The Struggle Is Kinda Real

The Struggle Is Kinda Real

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Editorial, Featured

The Struggle Is Kinda Real

Here I am, posting a weekend recap. Here I am, posting at all, which I think is kind of weird in and of itself considering a few posts ago I was (once again) ready to write off the whole blogging thing. Truth be told, I’m waiting for a website to deploy, and it takes quite a while for the components to get their act together and move, so I have time.

Time. That’s kind of funny, because it’s what we never seem to have enough of. Between family obligations and the desire to get back to hobbies, something always gets shafted because there’s never enough time.

Numenera: Tides of Torment

Since I am unable to sleep like a normal person (which seems to be par for the course for a lot of folks in my timelines), I am up early on Saturday. This weekend, I fired up the Steam Link on the projector and reclined on the couch while I played Numenera: Tides of Torment. 

So far I have not done any combat outside of the tutorial. In fact, I’ve actively avoided taking missions where I know or suspect combat is the dominant or sole approach despite having at least two glaives in my party (they’re the combat classes). My goal is to talk my way out of everything, if possible, so the entirety of my Saturday morning was spent talking to people around Saugus Cliffs.

Once again, I am bowled over by the world design in this game. It’s like Clive Barker, China Mieville, and Felix Gilman rolled into one.

The Mysterious Package Company Package

Back before Christmas, my friends and I bought a package from the Mysterious Package Company. The package we bought, “Tempis Fugit” was the cheapest option they offered, and we split the cost about seven ways. TMPC is a service which sends you “clues” over time that you digest and think about while you wait for the next installment to arrive, and at the end, there’s a big reveal in the form of a physical object that plays into the narrative and is supposed to be really surprising and exciting.

We had thought that this service was offering a kind of ARG (alternate reality game) which would provide us clues that we’d need to solve in order to make sense of the next step. Unfortunately what we got was a very short story with minimal effort required to “use it”.

The big conceit of TMPC is that you are to anticipate the next shipment for the next chapter of the story. We collected all four parts of our story until all of the principals could get together, at which point we had hoped to put our collective intelligence together to solve the puzzle. We spent maybe about 15 minutes total going over the parts, being impressed at the final delivery, and then…we ordered pizza and forgot about the whole thing.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

I played for about 15 minutes this weekend, which puts me further at the mercy of people online playing with the screenshot feature (which I can’t seem to get to work) who are much further than I am.

This game is troubling me. I had the best intentions on Saturday evening to continue with the story. I had found the missing war-chief, assaulted a cultist camp and discovered a way to thwart them, but on my way to do so, I got sidetracked by some side quests and then got sidetracked from the sidetrack by just…fucking around. If Civilization is the master of “one more turn” mechanics, then games like HZD are masters of the “lemme see how quickly/efficiently/stealthily/awesomely I can take down this herd/massive robodino/bandit camp”. It’s almost pathological: I’m riding along on the road and see the unmistakable blue glow of robodinos in the mist on the hill. I Dismount, stealth, and spend the next ten minutes stalking the damn things while someone, somewhere is getting impatient waiting for Aloy to show up like she promised she would.

Is it fun? Yes, yes it is. Is it sustainable for me? Ehhhh…well…I had my first mental thread pulled that I need to get moving or risk losing interest. Traditionally, that’s been the harbinger for actually losing interest, because I’m not as focused as I feel I should be. One of my missions is to get to the city of Meridian, and to do so I need to get passage out of the Nora lands by clearing out areas of corrupted robodinos. The map says one of those areas is level 15, and I’m level 11. I hate stuff like that, because it’s telling me that I must dick around and gain some levels. The game doesn’t care how I do it. Random hunting is fun and necessary, but my initial fears may be realized: the game’s main “cool thing” is fighting robodinos, so the design makes you do that as often as possible, even when it ends up being just busy work. I’m not so much a fan of that.

Sugar Shack

This has nothing to do with gaming.

My wife wanted to do something on Sunday and decided that we would be going to a sugar shack in the town of Temple. Heading out West from where we live puts us in God’s Country, NH: lots of wooded areas, few houses, hills, and winding dirt roads.

A sugar shack, for you urbanite or Southern folks, is where liquid gold is made: maple syrup. Being in New England means that visiting such a place is mandatory at least once in your life, whether through school or because you’re drunk and thought it might be interesting, and repeated visits to different locations tend to prove that all of these places are pretty much the same. However, this one place we visited was kind of different.

For one, they had acres of trees, with thousands of taps. Their method was also purely 21st century; whereas you might be familiar with the image of steel pails hanging off trees, collecting sap that flowed from the taps hammered into the trunks, this operation we visited was a web of blue tubing flowing through the woods like a massive circulatory network, drawing the sap from trees into the occasional two-story vat. I had never seen a tapping operation on this scale before, and we later learned that this particular operation was supplying syrup up and down the East coast.

They had one shed, 15 employees, and the company was owned by a dude in his 30s who wanted to get into syrup production since he was five years old. #Respect

Sharing is Caring

I bought both an XB1 and a PS4 because I don’t like having to decide between one or the other when it comes to being able to experience the games I want to experience. However, there’s another facet of this situation that is unavoidable: my daughter.

A while back she bought herself Tales of Berseria because she really liked the Tales of Zesteria. She’s not really a game-player these days. She used to live and breath Minecraft when she was younger but never really ran with the whole video game thing after that until she found the Tales games. The only reason she did was because of her genetic-level obsession with anime and all things Japanese.

Needless to say, ToB was obtained…for the PS4. That means so long as she’s playing that, I can’t get back to HZD. The situation is almost archaic in the same way families used to have to deal with just one television set. If dad wanted to watch The Big Game, then everyone else who might have had something that they wanted to watch had to do something else, like go outside or some other unspeakable horror. Or the days when there was only one telephone line in the house, and the teenager was monopolizing it, preventing anyone from making calls or even from calling in.

Those were dark times, kids. Dark times indeed. So I went back to The Elder Scrolls Online last night, which continues to be the most comfortable game I have on deck these days. Thank goodness for small favors.