Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Developer Appreciation: Neverwinter Online Barovia

It's the start of the Blaugust Developer Appreciation Week and I thought I'd start with the content I've most recently been playing, Neverwinter Online's Barovia zone and Ravenloft campaign in general. This is the best module in the game to date as it captures the horror setting quite well, aided by the day and night cycle currently only found in this zone. It also hands out some decent gear during the intro for those who have lowly alts who get little time to quest for their own equipment.

Great place for screenshots too!

There is no escape from some currency grind but at least here you will unlock all of the story campaign quickly, in fact - the quickest of all the modules. As a bonus, the story actually has a fun, semi conclusion for those like Shintar and myself who don't actually go into the end dungeons. Even so, you will want to hang around as it is an easy place to get riches, especially from the tailored hunt mechanic which sees your party sent to a private instance of Barovia to take down nasty hunt marks who are much more accessible than their Omu counterparts. The optional risk vs reward system there is inspired.

All up, Barovia is fantastic and here's hoping Cryptic continues building on the good parts and culling the bad with whatever adventure comes next.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

About Me: Half Truths

I've made a little game for today, the last day of the Blaugust Reborn "get to know you week". Much like Bhagpuss said, I'm in the boat of trying to be anonymously famous so I've made a list of things about me, but only half of them are true. Can you work it out?

I am proficient in archery.
I got a firearms permit before I got my drivers licence.
I was ranked as Grade A in 10m Junior Air Pistol.
The clarinet and flute are my instruments of choice.
I love swimming, especially at the beach.
Dishes of fish and seafood are my favorite.
Cooking one of my many hobbies.
Outside of pictures and videos, I've never seen snow.
I've done ballroom lessons, but prefer dancing salsa.
I've been a game master on multiple Ultima Online free shards.
I was interested in joining the one way mission to Mars.
Photos of me can be found in an insert of a particular Jazz CD.
Most of my own photographs are of birds.
My grandfather is a National Artist.
One of my nick names translates to Felix the Cat.
My real name is Joseph Skyrim.

Monday, 13 August 2018

About Me: More Viable Opinions

A continuation of prompts from End Game Viable - imagine if I only answered one of these a day! :P

What makes a game a “survival” game?

I'd say death mitigation, and not the type where you have to dodge out of "red circles" though that's possible too. More along the lines of, if your character stands still in a safe spot, with no hostiles of any kind around, they are still constantly dying. Something has to force the players to take action to survive, and idleness equals death.

How many different games can you comfortably play on a daily or weekly basis? What happens if you play too many?

Usually two at most. That way I still remember the story / controls / what I was doing or planning to do without requiring a "retraining" session. If I try for more, one just naturally gets pushed to the "play it later" section of my brain.

Do you prefer a silent protagonist or a voiced protagonist in your games?

I don't mind a silent protagonist but I always prefer a well voiced one. The key word is "well". If the protagonist is going to sound like a douche bag or woodenly reading lines, then it's better if they were silent to begin with. :P

I have a theory that most bloggers play healers or tanks in their groups, and a significant number of them are or were guild leaders.

While I was one of the founding members of my guild, I'm not the guild leader. We are both and have always been DPS classes though he's experimenting with tanking now (8 years in, lol).

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Blaugust About Me: Viable Opinions

End Game Viable has a huge list of blogging prompts, so I thought I'd go answer a few today.

What are your thoughts on lock boxes?

Lock boxes are gambling, and are only in games to make the devs more money. I don't mind that people blow their cash on this, especially as it hopefully keeps the game alive, but I'm never going to buy them / or whatever is needed to open them. Ever.

In your mind, what’s the difference between an MMO and an MMORPG? Or is there any? Are you careful about which term you use?

No difference to me. The role playing aspect in most of the ones I have played are often broken by min maxers who are more interested in math than role play, or the people who like acting as sparkly space vampire fairy miniature giant hamsters in settings that clearly shouldn't allow for them.

Why don't you play Overwatch or Destiny 2? How many console-exclusive titles do you have to be interested in before you buy a console?

I guess they aren't free? I don't buy games (for myself). As such there's no way I'll buy a console to play said games that I'm not going to buy. :P

How much do you watch streams during the week?

I don't watch streams unless a friend shows them to me. Unlike sports, the barrier for entry to games is often just money. If I want to see how a game goes then I'll just play it to experience it myself. Also, if the cost is more than free, I won't play it anyway so... why would I bother?

Besides, reading a summary about said game is way faster than watching a video.

Are game reviews valuable anymore? Or are they just entertainment?

I find them valuable and I hope others do too since I actually write some of those on this blog. It does help if they're also entertaining though! :P Lastly, as I said, its much faster to read about something than watch something.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Blaugust About Me: I Play Games

Today I'll be answering cherry picked topics from Gracie's Moonshine Mansion and Armagon Live. It's so easy to generate blog content during Blaugust. Thank you to Atherne for collating a whole bunch of ideas! :P

Talk about the first game system you remember playing, or a favorite game from childhood.

Battle City on the Nintendo Family computer was definitely a favorite of my cousin and I specifically because it was cooperative (one of the first I had), and had a map editor. It's funny thinking back to that, because now my MMO of choice is Neverwinter Online - which is mostly cooperative and had an editor, which was one of the main reasons my guild moved there. Pity the Foundry doesn't get much dev-love these days.

Single-player or multiplayer games? Why? What are the exceptions?

Single player wins by a tiny margin. Basically in single player games it feels you have more agency compared to an MMO where there are literally hundreds of other people doing what you are doing. Also, I hate waiting which is something that happens ofter in multiplayer. Doesn't stop me from MMOing, just means I'm usually more of a lone wolf when I game.

How do you choose what games to buy?

I don't buy computer games for myself which restricts all my gaming to free to play titles and gifted stuff. Buying others I simply use their wish list, or what I think they'll enjoy / be tormented by - depending on my mood. I never pre-order, and never buy humble bundles.

I do buy board games though, and I try to research as much as possible before purchasing them especially as they are generally a lot more expensive than software.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Blaugust About Me: My Favourite Things

I'm continuing with a few more of Belghast's writing prompts today, namely - write about three favorite items from any video game ever, and about any goal I achieved in the past and what it was like to work towards it and eventually get it.

My first favorite item are consumables: Health Potions or Medkits (things that keep you alive) - specifically the type you can carry and use at will rather than the auto-use on pick up. I guess this habit goes back to my Ultima Online days where there was no delay or limit on potion use and has carried on since, despite the Potion Poison mechanic in Mabinogi (debuff from overuse) and cool downs in Neverwinter.

Second favourite item is the Berserk Sphere in Doom. I am a fan of unarmed combat, and while I was ok with the regular brass knuckles in this game getting the power up that let you smash demons into pieces with your fist was amazing, especially when coupled with an Invulnerability Sphere. :P

Last item for this list also contains a previously achieved goal. This is the decorative trophy pet: Mini-Liadri from Guildwars 2, which you can only get by succeeding in the fight against full-sized Liadri, the original final enemy of the Queen's Gauntlet. It took me many, many attempts over 6 days and learning from others both through exterior sources (like Jeromai's guide) and through watching other players attempt the fight.

Because it was so difficult for me, that victory tastes all the sweeter.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Blaugust About Me: First Online

Today's writing prompts are courtesy of the Belghast himself. I'll just be cherry picking topics that go well together: mainly describing my first online gaming experience, how I got involved with my first guild, gaming friend transcendence and times when real life clashes with gaming life.

My first game experience was in June 2000 in a game called Ultima Online. Despite my first interaction with others being ganked by a wandering mob of PKs, my brothers and I were instantly hooked into this addictive sandbox and within a week saved up the gold to start up our own small guild ("Dragonarm") and this is the same guild I am still in today.

I was still in school at the time and boy did my grades suffer due to this new addiction. It would be years before I could get a handle on "real life is more important", and even today sometimes that struggle still occurs.

The guild has moved games a few times now, losing members in the process (around 142 losses to date according to the records) but there are always some who just stick with us no matter what. Canadian Wrothak is a great example, he was with us early on Ultima Online and now 18 years later is still with us on Neverwinter Online. His twin sister and ex-guildmember has also visited and stayed with us while visiting Australia.

It helps that my guild leader brother screens people that seek membership but loyalty like that is rare to find these days. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Blaugust About Me: Writing Origins

We're now in the "Get to Know Each Other" week of Blaugust, and there's a lot more of that going on in the discord channel! If you haven't joined in yet, now is as good a time as any. :)

Today I'll be answering some prompts from Me vs Myself and I, namely exploring my origins as a writer and why I enjoy blogging.

I always felt I was good with writing stories at school and always had the "I should write a book one day" idea in the back of my mind but the more I looked at writing novels, the more I stepped away from it due to the generally negative vibe I get from that whole scene.

This is especially true since I personally know people who try to get published and still haven't been, opting for the self-publish option instead. The idea of being "edited" also didn't sit well with me, the types of edits that change entire stories.

No such restraint sits in the blogging world, and the idea that I can just put my thoughts and stories up for anyone to read is a bit addictive. I guess that's why I like the creative outlet that is blogging so much.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Reviews (and a Daylight Review)

An updated map would have solved everything.

Due to terrible luck, a bunch of people get stuck in a tunnel as it collapses on both ends and begins to fill with water. Their only hope is an ex-rescue specialist (Sylvester Stallone), who does everything he can to defy authority and put himself in there to buy those civilians more time.

It works well as an action disaster movie though other than Stallone, you will probably not care for any of the rest in the party despite their individual five minute intros prior to the tunnel event. There's a lot of dead weight too, with at least a third of the group being removable and it wouldn't change the story much - though obviously it looks better if Stallone saves more people.

Make that 1/2 the group could have been removed.

It's hilarious to think that with an updated map of the tunnel system, the majority of the movie wouldn't have needed to happen. Stallone didn't even have to go in at all, or at least - not the way he did. Ah well, the benefit of hindsight right? This one gets two bracelets out of five.

Blaugust Note: Reviews are another main stay on my blog and are also good "ammo" to load up on for future posts! They also have the benefit of being pretty fast to write given most of them would be one and done. :)

Monday, 6 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Stories and Guides

Stories are a good method of writing practice and lend to being perfect "ammo" to store up in your "prepared posts" list. There are two major downsides to them though and the first is the prep time, especially if this is going to be a multi-post story which is exactly the type I like.

I tend to get creative on game play through stories in particular. This saves some time as you are already given a setting, main plot, and artwork (screenshots) to go with your tale. You just have to make everything cohesive, make some sense and ideally be as interesting as possible. I'm still working on that last part!

The second problem is this is the least read type of post. If you want the high numbers, write guides (as I suggested in the Specialized Skills post).

These also require prep time, not really in the writing because that should be succinct and concise, but in gathering the knowledge for said guide, be it a boss run battle, a cooking recipe, or a how to.

I don't do many of these because of that "someone else has posted it already" syndrome and it doesn't really lend to creative writing, but thanks to Blaugust I'm going to try break that trend.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Pretty Pictures

When you are struggling to find words remember that a picture paints a thousand of them! This is a technique Bhagpuss admits to using himself, and is one I'm going to use right now because I wanted to show off these two nifty posters I bought from the last Supanova Convention I attended.

Lothric, Lorian and Solaire.

There's always room in my house for Dark Souls. :)

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Future Tech

I am always interested in learning about new technologies and devices, hard ware in particular. So while you can talk about the new OS of your phone, I'd be much more interested in hearing about exoskeleton power armor advancements and electromagnetic levitation.

Yep, that last one came to light for me during the Masterchef Australia 2018 finale when Heston Blumenthal had food on a floating pillow. I know he used a floating plate in a previous season but it wasn't as visually stunning as this.

No strings, just the magic of magnets.

Turns out you too can get your own levitating items from Levitating X: Levitate Everything. Their "how to" video is particularly good, you should go check them out. :)

Friday, 3 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Pet Peeves

Sometimes a rant makes for a good post, but be careful not to go over the top in weight or in frequency as it will foster general negativity. Griping about unskippable cutscenes in a single player game is around the safe mark. Wishing death on others, which I still do from time to time, is probably a little extreme and is a good example of what not to do. :P

But really, people that cross the road without using a proper pedestrian crossing, without looking, and often looking at their phone while listening to music deserve what's coming to them. It's the modern method of natural selection.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

August 2018 Status: Blaugust Reborn!

Not really a Blaugust related post today but I just wanted to keep this status thing going to see how I'm progressing with my task list. Apparently I'm not. That's what happens when you prioritize gaming over other things! Eek!

Expect more Blaugust stuff for the rest of this month, and given my increasing work schedule it's going to be challenging to clear stuff off this list.

    End the year with less weight (-1 kg from last month, running total: -2.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (7/12 - no progress)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)
    Complete NWO: Ravenloft (0/2, only boons to go!)
    Prep Eador Story (done)
    Board game re-review (done)
    Witcher board game redemption trial  
    Update Facebook pictures (no progress)
    +Destroy Black Mold invading the house

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3
Hand of Fate 2 (in progress)
Sniper Elite 4 (haven't installed)
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition (Done)
Hyper Light Drifter (Done)
Battletech (in progress)
Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (in progress)

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of War
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Satellite Reign
Assassins Creed Unity
+Astroneer (Alpha)

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Blaugust Topic Idea: Specialized Skills

Blaugust Reborn has now officially started, (you can still click the link to join though!) and according to the structured format this week should be one of Topic Brainstorming and suggestion so I'm going to start off with:

Teach a beginner one of your specialized skills!

It doesn't have to be blogging related. It doesn't even have to be an "advanced" tutorial. Heck, I made a post about folding plastic bags once.

The real reason of why I thought of this is because Chestnut gave an open invite for Blaugust participants to be part of her mini-cast which has a voice recording requirement. It turns out I'm terrible at it and don't know what programs to use, why there's so much static noise, and why my mic recording volume keeps going up the longer I record. Eek!

Might be something an experienced pod caster wants to shed some light on in a "This is my method" post? :P