Flowerbabies Return

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The last month and some change has been insane for both myself and my wife.  The teacher walkout and protests at the state capitol caused the tail end of the school year to be compressed in a way that had my wife either lesson planning on the fly or grading mounds of paperwork each night.  There were many weekends where she started work on Friday night then continued it through Saturday and Sunday and still had a bunch of stuff left over to do to carry over into the next week.  My own life has been slight madness because stuff has been happening at work that initially did not effect me…  but has triggered some musical chairs as folks change positions throughout the department.  While we managed to get our backyard largely in functional order over spring break weekend, we held off on doing the flowers thing since we were expecting a few more freezes.

Finally it is time for “flowerbabies” as I ultimately refer to them.  Tam gave me a bit of shit this weekend before the podcast saying something along the lines of “people will personify anything” but they are my babies.  I water them and care for them and they bloom so pretty for the rest of the summer as a result.  It becomes part of my morning routine of making sure they are happy and well and have sufficient moisture to keep them functioning.  I’m a nurturing person and this year we have some amazing flowers that come from a bunch of different locations.  We spent most of Saturday roaming around and looking at various options hitting I think ten different places before gathering up the plants that we wound up walking away with.  Our backyard does not have a lot of natural spots for flower beds so instead we mostly do hanging baskets.

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At some point I still need to treat all of the petunias for the nasty caterpillars we managed to get a few years back.  I have the bacteria mixed up in a spray bottle so I can just mist them a few times during the season and hopefully everything will be good.  It seemed to work last season and we did not have a repeat of the year when we had the pretty but damaging pink worms on all the flowers.   In our travels we came across at least one cursed object in the form of these planters outside of a Walmart Neighborhood Market.  There is just something about them that screams Walmart doesn’t it?  I am not entirely sure why anyone would get these but if you can see from the display there are several missing.  There is part of me that wants to buy one just to mess with my wife…  but then I would ultimately end up taking care of a plant in this hideous shell because I could never bring myself to just let it die.

Apart from the backyard I spent a significant amount of time playing State of Decay 2 but didn’t feel like I had enough time this morning to do it justice.  If you absolutely want to know my thoughts and feeling about the game right now…  then I suggest you listen to this weekends AggroChat since I lead off with a discussion about what I like and dislike.  I’m not going to go into much more detail here yet because I fully expect that tomorrows post will be my big “thoughts” piece about it.

Cat Fountains

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My eldest cat Allie does not want me to write a blog post for you this morning.  I mean I guess it is fine given that I did’t have an awful lot to talk about anyways.  I’ve been in this weird gaming slump that I have been in many times before… of not really being super excited about anything I happen to be playing right now.  I’m largely splitting time this week between Destiny 2 and dinking around on the Void Elf Hunter in World of Warcraft.  Neither of which are things I am terribly excited to be talking about.  Tonight however I hope to be playing State of Decay 2 on the Xbox One and may or may not have things to say about it come Monday.

As for the cat impeding my progress…  this morning for some reason she has kept crawling up into my arms any time I paused for even a moment.  She does this occasionally where she just wants constant attention and I never can tell if she actually wants love…  or is just hungry and wants me to hurry up so I can feed her.  This week I purchased one of those cat fountains that recirculates water in a bubbler sort of method and I was happy to see this morning she was drinking from it.  The first few days the cats all seemed to be confused and our middle cat Kenzie simply wanted to try and scoot it around the kitchen floor making a mess.

It seems to have reached a state of equilibrium and maybe just maybe the cats have sorted out what to do with it.  The fountain is an attempt to win a battle I have been having with my cats for years…  where they don’t like drinking from a normal water dish.  What they actually want is for me to leave a faucet dripping so they can drink from that, so in the winter time when we do that already to keep the pipes from freezing…  they love it.  The next best thing is a cup that I keep in the sink and fill up with water…  because that appears to be a consolation prize.  If I try just a normal bowl of water on the ground someone tips it over trying to play with it.

The water fountain we ended up going with stores three liters of water at a time, which gives it a significant amount of weight and helps against tippage.  I just need to sort out a routine of when exactly I need to fill it up, and in truth I should probably check it when I go back downstairs as it has been running a few days now.  For reference we wound up going with the Catit Fountain, which I stumbled onto after following an adorable link with a bird splashing around in it.  I remember looking at something like this years ago… but the price was considerably more and not within that “impulse buy” territory.  It is my hope that this fills the needed niche in my home and stops the constant begging me to turn on the faucet in the mornings.

I love my cats… but they are also sorta assholes at times.  The image at the beginning of this post is completely unrelated to anything I have talked about to this point.  The can of pumpkin that shows up in the parking garage in late march/early april…  is still sitting there untouched.  I am sorta hoping that I get to make a birthday post for the can some day.  At this point it has been sitting in the Oklahoma heat for roughly two months and walk past it on my way into the office each morning.  It will be a sad day indeed if someone takes it upon themselves to throw it away at some point.  The fact that it hasn’t happened yet shows a general sense of apathy that I find interesting… I have to admit I almost did it myself when it made it past the one or two weeks mark.  It was around then that I started to daydream about being able to hold anniversary parties for the can…  and stayed my hand.

Adventures in Product Placement

This morning I don’t have an awful lot to talk about.  I wound up watching two movies last night and don’t much feel like talking about either, so instead I am going to tell you a story of something that has been happening over the last week and some change.  Having a website as long as I have had mine means that you are ultimately going to run into a bunch of people who want something from you.  I get a regular stream if emails wanting to do paid product placement on my blog and I have written about this before.  I’ve gotten better at just instantly blocking an email address when I can tell someone is fishing for a paid placement, or in the case of the linked article that I just promote their site out of the goodness of my heart.  Side note…  this is a thing I do regularly but for things I enjoy/believe in or for people who I just generally think are awesome and that others should experience their content.

Recently I got an email from a manufacturer of a gaming specific product that wanted to talk to me about doing a review of said product.  Okay so right off the bat it passes a couple of my tests…  1) I am willing to review products and 2) it has to be something that I am interested in and that I think my readers might be interested in.  They also talk a bit about wanting to start a business relationship that could benefit my users which is always cool if I could provide discounts or something of the sort.  They did mention wanting to place a banner in my sidebar with a link, but that wasn’t an immediate no since if there was a decent discount code attached to it I would probably do that to offer it up easily to my folks.  I sat on this for about a week mulling over whether or not I should contact them back and whether or not it would be a good thing in the long run.

Almost exactly seven days to the date I responded back with an email talking about my terms for doing product reviews.  I talk about how I am willing to look at their product but I am not willing to promise a positive review and that I am only willing to link to their product if it is in fact something I believe in.  I talk about how the only way I am willing to have any form of a permanent side bar link is if they provide a discount code for my readers.  What I did promise is that I would give an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the product and share that content with my readers and social media followers.  Having been through this before I fully expected them to just simply not want to do business with me at this point but I sent the email anyways.

After just stating that I would not agree to any terms ahead of reviewing the product I got back a laundry list of things in response…  completely ignoring anything I said in the previous email.  Here is what they wanted from me…

  • One written review with at least two dofollow backlinks and me to insert a number of specific keywords they requested
  • One video review of the product (I don’t even do these ever)
  • One post on twitter or other social media to promote the posts tagging them
  • Banner placement in my sidebar
  • Signing a contract stating I agree to all of this
  • The product would not ship until the banner had appeared in the sidebar
  • The discount code was some sort of a profit sharing thing…  which is not something I want.  I don’t want to profit from my readers.

Basically I stated that I would agree to none of that in my first response email, yet they rolled in and still threw it out there.  I responded back with the following email.

I apologize if I gave the impression from my last response that I would be willing to accept these terms. I realize as a manufacturer that you would love to have some assurances, but I am simply not willing to give you any. I’ve built my site on integrity and only passing things on to my readers that I completely believe in. That way when they know I am suggesting a controller or a computer accessory it is because I myself either am currently using it or have used it in the past and thought it was a great product. So I am not willing to sign a contract of any form with you or anyone else. I am also not willing to agree to any of your review terms, because I am not wiling to agree to that sort of thing ahead of reviewing the product. Nor will I agree to how much I will or will not promote your product, because again I have never experienced said product. Lastly I do not do video production at all so that one is completely off the radar from the sort of audience I have.

In the past I have simply not responded to requests for me to promote something on my sites. I have no interest in profit sharing, and the only reason why I was interested in some sort of a discount code was that if I chose to promote your product on my site that I would love for my readers to get some benefit from it. All of that said I am not willing to agree to any sort of promotion until I have seen and experienced your product to develop my honest opinion of it. I realize this is not the way you prefer to do business but this is the only way I am willing to do so. I also reserve the right to talk to my readers about my readers about what it is like to work with <INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE>.

I have a genuine relationship with my readers and followers and they know that I am not doing it to promote myself or to profit from them. As a result I only support products that completely believe in and without seeing your product there is no way I could feel comfortable agreeing to any of these terms.

I fully expect to never hear back again from the rep of said manufacturer.  I am not naming any names because hell they may shock me and respond with “okay, where do we ship it?” but I sincerely doubt it.   The truth is the product was in a range of products that I have never been able to suggest to folks because I have not had a great experience with any of them.  I would have loved to have had one that I could honestly support and suggest because it comes up pretty regularly in my timelines.  In video game reviews I have encountered plenty of folks willing to accept these terms, but in product reviews so far everyone has wanted some form of assurance that I am just unwilling to offer.  It frustrates me because I had hope that this one would be different and by the way the originally approached me it seem that way.  However they immediately went back to the same nonsense I have dealt with before, which is a massive disappointment.

Elves I Don’t Hate

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Yesterday I pulled an example from World of Warcraft and after doing so I realized that I never actually talked about the character that was hiding underneath the fold of the Destiny 2 image.  I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Allied races, the Horde races were super easy to unlock but the Alliance ones required a level of commitment that I was simply not willing to offer them.  They were one of those things that I worked on off and on as I had time or wanted something mindless to do while watching television or a movie.  It was a few weeks back when I realized that I was actually getting pretty close to exalted with both of the factions required to unlock them.  Even then I largely failed at doing the quests on a daily basis because I really am not a huge fan of Argus.

Nevertheless I managed to push across the finish line and unlock them both a few weekends back and as a result I have been poking around on a brand new Void Elf hunter during the AggroChat podcasts.  I’ve found it super relaxing to just roam around and take things down at low levels and for whatever reason Void Elves don’t trigger that “I hate elves” instinct that I have built up over all of these years.  In part I think they mostly register as Drow to me, which is something I occasionally played in D&D or the games like Everquest that had decent implementations of them.  Honestly it weirdly makes me want to go back and farm the single piece of Dragonstalker that I am missing, because in all of my years of running Blackwing Lair…  I never got the boots to drop off Broodlord Lashlayer.  The only thing keeping me from soloing it each week is the fact that I really hate doing the Razorgore event.

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I realize that I recently started a Tauren Hunter, but the whole being assigned a pet at the start of the game thing still seems a little weird.  On the Tauren your start with a Plainstrider which isn’t really my sort of pet, but even then I kept using it for a significant amount of time before taming anything else to replace it.  As Void Elf though you start with Voidstalker… that is both my kind of pet and also extremely cool looking.  I’ve found myself with zero drive to go out and tame something else, but that might change as I am now interesting Stranglethorn Vale.  I might grab something rare if I happen across it but for now I am more than happy to run around with my void pal…  even though I have yet to give her a proper name.

It is weird to me that I have lost any forward momentum in World of Warcraft thanks to Battle For Azeroth and the direction they are taking the game.  However I still enjoy dinking around on low level characters because to me that is the purest version of the “WoW Experience”.  BfA really has been a let down as far as the information coming out about it.  Additionally my time playing beta…  hasn’t really done anything to hook me on the direction the game is going.  For years I thought that maybe Metzen was what was holding the game back…  but now I wonder if he was a force of stability keeping the game from dropping off a cliff.  Note I loved Legion “for the most part” but the one bit that I could push right into the sea was the factional nonsense that happens in Stormheim.  Battle For Azeroth feels like an entire game made out of those factional nonsense moments and I am not really looking forward to it.

Chat Goes On Left

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One of the things I am realizing is just how bad I am at responding to messages some nights.  Last night for example I was mindlessly grinding away in Destiny 2 while watching video full-screen on my second monitor.  All the while various folks were messaging me on lots of different platforms including battle.net, slack, discord, and even some resorted to twitter.  All of which I was largely oblivious to as I happily ground public events and took down high value targets pushing the warlock up in level so that I can start doing the weeklies on that character as well.  The problem is really two fold, firstly that I am so used to soloing at this point that I am not really watching messages like I used to for the sign of someone else popping online.  The second issue I will get into shortly.

At this point my Warlock is level 28 so nearing 30 but apparently completely capable of wearing gear of decent level because I am now rocking an energy weapon that is 350.  It is super hard going back to the warlock after only really playing the Titan for a good deal of time.  Hunter is simple…  multi jump will always be multi jump.  Warlock on the other hand has the wrong version of Titan jump and no matter how long I play it I never can quite get used to it responding the opposite way that I am expecting.  I feel like folks either bond with Titan or Warlock jumps…  and from that point on the other one just doesn’t feel like a jump should feel.  Hunter on the other hand always feels like you are riding around on a midair pogo stick.

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Now the other problem I was talking about earlier is that Destiny 2 UI design is designed wrong.  What I mean by that is in literally every MMO I play the chat box location is on the left hand side of the screen as illustrated above by my UI in World of Warcraft.  The chat you care about appears on the left hand screen, and in this ElvUI layout the chat I don’t care about at all ever…  appears on the right hand side of the screen.  This is pretty much how I lay out every MMO that allows me to shift around the UI, but I cannot remember a game off the top of my head that does not default to having the chat left justified for lack of a better term.  Destiny 2 on the other hand creates a super spammy loot window that you cannot remove on the left hand side of the screen and gives you the chat you actually care about on the right hand side of the screen…  that will constantly minimize to just a tiny notepad document looking icon.  When you receive a message it does not de-cloak and show you said message…  however any time some jackass loots some random item the game takes every opportunity to make sure you know about it.

This is a broken design and causes me to simply ignore that chat exists because it does not conform to the cultural standards I am used to.  By culture I mean the general cultural design of MMO games, of which Destiny 2 is a part of regardless of how Bungie feels about that label.  To make things worse…  Bungie themselves taught us that the only place that matters for text was the left hand side of the screen in Destiny 1 as they placed all of that spammy nonsense there.   There is in theory a sound that is supposed to play when someone messages you, but whatever sound that is is either inaudible to me personally…  or just blends into the din of everything else happening in game because I never notice it.  \

Ultimately what my inability to notice chat cost me last night was a run through the raid as my friends over in TQMB were trying to reach out because they needed one more to get started.  I am hoping when they put in the clan chat they also give us the option to swap the locations of the two chat panes so that the spammy nonsense goes on the right and the important chat goes on the left.  Otherwise I am honestly not sure if I can ever fully train myself to look for chat in a weird location.  After over two decades of online gaming… I am just too indoctrinated into a “chat on the left” mentality.

Moms and Minor Gaming

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This weekend was largely not about gaming, as is often the case when a major holiday is occurring.  In past years we have done the divide and conquer thing when it comes to Mother’s Day festivities, with me getting up super early to go to Mass with my mother and then my wife sleeping in and going to lunch with her mom.  However with the amount of work that my wife has been having to do lately trying to prep her kids for the impending AP Exam…  after missing two weeks of instruction time due to the walkout…  she is more than a little sleep deprived.  I was legitimately concerned about her making it home safely if she was on the road for long periods of time alone.

As a result we crammed everything into one day and left the house around 6 am…  getting home around 6 pm.  However in the middle of all of that I believe there were sufficient moms day festivities for all involved.  It did however lead to a really tiring Sunday experience given that we had lots of driving perforated by various other awkward moments like my wife’s sister referring to the litter box as a “poop bed” or her inviting an aunt that neither my wife or I can stand to lunch with us.  Later in the evening there was plenty of awkwardness as my wife’s brother and father got into some political diatribe that was just flat out factually incorrect and also highly racist.  We made it home in one piece and still have most of our sanity intact…  but I did have a rather fitful night of sleep.

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As far as gaming goes I spent some of my time Saturday working on the weekly quests in Monster Hunter World.  I am down to just needing three arena challenges and I am hoping I can connect with someone before the reset happens to do some.  I can technically solo them, but I really really do not like soloing them.  I solo’d the Pink Rathian arena challenge with longsword and that one in particular is really annoying because you do not have the full compliment of healing items.  I pulled out a victory, but it took a long time and I wound up taking three of my eight deaths in the process.  I am one item away from having enough of the event only Sakura items…  but am nowhere near able to craft the set because of general lack of coins.

I wish you could roulette your way into the Arena Challenges because I really am not a huge fan of playing solo in Monster Hunter World.  Now that PizzaMaid is easing her way back into the game I might try and snag her for some shenanigans, because most everyone else I know that is still active gets online way later than I do.  Grace unfortunately bounced off the game as did Mor and while Thalen and I share a timezone… he is always around significantly later because baby happens.  If it does not look like I will have folks to do this with I will ultimately try and solo my way through it, because I know without a doubt I can do it…  I just won’t really enjoy it.  I also ran quite a few tempered roulettes just for the sake of fun and managed to get a couple of decent decorations from it.

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Over in Destiny 2 I am still roaming around but have made all of the movement I can essentially before the reset.  I am still too low level to get into heroic strikes which is unfortunate given that I need to run several of them to move forward a quest line that I am currently on…  that I am assuming is related to the sleeper simulant.  The highlight of the weekend however was getting the Armamentarium again, which allows me to run around with dual grenades in both void and solar specs.  Unfortunately however it does not give me THREE grenades in arc striker spec.  This would have been a completely awesome item if it were able to do that…  now I am wondering if it is as good as my auto-rifle reloading chest but largely running around with it for sheer nostalgia sake.

I am still largely on the fence with this expansion and am contemplating taking Squirrel up on the offer to get the raid in.  I still have yet to defeat Gaul in the raid even though I have a stack of tokens from our attempts.  Folks bounced faster than we had time to progress our way through it, and while I would love to resurrect a Greysky raid I somehow doubt that will ever really be a thing again.  There just are not enough people active and playing, and part of me is contemplating just pushing the Greysky leadership off on my secondary PS4 account and moving my main back to Tequila Mockingbird so I at least have an active clan of folks to play with.  My main PS4 account never left and has always been in TQMB…  that is unless they punted me for inactivity.

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I am still enjoying the mechanical loop of Destiny 2 again…  but I am also feeling somewhat listless as I don’t have a major goal apart from making my light higher.  I managed to level the Hunter to 30 this weekend but have yet to really touch any of the story content.  I like that Warmind seems to not be connected to having finished Curse of Osiris or versa vicea.  I need to push the Warlock up via event quests so I can at least start doing the milestones on each of them each week to slowly push up my weapon light level that way.

More Warmind Impressions

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desktop-screenshot-2018-05-11-06-06-11-41Last night I managed to hit the first soft cap of 345 through doing some of the content that happens immediately following the completion of the main story.  I am still a bit dismayed at how short it ended up being.  The core problem with the experience is there was a disconnect between how the NPCs were acting and the events that were actually occurring.  What I mean by that is when we took down Ghaul…  he had done enough to interfere with our lives to make us really hate him by the time we reached the point of final confrontation.  With Warmind…  they end up treating the Worm God we are fighting with similar contempt…  even though we only found out one exists on Mars a few minutes earlier.  Sure I get the fact that the Worm Gods are one of the galaxies great sources of evil and they were key in creating the Hive in the first place.  I’ve read the Book of Sorrows and understand that all…  but the average player has not.

The average player would be going into that scene wondering what in the hell a Worm God is and why these two NPCs seem so freaked about it.  The problem being that the game didn’t really give us enough run up to reach this supposedly epic conclusion.  It feels a lot like the campaign in Rise of Iron where you have some epic things going on…  but nowhere enough lead up to make them feel like that epic nature is earned.  Sure taking down a giant SIVA enfused Iron Lord was a slick final fight just like taking down a Worm God was a slick final fight…  but in both cases it felt like we lacked significant reason for what we were doing.  I mean the “Guardian” is the Deus Ex Machina to fix all problems much like the Warrior of Light is in Final Fantasy XIV.  The problem is it feels like that role is earned in FFXIV whereas we sorta just magically are able to best everything in Destiny without really knowing why we are so much better than apparently every other Guardian out there.

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Tam and I get into these discussions a lot and he is usually the one raising these points.  The funny thing is they generally revolve on why he quit playing a game, and for me this is an annoyance but by no means a game breaker.  I feel like there is a magic formula that keeps me engaged in a game.  First you have to have a core mechanical loop that I enjoy, for example in Destiny I love the gun play and the movement which makes me feel awesome as I traverse this beautifully rendered world.  The second point of that magical formula is that there has to be something in the game that I want to do.  There needs to be some objective out there that drives me forward and keeps me engaged with the game when the shiny newness of the mechanical loop wears off.

Please note what I said there…  something I want to do.  For example in a game like World of Warcraft there can never be a possible way that I would ever run out of things to do and content I have not actually seen.  Similarly in Final Fantasy XIV there is just too much content to ever find a true end to it.  The problem is in both of those games I have rather regularly reached a point where there is simply nothing left that I care to do.  Either the content left involves something I don’t much enjoy like Player versus Player interactions or it feels like it has more stick than carrot attached to it.  I reached this point after Trials of Osiris in Destiny 2 where the mechanical loop simply was not enough and the repetitive and unrewarding nature of the Infinite Forest made it so that I just didn’t feel like logging in anymore.

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While Warmind is an extremely short expansion… it feels like it might be a fairly intricate one.  What I mean by that is there are already a bunch of post credits items that the game is asking me to do that spawn new opportunities to go off on adventures.  I am sure there will be an end to this, but in some ways it reminds me of the style of interaction that happened on the Dreadnaught in The Taken King.  There are puzzles to be solved and items to interact with in ways that I have not quite figured out.  There were weapons to collect that are associated with questing, and others that folks don’t even know how they work as of yet.  There are drops that can be used to improve most of the exotic weapons, and in it a bunch of interesting ways to feel like I keep moving forward.

On the other end however the new grind is real.  After hitting 345 and finally accepting my Milestones for the week…  each one of those rewarded a 351 item…  6 levels of movement off the base whereas before we were regularly getting upwards of 15 levels of movement from the same milestones.  This means that journey to 385 is going to be an extremely long one when you have a very finite number of weekly options to give any sense of movement.  This means that if I find myself engaged in this game again I will by nature need to push the Hunter and the Warlock through Curse of Osiris so that I can have three sets of weekly upgrade options instead of one.  Sure the armor won’t swap over but those weapons can keep pushing up slowly over the course of multiple characters.

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The game needed something and in truth at this point I am not sure if this is what that need was.  The problem with Destiny 2 is that on paper it looks like the sequel I wanted for Destiny.  However in practice it has always felt lacking in part because it felt like we sacrificed so much cool stuff from the first one to get this as a result.  Nothing I have seen from this game justifies the reasons why we had to reset back to ground zero.  I know they felt like they wanted a fresh start, to shed any bad blood from the first title.  However I feel like that plan backfired horribly.  I’m interested to see where they can go with Warmind and if they can give us justification going forward to buy the “Comet” expansion that has been looming on the horizon and leaked via the Canadian Walmart website.  The one act that would go a long ways to building good will for me personally…  would be to port the old patrol zones to Destiny 2 and make it feel like we didn’t abandon half the world to get this game.

I made a mistake

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This morning I committed one of the classic blunders… I attempted to fiddle with my computer before finishing a blog post. This lovely screen is the result, and I have no clue how long I will be staring at it. I attempted to apply the lastest Nvidia driver since I have been having issues capturing screenshots in Destiny 2 via the shadowplay interface. At this point I have been watching this screen for twenty minutes as my cats keep check on my sanity.

The truth is that I really did not have a lot to talk about this morning. Keeping with tradition however I am banging out a post on my phone. If I’ve made any horrible mistakes I apologise, but a cellular keyboard sometimes has a mind of it’s own.

I did finish the Destiny 2 expansion last night and finished leveling to 30. I am nearing the first soft cap of 345 light, which means I will soon be in raid/trials/milestones only territory for getting light upgrades. They have significantly slowed the grind because that is apparently what the players wanted. I do agree that the game needed more meaningful friction… but I doubt this is the right combination. Ultimately the inability to get upgrades from things like Iron Banner or the faction rally are the worst feeling parts. I am apparently back for a bit, so we will see if the game manages to hook me further.

[Edit]

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Almost like clockwork… the moment I posted this from my cell phone…  the computer rebooted and I seem to have the ability to take screenshots again.  Oh well tomorrow you will get a proper post 🙂

Mirrorball

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Last night I spent a not insignificant amount of time playing Destiny 2 Warmind.  You will have to excuse the garbage screenshots but I was largely chilling on the sofa with my laptop and it runs the game at the potato resolution of 1366 x 768.  I say potato because scaling down to that from the 4K display I have upstairs is quite the adjustment.  It however allows me to be flexible where I am gaming, and last night allowed me to hang out with the mrs while still getting to do the thing I wanted to do.  I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Destiny 2 over the last few months and I am not entirely certain why.  It is just like after the release of Curse of Osiris I lost my forward momentum and stopped caring that I was no longer getting those engrams every day.  Based on the fact that I was the only person online in my clan for most of the night…  I am guessing everyone has had this same thing happen to them.

That said I was extremely interested in this expansion because it is the return of three things that I love in the Destiny universe…  The Hive, Rasputin, and Clovis Bray lore.  The last bit takes the form of our companion during this expansion Ana Bray…  a heir to House Bray and former golden age scientist turned guardian.  There is a rule among the guardians that they are not supposed to go digging into their past life before they died and were resurrected with the light, but when you are a Bray… this gets a lot harder knowing that so much golden age tech that remains was potentially created by your hands.  As a result you get the impression that Ana Bray is no longer a Vanguard member…  and not even a real guardian in the eyes of Zavala…  because she broke the rule and started digging into Bray tech when she first realized it recognized her and would respond to her commands.

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I am not far enough into the story to fully understand the other parts of the equation that I love…  The Hive and Rasputin.  The polar ice caps of Mars seem to hide a group of frozen hive that include several new troop types and modifications to the others as well.  There are now Knights that wield a shield making it extremely difficult to attack them, and versions of the Acolyte called Adherants that seem to snipe you with long beams of energy.  In addition there are more heavily armored versions of the Ogre, but this might just be one of the boss models for this expansion that gets used on ultra units.  The map area itself is a little bit bigger than Titan in scope…  which is somewhat disappointing but a significant step up from the tiny and repetitive Mercury.

What I enjoy the most so far is that it feels like this is as tightly packed with secrets as the Dreadnought was in The Taken King expansion.  I’ve already encountered a bunch of objects that say I need to have a specific item or buff to be able to interact with them, meaning there are secrets to be unlocked hidden out there much like the Skyburner Deployment Codes.  On the director map there is a note out to the side saying that I have found 0 or 45 Latent Memory locations, so this feels like something along the lines of the Calcified Fragments or SIVA Clusters of old.  This is the sort of stuff that Destiny 2 desperately needed, to give us a downtime activity to strive for in getting out and exploring the world.

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There are of course a bunch of cool items that came in with this expansion.  At one point I got to choose from three weapons…  one of which was essentially Uriel’s Gift minus high impact rounds but with Dragonfly…  so I had to take it.  I’ve not finished the main campaign and not hit level 30 yet so I am not super focused on gear at the moment.  That said I have picked up a bunch of cool items through the eververse doodads you get while leveling up.  My Ghost is now a floating mirror ball that I eventually colored neon green via a shader.  I’ve similarly picked up an exotic ship and an exotic speeder as well.  They seem to have tweaked these exotic shells a bit so that they have the same two perks….  the first being summons your mount faster and the second being universal elemental telemetry.  The last perk seems to now be some sort of a cache based perk for a given planet.  This mirror ball for example works on Nessus, which is handy since that happens to be the weekly zone.

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I have to say I really like the set of gear that you get through turning in tokens with Ana Bray, and I can already tell this is going to be something I try and collect in its entirety.  So far the story has been interesting, but I have a feeling that I am nearing the end of it…  and if that is the case it is also very very short.  Maybe there is more going on than I think there is… and maybe the boss I am just about to face is only the midpoint.  However it certain feels like it is pushing me towards a supposedly epic conclusion…  and the way the NPCs speak sounds in terms like we are doing this massive struggle…  when it feels like I only just arrived on the planet.  Reading a little blurb on Reddit just now confirms that I am in fact on the final quest…  so essentially there are five quests in a chain that had I not been dawdling probably could have completed in an hour and a half.

Granted I like the other parts of the game more than I do the story…  but it feels like a bit of a let down.  During Destiny 1 the justification they gave for the need to reboot the game and create Destiny 2…  was that the way D1 was build was particularly difficult to build content for.  They blamed the tools for the fact that we kept getting recycled areas instead of completely new maps and raids.  The problem is…  neither Curse of Osiris with its rampant recycling of the Infinite Forest and its tiny planetary area…   nor Warmind so far really prove that the sacrifice the players made was worth it.  I say sacrifice…  because in coming to Destiny 2 we gave up a lot of things that we still have not gotten back.  We were promised a better gaming experience and on some levels it is… but on other levels it is just a less interesting game.

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Ultimately I will be around for awhile because it did feel good last night to shoot things.  The new event type that they touted however was a bit of a let down as well…  given that it is mostly just another planetary event that involves hunting wave after wave of hive and doing some stuff to destroy crystals.  Sure it was fun but also I can see it will get pretty repetitive.  However it does fill that Archon’s Forge/Court of Oryx niche in giving something repeatable that can give decent rewards.  The protect the Warsat event type is back and I had missed it greatly.  I am not exactly sure how you can push that one into heroic mode, but I am sure it will involve something silly like blowing up one of the hive ships.  There is an open world version of the Hive Ritual event that seems really cool because I was so used to doing that in the one space it appeared on Titan.  All in all I was happy to be playing again…  but still a bit grumbly about how cool this game could have been.

Bad Magic

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Once again I did nonsense to finish out my weekly limited bounties in Monster Hunter World.  The problem is my currently play times seem to be diametrically opposed to the play times of my friends who are currently playing the game.  Most nights I start playing early in the evening… around 6 pm cst and am logging out around 9 pm when folks start to show up.  As a result I have gotten used to doing things is really silly ways involving a bunch of random players.  This weeks was weirdly harder than the 9 star quest in part because at the end of the day…  people will likely always be farming Xeno’jiiva for parts and that quest is really hard to fail.

The 8 Star quest however is more or less Nergigante, Vaal Hazak, Teostra, Kushala Daora, and Kirin.  All six of those have a pretty high threshold for failure so I feel like more often than not players are just doing them solo…  something that I weirdly don’t enjoy that much.  So instead I check the SoS Roulette and see what is available and ultimately managed to get all of them done with random players.  The easiest was weirdly enough Kirin…  which considering how big of a pain in the butt the tempered version was seemed like it would have been the hardest.  The most challenging is generally Nergigante because if you get players who legitimately need to fight him…  they are more often than not simply unprepared for how much harder he is going to hit them than what they are used to.

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The truth is I need to start farming Nergi for parts because there are several weapons I would love to be able to make that require copious amounts of bits.  Last night I managed to craft the first version of the Nergi Sword and Shield, because in truth that is probably the weapon I am most comfortable with if I don’t have my longsword.  I spent some time earlier in the week playing with Gun Lance because also as part of the weeklies I needed to kill a bunch of Fanged Wyvern…  which mean’t I could kill that green punching bag Great Jagras over and over.  I think its a weapon I could get used to with time, and I managed to pick up a couple of reasonable options during the Kulve Taroth event.  Still very much in love with this game and hoping they give us some more surprise events soon…  because I can sorta see an end to what I actually deeply want to be farming.

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The rest of my evening last night was spent poking around with my Fauxlgari Exploratic deck which is a tweaked version of Golgari Exploration…  one of the stock decks that come with MTG Arena.  It is not the most successful thing in the world for me, but I enjoy playing it and if it is not going my way pretty early on I concede out to move on to the next battle.  If everything goes as planned you end up with a few really powerful creatures that keep growing each round, combined with Lurking Chupacabra that you can use to start taking out critters on your opponents side.  It isn’t perfect and I am sure I should tune it some more.  Right now I feel like I am playing with way too much land because I have had moments where all I am drawing is land for way too many rounds in a row.  Regardless I find the whole experience of playing it enjoyable and I can lose hours just plinking away at other players.

I think that ultimately is going to the role MTG Arena plays for me…  just letting me play magic when I want to play it.  For whatever reason MTG Duels and the year branded Planeswalker games always felt really limited in the types of magic I wanted to play.  They were shadowboxed in on a specific number of sets and as a result it felt more limited than what we already have in Arena.  I like just sitting down and playing, regardless of the win condition.  Sure it gets frustrating when you go on a losing streak when you are one win away from being done for the day…  but even then the simple playing of cards makes me happy.  It is something I have missed more than I realized…  simply because I don’t have access to a lot of MTG players right now.  I play to have fun and my version of fun is not exactly drift compatible with the meta.  I enjoy bad magic.