Category Archives: Gaming

Kickstarting stuff

Inspired by Atherne’s recent post, here are a few Kickstarter projects I’ve looked at and/or backed that still have a few (or more) days to go.

First off, a Shadowrun game which I initially backed out of nostalgia but became interested in for its own sake. I didn’t even play that much Shadowrun back in the day, but it was during my personal golden age of tabletop RPGs and I couldn’t not chip in a few bucks. The Kickstarter is doing quite well and closes in a few days. Click the image for the link.

HK final weekend

And then there’s THE MOST EPIC KICKSTARTER EVER, which set out to raise a modest 10k and ended up with Dr. Evil MEEELIONS. It also has a handful of days to go. I’m super glad my initial backing now comes with 8000% extra boxy and arty and cardy goodness, and look forward to getting hammered while playing it. Hopefully not literally.

Exploding kittens

Next is the MassivelyOP Kickstarter. Again, while I didn’t spend a whole lot of time reading Massively, I do respect it as a reporting presence in the gaming world and I’m tired of people in the gaming world losing their jobs. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Daybreak, and I’m sad both because I e-know or at least respect some of the folks involved and because I’ve got some skin in the game with Landmark and EQNext. AND because I should have known better than to believe the whole “this is going to be great for everyone!!!” announcements that were made last week.) I’m such a humble bundle that for the first time I backed a project for none of the rewards; also, the rewards were pretty lame, but that’s exactly NOT why I chipped in, so it’s all good.

I’m eagerly following updates on some older projects I backed. I have no idea if you can get hold of this stuff or not — if you can, yay for you, and if you can’t, ya boo sucks.

The first, Vow of Honor, is an RPG I backed for the above-mentioned nostalgia reasons, but now I’m really looking forward to getting the results into my hot little hands. For several years I’ve been wanting to get some tabletop RPG going again and it’s never really happened, for a number of reasons. (All right, curious Georges, here they are. 1) We only have 2 local players, one of whom is insanely unreliable (but I still love him) (not in a creepy cheating way) (he makes killer martinis – literally). 2) I don’t want to drive into ABQ and play with people I don’t know. That would mean leaving my Mum’s basement. 3) I haven’t yet looked into Virtual Tabletop options with any seriousness. 4) There is no four. The Holy Hand-Grenade taught us that.) On the bright side, I’ve wormed my way into a virtual game which should be starting Real Soon Now™ and can do some field-testing on the VT option he chose; it’s also a group with some dear, dear friends I haven’t seen in 15+ years, so I’m extra-keen.

And last but not least there’s The Breakfast Cult, another RPG I backed for a lark but now cannot wait to get, and for which my enthusiasm should require no explanation. Anything that manages about 8 references just in the title has got to be major win.

 

breakfast cult

I don’t really browse Kickstarter much, so most of these came to my attention through other people’s posts on Facebook and blogs and elsewhere. In that vein, if my beloved-and-much-abused-and-neglected readers are backing or watching anything interesting, please post a link in the comments below.

 

 

Too much of a good thing

Sometimes, like today, I’m almost nostalgic for the days when I only had one or two games to choose from. I’ve got no work on today and likely none over the weekend either (yay!), and I’m faced with so many games I don’t know which to choose.

There’s World of Warcrack, and the expansion remains highly entertaining. I’ve got 4 level 100 chars with garrisons to manage and stuff to accumulate, which is always fun, even though it sucks up time like a black hole. Eventually I’m sure the luster will pale but nothing beats WoW for simple, mindless levelling joy. I don’t dungeon, so my go-to in WoW tends to be to find (or make) an alt and just quest for a few hours. It’s relaxing — and that’s why I play WoW. It’s also where I hang out on Vent with old WoW and Asheron’s Call friends and get my dose of socialising for the month week day.

Drood hanging out

Then there’s Elite: Dangerous, which is exactly the opposite. I did get it installed and I did get in to play, once, but that was over a week ago and, I’ll admit, I’m super intimidated by the game. No game has ever made me feel quite as noobish and useless as this one does. I don’t even know how to fly the ship. I didn’t expect flying the beginner ship would be quite that difficult (and I’m not the only one*). I actually expected that I’d be able to pick it up in a half hour or so and then start doing the trading and possibly mining thing, which was why I bought the game. Instead I feel like a noob, in a bad way, and I’m not sure I want to try again. But I will, if only because $60 for a half hour of entertainment is not really good value… and because I fully expect that eventually — provided I play enough to feel comfortable with the controls — I will love the game and play it to death, because it’s exactly the sort of thing I enjoy.

I also picked up Civilization: Beyond Earth during one of the (many, thank god, because I suck at catching them) Steam sales for that game. Don’t believe the people who tell you it’s only superficially like Civ — it’s 110% Civ, just Civ in space with aliens instead of barbarians and a revamped tech tree (it’s a wheel now). However, that’s not a bad thing in my book and the new tweaks in the game are a lot of fun. I tend to play this on the non-nightmare modes and I prefer non-military victories, so it’s another relatively mindless exploration and building game.**

Sims 4 is of course still kicking around, though I don’t think I’ve fired it up in most of a month. I think I’m holding a grudge with the bugs that hit my Mirage legacy, not to mention the fact that none of my Sims are able to have children without having twins or triplets. It’s amusing to write about, but it gets real old real fast when you’re trying to play. Less is more in this case. I guess I could go with adoption… I dunno. I’m still a little narked about the whole thing, so I’ll pretend the Sims 4 aren’t in my game case for a few months and then go back to it. As far as single-player games go, the Sims is one of the most enduring for me so it’s a fair bet I won’t ignore it forever.

I also picked up Theme: Hospital by accident on Origin the other day, mostly for nostalgia’s sake and because it was a freebie. Memory served up this image of people chain-vomiting in the halls and that sounded like fun in the middle of flu season, but I haven’t had time to fire it up yet. Still, it should be good for a few hours of remember-when fun.

The Secret World keeps looking at me sadly because I update it and then don’t log in. Again, I think right now I want mindless from my games, and TSW requires a little more attention than I’m willing to give. Which is a shame, because as far as atmosphere goes it’s probably my favourite MMO ever (and the one in which I take the most screenshots).

And then, in no particular order because the post is getting long, the other icons on my desktop include Diablo III (never made it past level 15 or so), Landmark (haven’t logged on in months because it gave my gfx card fits), EQ2 (still haven’t bought the Altar of Malice expansion, though I’m sure I will sooner or later), and Shroud of the Avatar (ditto the not logging on in months, though really I put money into it to support the development, not to have it wtfbbqNAO). Oh, and all 3 Dragon Age games, of course. I barely played DA2 and only spent a couple of hours in DA3 (not even sure I made it out of the first section), and I’m sure DA3 is worth some more intensive play. I can’t be arsed to link all those, so let your fingers do the Googling.

It’s actually a great thing to have a butt-ton of games to play and not know which to pick. I tend to default to WoW at the moment because I can pick it up and put it down easily and it doesn’t have the “just … 5 … more … minutes!” hold on me some of the other games have, which is helpful these days because on the list of useful and/or productive things to be doing with my time, games are not anywhere near the top, nor should they be.

But still, sometimes I kind of wish I only had one or two games to pick from. It would mean less time wasted gazing at my desktop and wondering which flavour I’m in the mood for today. #firstworldwoes and all.


 

* Ermahgerd, a pingback circle jerk! That’s just so wrong.

** You may be sensing a theme here. Yes, I prefer my games to not engage my adrenal glands too much. For one thing, adrenaline and I don’t get along all that well (I am the exact opposite of a thrill-seeker), and for another I play games to unwind, which for me means generally laid-back and not requiring an excessive amount of thought. Oh god, I’ve just branded myself a disgusting casual carebear player. However will I cope with the stigma?

Elite: Dangerous, you’d better be worth it…

… because so far I’m not impressed. Let me count the ways.

(Warning to those who aren’t long-time followers: This is not about the Sims and there will be f-bombs, because this is a rant. Which means it will also be entirely subjective and unreasonable. Switch channels now if needed.)

(And here’s a link to the game if the recent hype has passed you by. It’s Elite, only more. Or maybe it’s single-player EVE. I’m not sure, because I haven’t played it yet.)

1) The launcher is more interested in selling me new paint jobs than in getting me to the game.

2) There’s no proactive “Would you like to download the game now” or even an automatic-but-stoppable “I’m downloading the game now, because if I don’t you’ve wasted $60 on a game you can’t play”. You have to find the right option and click the right option. Fair enough, but do me a favour, Frontier: make the option REALLY OBVIOUS, m’kay? Like I just did.

3) There are separate play and log in buttons. Why? Can I play without being logged in? I wouldn’t know, because I only just discovered that what I thought I’d downloaded wasn’t the game, it was some sort of training simulator I think.

4) I don’t know what I did download yet, because when I told it to actually download the game (which again, should have been auto-fucking-matic, what is this, 2002?), it removed the option to play whatever it was I’d downloaded. Because you know, it’s so much more fun going to my blog and ranting about why I can’t play the tutorial while the game downloads in the background.

Seriously Frontier, those are some fucked-up launcher design and functionality decisions. And now, because I don’t live in a city and therefore have pretty crummy internet, the day I had BLOCKED OFF SO THAT I COULD PLAY YOUR GAME AND WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT I’M ACTUALLY USING LOTS OF CAPS is going to be spent playing something else.

And right now I’m steamed enough to /ragequit entirely and just NEVER play the game, but that’s sort of cutting off my nose to spite my face and I’m not actually much of a grudge-holder (except in one specific case and we don’t mention that), so I’m sure I’ll play eventually.

Just not today, and with a nasty taste in my mouth because my very first encounter with the game, via the launcher, was frustrating and annoying. Not good.

Rant over. Next week we’ll do puppies and unicorns, I promise. (Maybe.)

Here, have a picture of what I’m looking at while I wait to be able to play.  At least my wallpaper is very soothing (credit added for those who love it so much they want it too).

Elite FU Dangerous

This and that

A few observations so you don’t all forget about me or think I’ve forgotten about you.

1. Spanky new laptop is lovely. But playing WoW with a touchpad, or with the trackball I naively bought when I thought I’d never play games on my laptop (what was I thinking?!) — those are not so lovely. Looks like I’ll need a mouse. All those things I do without thinking in games, which primarily involve me moving the camera around fit to make anyone but me hurl… I can’t do those. Someone call a waahmbulance.

2. The Draenorclysm expansion launchmadness must be wearing off, because I spent THREE WHOLE DAYS without logging in. Then again, I also had a possibly broken foot (my own fault), a new laptop, a new fridge (ohhhh it is shiny and it is being delivered in 3 days), and about 3 million appointments to deal with, so perhaps it’s just that my priorities are straighter than I gave myself credit for.

3. I am feeling guilty because I never finished the first Sims 4 Legacy Family and have not felt terribly motivated to get into the second one. Expressing said guilt publicly is intended to flog me into playing, but is actually more likely just to make me contrary. One of the main reasons I don’t want to play the new legacy? Generation 1 instantly proceeded to have twins. The multiple birth rate in this game is just way too freaking high. If I picked the FERTILE trait, would my poor Sim become Octomom? WTF, EA?

Gen 2 twins again

4. Despite the xpac honeymoon madness being over, I’m still really enjoying my garrisons. I’ve got 4 level 100 characters (all the easy classes: hunter, druid, warlock and paladin) and I’m considering leveling a few more. Because despite raids and all that gearing crap, the leveling game is still (and ever will be, I suspect) what World of Warcrack does best. Combine that with my high tolerance for repeated content and you’ve got 10+ years of fun so far.

5. This xpac doesn’t have quite as sharp an end-content wall as the previous ones did, which means I’ll probably play it for longer than the 3 months Cataclysm and Pandaclysm lasted for me. In the early expansions it was “OK, you’ve hit max level, now go out and get on the raiding treadmill, bitch.” Which I don’t do. Then it became “OK, you’ve hit max level, now go out and get on the rep / daily / raiding treadmill, bitch.” Which I don’t do. It’s still sort of that, but I don’t feel any real need to build rep with my alts and I can get fairly high-level (645 from the highest garrison missions I’ve seen so far) gear just from running garrison missions.

Yes, it’s probably easy-mode, but if Blizzard are smart then the stuff I can get from missions is lovely, but not nearly as good as what I can get from dungeons and raids — so it keeps non-dungeon me happy with shiny new stuff while hopefully keeping the hardass raiders happy with shiny new stuff asshole casuals like me can’t get. Or something like that.

6. Several of my friends and e-friends and blogging acquaintances keep talking about Elite: Dangerous. STOP IT AT ONCE. Or I shall have to buy the game, and I’m already drowning in games I don’t have time to play. (Or else tell me why I really should get it anyway.)

7. I missed EVERY. SINGLE. STEAM. SALE. on my wish-list by 2-24 hours. I suck. I hope you guys did better with that.

Bloggy Xmas 11 – Nothing New Under The Sun

So, #bloggyxmas Day 11, it’s just you and me…

…and the score of other bloggers who came before me and said everything good, right, and interesting *I* was about to say. No, really, I was. Except now I can’t and you’ll never know, because they already did and I can’t possibly copy what anyone else said. /ragequit

GRRRRR!

GRRRRR!

Okay, I lied. No /ragequit. Because that’s partly the point of community for me, especially the gaming community but probably, to be honest, any community that’s passionate about whatever it is it’s passionate about — we all share this gestalt mind that pursues the same subjects at the same time and says very similar things. And subjects come around again every so often (in my case, Solo vs. Grouping and Why Dungeons Are Horrible), get hotly debated, and then die back down for six months or a year.

For a while — which coincided with me not blogging a whole lot, so the past 2-3 years or so — I wasn’t so sure, but now I think this is A Good Thing™. I started this blog back in 2008 and for a very short while it was going to be a blog just about Warhammer Online, because that’s what I was involved in when I started it. It’s all the fault of Casualties of War, you see (and they appear to be a casualty of the internet because the forums have either moved or are no more) — a bunch of people I met online and don’t even remember how I met, because that’s the cool thing about gaming: you meet people all the time while playing games and while many of them fall by the wayside, a not-inconsiderable number of them end up sticking as acquaintances, friends, possibly RL friends and sometimes even spouses.

cropped-casualties_2.jpg

Casualties of War – Warhammer Online group shot

I am now RL-friends (and neighbours, as it happens) with people I met in Asheron’s Call almost 15 years ago, not to mention having changed continents in order to get married to one of those met-in-an-MMO people. Back then it was weird, and people kept telling me I was going to meet axe-murderers; it’s not so unusual these days (meeting people online – not meeting axe-murderers). So I probably met someone in Casualties through someone I knew who knew someone who knew someone who was involved. And Casualties was chock-full of blogging types who encouraged the rest of us to try it out, and many of us did, and most of our blogs went from “this will only ever be about Warhammer, I swear!” to “games rock! let’s talk more about games!”, which is entirely predictable given that most gamers are passionate about more than a single game.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, because I’ve lost the blogging habit these last couple of years and anything other than stream-of-consciousness is hard work. But at some point — and many bloggers have encountered the same thing — I felt as though I’d said most of what I needed to say, that others were saying it much more cogently and with a fresher perspective anyway, and that I was just rehashing stuff nobody would care about. So I stopped writing, and told myself it was because life had become very busy (which it had) and I had many other things to do (which I did) — but when you’re passionate about something, you find time for it no matter what. That guy who never calls you back because he’s ‘too busy’? He didn’t want to call you in the first place. We make time for the things we care about.

Kittens make every post 1000% better. True fact.

Kittens make every post 837% better. True fact.

And I care about gaming, so here I am. I’ve always stated that I blog primarily for myself — and I do, which freed me from caring about how many people clicked this or how many people commented on that (though the stats are kind of fun and the positive attention is freaking awesome, especially when it’s from people I admire). But blogging for myself doesn’t mean I’m not part of a community of other people who blog about games and a whole host more people who read blogs about games. And yes, we’re terribly incestuous. We share ideas, we all post about the same thing pretty much at the same time, we have storms in teacups and get our knickers in a twist and make up and write posts about how awesome the gaming and game-blogging community is. Because it is.

Because despite (or perhaps because of) being an introvert I can connect, whenever I want and to whatever extent I find comfortable, with folks on blogs and all the other social media out there now. We all have different lives, we all have daily triumphs and tragedies and challenges, and although we don’t necessarily talk about them (though I find I share that stuff a bit more nowadays than I used to, and it can be a comfort), we share a bond that somehow makes life a little better. Because we’re passionate about that one thing. It can lower barriers and build bridges between people who otherwise wouldn’t acknowledge each other in the street, for whatever political, religious or cultural reason. It’s not a panacea, but it is A Good Thing. And whether it’s reading blogs or writing them or simply making friends through gaming and Twitter and Facebook and MyLifeHasNoPrivacy.com, we should continue doing it.

Thanks to Syl for running this initiative, which has reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. Alone but not lonely, I game.

Happy holidays.

xmas

 

 

Sims 4 Legacy Challenge – Meet Samba de Lytte

The Mirage family is on hold until a) they fix the vanishing relationships issue, which I think they may have and/or b) I decide I can handle a legacy which only produces twins and triplets. In a classic case of be careful what you wish for, it seems the karma pixies heard me when I said I wanted to try running several characters at once in a Sims game, horrid creatures that they are.

So I created a new legacy — the de Lyttes — some weeks ago, but what with Thanksgiving here in the US and other life, work and reasons stuff they haven’t been played all that much — and what has occurred has been the rather tedious (and always similar) beginning stage where the founder has nothing much with which to fill up that 50 x 50 lot.

But all of a sudden things did start to happen in the last session, so I’ll go ahead and present the founder and a few pix.

Founder Samba de Lytte

The de Lytte legacy will use the following succession laws: Equality (any gender can inherit), Modern (natural or adopted kids can inherit), and Living Will (the child with the highest friendly relationship with the current pater- or materfamilias inherits). It’s probably one of the easiest sets to pick because it allows for a great deal of choice in terms of heirs — hell, if I were that way inclined I could deliberately play whoever I didn’t want as heir as being horrible to the current head of the family, just to make sure their relationship was anything but friendly. And I may indeed do that, but only if circumstances and personalities make it a viable role-playing choice. I picked that ruleset mostly so that if I do get saddled with a bunch of twins and triplets again, I have more options in terms of which of them inherits. It might make for some interesting mini-stories and rivalries, too. (For those who want an even more mano-a-mano rivalry model, the “Strength” heir law includes an actual scrap to determine who gets to be the next head of household.)

My house rule is that family members must be named after dances. I had a lot of fun with the Mirage family card game names (poor Ratscrew!), and the dance names offer a little more variety while being a little less off-the-wall.

Active Sims love random sit-ups!

Active Sims love random sit-ups!

As for Samba, she’s Active, a Foodie, and Ambitious, and her aspiration is Renaissance Sim. The first few stages of that aspiration are easy enough to complete but the last one requires 6 skills at level 8 (or something similar) and that’s not easy at all, even for someone like me who loves building Sim-skills. She may be young, but she already knows she’s going places, even if she doesn’t know exactly where those places are. She inherited the lot from her father, Tango de Lytte — he won it in a card game years ago but kept the property as an ace in the hole and never mentioned it to his daughter. Samba’s mother, Tarantella, died when Samba was very young, and Tango disappeared from one day to the next almost a decade ago. (It’s entirely possible he vanished with his best friend and partner in cons, Jimmy Cash…)

Eventually Tango was declared legally dead and Samba discovered she had inherited a rather valuable piece of property in the up-and-coming town of Willow Creek. Having spent several years dodging all the people to whom Tango owed money and favours (sometimes literally, hence the Active trait) and occasionally being helped out by some of Tango’s more savoury friends and acquaintances (hence the Foodie trait), Samba decided that a quiet life in an out of the way part of the country might be exactly what she needed. ‘Quiet’ being a relative term – she doesn’t know what she’ll be yet, but she knows that someday she’ll be famous and so rich she can bathe in Simoleons.

Whatever that career will be, it won’t be as a chef…

Ew!

Ew!

…which apparently had hygiene requirements Samba wasn’t prepared to follow… or as a writer, which clearly bored Samba to death.

Samba bored

SNORE

What I know and Samba doesn’t is that she’s destined for a career among the stars, though not on the right side of the law – she’s going to end up an Astronaut/Smuggler branch. But that’s a story for another time, and I have some followers to send on missions in WoW.

 

Dragon Age Inquisition – First Glance

As I should have known (and predicted), I spent the first hour or two (or three, cough) in DA:I without getting past the first two minutes of the intro.

The first character I made was Qunari and looked ok in the creator but I didn’t like her one bit after that, and not just because someone varnished her lips when I wasn’t looking. Maybe if I’d called her Maleficent (instead of Malice – close but no cigar) I’d have felt more of a bond with her.

DAI Maleficent

So I went back to the main menu and made another character. I didn’t want to remake my characters from DA 1 and 2, but the Qunari just didn’t feel very connected to the whole thing for me, so I went with an elf this time. Enter Sorrow #1.

Sorrow1Sorrow1_2

I really liked her in the creator, and she wasn’t bad in the cold harsh light of DA:I, though she did have a bit of a gormless look to her and she was made up like an Abba fan from 1981.. but then I realised that a) I hadn’t changed her hairstyle, which was clipping through her ears in a totally kickin’-it-2005 kind of way and b) I’d picked dual-wield rogue instead of archer. Had I known that the initial weapon choice doesn’t really make much of a difference I might have kept her, but I didn’t.

Enter Sorrow #2. There are complicated emo RP reasons for her name and I’ll share those with you as soon as I nail them down, I promise. (Or I just think it’s a cool name.) She’s blonde, which is a colour choice I almost never make in games, but it fit her, and I liked her feral look in the prologue (which is before the intro but after char creation).

Sorrow2_1

Giant spiders? I’ve seen CRABS bigger than you guys!

No spoilers, but the story grabs you by the hair from the first and doesn’t seem to want to let go – as far as I can tell, which isn’t very far because I’m super, suuuuuuuuper slow about new games like this. Sorrow introWhen I discovered I could run around and up hills and JUMP OVER STUFF I of course had to do that for a while, with Ms. Stickupherbutt trying really hard not to tell me to hurry, the fate of the world depended on blahblahblah.

Sorrow intro 2

It’s not YOUR hand that’s turning into Soylent Green!

So yeah, we made it past the Intro sequence without hating on the disgusting console-driven UI and the disgusting console-driven movement and the disgusting console-driven gameplay too much (seriously. I’m tired of shooting arrows at the landscape in front of me whenever I try to move by holding down both mouse buttons, and I am beyond in loathe with the ‘ping’ your surroundings mechanic. You basically have to ping your surroundings every 3 seconds if you’re like me and dread missing a piece of lore or that 138th elfroot harvest, so… anyway, tangent over).

I lied. I’m totally hating on it. The ‘tactical’ view lets you zoom out about as far as a gnat’s backside if said gnat were up your nostril, which blows. Combat is weird and not like it was in DA 1 and 2. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough and wonder how I ever did it differently, especially since for me, combat is like the 189th thing on the list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age. But it definitely is weird if you’ve played the other 2 games.

Character progression seems to be a lot like in DA2, which I can live with. The Inventory is another disgusting console-driven element and basically SUCKS for those of us who, you know, have a mouse and a keyboard and can see more than 3 things on the screen at once because we’re not sitting 10′ away from a crappy-resolution television – but I’ll probably get used to that too. It’s not like I’m playing Diablo here, and items are probably the 197th thing on my list of Interesting Things About Dragon Age.

But the graphics are pheno-freaking-menomenomenal, the voice acting isn’t bad (though the facial movements… we won’t go there), the animations are fun, combat is quick and painless if that’s what you want (which I do), and it might be worth the price of admission just for the landscapes.

DAI landscapeI doubt I’m the only one to note that DA:I has a distinctly Skyrim vibe to it, perhaps because you start out in the snow surrounded by ginormous scenic mountains, but also because the graphics for this installment are much grander and more cinematic in general. This is definitely a good thing.

DAI Landscape 3Dark corridors are actually DARK, to the point where I got all chicken and turned up the gamma a bit (it didn’t help much), and distant vistas are distant and, er, vista-like. Also good.

And finally – is it just me, or does Solas look like Arnold Vosloo? You be the judge:

Solas Vosloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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