Dat Long Weekend

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Consoles, Editorial, Gaming

wooooo-murica-23052[1]Monday was “Labor Day” in the U.S., which of course means that most of us working class folks had the day off from work. It also the official unofficial end of the summer, so maybe now we’ll see fewer people bitching about the availability of pumpkin spiced everything.

Saturday night we went out with friends for dinner, and Sunday we visited some friends at their family camp on a lake, bringing the kayaks and taking their party boat for a spin a few times. By Monday morning, I was glad I didn’t have to wake up for work, but being the age I am, I was wide awake early that day despite the terrible night’s sleep (so much for fresh air an exercise).

But, being Labor-less Day, my most high profile contribution to GTD was the loads of laundry I threw into the washer. The rest of the time was spent between different games, making dinner, and a nap thrown in for good measure.

Val Royeaux Can Kiss My Ass

Totally on a lark, I fire up Dragon Age: Inquisition on Monday. Like many games, there was a specific point at which I’d abandoned this one, and in this case that point was at the ball in Val Royeaux. For those who have spared themselves this travesty, let me explain: you and your band of warriors, mages, and thieves must put aside your weapons, dress up in your fancy suits, and skulk around this 17th century French analogue in support of the current Empress of Orlais. You do this by ensuring she’s not murdered, because that’s what conscientious guest do in this world, I guess.

I suppose BioWare get’s some props for dropping an interesting shift of mechanics into the middle of the OCD gameplay that is the various zones you’re asked to stomp through, closing rifts and stealing from the locals to support your progressive movement, but while at the party you’ve got a meter that represents your absence from view. If you’re running around in the off-limits parts of the palace for too long, this meter shrinks, and if it runs out you’re thrown out of the party. You replenish the meter by hanging around the pseudo-French snobs at the event, listening in on their gossip, and generally “being seen”. You’re supposed to be the guest of honor, so your absence is noted, and I guess that’s pretty special.

I managed to pick up the game where I left off, and actually completed the scenario in short order. I suppose the perspective of time off worked wonders and I think that is something I’ve understood subconsciously for a while.

Then I spent the next few hours running around in Skyhold because that place is too damn big.

Witty Subheading re: Wildstar

My time spent in Wildstar continues ahead of it’s F2P transition at the end of this month. My sub is still being paid, and I will decide if I want to keep up the cash flow once the transition is made. I’d like to see the benefits made flesh after the event, but don’t want to spoil it by installing the test realm client. It’s not that I think Wildstar isn’t worth it; Money spent on a monthly sub is money that could also be spent elsewhere when I don’t really need to spend it here.

In an unusual turn of events, I’m really focused on crafting. I haven’t been this focused on crafting in an MMO since Vanguard, I think. Most of the time with crafting, I get behind to the point where the elements I can construct lag behind what I can use and which have little to no use to anyone. Wildstar treats crafters better than in most games, too. There’s a work-order system, nodes are plentiful, and once you get your housing you can install a replenishing garden of resources that you need for your trade (and it just dawned on me: create alts, get housing, diversify trade skills, multiply the resource plots!).

I’m at the point now, however, where I need recipe drops from mobs to complete the first tier of Weaponsmithing, and I’ve just gotten to the part of Galeras where the Darkloam mobs can be found. They drop those recipes, I believe, so I’ll be killing indiscriminately once I find their enclaves. I still need to get recipes from Algoroc to complete that brand as well.

Why Do I Bother? Star Citizen and the Saitek X52 Pro

I’ve started playing Elite: Dangerous again because I felt bad about abandoning it so suddenly. I had logged in last week after several months of absence only to find that the political power I had pledged to had been kicked out of the system I was parked in, and I was now “wanted” because this system had been overtaken by a rival faction. Since I hadn’t actually done anything for the power, I quit them and re-upped with another, stronger power for reasons I’m personally trying to comprehend. All this Powerplay stuff has gotten me was a lot of traveling and a massive fuel bill, and I’m struggling to remember what I found fun about this game.

Naturally, I thought “well, maybe Star Citizen could help bridge the gap between overwrought control schemes and space sim action!” so I downloaded that again. It’s been a rocky road for SC and me. When it was just Arena Commander I had played few rounds of the drone sim, but since I’d never really R’dTFM I’d never played to it’s full potential. The keyboard and mouse scheme worked OK, but I really wanted to use the Saitek X-52 Pro I had purchased for the Elite: Dangerous / Star Citizen ecosystem.

I’ve noticed that SC has a hard time with what is (from what I can tell after spending all this time following up with Elite: Dangerous) a pretty popular and common HOTAS system. Actually, step back: it’s got a problem with all kinds of peripherals. I had to unplug a few other “controllers” from my system — the Xbox One controller, the Razer Nostromo — and disable the Razer controller software before I could even get SC to recognize the X52/P. Even then, selecting the X52 preset from the controller setup didn’t work according to the claims made on the back of the box. I had to download a custom XML configuration from the forums to get the stick working. And by working, I mean some semblance of usefulness that the default configuration doesn’t provide. Little things, like throttle control. At that point I was able to play around with a somewhat working control scheme, except the roll and yaw controls in SC are switched from what I’m used to in Elite: Dangerous. Problem is, I can’t seem to remap them in the options section. I think it has something to do with the custom XML file, because the HOTAS modification isn’t even available any more in the settings panel.

I played the training missions, but got tired of the constant hard-ass bro who was the flight instructor chewing me out because the fucking controls weren’t working as advertised, and once I got to the countermeasures part of the training and found that my correct use of the countermeasures weren’t advancing the lessons, I had to quit. It was just too frustrating to get things set up and working.

Both Elite: Dangerous and SC have specific selections for the X52/P. Elite: Dangerous actually labels in-game actions with the labels on the stick, which are alphabetical. SC labels them and refers to them in the tutorial (once it bothers to acknowledge that you have selected the X52/P as your controller) by friggin numbers which don’t correspond to anything on the actual, physical HOTAS. It’s all internal to SC‘s custom scheme, which made it all the more difficult to figure out where the hell buttons 2 or 8 were actually located on the stick, even with a monster of a cheat-sheet.

I know, I know: the game’s not finished yet. I also know that somewhere, someone is shrugging and just dying to tell me how they got it to work just fine, the Internet’s way of telling me I’m a stupid asshole for being annoyed by such a trivial, common-sense problem. I’m of the mind to let RSI do what they’re doing, because for such a monumental project I can only imagine that there’ll be a whole lot of polishing that’ll have to be done before it’s considered complete. Hopefully that will include shoring up the controller support. The game is beautiful, of course, and there’s a lot of fun gameplay peeking out from the issues I was having, I’m sure of it. I like the combat better in SC than I do the combat in Elite: Dangerous for some reason. I suspect it’s because of the same reason I was frustrated: it’s got more options, more bells and whistles, and uses way more buttons.