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.)

Super Adventure Suffering

There is a particular mental state with which to take on Tribulation Mode in Super Adventure Box.

It’s about three parts acceptance and one part perseverance.

One has to acknowledge that things are unfair, life has its downs – many of which will smack you in the face and then kick you when you’re already down, regardless of whether you see it coming and that there’s no point getting upset or frustrated about it because that just makes a bad situation feel even worse.

sab-cloud
Tribulation Cloud hates you. No offense taken. Just take the hearts, take the life and let me move on with block pushing.

Instead, the way to get through it is to just keep picking yourself up again – one more time -, preferably to the accompaniment of some good music to keep emotionally regulated and focus on the small things you may be able to control about 50-60% thereof.

Take tiny steps. If things smack you down, try it again, ever so slightly differently and see if that way works better.

sab-routes
Dodge-jump, even with an approved Autohotkey macro only works about 50% of the time with my latency. The Taco route shows how to get to the balloons which help to unlock a secondary checkpoint. After falling one too many times, I found a no dodge-jump shortcut that just ignores the balloons instead. No need for a secondary checkpoint if you can just get to the next checkpoint eventually.

sab-dark
Oh, and everything is tweaked for brightness in the images. And gamma is raised in full screen mode when jumping. Because otherwise, it looks like this, which is just ridiculous.

Have a plan, try your best to follow the plan; when life inevitably veers you off the plan, see if there’s another way to course correct back to the same goal and celebrate finding that if it’s at all possible.

sab-shortcut
Another dodge-jump bane in red arrows. It’s a great shortcut if dodge-jump works consistently for you. It’s a lot more annoying if you fall and have to keep re-tracing your steps and hoping the dodge-jump works /this/ time. So I went and found the long way around. Which I only have to do once.

If not, scrunch up that attempt as a failed one and try attempt number X + 1 and aim for just a bit more accuracy, a bit more precision and consistency, even when factors beyond your control conspire to make things completely unpredictable.

sab-balance
The jump where you pretty much balance on a razor edge of safety. Too far to the left and the spikes get you. Too far to the right and you fall into nothingness.

Given current worldly events, I have found myself in a pretty good mood for taking on the last Tribulation zone I have left to finish up the Storm Wizard weapon collection.

This has been a long term project of several years.

One year, I decided to finish the King Toad weapon collection, which meant doing World 1 Zones 1, 2 & 3 on Tribulation mode 16 times each. I believe I did them all in one season’s worth of Super Adventure Box (SAB), but learned each individually, with plenty of outside help from videos and GW2 Taco (which provides an overlay route guide) before moving on to the next.

The next year, it was time to take on World 2 Zone 1 Tribulation. That was it. One World 2 zone a year was enough for me.

The year after that, World 2 Zone 2 Tribulation. The Pain Cliffs. That was a terrible year.

Last year, I skipped SAB. Possibly due to some lingering trauma, as well as overall malaise with the state of the game that year.

This year feels like a good year to take on World 2 Zone 3 Tribulation. It’s been that kind of year.

sab-abyss
(The non-color corrected version of the above image is almost poetical.)

I ran through World 1 normal mode and felt a really feel-good sense of nostalgia. It felt almost like coming home to familiar ground – I remembered all the chest digging spots of yesteryear, without even having to look them up. The self-learning from so much bauble collecting was deep-rooted.

That positivity lasted through most of World 2 normal mode, though Pain Cliffs was pushing it a little (I found a decent if slightly tedious shortcut via Shortcut Eagle for the Glitched chest, I refuse to go through all those horrible checkpoints as far as humanly possible) and Storm Top was overextending its welcome somewhat through its length (though a little nostalgic as I revisited places usually skipped past while hunting for the glitch.)

On that burst of good feeling, I decided to take on Storm Top in Tribulation Mode and complete the Storm Wizard collection.

Sure enough, on Friday night, just before the very weekend I slated to begin the mini-project, I start lagging my arse off.

Ping is crazy, going from our regular across-the-ocean latency of 250-280ms to 500ms, 800ms and spiking to the thousands. 1k, 2k, 4k (that one took the cake. I had no idea it was possible to remain connected to the game with quadruple digit ping.)

Besides local ISP issues, the main bulk of the problem appeared to lie with the Telia servers just before the Amazon cloud servers that Anet chose to use since Path of Fire launched. This is not a new problem. I wound up in extended runarounds with Support getting hand-waved off until final escalation to someone moderately more competent who pretty much said, “You can fix this on your end by using a VPN. The end.”

So I found a VPN and used that for the several months I was still relatively interested in the game. As my interest died, I saved on costs and stopped paying for the VPN service. Apparently as other players’ interests died at the same time, the traffic eased or the server routes re-shaped themselves and I found myself connecting back okay-ish sans VPN this past year.

Come SAB and multiple lockdowns globally, and that is no longer the case.

*sighs*

So I’m back on the VPN for a month and we’ll see how things go from here. It’s that kind of year.

Control? Predictability? Never heard of ’em. Accept. Adapt. Improvise. Find an alternative. That seems to be the watchword of the day. Month. Quarter. Year. Whatever.

I’ve managed two tokens (aka two Tribulation completions) a day for two days now, and things seem to be more or less okay.

Except today, even with the VPN, my connection has been snapping on and off. Full disconnections mean a lost instance and zero progress. I think the ISP is to blame for this one.

On the bright side, my speed through the Tribulation run is showing noticeable improvement and I’m getting certain tricky parts almost down to a science. On the first day, without VPN and ping spiking to 4k, it took 3 hours to first completion. On the second and third day, it was about 50-60 minutes a run.

Today I was nailing the first few phases in a handful of tries. I was about 60% of the way in about 20 minutes, one disconnection and repeat included. The second disconnection told me it was time for a break.

I suppose there’s always reading a book instead until things get better.

sab-fall
Falling. Failing. You get used to it. All you need to do is give it one more go after the plummet. But taking breaks help.

Tapas All The Things

Over at Time to Loot, Naithin penned a post about Genre Burnout. It’s something I’ve been idly pondering over recent months.

On one hand, it’s undeniable that I’m off MMOs as a concept, possibly for good.

Nearly 5 years ago, I wondered what would come out the other side of playing a Guild Wars 2 (now with NEW raids included!) after bitterly railing about the toxic divide that introducing raids would cause.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can answer that question. Frustration, definitely. Sometimes at the game, sometimes at myself, sometimes at other people. Mostly the annoyance of having been proven Cassandra-like correct at the gaping social divide amongst players.

Fortunately, drama was mostly averted, save for one incident where boundaries were trod upon and some workplace skills in mediation, crystal clear communication and compromise had to be hastily yanked out and practiced. Players, by and large, do this really poorly, which feeds into the frustration above.

I’d like to think I avoided most elitist prick-ism, but I confess to being reluctant to join public encounters that exceed a certain level of challenge, on the assumption that the average player group is -not- going to succeed at it, or if I do give it a try, I’ll do the silent “drop out without a word” maneuver after a few failed and obviously-not-going-to-make-it attempts. I’ve watched others be far more elitist than me and simply been silent witness or just quietly thankful that I made it past the ‘barely acceptable’ threshold because I know without a doubt that I’m not investing the time and effort to ‘git gud’ to the point which would make these other people deliriously happy.

Burnout? I’m still raiding twice weekly without fail, barring the odd RL engagement. By any dev metric, surely that is not burnout.

But I feel like I’ve lost my rose-colored glasses on what GW2 could have been, and have accepted that it just wanted to blend into the MMO crowd and appeal to the whole spectrum of MMO players, raid-lovers included. That it is just one MMO among many. That traditional MMO gameplay doesn’t actually do much for me, in terms of being a forever game or tick many of my boxes. (If it did, I’d probably already have been playing Everquest, or World of Warcraft, or Final Fantasy XIV, or The Elder Scrolls or … whatever.)

Been there, done that.

With the last couple years of GW2, been there, done that -again-.

I’m done with main games, primary MMOs, or the one virtual world to rule them all.

I cannot conceive of ever starting over in some brave new world (pun intentional.) What would be the point? To get bigger numbers? To ‘win’ over someone else? To make friends and play with others? To collect all the things and show others that you did?

I’m not sure I ever much had that great enjoyment or use out of Multiplayer, and if the former doesn’t quite do it for me, I think we can safely dispense with the Massively prefix as well.

On the other hand, I am still occasionally finding reasonable levels of amusement playing parts of individual MMOs.

The actual beat-by-beat combat of fighting a raid boss with a character I’m comfortable playing is smooth and relaxing flow.

There was a certain level of RNG lottery fun in joining random PUG strike missions at various timezones during the first two weeks of the Eye of the North introduction – sometimes you luck into a really smooth competent party, sometimes it’s rougher but still manageable, and sometimes it’s utter carnage that is best left wordlessly.

The act of deciding on a small, achievable goal and then following through on it to completion is always going to have a certain ‘click’ of satisfaction at ticking a checkbox, regardless of the game I do it in.

And the same ‘what’s the point?’ argument could be made for singleplayer games as well. Does any progress or learning in a game matter? Is it just about the journey and the experience? One could also have a journey and probably -multiple- experiences in a multiplayer game too.

It’s becoming all equivalent, as I mentioned in my last (now ancient) post four months ago.

I am behind in Warframe. I am always behind. I play it solo singleplayer and like it that way. I have not made a Railjack; I have not yet played Scarlet Spear. I’ll get to it when I get to it.

Instead, I have been chasing the mini goals of relic grinding and building Prime warframes, because I couldn’t be bothered going for ‘lesser’ versions when a Prime one is available. I am super slow because I do it all by my lonesome and never join others in relic sharing missions. I get my Primes anyway, in the end, some gazillion relic farms later. Oberon Prime and Ivara Prime have been on my to-do list for the last month or two, and I just finished popping the last piece today. Now there’s Titania Prime to go.

Path of Exile Delirium League is out and I am not actually playing it. I missed the start because I was busy doing something else, then in the middle, I thought, maybe I’ll give it a go, and somehow I got diverted down the track of attempting to solo self farm an Oni-Goroshi unique.

For those not in the know, this mostly means repeat farming the very first map, Twilight Strand, over and over with multiple characters. I idly thought that this reminded me of Guild Wars 1’s Ascalon Defender achievement where one stayed in Pre-Searing Ascalon, and decided to try it once, just for the experience.

Two level 7 characters and one level 8 later, it’s turned into a sort of begrudging grudge match in slow motion. I -refuse- to do anything else but try to pop the sword, and because I’m not actually insane, I don’t farm for more than half an hour at a time. Lately, it’s been just try a few runs and then quit and play another game. The league might end before it drops. So be it.

My Steam recently played games looks like this:

steamplayed-JanMar20

All the red X’s I marked are stuff I’ve not even installed, let alone played. Mostly they are last month’s Humble Bundle Choice games and a free game.

One green tick games are stuff I played a bit.

At my level of no-discernable-skill, Dota Underlords is an amusing RNG gamble that I mess around with Hardcore difficulty bots. It offers me the ability to learn how to recognize various DOTA heroes and what they vaguely do, and the relaxation of letting AI beat on each other. It gives me the realization that it makes no difference to me whether I wind up in sixth place, fifth place, third, second or even, rarely, first. Should it matter? Win some, lose some, it’s a game, it’s fun for a few rounds, and then I put it down.

Ever so slowly, I have been attempting to finish SOMA. I’d like to complete it, and then delete it off my hard disk because that’s 9gb of valuable disk space I’d like to reclaim, and someone, somewhere, said it was a classic game worth the playthrough.

Honestly, it’s one of those games that is not really doing it for me. It’s a slooow as molasses walking simulator that utilizes a bunch of horror tropes (which I don’t really scare or react easily to, or feel much about). I turned off all the actual danger because the one thing that would make me ragequit without ever completing it would be dying repeatedly to some dumbass monster because I didn’t have the patience to hide in shadows until it went away.

I end up wandering in circles because navigating in murky water is not my forte and it is not scary, it is just frustrating and makes me pull up a walkthrough trying to match my steps with the instructions until I’ve figured out where the game wants me to go next. My game session progress is measured in walkthrough pages. I’m about 50% into sunk cost and I’ll get around to a little more progress someday… just not today.

Battlechasers Nightwar is a fun enough JRPG-like game, if a little slowly paced. Played it for a couple hours, then had enough. Eliza was an interesting visual novel experience that I played for a session, then put down and never quite got back to.

Every now and again, when I crave a walk in the woods, I go back to comfort game theHunter: Call of the Wild and tromp around slowly, hoping to bag a virtual deer.

Two green tick games are games I deep dived into:

Stardew Valley – made a new character and played nonstop until Year 3 and grandpa’s ghost came along to tell me I did a fantastic job. Then lost steam because the next couple of goalposts were far away in terms of money and would clean out the bank. So it goes. Maybe someday I’ll get back to it.

sd-house

Don’t Starve – got into Shipwrecked obsession for a while. A nomadic explorer lifestyle is not really me in survival games. I love to bunker down in a base. Shipwrecked almost explicitly disrupts this playstyle. Kept dying of some cause or another before making it into the next season. Going for yet another roguelike run gets addictive, until one day, they are suddenly not.

Risk of Rain 2 has no ticks. It’s on current free weekend trial. So I trialed. Not quite for me. The difficulty is a little beyond me, and I can’t quite get my head around the scavenge-all-the-items-and-hope-for-good-RNG playstyle. Maybe it’s a carry over from Battle Royales. Maybe it’s why I could never really get good at Binding of Isaac.

Unreal World has been a current tapas game poison of choice. I think I’m getting back into turn-based roguelikes – might veer back to Angband and TOME next.

Unreal World is very simulationist, you play an Iron Age Finn and mostly try to live a low tech lifestyle without dying from one thing or another.

My current run lucked into a bear very early on, which I somewhat foolishly chucked a javelin at. That wound up with the bear charging me and a duel to the death of mad dodging and stabbing.

urw-bear

It broke one arm, which left me crippled on doing various activities for many days until the fracture healed, but hey, I lived, and it died!

urw-cabin

Set up a little log cabin before winter set in. I love the bunkering playstyle in survival games, I may have mentioned.

urw-elkgift

Doing well through winter. A reindeer actually blundered into the pit trap that surrounded my log cabin, something that felt really lucky. I usually spend days checking on all the traps I’ve set up with no returns.

So it goes. I’ll play it till it gets boring or I get distracted, and then I’ll move on to something else.

Ever since mentioning Master of Magic to Syp in a comment, I’ve been thinking of giving that a replay at some point.

My Epic Games list is filling with free games. This months Humble Choice Bundle has arrived. Super Adventure Box is coming. Who has time to play just one game?

Who has time to play -all- the games?

I’ll set a goal, play one game a little. Set another goal, play another game a little. Don’t bother with a goal at all and play yet another game for a while on a whim. Rinse and repeat.