Blame the Slimes

Well look at the time…

I got distracted ranching slimes.

Take a moment.

Yes, you read that right.

Normally video games are a play for a bit then move onto something else kind of affair for me. Typically an hour or less of play then I get bored. Once bored I move onto writing or painting.

I didn’t get bored. Slime Rancher is a bright, engaging farming game where you use your space vacuum to capture different colored and types of slimes. Put them into pens, feed them, and collect their plort (poop) for money. Different types of plort equals different amounts of money based on the universal plort (poop) stock market.

Even better there are upgrades for your character, your space vacuum, pens, and land. Most of the slimes have a favorite type of food; food that you can grow from fruit to chickens. Did you know that if a slime eats the plort from a different type of slime that slime gains the characteristics of the other slime: Example: a pink slime eats the plort of a rock slime becoming a pink rock slime with the characteristics of both.

Are there bad slimes? Yes, if a slime eats plort from too many different slimes, I think three, the slime turns into a tar slime that eats other slimes and you. If a tar slime forms at your ranch, it will eat the slimes in your pens. Speaking of pens, the various slimes need to be fed regularly, have their pen cleaned of plort, and some music helps. Slimes express their mood with big smiles, small smiles, and the cute but warning sign of unhappy slimes that may do something…no clue what yet, I fed my unhappy slimes as soon as our girl pointed out they were not happy.

All in all a very enjoyable few hours. With my limited play time I have seen far from everything, but I saw enough to keep me playing long enough that this blog is late. And if this blog is late (noon remember) I am behind on a few other things, but since the people around me say I don’t know how to relax I’ll take a few hours of slime ranching as a sign that I do. 🙂

I Wonder If the Donner Party Had This Problem

This week has been about stress.

Sorry, this was supposed to be the latest Puddles and Whiskers, but due to the following:

  • The scene I am revising is getting a HUGE update
  • Barb spent the entire week studying for her NAPLEX test, which required me
  • to keep the children quiet all days
  • to run the house solo (except laundry)
  • to make sure that she had what she needed for the best opportunity for success
  • to keep her sane, quick shopping trip helped
  • inclement weather that turned our driveway into an impromptu skating park for three days straight
  • keeping the children quiet would have been easy if they had school, but three days off and running due to the aforementioned weather

Today, Barb took her test. Now a new type of stress, waiting for the results, sets in. However while waiting all of us need to decompress and relax.

I like to use video games as a form of relaxation and sideways thinking. I do not like to use video games as a form of escape, but I found myself realizing I have been doing that this week. This week by the way started last Thursday.

Where I should have been writing, cleaning, cooking, or doing something I spent my free time playing video games. For those who want to know which games, Destiny and Trove. I despise playing games to escape, but because of the overall nature of life around here for the last week I have been escaping.

Not 100% escapism, as noted above, I have had the self-appointed task/job of ensuring that Barb had all that she needed to achieve success or at least prepare for success. Keeping children quiet, at least ours is normally not a difficult task, except when there are three snow days due to rain, snow, freezing which makes ice which turned our driveway into a skating pond/rink.

Day one, they were quiet.

Day two, I had to speak to them about the importance of keeping quiet and not causing problems around the house. Plus I gave the things to do, which for the most part backfired because my things to do were not their things to do, if you have kids you know what I am talking about.

Day three, cabin fever sets in. The highlight (meaning lowlight) of the day, Barb left for her test, the children sleep in due to yet another snow day. The children are free to make noise and this…

“I don’t want to be in the same room as you. I’m leaving to read.”

“Fine! I’m leaving to read too.”

Both of them end up in my office (read my couch), where this happened…

“I want you to know that I left the room first and because I left the room first I get to read out here.”

“No! I left the room after you because I didn’t walk past you.”

“I still left first.”

“Only because you were in the way.”

Then a round of middle fingers, nasty glares, and my suggestion that they both read in separate rooms or watch a movie. At which point, one of them runs off…

“I’m going to watch a movie and read.”

“I wanna watch a movie.”

Movies are in the same room. See the issue?

At this moment, I am typing this, waiting for more stupid shit to happen, and highly amused because both children ended up in the same room reading silently and patently ignoring each other.

And that is why I can’t play the piano and Puddles and Whiskers will be late.

All Night Destiny & I am Tired

When I was younger I used to stay up all night with friends playing role-playing games and later video games and later still back to role-playing games. I have many fond memories of being with friends playing games; bonding, socializing, having fun, and drinking a lot of pop. Why when doing an all night marathon we drank some of the worst pop in the land (Jolt anyone?) I will never know, but we did.

Game marathons continued, but never all nighters. All nighters were reserved for parties. I have no idea why all night games was replaced with all night parties, but for a while that was the way of things.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way and shall remain there again, although the all night portion may change after this weekend. Our weekends, have been filled with hours of playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game as we play though each of the base sets in gleeful anticipation of the release of Mummy’s Mask. Since we near the end of Wrath of the Righteous we decided to take the weekend off and play Destiny.

Setting up the living room for all of us to play we set about seeing how close to level 40 we could get. I will spare you the details and skip to the “end.” Sometime around 5 am we realized how long we had been playing. The clock should have been the first clue, but the first clue was the empty pop cans and bowls of soup. Lucky for us the chicken soup I started early in the morning decided to be a butt and not finish cooking until late. When I say late, I mean midnight.

Did we have fun, yes we did. Playing Destiny as a team sitting in the same room was similar to playing a board or role-playing game; lots of socialization. We didn’t have to fight with the headsets to communicate, just turn to the right or left and talk. When there were breaks in the action we screwed around just like we would at the table top.

The downside, we are not teenagers anymore and there seems to be a requirement for sleep…well sleep for the other two. I ended up being woken up early by the children who were looking for food and being kids. Nothing like staying up all night to be woken up after two hours of “sleep.” Suffice to say I was/am hang dogging it all day.

Enough energy to play a round of Wrath of the Righteous, need to keep up those Pathfinder skills and enough energy to watch some football, but beyond that…whipped. Yep…all night gaming sessions will be for special occasions.

All It Took Was Some Baby Oil and Cheat Codes

Every now and again I need to hop on my horse, ride into town and shoot some virtual people. And every now and again, I need to do that on a much larger scale. That is where Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto fall into my video game scale. Red Dead Redemption has the benefit of a great story, I should know I played through the entire game. I still hate mountain cats. Grand Theft Auto, does not. At least not since Vice City and that was the last time I owned a GTA game.

However, with stress levels hovering around maximum and no relief in sight, this was a week back, I broke down and bought GTA 5. And almost immediately loved and hated it. Open city, good music, okay graphics (better than the last GTA for sure, but not next gen to me), and a few other features, loved it. Missions that are a pain in the ass, uninteresting characters, city that isn’t as interesting to drive around as I initially thought, and an over-reactive police force, hated it.

The more I played, the more the kids played (yes I let them play), the more we got closer to taking GTA 5 back. Then cheat codes. And fun was back. Invincibility, super jumps, guns galore, helicopter all my own, motorcycle for our girl who loves racing down the highway listening to her music; funny each of us has our favorite music stations. For the kids*, they can do what they want now, which is drive cars, jump off of buildings with parachutes using a helicopter to get there. Me, I get to relieve some stress getting as many wanted stars as I can get using whatever weapons I want.

Stress reduced. I tried the story mode, while I am positive there are readers who love it, I can’t stand any of the characters. So while part of me wants to play through the story mode, because I cannot stand the characters I don’t care what the story is. Thus, my time is spent driving around listening to music and when the mood strikes hitting 5-stars, then putting GTA up for a while.

Meanwhile, I pack. Today was the kitchen. On one-hand, I am happy to be packing up the kitchen, this means I feel a move is close enough that the kitchen will not be necessary. On the other hand, my kitchen will be closing down soon. The soon part is the pain, I need to pack up most of the kitchen; as I pick up something I have to think, “Will I need this in the next two-weeks or not?” Talk about a long process, which was not helped by a box with baby oil in the bottom.

I cannot tell you why the box of garbage had baby oil, open baby oil, at the bottom. I did not make the garbage box, but I can tell you baby oil on the floor is slick. I can tell you walking the box out to the trash was messy, down to my elbow in baby oil. I can tell you throwing the box into the trash was beautiful, as the sun caught the droplets of oil arcing into the dumpster. And I can tell you after cleaning up the floor and myself I needed to play some GTA…for about 5-stars.

* Our boy enjoys driving and nothing else about GTA. Absolutely nothing else, he even obeys the traffic lights. Our girl, for those who know her, you can guess she is more like me. 🙂

 

Mysteries of Battleborn Lore & PvP

A crow flies overhead squawking.

A strange feeling that something is going to happen.

I want to find a copy of the original Ghostbusters for $5.

All signs, to me, that there is more to life than what is in front of me and what I am told. Yes, I am one of those people who believe in the mysterious, not everything, but enough strange things have happened around me that I have a healthy respect for that which I cannot see.

Why am I bringing this up? Because our boy, as the crow flew overhead, expressed that he knew what a crow meant. This lead to a long conversation on the meanings of signs and whether he believed or not. Personally, he is too young to believe, but he already has a healthy understanding of signs and personal experience with strange things happening around him.

Such as stopping at a store I hate to look for a cheap copy of Ghostbusters because I was in the mood. After pawing through a huge bin of movies turning around and seeing Ghostbusters on top of another bin, for $5. Strange things indeed.

Because life is not a straight line, I move onto Battleborn. Due to the nature of the character system, I needed to hop onto player versus player to attempt to complete a lore challenge. Let it be known, while I enjoy Battleborn, love the lore idea, I cannot stand Battleborn’s PvP. Not a single mode. Perhaps if all of the characters were balanced for PvP, but they are not. Not even close. This works great in story mode, where everyone gets a chance to shine. In PvP, some characters are only there to die…a lot.

This would be fine with me, because from time to time I can see the fun in playing a character you like, even if they are at a disadvantage. However, toss in the lore challenge system, where you complete X task to unlock one piece of a character’s lore. Unlock all of a character’s lore and get a cool piece of equipment. There are some lore challenges that have to be completed in PvP. That doesn’t sound too bad…

except when you must play and win on a certain map that never sees play time, in two hours of PvP, the map I needed almost got played once. That one time the server timed out and we got dumped into another map. Or when you have to kill X character X times, but that character is never played. But, what about private matches? Yes, you can play private matches, but nothing you do counts towards anything.

I could understand private matches did not count if you got anything like you do in Call of Dooty or Battlefield series as far as upgrades. In Battleborn you do not get anything cool like that. Oh well, they changed the matchmaking system today. Not that it will fix another glaring PvP issue.

Battleborn is not PvP in the assumed sense of kill all of the other players. It is PvP in the sense that there are two teams of players on objective filled maps. Yes, objective…kill this or protect this or escort that…killing other players is actually secondary to the overall objective. Is that how the game is played? Nope. Kill other players and screw the objectives unless the objective is in your way. I will give Battleborn this, the maps are interesting to look at, wander around in, and there is rarely a dull moment because even when the players aren’t trying to kill each other there are robots and other things doing their “thing.”

Still, it is frustrating to have to play in a mode that, I do not find that entertaining, to complete something that I do find entertaining. I am hoping that Battleborn adjusts the lore challenge system some how soon or my days of playing are going to go down.

 

Walking Thru Video Games

I have fond memories of playing video games in arcades; learning the ins and outs of just about any game I had a quarter for. Back then there were no guide books, no YouTube videos, and due to the nature of programing, games were harder. Don’t believe me, today a game tends to be hard because someone designed it right or wrongly to be difficult, back then, make sure you jump on the right pixel or you died. Guess that isn’t difficulty, but my point being I worked harder on older games than anything I play today.

I am not a fan of guide books or YouTube, Twitch, or any other site that walks a person through a game. I get the purpose and I have used all of them from time to time, most often when I get stuck on a puzzle. I am a huge fan of guide books for huge open world games, such as Skyrim, but I use them after I have played for a while; less of a how do I do and more of a this would be a cool place to visit guide. I like to try a game without any assistance, other than in-game, for a while before I seek outside information. The longevity of a game, for me, is directly related to how quickly I feel the need to consult an outside source; the better the game, the less likely I will need outside information, and the longer I will play the game. There are exceptions to this, for example I have no problem seeking outside information to get some cool outfit or something similar that I see in-game, but how to play the game not so much. I know plenty of people who play games with guides and walk-throughs open at the same time. I don’t think any less of them for doing that, as long as a person is having fun I don’t care what tools they use.

However, while watching our girl use a YouTube level walkthru for Unravel, I started wondering about the longevity of the video game industry if it wasn’t for people who make guidebooks and walkthrus. There are so many video games I quit playing after a short time because something just didn’t click and perhaps if I had had a guidebook back in the day I would have continued. Hell that happens today; games that for one reason or another don’t click, but after I hit a guide to get through whatever is stopping me or bothering me, such as a crappy boss fight or a camera angle that makes no sense or a puzzle, I find myself enjoying the game.

Our girl stopped playing Unravel around the third level because the puzzles were not as intuitive as they had been. Personally, while I love the look of Unravel, I think it is poorly designed puzzle platformer precisely because of lack of intuitive solutions and amount of frustration the puzzles cause. Not being a quitter, she found some YouTube walkthrus and started playing again. However, even with the assistance of YouTube she encounters problems that she has to work through. Yet, because she knows that someone has beat the level continues to plug away until she too beats the level. I wonder how many video games and the industry in general have benefited from this connection.

 

Yes, My Tank Did Go Backwards & Blow Yours Up

Hooray. No, not housing news other than we are stuck here for the next few weeks. Which means I am stopping packing and after this sentence ceasing writing about moving and packing for a while.

No, the hooray is because the Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game (WQACG) character packs arrived today. I have flipped through both of them, trollslayer and witch hunter, and like what I saw. For five dollars you get a complete character: 3 Hero Cards, 8 Action Cards, and 3 Gear cards in a really cool reusable plastic container. Personally, the trollslayer appeals to me more than the witch hunter, but I have always had a soft spot for redeemers and atoners than zealots…being honest, the mohawk is where it is at.

Next up, reviewing the rules and setting up a time to play. Before that vacuuming the floor, I made a huge mess dumping out boxes and really need to vacuum, the floor is crunchy and spikey. After the vacuuming, we play. This time there will be three adults and one child playing, not that I expect much will change because these are new characters, not a whole boxed set.

Until that time, I can get back to cooking, writing, and…well shit, can’t get back to gaming yet, but I can continue to play Battleborn and Battlefield 4. Battleborn has hit an interesting lull. I enjoy the game, but the need for additional single player content has never been more obvious to me in a game before. I have played through the story missions enough to no longer be surprised or challenged. I know where to be for each mission to make maximum value of my character. This is great for the team, but gets boring.

The multiplayer modes do not interest me. I have tried them. Instead of a variety of objective based modes as the designers intended I find myself stuck in a whacky and not satisfying player v player deathmatch game. If I want to shoot only at other players I will play games like that. I really want to enjoy the pvp modes in Battleborn, but most matches devolve into a variation of Call of Dooty. In Battleborn, the characters are not matched or suited for that kind of play, there are some characters who only have one function, eliminate other characters. See where I am going? I hope, Battleborn releases some single player missions soon.

Battlefield 4 on the other hand…if you are playing with or against me, I suggest that you do some research. I am horrible on foot. I admit this. I do not perform well on any of the matches where I do not have access to a tank. Oh sure, you have a tank how could you not do well, some of you are saying. Well, the other players in burning tanks can attest that tanks are not all that…unless you know what you are doing.

To the four players who tried to take out my tank with your four tanks. Learn what the tanks can do. I bet the player behind me did not know my Chinese tank could go in reverse and fire as fast as I did; blew his tank up with one well placed round while driving backwards. The other three…tanks can move, like mine did, behind yours: BOOM!