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. :)

No Man’s Sky Added

My gaming preferences are mysterious and ever shifting. Like a leaf upon the wind, one can never be too sure where they may land. … Which is to say, I’m very fickle and typically struggle to settle into any one title for any reasonable period of time.

Which let me tell you, can really make these games I’m playing posts a bit of a mission.

Often by the time I realise, “Yep — I’m playing this thing a fair bit” and reckon it might be an idea to add it to the sidebar, I grow suspicious of the fact that I will be done with it a day or two hence. Or that the act of officially recognising it might even somehow break the spell of game continuity.

But I’m going to risk it. I’m putting the cards out on the table and saying: Yep — I’m playing a boatload of No Man’s Sky at the moment. Not an outcome I expected when I first booted it up and tinkered around a bit. I didn’t really see much of a reason to consider it significantly improved over what I’d seen before.

Oh good. Doesn’t look like I’m on the menu today.

Turns out I was wrong. I’m glad I went back for a second look. I couldn’t even tell you now, only a few days on why I did though!

Not really any change otherwise this time around.

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • No Man’s Sky

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • Lost Ark

Removed

  • None

My Lost Ark account is still functional, I check in every once and a while. But I’m trying really hard not to get too invested in my characters. The risk of being banned is still ever present and I can’t imagine the pain of that happening if I actually reach end game and make significant progress with it.

To such an extent I almost wish the ban hammer had already fallen.

I half expect to find some Night Elves hiding in the bushes here.

For all others interested — we’re told that an NA release is in the works, and it looks like Smilegate recently even put out job postings for an English localisation team. But the next step on this journey is the Russian release slated to go into open beta late this year.

That release is rumoured to have a native English language option. It’s also suggested that the Russian release will be far ‘safer’ for foreigners to play, with laxer restrictions than the Korean release.

So my plan is to hold off and wait for this release before getting too heavily involved. But… I can feel that I’m very close to getting my boat in Lost Ark, and I kinda want it. So we’ll see. ;)

Time to Loot Journal: July 2019

Looking back over the past month I’m left wondering… What happened? Where did the time go and what did I do? It seems like a lifetime ago that the health scare raised its head, and yet it was only a handful of weeks. The endoscopy is the end of this week and all going well will put this concern to rest.

Other unrelated sickness in the household has meant I’ve spent a week working from home, which I think lent itself to time blurring with the removal of a regular cadence of work and back, work and back to mark out the days.

Oh! Blaugust is coming though! Over the latter part of July I’ve been in a sort of warm-up exercise mode for it, posting if not every day then every other. It isn’t too late to sign up and jump into the Discord though. :)

Blog this Month

Published 18 posts this month. Up 8 from last. Second most posts in a month since I started Time to Loot (with first place going to February). My Blaugust goal is to hit a post all 31 days though.

I think I can do it — but we’ll see.

Life often has a way of sneaking up and inappropriately pinching your behind when you’re not looking after all. Someone should tell Life it’s 2019 and we don’t stand for that sort of carry on any more.

As for totals? This will make for 98 published posts. Almost broke 100 a month ahead of prediction! I have to say, quite chuffed with getting this far.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Heart of Rage: Tips for The Monitor
  3. Blaugust 2019 is Coming!
  4. Starting The Horrible Hundred
  5. Humble Monthly: July 2019

I was right! The Heart of Rage post at last falls out of top spot. That was a pretty impressive run for it though I suppose. But now the Transport Fever starter guide has taken over with almost 4x the views this month than HoR.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1Final Fantasy XIV29.938.5%↑2
2Lost Ark29.838.3%New
3Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey4.55.8%Returning
4Stellaris4.15.3%New
5Warframe2.83.6%New
6Astroneer2.53.2%New
7Devil May Cry 51.82.3%Returning
8Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice0.91.1%New
9Celeste0.81.1%New
10Parkasaurus0.70.9%New

July saw a total of 77.7 gaming hours, down 2.9 hours from June.

And in an almost complete flip from last month where the total active hours were way down from watching shows on devices other than the main desktop, this month saw an unprecedented high of 317.2 total active hours. This is up 141.1 hours over last month.

Much of the increase to total active hours comes from spending a little over a week working from home, plus some return to this device as a TV/Movie watching device.

For July, this means gaming made up 24.4% of the active hours, down 21.2% from last month.

Final Fantasy XIV

Talk about juuuuust eking it out for top spot. Less than 6 minutes difference between it and Lost Ark.

Final Fantasy will certainly still hold strong next month. But whether it will be #1 or #2 is anyone’s guess at this stage.

I’m still looking down the barrel of the vast majority of The Horrible Hundred to complete. But I’ll get there. I’ve just been horribly distracted by Lost Ark, and it’s all Mailvaltar’s fault. Don’t look at me like that, it is! ;)

Lost Ark

Perhaps rather cruelly, I first found out about Lost Ark some 4 or 5 years ago.

I’ve finally got a chance to dive in and try most of the base classes. And Oh my God, where has this game been my entire life?

The blend of MMORPG and ARPG is just so perfect. I’ve leveled two of the Warrior classes — Berserker and Warlord to nearly 30, and with a friend just joining decided to take a look at Bard alongside them.

Easy contender for top spot next month, but as I called out in the sneak peek — it’s by no means certain. Technically you cannot play this outside of Korea, so my account could be terminated at any point. It is going to be difficult in the extreme though to keep my mindset as one of testing and experimenting rather than dedicated though.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

The last episode of the Fate of Atlantis DLC dropped this month, spurring me back into AC’s rendition of Greece where the myths are real.

I’ve started my way into chapter 2 of the First Blade DLC.

I’ve almost finished annihilating the Order of the Storm — Chapter 2’s addition to the Persian Cult — but I’m endeavouring to hunt a few final clues before the final engagement of the chapter. It is my hope that I can save this person rather than slaughter them. I don’t know if it’s possible, but it has been elsewhere in the story. So… Here’s to hoping!

The Others

Quite a hodgepodge here, as is my way. :)

Stellaris made a bit of a surprise return visit in the form of a 4 player game set in a small galaxy size, so that we could test out the recently released Ancient Relics Story pack which added archaeological dig sites that you could have your scientists work on.

Warframe saw a little bit of a revisit too after Tennocon. I still have much to do here, as even in this return I didn’t set foot onto Venus/Fortuna. I think I’m holding out for The New War and Empyrean to download into our hot little waiting hands.

Although I did discover today that there has been a little more added to the story of space mother (aka Natah)! It came alongside the Jupiter / Gas City revamp, and it is apparently quite telling of things to come in the New War story. I may not be able to resist doing that soon.

The rest on the list also make some degree of sense for me I suppose, but if you quirked a brow at Parkasaurus… Well. It’s a tycoon game for a start. I do also love those after all. But mostly, I have an 8-year old boy who still adores Dinosaurs. So this thing was about the best thing ever. For… *looks* …A bit under an hour. ;D