Of Fish and Blenders

The problem with playing singleplayer games is that it almost never occurs to me to share what I’m doing.

I mean, the very -point- of a singleplayer game is to toodle around doing things on your own having experiences of your own, right?

In contrast to some players who find they must have company when playing modded Minecraft, be  it for general camaraderie or friendly competition or to show off what they’ve made/done, none of those are very strong motivators for me when playing.

I mostly play to assuage my own curiosity, to learn the ins and outs of a particular game, to tickle an underlying achiever urge, and to be lost or immerse in another world/story for a time. None of which particularly require ‘sharing one’s experiences’ in order to tick the checkbox.

So I conveniently “forget” I have a blog and let it lie fallow, in favor of oh… playing Stardew Valley for an extra hour or two.

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We’re now into the Summer of Year 2, and getting a minuscule bit more serious with the farming thing. I’m trying to earn enough moolah to afford the larger animal barns, because it’ll be a really boring Winter if I don’t.

The fishing craze continues, and I’m fast running out of Summer days to catch my new obsession, the legendary Crimsonfish that lives in the east ocean.

It’s not that it doesn’t bite. Oh no. That dang varmint has chomped down on my bait more than ten times now.

It’s that it twists around so wildly, even at level 9 fishing skill (with an extra +3 from a Dish o’ the Sea reward I got from the community center, so I’m capped at 10)  that it escapes me every time. It is officially “the one that got away.”

I have been -sooo- tempted to install an easier fishing mod, just to nab the varmint, but that would probably just cheat myself of the satisfaction.

I spent the hour after I quit playing reading up on Tackles on the wiki, and am going to try a few new ones and see if they make the task any easier. I can also level up my fishing skill one final time to level 10 and see if that does anything. Failing which, there’s modding as the very last resort.

I got so pissed off by the Crimsonfish, I actually ran into the Sewers one night after an entire failed afternoon/evening at the ocean, thinking to use the last 30 seconds of my +fishing food on an attempt at another legendary fish.

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Well, it wasn’t an attempt. It was one hit, one reel. Super easy.

At least it proved there was nothing wrong with my fishing rod, or my fishing skill.

CRIMSONFISH, I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, I SWEAR.

On the Path of Exile front, I’ve been finding new fancy things to spent microtransaction points on.

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A currency stash tab is the newest thing GGG has come up with, and I immediately nabbed one.

Some people felt it condensed their wealth too much, into a numerical value that they couldn’t feel the tangibility of (an image I now can’t locate on Reddit said it best, a roomful of cash Scrooge Mcduck style versus a bank account transaction slip listing only numbers), but you know what, I don’t care.

I only care that I managed to empty the two Stash tabs full of currency that I had on the Standard league into one nice neat tab, and got 1/24th closer to having a usable stash in Standard (maybe it’ll happen, one day.)

Having a condensed currency page in the Perandus league ain’t bad either.

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I was mildly amused to see that Path of Exile also had its own share of lockboxes.

Albeit a fully cosmetic-only lockbox wherein you are confirmed to get the full value of the points you spent (just that you get purely random things you may or may not want), and the forum announcement also requested you to “spend responsibly.”

I dunno if that had any effect on the whales who promptly dropped some hundreds of dollars for 2000-3000 points to open a ton of them, but hey, people spend hundreds of dollars on various hobbies, so who’s to say they were irresponsible?

Everyone has their own spending limit.

I was feeling mildly curious, so I decided to open three. 75 points, or $7.50 USD. That’s more my kind of spending limit.

I popped a gargoyle decoration for my hideout, which I was quite chuffed about, and a radiant gloves that some people might have liked, but I personally didn’t like the look of, and decided to stop there, one less than originally planned.

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The hideout menagerie grows…  (The biggest gargoyle is the decoration.)

A day or two later, the infernal footprints went on sale, and I gladly nabbed those, to finish off the whole cosmetic look – essentially you leave fiery footfalls behind, just like carting around a GW2 legendary.

On the non-spending and actually -playing- front, my Righteous Fire/Searing Bond totem Marauder officially ascended to Chieftain a few days ago, by visiting a very outleveled Normal Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth is interesting, but the necessity to stay connected for an extended period of time sorta puts a damper in my enthusiasm to run it, as I don’t have that kind of time except on holidays/weekends, and I’m not 100% sure the servers will stay up even when I do have the time.

Instead, I’ve been enjoying running maps. He’s level 73 now, and still climbing, in spite of really horrible gear. I’ve been searching around desperately for upgrades and just not finding much of anything. The woes of the self-found.

Admittedly, I’m also reaching the limits of my understanding on how precisely to upgrade him further. Else it is always possible to grit my teeth and send a trade whisper out to someone when I’m feeling brave, but the truth is that I don’t even know what I want, how I want to slot further (even though there’s now a million and one skill gems available from the NPC vendors) and it’s going to take time to slowly work it all out.

In the meantime, he can still do maps, albeit exploding every now and  then when encountering the wrong type of boss sporting the wrong type of damage that he now lacks resistances to, because his gear ain’t up to snuff anymore.

For a change of pace, I decided to start up an alt, and make use of all the delicious uniques and stuff that the first character had been dropping.

On a whim, I decided on Blade Vortex, apparently a fairly new skill that was just introduced some few patches ago.

It took a bit of leveling with other gems to get past Merveil and the level you could start slotting Blade Vortex, but now that I’m in Act 2 proper, Blade Vortex is officially on the menu.

And it is hilarious. I now fully understand why folks say that this gem is for fans of “Will it Blend?”

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Essentially for each button press of the skill, you conjure up one blade circling around you for 5 seconds or so. The more you press the button, the more blades get conjured and spin around you.

Eventually of course, you want Faster Casting and Increased Duration to increase the number of blades you can have spinning around you at any one time.

As of now, it’s about 12 as the max, holding down and spamming while being stationary, and to be honest, about 3-5 blades is all that is needed to grind the majority of the throwaway mobs running around the maps.

They run towards you and literally explode on the blades of a blender.

This is cause for much unbridled giggling.

No doubt, the weakness of this build is going to be lethal ranged attacks from afar, but well, I’m following a guide, and let’s see what defences they propose later down the road. It’s a problem for another day.

In the meantime, the answer to the question “Will it blend?” is YES.

 

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I Guess PoE and GW2 Just Swapped Places

A couple days ago, I dropped $110 USD buying a supporter pack for Path of Exile Ascendancy expansion.

That’s basically $105 USD for 1050 microtransaction points, and $5 for some fancy gargoyle pets and glowy particle effect weapon skins.

I then promptly spent 420 (or $42 USD) on an armor skin set that’s basically black metal and tons of fire, and another 420 points (aka $42 USD) on another armor skin set that’s dark gothic demon king-esque.

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Mostly because I wanted to look pleasing to my own eye while playing Path of Exile and suspected the demon helmet would look great with the rest of the fire set, but also wanted the option to mix and match the other skins too.

I had a brief moment of doubt – in the sense that if a $20 sparkle pony was controversial and a $70 monocle was cause for riots, would I be doing something against my personal principles or in an overall ‘support ethical games’ sense to output $42 for an armor set or $110 in the name of looking awesome?

A month back, Tobold was whaling it up in various mobile game apps, possibly as a sort of experiential experiment to see how it felt.

Me, I draw the line at feeding with my wallet with games that purposefully use unethical tricks (such as loss aversion or creating delay roadblocks that ask you to pay to get past or create an uneven playing field between payers and non-payers.)

At the same time, I don’t really have an issue with personal convenience that doesn’t affect other players  or a payer looking shinier. (I have spent money on Freeblade and Dragonvale, both apps I enjoyed enough to support, and bought stuff that made life slightly more convenient for me, but I could still live without if I was playing free, that didn’t impact other players at all)

The moment I see apps that put paying players in competition with non-paying players, and gives them an advantage, I feel distinctly uncomfortable and only play the app for free, seeing how far I can get on it with zero money and more patience than the average joe. (eg. Dungeon Boss, in my book, and the current app I’m fooling around with, EA’s Dungeon Keeper, which has been the subject of considerable controversy and features more unethical tricks than other app’s I’ve toyed around with, in my book. As such, I’m hesitating on even footing out $7 SGD or $5 USD for this game, and will probably not do so.)

And yet, here I was, whaling it up (or at least taking steps into becoming a mini-whale) in Path of Exile.

Me, the person who normally sits around waiting for Steam games to go on 50% or 75% off before buying them.

Just dropped the equivalent of a collector’s edition box price set on PoE, both to support a game I’d gotten back into and was thoroughly enjoying, and to increase my immersion/involvement while playing by wearing some eye candy skins.

Weird thing was, though I couldn’t put it into words at the time and kept wondering why, I felt HAPPY. Overjoyed. Deliriously happy, even. It was like retail therapy to a deprived shopaholic.

I ran around in my own private hideout, admiring how awesome I looked.

I zipped over to maps with enemies on them to revel in how my outfit now matched the fiery incinerate skill I was using to clear packs and packs of mobs.

Enjoyment of the game went up about five-fold, because my character avatar now both looked the part and reflected the image I had in my mind’s eye, and also blended into the environment more (in the sense of looking lore-appropriate powerful, rather than a country bumpkin with mismatched armor pieces.)

If there was anything that was a downer, it was the twinge of apprehension I had when going to visit my stash in the various Acts’ public lobbies.

In a completely 180 degree motivation turn from what I’d expect a majority of folks who splurge on skins would want (aka to keep up with the Joneses and have the hoi polloi admire their bling), I was almost embarrassed to stand out so prominently and wondered if others would think badly of me for what could be perceived as flaunting one’s wealth.

Fortunately, I play PoE as a primarily solo game with zero need to interact with anybody, period, so barring a few stash runs, I was squarely back in my happy me place of HAHAHA,  FIRE IS AWESOME, I LOOK AWESOME, MUCH FIRE, BURN ALL THE THINGS before long.

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PoE now allows you to have two pets out at a time. I couldn’t resist picking up the wolf pet either. For rather obvious reasons to anyone who looks at my web avatars.

(The gargoyle is also kinda fun because it’s essential a cat-goat thing. And we all know one other game with cat-goat hybrids, right? *ahem*)

Speaking of which, way to go, GW2.

Reddit just exploded this Saturday morning (my time) with an announcement that Mike O’Brien would be taking over from Colin Johanson as game director (for a little while, up to the point he hires or promotes a new one).

Goddamn.

I can only keep repeating the above word, for various reasons.

One, a changeup in game directors usually means somewhat of a change in game direction – even if the overall philosophy doesn’t shift to reflect what that head usually likes, each person’s take on things is going to be a little unique and the decisions on what to focus on is going to differ.

The big question in the air is… is that direction going to be swerving back to what I personally like? Or further on in a direction that I don’t like?

Magic 8-ball says, “The future is unclear. Reply hazy. Ask again later.”

The good news is that we’ve gotten a ton more clarity out of this one announcement in terms of Anet’s roadmap than we’ve gotten in the past year or longer.

Mike’s stated preference is to “do fewer things, but do them well.”

From that we can easily extrapolate that there’s going to be less trying to cater to all and sundry. There’s going to be a few niches they’re polishing, to hit possibly what they perceive as the majority of their players. Looking at the teams, that’s, in no particular order, Fractals, Raids, Living Story, WvW, PvP and probably not much else.

(There’s the “Legendaries” team too, which I presume covers that extended crafting grind, precursor-related quests, and bits of rewards sprinkled here and there to add up to the overall Legendary. More of a functional thing to enable new legendary skins/reward achievement sequences to be introduced, rather than a ‘new content’ thing.)

There’s also more of a high-level timeline being shared. The two week content drops appear to be essentially a dead experiment now. Just not feasible for the devs to keep up with and still produce content of a quality they’re satisfied with, apparently. The bad but realistic news is that players are going to have to wait longer for content.

On a not-terribly-encouraging personal note, getting the Spirit Vale raids out appear to be the biggest PvE thing for the first half of the year. We’d best be expecting Living Story 3 only in the third quarter soonest.

The other PvE thing appears to be coming in April, sort of a features cleanup and excess grind removal thing, that essentially seem to be  HoT expansion fixes, basically. Cutting back on the overenthusiastic tedious bits that came with HoT. Overdue. Needs putting in to refine a lot of HoT things up to enjoyable levels (random things I can think of offhand: zone timers, adventures locked behind event chain completions, provisioner token vendors locked behind event chain completions, guild hall costs, blah blah blah.) Just not going to be new /new/ per se.

Hey, maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll get Super Adventure Box showing up for April Fool’s (and they’re just keeping mum on it for now to surprise players. Hopeful, much?)

Iterating on WvW is going to take up the time between April to August or thereabouts, with a brief interjection of the last Spirit Vale raid wing…

… and I suppose PvP is somewhere in there-ish, though now seems to be its time, with season 2 ongoing right now (dunno, stopped caring a while back.)

Goddamn, Anet.

You sure know how to make me feel better.

About having spent $110 USD on another game.

I’m not quitting. I really appreciate the realistic roadmap, so my expectations are set appropriately.

It looks like what I’m going to end up doing for the next three months or more in GW2 is: dailies, 3-4 evenings raiding in various Spirit Vale wings (unless my raid group disintegrates for reasons that are out of my control), the occasional toe into whatever they’re testing on the public for WvW, the odd organized group world boss or zone meta now and then, and that’s about it.

So erm, I guess for the time being, GW2 is now going to swap over to become a secondary game, and I’m going to need a new primary game.

I suspect the two contenders for the crown are going to be Path of Exile and/or modded Minecraft.

To set my readers’ expectations realistically as well:

I think you can expect a lot less GW2-related and more PoE or general game (I have a really long Steam unplayed games list) blog posts in the coming months.

GW2: Earning Money From Me Even When Burnt Out

I’m still comparatively burnt out on GW2, but the glider latency fix just got me to pay ArenaNet the first sum of money since Heart of Thorns. Going from 250ms to instantaneous deployment is worlds apart in responsiveness feel.

It’s a princely sum too, more than a typical two months MMO subscription, $35 USD for five shared inventory slots.

I can only hope that I’ll feel inclined to play more this year rediscover a sense of enjoyment while playing GW2 for a balanced amount of time, later this year, after my break.