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Rakuno checking out the library in Stardew Valley

Some time ago Syp of Biobreak wrote a post with tips for Stardew Valley. I thought I might add some of mine to the mix in the hopes they might help someone else. Or at least help me if I take an extended break from the game and forget all of this. :p

These are things that me and a friend found out while playing the game and discussing it. They should all work with the current version of the game, 1.06, but if a future patch changes things I will update this post.

If you have any tips of yours to add feel free to put it in the comments and I will add to the list with the proper credits. 🙂

...continue reading "My Stardew Valley Tips"

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My first farm in Stardew Valley during the fall

Lately I've been tweeting a lot (or the equivalent in my case) about Stardew Valley. Ravanel noticed that. She also noticed that I haven't made any post about the game. So she decided to blackmail me ask me to write some posts about it.

Since she knew almost nothing about the game I thought a review would be a good idea. I might do a few more posts about Stardew Valley after this but it is something I need to think about.

The shorthand I usually hear the most for Stardew Valley is that it is like Harvest Moon/Rune Factory but better. I never played that game series, only heard about it, so I can't really compare. Another game I hear comparisons about is Animal Crossing but that is another I never got the chance to play. If your case is like mine then read on and I will try to explain what the game is about and why it is so fun.

...continue reading "Stardew Valley Review"

The narration of Icewind Dale chapter 1

Recently, Syl linked this music video from Chrono Trigger. Besides this giving me some warm, fuzzy feelings it also made me want to replay Chrono Trigger. The last time I played it must have been about 20 years ago, when I was still a teenager. Back then I didn't appreciate it as much as I should, just like many games of the time. I mean, I knew it  was a good game back then but due to a combination of factors I just treated it as just another game to be played. There are a few reasons for that I think, the first is that like all things at a certain point in time we never consider that it may change. In this case, I never ever stopped to think there might never be other games like Chrono Trigger. I thought games like that would end up being made until the end of time. Or at least they would only get better and better. That the games that would be developed from that point, that even my tastes and gaming systems would change so much over the years were not something I ever considered.

Then there were the fact that I don't think my english (which is my second language) was still very well developed back then. Mix that with it being a rental that I would only keep for a day, maybe two, didn't give me much of a chance to appreciate the story or the characters.

All that makes me think of how much I missed, not only of the games I did play and forgot so much about, as well as a lot of other games that for a reason or another I missed.

...continue reading "Going through the nostalgia lane"

Fran Bow and the TwinsUsually I avoid doing reviews. Not because I hate them simply because I feel like there are other people who are much better at it than I am and I rather not parrot what they say. But then there are those moments where a game resonates with me so strongly in some way that I just feel like praising it to everyone I meet. Unfortunately just saying "Play this game! It is awesome!" is a very poor way to get people interested in said games. Therefore I find myself trying my hand at something resembling a review. This is one such an occasion.

So, about this game, it is an adventure game about a girl called Fran Bow that was living happily with her family and her best friend, a cat called Mr. Midnight, until one night while she was trying to sleep she saw an horrible creature peeking through her window. The next minute Fran heard her mother screaming and when she went to her parents bedroom she found them brutally murdered. Next thing she knows she is an asylum for kids who suffer from psychiatric problems. During one of her sessions she end up taking a new medication that the doctor hopes to help her. It ends up having quite the opposite effect, making her see a lot of creepy and horrible things that others can't see. It is at that point that Fran decides to escape the Asylum, find Mr. Midnight and discover who murdered her parents.

...continue reading "Fran Bow Review"

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My little kingdom of Italy!

First off, I apologize for the lack of more interesting screenshots in this post. Just like the start of this playthrough the decision of writing this was pretty much a spur of the moment thing. In other words this was born more of an "Hey, why not write about it?" than anything else.

To be completely honest (and as you may already expect from the title) I am a terrible player of Crusader Kings 2. I barely know enough to get through with dinasty in the west european/feudal countries. In fact, I usually just tried to start playing in Ireland, also nicknamed "Tutorial Island" by the players due to how easy it is to start there. :p It is just that was the only place I usually got anything done to my satisfaction as my attempts to play in other locations or other cultures (like the vikings, muslim or republics) didn't work out so well. So, Ireland was a safe, known place. And I thought if I mastered it enough, if I was start there and expand from it to conquer to other places I might have a chance later on with different scenarios.

Well, that never really happened. But in one of those whims of what to play, I decided to play Crusaders Kings 2 and this time try something different. Instead of starting off as one of the counties that would one day form Ireland, I decided to start as a Duke in Italy in Early Medieval Ages. This was the time of Charlemagne, before Italy was the way we know of it today and it was called Lambard.

My plan was relatively simple:  I was going to start as a Duke, try to get as much control over the adjacent counties until I had an army strong enough where I could just demand to be nominated King of Italy, perhaps even expanding from there to conquer other countries.

I decided to start as a duke in Pisa. This decision was based on no other reason that I liked the name of the place. Plus for some unbeknownst reason I thought it would be a good launch place to attack one of the arabian nations across the ocean if I felt crazy enough. :p

...continue reading "[CK2] How I became the (terrible) King of Italy"

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Resolutions - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Seems like the fashionable thing to do in the blogosphere right now is to make a list of planned games to play in 2016. Although I am not fashionable by any meaning of the word I still thought it might be fun to do. :p

Anyhoo, like any kind of list like this there is no absolute guarantee I will follow it. But these are definitely the games that have been in my mind lately therefore making them the most likely for me to play next year, even if it is just in the first few months of the year.

MMOs

I haven't played any MMO for months. I just haven't been in the right mood for them. This is also unlikely to change in the following months. Still there has been a few that have been swimming in my head in case my mood changes.

Final Fantasy XIV - At the time of Final Fantasy XIV relaunch I found it just wasn't for me. To be fair, it isn't like they lied or anything. A Realm Reborn was exactly what they were promising for months when the whole thing was announced. It just wasn't the kind of game I wanted to play back then. Still I have a lot of respect for them for being honest and communicative about what they were playing. Plus it was exactly what the game needed, not to mention much better than it was before. Again, it was just a case of not being my type of cup of tea back then.

And despite all that I still miss the game world. There was a certain beauty and artistry to it that few other MMOs have managed to rival. So it makes me wonder if it isn't worth just dealing with the parts that I don't like much to partake in the parts that I do like.

Guild Wars 2 - My relationship with Guild Wars 2 has been complicated. I never really disliked it but I stopped playing for various reasons, part of them being a depression I was going through and my friends disliking the game and leaving it. So much time passed, so many changes went by that I just found hard to come back. But recently I have been reading "Sea of Sorrows" a novel based on the game that tells the period when Orr rose from the bottom of the ocean and Lion's Arch turned into the place that it is today. This novel has been making me really miss my charr, my asura and other characters. So I think it is about time to leave behind all the complicated emotions I got associated with the game and move on with it.

The Repopulation - This is a game that I got more because my friends are interested into it. But there are some interesting features about it plus it is a Sci-Fi game. I am all for playing games just to check what kind of interesting, unique features they have. The fact it is also a Sci-Fi game might be a good change of pace from all the fantasy games I have been consuming the last years too.

Single Player Games

There aren't that many games I am looking forward in the 2016 but these are all games I am drool just thinking about them.

XCom 2 - When the first XCom was announced I was apprehensive. There had been so many shallow and soulless remakes of classic games. I was afraid XCom would just be another one of those. Nothing could be further from that. XCom turned out to be able to keep the spirit of the original game as well as being its own thing.  And with XCom 2 it seems they are taking all the good parts of the first one, adding a bunch of new cool stuff and making it much bigger and better. I also like that the sequel goes from the premise that we lost in the first game, the aliens conquered Earth and now we are rebels that have to take it back. The only thing I find funny is that for some reason the XCom organization wants the same leader who lost everything to begin with to come back to lead them. I mean, doing such a terrible job does not lead much faith that this time things will be different. :p

In any  case, this is the game I am most looking forward to in 2016. 🙂

Deus Ex: Manking Divided - I loved Deux Ex: Human Revolution. It was a pretty fun shooter/stealthy game with a decent story and good characters. There were some parts the story just didn't work out so well for me and the required boss fights were silly. But at least in the latter they seem to have learned their lesson and there will have a lot more freedom on how to deal with bosses in the second game. As for story... I am not sure I buy the premise of it but at I am willing to see where it goes before judging it.

Dinivity: Original Sin 2 - I kickstarted the first Divinity: Original Sin by a recommendation of a friend and because I liked what the developers said in their campaign and in interviews. Turns out this was a pretty good investment since the game was one of the best RPGs I played in quite a while. So when they launched a Kickstarter campaign for the sequel I backed it up without a second thought.  The day this game will be released can't come fast enough! In the mean time I will just have to content myself with playing the Enhanced Edition of the first one and following every update of the development of the second one!

The Backlog

My crusade against my backlog of games may never end but there are a few I really want to get out of the way as soon as possible.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - When this one was released I was feeling a big fatigue of Bioware games, to the point I wasn't even sure if their games were the kind I enjoyed anymore. So I decided to sit this one out, see what other people thought about it and if it turned out I liked what I heard then I would buy it whenever it had an Ultimate/Game of the Year/Super-Uber-Duper-Really-Complete Edition of the game AND it had a nice enough discount. Well, that happened and I Intent to play it... as soon as I recreate my first (and cannonical in my head) character for Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 since I lost those saves and I want to see what kind of impact their actions had for the third game. Yes, I know I could just use the Tapestry to set the major decisions but it is not the same thing. :p

Fallout 4 - Kind of in the same boat as Dragon Age: Inquisition. The difference being that I hated Oblivion and Fallout 3 to the point that Bethesda dropped of my list of "Developers That Makes Games I Enjoy". Skyrim helped to regain my trust in them somewhat but I was still skeptical about Fallout 4. Even more so when they announced that the player character would be voice acted. Considering how Bethesda's dialogue goes it just didn't inspire me with much confidence. Still, from what I hear they did quite a few things right with Fallout 4 so I am going to do the same thing I did with Dragon Age: Inquisition: wait for a definitive edition, that contains the base game and all DLCs, to be released, wait for that to go on sale and just then buy it. The only annoying thing is to avoid all interesting discussions about the game until then. :p

Pillars of Eternity - I tried to begin playing this game a couple of times. Although I loved what little I saw of the story and characters I just had trouble with the "Real Time With Pause" combat. You see, I hate "Real Time With Pause" combat. It isn't as good as actual real time combat, much less Turn Based combat. It is the main reason I was never able to get into the Baldur's Gate games (don't ask me how I got into Icewind Dale back in the days. I have no idea). Still, I think this is one of the cases where it is worth just sucking up the bad parts because the good parts are so good that you will be remembering them for years.

The Witcher - No, I am not forgetting a number in there. It is the actual first Witcher game. You see, I really want to play the Witcher 3. But before that I want to play the first and second Witcher games. And my problem with the first Witcher game is that the combat  mechanics are just clunky. I can see what they were trying and there were some good ideas in there. It is just the implementation is just not that good in my opinion. Still the story seems good, some of the characters are interesting and if Witcher 3 turns out to be just as 10% good of everything I hear then it will be more than worth to deal with any terrible mechanics its predecessors may have.

 

I think those are the major games that I want to play next year. There are a few others of course, but I don't have as much strong feelings about those games as these ones. And to end this off, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and all the best in these holidays! 🙂

A knight sitting by the bonfire in Dark Souls

Well, since I am addicted to Dark Souls right now and not really playing anything else, I thought I might as well make a post with some of the Dark Souls videos I've been watching.

Side Quest - Dan Sucks At Dark Souls: The Show  by Extra Credits

This is the Let's Play that got me quasi-obsessed with Dark Souls until I actually bought it in the latest Humble Bundle. Despite the name, and being a newbie at the game, Dan is pretty good at it. Or at least he is better than me since I died far more times than he did. :p

The series, as you can guess, has Dan, who is an animator in the game industry, playing the game. Serving as a sort of advisor is James, who is a designer in the game industry, and who already played the game to completion. Both of them discuss the game's design as Dan progresses through the game. If you are an armchair game designer like me there is a lot of interesting game design discussion here. Right now it is incomplete and in an hiatus while they produce more episodes. Still, pretty interesting to watch if you like watching newbies trying to learn a game as they play it AND game design discussion in one show!

If that is not your cup of you tea but you do love discussion about game design then you might enjoy their main show, Extra Credits. That one is all about game design discussion.

Let's Play Dark Souls: From the Dark by ENB

Another Let's Play, this one is more of a walkthrough with some tips and lore discussion. Obviously it is played by a very experienced player. But what I find fascinating it, besides his player skills which made it fascinating to watch (at least for a noobie like me), is the lore discussion. As he goes through the game he talks about what the description of items he finds means, what NPCs are probably talking about, the themes of the game and so on. Describing it sounds boring but the way he talks about this stuff is very, very interesting if you like the game.

I also find it fascinating how our playstyles are so very different. Yes, there is the obvious huge gap in game skill and knowledge about the game between us. But I also think it is due to the different choices and preferences in the way we play our characters. I end up making a knight, which starting out is a class that is pretty slow to move around due to the gear and initial stats but they can block a lot of enemies attacks without losing any HP. While he made a warrior that although isn't the fastest starting class in the game isn't nearly as slow as the knight. He also doesn't use the shield much, and has been gearing and leveling his character to make sure he can move fast, preferring to dodge enemy attacks than block it. While I have been keeping my character pretty much a turtle, slow but steady and very well protected.

Another interesting thing is he hasn't been following the most obvious path through the game. Part of the reason is to make some detours to get some loot, the other is so he can trigger some dialogues that people might not have seem and can lead to interesting discussion about the game's lore.

This is also incomplete as of this writing but I think it is updated about every two days.

Dark Souls Story ► Prepare to Cry by VaatiVidya

This is a series that was recommended by the guys in the Side Quest Let's Play. Basically, it discuss the story and lore of Dark Souls through a focus on its main NPCs that you end up finding through the game. I admit I have watched almost nothing of it because I want to keep myself as spoiler free as possible. I did watch his series about the Demon's Souls Lore though since it is a game I am unlikely to ever play (unless a Playstation 3 and a copy of the game somehow ends up in my hands) and they are pretty interesting. He also makes a pretty good case of the reasons for Dark Souls being the way it is in Dark Souls: Why it's Different.

Critical Close Up: Dark Souls by SuperBunnyHop

This video is a  discussion about Dark Souls design, why it is like that, what makes it tick and its themes. If you like that some intelligent and interesting discussion about games in general give a look at the rest of his channel too!

Dark Sauce by ArinsMind

This one is a parody of Dark Souls, where a guy goes from complete newbie to someone who finished the game. It is pretty funny but be warned it does contain spoilers about the game's story.

The main character staring at the horizon
Praise the Sun!

I am not the type to be attracted to brutally hard games. I am just not the type of person to get a thrill off beating an uber difficulty challenge. It is just not how my brain works. But then I started to watch this Let's Play of Dark Souls. It not only made me fascinated with the game, it almost made me a bit obsessive about it. Since it is a game I could potentially hate though I didn't buy it right away, instead I was going to wait for a sale so if I didn't like it I wouldn't lose too much money. And it just happened that the latest Humble Bundle had Dark Souls on it. As you can imagine I bought that Humble Bundle and have been playing the game for the last few days. Much to my surprise I am enjoying the game a lot!

...continue reading "Falling in love with Dark Souls"

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Montage of Batman, Lara Croft and my characters from The Sims 3 and Everquest 2

Until recently my usual tendency with games was to binge on them. That meant playing a single game to the exclusion of any other games. This had the advantage of having a higher chance of me finishing said game, which considering my ADD and history of unfinished games is a big deal. The downside is that there is a high chance I will instead burn out of the game and only coming back to it months later when I don't remember anymore the controls or what I was going to do next. Not the best of positions to be in.

I decided then to try something different. Instead of just playing one game to the exclusion of all others I'd instead try to mix things a bit, playing a bit of one game then playing a bit of another the other night, just mixing things up to see how it goes. Initially I did it with Batman: Arkham Asylum and Tomb Raider. Then decided to add The Sims 3 to the mix. So far it has been working well. I found that Batman and Tomb Raider are excellent games for this style of playing games as I can just finish a zone or getting to a certain story point and stop for the night, feeling fullfilled. I also keep getting a nice progression through both games. The Sims 3 is a lot more tricky. Since there is always something I am planning to do, to build or to see how the game reacts to it I just find it harder to find a good point to stop. I have to actually make take a look at  the clock and decide to stop rigth there otherwise I will keep playing without noticing how much time has passed. :p

Now I am thinking about adding Everquest 2 to the mix just to see how a MMO would work with it. I am also wondering if having a rotation of more than 3 games would work out well  for me. My concern is that I might ran into the same issues with The Sims 3, of always having something to keep me busy on it, that I will return to my bingeing tendencies. If it does I will have to come up with a better way to do this. We'll see how it goes!

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Last week Ravanel made a post about the trophy she got from beating a raid boss and some of the loot she got out of it. (Or at least that is the impression I got. Sorry, I don't play SWTOR so I might have completely misread it!) At tthe end she asked readers if they showed off their trophies too or special mounts they earned. So I thought about making a post about my trophies collecting habits in different games. I think this can be an interesting topic as different people have a tendency to collect different things in-games where that makes sense. Perhaps it will be more clear what I mean during the post.

It all started with a sword...

Back in Morrowind there was a sword called Umbra that had a pretty infamous story about being made to trap souls and her creator being executed for creating such an evil item. The sword was also known to be very picky about its owners. So far, not anything all that original. What I think stuck in my mind is that in Morrowind it was held by an orc  wearing a very neat set of armor and who called himself Umbra too.

If you talk to him he tells that he basically lived a very intense life of combat but at that point he was just tired of it all and wanted to die. Since this is an orc we are talking about he obviously wanted to die in combat, which the player can accept or not (You can read the whole dialog here). It was a very tough fight but very worth it for getting Umbra. Since then I sort of started getting in the habit of trying to get Umbra with every one of my characters, regardless if they would use it or not. It would just be a memento of an NPC I was fascinated with.

Umbra, the orc in Morrowind

...continue reading "Collecting trophies in games"