Games

I thought I didn’t like 4X

When I saw that Stellaris was on sale on Steam (and GoG) I remembered that I loved to play Ascendancy back in the 90s, but I’ve never been a fan of Civ and others. Someone even linked me an online abandonware version and I played around for a few minutes.

So I asked the Blaugust Discord if anyone knew Ascendancy or had any recommendations for this. Rakuno mentioned Master of Orion, but I somehow got them on GoG and without the nostalgia I didn’t really find my way into it back when I tried. Naithin mentioned Crusader Kings II, which seems to be free now, but I wanted space. Overall I was just told to try out Stellaris (it’s the free weekend after all) despite having watched a Let’s Play and finding it very boring. Totally unrelated Magi mentioned Endless Legend, and only after researching 4X games I noticed it is one, but it didn’t look enticing to me.

So I installed it last night and went to bed and what can I say, I played a little this morning and it absolutely scratches the same itch that Ascendancy did, I’ll buy it. Thanks for the recommendations, Blaugust Discord ๐Ÿ™‚

MMOs and being involved

I just watched a few videos about a casual (one night per week) approach to MMOs and was reminded about Kanter’s recent posts (I think Syp would also fall into that category for the sake of my argument, playing so many different games).

This has made me realize that I can’t remember ever approaching an MMO like this. Neither having a dedicated day of the week for this, or being so strapped for time for a prolonged period that I could only make room for one sitting of 2-3h per week for an MMO. Maybe I should consider myself lucky here, but with no kids and a job that’s usually not too demanding in terms of overtime, I’d say it’s not too unique, as we’re not the types to spend several nights out, every week.

So either I’m in the mood for an MMO, then I go full blast (and often enough I have 2 MMO subs running, so I can either split my evenings with gaming time or take turns) or I am not at all in the mood for MMOs or games in general, then I don’t play at all, but not one evening.

Not a really substantial thought, but nevertheless it got me thinking. Apparently I can only take shooters in moderation, but not MMOs.

Itโ€™sย Blaprilย and this is post number 18.

Favorite Game Series

It’s rare that a topic that’s making the rounds in our Blaugust-centric gaming blog circle applies to this blog, most often I’m an interested bystander who can’t really take part. The “Five Favorite Game Series” (started by Krikket) might be just another one of those.

My first thought was “Favorite Game Series? That’s hard.” Then it was “Five of them? Even harder.” So let’s have a look at some of the commonly nominated ones, the default picks for many people maybe.

  • The Elder Scrolls – TESO was cool, but the other one I played I didn’t like. Can never remember if it was Morrowind or Oblivion.
  • Civilization – nope, not my cup of tea
  • StarCraft – only loved #1, didn’t play #2
  • WarCraft – Oh yeah, this might fly. I loved 2, I liked 1+3, I play WoW
  • The Witcher – started with 2, it was ok.
  • Age of Empires – 1 was fun, didn’t play 2
  • Torchlight – 1 was fun, 2 was meh
  • Final Fantasy – I only played XIV. It’s good!
  • Zelda – the SNES one was ok, not great. That’s when I lost interest
  • Pokรฉmon – the one I tried (Red? Ruby? on GBA) was ok, but a little boring
  • Guild Wars – I didn’t like 1 at all, 2 was fun
  • The Settlers – 2 was awesome, then.. mhm

See how hard this is? Even when I liked or loved it, maybe part 2 took so long to come out that I had lost interest already, but thinking very hard there’s really a few series I actually liked.

  • Anno – I played 1602 a lot, 1503 a bit, I recently bought 1404 – yeah.
  • Assassin’s Creed – I think I overdid it at some point, but I’m generally a fan
  • Quake – I played 1 and 2 for many years and 3 for years, so I guess: yes.
  • Super Mario Land (GB) + Bros (NES) + World (SNES) – I actually played 5 of these, yay

So in the loosest of definitions where I could say “I liked at least half of the titles, up to, or from a certain point”, then I can name these 4. Plus WarCraft.

Intermission, one day later:

Awesome, that’s what happens when your brain doesn’t work for a day. I originally wanted to write this post because of the Mass Effect trilogy, because it absolutely needs to be in the top five, although I didn’t play the fourth game, Andromeda. Also I totally forgot Diablo, where I actually played 1, 2, and 3. Also maybe Super Mario should be discounted because I ignored the last 25 years. And finally another series I forgot, was “The Dark Eye Trilogy”, Blade of Destiny, Star Trail, and Shadows over Riva, (Realms of Arkania in English) which came out in 1992, 1994, and 1997 (originally in German). The Dark Eye is the German D&D, there’s no way around it. No idea how the pen & paper landscape looks today, but from the late 80s to at least the 00s, German roleplayers were more likely to play this system over D&D. The games were good and if you liked the world, that’s how you could dive in. So yeah, I blame it on my headache that I kinda forget not one but three of my favorite series. Sometimes you should sleep instead of blog.

Old post resumes here:

And still this kind of misses the point. There are only 5 series I played as a series. And if I didn’t like a game as much, why would I continue to play the series? And is Mario even a series? I know, I’m overcomplicating it, but if you don’t go out to buy games left and right this is really hard.

Finally, the interesting question that came up on Discord is whether 2 games can be a series of there need to be 3 of them ๐Ÿ™‚

Itโ€™s Blapril and this is post number 16.

What’s up for 2020?

Posts about the future are rare on this blog, but there are actually a few things I am looking forward to this year, not necessarily releases:

  • WoW Shadowlands
    • I’ve been playing a lot of WoW recently and while I’m happy to take advantage of the XP (and rep) buff to reach my goals, I’m looking forward to a new expansion.
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn on PC
    • When I bought my new PC last year I stuck with my 2016 RX470 and told myself I’d upgrade it when HZD came out. I was really looking forward to it. Now I’m already a bit meh again, I really hate stuff being announced more than half a year in advance, I can never keep momentum. But we’ll see, maybe I am lucky and not totally busy with other things. I WANT to play it.
  • more of EVE Online
    • Not looking forward to a specific release, but I’m in full swing right now and having a blast.
  • Final Fantasy XIV – Shadowlands
    • The grind of the MSQ got to me and I never reached it. Good job, SE, someone gets converted from a “ah let’s try” to buying all 3 expansions, but then burning out 4 levels shy of the last expansion…
  • Cyberpunk 2077
    • Not sure I’ll play it, but I love the fact that it exists and maybe reading and seeing more will tempt me.

Of course there’s also a list of unrealistic expectations:

  • Guild Wars 2 – finish Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire
  • have a look at TESO again, maybe properly this time

And finally a single player TODO list:

  • Finish Forgotten Anne, it’s awesome and should only be a few hours
  • Get to Level 50 in Borderlands 3

Itโ€™s Blapril and this is post number 14.

Backlogs of games

When I saw the “Love Your Backlog” I wasn’t really interested at first, it’s kind of dead horse – everyone buys too many games in sales or bundles and never catches up. Bhagpuss’ post somehow stood out, but I’m not really sure why.

First of all, the word backlog doesn’t have such a negative vibe for me. As a Software Developer it’s mostly used for all the stuff that you absolutely plan to do, but not in the immediate future (usually 1-3 weeks). Also it’s mostly sorted by priority, so after your current cycle is over you just pick stuff from the top and start with that. So much for the theory. Very often it’s just a pile of random ideas and stuff that someone should do, but nobody knows why or how. But anyway, for games it’s a coarsely sorted list of stuff I want to play, I don’t see the need to work through it at any certain speed.

And that’s the other point – I don’t really feel the pressure to work through, for most of the titles in it. Sure, there’s always this one full or half-price game you absolutely wanted to start the weekend after buying it, but you didn’t and suddenly it’s 2020.

But I don’t have so many of these. OK, there are some

  • Quake Champions in 2018 – didn’t play a lot
  • Dead Cells in 2018 – I loved it, but it frustrated my by being too hard, but did play it!
  • Cities: Skylines in 2017 – never started

Of course there are a few more, but if I spend 1 EUR on a game and only do that like once a month, I have zero regrets about not playing it. I know I’m kinda not loosely spending money, because I keep track, but the cost of a few coffees or beers over the course of a year don’t bother me. I’m kinda glad I’m not a hoarder, I let most sales pass without buying anything.

Not even sure if this counts towards the backlog, but there’s actually a bigger pile of games that I bought, started to play… and then didn’t love but also didn’t hate. For some reason I just stopped playing before reaching a meaningful amount of hours, usually 2-5. If it was cheap, fine, I got my money’s worth of entertainment out of it already. But some of them… sure it was cheaper than going to the cinema (I’m pinning that at 5 EUR per hour) but I don’t feel like I got my money’s worth if I play a 10 EUR game for only 2h, but maybe I’m overly critical here.

Last point, I find the metric of adding up the numbers for these “How long to beat X” totally useless for me. Take Borderlands 3. Should be 21h(main) and 60h (completionist) – I’m 50h in, finished the main story (more like at 30h) but am only Level 41 and have a ton of side missions to do. What’s the real number now? I stopped playing a lot of games before I reached the completionist or even main+extras number. Anno 1404 should be 17h for the main story, we’ll see. And for all the titles I get from a Humble Bundle or something… it never even crossed my mind that I would play even half of them for anything near completion time, so why would I count them? It’s more like buying a bundle for 2-3 games and getting 5 more for free…

MMOs that lived and died

Paeroka linked to an interesting post of 25 MMOs that came and went since WoW went live and the overlap to what I played or even know a little about is a lot smaller than I expected.

  • The Matrix Online – I was interested in the franchise, but it launched around the time I was still playing Ragnarok and had just started with WoW. Bad timing
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Online – I can’t imagine I missed this so it’s much more likely that I dismissed it, because like The Matrix, the original film in this series is one of my favorite movies of all time.
  • Hello Kitty Online – I tried it for a day because someone said it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I think it was a little boring, if I remember correctly.
  • Darkfall – I only knew about this game because Syncaine wrote about it a lot
  • Everquest Landmark & Next – I tried EQ2 for a day and didn’t really like it, then I tried WoW and did like it. End of the story.
  • Tabula Rasa – Another one of those “sounds interesting, but I’m busy with other stuff”. Incidentally, “Blue Turns to Grey”, the final track is one of my favorite MMO pieces:

And now the ones I actually played:

  • Warhammer: Age of Reckoning – I was pretty excited for this one and the Collector’s Edition box still sits where I can see it. Sadly the game didn’t hold me for very long. It just wasn’t as good as WoW, no one I knew played it and it had some problems with endgame as I heard. I think I started reading Syp‘s blog posts back on his old Warhammer blog, so that’s a good 10 years.
  • WildStar – I wrote quite a bit about this game on this blog, maybe not enough. It was awesome at the start, it was fun in the middle… but in the end the raiding didn’t seem fun and even the 5mans weren’t my thing, They did a lot of things very right but apparently also enough things not right enough.
  • Marvel Heroes – now this is the game I played the most on this list, by a long stretch even. Sure I did take breaks, but I spent ~1500 hours between late December 2014 and summer 2017 in this game, played 56 heroes in this game and even did a cosmic prestige once. I blame Green Armadillo for this one.

PS: Naithin recommended the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to finally have OpenGraph blurbs and pictures so I’ve been dying to get a new post up for the last few days. Let’s see if this works ๐Ÿ˜›

PPS: And I just noticed again how long I’ve been following some bloggers, so three cheers for the people who also have kept blogging for 10 years ๐Ÿ™‚

PPPS: Everwake and Rakuno also posted on the topic

Daily routines

Right now everything could be a little hectic if I do everything that’s available.

  • 13:00 EVE servers come back online and the skill spree event is reset. That means log in all the characters and shoot some rats. 6 characters
  • 17:00 Roulettes in FFXIV reset, so I can run the level duty again. And possibly the 50+ dungeon one. And MSQ. And Trial.
  • 22:00 GC turnins reset and I really want to level up those crafting jobs

And that’s just the fixed hours. In between WoW WQs pop up, missions need to be run, WoW toons want to be leveled…

Streamers

A few nights ago I stumbled over this video on YouTube, wasn’t even sure what I was watching before that, but for once the “you might be interested in this” was accurate.

Diablo 2: Lord Of Destruction by MrLlamaSC in 2:05:09 SGDQ2019

So I watched a Diablo 2 speedrun and thought: I might like this, let’s check some of this guys’ other videos. Then the next day I watched another recording of him doing another speedrun (Assassin) and then I noticed: No, this doesn’t really interest me at all. The speedrunning itself was quite interesting once, but zero interest in watching a third run. The guy seems ok as well, but apparently the first video being live at an event was really good, and when he was doing it with his usual home setup I again noticed that streaming is just not for me. And by that I mean watching, I have no plans to do it myself, it would also probably label me as a proper hypocrite ๐Ÿ™‚

First of all I guess it’s people just narrating what they’re doing on stream. Yes, I do sometimes watch Let’s Plays if I’m interested in the game. But unlike with other videos I’m skipping all the time, I’m only doing this for the game and the host needs to be ok. Don’t think I’ve found someone yet who I find awesome.

But I think most of all I really disapprove of this kind of hero worship with people becoming fans (in itself a good thing) but then kinda seem fighting for attention of the host in chat most of the time? Also I mean, sure, give them your money if you do want to support them but if I was sending money or even just subscribing I sure as hell didn’t want to be called out on stream. Take my attention or take my money, but this isn’t giving alms where I expect or even want a huge thanks. Maybe that’s me being weird though.
Another point might be though that I’ve been part of various open source communities and sure, some people who started or lead popular projects are kinda in the spotlight, but I’ve mostly seen them all as peers all the time. They contribute, I contribute. Sure, it may be their project and I just file a bug or fix a typo or even do a feature, but there’s hardly any “Senpai noticed me” going on (not only for me, I know many people see this). So yeah, maybe I’ve grown old and grumpy and it seems I don’t get fandom anymore. This might be true in the case of sports clubs or fainting at a concert because I see the boy group live ๐Ÿ˜‰ I like and even love a lot of things and I’d even sometimes say I’m a fan of X – but maybe I’m just not a rabid fan of anything or elevating any podcast hosts or streamers to any heights and I feel so out of place when watching Twitch channels. Much more because of the viewers than because of the streamers.

Maybe a valid criticism is that I just need to “git gud” to grasp on what high level some of them are playing, but I just don’t care. I know that everyone who even wins at a backyard tennis/soccer/curling tournament is better than I am, but I don’t see a point of accepting their stardom for it? Not sure, maybe it comes back to being involved so much in open source communities.

End of rant, but I’m still confused all around. People did tell me a few times in the last few years I seem to be not so easily amazed by anything. I guess that’s true, but there’s still a lot of things I like doing, and certain games I like enough to be playing them several times per week, and not just because I didn’t think about it and never stopped the routine. I guess I was there with WoW somewhere between 2009 and 2014, just logging in because you log in.

I see this a bit the same with podcasts, but it is kinda different. I try out a lot of different ones and stick to relatively few ones. I seem to be very, very picky about topics, the hosts, and their voices. Any people who know me from Twitter and who know I listen to their podcasts are of course the exception, and I’m not saying that because I’m a nice guy but because I might have known one or two of the hosts even before they started their podcasts, liked the podcast and then also followed and interacted with the other hosts. Also I wouldn’t compare them to celebrities like the big streamers.

One final point, I hate watching e-sports as much as watching normal sports – but not more. I’m happy for people who like it, but if I could mute all your tweets about e-sports in a sensible way, I would. There are a few occasions when I do watch sports. That is the world or European soccer championship, if I am in the mood. One month per 2 years is exactly the healthy dose. I am not rooting for my team at all, but for a different one, fwiw. Also I sometimes used to watch ice hockey, but that’s getting less and less and involves a lot of frustration about the team licenses in the German league. But I’ve been to a lot more live hockey games than soccer games. (5 versus 0 in the last 15ish years).

PS: MrLlamaSC was just an example that happened to make me realize some things. His knowledge of the game is astounding and I can see how you can be a fan and watch him play and be amazed how he’s mastered the game. I wouldn’t even say it’s a less cool skill than playing the world championship in any accepted sport. Probably a lot less profitable, and depending on your view on life, thus a lot less useful ๐Ÿ˜›

PPS: I also did watch Kripparrian for quite a while a few years back, but I think that was his earlier phase, still playing WoW, and that was mostly YouTube videos with commentary, edited – not real live streaming, but going into the direction of vlogging. Once he went full on streaming and vlogging I kinda checked out pretty soon, but that was also when it was more about Hearthstone and other things (D3 was still kinda ok).

Back from gaming-free vacation

Busy week ahead, WoW Patch 8.2 is supposed to happen in 3h (start of downtime) and FFXIV’s Shadowbringers expansion will be out in a few days as well. Kinda looking forward to the WoW thing more because I am still not finished with Heavensward and still need to do all of Stormblood and again I am a little disheartened because I can’t see the shiny thing and maybe all hopes of starting in February and rushing through base game + 2 expansions while being completely new to the game were ridiculous in the first place, once I kinda breezed through Heavensward I had high hopes it could be done. But the Heavensward post-story (without gaining levels in a meaningful way) somehow killed the flow. Yes, I fully admit that level dings seem to hugely motivate me to continue.

So I just came back from summer vacation and didn’t play anything except a few rounds of Picross (Two Eyes in this case, get it, it’s nice and looks awesome) on my phone. Regarding this post’s title: It’s not that I actively don’t count mobiles games as games, but I don’t count my 5 minutes of solving a level of Picross mobile gaming.

Played a few hours of WoW today (Gnome Rogue to 98, Mag’har Rogue to 47, Undead DK to 110, ground 1.5k of Shaohao rep) but nothing breathtaking, just chilling and work starts again tomorrow.

Also for some reasons I’ve been watching Warhammer miniature painting videos half the evening, I blame AggroChat ~254-257 for mentioning the GW contrast paints. Maybe I should take up mini painting again, it’s been quite a few years.

MMO expansions

Kaylriene and Wilhelm and Bhagpuss wrote about expansions and I wanted to comment on the weekend and forgot. Then I typed a response to Bhagpuss and because it reached epic dimensions (for an answer) I decided to put it here instead.
Hm, I’ve long thought about this topic over the years and I don’t have a definitive opinion.
Back when I was playing WoW as my main (only one with real invested time) I was kinda looking forward to the expansions, but often already a bit wary because they would always change something for the worse. But ok, this could also happen in a major patch, or the new raid tier could be not as fun as the last one – I was hardly ever so fully progressed that I had seen and beaten all the content. I always had the goal to play all alts to max level, etc. (That’s an especially big one.)
But then I started playing other MMOs and I’m not really sure so much changed for me. Sure, I’m coming back to WoW only to check out the latest expansion (since 2014…) and haven’t stayed longer than 3 months since, but still. To me it always feels a little “moving the goal posts” and before I reach the goals I set for myself.. there’s a new expansion and the cycle begins. I am in no way teased by new shinies and I always hated the gear grind (apart from making the stuff I couldn’t do a little easier over time) – but just getting new stuff is zero motivation to me. I wanted to beat the bosses and gear was a means to an end. So in this regard I hated every new raid tier and especially every new expansion where it was: level, attune, farm reps, get gear, etc.pp.
Now I was *really* happy in SWTOR because I came later and could catch up with gear, but then with the latest patch you can get newer and better gear – this has killed every urge to log in recently (but ok, I’ve also wanted to play more WoW and FFXIV…) But yeah, those people having played SWTOR for years have really deserved some new stuff, so it’s ok, really. It just killed some major incentive for me to log in and catch up, that’s life – I did reach a lot of those goals in SWTOR I set myself. And without goals and achievements those games are quite a lot less fun for me.
Also I was always really happy when WoW was near the end of a patch cycle and I ran out of things to do, because then I had time to play other games for a month or three before the next expansion hits. Maybe I *am* a tad overenthusiastic about my main MMO – I don’t play it casually. I sink in every spare minute if there is stuff to do.
So… quite a bunch of words to go rambling in a totally wrong direction, given the three linked blog posts. Sure there are better and worse expansions, but my main problem is the cadence when they are hitting and if they are changing too much stuff. I wouldn’t be playing the game in the first place if it had a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed. Everything should always stay the same, get off my lawn, kids.
PS: Ranking of WoW expansions how I enjoyed them, for no particular reason: TBC > WotLK > MoP > Legion = Cata ~= BfA > WoD. Bit unsure yet where BfA stands.
 
Small update 2019-02-19: Telwyn also chimed in. Also a thing I totally missed talking about: “Vertical progression” expansions that are not moving the goal post (as I defined it), like in Guild Wars 2 or (apparently) EverQuest. I only experienced this in GW2 and I kinda liked it! I do love leveling, but it’s usually the first step in doing anything and a huge motivator, but sometimes not having to update the gear (that’s the step I hate the most) can be awesome. So I guess an expansion that does not increase the level cap once in a while can be a good idea.