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.

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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.

Blaugust Day 9: To-Do List Recap

Easy way out today. Let’s do a recap of where I am with the to-do list:

Watching the Dota 2 International – Done. Some nice matches this year.

Gw2 Beta Weekend – Sort of played. If 30 minutes messing around with some skills can be considered ‘played.’

From reports, a great many events in Verdant Brink have been breaking all weekend… which doesn’t encourage me to try it out any. Exactly what kind of useful feedback can be offered then besides “need this fixed before any further opinions can be given?”

Decluttering the hobby room – Okay, guilty, I’ve been enjoying the holiday weekend and haven’t moved an inch on the good intentions yet.

Scan books – I gamely tried to scan one and realized it’ll take me forever the ‘try to preserve it’ way. So I sliced it up. And another five books cut up. Just not yet scanned. So a little behind on that, but I trust the ADF on the scanner to eat them up once I get around to it.

Trove To-Do List – Pretty much everything done besides fish.

Ringcrafting and gardening are at 250 and maxed out. I bought my store raptor.

Then Thursday was apparently doubled adventure box loot day, and I went nuts on visiting lairs and dungeons. Turns out that adventure boxes are like lockboxes but with no need to spend real money on them unless you wanted to shortcut the process and use a ‘golden key’ to get the ‘rare’ drop without grind. I’d been opening a bunch without seeing hide nor hair of the reputed panda mounts that were supposed to be in there, but Thursday saw a flood of boxes coming in and I just kept opening them and suddenly, there was a purple-pink fae panda mount that popped. Shortly after, the red panda mount.

That’s honestly more mounts than I need already, especially since I like the raptor so much. I compromised by letting my Tomb Raiser ride the fae panda so that they were color-coordinated, and kept using the raptor on everybody else.

Allies attained. Boat procured. Not only did I get to Mastery 20 and unlock wings, the next couple of days saw me hit Mastery 30, and unlock the hourly challenges too.

All the alt classes I own are leveled to over 10, the Knight is 19 and creeping up on max level 20, half-thinking of buying and trying out the candy barbarian, who knows, we’ll see.

GW2 To-Do List – I gamely tried to read all the volumes of Ebonhawke in one sitting the other day. I -swear- I hit all twenty of them, I was whispering to myself each volume number, but somehow the achievement didn’t unlock. Either it’s bugged or I made a mistake counting. That kinda deflated me from other completionist attempts.

The good news is that I’ve recovered my icy runestone backup fund (ie. 100g put aside for rainy days), the bad news is that I don’t have much more gold than that.

Nothing else on that front, just been lazy with GW2. I really miss the fortnightly Living Story updates. It’s like I feel frozen in time and unable to progress without the story moving ahead too.

Watch Indie Game: The Movie – I watched 3/4 of it? It was fairly interesting, dealing with all the runaway emotions of trying to make/sell an indie game, but I kinda got sleepy before it ended, stopped it to nap and never went back to it.

Other Games: I’ve been dabbling with Savage Lands, which is mostly awkward in many areas (but Early Access is the usual excuse) but shows some amount of promise if development continues and more content gets put in.

And I’ve popped back into Terraria for a spell, going singleplayer this time to try out the 1.3 patch. (Mostly because I lost my saves – worlds, characters – when I switched to the new computer and can’t be arsed to go digging around in the backup for them. Good excuse to start from scratch.)

So far it’s mostly been killing the Eye of Cthulhu, and wasting a ton of Worm Food trying to summon the Eater of Souls into a man-made corruption area – I think when it sinks down into the ground, it leaves the corruption area and thus scarpers off or something. I gave up, made a really stopgap arena in the real corruption region far far away from my base (hence the desire to make a controlled one nearer) and killed the Eater there with my last Worm Food.

I still need one more Eater of Souls to make the last piece of demonite armor, and then maybe I’ll think about visiting the dungeon and/or descending to the hell layer for the Wall of Flesh.

What’s heavily distracting are the butterflies. Literally. They keep flying into my base. I keep netting them and going “ooh, so many different types to collect,” and realizing that nearly every critter (besides butterflies) is now collectible.

And some of them are bait, which no doubt feeds into a giant fish collection of some sort. I think I’m going to need a bigger base.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, L for Lists and Lazy, and the number 9.

Blaugust Day 3: A Great Many Trove Firsts

It’s amazing how much you get done after writing things down.

Here’s what happened in Trove in two days:

  • Tried a Shadow Arena (Uber 2) for the first time, solo, and won (albeit with some fancy-footwork tactics)
  • Bought an Elysian Flask from the store using cubits (zero real money spent so far)
  • Leveled a Tomb Raiser class to lvl 10 and thoroughly enjoyed it
  • Gained Mastery Level 20 and got my first set of free neophyte wings
  • Leveled ringcrafting to 250
  • Obtained 3500 cubits (just 500 shy of a store-bought raptor mount, one more day should do it)
  • Fished approximately a hundred times
  • Decided I could spare 600 glim to buy the cheapest and lowliest (but functional) boat to tide me over while collecting more resources for the nicer models
  • Found a Treasure Isles merchant selling buddybot soultraps and bought a few
  • Found a Treasure Isles merchant selling cat soultraps and bought a few (popping a rare Prowling Shadow ally on the 5th try! And then popping another while buying a few more for the hell of it, trying to collect the common rarity allies.)

What’s left on the list is get a mount, gardening, fish a lot more, and then it’s time to find new grindy goals (of which, Trove has plenty, never fear.)

Apparently, as apology for a spate of crashes and extended maintenance downtime (every time this happens in some other game, I remember that ArenaNet’s back end team is fucking amazing for creating a game that almost never goes down and never has regular weekly maintenance,) Trove offered up a free class coin and a bunch of cubits to each player that logged on that weekend as an olive branch.

Works for me.

I leapt at the chance to purchase the newest and most expensive class, the Tomb Raiser, for the wonderful price of free.

I’d been eyeing it for its reputation as a really good soloing class.

It didn’t disappoint when I put it through its early paces.

Left mouse button was a basic magic attack, and right mouse button called up a dinky little bone minion that fought monsters for you.

smallminion

Its passive attracted little deep purple ‘souls’ that orbited the Tomb Raiser. Each was a charge for summoning one of those itty bitty bone minions. Souls are regained over time, or when something dies, creating a snowball effect of an increasing swarm of minions that tilts the battle towards victory.

I had visions of the City of Heroes’ mastermind all over again, and it’s done even better in Trove, as the minions can do a respectable amount of damage, along with ‘tank’ by holding aggro / body blocking.

tombraiserskills

Skill 1 converted the basic attack into an AoE effect, and gives you 90% damage resistance, allowing the Tomb Raiser to dive into his minion swarm and AoE burn enemies down while healing his minions with the same skill. Drawback: it ends when you run out of energy.

Skill 2 gathers up all your existing minions and makes them form up into one giant bone goliath, Devastator-like.

largeminion

I was already chuckling to see the three-headed monstrosity that I’d gathered from the three minions I had out, just about my height or the height of the boss. (Three souls, right?)

Then some chance spamming of itty bitty minions gave me 5 or 6 out at one time (killing stuff returns a soul charge back, yeah?) and I hit button 2 for the hell of it.

rarrrr

RAAAWRRRR.

Omg, I’d created a MONSTER.

And it was MINE.

It engaged the boss, towering over it and me, and cheerfully swiped the boss into oblivion with a few hits.

You may picture me in full-on maniacal laughter at this point as I thought “Best Mastermind/Summoner Class Ever! I am so leveling this for keeps!”

(And yes, you can create further itty bitty minions while this monstrosity is following you too. So much ❤ ❤ ❤ for the skeletal horde.)

Creates tanks, does damage, doesn’t have to get into melee if it doesn’t want to, I can see why the Tomb Raiser is considered a really good soloing class.

Deciding what to do with the free bonus cubits was a lot harder.

I eyed the store raptor for a long time, before deciding being a little faster mounted could wait, and picked up the Elysian Jug I’d also been eyeing. The default Elysian Flask heals 40% health and has 8 charges.  The store-bought Elysian Jug heals 100% health for the same number of charges.

This might be an arguable case of paying-for-power, except there are two ways to obtain it: credits, earned via a real money exchange, or cubits, earned via playing over time (doing dailies, leveling higher up in Masteries, etc.), so it becomes more a case of paying for convenience or to circumvent a time-limited grind.

The flask options are also pretty interesting in terms of lateral choices available. You can also pick up an Elysian Bandolier, which heals 20% health, but has 18 charges. Good for those that like to spam, and apparently for those that want to frequently trigger accompanying emblem flasks that also provide various buffs. There’s a Balanced Elysian Flask version that heals 40% but has more capacity, and the lazy man’s Death-Defying Vial that heals 30% health, with 10 charges, but does so automatically when low on health – good for those that tend to die with half their flasks unconsumed because they forgot or couldn’t use them in time, I guess.

In this case, I’m still too broke to think about buying Emblems, and all I really want at the moment is more effective health to prolong my characters’ survival.

A 100% health recharge flask does that very well, as long as you have nerves of steel and dare to drop to a sliver of hp remaining before quaffing.

I’d taken my highest level Knight (16, +2 from two pieces of Shadow gear) out to do his daily Star Bar and was ambling around comfortably in a Uber-Level 2 Adventure World. (He was within the level range to go to U3, but I found it a little slow going with the current gear he had, and dropped to U2 for something better paced.)

Then I saw it.

A Shadow Arena.

The second I’d seen in my Trove play so far.

Entering the first was a moot point, as I hadn’t earned enough Shadow Fragments to create a Shadow Key yet. But the second… well, I had enough for ONE key.

Did I dare? Test out if I could solo it? Something meant for 8 people? At Uber-Level 2? (I mean, oughta try soloing a U1 first, no?)

Oh, what the hell, I was more nervous about grouping with unknowns to enter an unknown place, than just wandering in myself into said unknown place to see what it was like and get my expectations set properly.

So I made the key, opened the portal and stepped in.

shadowarena

A hasty scan of a wiki revealed something about 5 waves of monsters, with one -big- bad being the 5th wave.

The first wave wasn’t so bad, a lot of small monsters, just back away a lot and kite and keep AoE cleaving with my knightly sword. Spam flasks and my elite heal when my health dropped.

Ditto the second and third.

It started becoming obvious somewhere around wave 3-4 that I was running out of full-heal flasks at too fast a rate.

Dammit, and I still had a giant boss monster to go on wave 5. Was I screwed?

With one flask left on Wave 4, I knew I had to come up with another strategy. Stat.

There was to be no climbing, every last surface was spiked, and I heartily doubted that this arena would let you place blocks. I couldn’t stop anyway, the mobs would catch up and knock my health bar into next week.

And just like that, I realized my only hope. I -couldn’t- stop. I had to kite. Big big circles so that the melee mobs couldn’t touch me.

Why?

To buy time.

Because I had a pretty damn high health regeneration rate, and every second that a mob wasn’t hitting me was pulsing my health bar back up to full.

Plus, my elite was cycling off cooldown, and this is an elite that heals you to full AND gives you 7 seconds of 75% resistance to duke it out with something.

That’s 7 seconds of dps that I can swipe away at the monsters, before legging it around the mulberry bush in the arena again.

Wave 4 down.

Wave 5 came up, still one flask left for emergencies, time to -really- make this strategy work.

There were a couple heart-stopping moments when I realized the big bad also shot out purple energy balls when one got too far from it (like you might when you’re kiting it in a giant circle), but desperation is the mother of invention and I did my best to triple jump every time I heard it make a strange coughing noise that seemed to herald a ranged attack, and pretty much every other time too since jumping would likely put me out of range of a chance attack.

It got close a few times and flung me into the spiked walls, taking off huge chunks of health, but knights have that really high regen and health pool, so it was a mad scramble to get up and run rings around him again.

Every time my elite came up, I’d dive back into the fray, get a few hits in while it knocked off almost all my health, sprung the elite, then got 10 or so hits in relatively safety, before breaking away before my resistance shield came down.

sadone

Eventually, VICTORY.

Completing the little tutorial pop-up quest that had been hanging around for umpteen levels never felt so good. Completely achieved under my own power. Fragments earned painstakingly, boss solo’ed and killed.

It was pretty obvious though that more gear would improve performance on this front… like an actually useful ally, emblems, better stats and what not. (Sighs, such are the vagaries of vertical progression games.)

But it was still damned satisfying that good movement and tactics and the action combat allowed me to get away with something like this, slow going it might be.

The next day was work on the to-do list day.

Trove’s systems are really elegant in their simplicity, while still remaining interconnected.

Finishing the leveling of ringcrafting required 1100 shapestone ore.

I mostly did it super-casually, stopping to mine any purple ore cubes I saw, in between traveling from one lair or dungeon to another.

If I stumbled across a procedurally-generated mine/tunnel/cavern glistening with ores, I threw aside the “Destination: Lair” plan in favor of chasing after one shiny vein or another.

Now and then, one would organically end up mining together with some other players, speeding up the proccess, before just as organically (a la GW2) separating and going our own ways.

groupmining

Yet, it is possible to be even more optimal or organized for even greater benefit, if so motivated. See this Strip Miners Reddit thread, where whole groups of people apparently teleport to one location, throw a bunch of bombs for the quickest mining possible, and all reap the benefits. (Each bomb costs about 10 shapestone ore to make, so it’s a bit prohibitive to use when solo mining shapestone, imo.)

After crafting the rings, it is amusing to see that the rings turn up in boxes that you open to see what randomly generated stats turn up. This, of course, is a sneaky way of getting players used to the feeling of opening lockboxes, even if these particular lockboxes are entirely generated from in-game resources.

They sure are shiny when tossed on the floor like that though.

ringsgalore

Then I went fishing. Lots of fishing.

Realizing that I probably ought to collect the lowliest boat and ugly ragged sails anyway for the sake of completing the collection and earning mastery points (all those interconnected systems), I decided not to be cheap and spent the 600 glim to buy the really basic dinghy / raft thing.

Since I had it, I might as well go sailing around the Treasure Isles for a while, right?

Then I stumbled into the merchants. The first sold Buddybot soultraps, which were not the cat soultraps that I wanted, but eh, it was only 300 glim for an ally, and when you have a grand total of zero of them, any lockbox containing an ally is a win, right?

I bought a couple. Got a few cute bot allies, some that reduced damage taken, some that increased physical damage. Oh well, didn’t seem too bad. Better than Diggsy the mole, which only increases mining speed.

Some more sailing later, I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The cat soultrap merchant.

catsoultrap

Eh, it wasn’t as if I had that much glim left to try my luck, but what the hell, I bought 5 and thought I might get a few common cat allies.

prowlingshadow

On the fifth lockbox, this popped out, nearly causing me to hyperventilate.

THE Prowling Shadow ally that was supposed to give really good lifesteal and be great for Knights and Dracolytes for effectively bolstering their health.

After spending only 1500 glim.

That seemed ridiculously fortunate for a ‘Rare’ drop.

Ironically, I decided to buy 10 more lockboxes because I wanted to see what other cats I might be able to add to my collection, and after being dismayed at some seven repeats, and oh, one uncommon skeletal cat, -another- Prowling Shadow dropped out.

“…..”

I tucked it into the bank for now, awaiting the day I get brave enough to figure out how to use the trading system / trading post and *ugh* manually trade. (Something I’ve always loathed and never did in Guild Wars 1, and only did once -super-nervously- in Path of Exile.)

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a dive into Uber-3 after that, with a Prowling Shadow out, and could immediately feel a pretty solid difference in Knightly survival.

Soon, it’ll be time to collect enough resources to make an Uber-4 portal and then figure out just how much more I need to buff out my gear to handle that.

It presumably gets grindier and grindier from here on out, but I do have alt classes to amuse myself leveling with, and I’m not really racing with anybody regarding gear progression. As a secondary game, it’s more of a “let’s play every day for an hour or two, accumulate whatever progress is possible, and we’ll see what we can manage to achieve in 2-3 months from now.”

Assuming I don’t get distracted by something newer and shinier.

This post was brought to you by the letter B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 3.

Blaugust Day 2: The (Very Optimistic) To-Do List

It’s past noon on a Sunday and I’m finally feeling somewhat human again after some intensive sleep and a warm lunch in my belly.

I managed to finish a scan-through of all the blogs that posted on Day 1 of Blaugust, and wow, I am not envying Belghast‘s self-inflicted job over the next 30 days to keep it all organized.

Anyhow, there’s gaming I want to get around to, but first, a blog post to satisfy Day 2.

I’m going to use Izlain’s good idea of creating a gamer to-do list to provide some focus for the rest of the month.

My personal rules are going to be a little less strict or structured: I’m likely to shuffle things around, add and remove at will, and my mind has no idea what ‘reasonable size’ even means. 🙂

Mostly, it’s just to have a list of stuff-I-might-want-to-do for me to refer to, when I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next.

So here we go:

  • Watch the Dota 2 International (3- 8 August, so this week.)

My optimistic dreams of learning Dota 2 to a sufficiently decent level didn’t quite materialize, stalling at the limited pool of 20 heroes, but I enjoy watching the spectacle anyway. I’ll just watch at my basic level of understanding and pick up stuff from the commentary. Still enjoyable, even if I can’t appreciate every last nuance.

  • Play the GW2 Beta Weekend (7 – 10 August)

The beta weekend announcement also includes some nice thought-provoking questions asking for specific feedback that might turn out great as prompts for a blog post. Two birds with one stone, hoorah. We’ll see how it goes, though.

It looks like it’ll mostly be the same content as the first two sneak peeks, and I found it very hard to write much about it because it felt then like more of the same. Which wasn’t -bad-, it was comfortable, familiar, a little bit grindy, but neither was it blow-your-socks-off-spectacular either. It felt like, okay, we’ve had Dry Top, we’ve had Silverwastes, and now Verdant Brink is the next continuation of that. Right. It’s (more or less) playable. I get where you’re going with this. I guess… it’s all right, it’s acceptable, no strong reactions either way.

  • Seriously attack the hobby room with a GTD-based cleaning effort (7 – 10 August)

Not quite game-related, but I’ve been on a declutter kick, and that’s something I’ve earmarked for the long extended holiday weekend. It’ll be nice to find a carrot to reward a serious effort at this, but I’ve been feeling quite content and satisfied after finishing the scientific skin collection in GW2. I just kinda want to build up some gold reserve again, is all.

Perhaps I might either think about a dreamthistle skin (not the whole damn collection though, shudders) or maybe allow myself to spend some money in Trove.

GTD (just google it), by the way, is the system that best works for me when decluttering. Collect everything by yanking it all out into a pile. Process it a piece at a time, figuring out what it is and what should be done with it. Organize it into categories for storing in its proper place (decide on a place if it doesn’t have on) or associate a next action/project to be done with it (scan it, donate it, whatever). I’m definitely still working on the Review and Do steps though. Not quite gotten the total hang of those yet.

  • Scan at least a book a day for the month of August.

As mentioned, my declutter project wasn’t quite done, even after three focused weeks of effort.

bookstobescanned

This pile is one of those still-to-dos. They’re still in decently good condition, but I have to accept that a) I just don’t have the space to keep so many books any more, b) I’m not likely to pull them out to read or re-read them, now that I’m hooked on an iPad and find reading on a computer screen not stressful at all, and c) that they -will- grow mold and fungus over the next ten years in my climate, making it less and less likely that b) will ever happen.

Solution: Ditch the paper, keep the knowledge digitally.

Depending on just how sentimental and unable to detach from your possessions you are, it might be possible to get by with a camera documenting memories of your stuff, but given the number of books I own (the pile is, like, just one shelf), plus loose papers and business cards, receipts, bills, letters and other assorted junk, I invested in the Fujitsu Scansnap series years ago and swear by them.

I own the S1500 model, now replaced by the newer-and-improved ix500, which is a workhorse of a scanner with an auto-document feeder. Books that I care little about preserving, I slice the pages off the spine and let the faithful scanner nom it up and spit it back out in PDF form. The software is pretty decent, with an AABBY Finereader variant for the Scansnap for OCR, and comes with Adobe Acrobat.

This year, I couldn’t resist the SV600, which fills in for the gaps that the previous scanner can’t handle. Namely, stuff larger than A4 sizes and books that you want to scan non-destructively.

Personally, I find it a little slower, in the sense that the manual flipping of pages becomes the scanning bottleneck because a human can’t turn pages as fast as the scanner can scan, and the resolution and accuracy can be a bit more iffy and take up more human processing time tweaking settings pre- and post-scan (there’s a lot of neat software tricks for straightening booklet scans, removing fingers, etc. but you have to go in as a human and adjust little dots one at a time to tell the computer what to do, so stuff slows down.)

But it really fills in the gaps that the first scanner just couldn’t handle, and between the two of them and a digital camera, it gives me no excuses tools-wise for not being able to digitize anything.

Only my procrastination and easy distractibility stands in the way.

So, taking advantage of Blaugust, that pile is slightly over 30-40 books (some of them pretty small), and I’m aiming to scan at least one a day (preferably more on the weekends just in case I run out of time on the weekdays) to go along with my blog post per day. Probably try to get the small ones first.

  • Goals for Trove
    • Level ringcrafting (I’m at 206, gotta get to 250. It requires mining ridiculous amounts of shapestone ore, 1100, at last count.)
    • Level gardening (Just crossed the 50 mark, I suspect it also requires an absurd amount of shapestone or sunflower whatsits.)
    • Get a better mount (Still using Slow Sebastian with the 70 mountspeed, normal mounts are 90 speed. I’m eyeing the store raptor, which requires the daily earning of cubits – obtainable in-game, and/or something fun from the Treasure Isles traders, which require an insane amount of glim, which I don’t have, but might earn fishing.)
    • Fish (which increases glim, and one needs to fish up 5 rare fish for ancient scales to upgrade one’s fishing pole. There seems to be an approximately 1% chance to catch a rare, which means 1 in 100 lures or so. Bit of a time suck, so do this while watching stuff in the other screen. Good thing there are going to be quite a few Dota 2 matches on the to-do list too.)
    • Get an ally (I’m not entirely sure on all the different ways yet, but I have my eye on the Prowling Shadow, which reputedly makes performance better with a whole lot of lifesteal, and that is apparently a rare drop from buying cat soultraps (aka lockboxes) at 300 glim each. That’s a -lot- of fishing for glim.)
    • Get boat (Finding those Treasure Isles traders is probably going to involve a lot of running around on the seas. One of these would help. No idea how to quite get one yet either. Gotta look it up. I suspect it’s also going to need glim, or some rare fishing resources.)
    • Plus the usual run around, fight stuff, get xp, do dailies, level to max level 20, play alts, the works.
  • Goals for GW2
    • Finish the new LA jumping puzzle (guiltily, I haven’t really bothered with it much. I might just look up a video and follow it, it just doesn’t seem to scratch an explorer itch because I don’t even know where one should be aiming towards and there are a whole lot of things that look like they could be jumped on, but don’t quite turn out that way when you try.)
    • Finish Dry Top badges and the llama hunt (never quite got around to the Challenger Cliffs completion)
    • Finish Silverwastes badges (I’m missing one or two normal ones and many many golden ones)
    • Finish the last undone jumping puzzle in my achievements tab (can’t remember what it is, but I know there’s one more I never got around to doing)
    • Finish the Ebonhawke achievements (the book reading and the poster things)
    • Possibly tidy up alt inventories again
    • Open all the champion bags I’ve been chucking in the bank with the low level alt
    • Maybe sort out my bank
    • Slowly build up gold reserves cleaned out from the crazy scientific skin chase
  • Watch Indie Game: The Movie

This comes in completely from left-field, but I was just scrolling through my Steam games list and realize that it was there. Possibly came bundled with some Humble Bundle or other, or something.

I watched Free 2 Play, the Dota 2 documentary, and didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it, even if it’s mostly spectacle and fluff. I just kinda liked the idea that games have gotten serious enough, or at least part of the mainstream enough, to have documentaries made about them. So, why not? It’s like watching those “making of” movie clips, not exactly full of substance, but just a brief, polished look at some behind-the-scenes or production aspects.

Anyway, I need some easy goals for the tough days too.

  • Other Games I May or May Not Get Around to Playing, But Have Been Thinking About Trying or Re-Visiting
    • 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 (with all those lovely mods)
    • Path of Exile (the Awakening expansion)
    • Poker Night 2
    • Puzzle Pirates
    • Puzzle Quest
    • Realm of the Mad God (it may have deproved, there was some bruhaha around the cash shop around the time I stopped playing)
    • Skyforge
    • Spacechem
    • Spiral Knights (I really liked this game, but geographical latency issues were a killer)
    • Strike Suit Zero
    • Tales of Maj’Eyal
    • Talos Principle
    • The Banner Saga
    • The Blackwell Legacy
    • The Dig
    • The Stanley Parable (I played the free version, got the paid one in a bundle)
    • Terraria
    • Warframe (tried,  not super-impressed, may give it one more go before writing a ‘first impressions’ piece, or just chucking it entirely)

Yeah, well, I’m optimistic. What can I say. Getting the first four done will already make me very happy. We’ll see how far we get on the rest.