’s a net positive effect. Unity, not division.

Yes, unity does mean that the occasional failure of a few people means the failure of all. I feel like we had this debate seven years ago already. The original GW2 way meant teaching, relentlessly. Somewhere around Heart of Thorns, a lot more people started just giving up on this and haranguing other players for being ‘bad’ instead. Somehow, that strategy doesn’t seem to have improved players through the years either.

I suppose the most realist strategy is that you accept reality – yep, there are anti-vaxxers that are going to spread the virus, yep, there are players who are not going to play up to your standards – and live with it, taking precautions for one’s health and sanity as necessary. This could mean not playing the game at all so as not to interact with the community, playing the game in your own private groups that meet your standards, mixing with the general community and accepting that occasional bad things will happen and/or educating your heart out or whatever.

And yes, sighs, you can complain about it. Even if I’m tired of reading the same things over and over. (Guess I should just not read them.)

So far, the Twisted Marionette hasn’t been too terrible.

With some amusement, my 2014 phase 2 AoE guide summary still seems to be relevant. Or at least I looked it up in a panic during the 5 minute wait time, having realized I didn’t remember a thing and it would probably be good to at least know where to stand safely. (This is one of the primary reasons to blog. To refresh your own damn memory.)

First go, went lane 4, success on my platform, some other platform effed it up, lane 4 failed, another lane covered for it and Marionette was won regardless.

Second go, went lane 4, some other lane effed up (lane 2), turning lane 4 into effectively lane 3, success on our lane, the other lanes covered for lane 2, and Marionette was won regardless.

Third go, went lane 4, my platform effed up but good (I regret switching out my sword of wisdom for a less damaging hammer for cc, and I panicked when the other two guys went down early and left my already established since 2014 safe spot while waffling over whether I should try to rez or solo and god, what is this pulsing damage circle suddenly around me, do I run? and ran straight into a bright orange circle I should not have run into. 10% hp left on the boss. Bet a solo would have been possible if I had been a little less rusty), another lane covered for it, and Marionette was won regardless.

Fourth go, went lane 1, having realized that I was simply not getting stomp achievements done by taking on harder lanes, and lane 4 or 5 effed it up, another lane covered for it, and Marionette was won regardless.

Got greedy on the fourth go, having learned from map chat that you could rush into another Marionette instance if you completed before :20 on the hour, and hurtled into another instance for my first Marionette failure. They were on lane 2 or 3 and struggling. Didn’t manage to go in yet from field sickness and the whole thing broke down by lane 5. Moral of the story: zone in on time.

Fifth go, went lane 1, cleared lane 1, lane 3 effed up, lane 4 covered, lane 5 blew up on the lane 4 boss, and the whole thing basically ran out of time due to plunging player morale letting in lots of twisted clockwork to run the timer down.

Sixth go, went lane 1, cleared lane 1, lane 4 effed up, lane 5 effed up, ending up doing lane 4 boss again on lane 1 (oh cone confusion, how do I love thee, let me count the ways; panicked a little less when that pulsing glowy weird shit kept following me – wtf is that, why do I not recall that from 2014, maybe I was just not as observant back in 2014? – remembered I had litany of wrath for the really clutch moment of oh-god-I-stepped-out-too-far-and-now-I-have-confusion-on-fast-attacking-scepter, got it done), lane 2 covered lane 5 boss, and Marionette was won regardless.

Seventh go, went lane 1, cleared lane 1, no lanes effed up, Marionette was won, flawless victory.

Eight go, changed to Scourge for a lark. Went lane 1, cleared lane 1, realized I was mostly pushing random buttons trying to remember how to play Scourge. Epidemic did lots of sidelong AoE, but not as focused as a direct damage greatsword spin on top of menders rushing for the gate. Seemed to be more leakage in that respect. Lane 4 effed up, so lane 1 got to cover the carried over lane 5 as usual. That seemed more not so fun as scourge, or just zero muscle memory in remembering how to actually target one mob to focus on while resisting the urge to spam fear and scatter mobs. Still, those phase 1 champions and those humongous hp pools are a great target dummy for remembering how to play various classes. Regardless, Marionette was won.

Also, stacking two lanes per fight means all achievements but the defeat Marionette one are now cleared. 3 more wins to go, should be doable casually by tomorrow, unless all the players suffer sudden brain trauma and forget how to deal with the boss in a day.

7 successes, 2 failures (1 of those success/failures was during the fourth go simultaneously). Seems to be an acceptable ratio. It could only go up by the second week as players learn, but for whatever reason, one week is all we get? Strange decision. Even the Living Story events were staggered over two weeks.

Only the third and fifth goes had a loudmouth bitching their heart out about bad players. Not something I really enjoy subjecting myself to, on a long term basis, but for a short period of time, for the sake of nostalgia, eh, it can be ignored.

Since the self-declared goal is to try and get the Marionette achievements for the heck of it, it means popping in every two hours to see how the different timezones do.

Ironically, I find myself somewhat nostalgically enjoying the clock watching.

Goodness, way back in 2013, it was Tequatl and camping all timezones hoping for a kill.

Obviously, this is not at all sustainable. It’s a one weekend let’s-pretend-we’re-young-again affair.

It would be a little less insane if spread out over two weeks, but what the hell, we’re all in on nostalgia, if only for a little while.

Side Thought:

You know, it strikes me that if GW2 was really looking for a unique selling point, these large map battles might be the way to go. As far as I know, map metas are distinctly unique to GW2 – other MMO players can feel free to correct me, are there other MMOs where every player on the map is pulled to specific spots, given objectives to achieve, then channeled into fighting a multi-phase boss or series of bosses?

By definition, this can only be done in a game where you have massive numbers of players running around, thus necessitating MMO, rather than simple multiplayer lobbies like Monster Hunter World or whatever.

Granted, I’m not sure about the marketing appeal. Herding 75 cats may sound like a lot more work than channeling 5 people towards a goal. 75 random, faceless people may as well be slightly more intelligent bots (or less, if you’re really unlucky.)

But then, the spectacle of a zerg doing something like Dragon’s Stand… well, it’s definitely a unique experience.

Now I Know Why Everyone Spends So Many Hours in Valheim

69 hours later, day 156 or thereabouts:

Moder is down, the blast furnace, windmill and spinning wheel is up, what’s left is dealing with the plains, sniping and kiting the Fuling villages, maybe Yagluth. Possibly a lot of repeating iron and silver runs.

Runs. *sighs*

I have a feeling that a good half of those hours were spent on travel time.

That’s my main pet peeve with Valheim, besides the resource and boss hp grind that feels balanced for multiplayer over singleplayer: the ridiculous amount of time one spends traveling anywhere – either running in start and stop bursts, or sailing, which is fun for the first couple minutes, and then shortly turns into zoning out while blasting Youtube tunes (bonus points if it’s Viking-related music.)

At first, one has no portals, so besides naked smiting boars and deer, one has to run everywhere in a sea of unchanging green. Meadows, Forest, Meadows, Forest, Forest, Meadows. Back and forth. Getting stuck on various bits of scenery along the way. Barely any resource variation, maybe some mushrooms or berries if you get really really lucky.

Don’t even get me started on this useless piece of wood.

I had thought to sail around the continent on my way back home, when it became patently clear I would travel faster running. Especially with a bit of Eikthyr boost.

You can see how far I got exactly in the southwest space – the raft was built at Camp West Shore, and the southmost landmark should tell you all you need to know.

Then you get portals, and before you can get portals, you need to spend time running TO burial chambers (replace with Surtling Spouts once you hit the swamps), running FROM burial chambers, running TO get fine wood, running BACK to base to build one, then finally, running TO the spot you want to set up the portal, in the hopes of finally eliminating the former repeat loops.

The Meadows and Black Forests were especially bad because there was little reason to invest in significant infrastructure. Once you clear out a burial chamber, why would you want to travel back to that locale? Why spend time clear a road through it? Running is more efficient, but boy, is there a lot of running, just to and from different places.

Death recovery runs were the worst.

My first Swamp seeking attempt nearly broke me.

See the tiny amount of Swamp on the left hand side of the map? I backed off a respectable amount of distance to set up an outpost with bed – because I’m not an idiot and wasn’t going to run into the Swamp without some nearby insurance.

Alas, night fell, Greydwarves were everywhere, they pulled two Draugr in the midst of me trying to set up the outpost and long story short, I died. Flat Meadow Camp was the previous camp spawn.

There were a LOT of naked runs and deaths by various sources – greydwarves, the pulled draugr, a boar I didn’t see, while I struggled with the Take All UI.

I ended up leapfrogging a series of THREE outposts along the coastline just to get the initial foray into the Swamp outpost built. (Shortly after, I discovered that Swamp biome was a thin strip of nothing. The real Swamp was on the continent directly opposite. Sheesh.)

Eventually I figured out that whole “night” thing, and learned to build two points of insurance – one at continent landing, one nearer to final destination, and yes PORTALS, to make the whole process less onerous. But at the former point, Surtling Cores still had to be saved for the first smelter and kiln, alas.

Ah yes, the Swamps.

Surprisingly, I liked the swamps. I might have scored a lucky seed (Yggdrasil – naturally), but the one I ended up settling on had 5 crypts. Travel through them was more engaging, because there’s at least varied danger. With 5 crypts and all that slowdown from wading through water, there is more motivation and reason for me to invest time building a short straight bridge to at least the center of the five crypts, in order to make the run back and forth a little less annoying.

But yes, there were still a LOT of runs back and forth.

Sea travel on a Karve or Longship is about the most enjoyable type of travel there is, but it gets tedious after the first couple of minutes and realizing via the map that there’s still three quarters of the journey to go.

You know the sail speed is too slow when you’ve cycled through a bunch of Stupendium songs on repeat loop and still haven’t gotten to your destination. (It’s also ridiculously ironic when you run through three plays of The Data Stream, a Cyberpunk 2077 song, just to make the Viking commute more interesting.)

Would it have killed Valheim to amp up the travel speed by about double?

(Yes, I bring portal mats to set up a portal on landing. I don’t think I could maintain sanity otherwise. Once one-way is enough. And a return trip for ore, if really reaaally necessary. There are a ridiculous number of Karves littered around the place on my map, as I would much rather build a new Karve than sail one back and go again. Alas, it still means running somewhere for Fine Wood.)

I stayed in Troll Hide armor for ages and only switched to Wolf and Padded when it became obvious the armor I was losing out on was about double the number, and I -still- find it slow going.

Maybe mods will eventually smooth this out.

I never found traveling in Minecraft that boring, even though the speed is slow, probably because there are so many varied biomes and resources and potentially useful stuff to collect and hoard (once you mod it with something like Biomes of Plenty and Pam’s Harvestcraft).

The issue with Early Access Valheim for now is that useful resources are few and far between. You run huge distances to collect thistle and berries. You run for eons to find un-regenable Birch and Oak for fine wood. Burial Chambers and Crypts and Silver Veins are sparse and spread out.

This is all very well for a logistics game of either shipping a collated amount of resources or processing the stuff at the source, but then the logistics game should be a little exciting and have some obstacles – like in the swamps with water and enemies. Not just running slowly through heaps of pretty but effectively barren space.

Either fix the slow or fix the barren. I think I could cope with one or the other, but both together is not okay.

So, is there anything I like about Valheim?

Besides the admittedly masterful use of lighting and color to create a wonderful aesthetic, I think they’ve hit upon something interesting with the building system.

It’s slightly less finicky than ARK, approximating more of that easy-to-stack-and-build structure of blocky Minecraft and its ilk. The anchoring to the ground and gravity stuff helps to encourage building in logical, structured patterns, while still allowing room for some loose ridiculousness here and there.

Well, how else was I supposed to get Gunk off this tree?!

The screenshots of other peoples’ builds are, as usual, far surpassing anything I could ever dream of building. This is not a new thing. Been that way since Minecraft.

It’ll be nice if mods eventually get some of those player-built structures into our own worlds, similar to how modded Minecraft has player-built structures.

It’ll cut down on the boring sameness of running everywhere with nothing interesting in between.

Kill It With Fire: It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

For anyone who has picked up this July’s Humble Choice bundle, the virtual spider-destroying game Kill It With Fire has proven to be quite a delightful little palate cleanser in between longer, more serious games.

It’s taken me around 5 hours to complete the game from start to finish, all achievements included, so anyone less completionist can probably get by with less play time.

True arachnophobes may or may not want to apply – the simulated spiders are not photorealistic and quite polygonal with pixelated green blood, so may or may not be tolerable to different individuals – but for anyone else that may have dreamed of taking a flamethrower to some creepy crawly critters, Kill It With Fire is a humorous catharsis.

Your goal: Kill spiders.

Since it’s all virtual, collateral damage is perfectly acceptable.

This is shortly pushed to delightful absurdity, but hey, when you’ve got a radioactive spider in a waste basket, firing an RPG into it is a perfectly justifiable reaction.

Or laying out cheese puffs as bait, which the spiders are somehow attracted to, so that you can pick them off with your six shooter.

Yes, the bathroom had undergone a preliminary cleansing with hairspray and a lighter, but there were a few more. There are always more of ’em.

Why yes, that is some C4 in the laundry room and my shotgun pointed right at it. See that black spot on the washing machine? That has to die.

There are around ten-ish short mission maps that build up towards some hints at how the whole situation came to be, a bunch of challenge objectives and a bundle of unlocks that serve as direction and goals. But really, it’s just an excuse to smack spiders satisfyingly.

Fun as a quick change of pace in between longer games.

Steam Summer Sale 2021 Haul

It’s tricky buying games when you’re mostly a patient gamer and have long term committed to a big ol’ Humble Bundle.

Every time you’re tempted, you think, “If I’m not playing this immediately, it is a fact of life that the game will get cheaper over time, improve in quality as bugs gets fixed and DLC gets incorporated into a Special Deluxe Supreme Platinum Complete Gold Enhanced Ultimate Landmark Remastered Definitive Edition of the game.”

So you wait.

After some time, you’re tempted again, and now you think, “Time has passed. Maybe now? But wait! What if it shows up in a bundle? You’ll regret it if you buy it now, forget to play it and then it bundles before you get around to playing it.”

So you wait some more.

Sure enough, most of them bundle. A few stubborn ones teeth gnashingly don’t. Until they do. Or you cave in and get them. And then they do.

It’s especially tricky when you get relentlessly itchy to pick up some bargains because you’ve been feeling deprived for an entire year of mostly being shut in and you’re having SO MUCH FUN flipping through the massive Steam catalog of look-everything’s-discounted-now that it’s pretty much a game in itself.

So you make lists –

Games that sound interesting and would like to keep an eye on but aren’t worth wishlisting yet

Games you’ll be checking in future sales because the discount isn’t there yet and there’s always Black Friday, Halloween and Winter sales

Games you actually own and should really get around to trying or want to revisit again

Games you’re waffling back and forth between PC or console or mobile versions and haven’t quite decided which is cheaper or more enjoyable with keyboard or controller controls or needs to be portable

Games that sound cool but are very much in Early Access and thus may mutate into something more or less cool over time or turn into vaporware

and you strategize and you strategize some more.

Eventually, my mind rationalized that there were certain types of games that were far more unlikely to bundle than not.

  • Really old, super cheap games of under a couple bucks that people would kick up a fuss about for being included because they don’t total up to substantial savings made
  • Really popular games which are still selling well enough standalone where people would -really- kick up a fuss for already owning the dang things already
  • Really niche interest games where most people would go “wtf is this?” if they turned up in a bundle, with the caveat that the most popular and strongest showings might bundle in order to appeal to those who like the niche or to expose a potential new audience to the genre
  • Lone DLC for a specific game, as long as it’s not a super-popular headliner type or part of some Deluxe edition or another

And the above was what wound up making their way into my shopping cart this sales season.

All in all, an excellent haul for roughly the equivalent of a new launch collector’s edition – $111.60 SGD or $82.90 USD.

I have a distinct fondness for two niche game genres – interactive fiction and traditional roguelikes – and those practically never bundle.

Choice of Games is a developer and publisher known for a very specific type of interactive fiction. Their ChoiceScript games keep track of numerical changes in variables and basically allows a player to develop a player character with strong and weak stats, or personality traits on a varying percentage scale. Customized text can then be shown to the player based on these.

Ultimately, it allows for a very specific type of immersion – as mentioned by yours truly in the comments over at Wilhelm’s blog – a tabletop roleplaying style of immersion where you create and design a character in your mind with a distinct personality and then play through an adventure pretending to be said character.

In lieu of a live human GM, the author of the game via programmed computer code takes over that role, providing you with the story, the premise and adventure as well as offering multiple choices at each juncture that will further define and test your character.

It’s a little more railroaded than free-wheeling tabletop RP, of course, but it’s a fun cross between an ebook and a quick adventure, and hey, it’s found on many formats and portable!

Quality of the writing differs from game to game. There are some very strong showings, and some that are not so good. Free demos are always available – on Steam, on their website and on their mobile apps, so it’s a good way to evaluate if one can vibe with the author’s writing style, or if it will make you hurl (figuratively or literally, or your phone or tablet.)

I recently figured out that making an account on their website and asking their customer support to add games bought via various avenues to said account means that you can restore purchases on their mobile stores. This is great because I mostly play via my iPad, but the iOS games rarely ever go on sale. Steam, on the other hand, has sales out the wazoo. So I get to collect and play more games, instead of sighing wistfully and staring and not buying. Win-win.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Night Road is the costliest of the lot, between the brand name royalties and the DLC, at $12.30 SGD or $9.14 USD.

It is one of the better Vampire: The Masquerade games, as opposed to the two visual novels which have shown up in Humble Bundles which I’m still working my way through. It’s more faithful to the lore (5th edition, apparently) and actually treats the vampire Clans in distinctive fashion – the animalistic Gangrel can have a pet companion, the picky noble Ventrue can only drink certain types of blood (e.g. only older men, etc.)

It’s not the best Choice of Games out there, but I’d say it’s above average in writing quality and offers a good length – roughly six mini-adventures before the grand finale.

Fallen Hero: Rebirth is interesting. It’s a Hosted Game, meaning a self-published not established nor given an advance by Choice of Games, so Hosted Games are more of a mixed bag on quality. Some are more middling, but there have been some supremely stellar ones that are evident as labors of love, exceeding your regular contracted Choice of Games author. (A Study in Steampunk – Choice by Gaslight being one of them – great for anyone who enjoys Sherlock Holmes blended with steampunk.)

Fallen Hero: Rebirth is not quite on that level, and ends on a bit of a “to be continued…” note, but is also, I suppose, better than average. What it does well is that it allows you to roleplay a telepathic super-villain who was an ex-hero. It’s a unique angle in a sea of other Choice of Game games that mostly channel you along the superhero path. The story is darker with a touch of bitterness, for those of us who like that sort of thing, and focuses on your relationship with your ex-superhero team. Love interests, old flames, rivals, and so on.

The other unique schtick is telepathy being your superpower, you basically can jump into bodies and minds to influence them – including cultivating a second identity. This is maybe the first Choice of Games I’ve played where you juggle two points of view – one from your ‘real’ body, one from a ‘mask’ body that you’ve taken over and use as a front.

Wayhaven Chronicles: Book One & Book Two are the high water mark recommendations of what I’ve tried so far this sale. Caveat: You have to enjoy urban fantasy, young adult-style romance.

Ostensibly, you play a detective in a small sleepy little town before a murder wrecks your peaceful life and throws you headlong into a spookier supernatural world that you’ve never known about. (Only the theme of about a billion other TV shows and books out there.)

The joy of the Wayhaven Chronicles are the NPC characters of Unit Bravo, a distinctly characterized, wild bunch of vampires that are more or less, forced into working with you that you can develop friendships with and romance. There’s the pragmatic leader type, the friendly people person ideal romantic guy/gal, the wisecracking jokester whom you’ll be hard pressed to ever shut up, and the strong and silent grumpy one. Their interactions with each other and your character are a riot.

I decided to play my character close to Lauren Blackwell in the Blackwell series, a little bit sarcastic and stoic, like every good noir detective and it’s been a blast of a story to play through.

I am pretty sure Jolly Good should come close to the high water mark, just haven’t tried it yet.

It’s basically a sequel to Tally Ho, a rollicking adventure in the style of P. G. Wodehouse where you play a gentleman’s gentleman or lady’s lady (or the other two potential permutations) and try to make everything run smoothly (or not) for your employer through his or her weekend at formidable Aunt Primose’s country manor – fielding everything from their love lives to art thieves and boat races and an exotic animal show.

I’m not even a fan of the genre and setting in general, so it’s a great nod to the author’s strength of writing that I’ve become a fan of the game series.

Zombie Exodus and the Evertree saga are weaker, less compelling writers, comparatively speaking, so I hesitated on completing the whole collection. I mostly picked them up to have a gander at the more ‘game’ like aspects they attempt to simulate. Safe Haven lets you build a safe house in the zombie apocalypse, apparently, so there are clock-like aspects where you may have to select strategic choices to keep your haven safe, and the Evertree saga uses a basic fantasy race/class system (though apparently not explored to its fullest potential.)

I will wax lyrical about Open Sorcery another time. I’ve done it once before, but I feel like I haven’t explained its beauty sufficiently. It’s so easy to dismiss text based games these days, especially bright text on dark black background games that bring to mind the ancient days of DOS, but there is utter poetry in play with this game.

The author, Abigail Corfman, has a knack for succint, lyrical writing. It’s diametrically opposed to my usual wall of text word vomit style. It brings poetry and magic to a compelling world that mixes tech and elemental spirits.

Picking up the sequel, Open Sorcery: Sea++ (haha, pun) was a no-brainer.

We will leave the discussion of traditional roguelikes for another time. Preferably after I’ve played through enough of them to compare and contrast.

Terroir was an odd little game, on heavy discount, apparently made by the same local developers in my country that are creating Chinatown Detective Agency. Support local, I guess. It seems to be a basic winemaking tycoon game. I’m still working out the nuances of how to get a good crop of grapes without utterly ruining them. Hung back on playing it past two hours for fear it might bundle. Guess we’re safe for July now.

Learn Japanese to Survive! Kanji Combat was another heavily discounted “game” that I picked up for collection completeness’ sake. It’s an RPGmaker game, so there is a certain expected structure to it. Basically wander around like a JRPG and do JRPG fights, except you need to match a limited palette of foreign language words and characters in order to win fights. It’s probably not actually going to significantly teach anyone Japanese, but it’s an amusing pasttime to memorize a few words or pronunciations and play through a few fights.

Picked up some DLC for $9.49 USD for games I knew I liked.

The eSports expansion for PC Building Simulator was something I’d had on watch list, and 50% off sounded good. I was having the time of my life with the game last August. The only issue is that it’s a giant disk space hog, and I have much disk space woes, so it’ll take a bit of game shuffling before I can play it.

Finally the trophy lodge DLC for theHunter came down to a price point which I felt comfortable biting, and all my stored trophies could go on display.

Tried first time virtual bow hunting with the bow in the high-tech pack in the Yukon Valley DLC.

It was good fun. Yukon Valley is supposedly one of the easier, more populated parks in theHunter, and it did seem easier to spot a lot of animals. Bow hunting meant I had to creep up a lot closer than I would normally get with a rifle, so there was a lot more tense suspense crawling from tree to tree, through tall grass, hoping to approach to <30m before taking the shot. Not for when I’m in an impatient mood, but in the right open frame of mind, it was fun.

The bulk of the cost came from the big name popular games at $19.75 USD.

Yes, Valheim is in there. *sighs* I played it. I suppose I’ll touch on it in more detail in a future post. Honestly, my first impressions are that it looks pretty, but relies on heavy, heavy grind and tedium to extend its gameplay. It’s compelling in that you feel like there’s always another chore that needs to be done to progress further, so you log in and go do it and end up down a time consuming rabbit hole.

I still fail to see what it does that is so different from other survival game gameplay. (Perhaps multiplayer, I’ll grant it that. Perhaps a straightforward simplicity in presenting game options as unlocked progression without -too- much need to refer to a wiki. It needs another post. Later.)

Confession time: I’ve never played Chrono Trigger. I don’t know why. Just somehow missed the period of its launch. Looking at the dates, it seems it was on consoles at a period where my family just never owned any consoles nor placed any stress on them. So… fixing that lack seems to be a good project to take on in between now and winter sale.

Good haul this season. Between this, Humble Bundle and already existing games that I was reminded I own while browsing the Steam store, I should not lack for entertainment options.

(Not that one was really lacking this pre-haul, but y’know, new shinies! Always better than the old shinies!)