Blaugust Day 31: What Next?

And so we reach the end of August, after attempting 31 posts in 31 days.

We sort of cheated a little at the end, but well, producing walls of text has never really been a problem of mine.

(Producing wall of texts someone else might want to read, now, that’s a little trickier.)

Finding the time to sit down and devote an hour or two to  production of said wall of text, plus a picture or two, that’s harder.

I’d call the Blaugust challenge a success, as it managed to kickstart my blogging habit after a lazy July, and produced a number of blogs that I’ll be keeping track of, even after the month ends.

It’s been a pleasure jumping onto the madness train with a whole bunch of the blogging community.

To-do list wise, we got through about half of the items, and most of the important ones, which I’m quite happy about.

Trove has found itself a handy niche for the moment. I’m quite content to log on daily, fill the star bar for cubits, catch a challenge if I happen to be online for it.

The Tomb Raiser is level 32 or thereabouts. He can juuust about solo U5 dungeons if I’m willing to fight a little harder (ie. wait for energy to recharge and keep holding down the spam AoE button, rinse and repeat 4-5 times.) If I’m feeling lazy, then I’ll stroll through something a little easier in difficulty.

The remaining Trove goals are rather medium-term in nature. I’m working on a Sky Portal, solo, which means accumulating a fairly insane amount of resources that would be much easier to get if I had.. say, 5 or 10 members contributing a portion of the resources each. It mostly means I collect a little each day, stuff it in the bank and try to do more on the bonus days, and basically wait until the magic number is reached.

There’s always fishing for more ancient scales. Which usually means it’s TV show watching time in the other screen first, and fishing second.

Leveling up the Tomb Raiser’s gear any further would mean requiring a lot more flux currency than I can easily get my hands on, which usually means just wait for the hourly challenges and do those for some flux. Very.. time-limited. Working on it, but not in any hurry.

And there’s faffing about on other alts trying to level them up to 20, if I get bored of the above.

I still haven’t quite resolved where I stand on Guild Wars 2 at the moment.

Readers may have noticed that I haven’t bothered to make any mention of the front-page news announcement that GW2 is now… erm, what’s the correct phrase… “play for free” or whatever.

To me, it’s a total non-issue.

It’s too late complaining about the quality of the community. GW2 was going for 10 bucks for a long period, and I’ve noticed mapchat take a turn for the less-polite or patient, in comparison with the quality of the launch day chats.

Basically, politeness is a victim of popular success. The more popular GW2 becomes, the more people jump into the game, the higher proportion of people you will find that have been accustomed to certain speech patterns in WoW or LoL or other similar games and will act in a similar fashion in GW2, having never been fully immersed into the culture yet.

Add on a good dose of veteran impatience and the tendency of people to ape common frames of thought and a certain meta/elitist segregation that seems to have been occurring dungeon-wise (I watched with some bemusement today as someone gave a ranger a lame excuse for a fractals 10 and kicked him from the party – ranger had 3k AP, not exactly a noob – I did not join the vote kick, but I said nothing either, because I just wanted the damn daily done and didn’t want to get kicked before or during the event), and you will find some deterioration of friendliness, free or no free.

I see a great deal of players being all welcoming and social on Reddit, and I presume, in the game as well. Which is great for both them and the newbies – they get “new content” in the sense of having new people to play with / teach / help, and the newbies get that helping hand as well, and may both purchase the game and stick with it.

Which works for me, I’m not really “mentor” material most of the time, being all grouchy hermit and stuff, but hey, increasing game population means increase in all types of players and hopefully, increased participation in all the game modes I enjoy.

On a more personal level, I spent most of the day trying to work out what I was feeling and thinking about the whole “raids” bruhaha.

One thing I do know is that I’m getting increasingly tired of essentially being a martyr on someone else’s behalf, especially when they don’t seem to appreciate it anyway. Of being told I’m making much ado about nothing.

In other words, here I am, trying to be concerned about the really casual GW2 players who almost never see things like organized WvW or organized Teq or organized Triple Trouble or even organized guild missions, and keep obsessing about keeping barriers of entry low and for them to be on a relatively equal playing field so that they -can- join in, when they want to, and I generally find that most of the bloggers who profess this way of playing just seem to have “accepted” that they’ll never do it, period, so the whole activity just doesn’t exist for them, full stop.

It makes me just a little bit mad, this attitude of what-seems-to-me to be “learned helplessness.” The “I could never do it, so therefore I won’t even try” sort of acceptance.

On the other hand, I find the dismissive attitude of the self-proclaimed elitists annoying as well.

It’s really tempting and easy to segregate yourself into groups of people who think like you and play like you. It seems that -both- extremes are quite happy to indulge in this separation, as shown in a little Reddit flowchart that has been making the rounds lately – “In zerk? Go hang with zerk groups. Non-zerk? Go hang with non-zerk groups. Conclusion: everybody happy.”

Supposedly. Except that I note that the non-zerk groups have a tendency to not form, or take hours to complete, be comprised of more unsure players, etc.

To quote another Redditor, I feel like I’m basically undergoing a certain amount of “cognitive dissonance” here, because… let me fess up:

I’m generally lazy. I like my groups smooth and efficient and optimal. I like getting what I’m aiming for, when I group up, fast and painless. Unless it’s the weekend and I’m in a really good benevolent mood, I don’t have time to spend 3 hours teaching a bunch of people I’ll probably never see again how not to suck, in order for me to get what I want.

Given very little push, I am quite happy to fall back into old obsessive hardcore patterns and think elitist thoughts. With the right motivation, I’ll do whatever is needed to fall within the 10% who can do whatever it is I want to do, and who gives a fuck about the 90% who can’t, right? It’s not like most of them even -want- to. If they’re not even willing to help themselves, why should -I- care?

(You will note, all the “them” speech. Segregation. Division. Not community.)

Then I stop and I wonder if I should really let myself go down that road of thought. I’m not sure if I’d like the person that comes out the other end.

I suppose there is a certain amount of real world correlation and history at work. Singapore’s education system has always been “meritocracy”-based – which, during the time I grew up – mostly meant doing well at academic grades at an early age. If you scored top marks, you got shoved into the through-trains, labeled with really positive labels, and woe betide those that didn’t. They got the opposite treatment, pretty much.

It hasn’t been till the last decade or two that the very slow oil tanker has been steering in other directions, realizing that “merit” could be defined very differently (including musical, artistic and athletic merit, besides academic) and doing their best to recognize those with different strengths, as well as giving those who didn’t do well academically other possible and potential pathways to progress their education and careers (giving them the opportunity to possibly even overtake the supposed ‘elite’ once in the working world.)

The other thing the education system has been slowly attempting to do, through thick layers of bureaucracy, is to tweak policy for those who have somehow “fallen through the cracks” and don’t quite fit into neatly labeled categories.

The latest governmental propaganda is basically an exhortation to keep social consciousness in view, to have a heart, and contribute to the community, “No Singaporean left behind,” and so on.

I’m basically caught between being a pragmatic bastard and an ideal of someone better than that.

And I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go.

Is it at all possible to be an egalitarian hardcore raider?

Or do elitist thoughts and segregation away from the hoi polloi come as part of the territory?

(I’ll be frank, I won’t do a PUG Teq, when a TTS Teq is so much more enjoyable and efficient and equally available.

And there was a time when I just couldn’t be bothered rezzing anyone in the Silverwastes because they jolly well ought to waypoint back instead of just laying there dead and expecting someone to risk dying to peel them off the floor… especially when they die again in the next ten seconds that follow.

I’m feeling a bit more bleeding heart after a month away from GW2 and go for a rez, though it’s mostly to test myself and build quick reactions for future “challenging group content” than harboring any actual concern for the person or any expectation that the person will stay upright. Elitist? Probably.)

If I keep playing GW2, I will mostly likely do my best to get into and stay in a successful, regular, organized raid team.

(Unless it so happens that timezones and schedules are really restrictive and there’s no way I can wrangle something that fits.)

There’s no way I can ignore a mountain that is plonked down in front of me.

Not sure it’s worth it, really. But beyond the temptation of Legendary armor, there will be the basic fact that it is content I haven’t seen or played, and therefore must attempt until it is conquered (or I fall screaming off the mountain.)

I have no idea what’s going to come out at the other end. Burnout, drama, frustration, or just a bad case of elitist prick-ism?

Well. *deep breath* I guess we’ll find out.

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Blaugust Day 23: To-Do List Review

Apparently, my subconscious brain has decided that the best way to reconcile Blaugust and my natural tendency to post at less frequent rates is to make me reaaaally sleepy and tired on the “off days” so that I will crawl into bed instead and procrastinate by zonking out like a light, and then release sufficient adrenaline on the “on day” to say, ok, go for it, here’s your super-challenge, 3 posts in one day to make up for it all.

Stopgap post #1 will be a to-do list review. Just how close did the ideal cleave to reality?

(Key: Strikethrough means ‘counts as completed the task, in my book.’

Blue text means ‘Still more left to work on that.’)

  • Watch the Dota 2 International
  • Play the GW2 Beta Weekend
  • Seriously attack the hobby room with a GTD-based cleaning effort
  • Scan at least a book a day for the month of August
  • Trove – level ringcrafting
  • Trove – level gardening
  • Trove – get better mount
  • Trove – fish
  • Trove – get ally
  • Trove – get boat
  • Trove – play it, do dailies, get to max level, etc.
  • GW2 – Finish new LA jumping puzzle
  • GW2 – Finish Dry Top Challenger Cliffs badges and llama
  • GW2 – Finish Silverwastes badges (normal and golden)
  • GW2 – Finish the last undone JP, Spelunker’s Delve
  • GW2 – Finish Ebonhawke book reading achievement
  • GW2 – Tidy up alt inventories
  • GW2 – Open champion bags with low level alt
  • GW2 – Sort bank / organize inventories
  • GW2 – Build up gold reserves
  • Watch Indie Game: The Movie
  • Maybe Play or Revisit Steam Games:
    • AI War
    • Astebreed
    • Cinemaware: Anthology
    • Dishonoured
    • Don’t Starve
    • Evolve
    • Gone Home
    • Hate: Plus
    • Her Story
    • How to Survive
    • Injustice: Gods Among Us
    • In Verbis Virtus
    • Minecraft
    • Path of Exile
    • Poker Night 2
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • Puzzle Quest
    • Realm of the Mad God
    • Skyforge
    • Spacechem
    • Spiral Knights
    • Strike Suit Zero
    • Tales of Maj’Eyal
    • Talos Principle
    • The Banner Saga
    • The Blackwell Legacy
    • The Dig
    • The Stanley Parable
    • Terraria
    • Warframe

Not too bad, really. I got many of the one-off things done.

The key outliers are all the declutter projects. Apparently, it is just impossible for me to balance decluttering and playing games and blog posting all at once. If I declutter, it’s probably going to be radio silence for a while.

Trove is letting me indulge my secondary Achiever to no end, I hit all the notes I wanted on that front.

I’ve even gone through several hundreds of fishing lures (while watching old TV series in the other screen. After I finish all the seasons of Dexter, I might just borrow Game of Thrones off my DVD-crazed family member who just picked it up from Amazon and has been doing a marathon in the living room. The opening theme is now stuck in my head and I haven’t even -followed- the show.)

There’s a pretty serious amount of cruel RNG to Trove fishing though, hence why it’s in blue. I’m still missing -one- ancient scale for the first fishing rod upgrade that I want, and after that, there’s even more things that require ancient scales.

I got my Knight to max level in Trove. The Tomb Raiser is level 19 and will probably make it to 20 over the next week or so. Following which, I will work on the Dracolyte. All of them are vaguely in Shadow Level 1 and 2 gear or thereabouts, and I think that’s likely my solo plateau.

Turns out it isn’t so much -soloing- of the Shadow Arena that is the problem (the Tomb Raiser has managed U3 Shadow Arenas with some initial deaths – but you just restart and can try gain) but the fact that you only have so many Shadow keys as one person. The ideal is to find a group where everyone contributes a key, I suppose, though there are probably many more groups that don’t work out.

My Knight keeps blowing up in the normal U5 adventure world groups – geographic latency plus dodgy servers with lag are not a great recipe for being able to avoid one-shot KOs from mobs while in melee – so I’m waiting on a more damage focused ranged alt to give grouping a better attempt.

The other options right now are to slooowly attempt upgrading with Pearls for 1000 flux each (earned via challenge attempts every hour), go through annoying RNG cycling 3rd and 4th stats with Tentacles (of which I seem to have run out and can only find the randomly popping Shadow Knights as a reliable source of, possibly might get more in Shadow Arenas, not sure), figure out which emblems and flasks I should be unlocking with cubits earned from the daily log-ins, fish more or just level the Candy Barbarian when I get bored of the slow upgrade pace.

They’re all doable, just at a slower pace than before.

That slowdown in pace is somewhat welcome, in that I’ve been able to switch back to GW2 and pay a bit more attention on that front.

I really -tried- the new LA jumping puzzle. I faithfully read and watched Dulfy. I got about 3/4 of the way towards the first key, then I just kept failing a jump and falling. I retraced my footsteps through the same 3/4 of the first part 5+ times, then couldn’t take it any longer and called it a day.

I might try bringing a mesmer alt next time and making a portal before the jump I keep missing. It’s just that said mesmer alt is comfortably ensconced where he is (by the crab-grabbin’ gloves NPC) and it feels tedious to move him elsewhere.

I did tick off several other achievements, the last undone JP I’d been sitting on – Spelunker’s Delve, Dry Top badges and llama, Ebonhawke volumes (take 2.)

There was a particularly infuriating Dry Top badge jump (#9) which took a while, but was pretty entertaining to attempt. I liked the parts where I could think it through and systematically link – “Ok, here I’m going to fall down and strafe just a tide so that I land on this ledge… next, hit the super-jump and aim for this other ledge, etc.” and then perform consistently once I worked it out. I was busy raging at the inconsistent bits – namely Mr Purple Lightning Jump – where latency lets you keep over-shooting or under-shooting, even though you -know- where you’re supposed to go, the skill itself doesn’t quite let you achieve what you want. *twitch*

I gamely tried to tidy up my inventories. That’s definitely still not complete, but some initial steps have been taken on the “clear out the junk” “attempt the easy stuff” “gather an initial overview” front. The hard decisions and actual organization are still yet to come.

And I’ve managed to build back my gold reserve from hopelessly poor (aka 10g, period) to middling peasant (100g or thereabouts) by taking advantage of the recent rise in gold to gem prices from the anniversary sales and exchanging 10 bucks I was still owing myself from July’s declutter project in the other direction. I still have ten more bucks left I can use, though I’m hoping to see a larger bump up once more delicious anniversary items start being released.

I guess I have now officially graduated to “whale” status after three years… (even if I only count in the larger scheme of things as a dwarf sperm whale.)

For actual game-playing though, I did more of that in GW2 this week than I have for a while.

I did several Vinewraths, along with a couple Silverwaste chest train circuits.

I even said, what the heck, and bought three versatile simple infusions to slot into my warrior – who was sitting around with three Ascended slots yet unfilled – bringing his AR from 26 to 41, and then tried a level 30ish fractal for a daily. It was surprisingly painless. I lucked into a guild group of 3 persons who had already finished (what I define as the annoying part, but fractal regulars call the easy) half of the Swamp fractal, so just had to kill the Mossman. Colossus went super smoothly since they did all the running and I just had to sit in the corner and not be a derp and kill the target.

The only part that freaked me out was one portion of the dredge fractal which apparently got changed one patch or other, and I ended up seeing this stealth bomb/pipe with patroling golem sentries phase for the first time. Having very little clue what was going on and not seeming to go invisible from the first pipe that dropped the bombs, even though it was puffing out the powder and the rest seemed to be going invisible ok… I decided to err on the side of caution and just sit there until they finished, just in case my bumbling set off any alarms or what not. The actual ice elemental merry go around was fine. I guess I need to read up on that part for the next time. Eventually.

Jade Maw was also just a fairly methodical takedown sequence, though I also managed to bug myself and get stuck mid-crystal pickup while still moving. Some guy conveniently stood by me and got downed by the Jade Maw, and rezzing him managed to fix that and unstick me from the ground. I was kinda surprised to see that the final chest rewarded a gold, not sure if that was a recent change, though very unsurprised to score a useless uninfused ring as a reward as well. Even more junk to hang on to until the expansion comes and lets us do something useful with the rings.

As for the other Steam games, I did attempt quite a number of them.

The adventure games with finite endings can be officially declared to be done.

I dabbled for a while with those struck off as blue. I’m likely to revisit Astebreed, Strike Suit Zero and Terraria again.

Astebreed was an interesting arcade/bullet hell shooter where you played a mech suit with both ranged and melee attacks. Its schtick was that it kept flipping perspectives, so you might be fighting 2D side scroller in one phase, and then doing something like isometric 2.5D in another, and so on.

Strike Suit Zero is something I really love and want to play more of, but am a little intimidated by the controls and the reputed difficulty level. You get to fly around a small spaceship arcade simulator style, and eventually get an anime mech spaceship with ludicrous power-up and give ’em hell options.

It is a -great- game for putting you in the shoes of flying a small dogfighting spacecraft around large fleet battles with bigger cruiser and battleships pounding the hell out of each other, as long as you don’t mind a bit of fanciful heroic license over realism – you get to shoot down torpedos to protect the big ships, circle around them blowing up turrets, and basically do many unfeasible Luke Skywalker things to progress to the next mission. I’ve only played the first four or five missions and I’m already feeling like I’m in the middle of a Babylon 5-like space battle, and things reputedly get more wild as the missions progress.

Controls though are definitely a bit of a learning curve. Just when I think I’ve got the hang of consistently flying a normal spaceship, they give me a crazy mech that opens up and auto-targets and spins camera perspective on holding down one key. It’s something that feels like you could be totally kickass with, except you’re pressing all the keys with the wrong timing while struggling to learn right now and doing poorly as a result. The mission result screen also doesn’t help, because it keeps reporting my performance as sub-par, even when I thought I was doing pretty well. The game just assumes an average player to be a lot better than they are, I feel.

Terraria is Terraria. One of those games that will suck up all your time if you let it. I can’t really afford that right now, so I’m just not dipping into it heavily yet.

Injustice: Gods Among Us was ok. A fighting game with superheroes. That looked like you’d really need a controller to play it properly. Since I wasn’t in the mood for fighting games, I uninstalled it for the time being.

Poker Night 2 was much of what you’d expect, poker with banter. I think I liked Poker Night 1 more because I recognized more of the characters, but Claptrap and Glad0s were fairly entertaining, even if Sam is the more sedate and easy-going of the Sam and Max duo.

I haven’t been able to get myself to go back to Skyforge. Or Warframe. I guess it probably isn’t happening any time soon.

I peeked at Spacechem again, and a couple of tutorial games later, my brain just splattered on the side of my skull and I decided, nah, I don’t think I’m in the mood for really hard puzzle games right now.

I tried the Banner Saga, and I’m not sure I really get it. It’s very… slow-paced. I’ve been spending more time watching little sprites move from place to place on a map than actual gameplay, even more time watching conversational cutscenes that don’t really say anything, and only every so often, I get a playing board where I can attempt turn-based strategic combat… whereupon I promptly got one character killed and I guess that fellow’s gone for good, which leaves me to wonder if that’ll just make the rest of my fights even harder and the game less worth playing.

Dunno.

There’s plenty of other games left that I could be playing, so maybe I’ll attempt those over figuring out games I still don’t quite get. The rest of the list seems ok for the rest of August and stretching into September.

I’ve -installed- Dishonoured. Just haven’t started the game yet. Maybe I’ll try that soon.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 23.

Blaugust Day 15: Video Game Crushes

This seems to be a fun topic meme that’s going around the blogosphere.

Jasyla from Cannot Be Tamed first turned me on (whee, unintentional word pun) to it, and she has a few other linkbacks in her post from where she got the idea from too.

Mercury’s followed suit at Light Falls Gracefully, having neatly nabbed Quistis and Marjory – two ladies who’ve also caught my eye for being pretty gosh darned sexy in a “I’m still competent and a whole person without you, but *wink* I would be totally hot in bed, and it would be awesome if we had feelings for each other” kind of way.

I thought about Liara or Garrus from Mass Effect, and while they’re both attractive (and Wrex is a dear), somehow I know they’re fictional and they weren’t an instant “OMFG” attraction / infatuation, which would fall more neatly under the ‘crush’ umbrella.

So we’re going to go a little more back in time, when presumably my hormones were more riled up and the graphics were more primitive, leading to a convenient comics-like gap in between the shown scenes where imagination (and projection) could take over.

Erana – Quest For Glory series

eranaspeace

I fell in love with her before we even met.

How could you not love a lady whose raison d’être was to leave little pockets of peace and beauty and calm in an otherwise hostile world?

Her theme song would play, and I would just sit for tens of minutes in Erana’s Peace to meditate and rest.

erana

In Quest For Glory 2, we saw her portrait among the wizards, a paragon of magic, a lovely druidess, a Faerie princess! *dreamy sigh ❤ ❤ ❤ *

So it was a terrific surprise (and somewhat of a blow to me) when we met in the later Quest For Glory games to see that some artist had criminally decided to depict her like this:

EranaQFG4

OMFGBBQ. CONTINUITYRUINED. #NORESPECTFORTHEPAST.

Ridiculously long ears on elves – instant turn off. Not to mention, a waif-ish anorexic look that brings to mind “child” rather than “sexy” or “hot.”

I did still love her for the person and personality inside… so I mainly pretended that this close-up didn’t exist (the pixel version was ok) and just went with the text to end her story and the romance.

Jaheira – Baldur’s Gate series

jaheira1

I have terrible luck with my video game crushes.

In Baldur’s Gate 1, her portrait looked hot as hell, and she was unavailable and inexplicably attached to that wimp of a Khalid.

Some people found her voice grating and annoying, I found it refreshing to actually see and hear a video game female that wasn’t a wilting flower, waiting for a man to come along and “complete her” or hold her hand, who actually “wore the pants” in her relationship with Khalid, and oh that “I don’t care what people think, I say what I want to” sarcasm and laconic humor in a lower-pitched rougher not-intentionally-sultry voice than was usual in fantasy depiction of females.

jaheira2

In Baldur’s Gate 2, she had an unfortunate makeover courtesy of the “ridiculously long ears on elves” artists faction… and I dunno, what are those… dreadlocks?

I can’t remember if I instantly swapped her portrait with the old one, but if I didn’t, I should have.

Fortunately, the game was mostly text when it came to dialogues, and you could read text with any tone and inflection you care to give it. So I mainly closed my eyes to looks and thoroughly enjoyed my romance of the outwardly strong but inwardly still fragile-and-hurting-and-needing-comfort-and-wisdom Harper.

Carla (the Sword Master) – Secret of Monkey Island series

swordmaster

Yet another unobtainable lady of strong words and character.

Why, oh why, do the video game protagonists keep going after the girl that I’m a lot less interested in?

Well, ok, Elaine Marley’s pretty competent in her own way too, but it was Carla I fell for at first sight. Couldn’t begin to tell you why. I guess that’s how crushes work.

Yeah, she was a bit of a cad for joining the mutineers, but really, Guybrush is Guybrush, right, -anybody- would push him around after some time.

Aeris (Aerith Gainsborough) – Final Fantasy VII

aeris

Time for me to join the ranks of the normal with Aeris (or Aerith if you prefer.)

Her spunk, her cheerful personality, that slightly wistful look on her face, her place of beauty and peace in the church growing the flowers she sells…

You name it, she’s got it. It’s as if the designers *cough* went out of their way to make sure nearly everybody would fall in love with her.

Little secret you might not know about me: I never finished Final Fantasy 7.

Somewhere around the Gold Saucer and the disk change, I caught wind of Aeris’ unescapable fate, spent some time looking up blind alleys wondering if a future revival was going to be possible, and then decided I had invested way too much effort and time leveling her up to only get to use her ultimate Limit Break for a short while before it would all be taken away.

Yeah, yeah, I geddit, good for story, loss is a fact of life, poignant narrative, yadda yadda. I wasn’t having any of it. I like my escapist fairy tale endings, dammit.

Yeah, well, fuck it. Fuck Sephiroth. The only way to win is not to play.

(I tried to sneak a peek at future videos and cutscenes via a primitive form of ‘data-mining’ and decided the rest of the story was heading towards one of those anime endings that only seem to make sense to the Japanese anyway, so nah…)

In my world, Cloud and Aeris are still frozen in time and together. The End.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, the symbol ❤ , and the number 15.