Posted in Gaming

March 2018 Gaming Goals in Review

I set out some pretty ambitious goals for March, and was surprised that I actually achieved quite a few of them this time around. I did get a little distracted by Starbound and Second Life towards the end of this month, so not everything was complete. Still, did pretty well overall!

FFXIV Goals

  • Level Black Mage (to 70?) ✓
  • Level Ninja to 50
  • Level Warrior to 40 ✓
  • Level Dark Knight to 40 ✓
  • Level Weaver to 70 ✓

I did, indeed, level Black Mage to 70 this month, and then started on leveling my Summoner/Scholar next… mostly because I’m trying to consolidate gear at level 70. I also got Weaver to 70, and have started on upgrading all of the gear to script stuff so that I can look at improving all of my other crafters’ gear.

The only goal I didn’t meet was getting Ninja to 50… though I did move that up to 42. So, I’m not too far away!

Nintendo Switch Goals

  • Make progress in Mario Odyssey ✓
  • Play Dragon Quest Builders ✓

I’ve only made a little bit more progress into Dragon Quest Builders… still in Chapter 1. But that’s okay.

The big thing was that I finally beat the story mode for Mario Odyssey this month! I want to say this is the first Switch game I’ve actually beat!

PC Goals

  • Play more of Sims Jungle Adventure ✓
  • Try one new Steam game each week ✓✓✓✓

I did play a bit more of the new Sims Jungle Adventure, and wrote about it as well. There’s still a lot I haven’t seen in this Game Pack yet. Will try to make some time to play some more.

Not only did I play a new Steam game every week this month, but I also hit my Steam Challenge goal for the year, to play at least 50% of all the games I own!

A pretty good month overall. Let’s end March with a nice filtered picture of a fountain I took during my Mario play through, but never got to use anywhere else.

mariofountain

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: 50% Milestone Goal Met!

One of my goals for 2018 was to reach a milestone of having played (over) 50% of the games in my Steam backlog. This month, I’ve been nudging closer by prompting myself to try a new Steam game each week.

Last night, for the first time in years, the calculator reported that I’ve played 50% of the Steam games in my library! Given that this number is 245 games, this is no little thing!

50percentplayed

My other goal this year was to not buy a new game if I wasn’t interested in playing it almost immediately. I’ve pretty much stuck to this.

This week, for example, I obtained my Project: Gorgon Steam key from the Kickstarter, so I made sure to install the game and poke around in it a little bit last night. Once I have more time to sit down with it, I’ll be sure to post about my new experiences in P:G.

Aside from this, I finished Back to the Future: Episode 3 last week. I had an itch to try a city builder this week (mostly because I’m interested in Surviving Mars), but didn’t want to buy another game right now. So I started playing around in Tropico 4 last night instead. I put in about 2.2 hours, making it through all the tutorials and starting my first island.

A Look Back

When I first started the Steam Challenge, my backlog looked like this:

steaminfo

Dang. I was worried about just 60 unplayed games back then? Now I’ve played 123!

This was back in 2014, so that’s an average of about 46 new games a year. Wow! What was I thinking? Also, keep in mind some of these games came from bundles and some were gifts over the years.

Also, this counts software titles in the stats, such as RPG Maker and GameMaker Studio, Art Software (Spriter Pro), and other things that are not games. For example, my “games” number shot up over the holidays because I picked up several pieces of game making and art software… not because I bought actual games.

Most of these games I bought between 2014-2016. Last year, I cut back on buying games for Steam… because of the Switch. Games are often more expensive on the Switch, which leads me to cull Steam purchases.

I also notice that my Steam wishlist has shrunk significantly last year (and a number of these are actually DLC for games I already own). I’ve been moving indies off of my Steam wishlist to my Switch wishlist as they’ve been announced. I’m also finding that I’m turning away from tempting sales, staying away from bundles, and skipping out on everything except good deals on games I really, really want to play here and now.

Surviving Mars is an example of that. I’m interested in it. I just have too many other games between Steam and Switch to justify getting a new game right now. So, instead of picking up Surviving Mars, I decided to play Tropico 4 (which it was compared to).

I have absolutely no interest in systems like Humble Monthly be cause I absolutely shudder to think of the mass influx of games it would bring to my backlog… Most of which I’m not interested in, or already own if I am interested in it.

In fact… I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t even take freebies or cheap games because the thought of inflating my backlog numbers turns me away. Not to mention, most (not all, but most) of these cheapie games are probably shovelware anyhow. (Sorry.)

My Top 10 Games

I decided to take a moment to list my top 10 games by time played. I will note that some of the numbers are vastly inaccurate, because Steam (at one point) didn’t record my time if I listed myself as offline, or if the Net was down. I pretty much always list myself offline (if I’m not playing with friends) just so I can focus on the game I’m playing without interruption.

Luv you guys, but I’m so easily distracted! ❤

Starbound, for example, should have a ton more hours to it. There are some games that didn’t make this list that might have if the hours were more accurately reflected here. But, oh well.

topgames

I also listed more than just 10 here since RPG Maker, Spriter and GameMaker Studio 2 are not-games. As I noted before, software titles get tossed in with the games.

Yep, 7D2D beats out all the rest of my Steam games by a long shot. Starbound just overtook Stardew this past week as second place (again, my Starbound numbers should be a lot higher). And I’m ashamed to have played so much H1Z1 (Just Survive) in the past.

As you can see, I have issues clearing my backlog because these endless sandbox or tactical games always suck me in. Only Torchlight II and Walking Dead are games that have any sort of true ending on this list. It’s pretty terrible, but I really do love good sandboxes!

Anyhow! It feels good to finally have a balanced point on my backlog. My next goal is to reach for 60% of all backlog played. I may spend some time culling some titles — for example, the backlog also includes duplicate titles. Like this:

duplicates

ori

So, I didn’t actually purchase a second copy of the game, but the new GOTY or Definitive Edition was automatically added to my Steam account because I owned the original. This still counts as two games in the backlog stats, though! Not fair! I have several of these.

So, I’m going to see how many of these I can clear out to get a better idea of where my stats actually stand. I’m probably going to do the same thing for any software-not-games I’ve purchased but never launched, just to clear up those stats as well.

How goes your Steam backlog? What does the Calculator say? 

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: What Remains of Edith Finch

Game: What Remains of Edith Finch
Time: 3 hours

I received this game as a Christmas gift, and finished back over Christmas holiday. I’d heard of this game before, and had wanted to try it out, so this gave me the excuse I needed to get that done.

I don’t want to say too much about it, because this is a game that’s very easy to spoil. I went in pretty blind, and suggest that if you’re interested in trying it out, you do the same.

What is It?

The Steam store page describes it as:

What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of strange tales about a family in Washington state. As Edith, you’ll explore the colossal Finch house, searching for stories as she explores her family history and tries to figure out why she’s the last one in her family left alive.

This is pretty much all you need to know to play.

The environment is very atmospheric, and while I thought at first this might be a spooky game, it didn’t turn out to be. Now, that being said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that unsettle or make you feel uneasy. There’s plenty of that to be found in these stories.

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Generations of the Finch family have lived and died in this strange, winding house. Edith comes here as a young adult to revisit her childhood home and to find answers for herself. Almost every member of the family has a story about who they were and what led them to their demise.

As you experience these stories, you fill out a Finch family tree.

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Once you complete the game, and fill in the entire tree, you can come back here anytime to replay specific scenarios based on the family members. Some of these were disturbing enough the first time, however.

Some might call this a walking simulator. I feel the variations in the style of storytelling and mechanics you encounter between family members’ stories help to break up the feeling of the traditional walking simulator.

Again, I can’t really say a whole lot without giving much away. But there was a particular sequence that involved someone who worked in a fish factory that was especially brilliant. The overlap of gameplay and story really put me right in that character’s mindset in a frightening way.

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Anyhow, if there’s a nit to pick, it’s that the game is fairly short. While you can go back and replay stories, it only took me 3 hours of slow exploration to get through the game. For some people, this might be too short.

Looking back on it, I think forcing the game to be longer would have been detrimental. The game is compact for a purpose. It told the stories it wanted to tell, and left the rest to the player to figure out.

Also, the ending may not sit well with everyone. But that’s a call you’ll have to make for yourself.

Recommended?

yes

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Dragon Fin Soup

dragonfinsoup

Game: Dragon Fin Soup
Time Played: 2.8 Hours

Two years ago, in April 2014, I Kickstarted Dragon Fin Soup. It’s been on Steam for a while now, but I read that it had a slightly rocky start with many patches to make needed changes based on feedback. So I’ve been holding off trying the game until I sensed that it was more stable.

That time has come.

What is it?

The game describes itself as:

Dragon Fin Soup seamlessly blends genres to create a fresh experience: half story-driven tactical RPG and half high-stakes roguelike, with a pinch of crass humor and a heaping helping of murder & madness set in a procedurally generated fantasy world.

A flamboyant description that well-fits the game. This is all pretty accurate. The game plays like a tactical game (think a more fluid FF Tactics) in that you move your character based on grid-squares. It’s certainly an RPG with levels, weapons, armor, crafting, skills and such. The world is procedurally generated – even the town you live in!

Best Universe Name Ever!
Best Universe Name Ever!

There is an overarching story that unfolds in Story Mode as you play. Most of the game, however, has been me taking on jobs at the tavern and going out to get my butt kicked.

Gameplay

I’m probably a wuss, but this game feels pretty difficult, even on casual story mode. I realized this early on when I died in the introduction before I could find the boss enemy I needed to fight.

However, in my defense, the game just throws you in and doesn’t provide an in-game tutorial. Sure, they have some videos you can watch from the main menu, but it doesn’t replace a learning area in the game. So, I was frantically learning on the job, and I have a feeling there’s a few things I haven’t figured out yet.

It took me a while to figure out the movement controls and feel comfortable with them – it was helpful when I discovered that you can use the mouse to click or WASD to walk, depending on what feels better for you. It was just by accident that I realized that healing potions are replaced by alcohol in this game… and I think there’s a toxicity meter where drinking too much of that to replenish health can send you into a rage.

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For me, dungeons became a series of saving after achieving small victories and earning treasures. Because every encounter can go two ways: you do really well and hardly take a scratch… or you end up having to chug all your rum as you struggle to stay alive. I have no idea how the same fights with the same monsters can vary so greatly, but they do.

I’ve died and reloaded the game so many times. I don’t even want to know what playing this with permadeath would be like. If that’s your thing, knock yourself out.

Style in Spades

However, I can forgive the game for brutally slaughtering me because it’s got some serious style and charm. The art is wonderful. The story, while not gripping, has my interest. The humor is there, and I find myself amused and enjoying the characters.

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When you do complete jobs, you feel fairly rewarded for your time and efforts. I have yet to figure out crafting (though I did complete a crafting quest) and fishing – still haven’t found a fishing pole yet, even though I do have a quest to catch fish. So I get the sense that I’m only scratching the surface of this game.

I do like that the missions are generally short. You can probably pop in the game and play one or two a night if you have about an hour to put towards it, and make progress.

I just got a new pet. Yes, that's a creepy undead hand.
I just got a new pet! Yes, that’s a creepy undead hand.

I’m going to do just that, make progress when I can on this game, and keep playing. I still haven’t figured out how to fish, and for me, that’s a crime!

Recommended?

yes

Yes! If you enjoy a mashup of tactics/RPG/roguelike, this game may be what you’ve been looking for!

Posted in Gaming, Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: Long Live the Queen

longlivethequeen

Game: Long Live the Queen
Time Played: 1.8 Hours

I picked up Long Live the Queen during a Steam winter sale in 2014, and have only just now gotten around to trying it. I’m awful. But, hey, that was the final game that I bought that winter that I hadn’t played, so now I’ve caught up! 😀

What is it?

The Steam page describes it as this:

Rule the world or die trying!

Being a Princess is not an easy job. Being a Queen is even harder. Especially when you’re only fourteen years old, and the reason you’ve inherited the throne is that your royal mother has just met an untimely end.

While it’s very catchy, it doesn’t really do a great job of describing exactly what you’ll be doing in this game. So here goes nothing.

LLtQ is a very clever visual novel in that I don’t think I’ve played one similar to this before. The story is pretty complex, and a lot is obscured to you if your princess, Elodie, doesn’t have the right skills to understand what’s happening around her.

So you have this princess who is next in line to the throne. And you have all these outside plots and intrigue that want to see her dead. It’s difficult to determine who is friend and foe, and even moreso because, as I noted above, if Elodie doesn’t have knowledge or skill in something, parts of the story are completely obscured.

Each week, you send Elodie in to learn two new skills. You can double up on the same skill, or spread it across different skill types. The one major thing to keep in mind is that her current emotional state effects which skills she learns the best.

For example, if she’s angry, she’ll get a bonus to learning about weapons and military. But she’ll suck at learning something more peaceful, like medicine. In fact, she can suck so much that trying to train her in one of those skills will result in nothing learned at all, and is a huge waste of resources.

If you raise all skills in a set to a specific level, you unlock new outfits that help Elodie learn them even faster, which is kinda nice.

lltqskills

Learning the right skills to handle the right situations is the difference between life and death in this game. But the problem is, you won’t know what’s coming to kill you until you get there. And by then, it’s too late.

Fun and Frustration

This was my first death...
This was my first death…

The story is pretty interesting, which is a good thing because, as I noted above, you’re not going to live through it your first time. Thankfully, the game allows you to fast forward through story you’ve already seen. However, each choice you make, including knowing the right skills to handle story situations, changes the outcomes and choices you can make. The game is smart enough to stop fast forwarding through any part of the story that you haven’t seen yet – a very nice feature!

So this game is designed from the get-go knowing that people are going to play it repeatedly before they succeed. I’ve seen it touted as the Dark Souls of visual novels, and I agree.

It’s fun because you can try again with more knowledge the second time around. My first time, I was actually doing pretty well until I got shot through with an arrow and Elodie brilliantly thought that pushing it deeper was the best way to deal with it.

My second time through, I had a better idea of skills that would benefit me. I unlocked a lot of skill outfits and was progressing pretty far into the story. I probably should have saved the game (that’s the only way I can think I’d ever come close to beating it is to save and reload), because I ended up getting trashed because I didn’t have enough magic skill or something.

Oh, yeah. Speaking of which, there’s an unexpected magic girl sub-plot to the whole thing. Or, at least, there was in the story I’m playing. Sadly, the magic girl transformation didn’t save me.

lltqtransform

After dying on my second try, the third and fourth times I just got more and more miserable at it until I gave up. I probably needed a break, but it got to the point where I felt everything I chose was wrong in some way… and it probably was.

There’s just no way to be able to foresee and prepare for all the different skills that you need to respond to situations appropriately, and it’s hard to know which failures are huge and which ones are okay to let slide. So while this does encourage you to replay the game again and again, I could see this as a bit of frustration for perfectionists.

My advice is remember to save if things are going well. I’m still kicking myself for not saving that second game. I could have gone far!

Despite my grump, I can see myself playing it again when I have time. It’s certainly challenging, original and fun overall.

Recommended? 

yes