The Magic of Animal Crossing

2020032713170100-02CB906EA538A35643C1E1484C4B947DAnimal Crossing am I right? Have you had the pleasure of explaining what it is to someone who’s never played it yet? Here was my attempt at explaining this game to my wife.

Wife: What do you want for your birthday this year?

Me: Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Wife: What’s that?

Me: It’s a game where you live on an island and all your neighbors are animals.

Wife: Sounds cute, what do you do?

Me: You like, run around and collect bugs and fish and flowers and sell them to a racoon so you can get new clothes and furniture for your house. You’re also in a perpetual cycle of debt to this racoon who convinces you to remodel your house just as you finish paying off your debt to him.

Wife: …

Me: Well when you explain it, it sounds boring, but I swear it’s fun!

Saturday I turned 28 and the proud owner of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  Now we have conversations like this.

Me: What do you want to do this weekend?

Wife: Let’s play Animal Crossing! We need 9 more species to get Blathers to upgrade the museum. Also, we need to start saving up Bells for when lawn flamingos are in the shop so we can buy like 10 of them!

I haven’t actually played an Animal Crossing since owning a Gamecube was cool. I have fond memories of the hours my sister and I spent glued to the basement TV. We even bought a separate memory card so we could have our own town. The day we found out we could change the Gamecube’s system clock to play more was a magical time.The thing I remember most was thinking we were funny and sending terrible messages to our residents….Now my sister lives across the country from me but got a Switch so we can visit each other’s towns just like the old days. Something tells me I’m about to wake up to some interesting mail one of these days.

 

 

 

 

 

A Nice Suprise

 

Blapril

With the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve kind of fallen out of the blogosphere. I haven’t been able to read or write as many posts as I would like. So imagine my suprise today when I opened up my Feedly to find out about Blapril!

I’m so not prepared for this…but I signed up anyway. It’s a great time for that extra sense of community this event brings out. As always I’m shooting for a 30 day streak and seeing how close I can get to that mark. Last Blaugust I suprised myself by actually making it all the way through.

One of my personal goals through these events has been to participate more. I’m such a lurker by nature so more times than not I’ll forget to leave a comment or actually say something in Discord. Hell, I’m even dusting off the ole’ twitter for this one.

I look forward to reading everyone’s posts!

If you’re somehow hearing about this for the first time from me:

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About Warframe

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A quick look back shows I have exactly 0 posts about Warframe. Which is weird because I have 120 hours in the game. Making it one of my most played games. But that’s because my gaming group has never stuck with it long enough for me to form any kind of opinion on it.

3 years ago when we were getting into streaming we wanted a game we could all play together regularly. Warframe seemed like the perfect match. The group size was 4 and there were four of us. And thus began our on-again-off-again relationship with the game. We’d play for a month or 2 abandon it and then someone would get the bright idea to play it again. We’d all wonder why we didn’t keep playing it and then BAM! everyone loses interest again.

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This time is different though. The benefit of streaming Warframe is that the community likes to help people out. Warframe has a lot of moving parts and the game is notoriously bad at explaining how any of them work. So you get great advice and tips from veteran players who don’t mind showing people the ropes. We have a much better understanding of how to progress and what we should be doing. It only took 3 years…We’re finally on Uranus. Which, for the record, is not very far.

We’ve started playing as a group on Saturday nights consistently which hasn’t happened in a while for any game. Our play sessions center around progressing on planets until someone has to log off. Then the rest of the group spend the night grinding materials or Warframe / weapon parts. It’s a slow road but it’s always a great time to get everyone together.

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Warframe also makes a good podcast game. I’ve been sorely lacking a good podcast game since Trove. A game where I can turn the in-game sound off and keep my hands busy while I listen to The No Sleep Podcast.

Warframe and Trove have a lot in common. They both feature classes with small skill bars that turn into press “x” to win. They both feature a heavy material and experience grind. Both feature the gameplay loop of rush to the objective to get your reward and do it all over again. And you can do TONS of damage! Warframe is prettier though, and get’s updated more, and is more fun to play right now.

 

 

 

Things are weird

It’s been about a week now since Ohio went into quarantine. Last week felt like that part in a made for TV disaster movie where you’re getting to know all the characters. This week feels like when the storms on the horizon and all the main characters are waiting for it to hit.

Fortunately, I haven’t been impacted by this too much. I consider myself lucky that I work for a company that can function with a fully remote workforce. I’m thankful that I’m still working when a lot of people I know are not since everything is slowly shutting down. I started a new job about 4 months ago and was just getting a handle on how everything was working.  everything is completely different but with new challenges come new opportunities to grow.

The biggest change for me has been learning to work from home. I always thought it’d be hard to do. I thought there would be too many distractions. It turns out, it’s not that much different from working in the office once I get going. The only difference is my cat would like to help me work now…Even when my wife is home it’s easier than I thought it’d be.

No, it turns out the biggest challenge for me is when work is over. Most days, I’m playing games on my PC after work. Now that I spend all day in my home office, it’s the last place I want to be at the end of the day. As a result, the Switch has been getting a lot more playtime in my house. Also, a lot more reading and Netflix has followed.

It’s a weird time we live in right now. We’re living through a historic event, one we will hopefully never have to live through again. I still can’t wrap my brain around it. How the whole world has shut down and how the most mundane things like going out to eat just don’t exist right now.

I hope all of you stay safe and healthy out there.

 

Backlogged: Epistory -Typing Chronicles

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Time to Finish: 7 hours

I didn’t learn to type until the year after I graduated from college. I had a job that required a lot of data entry and it was frustrating relying on the ole’ hunt and peck method. It turns out, typing wasn’t actually a hard skill to pick up I just never put in the time. It would have been so helpful in college, especially since I majored in history, so much time would have been saved on papers. Oh well.

This might be weird but I find typing oddly…relaxing. So when I found a game that relied solely on typing I wanted to try it out. I had played this before for about 2 hours. As always, I thought I had gotten farther but my original profile was only on chapter 2 so I decided to start over from the beginning.

Overall, Epistory is a solid game with a fun mechanic. If it taught me anything it’s that I’m good at typing 3-4 letter words and anything more trips up my fingers!

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Things I liked:

The Narration: As you progress in Epistory, the narator will often pop in to give you some story tidbits. Combined with the visuals, this makes it feel like your playing a pop-up storybook. It’s a really neat effect.

Typing Combat: It’s like stressful Mavis Beacon software but in a good way. The monsters spawn with a list of words above their heads. To defeat them you have to type all the words. You end up with four abilities: Fire, Ice, Spark, and Wind that all do different things to the monsters. Fire will burn the next word in the list for that monster making it easier to kill them. Spark will jump to bugs and erase the next word on their lists. Ice will freeze the monster and wind will knock them back. Where it gets really fun is the nests where your stationery and have to fight multiple waves of enemies before you can progress.

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Exploration: It’s just fun to run around the zones and find the collectibles and new areas. While it’s still a fairly streamlined experience there are a lot of chests that require a bit of exploration to get. I didn’t end up getting all the collectibles in my playthrough but went out of my way to find most of them. It would be a much shorter game if you just went from dungeon to dungeon without looking around a bit.

The Arena: There’s an arena mode where your just fighting waves of enemies for a high score. If you find that you enjoyed the game and want more this is the perfect mode,

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Things that could have been better:

The Story: While the narration makes it feel like a storybook the story itself feels jumbled. It could be because there’s a lot of time in between the narration that I just forgot what happened last time. It didn’t bother me too much though. I figured a jumbled story fits a game that focuses on typing random words very well. I will admit, I didn’t see the ending coming.

The Controls: The movement keys are E,F,I,J. It’s so that your fingers rest on the home keys and you have an easier time typing quickly. It took me half the game to finally understand how to move in this new way. It wasn’t until I finished the game that I read switching the movement keys to ESDF would have the same exact effect!

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March Goals

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Finish Epistory -Typing Chronicles: Not too long ago I posted a list of games I wanted to play I have gotten through that list surprisingly fast. I’m not sure how much of the game I have left but I can’t imagine it’s more than an hour or 2

Play more Neverwinter: I’m not far enough into the game to have specific goals for it. Lately, I haven’t been taking the time to play it even though I’ve been enjoying it. This month I’d like to put more time into it and progress.

Play Animal Crossing New Horizons: The last time I played an Animal Crossing game was on the Gamecube. My sister and I put so much time into that game. I’m excited about this new iteration and even more excited that my sister, who lives on the other side of the country, is also picking up a copy!

Read 2 Books: I’ve lowered my Goodreads Reading Challenge this year from 24 books to 15. I feel like it’s a more realistic goal these days. I’m at 4 finished books for the year so far and I’d like to keep the 2 a month going while I’m still in the reading mood. It’s usually toward the middle of the year I’ll read nothing and then find myself at the end of the year trying to catch up to my goal. This year I’ve made it a goal to start reading Steven Erikson’s Malazan series which are not short books. I finished one in January and I’m in the middle of the second book now.

Parsec: The Client Can only Hear the Game Music.

I found a lack of information regarding this issue so I wanted to write something up in case anyone else is running into this.

Sound Issues

We ran into an issue where the client could hear the in-game music and some of the menu sound effects but couldn’t hear in-game sound effects or voices. Sometimes the client will hear a stray sound effect from the game but for the most part, can only hear the music/background noise.

It turns out the automatic  echo canceling feature in the Host settings is the culprit here. If you turn this off, the client will be able to hear all the in-game sounds as well as their own voice echoing back at them via Discord.  Which is super annoying…so  we have to fix that.

That’s where Parsec’s manual solution for echo canceling comes to save the day. This involves installing a virtual audio cable and tweaking your sound device settings.

Here’s a quick rundown on how I’ve solved the intermittent/ client only hears the game music sound issues.

  • Turn off Echo Canceling in the Host SettingsEcho off
  • Follow the instructions for Manual Echo Canceling from this linkMixer
  • If you’re hearing yourself through your speakers/headphones: open the volume mixer and mute your microphone output. The mic will still pick up what you say but you won’t hear yourself through your speakers/headphones.

This is what worked for me, hope this helps anyone else having this issue with Parsec.

 

Single Player Games and Local Co-Op with Parsec

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My best friend, Jay, and I live 2 states away from each other. We’re always looking for ways that we can play games together. It’s great when a game has online multiplayer but if it doesn’t we either have to get creative or not play it. One thing we’ve been chasing after for a long time is a way to play single-player games together.

Our first solution to this problem was the SharePlay feature on the PS4. SharePlay is good for what it is but it’s not without issues. Most of the time it takes two or three attempts to connect to the host before the PS4 deems your internet connection worthy enough to connect to the host. Couple that with the hour limitation staying connected to the host you and longer games sessions turn into frustrating endeavors. Once your connected, it works pretty well. There isn’t a whole lot of lag, sometimes the video quality will get downgraded, but for the most part it works as intended. We’ve played games like shadows of Mordor and Alien: Isolation this way.

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Lost Castle: local co-op through Parsec

But I’ve always thought there must be a way to do this on PC. Not too long ago, Steam released a feature that lets you play local co-op games together. This has worked well for us when we’ve used it. There have been more than a few issues with lag and disconnects but again, like SharePlay, when it works it works.

For the longest time, Google searches came up with very little. Until I stumbled upon the Parsec website just the other day. Thanks to Belghast, I’ve heard of Parsec before but I was under the impression t it was just a way to stream games from a desktop primarily in your own home. I didn’t look too much into it because I didn’t have a need. But here I am staring at a web page that says “Connect to your games and friends anywhere.” I immediately told Jay we had to try this.

It was an easy install. Simply sign up, download the client, and share the link to your friend to have them connect. There’s an option to allow your friends to connect without your permission. I assume this is for when you’re streaming from one of your computers to another one of your computers. Maybe I just don’t trust my friends with unrestricted access!

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Dark Souls 3: Hard to show muliplayer on a single player game. But it works great!

I was hosting so I can’t speak directly to how well everything looks and feels on the client’s end. But Jay said he had very little to no latency and the video quality was excellent. On my end, everything worked well and the games we played didn’t appear to have performance issues while hosting.

We only had one disconnect which was easily fixed by changing the Bandwith limit from 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps. We were having an issue where Jay couldn’t use a controller on his end. Once I plugged in my PS4 controller his started working. We also encountered a sound issue where Jay could only hear the game music and not the in-game sound effects. I’ll have a post out tomorrow that touches on how we fixed this.

I have to say I’m blown away by how well Parsec works. It’s exactly the thing I’ve been looking for and it’s amazing how low the latency is. We were playing Dark Souls 3 and Jay didn’t feel like there was any. Plus it’s free! The only other thing I want to test out is how well it works when more people are added. We have a core gaming group of 4 people and I wonder how it would hold up if we wanted to play a single-player game together.