Posts in video-games

  • Destiny 2 and Casual Play

    For the past year and a half my primary game[1] has been Destiny 2. However, as time has gone on, I've found it more difficult to feel like I'm making progress or accomplishing much in the game. At this point I'm probably going to shift my limited time[2] to other games[3]. What's wrong?

    Forsaken and Slower Progress

    Forsaken is great. Bungie did a great job. However, with it came the first hints of Destiny 2 shifting to the players able to dedicate much more time than me. The grind to 600 was punishing. The grind to 540 so I could comfortably[4] play in the Dreaming City was frustrating.

    Once I hit 540, I got into a solid habit of starting every week of play by burning through the Dreaming City powerful reward activities. This was a lot of fun[5], and since the drops were always a few levels above my currrent, it felt productive. I even managed to get a full set of armor with decent perks.

    When Black Armory dropped, I was just shy of 590. The content was set just too high for me to be successful. This was demotivating. At the end of the season I had just hit 640, and just barely unlocked the second forge.

    The current season is really dragging me down. I still haven't unlocked the third forge. My clan is long gone from playing[6]. When I play, I often don't feel like I've accomplished anything after a session.

    What Hurts

    Here's what really has hurt:

    • Powerful Rewards not being equal. Just look at the chart. It makes sense, drive the players to the new content. However, it punishes players who really like the older content and particularly solo players who want to play what they like most.
      • It feels like I should be optimizing my play for power level increases. With the powerful drops that are tied to bounty completion it starts feeling like a spreadsheet is needed to optimize my play.
    • Armor type random rolls. Every bit of randomness increases the time that needs to be spent to get something worth using. Making the armor type random feels like an insult to the time I have. I didn't need another variable.
    • The forge unlock grind. Look, the hardcore players and streamers complained. It is awful for someone like me. I'm terrified of getting to the strike step, no one I know is playing anymore[6:1].
    • The low exotic drop rate. I spent months without receiving a single Forsaken exotic. The few exotics I got were repeats. This has gotten better recently, but Bungie overcorrected from Year 1.

    Two Things That Would Help

    1. I'd like to be able to sit down and play and know that the powerful rewards that drop during my session will really help me move along in the power level grind. Currently, with the minimal increase in power level for many activites, something dropping in a slot might end up doing nothing. This feels terrible, and then I end my play session feeling like I didn't accomplish anything.

    2. There should be more currated rolls, and clear ways to get them to drop. I love the currated drops I've received. I think most weapons should have the option to drop currated, and that there should be a clear path to them. The rolls should be good, but not always amazing, so there is still reason to grind. In Year 1 it was great knowing that if I took the time to play strikes I could eventually get an Origin Story. Or the raid for Sins of the Past. Give me more clear targets like that, but without the craziness of the pinnacle weapons.

    The Future

    I'm curious what comes in Season of Opulence. Maybe the new activities will hit the mark for me. The catch up bounties added in the latest season are a great thing. More of that. I'm hopeful, but if there are big grinds to unlock new activities, I'm not sure I'll bother at this point.


    1. Big AAA game really. I play a lot of Switch during my commute. ↩︎

    2. Toddler + long commute. 2-6 hours a week after bedtime. ↩︎

    3. Spider-Man on the PS4 looks like fun. ↩︎

    4. I'm probably just average for skill. That's fine as long as I have fun. Just means I won't be soloing the Shattered Throne anytime soon. ↩︎

    5. Blind Well is great. A productive story mission is fun. And the Ascendant Challenges are very cool. Great job Bungie. ↩︎

    6. Look, I know about LFG apps, etc. I have social anxiety[7] so random groups are rough. Look, I wish I was neurotypical for this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ↩︎ ↩︎

    7. And yes, I'm taking care of it. But it takes effort, which isn't exactly top of mind when I want to play. ↩︎

  • Best of 2018

    A list of my top media things from 2018, or at least things I enjoyed in 2018.

    Books

    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I read this late in the year, but easily the best story I read this year. The summary on the back doesn’t really do it justice. And the end is just 👌🏼.

    Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman. A very funny memoir. Made for great bedtime reading.

    Provenance by Ann Leckie. Set in the same universe as her Ancillary trilogy, but relatively smaller in scope. I appreciate that she pulls off not just telling the same story.

    Music

    FooL on CooL generation by the pillows. Technically a soundtrack to the FLCL sequels, but functionally a “here’s some great music by the pillows from the last 18 years”. And actually available on US streaming services! The original FLCL soundtrack was my first import from Japan.

    I’ll Be Your Girl by The Decemberists. Still enjoying this album. Saw them live, and they still put on a great show.

    The Other Shore by Murder by Death. My first listen to the band. I’ve really enjoyed it.

    Movies

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I love comics. To paraphrase someone else, this is a comic book movie. Beautiful, fun, humorous. Watch it on the big screen if you can.

    Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Well done, beautiful and fantastic aesthetic. Not quite that Ghibli level of perfection, but very much that type of story.

    Thor: Ragnarok. Took me a while to see it, but wow. It’s far from perfect, but it is fun. The scenes are all visually stunning, the music perfectly paired, and just enjoyable throughout.

    TV

    Adventure Time finished this year. The last episode was great. A nice wrap up to a show that started out much simpler than it ended.

    Anime

    GAMERS! is a fun series that celebrates a love of video games. Read the Polygon review for a good summary.

    Games

    Celeste. I’m not a fan of the brutal platform genre that became big with Super Meat Boy, but Celeste does an excellent job of easing you into it, and you can complete the main story without dealing with anything too insane. The story is great. All the feels.

    Destiny 2 continues to occupy a lot of my time. The Forsaken expansion was very well done, and has kept me coming back.

  • Media Diet, April 2018

    Books

    The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisim: finished the trilogy. What a great world, and the ending is just fantastic. A rare book written in the 2nd person.👌🏼

    Movies

    The Incredibles: rewatched recently. What a great film. Very excited for the sequel.

    Ella Enchanted: needed a light movie to end a day. This did that, but wow, it is of a time. A few good bits, but I swore it was a late 90s movie.

    Monsters vs. Aliens: silly, simple. I remembered it being better the first time. Didn’t hold up over time.

    TV

    Final Space: a space action-comedy. Starts light hearted, and develops a good story and world. Season 1 just finished.

    Video Games

    Adventure Pals: a fun platformer. Nothing deep, but a lot of fun.

    Upcoming

    Warmind, Destiny 2’s 2nd expansion in a week. Black Panther in a week at home, and probably Avengers: Infinity War in the theaters.

  • Media Diet, February and March 2018

    Music

    I’ll Be Your Girl (iTunes): The Decemberists’ latest album is fantastic. They’ve clearly made a shift with their previous album, and this one continues that with a bit more synth. It’s been on heavy rotation since it came out two days ago.

    Video Games

    Horizon: Zero Dawn: a very interesting combination of gameplay. You are generally underpowered, making you think more, but it isn’t an extreme stealth game. Very enjoyable.

    Dandara (iOS): Metroidvania, clever mechanics, not too long. Perfect for my commutes. Engaging, and just hard enough.

    Movies

    Thor: Ragnorak: great visuals, best of the Thor films, and really funny.

    Coco: 😭😭😭. Wow, Pixar did an amazing job on this film.

    TV

    The Good Place, season 2: continues to be fun, and clever with their shift in formula.

    Books

    Serenity Rose: a reread of an old series I have on the shelf. A fun world, and good characters.

    The Secret History of Mac Gaming: I supported this on Unbound, and just received it. A wonderful trip down memory lane, with many details I had no idea about. Bolo forever!

    Upcoming

    I need to get back to my reading list (as always). Destiny 2’s next expansion will hit soon and I’ll likely shift back to that.

  • Media Diet, End of 2017

    A quick review of media since the last installment. It was a quieter second half of the year for media consumption.

    Books

    Oathbringer: Brandon Sanderson’s latest. Third in his Stormlight Archive series. As always a very enjoyable read. I felt that he did a good job really expanding the world and characters on this one. A couple of very powerful moments. It is a time investment, and probably not a good idea to jump in mid-series.

    A Wizard of Earthsea: A classic by Ursula K. Le Guin. This was a reread, which I read out loud. Seriously, you should read this. Works very well orally.

    Video Games

    Destiny 2: The beta did not lead me astray. Bungie knows how to make a good sci-fi shooter. The reviews have been mixed, but I’m in the camp of really enjoying the game. The reduction of the grind mechanics might reduce the ability to spend your entire life on the game, but it does mean there’s only so much time you need to spend. Given my time constraints for playing, this has made it very satisfying. The recent changes feel like they’re very well balanced in responding to the community, but not excluding anyone. I also have a clan to play with now, and the raid is a lot of fun.

    Super Mario Odyssey: A great game. Just fun. Created a nice balance of new and old mechanics. Beautiful level design. If you have a Switch, you should be playing this.

    Celeste: I played through on the switch. Challenging, but not impossible. The story made the game feel meditative.

    Breath of the Wild DLC: DLC 1 was fun, but challenge levels aren’t really my thing. The second DLC was great though. Hit the same notes as the main gameplay, and was a lot of fun.

    Movies

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Put me in the camp of having heavily enjoyed it. I loved the subtle and not so subtle twists on expectation throughout the movie. More thought provoking than The Force Awakens. I’d say The Force Awakens was emotionally more satisfying, but this might be the better movie.

    Mary and the Witch’s Flower: Not surprising anyone, this is a visually beautiful film. Very enjoyable, and well done. Ghibli-esque in style, story choice, and presentation, it still had some unique flavors.

    Cars 3: Wow, what a good job they did. As good as the first, but with an even better lesson to the story? My favorite moment was with the old racers explaining why they raced: “Moonshine”.

    Boss Baby: Better than it had any right to be. The previews do not prepare you for the way the story is told.

    TV

    The Good Place: Just finished season one. Very well done. They clearly had a lot of fun with this.

    What I’m Looking Forward To

    Some already released movies (babies really make it hard to watch movies): Thor: Ragnarok, Coco. Some upcoming: The Incredibles 2, Black Panther. I’m finishing up reading The Stone Sky. Obviously going to watch the second season of The Good Place.

  • Media Diet, First Half of 2017

    A quick review of the various media I've enjoyed the first half of the year. Not an exhaustive list, just hitting the high points and where I've spent the most time.

    Video Games

    Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: I checked the Switch's play time: 140 hours. I regret nothing. Takes everything great about the Zelda series, and really harkens back to the original (no directions). Adds in modern gameplay devices. I think I have one or two uncompleted side quests, but I've found every shrine, and have almost completed the first DLC. Play with the Japanese audio if you can, or rewatch some of the cut scenes with it. Probably game of the year for me.

    Night in the Woods: I backed this on Kickstarter, and it came out this spring. Fits well into what I enjoy out of indie games: story and character driven. It rewards exploration and talking to everyone. Great music too.

    Final Fantasy XV: First Final Fantasy game I've played since 9. Excellent mechanics, good balance of difficulty, and the game keeps things moving along. I never felt like I was grinding. The large open world was fun to explore. Finished it in a little over 60 hours. Very weak with the story, a lot isn't fully explained in game. The characters are weak, and the "spontaneous dialog" in the car quickly becomes repetitive. Music wasn't used as well as previous entries in the series. The fact the car stereo is populated with the previous games' soundtracks was wonderful. And now I want to go back and play Final Fantasy VI.

    Books

    Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation: I grew up in the generation being described, but I missed most of the media tied to it growing up in Alaska without cable. Absolutely fascinating to hear how the 16-bit generation happened. Very well written, kept me engaged (far to rare with non-fiction).

    Nebula and Hugo nominees: I read most of the Nebula and Hugo nominees. The Incomparable did an episode on them that I'd recommend listening to. I enjoyed All the Birds in the Sky more than them, but it did drag in the middle. However Ninefox Gambit stood out to me. Very different story, with an interesting world. The sequel was equally good, telling the story in a different fashion from the first, keeping it interesting.

    The Caledonian Gambit: Science Fiction spy thriller. That is a weak summary. Good start to Dan Moren's fiction career. It was a good, quick read. Can't wait for the next one.

    Movies

    Your Name.: Beautiful and fantastic. It starts out very much as one movie (and does that well), but becomes something totally unexpected. Also, great soundtrack. I pre-ordered the release of the Japanese Blu-ray (since it still doesn't have a US release date, and I just need English subtitles).

    Wonder Woman: Very well done. Look, just listen to The Incomparable episode.

    Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2: Fun movie. Played many of the same riffs as the first, to great effect. A couple of absolutely beautiful scenes with great use of color.

    TV

    Steven Universe: Not watching much of TV, but Steven Universe continues to keep me wanting more. Cartoon Network's weird scheduling continues to frustrate. The soundtrack came out recently, and it a lot of fun to listen too. That got me into a slow re-watch I've been doing, which has been very enjoyable.

    What I'm Looking Forward To

    A short list: Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mary and the Witch's Flower, Destiny 2 (The beta was a lot of fun), Mario Odyssey.