Posted in Gaming, Steam Gaming

Steamgifts: Giving it All Away

One of the first posts I wrote when this blog was still young was about Steamgifts. This is an online community that creates a massive number of giveaways of free Steam games/keys.

I wrote about how all that works in that post, and while I haven’t been actually entering that many giveaways since then, I have recently been using it to purge my Humble Bundle library.

One of my gaming goals for this year was to play over 60% of my Steam backlog. While I’ve inched that up to 53% played this year and have played almost everything new that I’ve bought, I won’t be hitting that goal, and I pretty much know it.

However, this number is somewhat misleading because I have a ton of games from bundles I purchased that I’ve never claimed on Steam yet. The last bundle I ever bought was in 2017 when I realized I was just stacking on a bunch of games that I may never play.

This is also why I never subscribed to that Humble Choice or whatever it is now that dumps even more games on you every month. My backlog is too large to handle already. I don’t need all that!

In preparation for the new year, one goal I’d like to set is to is bring in some of these unused bundle keys into my account for the games I do want to keep. So I’ve been massively sorting through games and figuring out which ones I just wouldn’t spend time with.

These are the games I’ve been tossing out on the Steamgifts site. And I’ve had quite a number of them! Not done yet, either.

It feels good to get these keys out of my inventory and hopefully in the hands of someone who really does want to play these games. Then I can focus on claiming the keys I want and hopefully trying out some of these games. I have the whole series of oldskool Sierra adventure games, for example, that I really want to play.

The Steamgifts site has been hosting a pretty fun holiday event where you can open 5 random gifts each day and choose whether to take up the giveaway. While I don’t really need any more games, I have entered a few that have been interesting to me. Doubtful that I’ll win, but it’s still fun to do.

Posted in Gaming, Steam Gaming

Steam Games: Kind Words

I saw that Bel at Tales of the Aggronaut also wrote about this “game” today, but I haven’t read his post yet. I wanted to come at my own post with fresh thoughts first. Still, I’m glad to see other people picking it up in the blogosphere!

I first heard about this on Friday night from a Kotaku article. I don’t usually jump right out there and buy a game on impulse these days. And I even hesitated on this one before I picked it up.

Then I took the plunge, and I’m glad I did. For $5, Kind Words on Steam is totally worth it.

What Is Kind Words?

I hesitate to call it a game. It’s more of a social interaction platform for giving and receiving support and good vibes.

Everything you do is completely anonymous – interactions are only signed with the user’s first initial. And there’s no back and forth in this, so it’s not meant to be a conversation or a dialogue.

To break it down in simplest terms, you read “requests” which are short notes sent by other players. You choose whether to reply to those posts. The idea is to comfort the person, answer questions, give advice, or just let them know they’re not alone.

I’m giving advice to someone who gets overwhelmed with completing tasks.

You do all of this in a quiet, comfortable virtual environment that takes place in a single room with chill music playing in the background. Each day you participate, you unlock new songs to add to your virtual playlist.

When someone gets your response, they can thank you by sending you a collectible sticker. This sticker is an object that you can place as decoration in your room. You can also put them on your letters and share them as thanks to responses to your own requests. It’s a neat little collection meta-game, but not the central point in any way.

When you’re not reading or responding, you can chill out in your room. From time to time, paper airplanes fly across your screen that you can click on. These carry real time encouragement and messages from other players. I was surprised at how downright wholesome and thoughtful some of these could be!

A deep message from a paper airplane

You can send your own paper airplanes with quotes, good wishes, good vibes, whatever you want to say to people. It’s a nice place to find a pick-me-up if you’re feeling a bit bummed and just need to hear something pleasant.

I passed this game along to my sister and brother-in-law, and they were (as I expected) right on the ball in answering questions and sending out their own prompts. Rather than send requests about worries and concerns, I like to send questions in the disguise of looking for advice.

“When you need to concentrate on getting something done, what kind of music do you listen to? I’m open to suggestions!”

Things like that. It gets people talking and responding about something positive that they enjoy, and it actually does get a number of replies! I figure that’s within the realm of what requests can be used for, because who doesn’t get some good feelings from listing their favorite books, or music or talking about how they first started gaming?

Anyhow, I spent way more time in Kind Words over the weekend than I have any other Steam game I can think of recently. I’ve made it a point to check in for a bit every day, answer a few requests and bask in the good vibes.

I think it’s a neat little social platform, a cool experiment, and so far, I haven’t run across anyone trying to spoil things for others. If you’re curious about the game, and it sounds like something interesting in any way, give it a go and brighten someone’s day.

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Steam Gaming

7D2D: Fort Moon

I know, I know. Potty humor picture. I’ll explain more about how that came to be in a bit.

So, the Posse has gotten together for at least one night each weekend to continue our current map of 7D2D. I’m not sure what it is about this particular game, but we’ve stuck with this fort longer than any other in quite a while. I think when we hung it up on Sunday, we were on Day 25.

While the game isn’t super hard by any means, we’ve seen a lot of unusual encounters and locations we’ve never experienced before. Especially for so early in the game cycle… since the concept is that the game gradually gets harder and harder as more blood moons pass.

One evening, right at sunset, I caught sight of a random horde spawn just down the street from our base. Now, hordes do spawn, and we’ve seen many different kinds – dogs, buzzards, wolves, zombies… But this one spawned a zombie bear and a handful of wolves.

Now, normal bears are no pushover in this game. But zombie bears are something to take great care with. Everyone scrambled back in the base, and with guns loaded and a careful pull, we took out the wolves, and then the bear.

Zombie Bears still get caught on barbedwire

That was pretty interesting!

We also discovered that the pig farm, which I talked about in a previous post, and the boss mob Grace, both respawn regularly. This has been a huge boon to us because it’s basically a place we can go to stock up on tons of meat, rather than trying to hunt the almost non-existent game.

The funnel system I built into our base seems to work overall. And after experimenting with the iron upgraded spikes, I have to say they are a good substitute for the old wood log spikes that the devs removed. Overall, our base has withstood up to the day 21 horde, with irradiated zombies and all slews of stuff coming for us.

Night 21 Horde – Bright green zombies

Oh, and before I forget to mention, we now have upgraded to motorcycles rather than pedal bikes. These are super nice, and even have spikes on the front that do the dirty work if you run up against any wayward zombies on your travel.

We’ve yet to upgrade to any of the larger vehicles, and we completely skipped the mini-bike phase since the crafters among us said it just wasn’t worth the materials to make those anymore. You may as well put a bit more into a full motorcycle.

Fort Moon

So, I promised you the story behind the sign in at the top of this piece, and I’m going to deliver. Sunday, our zombie team was down to three people at the time – Xaa, Amoon and myself.

Xaa and I needed to go AFK for a short bit, and I joked that Amoon would have to hold down the fort. Then I added that by the time we returned, he would have rebranded it.

A little while later, after we’d returned to the game, I hear Xaa remark about the sign I made at the front door that said “Fort Moon.”

I was like, “Wait a minute. That wasn’t me!”

Amoon started laughing, and I knew exactly what happened. He had run with my joke and actually rebranded the fort!

Well, then the suggestion popped up that we needed to put some graffiti on there and make it an official moon. After trying (and failing) at finding a good text representation of said moon (the font wasn’t working with things like CC ) I Googled a text butt and added to the sign what you see above.

Glorious? Not really. But it only happens in a sandbox building game like this, huh? 🙂

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge, Steam Gaming

Steam Challenge: Guild of Dungeoneering

Game: Guild of Dungeoneering
Time: 40 Mins (But Will Play More!)

One of my goals for this month is to get back to trying one new Steam game from my backlog each week. I started this month with this game – Guild of Dungeoneering. I think I picked this up in a bundle somewhere, but it looked interesting, so I gave it a try.

I really wanted to put more time into it before I wrote a post about it, but I feel like I have enough of the gist of all the major ideas and systems in the game. Actually, the whole game is a set of inter-working systems. But it’s easy to look past that because it’s just so darn charming.

I mean, just check out this intro song:

What is it?

The game’s Steam page describes itself as this:

Guild of Dungeoneering is a turn-based dungeon crawler with a twist: instead of controlling the hero you build the dungeon around him. Using cards drawn from your Guild decks you lay down rooms, monsters, traps and of course loot!

This does a good job of describing the game at a high level, but I want to go a little deeper into it than that.

The first thing I noticed was the cute, hand drawn art style and the fun tavern-song music. These tavern songs are woven between scenarios, usually on a loading screen, and are often quite amusing. I knew I was in for a quirky ride with this game from the get-go, and it didn’t disappoint.

So, the story begins as you decide to break away from the official Guild to make your own. I mean… you can do it better, right? This includes building up a guild hall of various rooms, and hiring adventurers to do your dirty work for you.

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You then send your hired hands out into dungeons. These dungeons have objectives to fill.

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Sadly, poor Mervin didn’t get very far before he met his end. It took me a few hirelings to realize that bats (which can sap life) are not a choice enemy in the beginning.

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But all is not lost — when one dies, another immediately takes their place. Also, the gold the first adventurer brought home remains, and you can use that to build up your guild hall like so:

20180308074538_1 There’s even a nice little grave yard to remember them by…

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Building up your hall unlocks new types of hirelings…

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And also increases the loot pool for each fight you win.

Build Your Own Dungeon

Let’s take a moment to talk about the dungeon building aspect of this game. It’s pretty cool! And in the end, if your hireling loses the fight, you’ve only got yourself to blame. You built it for them, after all! 😉

So, when you enter a dungeon, it’s only half built like this:

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The random cards you get in the bottom corner are what you use to build the dungeon, and connect the parts. Usually the goal of the dungeon is on the part that you can’t reach yet. You can place up to 3 cards per turn, or end the turn early.

You can also place treasure cards (if you have one) and enemy cards in the rooms. So, really, you pick your own encounters to a certain extent.

When your hireling goes to battle, it’s a different sort of card game.

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The cards you can get in your hand are directly related to the gear that your hireling is wearing (I’ll show that in a moment). The blue cards at the top are your pool – you get to play one card per turn.

The outcome of the cards are indicated by the icons. For example: the red fist is an attack that will take away one enemy heart. There are cards that cast magic, that restore health, that block enemy attacks… all sorts of things.

When you beat an enemy, you get your choice of loot:

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Each of these items will add a new kind of card to your deck, influencing the skills you can use. If you don’t like any of your choices, you can take gold instead.

Again, as you build up your guild hall, you can purchase an expanded loot pool that gives better drops each time you beat an enemy.

So, basically, you send a hireling in. You build a dungeon, place risks and rewards, and choose the loot that will help them beat the quest. Then you take the gold they earned back, build up your guild hall, and repeat.

It’s a neat little set of systems, and the dungeons are short. So you can pick up and play in spurts if needed. It has a quick tutorial, and eases you into the game without too much of a learning curve. However, seeing that my first few adventurers died on the first dungeon (darn bats), it’s not a total pushover, either.

Recommended: 

yes

Give it a shot if this sounds like something you’d enjoy. I’m sure you can get it at a good price during a Steam sale, if nothing else.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Nintendo Switch, Steam Gaming

November Gaming Goals

It’s hard to believe this year is almost coming to a close! November is here, and I’m trying to set a wider variety of gaming goals this month.

I know I’ll have a couple of snags in November — the Sims 4: Cats & Dogs expansion drops next week, and later in the month, the new Animal Crossing app releases. I know these will demand some of my time. But aside from that, here’s what I’d like to do this month!

FFXIV

  • Level Paladin (Beast Tribes/Quests/Hunts) ✓
  • Level Machinist (Alliance Raid Roulette) ✓
  • Level Crafters
  • Clean up Stormblood quests ✓

This month, rather than spread my attention across different characters, I want to focus on leveling a few different jobs on my main. I also want to mop up some of those unfinished Stormblood quests because they are seriously cramping the map with all those icons at this point!

Switch

  • Play Mario Odyssey ✓
  • Beat 3rd Divine Beast in BotW
  • Complete Octopath Traveller demo

I’m making these goals in order to remind myself to stick to my Switch games. I picked up Mario for a short time last week, but I don’t want it to fall by the wayside. I also want to start to progress in Zelda: BotW again. I lost momentum in this game back when I had to send my Switch dock for repairs, and haven’t played it a whole lot since. Finally, I downloaded the Octopath Traveller demo back when it first launched, but haven’t played it. Need to fix that!

Steam

  • Try 1 Steam game from my backlog each week ✓

A conversation that fell on Steam gaming and backlogs from the other night reminded me that I’m falling behind on backlog clearing yet again. I actually picked up a couple of bundles lately (mostly because I just wanted one game from them), but I haven’t entered any of the keys into my Steam account out of shame. XD

Interestingly, I’ve noticed a trend where I’ll hear of a game on my Steam wishlist releasing for the Switch, and I’ll drop it from Steam for the Switch version. But this means my Switch is starting to see a tiny backlog beginning to build up, too. Noooo!

 

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: One Year Later Review

Back when No Man’s Sky launched a year ago, I wrote a post about my first impressions of the game. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. I even wrote up a list of suggestions that would make the game better.

I stumbled on this post and realized that a LOT has changed in NMS… so I wanted to do a round-up and take a look at how many of my concerns and suggestions were addressed. So, here we go!

My Annoyance List

Long… long… long… loading screens.

This hasn’t changed, mostly due to the fact that the game has to load shaders and stuff when warping and loading the game. I’ve learned to live with it.

Slow. So very slow.

Just walking (which you do a TON of) has two speeds: snail-slug slow and a little less slow. The “running” doesn’t feel like running, just a slightly faster walk.

Interacting with aliens starts to feel like it takes an eternity. You get something like a cut scene, then the alien takes forever to speak to you and then the relevant game text slowly fades in.

They’ve added ground vehicles to let you get around faster now. Walking and running are still slow, but at least there’s another option.

They actually fixed the alien cutscene and talking slowness pretty early one. You can choose to skip through the Milestones pop-ups and you can now click to speed up the loading of alien text. This was a huge improvement!

In addition to that, you can now insta-warp to space stations from your base, plus the use of portals (which I haven’t done yet).

Inventory constraints.

Just bad. I know you slowly increase your slots, but that seems to be the only real progression when it comes to ships and suits. There is never enough room for any of the things you find.

Inventory is still tight on ships and suits, however, now there is a designated section of slots for upgrades vs. cargo, which helps a lot. Also, you can put holding containers on your base and own your own freighter!

So inventory options have improved a lot, though you have to work to achieve it.

Lack of quest clarity.

I’m okay with a game that doesn’t hold my hand, but I feel like the the little bit of tutorial we do get is not very clear.

There’s still some wonkiness with quests, but the addition of a log makes the experience much better. The new storyline also works as an extended tutorial, and has been pretty solid so far.

Exploration starts to feel redundant.

You do the same sort of thing on every planet – find discarded ships, fix them up to upgrade your ship. Find new upgrades for your weapon and exosuit.

There’s SO much more to find and do now. Many more biomes were added over the last year, plus different kinds of points of interest and different ways to locate them. It’s much easier to be able to build your own signal booster to find what you’re looking for.

I also noticed that there are some things you can’t mine or gather until you have specific upgrades. Some plants require a hazmat type protection while some minerals require advanced mining tools. So, there’s a variation in all of that.

My one major wish is to see more variety in animal life now.

Constantly pacifying Life Support.

There’s no eating in this game, but you have to “feed” the life support to keep your exosuit systems online and not die.

This is still a thing. HOWEVER. They added a creative mode that allows you to play the game without this bothering you all the time. So, now, you have an option.

No way to easily toggle UI to take nice screenshots.

So there is a way to completely turn off the HUD in the PC version, but it requires you to go to the Options menu and turn it off in a setting every time you want to take a screenshot.

I’ve just recently discovered the camera mode, and it is fantastic! Pressing X allows you to toggle between tools, including the camera. When in camera mode, the world freezes and you can change several aspects, such as your camera view, the time of day, that sort of thing. It’s really above and beyond what I could have hoped for!

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My new base, taken with the camera mode, which allows me to see it from above.

 

Space Pirates.

They haven’t killed me yet, but man, they’re a pain in the behind.

They’re still there. BUT. You can now choose to call backup from the local space station, or even pay off the pirates to leave you alone. Shooting them down is worth a lot, however…

Ship navigation.

I like that you can’t crash your ship… or I’d be doing it all the time. But it bugs me that I can’t fly down lower over the surface of a planet, and how much a pain it is to estimate a landing on a planet.

Low flight was added in Atlas Rising patch! This is truly wonderful… I had actually been using a mod before this to achieve the same thing.

Static world.

No Man’s Sky feels like a very static world in that you never see aliens just going about everyday life. You dock in the space station or trade outpost and its always empty of activity… until you’ve been there a little while.

This is still a thing, though it’s getting better. It seems PoIs and space stations feel a bit more lively than they used to. There’s still no aliens to be seen outside of trade posts, or daily life, but having your own base and putting NPCs there helps.

My Suggestions

So I made a list of suggestions that would improve the game, IMHO. Let’s see how things look now.

Building!

I need to build things and make something of my own. Right now, I just drift from world to world, but nothing has any personal worth to me.

Bases were added last year. I am just starting to explore base building, but I like what I see so far!

Land vehicles!

Let me build a little moon rover or hover bike or something.

Yep. They added them. Again, I haven’t built one myself, but I’m looking forward to playing with one.

Give life to NPCs.

I love learning the alien languages and earning reputation with different races. But see above for all my complaints on how static the aliens are right now.

I feel like the game is moving that direction. The Atlas Rising story helps put names and stories to NPCs, which is a good thing. Recruiting NPCs for your base also helps.

Bookmarks, maps or quick return.

I need a way to be able to mark and return to places I’ve explored before.

You can create waypoints to systems you’ve explored before, though I haven’t messed around with that much.

You can also now warp between your base and the space station, which is really nice.

Portals were just introduced in Atlas Rising, but I’ve yet to play far enough to see their functionality.

Also, ships can now be summoned to certain locations. I was stoked when I saw that my ship portaled with me between my base and the space station!

Better inventory management!!!!

Separate upgrades from inventory.

Yep, they did this.

Online encyclopedia.

This is a pipe dream. But what’s the point in discovering all these cool things if you can’t show it to someone else? I’d LOVE an online encyclopedia of your discoveries — a webpage that you can pull up that shows the worlds and creatures you discovered. Something you can link to and send to other people.

While this is still a pipe dream for the overall game, the community is actually working on doing this through the Hub Project. Good work, guys!

So…

Well, dang. It sure does look like No Man’s Sky has either completely addressed or has improved on areas that I had issues with when I first played the game a year ago. That’s pretty crazy, if you think about it.

We all have lists of things we hope that our favorite games will do, but rarely have I seen a game turn around and actually handle almost all of my complaints and issues. Not only did NMS deliver, but it often went beyond what I hoped for… all in FREE patches.

Now, instead of wishing for improvements, I can start looking forward to being delighted by the development to come. Good job, Hello Games!

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Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: Space Adventure Continues

I’ve been in the mood for chill gaming lately, so I keep coming back to play No Man’s Sky. Thankfully, as of my last post, I did find a graphics settings tweak that fixed the blurry texture issues I was having. I can’t run the game on Ultra due to settings restraints, but at least it’s a whole lot better to look at than it was.

The team at Hello Games has been hard at work putting out patches for Atlas Rising, putting the game at version 1.33 now. I don’t know if all the major bugs have been taken care of, but they are certainly trying hard to fix what they can.

NMS Progress

I finished up some missions and raised my standing with the Gek to move on to the next part in the story line. This has me searching for help to pinpoint Artemis’ location from a lifeform named Apollo.

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I have to say that even though this story remains a tutorial so far, the writers continue to do a good job at keeping things mysterious and interesting. The story has me curious, and has started rewarding me along the way with things such as the Terrain Manipulator.

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I haven’t tried using it yet, but at least I can dig out the crashed freighters if I find one again.

The quest had me leave my previous star system, which was okay with me. Most of the planets there were either too hot, too cold, toxic or had terrible storms which prevented me from doing much exploration.

I was of a mind to head back towards my base planet, anyhow. Then, in the next system, I stumbled upon this interesting “bountiful” planet.

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It’s really a lovely place with bright blue skies, and bulbous grasses that gradient from deep purples to soft greens. I haven’t completely made up my mind yet, but I might be moving my base here. I’m a little concerned about doing that, though, because there still might be a chance I could mess up my story line (though they patched it, and that shouldn’t happen).

I’m not sure, but I feel like the story may have skipped the whole base building part, anyhow. One moment, they’re handing me the matter manipulator, another moment they’re telling me to strap in and look for a means to open a portal. Apollo even noted that I had a base, and that going through this portal might mean I wouldn’t see it for a long time.

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Gonna be very careful about this.

Oh, and remember how I mentioned I had this really cool carrier ship, but I’d forgotten to take a screenshot of it? Here it is!

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I’m still working on paying to unlock the slots on it, but finding a random 29 slot ship is pretty sweet (considering my previous ship was 17 slots).

The space adventure continues!