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

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.