Saturday, February 01, 2014

January 2014 Play Log

I will be the first to admit that this got a little out of hand.

My original intention was just to use a few words to describe each day's gaming experience, as the first few entries demonstrate, so I could go back in a year's time to review what I played. But somewhere in the month (around the time I started playing Kingdoms of Amalur), I got a bit chatty - or rather I started chatting with someone. Read on and see who joined in.

January 2014

1 - Finished Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. One word: Gut-wrenching! (Or is that two words?)

2 - Tried the Bravely Default 3DS demo. Fell asleep on the couch.

3 - A little Hotline Miami and Grid 2 (a PS+ freebie).

4 - Started The Wolf Among Us Episode 1. Love the music!

5 - More of The Wolf Among Us. Only one chapter left.

6 - Finished The Wolf Among Us. Less than 3 hours playtime and no deaths?

7 - Played about an hour of DmC, the new Devil May Cry reboot (newest PS+ freebie). Not sure I can deal with the character's age or look.

8 - On a whim (and after being reminded about it while listening to a podcast), I decided to start Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. A number of games I've been playing recently have been very short, so I figure it's time to dive into a long RPG. After waiting for a 7gb install, I'm about half way through the opening section that was used for the demo.

9 - Made it through the area used in the demo. Already very impressed with the quality of the visuals - rich and gorgeous! Even more impressive in that it came from a design studio (Big Huge Games) know primarily for RTS games. Are we going to have to wait until Elder Scrolls VI to get another single player RPG game of this scale for the PS4/Xbox One? Sad state of the industry.

10 - Zzzzzzz. Too sleepy to play.

11 - Felt really crappy toward the evening, so didn't play anything. But, found a PS4 while I was out doing some running around!

12 - Played an hour or so of KoA:R and did my first (side)quest. Nice to see that quests aren't just, "Bring me X number of Y." Also, amazed at how much voice acting is in the game!

(OK, author's note: All of the entries presented here were written sequentially, usually on the day after they happened, with the exception of this break. The entry below for the 13th could/should be technically rewritten from the perspective and voice of the guest that entered into the blog starting on the 14th, but I felt it would harm the integrity of this record to go back and change it.)

13 - Got in another hour of KoA:R. Interesting quest I'm on (side-quest, actually). When I got into the town of Gorhart,  there was an injured "Fae" writhing in the street. This creature, which looks like a dark elf crossed with a fairy, got shived in the town square and no one stopped to help her. Tough town! When I offered to help (to keep her from groaning in pain every 5 seconds), I was told to talk to another Fae who sits atop a hill and watches the town. When I find her, I discover that a) she finds "mortals" amusing, and b) she can't help her fellow Fae. She suggests I try some of my people's remedies, but only really strong ones. This lead me back to the town apothecary, a sort of grumpy gnome, who won't help me unless I find her apprentice. Seems the apothecary has been dabbling in some medieval chemical weaponry to fight the Tuatha, but her formula wasn't quite right and now there have been plague like symptoms cropping up among the people of Gorhart. Worse, the apprentice took the formula and has gone off to the ruins of Agnur Farhal. When I head out there (a really gloomy place, I might add) and confront her, uh former employee, Karth, I find he has been a very bad boy and wants to run away to join the Red Legion, the local gang of mercenary thugs. And he's given them the formula as a way to get them to accept him. There are now 10 crates of this stuff about to be shipped out and yours truly has to stop them. Frankly, I don't know what the apothecary saw in this guy or how he ever worked around a gnome without stepping on her. He looked like he belonged in a apothecary's shop about as much as an 800 pound gorilla does running a flower stand. To think she was worried about the poor fella! Well, it was a bad career choice for him and the apothecary is going to need a new apprentice. Yup, I killed him. Now to track down those crates.

14 - After yesterdays post, I think I will just let Raven, my character, fill you in on what's happening in KoA:R.

Well, here I thought all of the crates would be in Agnur Farhal. No such luck! I did find a few that were being guarded by some Red Legion lackeys. The odds were me against four. Almost felt sorry for the poor bastards! After I busted them up, I did the same to the crates.

The only other creatures roaming around that gloomy place were some Brownies - short, stout, and bad tempered with mouths like shark's. They were guarding some chests that held a few goodies, mostly for sale, and a handful or so of gold. Nothing major, but every little bit helps. This dead girl got bills to pay!

A pathway out the back of the tunnels put me in Odarath again. Checking my magic map, I saw that the other crates had been moved toward the north and east parts of the territory. It's going to be a long walk to catch up with them, so I figured a stop in town was a good idea.

When I got back to Gorhart, I made the usual visit to Neelie's to get my gear patched up and sell all the crap I'd collected. By the gods, I don't know if they really sell that well, but I'll tell you - I should have come back as a backpack salesgirl. They want over 7,000 gold for one of those things! The markup must be incredible. I'll have to get one eventually, but it's gonna hurt the old money pouch when I do.

Outside the shop, I got the strangest urge to cast off all my armor and weapons, and just walk around in my barest under clothes! It felt so good to feel the sun on my skin and the grass under my feet! None of the inhabitants seemed to notice or care, even the widow visiting her husband's grave. That last part probably doesn't make me sound like the most respectful person, but when you start your rebirth on top of a pile of rotting corpses, it gives you a somewhat skewed view of death and stuff.
(Ed. - Raven didn't know it, but this was to get a special "Streaker" achievement. I hope she didn't mind too much.)

I bought a few extra supplies (healing stuff) and now I'm headed out into the Faelands. When I get this whole "save the stabbing victim/find the apprentice/stop mass murder" thing over with, I still have that nut job over by the monastery to deal with, and I think I might go back and check out that old mine I saw before I got to Gorhart. Might not be anything big, but I have a feeling this adventure I'm on is going to take me far away from this little hamlet and I don't want to miss anything! 

15 - I gave Raven the night off and got my new PS4 setup. It occurred to me that this is the first truly HD gaming generation - there is no option for hooking it up with composite cables (not that anyone in their right mind would ever want to!). For as much as everyone says this is the next generation, a lot of it looks just like the old generation. It's still 1920x1080, which is damn good, but I wonder if we'll ever see the kind of jump in graphics quality again that we did from the PS2 to PS3 (or Xbox to Xbox 360)? I downloaded Resogun and played a little of that. A bit confusing and a lot like Defender, which I pretty much suck at.

16 - Raven, you want to take this? Thanks, but not too much to tell. I found all the crates and destroyed them, making the little gnome very happy. But you know, I still had to buy that crummy Greater Healing potion from her for nearly 1000 gold! You'd think that she could just hand one over for saving her butt (and everyone else's). That's gratitude for you! Well, turns out that it didn't bring that Fae all the way back. Someone messed her up good. Hector, the guy watching over her, told me I needed to go to her council and try to convince them that this wasn't what normally happens to Fae in Gorhart. So, now I've become an emissary of peace, trying to keep this little hamlet from becoming another smoking ruin in the forest. On my way there, I ran into a guy who said he'd been changed from a wolf into a human by some pissed off pixies. Kept calling me "two-legs", which I thought was a little odd, but when you've walked on four your whole life, I guess it makes sense. I got him back to his wolfy form, but I think I should have taken advantage of the situation first. I mean, he was pretty hunky and how often does a girl get a chance to do it "wolf-style", ya know? Other than that, I've got to kill a troll for some traveler so she can get a ring from him. Some sort of reenactment from bygone days that involves collecting animal heads to use as bait. Ewww.

17 - Well, Raven didn't have too much trouble with that troll. As she had Reckoning power built up, she pretty much turned him into troll-burgers. (Yeah, gonna take a week to get that smell off my armor.) However, I think she got shafted over a ring that her accomplice wanted from the troll. I should have looked at it as soon as she looted the troll's body but didn't. Oh well. Must be better stuff out there anyway. (I was so ready to take her down, but you didn't think it was the right thing to do. Wuss!)  Hey, who's doing the blogging today? (Sheesh, sorry!) Anyway, Raven went onto the Hall of Ballads (thrilling place)  and told the seer there that the Fae had been injured, but that the people of Gorhart had saved her from bandits. (And why was I lying to him? I should have told him some town scumbag knifed the poor thing in the town square.) But that's exactly what we didn't want them to find out, Raven. If they knew someone in Gorhart had done that, they'd burn down the whole village. (Oh, and what a loss that would be of the four buildings that make up the whole place! Could it be any smaller?) Oh, stop it. You're just still frustrated that you didn't get to knock paws with your wolf in man's skin. (Whatever.) Anway, they said they couldn't (or wouldn't) help and Raven returned to Gorhart. (Where Raven finds out that the Fae has made a miraculous recovery and doesn't need anymore healing. So why did I haul my cookies all the way to the Hall of Boring Ballads in the first place? Sightseeing?) I don't know, dear, but I'm sure it will all make sense at a later point. In the meantime, you need to start thinking about working on the main quests or you'll never get anywhere in this adventure. You're stalling. (I'm not "stalling"! I'm doing a thorough investigation of the location, and building up my skills and abilities in order to better...) Oh, come on! You just can't resist an exclamation point over someone's head and you know it! I've got a pile of other games sitting here and you could end up finding yourself stuck in that "charming little village" for a very long time. Have you seen how long that guy in Oblivion has been waiting to get to just the first city? So long I don't even remember his name! Think about it, my little blue-tattoo. 

18 & 19 - Thought I'd leave Raven out of the conversation today, and just put in a little KoA:R update. The game has gotten to a rather enjoyable level of getting quests (from "!" marked NPC's) and then performing the necessary actions to complete them. (One quest was ridiculously easy - go into a monastery, pickup a book, take it outside. But hey, the gold's still good.) Quests seem to fall into Main Story quests, Side quests, and Fetch quests. The latter aren't very interesting, but the Side quests are very good for exploring new areas and building up experience and equipment. The game also does a really good job of showing you where you need to go on the map to complete a quest. It even puts up multiple quest destinations so you know if you're near something for a non-active quest. Very considerate of the programmers. And yes, I'm using Fast Travel to get around - I don't need to waste time hiking all the way back to a quest giver for my reward!

20 - Decided it was time to play a "real" PS4 game finally, so I tried out Killzone: Shadowfall. The graphics were spectacular in regards to terrain and buildings. People looked very good, but still some of that "uncanny valley" syndrome. The raindrops were embarrassingly bad - someone must have forgotten to put them in the game and added the programming just before it shipped. Gameplay so far is so-so, nothing I haven't played as well or better in the new Tomb Raider game. I'm still waiting to be impressed.

21 - I bought La Mulana on sale for $1.49 during the day and decided to give it a try - partly because there is a new Kickstarter for a sequel that I had thought about backing. However, 45 frustrating minutes later, I deleted the game from my system. Why, in the Holy Hells, do game designers feel they have to make platforming games so damn hard these days?! If you want people to play your game, work the difficulty up gradually. Have people learned nothing from decades of Mario? At this point, I should have gone to bed, but I decided to try The Stanley Parable Demo again. After hearing more about the way the full game can be played, I wanted to see what I could mess with in the demo. (This is the only Steam game I've seen where the demo stays around after you buy the full game, which I've done.) I found a couple of different things (8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,etc) but not too much. Not that I really expected a lot. The whole game is around 3+gbytes and the demo is under 1, I'm pretty sure. But I had to give it a shot.

22 - Raven and I ventured back into KoA:R for the evening. I've traded her chakrams for fae-blades that seem to do a bit more damage, but I'm holding onto at least one of each kind of weapon just for the sake of variety. Combat in this game is getting a little repetitive. There's only 3 combat buttons - X for primary weapon, Y for secondary weapon, and LT for block. Raven has "moves" for each weapon by pressing an attack button in a certain order, but the ones that involve holding the attack button down seldom work since she's usually surrounded and getting hit negates any buildup. Mostly it's X button mashing while pushing back creatures to keep her from getting hit from behind. Blocking doesn't work well when she's surrounded either. I know I probably need to make her dodge more and get her out of the middle of the fight, but so far she's stayed alive just standing and fighting. Yeah, I'm playing on Casual mode, but why make the battles harder just for sake of making them harder? I don't think the rewards are any different. Anyway, we got a couple more quests finished which was nice. I think she's going to have to buy one of those pricey backpacks, however.

23 - I actually wasn't going to do any gaming this evening as I wasn't in a really good mood. In fact, I never even turned on my computer the whole night. But, during a, uh, "rest period", shall we say, I started playing the next puzzle in The Room on my Android tablet. I generally suck at puzzle games (not enough patience, I guess), but this is a very different kind of game. You are trying to manipulate the buttons, dials, levers, secret doors, gears, gadgets, keys and inter-dimensional planes in a series of intricate puzzle boxes. It's unlike any puzzle game I've seen before and is nearly impossible to stop playing once you start. You always figure that you'll just try looking for one more thing that will unlock the next bit before stopping. I decided I'd do a bit more on the living room sofa before turning in. As a result, it was nearly 1am before I finally turned off the tablet and went to bed.

24 - Raven here, guys. This is so cool! I have my own house now! Yup, took care of some interpersonal relations in Canneroc and when I got back into town, Barten gave me keys to my own place, Gossamer End. Then, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, the town blacksmith starts offering me upgrades! And cheap, too! Who else builds house extensions for 258 gold? I've got a huge basement now, a dining room, a statue (guess that was a freebie?), work benches, and an upstairs bedroom. If I was in that Animal Crossing game, I'd be in hock to that racketeering raccoon for about two billion bells by now! Well, for now I'm going to just get comfortable and enjoy my new mansion. Now if I could only figure out how to sit at the table or lie in the bed.

25 - No gaming due to a sick doggie that thought a hand sanitizer bottle was a fun thing to chew on. Fortunately, Nagy ended up with only an upset tummy, but it made for a loooooong night.

26 - Wasn't going to play anything this evening (was still feeling the effects of sitting up with Nagano all night), but did end up playing a few minutes of Lone Survivor on the Vita. I think this will be a good platform to play it on - something to play on the couch in the dark, late at night.

27 - Played about another hour and a half of KoA:R before bed. Finished up a quest to find a surveyor's notebook and then took on a few Mountain Trolls (It wasn't "a few", it was 5, plus a Rock Troll that happened to wander by.) I thought you were sleeping. You seemed pretty tired. (Yeah, I was, thanks for noticing.) Well, you did a good job out there today. (Oh, please! Do not patronize me!) Okay, okay, sorry. (I swear I'm going to have friggin nightmares about that poor bastard I found in the cage. Just kept writing in his little journal! His captors left him in there and he thought he could squeeze through the bars as he got thinner. He got thin alright. Dead too! And then that witch-bitch popped out of the ground right in front of me. Nearly crapped my armor! What kind of place is this, anyway?) Uh, it's a fantasy universe populated with mythical creatures and ("Mythical" my ass! I've got troll guts in places you don't want to know about! Seems pretty real to me!) You're really worked up about all this. (Yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. It was just a rough night's work.) Was it collecting all those silkfarmer's remains thing? (No. Well, yeah, maybe a little. I mean, they were like all over the place. But there was one only a few yards down the road from Canneroc. No one could have just strolled down there and gotten the poor guy? They could have smelled him rotting from the tavern.) That was pretty harsh of them. (And then I get all the bones, remains, whatever, back to town and all they have is this crappy ossuary which is just a few urns packed into an old planter, sitting behind a bunch of crates. So, I put them in, one at a time, and that was it. Better than nothing, I suppose. Just feels like there should have been something more, ya know?) Yeah. So, you didn't get a reward, did you? (Not a god-damned thing!)

28 - Didn't have a lot of time this evening, but decided to at least clean up Raven's inventory. That led to me wanting to explore a little more toward the next main story quest objective. (I thought you were giving me the night off.) No, I never said anything about that. (Yes you did. You were going to only play my game every other day. That way you would get time in on some of the other titles you were planning on playing this year.) Well, I was more interested in playing KoA. (But Broken Age came out today and you even pre-ordered it. The reviews for it have been awesome!) Yes, but it's a new game. I can just jump into your game and play a little without having to learn something new and (This is about your brother playing KoA too, isn't it?) What? No, don't be silly! (You're afraid that he will beat you to the finish of this one because that's what always happens. Oblivion. Skyrim. Fallout 3. Need I go on?) Hey, I finished Duke Nukem Forever and he didn't! (Oh, now there's a real accomplishment! What did that take? 21, 22 hours? And for a game with a Metacritic score of 54? Was that really a worthwhile use of your time?) I still remember when DNF was announced in 1997 and how excited I was about it. I loved Duke Nukem 3D! (Well, if you think I'm going to show you my tits like some pixelated stripper, forget it old man! Don't make me tell everyone that you just had to get the Balls of Steel Edition - at full price!) You just did. (Oh. Ooops. Sorry. Boss. Sir.) Forget it. Water under the bridge. Anyway, good work convincing that fisherman to not marry that water nymph. (Yeah, I don't think they would have made a very happy couple. I was sort of pissed he thought she killed that Ettin when it was obvious that I had. And by the way, what the fried umbrella copper kettle is it with these Ettin's? That Priest one nearly put me down?) I guess things are getting a little harder. Happens in these games. (Well, watch the Health Bar a little better next time. I've already been dead. I have no desire to be that way again.)

29 - I got a late start so I only played a little 3DS before bed. Tried a demo of (something like) World Commander 3D. Looked like a Risk style game, which is fine - I like Risk. I started the demo and, after an explanation on what started World War II that sounded like it came from a 5 year old, I started moving my American "units" around the Pacific. I moved a ship counter to an open sea space. I moved another ship to a sea space with a Japanese ship in it. I got a quick screen showing my ships "fighting" the enemy ships and the combat being resolved with simultaneous 8-sided dice rolls. Ok. I then tried moving one of my infantry units into another sea space with a Japanese ship in it. Another quick screen showing my infantry men (on land, by the way) shooting their rifles at the enemy ships in the water - and blowing them away. Exit. System settings. Delete demo.

30 - So, nice to see you're finally getting some of the main story quests done. (Yeah, I figured it was time, but are all the Fateweavers old foggies like Agarth?) I don't know, maybe. (I'll tell you, I don't think he killed a single creature the whole trip. He could keep them busy, but I had to step in and finish them off. Well, at least the Theater of Fate was kinda cool. And I liked the part where they said I could change people's fates!) Yeah. You do realize that isn't really the case. There's no such thing as Fate. We're all just existing and interacting with each other in real time, producing a random series of events. (That's not what grandpa told me! There's this Fabric of Fate, or something like that, that the Fateweavers can read and they see things before they happen because they know their going to happen because it's written in the weave! And I can change things that are going to happen! I can control who lives and who dies! I'm a god!) Uh-huh. Well, I guess that makes me a Fateweaver too. (How so?) Well, I see that the next time you go out adventuring, you'll be fighting an Ettin your underwear. (You wouldn't!) Hey, babe, what can I say? It's Fate!

31 - Well, January ended on a sleepy note - I take falling asleep at my desk as a sign that gaming is not an option.

Hope everyone who got this far enjoyed my month of rambling nonsense!

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