Time to Loot Journal: June 2019

I don’t think I’ve provided an update on my work situation since the May Journal, so here we go. I’ve ended up not leaving after all. I had put my hand up to leave in order to take a look for something new out there. I needed a change, and if it saved one of my team from redundancy in the process all the better.

I’d signed the papers and it was a done deal — but then in the last couple of weeks before I was scheduled to go I was presented with an opportunity to take up a significant new challenge on a brand new product portfolio.

Pretty exciting, with a lot of new tech to learn and play with! Which is exactly what I was after. :)

Blog this Month

Published 10 posts this month, down 2 from last month. This was maintaining a fairly consistent 2 posts a week, although this one will make for the third post this week. Originally I had wanted to run 3 posts a week, but with how I currently run things that has turned out to be unsustainable.

How do I currently run things? Well — I think a separate post on that is forthcoming, but the gist of it is that I haven’t really carved out any time in my life for blogging. It has simply had to fit around out.

In any case, this post will make for 80 published posts. By the end of August Time to Loot should be sitting slightly over 100 posts, which I think will make it my most posted to blog — although still a fair while off longest running.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Heart of Rage: Tips for the Monitor
  2. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  3. Humble Bundle: June 2019
  4. E3 Gleanings So Far
  5. When First Impressions Don’t Last

So my prediction of the Heart of rage post lasting in top spot for another month was true. That also probably wasn’t the most terribly difficult prediction to make. But last month I also wasn’t sure whether it would hold much beyond that.

I think now that next month we’ll see the HoR post fall into at least the second place spot.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1DoTA Underlords28.335.3%New
2Nioh25.331.5%New
3Final Fantasy XIV7.59.3%↓1
4Forager5.97.4%New
5Borderlands 25.77.1%New
6Moonlighter4.96.1%New
7Dark Souls: Remastered0.91.1%New
8Slay the Spire0.81.0%New
9Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem0.60.8%Returning
10Baba Is You0.40.5%New

There was a total of 80.4 gaming hours this month, up 51.3 hours from May. Back to an almost ‘normal’ mid-90’s figure. Well. What I’m taking as normal anyway, but that was only based on two months (March & April) of data.

Where things get a bit more interesting is that the correlation between total active time on the computer and gaming time was broken this month. Total active time was only 176.1 hours, down 27 hours from even last month. Down a bit over 70 hours as compared to a ‘normal’ month.

Gaming made up 45.6% of the active hours, up 31.3% from May.

Now in graph form! While the data set is still very small, the current month is still quite an apparent anomaly. I think I can explain it though. In the previous months, my wife and I were using this computer to watch shows on as well, inflating the active time. This month we’ve been more likely to use her laptop or my Surface in bed to watch things instead. Because it’s frackin’ cold. Seasonal effect, it’s real! ;)

DoTA Underlords

I mentioned earlier discovering DoTA Underlords, bouncing off initially and then coming back for more. Way more. DoTA Underlords has filled that niche of game that can be played quite comfortably while watching a show, browsing, or being otherwise occupied on the other monitor.

I made it up to Smuggler III so far as rank thus far, but don’t let the fact that the multiplayer is ‘ranked’ scare you off. No-one is really looking at your play, you only vs. the other players in your match via AI controlled units in fact. I don’t know much longer I’ll keep playing it heavily– but I appreciate that it exists!

Nioh

My play time here has fallen away in the latter half of the month. I was hoping to play it multiplayer with my eldest son some more, so I halted my singleplayer progress while he catches up.

But uh… It’s taking him a while. Mostly because he still plays so much Fortnite. Please excuse me while I scream into this bag for a little bit. ;)

I’m at the beginning of the third island now, whereas I believe my son still has at least one more main mission on the first island.

Final Fantasy XIV

I’d hoped the launch of Shadowbringers would be a bit more exciting for me personally, but it has certainly been held back by the fact I know I still have so. much. more. to do on the ARR MSQ before I even get to see the last expansions, let alone this one!

No doubt I’ll still get my way through things, but it isn’t something I’ve been heavily investing time into as you can see.

Forager

The perfect skinner-box game. I wondered at first whether it might have a bit of a pacing issue getting started.

And it might — especially if you don’t know the general direction in which to head to unlock automation. But once you get it, things start ticking along very nicely and it is a very difficult to put down game. I think I said I was going to call it at around level 20, didn’t actually stop until around level 25 because I kept unlocking cool new technologies that I ‘just wanted to see’.

It’s still under quite active development too, only single-player right now but co-op is on the roadmap.

Borderlands 2

If you didn’t hear — Borderlands 2 released a new DLC this month with story that directly ties into the forthcoming Borderlands 3. ‘Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary’.

If you add it to your account before July 8th or there abouts — it’s free. It did highlight though how poorly some of the gameplay concepts of Borderlands 2 have aged. Don’t get me wrong — we still had a blast playing through it, but hoo boy. Bring on BL3!

The Others

I talked about these already, and recently — so I shan’t go into too much detail again.

The first main callout here is that I added Slay the Spire to my list of acquisitions from this Steam Sale. I’ve only played one round of it so far in which died horribly in the 2nd chapter/area, but did at least beat the first boss! ;)

The second is that Wolcen received a fairly hefty content patch. Act 1 is back in the game. But at least so far it is utterly unrecognisable from the ‘Act 1’ we had in the Alpha. Whether the story strands will ultimately rejoin or whether those old strands have been cut and tossed to the wind I’m not entirely sure.

It’s still very much a case of, ‘Only buy if you wish to support the developers’. But it looks great. Some of that early promise which has been missing (in my opinion) since the transition from the Alpha to the Betas is finally starting to make an appearance again.

When First Impressions Don’t Last

It doesn’t happen incredibly frequently, but it’s happened often enough that I’m absolutely convinced that it’s a ‘thing’. Over the last few days I’ve had it happen with two games in quick succession which has got me thinking about it. ‘It’ being: When for whatever reason you bounce off a game fairly well convinced it isn’t for you — but then later return to it and find that, you know what? Actually… It very much is your thing.

Sometimes It’s Easy to Know Why…

My go to example here is Dark Souls II. I very excitedly picked up the PC release, having previously looked on enviously at the PS3 crowd with their Dark Souls and Demon Souls before that.

Day 1 I didn’t even get through the tutorial. I remember distinctly thinking the controls were shite while trying to learn controlling the direction of the character, in a run, to jump over a little tiny gap to get an item on the far side.

I put it down in disgust after trying the jump a few times. The next day I did return though, and made it through the tutorial… But then quickly became demotivated again. After having made it through the tutorial area, but before reaching Majula… I hung a left into the area that would ultimately lead to the Shaded Woods later in the game.

If ever there was a second time I considered quitting Dark Souls II though, it was here. These guys blocked me for a goodly while. *grumble* Stupid Ruin Sentinels.

You couldn’t get that far yet, but that hardly mattered. The little bastards that hide out in the stone enclosure there were enough for me. I again threw up my hands and put the game down for quite some time.

In my mind, I had no problem with the concept of challenging combat. It was a large part of what I was there for. But I wasn’t prepared to accept that the game was challenging because the controls were also fighting against you.

Of course, the problem wasn’t really the controls. It was just my familiarity with them. I’d been a pretty die-hard Mouse + Keyboard player for anything character driven to that point. My console controller gaming was limited almost exclusively to JRPGs or racing type things.

But I didn’t even think about picking up Dark Souls II again until about 6 months later when I happened across a Let’s Play. It was set near the beginning of the game, and I could see that more precise control of direction and the like was certainly possible. I had a near jaw drop moment when I saw that I should have carried on down to Majula proper and then around into the Forest of the Fallen Giants as the first area.

I’m incredibly thankful for having seen that and becoming motivated again, otherwise I would have continued to miss out on a fantastic game series and never learnt the necessary controller skills.

…And Sometimes it Isn’t

Moonlighter is one such. I bought the July humble monthly early to gain access primarily to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, but have ended up not touching that one and playing Moonlighter instead.

Which in and of itself is not too unusual — I don’t generally understand even my own gaming whims. But in this case I’d played Moonlighter before and decided very much that this was not a PC game for me. It sat firmly in the category of games that I’d rather play on the Switch. I put it down on the PC after about 45-50 minutes of play.

But this time I’ve gone in deep. I’m about to defeat the Golem King at the end of the first dungeon-set, I’ve invested heavily in both the town and my shop. Constructed a full set of the base armor and non-trainer weapon and enchanted them up the wazoo.

Nothing significant about the game has changed since I last picked it up. I just didn’t really appreciate it last time around. And now I do.

It’s also happened with a markedly different game — DoTA Underlords. After playing through the tutorial round I gave it a hard pass. Next day — a weekend — I played it in basically all my available gaming time.

Woo!

I’ve become a pretty savvy early- and mid- game player, but my late game play is certainly lacking right now. If the game starts dragging out too long past the mid-20 round mark, I find myself falling off in power relative to the other strong players something fierce. That screenshot above as fourth place was after leading the pack for the entirety of that game… Until all of a sudden I wasn’t any more. ;)

One thing I should call out too, because I know the DoTA branding will alone strike fear into the hearts of many — don’t worry. If you’re keen in giving it a go, just do it. And jump straight into the multiplayer.

While yes, it’s a competitive game — you play entirely within your own playfield, with your opponents assembled team (and yours) being AI controlled. Even if you do really poorly in executing your strategies to start out, you’re a) not disadvantaging anyone else, there is no team mates to be worried about, b) not subject to the opinions or heckling of any other player.

Those points aren’t what flipped me exactly, but I feel they’re worth calling out anyway.

I don’t actually know what it is that flipped me. As noted with Moonlighter, certainly it wasn’t anything to do with the game itself. In this instance I literally came back the next day and simply had a different opinion of it.

The second day when I was playing and asked myself, ‘Am I having fun?’ the answer had switched to ‘Yes’.

So if it isn’t the GAME that’s changing…

I can only conclude that there is a strong mindset, or contextual element.

For Dark Souls it was being about being in a headspace where I was willing to learn a new basic, fundamental skill (e.g., using a controller instead of M+KB).

For Moonlighter I’m less certain. I had been playing a lot of Stardew Valley on my Switch the first time around, and had recently discovered that Hollow Knight was indeed a thing I loved on the Switch.

So it’s entirely possible my thinking more generally was coloured by that, and I was looking for other things ‘better on a Switch’. And for what it’s worth, I still think that Moonlighter would be a great experience on Switch. It’s available there now I think, but haven’t as yet tried it.

DoTA Underlords though? That one I’m not even sure I have any sort of solid theory on. The ‘Am I having fun with this?’ question simply had a different answer from one day to the next.

And these are just three examples from a fairly lengthy history of this happening for me. Way back in the day — EVE was another. I bounced off EVE three or four separate times before I really got into it. But that one I can answer. The successful attempt was with a group of friends — and co-op can make pretty much any experience better. ;)