GW2: Turning Back The Clock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then it was time for the Marionette.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Side Thought:

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

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

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

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

Hilariously Objectionable Content

Imagine my surprise this afternoon when I tried to pop over to Bhagpuss’ blog on my iPad, and found this message:

What?

Bhagpuss’ site? You must be kidding me.

(To give it some context, our nanny state occasionally decides that certain websites are of questionable moral fibre and symbolically – since they acknowledge they can’t exactly stop the entire ‘Net in its tracks – blocks them, courtesy of MDA – the Media Development Authority.

This irregular censorship has led to some hilarity where the computer games industry is concerned. Mass Effect was briefly banned for a cutscene involving potential lesbian sex – aka two ladies on top of each other with no nudity, while other games cheerfully snuck right by. The Secret World, for example, shows the exact same thing in the introduction, but I guess no one told MDA.

The entire debacle led to considerable global ridicule – not that they weren’t doing a great job by themselves with this “rap”…

…and presumably there must have been some behind-the-scenes squabbling as the sheer weight and economic power of the video games industry – did your country want money/investment/educational opportunities or not – came down on some paper and pencil pushers.

The long and short of it was some hemming and hawwing as the ban was withdrawn, sparing the ministry from the wrath of countless EA fans, and a rating system put in place where they could safely shovel the fuzzy ground of items they couldn’t ban outright into M18 territory.)

But back to the topic of today… BHAGPUSS? His blog? Blocked? Wtf? What kind of music did he post… or what…? Why?

It wasn’t actually a full block. I swapped over to the Feedly app and it brought up his site and his recent posts.

Turns out the PC browser shows his blog just fine as well.

It’s just something ridiculously weird going on with the iPad and the ISP, I presume.

But I found it ridiculously funny to guess at what triggered some automatic robot AI somewhere to object strenuously to his latest posts.

Let’s see.

Last posted 7h ago. An article regarding Lunar New Year in GW2, where you open red packet envelopes and get “cash money up front” and “it’s definitely not gambling.”

Yep. Definitely a scam all right.

Time to protect all those vulnerable people out there from this dastardly ploy against the public interest.

Just you wait, I’m a’ gonna get my own blog blocked at this rate.

Wonder how long it’ll take for our glorious bureaucracy to figure it out.

Aggressive Helping and Perfectionist Overwhelm

The entertainment of the past few days has been watching an apparently quite famous Twitch streamer (I wouldn’t know, I’m old and unhip) try out Guild Wars 2.

I’m mostly left wondering how much is deliberate performance for Twitch income and how much is genuine flawed human on display for the public to revel in celebrity culture and their own flawed humanity.

There’s been a LOT to unpack and digest in these last four days.

It started with the news of the hour over on the Guild Wars 2 reddit that “Summit1G” was streaming GW2 on Twitch to an audience of 30,000 or so.

Now my first reaction was, “Who?” but you know, that’s just me being very much not a millennial or younger.

I watch Critical Role on Twitch, and chill to CohhCarnage from time to time because both communities are very positive, filled with good vibes and no toxicity, but other than that, I tend not to be in the loop with anything or anyone else.

So like any curious onlooker, I pop over to the Twitch stream to gawk.

Day 1 is mostly the same old Queensdale run that any new player goes through, and a jumping puzzle or two.

The only difference is that Summit1G attacks and murders pretty much any mob in sight (hey, like me! need me some combat action, yeah!) rather than just travel obediently from point A to point B doing hearts. (He does that too.)

That, and plenty of blindingly shiny blinged out players desperately craving for their five minutes of fame attempting to jam themselves into his camera view. A percentage of viewers (and the streamer himself occasionally) are annoyed. I have no dog in this fight, so I’m only mildly amused. (That, and if you play GW2 on the regular, you’re so used to tuning out this visual bling anyway.)

The guy plays for 11-13 hours straight, which is… wow, a lot to unpack.

On one hand, it gives me the viewer something to actually watch during my late mornings and afternoons, which is well nigh impossible when you live on the other side of the world as the majority of English-speaker streamers.

On the other hand, you can’t help but wonder how exhausting it is and how much this would ultimately contribute to burnout. It seems to be sort of an underlying current in the public commentary surrounding this celebrity – that he seems to be bouncing from game to game unhappily looking for some kind of PvP holy grail.

From Day 2 to 4, besides a quick stint in Ascalonian Catacombs, Summit1G discovers GW2’s structured PvP and goes for deep deep 11-13 hour dives into the format.

He has his own group of mates with him, so they are usually in a complete 4 or 5 person party at any time. This provokes a twinge of envy for how quickly he can get set up and supported. The background players often seem to be adjusting more quickly than he is, playing better games or helping push the team to victory despite his meandering off, lack of objective focus or newbie mistakes.

Then again, they don’t have a distracting Twitch chat stream filled with scrolling emotes, text spam and advice of shapes and colors aggressively overhelping and attempting to backseat drive his every move.

Not to mention, highlighting and pointing out every last poor decision with immense schadenfreude.

(Even if attempting to go 1 v 3 while completely inexperienced seems to be perfectly obvious common sense.)

The very definition of irony

In the above clip, MightyTeapot (a fairly well-known GW2 streamer, whom I’ve normally never bothered watching because I’m old and don’t do videos) had popped in to join their PvP team and do a little coaching and demonstration of a somewhat slightly higher level of PvP play than the newbies were exhibiting.

He’s busily lecturing in his nice, positive, calm voice to… uncertain effect (Twitch chat alternating between catcalls and support) while Summit1G leaves mid point and charges right up to near the enemy spawn because he sees two enemy players low on health and has gone into full lock-on blinders mode.

Little does he know that he’s shot through the enemy team and overextended (a third fully health enemy to his side he seems to have missed or dismissed), and that one of the low health targets is a necro, with a second health bar. The necro pops into shroud and that low health becomes full health, and the three generally dogpile him.

His teammates are mostly back at mid, or reluctant to walk into that outnumbered battle to support, and all the while MightyTeapot is busy droning about picking one’s fights properly (aka not being stupid.)

This is a moment of endless amusement for the Twitch audience.

Which on one hand seems to be positively desirable for the purposes of Twitch streaming – your audience is entertained, they learn stuff, presumably this nets viewers and followers and real life money being thrown at you because some people have a desperate craving to be right on the internet or to provide helpful advice, and will actually tip $5 to have their words read out via text to speech and posted on the stream for all to see. Repeatedly.

On the other hand, this might do a number on one’s ego if one is the least bit less well-adjusted and self-secure. If you’re competitive or perfectionist or the least bit invested in one’s performance, dying and losing would already suck. Especially if you want to be and feel competent. Especially if you have an inkling that your friends are doing much better than you.

Never mind that the reality is that it’s going to take quite a while and a lot of effort of study and practice to accumulate skill and knowledge towards competency, and that patience and good self-esteem are important factors on the journey.

We don’t know how much is real and how much is a demeanor for performance purposes, but suffice to say, that a perfect positive role model is not exactly on display over the four days. (And should we really expect such a thing? Isn’t that over-expectation of a different kind as well?)

There are a lot of complaints. A lot of newbie errors. Like forgetting to use a heal. Walking straight into AoE because one has no clue that it is dangerous.

Generally getting melted by conditions and stunned and interrupted to oblivion because both condition cleanse and stun breaks are a completely alien concept to newbies. (Something I have deliberately used to fairly devastating effect when I paddled around in the shallow end of the unranked PvP pool because I have no illusions about my lack of any real PvP capability, and have to shore up with knowledge trickery.)

This is apparently quite agonizing to a certain percentage of his viewers, who spam the chat with unsolicited advice. Useful for other viewers in a receptive frame of mind, perhaps. Much more questionable if the recipient is un-receptive.

I’ve been in the latter shoes before. It is hard to diplomatically explain to the overly concerned individual that one simply does not want to invest the necessary time and effort to “git gud” because it is not a personal priority among other competing priorities at this time. It’s possibly the individual’s priority, hence why they are so attached to the outcome, but it’s not yours.

I’ve also been in the former shoes. It’s tricky. Sometimes you just want to share what you know with others. The person may not ever learn it otherwise, and if they know it, they might have a better experience.

(I had someone pop a late comment into my Terrafirmacraft Plus post the other day. I would certainly not have realized my error about TFC+ fruit trees otherwise. I would have no reason to comb the wiki about fruit trees, especially since I haven’t picked up the game in three months. On the other hand, the usefulness of this is also questionable for said obvious reasons above.)

Then again, sometimes the advice is too overwhelming and simply too much to absorb at any time. Especially if the person is not feeling in a receptive mood. Then it simply becomes counter-productive pressure, because all the person wants to do now is push back and defend their boundaries and autonomy, including the freedom to make their own mistakes.

Because ultimately, it’s a game. It should be about having fun. It should be about learning organically.

It shouldn’t have to be about performing perfectly to suit other people’s expectations. Hell, -work- wishes they could achieve that. Not happening at work. Why should we expect it in our games and entertainment?


For what it’s worth, I continue to watch because it’s both entertaining and educational for now, and it’s something new in GW2 land (which as we all know, is a rare animal these days.)

It’s nice to see the learning process, newbie mistakes included, because it demonstrates a more everyman human frailty, rather than some god of PvP firing off keys at an expert piano playing rate, helped along by a 30ms connection to the servers.

There’s also the possibility of seeing other people play well and learn something new too. Had no idea you could actually time a warbanner res to resurrect yourself.

Not being much of a PvPer, even I can see that Summit1G has fairly good instincts from his general experience at other PvP games. His escape game is leagues better than what I can put up, breaking line of sight almost instinctively and hopping up and down elevations and putting great distance between himself and others when he’s low on health. (Now if only he can remember that he can heal himself in the process…)

How long he will last in GW2 is another matter. Celebrity gossip and drama appears to follow him. Chances are high that he’ll take flight in another direction soon. But it’s certainly been an entertaining couple of days.

Sorting Out Virtual Stuff

Last week’s lament seems to have gotten to the root of the problem in a roundabout manner.

Clutter in all my virtual houses was creating clutter in the mind, and making it difficult to take in more input – be it actual digital stuff, or just thinking about acquiring more digital stuff.

One thing I’m not good at is handling the urge towards crippling perfectionism, which then turns promptly into procrastination.

That is, if I can’t clean it all up to picture perfect standards, I may as well not start at all.

This is a line of thinking that leads absolutely nowhere.

So in small, baby steps, going real easy on myself, I tried to nip away at the problem from different angles, like a baby piranha trying to eat a brontosaurus.

Problem, The First

Overloaded Guild Wars 2 inventories make it impossible to do anything.

You can’t play, more things will come in to clog the works up. You can’t move them anywhere, because there’s no more space left. Throwing them away is a waste, because you never know when you’ll need a ton of them, and/or make a killing selling stuff on the TP.

You could use them, but you’d have to figure out exactly which esoteric ingredients need using in what precise order, which means lots of wiki recipe reading… aka absolute tedium.

Eternal ice and eitrite ingots were the main panic inducing currencies, because I get to do strikes once or twice weekly, after raiding. When you’re not actively doing anything else with the game, this adds up.

Illuminated boreal weapons were bottlenecked by a lot of tedious mystic forging and/or buying ingredients towards amalgamated draconic somethings. I made one or two, then left it on the back burner.

Eternal ice can be converting into other Living Story currencies, which is the main reason I’m hanging onto the main morass. I just haven’t figured out exactly how much I need of whichever currency yet.

The last option was to use a smidgen of the excess into building larger sized boreal bags. This is attractive for multiple reasons – use up some excess currency and get more space, and literally get more space by owning bigger bags.

The bottleneck here is Supreme Runes of Holding, which are obtainable by gamble-flushing stacks of ectoplasm in the hope of getting lucky. Or buying it off the TP for 8.5-9 gold each. Not exactly cheap, which is why I never did anything about it earlier, but I’ve been accumulating raid gold and not spending these past months, so… eh.

3 Supreme Runes can net 28-slot bags, which is a distinct size improvement from my regular miserly 18-slot or 20-slot ones.

So I made a couple and did some desultory cleaning up.

I’m sure it will still induce anxiety in most people, but hey, there is some visible space. I have some room to play tetris with things, and that’s about all the motivation I can muster for this game and this project, so… good enough.

Problem, The Second

Disk space was more of the main mentally pressing issue.

The C: drive was running at some 8 GB remaining out of a 238 GB SSD (ostensibly it’s 256 GB, but apparently Windows and hard disk manufacturers count GB in different units of bytes.)

The other SSD wasn’t doing much better (20-30 GB out of 238 GB), nor the 1 TB hard disk drive (80ish GB out of 931 GB available.)

Since that is a lot of STUFF taking up room to deal with, I thought I’d attack it from the easiest target for the biggest impact front.

I ran Spacesniffer to visually see the conglomerations of folders taking up the MOST space.

Turns out that the only big things in the C: drive were Windows, Guild Wars 2 and Path of Exile, plus some scattered stuff in Documents folders. GW2 was pushing 47 GB, PoE 30ish GB, and Windows in that 30-40GB ballpark.

It gradually became obvious that keeping the three together would not help the C: drive any, nor are any of them viable candidates for immediate removal. So the last option eventually clarified itself as move either GW2 or PoE out of the C: drive and into another drive.

Yours truly is a lot less confident about GW2 acting right on a non-C: or non-SSD, so that eventually distilled itself into next action: Transfer PoE out of there, and into the other SSD (since I do still want PoE to perform nicely.)

Segueing Issues, The Third

Cleaning up the other two drives to make a bit more room was essentially a collaboration between Spacesniffer and Steam.

Most of the large space hogs were Steam games. I took out 40 GB of Van Helsing 1 and Van Helsing 2. I’ve played the first game, once upon a time, and was sort of halfway through the second. I figure I have a ton of other ARPGs I’d rather get around to first, so I can install them again later, if ever.

Attempting Talos Principle for the third time was the right time.

Laser and block puzzles are fun. The recording ones can go to hell.

I raced through most of the puzzles in four days or so, only going for hints and outright solutions for stars and some later puzzles that got a bit too headachy and tedious to deal with.

The main head rush was the joy of insight, of being able to figure out something new, logically or intuitively, from the components at hand.

Getting to see pretty scenery in super-ultrawide didn’t hurt either.
Oddly, the second world reminded me a LOT of A Tale in the Desert visually, just with more graphical sparkle.

The difficulty started to get a little out of hand during the later puzzles of the third and final world. I started feeling a little antsy and impatient, so I went for only the easy and medium endings, and gave up on the most completionist Messenger ending. There was also Road to Gehenna DLC I picked up in a bundle somewhere, which mostly provoked a “oh no, not -more- puzzles” response, so that quite decided things.

As much fun as annoying and chating with the Serpent is… when you’re sick of the puzzles, you’re very much done with Talos Principle.

Out went another 20 GB, with much relief. I can always reinstall later if I ever want to re-do the Messenger ending, or if I’m finally ready for more puzzles.

I gave BATTLETECH a go.

It was surprisingly text-laden and crunchy, systems-wise. Seemed very faithful to the original tabletop franchise, from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about said franchise.

It was also amazingly unforgiving. I died twice in the tutorial and had to restart from scratch, mostly because I had no clue what I was doing, the tutorials didn’t tell me, and the controls and UI were a little obtuse.

It took a little skimming of some third party guides to begin to grasp the initial basics – like being able to selectively choose weapons to shoot, what “health” was (aka armor and structure), and the odd turn/phase order.

I dunno, but I kinda needed this screen in the ACTUAL first tutorial mission, not AFTER I gained enough knowledge to complete the tutorial.

Being really stubborn, after a brief ragequit and some reading, I played like a really careful X-COM strategist for the third tutorial attempt and blew through with flying colors and a lot less instant death failure.

It still felt slow and tedious, and I had no clue what I was doing on the first story mission after the tutorial, and it was a 30 GB monster. So I gave up and deleted it.

Of course, after that, I got curious enough to Google “Battletech slow” and learned there are mods / easy ini fixes to adjust the pacing and everything, so eh, maybe. I’ll reinstall it when I’m ready.

On one hand, I really find the concept of playing some big stompy robots and strategically shooting up hit locations magnetically attractive. On the other, the thought of needing to understand every last stat and detail of every single Battletech mech and weapon in order to play well is a little off-putting.

Not to mention, Battletech’s apparent habit of cheerfully killing you off ruthlessly if you didn’t immediately know the correct approach to deal with a particular situation. (Destroyed twice in tutorial mission; promptly shredded up by turrets in first story mission while trying to work out how to get LOS to a turret generator to destroy it.)

This Dark Souls difficulty thing is a trend that is getting out of hand.

And then there was SOMA.

I finally completed it today.

Really happy about that. Possibly a little too happy, given that it’s supposed to be a horror game about undersea robot monsters.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that I get bored shitless with walking simulators, really quickly.

I really need the ability to interact and WHACK things with a stick, at the very least. Heck, even Subnautica lets you stab things with a knife, if ineffectually. Most of the time, you would still play as intended, if only because killing things with the death of a thousand paper cuts is beyond tedious, but one needs the option for action, in order to feel less artificially restricted.

Since horror stealth games are an immediate NO GO zone – because jump scares feel artificial and jump scares where you die immediately if you didn’t crouch and wait for eons in darkness while listening to scary noises are time-wasting bullshit – doing it walking simulator style with no immediate death possibility was the only way I’m ever completing the game and the story.

The story was not bad. I can understand why people like it. There’s a certain Gone Home verisimilitude in poking around the leavings of a setting and other peoples’ belongings. I half-enjoyed that part, except the controls felt a bit slow. The thematic and moral questions were quite good for stimulating philosophical thought on issues of humanity.

The body horror bits were a little lost on me. Yes, there was a great deal of aesthetic ugliness around the place. But eh, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the ugliness is also about adaptations to a deep sea environment. At one point, I also thought that if we were shrunk to the size of a cell and crawling around the human body, it would also look like a godawful gory mess of horror too.

At any rate, it wasn’t a waste of time to experience it once, and I’m also VERY HAPPY that I don’t have to waste any more time experiencing more of it. It is DONE. Finally. Strike off another 20 GB.

The end goal of all the rampant deletion is that all three drives are back to a nice looking blue in Windows Explorer, with ~40 – 140 GB free space remaining. One has a little more mental bandwidth. (Ironically odd statement, since as far as I checked, I’m not an AI or a brain scan reliant on disk space. Yet.)

It’s also helped to target a few more low-hanging fruit goals of games to play and deal with first. Ample disk space is a very powerful motivator.

New Acquisitions, The Fourth

Sorting out the whole Steam nonsense was next on the list.

In went this month’s Humble Bundle Choice serials. I even managed to install some of them to try out before the month is out.

Off the list for me were Verlet Swing (too absurdly trippy for me) and Yuppie Psycho (I don’t really enjoy horror genres enough to play through ’em. I’ll watch someone else play, no problem, but firsthand playing them isn’t really rewarding enough for me.)

In went the Road Trip Special purchase.

Turns out, it’s all DLC.

With all the games I’m now motivated to play through and boot off the hard disk, I don’t actually see myself needing any new games for the time being. At least, I can certainly wait till the Christmas sale.

I do have about $6.50 in local currency or ~$4.70 USD of odd duck games (ie. games with known issues like glitches or pacing or just not very fun, but the concepts sound interesting to explore for cheap) sitting in the cart. I may or may not jump on it later tonight.

But it’s also interesting that I ended up prioritizing the purchase of DLC for games I -know- I enjoy.

I received Boundless free from Chestnut. Given that I’m 430+ hours into the game, I’m starting to feel like I should give the company something in exchange for all this enjoyment I’m having with it. So I did.

I don’t strictly need the deluxe edition upgrade. I was doing fine without it. But as a thank you, with some bonuses attached, I feel pretty good about it.

I get a month of Gleam Club (worth $5usd a month) where I don’t have to worry about keeping beacons topped up – granted, stuffing 10 foliage worth of fuel into my small number of beacons per month is no big deal to me either. The Gleam Club comes with colored chat text, which I am unlikely to use since I am not a chatterbox, but perhaps I can get some use out of emojis in signs.

I get 500 cubits and 10% more plots, not as if I was running out of the free cubits or plots any time soon either.

And I get to make a special weapon called the Golden Fist, which I could have bought from other players or asked other players with the Deluxe edition to fire off my machines to make them. Still, since I now have the ability, I mass crafted 10 of them and will eventually have to get around to forging them and then taking them for a spin to see how they work. (I could have just stuck to normal slingbows also, which have more range than the fist weapons.)

Virtual House Expansion, the Fifth

The Boundless base has been extended in three compass directions with extra plots, to reserve space for future planned expansions of storage, farms, and machines.

I’ve been digging out the holes slowly and steadily, but have been interrupted in these pursuits by the arrival of exoworlds, in shiny colors, that I feel like I need to snatch up, before they disappear in a few days.

Being someone who loves the color green, I so want to stay on this planet forevah!

The sorting/tidying/cleaning/ordering bug has hit well enough to at least do a tiny bit of a constructive thing.

In this case, the new basement corridor that will eventually lead to rooms of machines. Initial sketches using placeholder blocks, while the actual marble and concrete were still getting mixed up and crafted in the machines.
The more-or-less finished product.

Mostly less, because I added a bit more decoration on the mid-level stair landing, and I want to do something more decorative and make a proper fountain/water feature later on.

(The water was left over from trying to make a safe landing spot in the basement, before giving up and doing the L-shaped ramp as stairs route.)

Addendum, the Final

I’d intended to get a quick 30 min game out of one of this month’s recent Humble Bundle Choice, so that one could feel virtuous about actually having played a game I newly own.

I wound up nearly 2 hours into it.

Suffice to say that Beat Hazard 2 is still pretty durned good.

Mind you, it takes a little getting used to.

There’s a Steam review on it where the author calls it “How to make yourself legally blind 2: the game.” Accurate.

My first encounter with its predecessor Beat Hazard, and I recoiled like a vampire from its riot of color and sheer visual excess.

I was ridiculously motivated by Steam achievements in those days though, and there was one nasty one in Beat Hazard that was in the way of my brilliant completionism. So I gritted my teeth and just stuck it out.

At some point, your brain learns to compensate and literally tune all the visual bling out as merely background noise. The trick is to just zone out and let your eyes defocus on the background where the lightshow is, while mostly feeling the rhythm of the music and focusing only on important things – like where your ship is, where the killer bullets are, and where to just spray your own bullets in the general direction of targets.

One big improvement upgrade on the original is that Beat Hazard 2 allows you to play your own music from any streaming site or Youtube by using desktop mic to listen and some third party music identification service to figure out what the song is.

Given how esoteric my music choice can be, that it identified correctly about 50-75% of the Youtube videos I was using as actual music tracks, that’s not too shabby. (We’re talking Melodicka Bros, Miracle of Sound, Wind Rose, Sam Tsui, etc. It kinda half gave up with earlier Miracle of Sound and Peter Hollens videos and it more or less surrendered with nightcore.)

What is pretty cool is that each track dynamically generates for you a new ship that you could purchase (with in-game cash, not real cash – sad we have to specify this now) and use.

So you might find potentially find good or bad ships, and tell your friends to go play those music tracks to get good ships, etc.

Each ship also has special missions to upgrade them further, mostly based about the artist or words in the track, so it keeps unlocking potentially limitless gameplay tasks.

But mostly, Beat Hazard 2 is about chilling to as intense or relaxing an experience as you personally want to make it (you can dial down visual intensity to 50% and use really slow songs, or if you’re score-motivated and highly competitive, then you need 300% visual intensity for the best score multiplier – in which case, good luck to your eyes) while listening to music you enjoy.

I could think of worse ways to waste 2 hours.

GW2: No Quarter Trailer

Looks tentatively promising.

Story development; lots of exciting combat action; actually using a open world map zone for a map wide meta; lots of armor sets to counter the commenters who whine about lack of armor when they see new weapons (new charr helmets, omg, I want); strike mission that is presumably less restrictive than the other “r” word.

Maybe ArenaNet is finally being ArenaNet instead of trying to be yet another cookie cutter MMO.

Guess we’ll see. Mostly dead inside, but perhaps a faint burning ember of hope can be kindled.

(Of course, Anet being Anet, everything could break, bug out and the servers might lag endlessly, ruining the entire understandably-temporarily-voiceless experience even further. Gotta protect that teeny spark of eternal hope with a nice crusty layer of realistic pessimism.)