Showing posts from May, 2015

Giving Up and Letting Go of Un-Fun Games

This seems like it might be straightforward, but it's not.  If a game is un-fun should you keep playing it?  The answer should obviously be "no" but often we keep playing games we're invested in.  Or we put down a game and tell ourselves, "I'll come back to that soon." but we never do. I feel like these games have a mental weight.  For me they definitely do.  These type of games will be in the back of my mind in some sub-process of my thoughts until I explicitly tell myself that I'm done with a game and I let it go.  But it's a hard thing to do. Sometimes it feels like failure.  What if you've only played 30 minutes of a game?  What if you've played 40 hours?  What if you're right near the end?  All of these are valid jumping-off points but they all carry different feelings and can lead to guilt.  I know I feel it. One of the best ways I've found to let go of these games are to write about them.  If I can get my thoughts dow

Board Gaming With a New Group

It's Thursday!  Typically on Thursday night I have a standing business meeting with a couple of my friends/colleagues.  Lately, we've been trying to build extra time into the night so that we can fit in a board game as well as work. It's been awesome!  These guys are all gamers, so they're always up for learning a new game.  I'm loving it. So far I've gotten to introduce them to Lord of the Rings LCG from Fantasy Flight Games and Ticket to Ride from Days of Wonder. Lord of the Rings LCG is a co-op card game where you play together against the quest deck.  It can be very challenging but I've had a fantastic time every single time I've played it with a group.  It's not the most simple co-op game but it's also not the most complex.  It's truly a nice middle ground on the complexity scale which is why it was perfect for this group of guys.  I knew they would pick it up fast, and they did! Ticket to Ride is low on the complexity scale,

Games for Traveling

I'm traveling a bunch this week.  I'm probably in the process of getting ready to leave right as this post goes up.  There's going to be lots of time in airports and on planes for the next few days. I'm trying to figure out what games to play.  I always go loaded for bear when it comes to electronics and traveling.  I'll have my 3DS, Vita, iPhone, Nexus Tablet, and Kindle. Should I revisit old favorites or dive into the games that remain untouched on my 3DS and Vita?  Should I download a bunch of iOS games to play try out?  Look through my forgotten folders of iOS that I like but never play?  Should I just give up and read a book on my Kindle?  Should I read comics on my Nexus? As of writing this post I'm really not sure what I'm going to end up doing. I ended up grabbing the Mario Edition of Puzzle and Dragons.  I also have Persona 4 Golden sitting untouched on my Vita.  Those two games are top of mind for me, but I know I have some other untouched

Destiny Expansions

So... Destiny Expansions.  I guess I have them? The second expansion, House of Wolves, released last week.  I was browsing the PSN store and checking it out when I noticed a button that said "Activate Expansion Pass".  I clicked it and the PSN store said that I now have both expansions. Apparently what happened is that I bought the digital deluxe version of the game when it launched, but the expansion pass didn't activate automatically.  And then I forgot about it until last week. So now I'm the owner of both expansions and I don't quite know what to do with them. I only recently got back into Destiny by playing it almost every day while on my exercise bike for the past month or so.  When I started playing it while exercising I started a new character (a hunter this time) and that character is now level 23. The problem is that to get to any of the expansion content for the first expansion I need to be level 24.  To get into anything for the second exp

Valkyria Chronicles

I tried Valkryia Chronicles in my massive Steam backlog playthrough earlier this year.  It was one of the few games I liked that I played in my backlog, so I made a mental note to come back to it.  Now that I have gotten back around to it I'm having a lot of fun.  It's scratching the Strategy RPG itch that I've had lately.  Valkyria Chronicles has been satisfying in a way that the Final Fantasy Tactics games just haven't quite been. If you didn't know, Valkyria Chronicles is a ported game from PS3 to PC.  It just released on Steam in the past year.  I picked it up during one of the big Steam sales.  Although I played it on PC I used a controller the whole time, and I would highly recommend it.  The game plays great with a controller. Valkyria Chronicles does some Standard tactical combat stuff but it also does some really cool tactical stuff too.  When you move a character you jump behind them into a third person shooter view and start free roaming.  Wh

Puzzles, Dragons, and Mario?

There was a free demo for the 3DS Mario version of Puzzle and Dragon on the eShop so I grabbed it to see what the game was about. I've never played Puzzle and Dragons before, but what I found was a game somewhere between a Bejeweled, Puzzle Quest, and Terra Battle.  If you're not familiar with those games, it's basically a game where you're trying to match 3 or more gems of the same color in a row or column.  Every time you start moving a gem it shifts all the others it travels through in order to get to it's final destination.  The game quickly becomes more about bumping other gems around rather than concentrating on the gem you're dragging.  Moving the gem around is timed, but you can freely move it as much as you want and as far as you want within the time limit. You end up trying to bump as many gems into combos as you can within the time limit to set up massive damage.  You have a team of characters sitting above the gems, and those team members

Thor: God of Thunder

Thor: God of Thunder is an awesome run of comics.  I want to tell you about it but I haven't done much writing about comics in the past.  I'm going to try anyway. By picking up a Marvel Unlimited subscription earlier this month I've been able to dive into the entire Marvel backlog of comics.  Without having to worry about price I've been exploring all kinds of comics.  I give a new series an issue or two to grab me and then I either read the entire run or I move on to something else. Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the best runs I've read. It requires no previous knowledge about Thor or the greater Marvel Universe.  This is a huge plus for people like me who are just starting to get into comics. The run comes in at about 25 comics, which is also a plus for me.  Long enough to tell some big story archs with weight behind them.  But not too long to overstay it's welcome. Thor: God of Thunder actually covers Thor in three different time periods o

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

After my disappointing stint with Final Fantasy Tactics I thought I would go back to some of my early Final Fantasy roots and dig out my copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.  This is my all time favorite Game Boy Advance game and it's one of the Final Fantasy games that I've put the most time into. When I booted up the game for the first time I already had two separate save games on the cartridge, each with over 50 hours played in them. I started up a new game and after the intro missions it all came flooding back to me.  I have such strong memories of playing this game.  It's really good!  The general battle structure is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics but it gets rid of the deal-breaking annoying features of that game. I love Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and I've beaten it multiple times.  And you know what?  After a couple hours with it I realized that I don't feel the need to beat it again right now.  It's a great game but I've already fini

Star Wars Lords of the Sith

I just finished Star Wars Lords of the Sith and it was excellent! It's a novel in the new Star Wars canon.  It's about the Twilek struggle on their home planet of Ryloth and how the Empire interferes with them.  But that's more the backdrop than anything else.  What this book is truly about is the relationship between Darth Vader and the Emporer. Through the eyes of both Vader and members of the resistance on Ryloth we get to see the events unfold as an assassination attempt is made against the Sith Lords. This is one of the more interesting looks at Vader's character development that I've ever seen.  It does a good job of having Vader deal with his past as Anakin and in the process we, as the reader, get to learn more about the Dark Side of the Force. I'm not sure how to talk more about what I liked in this novel without ruining some of the plot.  But, it's an easy recommendation if you're curious about Vader, the Emperor, or the Dark Side a

The Force Unleashed II

I picked up The Force Unleashed and The Force Unleashed II last a few weeks ago in the Star Wars Steam sale.  After messing around in the original game for awhile I moved on to the sequel.  It's a better game by far. I had much more fun playing around with it.  There are a ton of extra abilities and powers that are unlocked from the very beginning of the game which make it fun right away.  The controls are also tighter and the level designs are more interesting.  In all respects this seems like the superior game. I don't think there has been a long enough amount of time since I last played it.  I remember the game really well, so it wasn't as exciting as last time I played it.  And unlike when I picked up the original The Force Unleashed last week, this one doesn't have DLC that I had never played. So I'm done with The Force Unleashed II after playing with it for a few hours, but I'm leaving it on a happy note.  There's still a really good game her

Starting SWTOR, Abandoning SWTOR

I've said in the past that one of the only things that would get me into SWTOR is if they made it possible to only  play the story while ignoring the grind.  About a week after I said that on Twitter one of my friends pointed me to the announcement that all storyline missions would get a 12 times experience boost starting May 4th for the summer. So I had to try it out. I was immediately drawn in by the Star Wars aesthetics.  I love the universe and the lore so much.  And then I was almost as immediately let down by the MMO-ness of the game. Apparently all my time with Final Fantasy XIV had tricked me into thinking that I enjoyed the MMO genre again.  That's not true.  I like Final Fantasy XIV, but it does a lot of things that separate it from the rest of the genre.  SWTOR doesn't do anything like that.  It just has the Star Wars IP going for it. I tried to just play it like a single player game.  I did love the original Knight of the Old Republic single player g

Revisiting Destiny and the Level Gap

I've been playing Destiny some more.  It's my current exercise-bike game.  I'll play it for an hour or two at a time while I'm doing my exercise for the day. The gameplay still hold up really well.  The core of the game is just superb.  The gunplay, melee, grenade, and super power balance is spot on.  It's amazing how great they made it. Now that I'm almost done leveling up my second character through the story I'm noticing some of the same issues creeping up. My main problem with the game is that after you hit level 20 there is no clear progression track if you're a solo player like me.  I don't have time to organize groups of people to do the hard mode strikes or the endgame raids in Destiny.  The matchmaking works just fine for normal strike missions, but it falls apart after that.  And there is no matchmaking at all for raids. I currently have a level 26 Warlock and an almost level 20 hunter. Tons of information about the new expans

Summer Drought

Video games traditionally have a summer drought, and we're currently staring it in the face.  There are still a few releases trickling out this month that I'm excited out - mainline Splatoon - but the rest of the release calendar looks pretty bare between now and September. This always happens, but I seem to forget about it until it hits each summer.  Summer is the time when people have the most free time but it's also the time of year where people spend their days outside.  Less people are inside playing videogames. It makes sense that publishers would hold back big releases until the fall when they can start tying them in to the Holiday release season. That means that this is the perfect time to settle in and work on your backlog.  Or hunker down with a game that you're having fun with and experience everything it has to offer. I know I'm planning on getting into my backlog again.  I also want to keep working on my Final Fantasy Project by investigating m

Final Fantasy Tactics

I don't like the difficulty curve in this game.  That's my initial impression.  I loved the first few missions of Final Fantasy Tactics, but then I ran into a brick wall as far as difficulty was concerned. I should mention, I'm playing the remastered PSP version of this game on my PS Vita called Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions.  Just another reason to love my PS Vita.  It plays so many classic Playstation games. Despite the difficulty curve that I ran into, Final Fantasy Tactics is a good game.  All the underlying systems are solid.  I can see how it's been a huge influence on all the tactical RPGs that have followed it.  And the story is great.  It's a conflict on a grand scale, but the main character is right in the thick of it.  It seems like Tactics delivers on the grand scale conflict in a way that Final Fantasy XII failed to do. In some ways the game is starting to show it's age.  It has unskippable story sequences which suck if you have t

A Return to Hearthstone

Hearthstone is now available on phones!  As a result I've played it more in the last few weeks than I have in the last year. It's a great fit on phones.  They already have the touch controls perfected from the tablet versions of the game, they just had to make some minor adjustments for smaller screen sizes and the game is good to go.  I actually think the phone version may be the best version of the game since it can always be in your pocket. My problem now is that I'm really struggling with not having modern decks.  I don't have any of the expansion content and most of my good decks from when I initially played the game  just suck now. It's frustrating because I really want to get into it again, but I either need to spend a ton of time earning gold to unlock cards or drop a bunch of real world money on the same thing.  If there were a core pack of cards that I could buy for a flat fee to catch back up I would do it.  But I can't really justify spendi

Marvel Heroes 2015

A bunch of my digital friends have been playing Marvel Heroes 2015 as a side game, so I thought it would be fun to check out.  It's mostly the fault of Belghast and the Aggrochat crew.  Since I play Final Fantasy XIV with them and listen to their weekly podcast they can definitely influence me to try out new games. I've never really liked diablo-ish clickfests.  But, maybe I just wasn't playing them in the right setting.  Putting a superhero skin on the game makes it much more appealing to me somehow.  I'm actually really liking the game.  It's not going to become my main time-sink ever but it could consistently become a fun side game. My biggest takeaway after a few days is that Storm kicks ass.  I tried a bunch of the free starter heroes, but Storm's huge AOE damage ability is super fun.  She's most definitely my main character now.  But, the good part is they have tons of heroes to choose from.  If you have a favorite from the Marvel Universe you c

Star Wars The Force Unleashed Bonus Levels

I picked up Star Wars The Force Unleashed on Steam last week since they were having their big Star Wars sale.  I already owned this game on 360, but since my 360 is long dead I figured I would add it to my PC library for $5. I played the first couple levels and reacquainted myself with the game.  Then I realized I didn't particularly want to replay it right now. But, then I noticed that the Steam version has bonus scenarios that I never had on 360.  So, I fired those up and had a good time.  They are definitely alternate reality scenarios, but they're all the more fun for it. Want to hunt down Luke Skywalker on Hoth as Darth Vader's secret apprentice?  You can!  And it's super fun!  You can really tell the developers had fun with these extra scenarios. After playing through those extras and now knowing that I have this game back in my library I definitely feel I got my $5 worth.  I love Steam sales.

White Mage to 50!

I got my second class to the level cap in Final Fantasy XIV!  I now have my Bard and also  my White Mage at level 50! Healing has been really interesting because I've never played a healer in a MMO before.  I suppose I've probably fooled around with some at very low levels but I've definitely never taken one to the level cap in any MMO. It's amazing how I'm basically playing a different game when I'm a healer.  My job is to keep my party alive during crazy boss battles.  That's often easier said than done.  There's more pressure to perform than when I'm playing a DPS class, but less pressure than when Tanking.  It's actually hitting a sweet spot for me.  I can do tanking and DPS just fine but tanking is a bit too stressful to be fun. Now, when I'm running level 50 content I have options!  I can change up my playstyle for whatever mood I'm in!  It's also really nice to be able to help out members of my Free Company easier sin

Marvel Unlimited

I need to stop saying I'm not a comic guy.  I bought a month subscription to Marvel Unlimited and I'm loving it! For those of you that don't know, Marvel Unlimited is a subscription service where you get access to the entire Marvel back-catalog of comics. I was convinced to buy into a month subscription because Marvel just put their old Star Wars comics onto the service. I started poking around in the Star Wars comics on the service and I was severely disappointed.  They're old... they don't appeal to my modern tastes.  Then I thought I'd dive into the classic superhero comics.  They were super boring too. So I just started clicking on comics I had never heard of and reading the first issue of different series.  That's when I started finding diamonds in the rough.  Apparently I like non-traditional comics. Runaways is an amazing series about teenagers who discover that all their parents are supervillains so they run away from home together.  T

Star Wars Clone Wars Season 1

I finally finished watching Star Wars Clone Wars season 1. For those of you who don't know, the show is set in between Star Wars Episode II and Episode III.  It details many of the events of the Clone Wars.  It has some of the main movie cast like Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, and a bunch of key Jedi but there are a bunch of unique characters too. It's been a really slow burn for me.  Some of the episodes were great!  But, a lot of them were lackluster.  I liked the episodes that felt like they tied into a larger narrative, but there were just as many that were one-offs. Everyone I've talked to says the series gets really good once you get a few seasons in.  So, I keep trudging through. I'm generally enjoying it but it seems like I can only watch and episode or two at a time.  It's not a show I can marathon through.  If I knew the point where the show really starts to pick up I could probably push through just to get there.  I'm not sure when that will be.


Our group weekly topic this week is Roleplaying!  I haven't really done much of it honestly, but I wish I had gotten into roleplaying more.  I haven't ever been worried about the stigma associated with it, I just haven't had a good opportunity to dig in. I've only tried DnD a few times for probably less than 8 hours total.  My brother did some DMing for my family and we all seemed to like it.  The problem has always been scheduling.  It's hard to find time for a group of people to sit down and game on a regular basis.  It's only gotten more difficult afte having kids. I'm hoping to try out more DnD and attempt some other role playing systems once my kids get a little bit older.  I think they'll have fun with it, and it gives me a great excuse to get into the hobby. The main thing on my roleplaying radar at the moment is Thornwatch.  I'm really excited for the Thornwatch roleplaying game from the Penny Arcade guys!  I love their work, the world