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!

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

No Man’s Sky: 1.3 Atlas Rises Patch

So while I’ve been talking a lot about GW2 this week, the truth is, over the weekend I mostly played No Man’s Sky’s newest 1.3 patch – Atlas Rises. This marks the game’s first year anniversary and it’s still on sale for $24 on Steam right now if any of this catches your interest.

This patch was really an incredible leap forward for NMS. Much of the community now feels that the game is finally at a point where it is what it was originally advertised to be. Yes, it’s bad this wasn’t out at launch. BUT – the devs didn’t abandon the game, and kept working until it was in a much better shape.

Now we have so much, from base building, rovers, low flight on ships, missions, farming, a new economy and trading system, and a brand new storyline. Really, there’s too much to list…

Oh, and yeah. The sorta-multiplayer was added, which really excited players. It’s very rudimentary, but it’s a foundation for something more, I hope.

Changes in the Universe

The universe was also restructured because many new and unusual biomes were added to the planets. This meant that your home base planet may have changed, for better or worse.

I did start to build a base during the last patch, but didn’t get super far with it. When I left the world, it was this pinky-purple planet, which was kinda pretty.

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Before 1.3

When I returned to my base planet, it had all turned green instead. Which is also kinda pretty.

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After 1.3

Thankfully, this was a positive change. I’ve read a lot of people who had a great home base planet that turned into snow or toxic waste biome. So, I can’t complain too much.

Texture Troubles

The one thing that did eat up a lot of my time was trying to troubleshoot the game’s texture loading issues. The last time I played the game, I was using my old Nvidia graphics card. Since then, I upgraded to a much more powerful AMD card.

I’d forgotten the posts that said NMS had issues with AMD cards. And, well, mine had issues loading the textures that I never had on the previous card. The game played well enough, but all the textures were on low quality, no matter what setting I put the graphics on.

I’d played the game enough to recognize this was NOT how it was supposed to look:

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Everything from the grass to the texture on the rocks to the building… yeah.

So I updated my drivers as a first step, and this actually cleared it up long enough to get those comparison pictures above. But after playing a bit, warping around, maybe turning the game off and back on again, it went right back to being blurry.

I started doing research.

Someone suggested a complete driver cleaning and uninstall/reinstall from a manual download. I did this, and again, it helped for a little while.

I went through several suggestions on the Tech Support forum. I got it to work partways, but still not 100% of the textures load. I may go back and mess with some of these settings again, but I eventually just gave up and played with mostly-loading textures.

It was better than none.

New Storyline

So, there’s a new storyline. It’s not super captivating or anything — mostly the story of an alien who has crashed and is stranded. You have to help them out.

But what the storyline does fill is the huge blank where a tutorial or guidance system was missing. In fact, it feels a lot like a tutorial, which is there to introduce the player to all the different features of the game.

It teaches you to build signal beacons, how to find specific locations, how to earn reputation, how to learn language, and (at this point for me) how to find the new mission feature. Eventually, I heard it prompts you to build a base (which gets bugged out if you happen to move your base’s original location, so be careful!).

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The game’s writing uses the illusion of mystery and grandiose language to try to make the story feel bigger than it actually is (a tutorial). It does cover this well, but the reality is, it’s just sending you on a bunch of menial tasks.

This is fine. I wish the story was a bit deeper than just a story masking a tutorial. But it’s better than nothing, and players seem to like it. I’m going along for the ride since it’s been so long since I’ve played that I don’t know most of what I’m doing anyhow. XD

It’s nice to have a mission-oriented journal type thing that helps you keep track of where you are and what you need to do, too. This might have been patched in back when bases were introduced, but it’s not until now that I actually started to rely on it consistently.

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Overall

The community has really rallied behind NMS after this update. Heck, even before this update, this game had a very dedicated group of players who even worked to create a whole Galactic Hub in order to meet up and map a common system. This is very, very cool, and you should check it out!

Even better, the recent Steam review ratings have gone from Mostly Negative to Mostly Positive as players give recognition where it’s due. There will always be haters, of course, but even I tossed in a positive review for the game (I rarely write game reviews on Steam) because I’m impressed by the dedication of the dev team.

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Despite the technical difficulties I’ve had, I also had great fun playing over the weekend, and hope that I can maintain a momentum to actually build my base this time around. I found this really cool crashed ship — I discovered it was a Hauler — that took me from 19 slots to something like 32 in one shot. (I wish I had a screen of it.)

I still have to raise the money to actually unlock the slots on the ship, but I was so stoked to repair it and get it flying. It might be a good introduction into learning how to haul and trade materials between systems. Maybe?

I’ll have to find out!

Posted in Gaming, Uncategorized

December Goals in Review

The end of 2016 is almost upon us. That’s pretty wild to think about. Some folks are ready to see the year go. I’m just trying to figure out how to do stuff differently next year. But that’s a post for another time. This is about my December gaming goals.

I’m posting this a little early because I foresee myself being busy the next few days (I’m visiting and roadtripping, and won’t be home until next week). I don’t think I’ll be hitting any more goals than what I already have for the month, so it’s all good.

What did I accomplish?

Games to Explore

  • Civ 6 ✓
  • Skyrim
  • No Man’s Sky ✓
  • Minecraft
  • Sims 4 ✓

I did pretty good on this. Poor Skyrim is falling by the wayside again, but I hope I can pick it up next year. Minecraft might actually get a bit more exploration since I did pick up the Wii U copy as well to bring along on my trip. 

Aside from that, I won my first round of Civ 6, started building a base in No Man’s Sky, and my Sims family have reached the top of their career. I’m aiming to get them that nice penthouse once they save enough simoleons.

I still have a lot I want to do in No Man’s Sky, but I also have a few new Steam games that I want to explore next year. I also want to get back on my Steam Challenge in 2017 and knock out some backlog games that have been hanging around for too long! 

Pokemon Sun

  • Complete 3rd Island ✓
  • Continue to fill Pokedex ✓

Yes! I did this! Despite being sucked into breeding and trading for the holidays.  

I actually just reached Poni Island last night in Pokemon Sun. While I still have a ways to go, I’m happy to say that my Alola Pokedex is sitting at  76% complete. I have three teams worth of Pokemon training in Pelago, either leveling to hit an evolution or leveling before I give them a stone to evolve. 

Final Fantasy XIV

  • Gear Dragoon ✓
  • Work (harder) on Dragoon Relic ✓
  • Level Monk ✓
  • Do Monk job quests ✓
  • Do Summoner job quests
  • Clean up old quests
  • Gear Summoner
  • Gain reputation with Sahagin

I’ve actually been taking a bit of a break from FFXIV this month, and it’s been a good thing. 

I finished gearing Zuri’s Dragoon with Scripture gear, and while I have worked on the Relic, I’m just not feeling motivated about it. Maybe waiting until the 3.5 patch, which is coming on January 17, to see if we’ve got any much-needed nerfs is the way to go for now. 

I have leveled Zuri’s Monk a bit – slowly coming up on 58 – but it’s not something I’ve worked really hard at achieving. I’d like to get it done before the end of January, though, because the Monk and Dragoon share end game accessories, so that would help clean up some inventory space. That’s really the only reason I level jobs anymore! 

I’ve really done nothing to gear up or advanced my Summoner. I just haven’t had that much interest in it, especially since Red Mage has been announced. I don’t know if Red Mage will share weapon stats with mages or with the other ranged DPS yet. So it’s hard to make plans for it. 

My poor old-skool beast tribe quests. Every month I just ignore them. Maybe now that I’m done working on getting Tomes for gear through beast tribes, I can focus on cleaning up the rest of them before Stormblood. 

I don’t know what kind of motivation I have for leveling my other jobs that are just hanging out there on Zuri. That level 50-60 grind is painful… and might ease up once the expansion comes. I have a level 30 Black Mage, level 32 Ninja, and two tanks hanging around in the 30s as well. I’ve not unlocked Astro or Dark Knight, and I’m not sure I have interest in unlocking them aside from just for completion sake.

Before Heavensward hit, I made a push to level all my crafting jobs to 50. So I might get the same itch with my battle classes this year. Maybe just to 50 so that once the expansion drops, they’ll be ready for the bonus experience. Who knows.

Right now, I haven’t decided whether I’m going to keep setting monthly goals for myself in 2017… but from the sound of it, I have a lot I still want to do!

 

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky

How to Build a Base in No Man’s Sky Foundation Update

Yesterday, I talked about the frustration and confusion I had in trying to build my first base in No Man’s Sky. I found a world I wanted to make my home planet, but I couldn’t find an outpost location to start building the base.

In No Man’s Sky, you can’t just build a base anywhere. There are limitations. You have to find an outpost site that allows for base building before you can begin. Sometimes you can find one when you scan a planet from space (target the planet and press “C” to scan). But more often than not, you’ll find nothing.

It took a bit of reading a few forum posts, but I’ve finally got it together. I wanted to write a quick guide for anyone who wants to build a base, but can’t find the outpost to start.

How to Build a Base in No Man’s Sky

  1. Find your dream planet and land on it.
  2. Press the Z key. This will bring up a new building menu that was introduced in the Foundation Update.
  3. Select the Signal Booster from the menu. I had to use the arrow keys on my keyboard to switch between the options. 20161205182935_1
  4. Press F to place the Signal Booster. Keep in mind that you must have the required materials to build it – you’ll find this information in a box in the lower right hand corner. From my understanding, these materials can change depending on which mode (Creative, Normal, Survival) you are playing.
  5. Press E to interact with the Signal Booster. It’ll give you a list of locations to scan for.
  6. Select Habitable Base and allow it to scan. It’ll show you the location of a nearby outpost that allows for building a base. 20161205182956_1
  7. Fly there and scope it out. If you like it, go inside and interact with the terminal to claim it as your base and home planet.

Keep in mind that there are usually more than one Habitable Base locations on a planet. So you don’t have to take the first one you find. If you don’t like the area surrounding the site, move along.

Just make sure that you first walk inside the outpost you don’t want to keep to discover it, then fly a distance away — this way, the signal booster will hopefully not pick up the same location a second time. Repeat the process: build a new signal booster and scan for another Habitable Base until you find one you love.

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Once you’ve claimed the base, building is super easy. You use the same Z menu to rotate through the different building parts, then place them with the F key. The game gives a little mini-walkthrough on what to do with your first base.

When you have rooms and stations built, you’ll need to go to a space station to hire NPCs like builders and farmers. Also, make sure that you locate the teleporter in the space station and use it to establish a link to your base. This makes quick travel back to your base possible.

I found the teleporter located behind the door up the stairs on the left side of the landing pad in the space station, which is directly across from the door where you go to access vendors and NPCs.

Hopefully this quick guide will help you get started. The rest is up to you, so reach for the stars!

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Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Uncategorized

No Man’s Sky: My Outpost for a Base

Last week, No Man’s Sky released the long-awaited Foundation Update. It came out of the blue and took a number of people by surprise.

I know that in the back of my mind somewhere, I had filed away that bases and other improvements were coming to No Man’s Sky. But as the hype and ire faded away, other games took my interest and I stopped looking for the promised update. I did, however, leave the game installed on my PC just in case.

Looks like it was a good thing that I did, because I was able to install the update and jump into the new content straight up.

Well, more or less.

New Modes

One of the most talked about new features comes in the form of new modes. This update brought two new options – creative mode and survival mode. Any previous game you started remains as a normal mode.

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This effectively gives you three save files and three different ways to play the game. I personally have no interest in a survival mode — the life support on my suit is annoying enough without more complexities. However, I’ve heard a lot of praise from people who were looking for this kind of difficulty in the game at launch. People are having fun with the challenge, and that’s a good thing.

Other Praise

There was praise for other parts of the update. Namely, more varied planet structure. We’re seeing more variety in formations, like true mountains and beaches now. I’ve stumbled upon a world with a true desert. These are nice changes, though I still wish for multi-biome planets one day.

Others praise the improved graphics of the game. I’m not quite sure what they’re talking about, because the game was always pretty looking to me. Though, I just may not see what they’re seeing due to a aging graphics card. Something has changed, because I get a warning now when I start up the game that says my card isn’t up to snuff. It still plays just fine, though.

Creative Mode

Because I was rusty with the game’s controls, I decided to start over in a creative mode game. I hoped this would refresh my memory in a gentler mode… and it did. In fact, it started me out right next to a potential uninhabited outpost, which means I could make a base there.

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I guess it was  a good spot, and in retrospect, I probably should have taken it because you can always move base locations later. Or so I’ve heard.

But not having a chance to explore, and seeing it was a semi-desert “barren” world (though it had plenty of flora and fauna), I set off for greener pastures. It did have some pretty neat floating structures, though.

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I soon discovered that creative mode was truly creative mode. Your life support doesn’t go down at all, except in the case you run across a toxic or such environment. Your suit, weapon and ship upgrades cost no money at all.

At first, this was pretty cool. But after a few effortless ship upgrades, I realized this mean that money was worth nothing, which took a lot of the challenge out of the game. As far as a creative mode, I guess it was doing its job well enough.

I visited a flourishing green planet that I really fell in love with, but I couldn’t  find an option to build a base on it. I know that you scan a planet to find a uninhabited outpost, and only those spots are able to support a base.  I don’t know if every planet has that option, or if it’s just one per system or what. If so, that would be pretty crazy.

One way or another, that outpost limitation was enough for me to put the creative game down. I had found a world where I wanted to build my base, but I couldn’t do it. That was frustrating.

I might do some research on outposts and bases eventually and go back once I know more… maybe. Instead, I decided to pick up my old save and see if I had any more luck. It was a bit of a bummer when you got everything for free.

Normal Mode

Going back to normal mode after creative mode was a bit of a jolt. I’d forgotten how annoying it was to have to stop and feed your life support suit and fuel your ship all the time. In fact, I spent more time doing that than I did actually making progress on what I wanted to do — find a nice planet to build a base.

On top of that, I had some terrible luck in the quality of the star systems I found. I left the system I was in only to find an equally inhospitable system right behind it. The problem was, I needed to get the materials to make fuel to warp again. But either the world didn’t have the materials, there were frenzied sentinels, or the world itself was so hostile I couldn’t remain there very long.

I did a planet scan and found an uninhabited outpost on a really craptastic planet. After that, my scans didn’t show me any more options. Again, I don’t know if this is by design, or if I’m missing the jist of it. But there’s no way I want to make my base on a green slime planet of doom.

No Man's Sky
At least I have a cool looking ship.

I left it off at this point, but I do plan on returning to it again this week sometime when I find the time. And time is what this game gobbles up by the score.

I really do want to find a base and learn about the building tools. They look well-done, though I know that there are limitations in place, especially on the console version.

I just have to find a world that I want to live on first!

Update! I did some research and found out how to build a base on any world. Here’s a guide for it! 

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, Minecraft, MMORPGs, Pokemon

December Gaming Goals

Welcome to the final month of 2016! It’s hard to believe the holiday season is here and the new year is just a month away. It’s going to be a busy month for me seeing I’ll be gone on vacation at the end of it, but I still wanted to organize a few goals for myself.

Like last month, these goals will mostly focus on nudging myself to play games I’m curious about due to new releases, expansions or updates. The picture above is from the new Foundation Patch for No Man’s Sky, for example. Minecraft also just got a new update that I’m interested in, not to mention there’s still a lot about the game I don’t know yet.

Games to Explore

  • Civ 6 ✓
  • Skyrim
  • No Man’s Sky ✓
  • Minecraft
  • Sims 4 ✓

Pokemon Sun

  • Complete 3rd Island ✓
  • Continue to fill Pokedex ✓

Final Fantasy XIV

  • Gear Dragoon ✓
  • Work (harder) on Dragoon Relic ✓
  • Level Monk ✓
  • Do Monk job quests ✓
  • Do Summoner job quests
  • Clean up old quests
  • Gear Summoner
  • Gain reputation with Sahagin

Let’s see how much of this I can do!

Do you have any gaming goals for December?