Games

Quick 2015 review

Even though this blog doesn’t have many posts and also not many readers, I like doing review posts of my stuff. Caught a cold these days and didn’t get to play a lot on New Year’s Day.
Some people did cool charts on what they played in 2015, I can skip that fancy stuff and do a short list, especially as I can’t tell what I played in which month, as I wasn’t paying many subscriptions and am generally not good enough at tracking these things.

  • Significant amount of time spent:
    • Marvel Heroes
    • Guild Wars 2
    • WildStar
    • Ragnarok Online
    • EVE Online (only January+February)
    • Trine 2 (via AggroChat Game Club 2)
    • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
    • Shadowrun Returns
    • Lost Lands
    • Xbox 360: Rock Band, Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band
  • Insignificant amount of time spent:
    • Mass Effect
    • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
    • Borderlands 2
    • Age of Wonders III
    • Diablo III
    • Heroes of Might and Magic V
    • SW: TOR
    • Android: Fallout Shelter
  • Log in, play less than an hour, log out:
    • WoW
    • Age of Wonders – Shadow Magic

Gaming expenses in 2015:

Damn, this is a lot harder than last year.

  • WildStar: ~40 EUR for sub in Jan-Mar iirc
  • GW2: 110 EUR: box for 10 EUR, Heart of Thorns Ultimate Edition for 99 EUR
  • Marvel Heroes: ~120 EUR -Magik Hero Pack (16 EUR), ingame currency (~105 EUR)
  • Games on Steam: ~66 EUR – AoW3 (15 EUR), SR: Dragonfall (4,50 EUR), SR: Hong Kong (19 EUR), The Witcher 2 (3 EUR), Borderlands 2 (10 EUR), ME 1+2 + AC4 (14 EUR), Hero Siege (1 EUR)
  • Games on GoG: 3 EUR – Robin Hood (2 EUR), The Witcher (1 EUR)
  • Games on HumbleBundle: 16 EUR – GameMaker (12 EUR), Trine (1 EUR), Talisman (3 EUR)
  • Xbox 360: 0 EUR, unless I forgot a random used game for 5 bucks
  • EVE: 0 EUR (paid in Nov ’14)
  • WoW: 0 EUR
  • Ragnarok: 0 EUR
  • SW:TOR : 0 EUR

To sum it up: 355 EUR in 2015, which boils down to ~30 EUR per month for gaming. (2014: ~450/year or 37.50/month)

  • Amount of MMOs months I paid subs: 5
  • Amount of MMOs I logged into and played truly “F2P” without purchases: 3 (Ragnarok, SW:TOR, WoW)
  • Full price games/expansions I bought: 2 (Heart of Thorns and SR: Hong Kong)
  • Amount of games I feel I supported enough/voted with my wallet according to the amount of time I spent there: 2 of 2
    • preordered the HoT Ultimate Edition because I felt bad for enjoying GW2 so much on a 10 EUR one-time purchase
    • spent about exactly 10 EUR per month for stuff in Marvel Heroes – like a sub, but 100% optional. I never felt pressured to buy something. I <3 you, Gazillion.

A wild single player RPG appears

Recently there was talk about the Mass Effect series and again I noticed I had never played any of them. But I had bought ME1 and 2 on June 20th this year (surely in a Steam sale, or via GOG, or HumbleBundle…). So I set out to at least start playing before half a year is up.
My knowledge of the series was and is still very basic – I only knew about Shepard and that’s a SciFi RPG. I think I’ve never played any of the “big” BioWare RPGs besides KotOR – so even that didn’t help. But now I’m 3h in and I really like it. The music is pretty good, the controls are relatively ok (besides Space not being used for jump – I drew my gun in the face of a lot of people in the Citadel already, but they didn’t seem to mind).
But there’s also a few downsides. First of all the beeping and sounds in the menus. While creating my character I was already close to turning the sound off. WTF. Everything in the 80s on a GameBoy was less annoying. Then I only noticed too late that my character’s nose is not good. I’m usually not the one spending half an hour in the character generator, but I couldn’t adjust the nose, now it’s annoying me in every cutscene. Ah well, the rest of the head is ok-ish. But for a 2007 game I’m a bit disappointed. Sure, that’s 8 years old, but as I wrote above I’ve never played more recent games besides a few MMOs. And while cartoony – I wouldn’t say WoW’s 2004/05 Humans looked worse than the ME1 characters.
I’ve also yet to experience the “great Bioware writing”, Shepard got some introduction and also Captain Anderson, but the rest of my squad haven’t had more than 2minutes of screentime yet. And what’s with the endless elevator rides? Yes, they’re funny the first two times, but I bet I’ll hate them very, very soon.
So yeah, too bad I have a Marvel Heroes character to Cosmic Prestige (hit 56 today and there’s a +200% buff plus event) and a GW2 Guardian to level (40 already) and there’s also the Winter achievements in GW2. I especially like their Rock Band mini game.

Preordering Heart of Thorns and other purchases

A while ago (I’m pretty sure it was in March) there was a sale on Guild Wars 2, it always sounded kind of nice, WildStar was just not cutting it at the time – and so I bought GW2 for around 10-12 EUR. I’ve since levelled one character to 80, reached 500 in one crafting skill, levelled some alts to 30, 20, and 10 and in general had quite some fun and unlike in other games I not once felt pushed to buy something on the Gem store (aka with real money). Then a while later I learned about the upcoming expansion: Heart of Thorns. I didn’t (and still don’t) exactly know what it was going to bring (expansions in WoW have been a mixed bag, and so far I’ve been there for all of them…), but I was pretty sure I’d get it.
So recently the preorder page went up and there were the 3 options: Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate. I thought about it for a little while, then decided the Standard one was a bit plain. The Deluxe looked about right from the contents (but seemed a bit pricy) but in the end I opted for the Ultimate – I’ll get some of the Gem currency I haven’t *needed* so far, but I was looking forward to a few nice things.
Most of Reddit will probably disagree and tell me how horrible I am, taking up what Arenanet puts up as an offer. But still, I don’t see this more as thanking them for my past enjoyment of the game in the last 3 months (for a laughable price of less than a month’s subscription in other games) and trusting them to not fuck this up in the near future and not so much blindly accepting what they give us. I know this can send mixed signals and maybe just buying some currency for the store would’ve sent less mixed signals – but the opportunity was at the right time, for the right price.
 
In other news, I recently bought a few things off GoG and Steam, namely Borderlands 2 (which is pretty good, and I like it a lot better than Borderlands) with all the DLC for 10 EUR, The Witcher 1+2 (was cheap and I’m interested – but I don’t have high enough hopes to stick longer than a few hours, that’s why Witcher 3 was out), Mass Effect 1+2 (read so many good things, can’t wait) for ~7 EUR and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag for 8 EUR – because the start of Brotherhood wasn’t especially good (after the phenomal AC 2) and when I get back, I might as well play the part that’s widely said to be the best part.
Totally unrelated, but apparently I hate having games on Steam that I had already owned before. It shows “Played: 0 hours” when in fact I spent days, weeks or even months playing them. But it doesn’t annoy me half as much as WoW not retroactively having given me basically all WSG, AB and AV achievements when they were introduced. One does not simply reach rank 11 without a five base win or 2000:1990 or whatever it was. Back then I was very much tempted to open tickets and link to screenshots of my past exploits.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall completed

Thanks to the public holiday I stayed up until 3 am and continued after getting up, so I’m finally done with Shadowrun: Dragonfall. It’s so good! I finished it in ~18h according to Steam, which is more than twice the time than Shadowrun Returns – but I think I didn’t skip any side quest this time.
My main character was (again) a Ranged Street Samurai (this time Female Troll named Tar instead of Male Orc named Zip) and I used only Rifles (Assault and Sniper) and a Shotgun near the end. I mostly played with Dietrich (Shaman) on Support, Eiger (Sniper) and Glory (Melee) but sometimes took Blitz (Decker) over Glory. I totally didn’t see the Cyberware menu for the first ~10 hours, so only used the active stuff in the end.
There are two things I didn’t like, first of all the loading times when starting the game. At times it took 2-3 minutes to get into, this is a bit weird (but it wasn’t on my SSD, so ok). When moving from zone to zone (which doesn’t happen that often, maybe twice per hour max) it was a lot quicker, but still a bit slow. And the grand finale was just too easy. Or maybe I minmaxed a little too much, but in the middle of the game I sometimes struggled with fights (had to abandon and reload once), and in the end I was just waltzing through. Didn’t even use my medkits anymore and hardly a heal. Also only used one summon out of three I had.
Everything else was basically perfect, I am so much looking forward to Hong Kong now.
I might even try to get a few more achievements out of this game and play as a non-Samurai, we’ll see.
 
But now I can finally listen to that AggroChat episode without being spoilered 🙂

Shadowrun Returns completed

I remember buying Shadowrun Returns quite a while ago and promptly started to play. For about 30 minutes and then somehow I never came back.
Now I know that was a huge mistake. Shadowrun: Dragonfall was marked down quite a bit on Steam and I pondered buying it, in the knowledge that the predecessor still sat there unfinished. So I set out to give it another chance (because I actually love the Shadowrun world and played the pen & paper for quite a bit). This resulted in me spending most of Saturday (nearly 9 hours to be exact) playing through from 30min in till the end credits. And I can only say: WOW, it’s so good and so much fun. I think at around the 4 hour mark I alt-tabbed to quickly buy Dragonfall (which I started to play just now, it looks equally well done so far)
It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a solid single player role-playing game with turn-based tactical combat. (Queue memories of Syndicate in the 90s) I think I played on normal and only had to reload once because I lost a fight and I needed to peek into a walkthrough three times. One of those was genuine (at the UB), the other too I could blame on the game itself. First I didn’t know where to go because I didn’t get that “Sure you want to leave the scene?” in combat mode is not a bad thing, just the way to the next zone. And then nothing happened where something should happen, but I should’ve just walked around a bit for a turn or two. So I don’t call those two cheating, only the first thing I mentioned (at the UB).
So yeah – no crashes, perfect difficulty level, it was just a bit short. According to some research it should’ve been around 10-12h and not 9, but maybe I forgot a few side quests. I am quite happy it’s not 20+ because I love to finish a game once in a while.
Still undecided if I grab the preorder for Hong Kong on Steam or if playing Dragonfall is now enough in the near future.. We’ll see.

Trine 2 (AggroChat Game Club 2)

I’m a big fan of the AggroChat podcast and when they revealed the game they’d be all playing in March turned out to be Trine 2 I rummaged around in my Humble Bundle purchases because the name sounded vaguely familiar. I was in luck, because I apparently had a key and so I wanted to give it a try after all.
So like most of the folks from AggroChat I did not finish Trine 2, but I wholeheartedly agree with most of their review points: It’s a nice platformer/puzzle game that looks absolutely fantastic. Most puzzles (up to the point where I stopped, at some point after the 2nd boss) were fair.
I did nearly all my fighting on the Warrior (with a few arrows here and there and crushing a few enemies with a box), did most of the jumping on the Thief and solved most of the puzzles as the Wizard.
I also agree on the shortcomings, meaning that “conjuring boxes” solves too many problems.
I totally couldn’t stop laughing when it came to discussing the pipe puzzles and the perceived lack of means to rotate them – like Bel I spent a minute or two on each puzzle hitting them against the assets and my character to spin them around instead of finding the keybinding to do that.
Oh, and go listen to that episode if you’re interested – I think besides the criticism of it being too easy I agree with mostly everything they said. I’m so out of touch with single player games in general and platformers especially that it was hard enough for me. But I mostly stopped for time reasons (all those Marvel Heroes need to be levelled after all…) and I’ll absolutely try to finish it at some point.
Awesome game – play it!

2014 gaming expenses

Why come up with original content when you can grab the best ideas? 🙂
This is what I spent on games and gaming in 2014, but I’m sure I forgot somethng.

MMOs, roughly by time /played

WoW: 156 EUR
I was subscribed for 6 months in early 2014 (I think 2 of those were spent only logging in once a week and chatting to guildies, could’ve saved that) and for 1 month in December after I had bought Warlords of Draenor 2 weeks after launch, end of November. WoD was 45 EUR and I also had one paid character transfer in February to the server where I was working on Algalon.
WildStar: ~105 EUR
I don’t remember the box price (around 40 EUR?) and I’ve been subscribed since launch (5 months).
Pet peeve: NCSoft always needs 2FA via email because my IP changed. Doh, I live in Germany, where roughly 75% of non-mobile users have a new IP on a daily basis.
SW:TOR: 36 EUR
I was subscribed for 3 months, January until March. If I remember correctly I was levelling my Jedi Sage to 55. No clue why I didn’t write about it.
EVE Online: 48 EUR
I was subscribed until February and came back in late October. That’s 4 months of subscriptions (1 discounted) and I spent 2 PLEX on dual training I had already paid for in 2013.
Marvel Heroes: 8.50 EUR
I started close to New Year’s Eve and spent money on 1000G to buy 3 heroes at the sale. Quite fun, looking forward to finishing the story mode for the first time.

Other games

Diablo 3 – Reaper of Souls: 40 EUR
Back when it launched it was fun for a while, but now awesome fun like Diablo 2 was. In the patch preceding the expansion launch and also after the expansion I played a whole lot. Worth the money, even if went a little stale after a while again.
Steam: ~30 EUR
Hammerwatch 4-pack, Assassin’s Creed 2, AC 3, AC: Brotherhood, AC: Revelations, 10000000, Game Dev Tycoon, Terraria, Gunpoint
I had grabbed Assassin’s Creed 2 at a sale, completed it in a few days and bought the sequels, started with Brotherhood then went to play something else. Still looking forward to finishing them.
I wrote about Game Dev Tycoon and loved it. Same for Gunpoint. Terraria wasn’t really my cup of tea and 10,000,000 was a bit weird, but after an hour it was more fun than in the beginning. And Hammerwatch I only stopped playing because of Marvel Heroes. Still plan to finish it piecemeal.
GoG: 15 EUR
Heroes of Might & Magic 5 Bundle, The Settlers 4, Age of Wonders Shadow Magic, Master of Orion 1+2
After this post I didn’t buy Anno, but Settlers 4. I got the Master of Orion titles because of good things I heard, but it’s a bit too oldschool it seems, I wasn’t immediately hooked. HoMM 5 got a decent amount of play time already, it looks better and plays nearly as good as HoMM 3. (HoMM 4 sucked, btw)
Humble Bundle: 13 EUR
Humble Bundle 11 and Shadowrun Returns, haven’t played any of these for an extended amount of time.
XBox 360: 0 EUR
The only topic where I can’t easily track my purchases online, because I only pick up discounted games in stores here and there, but I’m pretty sure Lego Marvel Heroes was the last one at Christmas 2013.
That’s ~450 EUR in 12 months or 37.50 EUR per month. A lot more than I had thought but still not too bad for a hobby that I could spend a few hours a day with.
To reflect on what could be done to save some money:

  • only 2 MMO subs per month (should be no problem, 2014 it was 19 months of subs in total)
  • restrain myself even more at sales on Steam/GoG/Humble Bundle (wasn’t too bad though) Then again I think I bought more Humble Bundles because of the soundtracks or one game than because of the majority of games in it
  • if I didn’t count incorrectly, I paid for 3 full price games or expansions (D3, WS, WoD)

Completed: Game Dev Tycoon

At today’s Steam Summer Sale I grabbed Game Dev Tycoon for around 4 EUR. I started to play around noon and just now, after 6h I am finished.
Small intermission: There’s only a handful of games I really ever completed, on the SNES I just remember one Clay Fighter title, for example – I usually give up somewhere midway, and this week I already completed 2, yay me.
So, the game is about running a small game studio from one man in a garage to being a multi-million (I didn’t manage billions) company with employees.
gdt_final
I like the art style, it’s basic, but absolutely good enough. The music is nice and did not annoy me even after 6h despite being a little repetitive. I never worked in games development, but it’s a pretty damn accurate portrayal of software development in general, just enough details to not be wrong, without needless stuff players are probably not interested in (imho).
Apparently I unlocked 15/33 (45% of Achievements).

  • I got surprisingly few things to criticize:
  • The “selected features” when creating a new game are somewhat like a tech tree, i.e. you replace “Stereo Sound” with “Surround Sound”, but the UI does not group them. So either you throw the old ones out in your new game engine (which is kind of final and you might not always want to do that) or you click around a little too much. Cheap win for UX. (nice to have)
  • Events that occur to you can’t be postponed. No problem for donation calls or something, but just at the end (without spoilering) I would have liked to send my whole team on vacation for a month before they undertook this massive event that popped up and I could just accept or decline. (Surprisingly, the only non-exhausted developer came ahead. I snickered.) (The game doesn’t punish you, but would be nice and would add depth to your decisions)
  • Game Conventions should need planning. This one G3 (hehe) is announced to be “in 4 weeks” – but I have no timetable, if I can ship my game just before. Then again the game apparently does not care if I announce Vaporware or have a fresh title. (nice to have)
  • You can speed up most info dialogs by clicking, just not the 2 of them: visitor numbers from game conventions and reviews for your game. Why, why, why? “Click for instant text and dismiss the animation after the 10th time” – this was really annoying in the end. But to be fair it made me get up every hour and fetch a drink or something. Maybe educational 🙂
  • After playing for some hours you have just too many games and they are presented badly in the Game History. Bonus points for allowing arrow keys, but next playthrough I will open an Excel sheet on the second screen or have some pen and paper handy. I don’t miss that from the 90s games – but I think it could help, unless the Game History would be presented better (gets tedious after your first 20-30 games) for games to be grouped, filtered or sorted.
  • That’s it – not much that was not super fun.

Oh, and here are my final stats:
gdt2gdt1

Gaming plans for 2013

So, having just vented that I don’t enjoy WoW as much as i used to, what’s next?
For now I’m not cancelling my sub, just lowering play time. I’ve patched LotRO again this week and made 2 levels on my Hobbit Bard, now level 22. It’s a little weird, as usual, especially as I use a different keyboard for now, but quite fun. Need to read some guide again, though. (Yes, I’m that kind of person. Too lazy to try out all the stuff myself, too incompetent to just figure it out quickly and too competitive to not bother.)
There’s one title I’ve been anticipating a lot for a while now, WildStar, and one that I’m at least looking forward to, although not being sold entirely yet, Starbound.
And I plan on keep on ignoring these titles in the near future despite having them installed: Runes of Magic, SW:TOR and DDO.
Besides that I’m still searching for the one Roguelike I love (haven’t found it yet) and maybe I’ll finish my own game in a few years. We’ll see.

Tales of my inactivity are greatly exaggerated

Oh, it has been a while. *dusts off blog*
Mostly because I havent’t been enjoying WoW as much as I used to.
My 90s right now are Rogue, Warrior, Shaman, Hunter, Priest, Paladin and Rogue, with a Warlock at 89 and a Druid at 87. I don’t do Pet Battles, Achievement Hunting is stalling, but apparently levelling is ok again since the 5.3 XP boost. Oh, and levelling a Shadow Priest sucks donkey balls, dito instances and Disc is kind of ok, but was more fun at 80. =( Then again I’m having a blast as Affliction, I think I’ve last enjoyed my Warlock as much in TBC.
The big question this expansion will be if the 85 Mage and DK will make it to max level and whether I can be bothered to gear up any alts besides a few. I really hate LFR for being such pointless facerolling, for now my plans are to have 1-2 alts for flex raids when they hit and to really, really, really ignore the other max level chars instead of wasting time. Good old pick up alt raids on Aggramar were awesome, LFR is not.