SpeleoFool's Blog - Jul to Sep 17 (40 followers)

PermalinkNo More Bean Dives
Nope.  Not Gonna Happen.Nope. Not Gonna Happen.

  • The Long Road to Recovery (From Bean Dive 2016)
It's been almost a month since my last blog, and forward progress has been glacial. At least in terms of achievements unlocked from my backlog. I snagged the 6 easy achievements to wrap up 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (JP). And I did manage to close the book on another of my oldest incompletions:
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved²SmileThe Smile achievement in Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved² worth 110 points2, 4, 11, 15, 17, 18 and 19.

But otherwise it's been a dry spell for cleaning up old achievements. I made some progress on Platinum Medals in Project Gotham Racing 3, and Hardcore levels in Splosion Man, but I still have a good amount of work left before I pop any achievements in either game. And even if I completed both, I'd only net 4 achievements out of the 12 I needed to recover my dive.

I decided to break up the monotony of tedious grinding by dipping into a few quick games. That helped me to keep my energy levels up for grind sessions, but due to inconveniences of math, new completions do next to nothing to improve my Completion %. A couple hundred achievements @ 100% only pulled my average up about 0.01% and cut the number of achievements I need by one. So, now I'm 11 away from full recovery, lol.

Although playing new stuff was refreshing, it's disconcerting that even one problem achievement would undo a couple hundred achievements worth of progress. Every new game only adds however-many hours to get right back to where I already am. I hope that as I continue to push my completion to ever greater heights this anxiety about starting games doesn't get worse, but I think it's going to be OK once I finish this push.

I really just want to reach my targets of 99.5% completion and 10 incomplete games and then get on with enjoying new (to me) games. I'm not going to get there with new completions. And I'm not getting anywhere fast by limiting myself to the grinds I have now. Which leaves me with only one obvious course of action:

  • Sound the Alert!
Time to Takei Care of Business!Time to Takei Care of Business!
I've been actively avoiding Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 for a while now. It's the last title left untouched from Bean Dive 2016, and it accounts for 49 of my 109 unearned achievements. At least several of those will be fairly easy to unlock.

What originally started as a series of conflicts preventing me from playing Red Alert eventually morphed into a personal challenge to postpone it for as long as possible. I don't just want to top out at 99.5%, I'd like to maintain there--or at least stay somewhat in the vicinity when I get back to starting games. I wanted to see if I could completely recover my dive before starting Red Alert. Now I know: I could, but I don't want to. smile

I looked at my unearned achievements to see if I could cherry-pick a dozen from the three titles that still have more than a couple left (Vampire Rain, Kinect Adventures and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat). Short answer: no, not without getting fairly invested (or really sore, lol). And if I'm going to get invested in another backlog game, it ought to be the one with MP achievements....

So, that's it then. Sometime in the next few days I'll finally end this 14-month long journey to resurface from a 50-title dive back to record heights. And then I can change my focus to maintaining. No more Bean Dives for me. dive warning clap
Posted by SpeleoFool on 12 September 17 at 23:55 | Last edited on 12 September 17 at 23:57 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Permalink13 Games from Perfection
The other day I finally knocked off Overlord. It only took 2973 days 15 hours and 43 minutes. Overlord was another game from my ancient backlog, started long ago under the premise that I could knock out the MP right away and get back to the SP achievements "later." Later finally came.

With that completion I also hit a new milestone: only 13 incomplete games remaining.

Amazingly enough, 100% completion is ... uh ... not definitely impossible. And ever since I scrubbed Totemball off the list for good, it feels like it could actually happen someday. So here are the 13 games standing in the way of 100%:

1. Call of Duty: World at War
  • 98% (65 of 66)
Everything is done except that pesky Gen 10 achievement. With my crazy multibox setup, I'm ready to own this game like I did Gears of War.

There's just one problem: extra copies are stupidly overpriced. Next time this goes on sale, I'll be picking up a couple extra digital copies and running my own show. As a very old game and one of my only unearned MP achievements, this will likely be my top priority as soon as I have the copies to get it done.

2. ARK: Survival Evolved
  • 97% (32 of 33)
This was done, should be done again, will be done as soon as the one broken achievement is patched and hopefully will stay done. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll come to regret giving into the allure of Type-to-Win. :-)

3. Grand Theft Auto IV
  • 97% (63 of 65)
All I have left are the Gold Medals in Ballad of Gay Tony. In other words, tedious, unrewarding, repetitious grinding. Especially hitting time targets. Ugh.

There are something like 33 missions. My patience ran out, and I had to put this one up. I feel like I'll probably need to fit this wrap-up inbetween some other more rewarding games.

4. Ticket to Ride
  • 93% (14 of 15)
I may never be able to complete this. The 25 Ranked Wins achievement refuses to unlock. Then again, the Play 50 Matches achievement miraculously unlocked. So ... maybe?

I've been playing matches once in a while when there's no time for anything else, but I'm not holding out any hope that I'll ever see this completion. But as long as it's still possible to run ranked matches, 100% is ... not impossible.

5. Splosion Man
  • 92% (11 of 12)
Yet another game that's one from done. And another one where, after doing the MP stuff, I needed a break.

I need to wrap up Hardcore mode, which is probably going to suck. I picked this up a while ago and knocked out a pretty good number of levels. But it's a whole lot of dry repetition.

6. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved²
  • 92% (11 of 12)
And speaking of dry repetition....

I've come down to the last level for Smile 2 or 3 times now, but no dice yet. I know I'll get it eventually. After a bit of regular practice to get back in the rhythm, all I need is one good run.

7. Batman: Arkham Origins
  • 90% (56 of 62)
And speaking of dry repetition....

I like the Arkham games. I even kinda like the challenges. But 300+ medals? Man. Too much. So, much like the previous games, I got the main stuff out of the way and put the tedium on the shelf.

Still, this stands a good chance of being one of the next games I go after. Mostly because my other options are worse. :-)

8. Project Gotham Racing 3
  • 88% (22 of 25)
Now my oldest incomplete title, I can still get this done because I wrapped up all the MP while it was still possible. It's just too bad I've totally burned out on racing games.

I need the Platinum medals. And the Gold medals. And Rank 1, which actually shouldn't be that tough. I even have the magic delisted car downloaded to get it all done. I just completely lack the motivation.

This is going to be one of the last completions I go after. I know my enthusiasm will pick up when I'm closer to the finish line.

9. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (JP)
  • 87% (40 of 46)
50-Yen will almost certainly be the next game I complete (unless Ark gets a patch first). I need to clean up the Gold Medals, and I recently did the main version, so I know what I'm in for: more dry tedium, lol. Yay!

10. Vampire Rain
  • 65% (13 of 20)
So, once upon a time I decided that I was going to cease being a prisoner to Completionism. And there was a contest or something. Or maybe it was one of my gamerscore binges.

In any case, I claimed the super-fast 650 points of MP achievements in this atrocity and doomed myself to scoring S-ranks if I ever want it done. That was supposed to dissuade me from chasing completion. But, well, here we are.

This isn't my most-dreaded incompletion, but it's close. I am definitely not going after this one until I have most of the rest of the list done and some good games to play before and after. Then I'll have to plug my nose and dive in like I did with Totemball....

11. Kinect Adventures
  • 53% (17 of 32)
Speaking of that time I tried to force myself to give up completions....

That's how Kinect Adventures ended up on the list. And why it's only about half done.

Honestly, this should be one of my top priorities. Kinect-anything seems to be on the decline, and the recent notice of kinect-share being disabled gave me a good scare. I still have some "human statues" to record, and I wasn't certain at first whether I'd need Kinect Share for that. I don't. But I do need to stop letting this game be a cause for concern.

12. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
  • 50% (23 of 46)
This is my most-dreaded completion.

Once again, I have all the MP done and none of the rest. But the big SP achievement has a 15+ ratio. I'm expecting the worst. At least there are guides available now that weren't around when people were playing this. If Ticket to Ride ever pops, this game may be the one to keep me from 100%.

13. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
  • 2% (1 of 50)
Finally, we have Red Alert. The last of my untouched Bean Dive games from last summer, this game has suffered from eternal procrastination for reasons too numerous to list.

It's waiting now mainly because I'm so burned out from playing "RTS" in real life. I'm going to want to tackle this in pretty much one run, so that I get the relentless pacing down and have the maps, objectives and strategies memorized.

Plus I'm only 20 achievements away from recovering my Bean Dive completely, and matching my all-time high of 99.47% completion. I've been pushing myself to get there (or close) without dipping into this game, so that when I do I'll have a monster pile of achievements to push my % deeper into record territory. Because that's where I'd like to be when I get back to starting new games to gather my energy to knock out those tedious grinds. I'm playing the long game. Still. Always.
Posted by SpeleoFool on 18 August 17 at 02:39 | There are 6 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkTime to Get Serious(ly) - The New Multibox Solution
I just failed a goal to complete Gears of War for the umpteenth time. That trend is finally over. I have a secret weapon now.
Breaking Bad Games...Breaking Bad Games...

I Shall Call it My Play StationI Shall Call it My "Play Station"
That's the standing desk I've been working on for the past few months. Longer, really, although the desk itself only became part of the solution in March or so. The quest to find a better way to run multiple boxes has been going far longer than that.

It all started with "his-and-hers" flat panel TVs so that Autumn and I could play games together without dealing with split-screen. Or for games where split-screen was not an option. Or so she could watch her shows while I played my games.

Adding a big projection screen was always part of the plan, although I didn't finally settle on a projector until a couple years or so after the TVs went up. I had a portable monitor and some folding tables that I could drag out to run 4 boxes at once and fill half a Gears lobby. And that was pretty much the peak of my multiboxing capability as recently as last Fall. For a while, for almost every purpose, that was plenty.

  • Rise of the Standing Desk
Ye Olde Multiboxing SetupYe Olde Multiboxing Setup
Unfortunately, even filling half a lobby wasn't getting Gears done. It worked great when it worked, but then it stopped working. For all kinds of reasons (many, if not most of them my fault), the two-man Gears sessions fell apart. I found it impossible to coordinate my schedule against life, work and other now-or-never gaming opportunities.

Meanwhile, my search for a better multi-boxing solution grew more intense until I finally discovered a killer monitor in January. The monitor was perfect--it not only helped me to view more consoles for gaming, but also enhanced my ability to work from home.

The Need for a Proper Desk is ObviousThe Need for a Proper Desk is Obvious
A couple months later I found a screaming deal on the same model monitor and bought two more. The productivity boost for work was awesome. I run 2 monitors at the office, but I have 2 work laptops (one for my company, and one for my current client); I need all the screen real-estate I can get!

Unfortunately, my ad hoc workstation of folding tables proved totally inadequate for running three monitors. I barely had enough room to place everything, but had no good way to power it and no means at all to move it. I had trapped myself behind a wall of monitors and couldn't even see the big theater screen anymore!

I needed a desk. A big desk. With wheels.

  • The Standing Desk Project
Although a standing desk wasn't a strict requirement, it was an obvious starting point because of other features that standing desks tend to share: they're portable, lightweight, often have wheels and tend to be adaptable and customizable. The adjustable height could only help the desk to work well in my preferred in-front-of-the-sofa work zone.

After a fair amount of research into a variety of desk brands and models, I settled on the Jarvis desk by Fully. And then I began another long process of planning, designing and sourcing parts to build the vision for my desk into reality. It wasn't easy, but in the end I exceeded my own expectations.
Some Assembly RequiredSome Assembly Required

Fully's wire-management solution includes a 6-outlet surge protector. I added my own 48" 12-outlet power bar, a 16-port gigabit ethernet switch (because a wired network is always better) and four carefully-positioned "TV" brackets that I turned into a quick-attach system for consoles!

Desk at Standing Height, Parked, Testing Attached ConsolesDesk at Standing Height, Parked, Testing Attached Consoles
During my planning I discovered the very cool HIDEit X1S mount, which happens to feature VESA-pattern holes (commonly used for mounting monitors). That led me to under-cabinet television mounts. Finally, I added a quick-attach adapter so that I can easily remove or swap out consoles.

The picture at the right shows the desk parked in its out-of-the-way position, against the wall to the right of my sofa. Here I was adjusting tension on the monitor mounts so that the consoles remain vertical. I left one empty HIDEit mount to show how the consoles fit.

Detail View of Console Quick-Attach MechanismDetail View of Console Quick-Attach Mechanism
It took some careful planning and measurement to position the brackets where they won't interfere with one another and where they leave as much leg room as possible so I won't bang my knees on consoles. It helps some that the mounts swivel; I can position the middle two consoles a little further back.

The monitor mounts also lock up and out of the way, so I can run sans-consoles with no loss of legroom. And, yes, I'll be doing that, because two of the consoles on my desk right now are the ones that normally live in my GAEMS Vanguard portable systems.

  • More Features and Parts List
There are a few more cool things the desk does now and might do in the future, but I'll bury the rest behind a spoiler tag. This blog is already becoming quite long and picture-heavy.

*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

Meanwhile, it seems like the days are finally numbered for Seriously. I tested out the full setup yesterday (Sunday) and probably netted 1500-2000 kills. And, yes, I started re-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix with Autumn. Well, technically she was watching it on the big screen and I was watching the tiny mirrored copy on my left monitor. smile
Posted by SpeleoFool on 04 July 17 at 00:17 | There are 27 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.