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Showing posts from 2020

Among Us in 2020

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Typically, the peak of my gaming happens in early winter as I avoid the cold real world for the warmth and coziness of the digital one. But this year, obviously, has been different in so many ways. The inside of my house's walls have become a bit too familiar this year, and I think that's messed with my normal routine. I also had to deal with a kidney stone last week: painful enough to send me to the emergency room and large enough that I needed surgery to remove it as it began affecting my kidney function. Thankfully, the matter has been resolved and I've seen to have avoided contracting coronavirus from the hospital environment. But there is one bit of gaming that marched on resolutely, our weekly Among Us session on Saturdays. Part of my friend group from college got in to the Among Us craze a couple of months back. We've been playing diligently since, accusing and screaming and murdering one another in deep space.  The game scratches a couple of itches for me all at

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

My first experience with the Destiny series was the original game; a rental of the PS3 version from the local Redbox. After the first 8 hours I returned the game back. I found it to be a generic shooter, with too many enemies, bosses with too much health, too much fussing about in menus, and writing that was too overwrought. It was pretty though. My experience with the second game didn't go much better. A extended free trial offered during 2018's Blizzcon, I suffered through an opening sequence that was so cringey in tone and dialogue I had to call my wife in to see it. The gameplay was much the same. Enemies seemed to be a bit more interesting to fight as they varied in their attack and defensive movements. The bosses were not better though. I almost lost the first boss fight as my morale was sapped from a bullet sponge boss fight that bored me to near tears. I gave it a couple of more hours as the game heaped system upon system on me. Eventually I hopped in my spaceship and A

The Hyperkin Duke Wired Controller - Has Science Gone Too Far?

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  My school growing up didn't do the Console War thing. Whereas the schoolyards elsewhere were a dogfight of Nintendo versus Sega or Microsoft vs. Sony, our little rural town of Ohio was a veritable worker's paradise. In the halcyon years of 2001 and 2002, some our friend group owned, PlayStation 2s, some GameCubes, and the occasional Xbox. (The three of us who had bought Dreamcasts had fled to the other consoles by this time.) Instead of the typical school yard pissing match, we discovered the radical idea of going to each other's houses to play each other's consoles. Small town communities can really shake out a lot of different ways. Microsoft was a bit of an enigma to us at the time. We presumed the Xbox wasn't going to be much more than a Dreamcast 2. A short-lived console with some promising looking titles that would stretch our junior-high budgets too thin to buy yet another console this generation. But our friend Matt took the gamble. The only one of us to t

Complete: Super Mario Sunshine

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I've read Super Mario Sunshine called the "black sheep" of the Mario franchise. Polygon's review for the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection is headlined: "Not even Sunshine can ruin this collection" . Super Mario Sunshine's entry for " That One Level " is 1559 words long. It's a game with some detractors. I didn't use to be one of them. I played Sunshine back during it's GameCube heyday. It was a rare bright spot for an anemic console library. It was bright and colorful at the beginning of an era where browns and greens were the norm. The music is impossibly catchy and the tropical vacation theme is sometimes just the right feel when the real world is covered in snow. But as a game it leaves a lot to be desired. Even back in the day, Sunshine gave teenage me an observation. Sunshine's controls aren't bad in a vacuum. The problem lies in what the designers ask of the controls. Making minute controls to Mario's position i

Journal: Among Us, Mario, FF14, and Chicken Nuggets

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It's been a hot minute since my last post. Last week was a series of ups and downs. I was sick all week (with non-Covid symptoms) and generally feeling miserable. But then I rebounded and feel more or less better than ever. I even got some gaming in. The post today has a little bit different organization today. Things I Did Among Us The new hip, young thing on the market despite being two years old and on end-of-life when Twitch got a hold of it. We got a group together of 7 of us from the old college days to give the game a try. It was fantastic. I was feeling physically like crap but still had a very enjoyable 3 hours of game play. It's essentially a murder mystery game, in the vein of Mafia, Caesar, Town of Salem, etc. I was surprised at how well everyone was able to play. While me and the wife we're on our fully-kitted gaming PCs, others were playing on budget laptops or their phones. It seemed to make no difference to the playablity of it all. Those who never play vid

Another Day, Another Profession Mastered

I've been game playing considerably more this week than at any point in the past. My grinding-lust in Final Fantasy XIV continues unabated. Alchemy now finds itself at level 50 with it's sibling profession Botany. I don't know why I routinely zero in on Alchemy and Herbalism/Botany in RPGs. I guess it just makes flavor sense to me. Foraging for materials and turning it into temporary buffs makes sense in my brain. Whenever I play an RPG, MMOs in particular, I always "mentally" role play as a self-sufficient character. I don't treat my army of alts in World of Warcraft and their relative professions as distinct characters. They're all just extensions of my main's polymath gimmick. A one-man industrial powerhouse with a needlessly cumbersome UI. Final Fantasy XIV is much more direct. Every job can be leveled on the same character. Heck, every battle class can be functionally leveled as well. This fits into my style from both a flavor and gameplay style a

Xbox Launch Woes and I Pick Some Flowers in FF14

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Another launch day, another big bag of nothing for me. Despite making fun of Sony for their pre-order troubles, Microsoft showed no better ability to deliver a console to my hands. At this point I'd sell the family car for a slightly used Tiger LCD game. It's a bummer, missing out on the launch hysteria these things always produce. It's easy enough to call it all a cynical marketing ploy (because that's exactly what it is), but I remember many launch events fondly. The Game Boy Advance launch where I almost got stuck with a hot pink version, until the retail worker found a purple one  behind the counter on the floor. I then preceded to burn through 2 sets of batteries in one day before investing in an AC adapter. The Nintendo DS Lite launch, the first major purchase I ever made with my own money. The WOW: Burning Crusade launch where me and a college dorm friend stayed up for the midnight launch at Gamestop. When their credit card reader went down it was a race to the A

Moral Minesweeper - Ethics in Game Buying

A thread of thought has been making it's way through my RSS feed as of late. It started with Wolfyeyes initially, then to Roger at Contains Moderate Peril , and onward to Telwyn at GamingSF . It concerns a common topic, one might even call it evergreen. It's the role of ethics in consumption in a capitalist society. The last time I visited this topic was last year, when Blizzard found it wise to light itself on fire to please their betters in China. It was the Hearthstone fiasco where a professional player used their platform to support the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Blizzard reacted harshly. They handed out a suspension longer than they give to actual cheaters, six months to be precise. Blizzard's messaging was also terrible: making it clear that disruptions to Blizzard's money streams were the company's sole concern.  I can't speak to how the world at large reacted. Blizzard's already declining reputation as a maker of quality video games was certainl

Final Fantasy XIV: I Never Thought I'd Fight a Moogle

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I've continued playing Final Fantasy XIV. Quite a bit actually. At the beginning of the month I declared that I wanted to " ... knock out all of the side quests in the base game and level up some of the other classes first ." I technically haven't leveled class es , I've only added the black mage to my collection of level 50s. But I have completed, as far as I know, all the side quests that launched with the game in patch 2.0. There's a bunch of them, so of course it's possible that I missed one here or there. I haven't of course, done all the class quests yet, as that requires leveling each class to 50. I also haven't done the Coil of Bahamut raid. I don't know what to expect from this experience. I've done the Trials on Hard mode and found them challenging but not overly difficult. Is legacy end-game content in FF14 going to be a proper pain? Am I even going to find a group for it? Either way, we're on to the 2.1 content. It's a s

Would Someone Please Take My Money?

About once a month I look over the Everwake family budget and update all the numbers. It takes maybe 20 minutes now that I have a system, and it involves mostly copying and pasting. But about two months ago I stared good and long at the line item in our savings budget, 'Vacation Money'. It was a melancholy moment indeed when I deleted the label for the more generic "Entertainment" moniker. With the Covid-19 pandemic going nowhere in a hurry, our outings have been small affairs, usually hiking about the various state and national parks that litter the lands around our home. Walking in public parks doesn't exactly eat into the budget. And perhaps that's well enough. This holiday season has no shortage of money-sinks for the video game inclined with the launches of the Sony PlayStation 5, Microsoft Xbox Series X, and the RTX 3090 graphics card. Add a potential purchase of a Valve Index VR set to the mix and this is looking like a might expensive season even witho

Final Fantasy 14: In Search of a Quest

So the landscape is thus ... I completed the 2.0 Main Story Quest on my Gladiator/Paladin. He is now at level 50, waiting to do the 2.1+ story quests. I decided to level a Thaumaturge to 50 by doing all the side quests in the game. He is currently at level 24, having run out of quests to do for his level range. There are quests from level 26+, but you can't actually turn them in until you are the appropriate level. I'm honestly surprised that their aren't enough side quests to level a second class. I mean there is certainly no mandate from up high that it must be so, but I do find it odd. This second class is even getting double XP by glint of having a class level higher than it.  There is of course dungeons, levequests, and FATES to level up on. But those are all a bit mindless and tedious. I was hoping for enough unique, story content to level up two classes, if not more. FF14 has an awful lot of experience bars to fill up, but didn't bother making a whole lot of uniq

September Goals

 I was doing so well. Knocking out my Promptapalooza prompts every day. And then I didn't. Rolling into our seventh month of quarantining and I'm just as angsty as ever.  But it's the first of the month and that feels like a nice, round reason to get back into things. My last month has been light on video gaming. A pretty usual thing for me in August. I've filled in that spare time with more outdoorsy activities. I even did a bit of properly distanced socializing.  Most of my RSS feed is a 'September Goals' post of one form or another. Let's do that then. Gaming I've been playing Final Fantasy 14 off and on for about two months now. I don't really know why. I like Final Fantasy. I like MMOs. Why haven't I played it more before now? Some questions don't have answers. I am playing it now, and recently completed the base game's storyline.   Well not recently, I actually did it last month, right before the 5.3 patch came along and shortened t

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #8: An Excuse For a Picture of My Dog

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If you had a mascot to represent you, what would it be?   I already have a mascot. It's a stuffed sheep who goes by the name Happy. Why? No real idea. Me and Mrs. Everwake bought him at a regional grocery store when we first moved in together for the heck of it. This started a long tradition of me buying stuffed animals, usually sheep or video game themed, whenever she had frustrations with her work and needed a pick me up. We buy less sheep than we used to. Which is a nice metric. Why sheep? Again, no real idea. I just think their funny. I also consider the Everdog a bit of a mascot. Unlike Happy, Everdog is terrible at video games. One could blame the lack of thumbs but I blame the lack of focus. My dreams of my furry daughter becoming an eSports star will not go away though.

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #7: Which End of the Hammer Do I Use?

What skill do you want to improve on the most? Is everything an answer? It's amazing how at the age of 32 I'm still mostly crummy at everything. I assumed at this point in my life I'd be able to juggle, change a tire, or basic gardening. But as the owner of a newish house the skill I mostly desperately need is basic handyman stuff. I've never painted a wall before. Or replaced the carpenting. And while our house is nice enough, certain portions of it are more outdated than others. Most of this stuff isn't hard. I just need to sit down and do it. I know for a fact that some of the dumbest people I know are capable of doing these things, so I best be able learn how to do it myself. Stuff I had been meaning to do in the spring got put on hold because of the pandemic. When I've had contractors come out for quotes they either weren't wearing a mask or had it underneath their chin. The local hardware stores, both big names and small independent shops, have been in

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #6: "Neverwake" Quoth the Raven

What is a favorite Quote/s, and tell us why. I had to think long and hard about this one. I don't really deal with quotes a whole lot. Using the same literary strategy as a takeout bag from Chipotle feels a bit guache. I quoted the Art of War to my mother last week and couldn't have felt more like a tool. Then again, I hamfisted in a Poe reference on this post's title so perhaps I've got a bit more tooly potential in me yet. Anyways. Most Americans are familiar with Jackie Robinson , the first black baseball player in the modern era. He was a tremendous player while dealing with the height of Jim Crow-era bullshit. He is an American icon and key player in the Civil Rights movement. This post isn't about him. I want to talk about the guy who signed him. Branch Rickey was the general manager of the then Brooklyn Dodgers who wasn't going to let a little thing like a fuckton of racist fans keep him from signing the best ballplayer he could. He also innovated such co

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #5: My Time in the Spotlight

It's my day in the sun! The wheel of Promptapalooza has turned it's terrible gaze to me. The eyes of Belghast's Blaugustosphere empire rest upon my humble blog. Will I seize the provided prompt? Will I provide a response that leaves the masses weeping with joy in the streets? Or will I scribe a dithering dump, to the eternal ridicule of my blog peers? That's perhaps a bit dramatic. Let me start over. Yesterday, Roger at Contains Moderate Peril discussed underrated media and then passed the baton to me for my turn in the Promptapalooza relay. I have it on good authority that he's both a handsome and clever man. He's also been a fixture of my RSS feed for longer than I can remember. You should read him if you haven't. Anyhow, let's get to today's prompt. I was bit longer winded than I usually am. Apologies in advance. Everyone has specific rituals that they follow, tell us about one of yours. My favorite ritual is staying up late on an autumnal nigh

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #4: Underrated Is the New Overrated

What type of content do you feel is severely underrated? I bounced around several ideas for this topic. Are non-combat features still underrated in games? Considering how many survival games include crafting or exploration into their themes I'm inclined to say no. How about features that foster the creativity of a game's players? I'm not sure that's been true ever, and especially not true since every human being on earth owns at least one copy of Minecraft. I guess my struggle with this prompt brings two points to bear. Firstly, its difficult to get an accurate read of what the zeitgeist is doing nowadays. We may be more connected than ever thanks to the Internet, but we've all been filtered into easy to market silos that it's difficult to get a grasp on the bigger picture. What's super popular in video gaming? Probably several mobile games I don't play and never will play. Are standard platformers and action-adventures actually the underrated releases n

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #3: Let's Have an Existential Crisis About Video Games!

What are some key sources of media (games/movies/etc) that have shaped your worldview? I almost passed on this one but my cursed need for all-or-nothing-ism compels me otherwise. I've never though of personality traits as particularly granular. Joe is grumpy. Sheila is shy. Roger is an angry, aggressive meathead. I don't think these are useful characteristics. I'll experience all three of these emotions during an average grocery store trip. Trying to characterize people with some sort of meta-trait is a fool's errand. I think people fluctuate organically. Not just over long periods of time where we become more tempered than in our youth or wizened with age. I think people change quickly. Every situation, no matter how routine, is shaping our world view just a little bit at a time. Sometimes a traumatic event will change us a lot in a short amount of time. But I think the only constant really is change. For some there is a clear and linear evolution of who we are as peop

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #2: I Don't Understand Many Things

What is some popular piece of content/media that seems to be universally loved that you have never been able to understand? It's inherently difficult to talk about something you can't understand. There are perhaps, many genres of video games that I don't enjoy very much, but I can easily understand their appeal. For instance, fighting games hold no interest for me. But the idea of you and a partner, sitting under the glow of a TV as you both constantly sharpen your swords against one another, holds obvious appeal. Reading anything about EVE Online makes my eyes roll back into my skull, but again the appeal is obvious. Being part of a gigantic universe where players have an actual impact not just on each other but the universe itself is powerful. Establishing yourself, finding your role to play in the world, and then executing it as best you can while perhaps striving for more is the actualization of a theme that most video games only allude to. I like variety in my games. E

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #1: I Don't Care for Fandoms

Well it's been a hot minute since I've updated this blog. So let's blow the dust off the cover and dive back in. So what has happened in the past two weeks? Like for most, not much. While much of the civilized world is beginning to emerge from it's Covid-cave, blinking into bright sunlight of normal life, I'm stuck in the US where we are just now beginning to do anything useful at all. Our state has finally issued a mandatory mask order, roughly four months after the fact. Thankfully, my small town seems to be cooperating without complaint. Trips to the grocery store have seen everyone 100% masked and not particularly grumpy about it. When even the grown men wearing denim coveralls are wearing their masks properly you know things are turning around. But for now we continue our waiting game. Blaugust Belghast wisely deployed the annual blogging festival in April to minimize the community's sequestered flailing. He's now offered an additional, alternative blog

Timely Reviews: Ring Fit Adventure

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Getting enough exercise is always a challenge in the best of circumstances for me. But in the midst of a pandemic when my fellow countrymen are dedicated to spreading coronavirus and quickly and efficiently as possible? Doubly so. I was in the habit of taking some long hikes but the brutal Minnesota humidity zapped most of my motivation on that front. StepMania (or Dance Dance Revolution) is a good cardio workout, but finding songs that are actually playable continues to be a challenge. So I solved the problem the Everwake way: with another gimmicky video game peripheral. Ring Fit Adventures If the name doesn't immediately leap out to you, it's the game that pairs your Nintendo Switch joycons with a plastic ring and a leg strap. Ring Fit uses the accelerometers in the joycons to measure your movement. The leg strap is used for running in place or exercises like squats, while the ring is used mostly for resistance training. The ring is surprisingly sturdy and