Madness Setup



I spent most of last night running around hanging out with my friend Grace and doing low rank hunts with weapons I have never used before.  The revelation from the night is…  I really like hammer.  The only problem there is I need to get better at timing my uppercut to boop things in the snoot.  However I did notice I can break a leg nice and fast as well in a pinch.  All in all I dig the weapon and want to play with it more and have upgraded through to currently the rarity 5 ore hammer, and am just a little bit of farming in Elder’s Recess away from the Rarity 6 version that is in parity with some of my other weapons.

I did make a solo attempted at Nergigante and got frustratingly close.  I had the monster limping and with a skull icon hovering over its head…  but that last phase had some brand new tricks up is sleeve that I struggled dealing with.  Namely a combination of knocking shards down from the ceiling and the prolific use of dive bombing.  I feel like I was pretty damned close to finishing… when he managed to pin me against a wall and get my final faint.  After 36 minutes of fighting that asshole…  I simply didn’t have another attempt in me so the rest of the night was fun low rank nonsense with friends.


I’ve had a few people ask me about my gaming set up, namely the fact that I am piping all of the audio for all of my systems through my PC.  The primary reason for doing is for comfort while shifting between PC based voice chat like Discord and console specific offerings like Playstation Network party chat.  It allows me to comfortably have one set of headphones that I like wearing and flip back and forth between platforms without much hassle.  Since I had talked a little bit in the past about what I did to accomplish that, I thought I would just diagram out my entire setup this time.  Yes I did do this in visio…  mostly because I thought it would illustrate it the most clearly.

I like the concept of having all of my systems “on tap” and easily accessible.  Namely I started down this path because I wanted to at least in theory be able to capture video and images from any console that I chose without having to swap a bunch of cables.  The earliest version of this set up revolved around a 5 port HDMI switch which was relatively cheap on Amazon.  As I added in a few other systems that I wanted to capture from… I had to eventually seek out a bigger option and finally landed on an 8 port HDMI switch option from Monoprice.  It was more expensive than I would have preferred but the options for something with that many ports were super limited.

This 8 port switch feeds into the business end of my Elgato Game Capture HD, that I picked up for I think $30 on Craigslist.  At some point I would love to upgrade to one of the more modern models, but for the time being it does what I want it to do and was nowhere close to the $150-200 price tag of an upgrade.  Next up we need to defeat the HDCP lockout, or at least I wanted to… because I hate the concept of PS4 arbitrarily telling me when I can or cannot record something.  This is done using a cheaply constructed HDMI splitter…  so cheap that it unintentionally strips out the HDCP signal coming from the console and turns it into a open signal that the Elgato is capable of recording.

This splitter also serves the purpose of providing me a latency free copy of my video feed that goes directly into the television, as well as the leg that finally connects up to the Elgato and winds its way into my PC through USB.  The first time I streamed with my new arrangement after getting the 4k television… I realized I had a problem.  I had been relying entirely on the television speakers to give me access to game audio.  The problem there is that while broadcasting my voice through my Yeti setup… I would end up picking up a fair amount of background audio from the game leading to a questionable feedback experience.

So the problem at hand was figuring out a way to feed the audio from the gaming systems into my headset so that I could comfortably chat away with an open mic… without causing all sorts of auditory dissonance for anyone listening in.  The only audio out from the television was an optical out port which meant that I would need some sort of a digital to analog converter to step it down into something I could feed into the line in port of my PC.  I eventually settled on this device from amazon, and in the grand scheme of things it has been working excellent.

I had to do some fiddling in the television but I now have the audio being broadcast over the built in speakers and out over the optical cable.  This allows me to wear a headset if I choose to or just turn back up the volume on the television and listen to the playback there.  This also has the weird quirk of allowing me to pick up all of PSN voice chat and bypass their default state of not recording any of the voices.  All in all I am pretty happy with the way things are set up apart from one minor thing.

Right now I have a second monitor hooked to my gaming PC and it feels awkward to cram everything that I want to interact with while playing a game over onto that monitor.  At some point I am contemplating re-engineering this entire set up to be able to include a second machine to game capture.  That unfortunately would result in a top down rethink of the way I have everything set up because all audio would be piping through a second setup.  I think at that point I would have to upgrade to the Elgato Game Capture HD60 pro to give me more options.  So all of this is why I generally just say “I am doing some nonsense” when people ask me how I have things set up.


Angry Spiky Boy



Before I start this mornings post I have a deep burning question for my readers that may be more in tune with the Monster Hunter lore than I am.  What are the flags representing that are displayed in Astera?  There is one more banner that is not displayed in this screenshot that makes up the main sail of the ship I happen to be standing on currently.  The only theory I have right now is that maybe that sail is the banner of the first fleet, and then each additional flag from left to right is the other four fleets?  The symbols are the ones that we see on the loading screen, but those literally mean nothing to me…  but I am guessing they are part of the monster hunter lore?  The most prominent one that we see on a regular basis is the Sapphire Star displayed on the far right banner which sorta lead me to believe that maybe it is the symbol of the fifth fleet that we are part of.  I’ve poked around a little bit online but have not really seen much talk of this heraldry.

As far as activities of the night, we spent a bit of time fighting with the multiplayer systems.  I was under the impression that if I logged in and joined the squad session…  that would be something easy for other squad members to do.  However as the evening drug on we realized that all of us had done this thing…  and we were in two completely different squad sessions.  There were two players in one and four players in the other… so nowhere near the session cap of 16.  Making life even more challenging was the fact that the group of two could not join the group of four without getting a network error.  The four of us in the first session had to join the newer session, so it makes me wonder…  do sessions eventually time out or something of the sort?


Mor and I spent a good deal of time farming nonsense, before a few of us decided on trying to get past the Nergigante roadblock.  Ash had recently arrived at that step in the quest, and Kodra with a little bit of leg work was able to get there as well.  So the three of us combined with Tam decided to make a few attempts last night.  For the uninitiated, Nergigante is a fight where you simply cannot get hit.  There is a one two punch move that he pulls off that first stuns you in place and then decimates you.  If your team members are fast enough they can throw some crystal burst at him to distract him from pummeling your friends.  However we were not always fast enough.  The above screenshot is of Nergi just about to pound poor Ashgar into the ground.


Similarly here is a screenshot of him completely wrecking my world.  The problem is you have three faints before the quest fails, and unfortunately things seem to go from “perfectly fine” to “oh god why” at a moments notice.  I’ve been told that this fight is a little bit more predictable solo with only you and your Palico to worry with and the buffer of two faints for yourself instead of having to share a pool for the entire group.  I will probably try this thing tonight, but whatever the case the fight feels really stressful because I simply cannot get in and deal much damage before needing to roll out to safety.  At first I wondered if ranged fighters had a better time of it…  but since I have been playing bow quite a bit lately for fun…  I am guessing not.  The biggest problem I personally have with bow is the lack of ability to dodge out of the way in the same manner as I do with longsword.

I’ve been on high center for the last two weeks and would really like to move past Nergi and on to other fights.  So in theory tonight if I actually make it home from the current icemageddon, I will likely spend the evening working on trying to get through this one on my own.  In other interesting news… Byf has started releasing lore videos for Monster Hunter World.  The first one came out yesterday and talks about the fall of what seems to be a pretty technologically advanced civilization that existed in the Monster Hunter universe before the current relatively primitive one we have currently.  Byf and Myelin were a good deal of what made the original Destiny so special for me, because they dug deep into the lore and assembled the fragments into a cohesive narrative.  I am hoping that Byf can do the same for Monster Hunter seeing as I am coming in so late into the series.  There is clearly a bunch of interesting stuff here, and I am looking forward to learning more about it.

Bludgeoned with Adorable



I have been a horrible person and should feel bad.  One of the usual suspects missing from the Monster Hunter madness has been my good friend and often partner in crime…  Grace.  Her original line of logic was that she was going to wait until the PC release, and I was largely cool with that because when I started playing Monster Hunter World I absolutely intended to do what I did with Destiny 2.  That is to restart when the PC version came out and focus on that from that point forwards as my primary platform.  However the longer I have played Monster Hunter World the more I have doubted if I could actually do this thing.

Quitting Destiny 2 on the console and restarting on PC felt like it was a no brainier… and at the end of the day I was not really giving that much up.  However I already feel way more attached to what I have on Monster Hunter World than I ever did to a handful of weapons that I easily regained the moment I started grinding things out again on Destiny 2.  The other core problem is the fact that there is no announced date for Monster Hunter World for the PC.  When I decided to restart Destiny 2 only a month had passed since the launch of the console versions, and really…  it allowed me to redo all of those things I maybe should have done differently.


When Monster Hunter World finally launches on the PC something along the lines of six months or more will have passed and that is more than enough time to get acclimatized to a game and pass the threshold of being willing to give all of that up to go elsewhere.  In part Monster Hunter World feels more like an MMORPG than Destiny 2 did, and those are the sort of games that you really move into.  I love my gear and my weapons and having to give all of that up would feel extremely alienating.  While I might have every intent of trying out the PC release, I have a feeling I would bounce pretty hard without my stuff.  Now in Destiny 1 I reached this point and it was in part why I had so much struggle getting any measure of traction on the Xbox One client.  I am not saying never to Monster Hunter World on the PC…  just that I doubt it will become my primary platform over night.

As a result Mor and I have been waging this guerilla campaign of deluging Grace with pictures of Palicos and Poogie.  Last night for example I sent her the above image of the two Palicos in my room playing harp music for me.  I think the final straw that broke her with adorable…  is when I sent one of the Tailrider Safari cutscenes.  Whatever the case she relented and downloaded the game last night, installing it and joining the madcap community of folks playing Monster Hunter World.  When she first started Destiny I made the mistake of trying to drag her around to experience all of the content that I loved.  However this wound up with a really choppy experience so for the most part I am going to be around to answer questions, but try my level best to just let her experience this game.


That is not to say that shortly after taking down the Great Jagras I did drag her through a Kulu-Ya-Ku kill for completely “pure pure” reasons as PizzaMaid would say.  The Great Jagras costume for palicos is not exactly a good one… so instead I figured that a single kill of Kulu would get her more than enough parts to make that set of armor for her Palico so she could begin the process of dressing it in increasingly ludicrous costumes.  As a result she is now the proud owner of a lute wielding fake moustache cat, and I think the barbs of the hook are officially set.  The game is completely nonsense but has a charm to it that is undeniable once you experience it.  I also think that while taking down that Jagras, she got a taste of the other side of the coin that makes the game super fun to experience.

Regardless…  I should feel bad by bludgeoning my friend over the head with adorable pictures from the game until she caved.  However I don’t really because this is absolutely the sort of game that she would love and was only waiting for an undetermined PC release date that might see her playing alone.  For awhile I had said that Horizon Zero Dawn was worth every penny of buying a PS4 just to play it.  I feel like Monster Hunter World is also sort of in that category, with the exception being that it also exists on Xbox One.  The problem there is…  my core base is on PS4 and as a result I see very little reason to play anything but the scant exclusives on the Xbox platform.  Most Xbox exclusives eventually see a PC release apart from Forza and Halo, and in the grand scheme of things at least in that scenario I would rather wait.  PS4 is my console and ecosystem of choice and I am pretty happy about that.

Dragon Quest Builders Thoughts



I thought I would take a bit of a break from the constant stream of Monster Hunter World posts to talk about something else that I’ve been playing.  Dragon Quest Builders was originally released on the PS4 and Vita back in October 2016 in the United States.  There is apparently also a version that runs on the PS3 in Japan, but seemingly that copy never made it over here.  I remember being super interested when I first saw the trailer, but by the time it was released was deeply distracted by other things.  Just scrolling back through my blog…  on the month it released I seemed to be dabbling in World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Destiny 1, Diablo 3 and a little bit of Skyrim.  Basically it released while I was distracted by other things…  and as a result I never actually got around to picking it up.

Scroll forward to February, a month where I am mostly in a Monster Hunter Shaped hole…  and I notice that it officially releases on the Nintendo Switch.  I’ve not really had any builder games in my life over the last few months, so in theory it was maybe a good time to dig into a new one.  It is really hard to describe what Dragon Quest Builders is because it is this sort of beautiful amalgam of a bunch of different games.  At times it feels like a Legend of Zelda game especially when you don a sword and shield and go out into the world to whack monsters.  There are times when it feels like Minecraft because you are absolutely collecting resources and building up your base.  Then there are times when it feels a bit like Actraiser where you are intervening in the lives of the NPCs that populate your village.


The story of the game is pretty simple at face value.  The game world itself is that of Alefgard the world of the original Dragon Quest, and is essentially what would have happened…  if we had failed and the Dragonlord won.  It is also a world where over time the fledgling human populace has lost hope and forgotten the power of creation.  You as a builder are granted the ability to look at a set of raw resources and gain inspiration in how they might be shaped into useful objects.  As a result it is your place as the new hero… to start reclaiming the world through combat and creativity and push back the forces of the Dragonlord.

The world itself is divided up into a series of islands, and through the course of gameplay you can learn how to make teleporters allowing you to traverse between them for different resources.  All the while you continue running quests for the NPCs that start showing up in the town you are slowly piecing back together.  Placing blocks together in certain ways creates rooms that then the NPCs can inhabit, and you begin to create machines that they can then utilize giving you resources that then can be used as you go out venturing the “save the world”.


I’ve loved Minecraft since the moment I first watched a YouTube video explaining the basics of the game.  The problem with Minecraft however is that it is awesome to go out and create things in…  but it also doesn’t really have a point.  Sure there is the whole Ender Dragon nonsense that was placed in game late…  but really there is no sequence of events that you need to complete to “beat” the game.  For me “beating” Minecraft is amassing enough Diamonds to be able to use full Diamond everything and not give a crap about it.  However regardless of how cool you build your world out… it feels hollow because there are no NPCs inhabiting it.

Dragon Quest solves this problem by allowing you to build a world… that then comes to life as various types of NPCs come live in it.  Sure you can get this sort of functionality with modding, but it always feels tacked on to the side of the game and not really part of it.  Dragon Quest gives you a reason for your wanderlust and harvesting and allows you to keep coming back to a place you call home and in doing so help out the people surrounding you.  This might be a subtle difference but it is the one that is the most important and is why I have been playing the heck out of this game each night before falling to sleep.  I like that I can pick it up, do a few things and feel like I have accomplished something.  If this sounds at all interesting to you, I highly suggest checking it out.


The Good Grind



Over the last few days I have been thinking about where Monster Hunter World has succeeded and Destiny 2 has failed.  I know this is probably a strange way to start off a post, but I am playing MHW the way that I fully expected to still be playing Destiny 2.  If you add up the total time I have spent with the Destiny franchise across different platforms you wind up with 741 hours.  Given that sort of track record I fully expected to be playing that game currently.  That said I have missed two faction rallies, two iron banners and have not really even logged in during the current crimson doubles event.  Sure I could be getting all manner of cosmetic gear from them…  but the weapon and gear system just feels hollow given that I have collected most everything I am interested in using.

While I love the token loot system, Destiny 2 has a problem with not giving us a meaningful grind to be focused on.  Doing event after event hoping to get a Masterwork Weapon or Piece of armor doesn’t really count.  When I say meaningful grind I mean something that I can do on a nightly basis that is fun, but also feels like I am making progress towards some larger objective.  In many ways the fickle nature of loot in Destiny 1 and the existence of things like the Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge gave me something I could do… that felt like I was potentially moving in the direction of something that I wanted from the game.  As it stands there are too few interesting weapon options and the watered down version of exotics no longer really make them worth chasing in the way we used to before.


It may simply be because I am playing on the PS4 with friends that I am drawing the conclusion…  but as I play Monster Hunter World I think about the ways that it has given me this path to madness paved with little incremental rewards.  When you kill or trap a Monster you are hunting you are showered with a bunch of monster parts…  some of which are useful and some of which are not as useful.  The thing is, regardless if I have 50 of an item… I am still sorta excited to see them because I know that eventually I might need to use them to craft some new weapon that I then have to upgrade up to the final version.  I might suddenly decide that Hammer is awesome and then have to start building up my collection of weapons much the same as I do for my beloved Longsword.

I know that every thing I kill, and every object in the world that I loot is taking me towards some bigger goal.  The number of times that I have had to go out lately and farm herbs…  one of literally the first items you encounter in the game…  is shocking given that I am dealing with a completely different set of monsters than I did back then.  However it doesn’t seem like tedium because they have placed value on almost everything you can encounter out in the wilds and while you may not need it today… there is likely going to be a time at some point in the future where you will be wishing you had more of it.  While literally every moment I am not hunting a big epic monster is busywork…  none of it feels like it because it feels valuable to the larger mission of the game.


While Destiny has never really had something close to this grind, I am thinking maybe it should.  The central focus of all of this for me personally is the Smithy, which is a menu driven crafting system that allows me to turn all of these bits and pieces of critters I have taken down…  and meld them into usable gear with interesting stat combinations.  I’ve spent a good deal of time farming up Odogoron, which is a giant hairless blind hell hound looking thing.  I personally really like its armor set and I want to be able to wield the full thing a a potential replacement for my mishmash of gear I am currently wearing.  This gives me a goal, and the grind itself is slow enough that each kill feels like meaningful progress without ever giving me that landfall moment of getting everything I possibly need in a single round.

Imagine for a second if you had gear and weapons in Destiny based on a similar concept.  Each time you took down the Fallen example, there was a chance of getting an item that could be used in the crafting of Fallen themed weapons or armor.  The common items would drop from Dregs, medium rarity items from Vandals and the rare bits from Servitors and Walkers.  Then say you wanted to craft the Vex Mythoclast you would need to maybe take down a Gate Lord to get the focusing lens, and a bunch of Minotaurs to get the armored housing.  All of this is more meaningful than collect 40 of token Z and hope the RNG gods smile upon your en devour as you may or may not get the item you want from a relatively deep loot table.  It also turns Banshee-44 into more than the Gachapon machine that he currently is, by giving him the actual ability to craft specific items for you.


What Monster Hunter World does better than almost anything is that it gives me a target for my nightly nonsense.  Granted right now I cannot craft the Chrome Slicer I because I lack the zenny to do so….  but I know where every single piece that it requires drops from.  I know that I can run loops around High Rank Wildspire Wastes for most if it, but to get the Fucium Ore I am going to have to make my way down into the Elder’s Recess.  If I notice a weapon requires parts off of a specific monster I am given a bunch of different ways to target that one specific encounter and run it over and over if I so choose.  In my case what I personally tend to do is answer SOS beacons for that specific encounter, feeling like I am actually helping out someone else in the community take down that critter for fun and profit as well.

More than anything what I think Monster Hunter World does so well is that it eases you into all of this.  You quickly learn the value of the items you can grab out in the world as new patterns start showing up that you can craft.  You notice that items have ??? beside some of the materials and it drives you to go out and explore until you find them.  All of this creates a feedback loop of take down epic feeling monsters, get items, craft interesting gear…  so you can take down even bigger monsters.  Sure a lot of the gear is not strictly required…  but for someone who is very gear focused it certainly makes the journey feel a lot more meaningful.  The monster battle portion being fun enough that while I am actively engaged in fighting…  I am not even thinking about what might drop which is not the case in most MMORPGs.


When they first started talking about Destiny 2 being a much more open world and quest driven game…  this is honestly the sort of experience I had been envisioning.  What if you could fight a Destiny boss the same way you do a Monster in Monster Hunter World?  What if getting every player to focus on taking out a Gatelord’s weapon arm caused it to no longer be able to fire that weapon… and instead forced it to change up tactics and start engaging in melee attacks.  What if the way you fought a boss mattered just as much as the weapons you took into the fight?  When we got Destiny 2 and it was a stripped down version of what we had in Destiny 1…  I was disappointed, but the mechanical loop of the game kept me engaged for way longer than the game itself probably deserved.  I had enough hype built up to carry me through the console launch and restarting with the PC launch…  but now I just don’t ever feel like even logging in.

What I want is a good grind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean running Omnigul hundreds of times hoping that maybe just maybe you will get that one in a million perfectly stated Grasp of Malok.  What that means for me personally is something that I can do on a nightly basis that feels like I am eventually heading towards some goal down the road.  Maybe at some point in the near future I will feel like I am out of grinds in Monster Hunter World, but I can at least see a road map in front of me that seems like it is going to be an interesting ride.  Right now I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of objectives that I could be chasing, and as I move up… it feels like the world keeps expanding out rather than narrowing down to a pin point like the raid cycle does in an MMORPG.  Monster Hunter World is a really great grind, that is attached to a really fun experience of taking down giant monsters that fight in a fluid and believably organic manner.  Maybe Bungie will find its footing at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying discovering the Monster Hunter franchise.

Delightful Nonsense



Last night didn’t exactly go as I had originally planned but what actually happened was probably better.  There were a couple of things that I knew I had on my list for the evening, one of which was to run to target and attempt to find clearance valentines candy for my wife’s classroom.  There are several candies that she uses in lab exercises like kisses, m&m’s and skittles.  The scene in that candy aisle was just insane with random display boxes strewn everywhere and essentially everything mostly gone.  We did manage to scavenge some plain old fashioned Hershey’s Kisses in valentines packaging for the 50% off discount.

Prior to going into the store I called in a take out order across the street at Baja Jack’s Burrito Shack, so we picked up our orders…  for me a steak fajita quesadilla and for my wife steak fajita nacho platter.  I flipped over to Twitch to see if anyone was streaming, and I appeared to be auto hosting Sushi so I tuned in to say hi.  I finishing “nomming my tasty noms” and fired up the PS4 when almost instantly I had a party invite waiting on me.  Pizza Maid was also just about to fire up her stream and was looking for people to hang out while doing so.  So I joined her, SitaDulip, Misiek, and a very drunk Welsh Fox and Wolfy in chat and prepared for an evening of delightful nonsense.


One of the main reasons why Monster Hunter World has been scratching my MMO itch is for nights like last night.  While we lost Fox and Wolfy pretty early because they decided they were a little too sauced to be on a stream…  we had this great night of just wandering around and doing random stuff.  Sure I wasn’t necessarily moving my quest chain forward, but I was still having a lot of fun knocking out random stuff… some of it low rank and some of it high rank.  It was this furious blend of investigations, optional quests, and arena missions and a heck of a lot of fun.

I think the only high rank monster we actually took down was a Pukei Pukei at the very end of the night when the stream had whittled down to just me and Pizza hanging out.  The best moment of the stream however was when Pizza runs off to use the restroom only to find out that Aria her adorable asshole cat has rolled all the toilet paper off the roll.  Props to stealthy for clipping this because it is an amazing conversation happening off screen…  but I am chuckling along in my recognition that I have also had this thing happen.  Basically it was a really fun night and if you so care to… the entire VOD of our random adventures is available.


Tonight however… I would actually like to make some progress.  If that means catching Pizza up to this point in the storyline and then taking down an asshole pink Rathian together then so be it.  Last night was all about hanging out with friends and tonight would be lovely if I could hang out with friends and also kill this horrible creature.   The other thing I am contemplating is doing a dueling banjos stream of sorts where I am also streaming while Pizza is streaming and then posting one of those links that allows you to see the stream side by side.  I will of course have to talk to her about this concept, also also I will have to figure out what PSN chat does to my streaming set up.  I am not sure if it is going to be a horribly echoy experience for my viewers.

Regardless if we take down a Pink Rathian or not I would love to engage in some high rank hunt nonsense.  Right now I have a handful of pools of people that I have been actively playing with and only time will tell tonight who I end up grouped up with.  Regardless though Monster Hunter is feeling like and MMORPG to me in spite of it not really being one.  It feels like I am doing all of these epic boss fights with friends and I guess at the end of the day… that was my most important requirement for MMO grouping.  I had wished Destiny 2 would feel like this, but for whatever reason the magic sauce just wasn’t there as strongly this time.  With Monster Hunter it is all brand new to me having never really gained traction in the series, and with Destiny 2…  I just kept thinking about all of the awesome things we had to give up from the first game.

Monster Hunter Online



There are times I do things that don’t make sense at all…  but am nonetheless compelled to do them anyways.  Last night was one of those nights and the madness that my brain was targeting involved seeing if I could actually get Monster Hunter Online installed and running.  I had decided that I would end up hanging out with my wife last night and watching some olypmics while she graded, which meant I would be losing access to my beloved Monster Hunter World.  I mean sure I could play it through PS Remote Play but the experience degrades so drastically since I am used to playing it on a 4K display in HDR.  Early in the evening I had stumbled onto a video by Arekkz from June of 2016 where he attempted playing the game.  This for whatever reason  triggered something in my brain wanting to try it, much like I will sometimes devote way too much effort to trying to emulate something that I have sitting in my closet.

The first problem is that there are plenty of guides out there for playing Monster Hunter Online.  The key problem with each of them is that they involve downloading some random package of binaries from either a file dump website or in some cases google drive.  I do not trust downloading a “verified good” client from somewhere I don’t know as the originating source of the file.  Basically that ruled out all of those options and left me sorting out the steps by myself.  Essentially the step to get up and running look a little something like this.

  1. Register a QQ Account – this is essentially the Tencent version of AIM and has a really weird profiling system that includes details like asking you for your blood type which is not creepy at all.  I filled out only the minimum of information and found it hilarious that the QQ version of the Twitter Egg icon…  is a crying baby.  Apparently all Tecent games are driven by the QQ account and this will be a numerical address combined with a password.  SAVE THIS NUMBER… there is apparently no great way to recover an account.
  2. Download WeGame – WeGame is the Tencent version of Steam for lack of a better term for it.  There is no english version so you are ultimately going to be flying blind here.  All of the categories are in chinese except for FPS and MMORPG.  Since what we are looking for is an MMORPG it was pretty easy to select that category and find the Monster Hunter Online logo shown above to start the download process.
  3. Download Monster Hunter Online – there will be what appears to be an obvious download button when you find Monster Hunter Online in the menu.  This seems to download the game in the background…  so the process will show up in Task Manager but won’t actually be a window you can flip over to through Alt-Tab or through the task bar.  I have really fast internet so it did not take long at all…  but it involves two downloads one that is around 9 gb and another that is around 15 gb so it may take forever for you.
  4. Launch Monster Hunter Online – when the game finally finishing installing which is an awkward and largely blind experience… it will show up in the left hand bar of the WeGame client.  All the while it is downloading there will be what is the Monster Hunter Online theme playing in the background…  that you can literally do nothing about.  How I determined it was finished… was when the music went away.  Immediately upon launching the game you will be presented with the next hurdle.
  5. Fake a Chinese ID – You will immediately be presented with a page from QQ stating that the game cannot be played without some sort of national Chinese ID.  This was not super surprising because when you attempt to play a lot of South Korean games you run into a similar problem.  The difference here is that apparently the Chinese ID is an amalgam of a birthdate, region codes, and some randomized number all with a check bit to verify that it is “official”.  As result there are tons of places online that offer you a generator to create your own.  The one I linked is the one that worked for me… and quite honestly since I do not read chinese we engaged in a bit of pattern matching.  You will need to make sure that you match up the names of the regions in both the generator and the client and unfortunately google translate only goes so far.  I went with Bejing and what looked to be the most distinct pattern that I was able to match in both locations.  SAVE THIS NUMBER.
  6. Plug Code into QQ Page and Pray – The page that popped up when you launch Monster Hunter World should still be sitting there in the background, and for me at least I was able to pop that code into the box, hit submit and it worked first attempt. Your mileage may vary especially depending on your pattern matching skills on the earlier steps.
  7. Relaunch Monster Hunter Online – If everything worked you will now be able to play Monster Hunter Online and have the same fun I did guessing what the buttons actually do in the character creation system.  I managed to limp through the process of creating a character by guessing the logic that was used.  On the lower left hand side there is a menu that appears to be some sort of a batch of presets…  and then the button beside it to the right appears to be some sort of a confirmation that takes you to a prompt in the center of the screen that lets you name your character and enter the world.  It accepted my english named character without any problems.


The next question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you should actually do this thing I just explained to you how to do.  The short answer is no… you should not.  You should really just stick to playing Monster Hunter World and waiting for the eventual PC release.  The positive take away from last night is that I have a fully functional QQ account and will be able to play things that get released by Tencent in China if I so care to at some point.  The bad part however is that the game is not great.  Sure it sorta looks like Monster Hunter but more importantly it FEELS nothing like Monster Hunter World.  If I did not know this was a purposeful collaboration between Capcom and Tencent I would have assumed the game was yet another asset flip mobile game because it is not pretty.

You are treated to this opening cutscene where some monster type I have never seen crashes into your airship.  All the while the monster is clipping through the airship and as you begin to crash land the ship itself randomly clips in and out of the mountain side.  When you finally get to ground level you have to fight yet another monster that I don’t recognize… but it could have been an overly stylized version of a Rathian.  During this fight you are provided with MMO style telegraphs on the ground to denote where the monster is going to attack.  These show up well before the actual animation sequence starts taking out a bit of the fun of playing Monster Hunter in the first place which is reading the monsters attacks.

I am not sure if everyone starts out as longsword but I lucked into that allowing me to try out a weapon that I already understand the attack patterns of which helped me get acclimatized quickly.  In the grand scheme of things the attacks were all recognizable and worked much the same as if I had been using a controller.  The equivalent of my Triangle attack was on the left mouse button and the equivalent of my R2 attack was on the right mouse button… with the short jab circle attacks being tied to E.  Z for whatever reason became the interact/harvest key which is only explained after you encounter your first herb plant to harvest.  You are not really given enough time after your first actual monster encounter to harvest the corpse.

It was playable but the post tutorial interface was clogged with tons of cash shop functionality that I never could figure out how to get rid of.  It was around the time I arrived in the first town that I finally decided to just stop playing and find something better to do with my evening.  The game did not feel great and the visuals felt cheaply thrown together and appear to be vastly different than the original images I saw from the first versions of the game.  The game appears to have been stylized a bit more away from the traditional Monster Hunter vibe, and in doing so the appearance and experience seems to have been cheapened significantly.

At the end of the day I highly suggest you not do the thing that I did last night.  I still felt largely compelled to explain how I did it though in case someone wanted to follow in my footsteps.  This methodology allows you to go to the original sources and get the actual files instead of hoping and praying that some google drive share doesn’t give you a bit coin mining virus.  I could not get any of the screenshots I took last night working, so instead I had to harvest a few from the interwebs for the purpose of this post.  Ash warned me away from this madness but sometimes I just feel compelled to do stupid things.

[Edit – 2/15/2018 – 10 am]


After posting this…  Ashgar suggested that in fairness I should at least namedrop Dauntless here.  Right now it is in fact a PC based Monster Hunter like game available in closed beta.  To get into that said beta however you either need to be a media personality/streamer of some note…  or to pay for it.  There are varying levels of access that start at $40 and end at $80 (that used to be $100 and the way you got into alpha).  I’ve played this briefly at Pax South a few years back but can’t really speak to the state of the game.  If you are interested I would suggest you check out the video by Skill-Up that I will link below.  His take is that the game has promise, but it is not really a replacement for Monster Hunter yet.  So I return to my original advise of just waiting for World to be released on the PC.


The Missing Piece



My wife is amazing and if you were expecting a game based post… you are instead getting a second real life post in a row. My wife decided to do this thing in her classroom where each day she would post on the board a note talking about why she enjoyed being their teacher. She likely saw it on pinterest or from one of her other teacher friends but it was a pretty cool idea and a good way to mark the month of February leading up to Valentines day. As is often the case when we got close to go time, she needed a little assistance coming up with something to post on her bulletin board. As I have done countless other times I knocked out something quickly, figured out how to print it across multiple pages and then thought nothing more about it.  The above image is what I came up with and it looked pretty good printed on a nice pink paper that she ultimately cut out to put on the white board.

Each morning I go through a specific routine.  I get up and take the first shower so that she can sleep a little bit longer.  Then I start making the coffee, each of ours to a slightly different order…  hers going in a travel mug because she doesn’t like to drink it when it is piping hot.  From there I venture upstairs and drink my “probably still piping hot but I don’t actually notice it” cup of coffee and sit down to talk to all of you out there reading this blog.  About thirty minutes later my wife hollers up at me telling me to have a good day and I reciprocate.  I wrap up my thoughts, post something to the blog and rush around downstairs feeding the animals and doing whatever else needs to be done before I head to work.  I am very much a creature of habit.


In February however these stared showing up along the bottom of my monitor.  At first I had not really caught on to the scheme because I am dense and also I usually see them first thing in the morning.  Each one a little note, along the same idea as the ones in her classroom but directed at me.  I am hoping that she does not mind the ones I chose to show, because I had to give an example of how cute they are.  This morning I found my favorite candy…  a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg on the Keurig…  in my coffee mug…  and two upstairs in my chair along with a package of heart shaped butter cookies (also a favorite of mine).  The amount of work and detail that she poured into this scheme is both adorable and impressive and while I feel horrible for not coming up with this concept myself…  it’s been a delightful experience.

The thing is… I’ve never quite figured out when she has been doing it.  Firstly she goes to bed way earlier than I do and when I leave my office to go to bed… there is no note.  Generally speaking I wake up when she leaves bed or at least notice it…  and I have not been waking up or noticing it.  Then when I get upstairs after I take my shower…  there are notes or this morning candy.  The only thing I can reason is that she must be doing it when I go to the shower and sacrificing some of her warm bed time to make it happen.  I would think I would hear someone upstairs given how squeaky our floor boards are… but maybe the sound of the shower drowns it out?  Whatever the case it is precious and baffling at the same time.

My wife and I are a really interesting case study of two vastly different people who compliment each other nicely.  There are certain ways where we are very much the same, and others that we could not be more different.  However at the end of the day the two blend together into a more complete human being than what we had before.  I notice this most clearly when she has to travel to go to a convention or something of the sort.  There is something missing the entire time she is gone and isn’t really back until she has returned.  I don’t sleep well without her laying beside me, and the house feels eerie and cold without knowing she as at a maximum a room or two away.  We can be in the same room doing two completely different things…  and still feel connected and happy to be around each other.

Recently I went through an exercise at work where we have been attempting to standardize our interview questions.  One of the ones that was thrown out and ultimately shot down… was something along the lines of “If money was no object, what would you do with your life?”.  The thing is…  I had to stop and think about this because in truth other than maybe shifting the way and where I work…  I really wouldn’t change much.  It really made me realize just how good my life generally is.  So much of that is because I have a amazing partner to go through it with.  Sure we might be deeply introverted and prone to fits of social awkwardness…  but we work.  This is our 22nd valentines day, and in August will be our 20th year of marriage.  I cannot fathom going through this journey without her.  She supports me in the various madness that I find myself engaged in on a regular basis and I try my best to do the same.

While it is cliche’d and the subject of memes…  I wish for each of you out there reading this blog the sort of happiness that I seem to have stumbled into.  Sure I battle depression on a regular basis, but that is the process of malfunctioning chemicals in my brain and not a by product of my generally awesome existence.  My wife fits neatly into the various spots where I am deficient and together we can pretty much take on anything.  The stress of dealing with potentially having to spend significant amounts of money yesterday on home repairs brought this home.  I felt uneasy and unstable up until the point when I had my wife at my side and then I knew that regardless of any of the circumstances we could handle whatever was coming at us together as a team.  So ultimately I hope for each of you that you have someone in your life that makes you better than what you are alone, and that as a team you can take on the world.

Value of a Hot Shower

This is going to be one of those posts that likely has no image… or at the very least a completely non-sequitur image.  It always feels weird to say “own a house” when in truth the bank owns it and you are just paying it off very slowly.  However that is in fact the correct term, and the biggest problem with that equation is that you are on the hook when things go horribly wrong.  At this point our house has had most everything major replaced but there are still a few outliers that exist from when the house was built in 1979.  Yesterday morning things went horribly wrong and the end result was me taking a very very very cold shower.

For a few weeks we had noticed reduced water pressure in the shower on the hot side and the fact that it was no longer blending the hot and cold water.  This lead us to take very quick showers because the water reached scalding temperatures, but was something we more or less were living with.  The goal was to somehow make it to spring break and then deal with it then as my wife could be around the house to schedule someone to come check it out.  As of yesterday morning however we had no water pressure on the hot side and the only option was a very frosty shower experience, which I opted for…  my wife being the smarter of us figured out some other solution.

Now we do have a shower upstairs in what is more or less the “cat bathroom” and where we keep the litter boxes.  The only problem there is we have never actually used it and while I have this awesome Tardis themed shower curtain up there…  we never actually got a proper shower liner to turn it into a functional experience.  This has since been remedied in case we were stuck using that shower until we were able to sort out what was going on.  The truth is when I was confronted with the ice cold north of a full on cold shower on a 15 degree outside day…  I completely forgot about the upstairs option.

Our heating and air company also does plumbing work, so we opted to call them and see if they could work us in.  I did have a fairly busy day of meetings, and my wife decided she was going to get a sub and take the afternoon off so she could deal with that.  They originally had us scheduled for some time late afternoon around three or four.  I got a call at 10:20 in the morning saying they had an availability if I could meet them there…  so as a result I wound up rushing home and taking the afternoon off anyways.  The fact that we were both ultimately going to be off at the same time was a bit of a blessing but at first it seemed annoyingly redundant.  However with my wife needing to get a last minute sub, we didn’t want to cancel and ultimately screw someone out of a job.

When the plumber got here…  he took one look at our 1979 original shower faucet and quite honestly didn’t want to touch it.  In modern systems there is a water shutoff valve that goes to the shower and allows you to turn that off separately.  In our house so many things were done in a less than intelligent manner, and as a result the only way to shut the shower off is to shut the entire water off to the house.  Even this is its own hassle because we have no water main shutoff in the house and instead have to turn it off at the curb.  Basically his concern was that he would get into the shower and be unable to fix it….  and have the whole thing basically disintegrate in the process leaving us with no water at all to the house.

His assessment is that we had something jammed inside the shower valve, and that it more than likely came from the hot water heater which in itself says proudly on the unit that it was made in 1974.  His remedy was that we ultimately needed to replace the hot water heater to keep this from happening again, and replace the shower.  The problem with the second part of that equation is that it would involve either tearing out the existing fiberglass shower surround…  or ripping into the wall of our bedroom that backs up to the shower.  They would be able to handle cutting the hole, installing a shutoff system and a new shower…  but we would need to purchase our own shower fixtures and get someone to take care of putting in an access panel when they had finished.

This was less than a simple process because for the hot water heater… we had to schedule another person to come out and give us the estimate.  Thankfully they could come out yesterday and around 1:30 or so they popped in for literally less than ten minutes and via an iPad app emailed us an estimate.  Once you added everything up…  the shower work, the hot water heater, bringing things up to code and getting the end product inspected it tallied roughly $3000.  There was a lot of sticker shock in that equation as well given that a hot water heater at a big box store is in the $500-600 range.

This set us down an alternate path, because if we were looking to spend that sort of money…  we wondered what just replacing the shower and having a contractor take care of all of it would cost us.  My wife put out a message on Facebook and one of her friends that she trusts mentioned that her brother was a contractor.  We called him to see if we could get an estimate on what it would take to just replace the downstairs shower completely given that we have never really liked it.  It turned out that while he worked in other towns, he actually lived in our town and could swing by that afternoon.

Within a few minutes of him being there, he decided that we should just try and fix the problem before getting entangled in a bigger project.  He balked that the plumber was unwilling to work on this unit and figured it was far better built than he had given it credit for.  So he started dismantling the shower faucet all the while my wife and I were hoping things would end up being okay.  He got everything taken apart and sure enough… there was a little bit of what looked like paint or maybe thin plastic that was jamming up the valve.  With some tweezers he extracted it and then for good measure turned the water on to blow out any other debris.

This caused some minor flooding…  but only because the water shot out so hard that it bounced off the back wall of the shower and out through the crack in the door and onto the floor.  My wife and I hurried scrambled to get some towels to soak it up but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor hazard to deal with given that the problem was actually being fixed.  It took a bit longer to reassemble than to take apart because lining up the screw holes was a little awkward.  However within thirty minutes start to finish we had a working shower again.

The funny thing is… he didn’t want to take any money for the work he has just done.  We had to basically force him to take some because ultimately his few minutes of time that he thought nothing about…  saved us from having to deal with $3000 at that moment.  This morning I took the best shower I have taken in years, and it is funny how much better a day goes when the little things like that are working as intended.  I think the best part of yesterday is that we now have contact with a really excellent contractor and handyman type for when we need him in the future.

At some point we really would like to properly remodel the bathroom, and I am sure when we do we will give him another call.  However for the moment he was absolutely our savior in being willing to take on something that scared the hell out of both of us.  Sure we still need to replace a hot water tank and sure we probably should make it so that you can get into the shower from our bedroom via an access panel.  All of those things though can now be carefully planned instead of pure blind reactionary mode, which is a huge positive as far as I am concerned.

A Social Weekend



It was a pretty great weekend as far as hunting monsters goes.  I got to hang out with so many different groups of people and do so many varied things.  On Friday night it was all about hanging out with Tam, Ash and Kodra as I was finally up late enough to allow our schedules to align.  On Saturday it was all about hanging out with Pizza Maid, Wolfy and Rakuno… and then in a little pre-podcast gaming some more with Tam, Ash and Kodra.  Then Sunday I streamed for a bit in the morning between editing two podcasts.  Then in the evening I spent quite a bit of time in the evening running around with Sushi Geisha and Smashy doing some high rank egg birb killing among other things.  The variety and quality of my company was absolutely the best.

The other thing that really happened this weekend is that I spent a ton of time hanging out with various groups of folks on twitch.  I’ve never really acclimatized to that community but right now I am spending a significant amount of time with folks connected to the very awesome casual/positive Moogle’s Pom Tavern.  They have all accepted me as one of their own and call me a streamer even though I barely qualify as one.  Just to give some shout outs… some of the folks I spent time lurking or actively hanging out in are…


Right now my jam seems to be playing Monster Hunter on the 43 inch 4k monitor while trying to cram a bunch of windows on one of the 23 inch monitors.  As a result a lot of the time I have spent soloing, has been hanging out in a twitch stream and occasionally throwing random comments.  During the shenanigans of Saturday and Sunday I actually wound up on voice chat and as a result “on stream” with Pizza and Sushi.  The world got many opportunities to watch me fail at longswording and miss attacks as monsters shifted on me in combat.  It was a lot of fun and I need to sort out a time when I can stream for myself more regularly.  I had a lot of fun with the little bit that I did this weekend and the whole Sunday morning is starting to turn into a routine.

As far as Monster Hunter itself…  I have now progressed into High Rank hunts but have not done a whole lot of them.  I’ve taken down Pukei Pukei which is the gatekeeper of sorts to unlock High Rank, and then taken down Kulu-Ya-Ku a bunch of times to farm bits so I could upgrade to this crazy two handed scimitar of sorts called Last Dance I.  I am wearing a mishmash of gear because I basically went to the workshop and crafted whatever the hell I could as soon as I hit high rank.  As a result I have 1 piece of Zorah Magdaros gear, 2 pieces of High Rank Bone and 2 pieces of High Rank Alloy gear.  This shockingly has wound up being a fairly reasonable set of gear to run around and do stuff with, and the added defense helped a lot as compared to the amount of damage I was taking during the Pukei Pukei fight.


I could go into a bunch of detail about the various hunts I did, but for this morning I am not.  The weekend as a whole was all about hanging out with various groups of people for me.  That is always the problem I have when it comes to online gaming.  There are so many different groups that I want to be hanging out with.  I spent a lot of the weekend as a sort of fill in, but still had a blast in doing so.  Right now the timing for me is just weird in actually hanging with the AggroChat crew given that the majority are now on the west coast.  On most nights they are starting to get active around 9 pm…  as I am starting to wind down and prep to head to bed.  This has made organizing anything in a time other than the weekend a pretty fraught experience.

The whole grouping experience in Monster Hunter does not make this easier, given that for much of the weekend folks were having trouble joining specific sessions.  I know last night we kept trying to get a 4th in to help them with some quests…  but the sessions kept timing out.  What I crave the most for Monster Hunter World is some form of a viable friends list, with the ability to invite to parties from it…  and even more importantly have a Diablo 3 style “request to be invited” system.  I hope as time passes that the whole cludge that is grouping in this game improves.  That said… the core experience is compelling enough that I can look past all of that nonsense as I obsess about getting monster bits to make awesome weapons and outfits.