2016 Wrap-Up and 2017 Plans

I hadn’t planned on writing a 2016 wrap-up post or a plans for 2017 post, but here we are. I’m not going to review every month of last year instead I want to hit some of the highlights throughout the year that are both life and gaming related.

March

During March I finished off my classes for my Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology. It felt really good to be done, but this achievement didn’t feel capped off until the commencement ceremony in June.

April

I didn’t play many single player games in 2016, two to be exact, but in April I played Papo & Yo and absolutely loved it. I was saving this game until I knew I would have time to play it in only one or two sessions. While I had planned to write an impressions post of the game I never got around to it. If you happen to have this game sitting around I definitely recommend you give it a play through. It took me 4-5 hours to complete the game. If you are going to play Papo & Yo, come for the story and the experience. The story revolves around some heavy topics such as addiction and its effects on relationships and tends to pull at the heartstrings.20160427131758_1

July

Early in July, I received an unexpected e-mail from a former professor offering me a position in her lab if I was still interested. I jumped at the chance. Back in March of 2015, I had contacted this same professor about working in her lab, but at the time she had no available positions. So in late July I started working with one of her graduate students.

August

August was interesting. I was at a church picnic and was running after a frisbee when suddenly I found myself on the ground. I thought I had run into the chair of someone nearby, but when I sat up I saw that I had broken my leg (specifically my left tibia and fibula). My first priority was making sure my sister took a picture of it for me.

If you’re curious what the break looked like and don’t get queasy when it comes to injuries do a search for the French Gymnast that broke his leg during the Summer 2016 Olympics and you’ll have a pretty good idea of my break.

I had surgery about a week later. Titanium ftw!

September/October

By early-mid October I was out of my boot, back in a normal shoe, and walking without crutches. And by mid-late October I returned back to work. I can’t describe how thankful I am for quick healing, a supportive family, and an understanding boss.

If we rewind a little bit, at the end of September I started gaming more regularly and was able to finish up the Guild Wars 2 personal story by mid-October. Had lots of spare time as I was recovering, didn’t take full advantage of the time, but at least I got that done.

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November

During November I had my last x-ray and final doctor’s appointment. I also completed Beneath a Steel Sky the 1994 point-and-click adventure game from Revolution Software. I don’t have much experience with point-and-click adventure games from this era, so it took me some time to get used to things, but overall I enjoyed my time with the game.

Leftovers: A few things that don’t necessarily fall within a specific month.

Back in May, I posted that I was going to start playing DCUO, and I did. I played it on and off, and while I enjoyed my time playing, the past three times I have played I have been getting a lot of lag and weird performance issues. So, for now, I am going to set DCUO aside and hopefully come back to it in the future.

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Something I have played more than I expected this year especially the last few weeks is Paladins. In November I jumped in after not having played for some time and found that the game felt much improved from my previous time playing it.

2017 Plans

A few of my goals for 2017.

  • Focus and simplify.
  • Slow down. Be deliberate with my time.
  • Get digitally and physically organized.
  • Draw. Draw a lot.
  • Read. I’ve got a stack of books that have been waiting a few years to be read.
  • Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Research potential Graduate Schools.
  • Apply to Graduate School.
  • Complete Guild Wars 2 Story Content (Living World Season 2 and Heart of Thorns)/Catch-up to current Living World Season 3 content.
  • Get through more sinlge player games and MMOs.
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NBI 2016: Gaming with Grandparents

NBI 2016: Writing Prompt- Week 1

It never really struck me as odd— my papaw and I playing SNES together, we were just two people enjoying Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario Kart. Now I realize how fortunate I was to get a chance to game with not one, but eventually both of my grandparents.

I don’t have many singular memories that I can pick out pertaining to gaming with my papaw, except one particularly strong memory, but it involves sneezing…so I will spare you the details. What I do remember is that even though gaming wasn’t one of his main hobbies, he enjoyed sitting down with my sister and I to play some Mario, and we really enjoyed playing Mario with him. Although he was in his eighties and he didn’t grow up with video games he had a lot of fun playing them. I assume he must have bought the SNES but I have no idea how he convinced my mamaw. As far as I know she had no interest in video games or most new technology at the time, and I can’t recall a time she ever picked up a controller and played some Mario with us.

With the introduction of the Wii and Wii Sports, I saw the first opportunity in years to get my mother and my mamaw to play video games. Once we got past the creation of their Miis, as well as the hesitation and resistance towards playing a video game my sister and I started a game of bowling. Bowling on the Wii soon became a tradition. Every time my mamaw would come over for a special occasion and after we ate a meal we would all bowl together. Not only did my mom and mamaw both really enjoy bowling on the Wii, becoming quite competitive at times, it also afforded them the opportunity to engage in an activity neither of them had for quite some time due to its physical demands.

The fun I had gaming with my papaw and mamaw is something that I will hold on to and cherish. It’s a reminder that once we hit a certain age we don’t have to stop gaming, and how special gaming with people you care for can be.

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It’s Time to Make my Way Through Some Other MMOs

On Saturday, I picked an MMO out of a hat.

I decided it’s time to make my way through the list of MMOs that I want to try, and I’m been trying to think of a way to do this. Unfortunately, being as indecisive as I tend to be I had a hard time just picking a game and saying “yeah, I’ll play that one”. Then I remembered one of Syp’s projects where he made a list of MMOs put them in a hat and then would tackle whichever one he picked for an evening. I really like this idea, but I want to stick with the game longer than one evening.

To do this I’ve decided that I am going to need to implement a schedule, as juggling three MMOs will not be an easy task, especially considering how well I’ve done trying to balance playing two.

You see, this June will mark my 12th year playing RuneScape, and in February, I hit 3 years in Guild Wars 2. I have yet to hit the level cap in either game or be anywhere near completing everything I would like to. In both games, I have one main character. I have dabbled with alts in RuneScape but the majority of my time playing has been devoted to one character, and in Guild Wars 2 I still have four empty character slots that have yet to be touched.

I was introduced to RuneScape when I was in middle school. Those early years saw consistent play and progress. I had quite a few friends in real life playing the game and found a wonderful clan, but both of these things faded. Friends left because they lost interest or they moved onto to other MMOs. The clan I was in eventually disbanded, and since then I have been in multiple clans, but none have been able to capture that feeling of home like that first one. For some people, seeing friends leave a game can act as a deterrent to keep playing, but for me as mostly a solo player I continued on; yes I missed my friends but I also hadn’t lost my passion for the game. I continued playing, and at some point my sister also started playing, so now if I am not soloing we are running around as a duo getting stuff done.

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I’ve been here a long time, but there is still so much to do.

When it comes to Guild Wars 2 I feel like we were never properly introduced; we never really connected. While I do contribute some of this to getting into the game after my real life friends had already moved on, having yet to join and be active in a guild, and not reaching out to people I know are playing; I think the main reason why I don’t feel a strong connection to Guild Wars 2 is the same reason why for the last few years in RuneScape I have had this feeling of being lost in a familiar world.

That reason would be: playing sporadically.

Some weeks I get a few hours in, others a few minutes. This tendency to play very little or play quite a bit and then not play for days, weeks, or months has plagued me for some time now. I eventually became content with just logging in for daily rewards, because trying to balance high school/university with playing two MMOs and trying to dabble in this game or that game started to feel overwhelming.

I use to have a near encyclopedic knowledge of RuneScape, but now I just feel lost because there is so much that has escaped my notice over the years. As for Guild Wars 2, when you play a part of the story one week and then pick the story back up a few weeks (or months) later not only is it easy to forget what’s going on, but I also find I feel disconnected from my character and the supporting characters. I’ve been playing the personal story on and off for 3 years, and the last time I played it was about 7 months ago.

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Come sit at the waterfall and watch the days pass by. Dragons can wait.

So, I think it’s time to change things up a bit.

I’ve come up with a tentative schedule, that I’ll be testing over the next few weeks. Hopefully, a schedule combined with chronicling my progress here will make my gaming time more consistent and deliberate.

Back to the hat.

The game I pulled out of the hat on Saturday was DC Universe Online. My plan with each game I pull out of the hat is to progress to a natural stopping point and then move on to another game. This stopping point may be level cap, end of the main storyline, or when I’ve reached a point where I am not having fun anymore. I figure it will be different for each game, especially since I plan to progress through each game as an F2P player, so I might be in one game for a few weeks and another for a few months. When I’m not in DCUO I will be buckling down in RuneScape and Guild Wars 2 attempting to get reacquainted with each game.

My goal is to make some actual progress in exploring the MMOs out there that I’ve been meaning to dig into but either never get to or just play enough to sample the beginning and never go back. I am hoping over the course of this journey I will gain a good perspective of how feasible it is to progress through these games as an F2P player, and just become a more informed player of MMOs.

If you’re playing the game I’m currently making my way through or have played it feel free to shoot any advice or tips you have my way.

Spider Scurry, Spider Get Smashed

Blaugust Day 30

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Yesterday I mentioned I attempted my first Guild Rush in Guild Wars 2 while trying to get to a vista. The Guild Rush I attempted is known as Spider Scurry, and as you might imagine you must traverse Dostoev Sky Peak as a spider.

As a spider you have the following abilities:

  1. Search: Search for area traps.
  2. Web Decoy: Create a clone of yourself at target position on traversable terrain. Can be used to distract foes.
  3. Leap: Fire a web to pull yourself to a target area on traversable terrain. Can be used to pull yourself onto raised platforms.

On my first attempt I ran in and didn’t look at the skill descriptions and quickly died. Turns out there are traps scattered throughout the course that are only visible when you activate your first ability. Besides traps there are also dredge and the occasional turret that will attack you. Who knew the dredge were so proficient at dispatching spiders? It didn’t take long to find out that as a spider you’re not very durable so it’s important to use skills 2 and 3. It also really helps if there are multiple people doing it at the same time and if you have escorts- I suppose that’s why it’s a Guild Rush.

I don’t know how many attempts it took to just reach the first platforms, but if I did know it would be more than I would care to admit. I feel sorry for the people that were helping me. For them it was a continual process of seeing me die and a combination of waiting for me to return or running back to the start to help me. I felt so incompetent, but even though the experience was a bit frustrating at times it was still fun, and I got the vista.

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Helping Hands at Dostoev Sky Peak

Blaugust Day 29

One of the items on my Gamer To-Do List was to complete Part V of my personal story in Guild Wars 2. I didn’t realize that I only had one more thing to do before Part V would be completed. So, when I logged into GW2 today I was expecting to spend most of my time working on the personal story, but it went really quick and I couldn’t continue on to Part VI because I am not level 60 yet. Instead most of my time was spent exploring Dredgehaunt Cliffs.

During my time exploring I came to a vista, and I couldn’t figure out how to get to it. I decided that instead of running around in circles for another 5 minutes I would ask someone, and I did. The person I asked was really helpful and informed me that I would have to do a Guild Rush or at least start it to get where I wanted. I’ve never done a Guild Rush, so this was a completely new experience for me, and I’ll probably go into more detail about this particular Guild Rush tomorrow. For now, I’ll just say there was a lot of failure and incompetence on my part. Luckily, the kind soul who helped me was there with their guild, and I ended up with multiple people from the guild helping me through the Guild Rush.

I didn’t reach the end of the Guild Rush mainly because I didn’t want to take up anymore of the guild’s time, but I did get the vista which was my main objective. I don’t know the guild’s name only that their tag was PT, but I am very grateful for their patience and willingness to help.

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Link Bubble and SWTOR

Blaugust Day 25

Today I just wanted to mention an app on Android that I enjoy using.

The app is Link Bubble Browser. Link Bubble loads webpages in the background so that you can continue browsing or looking at whatever else you were doing. I find this particulary useful when browsing Twitter. I’ll see a link to something that looks interesting and click on it, and instead of Chrome or your browser of choice opening, taking you out of Twitter, a small bubble pops up on the side of your screen and you can continue scrolling through Twitter while the webpage loads.When you’re ready to look at that link you tap the bubble and the webpage comes up on top of the app you were on- in this case Twitter. When you’re done looking at the webpage you can share it with another app, save it to a reading later app like Pocket, or close it.

Previously, the free version only allowed you to load one webpage at a time in the background, but recently all the premium features have been made free, so now you can have an infinite number of bubbles.

I should also mention that their is a similar app on the Play Store known as Flynx, that has near identical features. Although I haven’t used Flynx, if anyone has I’d be curious to know what you think of it.

Both Link Bubble and Flynx can be found for free on the Google Play Store.

I also wanted to say a few things about Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I was able to play some SWTOR today, and I am really enjoying it so far. I meant to play some RuneScape or Guild Wars 2, but decided to keep playing SWTOR. I’m not very far. I’m level 10 currently, and still on Hutta going by the name Red Blade as I try to deal with competing Hutts. I’ve decided to go light side with my Imperial Agent, whether I go 100% light side or not is still up for debate.

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My Favorite Game I’m Not Playing

Blaugust Day 23

This post is inspired by a writing prompt that Syl over at MMO Gypsy posted on Anook. Although instead of “My Favorite MMO I am Not Playing” I am changing it to “My Favorite Game I am Not Playing.”

IMG_20150823_234957_861That game would be Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii. One reason I am not playing it is because my Wii is on the fritz, but even before the Wii stopped reading disks I wasn’t playing the game.

Monster Hunter Tri quickly became the game where I read about the game and watched other people play it more than actually playing it myself.

If you’re not familiar with the Monster Hunter series here is a quick synopsis of Monster Hunter Tri:

Monster Hunter is set in a massive, sublime land where humans and monsters co-exist. You play the role of an up-and-coming hunter, who must accomplish various quests to achieve glory and help the residents of their village survive.

Hunters will track monsters, set traps, and either capture or slay a variety of majestic monsters. When a monster is slain, the hunter can carve off their horns, scales and bones, which can be used to create a huge variety of weapons and armor. These items can be bought or crafted by giving the village blacksmith materials and a fee.

Source: Monster Hunter Tri

I fell into one of those situations where you are constantly trying to learn everything about the thing you want to do without actually doing that thing.

One of things I like about Monster Hunter is that you really benefit from preparing in advance for the fights. Making sure you grab health potions, traps, bombs, whetstones, the appropriate armor and weapon sets, etc. You’re asking yourself whether you have hot drinks when you are entering cold environments or cool drinks when go into the desert or a volcanic area. The combat is slow (most of the time) and deliberate, and you’re also learning how each monster telegraphs their attacks. At the same time it is extremely rewarding.

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And as much as I love the preparation it was also a large factor in preventing me from just jumping in and playing. I always felt that by the time I got myself prepared, most of my time to play would be used up and what if I didn’t have time to defeat that particular monster- would I just be wasting time? So I would opt-out of playing, and then would occasionally find myself watching Youtube videos about the game. At that point I would think to myself “Why are you not playing?!” Also the game is on console- I think if it were on PC I would have and would be playing it a lot more.

All this talk about the game makes want to go play it. But I can’t. And when I can, I probably won’t.

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Some Quick Thoughts on Swtor

Blaugust Day 22

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Last Saturday, I almost started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (Swtor). Unfortunately, I never got past the first cinematic cutscene. Fast forward one week and this evening I was able to jump in for a little while and at least get my feet wet.

I’m going to keep this short and go through a few things I liked and a few things that were annoying. I hope get some more time in later this week, and then I’ll hopefully be able to talk more about it.

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Meet Tulan.

After I decided to play an Imperial Agent it was off to character customization. I wouldn’t call Swtor’s customization extensive but it provides a good amount of options. Even though there are not a lot of body types to choose from it seemed to me that they covered the spectrum well, although a slider would still be nice. I think what I was most disappointed in was the available hair options. I think there were 20+ but I didn’t feel like there were very many good ones. Overall, you can get a lot of variation in the character customization from scars to skin complexion. You can get someone that looks pristine or someone that looks like they are a little rough around the edges.

The hardest thing was picking a name. I didn’t realize at first that you could only only pick a first name. I then realized I need to expand my pool of names to choose from for new characters. Still not sure if I am happy with the name I chose.

So far the story has been pretty interesting, and if I had to go kill x of this or that the reasons seemed reasonable. I’ve also enjoyed the dialogue and voice acting so far. Currently I am trying to get into the inner circle of the local Hutt (Nemro) under the identity of Red Blade. Apparently the real Red Blade is off gallivanting far far away- so everything should be fine.

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What does it take to scratch that gaming itch?

Blaugust Day 19

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I’ve always been a casual gamer, but my gaming habits have changed over time as life has become busier and I’ve transitioned from varying levels of education.

This past year I have been especially discontent with the amount of gaming I’ve done. Most of the time it was: load up something every few weeks, play a little, and then go a few weeks with nothing. Sometime between April and June this year I asked myself “How much time do I need to put in, and what do I need to get done to feel like I’ve scratched that gaming itch?”

It turns out not very much. So between April and June my gaming schedule, for the most part, looked like the following:

Step 1: Log in to Marvel Heroes. Claim daily login reward. Exit game.

Step 2: Log in to Guild Wars 2. Claim daily login reward. Run around and take some screenshots. Exit game.

Step 3: Log in to RuneScape. Use daily keys on Treasure Hunter chests. Exit game.

And that’s what my gaming schedule looked like most days. There were some exceptions. Some days I got carried away taking screenshots in Guild Wars 2 or I battled with my inventory and bank space in Marvel Heroes. And a few times I did Penguin Hide and Seek- I’ll have to talk about penguins in RuneScape sometime. All you need to know right now is that there is an organization of penguins known as the Killer Gentoo Penguins (KGP) and they’re on a mission to destroy humans and control the world. And occasionally I would get a good hour or more in one game or the other, but not very often.

duck-435659_1920So far this summer my gaming habits have looked pretty similar to what they were in June. I surprised myself when I realized how little gaming (if we can even call it that, I’ll save that discussion for another day) it takes to scratch that itch. But for now I’m pretty content logging in, do something really quick, logging out, and saving those longer gaming sessions for another day. There are days where I dream about playing for hours, because sometimes we all need to just sit down and get lost in these virtual worlds. And those days do come around here and there, and last just long enough to hold me over until next time.

Maybe I’m just content with an inconsistent gaming schedule/habits instead of very little gaming.

Let’s make this a writing prompt, or just let me know in the comments.

What does it take for you to scratch that gaming itch?

worded another way…

What does it take for you to be content with your gaming schedule/habits?

or how about another way…

How much time do you need to put in, and what do you need to get done to feel like you’ve scratched that gaming itch?

Word it however you like. I’m really curious to see what other people say.


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