How to Track and Attack the Gaming Backlog

Backlog, Wing Commander PrivateerI realized a while ago that I was losing track. Steam sales and Humble Bundles were so enticing due to the low costs, but they were adding into a collection of games that was quickly getting out of control. Feeding the backlog, but not doing anything to reduce it’s size. I was restarting games I had taken breaks from, which had caused me to forget my progress, so starting over seemed sensible. It wasn’t helping. My spending, though on sales and bundles, was excessive, and I wasn’t making progress. I had to change.

So, I did. To start, I made a conscious effort to start keeping track of everything I was doing in the gaming space, from the minor to the major, and to analyze the data later. Keep track of my backlog across every website and physical copy, and keep meticulous notes of my gaming habits. This was about 2 years ago, and I highly recommend it for everyone. I’ve curbed my spending, become more invested in the games I play with my limited time, can hop back into the games I’ve put aside easily, and finish games I’ve had on my list for years. Here’s how I did it.

Secret World Legends, Gatekeeper, Backlog

The Gatekeeper fears the size of his own Backlog.

Step 1: Create A Literal Backlog

The first step is knowing exactly what you’re up against. You should know the height of the mountain before you start to climb. Though there are some websites that are specifically designed to help with this, like Grouvee and The Backloggery, I opted to take a more manual route and just use Excel Online. I consider myself fairly skilled in the use of Excel, so using it’s online version seemed like a good start. Google Sheets would also work well, just try to use a method that is easily accessible.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Backlog

Once you have a spreadsheet ready, take every game you own and enter it. This would include every physical media game you own on all systems, PC and console, and every website you own games on. For me this includes my Playstation 2, Wii, physical games on CD and DVD, Zip files, and from websites like Amazon, BattleNet, Gamestop, Humble, GOG, Origin, Rockstar, RSI, Steam, Telltale, Twitch, UPlay, and the Windows Store. With more online options to download games from, it’s easy to forget where your games are located.

Break your columns up into Game Title, what Platform the game is found on, what Series the game is a part of, Release Year, if the game has an Ending, if you’ve Beaten or are done playing the game entirely, if you would still Play it, if you would Highly Consider playing it over others, a Counter column, and general Notes field.

Take a look at my own backlog for an example. As it stands, I own 775 games, 651 of which are beatable, 80 of which I’ve actually beaten, with 665 that I would still consider playing, and 98 highly considered. This is my backlog mountain. You can see why I had to take drastic steps.

Star Trek Online, Klingons, Backlog

The Klingons would attack their backlogs without mercy.

Step 3: Attack That Backlog

If you’re anything like me, with all the games you may own now staring back at you, your will to add to it may be quite diminished at this point. Would you really feel compelled to pay $60 for one game if you have 665 unplayed games staring back at you? I mean, for real.

The reason why you should add a “Play” column as well as a “Top Play” column is to make the decision of what game to play easier. Because you’ve paid for or received any of these games as gifts, you owe it to yourself to at least try them and not let that money go to waste. My philosophy is that even if you give it a try and quickly decide that the game isn’t for you, then at least you tried and you shouldn’t feel bad crossing it off your list.

To that effect, sometimes you should let fate decide what you play. Using the total “Play” and “Top Play” numbers, you can use a site like Random.org to make the choice for you. For example, based on my backlog I’d have it choose a number from 1 to 665 (my “To Play”). In this instance, it just picked number 85, which on my list is Company of Heroes, a RTS released in 2006 with a WWII setting I own through Steam. Would I ever just go “Hey, I should boot up Company of Heroes!” No, probably never. But at some point I acquired the game, through a Humble Bundle or a Steam sale, and now it’s fresh again in my mind. Maybe I will go give it a shot.

You don’t have to agree with the first RNG picked, of course. You’re in control, you can use RNG to pick a top 3 or 5 and pick one from that list, or just pick another one entirely. The overall goal, though, is to cross them off the list. Plus, you never know when RNG might pick a game you surprisingly find yourself really enjoying.

Euro Truck Simulator 2, Backlog

If you had told me I’d be a big fan of Euro Truck Simulator 2, I’d have called you a liar.

Step 4: Track Your Individual Progress

I know spreadsheets tend to have a bad rap and they’re seen as “taking the fun” out of games to use them. Not every game needs to be “Accounting: The Game”, I get that. But a general direction you were heading in the game helps to give you a point of reference. Like a method of using Champion Points in Elder Scrolls Online, or general quests to be done in a DOS game, a list of drops needed to craft armor upgrades in Guild Wars 1, or where to get trait upgrades in Lord of the Rings Online.

Having a quick list handy of what you were up to from times you’ve played before gives you a starting point when you come back, making it easier to jump back into where you were. This helps to alleviate the overwhelming stress and curb the desire to start over from scratch. If you’re not always starting over, you’re more apt to complete games and, most importantly, cross them off your list.

Step 5: Create A Daily Log

At the beginning of 2017 I started keeping a daily log of what game I was playing, what progress I made, and any other gaming-related metrics that I might find helpful. With days of the year on the Y axis and Game Titles on the X access, the list is simply calculating what days I played, and what games. If I felt I made some progress in the game, I would add a 1 in that game’s column. Since I also stream my play of Twitch, I added that as a column. Same for Podcasting, and Blogging/Writing.

Excessive? Maybe. But more data isn’t hurting anything, and helps you to better understand your own patterns. The MMO I’ve played the most? Secret World Legends. Since the beginning of 2017 I’ve streamed my play 236 nights, and podcasted 66 nights. This is only my 10th night writing, but my 5th time this month, which shows you the push that Blaugust Reborn has given me to take it up again. Most played game in April of 2017? Mass Effect 1, which took me a total of 15 nights to beat. What game did I play on August 31st of 2017? Guild Wars 1, I hit level 16.

Backlog, Icewind Dale

Using RNG might get you to play your classics, too. I mean, just *look* at this gorgeous artwork.

So does all this help? Do I feel like I’m better off than I was 2 years ago? Absolutely. I haven’t stopped buying games, though. In fact, GOG right now has The Witcher 3: Game of the Year edition at $20! How could anyone pass that up? But I have dropped my spending significantly, as well as crossing those games off. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. My backlog is just too big, but I at least have a handle on it, and I feel a lot more in control. Beating the backlog is the real game, so you may as well be as well equipped as you can be.

Good hunting, all.

// Ocho

Advertisements

Secret World’s Faction Ranking: To Gate or Not to Gate

Secret World, car park, Into Darkness

Come at me, bro.

At the beginning of August, Funcom re-released some content that had been in The Secret World for Secret World Legends but with a new mechanic. The missions, as they were in The Secret World, were given to the players as off-shoots of the original story, missions to show that the player was making progress within the rank of their faction. What made them unique is that they were a few of a handful of missions that differed depending on which faction you played. This made them an anomaly in the game as only the between-zone missions also did that, with the lion’s share of missions having faction-flavor text only to differentiate them.

Instead of releasing them as one time faction-flavor, they were released in Secret World Legends as repeatable variable-difficulty end-game missions as a way of bolstering the end-game options for players, especially solo players like myself. Awesome. They came with a caveat, though, in that in order to even begin the missions, you had to first hit gear-rating milestones, essentially gating the content. This decision has been met with mixed reactions by the Secret World community, to say the least.

Secret World, Tokyo, Orochi Tower, Fungus

This screenshot has nothing to do with the blog post, I just *love* how great the lighting and atmosphere looks.

The first mission, Into Darkness, has the player delve into a NYC car park and needs an Item Power (IP) of 250 to play. The second, Venetian Missile Crisis, has the player once more wielding the missile launcher and needs an IP of 325. The third, Rogue Agent, I assume involves chasing somebody down. I wouldn’t know as it needs an IP of 450, and my character is still in the early 400 IP range.

And this right here appears to be the main beef that players are having. That 450 IP gate. Most players I have talked to have no problem with the 250 IP gate, as one would generally hit that level during the Tokyo zone. Even the 325 IP gate isn’t so bad as one would hit that in late Tokyo or during the South Africa zone. But 450 IP? There just isn’t the content to support that yet without grinding missions, dungeons, or scenarios. Content that not every player enjoys grinding, let alone even playing.

Secret World, Gatekeeper

Hey there, GK. Ready to rumble?

Now I’m not saying that I feel that the content should be made easier to be more accessible. Quite to the contrary, I really enjoy a good challenge. The new Venetian Missile Crisis, since I was playing it at level took quite a bit of watching pulls, puzzle-like clearing, and a few deaths. It reminded me of playing the original Secret World, where in order to take on certain mobs you had to change up your build, specialize it, and use abilities and tricks that were outside your standard build. They were a puzzle in and of themselves.

That was one of the main themes of The Secret World, though, was the puzzles. Investigation missions were researching and detail puzzles, Sabotage missions were attentive and timing puzzles, and Action missions build and dodging puzzles. As long as you completed previous missions or accomplishments, you were able to proceed, no matter your gear. You beat all the dungeons, you opened up Elite dungeons. You beat all the Elite dungeons, you opened up fighting the Gatekeeper.

Remember the Gatekeeper? The Gatekeeper was the pure test to show that you were ready for Nightmare level dungeons. You beat the Gatekeeper, it showed you were good enough to join the end-game, whether your gear was up to snuff or not. For a lot of players, he was a wall. The Gatekeeper fight was *hard*. You could fight it as a tank, dps, or healer, and the fight changed to suit your role, but each part was still hard.

Secret World, Last Train to Cairo

I threw myself against Last Train to Cairo time and time again to try to beat it, and I don’t consider that a bad thing.

I guess that’s where my main disconnect with the new faction content in Secret World Legends lies. How would I even know if the final 450 IP gate mission is hard to beat or not? I’m not allowed to play it yet. I have to grind dungeons, which I don’t enjoy, or scenarios, which have improved since The Secret World but they’re still not my cup of tea, or just replay the same missions over and over and over again (and if the choice is replay the same content in one game or play new content in another, guess which I choose?).

It’s not like the gate is accomplishment based like The Secret World was, it’s purely gearscore number based. Heck, The Secret World let you play content well above your level all the time! I remember throwing myself time and again against the Last Train to Cairo mission, and I just couldn’t survive the fire section, but I was playing it at the same time I was making my way through the Egypt zone, and it was supposed to be post-Transylvania content.

I could still try it, though! It wasn’t gated just because my gear wasn’t up to par or hit some target yet. Same with the Gatekeeper. Your gear, in any game, is only a fraction of your character. Your own playing skill is the human element that goes along with the numerical gear/levels to round out your character. This is why we love our characters, they’re not just two dimensional, they include a large part of us as well. If we don’t have the gear yet, our own skill can compensate.

Secret World, Hell dungeon

I mean, running dungeons is a lot more fun when you know those around you, but I’m still not the biggest fan of them.

So, I haven’t played the 450 IP Rogue Agent mission yet, and I’m not going to grind to get there. It’s not like I’m going to give up on the game entirely, though, I’ll finally play it when there’s enough Secret World Legends content to support it, which hopefully will be when the next Congo zone is released. This may even be designed this way on purpose. I’m still disappointed, though, that I’m not even allowed to *attempt* the mission as it shows a shift in philosophy from The Secret World, a philosophy that is sadly taking the Player out of the Player Character equation.

 

// Ocho

Re-Exploring The Sky

No Man's Sky Next, perfect planet, Ocho II, Mucalls system

Flying over Ocho II, it’s lush red grass as far as the eye can see.

It’s been a while since I’ve played No Man’s Sky and, to be fair, I thought I had completely written this game off entirely. When it first released in August of 2016 I fell deep into the hype trap, even shelling out the full $60 tag, something I am usually loath to do, and was subsequently burned. Once bitten, twice shy. After some more recent hype revolving around No Man’s Sky, though, this time with a $0 pricetag since I’ve already bought into it, I decided to hop back in and check out what has really changed since launch. Find out what the ‘Next’ really means of the now titled ‘No Man’s Sky Next’. Turns out, quite a bit has changed.

First of all, I find it weird that I’m using terminology and treating this game like it’s some sort of MMO, which now that there is some sort of real multiplayer going on I guess it is much closer to that now. For all intents and purposes, though, No Man’s Sky still feels mostly single player. Which is fine by me. Usually, as a solo player, encountering other players in MMOs turns adversarial. We’re either fighting over the same drops, the same mobs, or fighting each other. That, as players, we’ve grown to consider this infighting ‘good, normal’ and ‘the way it should be’ is… odd. But I digress.

No Man's Sky Next, freighter

Coming in for a landing on the freighter Deep Space Ocho.

I remember when No Man’s Sky launched it felt like a wide ocean of content that was only a puddle deep. Everything was large and grand, but nothing felt important. There was no weight. Upgrades were acquired almost by accident and the primary focus was exploration… of similar, not-that-exciting locations. You could complete 99% of the game by just staying on the same planet you started on.

Now? Well, I’m not *entirely* sold that it’s monumentally different, but it does feel a lot better. The focus has absolutely changed. Now the focus is about building up your properties, your freighter fleet and your base, and completing the story missions. Your time spent on planets is transitory, hitting up only the points of interest you need to, and moving on. Which is good, because the less you see and pay attention to the procedural generation, the better. There was just not enough difference in the generation before. Now, it just feels… better. Planets feel more varied and look more populated. There’s more variety. I mean, there could always be even more variety in a game like this, but you don’t see the man-behind-the-curtain as much as you did two years ago.

No Man's Sky Next, random creatures

What were the devs smoking when they made *this* a possibility?

Upgrades, too, seem to be made more from progress than from randomness, which is a much better feeling than just stumbling across the best weapon/ships in the game. That random big find is still included, too, though, but now instead of finding a big new ship, you now find a big *broken* ship that you need to spend a good chunk of time and resources fixing.

Again, it feels productive, not accidental. This is good.

No Man's Sky Next, big red ball

Ah yes, the big red ball… things.

Also, we need to talk about the screenshot capabilities. They are, hands down, the best screenshot options I have ever seen in any game. Period. And I consider myself a screenshot aficionado, so I don’t say this lightly.

At any time you can pause the game to take a screenshot. When you do, you can move the camera to any position around your character to take it, within a large distance. On top of that, if the lighting isn’t right, you can change the time of day and the position of the sun. You can add/remove clouds, change the depth of field, and even add an Instagram-like filter on top of all that. For real, all other games need to take a page from No Man’s Sky’s screenshot book. Screenshots are your players methods of advertising your game for you, and having a system like this only helps you.

No Man's Sky Next, rings, ringed planet

The Rings at Night! Glow Big and Bright! *clap clap clap clap* Deep In the Heart of… of… wherever this is.

So will I keep it up? No, of course not. I’m a rambling gamer and will pass quickly from game to game as my whim takes me. However, with No Man’s Sky focus having changed to one that feels purposeful instead of accidental, I’m a lot more apt to keep it going. Plus, the entire game fits into only a 10 GB footprint, which is efficient and impressive as anything.

It currently is still sitting at $60, though, which I wouldn’t say feels entirely worth it, but if it falls back down to $30, or even $40, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest snapping it up.

 

// Ocho

 

P.S. – If you’re looking for a good planet to settle down on, I highly suggest planet Ocho II in the Mucalls system. Red grass, bright sun, abundant resources, and a pleasant temperature all year long. Nice place to vacation. Just don’t murder me, okay?

Information Satiation

Have you ever seen the cut-scene in Secret World for the Illuminati introduction to the Tokyo zone? No? Well, take a minute or two and give it a watch. I’ll wait.

I mean, amazing, right? What’s going on here is that the figurehead of the Illuminati faction, Kirsten Geary (voiced by Kari Wahlgren), is informing the player of their need to head to Kaidan, Tokyo, the fictional location of the ‘filth bomb’ explosion that sets in motion the reaction of Gaia and events portrayed in Secret World, by way of Venice. So Venice first, then Tokyo, which is a pretty big plot location. But did you catch that part in the middle there?

This is the age of information. Stealth is not about hiding; it’s about inundating.

We leak the truth. Then we leak whole zettabytes of other junk. Opposing data, Similar data. Nonsense data. Ad nauseam. Mesmerism by cat memes. Hypnotised. Apathy for the win.

The human brain has only so much bandwidth. Critical thought can actually O.D. on input. Bury the ultimate secret of the universe in the shallow grave of the 5th page of a Google search and no one would ever find it. Cover-ups are so passé.

This was penned by the incomparable Joshua Alan Doetsch and in a word it’s just… Brilliant. Did you catch these thick layers of meaning that solidly attach this to the real world? What makes the fiction we consume so compelling is how much we relate to it. If we can’t relate to it, we can’t make a connection to it, and it passes right through us. But, this? Who *can’t* relate to this?

Give or take a year or two...

Okay, so according to my calculations I should be totally caught up by… 2023.

It just may be that I’m starting to feel the effects of age, but I’m constantly finding it harder and harder to keep up with all of social media. Remember in the early days of Facebook when you could scroll back to the last post you viewed and then catch up quickly with every single thing your friends posted? And I mean every single post? I won’t lie, I’m part of a few Discord channels, as Discord is the new hotness, and I can’t keep up with any of them. I’ve tried. But that’s a LOT of text, most fleeting, and, to quote the above, my brain has only so much bandwidth.

Same goes for Twitter, same for the current version of Facebook, same with Feedly, and the same goes for Discord. There’s just too much. In trying to be as well informed as humanly possible, we hit a staggering wall of data. I remember when I first started getting involved with blogging and keeping up with a whole bunch of blogs and news sites are what helped to keep me informed, but I gave up on reading novels in order to do it. It was the same amount of text and ideas as full-blown novels, but one by multiple authors and multiple topics. I’ve since learned to balance, but still.

After a point we just become satiated. You ever hear or type the same word so much that after a while it stops being a word and just becomes garbled? The world these days just feels… garbled. People are lost, clinging onto what they *hope* is the right information. There is so much out there. From my mother wanting me to read up on hydrolyzed proteins, me trying to figure out what this rash could be from, or the constant stream of world news detailing the horrific events in our current anthropocene extinction epoch. Watching cat videos or seeing pics of bunnies frolicking with a deer end up being truly therapeutic.

“But Ocho,” you may ask. “Aren’t you just adding to the bandwidth?” I am. I totally am. That’s what blogging is all about, after all, adding your individual notes to the constant stream of background noise.

“But… why? Why keep adding to it?” Simply put: Fighting Back. The simple act of creation is sometimes enough to control the tide of information. To coalesce our thoughts and to stake a claim on a thought, to delineate what we know from what we don’t know, and to make a stand for truth.

After all, it’s ‘apathy for the win’, and we can’t just let apathy win without a fight.

 

// Ocho

The Best Laid Blogs O’ Mice an’ Men

 

Let’s face it. I’m not the most prolific of bloggers. In fact, my last entry here was in… September of 2016?! Wow… I… uhhhh… yeah, that’s embarrassing. So, this Blaugust, headed up once more by the incomparable Belghast, let’s get into reasons WHY this long break has occurred and what you, as a blogger, can do to not make my same mistakes.

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Let’s face it, we’re not perfect. And when it comes to our hobbies, sometimes they have to be waylaid when more important priorities come around. I type this as I look forlornly at my Disc Golf bag and discs sitting near my front door. When your hobbies are not making your family a living, and you need to put food on the table, and caring for your family is a priority, this can be the result as smaller pursuits and hobbies fall off.

When stress levels become so high in your life due to family, your career, etc. you tend to stick close to your primary sources of relieving that stress. For me, that is gaming itself. At the end of the day, it’s nice to kick back and immerse yourself in another world, one without the same stresses and goals and wins are easily attainable. But when the choice came: do I play games to help relieve my stress or do I spend that time writing about games, something that didn’t necessarily help, which was easier to choose? Time and again it became easier to choose that which I *knew* would help me.

The hard part is it’s hard to justify keeping up consistency under these circumstances. When faced with more important life decisions, only the foolish would continue worrying about the ephemera. But this is okay. You have to do what you have to do, and an understanding audience would sympathize, you just can’t expect them to hang around.

Habits are Hard to Force

The key to creating any sort of content, though, and having it reach your audience is: consistency, consistency, consistency. This has shown, time and again, to be one of the biggest paths to success. The music industry is filled with examples of one hit wonders, but the bands we tend to stick with the most are the ones that have kept creating. Our favorite authors have created multiple books, and our favorite Twitch/YouTube creators have plenty of backlog. The same goes with any creative endeavor. It’s not enough to just create, you have to keep it up.

Over the time that I’ve been away from blogging, it’s not like I’ve stopped creating. I’ve become more active on Twitch. I’ve been podcasting on Beyond the Veil, Master Debaters, and have been guests on multiple other casts. My want to create has never subsided, but making blogging a habit has always just been out of my reach.

So how do you force yourself into the habit? Obviously, it’s not impossible. Just look at Belghast, the force behind Blaugust itself. He makes blogging seem as easy as breathing.  According to James Clear, the psychology behind this is a circle of Reminder, Routine, and Reward. Reminding yourself to blog, getting into a routine that makes it easier for you to do so, and then seeing the fruits of your labor. Still, it’s not the easiest of processes.

Stop Beating Yourself Up!!

This is probably the hardest hurdle of all. You’re going to start writing, and feel like you’re yelling into the void. You’ll spend minutes, sometimes hours, pouring over a post, making it as perfect as you can, trying to separate yourself with some view that nobody else has come up with yet. After you post you’ll look up the stats, this big post that you’re especially proud of, that has life-changing wisdom strewn throughout it… and it only has 5 views. 4 of which are from Turkmenistan with the comments filled with  Rayban sunglasses spam.

I’ve beat myself up many times over this. Where I think I’ve made some poignant view, filled with wisdom and would be relatable for everyone, and then nobody sees it. See what are currently my most popular posts? A list of Skyrim mods, a look at the EA references made throughout Ultima VII, a post about having to switch to a flip phone for a week. The reality is that the best content you’re going to create, at least in your mind, will not be what others will gravitate towards.

In the end, you have to be happy just in the act of creating. When Twitch streaming, try not to look at those viewer numbers. When blogging, try not to focus on those hits. When podcasting, try not to worry about that blank space. They’re not always going to be nice. Hold onto those times when you get that “hey, this streamer is amazing” tweet, or that “this post has inspired me to post about this myself”. Let those be your fuel to keep going.

You Can Do It!

It can be hard, though, when you’re removed off that blogroll for not posting for a while because work stress has bogged you down, or when you see someone post about streamers they enjoy and you’re not a part of the list as you had to take time off from sickness, or simply when those that you’ve respected don’t reciprocate that respect. These have all happened to me, recently even, and it feels like you’re being kicked when you’re down.

Down, though, is the best place to start. Or, like Blaugust Reborn itself, the best place to pick yourself up and reinvent yourself. To attempt again to create that habit, to attempt to not let setbacks and negative reactions get the better of you.

I’ve done it, and I have failed, and I have done it again. Nobody but you can dictate how many times you pick yourself up and try again. Hold on to those reasons why you’ve decided to start in the first place, because they’ll be the same reasons why you pick yourself up, and why you keep going after the kicks.

You got this. You can do it.

 

// Ocho

September Gaming Goal: Chasing the Doomboard

The Secret World, Hell

Hell has such a fascinating story in TSW. Demons are misunderstood, and Angels are far from heavenly.

Do we really *want* the items that are proferred to us in MMOs? Or just the ability to pursue them?

The thought struck me as I finished up yet another losing El Dorado PvP match in The Secret World. I haven’t won a single match playing El Dorado yet. It’s a faction based, collect and hold items sort of PvP match. In all the matches I’ve played so far, the Illuminati haven’t won a single one. But at least I was able to check off another daily challenge. And that’s all that matters in the special item-of-the-month chase this time around.

That item is the Doomboard, a Hell-themed hoverboard mount. Is my character really that “Hell” themed? Not really. I don’t even think it looks that great. But… it’s an item to chase, and I do love The Secret World. So why not chase it? The chance to chase limited-time items isn’t one that comes around often in TSW, and any reason to play TSW is a good reason.

Secret World, Illuminati, Fusang Projects

Illuminati defending the Center Facility in Fusang Projects

The worst part is, though, I don’t even *like* PvP. I’m not a competitive person and beating my fellow players isn’t something I would actively seek out. But then again, grouping up with them isn’t something I’ve necessarily enjoyed, either. I’ll do it periodically, just to check out some content I’ve never seen, but grouping for dungeons in MMOs I’ve found is just as competitive as PvP, if not more so. Sure, you’re all after the same target and same goal, but gear discrepancies, different builds, or experience will still separate you into the gaming haves and have-nots. And some players will go out of their way to tell you how much they think you’re a “have-not”. Social PvP, if you will.

To get the Doomboard, though, PvP and Dungeon running are a must. So I’m heading outside my comfort zone and trying new modes of play, just as the developers intended. I’m all up for trying new things, and now I have some nice self-made-builds for when I head down into PvP or dungeons, so there is that. And I’m getting nice chunks of reward to keep making gear progress, so there is that as well.

Secret World, Shambala, PvP

Tried out Shambala for the first time, too. With a win, no less.

The next-to-worst part, though, is that I may not even get it. Because of my reluctance and inexperience in the highest levels of running dungeons and content, I can still only complete just a few challenges a day, which puts me at an uncomfortable amount of playtime to get the remaining challenges completed. But dang it if I still won’t try, comfort zones be damned.

If we all stayed inside our comfort zones, how would we ever grow?

Rocking a Flip Phone in the Age of the Smartphone

Note: This post was first published on Sub-Cultured, a collection of geeky opinions on everything from tech, to cold pasta salad, to Batman.


I was at home scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone, watching some small video that a friend reposted, when my 10 month old LG G4 rebooted itself.

In the world of small consumer electronics, that event is usually nothing special. It doesn’t happen all the time, but having a device say “You know what, I just need to reboot” does happen. We shrug, wait the few minutes for the device to restart, and go right back to where we were. My LG G4, though, got stuck in a booting loop and wouldn’t return to a home screen.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my LG G4 had a hardware issue that was just counting down to when the phone would die (no recall notice, LG?). According to LG’s January 2016 statement to Android Authority, “LG Electronics has been made aware of a booting issue with the LG G4 smartphone that has now been identified as resulting from a loose contact between components.” Once that contact comes loose the phone bricks and becomes unusable. For some users that time is sooner, for some later. If you have an LG G4: Be prepared.

LG B470, LGG4 Bootloop

A *NEW* LG B470

To the Strip Mall!

 

The good folks at our local AT&T store, whom we have always been treated with respect by, seemed to have their hands bound. I didn’t buy the insurance, but I was still within the warranty. The associate said they would have a replacement LG G4 shipped out to me, but it would take about a week to do so.

A week. A decade ago, we didn’t have smartphones, but their invention and proliferation has changed society as we know it. My wife and I don’t have a landline in our condo, specifically because we both have cell phones. An extra line would just be redundant, and I’m not about to give Comcast any more money than I absolutely have to. A week with no phone calls or texts can be done, but in this age of information, it’d be like willfully going deaf. Others would try to communicate, but I wouldn’t be able to hear them or even know they tried. Like it or not, cell phones have become a necessity of daily life.

My options were few. I couldn’t trade my phone in early for a new model, because it technically was broken. AT&T also doesn’t have a “loaner” program (seems like an oversight, this would inspire customer confidence). I also couldn’t pick up a phone and return it a week later, as this would incur a hefty “restocking” fee. So I did what I had to do, I bought their cheapest phone available on the spot, an LG B470 flip phone.

Living in the Aughts

 

I bought my first cell phone in 2001 at the same time as my then-girlfriend. Terrible decision. Don’t join in any contract with someone unless you’re committed to them. Life lesson. From there, it was flip phone to flip phone until 2010.

When my wife and I got married in the summer of 2010, the flip phone that I was rocking was destroyed on our honeymoon by a freak thunderstorm. Seeing as we were newlyweds and about to board a cruise out of country, my phone was the last thing on my mind. When we returned we bought a pair of our first smartphones, the Galaxy S.

This was only 6 years ago. Such a small time in the grand scheme of things, but such a large change in daily life.

Reaching for No Reason: The first thing I became acutely aware of with a flip phone in 2016 was exactly how often I would reach for my phone. Multiple times throughout the day I check my smartphone for new email, new social media comments, or other app fluff. With a phone that really only receives calls or texts, I keep flipping the phone open but then quickly realize it’s futile. It doesn’t have those frills, and if I get a call or text, the phone will let me know.

No GPS or Weather: Without Google Maps or weather widgets, I’ve felt a little lost (pardon the bad pun). Yes, I know, we use to get by without GPS maps and up-to-the-minute weather just fine. But with Google Maps and GPS devices, I’ve long rid my car of local maps. Also, storms just passed through this morning, and I had no idea they were coming. I could’ve used my home PC or work PC to check, but these are both things I have mentally relegated to my smartphone.

No Curated News: I also have felt much less informed overall. Lack of a smartphone means a lack of those in-between moments to check current events. I use social media, but I primarily use it to get my daily news. Groups that I’ve joined are both social interactions and a curated news delivery system. Yes, tell me all the news about Ultima, Star Trek, and Disc Golf! I’m all for them.

No Podcasts: All the podcasts that I keep up with will just have to be skipped this week, too. I won’t clean my house any less, but where I was listening to podcasts during my commute or while cleaning now will be silence or background music.

Tiny Pictures: And pictures on this little flip phone are laughable. Sure, I could take some, I guess, but without the ability to share them, what’s the point? We passed a business yesterday that it advertising itself as a “Cat Lounge”, and I didn’t even bother taking a picture to ask everyone what they thought that meant. I have no idea. A salon? A bar? Are cats welcome? What *is* that?! I couldn’t post the picture even if I did take it.

It’s not like these are monumental changes by any stretch, and are small annoyances at best. They highlight, though, just how integral these little devices have become in our daily rituals. It’s not in the large interactions that they found their use, but in the small periods of time between interactions. That podcast on the drive home, that quick check of social media in the bathroom, that look at the forecast in the morning.

LG B470, Ginger, Cat, Dark Photo

The pictures the B470 takes aren’t *that* bad, I guess…

The Reports of the Death of Social Interaction Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

 

People complain about how things were better before smartphones, though, how we talked to each other more and didn’t have our faces glued to screens. This is hyperbole, of course, but if anything my technological regression is making it clear how it’s *not* the devices that are to blame. People are.

If someone feels compelled to stick their face in a screen over having worthwhile human interaction, that’s the person doing that, not the device. That person who rudely talks on their phone while ordering coffee? That’s a rude person, not a rude phone. It’s essentially the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument, but applied to cell phones. Which is totally true. It’s the act that matters, not the device (cell phones aren’t designed solely for the purpose of death, though, which is the true basis of the guns argument).

So if you’re blaming your bad habits on your phone, nope, you’re in the wrong on this one. The phone is just an outlet to flex those bad habits, but you’re still the one doing them. Same goes, though, for blaming the downfall of society on devices or games. If all it took was a cell phone to trigger the downfall of society, then it wasn’t being held up by much in the first place. Stop blaming Pokemon Go on people’s lack of awareness, blame the unaware people.

LG B470, Trees

See? You can totally make out that there’s a sign there. And trees.

A Return to Normalcy

 

Can’t wait to get my replaced G4 back, though. The feeling of connection, of direction, of making those in-between moments useful again. This has been a fun experiment, and it’s been interesting to note the minute changes in daily life that have snuck up over the years. Every once in a while it’s good to remove yourself from your comfort zone, if only to measure how much you have changed. But, seriously, AT&T, where’s your recall or loaner phone program?

10 Star Trek Episodes to Watch for Agents of Yesterday

Star Trek Online, Agents of Yesterday, Star Trek

Note: This post first appeared on Sub-Cultured. Check it out and all the other awesome stuff posted on the site, like this review of I Am Setsuna (a game that does look pretty dang good).

—————————————————————————-

Star Trek Online’s Agents of Yesterday recently released and has been a callback to Star Trek’s origins on the year of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.

One of the big reasons I’ve been playing Star Trek Online for years has been for it’s excellent stories. The main reason that I still really enjoy playing video games *at all* is the stories. Fun game mechanics are nice, yes, and the exploration, puzzles, progression, and graphics are also a plus, but for me the story is where it’s at. If a game doesn’t have a decent or even passable story attached to it, you most likely won’t find me playing it. I’ll even forsake a lot of the other qualities just for a better story.

I’ve also been a fan of Star Trek since my father and I use to watch Next Generation together in the early 90’s. The way the episodes would flow, where in the course of 45 minutes the exploration of the deep grey area between good and evil, between right and wrong, was so thorough that it created such a lasting impression on me that I will forever be a ‘Trekkie’. Not all episodes were winners, but when Star Trek got it right, they really got it right.

With Star Trek Online’s latest release of ‘Agents of Yesterday’, the game’s storyline takes many cues and paths from the episodes, and many cues from the original series. Here is a list of the top Star Trek episodes to watch to get the most out of STO’s latest expansion, presented in the best order as they refer in-game.

Obviously, Spoilers Ahead, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

The Galileo Seven – TOS, Season 1

A new character, created in the new 23rd century Federation faction, will find themselves soon after on the surface of Taurus II. This rocky, inhospitable planet was crash-landed on by Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and four other unlucky individuals. Soon after arrival a yellow-clad crewman (they weren’t always wearing red) takes a spear to the back thrown by a giant caveman-like creature.

Star Trek, Star Trek Online, Agents of Yesterday, Gorn, Arena

Oh, there *will* be Gorn.

Arena – TOS, Season 1

Arena is one of the most famous of all the original series episodes, so having an original series themed expansion and not including a reference to the episode would’ve been sacrilege. The lizard-like Gorn first appeared during this episode which had a beat-up Kirk hunting the surface of a mineral-rich planet for ways to defeat the rubber-suited menace. In Star Trek Online, the Federation returns once more to study the planet’s bounty.

Cold Front – Enterprise, Season 1

We take a step backwards in time, but forward in the line of show production to Enterprise. Captain Archer is really excited to get to do what Starfleet wanted the Enterprise to do: Explore. A bolt of energy hits the ship, but disaster is stopped by a lucky junction having been disconnected. As it turns out, luck has nothing to do with it. The character known as Daniels is introduced, a time traveling agent from the far-distant future, who informs Archer of the most convoluted storyline in all of Trek, the Temporal Cold War.

Operation: Annihilate! – TOS, Season 1

There are only two episodes in all of Trek that feature an exclamation point in the title, and ‘Operation: Annihilate!’ is one of them. The Deneva Colony has seemed to be taken over by a bout of mass insanity. When they reach the planet, they find saucer-like single-celled organisms have attacked. In Star Trek Online, the player’s ship is called to investigate Deep Space K-13, where a bout of mass insanity has also taken hold.

Star Trek, Star Trek Online, Agents of Yesterday, Operation Annihilate

By far not the best of episodes. It was still in the age of rubber creatures which, shockingly, audiences didn’t find that scary.

Journey to Babel – TOS, Season 2

Th Enterprise is tasked with transporting a group of Federation diplomats to the Babel Conference, a meeting to determine whether to admit the Coridan system into the Federation. In the first episode of ‘Agents of Yesterday’ which features real time travel shenanigans, the player is taken onto the Enterprise itself.

The Tholian Web – TOS, Season 3

In ‘The Tholian Web’ the crew of the Enterprise are sent to search for their sister-ship, the USS Defiant. They find the ship adrift, with all hands on board deceased. Once more, it appears a bout of madness has caused all aboard to turn on each other, but this time it isn’t due to single-celled frisbees. The episode introduces the xenophobic and crystal spider-like Tholians. In Star Trek Online, the crew of the player’s ship finds the Defiant with all crew still alive as they once more encounter the Tholians.

Captain’s Holiday – Next Generation, Season 3

The entire Star Trek Online story arc ‘Future Proof’ hinges on this one episode. In Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard finds himself so stressed out that not even a cup of hot Earl Grey can help. Picard takes a vacation to the pleasure planet Risa for some much needed R&R. There he encounters a Ferengi, two time traveling aliens, a treasure hunter, and their target: the Tox Uthat, a weapon capable of destroying stars.

Future Tense – Enterprise, Season 2

Captain Archer’s Enterprise comes across a ship very similar to the Doctor’s TARDIS, a ship from the far future that is bigger on the inside. Inside they find a long deceased body, one who’s genetic makeup contains many elements of many different races. None of those races are Time Lord, however. Right when things start getting strange, both the Suliban, a shape-changing race, and the Tholians show up to attempt to recover the ship for themselves.

The Changing Face of Evil – Deep Space Nine, Season 7

In one of the final episodes of Deep Space Nine, at the height of the Dominion War, the Breen, a cold-loving warlike race that has aligned themselves with the Dominion, succeed where many others have failed. They successfully launch an attack on Earth and damage Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco and, just for kicks, wreck the Golden Gate Bridge. It must’ve been for kicks because one would assume bridges have become antiques when flying shuttles and teleportation become the norm for transportation.

Star Trek, Star Trek Online, Agents of Yesterday, NCC-1701-J, Enterprise J

The NCC-1701-J. Yes, it’s canon.

Azati Prime – Enterprise, Season 3

Finally, in the midst of the Temporal Cold War arc of Enterprise, the crew of Archer’s ship finds themselves investigating the multi-species Xindi’s construction of a weapon capable of doing serious damage to Earth. Captain Archer decides to pilot a suicide mission to destroy the weapon, but is suddenly transported 400 years to the future by Temporal Agent Daniels to the final battle of the war against the Sphere Builders in the Temporal Cold War. They arrive on board the Enterprise-J, a much flatter ship than most of the Enterprises that have come before.

But That’s Not All

These ten episodes are far from the only ones referenced in the Agents of Yesterday expansion. More include TOS’s ‘Doomsday Machine’ and ‘Mirror, Mirror’, Next Generation’s ‘The Enemy’, Deep Space Nine’s ‘Once More Unto the Breach’, and Voyager’s ‘Year of Hell’. Also, the entire Temporal Cold War arc certainly wouldn’t hurt: Enterprise’s ‘Broken Bow’, ‘Cold Front’, ‘Detained’, ‘Two Days and Two Nights’, ‘Shockwave Pt 1 and 2’, ‘Future Tense’, ‘The Expanse’, ‘Carpenter Street’, ‘Azati Prime’, ‘Zero Hour’, ‘Storm Front Pt 1 and 2’, and ‘Harbinger’.

Live Long and Prosper.

To Write or Not to Write?

Casual Aggro, Dungeons and Dragons, Chronicles of Mystara, Paladin

That is the question. Well, it’s the question that’s been on my mind for such a casual blogger like myself, anyway.

I started Casual Aggro back in April of 2012 essentially as a way for me to take my hobby of gaming to the next level. I found myself in comments sections writing tiny novels as reactions to articles. You know the type. Not the ones that were being very critical, or trolling, but the ones that are just walls of text. Even if I was making a solid point, something others might want to read and comment on itself, I was putting a lot of effort into something that was mostly being passed over. The people seeing it had already read an article by a paid professional, why would they read my similar-sized (or sometimes bigger), amateur response?

So I joined the very first Newbie Blogger Initiative, sponsored by Syp the Mighty, and started this little page as a way to explore my hobby from a new perspective. But from the very beginning, I felt like an impostor. Here I was, some random MMO player, who didn’t even have that special of a perspective, just another joe-shmoe who thought that what he said could even compare a little bit to those who did this for a living. And in a way, even attempting to be on the same level as paid professionals felt like I was somehow insulting their profession.

At the same time, I had no realistic aspirations that I would ever be on their level. I already have a day job. I focused my education on math and science, not writing. I have, aside from the standard classes most universities force every student to take, zero experience writing. I would’ve much rather sat down and worked on a physics problem that took up three pages than write a three page paper. Because I felt like such an impostor my static friction, if you will, was much higher than I believed it would ever be. Just starting the ball rolling became a daily fight. And the days that I lost that fight, which were most days, I felt awful about it.

No Time to Explain, Existentialism

Basically this.

But I still wrote. Not every day like some other bloggers, and sometimes not every week. But I still put something out when I can. Some nights, especially after a long day, I felt like relaxing the way I already knew how. By playing, you know, games. So some nights it became a fight to play games or to write about them, and guess which usually won out.

When I did write, the reactions were… well, not exactly what I thought they’d be. I was writing to further myself, explore my hobby, and improve my own skills, sure, but when you put hours into a post, when you try your best, and get back in return only a handful of eyeballs? The return on investment seems not worth it. Seeing others celebrating hitting milestones that I knew I could never reach just hit me harder, and made me feel a little more alone.

Every month, though, is a new month and this is not just your standard month, this is Blaugust! The month of the Blog! So, let’s try this again, yeah? I’ve been picked up by the all-around geekery goodness site, Sub-Cultured, to be a regular contributor. Now being part of team the amount of friction already feels less and is so far significantly different than being alone. The success of my own site I never cared that much about, but the success of the group isn’t just about me, but the team’s success. And isn’t teamwork what it’s all about? Isn’t teamwork why we play the MMO genre in the first place? In fact, I’ve already put up a review of Star Trek Online’s new Agents of Yesterday to the site!

This explains so much, Octodad, Dadliest Catch

Or, it at least explains a bit of my absence, anyway.

So, if you’re reading this, and I sincerely thank you for still hanging around despite my lack of posts, maybe throw Sub-Cultured onto your Feedly as well. Expect posts from all around the world of geek, from comic books to television, from conventions to gaming, from current news to opinion pieces and all points in between. Who knows, you may even see little ol’ me hitting up a convention or two on *gasp* an official capacity!

But don’t expect it to be cultured, expect it to be Sub-Cultured.

// Ocho

 

P.S. – Alright, I just made up that tagline and I made myself groan when I wrote it. Still, though. Check it out. And as usual, a big shout out to Belghast the Prolific for once more throwing his leader hat in the ring for Blaugust. May it be a fruitful month of posts for all.

P.P.S – Now, to maybe work on getting myself onto a podcast or something of the like… I should really redesign this place, too. Maybe a new coat of paint, maybe a new door, couple of throw pillows… we’ll see.

 

Tales from the Backlog: Champions of Krynn

Champions of Krynn

If you’ve been paying attention to my site, and I don’t blame you if you haven’t, but I tend to play two types of games: MMOs and Old-School. I will occasionally boot up a non-MMO game that has been made in the past 5 years, but that’s a rare event for me. I’m generally immune to the rush that I must play the absolute newest stuff. My rationale is that if it’s claiming to be really good now, it’ll also be really good in a few years, too. The benefits of this thinking are obvious: when I do go to purchase the game, it’ll be at a steep discount, bug fixes will have made the game more stable, technology improvements mean I’ll be able to play at the highest graphic settings, and I’ll still be getting the same quality story and gameplay as if I bought it on day 1. Also, the lens of time better shows which games are actually considered great games than the day one impressions do. Good games are like good wine, they last and seem to improve with age.

However, when it comes to *really* old games, sometimes the lens of time is tinted with too much rose-coloring. One question I find I ask myself all the time is were the games I played when I was a kid, the games that have shaped and molded my gaming interests today, were they any good? If I go back and play them now, will I still find them enjoyable? One such game series I remember having a very hard time with when I was younger, but I was still very enamored with them. Namely, the SSI Advanced Dungeons and Dragons “Gold Box” series of games based on the Dragonlance universe. And since I’m a fan of playing games in order I set on to find and play the first game in the series, Champions of Krynn.

Champions of Krynn

Just trust us on this one, it’s opulent and not just cracked stone walls. Opulent.

Abandoned, But Not Forgotten

When looking for the game, my first attempt is to always find a legit copy first, unless doing so is price or sanity prohibitive. For example, the game seems pretty easy to find on Ebay, but I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I owned a PC that actually had a 3.5″ or 5.25″ floppy drive drive on it. SSI, the maker of the game was acquired by Mindscape in 1994, and eventually was acquired by Ubisoft in 2001, who retired the brand. In fact, you can’t even find Champions of Krynn on the Internet Archive, although you will find the game’s sequels. A 25 year old game, you’ll forgive me, but I gave up on paying for it and instead went to my favorite site for the games that have lost their respective owners, Abandonia. To make up for it, I’ll make a donation later to one of my favorite charities, and maybe one to Abandonia as well as soon as my browser informs me that Paypal isn’t being attacked anymore (there… didn’t take long). Karma and I have a funny relationship and I don’t want to upset that balance.

At this point, I’m pretty proficient with using DOSBox, so getting the game to run was pretty easy. If you want to check out the Options file I use, which I have tweaked over time, feel free. And after loading up, then spent the rest of the night trying to build a party based on a version of Dungeons and Dragons that was out of style by the time I entered high school. I decided to stick with your standard party makeup of pure classes, and then balanced out races as appropriate. For naming, I crowdsourced by sending out a tweet, and taking the first people to reply or favorite the post, just to make it a little more social.

Champions of Krynn

THAC0?! That should really say “Rocket Science”.

The Party of Champions

First we have our Lawful Good Half-Elf Knight, Windcaller. The Knight is an interesting class, mostly for a mechanic you just don’t see in games anymore, a class that will straight up give away all the money they find. Knights have taken a vow of poverty, and as such will donate any money you hand them as soon as you get back to town. Giving away loot? What nonsense is this! The trick is, of course, to not hand them any monies. However, gold doesn’t seem to be that important so far, so keeping it from him is kind of mean. Donate away, my friend. The tradeoff is being able to cast Cleric spells at higher levels.

Next, we have our Neutral Good Mountain Dwarf Fighter, JerseyJim. Jim’s a close friend of mine so no offense on the Dwarf part, I needed a dwarf, and having all humans is rather boring. Fighters seem to be… well… Fighters. Strong on the front lines, and hard to take down… sort of. Jim seems to be one of the first ones knocked down being right on the front lines and so far the game seems to employ a lot of cheap one-hit methods. Anyone in magical Sleep or Hold are taken down in one shot, for example. One.

Champions of Krynn

Dammit Jim! Crit by a Rat?!

Then we have our Chaotic Good Qualinesti Elf Ranger, Royalite. Rangers are strong melee as well, but also decent at range. They seem to be very versatile, and Royalite is happy with being a ranger, so it’s all good. I have no idea what the difference between elves are, there is also a Silvanesti elf, so maybe it’s just character flavor. Having elves keeps you from being one-shot, as elves are resistant to sleep and charm… but elves, though. You never want too many of them.

Then there’s our Neutral Good Kender Cleric, Syl. Clerics are an absolute necessity. When resting, the only way to heal is to use the Cleric’s spells, and the game calculates the time when resting for the Cleric to memorize a heal spell and cast it, and rememorize it. Thankfully, it does this automatically with the Fix command, but you’re vulnerable to wandering monsters while resting, so it’s tricky. On top of that, Clerics can charm and hold, cheap tactics, but effective for one-hit takedowns. Syl didn’t reply to the tweet, but I was listening to a podcast of Battle Bards and Syl was praising her Lalafell in Final Fantasy XIV, so I decided to make her our diminutive Kender in homage. Kenders are a race that have an infectious charm and are good at finding trouble, and Syl was happy with that.

Champions of Krynn

Just trust us. They’re evil.

Then we have our True Neutral Human Thief, Grilledcheese. Thieves are very squishy, being held to Leather Armor only. They make up for it by being able to backstab, finding traps and doors, and leveling super quick. Oh, leveling is interesting. Leveling can only take place if we return to an outpost, which isn’t that bad, but each class has a completely different leveling table! With the same amount of experience, a level 5 Thief is only a level 3 Knight. So you have to keep track of each characters experience individually as it won’t tell you if they’re ready to level, either. Excel spreadsheets FTW.

Finally, we have our Lawful Neutral Human Red Mage, BC Jayson. Jayson’s a big Ultima fan, so I hope he doesn’t mind having a D&D character. Cross-geekery, you know how it is. Mages are as you would expect: super squishy, but bring out the big guns. Mostly Sleep spells are used at lower levels, sadly, but they knock out up to 4 enemies at a time and then a follow up long range dart provides the instant-kill. So cheap, but still effective.

Champions of Krynn

Thankfully the “Journal” isn’t a copy of 50 Shades of Grey, as this could’ve got really awkward real quick.

First Impressions, Very Rosy

Champions of Krynn is sooooo old school, though. Maybe *too* old school. First, the game doesn’t hold any punches and every fight that is scripted as part of the story is a party strength check. If you can’t beat it, well then you might have to try again with different strategy (or luck), rest up and choose different spells, or level, and the baddies will use every cheap trick they have. So saving all the time and loading again are common practice. On top of that, the game allows you to lower the difficulty, but doing so nets you less experience, so playing on Easy eventually under-levels your party. As any other game, the middle difficulty is the way to go.

On top of that, to save game size (3.5″ disks, don’t forget) and to have a form of DRM, every time there is an important plot point instead of just telling you the story, the game points you to it’s physical Journal and tells you which entry to read. You could read all the entries and spoil the story, but there are false-entries posted throughout the Journal, just to trip you up. It’s fascinating the methods like this developers used when their resources were limited.

Champions of Krynn

Dammit Jim! Just kidding. It was *everyone’s* fault this time. Falling asleep in the middle of combat and all.

So as of this writing, I have cleared the first level of the first dungeon. You’d think this would be a quick endeavor but, oh no, this has taken quite a few sessions already. Leveling in D&D is a rare event, but each character has leveled a few times, leading me to wonder how long this game actually is? Is it only just a couple of dungeons or will this take me forever to play?

I’m not sure I’ll stick to it to see the end, but I do enjoy a good D&D session, so you never know. Those graphics, though. The best part of the game is easily the strategic combat. The story seems very basic and pandering, though, and the graphics were considered dated even for 1990, so I’m not sure if the combat alone will hold my interest. We’ll see, though, it *is* classic D&D, afterall.

//Ocho   

P.S. – Also, I want to give a big shoutout to Xander of Holosuite Media fame for hosting Casual Aggro as part of their blogger linkfest. Holosuite Media has a ton of great people and great podcasts to check out, which I highly suggest you do. I especially am fond of Beyond the Veil, their podcast on The Secret World, but they have podcasts for all kinds of games.

P.P.S. – After the massive traffic spike I had yesterday, thanks to a popular developer RT’ing my post on Ultima 7 and EA, I was kicking myself that my blogroll hasn’t been updated since, well, since this blog was created. I have went through and updated it to a list of 25 glorious and amazing sites, which you should definitely check out.