Time to Loot Journal: April 2021

You know, April felt like a pretty good month. No singular overriding reason- just a general sense of contentment, capped off with the discovery the other day that there are some pretty talented piano players out there. No really- it’s true. I know. I was surprised too.

Silliness aside — while I adore music from the sidelines, it isn’t something I often engage with at my computer. If I’m at the computer, I’m reading, gaming, or watching something with a strong visual element. So YouTube had no reason to be suggesting videos of this kind to me.

I think the trigger for the algorithm to change its mind is that I found and played the Ori and the Blind Forest OST a little while ago — combined with perhaps idling on a Mass Effect article a little too long. Because this was suggested to me:

I had no hype for the Mass Effect remaster. I was on the fence as to whether I’d even pick it up. I’d had my fill of the original Mass Effect trilogy as they came out. I not only finished them already — alone a strong indicator of how much I loved them — I finished them all, several times over, making different choices and seeing how the different paths played out.

Before the above video had even reached the first instance of playing Mass Effect 3’s three-note motif though, I knew I was going back. All of a sudden- through a piece of music, not even one relating to my favourite of the series and I was back to caring and wanting to play ’em again.

More importantly for this story though — it started my dive down the rabbit hole to see what else there was and the recommendation engine quickly went to work in surfacing up more for me.

AtinPiano played the above track, and I’m grateful — but it ended up being Patrik Pietschmann I fell in love with. The talent of this man is incredible. There are so many I’d like to link in full size, but I’ll keep myself to just this one — the Overwatch theme, that Blizzard even sponsored.

*shakes head in wonder* I’m still transfixed every time.

Oh alright- I’m going to link one more. And THEN I will jump back into the regularly scheduled journal post.

I think I like Victory better, but Heart of Courage is probably more broadly recognised (even if not by name). So I’m cheating, and linking both here. ;)

Looking Back

One Year Ago

  • Blapril was a thing last yearBelghast kicked it off early (normally it would be Blaugust) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, still a newish thing to us at that point, to bring the community together. There was some discussion on the benefit vs. harm of the format of the event, so of course, I had to weigh in with my two cents.
  • RNG vs. Player Agency came up, with Everwake taking the position that, for the most part, RNG reduces player agency. I took the position that the two can coexist for a better gameplay outcome. A relevant topic now, perhaps, with the XCOM 2 Succession Game shortly to kick-off!
  • The Civilisation VI Succession Game Started — yep; a full year ago the game was kicked off, in amongst all the general Blapril activity. Another joining of Bloggers for a shared project. :)
  • I played Animal Crossing — but didn’t get on with it. I bounced off it harder than a bowling ball off a trampoline. Whenever the strange inclination returns to try it again, this post helps. It also sparked another post, based on comments, on whether or not one can play a game wrong.

Two Years Ago

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey turned me on to enjoying the inclusion of ‘Photo Mode’. Beforehand I cared not a whit for it. Give us a ‘turn off UI’ button and that ought to be enough for anyone. Welp- not anymore. Give me photo modes, please!
  • Review Bombing came up as a topic after (in this case) Borderlands 3 came under fire and Valve decided to against their nature, take action to do something about it. My view now is much as it was then — the business practices and broken promises should not be considered ‘off-topic’ in reviews, they’re fair game in all other walks of life, so why should the consumer’s voice be silenced here?
  • Missing Connections from the old days of MMOs came up, wherein I reflected on the loss of contacts that I really, really valued at the time and why it might’ve happened. One of my theories at the time was on the lack of ubiquitous out-of-game messaging platforms. I have a follow-up post of sorts in draft right now that takes a look at this topic from the perspective of what happened when we DID have those platforms.

Gaming Goals

April’s Goals

  • Outriders: Hit level cap, ready for the end-game!
    I’ll give myself half credit if I don’t hit that target but have at least played when friends and I are able to get on together consistently. I’m planning on saving this one almost purely for co-op, so I might be limited by that to some degree.
  • Dark Souls: Remastered — Continue the weekly ‘Playing to a Schedule‘ sessions!
    I might shift the post day out a little, but to achieve this goal I must continue to play (and record) each weekend, and have a post written for the session ready to go.

Wow. I actually hit both of these.

Sure- the first was a bit of a gimme. Although things have slowed down significantly in our play since actually reaching the end. We’re up to CT11 or 12 for Expeditions, but I’m no longer convinced the game loop is strong enough to keep us pushing through the missions to see the end. Blasted Alpha Perforo’s.

But the second? I was less sure about that. Playing to a schedule, even a loose one, is not something I do well. I inevitably rail against it eventually. It might even still happen. For now, though, the Dark Souls: Remastered run continues. At the time of posting this, there have been 5 major parts, with a 6th to come this weekend.

May’s Goals

  • WoW: Kill Heroic Denathrius.
    In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve reached a point where I want to be done with WoW again for a while. But our team, despite literal weeks of cancellations with key people needing to drop out for real life for a time, we’re so close. We had our second night on Heroic Denathrius last Wednesday and went from struggling to line everything up in Phase 1 — from people missing stack removal to the DPS itself — to needing to slow down DPS so that we didn’t trigger a phase change before the 6th stack removal actually went off. Our next raid night is Sunday, so I’m curious to see if we can smooth out Phase 2 in a similar manner.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition — Resume playing.
    Yep- that’s it. Just start playing again. If I don’t hit this goal, I certainly need to remove it from my side bar at the end of the month. But there have been a few reminders of late that this is a thing I quite want to do. So we’ll see how it goes. :)

Games Played April 2021

RankGameHours% Gaming Time
1Outriders36.347.8%
2World of Warcraft (Retail)7.59.8%
3Dark Souls: Remastered6.38.3%
4Cities: Skylines6.38.2%
5Stellaris3.34.3%
6Among Us3.14.0%
7Tell Me Why1.82.4%
8Humankind (Victor InDev Release)1.72.3%
9Slay the Spire1.72.3%
10Element TD 21.72.2%
11Descenders1.62.1%
12XCOM 21.41.8%
13Kingdom: Two Crowns1.21.6%
14EXO ONE (Demo)1.11.5%
15Overwatch1.11.4%
Links are to posts about the game in question which were made this month — where multiple posts were made this month about a game; may link to the category instead.

Last month I guessed that April would likely be a more eclectic gaming month and it seems that did come to pass. Although amusingly with almost none of the games that I supposed might drive that to be true.

The relatively small amount of time in Outriders surprises me a little. But only a little. As noted above, the drive to play in my friend group has fizzled out significantly at the end. I’d still like to see the CT15 final mission of the game but I can see why the others aren’t perhaps as keen. It would be quite a slog.

While my overall list of games predicted came out wrong, I did at least get the top two slots. For May? Not really sure what might lead the pack here… There is no clear-cut obvious top pick like there was with Outriders over April. So we’ll just have to see together where the winds of whimsy take us.

The Blog

13 posts published in April and I’m pretty happy with that. This Journal will fall into May’s count, but overall I’ve now published (including this one) 400 posts on Time to Loot. This is the 400th.

That surely deserves some form of celebration. Through more music! :D

I quite liked the Mandalorian theme in the composition for the show and I quite like this one, too!

Most Viewed Posts

  1. WoW Shadowlands: Changing Your Covenant
  2. Humble Choice: March 2021
  3. WoW Shadowlands: Changing Your Covenant BACK
  4. Humble Choice: February 2021
  5. Humble Choice: January 2021

It has been interesting watching the rise in the popularity of the changing your covenant back post. Perhaps other people like me have decided that their original spec choice was the right one for them after all.

The Humble Choice posts continue to bewilder me with their popularity too. Perhaps back when we actually had to make a choice, I could see it, but it has just been everything no choice necessary for some time now.

Still- popular or no it won’t stop me pulling the plug on my own subscription if this month’s selection is pants. Although I will grudgingly admit that at least the preview titles look decent this time around. Metro Exodus, Darksiders Genesis and Hellpoint. So Choice might be getting my money at least another month.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

7 Responses

  1. Kaylriene says:

    While I’ve read your post on wanting to leave WoW behind, for Denathrius, it’s worth getting your group to move to 5 Cleanses – our groups still have to stop DPS to get to 5 without pushing, but if you do 1/2/1/2/both, it should work easily!

    The covenant change-back post being popular speaks to something flawed in the current game design, where the process is pretty bad! The post is good – very helpful – but the design in-game is not clear.

    Off of WoW, what I find funny is that I also bounced really hard off of Animal Crossing. I like it well enough in theory, but in practice, I just can’t get into it much. I tend to prefer either really customizable micro-level gameplay (I’ve put too many hours into House Flipper) or broadstrokes high-level macro gameplay like Cities: Skylines or the like. I have a hard time qualifying that preference, but I am aware of it and I find it interesting to see similar takes from people!

    • Naithin says:

      Interesting on doing both groups for the 5th cleanse, what’s the main advantage of that approach, besides gaining a little speed and better parses? (lol)

      The extra adds in one go shouldn’t be a problem, we kill them pretty fast, but we’re also not having any healer issues with anything else in Phase 1 any more, but it’s entirely possible I’m missing something big here. :)

      With Animal Crossing, I think my biggest issue with the game was one of pacing. Real time, calendar day timegates is just… Not for me. In any genre. It’s probably why I can’t stand any mobile game ever created, too. xD

      • Kaylriene says:

        It’s kind of a mix – it doesn’t help parses a lot to stop there, but it keeps the group sharp for phase 2, at least that was my perspective when leading. Not having to deal with an extra Night Hunter phase with my group was definitely ideal and it made the first phase kind of flow better, if that makes sense? On paper, there’s not a lot of logical reasons to go 5 over 6, but it avoids accidental pushes from DoTs and the like while also removing some additional mechanical execution from the first phase. On nights where you spend the whole thing wiping on Sire, it also means more time practicing phase 2 and getting there quicker to learn.

        That is actually an interesting connection I hadn’t really thought of. I think AC has people who love the slow nature of it, but at the same time, it does kind of feel like a moneyless gachapon now that you mention it, and that is sort of weird!

        • Naithin says:

          Night Hunter mechanic did give our group some trouble initially, so I could see how, given the description you’ve given of your group too, removing even one instance of that could help a great deal.

          The biggest thing swaying me over toward trying it is the time though — since I expect we will at least have another full night of wiping on Sire, I reckon. Getting to P2 faster so can work on that more will be a good thing.

          Also; what happens to the adds that are up if you push Den into next phase, do they get nuked or will they continue to nuke people while you’re doing the march to the centre?

          If the former, the timing of the 5th cleanse for where we’re at and pushing Sire could work out well on that perspective, too.

          AC has a huge number of fans. People loved the crap out of it. It was mostly on that wave of hype I even gave it a go despite being a bit dubious on the whole ‘animal’ theme of it all.

          I thought though, given how I’d surprised myself in my love for Stardew Valley that AC might be the same… Nope. Ah well.

          • Kaylriene says:

            Most of our deaths to P1 were Night Hunters done poorly, so if you also struggle with it, even rarely, it is worth the removal of one to condense to 5 cleanses, as is the time-savings on full Sire nights.

            The adds are the funniest part – basically, what you want ideally is to have Sire at 71% health when he starts casting the 5th cleanse. You have your DPS open up there to push him, because if you nudge him to 70.4%, he’ll stop everything to transition. Adds will despawn, Night Hunter casts will be abandoned, just a full end to the phase.

            The other raid group in my guild did notice that sometimes, the adds summoned by the last cleanse would get a tick of their damage off during the March transition, but they also have an incredibly sloppy 5th cleanse, where the tanks just stick near the center of the room for it. My group pulled Sire to the wall for all cleanses, including the 5th, and we never had add damage during the transition. It might be a bug, because it did seem inconsistent with the other group, but I think it comes down to their positional management and timing (when Sire first casts March of the Penitent, there’s a tiny window where the adds remain alive).

            On the AC note – I think once COVID-19 is actually over as a global pandemic, it will be interesting to analyze what things were propped up or pushed up in popularity because of lockdowns and shelter-in-place. My theory has always been that AC came out at the right time by sheer luck and offered a social experience that could be done without actual physical proximity, because I think AC has always had some popularity, but it never felt as mainstream and huge as New Horizons did, and I think most of that was COVID. I’m definitely not alone in that thought, but I would love to see some scholarly analysis of prior entry sales or engagement rates to find if that was the case in actuality!

  2. charlesfwh says:

    Enjoyable read. Its nice to come across new music, I love those piano variations of musical scores, such a great share :)

    • Naithin says:

      Thanks! And glad you liked the music too! It was difficult picking which specific ones to share in the end, so many I liked. Haha.

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