Back and Forth, With Memory Like a Sieve

13 Oct, Sat

You’d think the weekend was for focus and progress, but you’d be wrong.

  • Warframe – Downloaded patch and stopped.

Apparently, a new update – Chimera – hit. The new stuff Arbitration missions requires a completed star chart and is seemingly pitched at high level players taking on high risk missions with chances of failure.

I don’t have a completed star chart, so that’s moot. I’m not at all high level, nor with sufficient mods yet to consider venturing into level 50-60 sorties, let alone top of the line stuff. I’m honestly fairly allergic to high chance of failure in my games so level of interest in Arbitration missions is nonexistent at this stage of my Warframe gameplay.

It’s fine.  There’s so much other stuff I could be doing. Level all the warframes, level all the weapons, finish all the side quests, actually complete the star chart, work on syndicate standing with all existing factions, collect all the mods and every time I stare at the launcher, I’m reminded I really want Chroma Prime but this time I want to try the farming route instead of the straight up buy route I went for Rhino Prime.

The patch download took forever though. By itself, it was pretty big. Then it offered to clean up my missions (to the tune of 800MB or so) with a warning that it would take a while, and I thought, “It’s the weekend and the day’s just starting, why not?”

Apparently, the “why not” was because it took about half an hour and threatened to cut straight into Megadestroyer time.

  • GW2 – Killed the Megadestroyer, one more itty bitty checkbox ticked on the Astralaria III collection.

May as well get it over with.

  • GW2 – Finished the Historical Gloves part of the Requiem armor collection.

Short of 7 mistonium for the next milestone in the requiem armor collection (historical gloves), so I did Chantry and Yatendi hearts in Jahai Bluffs to buy 10 mistonium with karma.

Rode around Sun’s Refuge completely lost trying to remember where the NPC was, finally gave up and checked a guide to discover / re-remember that she was in the Durmand Priory of Lornar’s Pass instead. *sigh* The problems with continuing a quest chain interrupted by days having gone by in between.

Later, I brought an alt scourge to try and earn more mistonium for the next step. Killed the Death-Branded Shatterer since it was up, did the Chantry heart, and wore out before completing the Yatendi heart. Quit out instead to go find something more fun to do.

I don’t quite understand how some people can go through 10 alts doing the same thing in a day, just to grind up the mistonium super quick.

Still, since they’re probably the ones willing to buy my sigils of nullification at the new established market rate, I’m not complaining.

  • Opus Magnum – Finished the tutorial and 75% of Chapter 1

I’ve been eyeing this puzzle game from Zachtronics for a while now, but never really willing to bite because it’s never dropped to 75% off and I know just how long I last with hard puzzle games.

Aka I did the first few puzzles of Spacechem and then never continued; and I looked at the first bits of TIS-100 and found it interesting but brain exploding; and I may have lasted through about 20% of Human Resource Machine before getting blocked/stumped at a branching path where both puzzles seemed more trouble than it was worth to figure out.

Sorry, but if I’m going to play only 25% of a puzzle game, I’m willing to only pay 25% of the price for one.

Being in a Humble Bundle, however, changes things.

The slight problem with this one was that I already owned about 3-4 of the games in the bundle, so I had to hem and haw a bit and rationalize that the 3 games I didn’t own + Opus Magnum made the $15 USD price tag worth it.

The last work week was hard going though, so after having delayed the purchase for a week or so already, I decided to treat myself with a weekend gift.

Opus Magnum was unwrapped swiftly.

The aesthetic layer around this game is a lot more clean cut and polished, as befits some kind of story about an Alchemist creating elegant Victorian steampunk alchemical engines.

Opus Magnum - Hangover Cure (100G, 67, 13, 2018-10-14-02-16-27)

Gameplay-wise, it’s a standard Zachtronics style puzzle game. You get a bunch of parts/components, some rules and boundaries to restrict the puzzle space, an end goal and it’s your job to place / shape / program the pieces so that the end goal is achieved.

Your solution is scored, based on several factors, and a little leaderboard graph pops up, showing you if you were completely normal and figured out the most popular average solution, or if you were ahead or fell behind the curve in some way.

It even lets you create a little GIF of your engines, to show them off to others in this social media connected age.

Competitive min-maxers, I think, go crazy for this. Some get obsessed with tuning and retuning the puzzle solutions to reach ever more efficient, ever more elegant solutions…or conversely trade off astronomical sums in the other factors just to bring their one desired factor down to the absolute minimum.

This Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer demonstrates it more effectively than I can.

I’m more of a satisficer. If the goddamn thing works, and lets me click on the “continue” button, I’m done. Good enough.

I’m pleased if I fall within the average, and if I don’t, so be it, it still fucking works, in its own unique way.

Ain’t got no time for anything more than that.

  • Warframe again – Did a bunch of missions, I don’t know, it all blurred together. Titania more or less done, the 3 Forma’ed Hek seems fairly good now; Leveled up Hydroid and Oberon a bit; Tried to open some relics for Chroma Prime parts (no go); Did 2 not-yet-completed star chart missions to test out the Hek 

I got back into Warframe late at night. The reddit had clued me in that there were apparently some spoilers/lore that needed to be embargo’ed in the Chimera patch, and I was amazed that I had attempted to play it in the morning and didn’t quite get around to it until the night.

You can imagine my amazement when I finished a few hours later, none the wiser, having not at all found nor completed the spoiler laden thing.

I tried to look in the Quests section of the Codex, and saw Mask of the Revenant included (but that was something that had dropped in the last update, and anyway, my Ostron standing was below that so the quest wasn’t even unlocked, moot point.)

Then staring at my warframe in front of me reminded me that I just wanted to go ahead and level some of them. Having been slightly addicted to a daily 7 hour affinity boost that dropped a day or two ago, I waffled for the space of three minutes before rationalizing that I’m mainly playing this heavily on weekends, so a 3 days affinity booster was affordable and made sense.

40 x 4 weekends = 160 platinum, the 30 day booster was 200 platinum, and it was highly unlikely I’d get more than 12 days of benefit out of it while playing Warframe in spurts as a secondary game, and also somewhat unlikely that I’d buy a boost -every- weekend in a month.

Just… for now, since I had a couple of new warframes and weapons to level up fast.

I’m getting good at this Pay-to-speed-things-up bit.

So I took said to-be-leveled-up things into my new favorite leveling spots – a multiplayer Dark Sector survival mission where there are oodles of Infested that all run at you blindly and can be shotgunned to death with my new slightly-more-deadly kitted out Hek, and where multiplayer means increased spawn rate and the possibility of some overpowered player coming in and farming everything for you while you stand there and shoot empty air to add sound effects.

An Intensify also dropped, somewhen amidst the chaos. Since this was my first Intensify, and also the last of the Streamline, Flow, Continuity, Reach quinfecta of basic-mods-you-should-really-have-to-kit-out-warframes-so-that-they-don’t-suck,-but-are-also-annoying-to-get, this was a welcome bonus.

At some point, I got tired of the multiplayer – the draw for me is the increased mob spawn rate and how fast things die, the turn-off is the fact that it is quite boring to stand around and not really do anything if some overpowered (but immensely helpful) player is cleaning out the map for you. Enlightened self-interest and greed says that this is bloody good for really quick leveling of stuff that will take forever otherwise; while the “yo, I want to actually shoot things myself and kill things, even if it takes 4 times as long” part of me kicks up a hissy fit in the background.

So you compromise between the two and go back and forth.

I did some easy solo Alerts, a solo Lith interception to try and farm more relics (not too well), then got bored at the mob spawn rate – I just can’t get enough void reactant to open the relic by myself before the interception completes and resets the relic – and switched to my first multiplayer Lith missions.

That took care of the spawn rate all right. The choosing of the relic part from 4 players was a lot more bamboozling, given that I have very little knowledge of what’s valuable and what’s not. I ended up weighing between what the other players picked, what I already owned, and trying to frantically recall the unique color coding of warframe where (I think) yellow means the rarest to pop, white is uncommon and brown/orange is the more common.

I got bored again after a few rounds of a Limbo Prime and Saryn Prime combination that essentially wiped out the entire map for us.  Effective, certainly, but when some kind of host migration/network error booted me out after the third round, I didn’t try to rejoin.

Throughout this, I’d been rocking my newly 3 forma’ed Hek shotgun. I’d managed to fit all the decent mods I owned on it by 3 forma, so I saw no need to continue forma’ing until and unless I got better mods. Things were dying with one shotgun blast, and I’d managed to cut the original slow-as-molasses reload speed to an acceptable 1.3 seconds or so.

The real question was, did I now have a gun that was capable of taking me past the mob level (35-45) I was previously struggling at?

Prior to this, I only owned one gun, the Vectis Prime, given free during a carnival of Twitch drops with which I’d left things running overnight just to farm things, that was capable of doing enough damage. The Vectis is a sniper rifle though, so while that niche was covered, I didn’t exactly have a close range, semi-AoE option.

Hence, the working really hard on upgrading the shotgun that was commonly recommended as a decent starter weapon capable of taking a player through the star chart.

Switched back to my Rhino Prime favorite, gave him the shotty, and tried a few Pluto missions. The results were pretty satisfactory. Most died in one hit, one or two mobs took two. It didn’t quite feel like I was struggling now, though I did struggle to recall how it was really like several weeks ago without the shotgun.

So I guess I can now put “complete the star chart” back on the long term goal agenda, among all the other things…

Tomorrow, for realz, I’ll try to do that story/lore thing. I ended up opening Reddit spoilers until I actually figured out where the eff it starts. I think I know where to go now.


TGIF Doesn’t Quite Fit Yesterday

12 Oct, Friday

  • GW2 – Raided with the static group. Cleared Wings 1, 2, 4 and then attempted Wing 6’s Qadim CM for a second time for some team members who missed it the first time and alt accounts.

It’s funny how I barely remember which wings we clear on which days, it all blurs together after a while. I have to sit around thinking, “Which boss do I recall fighting?” and then link that to the correct wing number.

The Qadim CM was more entertaining, since it’s newer content, but also more exhausting and demanding a lot of focus out of me after one of the more peak mental demand / stressful days at work.

Somehow, of all the bosses and CMs, I really like this one, to the point where it doesn’t really bore me to repeat it over and over (though it is very draining, and several roles – especially tanking – seem immensely more challenging than others).

I still think it’s the predictability. It offers the promise that if you learn the patterns over time and position in the right places and take the proper action, you will solve the puzzle and get it done.

A lot of other CMs (Dhuum comes to mind almost immediately) contain more unpredictable “react really quickly to incoming information that is moving at you at lightspeed” elements.

And our lightspeed reaction interval is a lot smaller due to the vagaries of ping – a player playing at 50ms has only 100ms to and fro response time to alert the server of what they just did. Playing at 300ms means 600ms can go by between the server telling you of this incoming thing that -was- at this position 300ms ago and you telling the server that you don’t want to be there but somewhere else now please. That 0.5s lag time can kill you, if there’s a moving part rushing at you. I loathe that unpredictability.

I truly HATE the fact that I struggled to get the Stacking Swords and Shields achievement in the first boss of wing 6 because it involves collecting stuff during a moving bullet hell phase… right up until I figured out that I should imagine the onrushing balls to collect were about an inch ahead on my screen (literally, in real life, put a ruler on your screen and extrapolate an inch kind of inch) and go collect the “invisible imaginary” balls there.

It is just sad when you can barely trust the information shown to you.

But anyway, Qadim and his CM feels different. It feels learnable. Our group as a team appears to have worked out a functional solution to most of the mechanics up to the 33% health mark or so. The jumping puzzle phase is where it started falling apart yesterday.

You know, moving parts, required jumps, and apparently a good three-quarters of the team were having lag spikes of 500ms and higher. It speaks volumes that we managed the predictable parts of Qadim CM through that kind of lag and then had issues once shit started moving.

Granted, because it’s Qadim, I remain convinced that a bit of correct positioning and familiarity with the phase can, more or less, cover for this.

I have been utter trash at this phase for most of normal Qadim now; I feel like I’m dead 80% of the time the rest of the group clears the final stage – sometimes through panicked misjumps and sometimes smited before the jumping even began. This has given me nigh zero opportunity to figure out some good places to be and what is likely to happen. Especially if the boss dies and the fight stops there.

Failing at 33% in Qadim CM for a couple of times meant that I had a few more chances to match theory with practice and figure out “ok, this is going to happen next, so I should be standing -here- instead to anticipate that.”

A lot of vocal people who love to trash talk others will say this is the kind of thing that ought to be done prior to the fight, watching videos over and over like you’re a professional football team player studying up the opposing team’s strategies.

Besides the over serious “feels too much like homework” angle, people learn in different ways. I get very little useful information out of a video if I’ve never actually experienced it and/or screwed up the thing before. To me, it’s hard to filter out what’s going to be relevant to you and your situation before you even know what you struggle with and need to see how others do it differently.

Sure, after you muck it up a few times and can’t see a way through the quagmire, sourcing for solutions out of the mess makes a lot more sense then. Otherwise, you’re just watching this ideal role model hit all the right notes without a clue of all the things they just did right, subconsciously or otherwise, to get there.

It’s like telling people, “Ok, go watch this professional pianist play this song over and over” and you’ll be more prepared to play the tune too. Or this professional potter spinning up his beautiful clay pots. See what he did there? What he just explained? Ok! Your turn to perform now!

I can almost absolutely guarantee that most people’s first experiences with clay and a spinning wheel will not automatically resemble the professional potter’s, irrespective of how many videos they’ve watched.

Yes, it might help them adapt a bit faster. Maybe if they were really talented, all they would need are those sessions of video watching before, and then one hands-on session where they muck it up and then pull from their already formed theoretical basis to adapt and make it better.

For everybody else, I think it’s more of a process where you might have a hands-on session of utter disaster, and -then- go to several videos to clarify some doubts, and repeat another hands-on session with a little less disaster, and then a video or a coach or a book, and so on, back and forth.

But I digress.

I didn’t quite fail jumping at the moving parts stage yesterday, only taking one fun not-at-all well-controlled dodge roll attempting to escaping an incoming fireball (which I did avoid) into an air gap (which I did -not- avoid) during the earlier stages.

In CM, that means a teamwipe and reset, since it’s harder to complete a challenge mode with one person down. It happens. Others do it; I do it; we’re all only human.

For whatever reason, it feels these days like I’ve lost the anxiety of two years ago. I feel less of a driving need to… for lack of a better phrase, “prove myself.” I’m getting a little better and more comfortable in my own skin, warts and all. I have my strengths, I have my weaknesses. Take me as I am, or take me not at all. That sort of thing.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here continuing to do my own learning at my own plodding pace. The camera zoom, for example, has felt a little different these past few days – it’s able to scroll back a lot more, which leads to misjudging distances and barely controlled sidesteps/tumbles into nothingness.

Hypothesized solution, if I can remember to apply it, zoom in a bit more when it comes time to move. (Whereas the outward zoom is necessary for better field of view on other stages like anticipating incoming fireballs.)

We also worked on staying on the tips of the moving platforms, to utilize the movement of the platforms to carry us to the point where a safe jump is possible. This worked well, right up to the point where the platforms started to indicate they were going to explode shortly.

I am still about 40% foggy on anticipating exactly where to go before this happens. I managed to react fast enough yesterday to be in the middle of the pack and survive the jump, as opposed to 100% foggy, trailing behind and fated to die.

Obviously, there is a more ideal level to attain. I want to be 0-10% foggy and already there, wherever there is, so that the exploding platform indicator doesn’t even spark a modicum of panic because I know it’s going to happen.

At this point, this is where video reviews would come in handy, to locate this mythical “there” spot, so that’s slated on the weekend agenda.

  • GW2 – Bought Aurillium sheets from Auric Basin and crafted the Aurillium Capsule. Collected the Champion Flame Effigy item from Fireheart Rise. Two more mini-dings of progress eked out on the Astralaria III: The Mechanism collection.

Felt pretty wiped out after hours of raiding and was nearing crash into bed territory. Hung on long enough to finish the last item I needed to craft and keep in inventory, so that it would trigger progress on the collection after performing another action.

The Aurillium Capsule is meant to capture Wyvern Fire from the Verdant Brink matriarch, but it wasn’t night time boss events at the time I looked. It wasn’t Megadestroyer time either. So I went for the one that didn’t require clock-watching, the Champion Flame Effigy… only to discover that the waypoint was unlocked and that I’d have to stand around waiting for the event to pop.

I attempted to start a blog post while the wait was happening, but it stalled into incoherence. Writing while exhausted appears to be impossible for me.

Some time later, the event popped, I defended. The effigy popped, I duo’ed it with one other person who happened to be around. It died. I got the item. I looked around and instead of just rushing off like most players that have gotten what they wanted, decided to finish the event.

Event complete, rewards get, small beans as they are. Still quite a few flame legion ritual bags though. Then I stopped and crashed into bed shortly after.

Long Term Lament

These past few weeks, I have been at that point in my game playing where everything is a long term multi-project goal.

It does not quite help that work is also at that stage where I am needed to keep track of what seems like several hundred moving parts and respond to / alert others whenever several of these parts drop or fall through the cracks or worse, cause a cascading chain reaction of problems.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t unpleasant.

I’m getting better at breaking down stuff into doable tasks, a case of game imitating life and vice versa. I’m still struggling with getting comfortable (and patient) with the idea that long term multi-project things cannot be finished in a day, even if I work at it really hard and hurry hurry hurry in a hardcore fashion, but I’m working on it.

No, what does leave me feeling discombobulated is that I barely remember the tiny little bits of progress that I eke out every day.

Because they’re scattered across too many games / work issues.

I’m always left feeling like I -did- get stuff done, but I’m not exactly sure what; I look up one day and oh, it seems like game task A & B and work issues 1, 2, 3 all seem to be completed/resolved now, but I can’t for the life of me remember when I did each.

While during the day itself when they did actually get done, the whole day felt like a complete waste of time because nothing substantial appeared to have been done.

The irony is that you think maybe the solution might be to actually write down the completed tasks or visualize them in some manner… except that you realistically also suspect that you don’t have the time available to do this AND actually get the things done.

It’s one or the other. Get (most of) them done but wander around in a fog of confusion or get everything beautifully planned out / recorded and nothing done at all.

That or go without sleep.

At my age, sleep wins.

I do, of course, have this here blog, with which to jot stuff down in.

If I wasn’t already attempting to play three games a night and failing.

Still, I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

11 Oct, Thursday

  • Warframe – Attempted to level up new warframe Titania and a twice forma’ed Hek a little more.

Went for the multiplayer option to spawn extra mobs on Ceres, Seimeni (Defense) and Ceres, Gabii (Survival.) Got both done, bounced up a couple of levels/ranks for everything but not fully maxed, quit to get to the next game.

  • GW2 – Squeezing out teeny tiny bit of progress on the Astralaria III: The Mechanism collection.

Main aim was to catch the Fire Elemental and Megadestroyer world bosses to get that item in the collection done. The special items to keep in inventory while defeating them were already crafted a previous day (probably Tue, iirc.)

Attempted to catch a low level Molten Boss fractal to better spend the waiting time, but no LFG was biting. Instead, someone was advertising for an easy Volcanic fractal at literally level 1, and I jumped into that. Got the Volcanic item.

Realized to my chagrin that the Quartz Vial for the Megadestroyer was in my bank, instead of in my inventory… after the fact, naturally. RIP Megadestroyer. Guess I’ll have to do that another day.

  •  Minecraft: The Awakening modpack

Last stop before bed. Recently got sucked into this pack, which advertises itself as a long term pack with integrated mods and quests. Unique world generation, bringing in stone types reminiscent of Terrafirmacraft and a ton of new ores and gems and mobs and biomes.

I’d built a metal press from Immersive Engineering yesterday and upgraded the blast furnace, after making what felt like a massive amount of steel manually.

Logged into the world with no real clue what to do next. Ended up going for the first thing in my sight – working on domesticating the wild chickens, cows and sheep. This modpack requires breeding for a few generations before they become the typical domestic Minecraft animal. Dug some animal holding pits and went on a little adventure catching and releasing wild animals into the appropriate pens.