Blapril Lessons Learned – Again


Another month-long blogging event is almost in the books. It’s been yet another great experience for me personally and I’ll miss the constant content to read through every day. As always, a big thank you  Belghast for putting on another fun-filled event. And thanks to everyone who participated for giving me some awesome content to read this month!

In this final week of Blapril, the topic turns to self-reflection and lessons learned.

Earlier this week I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I went through and updated information on my sidebar,  About page, and Games Beaten page. My about page hadn’t been updated since May 29th 2016 which is the day I started this whole thing. I also went through and cleared up some categories and tags on my old posts starting at the beginning.

Then I got curious and started reading my old posts. I don’t know if I’ve done that in the almost 5 years that this blog has been running. It’s something I always said I would do at some point but never quite got around to.

So much has changed in my personal life in the last 5 years I was virtually a different person. As I went through everything, I could see my gaming interests shift from MMOs to more general single-player and co-op games. It was great to go back and read my thoughts from years ago. So much so that it’s motivation in itself to keep the blog going.

What I found particularly interesting were the other Blaugest Lessons Learned posts. I even found one from  NBI in 2016 when I was wrapping up participating in my first blogging event.

I wholeheartedly agree with Naithin here, maybe I should have looked at these before Blapril started. It looks like the lessons I’ve learned this year are the same lessons I learned every year.

  • I have time to write if I make time to write
  • I enjoy writing when I actually sit down to do it

I can’t say that I’ve learned anything new this time around either.

With this unique situation, we find ourselves in lately, there’s a lot more time in the day than there used to be. I’ve been trying to force myself to write in the morning but all that’s lead to is waking up to the thought that I don’t want to write. Not the most motivating thought first thing in the morning. I have found that it’s much easier to write on a lunch break or in the afternoon. This is very easy to achieve while working from home but I’m not sure I can keep it up once I have to go back to the office.

Once again, after writing a few days in a row I find that I enjoy the blogging process. I always come out of these events feeling so positive. This is the part of my wrap up post where I tell you I’m going to make more of an effort to blog. We’ll see about that. I find myself to be an “event” blogger.  In a week or two, it might be a while before you hear from me again given my track record.

We’ll just have to see how it goes.




Hero Siege Season 9


Hero Siege is a game constantly in flux. Every season/ major update seems to change the way the game is played drastically. It happens often enough that I find my self coming back to a completely different game each time I come back. Sometimes those changes are good so times not so much.  You can find the patch notes here.

Now I will admit that I didn’t enjoy season 8 that much. I got into climbing the wormhole ladders in season 6, season 7 had a new class to play around with, but when season 8 launched there were changes that made the game feel too different so I put it down. It’s been. Looking back through the patches, season 8 was only last September so it’s about 6 months since I played. We took last night to get through all 7 acts on normal difficulty to see some of the changes. This time around I’m playing the Shaman which is a class I’ve tried to play before but didn’t end up sticking with it for the long term.

Let’s start with the best and most notable change. The enemy sprites and the redone maps look fantastic. It’s nice to see that the visuals in the game are still being worked on and updated. Along with this there has been improvements to enemy AI and behavior. I haven’t noticed much of a change but I’ve only spent time on normal difficulty so far.

One of the major changes in this season is the addition of Ring, belt, and potion slots. More gear for those stats is always better right? They’ve done away with the random potion pickups that either gave a positive or negative stat boost until you died. Now, potions are an equitable item that provides utility on a cool down. So far I’ve seen potions that heal, replenish mana, give a shield, and give a speed boost. It’ll be interesting to see if there are potions that provid more than one type of utility.

You can save up to 3 load-outs now. Helpful not having to remember which piece of gear went with what build. I can’t say I’d use this option too often but I might find a use for it.

XP bonuses on items have been reduced. Maybe now I won’t out level the people I’m playing with by 20 levels in the same session.

There are elemental resistances as well as physical resistance stats now. I’ve never liked resistances and don’t usually pay attention to them unless it’s necessary to do damage or stay alive.

An herbalism profession has been added. I know there was mining before but I didn’t play enough when it was added to understand what it was for. I’ve tried some mining, it’s a mini-game where you time attacks to mine an ore vein. I haven’t run into the herbalism nodes yet.

My least favorite change after returning this time is there are no longer mini-bosses that spawn at the end of each zone. The gameplay loop used to kill the enemy spawns until a bar filled up to spawn the mini-boss. Kill the mini boss, get some relics, and move on to the next zone. Playing last night, it looks like that’s been replaced with just finding the portal to the next zone. I’m not even sure you have to kill any enemies at all. There are now Grim Reaper statues that appear on some maps that will spawn the mini-bosses now.

Now, Like I said earlier I haven’t played Hero Seige in 6 months so I have no idea when this changed. But it’s a big enough change that the game feels off for me. There have always been these mini-bosses. Most of the time you’d kill them fast enough that they wouldn’t matter but sometimes they’d get the jump on you and add a little variety to the combat. Now that they aren’t there, it’s mostly killing little enemies as fast as possible for loot and finding the exit as fast as possible to get to the act boss. Maybe I’ll get used to it but maybe I won’t it’s hard to say right now. I think I’ll definitely need another play session or two before I make my decision to stick with the game this time around.


I Should Have Known Better…


I had every intention of finishing up Tales of Berseria yesterday. I was 38 hours in and I felt like I was getting close to the end. All the plot points were wrapping up, I was doing a lot of backtracking through areas I’d been to before, and the cut scenes were getting more dramatic.

About an hour and a half in I was getting “end game boss soon” vibes. I must have forgotten I was playing JRPG…2 hours of playtime after that, I was tasked with hunting down a bunch of stuff, awakening some gods, fighting some more characters, and running all over the world again to do it. The more I tried to push the story the more stuff there was to do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my time with Tales of Berseria, but I wanted to see how the story ends. A lot of what I was doing in the final act wasn’t mere padding, it was touching more on the side characters backstories some more which I like about this game. I just didn’t expect it to take so long to do.I pushed on, determined to beat the game.


Right around the 46 hour mark I had actually wrapped all of the character’s story arcs except our main character Velvet. I had summoned 4 gods so I could fight a fifth god for the fate of humanity. I was ready for the final battle. I stepped into the final area and was met with a multi-floor puzzle dungeon. I decided to put the controller down and do something else with the rest of my Saturday.

I came back to it fresh this morning to complete the final dungeon. When I played Tales of Zesteria, I rushed the final dungeon dodging all the encounters between me and the final boss.  That wasn’t such a great plan. The final boss rocked my under-leveled world so hard I had to drop the difficulty to do any damage. So I took my time leveling up. I may have gone a bit overboard but it was worth. I felt like the final fight had a good level of difficulty. In all, it took 3 hours to see the credits roll. Leaving my total playtime at 49 hours.


When it was all over I had mixed feelings. The story was great and I wanted to see it’s conclusion but part of me didn’t want the game to end. After spending almost 50 hours with these characters I’m going to kind of miss them. I felt the same way after Zestiria. There is a little part of me that wants to start up a new game plus but the rational part of me knows it’s time to move on to a different and much shorter game.

Five Favorite Game Series

This topic has been traveling around the various blogs I follow this week. Krikket, Naithin, Paeroka,  and Roger have all shared their favorite series.

When thinking about series there are two that jumped out immediately to me: Pokemon and Monster Hunter. But for the reamiaing three, I really had to think about it. Games in a series were not coming to my mind mostly because I was thinking in terms of 1,2,3, ect. I haven’t played many games with that kind of numbering other than Borderlands. Borderlands is far from my favorite game let alone series. Then I realized, a lot of game series don’t have a numbering scheme. You might say this should have dawned on me when I identified Pokemon and Monster Hunter as a favorite series…..



I have nothing but good memories associated with Pokemon. Growing up it was THE game to play an THE show to watch. Friends, family, neighbor kids, we all came together to trade, battle, and brag to each other about our pokemon. Years later I still enjoy the series. I’ve picked up every mainline game and have beaten each one at least once. Except for Pokemon Sun, I own it but have yet to play through it. I’m not one to grind much post game but I love running through the campaign and beating all the gym leaders.


Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

I like the way Pokemon Mysetery dungeon takes a familiar IP and does something completely different with it. Instead of being about humans collecting pokemon and battling them, it’s about pokemon collecting pokemon and battling them!

Actually, it’s more of a rouge-lite dungeon crawler where pokemon aren’t nameless wildlife but actual characters. The writing has always been super questionable…more so than the mainline games but the gameplay is something I find very unique. I still have to finish the newly remastered version I own on the switch.


Monster Hunter

In 2018 Monster Hunter: World released and took the gaming world by storm. But let me tell you, I’ve been hunting monsters since the PSP was a popular handheld. And yes, the control scheme was horrible with only one joystick!

Since then I’ve played all the Monster Hunter games I can get my hands on. I have never finished on in its entirety but I’ve put hundreds of hours into these things with friends over the years.


Tales Of Series

I’ve played one and a half games in this series but I can tell you that I’ll be playing at least 2 more. That’s because there’s only 4 currently available on Steam. I love the mix of a flashy combat system and fantastic characters. What I enjoy most, at least in the games I’ve played, has their own goals and fairly deep backstory. Plus, each one plays completely different in combat which spices things up on grindy parts. I probably have an extreme bias as well because I’m currently in the middle of one of these games.


Guild Wars

The original Guild Wars was the one. It took up all of my time for 4 years of high school. It was the only thing I played. I roped all of my friends into it which only made it more enjoyable. Skip ahead to 2012 when Guild Wars 2 released. I was in college and had only a laptop with an integrated graphics card. I ran Guild Wars 2 on the absolute lowest settings and got a solid 15 fps. But I stilled played the hell out of it. I’ve tried to revisit it multiple times but it never really struck me the same way the original did. I still love the world, the characters, and the lore and I’ll gladly play the next thing that comes out for this IP if it ever does.



Easily Swayed


WoWScrnShot_090719_103411.jpgIt’s that time of year again where I’m seeing lots of talk of World of Warcraft. Every time this comes around I end up logging in and playing through the 20 level trial and it’s usually enough to sate my interest. There was that time last year when I actually subbed to play around on WoW Classic. Which didn’t last very long

But generally, I hear about it, I have this intense desire to play. I play it and then I move on. I never get too deep into it and I never stick with it for very long. But here I am again, thinking about updating the launcher and run through the first 20 levels again.

This isn’t the only game I do this with. It happens all the time, especially with games that I already own but haven’t played in a while. This morning, I was listening to the Massively OP Podcast, and Guild Wars 2 was a big topic of discussion. I uninstalled Guild Wars 2 last year because it was eating up a lot of space and I hadn’t logged in in over a year. But all o a sudden, hearing good things about it made me want to download it and jump back in.

Part of the reason I’m playing Starbound again is that I have a friend who’s super excited about it. Part of the reason I even considered purchasing Hunt: Showdown or GTFO was because the people around me were so excited about it. I started playing Black Desert after talking to a co-worker who was gushing about it for weeks.

I don’t get hyped up from trailers or gameplay videos. I get excited hearing about other people being excited. That’s why I’ll read blogs about games I’ve never played and have no personal interest in playing. It’s why I tend to continue writing the “here’s what happened” blog posts.  It’s why I prefer blogs over all the other gaming media out there.

Morning Games


I learned in high school that waking up at 5am to play Guild Wars before school was not a good idea. Getting up early left me tired and I found all I would think about throughout the day was playing the game. I also never had enough time to do the things I wanted to do. By the time I got settled into the game, it was time to get ready and catch the bus. Since then I’ve avoided playing games in the morning.

My wife started a new job at the beginning of the year and her schedule has her waking up at 5am on days she works. Sometimes I get up with her and that leaves me a lot of time between when she leaves for work and when I start work at 8am.

I was experimenting with what to do with this time in between. Obviously, one of the best uses of this time would be to write a blog post. Reading has also proven to be a good option. I’m actually on track to hit my goal of reading 15 books this year because of this. The thing is, when I get up so much earlier than my usual routine, I start to feel like it’s a day off. Then the cold reality of having to go to work sets in. Sometimes I find it hard to get motivated to go…


Over the last few months, I’ve found that the sweet spot is waking up around 6 every day. It gives me enough time to do things in the morning but not so much time that I feel like it’s the weekend. I’m sure having a consistent schedule has also helped as well as I get used to having the time and needing to go to work. I’ve been trying to keep this schedule consistent while working from home. I’ll admit the first few days I totally woke up at 7:30 for my 8am start time. But without a commute, I have even more time in the morning.

Lately, I’ve been firing up Tales of Berseria and playing for an hour or so in the morning before switching my set up over to work mode. Since it’s linear and largely story-driven I always feel like I’m moving forward even if it’s just getting to the next set of cutscenes or skits. On normal, the combat system isn’t overly complex which makes combat flashy and enjoyable but not to difficult for my sleepy self.


I find it strange that it’s easier to switch my mind over to work mode from my home desk than when I have to go into the office. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep this habit of playing a game before work after we’re able to go back to our offices. Who knows though, it may just be Tales of Berseria is the kind of game that lends itself well to being played for very little or a lot of time.

Of course, it would be more productive to use that time for blogging…

Now We’re Getting Somewhere


Our adventures in Starbound continue. Most of our last session was spent in a mining facility looking for a special crystal to fix our ship. Much to my surprise, this mining facility looked like a designed level rather than procedurally generation.

It’s a good thing we found a few weapon caches on our first planet with some decent weapons. The enemies in the mining facility were fast and hit hard if you got too close. There was a much higher enemy density too making me wish I had found some more Molotov cocktails along the way.


Much less of a surprise was the boss waiting for us at the bottom. It just felt like the kind of place a boss would be.  The fight involved pulling 4 switches and firing a gun at the bottom while dodging rays of death and spawning enemies. Typical boss things. I was rewarded with a very nice space spear that now two shots enemies on the planet we’re on.


With the ship fixed we can now travel to different planets. I distinctly remember having to fuel my ship to move around the system in Early access. That usually meant cutting down a lot of trees because we all know spaceships are wood burning! It looks like that has since been removed and we are free to move around the system. It doesn’t look like we can leave the system as the FTL drive needs fuel which is found on moons. The problem with moons is they have no atmosphere so we can’t mine them until we craft something that lets us breathe in space.

The next quest is to scan Floran objects until we find enough clues to track down a Floran artifact. What’s a floran? Glad you asked: they’re Plant People! It looks like we have to scan enough objects to trigger the next part of the quest. The problem is finding them. I assume they’re on the only other planet in the system.


Lining up the Next 5

I’m still making an effort to play games from my Steam backlog. Back in February, I mapped out the next 5 games that I wanted to play from my Steam Library. I found this more useful than I intended it to be. Not only does it break up the big goal, clear out the Steam backlog, it also helped me pick games that I was interested in at the moment.

My original idea when I started this blog was to play games based on their average playtime: shortest to longest.  I knocked a bunch of sub-3-hour games out rather quickly. But I ran into an issue where the next game on the list just didn’t interest me at the time. With the shortlist of 5, I found that I was still interested in playing these games even when I got to the end of the list.

As of this morning, I’m 22 hours into Tales of Berseria. If this is anything like the previous game I’m about halfway through. With my current pace, I assume I’ll see the credits right around May. So I thought it’s about time for another list to work through.


World to The West

I got this one back when I still subscribed to Humble Bundle monthly. I was 2 hours in apparently and even wrote a post about it. The last time I booted it up was April 2019. My, how things have changed since then. I’ve been on a bit of a colorful, cartoony, game kick lately and this will fit right in. Though you wouldn’t know it from my posts lately.



I could have sworn I bought this last October but according to Steam, I bought it last July. I played about an hour and a half which I remember enjoying but never returned to play more. It’s been sitting on my desktop ever since and I think I’m about ready for a mystery/horror walking simulator type game.



This one I actually bought last October intending to play it right away. I never did get around to it. From what I’ve been told this is more of a horror game than Observer and it’s a pretty good one too.

Legend of Grimrock

I’ve started and stopped this game so many times I’ve lost count. Maybe that’s a sign I should just retire it…However, when I do play I always enjoy it. I’ve just not set aside enough time to learn the systems before getting distracted by something else. So I’m when it comes time to play this one, it’ll be the only single-player game I’ll have going.


Pillars of Eternity

This is another game I have to put the time in to learn. I’ve played the first 2 hours a few times. The story is great but the combat is a bit intimidating and weird for me. Again, I’m putting this long RPG last on the list because I know I’ll need a break from the genre after Tales of Berseria.






Expedition Survived!


Typically, Saturday nights are reserved for playing Warframe as a group. This week, everyone was in agreement that we needed a break from that. So instead, we spent the night trying our hand at the first expedition, “The Dig”, in GTFO.

The first few runs did not look promising. Mistimed melee attacks alerting all the enemies in the room. Forgetting to turn off flashlights and alerting everything in the room. Moving too fast, making to much noise, opening lockers at the wrong time. You guessed it: alerting all the enemies in the room. Ammo is very scarce so the less of it that you can use between the alarm doors, which spawn hordes of enemies, the better.

But we found our groove again after three runs or so. The objective of “The Dig” is to find two cargo containers and take them back to the extraction zone. Every time we’ve played, we’ve been consistent in getting the first container and bringing it back. The second container is behind another alarm door. This one spawns fewer enemies and only has one cycle of circles to stand in to disarm instead of 3 cycles. It’s easier mechanically but we also had less ammo for our guns and our turrets going in.

After a few more runs we were able to get the second door open with ammo to spare. We grabbed the cargo and took it back. Which then triggered a scan and another horde. We were expecting this but our ammo reserves were low. We put up a good fight but with 50% of the scan completed, we were all downed.

So close!


We did complete “The Dig” around 10pm last night. About 3 hours after our first attempt. We learned a lot last night about appropriate load-outs and using our tools more effectively.

  • The Bio Tracker is essential. I had been taking the mine launcher because the few times I had taken the Bio Tracker I didn’t see the use of it. It shows you how many enemies are in the room and will show you the location of moving enemy types like Scouts. But that’s not all. If you hold the left click it will scan and mark all moving targets. Helpful for tracking the movement of scouts and extremely helpful for the alarm hordes. Marking enemies puts a little red triangle on top of their heads making it much easier to hit enemies in dark rooms. Plus, you can mark enemies before they enter the room so the group knows what door their about to break down. This allows for additional set up time.
  • C-Foam is not only good for reinforcing doors but if it’s shot on the ground enemies will be stuck for a substantial amount of time. Our newest strategy is to C-foam one or two doors in an alarm room and then c-foam the ground near our turrets.
  • Scouts can be killed but you better do it quickly before they start their own alarm and alert everything in the room and beyond.  We try to kill as many sleepers in a room with a scout before taking it out because the gunshots will wake them. Sometimes it’s better to wake up a few sleepers than have the Scout set off an alarm. A few well-timed revolver shots from a couple teammates will down it. I’m curious to see how many shots it would take with the sniper. That’s something we’ll try next time we play.
  • Communication is key. GTFO will test your group’s communication skills and I’d say we’re getting better at this. We now formulate a plan for each room and the Bio Scanner makes it easier to communicate to the group where enemies are in dark rooms.


Now that “The Dig” is complete we unlocked 4 more expeditions. I’m not sure if we have to complete all of them to unlock the next tier. At least we’ll have some variety now!


Starbound: A Blast From the Past


The last time I played Starbound was in 2013. As you’d excpect, a lot has changed in 7 years. Starbound was my fourth purchase on Steam. It was also my first experience with Early Access. I put about 40 hours into the early access build before I put it away. Not bad for a $15 game. Over the years,  Steam let me know every time there was a new update but I never had the desire to fire it up again. That is until last night when we started a multiplayer playthrough.

Starbound has come a long way. There are cutscenes now, a whole tutorial mission, quests, NPCs, hoverbikes, and mechs. But it still has the same basic gameplay  I put so much time into before. The current quest system provides some focus and slowly introduces new systems. The UI took a little to get used to again. It’s not the most intuitive interface. Especially the hot bar.  You can put items on the left and right mouse clicks. I kept using bandages instead of firing my gun. I also need to remap the drop item key to something other than Q because I kept throwing my weapon on the ground all night.

Multiplayer was really easy to set up. Once we both made characters I could join the game through Steam, form a party, and warp over to Greg’s location. I was looking into creating a server before we started playing. More so because I wanted to see how it worked than actually play the game from a dedicated server. I had it working up until the point where I had to create user accounts. I’m probably still going to look into it just to see if I can get it to work.


Our time early in the night was spent dying of hunger until we figured out how to cook. Once we learned how to use the hunting spears this became less of a problem. Cooked meat fills the hunger gage faster than eating raw plants. There’s this obnoxious noise when you’re starving that can be heard by you and your partner so we both knew when the other was on the verge of starvation. Even so, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it as your character pops and gets respawned on the ship.

We found a premade structure fairly close to our initial spawn to build a little base. We set up all of the initial crafting benches and started exploring the caverns below us. We found a weapons chest with guns. At first glance, the guns seemed better than our starting broken swords. But I still have that broken sword equipped since it’s good for dealing with swarming enemies.

On this first planet, there doesn’t seem like there’s a reason to hide inside at night. I don’t know if this is different once we leave the first planet. I just remember not going out at night last time I played.


Our first objective was to find core fragments to power up a communication device we found on the planet. These core fragments were pretty deep underground so we had some exploring to do. I am not a careful player and fell to my death several times before I realized that I can craft rope to jump down into the caverns. The rope is now my favorite item. It makes me feel like Indiana Jones. Of course, it’s not very useful for getting back up these cavers…but that’s what building stairs out of dirt blocks are for.

The highlight of the night came when we discovered a portal door underground. Accessing the door said it would take us to another, dangerous, dimension. It appeared to be a small room with two chests and no enemies. I opened one of the chests and found a Cat I could wear as a hat. Thank god there are cosmetic slots so I never have to take it off!

We’ll be playing this again soon.