Listmas 2014: Games I’m Keeping An Eye on in 2015

I usually don’t do this looking ahead to the new year thing.

I’m pretty cynical about games never really hitting their proposed launch deadlines – and if they do scramble to hit it, it ends up a buggy unplayable mess with little resemblance to the much-hyped and highly anticipated thing in one’s head that one has been working oneself up into a lather for.

Something feels a little different about next year though.

It doesn’t seem like it’ll be a good year for MMOs, but there are actually games I’m anticipating, among a plentiful crop of releases, which is rare for me.

(I’ll skip the usual sequels in my personal list, like Witcher, Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto and so on, mostly because they are all -huge- games and I’m still guiltily backlogged on the originals. Picking them up for $5 two to three years down the road is more my cup of tea.)

The Rare Gems I’m Anticipating in 2015:

1.  Evolve

I honestly don’t know how much personal mileage I’m going to get out of this game, but since the Big Alpha, it haunts my dreams. The concept is phenomenal, the graphics are gorgeous, and browsing the Turtle Rock Studios’ forums reveal some really dedicated active devs and that boatloads of work have gone into refining and iterating this game.

I have a feeling it’s going to be the rarest title yet – a game that I’m going to be paying full price for, pre-launch, because I want to play it immediately, with the launch crowd, and I want extra cool monsters.

Just holding out for the next beta before making my decision.

2.  Batman: Arkham Knight

Arkham Asylum and Arkham City are among that rare breed of games that I’ve actually completed, start to finish. Arkham Knight is the last of the trilogy. ‘Nuff said.

(I am still waffling about Arkham Origins. It strikes me as a space filler that another studio was tasked to get done. But well, maybe when it goes on 75% off and I have nothing better to do.)

3.  Mordheim: City of the Damned

Games Workshop. Fantasy Necromunda. For the computer, without having to buy and paint miniatures. If I wasn’t so cheap or repulsed by the Early Access concept, I’d already have picked it up. But nah, I’ll wait for it to launch, after more eager fans have rooted out bugs for me.

4.  Grim Fandango: Remastered

Unless it turns out to be an accidental buggy mess of non-functionality after porting from PS to PC, it’s hard to see how this one can go wrong.

The story is a classic, I’ll be happy to play it again without having to root through dusty archived CDs, and updated graphics will make it easier on the eye. Can’t wait to see Manny and Meche and Glottis again.

Possible Stinkers / May Not Even Come Out in 2015, But Intriguing All The Same:

  • No Man’s Sky

Space exploration and survival on procedurally generated planets. The concept’s not really new (see Mirrormoon EP, for example), but just as intriguing. Plus points for No Man’s Sky: it’s a lot prettier than most.

nomansky

The big question on my mind: is there going to be an actual game? Are people going to get lost and directionless after a while, or bored because 9 out of 10 planets are uninteresting rock?

  • Minecraft: Story Mode

Telltale Games takes on Minecraft? Really? Wtf?

Can they actually tease out a narrative that people will be interested in, given that Minecraft is more the king of sandbox stories and little personal tales?

I mean, all I really want is a resolution to Shadow of Israphel, and I’ll be happy puttering about on my modded Minecraft making up my own narratives.

But, y’know, it’s Telltale Games, so I’ll keep a weather eye out all the same.

  • Warmachine: Tactics

Reports from Early Access are not terribly promising. They speak of bugs, wonky control system and flawed AI.

Still, it’s another miniatures turned digital game, and I’ve always wanted to play Warmachine. So KIV and see if they can fix it sufficiently before it actually launches.

  • Torment: Tides of Numenera

I really want to like the hopeful successor to Planescape: Torment.

I picked up the Numenera tabletop RPG series from Bundle of Holding earlier this year (they’re conveniently holding a reprise sale currently!), after listening to a Rollplay of it, and was quite impressed with the setting.

It’s a sort of Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe-inspired far future earth environment, in which multiple ages of man and possibly alien civilizations have gone by, accreting strange and unknown artifacts known as Numenera in buried ruins. A sci-fi, fantasy, post-apocalyptic setting all-rolled-into-one.

The game now… who knows if it’s any good? We can always hope. And see how the reviews turn out. Shadowrun, at least, didn’t turn out so bad.

  • Pillars of Eternity

The sister Kickstartered game, also powered by nostalgia – this one claiming inspiration from the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series of games.

Ditto the who knows if it’s any good line. Just watch and wait for now.

  • Warhammer 40,0000: Eternal Crusade

I really want this to be good. It’s freaking Warhammer 40k, after all.

I threw in for the Founder’s Price because I’m just a silly fan.

I suspect it will only be passably decent at best, to be honest.

And I seriously worry about ping and latency issues making the game unplayable for me.

But you know, it’s Warhammer freakin’ 40k, and if all I get is something similar to the City of Heroes character creator where I can dress up Space Marines in neat chapter colors, then I guess I will be a content enough sucker.

Here’s hoping that I can at least get a few hours of shooty fun out of it.

So that’s the batch of not-quite-all-the-way-mainstream games I plan on keeping an eye on in 2015 to see if they release and if they’re any good.

What’s on your list for 2015?

Listmas 2014: Random Things You Can Do in Don’t Starve Together

The more the merrier! Or more mouths to feed....

1) Die promptly to darkness due to Steam chatting with a friend.

2) Resurrect as a lonely ghost and go exploring.

3) Discover you can turn pigs into werepigs. Including guardian pigs. Who will promptly fight each other.

dst-pigbattle

4) Give in to your inner pyromaniac by haunting trees.

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5) Admire the fruits of your ghostly labor. Just a perfectly, totally normal tree carcass on the left there.

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6) View the aftermath of mating beefalo herd + frog ponds as not a bonanza, but just enough to feed all the hungry mouths at home for a few days.

dst-meat

7) Spectate a beefalo shaving attempt gone horribly wrong, knowing you had no hand in it this time!

dst-fire3

A big thank you to Syl and her friends for hosting the server and graciously welcoming the lil’ robot onto their world.

(Disclaimer: Experimental ghostly antics were explored with a PUG server, though with the amount of -intentional- forest fires started, who’d really notice one more?)

GW2: Endgame Ideas and Adventures in Goal-Setting

Maybe if you squint... there's 225 of 'em... somewhere...

“225 dolyaks in the snow, 225 dolyaks,
Take one down, slap it around, 224 dolyaks to go”

– anonymous Norn drinking song

It has not escaped my notice that during the last few days of blog silence (and game playing), my most popular post getting hits has been the one about Guild Wars 2’s end game.

That one was a rambling little response mostly making the point about what GW2’s endgame is – a smorgasbord or tapas MMO of many lateral progression options once you pass a certain baseline on the vertical progression ladder.

If you’re not fundamentally comfortable with that, you need to go play another game that is more familiar to you and gives you only one linear ladder to climb so that you can feel special about your “accomplishments” which mostly seem to involve the expenditure of time and perhaps how well you can execute a certain move.

Or conversely, if you’re entirely bored of the genre, it’s time to take a break and move on to a game with a completely different feel and challenges you in different ways. At least for a little while. (Here’s my shameless recommendation of a deep, tactical experience where knowing the right move and strategy is given a lot more stress than how long you take to execute it. I’m sure you can find more games out there too.)

However, if you’re still happy with the game and you’re just here to look for ideas on ‘what to do in GW2’, here are a couple of suggestions:

Reddit is a great source of ideas, as it’s got a huge cross section of variously motivated players reading and contributing to it.

  • When in doubt, a reddit search for “goals” should bring you nearly every thread and idea that may possibly interest a person – from the bog standard ‘get Legendary and look pretty’ ones, to be a PvP or WvW master or ‘collect all the things.’
Clothes? I don't need no stinking clothes to look pretty!
Clothes? I don’t need no stinking clothes to look pretty!

If you’re just interested in hearing about the way I play, then read on.

My voluntarily chosen over-arcing goal is achievements, but not in any kind of maniacal, obliged to win a leaderboard kind of manner. I tend to just use them as ideas or suggestions for things I could be doing.

What does end up happening anyway is a decent amount of progress
What does end up happening anyway is a decent amount of progress

I’m perfectly happy to let, say, the last two jumping puzzles sit undone because I haven’t been in the mood to do them yet. Or a bunch of posters and books in Ebonhawke and mariner plaques that I’ll get to, someday, when I want to have an easy immersive experience.

But maybe the next goal that pops up on the summary is 971/1000 trolls and I go, hmm, I can kill 29 trolls today. Hmm, where are there nice and easy trolls to kill? I don’t wiki because I like to remember these things as esoteric MMO trivia. I remember seeing trolls in Bloodtide Coast, but I think, nah, too high a level, it’s gonna be a pain to kill 29 of those. I think lower, and remember seeing a champion troll in Caledon Forest. Aha, surely there must be smaller minion trolls nearby. Sure enough, there are a bunch. Ding, achievement get.

I do tend to attack the time-limited achievements first, because you know, they are time-limited. This has led to some occasional QQ when striving to reach the quantity required by an achievement ends up taking up 100% of my current available playing time, but ArenaNet has been getting a LOT better on this front and giving more moderate sized ones.

Every day when I log on, I check the daily achievements tab and pick and choose. If I tried to complete all of them, I’d go crazy in short order, but hey, some people do. I highlight on the tracker all the ones I wouldn’t mind doing, then try to knock out a bunch with one stone. Maguuma killer, veteran killer, gatherer? Ok, off to Mount Maelstrom to slaughter a bunch of things, grab some easy veterans and harvest stuff then.

Once it hits 5/5, I tend to stop there and leave the rest of the highlighted ones as extras that I might do if I have more time that day. If not, whatever.

The Living Story tab gets checked next to see if there’s anything that I want to work on or knock out. I admit to being voluntarily completist on this one. Many are content just reaching the meta-achievement. My minigame challenge is to do all the non-infinite ones if at all possible.

I’m keeping an eye on the time in the meanwhile. Once it hits one of the scheduled Teq times for TTS, I tend to meander over and attend a run. I find attending Tequatl more exciting than chasing world bosses, and you do get rares and karma out of it too. The eternal hope is, of course, that I’ll pop a mini. One day. Some day. (Yeah, right.)

Minis are my other voluntarily chosen vice. Again, I’m not completist about this. The prices of exotics are crippling. I spit on any ugly gem store ones. (Ones I find cute, I might consider $10 for if I haven’t spend my month’s budget of $10-20 already, or convert gold to gems.) But I did start by picking up all the blues and greens since they were cheap, and as time wore on, I found I could earn enough spending money to buy rare minis sporadically.

And ever since I managed the initially-viewed-as-insane goal of 225 dolyaks slapped in 7 weeks by working on it slowly 5-10 dolyaks a day, I’ve become a little more open to the idea about long to medium-term goals by chewing away at them in chunks per day.

Being able to afford an exotic mini falls under an idea like that. The thing costs 50 gold? Well, if I earned 10 gold a day, I might be able to afford it in five days. Yeah, right. The amount of dungeons I’d have to run in a day to do that would make me slit my wrists in a hurry. Not sustainable for me. But I could probably earn 5 gold a day. Aim for two CoF and two AC runs (maybe only get half of that done in reality), sell some gathered materials and rares, that would work.

Also, temporarily setting aside one goal for another. I had 100 gold sitting in the bank for icy runestones for that someday Legendary.
Also, temporarily setting aside one goal for another. I had an extra 100 gold backup sitting in the bank for icy runestones for that someday Legendary. I couldn’t resist when the price dipped on 12 Dec as people began selling off their stuff to rush Ascended armor crafting. Title get. Screw the jackalope. (At least until I have more spare money for luxuries again. New goal: restore savings.)

The other thing that has caught my current fancy is the possibility of getting the dolyak finisher before they do their drastic revamp of PvP and remove ’em.

Being that I was only rank 11 yesterday (2785/4000), I sat down to calculate the exact number of points this would take and how achievable it might possibly be. Turns out, one is aiming for 36, 715 more points. Oh god, was pretty much my reaction.

However, at an average of 160 points per match, assuming the PvP ideal of one match won and one match lost (minus some fudging for the preponderence of stacking, and plus some for the ability to nab more points by hitting top whatevers in a certain category or volunteering to autobalance), it turns out that I “only” have to attend around 230 hotjoins.

That’s like 225 dolyaks, ain’t it?!

At 5-6 matches a day, one should be done in about 46 days, or 6.5 weeks. Sort of like the timeframe of a WvW league, eh?

That should keep me occupied until the next Scarlet patch.

Who knows, if I actually improve enough, I might get brave enough to join a solo queue some day.

Or there's always Wintersday in WvW.
Or there’s always Wintersday in WvW.

If you’ve actually read this far, thanks.

I’d suggest that to get the most enjoyment out of GW2, one has to take the time to decide and narrow down a couple of goals for your playtime.

This may be something as relaxed as “have fun and go where the wind and my guildies take me” or something structured like having some short, medium and long-term goals that you’d be happy accomplishing.

Faces only mothers could love
Or something as personal and meaningful as taking your own collection of memorable screenshots or roleplaying.

Point is, you do actually have to decide on something, and let other things be. For a while, at least.

If you get bored, then switch goals to something that does interest you, nevermind whether the first was completed or not. It will still be there and you can come back to it again. (Mostly. Time-limited ones excepted.)

And if you have to, switch games. It’s okay. You’re not paying a dime while you’re not playing GW2. There’s tons of other games out there. You can come back if and when it ever interests you again.

GW2: SAB World 1 Zone 1 – Quick Reference Guide to Baubles

  • 5 baubles – BOMB – take a left before first checkpoint 1

gw432

  • 20 baubles – BOMB – left of next checkpoint

gw434

  • 20 baubles – DIG – area near chest with two monkeys 1

gw435

  • 20 baubles – DIG – area near chest with two monkeys 1

gw437

  • 20 baubles – CHEST – if key drops along the way

gw439

  • 6 baubles – BOMB – backtrack from checkpoint

gw440

  • 10 baubles – BOMB – take a right at last checkpoint 1

gw442

Moving on to World 1 Zone 2….

Sources:
  1. Dulfy (world 1 secrets, world 1 dig locations)

Disclaimer:
This is not meant to be a comprehensive coverage guide. Besides not magically knowing every single location, I have chosen on purpose to leave out a few known sites because they involve way too much backtracking for my liking for too little bauble reward.

This is simply a reference for myself to follow as I move in the general direction of straight ahead to the boss, because I have bad memory and I can update my own blog the fastest as I discover/hear about new sites.

But you’re perfectly welcome to share. If the brevity and lone screenshots do not sufficiently guide you, please see sources above for further elaboration.

Unattributed locations were independently discovered by moi.