Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Kingdom Rush

Game: Kingdom Rush
Time: 0.9 hours

I think I got Kingdom Rush in a bundle somewhere, and it was one of those games I wanted to just try to get off my “to play” list. I knew it had good ratings and that people generally had fun with it, so I went into playing this one with a pretty positive attitude.

What Is It?

The Steam page describes this as:

Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command! Fight on forests, mountains and wastelands, customizing your defensive strategy with different tower upgrades and specializations!

That actually sums it up pretty well.

I don’t often play tower defense games, but this one was pretty straightforward and simple to pick up. It introduced harder enemies with more skills as the game play progressed, but I never felt overwhelmed with new mechanics and critters.

It’s not too hard to grasp. You get a map, which changes with each scenario. On that map you have a point to defend, positions to place towers and spawn points where enemies appear.

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Different towers produce different types of troops, which you can upgrade using gold that you earn from defeating enemies. You can also place reinforcements and order troop positions. I played at a very easy level, but I can sense how this could get challenging at a higher difficulty.

You can eventually hire heroes, which get stronger and level up as the scenarios play out. And really… that’s all there is to say for this one. Cute little tower defense, cute art style, different levels of difficulty so you can play what you enjoy. Overall, good fun.

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I’d like to put some more time into this game, but I have a feeling other games are going to override this one in terms of time. I know there’s a mobile version of Kingdom Rush out there, and I think this would probably be an excellent little pick up and play for on the go.

Recommended?

yes

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Tales from the Duty Finder – DPS: “I am glad I was wrong about last boss…”

Even on a good day, The City of Rabanastre is not my favorite raid. Last week, when my FC ran it, I must have been a little out of sorts, because I was easily annoyed by randoms in our alliance party.

In particular, two know-it-all DPS.

Oh snap! A DPS story for once!

I don’t know why, but a bossy DPS is just laughable to me (unless they really prove themselves knowledgeable). I’m rarely surprised by bossy Tanks or Healers, but when a DPS tries to instruct the entire raid, it’s usually ignore-able.

And I say this as a DPS main.

This is what happened on Mateus, the first boss of the raid. Our Bard decides to try to order our group around, telling us which sphere to attack. Then, he tries to shout to the entire raid what the mechanics are… as if we haven’t been playing this for months now.

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Actually, I never even saw any of this going on while it was happening because I was… surprise!… focusing on raid mechanics! There are many spheres to fight. Many bubbles to pop. Many fountains to step on. Lots of things to take care of.

So, no, Mr. Bard. I did not attack the same sphere you were attacking because I was DPSing somewhere else in the raid.

But. Apparently, that made our DPS BAAAAAAAAAAAD in his eyes. So much, that he expected the raid to wipe and disband on the second boss, Hashmal. And he told us so.

Now, I could see this prediction if we’d actually done something wrong, or our DPS actually was that bad. But we cleared Mateus just fine… without needing his instructions.

Then, the Black Mage decided to chime in about being the only other DPS that did anything… and that we needed to “kill our adds better.”

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I know that I shouldn’t have let this get to me, but I was steaming at this point. I had every intention of shoving my rapier in their faces on the next boss.

Turns out… that wasn’t very hard to do.

In fact, those two DPS died so much during the next fight, I was even rezzing the Bard’s butt (as a Red Mage). I had second thoughts about doing it at first. But it made me feel slightly smug that not only did my DPS always top his on the aggro list, but I also didn’t die, and he had to take a rez from me. After he bad-mouthed my DPS.

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Take my rez and shove it!

…ahem… Yeah. I was just a little sore at him.

And then, you know what happened after we beat the boss? Those two DPS, who insulted the rest of their team earlier, but died more than anyone else… had the nerve to tell us… “GJ!” “MUCH BETTER!” “NICE JOB!”

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OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!! 😡

Alright. So… our FC folks, aside from Syn (who didn’t notice this going on until I pointed it out to her), were also not happy at being called “bad.” Even though they weren’t DPS. I didn’t get a screenshot of that part of the conversation, but I did get some of the other…

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And then at the end of the raid…

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Syn also decided to rub it in a bit, doting on the “poor” black mage… and throwing all kinds of extra heals on the DPS. I’m not sure if they noticed, but they did eventually shut up.

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The FC thought it was pretty funny, too.

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Dog Sled Saga

Game: Dog Sled Saga
Time: 5.5 hours

This was a surprise Christmas gift that has been sitting on my wishlist since last year, back when I first heard about it and read the strong, positive reviews. I absolutely didn’t expect to be spending my Christmas building up a team of adorable pixel pups and racing them. But it was perfect.

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The game decorated for the holidays, too!

What is it?

The game’s page describes it as:

As a rookie musher, foster a dogsledding team whose skills will grow if they’re treated right. Week by week, get to know your dogs’ unique traits, and carve your story into the trails of the Mount St. Something region.

Dog Sled Saga has a pick-up-and-play dogsled racing. Each dog’s speed is hindered by hunger. Lob a limited supply of food to them to keep at full speed. Hazards on the track await.

This is a very basic overview of what to expect. I won’t say the game is extremely deep, but it does have some interesting systems (hiring workers, dog breeding) that you can dive into if you want.

The basis of the game is putting together a team, caring for them to keep stress levels down, and balancing the care with training to keep their skills sharp. Each dog has hidden special traits, abilities, likes and flaws that you only learn over time.

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Just loook at this faaace! Who’s a good boy?

Racing is the major aspect of the game, and the mechanics are pretty simple. The dogs move forward on their own, but become slower as they tire. You feed them snacks to motivate them again. Hold down the mouse button, which places a moving arrow indicator over your team, and time it so that you toss food to the right dog at the right time. It really takes a little practice to get used to, but isn’t that hard.

Sometimes dogs get tangled in the ropes and sometimes you need to adjust how far apart dogs are. Aside from that, you may have to avoid obstacles on the track and watch out for annoying trees that intercept your food toss. That’s really about it.

As your dogs earn “Perfect” food catches — which is totally up to the player getting the tossing time correct — they level up and their endurance increases. Your dogs also increase in fame for doing cool things, which brings sponsorship opportunities.

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As you start racing in higher leagues, the difficulty increases and you get more dogs on your team to manage.

I liked that the game saves after every day, so you can pick it up and put it down to play in quick bouts. Even the races are pretty short. So it’s something you can make progress in short gaming sessions if you need to.

There’s also a short story mode — nothing that’s going to change your world, but it exists, so don’t knock it. And there’s a rival racer who annoys you as you move up the ranks. It’s rewarding to beat him when he tries to pass you at the last moment in a race. I’m curious about who he is, though.

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And you, too, can have a Schnauzer named BOOMCHICKEN!

I’ve only just qualified for the 3rd league, which has increased my dogs to 4 in a team. I can certainly see how things will get more challenging from here. At the same time, there’s a really laid-back quality to the game. Once you get into a groove, and your dogs are buffed and making time, it’s relaxing and fun to play.

Overall, I’m having a great time with this game. I kinda knew I would. I still have a lot to unlock (like breeding), and lots of racing ahead of me.

If you enjoy cute pixel management games and think racing sled dogs sounds like a fun concept, check it out. You might enjoy it, too!

Recommended:

yes

Yes, if you enjoy this type of game.

 

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Winter Sale & 2018 Goals

So how has your Steam Winter Sale gone this year? My wishlist is… quite a bit lighter than it was going in. In my defense, I only bought two games this sale: Planet Coaster and SOMA.

Many of the other great titles I got were Christmas gifts from friends. Thank you!!

I’ve been really excited about my new game list, and I’ve put a bunch of time into gaming over this 4-day weekend! I have lots to blog about… but first, I wanted to take a moment to note my new Steam goals for 2018.

New Statistics

The first thing I want to note is that the Steam Calculator has just changed how they display statistics this past week. It puts the numbers in a slightly more positive light… but it still takes some getting used to.

Previously, the site would tell you “you haven’t played this percent of games”. For me, this percent was something like 53%. I was trying to make this number lower.

Now, the site tells you “you have played this percent of games.” It tells me that I’ve played 47% of games… and now I want to make this number higher.

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It’s still pretty bad.

Yeah, it means the same thing. Like I said, it’s a more positive spin… you want to increase our number instead of decreasing it.

My goal for 2018 is to get this metric above 50%. I’d really love to shoot for 60% this year. I’m not sure how viable that is. It depends on how many new games I get.

Playing Those Games

I honestly haven’t bought a lot of new Steam games this year, compared to the past. But every game I’ve bought this year, I’ve played for at least a little while. 

This excludes some games, such as stuff I bought in bundles that I never activated, or stuff that came from old bundles that I just recently activated. I also tried to play all my gifted games, but I don’t think I’m going to achieve that before the new year.

So my express goal for 2018 is that if I buy a Steam game, I play it. Like, preferably right when I buy it.

No more picking a bunch of games on sale and just stashing them away untouched. This is also good to do because there’s limitations on return time… So it’s better to go ahead and try a new game than to leave it sitting in your library only to find it’s a dud way past return time.

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I’m also cutting back on bundles as much as possible. I still have a bunch of Humble Bundle games I need to sort through — either giving away the keys I don’t want or finally activating them. I really don’t need to keep buying more. A number of keys I get now days are duplicates anyhow.

So, those are my steam goals as I roll into a new year. Let’s not even talk about the growing backlog I have on my Switch… or on GoG…

Ahem.

How’s your Steam Winter sale going? Pick up anything interesting?

 

Posted in Holidays, IRL

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

 

I’m home for Christmas this year as my holiday vacation trip doesn’t start until this weekend (it’s more of a New Years holiday). I’ll certainly write more about what fun we’re having this year when I get back… but I’m not gone just yet! You still have another week of me around. 😉

 

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Towns

Game:  Towns
Time: 12 mins

You look at my time played. You ask, “How can you write a review about a game you’ve only played for 12 minutes, Wren?”

My answer is: “Sometimes, you just know in the first 12 minutes.”

Here’s the thing. I adore simulation and city builder games. I’m not the best at them, but I will sit and happily be amused by them for hours on end. I’ve actually owned this game for quite a while and had it installed, the icon sitting on my desktop for months. I read the mixed reviews and thought, “I’m sure it can’t be that bad.”

Well… sometimes the reviews are right.

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What Is It?

Towns describes itself as this:

The game brings a fresh new take on the city building/management genre by introducing many RPG features. In Towns you manage a settlement on top of an active dungeon. Instead of playing the hero who delves deep into the dungeon, how about playing the town that houses and caters to the hero’s needs?

Now this sounds like a really cool idea. I don’t know how close this version of the game gets to reaching that description, because the graphics, UI and gameplay turned me off in the first 12 minutes. I hate to be down on someone else’s hard work, but I’m going to be honest in this write-up.

I am not a graphics snob. I will play a pixel game just the same as a beautiful 3D rendered game. Some of my favorite games of all time are cutesy, retro pixel type games. And while I won’t say the graphics in Towns were terrible, the whole package together just accents how clunky the game is.

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So, look at this. The UI is a major sticking point for me. You have buttons on both sides and the bottom that fold out into menus that obscure your playing screen from every direction. This, on top of the graphic design, quickly dropped me back in the early 90s before streamlining your UI was a thing.

And boy, was it complex to navigate. Not in a good way.

My biggest complaint was that when you instructed something to happen, you never knew if the game actually registered it. For instance, the tutorial asked me to build up the walls of that unfinished house in that screenshot up there.

I’d click to place the wall and nothing would happen. I’d click again. Nothing would happen. Then, eventually, after clicking multiple times, one of the villagers would come and place the wall. After going through this several times, block by block, it felt like a huge waste of my time to jump through hoops to do something that should have been easy to accomplish.

I’d hate to see what would happen if you tried something more complex. When it told me I needed to build scaffolding for the next level of walls, that’s when I gave up.

Add to that the fact that the game works in several layers. Not sure how to describe this… Basically, there’s a ground layer, then as you scroll your mouse wheel back, you go a block higher, then a block higher, then a block higher. So, I’m guessing in order to build walls taller, you have to make sure you’re on the right layer.

This looks something like this:

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See how the area is mostly grayed out? That indicates it’s on the layer below the one you’re targeting. In fact, it goes as far as to tell you that you’re targeting “air” itself.

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No… just no. Why is this even a thing?

So, ultimately? I’ve spent more time writing this post about why you shouldn’t play this game than I did actually playing the game. Sometimes, gamer instincts just tell you.

And while Towns is currently in the Steam Sale…

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…I don’t know that I could recommend it even for less than $4… I think there are plenty of other games at this price point that would be much more enjoyable, and are currently being supported/developed.

But, I mean, if you’re hardcore into town building, maybe you’ll like it?

Recommended:

no

I don’t pay your sub. Do what you want to do. 😉

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge, Uncategorized

Steam Challenge: Corporate Lifestyle Simulator

Game: Corporate Lifestyle Simulator
Time: 30 mins

I don’t even remember where I got this game. It might have been a freebie. It might have been part of a bundle. I shoved it under the “clear” category in my Steam Library, which indicates I intended to fire it up for a few minutes, play a little bit, and remove it, all in the name of getting a sub-par game off my “unplayed” Steam library list.

That’s actually not what happened at all.

I’m not much into arcade shooters, but I fired this game up and it had me laughing long enough to play through the whole first section. There’s even a bit of a storyline that goes with it, though a funny and messed up storyline.

What Is It?

Corporate Lifestyle Simulator describes itself as:

Battle your way through corporate architecture and brain dead, buzzword-spewing, middle managers using office supplies as weapons to work through your Jungian shadow issues…

Fight back against the forces of tyranny and liberate your fellow coworkers from the oppressive evil that dominates them…

Smash ALL THE THINGS!

And… that pretty much covers it.

You can never quite tell if it’s a zombie apocalypse or if Big Brother Corporation finally consumed one too many souls, leaving the managers brain-eating zombies. And that’s just fine. Part of the joke and appeal of the game is that you’re an office worker fighting off these managers as they groan things like “Synergy” and “On My Radar” and “Core Competency” as they shuffle along.

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You pick up weapons from every day things around the office, and help rescue your co-workers, who fight along side you as you move from stage to stage. Each stage allows you to bust up just about everything in the office… which feels real good after a long day at the office.

Sometimes, there are specific things you have to do to clear a stage, and those are generally mapped out at the beginning. Like there was one that asked you to not destroy too many items in the office. That one was hard. 🙂

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There are funny little cutscene story pieces, which are super easy to skip (as I discovered) between the stages. These don’t last long and are somewhat roughly voice acted… but I almost wonder if that’s on purpose.

Also, there are boss fights.

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Oh, and when you die, you get often funny but inappropriately attributed quotes to famous writers/people.

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Also, the music was pretty jammin’.

So… uh… do I recommend it?

It really depends on if you enjoy this kind of game. For $4.99, it’s a “cute” little shooter/bash-em-up with a good sense of humor. Definitely a good way to take your stress out after a hard day at the office.

Chances are, you can pick this up as part of a bundle somewhere down the line, however. You might already have it, in fact. If you do, and you need a little diversion, give it a whirl.

Recommend:

question
Maybe

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: A Berry Merry Starlight

The Starlight Festival, the FFXIV Christmas event, began last Friday. It’s a cute little quest line with several housing items and the big-ticket reward – the new bear mount.

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These guys are real cuties, and as you can see from above, they also can fly (and swim)! In order to get the reward items, including the mount, you have to participate in a holiday FATE. It looked a lot like this on Friday:

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Trust me, bear puns were flying fast and furious that night.

Basically, the bear mount can ground target and throw gift boxes, so that’s what the FATE is all about. The other decoration items, and music scroll, can be purchased with gift boxes that drop when you successfully complete the FATE. Gold will net you 2 boxes, and to buy one of each of the new items requires 8 boxes… so about 4 will get you all the things you want.

The mount quest is short enough to not be a pain to do on alts… which I did on all of mine. Granted, I’ve culled my alts a bit the past few weeks.

Here’s some of the racial sitting poses for the bear mount:

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV Announces Glamour Commodes

Update: Newest screenshots confirm that the word “commode” was changed for release. How disappointing. 🙂

I am so… so… sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

I had to take that name and run with it. I wish it was a joke, but it’s not. From the Live Letter slide:

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I typed “commode” into Google several times just to make ultra sure I was seeing what I thought I was. And yep. Someone either thought this was too funny to correct or just didn’t quite grasp one of the meanings of commode for English speaking folks.

Yes… yes… I know it can have other meanings. But come on.

So, here I am laughing about having to go to the Inn Room to throw my glamour gear in the commode.

Here’s the whole slide:

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Anyhow, this news is super exciting, despite the name. I will gladly throw my glamour into any wardrobe system, even if it is a commode!

Here’s some detailed information on this, taken from Reddit:

Glamour in general

  • The regular glamour system will still exist!
  • Glamour prisms will be consolidated into a single type.

Commode

  • The Commode has 200 slots total.
  • Items can be converted to glamour in your inn room (they plan to make this possible outside inn rooms in the future)
  • Converting an item to a glamour costs a single glamour prism.
  • Items converted to glamours can’t be used as equipment.

Ensembles

  • Ensembles can be created in your inn room.
  • Up to 10 Ensembles can be created (more might be added in the future)
  • Ensembles can be made from glamours in your Commode and your Armoire (Armoire items do not need to be converted to glamours).
  • Ensembles apply a glamour over your currently equipped gear. It’s possible to fill all slots in an Ensemble, or leave certain slots empty.
  • Ensembles can be applied while in cities, inn rooms, residential areas, and the Ivory Chapel.
  • Applying Ensembles can be macroed along with gear set macros.
  • Applying an Ensemble does not cost glamour prisms.
  • Each Ensemble will save it’s own dye data.
  • Class restrictions still apply.

Saddlebags

  • Chocobo saddlebags cannot be accessed inside instanced duties.
  • Items stored inside saddlebags cannot be used/put up for sale/delivered/used as components for crafting/etc. Items may only be stored in or removed from saddlebags.
  • You will have access to the saddlebags even if the chocobo is stabled.

So basically we get 200 glamour slots for gear we use purely for glamour. We can now create glamour sets that apply over whatever we’re wearing. This essentially lets you have multiple glamours on role-shared gear. You can also still apply glamours in the old way.

The 70 saddlebag slots can be accessed anywhere outside of instanced content. This is essentially an additional 70 slots for things like tokens or gathering items.

I’m not sure if they’ll change the name between now and then, but this is coming in Patch 4.2, which will release sometime late January!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Squad Healing

The game keeps sending me cool Astrologian weapons through my retainer ventures. Not to mention healer drops in dungeons and raids. So, I took the hint and finally unlocked Astro last week.

This is a job I’ve been shy to try because healing by itself is often enough on my plate. The idea of adding cards to healing made me concerned that it’d be too overwhelming to me. But thankfully, Grand Company Squads came to my rescue!

Though I really enjoy running things with my little squad, I didn’t sit down to play with them a whole-whole lot until last week. They’re getting pretty strong now that I’m leveling their attributes, and it feels like I’m just along for buffs and light healing as they do all the heavy lifting.

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This is totally fine for me. I leveled from 30 to 40 on Astro in three days. This could have been faster if I’d ran more squad dungeons and didn’t run out of rested experience. 🙂

And yeah, I know it’s easier to run with a squad than real people (for me), but I still feel like I’ve learned a lot about Astro through the experience. I even ran a levelling roulette on my Astro with some FC folks since squads gave me the confidence to try.

Squad Accomplishments

One of the other things I wanted to get were all of the squad emotes. After you run the squad dungeons 10 times, the game just drops a bunch of emotes, along with an achievement, on you.

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I kinda wonder why they didn’t stagger these out a bit more — like 1 emote at level 10, 1 emote at level 20… But I’m not the one calling the shots.

Also, when your squad members reach level 51, this unlocks the glamour system for them. I was finally able to do something about my bunny-cat-archer.

She went from this…

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To this…

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I left the bunny ears on her, just because.

Glamouring squad members is easy to do. Just make sure you have the glamour prisms in your inventory, along with the gear you want to glamour.

So, effectively, you can pretty much customize your squad any way you want now. You can change their classes, level them up, and glamour them. The runs are a fast way of gaining experience for yourself, and leveling those alt jobs below 50.

Here’s to hoping we’ll see some 50+ content added to squads someday soon. Since they can level to 60, it would be really nice to have an easy way to keep nudging alt jobs all the way up to that point.

For everything else, there’s alliance roulettes.