Fragmented Gameplay

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This was a busy weekend, largely because I spent most of it not in Oklahoma.  We opted to take a fall break trip down to Dallas, and in some ways it was a really awesome trip…  but in other ways it was not.  When we left town on Friday morning it was raining, and for the most part did not stop raining until some time over night.  This made for a very cold and wet trip, combined with lots of moments when it was raining so hard that I could barely see the road ahead of me.  This became more stressful when I was crammed between two lines of K-Rails and the two lanes of traffic felt super squeezed together.  We made it there safely, but the trip took way longer than it normally would have given the circumstances.  Under perfect conditions with zero stops, we can make it to Frisco where we were staying in the hotel in roughly 4 hours…  we were not under perfect conditions, and we stopped constantly to roam around.  Friday was largely spent meandering around hitting various places along the way.

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This made for a very compact Sunday, trying to get everything that we normally have to do on a Sunday done as well as anything triggered by being out of the house for two days.  This mean’t that most of my gameplay yesterday was in several fragmented chunks which largely involved running Headless Horseman in World of Warcraft on all of my tanks, and leveling in Destiny 2 as I had yet to hit the level cap nor really make much traction in the story.  I am a little weird when it comes to approaching Destiny content in that I prefer to level up independent of the story, and then grind through the story knowing that anything that happens to drop will potentially fuel my later item level grind.  I largely took this screenshot because occasionally I forget that I end up getting paired with local people through Bungie’s matching algorithm that factors connection quality above pretty much anything else.  Notice the player GerthBrooks…  which made me chuckle at first and then was a little disturbed by it.  For the uninitiated, Garth Brooks is also an Oklahoman and while his girls were in High School literally lived in the same town as I do.

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Another thing I found out this weekend is that Escalation Protocol is really damned good for leveling…  as there were groups I managed to get in the same instance with that were farming the level 7 boss.  This thing drops some shaders, but also a chest that requires some sort of key that I am going to have to figure out.  Upon some quick googling it seems like I simply didn’t do much content in Warmind, and as a result don’t have any keys to open these things with.  The truth is that I largely bounced hard after grinding up my second account worth of characters upon the PC release.  I managed to stick it through until the Curse of Osiris expansion, but the repetitive nature of that content left me annoyed.  I will admit however that so far Forsaken seems really cool, I picked up and did some more of the story last night.

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My highest priority however is to sort out how to do the Festival of the Lost content before it disappears.  I had enough of the cash shop second chance currency to pick up this sweet corrupted ship.  Past that I hear there is a better version of the infinite forest that I need to check out, that has a chance of dropping what appears to be a really sweet auto rifle.  I contemplated playing God of War, but with the fragmentation of my play time…  I focused on something that I could drop in and out of quickly rather than something that would require my full attention for long periods of time.  Depending on how tonight goes… will determine if I return to Destiny for Festival stuff, or play some Dad of War.  Regardless I managed to hit 50 the new level cap and am at 500ish light, so now to finish the story and get geared again.  The lack of weapon options are driving me insane right now… but it is forcing me to use combinations that I never would have before.  I’ve been getting a lot of play out of sidearms since they game keeps dropping them for me.

Boy…

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Last night I decided to test out the wireless ethernet thing a little further, this time focusing on the official Sony Playstation Remote Play app, to see if the connection improved its functionality.  In the past it had behaved a lot like Parsec was where it had momentary blips of connectivity, where the sound would drag a bit while the stream was trying to catch up.  In truth it happened an awful lot more than Parsec normally does, generally happening every couple of minutes.  That said the entire time playing the Remote Play app felt very obvious that there was a bit of lag introduced into the system.  For example I could not really stand playing Destiny other than material farming, because I had to lead the shots by a significant margin to try and actually hit anything.  As such I only really played RPGs in this fashion that didn’t require me to do much in the way of fine motor skills.

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With the connection change however it is not really noticeable that I am not sitting at the Playstation 4 upstairs.  Sure I am only able to stream back 720p due to the fact that I don’t have a PS4 Pro…  but apart from that one constraint it felt like I was actually upstairs playing the machine natively.  I spent most of the evening playing Dad of War…  sorry that is all this game will ever be called to me personally.  I will comment a bit about the game itself later, but as far as the gameplay experience over Remote Play I put in roughly three hours and never once had a bobble or a hiccup in the connection or anything I could possibly attribute to slowdown or input lag.  In fact the game felt silky smooth and largely made me forget how I was doing some nonsense in the process of playing it.

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As far as the game itself… it reminds me an awful lot of the way that Horizon Zero Dawn felt in ways that I am not entirely certain if I could explain.  Basically Dad of War is Horizon Zero Dawn if you instead were playing as Rost, and spent all your time running around with young Aloy.  There are so many ways in which Kratos interacts with Atreus,  that remind me of those early interactions between Rost and Aloy.  Sure the core of the games themselves are very different, whereas HZD was a big open worldish exploration game… and thusfar Dad of War seems to be largely following a predetermined path with various objectives adjacent to said path.  The short period of time I have been playing however makes me feel like playing HZD again.

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Even though I generally hate the term Toxic Masculinity, not necessarily for its intended meaning, but more the negative reaction that I tend to have mentally to hearing it…  and translating it to “being male is bad”.  Dad of War is very much a game about Toxic Masculinity.  Kratos wants to be a better “father” than he is capable of being.  The game takes painstaking effort to show you all of the times he has the instinct to embrace his son, but for whatever reason cannot and instead focuses on something Atreus did wrong instead of comforting and assuaging his fears.  He wants his son to grow up “strong” like he is, and it reminds me so much of every time I saw a father trying to relive their own glory days through their kid via sports.  I’m sorta afraid that if I had kids I would feel something similar about all of the geeky things that I did along the way growing up, and wanting to try and force said kids into loving the same things I do.

I have some feelings about how this story is going to play out, but I am going to keep them to myself for now.  I just feel like we are telling the final tale of Kratos, and witnessing the birth of the next figure that the series will focus on.  I have a feeling that the game as a whole will be a very unexpected emotional trip.  Ultimately yesterday I realized that since I am not currently engaged in an MMO that is sapping all of my time…  that I should spent some time catching up on the single player games that I either never attempted to got distracted while playing.  Example I made a significant amount of progress into Assassin’s Creed Origins but got distracted by some other shiny MMO flavored object that crossed my path.  For now I think I am going to spend most of my time playing through Dad of War and after that… probably set my sights on another single player game that I failed to play…  maybe loop back around and finish up AC Origins.

Wireless Ethernet

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One of the things I have talked about in the past are the odd constraints that I have on trying to be fully functional gaming in two different locations.  One of the things I learned early on is that for martial bliss I need to be able to game from the living room without actually taking control of the television.  My wife and I are the sort of people who are completely happy doing different things, while in the same room…  occasionally watching something on television together while doing these different things.  So she will be on her end of the sectional cocooned in a blanket fort messing with her laptop, and I will be doing roughly the same on my end of the sofa playing on my laptop.

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The only hitch in this setup is that gaming laptops do not stay relevant for long.  Mine for example is from 2015ish with a 4th Gen Core i7 and GTX 960M dedicated graphics, however it performs considerably lower than that as is the case with pretty much every laptop designated for gaming.  Generally speaking you can effectively drop every component by a generation, so in this case it probably performs similar to a Desktop 3rd Gen i7 with a 750 graphics card.  Effectively there are a lot of things it plays fine… like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV…  but a lot of things it simply cannot handle like Monster Hunter World.  Other things like Destiny 2 it just doesn’t play well enough to make it worth trying to play.

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So essentially I am left with the decision…  do I shell out another $1500-$2000 on a gaming class laptop that is going to be irrelevant in another two years or do I look for other options.  This has lead me down the path of trying to remotely stream games off my desktop upstairs.  So many of the options have issues, like Steam Link for example seems to have a high instance of stranding the game running and locking me out of remoting in to try and fix it.  Splashtop works great if you are wanting to stream to your mobile device, but in dealing with 720p or higher it is just too laggy input wise to play games on.  This lead me to Parsec and I have talked a bit about how great that service is in the past.

The only negative is that still I run into issues where there are “hiccups” in the stream for various reasons.  Like things are going smoothly for a good long while, and then all of the sudden the music hitches and the control input lags for a moment while the stream catches back up.  I don’t necessarily blame this on Parsec itself, but on the fact that I am streaming over a wireless network, and this becomes especially bad if we are watching something off Netflix or streamed back from my Plex server.  So I started thinking about alternatives to try and get a more stable connection between my desktop that is wired into my router with Gigabit Ethernet, and my laptop that is downstairs and has no clear path to run Ethernet to.

Powerline Ethernet was the first option I looked into, but there is a problem that I simply do not have a free power outlet near my router since I have so damned much hooked up in that vicinity in my office.  The thing with powerline is it has to have a direct connection to the power outlet because I have heard horror stories about folks who tried to hook that up and get it running through some sort of a power strip.  While I would love to get conduit run with multiple gigabit Ethernet drops in every room… that just isn’t in the cards and is an extremely expensive proposal to retro fit it into a house built in 1980.  This lead me down the path of trying to determine ways to improve my wireless signal enough to make the process viable.

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I have the nonsense TP Link spider looking Archer C5400 router upstairs that has three separate channels for wireless, one in the 2.4 ghz band and two in the 5 ghz band… one of which I have already dedicated for nothing but my gaming devices.  So I opted to look into TP Link repeater devices, several of which have a built in Gigabit Ethernet port.  I ultimately decided upon the AC1750 device and rather than simply relying on it as a wireless repeater am effectively treating it like a nonsensically powerful wireless modem.  It is bonded to the 2.4 ghz general network and the 5 ghz gaming network, and then I have Ethernet running from that device to my laptop.  Sure this is a silly solution, but it seems to do exactly what I was hoping it would…  provide me completely lag free parsec streaming.

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Almost all of my Monster Hunting of late has been done across this connection from my laptop, without running into issues where I need to twitch move out of the way of an attack and hit a lag spike.  Similarly I can play a game like Destiny 2 over the connection without running into issues now.  Previously it worked well, but even at its best I could still tell I was remotely playing the game.  With this setup it feels like I am legitimately just sitting at my desktop upstairs from my laptop downstairs.  Again I think I am probably the only person who tries to game in the fashion that I do…  but I thought I would write about this today just in case anyone else out there is looking for an option to make things feel more like sitting at the gaming machine.  Tonight I plan on doing some experiments with the native Playstation Remote app to see if that feels better now than it did, since I would like to play some Dad of War at some point.

This isn’t exactly a cheap solution.  The device in question costs around $45 on Amazon for a refurbished model, and about $70 for a minty fresh factory sealed one.  There are likely cheaper options as well, but effectively what you are looking for is something in the AC band with a Gigabit ethernet port built into the device that bonds to the 5 ghz signal.  The end result however works extremely well for me personally, and you can even use something like Photoshop and the brushes all feel responsive.  Sure you are tethered to a wireless repeater, so it isn’t exactly the best option for wireless play.  I do however want to do some testing without the Ethernet connected to see if the signal is stable enough without the physical connection.   The biggest test however is that we can be streaming something from Netflix and the gameplay seems completely unphased by it, as was the case Monday when I was off work hunting monsters on the laptop while streaming shows through the Roku.

Turtles and Tunnels

I don’t have an awful lot to talk about this morning.  I seem to be sliding into another deep turtle mode, and a pretty good indicator of that is that I have been playing a significant amount of Minecraft lately.  I don’t have screenshots to go with this post so it is going to largely just seem like a giant wall of text.  There are lots of different ways to play Minecraft, but I am a base builder.  What I mean by that is I extend my reach out into the world crafting safe enclaves that keep me from having to ever deal with the monsters that inhabit it.  As such I craft vast tunnel networks that allow me to move around without ever leaving the safe zone.  Sure I occasionally venture out purposefully to go collect resources, but I tend to bring with me this umbilical cord like network of safety from area to area.

It is though Minecraft that I realized how much I would love to live underground.  Things feel so safe there, and I think this is why I keep returning to the game when I am going through periods of stress.  I almost always start the same way…  for my first nights shelter I dig into a hillside and hollow out a little chamber, that serves as my first foothold into the dangerous world.  From there I start expanding this warren until I have a firm base of operations.  From there I decide which direction I want to expand and build my first outpost, and then start digging a 3×3 tunnel in that direction until I decide it is time to pop back out of the earth.  I tend to dig a staircase upwards and then build some sort of a tower like structure that will serve as the anchor of that outpost.

Last night for example I spent a good deal of time hollowing out a hillside next to where I popped back out of the ground, crafting three block high levels moving slowly up towards the top of the hill where I started crafting an external structure.  I tend to build all of it out of cobblestone at least as a start, and as I get access to better looking materials I start swapping pieces of it out.  My tunneling nature however pretty much guarantees I have plenty of cobblestone and dirt to do pretty much anything I can dream up.  Similarly the bulk amounts of rock that I end up clearing means I am bound to find a ton of coal and steel which helps to feed this machine.

Another thing that I regularly do is dig a staircase down to bedrock, and which point I start digging mine shafts in search of diamonds.  My first diamonds this time I found as I reached the bottom without much effort, but I spent a chunk of last night clearing things out, trying to avoid the magma and an underground lake that I found.  Magma is always the real challenge when you get down to the bottom level of the world, because if you dig long enough you are going to eventually encounter it and risk it flooding your tunnel network with fiery death.  I crafted this tunnel network underneath my first cave base, and in the second outpost I am slowly crafting my way downwards by building a series of rooms and a ladder network.

It was through this ladder network that I broke into a cave complex that goes potentially all the way down to bedrock on its own.  I managed to clear my way down to a ravine in the middle of the earth, but that is as far as I went because I was running short on torches.  I could however see magma down at the bottom lighting the structure up so in theory that is another network to explore.  I need to spend some time clearing out the cave structure to craft a more deliberate path downwards so that I will not get lost down there.  That is always a problem I have in cave structures and I have tried to adopt a “torch on the right” methodology so that I can sorta see which direction I should be going based on the side of the cave the torch is on.

I think ultimately I find it relaxing reorganizing a chaotic world and crafting safe little areas for me to live in.  You know that feeling you have when you are bundled up in a blanket but it is raining hard outside?  That warmth and safety is how I feel when I am wandering around my tunnel networks.  It is a safe world that I ultimately crafted for myself… a bubble that lets me explore without ever placing myself in danger.  I know I play Minecraft way different than a lot of folks, but my methodology feels calming and relaxing.   Which ultimately is apparently the thing I am seeking out when I go into one of these turtle modes and return to the game.

Glutton Axe

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Yesterday I had the day off and spent a good deal of it playing Monster Hunter World.  I allowed myself to get distracted by seeking out a weapon that was shockingly easy to craft.  Essentially I had been trying to determine which of the switch axes I would go after first.  The clear obvious choice is the Diablos one… the problem there is I really don’t want to go right back to grinding Diablos nonstop to get the parts I would need for it…  which are again are Majestic and Black Spiral Horns.  Instead I decided to set my sights considerably lower, on something I could probably farm up in my sleep.

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The Jagras line doesn’t exactly have a ton of amazing weapons, but in the switch axe department it is a pretty reasonable option.  Its low point is it is only a Rank 6 weapon, but based on its stats it should probably be Rank 7?  It has hidden elemental sleep, and when transformed into sword mode has exhaust damage.  If I remember correct that means that when hitting the head the exhaust damage can KO the monster.  All that it really required me to do was kill a nonsensical number of Great Jagras… since that isn’t exactly a monster I hunt on the regular.  However with minimal farming I managed to get the switch axe crafted and play around a bit with it.  It will at least hold me over until something awesome drops from Kulve Taroth at some point.

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The other mission is still very much active however, and I did kill several Rathian yesterday, enough to I believe get all of the Spikes that I needed.  Now I just have to wait for a Rathian Ruby to drop before crafting that final Gunlance.  As Ashgar posted yesterday, I do probably intend to make the Zorah Magdaros one as well, since I have already crafted the first version of it.  I believe I just need another Zorah Gem before being able to craft the Rank 8 version.  That would give me Long 4 and Normal 4 to play with and get used to both.  Then again I hope I get a decent Wide 4 weapon to drop during Kulve Taroth.  I fully expect to be farming the hell out of that event when it finally goes live.  I think hammer is going to be a much better option to breaking things than Longsword was on the console.

Spectacular Failures

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One of the things I greatly enjoy about Monster Hunter World is that failure sometimes looks amazing.  Success or fail, when you end a hunt you get a screenshot.  This is one of the many failure shots from Xeno’Jiiva that I have from the weekend.  However this one is actually well after I had beat the fight the first time, but was forced to keep farming for parts.  Often times the best looking shots come from colossally failing at an encounter.  This one is from when multiple people fighting Xeno and not noticing it was about to explode… so three people got carted at exactly the same time ending the hunt.

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Immediately upon downing Xeno’Jiiva for the first time I shot ahead to 29, the next level cap.  This is something that happened last time as well given that I did a lot of grinding and hunting while capped at the previous level.  I immediately turned around and got into the hunt for Double Bazelguese at which point I lept ahead to 41…  once again something that happened before since I did a lot of hunting while avoiding trying to fight Xeno.  Now I am slowly working my way up to the next cap of 49…  which is Tempered Kirin…  something I am not looking forward to at all.

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That said I am slowly watching back up to where I was when I stopped playing the PS4 release.  All of the grinding of Nergigante and Xeno’jiiva was to be able to craft Extermination’s Edge the long sword I had been using prior to the restart.  I talked the other day about crafting the Diablos hammer, and the recent event let me craft Wyvern Ignition another “end game” weapon.  Similarly over the weekend I managed to craft the Fiendish Tower the final form of the Deviljho lance, giving me a forth end game weapon.

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Right now my mission is to craft another item that in theory will be an end game weapon.  I’ve been farming the hell out of High Rank Rathian because I need an excessive number of Spikes and a Gem to be able to craft Royal Burst.  I’ve seen so many people using this Gunlance, so in theory I figured I would craft it and try it out.  Wide Range weapons seem to be en vogue, however what I am reading is that you cannot get wide shelling 4 without getting a lucky drop from Kulve Taroth.  Instead I am going to give a shot no pun intended at normal shelling.  From there…  the next missing is probably going to be to farm a bunch more Deviljho so I can turn the stage one Sword and Shield that I crafted into the final form by gathering up yet another Gem.  From there… I need to sort out what Charge Blade and Switch Axe that I want to work towards.  Basically… this is Monster Hunter for me…  hunting monsters, making weapons…  hunting more monsters.  Regardless I feel like I am in a pretty great state for when the Kulve Taroth event comes in November.

The Grind Loop

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The other day Mailvaltar asked question in a comment on another post about whether I think Monster Hunter World can be enjoyed by someone who generally dislikes grinding.  Ultimately the core loop of monster hunter seems to be… take down big monsters in an epic boss fight, carve off items with varying degrees of rarity, take those items to craft new gear…  to enable you to take down bigger monsters.  The degree to which this becomes a gear collection game is entirely up to you, because I believe almost every single monster is beatable in the gear you start the game with…  it just becomes significantly more challenging as time moves on.  However even with better gear… there are going to be times you fail completely like the glorious screenshot above of my death.  Ultimately I got swiped by Black Diablos, which dizzied me…  which then lead to a full force charge for the rest of my health.  Given that other people had fainted at various points during the hunt…  my failure was the one that kicked us out of the fight.

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Each monster fight tends to go somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on a bunch of factors, so one of the aspects of the game that no one really talks about… is that you need to be able to shake off the fact that you just spent 30 minutes of time and have relatively little to show for it.  Every so often the stars align however and you get exactly what you need.  When that happens it feels phenomenal…  during this single Black Diablos hunt I managed to pull 2 Black Spiral Horn+ aka the thing I was hunting for one more of…  a Wyvern Gem as well as the Non-Elemental Boost Decoration that I ultimately needed for the hammer I had been working towards.  Basically this final Diablos hunt gave me everything I had been questing for to try and assemble the final form of the Diablos hammer.

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So what did I do once I got my hammer all kitted out?  I immediately shifted focus to working on parts from Deviljho.  For me personally it is the grind…. the hunt for parts… that keeps me engaged in the game.  The boss fights all feel great (or at least most of them do) and are definitely a reward in themselves.  However it is the acquisition of gear that is always my guiding force in any MMORPG.  It is why I grind in Diablo 3 or World of Warcraft…  and ultimately why Monster Hunter World clicked with me initially.  It is a gear driven game where your personal skill advancement means often times more than the gear you are hunting…  but the ability to build complex mixed sets with just the right bonus traits keeps me moving forward.  Building a set of gear sorta feels like building a really good deck in Magic the Gathering.

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So last night I spent my evening either hunting Black Diablos or Deviljho… and it was a pretty glorious evening.  Is this mechanical loop right for most people?  Probably not…  however I enjoy it greatly.  Were it not for the release of Battle for Azeroth at almost the exact same time as the PC version of Monster Hunter…  I would have likely been doing this since August.  As far as Deviljho stuff… I am largely down to just needing to get lucky enough to loot one of its Gems, which admittedly is a common place you end up with crafting gear.  The Gem seems by far the most rare of the item drops, and seems to only drop when you no longer need it.  I have a stack of Odogoron and Wyvern gems…  but am not actively working on any gear from either…  though at some point I guess I will make the Odog Scythes and Blunderbuss.  That said there are still a ton of Deviljho weapons I eventually want to craft.  For example I think it is one of the better Sword and Shields out there, and that is a weapon I want to shift into playing more of.

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The funny thing is… I have the patience to constantly be grinding for loot drops…  but somehow lack the patience to move the quest line forward.  I am still stalled out on Xeno’jiiva because it is generally one of the awful feeling fights in the game.  I might snag my friend Exale and con him into running it with me at some point over the weekend if for no reason other than to just speed the process up.  You have to do a lot more dodging when you are the only player in the arena with Xeno.  I think Monster Hunter World is an amazing game, and especially since it is on steam…  if it goes on Sale I highly suggest you check it out.

Slashing Pickles

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Last night I finally took a bit of a break from my vision quest to get the final form of the Diablos hammer.  You can see me in the above photo with the next to last form here, but unfortunately the final revision requires three Black Spiral Horn+ which is proving to be more of a challenge than I realized.  At the time of writing this… I now finally know why it has been so rough and why I keep getting Twisted Horns instead of the component I am actually seeking.  One of the weird things about Monster Hunter World or the Monster Hunter franchise in general… is there are certain components that you can only get by killing a monster and carving it… and others you can only get if you capture the monster.  As it turns out apparently unlike Majestic Horns from the normal Diablos…  you can only get Black Spiral Horn+ by killing the monster and carving it up.  This is unfortunate since the PC culture seems to be capture everything, even when there are similar hammer bros with me trying to get the upgrades.

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Last night however I went down a different path, that is unlocking Deviljho and starting to farm for some of those weapons.  Namely I really want the Lance, as it seems to be pretty freaking brutal.  Similarly I have been working on assembling a guard set…  that is going to turn around and help me farm the pieces I need from Black Diablos a little more efficiently.  Now that I have broken the trend of “Longsword Everything” I am starting to see that the game is more enjoyable if you sorta treat it like MegaMan.  What I mean by that is certain weapons tend to be easier on certain bosses than other weapons, and as I am starting to shift things up and learn new things…  I am finding it way more enjoyable to just switch to the appropriate weapon rather than to force myself down the path of slow and tedious Longswording.  That said…  I do tend to fight Deviljho with a Longsword.

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By the end of the night I had crafted this monstrosity, or Grief Lance the first form of the Deviljho lance weapon.  Essentially now I need Five more Tailfangs, a Gem, and two Scalps…  which again only drop if you kill the monster and carve it.  Functionally I am going to have to get good at soloing Deviljho or else be that guy that breaks traps.  I don’t want to be that guy because the PC community is relatively small in the grand scheme of things and I don’t want to get that reputation.  Alternatively I could just start asking people since text based chat is a thing that works easily on the PC…  even though very few people actually say things in it.  I might simply start asking nicely if we can kill not trap on both Deviljho and Black Diablos so I can get the bits I actually need.  I’ve fallen back into my old ways of really enjoying the SOS Roulette lifestyle, which is in part why I have put off downing Xeno’jiiva if only because it is such a prodding long fight.

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When I say it has a relatively small community, you have to take that with some perspective…  because it still manages to regularly rank in the top five games on steam for concurrent players.  There is no real way of knowing how many players there were on the PS4 but the community definitely feels smaller.  My personal theory is, that we ended up grouping an awful lot with Japanese players… and while they do exist on the PC there are far fewer of them.  It does however feel way more populated than what I have seen of the Xbox One community, so there is at least that.  Over 45,000 players is nothing to sneeze at, but that has fallen off significantly from the all time peak of over 320,000 players.  I have a feeling however that as soon as the Kulve Taroth event opens up… we will see a lot more activity.  There was a big loss of players surrounding the release of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on the Switch, so I have a feeling a lot of people are still chewing through that game.  Personally… I just like the feel of Monster Hunter World much better.

Farewell Google Plus

A few days ago we got news that Google Plus had a vulnerability that exposed profile information, even when the users had flagged that as private to the circles based visibility system.  They didn’t report this until Wall Street Journal was about to break the story, so for starters that is kinda bad.  Their response to this whole situation however is interesting an unique in the tech world…  but also very google.  Instead of agreeing to fix the bug… they just decided to sunset the service as a whole.  So within the next ten months or so Google Plus as we know it will cease to exist and join the long graveyard of services that google decided to axe…  the most important of these for me personally being Reader their RSS Feed Reader.

One of the problems with Google is at the end of the day you have to remember they are primarily a search engine and advertising company.  Anything that does not align with those two missions is suspect to disappearing at a moments notice.  Part of me would like to believe that Gmail and Google Docs are safe since they are both products being sold…  but even then I think the only thing that is sacred is Search and the Advertising services that fund seemingly everything.  That means all of these products that people rely on…  Google Voice, Google Fiber in their homes or anything they may have purchased on Google Play are honestly likely suspect to the whims of whatever seemingly random business decisions Google Corporate makes.

As far as Google Plus…  I was an early adopter and had an awful lot of fun on the network.  There are a bunch of people that I never would have known were it not for the service.  It seemed to have a very high adoption rate among MMO gamers, and I used it almost rabidly around the launch of Star Wars the Old Republic with a good deal of our guild coming from connections made through Google Plus.  It was almost a simpler version of the internet, when no one seemed to worry about follow counts or were afraid of interactions…  and instead sort of widely followed anyone who seemed to have anything even vaguely close to similar interests.

What made Google Plus special however was the Circles system, or a way of walling off certain groups of users from seeing content not intended for them.  I had tons of circles for various interests, and it felt safe to be open and free with ideas and opinions… when you are targeting a specific community in mind.  Granted what this meant in practice for myself and other bloggery types is we sort of made Plus a massively multiplayer chat engine.  I regularly posted these massive diatribes about various in game things…  instead of posting them on my blog which in itself was a bit of a problem.  The rapid fire nature of getting interaction and commentary made it super appealing, and I think there were some folks who largely switched to “blogging” through G+ at the time.

It was not a network without controversy, and the biggest one for me personally was the enforcement of Real Names sometime in 2011.  I started dinking around with the internet as a whole in 1993-ish which in some minds makes me an early adopter… and in other minds makes me a babe in the woods.  Regardless… back then there was a golden rule of using the internet…  NEVER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH ANYONE.  You never knew who was on the other end of the connection talking to you, and as such you really shouldn’t give them any information that they might be able to use to harm you.  As such I have a really hard time actually using personal information online, and this is why you either see me posting as “Bel Temple” or “Belghast Sternblade”, because I grew up in a culture that used handles to relate to each other and real names.

It is not that I am trying to hide my identity or troll anyone, because I have been using the name Belghast as a static gaming moniker for decades… and honestly before that I went by Exeter on IRC.  Those are real identities to me, much like the handles that I know people by are similarly real.  I know Ashgar’s real name, and have met face to face with him on several occasions…  but I still end up calling him Ash because that is his name in my brain.  I mean gaming culture sort of does this, in that we relate to each other by tags and handles that seem just as real as any other attribute that you might associate with someones name.  Regardless I played along for awhile and branded my Google Plus by my actual name…  and it made me deeply uncomfortable the entire time.  “Bel Temple” was my eventual half way point, since I do actually respond to “Bel” in real life just as often as I do “Mark”.

Ultimately it wasn’t a controversy that drove me away from Google Plus, but instead a whole sequence of things that are likely unrelated.  In April of 2013 I rededicated myself to blogging and started posting on Tales of the Aggronaut every single day of the week and managed to carry that forward for a little over three years.  During that time… any energy or thoughts that I might have posted on Google Plus… I instead directed towards the blog which was in constant need of fodder.  It took several months before I realized that I just wasn’t interacting on the network anymore.  Even then… I couldn’t seem to find the oomph to get reconnected.  Folks faded away, things started getting more political… and my interest in social media in general waned.

The truth is…  my appetite for interaction is in twitter sized bites and not grand multi paragraph posts anymore.  I miss the golden age of Google Plus much like I miss the golden age of any thing that I have interacted with and then ultimately out grew.  It bums me out a little bit that it is going away, but at the same time… much like other things I have mourned like Toys R Us or City of Heroes…  I wasn’t actually using it myself.  I think the future of Facebook like interaction will ultimately belong to things like Diaspora that allow you to carve up small but interconnected communities, much like we have with Mastodon and Nineties.cafe.  I find myself feeling less comfortable being part of the hive, and instead wanting to be part of smaller guild sized communities.  I don’t really think I am alone in this.

Whatever the case though…  Google Plus is leaving and with it I do mourn the promise of what it was for awhile and what it could have been.  I noticed this morning that when the news broke on October 8th they apparently did something to break the syndication process, and with it all of my posts went back to being shared only with myself.  However I plan on syndicating this one specifically with Google Plus manually.  While I have a ton of different social media accounts, in truth the only three that actually matter are as follows.

I can be pretty slow to respond at times unless I am actively engaged with a given network at that moment, however those are the three that I actually use by choice.  Everything else I am mostly just using as a syndication platform for Tales of the Aggronaut and is ultimately not likely going to get an interactive response from me.  If we only have contact through Google Plus, and you don’t want that connection to die… then I suggest you follow me from one of those.  Then again if you have made it this far…  you can just quietly watch from the wings as I continue to do my daily blog posts and weekly podcasts.

Stop Hammer Time

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I am deeply susceptible to getting distracted by a side mission.  This is in part why I never found the Thief, Warrior and Mage stones in Skyrim and had to eventually wind back around when I found out I missed something.  I have a bad tendency to wander off the path, and in theory given that I have played through all of this content before…  I should be able to maintain more focus.  However that has not been the case and I keep going off on tangents, like my most recent one of farming Diablos over and over trying to get the pieces for it’s rank 7 hammer.  At this point I need Majestic Horns…  which you only get if you manage to break both of the horns.  I need a lot of these…  some for the Hammer and some for the shoulders as well that grant two ranks of slugger.  The biggest problem I am running into is that Majestic Horns don’t appear to be 100% drop if you break both horns, and instead there is a consolation item that I keep getting.

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Additionally I am going to need a ton of parts from Black Diablos so I have been trying to focus on the quest where you hunt both at the same time.  I need 3 Black Spiral Horn+ which I assume also comes from breaking Black Diablos horns…  and I need one more of the Black Diablos Carapace which seems to drop more frequently.  Thankfully I already have the Wyvern Gem needed to craft the weapon so I won’t be stalled out waiting for that to happen.  So last night I spent pretty much the entire night jumping into SOS Roulette with various groups, fighting a bunch of Diablos…  focusing on trying to break the horns…  while watching Ozark season 2 on Netflix on my second monitor.  All in all it was a good night… even though Ozark in general gives me some massive anxiety since there is a bunch of stuff that just aint right going on with that show.

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In theory tonight will be more of the same.  I crafted the highest pre-Nergigante metal hammer available because it had a cheap enough material cost, and I figured at some point I could upgrade it into the Nergi hammer if I so choose.  It serves as a decent replacement for the Zorah hammer I had been using until this point.  At some point I need to sort out what I actually want my armor set to look like, given that I am gearing for completely different stats as hammer than I would normally as Longsword.  I also really need to farm a bunch of Nergi to get parts so I can craft the final step of that Longsword after I down Xeno’Jiiva.  Right now I just don’t have the patience to take on Xeno since I really don’t like doing that fight solo…  because it seems to take so freaking long.  At some point I will force myself through it so I can at least start moving up my Hunter Rank again.