Xpovos545,295 (325,608)Virginia

Ehhh... A rounding error.

Xpovos has won 11,716 Achievements and 20 Challenges in 692 games and 6 apps

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Xpovos' Blog (121 followers)

PermalinkAs The Crow Dies - Volume 17
  • Weekly Stats

For 2019-09-04 to 2019-09-17:

2715 GS over two weeks (1357.5 GS average). That's a lower average than what my previous two-week blog period ended up being, but still reasonable enough, particularly for this time of year.

Four Completions:

Fearful Symmetry & The Cursed Prince
A fairly fun puzzle game with some occasionally mind-bending puzzles because you have to keep track of two things moving in similar fashion--but opposite--at the same time. A bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. It's well-liked because it's quick and there's a good guide for it, but what's the fun in that? As it turns out, the guide may not always be that useful anyway, because I found there were several puzzles that had some fairly tight timing requirements. It's gone on sale for $0.99 several times. And it's well worth that price, or even a bit more. Graphics are nothing to write home about, and the dialogue, what there is, is clearly written by someone with English as a second languge. But the puzzle design--that thing that the game is all about--is pretty good.

Thimbleweed Park
If this hadn't been well written it would've been a chore. It's amazing that though in many ways it's a Point and Click puzzle game, how different this is from Fearful Symmetry. Fearful Symmetry's story is meaningless. Thimbleweed Park's is the whole reason to play. There's a lot of fun here in the user created content that got jammed in during the Kickstarer process, that may well be the best stuff. Voice acting is also top-notch. But ultimately, the game left me feeling a bit disappointed. Instead of bringing the best of the Lucas Art's classic P&C games into a new generation, this felt more like a mimicking of the Day of the Tentacle kind of thing. There's charm and humor, and clever puzzles and the like, and even though the game is much gentler, there's really something missing. It just doesn't have the zing of the truly great games.

I know how to approach a game with a cover like this.  It's definitely going to be exactly what I think it is.I know how to approach a game with a cover like this. It's definitely going to be exactly what I think it is.

Faery: Legends of Avalon
I'm glad this wasn't voice acted. Given the budget and quality elsewhere, it would've been awful. As is, though, it means the game is a bit boring. It's a very linear, very simple RPG with faeries. That's not a bad thing, but the world traversal through the flying mechanic is just not fun. And that's the only way to get around. I've played worse, and I'm happy to scratch the RPG itch with a quickie, but even with it's regular sale price, it's only worth picking up if you really like RPGs and just want another one to play. These days you're better off paying more and getting a KEMCO.

A real gem of an indie game. The graphics are super-simple. It's like The Legend of Zelda, but in black and white and without even trying for faux-3D. That takes some guts. But it shows something I've really come to appreciate over the past few years. It's all about the gameplay. Minit has a nice gameplay hook and loop, has a well-designed play space, tests the player, rewards the player and lets the player make incremental progress all in a beautifully conceived process that is also backed by an interesting, if simple, narrative.

The final achievements I needed were to play the game a second time on the harder difficulty, to complete the game in under 25 runs, and without killing any snakes. I wanted to do them all at the same time if I could. Fortunately, having played the game before, with many, many deaths as I figured out the puzzles and the like, I knew the shortcuts and it was certainly possible. All the same, I did cut it close.


Zero Starts*:

It's been a quiet start to the month for games started. I haven't really bought much new, so I haven't had a compelling reason to start something. Normally I'll start games for my stream, or because I'm itching to play it, or just bought it. My stream games this month have been repeats, so nothing new there.

Until tonight. It's too late to be included in my stat round up, but tonight I will be starting a brand new game on stream. Brand new. Just released last week. So, that's a start.

  • Stream Games

Lately we've played a bit of Overcooked! 2.
When Overcooked 2 came out we were excited to play it, and ultimately played it through the netire game as a 4-chef kitchin with Des and her sister, and ypod. Unfortunately, the game had a glitch at that point that only the host got achievement credit on the save file. That has been addressed, but it's meant that we've had to go back, slowly, overtime, to redo all those levels again, and 3-star the difficult ones again that we (I, really, it's just me) need to for the achievements. So it's a bit of a process and has taken a while. Particularly when there's DLC coming out so regularly that also wants our attention. We spent some time in Horde mode, which was quite fun, and got my Pi-hundred-thousand achievement, and that's what sparked the recent return to this culinary world. As a result, I've earned almost all of the base game achievements now. Just a handful left that we should be able to hit whenever we come back again next.

But it won't be tonight, because tonight, we're going to play the new hotness. Des and I will be returning to Pandora. Kind of. We're revisiting the planets of Borderlands and starting Borderlands 3. Borderlands is the game that Des and I have played the most together, so this makes a lot of sense, and I expected it to be a lot of fun. Come join us and see what all the hype is about.

More on my lack of sleep below.More on my lack of sleep below.

  • Significant Games

I've done a fairly good job of completing the games I've hit hard recently. But there's always some progress going on. This week one surprising addition was Crayola Scoot. This is Tony Hawk for kids. I'm not very good at Tony Hawk games, so when I started it some time ago for a review, I was initially concerned that I'd gotten myself into a heap of trouble. Sure it was being listed as a fairly easy/quick completion, but that was for people who had skill in video games; or at least skill in video games like this. I was not expecting a lot after that first experience.

If I'd know it was Tony Hawk for kids I probably wouldn't have started it.  Probably.If I'd know it was Tony Hawk for kids I probably wouldn't have started it. Probably.

But the game came back up this month due to RTDL, so I jumped back in and over a few sessions I got into the groove and knocked out not only my required achievement, but several others as well, and in fact almost all of the game. There's a bit of grind here, but I'm thoroughly impressed by how little I'll need to play the game. There are so many levels that I won't have to play. The achievements are really pretty early in the game as far these things go, in part because the leveling process seems to be quite accelerated--possibly because it's a kid's game, at heart. I wondered about it when I first played. The controls are not easy for a kid to pick up. My youngest daughter and middle daughter were both done in by it. Even this time around, all three of them took some turns and it wasn't anything they were good at, particularly. The Crayola branding seems a bit young for my eldest, who was by far the best at the game. So the challenges might be easier to grind, but actually winning the events? Not so much.

Gears POP! joins the list of games I'll be playing constantly but never mentioning because it's just background noise. It's a nice game to play for a bit here and there, and I'm not going to say it's not fun. The game mechanics are not new to this game and they're reproduced reasonably well. There have been bugs, and cheaters, and all of the problems you might expect from a game like this. But the most egregious problem of all is the leveling system. Using some back of the envelope calculations people have found an estimate for some of the craziness that the two end-game achievements will take. For reference:

Gears POP!Pin-nacle 4The Pin-nacle 4 achievement in Gears POP! worth 5652 pointsUpgrade a Pin to max level

This achievement requires getting a unit to the highest level, which for commons, at least, is level 20. We don't know for sure how many duplicates that will cost, but regression analysis says that it's over 90,000 duplicates of that particular unit. There are 15 different commons, to get enough common units to upgrade to 20, it's going to be something like 1.3M unit duplicates required. And that's before they add new units, which they're already doing--though at higher rarities. The estimate is that playing aggressively and for free, it's going to be 5 years to earn enough duplicates to get this achievement. It's probably a bit less, we'll get some end-of-month rewards that should help, and self-selection in the free currency store will also mitigate it some, but not by enough to shave significant time off. Maybe it's 4 years instead of 5.

It's patently ridiculous. But that's not the worst offender. Two people have already earned Pinnacle 4 as of this writing. No one has earned this doozy.

Gears POP!MajorThe Major achievement in Gears POP! worth 50 pointsReach Max Player Level 20

Getting your hero to this level requires a boatload of xp, which can only be gotten through upgrading the units, per above, but with some weirdly diminishing returns on investment. Except that the only numbers that matter are the big ones, and those are all deep in anyway. So you won't just have to upgrade one pin to 20, you might have to upgrade all of them. No one is quite sure just yet how insane this is because even regression analysis can't point far enough ahead to get an estimate.

There's a reasonable guess that the two people who have the Pinnacle 4 achievement either cheated it, were gifted huge piles of units by The Coalition, or opened their wallets to the tune of thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of dollars. There are whales in mobile games that do this kind of thing. And it seems that The Coalition and Microsoft are counting on them, and the achievement hunters, to keep this thing moving.

Estimates of various costs in a spreadsheet I'm compiling with regression analysis.Estimates of various costs in a spreadsheet I'm compiling with regression analysis.

If upgrading all of the pins to level 20 (or the highest) is the requirement for this, multiplying the $10+ by 15 for this achievement isn't even going to cut it.

Why bother mentioning all of this? No one is going to be surprised that a mobile game with scammy F2P economy mechanics is a grindy mess of a progression path. But I think it's important to note just how bad it is. I've played my fair share of this kind of game in the past. I've sunk over a year into more than I care to count, to get to the far side in the F2P mode. But rarely does a game take into a second year. And certainly not without adding content along the way.

I think there might be a popular revolt among a small group who realize just how insane/impossible these goals are. Yet, I don't expect anything to change. People seem perfectly willing to offer up ridiculous sum of money, so why not? Just because it's not healthy doesn't mean it's going to stop.

I may talk about Gears POP! more, but I'll try to keep it news-y. For now, just assume I'm playing it, essentially daily, and will be for the next 5 years.

  • Prime Story

Welcome to September, everyone. School has started. The kids are back in class, the schoolbusses are on the road, the teachers are in the classrooms, and every single adult who comes into contact with kids needs to go through a background check. Right now. Not two months ago when they agreed to help out. Now, because they're already in the classrooms, and on the roads and in contact with the kids on a day-to-day basis. That is September in my world. Get all of the background checks of three months done in one, because no one can follow simple instructions.

It's OK though, it's like this every year. And it's such a regular problem that my bosses decided to help me out for a change. No, I don't get to hire more stafff, not even temp workers. Or authorize overtime. No, we're rolling out a new application process that will definitely work immediately and simplify everything. Even though it was made by a small team in two months. That's absolutely going to work 100% of the time and never cause a single problem.

I'm not really going to be able to sleep for the rest of the month, particularly not if I want to stay on top of everything else I'm doing.

So... sleep, or Borderlands 3?

Sleep or any video game?

Sleep, or spend time with the kids?

Sleep, or record a podcast?

Sleep never wins. And that makes sleep cranky. And then sleep comes and punches you in the face for being a jerk to it and always picking it last for the team.

And then sleep wins. But not until October.
Posted by Xpovos on 17 September 19 at 22:17
Share this blog (2)
Sir Paulygon Heh. I've always been reasonably disciplined on getting enough sleep. Philip picks on me all the time about that too whenever I opt to sign off "early," lol.

Of course, if I didn't have a job, I'd be more inclined to stay up longer. Then again, I'd sleep in longer as a result, so... not too sure how that would work out. shock
Posted by Sir Paulygon on 18 Sep at 12:59
Xpovos You'd probably get depressed. Well-regulated sleep is one of the best things to combat depression, and a poor sleep cycle is often coincident (though not necessarily causative) with bouts of depression. That includes not getting enough sleep and getting too much.

It's particularly interesting because one of the common symptoms of depression is a weird type of inertial insomnia. That until you fall asleep, you feel like you can't. Things, usually bad things, keep presssing you on. But once you are asleep, it's incredibly difficult to get up again. So, inertial, in the sense of "things in motion tend to stay in motion; things at rest tend to stay at rest."

I don't recommend anyone follow my sleep schedule at any time of the year, but particularly not in September.
Posted by Xpovos on 18 Sep at 13:10
Triple Triad777 My motto is you can sleep when you dielaugh but I understand why sleep schedules are important. A few years ago, I had a major case of insomnia due to multiple factors such as grad school, gtasc, etc. It got to the point where I was only sleeping less than 4 hours a night. I began to recognize a major change in my behavior, and decided that I needed to get help. Now I've been able to prioritize what I need to get done, school is over (for the most part... lol), and I am now getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night!
Posted by Triple Triad777 on 18 Sep at 13:27
Sir Paulygon I probably get around... 8 hours each night. Invested in a great mattress and pillows too and that's been helping me stay asleep. Of course, recently our neighbors across the street installed the brightest flood light ever -- can't blame them since their car got broken into overnight, I'll get some curtains for the windows over the weekend. Shutting the blinds just doesn't seem to cut it.
Posted by Sir Paulygon on 19 Sep at 15:34
Dresden N7 Apologies, I don't have much to say about sleep that wasn't already mentioned. Other than not letting the bed bugs bite.

Concerning Thimbleweed Park: the phone book might be one of the most clever Kickstarter perks that I have ever seen. I probably spent an hour or two calling random numbers.
Posted by Dresden N7 on 25 Sep at 10:38