Time to Loot Journal: Blaugust 2019

Wowser, eh? What. A. Ride. August was a month that started with hype halfway through July. The mission: Post every day throughout the month of August (or as near to as you can manage). I have no doubt Belghast will do a round-up when the timezones around the world catch-up.

As a challenge, I loved it but I’m so glad it’s over. It was, for me at least, an actual challenge. Posting every day is simply not something I could sustainably do. Even so, I’ve posted every day for thirty-six consecutive days1 now and I’m looking forward to the break! Or at least, the option to take a break. I can’t say for sure I won’t post again tomorrow. But it’d be different, with the pressure to do it turned off.

Then over the top of that, was all the health stuff. I had my endoscopy on August 2nd and a colonoscopy yesterday. Biopsies were taken from the endoscopy and all came back clear. No biopsy necessary from the colonoscopy and the doctor performing the procedure was satisfied that all was clear there, too.

This is all good news! Very good news. It leaves the mystery of why iron count is so low, but so far? Cancer doesn’t appear to be the answer. The proposal from here is that I get some iron supplements from my GP and try them for a time — see if it brings the count back up where it should be. Although even if it does, if a three month check-up on the bloods post-iron supplements sees the iron low again, I’ll be back in for the third procedure — to swallow a capsule camera thinger to investigate the small intestine as well.

But for now, there is a reprieve from procedures and the most likely spots given the other symptoms have been cleared. :)

The Blog this Month

Published 31 posts this month. Up from 13 from last month, which was already a high post count month for me.

This also means I hit my Blaugust goal of one a day! :D

As for totals, this will make for 129 published posts. This busts my previous record of 97 posts on Fun in Games. So I’m going to predict hitting 200 posts in Feb 2020. It will be interesting to see how far off that is if, as a result of Blaugust, my post pace shifts around again.

Also of note, was tagged into two (well, three actually — but I still have to respond to one! Sorry PizzaMaid!) of the social Q&A type things that go around. One of the responses even ended up as third most read post this month! The other though, was this one. I think these can certainly be a good bit of fun, but I’d be reluctant to start letting them run rampant around the place! xD

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Age of Wonders: Planetfall Modernises TBS Multiplayer
  3. Finding a topic #2 & Real Neat Blog Award
  4. Lost Ark: Assassin Unleashed
  5. A Better MMO

The Age of Wonders: Planetfall post ranking so highly this month did initially surprise me a bit — it was mostly about recounting the story my friends and I went through discovered the advances to the save system made since AoW3.

But I suppose it was posted during the review hype cycle, and multiplayer is an element of hot interest. I expect this will be off the top 5 list entirely next month.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1No Man’s Sky (Beyond Update)32.041.2%New
2Lost Ark10.413.4%No Change
3Age of Wonders: Planetfall9.812.5%New
4World of Warcraft Classic8.510.9%New
5Final Fantasy XIV7.19.2%↓4
6Remnant: From the Ashes5.77.3%New
7Warframe2.32.9% ↓2

August saw a total of 75.7 gaming hours, down 2.1 hours from July.

While not quite to the crazy peak of July, August saw 293.7 total active hours on the PC. This is down 23.5 hours from last month. Part driven by a few days working from home, but also no doubt a sign of the extra time put into posting to hit the Blaugust goal.

I had expected the total hours to drop fairly significantly again this month — but as noted, there was a few days working from home, on top of Blaugust itself keeping that figure high.

For August overall, this means gaming made up 25.8% of the active hours, up 1.4% from last month.

But…

The PC Only Problem

The tracking in the table above is all done via ManicTime2 meaning it is PC bound in what is picked up.

Most months tracking PC Only would be beyond fine. I hardly ever touch my consoles. This month however I’ve sunk perhaps 20 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

I thought about incorporating into the table, but ultimately decided to retain the PC Only accuracy, and call out examples like FE:TH as and when they happen, which isn’t terribly common.

No Man’s Sky

The Beyond Update is an amazing piece of work in its own right. If you check out that update page, it just goes on and on. If you had only heard about the headline features (VR and Expanded Multiplayer) you could be forgiven for thinking everyone was making much about nothing.

But for someone like me who hasn’t really touched the game since it’s 2016 state, the Beyond Update isn’t the entire story. Rather it is the compounding impact of a series of updates, each on their own with no power to bring me back for a look. Although speaking honestly, some of them I didn’t even know existed! Like this one — Visions — tagged as 1.75, or a ‘minor’ follow-up to The Abyss (which I had heard about at the time).

Where The Abyss looked to enhance the underwater experience and diversify the biomes down below, adding in new technology to explore — including a submersible exocraft, and underwater base building components — Visions focused itself above ground on planetary texture diversity and atmospheric conditions. The fact that previously planets had only a single texture the whole way around really hurt the experience for me, enough that I noted it in my original review of the title:

My original 2016 review of No Man’s Sky — now in need of quite an update.

Beyond gave No Man’s Sky a ‘2.0’ version, in reality I’d think it now in a 1.0 ready state. But it is at least, 1.0 ready. All of the issues I discussed in that review have been addressed to varying degrees. I hope work on the title continues to further add depth where needed though.

Either way, already I can say that it hasn’t gone down the Spore road, and that’s a great thing. ;)

Lost Ark

OK, after the near post-length commentary on NMS, this one is going to be super brief by comparison!

I’m going to remove it from the sidebar now, and uninstall! Trigger for this being my VPN subscription has expired and I don’t intend to resubscribe to it another month.

I feel at last I’ve had enough of a fill to tide me over until, if not an actual Western release, then at least a release a little more friendly to foreigners comes along. Then can actually play into the endgame and interact with the community without fear of being found out and reported!

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall created a really strong first impression, but unlike Stellaris or even it’s direct predecessor, Age of Wonders 3, it hasn’t brought us back night after night (or at least Saturday after Saturday) to get more of it.

One of my best friends who was an absolute fiend for AoW3 and was by far the most excited of all of us for this one has touched it only a little after the first day or two’s flurry. When asked, there isn’t really anything negative about the title to speak of — it just didn’t possess more current pull than say, Warframe did for them at this time.

World of Warcraft Classic

I still don’t know how long WoW Classic will be a part of my gaming routine. I don’t expect to hit 60 or to raid on a schedule even if I do.

I’m almost approaching WoW Classic as less a gaming experience though and more of an archaeological dig. Although that’s not quite — that implies some sort of intent to approach it that way, when really it’s just how it has unfolded for me instead.

The memories it surfaces — good and bad — and the contrast between how veteran MMO players at the time of WoW’s launch viewed WoW then vs. how we see WoW Classic against the lens of today’s MMO’s (not just retail WoW, but FFXIV and essentially all others outside niche types like EVE) is fascinating.

Kaylriene’s On Sandboxes and Themeparks post placed launch state WoW into the Sandbox camp, something I disagreed with, although did think it was much further toward the ‘Sandbox’ end of the spectrum relative to retail today.

I still think that’s the case, but I’ve been shocked by just how much that is the case. It’s night and day, the story generation potential from Classic is just so, so high.

Final Fantasy XIV

I’m a Final Fantasy XIV raider now. >.>

I feel like the raw hour count for FFXIV undersells how much I actually got done in the game this month.

In terms of The Horrible Hundred, I beat Leviathan, then carried on far enough to also then do battle with Rahmuh after negotiations failed.

After that I went through and finished unlocking, and then running, each of the three wings of the Crystal Tower raid.

So only 7 hours? Huh. At first read that surprises me. Will next month be the month I finally break through the 100 and start Heavensward? I dunno! We’ll see. :)

The Others

The actual number of games played was significantly less this month, so only two to mention here this time!

Remnant: From the Ashes is a title that baffled me at first just how it was getting the extreme high rating that it was from Steam. When I was discussing it in the Blaugust Discord, it was sitting around 92% positive on Steam.

But from the critical reviews I had seen, and the Let’s Play I had been watching this seemed waaaaay too positive. I would have expected a 60-70% positive rating. If I hadn’t already Steam’s stats, I would have put some OK money down on a bet that it would be around the 70% mark, in fact.

While it may still get there, as the game isn’t without its issues there is a certain something to the control of Remnant which doesn’t come across even when watching a long form Let’s Play of the game. It’s a game that feels good to play. Much more so than watching the animation quality, variety of weaponry or other such things can possibly imply.

Skill Up has done a fantastic review on the game which helps articulate this very well. It is a long review but I recommend staying onboard until at least the section on difficulty talking about ‘accessible challenge’ that comes in at around 7m 18s. Even if the initial talk of similarities to Dark Souls puts you off, listen through this section!

Apparently I neglected to take any new screenshots of the Eidolon hunt though. D’oh.

Warframe was a bit of a random pop in. Jumped in to go on an Eidolon hunt in a friend group that was forming. But uh, by time we jumped in night only had about 14 minutes left. Whoops. We hadn’t quite destroyed the shield before the Eidolon was awl, ‘The sun cometh! I goeth! Cya later suckers!’

Ah well. :)

Humble Monthly: August 2019

The revealed titles were my last bastion of hope for value out of the August bundle. As noted last month I already owned both of the headliners — Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Surviving Mars. This was a bit worrying, given it has been some time now since the revealed titles provided anything I’d truly wanted.

I noted back in May that a large part of the value of Humble Monthly to me is the mini-Christmas effect it delivers, of opening a box of goodies and finding those things you had secretly — or perhaps not so secretly — been wishing for.

It had been a while since Humble Monthly had delivered that from the Revealed Titles, and was holding on as an active subscription by the power of the headliners alone.

At last, the trend of opening a present containing only underwear and socks has been busted. A small squee of excitement may even have been heard from my general vicinity. And better still, the headline titles for next month ain’t too bad either!

So let’s start with those.

September Headline Titles

Squad

Squad rates very well on Steam, and has been seeing a constant stream of fairly significant updates since it first made an appearance back in 2015. It’s been in my core gaming group’s ‘Will we, won’t we?’ list for quite some time.

Looks like ‘Will we’ wins, thanks to next month’s bundle!

If you haven’t crossed paths with Squad yet, it’s a military shooter that aims to fall somewhere in the middle of the difficulty/complexity curve of say, Call of Duty and ARMA. Conceptually this sounds an awesome niche to try carve out in the market, so I’m curious to see how well it achieves this and which end of the complexity spectrum it leans toward.

Slay the Spire

Deckbuilder Card Game meets Roguelike in some mutant lovechild of the two. If X-MEN taught us anything though, it’s that not all mutants are bad.

And this one certainly isn’t, although I will admit that the trailer might make it difficult to tell. It has the coveted ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ rating on Steam, and for good reason. Sadly for me, I bought this in the last Steam sale. (Although after my initial purchase post, so it isn’t included in that list.)

But it does put me in position to say this thing is fantastic. It also recently came out on Switch which would be the perfect platform for this. The Humble Monthly pack will of course provide it for PC, but at the very least it might give you a taster to see whether the Switch version investment is worth it for you.

Revealed Titles

Ever wished your Metroidvania game had a little more… pinball in it? Wait, what do you mean ‘No’? Well, hopefully now that you’re thinking about it you can’t imagine anything better.1

Yoku’s Island express is this, and it looks fantastic. I’ve been close to pulling the trigger on purchasing it multiple times but has been exactly the sort of title I expected to eventually show up in the Humble Monthly. And here we are!

It’s another that I could see appreciating a lot on the Switch, actually. And if that’s you too — it is also out on that platform.

The others are of less interest to me, and less likely to see play time.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam might though. It is from the Red Orchestra team, and sports 64 player online battles. It came out in 2017 though, so I’d have to take a squiz and see if there are any local and populated servers still.

The Adventure Pals and Almost There are both platformers. Adventure Pals wears its reference shamelessly on its sleeve across name, visual style and content, but for all that looks potentially the more appealing of the two. Almost There bills itself as a 100% dexterity based platformer, letting you have almost complete control over even aerial movement. It’s a low-fi but modern effects visual style which puts me in a mind of Geometry Dash a little.

Swords and Soldiers II is… well… It’s a sidescrolling RTS.

None of which the trailer adequately answered for me. So I had to turn to a let’s play.

Turns out this was originally on the Wii-u and didn’t garner a lot of attention there. More importantly from a gameplay perspective, RTS might well be overselling it. It appears that you cast skills and summon units essentially from a hotbar setup.

To the Humble Monthly Steam category graveyard, with ye then! ;D

Humble Monthly: July 2019

The June bundle was one of the few I paid for early in order to gain access to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice early. I then ended up putting it aside most of the month anyway in favour of Moonlighters (also in the bundle).

I’ve now given Hellblade a try and oh my. I’ll almost certainly post more on it later, but even just up through the first major boss encounter (there is a choice on first actually, I went with Illusion)… Unmissable gaming experience I think.

Which makes it a either a shame, or of no importance — depending on the perspective you choose to take — that the rest of the month’s bundle is… Less than amazing.

But first, what’s been headlined for the coming bundle?

August Headline Titles

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

I invested a good number of hours into this when it came out early last year, but hoo boy it was rife with bugs. I’ve been keeping an eye on the patches that have since come to rectify the situation and it seems now might be a good time to give it a go.

If you don’t already own it, the humble bundle for the coming month is likely a really good bet.

Surviving Mars

Safe to say I won’t be paying early for this bundle. I own Surviving Mars already as well. It’s developed by the guys behind Tropico 5, but published by Paradox and seemingly following their DLC model. (I.e., early and often).

How much that bothers you is up to you. I find it makes it very difficult to get into their titles after they’ve been out in market a few years — but as a player who gets in early (and I’d still say that’s the case here) the frequent updates and adaptations to the gameplay is really quite appreciated and can extend the game’s lifespan well beyond normal.

Revealed Titles

OK, maybe I was a little rough in my opening. Mechanicus looks like it might actually be worth a look. Seems to be a Turn Based Tactics game ala XCOM. And what might surprise you — it certainly surprised me, being a licensed Warhammer game as it is — it has been well received and rated ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ on Steam.

…I just didn’t think that happened for WH licensed games.

Anyway, Road Redemption is the remake of the old-school Road Rash. I feel that if you played the original this one is likely going to be an amazing nostalgia trip. But I didn’t. And this looks relatively unappealing me as a result, I think.

As for the others… eh. Love is Dead has a bit of a ‘cute’ premise I guess. Seperated by undeath as zombies, re-unite your family in a puzzler type environment. 60 Parsecs is a point and click adventure, which if done well can be right up my ally. This one is rated well — so I’m not saying it doesn’t — but the art style is quite a turn-off to me. And then NAIRI is a visual novel.