Xpovos' Blog - Jul to Sep 19 (121 followers)

PermalinkAs the Crow Dies - Volume 16
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-08-21 to 2019-09-03:

3110 GS over two weeks (1555 GS average)

One Completion:

I bought Xpovos' achievements in Realms of Ancient War, or RAW, as it's known, on a very deep discount a few years ago, after first having been involved in the production of its walkthrough. It's a pretty straightforward dungeon crawler game in the Diablo style, though it does have some well-documented glitchiness to its achievements.

Obviously RAW is nowhere near as good as others in the genre, which is also now much better represented on console in general and on the Xbox in particular. For only 200 GS and a reasonably lengthy completion, it's going to be hard to recommend to anyone these days.

But, hey, it's better on all fronts than Arkadian Warriors. Which at one point was all we really had.

Four Starts:

Pandemic: The Board Game
Gears POP!
Where the Bees Make Honey
Woodle Tree Adventures

I commented on Where the Bees Make Honey and Woodle Tree in my previous blog, including why I started them and a little bit about each, including a clip of some awfulness from Where the Bees Make Honey.

Xpovos' blog post - The Failure

The rest of the started games segue nicely into the rest of my categories.

  • Stream Games

Pandemic was the stream game for the past two weeks, so we covered that pretty thoroughly as well, there. But I know not everyone who reads the blog (in fact fairly few) stop by the stream, so I'll just say that Pandemic is actually better than I expected. I was expecting a low-quality port, and it ends up being generally average. There's some slight issues with the movement selection, and the achievement list is unnecessarily grindy, and there are a handful of tricky ones to keep it interesting, but mostly it's just playing Pandemic. The biggest loss is the lack of online coop, which for a cooperative game is baffling. Why do we need local, we could just actually pull out a copy of the board game. Playing online would be a huge differentiator. We can chalk that up as a missed opportunity and one that definitely holds the game back, but overall, the experience is as you'd expect, a digitized version of the board game.

This is fine.This is fine.

Pandemic itself is not my favorite board game. It has some significant limitations, but it's a fun enough experience, for a little while, and it's presence in Game Pass was a huge boon to me, because I was going to have to buy this otherwise, and I'm MUCH happier renting this one, which is rare.

I did also stream both Where the Bees Make Honey and Woodle Tree for a bit on Saturday. Tonight we're going to be playing the Night of the Hangry Horde for Overcooked! 2 in Overcooked! 2

  • Significant Games

In addition to those previously mentioned, I spent significant time, or earned significant score in the following games.

I completed Disney Pixar Brave: The Video Game. OK, not really. I still have some grinding out of kills, and coins to do, but I finally got through the final boss on the hardest difficulty. That was no small feat.

Sorry for the PTSD flashback, guys.Sorry for the PTSD flashback, guys.

There are elements of the game that make it more difficult than it needs to be. There are slightly imperfect controls, a wildly unpredictable camera, and a certain lack of fidelity that denotes this as an Xbox 360 game. But, all things considered, what makes the "Brave" difficulty tough is that the enemies hit hard and have lots of health. Your upgrades make a difference, but instead of just letting you waltz through, like you might on an easier difficulty, you now have to be perfect for maybe 20 seconds left.

The Boar is difficult because he moves faster than you, leaves a damaging fire trail, and if he hits you with his charge move it's going to ruin your HP. The bonus fun from the adds that have different resistances is just unkind.

This was not the only boss in the game that gave me a hard time. Each of the phases of the final boss gave me at least one death, though the boar was clearly the worst, and the rock golem was easily second worst. But there was an earlier fight against the rock golem that was also brutally hard and where I had initially stopped playing the game previously. But the boar was probably 15-20 deaths over three different attempts because I just couldn't take the frustration. Normally I'm content to bang my head against the wall for a while, but this fight just got under my skin.

Well, it's done now, and Brave can join my completion list as soon as I feel like taking the time ride an elevator of death a few dozen times.

I also returned to Madden NFL 19 after starting Madden 20 recently, I decided it was time to go back to Madden 19 and finish it up. Also I recently got some incentive do so from my Random ToDo List. My memory was telling me that I only had two achievements left. My achievement list says otherwise. But what my memory meant was that I only had two "difficulty" achievements left. So I worked at those while hitting my RTDL achievement. This will be some very solid points for GTASC this week and next, as I spread things out.

Finally, I've been spending a fair bit of time in Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics since the server shutdown announcement. We've got through the end of the year to finish it and they're giving out a ridiculous amount of the premium currency to help you do it. I'm disappointed. Hand of the Gods was one of the better F2P card games I've played. It is an order of magnitude, possibly several, times better than Lies of Astaroth. It's far better than Fable Fortune which released around the same time and has also languished with the same level of inattention. And yet, the best game of these is the one that is going down first? Life is not fair.

If you have any interest in CCGs, I recommend Hand of Fate. If you're just looking for achievements, there's a significant number in here now that are very easy to get, and many of the rest are just a grind away--though that can be an intense grind. Even in a best case scenario it's 15-20 hours of grinding for the 350 required wins (50 with each of 7 gods), not to mention the miscellaneous achievements you'd get along the way. But ultimately, the completion may be held back for some by some difficult achievements, beyond just the grind. So if you're a completionist, it's probably best to stay away still.

If you do start it and are willing to help, or need help, let me know.

  • Prime Story

Much of the past two weeks has been spent playing Gears POP!. In a way, it's just another Clash Royale clone. There's not a ton new here. The cover system is interesting, but not amazingly novel. It just takes what is already an existing bridge mechanic and reskins it a bit. It does affect strategy more, but also more abstractly. You don't get direct powerups, ala Minion Masters but you can deploy powerful units closer to the enemy, giving him less time to react--but also giving yourself less time to charge up power attacks for those units that have them.

Red and Blue in a constant struggle for territory. <br/> It's a tale as old as time.Red and Blue in a constant struggle for territory.
It's a tale as old as time.

From my time-played it would be reasonable to assume that the bug had bitten me on this game, in a way that no other Gears game has. And as far as that goes, it would be true. But it's also fair to say that I'm largely unimpressed by the game and I am hopeful for some significant improvements.

It's still a long, long.... long way away, but this could easily be my first Seriously.

Gears POP!Seriously POP!XpovosThe Seriously POP! achievement in Gears POP! worth 18561 pointsDefeat 100,000 pins, win 1000 Versus Battles, reach highest Versus League and clear 1000 Horde Waves

Because I have played it a fair bit over the past two weeks, I have at least one of every pin in the game now, and am on the long road to leveling. I made it to the cusp of the Silver League (no achievement) but because the game cares far more about win streaks than quality of the win, there's a kind of meta game happening on the ladder right now that is really unfortunate. The problem is that the solution: to make wins matter more, particularly at high levels, and reduce the impact of the winstreak chest are unlikely to happen. Because that kind of game design rewards players and might disincentive MTX purchases. Even though the player base hasn't been huge, it's been big enough and enough people are pouring enough money in that this is going to be a money maker--and no publisher is going to tweak a system that is making money--even if it's not fun, or not healthy for the game.
Posted by Xpovos on 03 September 19 at 18:03 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkThe Failure
I've had a lot of success in gaming. As an achievement hunter, I'm dedicated enough to do almost anything. I'm not skilled enough to get the toughest stuff done, but if I bash my head at it for long enough, I can usually succeed. So I'm coming from a perspective of usual success.

I like to blog about those successes as well. That may give the impression that I'm always successful. So I wanted to take a moment to blog about a recent failure, because that might be just as useful.

I've previously blogged about hitting some specific GS milestones on the head with a unique/fun achievement.

Xpovos' blog post - 75,000 GS - Achievement Master

Xpovos' blog post - 200,000 GS - The Stuff of Legends

Or even quite recently, albeit without quite as much fanfare: Xpovos' blog post - As the Crow Dies - Volume 9

In truth, 300,000 felt too close after 200,000, and I had something else in mind. Still, I set an interesting target and I went for it, and I achieved it. Like I said, I'm generally successful.

The new target was something that appealed to my nerdy self more than a big round number. I was going to get pi-hundred-thousand. Or, 314159 GS. And I was originally going to do it with this achievement:

The Misadventures of P.B. WinterbottomGreedy BottomThe Greedy Bottom achievement in The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom worth 98 pointsComplete all recording and time challenges in the bonus shorts.

That would generally coincide with yet another XBLA completion of a reasonably difficult game hitting a fun milestone with something interestingly themed. It was perfect.

I could even add a bonus:

NerdistPiXpovosThe Pi achievement in Nerdist worth 0 pointsWatch 3 hours and 14 minutes of Nerdist videos.

Because as a zero point achievement, it wouldn't actually move me off pi-hundred-thousand.

Unfortunately, time and other factors conspired so that I just wasn't getting Winterbottom done. I threw some hours at it and made progress on a game that hasn't been touched in years, but ultimately, I just couldn't be sure I'd get it in time. So I found a backup. And dropped the app achievement since I wasn't sure it wasn't actually discontinued and just not marked as such.

The new target was much simpler, in concept, but would need some assistance from my friend, Des. But she was on board.

Overcooked! 2Pie Me a RiverXpovosThe Pie Me a River achievement in Overcooked! 2 worth 109 pointsGet 3 stars on every level in Night of the Hangry Horde World 2

So all I had to do was line it up that I was the proper GS for the one or two achievements in the DLC that we'd get would put me at the number as that popped. And we'd have fun and I'd stream it and it would be great. I set it up for yesterday.

Well, yesterday didn't go according to plan in my family life. Nothing bad, just the normal variances that come with living with several other people who each have their own goals. So I was running out of time to get the remaining GS I needed before it was stream time with Des. So I rushed to score some quick points from some Ratalaika games. I had a couple ready to go, and I needed to get 800 exactly, so I wasn't looking for a quick completion, per se, but something a little bit less than a quick completion.

I started Where the Bees Make Honey and after hitting some glitches and scoring 500 GS pretty quickly, I knew I needed to switch games. If I continued with that one, I ran the risk of popping two end game achievements at the same time and over-shooting my mark. So I switched to Woodle Tree Adventures. I took a video of one of my moments in Where the Bees Make Honey, because it is pretty insane.

But I wasn't looking for good games. I was looking for quick points to make a personal challenge work. So it's fine. Until, suddenly, it isn't. That exact scenario I was worried about in Where the Bees Makes Honey happens in Woodle Tree. I popped two achievements at the same time, one for a cumulative collection of berries, and one for unlocking an upgrade. I hit the berry count on the nose, which means if I'd collected one fewer berry, I'd have been fine. Worst, as I was streaming it, and actually, weirdly, engaged with the game at that point, I didn't even realize it. I'd lost track of what I was trying to do, and I kept playing. It took me several minutes in the next level to finally realize that I needed to not be playing this any more, and that in fact, it was already too late. I was 50 GS over the target.

External image

It's silly, but that failure means more to me right now than most of the successes going on in my life, which are numerous. It's probably in part because I'm already stress by work to a high degree, and the fact that I can feel my brain chemicals aren't in balance, so the little things will push me more than usual. Koyaanisqatsi. But it's also important, I think, that I recognize that failures seem to be on a different playing field than victories, entirely.

Vin Scully said:
Losing hurts worse than winning feels good.
There's no logical reason for that. It's all emotions. And emotions, particularly when I'm already off-balance, are a difficult thing to handle. So the failure has gotten to me. But I stopped, I slept, and I've thought about it (and overthought it, as I am prone to do) and I've started coming to terms with it.

When we earn GS is a bit of a fluke regardless. I have at least one achievement that I've already earned that is stuck in the modern equivalent of "Done! Unlocking..." and if it had popped in the middle of this, it would've messed up my math just as badly. Really, all I could possibly hope for was a screenshot, like the one above, only with a slightly different outcome. Instead of "a rounding error," I'd be celebrating a nerdy victory. Even if that victory was itself just an illusion because I actually had more GS than was being counted.

We go to great lengths in this hobby of ours, at least some of us do, for the screenshot moment. And , in truth, that's a big part of why I blog. Blogging lets me take those screenshots of my gaming moments that otherwise get lost in the shuffle. I was thinking about this even before the failure. I'm contemplating a future where I'll have 1000 completed games. It'll happen, eventually. As long as the Xbox Live servers stay up for a few more years. When that happens, and I have earned all of the achievements, played all of the content of all of those games. How many of them will I even remember? If given a piece of paper and a pen, and no other resources, how many could I list?

I blog to be an aid to that memory, to tell a story of the journey. And today, that journey includes a failure. An annoyance and one that I'm over reacting to, but a genuine misstep all the same. And one that I'm just as eager to remember in the future as my successes.
Posted by Xpovos on 01 September 19 at 18:04 | There are 6 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkAs the Crow Dies - Volume 15
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-08-14 to 2019-08-20:

2175 GS.

Two Completions: ACA NEOGEO METAL SLUG 2 as I finally got my perfect run through Mission 2, after several hours of attempts, and Bird Game +.

So, I need to talk about Bird Game+ briefly, and I will try to keep it brief, because this game is not worth the digital ink.

Here's a fun game premise: you're a bird, and you're flying through a series of hazards, eating fish, collecting shinies and occasionally fighting a 'boss' by crafty dodging. Is that a good premise? Not yet, but it's not awful. There's potential. Add in some hand-drawn art and the fact that the game doesn't crash and it seems like it's at least going to be alright.

It didn't have to be terrible.It didn't have to be terrible.

And yet, Bird Game+ is the worst game I've played in 2019. It's lucky that I played so many bad games last year, or it might be looking at multi-year levels of bad. The premise is fine, but the execution is just completely unfun. The art style isn't endearing at all for some reason, and the boss battles are lacking in many things. The only thing the game has going for it is that it is fairly quick and the achievements are pretty easy. And even that, I managed to mess up.

First I couldn't get past the very early hazard of a rolling log. For some reason I died on that so many times that I actually gave up playing this game several weeks ago. I came back to it this week and gave it another shot and made it through. I earn my first achievement a little while later and it's too late to back out now. Time to finish this game.

The last achievement I earned was for playing Endless Mode, which requires you to earn, for different achievements, 50, 100, 150 and 200 points. You earn points for distance, and for collecting things along the way, but to get over 200 you'll have to beat a boss. The bosses aren't terribly hard, but if you've not seen the pattern before, you can easily die to them, and that's the end of your "endless" run. I died to the boss on my first run because it was the boss I hadn't seen in the story play. So I loaded up again and got through the boss on the second run, got to 200+ and said, "that's enough of this garbage," and quit back to the menu. I was so uninterested in playing this game that as soon as I earned the requirements for the achievement I quit the game. This never happens. I'm the kind of guy who finishes the story in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, even though it' super obvious what will happen. But I just can't take anymore Bird Game+.

There's a problem there, though. The achievement pops when you die, not when you hit that number. So since I quit, and didn't die--no pop. Load it, and I'm back at the beginning. I had to do three more runs before I got past the boss again. Instead of getting out of playing any more Bird Game+ I consigned myself to an extra 15 minutes of it.

In addition to Bird Game+, which was a start as well as a completion, I also started:

Madden NFL 20 and Riverbond.

Madden is Madden, not much to say there, except that with all of the concerns over CTE, video game football may be the best football there is these days. Riverbond is less RPG than I'd like. It feels like it ought to be an RPG, but there's no progress, your weapons are all generally about the same level of good, and you have no real stats. The enemies in the final levels are just as easy (or hard) to beat as the enemies in the first levels. There's some variety to it, but I think adding some RPG elements might have helped keep it feeling fresh.

Madden will be done, eventually. It's not a terribly hard completion this year, but it's not a priority for me, either. I'll hit the online stuff ASAP and get to the rest when I feel like it. Riverbond will be done soon enough. I hit my RTDL achievement (by going out of order, which I could because it wasn't an RPG) but I've no desire to keep it around. I played it with my kids for a bit and they largely lost patience with it, because in local coop, you can kill your friends by walking them off the screen. Playing with a six-year-old, then, was very frustrating. I'm glad we got to experience that via GamePass, rather than purchasing it, as they had initially asked.

You go fight that bad guy, I'm going to go exploring!You go fight that bad guy, I'm going to go exploring!

  • Stream Games

Last week, we streamed Skullgirls Achievements which was interesting because despite beating the story mode several times and exploring some of the other elements of the game, I hadn't earned a single achievement. Oh, those old-school XBLA games.

Honestly I'm surprised Des and I didn't riff on the pin-up girl motiff more than we did.Honestly I'm surprised Des and I didn't riff on the pin-up girl motiff more than we did.

Tonight, Des and I will get down with the sickness. Join us for some cooperative fun.

  • Significant Games

I hit the grinds pretty hard this week, spending a significant chunk of time in all of the classics: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, Minion Masters, even Magic Duels made it back into rotation this week. Minion Masters dropped a few achievements for me, but I've still got a long grind in that.

Elsewhere I joined a TA boosting session for BattleBlock Theater. I hadn't done a genuine boosting session for a while, so it was interesting to get more involved with strangers again. It went pretty well, considering how chaotic the party became with so many people in it.

I also slowly advanced the story in Thimbleweed Park and spent a few hours hitting the MP in Fable Fortune with Jblacq, which, for no particular reason, reminds me of this: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/14/jack-black-jack-white-ja.h...

  • Prime Story

Way back when, in 2006, I was playing Titan Quest on PC. Diablo 3 was still half a decade away and I needed something good to scratch that ARPG/Dungeon Crawler itch. Titan Quest was perfect. It was set in classic antiquity, and was full of both well-researched historically accurate Greek civilization elements, as well as tropes. It was the perfect gateway drug for my now wife, as well, who had seen me playing Diablo and not been all that impressed. But Titan Quest was perfect for her.

Titan Quest advanced the gameplay ideas of Diablo II and introduced a lot of finesse that I really appreciated in the genre. I was particularly fond of the character development process. There are no classes, like in Diablo. You start a character and build him, or her, up with choices. And two of the most critical choices are your skill trees, effectively classes. Because there are eight different "classes" and you're picking two to make a unique combination (though order doesn't matter, Nature/Warfare = Warfare/Nature = Destroyer) you end up with 28 different ways of playing the game. Later expansions added two more classes increasing the combinations to 45! With the replayability of a game genre like Diablo, and the unique class structures, Titan Quest was just built to suck my time away, and for a while, it did. I played it extensively, both with my wife and solo, and it has remained one of my favorite games of the genre, and in fact one of my favorite games, so much so that I happily Kickstarted Grim Dawn when they licensed the engine that Titan Quest was built on.

It's a picture of a wall of text that I'm using to break up a wall of text.  But it's a well-written wall of text!It's a picture of a wall of text that I'm using to break up a wall of text. But it's a well-written wall of text!

So, naturally, when Titan Quest got ported to Xbox, I bought a copy. And this week I got a chance to really play it some. I sunk a few hours in, and it felt great to go back to the game. It hasn't aged quite as well as I'd hoped. But for 13 years old, it's doing pretty well. The core mechanics are still amazing. The problem is in the port. The controls moving into combat are very clunky and I haven't found a way to fix that yet. This was a game that was brilliant on PC, but doesn't seem to work nearly as well on Xbox. Diablo found a way to make that transition very well, but Blizzard has always taken care to make sure their games are high quality, and they have the resources of Activision behind them now. Titan Quest doesn't have those advantages.

But it was still good to go back to Ancient Greece and lay the smack down on some mythical monsters again.
Posted by Xpovos on 20 August 19 at 21:25 | There are 3 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkAs the Crow Dies - Volume 14
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-08-07 to 2019-08-13:

860 GS.

One Completion: Xpovos' achievements in Graveyard Keeper

Completing Graveyard Keeper not only gave me a ton of TA and TAD for the GTASC, but I was able to finish the game before it leaves GamePass, shortly. I very much enjoyed my time playing the game.
It's a solid title and well worth the time I sunk into it. I hope to play similar games, such as another GamePass title: My Time at Portia Achievements soon. Last week I completed a GamePass game.

One Start: Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park is yet another GamePass game, so clearly something is up with GamePass and my game time schedule these days. I'll try to have more on that later this week.

  • Stream Games

Last week, after some technical difficulties brought on by a Microsoft service outage which prohibited me from playing any game I owned on Xbox One, I eventually played Slay the Spire. Slay the Spire is in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (for PC) but will be coming to console later this week (tomorrow as I write this) and I'm very excited about that. It's a pretty amazing game, but not a great one for the stream that Des and I run on Tuesday nights. I ended up in-the-tank a bit too much, and Des and I couldn't really play to our strengths.

Tonight, we'll try again what we started to do last week, if Xbox will cooperate.

  • Significant Games

Achievements are usually enough to tell me what games are significantly consuming my game time.
This week shows that it's not always the case. I earned achievements in only six games all week.

Graveyard Keeper for the completion, of course.
Prominence Poker for a stackable achievement for the GTASC bonus, an achievement that I'd preloaded ages ago, and essentially forgotten about until the need for it came up.
Fable Fortune I've called poker a game that is is something to do with your hands while you chat with buddies. Fable Fortune was basically the same thing.
Beach Buggy Racing Achievements As I work to grind out a "daily" achievement that is among the hardest that any set of daily achievements might be.
Killer Instinct Helping out by being a body to be beaten up for a bit, but I snagged a random achievement too.
and newcomer: Thimbleweed Park as I mentioned.

I started this list with "only" three. Then it grew. Basically, I kept finding games in my list that I played and actually earned an achievement in. But the time I spent in those games was often unimpressive. Where the time was actually spent, which was the point of this story, was on some hidden games.

Despite having the completion of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition long since past, I continue to play this game extensively, even now. The 17th period of seasonal content is coming to a close next Sunday, so it's time for me to make sure all my seasonal ducks are in a row. This season I've been focusing on some stuff I haven't done as much of with Diablo 3. Certainly not as much as I did with Diablo 2, back in the day. That will also set me up in a much better position to help people who aren't quite as fanatical about the game as me. If you just want the achievements in this game, let me know. I can help.

I'm modest by nature, but there is such a thing as false modesty.  And I won't stand for that.  By all means, hit me up for Diablo help.  I'm this much of a badass.I'm modest by nature, but there is such a thing as false modesty. And I won't stand for that. By all means, hit me up for Diablo help. I'm this much of a badass.

I also spent a lot of time in another ARPG, Realms of Ancient War Achievements, or "RAW." RAW is nowhere as good as Diablo 3, but it does have some achievements left. Unfortunately for me, most of the achievements require me to play through the whole game twice more. But I want it done, and RTDL is telling me to get it done, so I've been plugging away at it. I've gotten it down to about ten minutes per level, but that's still 4 hours per playthrough, give or take.

I've included an image of the inventory screen rather than the actual gameplay, because this is prettier.  RAW is a very basic ARPG, and passable, but it doesn't look great.I've included an image of the inventory screen rather than the actual gameplay, because this is prettier. RAW is a very basic ARPG, and passable, but it doesn't look great.

  • Prime Story

I didn't grow up playing adventure games the way that a lot of my cohort did. I came to them a bit late. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the ones I did play. Some of my favorites were the Lucas Arts classics. Sam & Max Hit the Road and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis in the early 90s. Fate of Atlantis is actually one of my all-time favorite games, particularly of this genre. I'm happy to own multiple copies of it, and if it made its way to console, I'd quite happily buy it all over again.

Today's prime story comes about because of another game that knows its roots is those classic Lucas Arts games: Thimbleweed Park.

I need to find a way to give a cat a moustacheI need to find a way to give a cat a moustache

Thimbleweed Park respects its elders, paying them homage over and over, while also poking a bit of fun at the limitations of those games and satirizing them slightly, while still being much the same kind of game. The game is available in GamePass and is pretty quick. I only started it on Sunday and am nearly done with it. It's been a nice ride in the land of nostalgia, and one I'm happy to recommend, particularly if you've got GamePass and are looking for something to do.

I don't think it's as good as either of the classics I mentioned above it, but it's better--far better--than the Telltale remakes of the Sam & Max franchies that were on Xbox. And a game like Thimbleweed Park shows that there is still room for the occasional oddball adventure game like this to flourish. But it needs robust characters. Ransome is going to steal the show most of the time, but there rest of the cast is engaging enough to make sure that your time in this sleepy little town is not easily forgotten.
Posted by Xpovos on 13 August 19 at 22:15 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkAs the Crow Dies - Volume 13
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-07-31 to 2019-08-06:

2069 GS. Since I'm writing these on Tuesdays, typically, they coincide closely with the GTASC periods, but not exactly. The GTASC bonus was for 2019 GS in the week. I hit that, so this is close, and also explains the non mod(5) value.

There'll probably be a few more points tonight from the stream game, but the period summary I'm writing doesn't include that here, and it won't be caught in next week's either. So it's 2069+ a small bit, probably.

One Completion:
A very large chunk of my points this week comes from Tacoma, a walking/floating sim in GamePass. I completed it because the RTDL told me to. It took me a bit longer to complete than the TA site estimate, because I actually got engrossed in the story. I listened to all of the audio, rather than fast forwarding, and took my time exploring. As a result, I think I had a better time than someone just going for GamerScore gains. But I didn't take that much longer. Instead of a 1-2 hour experience, I had a 3-5 hour experience.

  • Stream Games

Last week, I "played" Madden NFL 19 while Des and I covered the Democratic debate. This week we're going to go back to our roots. It's time to return to the Backward Compatibility sale games.

  • Significant Games

With Graveyard Keeper leaving GamePass soon, it's time to get the game finished. I'm fortunate that I spent so much time two months ago really digging in. The endgame is playing out more slowly than I expected, in large part because each step seems to take a week for me to advance, even though I have everything I need. So I've spent a lot of time dealing with the mundane remaining achievements. Grinding out alchemy, fishing, and related activities during the week, while hitting my quest actions on the appropriate day.
I get 16 faith per week now.  It's all spent as soon as I earn it.  I live faith-check to faith-check.I get 16 faith per week now. It's all spent as soon as I earn it. I live faith-check to faith-check.

Oh, and never ever failing to preach on Sunday. Even at this late stage, I still can't get enough Faith.

I returned to Magic 2015 - Duels of the Planeswalkers, initially for an RTDL achievement, but then also because I had some easy cleanup that made sense for my quest to hit 2019 GS for the GTASC week exactly. I needed 90 more, and Duels 2015 had a bunch of easy ones (or easy for me with my collection) that were all worth 30 each, and which I could safely hit without fear of hitting anything else along the way. It was fun to get back into it a bit and reminds me of my goal to climb the CCG leaderboard some more. It's time to get one that.

I also spent a significant time on Sunday playing Disney Pixar Brave: The Video Game with my kids. Previously, I'd been playing is solo, but my kids wanted to play something, and I needed to play Brave, so we loaded up the co-op wisp feature. I spent all of the money we earned upgrading it and they took turns as we went through some levels. It actually made the game a bit easier, which is good because we're playing on "Brave" difficulty for that difficulty-based achievement. But not significantly easier, which got them frustrated. Still, it was a good experience for everyone.

I also had a chane to hang out with Proulx for a bit and help him to get his needed achivements in Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious. We took that time to also get achievements for us both in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. There's something pretty awesome about local gaming.

  • Prime Story

The story of Tacoma is not super long or super complicated, but it does hit some interesting points an it was done well enough to be engaging. This definitely felt like a much smaller game than it could have been. Even other walking sims tend to be deeper, with extra layers of meaning that can be found if you choose to dig deeply enough. Those layers here were, IMO, fairly shallow. I'll forgive it because maybe that isn't the experience everyone has. As a native-born in the sci-fi genre, some of the elements that were obvious to me might not have been to others.

A good sci-fi book cover never has anything to do with the plot, but captures the prospective reader's attention and ideally shows off some characters from the story. Here we have Amy and ODIN.  Their interactions are nothing like what you would be lead to believe by this artwork.A good sci-fi book cover never has anything to do with the plot, but captures the prospective reader's attention and ideally shows off some characters from the story. Here we have Amy and ODIN. Their interactions are nothing like what you would be lead to believe by this artwork.

I did enjoy my time with the game and would recommend it to others. My daughters came in at one point while I was playing, and my eldest asked, "what's the rating?" This is a genuine curiosity, and also usually code for, "this looks interesting, can I play?" The game is rated M, for "Sexual Themes, Strong Language." The sexual themes bit interested me the most because I can't deny the language, though it didn't surprise or shock me. The language all seemed reasonable and spot-on. The sexuality in this game is interesting. And it's perhaps more interesting because of the previous game the company made: Gone Home: Console Edition. That game got a lot of attention for its portrayal of a teen's coming-to-terms with, and her family's failure to come to terms with, her sexual identity. In Tacoma, there are more of these themes, but because it's science fiction set seventy years in the future, rather than 20 years in the past, they apply none of the stigma. That makes it less interesting from a narrative perspective, of course, but is more interesting sociologically. Two of your six crew members are a couple, and this is where the "sexual themes" seems to play out the strongest, but in honesty, the themes are so minor as to be bland. Had this been a heterosexual relationship, I can't imagine the same content getting an M rating.

That might be appropriate. And there were additional sexual themes, though those were usually buried deeper in the sub-plots, and easily missed by a casual play--but we've seen that the ESRB doesn't necessarily care about what will be seen, but about what could be seen. Still, I found myself, at the end, wondering if this is a game I would restrict my kids from playing. It'd be a hard sell. There are things that would require conversation, but the messaging in the game is not at all what one might expect from a game with an M rating for sexual themes and language. But people will always find some reason to get upset about our behaviors in video games.

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Posted by Xpovos on 06 August 19 at 18:28 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.