Games

On Being Casual

For some reason I had the idea that getting back into Guild Wars 2 would be fun on the weekend, not in a “let’s start and play a bit” but more “would I be willing to invest some time again” – because I think I was in a FFXIV duty roulette queue at the time and of course I can’t just stare at the screen for those 15 minutes…

I asked on Discord if my gear was still ok (or even good) and several people reassured me that nothing had changed in GW2 and my Level 80 Ascended and Exotic pieces were still completely fine.

Tessa remarked “Yeah, one of the reasons why Gw2 is casual friendly. Take 6 years off and your gear still holds up.” and that got me thinking a bit. What does playing something casual mean anyway? Our FFXIV static was formed to raid savage at our own pace, and originally once per week (we did add an hour for reclears on a second day meanwhile) but we’ve not yet skipped a week I think, and it’s savage – so ist that even casual? My WoW guild is strictly limiting raids to 2x2h per week, very rarely do we spend 5 minutes extra on a pull. We managed AOTC in 9.1 and before I joined they managed AOTC in 9.0 as well, and I think they’ve been doing that for many expansions. Despite taking everyone in the guild above a certain token item level and even getting them through heroic (unless someone actually sabotages a single fight) I wouldn’t call that casual. Non-hardcore raiding, yes – but casual?

On the other hand I guess my adventures in SWTOR are actually casual, it’s just that I spend a lot of my time there when I am playing. But apart from the launch raids in 2011/12 I’ve not raided progression and I only joined farm raids 1-2 times. I don’t do dungeons, I basically just level toons and get some gear and achievements. So that’s casual I guess. TESO is complicated, I think if you’re just starting a game and never coming close to max level or any real goal that might be casual by a proper definition, but I’d just call it being a beginner. So, GW2 then. I heard there are raids, but I don’t know anyone who does them. Most people also weren’t keen on fractals, maybe this game’s goals are actually more aligned to casuals overall.

Oh, and Diablo 3 – is it casual if you start a fresh season, grind yourself to max level and then through the rifts and Paragon levels until you lose interest? Do you actually have to be good (compared to others) to not be casual? Or is being invested (time) and progression-focused enough to temporarily not be a casual?

I don’t know. I guess my definition of being casual stops with having an organized scheduled group to focus on a goal that’s non-trivial (or pugging that stuff that’s usually done this way), so that would be raiding Heroic in WoW (but I guess Normal also counts) but in FFXIV I’d draw the line at Savage and EX because Normal Asphodelos is no comparison to a Normal WoW raid. You can have 2-3 of 8 people never being there, needing 2-3 rezzes each, and still winning in a reasonable time. Good luck with 5 of your 20 people dying early in WoW.

But back to the original question. I made a spreadsheet for my three main GW2 toons with their gear and plan to investigate if I can craft or otherwise get some upgrades before I actually plan to play, so maybe I really suck at casual gaming.

Trying out Lost Ark

This is a draft I found, I originally wrote this a few weeks ago and really wanted to have a second session with Lost Ark but it hasn’t happened yet and I’m not hopeful, so here it goes:

After postponing it for a while while a good chunk of people were raving about it, another part was lamenting the queues and a small minority was like “Why the fuzz, it’s not a new game”, I was standing at the side lines and waiting. A while ago one night I started the download while doing something else and then gave it a quick spin.

The character creation is kinda nice and yes, the randomizer gives you more hilarious options than any other game. I’m not a fan of gender-locked classes but it’s not a big deal for me personally. I love how they made this “try out the class in a short battle” before deciding, that is a really great idea.

I went with an Assassin (not-the-sword-spec) first but I didn’t really like the combat. Oh, and I kinda hate the controls in a “why different buttons to move and attack, this should be like Diablo” way. Need to check if I can change that but I only see “left to move, right to attack” and “right to move, left to attack”. Hmm… Also one of the attacks has a horrible sound effect.

The voiceovers are kinda terrible but the graphics are really pretty. When it comes to cutscenes it’s a little meh but that might be because they’re overdoing the effects. Yes, female characters walk ridiculously. Later I also tried a Warrior (Berserker) and I think I might enjoy this one more, that’s why I didn’t claim all the stuff on the Assassin yet.

I wrote that it’s inferior to Diablo 3 in every aspect except the graphics, it’s a whole lot of meh – but this was my first 100 minute impression, I definitely want to give it a second chance on another day and actually progress more than the prologue + first city, BUT if the combat feels bad at the start already, or the controls, is this salvageable? I also found myself skipping the cutscenes very quickly because I’m not anticipating a great story anyway.

Games I played for 500 hours – part 2

Back in January I wrote about games I sunk 500+ hours in but didn’t have numbers for a lot of them. Today I checked GW2 because someone asked, I am subscribed to WoW now anyway, and SWTOR is patched up at least

Ok, so:

  • Guild Wars 2 – 589 hours
    • Warrior 226h
    • Guardian 103h
    • Thief 89h
    • Ranger 70h
    • Necromancer 56h
    • Mesmer 32h
  • WoW – addon says 717 days = 17000 hours
  • WoW TBC Classic – 3d + 8d 18h + 4d 20h + some lowbies = ~17d = ~400h, so no
  • SWTOR – at least 50d = 1200h
    • Sage – 16d 18h
    • Commando – 4d
    • Scoundrel – 5d 10h
    • Operative – 4d 6h
    • Juggernaut – 7d
    • Powertech – 14d 5h
    • 5 more at 75 that were mostly just leveled up

Unfortunately EVE Online killed the possibility to look at your /played in 2020.

The Daily Routine

I brought this on myself but currently there’s GW2 to log in for the daily login reward, then there’s EVE with all the accounts which grant a daily login award after 13:00, SWTOR (which doesn’t remember the password and needs the 2FA code) after 13:00, then I can do a few dailies and World Quests and progress the story a bit in WoW, and then I haven’t started with FFXIV.

On logging in my 3-4 retainers are waiting with their finished 18h Venture, there’s Expert Roulette for a few days to cap my highest-tier tomestones, the MSQ is too good on EXP to not queue up with a non-max level job (but at least I can browse or chat during the cutscenes), then sometimes I feel like doing the other roulettes, Trial or Level or even 50/60/70/80 (but not PvP). Then I still have some Beast Tribes to do. Pixies are really quick for good EXP on a 7x char, I started Qitari recently and want to finish Namazu – and don’t forget to check Grand Company turnins for some quick wins.

And that’s without the weeklies. Wondrous Tails, the 4 wings of Aspho on normal (especially the 4th one, but they are kinda quick), then Custom Deliveries as long as my DoH jobs are not at max level (missing Goldsmith and Leatherworker atm, both at 83ish) and maybe I even forgot something. Oh right, the Fashion thing and Cactpot. I totally gave up on Mini Cactpot, by the way.

On the other hand I feel like I’m progressing at a nice pace – all of the jobs I wanted at 90 are at 90, gear is shared inside a role (which is awesome) and I feel like I could skip most daily things if I lacked the time, which isn’t the case at the moment.

I guess it makes sense to not play too many MMOs when just one can absolutely fill your daily gaming time even if there’s plenty of it.

Speaking of WoW, I must have missed the reason why we went to Zereth Mortis, or it’s not such a cool thing that I forgot already. The zone is… ok I guess? I am completely happy to focus on just one character (which I already did in 9.1) and ignore the gear threadmill for now. I’m still at 240-241 iLvl and Sepulcher will drop 252 on normal. I am not running M+ but I’ll see that I get the World Boss done every week. Also maybe the Cypher will provide an upgrade or two, when I spent enough research.

MMO – FOMO

It’s a weird month. Lost Ark launched and I wanted to take a look. Today SWTOR’s new expansion Legacy of the Sith launched and I actually patched, logged in, and tried out the new character creation. We got a date for WoW’s 9.2 patch and I’m unsure if I want to get back and raid.

All this and I’m kinda busy with FFXIV. We seem to have added a 2nd (short) raid day without me really noticing and hardly anyone needs any drops from P1S anymore on their main class. We made some good progress on P2S already and maybe Sunday we’ll succeed… at least my EVE sub lapses in a few days, so I’d technically be free to pay for a 2nd MMO again (with my self-imposed limit of a maximum of 2 concurrent subs).

The question is if I want to. Maybe I’ll manage to find out if I can get by on my Preferred SWTOR account and have a meaningful peek without having to sub right now, then give WoW a chance for a single month, and then see how I feel about either of them…

Bad timing, this month is too busy.

Other games

Played some non-MMO games this week. Shocking, I know.

First up is Ironcast, which I found in my Epic Games library. (Still gonna link to Steam as well). It’s basically a match-3 but you’re in a Victorian Steampunk Mech and the match-3 is only to grab resources (Ammo, Energy, Coolant, Repair) – you have only 3 tries to match per round, and mostly you need to survive and shoot the enemy. Or collect X crates on the field. Or salvage. And if you die you keep your level, but not your unlocks. Oh, and you can upgrade your mech with abilities and better weapons etc. It’s really fun and I played for a few hours.

Then there’s The World Next Door (Steam) which also seems to be a match-3 but kinda realtime. The story seems a bit thin, but I was excited to try this – unfortunately I can’t play it without a controller. When you enter battle you move with the arrow keys and when over a match, you press C to attack the closest enemy with that match. This would be fine, but if you need to swap tiles you need to stand on it, press X, move to the target, press X again and then C to attack. I gave up in the second fight because I find this impossible to do with the keyboard alone, and I don’t have a controller.

But I did find another gem here, Death Coming (Steam). Here you play the Grim Reaper’s pixelated assistant and you need kill (nearly) all NPCs on the map by causing accidents. This is so fun!

And it reminded me of The Incredible Machine, a 1993 DOS game I loved. I found a site where you can play it in the browser, and then I also spent a while on that.

The Incredible Machine

What’s up for 2022?

As I wrote in 2020, I’m not big on any of these things:

  • being hyped up for future games
  • buying a lot of games
  • actually playing the games I own

But for some reason right now I’m a little obsessed (compared to my usual mood) with looking for other games to play and also what’s coming up this year. And what I missed in 2021. It’s weird!

So I’ve been scouring YouTube for some of these “lists” videos. Upcoming, best of 2021, overall or per genre and so on. And I actually went through my whole Epic Games library of 99% “got this game for free” list and wrote down some notes and watched the trailer, and I even identified a few I want to play, and most surprusingly, actually have played one for a while.

I am not sure where this comes from, maybe it’s coincidence or maybe I’m not 100% enthusiastic about leveling all the jobs in FFXIV atm. Which in no way means I am drifting away, surprisingly – it means I’m doing my roulettes every day (or some of them), I am raiding Savage – but I don’t feel like spending my whole evening on FFXIV. Maybe it is actually true that this game values your time a lot more than WoW does. There’s always something to do in WoW, but here I can more easily feel “done for the day”.

Anyway, here’s a list (in no particular order) of upcoming games I am at least moderately interested in:

  • Weird West, Adventure/RPG, March 2022, on Steam
  • Two Point Campus, May 2022, Simulation, on Steam
  • Forspoken, May 2022, ARPG, on Steam – 80 EUR, WTF?
  • Anvil Saga, RPG?, 2022, Demo on Steam
  • Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, FPS, 2022?, on Steam
  • Nightingale, Survival?, 2022? Trailer on YouTube

Do these twothree even launch on PC?

  • Redfall, Summer 2022, FPS, Trailer on YouTube, some gameplay (Xbox Series S?)
  • Triangle Strategy, 2022? Trailer on YouTube (Switch?)
  • Horizon: Forbidden West, 2022?, Gameplay Demo on YouTube (PlayStation?)

Now the ones that look interesting but have already launched:

And then there are some “big” upcoming releases and to my non-surprise none of these sound in any way interesting to me, no matter how highly anticipated or awesome they are supposed to be:

  • Elden Ring
  • God of War
  • Rainbox Six
  • Pok√©mon Legends
  • Sifu
  • Total War
  • that Warhammer 40k FPS
  • Gran Turismo
  • STALKER 2
  • Kirby
  • Mario and Rabbids
  • Sonic

Some notable mentions:

  • Ratchet and Clank – that upcoming title looks a bit meh, but I’ve always wanted to play the older titles
  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 – not really interested, but maybe I should look at the first one?

Finally, because this post isn’t long enough already, some games I own and have yet to play:

  • Transistor
  • ARK: Survival Evolved
  • Bad North
  • Cities: Skylines
  • For the King
  • Frostpunk
  • Moving Out
  • Neon Abyss
  • Pathway
  • Salt and Sanctuary
  • Surviving Mars
  • The Messenger
  • Totally Reliable Delivery Service
  • Prison Architect

Among Us

I know I’m late to the party but this week I played Among Us for the first time. I’d actually gotten it via Epic at some point, so no 3 EUR for the developers, boo.

It’s a fun game, we played with 7-12 people, and I already knew around half of them.

The Among Us Lobby


My main gripe is that it doesn’t seem particular beginner friendly, or maybe I’m just not the right audience. Sure, I knew the premise and I grasped the basic game play.

But two important things – first I hadn’t already developed a sense of how a dead body looks (I was moving fast to do my tasks) and it happened twice that I arrived at a body at the same time as someone else and clicked it (like you click your tasks) and in that exact moment the other person had reported. So I learned “click to report”, which is wrong though. The second thing is the loud alarm. No one told me and I did not notice you had to run to a certain room and do something, the others just did it and the alarm went away. It might have even been in the short ” how to play intro” you can click through, but it’s like 5 screenshots and as exciting as a powerpoint presentation. So I managed to get through like 3h of game play without noticing some key elements, which is a bit bad. I think we would have noticed with a smaller group, but because there are SO few rules I am still a bit puzzled.

I liked that you can just choose a name per game and also that the cosmetic options are good enough for starting out.

Anyway, it’s fun and I’ll join if they play again.

Games I played for 500 hours

Wilhelm had an interesting post about games with 500+ hours sunk in, via Twitter, where I had completely missed that. Of course I like stats and so I’ve dug around a bit and I think I don’t actually have that many titles.

Verified 500+ hours

  • World of Warcraft, probably even on my main chars alone, after all that’s “just” 20.8 days
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 1590 hours
  • Marvel Heroes – 1554 hours
  • Diablo 3 – 491 hours, let’s count it because it’s basically there

Pretty sure, but can’t verify now

  • WoW Classic + TBC
  • SW: TOR
  • EVE Online
  • Ragnarok Online
  • Action Quake 2
  • Quake

Maybe yes, maybe no

  • Guild Wars 2
  • WildStar
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III
  • StarCraft
  • WarCraft II
  • Diablo II
  • Diablo
  • Quake III
  • Any combo of Anno 1602/1503/1404 and Settlers 1-4, probably not per single title

Also while checking Steam I noticed that I don’t seem to have a lot of these 100+ hours games that other people have, the majority is 1-30h, for a single playthrough. Notable exceptions:

  • TESO – 60h, quite a lot for my Level 8 or something, and low for an MMO
  • Fallout Shelter – 146 hours
  • Picross Touch – 115 hours

Also I am pretty sure that without the aforementioned exceptions (Diablo 1+2, Quake 1+2, WarCraft II, StarCraft) there are no games I’ve played for such a long amount of time in the 90s, or even up to 2003/04 when I started with MMOs, and Diablo 3 seems to be the only “small group” game that has made the cut since, and it’s turning 10 years old in 2022 so that would only be 50h per year if it was distributed evenly. Also I don’t think I hit the mark with any console game.

So any exciting insights? Not for me. At first I played a lot of games for a small amount of time and in the last 18-20 years I played a small amount of games for a lot of time. MMOs in a nutshell.

BlizzCon

When I first read that BlizzCon/BlizzConline was cancelled I shrugged and didn’t really think about it. But then I saw Wilhelm and Redbeard and a few more people comment on it.

The idea of a studio-owned (gaming) convention has always been a bit weird to me. Sure, we had the Games Convention here in Germany and I even attended once, but it was overall video game show, maybe comparable with PAX East, but bigger? No idea, that’s not the point. Even though I pretty much exclusively played WoW between 2006 and 2014, the thought to go to a WoW convention never even crossed my mind. I mean, I’m no stranger to tech conferences and more than once I went out of my own pocket, not just on my employer’s budget. I also know (know as in direct personal friends, or guildies) zero people who ever went there, but I guess that’s because it was in California. Maybe would’ve been different if it was in London, Paris, or Berlin.

I also never went to anything WoW-related in particular, I guess that comes with playing on EU servers and having people from all over Europe, from what I heard German guilds did more meetups, or if you had a lot of people in close proximity, say in the UK or the Netherlands (both countries where I had a ton of guildies). Only now I’ve been in a German WoW guild for a few months, and I was onboarded by real life friends.

I’ve entertained the thought of going to an EVE meetup if the pandemic allows, and I guess I’d go to Amsterdam or London for that, maybe it’s a little different if you can potentially meet anyone you’ve ever encountered ingame, thanks to a single server.

This rant was neither here or there, but I guess for most of us Europeans BlizzCon was never a real thing anyway, because there was no chance to attend. And by the time the virtual tickets came, most people had lost interest in the game anyway. EVE Vegas is a bit of the same, I don’t think there are a ton of Europeans attending, but somehow again the draw is bigger and EVE seems to have a generally older population who might just decide to put their vacation budget on this.