Heroes of Myth… That’s What They Called You

Three years ago, you saved the world.

The moon turned blood red. The demons broke free from the portal to wreak havoc. A Dark Lord (well, Lady) had arisen to sow chaos and despair.

Together, mage, warrior and soothsayer followed the path of an ancient prophecy, fought back these evil forces, slew the Dark Lady and brought back peace to the land.

The only problem? None of it is true.

It was all one big fat lie.

Your partners-in-crime were:

Letha, the above-mentioned warrior who, by the way, just happened to have murdered your mutual employer for being a demon sympathizer, thus getting the both of you flung into jail

Alvis, the wannabe soothsayer who, actually, doesn’t have a scrap of magic in any bone of his body and lies through his teeth out of sheer habit

Verity, the “Dark Lady” who wanted to fake her death, because… reasons…

And you, not at all a master of -any- elemental magic, just some illusions.

Well, you do also have some other skills at your disposal. Perhaps you’ve studied a great deal of theoretical magic and history. Perhaps your gift is that of the gab, charming others with witty banter. Maybe you’re not half bad at tactics and in the combat arena, or maybe you’re just really good at running away.

You’re going to need them.

Because tonight, the moon has turned blood red (for real), and you’re not to blame, but your three years lie is finally catching up to you.

Heroes of Myth by Abigail C. Trevor is one of the most recent offerings from the Choice of Games lineup of text-based choice-laden narrative games.

I picked it up via iPad app because I was simultaneously craving reading a book I could tote around on the go, and something more game-like and interactive where I could have an influence on where the story went.

For moods like that, the Choice of Games lineup is definitely becoming a good resource, though it can take a little patience to dig the gems out of the merely decent or the unfortunately mediocre with cringy writing.

Crowdsourcing some Steam review opinions, and then playtesting the first few chapters for free via their website (see link above) is usually how I go about it.

By and large, Heroes of Myth navigates the twin perils of purple prose or the outright ungrammatical fairly well. The style is straightforward and easy to read.

The one caveat is a gender neutral character who is constantly addressed as “they.” Done tastefully, I think there is little wrong with that usage. But as repetitively as it is sometimes used in the story, the pronoun can produce momentary confusion as to whether it’s referring to that specific character, or used in the more normal plural sense. This can get occasionally disorienting and even cringy language-wise.

Despite that minor niggle, the power of Heroes of Myth is how it treats its central theme – that of truth or lies. Is honesty the best policy, or is it better to tell the world a mythic story to dream about and believe in? You get to decide.

There are multiple viable paths through the chapters. This allows repeated playthroughs with entirely different archetypes of your choosing.

In the vein of Choice of Games style games, your initial decisions move your stats towards shaping your character in certain ways. If you tend to talk your way through things and being bold and flashy, your Charm and Showy stats go up. Fighting everything might push up your Combat stat instead, and making more introverted hover-in-the-back-of-the-crowd decisions leans you towards Subtle instead of Showy.

In the later chapters, these stats become more fixed, and get used for tests of success or failure. Often, you’ll want to use the better stat choices for optimal results, but there can also be times when it becomes interesting narratively to fail.

In one playthrough, I had a terribly low Charm skill, so most of my choices that relied on conversation tended to repel NPCs with my uncouth and overly forthright manner. Near the end, there was an option to assure certain other NPCs of some matter… except that I as the player actually wanted to fail this, so I picked the choice suspecting my character would make a hash of things, and they did. The NPCs did not believe my character. Character: *unhappy* Player: “Yes!”

Speaking of characters and NPCs, Heroes of Myth provides quite a veritable cast of NPC characters – each of whom you have your own relationship meter with, and as is the usual fan service with such games, the possibility of romance with quite a number. At least five, if my count is correct.

All in all, I find Heroes of Myth a fun romp. It’s a fantasy adventure story that lays out its premise from the beginning and concludes where it should.

As stated, there’s going to be demons, illusions, a prophecy (twice-repeating) and a fantasy kingdom with a cast of characters to save. You begin at the start of the second repeated prophecy, flashback to portions of the first “prophecy,” and end when that second prophecy concludes. Nothing more, nothing less.

But how you get there, well, that you’ll have to decide for yourself.

You’re a hero… aren’t you?

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Cultist Simulator: Two Lives

Nathaniel. An ordinary man, fired from an ordinary job as a hospital porter. He took up a junior clerical position at Glover & Glover, clocking in and out for meagre pay. In his spare time, he dabbled with long walks down strange streets, the occasional painting and tried his hand at unskilled labour to strengthen his body, for he feared wasting away his physical talents hunched over in bookkeeping.

Realizing that his funds from both sources were on par, he took more to the hauling job as it helped to chisel his body into something more herculean. He found a few odd books in a bookshop and took to reading them, following trails of strange history and gibberish… there was… something… about them. But it, whatever it was, stayed beyond reach, beyond the odd dream that offered fascinating glimpses and glimmerings of… something indescribable.

He met a lady named Violet, who expressed that she too had such similar almost-experiences. They met up a few times to converse, and someone, he could not remember who, proposed, half-in-jest that they should call their meet-ups a Society meeting and invite others who had encountered the same phenomenon.

“But what would we call this society,” asked the other, and the first replied, “The Society of St. Hydra.” The many-headed, ever-branching, searching for secrets beyond ken.

Honestly, little became of it, beyond a dead end expedition to a forgotten stone temple.

It was the book in the bookshop that was the key. Or at least, -a- key.

His search for ever-increasing physical prowess had plateaued, despite regular exercise, dock work that demanded everything of his muscles, early nights for good sleep health and ruminations on all things vital. The book whispered secrets of the Forge men, fueled by flame and stout as steel. He referred, cross-referred, took the secrets apart, put it back together again, practiced and studied. At some point, he achieved a Matchless Physique, godlike as Thor. If this was possible, what else lay beyond what was previously known?

cultsim_nat

Nathaniel had taken up painting as a form of expression of those odd moods and longings, a counterpoint to all that mindless muling for his pay to keep on living. He forgot to attend to his clerical job, and there was talk he would be in trouble if he ever returned.

He didn’t. He kept on painting.

Sometimes they sold, sometimes they didn’t. Mostly, they were paens to whatever existed in the gaps between the everyday. He felt his soul blossom open, but there was no response. His plaintive questions to the universe went unanswered.

Funds were a struggle. He existed on the borderline between bankrupt and bereft. To buy a book in the hope for scraps of revelation meant giving up the scraps of food for his one and only meal of the day. For a week.

He talked himself into sending his compatriots on a trip to a Forgotten Mithraeum – Victor had joined Violet by now, and both needed tickets and funding for the venture. There was hope that something precious would be found, but alas, both returned emptyhanded. Victor was sure that there had been a Hidden Door somewhere, but try as they might to uncover a passage, the cold, unblinking ancient stones of the temple simply watched and said nothing.

Nathaniel, too, said nothing when they told this to him. Merely walked away knowing he was down to his last cent. There was nothing for it now but to give up his days and nights to hauling on the docks, hoping for enough coin to keep going, and maybe, just some day, afford the luxury of another strange book.

The days blended into each other, his unpursued desire stillborn into a restlessness that set him a pacing, even as the dockmaster blew his whistle and demanded another cargo to be loaded or unloaded. His physique helped him do the work of two men, but on the contrary, no one thanked him for it. He received the pay of one, and the other mortal men eyed him, jealous, surly, and hostile for he was spoiling the benchmark of average, normal work.

The restlessness grew into despair of ever escaping this menial struggle for one more dawn, to be spent promptly head down and straining upon the ropes. The despair steadily bloomed into dread, a growing horror of this animal subsistence.

He fixated on trying to beat the clock, to earn just a little more than enough, for just one more book. He forgot his painting. He forgot even his fear and despair, throwing himself into his work repeatedly, cycle after cycle.

But it was a lie. A lie he had almost managed to fool himself with. Almost.

It was probably the night of the full moon. That night, in the unrelenting truth of its silver light, Nathaniel woke up from his dream of hope and realized he was still numb on waking. The dread thrice crushed his perfectly chiseled chest and had a death grip on his heart.

They say that he calmly turned around on the pier and instead of walking back home, walked off the end instead. He was not seen again.

Juliana, by contrast, was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. A Bright Young Thing. She merely stretched out her hand and money filled it, to be spent on whatever entertainments her heart desired – a night on the club, some antique book or curio, anything she wished.

That is, until her father died.

He left her a tidy sum as her inheritance though, so she was still of great means, but the tap had ceased to flow. It would be up to her now to maintain the pool of wealth and ensure it did not run dry.

Left to her also, was the odd rambling diary of a man named Nathaniel.

There were dalliances in those early days. There were enough funds to not worry about work for a while. She pored over the diary, then the books she had obtained as whims when money was no object, she learned Latin and read some more. She painted a little. Some of the books spoke of strange hedonistic Sensations, ineffable feelings achievable through… –Iä- nog kadishtu ‘bthnk ftaghu gotha … No, no- there are no words for this, no way to crystallize the symbols or the meanings, but only glimmerings, faint ephemeral may-be could-bes.

The more she thought (or perhaps it was less thought and more intuited) about them, the more the temptation grew to comprehend, to fulfill a restless need for more. If these Sensations were not for the mind to grasp, perhaps the body would.

Let us draw a veil over the proceeding days and nights. Juliana worked and labored at her pursuit of bodily sensation. There were walks and assignations; strange spices and scents at clubs, exotic tastings, departures from the merely unconventional into the outright bizarre. Some adventures even left her with coin at the end of it. Her physique grew lithe and flawless.

There came a point where this grew boring, and she decided to take up art, exploring the depth of her passions.

There were the odd duds, but by and large, her paintings – capturing all manner of fleeting reminiscences, contentments, dread, and other such sensations – were popular enough to be sold for additional funds. Her reputation and mystique grew.

Her public gallery showings were sporadic, but drew decent crowds. One stranger stood out like a cantankerous sore amidst the well-to-do and bourgeois. A constable tromped in and out, glowering, occasionally scrutinizing a painting as if it held some lost and stolen masterpiece on a layer beneath its surface. What he was searching for was hard to say.

Juliana never spoke with the detective. Nor did she speak to much anyone else. She had no friend nor follower. She circumvented her own path, her conscience was (relatively) clear, beyond the books she habitually bought and devoured in private. She found various snippets of lore in those books, which she would put aside and categorize, still finding them for-the-moment useless and wanting. The holy grail was still the redness of sensation that she sought.

It was slow but systematic going. Her funding troubles were minor, compared to Nathaniel’s woes as penned in his diary, but it still disturbed her that they were sporadic earnings. She had to remove herself from books and study in order to create another sale piece of herself. Perhaps it was time to seek out more mentally challenging work to speed up her understanding of these difficult texts?

Glover & Glover was still an institution in her time. Her brain, while running a little behind her mastery of her body, was still brilliant and adept enough that she spent very little time as an entry level clerk and rose to a more senior, better-paying position.

The problem was Mr Alden.

A small man with an even smaller mind, he reveled in the power of an extra prefix in his job title over hers.

He nitpicked stylistic choices, demanded overtime without extra pay, shoved work he disliked into her lap and then directed all blame squarely at her as “her job” while his job was to yell abuse in the confident presumption this would ensure the work be completed more rapidly (while still remaining perfect.)

Strictly speaking, Juliana did not need the job. She could have left and gotten by with her paintings and her bodily trysts.

And yet, the work sans an unreasonable superior was decently challenging, well-paying and promising. To wait for him to retire was too many intolerable years to consider. She took to walking the city streets to meditate on the problem, and the suggestion of a potential solution arose while making contact with some of the less savoury elements of her earlier experimental periods.

There was a bomb-maker who was the first to make the suggestion, upon overhearing her lament to a barkeep. “Perhaps if you were willing to fund an explosive device, said mechanism might find its way to his dwelling?”

She had coin to spare, and Mr Alden was a right nuisance that had stolen one too many lore studying hours from her. She pushed the funds over, and left.

Days passed as she waited with bated breath, hoping to read in the paper of Mr Alden’s demise. But every morning, the despicable man was still there, making her working life a hell.

On the fifth day, there was talk of a bomb that had attempted to have gone off, but the explosion was more of a firework squib, and Mr Alden had not been at home regardless. The police were searching for the suspect, but Juliana felt confident there was little to link her and the bomb-maker.

She put up with the abuse for a little longer while the notoriety of the incident died down, and then went searching in the City again.

She found some Professional Muscle, who swiftly assured her that Mr Alden would be no more.

Imagine her chagrin when she heard in the break room Alden bragging about how some thugs had attempted to accost him, and gotten themselves quickly overpowered then arrested. For he had been lunching with some important personages with their own bodyguards.

His fate was sealed now. Juliana resolved that it would be him or her. Either one of her Hirelings would succeed, or the Notoriety of her attempted criminal solicitations would bring her down.

Her third time’s a charm City visit found a Hulking Fellow fairly smitten with her. “No problem,” he said, doing something with his knuckles in a clumsy but earnest manner, “I’ll wrap him up and thump him. My gift to you. He won’t trouble you again.”

He didn’t seem terribly competent, so in truth, her expectations were set low and her plans already extending toward a fourth search for help.

She was astounded when she realized the Hulking Fellow meant it literally. A knock on the door one night heralded him standing over a wriggling, gagged bundle. Mr Alden was her new Hapless Prisoner.

Thinking on her feet furiously, she persuaded him to stash Alden in a more secure location for the time being.

That night, her dreams were filled with insidious whispers speaking inhuman languages; flashes of visions – her licking the blood oozing from the larva-like bundle; flame coursing through the scarecrow form of Mr Alden; his bound body dessicating and withering on the vine, aging 39 days like prime beef, before … Oh, the possibilities…

The problem being, as she realized when she woke up in the clearer light of morning, that she didn’t actually have any concrete form of knowledge to perform any such rites as might require the use of a captive.

It was far more probable that Mr Alden would expire in his captivity (preferably far from here) under the care of that Hulking Fellow, before she might discover such a ceremony in the books she was perusing. Said books being paid for by the earnings of the job that she had better make haste to.

That day was possibly one of the best days on the job ever.

She feigned concern with the rest of them over the sudden disappearance of Mr Alden, then sighed with relief when his new and temporary replacement proved to be more than a “hands-off” sort. He simply told everyone at her level that he trusted they would do a great job, and then took his entire body off elsewhere.

The days and weeks began to go by without incident. She did her job, did it well, went back at appropriate hours and invested the pay and spare time into her sidelong study of esoterica.

Mr Alden became more of an afterthought, presumed dead by all, while a small secret part of Juliana smiled in secret, knowing his clock was indeed ticking down to the inevitable.

It was only a small part, however, because the work at Glover & Glover, sans obstacle became both lucrative and intellectually challenging. It took up more and more of her attention and focus, if not her time. The funds rolling in were keeping her in great stead, the work kept her mind occupied, and life became steadily more normal.

It was an immense surprise when one day, a problem at work demanded not just simple, logical reason, but for someone to care and argue for a particular resolution. Post-passionate argument (which was indeed victorious), Juliana looked up from her desk and realized: She liked it here. She loved her life. She was content.

Those books at home? There was little reason or need to read them. The knowledge would never amount to anything. This? This work? This desk? This office?

This was real.

One thing leads to another. I’ve taken to reading a little more in my blog absence, having little to talk about besides more Warframe, or more of the same in GW2.

I love anthologies, and randomly borrowed a bunch from the local digital library. I also love mashups of settings. (Case in point: A Study of Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight – an excellent interactive fiction game combining Sherlock Holmes and steampunk; Open Sorcery combining computers and elemental magic, etc.)

“Shadows Over Baker Street” is an interesting collection of stories that gloms together Sherlock Holmes with the Cthulhu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. What happens when the undefeatable intellectual capacities of the world’s premiere detective meets Things Man Was Not Meant to Know?

A lot of fun reads, that’s what.

It got my mind set directly on all things Cthulhu-ish. (Critical Role also recently did a Call of Cthulhu one-shot, so there’s something in the air lately…)

It’s a short progression from there into a Cultist Simulator game revisit. I briefly alluded to some experimental tries with it in an earlier post.

It took that many tries to begin to grasp the mechanics, but I’d failed to explore the actual content per se, being completely lost at the time. Since it had been a while, I decided to erase the entire contents of the save and start anew.

This time, I could start to explore some early game content and upkeep mechanism loops. Not at all well, for there’s a fair amount of RNG in some of the card draws and plays, but at least enough for me to begin to understand and start crafting and telling myself a story for these experimental lives, which I’ve elaborated on above.

This is still way early game, because I’m not making much progression on anything cult-related per se. I am evidently still missing some connections on how to progress on that front.

But at least I’m sort of beginning to understand how to survive and not immediately die or jump headfirst into a hopeless doomed spiral. (There’s plenty of traps for the latter that I will be falling accidentally into, without having to help it along. The second life, Juliana, for example, fell headlong into a Minor Victory “trap” that I was not at all expecting. The game suddenly declaring an ending quite baffled me. Still, it was all for the best, being 3am at the time. Civilization-like “just one more turn” this Cultist Simulator is, indeed.)

GW2: Plenty of Problems, But This Ain’t One of ‘Em

MassivelyOP has successfully trolled me into another blog post. This time, it’s regarding the GW2 Skyscale flying mount, wherein it’s patently obvious that no actual firsthand experience was involved at the time of writing.

Yes, I understand that articles are written way in advance. But could you kindly resist from making statements with no basis in reality, then?

Pet peeve: Verifiably wrong things, stated as facts.

“The only way you can actually spend more than a few seconds in the air is if you jump off of something really tall and glide down.”

“Also, there are no flying mounts in GW2. At best they glide. Literally any mount in any MMORPG that flies (i.e. stays in the air indefinitely by design) is superior.”

You know who you are.

skyscale_hover

I’ve been up here for half an hour, sorting through my inventory bags, and then alt-tabbed out to write this blog post.

I dunno about you, but in my book, that certainly seems longer than a few seconds in the air, pretty indefinitely, by design.

Granted, any horizontal X-axis movement is going to lower me steadily, and incrementing the vertical Y-axis without a friendly wall to cling to involves waiting for a minute for Bond of Vigor to cooldown and recharge half of the green flight bar.

At a certain height exceeding the point you took off from, there is also some sort of ceiling where the flight meter is drained very quickly, so that you lower back to maximum hover height, possibly in an attempt to keep you from ascending forever into the skybox to insta-die.

For horizontal gliding and SPEED, once you get the hang of downward diving for acceleration and then climbing back up with mount ability key 2, the griffon is superior. 

For vertical takeoff and landing, fine-grained control in a small area and indefinite HOVERing (40 mins and counting), that’s where you look towards the skyscale.

Honestly, given its specialities, I’m more or less convinced that its main role is to cover one of WoW’s flying mounts’ features – lording it over the hoi polloi by hovering on a gigantic dragon, mount and rider doing their best to block the trading post from view.

And yeah, you can use it as a hybrid springer with finer-scale control, crossed with a slower gliding griffon, just with added infinite hover potential.

skyscale_raising

There have been some criticisms over the whole process of attaining one.

For someone who had been previously all psyched up to finish legendary medium armor, the collections did not really raise massive alarm bells, which might be more an indication of how mentally unbalanced the Achiever portion of my brain can get.

There were some identical go-here, go-there un-clued collections which were of poorer quality. Resorting to a third-party guide to get through those quickly is probably what 95% of players do, me included.

There were some nicer legendary-style collections, themed, with better clues and directions, including visible waypoint markers! which sent players back to old maps to revisit content. I liked those.

There was massive dismay at timegates, of which I personally did not find too onerous. They are pre-set stopping points. Being content to be a couple days behind meant that I made a nice killing selling timegated components for the first two days – grow lamps for 70 and 60 gold on the TP. After the 15% tax, that’s 110g contributed to my legendary medium collection from players who need it now. Sweet.

Anyway, ArenaNet tweaked some of the timegates after reading the feedback, so that’s even better. They’re actually listening and demonstrating it! And communicating! What is this, I don’t even-…

There was a huge histrionic fainting uproar at the revelation that 250 of each LS4 map currency would be needed in a later collection.

My only criticism is that it would have been really nice to know all the requirements before, and not reliant on the first few players to unlock the next collection, just so that each player could plan ahead and make more efficient use of their time.

I get that there’s some drama and excitement and even prestige for the spades/explorers/first-to-gets by keeping some of these secret, but it was a little irritating to know that the previous days could have been better spent.

I’d been somewhat laggard catching up with the LS4 maps, having not been actively playing for much of the time they were released, so I had only about half the currencies needed. That meant a furious altholic hearts-grind for 2-3 days, pulling out some 11+ characters and cycling them through easy hearts to buy 5 currency each for karma.

It’s not something I do on a regular basis for sure, but I found it mildly interesting for the three days to go into super-efficient achiever grind mode. The benefits of having a secondary Achiever function. Fortunately, I was already in the mood for grinding.

If not, well, there’s always tomorrow.

Oh yes, since it’s been two weeks, I assume that most people who cared have at least logged in to check out the first episode.

If not, too bad, you can take this like a teaser image instead. You’ll see this at the very beginning episode anyway.

kralk_scale

I love this. The scale is awesome.

A few more landscape shots of the new map.

newmap_edge

newmap_contrast

P.S. 50 minutes and counting. I guess it’s time to come down now.

skyscale_wallcling

GW2: New Map

Wow.

Avoiding spoilers, suffice to say that there are some serious stops being pulled out.

Visually it knocks your socks off.

I am so happy I have the monitor I have right now.

newmap_plants

newmap_fire

newmap_ghosts

I have a FANTASTIC spoiler-laden shot of a really big dragon, that is absolutely done justice in 3840×1080, but we’ll save that for a later post, after folks (me included) have had time to go through the latest release.

Here We Go Round the Grindberry Bush

You’d think I’d learn by now.

I don’t know why I even try to expect consistency from myself.

Not a few days after changing my blog layout to favor bigger pictures, in the expectation that I might be playing more simulation style games with lovely scenery like theHunter or new games where screenshots would help to illustrate the experience, I have suddenly decided that NOW is the perfect time to re-focus on the same old games and make a concentrated push for long term goal projects.

This mostly means that I’ve traded off staring nightly at stuff that looks like this:

lake_deer

To this:

legmedss

Well, in the case of Warframe, I know why.

At the end of April, they announced the Prime Vault was unsealing to make Loki Prime earnable once more, as well as Volt Prime.

I have neither of them and I’ve been enjoying the basic Loki’s invisibility for certain missions of late, so this was very motivating for me to declare “farm relics to get the unvaulted primes” as a long term goal until July 3 or done (Preferably done way before that final vault sealing date.)

The less fantastic news is that relic farming is always intentionally grindy.

So I thought I may as well stretch it into a long term project rather than burn out attempting to farm 12 hours without stopping the first few days. (Yeah, right, who has that kind of game time any more? Dang college students/unemployed/retirees.)

I guess these things come in cycles.

Having indulged the inner Explorer for a couple months, now the inner Achiever demanded to be let out to do its thing.

The problem with the inner Achiever (or at least with mine) is its intense desire to have whatever it’s aiming for -now-, stat, with very little clue about just precisely how it’s going to get there and very little tolerance for how long the whole process will take.

I get very very antsy.

In my befuddled brain that is the usual state of affairs, it tends to imagine that whatever it wants will somehow magically be presented to it, if it thinks about it hard enough, repeatedly enough, and keeps chasing after it like an overenthusiastic dog.

Project planning is a skill I seem to have largely missed the boat on.

Traditional project planning, much like traditional outlining, has never worked for me.

In the old days, it was pretty much do it that waterfall way or the highway, and I usually just opted for careening down the expressway flying by the seat of my pants and winging it by dealing with the loudest and most urgent thing and proceeding from there via subconscious guilt and nagging brain prompts.

In this enlightened Internet day and age, there are apparently more options than the two extremes, as consultants and professionals attempt to describe what the more average folks -actually- do to get by in their day to day lives, and then give it shiny new names and a marketing buff and polish to sell the technique back to us.

One such methodology that I randomly stumbled across is the Improvement Kata, something purportedly based on what Toyota’s management culture practices.

Beyond the business speak and filler for packaging into a format that can be sold as training to corporations, it seems to be based on a core common sense (which is never very common) concept of iteration.

  1. Have a direction that you want to head towards, and an idea of the challenge you’ll need to overcome
  2. Have an idea of where you currently are
  3. Define a reachable “next target”
  4. Experiment your way from 2 to 3
  5. Repeat 2-4 until you reach 1, if ever

Besides the useful and common concept of breaking down your goal into smaller realistically achievable parts, I really like what Improvement Kata brought to step 4, where it is explicitly diagrammed as not a straight linear path, but a series of winding experimental steps where the path zigzags

This helps to assuage my perfectionist mind that it is okay to have backward progress or sidetreks in the course of attaining the target.

That like Edison’s light bulb, you may have to try a whole bunch of different things, fail, realise and learn what -doesn’t- work, in order to finally hit upon something that -does-.

That chasing up side avenues is fine.

That whatever gets you motivated to just keep making starts is good, you’ll learn more as you experiment your way forward.

That it’s more important to just check in now and then on where you are, on what you’ve learned since the last check-in and to keep refining those plans based on what you know now until you get where you want to go.

I tried out the practice on the Relic Farming project.

1. Overall Big Picture Target – Own Loki Prime, Volt Prime and maybe Odonata Prime

2. Where Am I Now – originally nothing; now, see below

wf_relicgrind

I am almost there on Loki Prime, just missing the rarest and most annoying to obtain component. I got lucky cracking open relics, so I’m a little further along on Volt Prime than I’d dared to hope. No progress on Odonata, but that’s fine as it is the least priority.

3. Next Target – Loki Prime Systems

4. Experiment

Experiment-wise, I’d already conducted a bunch in the previous week to find out the best sources of relics and what tools I had at my disposal to obtain them, given my quirky limitations of preferring to solo, not wishing to buy stuff outright with platinum and being more limited than a max MR player

Several false starts and some time measurements later, it has boiled down to running through Void, Marduk – Sabotage with a Loki at my very average and not extremely fast pace of ~5min per mission to have a 6% chance of popping the correct Axi L4 relic.

I am collecting a great deal of other relics in the progress.

When bored of the former, the secondary fallback is that I can also do a Void, Mot – Survival up to 20 min for a 13% chance at the Axi L4 relic with a Nidus.

But survival with void enemies doing 4x more damage and needing to stay for an uninterrupted 20 minutes tends to be a little more nailbiting than running around mostly invisible.

So I wind up by preference going for 4 chances of 6%, as opposed to 1 chance of 13% to get what I want.

Is that better? If I remember my math classes more, I could probably figure it out.

(My hunch says: the combined probability of -not- getting the relic I want each time is 94%, multiplied by itself 4 times. So 0.94 x 0.94 x 0.94 x 0.94 = 0.78. So the chance I might have popped the relic after 4 goes is 1 – 0.78 = 22%?)

Dunno. I await someone better at math to correct me. Intuitively, it kinda feels better, so we’ll run with that for now.

You’d think that project is sufficient to keep me occupied for the present, but between ArenaNet’s slightly improved communication and the anticipated release of the final Living Story 4 episode, my attention has been somewhat drawn back to GW2.

charmingmug
Not to insinuate that the game is some sort of many-armed monster, but… maybe.

To be honest, my relationship with GW2 was in a very bad place at the beginning of the year.

Some of the words that easily came to mind were “frustrated” “bored out of my skull” “burnt out” and “pushed beyond tolerance at the change in community sentiment.”

(Call me paranoid, but I rather suspect that similar emotions were running through a number of ArenaNet staff pre-layoffs.)

I just hadn’t reached a “quitting” frame of mind yet.

I was just stuck in a weird limbo of “I still kinda like the game, but I don’t like where it is nor where it seems to be going.”

Eventually, I decided that I’d delay reacting to it and give ArenaNet sufficient time to get their last few story episodes out and reassess what I felt about GW2 in April-May.

I guess I’m finally getting a little smarter with age and figuring out that delaying decisions can sometimes be a way forward.

The ArenaNet layoffs seem to have been a wakeup boot for the company. Not a great thing to happen to anyone, but making lemonade out of lemons is about the best one can do with a bad situation. Communication has stepped up a little (possibly due to certain policy makers voluntarily leaving). It’s a fire under them that forces a re-focus on what they’re trying to achieve with GW2.

From a steadily dropping and close to zero percent confidence level in the future of GW2 pre-layoffs and pre-communication, it at least feels like there’s a 35% chance now that there might be somewhat interesting future things for GW2. (Note: I’m a cynical pessimistic person by nature, so these are pretty decent numbers for my skewed viewpoint.)

Pursuant to figuring out how I will feel about the whole GW2 franchise once Living Story 4 draws to a conclusion, it occurred to me that regardless of me quitting or continuing, I should finish some of the long term goals that I always wanted to complete.

The biggest bugbear on that Unfinished Tasks list was Legendary Medium armor.

It is with some irony that I note that the raids part of it was completed long ago and by no means a bottleneck.

It was more a lack of motivation due to it being ugly as sin (and that’s giving sin a bad name), and the eternal time-gated nuisance of faction provisioner tokens which requires serious organized diligence to remember to feed various NPCs daily with the required objects for weeks on end. 25 days if you’re rich and go for 12 tokens a day, and for cheapskates like me, 42 days going at a 7 token a day pace.

That and the crippling cost of helping to sink a shipload of crafting materials by buying them with gold from other players.

Hence the spreadsheet, keeping track of what I have and still need:

legmedss

The Step 4: Experiment stage of this has been surprisingly more entertaining than first anticipated.

Mostly because my miserly soul refuses to buy outright expensive things off the TP if there’s another way I can obtain them at a decent enough clip.

I’m time gated by provisioner tokens anyway, so it’ll be early June before I can be done.

The question is: what activities can get me more of what I need?

grindberry

The various experiments in answering that have led me to do long ignored HoT metas, chase down the Winterberry farm once more for Unbound Magic to open bundles to see if their contents were worth anything, and learn more intently about the Living Story 4 maps that contain Volatile Magic as a reward, as those can be exchanged for trophy shipments.

It’s gotten my not-quite-raider self out of closed instances with my ego continually frayed by ever-excessively competitive people (not that it’s wrong, but type As exhaust everyone else around them – especially when they decide type B aren’t worthy of respect, or would be better off dragged up the mountain and would appreciate it once they see the view at the top)

TypeATypeBCartoon
Cartoon taken from https://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html

and back out into the open world where things are either slightly more chill, or where I can solo in peace.

I finished most of the crafting and mystic forging. I ran through a HoT meta or two and picked up most of the tokens I’d need.

I bought stuff I’m not likely to be able to farm for myself in good time from the TP.

My timing is terrible, as the legendary greatsword is coming and prices are no doubt rising in response already. I rationalized it by my supposition that prices will rise and stay high for at least the next month once the legendary launches and everyone realizes they need the stuff I also need for legendary armor, so I may as well get what I need now for peace of mind, and any extras I earn I can sell at the presumably more inflated price later.

The last step is T5 and T6 trophies. They’re in sync because there’s two major ways I figure I’ll get them.

One is mystic forge promotion. I buy the T5 and then convert them on my own penny crystalline dust and spirit shard-wise for T6. That economy is generally sensitive enough that it should always be somewhat cheaper to do so than buy the T6 outright, barring a sudden glut of T6 drops from some event or another.

The second is volatile magic converted into trophy shipments. The return seems to be fairly decent. So I’ve been all over the LS4 maps harvesting nodes, killing stuff, doing hearts, buying daily stuff off vendors, collecting glowy magic objects on mounts, doing dailies, doing metas and trying to figure out if anything gives a decent return and is hopefully more personally interesting to me than doing a million Great Hall/Palawadan meta cycles.

It’s still pretty grindy though.

In that I’m repetitively doing a whole lot of things mostly to get the end result. I’m not not enjoying it (if you can parse that.)

As in, it’s not something I would just do for fun (it takes a bit more focus than relaxation), and it’s not something I outright hate either (those I wouldn’t do. I decided to buy the fractal stuff I needed off the TP, all 140g of it, because I still loathe that game mode and the dislike deepens further with every new fractal I’ve never tried and ever-divided PUG scene. What’s gold for if not to trade with, right?)

It’s more a focused reason/excuse to repeat some things I might not repeat otherwise in order to get to a final goal.

In the repetition, I have a reason/excuse to actually be playing the game, and you know, it’s not half bad an activity to be doing.

…Hmm… Maybe I still sorta like this game after all.

It’s a strange kind of convoluted thinking that I haven’t quite got my head around yet, but it’s an improvement from -not liking- for sure.

We’ll see how things go from there.