Planning Ahead

Blaugust is in full swing as we enter week two. It’s been great to be able to come back to the blog and get so much writing in this month. As always, it’s a amazing to see so much content in my Feedly feed too.

Every year. I’ve always felt a few days of Blaugust makes me think more like a blogger. I come up with more ideas and think about things differently. Theres also that extra boost of motivation to post everyday. But writing every day and posting every day are two different things.

Writing is more or less the easy part given that I have some idea off what I want to say and enough tine to bang it out. Editing, finding pictures, adding/fixing links, and formating is a whole other ball game that sometimes takes longer than writing the actual post.

This past week has been so busy and I found myself struggling to get posts out on time. The posts went live, sometimes at the eleventh hour, but I’m not sure I was completely happy with how they turned out.

At the start of the month I had myself a nice 4 scheduled post buffer. It was nice to work on posts a few days out, polish them up, and put them out. These last few days writing and posting on the same day has not felt quite as enjoyable.

I’ve never been one to plan or work ahead. Usually I write when motivation strikes. Probably explains the sporatic posting I’ve done here over the years.However, I’m starting to think that if I’m going to get 31 posts out this month I’m going to have to give myself some more buffers. Baby Kluwes keeps my schedule just unpredictable enough that I should take advantage of writing when I can, aka at nap time or bed time, and write multiple posts in a day.

The inportant part here is the writing. If I can get some first drafts written I can do all the polishing and bloggy bits later or on the day of if need be. Of course, life just gets in the way sometimes and thats ok too.

We’ll see how it goes!

A Major Life Change

I don’t tend to talk about my personal life here much. Part of it is because I’m a relatively private person but I also just find it hard to write about myself sans hobbies. It took me forever to write my About page when I first started blogging and I rarely revisit to update it.

I have exactly one introduction post from 3 years ago that I wrote for Blaugust 2019. That was also shortly before I changed the blogs name.

I thought using the “Introduce Yourself Week” for Blaugust as motivation to post a bit more about myself sounded like a pretty good idea.

And there is some news I would like to share with you all:

Recently, my Mrs. Kluwes and I have become new parents. The last 4 months have been a a wild ride to say the least. Baby Kluwes was 6 weeks early and thankfully had very little complications from being such an early arrival. She did have an extended stay at the hospital which was incredibly hard for us. But she was discharged much quicker than the other children and families around us and it was all worth it when we finally got her home.

3 months later and she is thriving!

We got to live that new newborn life style/sleep schedule for an extra month and a half but we’re now rounding a corner. Baby goes to sleep earlier than we do now and almost sleeps through the nights. I had just about forgotten what sleeping multiple hours in a row was like…it’s all been an amazing experience so far.

Now that everyone is in more of a routine, I find that I can eek out an hour or maybe even two of free time a day after Baby Kluwes is asleep. Being awake enough to really enjoy it is an added bonusI fill most of my new found time with gaming and writing here.

It’s funny, when I had all the time in the world blogging was just another thing I did sometimes. Now that time is limited I have to prioritize my activities. I’ve been writing here for just over 6 years now and I don’t want it to completely fall by the wayside.

Mechs and Multiplayer

Daemon X Machina was free last week on the Epic Games store. I was surprised it was being offered so soon after release. However a quick Google search fixed that. The game is almost 2 years old on PC. It’s also a PC port of a Switch game which released in September 2019. I added it to my Steam wishlist in May 2021 which is probably why I thought it was a newer title. DXM offering 4 player co-op was an instant pick up for the squad. If only just to play it once and see what it was all about.

I had booted up the game  last Thursday to create a character and try the first mission. For a console port, playing with a controller was not a pleasant experience. The controls feel floaty and I found it hard to aim (even with aim assist) which makes fighting difficult. Fighting controls are important for a mech game since all you’ll be doing is shooting things.
 
By the time we all got together on Friday, I had touched the game once while CC had completed the whole story…

This time around I opted for keyboard and mouse controls. These are much better but take a bit to get used to. There is no cursor. All of the menus are control through the keyboard, like I said, it’s a console port. Menus aside, the actual flight and fighting controls were much more enjoyable.
 
Multiplayer is available right after character creation. The tutorial doesn’t even have to be started before you’re allowed to group up. I always love to see that in a multiplayer game.

We had a hell of a time getting connected to each other though. There isn’t a join or invite option in the Epic Launcher, instead someone has to make a room and the others have to go to the in-game friends list to join whoever created the room. We kept getting errors when trying to join rooms this way. We tried creating a public match and had everyone search for the room at the same time. We would either get a random person or no one could connect to the room a all.
 

After a about 30 minutes of trial and error, we found if SuperToast hosted the room we could all join on him. I have no idea why this is the case, but it worked! A similar issue happened when we tried to play Remnant: From the Ashes together. I’m not sure if it has something to do with launching the game through Epic.


There’s two main types of missions available for multiplayer: Exploration and Missions. 
 
Exploration involves running around a map killing enemies and collecting parts from fallen mechs until the party reaches the boss room. The bosses are big ol’ damage sponges and take some time to down. Afterwards the mission completes, you have a minute to run around and pick up any loot you missed before getting sent back to the hub. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.
 
The mission mode, from what we could tell, let’s you team up for some of the story missions/bosses but isn’t a true co-op story mode. CC noted that some of the bosses either don’t appear in the story or have more difficult encounters in multiplayer. 

Missions come in two flavors, fight a big, bad, mech killing, robot boss or fight 4 mercenary mechs. We fought the Gunfort, which looks like a cross between the Spike Walker from Trove and the Profit Taker from Warframe. We fought a giant train with guns. I think we might have fought some sort of final boss in a mission called the Nightmare. It was a big, presumably evil/antagonistic, mech that fired all sorts of laser beams at us. He was by far the hardest encounter we had. We had to run it a few times before we took it down.
 
The mech parts from the Missions are no where near as good as the parts from the Explorations. In Exploration, it seems like the whole loot pool is available to drop. CC was getting multiple pieces of new gear even though he’d already completed the story. Missions, on the other had, award progressively better parts as the difficulty increases, as you would expect. This means running Exploration is the most efficient way to get the best parts for your Mech. The issue is there’s only two exploration missions and they both take place on the same map. At least there’s variety in the Mission locations.

The HUD took up way to much screen real estate. The cross hare overlay took up the majority of the center of the screen…There isn’t a way to scale it down but you can disable individual pieces of it. Having not done the any of the single player, I had no idea what half the stuff on screen was anyways and turned it all off. Not only did it make things easier to see but it also let me take way better screenshots!
 
Despite the technical hiccups, the weird controls, and the giant sized UI, I had fun. It does what it sets out to do, make big robots fight other big robots. There isn’t much else to it. There always seems to be a new part, weapon, or decal to collect and put on your mech for the next round. I don’t think I’ll be playing this one solo but I think everyone had a good enough time to warrant another session in the future.
 
 

November 2021 Gaming Goals

Wow it’s been a looooong time since I’ve done one of these. The last one was in March of this year which tracks. This year has been very light in the posts department. In fact, this will be the 33rd post this year which is way down from last year’s 88. I just didn’t make time for it, even though one of my goals was to do exactly that!

But I’m feeling the urge now to write and I’m hoping to keep it up. How many times have I said that over the years? It also helps that I’m super excited to write about Fallen Earth now that it’s back. This month is going to be pretty light on goals since I don’t see myself playing much else besides Fallen Earth.

November Gaming Goals

Reach Sector 2 in Fallen Earth: I’m not sure how long this is going to take to do. I don’t think it will take all month but with the way I’m playing currently it might. I’m still stopping to read and pick up all of the quests and I can’t stop myself from clicking on every, single, gathering node on my travels.

Work on some more Steel Path in Warframe: I played a lot of Warframe in the last few months here. New World, vacation, and now Fallen Earth caused me to lose the momentum I had with the game. While I don’t think I’ll be playing on my own anytime soon I am hoping to work on getting through more of the Steel Path mode with friends when they want to play.

Preparing for Combat in Melvor

This week has been all about getting myself set up to take on combat in Melvor. From the onset, I had an idea to level one combat style at a time for a bit of a challenge. I chose to start with Range in homage to my original Runescape character way back in 2007. Of course, I chose one of the more involved styles in terms of gearing. It might not be optimal to do it this way but here I am.

I started with leveling Fishing right off the bat. For one, it’s an idle skill that continues collecting while I’m offline and I also know I’m going to need a lot of food.. The added benefit Fishing first is the chance to receive “junk” instead of fish. Selling the junk early on lead to some decent gold gains so I could purchase more bank slots to…store more junk….

At Fishing level 20 I was able to fish in Lemvor Pier which gives a base 1% chance to fish up a special item. These have been gems so far but there was a tooltip that said some special items can unlock additional fishing areas. Since I didn’t have the crafting level to use the gems I sold them for gold. I spent that gold on better fishing rods so I could fish faster and so the cycle continued. I’m currently sitting at level 68 Fishing and 8k food items after letting it run overnight.

Once I had all of this raw fish I needed to cook it. I had saved all of the fish I caught from each level bracket in hopes of leveling Cooking without having to go back and fish lower level fish. This worked out nicely and my Cooking level has kept pace with my Fishing level. With 55 cooking I can now cook Raw Fanfish which is the highest level fish I can catch in an area with a chance for special items.

With the food situation taken care of, I turned my attention to Woodcutting and Fletching. One of the things I’ve always loved about Runescape, and now Melvor, is how skills flow into each other. I needed to level Woodcutting to gather wood to use to fletch arrow shafts and bows. I needed to level Mining so I could gather ore to use for Smithing to make arrowheads. I ended up getting all of the above up pretty high over the week and I can now make up to Mithril arrows. Those should be a nice mid-tier ammo to start fighting the higher combat level creatures.

The last piece of all this was Crafting. If I had gone with melee I could have been progressively improving my armor and weapons through Smithing. That would have given me 4 tiers of armor and weapons to go through. Unfortunately, there are only 2 tiers of ranged armor: Leather and Hard Leather. Leather was pretty quick to get but the full hard leather set requires getting Crafting to level 50 which took me most of the week. Leather can be bought in the shop but it was a bit expensive when I first started leveling Crafting. So I did dip my toes into the combat system since cows drop up to 3 leather a kill. Cows have a combat level of 2 so after the first few they weren’t much of a challenge. It was just a matter of waiting to kill enough cows and making sure my loot inventory didn’t fill up.

So with a full Hard Leather armor set, a few thousand Mithril Arrows, and a Maple Short Bow, I’m ready to check out combat this weekend!

NIMBY Rails First Impressions

I had put NIMBY Rails on my Steam Wishlist a while ago before it released back in 2019. I had mostly forgotten about it until I saw an email from Steam pop up on my phone at the end of January.

NIMBY Rails is a railway management sandbox game made by the same devs as The Spatials: Galactology. It gives you the tools to create passenger rail systems anywhere in the world using Open Street Maps. It’s a niche concept but one that I’m finding endlessly entertaining right now. I’ve always been fasinated with maps so building on a detailed world map had been fantastic.

The game is in early access right now but is very playable and has gotten a lot of updates in the 2 weeks it’s been available. Right now, there are two ways to play: with money and with unlimited money. If you want to play a tycoon-like management game playing with money is the way to go. You start out with a loan of 1 billion dollars and can start building anywhere in the world. The goal is to pay off your loan and turn a profit to expand your rail networks. Unlimited money offers more of a creative mode but includes all of the management options as playing with money. It even gives you the accounting stats. Unlimited money seems geared more towards people who want to create real-life rail systems as opposed to imagined ones.

Until recently, playing with money was a bit tedious unless you were building in highly populated cities like Tokyo or Mexico City. The time multiplier only went so high so when you ran out of money you’d just have to wait or leave the game running overnight to generate enough capital to start building again. It turns out rail lines are very expensive. A recent update boosts the game time speed up by x10000 and then throttles down depending on what your CPU can handle. This makes building in smaller areas way more viable as the days pass by in seconds instead of minutes.

I appreciate the simplicity of the game so far. A lot of times with niche simulation games you’re given a lot of complex tools and I spend most of my time figuring out what does what. Which tends to get in the way of actually enjoying the game itself. NIMBY Rails gives me all of the tools I need right off the bat to start creating and offers a short quickstart guide to explain the basics.

There are 3 structures you can build: stations, tracks, and depots. Each structure has 4 types: Groud, Viaduct, Tram, and Tunnels. Each type offers different trade-offs in speed, cost, and placement. For example, Tram tracks and stations can be placed anywhere except over water. They’re the cheapest option but have a max speed of 45 km/h. Ground tracks, on the other hand, have the fastest speeds but overpasses need to be built each time they cross a road which adds another 500K for each overpass. That can rack up quickly, especially when getting into or out of cities. There are plans to add more complex tools like single tracks and signals. For now, I’m enjoying the simplicity.

Once you’ve laid some track the management side of things kicks in. You build lines to carry passengers from one station to another. You set the price for the line, adjust wait time intervals so trains don’t run into each other, and constantly have to balance passenger (pax) satisfaction. The happier the pax, the more of them will show up in stations to ride the trains and the more money you’ll make. I’m finding the building more fun than the management right now. But again, the management tools are powerful without being too complicated.

To top it all off there’s multiplayer. With multiplayer, you share a map and, if you’re playing with money, a budget. Everyone can build anywhere but the time multiplier only goes to x30 right now. You can get around this by taking the save into single player and maxing out the speed. The majority of my playtime so far has been spent in multiplayer with Greg. He has a huge interest in trains so when I told him this game existed with multiplayer he immediately bought it.

Back in Final Fantasy 14 Again

Hey Eorzea, it’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s most assuredly been over a year. Maybe even two.

Checks blog posts….July 2019! Well it has been quite some time.

How did I end up here? Well out of all things it started with getting my account transferred in Black Desert. I had intended to transfer and maybe start up a new character there. But when I logged in the character slots were all filled up. Black Desert has a 1 day character deletion timer so I wasn’t going to be able to play right away. I came across the FFXIV icon on my desktop and decided I would resub and play that again instead. Very much an impulse decision there.

So here I am again faced with the decision to start over or continue where I left off. Considering I don’t remember anything from my last visit to FFXIV it was an easy decision. I’ve made yet another new character. This time on the current preferred server Midgardsormr.

So far, I’ve been really enjoying my time back in Eorzea. I decided to start out as a Thaumaturge since Black mage was the only original class I’ve never tried out. On my last character I want to say I may have gotten it close to 30 but never quite made it there. Also, I always thought the level 50 gear looked really cool too.

The plan is to run through the Main Scenario with the Black Mage and run dungeons with a White Mage at least until the end of A Realm Reborn. I never did get out of ARR in 2019 and I think this will be my second, maybe, third run through the base game.

With the boosted XP from the preferred server I’m blowing through the Main Scenario. It’s much more enjoyable this time around and better paced without having to take breaks to level up in between MSQs. My Black Mage is sitting around level 40 while the MSQ is around level 27 right now. Every time I hit a dungeon for the MSQ I’ve been switching over to the conjurer to get a feel for healing again. Which in turn is keeping that class pretty close in levels. This weekend I did all the class quests to get my White Mage job crystal.

One of the things I’m trying to be conscious of this time around is keeping my focus on reading dialogue text. I don’t know what it is about the way FFXIV delivers the dialogue but if I’m not 100% focused on reading it I’ll read the words without really thinking about what they’re saying. I notice when my mind slips I’ll be 3 paragraphs in and have to figure out what’s going on. As a result of all that, I’m picking up on story bits that I hadn’t before. I remembered the story pretty well up until the first Ifrit fight. But after that, everything has felt brand new to me. Which is great because I don’t feel like I’m running the same old content even though I technically am.

Maybe this year I’ll actually get to see what’s waiting outside A Realm Reborn.

My Favorite Games of 2020

When I reflect on the beginning of this year it feels like the distant past. I was playing through Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and that feels like ages ago now. When I take a look back at Goodreads there’s some books I could have sworn I read last year that I read in January and February. But in a lot of ways it was a completely different time right? No masks, working in the office, going out in public regularly and eating in restaurants are a thing of the past now.

But through it all there have been some amazing games that kept me sane this year, kept me in touch with friends, and kept my mind off things when I needed it. In no particular order here are my favorite games of this year.

GTFO

GTFO was my group game for a good portion of the year. We bought it back in April and played it once a week until around November. After 43 hours I can say its a good game but one that doesn’t respect the players time. You need at least 3 people but preferably 4 to complete the levels. And with no saved checkpoints, losing after spending 2 hours stealthily clearing the map feels really bad. But the challenge and the almost clears is what kept us coming back for so long. The level switch ups every few months helped to keep things fresh but we never did complete a rundown.

Phasmophobia

This one has become another staple of our Saturday nights. At first it was creepy, it was atmospheric, and it was so different from anything I’d ever played. The first time the ghost talked on the spirit box and the first time the EMF detector hit level five is something I’ll remember for a long time. After 35+ hours the game is no longer scary but it is fun to see how fast you can find the ghost. Finding different ways to harass the ghost, and scaring my friends by throwing balls down the stairs.

Warframe

The last big group game this year was Warframe. We all got really in to it over the summer. I hit a 75% off coupon and bought the largest platinum package with gave me way more platinum than I’ll probably ever need. But when a free game’s given you 200+ hours it really does deserve some money thrown at it. For me personally, Warframe is an all in or all out game for me. When I want to play it I’ll sink in the time but when I’m over it I fall off hard. Our biggest achievement this time around was taking down an Eidolon.

Trove

Much like Warframe I’m either all in on Trove or all out. I played it a ton over the summer when the Delves update came out. I fell off of it in August and didn’t pick it up again until November. Trove is one of those games that always feels like coming home. I’ve spent 4 years with friends and it’s always fun to dip in to. I’m glad to see it’s still getting updates and I hope they continue into next year

Runescape

If you told me in the beginning of the year that Runescape would be my most played game this year I wouldn’t have believed it. Mostly because I tried playing Runescape in January and bounced off of it hard. I still have the post in my drafts and sadly never got around to publishing it. But In August I was introduced to Runelite and everything changed. According to ManicTime I have a 174 hours this year alone and that’s over a period of 3 months and doesn’t include the time I spent on my laptop or my phone. Yes, I even played OSRS on my phone…what a time to be alive.

While Old School Runescape started with nostalgia it passed that early on when I completed the free to play content and branched out into the members content. I was happily chugging along until the Trailblazer League started. To be honest, I went way to hard on the league and burned myself out on the game. I may pick it back up in January but there are a few games I want to get through before I start that journey back up.

Cyberpunk 2077: Quick Impressions

I was on the fence about buying Cyberpunk 2077 after reading some initial reviews. It’s a buggy mess they said, it doesn’t run well, it doesn’t liv up to the hype. But Wednesday morning I found my pressing purchase on Steam. Honestly, I wanted to see the bugs before they got patched out…I’m weird like that sometimes

I wasn’t super hyped for this release, I kept myself in the dark for the most part. I was excited about a AAA cyberpunk setting but other than that I didn’t have a lot of expectations. In a lot of ways, this is the No Man’s Sky launch all over again. Except we don’t have Sean Murray spouting off vague tweets about whether or not there’s multiplayer. But just like No Man’s Sky, the internet is up in arms and I’m sitting over here, 6 hours in, having a grand old time.

I haven’t encountered a ton of bugs so far. The worst one has been getting locked into the scanner in the middle of the tutorial. I had to reload the game but wasn’t set too far back. This happened a second time out in the world and pressing Caps Lock seems to have fixed it. I also found one NPC T-Posing in the first few scenes of the game. Other than that, nothing game breaking, not even that immersion breaking for me.

As far as performance, It runs fine at High on my PC. I’m rocking a 1060 and while I don’t think I’m getting a constant 60fps I’m not noticing significant frame rate drops. I also don’t have a counter going, I won’t be able to get new hardware for a while so why torture myself? Ignorance is bliss sometimes.

A friend suggested turning Cascaded Shadows Range and Cascaded Shadows Resolution to medium to improve performance. After doing this it’s been a smoother experience so far. Also, turning off Film Grain will make everything look sharper. With it on everything looked a bit fuzzy to me.

I’ve been enjoying my time so far. Is it the greatest game ever made? Probably not, but it’s a solid game with a solid story and it’s pretty to look at. I don’t need much more than that!

Heading Back to Runescape

The year is 2007. I’m in 7th grade and all my friends and classmates are abuzz with some game called Runescape. It’s this game you play online with other people and there’s so much to do!

I was no stranger to playing games in a web browser. These were the prime years of gaming when Miniclip and Newgrounds were the go to source for free games. But unlike those flash games, this one saved your progress.

Runescape wasn’t my first introduction to online games but it was close. That honor goes to the colorful world of Club Penguin. I remember playing around with my friends in that game but when I look back I’m not sure what we saw in it. Maybe it was the novelty of talking to other people, however limited that may have been. More likely it was my first introduction to dress up with online games and I was enamored with getting the next piece of clothing.

I remember it took me a while to catch on to the Runescape hype. But I don’t remember what it was that finally got me to play. It was probably the fact that it was all my friends were talking about at the time and I wanted to be included. This was

Runescape became the only game I played for a good 1.5 years. What I liked the most was there were skills to level up that didn’t involve fighting. I could be a cook, I could fish, I could make armor. Most of my days weren’t spent fighting monsters but chopping trees and mining ore. In fact, the only reason I participated in combat at all was to hang out with my friends.

During the summer we’d all meet up at the library to play on their computers together. You’re library card got your 1 hour of computer time so when our hour was up we’d go do other things. I had one friend who collected other people’s library card numbers so he could play all day since he didn’t have a computer at home.

Eventually, I moved on to Guild Wars.But I’d always look for games that had the same amount of non combat skills as Runescape and never quite found one. Runescape was so niche and started many, many years of MMO gaming. I’ve been curious to go back and see if it would still hold my interest today.