Multiple Long-Term Projects

The problem with keeping too many balls in the air is my inability to blog coherently about them at any decent rate of frequency.

Which I then try to make up for with one voluminous summary post. (Feel free to read in parts.)

Not to mention, a general fuzziness in my head over what my next goals should be, given the spread of projects.

A good cure is to sit and write them all down, but that presumes actual time and attention to spare to do that… given that the other often more tempting choice is actively working on the projects instead.

scandone

As usual, the main focus of my attention has been the book scanning project.

Over the space of last week, 25 old books were brought to a copy shop to be de-spined, fed patiently through a scanner, and their aged moldy carcasses heaped onto a trolley awaiting my unlaziness to exit the house and eventually get them into a recycling bin.

Still many more piles to go, just to get two IKEA Billy bookcases out of the place.

At least there’s visible progress.

twitch

To make scanning life a little less miserable, I’ve taken to watching Twitch on a full-size Smart TV at the same time. (There’s also Netflix, but I miss games.)

What does make things a little tricky is being on the other side of the world as typical popular NA or EU streamers.

One is often limited to Aussie/New Zealand/transplanted Westerners in Asia, or face an otherwise incomprehensible stream in oh, I don’t know, Russian or some other Eastern European language, Korean or Tagalog.

(Oddly enough I haven’t seen that many Asian streamers on Twitch – they’re probably all streaming games I don’t watch *cough LOL DOTA Hearthstone Overwatch cough*)

ztd_branches

I did catch a decent amount of Zero Time Dilemma, a really interesting non-linear visual novel/puzzler that has shades of escape room, Saw and Dangan Ronpa (by the same devs.)

One look at the many possible story branches (image shamelessly ripped from Kotaku’s Zero Time Dilemma review, go read it, it summarizes the game better than I can) and I stuck it on my Steam wishlist.

I’m holding back on actually picking it up because everybody says it should be played in sequence – there are two games before this, spread out on the world’s most mind-boggling assortment of consoles – and given the many other projects on my plate, I have a feeling that they’ll probably manage to get PC ports onto Steam before I have the time to “creatively” source alternative means of playing said games.

I caught enough Twitch streams (including the ending(s)) to be satisfied for now, but definitely something on the “to play eventually” list.

The three other games I’ve been watching on Twitch are, in no particular order, Guild Wars 2, Dead By Daylight and Evolve Stage 2.

GW2 streams are pretty miserable. Truth is, they’re just not terribly entertaining Twitch-wise.

The best amusement I got was watching a completely new guy struggle his way through the Heart of Thorns expansion on a level 80 boosted Revenant, if only because it was eye-opening to see how newbies played GW2.

He had no clue when he was in a personal instance, or out in the open world. The Living Story episodes blended rather seamlessly for him because he’d just run to “a quest marker” and slip right into the Living Story episode without blinking an eye.

The Masteries UI completely bamboozled him for a time. (Definitely could use a rework, methinks, it seems to be quite non-obvious to newbies.)

At first he had problems selecting Masteries, then thought he had the gliding mastery when he hadn’t earned enough XP for it yet, and so on. His Twitch chat helped him out, but it’s likely someone else without Twitch chat would have been completely lost.

Then of course, there was watching him run up as a Rev to melee Heart of Thorns Mordrem nigh completely stationary, and getting punted around by Mordrem tendrils (who do that spin knockback thing to meleers) and otherwise completely melted and acidified by whatever red he was standing in, through whatever terrible assortment of gear he had on. He kept complaining that he felt “weak” and needed better gear. (No wonder the level 80 boost offers PVT gear. Doesn’t do wonders for that feeling of weakness though.)

Regardless, he seemed to be having a really good time and was consistently awed by the Heart of Thorns landscapes, so there’s that. He spent a good while clambering on things trying to get to one mastery point, so he got his exploration kicks in too.

Entertaining, though, which is more than I can say for the other type of GW2 stream I deigned to watch – mostly just seeing how other players were doing in random raids.

The good ones just play like any other standard raid video on Youtube, a lot of particle effects firing off while you look on and try to tease out if there’s anything useful they’re doing that you might be able to apply the next time you’re in there, with more pausing and stuttering from the streaming – aka, “eh, I’ll watch a Youtube vid next time, more on-demand.”

The bad ones are mostly only good for brief schadenfreude and sympathy. “Seriously, they’re still struggling on VG? Ouch.” *channel flip*

I didn’t bother to watch any thing else GW2 related. I suspect it’ll mostly  be a case of watching someone tag events and play inventory management games – which would only remind me of how MY OWN INVENTORY needs serious help.

Dead By Daylight, on the other hand, is one of those games which I’d much rather watch someone else play, than buy it and play it myself.

It’s an asymmetric 1 vs 4 FPS, following a survival horror theme.

One player plays an invulnerable supernatural-esque Killer that goes around trying to catch survivors before they successfully escape. He’s able to hang them on hooks (eliciting a really horrible scream) eventually sacrificing them, wound them and carry them around and otherwise toy with them.

(Besides the FFA PvP sandboxes, I’ve never seen any other game so aptly build a legitimate role for players with Bartle Killer-style, sadistic bully-griefer type tendencies/fantasies.)

What makes it distinctly more watchable than the sandboxes where anything goes and Lord of the Flies can kick in if a group wants it to, is that Dead By Daylight sets rules restrictions for the Killer that make it a little fairer and slightly more like a balanced game.

Basically, the Killer has a very restricted first-person perspective with a pretty narrow field of vision. The maps are built so that it’s hard to see other players hiding. There are built-in points of delay for the Killer. He has to attack very methodically and precisely – one strike can wound a human player and cause them to leave a blood trail, but he stops to clean his blade, letting them get further away.

Human players can throw wooden pallets in his way and that can create an immensely frustrating delay as the Killer has to either go around or stop for a deliberately long destruction animation. Juking and dodging is a legitimately successful avoidance strategy for the other group.

Partial success does happen, where one survivor basically throws the other three to the wolves (or singular wolf, in this case) and escapes, while the Killer is left with incomplete victory.

Still, it seems a lot more entertaining to me to watch someone else put themselves through it and see their reactions while playing to an audience, than it would for me to personally play and experience.

I’m not sure if that accounts for its ridiculous popularity on Twitch, or if all us Twitch audiences are just closet sadists, but yeah.

evolvestage2

Evolve is back. Now as Evolve Stage 2, in free-to-play form.

 

This makes me ridiculously happy.

Yes, I paid like a hundred bucks for it originally on Steam when it launched. Or maybe it was $80. I forget.

I don’t care. I’m not unhappy that free-to-play means a larger audience, more potential players and less people freaking out over horrible overpriced DLC and panning the game in the process.

Of course it helps that they gave all us people who paid for stuff free unlocks without needing to grind in-game currency and special “Founder status” (the term Founder is rapidly taking on early access/launch day whale connotations.)

I want to take the time to take advantage of essentially a renewed second launch to properly play it and rank up with the crowd, instead of feeling too intimidated by an established crowd.

Yet another project that goes on the list.

It’s also apparently had a few balance reworks.

I peeked at it, playing with bots, and the maps feel brighter and less dark, making it easier to see and somehow more “friendly” in feel.

Hunter domes are now shared, so any player can throw one to catch the Monster, and are not forced to just rely on and hope that the Trapper knows what he or she is doing.

It’s also an interesting thought exercise to compare Evolve and Dead by Daylight. They’re completely different in feel.

The 4 in Evolve are given guns, and it’s mostly the 1 monster that has to do most of the initial running away. If it successfully gets away, then when it stages up to stage 3, now it’s the hunters on the back foot, except that the monster still is forced by the clock to initiate a confrontation at the power relay. The goal is dome fights, pretty much, with one side having an advantage dependent on monster stage.

The 4 in Dead by Daylight have no guns and very little means to fight back against the 1. They mostly have delaying tactics. They do most of the running away and hiding. The goal is outsmarting the one player for long enough to successfully get away, potentially helped by teamwork, while the one player pretty much goes ham and sees how many he or she can tag.

(That’s a good analogy, I guess. Dead By Daylight is a game of tag. Evolve is more of a chase/pursuit that is capped by an arena fight.)

teso_rift

I also picked up a number of games in the recent Steam sale. They’re mostly meant to last me till December, so I haven’t really made inroads on many, just booted them up to take for a trial spin.

No, the above screenshot is not from Rift. (Could’ve fooled me.)

It’s TESO.

lvl5nightblade

My little wood elf Nightblade has not gotten beyond level 5.

Don’t get me wrong. The scenery is gorgeous. They got the feel to be very much Skyrim now, and it feels pretty good. I really want to check out One Tamriel when it hits, because I think it’s an awesome idea from GW2 that should be ripped off to apply -everywhere-.

teso_somuchwalking

It’s… just me. And MMOs that follow along in the typical RPG vein.

I see a quest list. I see little NPC landmarks sprinkled all over such a large map. I see SO MUCH WALKING and quest after quest in my future.

And I cringe and back away slowly.

I dunno. I haven’t been able to play a full-on RPG in a very long time now.

Maybe I just know, somewhere in the back of my mind, that I don’t have time for it and can’t make it all the way to the end, so I may as well not start.

Maybe another time. Like when One Tamriel arrives. We’ll see.

I guess this is why news of Turbine’s not-quite-shuttering on anything that isn’t mobile gaming bothers me very little.

Like Zubon, I may have moved on out of my MMO phase. (Then again, I never really did stick with typical quest-style MMOs for long, so I may not have -had- a typical MMO phase. I’m still playing atypical MMOs fine.)

I mostly mourn Weatherstock.

Then again, there’s Youtube and Twitch. And I was planning to catch Weatherstock this year through one of those channels, rather than struggle with client installation. (I think I still have 3400 Turbine points that I never had cause to spend and have long written off.) So…

…I guess I already mentally left a long time ago.

I mean, I have no lack of things to do.

Such as… I bought ARK: Survival Evolved in the recent Steam sale.

ark_hole

And promptly fell into a hole I couldn’t climb out of.

(What is it with me and always finding geometry problems like this?)

Fortunately, since I’m fooling around with it on a singleplayer local hosted server (multiplayer is way too Lord of the Flies for me, I hear you can tie up other players and use them as poop-producing machines for your dinos now,) I googled up one of those admin commands for flying and glided out of it.

ark_dodo

I tamed a dodo. The moment I picked it up, I had flashbacks.

That's the biggest damn chicken I ever saw... I guess the Charr need fairly hefty livestock to feed their appetites.

Haven’t gotten much beyond that. I made a mini hut with no roof. I avoided getting eaten by dinosaurs for a good long while, until I started wandering around in the pitch black night with no torch for sheer exploration kicks (most of my stuff offloaded into a chest in the hut, hoorah for being the only person in the world) and bumped into something small-ish that didn’t like me very much, while I tried to flail around blindly in the darkness with a broken axe. That went much as you would expect.

The skilling up and leveling process got a mite boring, along with the waiting for daylight, so I quit for the day and just haven’t gotten back to it.

Crypt of the Necrodancer and This War of Mine and Life is Strange are all new Steam sale additions on the list of things I need to play more of eventually.

I’m suddenly back on a tiny Minecraft: Regrowth kick.

I’ve just been starting up the world, running around aimlessly, waiting for some directed goals to hit me.

So after a brief moment of planning, I decided to put “watch Regrowth Youtube videos” on the list of potential things I could be watching along with Twitch streams while book scanning, to get some ideas.

2016-07-10_07.03.37

This has yielded the B-Space Barrel link.

Basically, with the proper upgrade, two JABBA barrels can be linked to share the same inventory.

This barrel sits on top of a hopper feeding into an item grate, which feeds coal into a field of hungry Endoflames, which will burn it for Botania mana.

The other barrel is near my field of coal plants in the modern farm courtyard, so I don’t have to keep running back and forth to refill the hopper.

It’s still manual on-off for now. Apparently there are redstone mechanisms for detecting when your mana pool is full, but I think that takes up more aesthetic and functional space than I can afford right now.

Eventually, I’ll make a harvesting golem for the coal plant field and that will save my manual harvesting there too.

2016-07-10_07.03.54

I made an Ultimate Energy Cube from Mekanism. (The NEI tooltip for whatever reason calls it a Basic Energy Cube, but the amount of RF it can take is definitely Ultimate.)

2016-07-10_07.02.52

My obsession with energy cubes is mostly for portable fueling of the Buildcraft Filler block.

Experimenting with using it to clear this flat patch of land took a while, between placing landmarks, playing with its settings, encountering a giant pool of water that the Filler couldn’t clear and trying to figure out how to get rid of it – pumps didn’t work, infinite water sources, y’know, the elementium Extrapolated Bucket from Botania eventually did the trick, after lots of manual bailing.

It’s quite a ways from my old base though, and beyond the moat I dug… so I’ll probably have to create some kind of tunnel/corridor system leading to it, and make this a safely walled and lit space at some point too.

(More goals for the list.)

On the Guild Wars 2 front, things are as back to normal as they could possibly be, in this new climate of raids.

I think my adaptation to it has been to mostly stop caring – as in, for the fate of the game, as a whole – and mind my own selfish bloody business.

That means, criticizing when I feel like it, raiding when I feel like it, not playing the game when I feel like it, chasing achievements when I feel like it, WvWing or playing a HoT zone map meta or fractaling when I feel like it, and so on.

It’s a game. One of many. I’ll play it when I want to, and stop when I don’t want to. It’s for someone else to worry about whether they have my time, attention and money.

Currently, a number of things have my said attention.

gw2_currentevents

On the to-do list are to camp out at the Current Event locations long enough to successfully complete and collect the hidden achievements. Why? No real reason beyond collecting achievements. It’s easier said than done because the crowds aren’t great and success ain’t really guaranteed.

Twice weekly, I raid.

(Gotta do it while the going is good and my static group exists, y’know. I did something similar for guild missions, and now I have 600 guild commendations and don’t have to attend any more guild missions for a long long time. Which is good, because I don’t have a current guild with convenient-to-me guild mission times any longer.)

After three weeks of opening chests in the Twisted Castle maze and not getting the collection piece needed (thanks RNG), it finally popped this week and I can move on to the next part of the Envoy armor collection.

gw2_envoyarmor

Making 100 crystalline ingots and 100 amalgamated gemstones for the crystal heart was a mildly alarming goal at first glance, but digging into my bank stash of materials revealed that I hoard way too many things.

A bit of refining jeweller crystals into orbs, a bit of pulling out stashed medallions and crests from storage, a bit of mystic forging, a bit of luck at having farmed enough noxious pods for crystalline ore, and I had an unassuming heart item that I stuck into my shared inventory slot.

Now to go around the HoT zones infusing it, and then doing fractals (joy) to infuse it too.

Then it’s wait until the next series of steps are revealed.

The crafting NPC also dropped a few text hints on the next Gifts that are required. I screenshotted them, but haven’t looked closely at them. Eventually, I’ll need to put ’em into a spreadsheeted list like for Legendary weapons and go after them goal by goal.

Just… not today.

gw2_machined

On a smaller goals front, since I PUGed a Dragon Stand today and got to the vendor at the end, I picked up two machined weapons that can be made into plated weapons, or is that the other way around, I forget.

Either way, it’s a piece of the elite specializations weapon puzzle, which is the real prize at the end.

I’ve also recently gotten addicted to mystic forging items while watching Twitch streams in the other screen, and harvesting toxic spores by cycling alts, so that’s other things I could be doing, besides going on the rich ore node or wood log harvesting world tour.

Cycling us back to the real world, Pokemon Go is on my list of things to look out for eventually.

It’s not in my local country’s stores yet, I don’t think, server problems and all that, but I’m sure Niantic will eventually get it there. Ingress is there, after all.

While I -could- go look for and download an APK of dubious provenance and manually stick it into my phone, the list of projects I’m already embroiled in suggests that I’m far better off just waiting.

Lastly, I’ve also gotten sucked down a parallel hobby of ceramics by taking a weekly pottery class over the last few months.

glazedpots

Really beginner first-attempt handbuilt pots.

unglazedpots

Unglazed and unfired improvement attempts done at home, after deciding to invest in clay and a banding wheel.

(To do list memo: Source a company / find someone willing to fire the stuff for me.)

What utterly fascinates me is the history and culture behind this, as well as the marriage between aesthetic art and functionality.

Pots and vases can be beautiful… but they’re made to hold stuff. That sense of functionality really appeals to me, given my penchant for function over form in Minecraft too.

Online searches suggest that the western style of handbuilding pottery is taught with different methods to what I’ve been learning locally, which seems to draw from a more eastern asian tradition. Making those comparisons tickle my analyzing bone.

Pottery too is an ancient craft dating back thousands of years, and it’s interesting to hold a clay pot in your hands and feel the weight of that human tradition.

I have Chinese ancestry, and Chinese ceramics are a /thing./

I played A Tale in the Desert, and spinning clay pots there are also a /thing./ (I’m sure real Egyptians also have a pottery tradition.)

Probably every country, every tribal tradition, has potters and some kind of pottery history. I wish I knew more.

So I’m eyeing ceramics books on Amazon (most of them priced the same as launch day games) and suspecting that my games budget is probably going to have to share and shrink a little.

Either way, this is a really long term project, just one of many that I’m juggling, with barely any time these days for blogging.

So here’s me, signing out, still playing and watching games and doing RL stuff, until the next time I can post.

GW2: I Get It, I Suddenly Get Why Raids Leave Me Cold…

And the epiphanies come hard and fast all of a sudden.

Apologies for the clickbait-y title once more, but I got hit with a sudden revelation on reading the raiding retrospective on the GW2 website, posted by what seem to be the six primary members of the dev team responsible for creating ten-man challenging encounters.

(Of course, what they don’t mention is how many artists were utilized to make the concept art, scenery, boss designs, animations, textures, item icons, etc., programmers or engineers for whatever it is they do behind the scenes to make sure things work as expected, testers to debug and work out the kinks, etc. But I digress.)

The first post by Byron Miller is really personally eye-opening.

The language used is all about emotions. Creating some kind of emotionally thrilling experience, complete with really high highs and awful lows, so that people who enjoy going on an emotional roller coaster ride get the experience they’re looking for.

The trend continues in the later posts, briefly mentioned as an aside here and there, but the heart of it is in the first bit.

I look back on nearly eight months? of raiding and besides the really awful stressful emotional rollercoaster of the first two months or so, where I was extremely frustrated and fearful that I wouldn’t find and get into a competent enough regular team to even stand a chance at completion, I cannot say that the rest of my raiding time has been that emotion-based.

A fact of which, I have to add, that I am extremely thankful about.

No doubt, you can tell by my subjective choice to use the words “awful” and “stressful” to describe frustration – which, laughably, existed more in the LFG part of the equation rather than the actual raid encounter itself.

(And I really don’t want to experience it again, to be honest. I would be deeply tempted to quit than to jump through that hoop again. My commiserations to all those new to raids who -want- to get into raids and are struggling to find a regular reliable raid team. I can’t help you. I’m not sure I dare to wade out into that shark pool again myself.)

I think back and I really struggle to feel this crazy fiero that people keep talking about when they beat a raid boss encounter. I only get a sense of mild relief. A little high, a small peak on the emotion meter that is usually on even keel.

Low lows are when/if the raid group disintegrates into a ball of toxicity and blaming. I don’t like that one bit.

A minor low (more of a internal sigh of resignation) is when the team must show some manner of elitism, in order to actually be successful at a raid encounter.

Team wipes, mistakes made by random parties, don’t even register most of the time.

A minor low if I’m the one that made the mistake – just resolve not to try and do the same thing next time.

Pick self up and continue on. Rinse and repeat. Analyze a little more if my understanding is still not complete. Wait if it’s not my understanding at fault but someone else’s. Patience gets it eventually.

But I don’t get those big emotional swings, and honestly, I don’t -want- to experience those. So all that experiential design? I’m not the target audience. Thanks but no thanks.

I’m motivated by being able to see and successfully clear new content and by a sense of personal competency. The showing off part? Not really necessary to me. As long as I’m internally satisfied, aka I got the thing, I cleared the thing,  I’m good.

(If the team cleared the thing for me, but I don’t know what’s going on, I’m less good, but I’ll take it. Expediency, you know. I will figure out what’s going on eventually.)

I want to pull out MBTI shorthand again to roughly describe what I think is going on.

My personality type falls into the somewhat rare INTP category. I am primarily a Thinker, I make decisions based on logical thought, rather than be influenced by the emotions of the moment. I am very much an analyzer.

The raid encounter is a puzzle to be solved. It is to be broken down into its constituent parts – what does this boss animation mean and what does it herald? What mechanic is in effect now => what must I do in response? what is the most optimal thing that I should be doing? => trial and error at the early stages to experiment and/or follow the meta guide when the group just wants to clear.

What triggers does the boss have, eg. at 75% health, what happens? Are those increments 75%, 66%, etc.? Of all the possibilities GW2 possesses, what does the boss aggro to? What does this mean for control options and ultimately, strategies?

Unsoweiter.

As such, any raid encounter is most enjoyable for me personally when I can find a safe enough space to contently break it down until I fully grok it all, after which, it is just about performing and trying to execute what I now know and understand in theory.

“Safe space” in this case, mostly (75%) translates into, “won’t get immediately kicked.”

The other 25% of “safe space” means (to me) people not talking nonstop in a distracting fashion, not displaying rampant toxicity like pointing the blame finger, bullying tactics, or otherwise suffering from going on an emotional see-saw and causing drama, temper tantrums, argumentation and so on.

All of which I’ve witnessed while PUGing and on regular guild teams.

(The latter tends to be a more ignorable one or two random emotional events – which when you put ten people in a room with each other, is understandable that emotional fuses do get lit from time to time.)

I get it now, I suddenly get why these emotional events volcano up.

They’re being intentionally designed into the raid encounter.

It’s somewhat eyebrow raising from my quirky point of view, that the most disruptive things that could happen to raiding (feelings of divisiveness, of superiority and inferiority within a team that must successfully work together, etc.) are being triggered by the intent to create some kind of emotionally rewarding final payoff to those that crave such a thing.

Maybe the above isn’t quite phrasing it properly, I don’t know. The concept is not very clear in my head yet.

But I’m struggling toward articulating that it’s the emotion-based Feeling (in the MBTI sense) people who need that high high and low low to feel that “challenging content” reward triumphant payout…

…that probably also tend to be the most susceptible to becoming toxic… (due to emotions flaring up)

…or suffer most from becoming the brunt of toxic behavior (due to taking the feelings of other people seriously or being sensitive to the emotional mood of a group.)

A vicious cycle, in other words, that those who might be most drawn to raiding based on an emotional experience, might very well be the ones most prone to making it NOT an enjoyable experience for the very people they also need in order to clear an encounter successfully.

Kinda funny, and ironic, from a Thinker perspective.