I noted in June’s Journal an increased sense of difficulty in blogging at the moment. Some intrinsic element of the motivation was, if not absent, then at least dramatically reduced. It seems though, that whatever this is hasn’t had an impact limited on just blogging itself. Gaming time has also been way down. In fact, before yesterday I’d played less than 5 hours during the month of July.

I’d played ~1.7 hours of Civilisation 6 across playing out both my turns in the Succession Game and then testing out some potential alternate futures depending on what came next during Rakuno’s reign. I’d played ~1.5 hours of Cities: Skylines, largely spent inserting members of our community into Anddul, the blogger city. And finally, I’d spent ~1 hour in Call of Duty: Warzone. That must’ve been the first weekend of July as it feels like an age since I touched the game.

And that’s it. Despite the fact that I’d picked up a lot of stuff lately. Not just from the Humble Choice bundles either, I actually bought a few things during the Steam Sale. A few things before the sale too. And then yesterday in a pique of ‘Let’s bust through this and play all the things!’ a little bit then, too.

What I Bought…

Before the Sale

Well — this for one. At least I played this a little, despite it earning a mention in my ‘silliest reason to avoid early access’ post.

I’ve played two of the four here. Satisfactory for almost three hours, Hardspace: Shipbreaker for about two and a half hours. But I haven’t touched Space Haven at all, despite picking it up at a time of being quite interested in the style of game and in this title in particular. I had been watching some Let’s Play / tutorial footage and it really clicked with me, early access or not.

RimWorld – Royalty is the only one out of this list I bought knowing I wouldn’t necessarily play it right away. RimWorld is an amazing game, by far the best thing I have ever KickStarted. I picked it up for such a steal, that I always knew I wanted to support Tynan further. I’ve even toyed with the idea of picking up the ‘Name in Game‘ pack just for that reason.

So… While buying a few things anyway — and Space Haven reminded me of RimWorld again — I added to cart and picked it up.

I think the main reason putting me off just jumping right back in and playing it again is the initial admin of getting mod subscriptions up to date and sorted out again. Hah.

During the Sale

UnderMine: Launching out of Early Access August 6th — but already has achievements. So I was fine playing it early. ;)

Before yesterday I’d played… Er.. two of these. UnderMine and Bloons TD 6. As you might be able to see, I do occasionally still get a bit of a Tower Defense itch, although typically that is something I would sate on mobile these days — the price was right to include Bloons and Kingdom Rush.

UnderMine was the main initiating title of this particular purchase though. Followed closely by Griftlands and Outer Wilds. Griftlands is a deck builder game, but with a bit of an interesting twist. It isn’t all physical combat. You can build negotiation decks, too. With different styles, from threatening and hostile negotiation techniques through to the more diplomatic if not outright flattery styles. I gave it a bit of a go last night and think I’m going to quite like it.

As for Outer Wilds — I’ve had it on my wish list for a long, long time. Since well before their decision to launch for a year-long exclusive on the Epic Games Store. I’ve seen trailers and some very early game footage in Let’s Plays but I’ve endeavoured to keep myself largely spoiler free.

The main reason I haven’t tried it yet is… I think… Because I know it’s one that requires a fair bit of concentration. Attention to detail. Learning how things work in order to make progress in the game before your time expires and the system resets. And frankly? I’m just not up for that right now.

Similar with The Surge 2. Although… a whole different type of focus and learning. That one is more response times and pattern recognition rather than the more intellectually demanding Outer Wilds. Even so… Short, bite sized, relatively low effort gaming sessions have been the order of the day for the last little while.

I’m sure something will come along to kick my brain back into action. I just haven’t quite found it yet.

After the Sale

I was good for a bit. But yesterday — the day this post is titled for — I went on a bit of a playing binge. But across a whole range of stuff. Some from the purchases listed so far. Some from the last month or two of Humble Choice.

I played Griftlands. I played Verlet Swing. I played Void Bastards. I played Beat Hazard 2. I played a little Cities: Skylines with a new city, just for me, rather than doing anything more in Anddul I’d have to write about.

Then later into the evening — late enough that yesterday was soon to become today — I bought:

Gunfire Reborn
Heroes of Hammerwatch

Both are RPG / Roguelike hybrids. Both allow for up to 4-player co-op. Both were also relatively cheap even without benefit of a sale. ;)

Beyond that they start to diverge. Gunfire Reborn adds in a surprisingly competent FPS element. The gunfire in Gunfire Reborn actually feels quite satisfying, which honestly, I didn’t expect. I had no idea the game even existed until I saw Cohh playing it. I then saw it supported multiplayer. Was cheap. Was rated ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’. (Had achievements.) And friends were online.

I broached us giving it a go — and we did. To much amusement. As you can see in my screenshot above — it doesn’t quite support 32:9 resolutions, but it does handle 21:9 so the letterboxing effect isn’t too pronounced.

Honestly, Gunfire Reborn probably deserves a post of its own once I’ve had a little more time with it. But suffice to say — so far I’m not at all surprised by its Overwhelmingly Positive reception, and that’s speaking to both the online co-op and the singleplayer experience.

In any case… I ended up staying awake later than the others. I think trying to make up for ‘lost time’ by heading to bed quite early over the past few weeks.

I didn’t want to keep progressing my hero unlocks too far past the others, but wasn’t yet done with the RPG / Roguelike genre mash-up. So… On a more or less complete whim, I bought Heroes of Hammerwatch (and it’s DLC) and then carried on into the night playing that.

I started with the Sorcerer, and they have all these upgrades already. Now working on them for the Paladin.

Heroes of Hammerwatch has been out since March 2018 and has been on my wish list for almost as long. I loved the original Hammerwatch back in the day. I have fond memories of it being a game my eldest son and I could play perched at the same PC, one on keyboard and the other on controller.

Heroes of Hammerwatch is essentially the same — but expanded by way of having a central town you can upgrade along the way. Providing access to additional services and higher tier gear and skills.

Layer onto this that certain milestones with a given character provide buffs to all your character classes and it provides quite a wide range of progression paths.

Your character (unless put into ‘Mercenary’ mode which unlocks after hitting level 20 with a given class) doesn’t die when you uh… die… (get rendered unconscious?) in the mines. Your keep your character level. You keep your base-line gear upgrades, etc.

But you lose any relics you’ve picked up during the run, and you also lose all gold and ore picked up on that run that you haven’t yet sent back to town. For all that you get to keep — the gold/ore loss felt remarkably punitive to me at first. Until I realised that every floor — randomly generated as they are — will have a crank-shaft bucket loader type thingo which you can load your current holdings into, securing them against death.

Similarly, catching the Paladin up on skills, too. Heal becomes available at Tier 2, that could be a real game changer for the class.

You can only use this deposit mechanism a single time per floor, so it becomes a strategic consideration on how and when you’ll use it. Clearing the path to it early (but then not actually using it) and then pushing as far through the lower-risk elements as possible seems to serve me well so far. The trickier bit then becomes assessing whether or not the additional two ore and the silver piles I can see behind the dart and spike trap room is worth risking what I have to pick up or not before depositing.

If I deposit before attempting and then make it, I will have to clear the path on the next floor before having another chance to deposit. Each floor seems to be a not insignificant jump in challenge over the one before. So this isn’t always an easy call to make. I might get lucky and have a chance to deposit before taking on anything that poses a serious threat. Or it might be right the way across the floor, past maneater plants or worse.

Long story short, I love it.

But will I keep at it? To any serious degree of progression, I mean.

It sounds like I should on paper. But yesterday was as much about cleansing the palette and rediscovering the joy there is in gaming as it was finding something specific to play.

And I don’t think I’m yet over that ‘phase’. Path of Exile’s current league is starting to look appealing, and if I jump into that — that’ll be me for a while. Only thing holding me back so far is that I haven’t yet come across or thought of a League-starter build that excites me yet.

It looks like Summoners are a thing again though… so… maybe something in there. Summoner builds were the first ‘serious’ builds I attempted to work on and refine myself, so hold a certain sentimental value for me.

We’ll see though. I’m far from settling. XCOM 2 randomly started to appeal again earlier in the day, too.

Despite the lack of focus here, I do actually see this as a positive sign. At least the general lethargy has passed!