Monday, May 31, 2021

Of Hades and the Drama Gods

Our company held a fun day on Friday where they gave each of us a $25 grub hub card and $25 to spend on any game of our choosing. Then all the employees chilled, played games, and chatted over Teams for the day, and that's about as crazy as it gets in the virtual office with everyone still working from home.

The grub I chose was a Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. The game I chose to get was Hades, which came out last year and won a ton of awards. There for a while I couldn't go a day without someone somewhere raving about the game, so it was kind of a no brainer that I try this one out.  After all, I love isometric dungeon crawls! Honestly, I can't believe it took me this long to pick it up.

In this game, you die . . . a lot . . . and you're meant to die.  It's ok, because you're an immortal prince of the underworld named Zagreus who just resurrects in a pool of blood after each defeat, and, well, Hades is your father, whom you dislike greatly. Greek mythology, so full of drama!

Oh, it's a twisted family drama all right.

As for game mechanics, the dungeon is really just a series of locked rooms connected together by doors. As you play you're powered up methodically (Archero style: where you choose one of three power-ups to give your character) and try to build synergies with your powers and weapon type. Each time you die, you spend currencies picked up from your previous run to gain permanent power and unlock more and more story. 

Gathering Chthonic Keys is the key to your growth!

The resulting game is a dungeon crawler with a lot of replay-ability because you realize that each time you play through this maze of death, it'll be a slightly different experience while still being the same core game. It's quite ingenious while also being quite fun, and that's the magic formula for winning a ton of awards.

Dashing against death

After the weekend here, I've been able to make it to the second boss now and have beaten Megaerya (or one of her crazy fury sisters) with the shield, bow, fist weapon, and adamant rail gun . . . and that's also important! You're not just beating the boss once and done, but you're also beating the boss with each of the weapon types.

One of Meg's crazy fury sisters . . .

I'm having a lot of fun with the game so far and starting to gain a bit more strategy to my play aside from button mashing.  I have to say that I wish I would have picked this game up on a console instead of the computer to be honest. This one feels like it'd play better with a controller.  Hmm, speaking of which, maybe this is a good reason to finally hook up a controller to the PC.  YEAH! I'll have to do that!

Happy Dueling

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Of Dinosaurs and Trolls: Gettin' Gobbolicious with it

I spent a bit more time playing World of Warcraft the past week, and I have to say that I had a pretty good time doing it. I never really experienced the horde side of the house, and I think that made it all the more fun.  That, plus, this new (to me) troll city of Zuldazar on the isle of Zandalar is super impressive.

It be da king man!

It's a sprawling ziggurat maze that feels alive and bustling where troll and dinosaur mingle in the best of ways. The quests found here are really different and interesting. One had me sneaking around as a velociraptor trying not to get caught by guards and spiders.  Another had me selecting a kind of soul beast to help me run around the city. A couple of them even had me playing a strange top down mini-game where you led a turtle through a maze.

Not that difficult, but definitely different from your standard quest.

One of my favorite quests happened outside of the city where two researchers were trying to pair up a couple of on-the-verge of extinction dinosaurs. One was using science methods and the other was using that good old fashioned voodoo.  Eventually through the quest they decided to pair their powers together and concocted a brew that made those dinosaurs feel the love for each other in all the right ways.

Aww!  It's a perfect Valentine's Day quest! If only it was Valentine's Day.

I was able to meet up with my friends Beau and Leala a couple of times and hit up voice chat while playing. A couple of times I got super disoriented and lost my way.  Once because I actually had to follow an NPC and didn't click on him.  Another time because I chose a different spirit dinosaur than Beau and Leala. Whoops.

I kept finding myself wanting to log on and play more during the week, and leveling just happened blindingly fast compared to how it used to be in Vanilla WoW.  All it took was a little bit of dinosaur hunting on the side and before you know it, I was level 20 and in need of making a decision.  Do I bite the bullet and subscribe or wait?  

The Spawn of Gahz'rilla compels you to subscribe!

Honestly, I'm feeling the pull to subscribe.  I love the new WoW.  Gobbolicious had 4 mounts to choose from by the end of my experience.  He also was running around with a literal army of imps and demons and was able to down bosses in the world while solo.

For my horde!

One thing he wasn't able to do solo . . . the dungeons, and, I mean, that's to be expected.  That's also to be appreciated.  That's what makes WoW a solid MMO.  All in all, I'm quite impressed with what WoW has done over the years.  There's a lot of interesting game tech behind it, and you just don't see that update and change as much in other games. 

It remains to be seen if I'll sub, but if the intro experience is an indication of the rest of the game, it'll be money well spent and a joy to play through.

Happy Dueling

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

MMO Brain Dump 5/25/2021

Just wanted to get a few things out of my brain that have been rolling around inside it, and for some reason I'm feeling the drive to write more, so I might as well go for it. You know?


1- SOLO -- I've been hearing a lot about Swords of Legends Online . . . FROM MY WIFE of all people.  One of her friends was streaming game play from the Beta and she seemed super interested. Honestly, I'm a bit nervous when I look at the graphics that I'd probably need an upgrade to my computer to really play it well.

My gut wants to label it as Guild Wars 2 that's deeply based in Chinese mythology, but you never know with a game like this until you play it. It's due out some time this summer, so I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it.


2- WoW -- I've jumped in and started a new character Horde side because guess who else also got interested in the game lately . . . Beau and Leala! My old partners in crime from the Overwatch Potato League. Thus Gobbolicious was born!

trike mount ftw

So there you go. I've got someone new to hang out with in WoW for a bit. Should be fun exploring the game with them. I'm all about replacing those old bad memories with some good ones.


3- Wizard101 -- There's a new pack that features a itty bitty streetcar mount, a blimp pet, and all the various clothes you'd find on The Art of Warlord's OC (as I teased them about yesterday).

My boi Blaze Lifehammer did a great video pack opening and seemed less than pleased. I'm always entertained by watching pack openings like this.

The three items that appeal to me here are the tiny streetcar, the blimp, and the hairstyle. 


4- DCUO -- Y'all . . . I'm right on the cusp of getting that chroma pack . . . 99/100 seed pods.  Thank goodness I still have tomorrow morning to finish this up.

I cri everytime . . .


5- Project Gorgon -- whoa whoa whoa . . . they're adding a subscription to Project Gorgon?! To be honest, adding VIP is something they've batted around for a while now. It's kind of cool to see it finally come to fruition.  Good for them!

The extra bag space sounds so nice. I'm such a hoarder when it comes to MMOs that, honestly I'd probably do it just for the bag space alone.  Although the neat .csv exports of data is pretty cool and the ability to level skills while not being logged in sounds fantastic right about now.  I haven't logged in to the game in forever, so building up the hammer skill without all the grinding sounds fantastic.


That's it. Just a few thoughts I wanted to brain dump out there into the void. Lemme know what you've been thinking about in the MMO world!  I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Ding 135 -- Nana is Watching . . . Chezz's Videos

 Uber Wife and I returned from a months long break from the main quest line last night to put in a couple hours of Wizard101. What we discovered was the sad truth about Nana.

Nana! How could you?!

Nana was pretty upset that we were going around with Greta shutting down factories and causing problems for her. So much so that we had to give her the Baily Bull treatment.

Two fiercer creatures have never faced off against each other

It was a great time fighting everything from Chocolate moose to Peach Gobblers. Our favorite moment was when we had to collect "sugar dandruff" from a heard of sour patch goats because of course it's not powdered sugar, it's sugar dandruff!

Tempest-casting sour patch goats, who would have guessed.

I think what spurred us on was the knowledge that there's another quest for the next world already out there available to play. (Thanks to Blaze Lifehammer for sharing that quest walk through the other day.) It was a big realization about exactly how out of the loop I am on Wizard101 information lately.

Speaking of Wizard101 Information, Chezz is BACK AT IT?!?! Last week was fun to watch unfold when he started dropping songs about each of the starting worlds. It's a huge comeback from when he dropped that Avalon song back in 2013.  That was peak Wizard101, yo. 

If you haven't checked out his videos, give 'em a shot: 

Then . . . later today he'll be premiering the Mooshu song at 1pm central.  You know I'll be there watching! 

I love the positive vibes going on in Wizard101 lately.

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Experiencing Exile's Reach--Attack of the Ogre Necromancer

 I didn't even know that a new tutorial experience was included with the latest Shadowlands Update to World of Warcraft.  (It's not too surprising since I like never play WoW.)  I was doing a bit of whining on Twitter last night about how WoW felt like abandonment every time I logged on because my friend who got me into the game sold his account. (This isn't the first time I've whined about it.)

Because of that I started thinking about my whole WoW experience and the things I liked or didn't like about it. I also had chosen to play a Paladin because my friend recommended it, and while I enjoyed it, I also hated it. I hated my role in raids mostly.

So last night I started thinking about how the class I personally would have chosen would have probably been a hunter or a warlock. I've already played a hunter several times, but never a warlock. Because of that, I logged on and made a new character called "Thefn" short for The Friendly Necromancer.

I'm loving the 100% Right Slider look

When I saw the new tutorial experience as an option, I was pleasantly surprised. Even better was how fast those 10 levels soared by and how good the game still feels when you play it.

It did expose the class and race I'd like to play most, however.  An Ogre necromancer sounds perfect, thanks.

Yes, please

Just imagine you're dragging around a bunch of skeletons and zombies on those chains and throwing them into combat. I'd play that class in a heartbeat.

I actually kind of groaned a bit when the tutorial's ultimate battle was with a dragon at the top of a climb. It felt very cliché to be honest. Didn't we do this exact same thing in Rift's tutorial?

Thanks for explaining why I'm able to take this thing down as a level 10 warlock

I guess I shouldn't complain . . . it did feel pretty epic. In fact, everything leading up to that point felt pretty great too. The spider cave adventure was great. The Harpy hunting was exactly the type of quest you'd find throughout the world. The giant bear boss fight felt dangerous and profitable. Creating a giant boar to trample a hoard of troops felt great. 

Hanging by a rope over a giant crowd of nope

Overall it was exactly what I'd want to experience in an hour or so of World of Warcraft. As tempted as I am to subscribe after that great experience. I'm afraid the follow on experience probably won't be as much fun. Plus I've just got so many other games to play. Hmmm.

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

My Hero Academia Mobile MMO -- Let's go Strongest Hero!

So, maybe 2 or 3 years ago, my friend Andrew from work started talking up My Hero Academia to me, and I decided to start watching the anime. Now I'm right here with the best of them, wearing the merchandise and subscribed to Funimation to watch the current season unfold in its subtitled goodness.

A couple days ago I heard about the launch of a new mobile game title for My Hero Academia that actually got me pretty excited. My Hero Academia: The Strongest Hero is a free to play mobile game that bills itself as an Action MMORPG. That's a perfect storm for me, so I naturally downloaded the game.

You know you're in trouble when you start to screenshot the loading screen.

So, just to be clear, you know how these games work, right? It's free to play to get you in and they shower you with tons of currency and get you solidly hooked on the game, then the faucet begins to dry up right when you start to feel committed to the game.  It's also a gacha game, so you'll want to summon heroes constantly.  Once you get over that mental hurdle and know that those things are eventually going to stop you, you'll be fine.

When you pull that S rank Todoroki though . . .

I'm two days in and so far, it's been absolutely worth the free download, so let's talk core gameplay. Everything revolves around completing quests. Quests lead to combat. Combat leads to rewards, rewards lead to gearing up and leveling. Gearing up and leveling allows you to go further into completing quests. Per typical mobile game loop fashion, as you spin around this loop a few times, new modes begin to unlock to give you more depth in the game.

The game slowly unlocks pvp, guilds, co-op modes, daily quests, gear progression, and a ton of reward tracks.  If you've played a 4x game like Rise of Kingdoms, you'll know what I'm talking about with reward tracks. Basically, you play follow the red dot around the UI menu collecting reward after reward for simply playing the game. These rewards are the fuel you'll need to level your characters and progress in the game.

The main quests are mostly to do with combat, but be on the lookout for side quests, which seem to have a bit more variety and flair to them. My favorite side quest so far had me running an investigation into a robbery at a local restaurant.

The clerk got busted for stealing a recipe from the owner -- THE SHAME!

Another side quest had me helping a store owner who lost his cat mascot. A daily quest had me picking up trash. All in all those are pretty standard fare, but they do break up the combat.

Not that breaking up the combat is necessarily needed.  I have to say that the combat in this game is actually quite good. If you like button mashing and combo building as you work your way up to launching ultimate moves, you're going to like the way combat feels in MHA Strongest Hero.

Ultimate moves are so much fun

The villains that you fight come in waves and eventually you'll be bringing three of your favorite heroes into combat to take out several waves of combat that culminate in a boss fight.  The great thing here is that the enemies are everything you've come to expect from My Hero Academia.  They are goofy and cool at the same time. I love the absurdity and charm of this universe and it all carries over nicely from the anime.

Punch him after he charges . . . got it . . .

One of the layers you unlock has to do with playing through highlights from the story of the anime itself. Currently I'm helping Midoriya clean up the beach so he can convince All Might to give him his quirk.

Running through the junk

This involves a fun little mini-game of swiping and timing taps, which helps to break up the main game progression.

Is it an MMO though?  Well, I suppose you can see other players in the city section and do a nice co-op mode to play with other heroes, but for the most part this feels like a solo player's game.  I guess it'd be hailing back to some of the old arguments we all had back when the first Guild Wars game was being debated as an MMO.  There definitely is global chat, guilds, and you see other player's avatars around in game, so . . . there's that at least.

All in all, I'm enjoying myself so far. I never played any of the One's Justice console fighting games for the Anime, so this is my first "game" experience with the franchise. If you're playing the game or have some additional insights to share, feel free to leave me a comment and say hello.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

CR 335 -- A Springtime Rendezvous in DCUO

 Ahh springtime! The rain, the sun, the birds, and the swamp things! 

Fun times with the power of the Green

The spring event in DCUO hasn't changed much over the years, but what has changed are the rewards you get from completing it again and again. In exchange for your seedpods this year, you can pick up a super cute bee pet, a new aura, a new chroma, some antenna, and these! My new bee wings.

Bee wings are the perfect accessory for any punked out lizard man satyr

The event is only on for another week and a half, so grind that same old instance over and over for your new stuff while you can! 

As for the regular game, things have been going pretty good. I'm making small CR bumps here and there, mostly on my healer kit lately as I've been saving up for either a weapon or legs purchase (that feeling when you're at 89 tokens and it takes 90 to buy)

The coolest news for me is that Spode and I have run the elite duo two or three times and managed pretty well. I heal, he kills.  done.

Sting and Spode helping out Bats and Bots

What we've discovered is that the real key to beating that elite duo is voice communication to tell each other when we're stunned and . . . keeping the healer alive (cough)

Now to just do that elite duo 15 more times so we can actually buy a piece or two of elite gear.  It'll happen!  I honestly just need my kids to start Summer break, and I'll have plenty of play time in the mornings again. :)

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Arcade UFO in Austin Texas -- Chunithm and Jubeat mania!

 As you can tell from my previous post about Rhythm Games . . . my family is pretty into them in general, and because of that, we all were super psyched last month when we found an arcade in Austin that featured some pretty rare and exclusive machines. Welcome to Arcade UFO!


To be honest, if you're used to a giant megaplex arcade like Pinballz or Main Event, you'll feel pretty crowded when you get inside.  It basically feels like a corner shop gas station that's been converted to an arcade featuring two rooms of games.  But, here's the thing . . . the games inside are a rare treat. You don't go there for the fine restroom accommodations (believe me, you don't), but you do go there to play games you can't find anywhere else.

That said, the owner seemed to be a super sweet guy that kept checking on our family of 5 during the visit.  The kids were instantly drawn to a game called Chunithm. The whole family ended up standing around the two Chunithm machines watching each other play.

We were all masked up of course. You'd be a fool not to in these cramped quarters

My sons were absolutely in love with the game. My youngest kept raving about how he would love to have one of these arcade machines in our house. About that time, the owner once again dropped by and let us know that . . . well . . . these two machines are half of the four total machines you can find in the US.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it seemed legit.

The great thing about this game is how you use an entire mini-keyboard to play and not only is it sensitive to finger tap, but it can also sense when you lift your hands off the keyboard and wave them above. Meaning, it has some kind of crazy sensors that look for hand motion above the keys.

The other game we were drawn to was called Jubeats. it features 16 touch sensitive squares that you tap to chase the beat.

There were a slew of other rhythm games in the place, but we didn't spend much time outside of playing these two games. You can see their full games list here.

So if you're looking for a unique rhythm game experience in Austin, do yourself a favor and head to Arcade UFO. It's a college dump that reeks of anime fans and rhythm games in all the right ways, and I'm sure if you got to know the crowd there, you could even join in their weekly competitions.

Happy dueling! 

Happy May 4th -- Knights of the Old Republic

I took some time yesterday to look back at an old classic, Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor). It felt like the time was right, seeing as:

1- Yesterday was national "May The 4th Be With You" day.
2- The original Knights of the Old Republic game was on sale for super cheap at Steam.
3- Jack Nightingale from Twitter had already asked me if I was interested in playing a little of the old Kotor series.

Why wouldn't I play as the guy with the soul patch and a scar over one eye?

Funny enough, I love Star Wars, but I've never even touched these games, which honestly seems like an oversight on my part. 

Anyway, I chose to play as the loveable scoundrel type of character, and . . . be still my heart.

*whistles* HEY THERE SEXY!

Oh yeah, I'm a charmer alright. Those 2003 graphics never looked finer. 

The first part of the game was a little bit of tutorial hell, and it seemed a little strange that the ship I was on was literally plummeting out of space, but the guy who came to check on me spent a good 10 minutes talking me through how to use the WASD keys and check my inventory.

Hurry to an escape pod, but first . . . let's talk about how to move your legs!

After finally making it to the escape pods, the real game started to unfold. I was crashing down on the planet Taris. Taris is one of those big city planets that Star Wars absolutely loves. (Coruscant, am I right?) The top layer of Taris is where the wealthy peeps chill, and as you go down into the lower levels, people get poorer and more authentic -- or "mutanagenic" as the case may be.

The Sith are in charge on this planet, and wouldn't you know it: a Jedi that was on the ship with you, and she had also jettisoned down to the planet in an escape pod. It was probably because the famous "Bastila" the Jedi was on board with you that y'all got blowed up.

The game let me know that Bastila had a history with one Darth Revan, who, by the way, used his/her evil Sith powers to cause a ruckus last week on Twitter because a Star Wars fan was using the name of Darth Revan as a gate check into the Star Wars community. 

Before you knew it, I was out and about running the streets of Taris like a madman on a mission!

Not a bad looking city scape!

It's not weird at all that I'm the only one running around here . . . let alone with two swords in my hands. Not at all! Things *did* get a little weird though when I took on a side quest to help a dancer in a cantina who just wanted to get hired there.

Super Awkward . . .

Apparently my incredibly smooth moves worked and she got the job.

Eventually I went deeper into the underground and the sewers only to encounter a pretty difficult string of encounters that required me to stop and save the game often.

An all together too familiar sight

A life spent hunting for trapped Wookies and stolen swoop pod parts is not easy, friends.  Eventually I warped back up topside and spent some of my hard earned cash on a double-bladed sword and some health packs.

Darth Maul eat your heart out

I'm not sold on this weapon being all that good, but it certainly looks cool!

So despite all the old oddities and quirks, I am having some fun playing this game! In fact, it's the oddities and quirks that seem to give it its charm. Back in 2003 I think I was too busy playing Everquest to give games like this a shot.  Glad I get to change that now.

Thanks again, to Jack for the great game suggestion! It was a really fun way to celebrate good old May the Fourth.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

What is it about Friday Night Funkin?

Back on the topic of Rhythm Games . . . I had a long conversation with my son last night about Friday Night Funkin. Again, it's another one of these rhythm games that he's kind of lost himself in, and yet when you look at the game you're thinking . . . what? It's just some dumb free flash game from Newgrounds? But no! It's more!


That's a successful kickstarter for the full game to be produced, and that also gives you a glimpse into the adoration their community has for this game. My youngest son even had a Friday Night Funkin video of his go somewhat viral and garnered 110k views.

He's playing a mod of the game, and that is probably the core of why this game is so successful. Their community has invented a way to change the opponents and the songs and catalog a long list of mods

Another one of the core reasons this game is popular has to be the music. It is catchy and features a lot of call and response melodies in the voice of "the boyfriend" and his opponent. In fact, the first time I was introduced to this game was during our crazy power outage incident. At one point our boys put on an amazing half-an-hour long show where they just scat-sang those weird boyfriend sounds back and forth at each other. My wife and I had no idea what was going on and it sounded hilarious like they were just making up weird melodies, but no, it was the actual songs from the game.  Kawaii Sprite, the artist behind the music, has them all up on spotify for you to listen to.

My oldest son actually asked me to create a song using "the boyfriend" sounds and some sounds for his woop character so he could make a mod for the game. It was hard to do, but I actually made something for him to work with. He constructed the sprite sheet for it and now . .. the difficult part . . . editing the xml, which I'm afraid he'll be stuck on for a while.

No purple skinned beat box monster will best me!

And lastly, part of that success has to have come from that art style . . . it's a little like graffiti art meets a chibi-esque super deformed art style characters that battle against each other in a fighting game style. And . . . I have to admit, there is one piece of humor in this game that's a little crude for my tastes, but, again, that crude humor is probably part of the formula that makes it an underground hit.  

All in all it's an interesting formula for success in this rhythm game, and somehow it all works . . . and my kids are listening and playing along. 

Happy Dueling

Monday, May 3, 2021

Loop Hero -- Enter the Necromancer

I should have probably looked more closely at the buildings you can build in your town before, but they really only seemed to matter when they matter -- but oh man, this building REALLY mattered (at least to me).

Enter the Crypt of the Necrodancer, I mean Necromancer . . .

Yes, building the Crypt unlocks a brand new class and one that is already near and dear to my heart: the necromancer. FOR I AM THE FRIENDLY NECROMANCER!! HAHAHAHA! *cute dark lightning storm sound effects*

The first play through the loop with the necromancer was awkward and difficult to play. I wasn't really feeling the power. He couldn't use the regular gear that the other classes use, but instead he only has a grimoire, 2 rings, and an amulet.  On the second play through of the loop though . . . yup, it's my new favorite class in Loop Hero.

Get them my minions!

The necromancer is all about surviving up until the moment he can conjure a swarm to destroy the bad guys. His health bar is overlaid with something called "magic hp." Magic HP is your personal forcefield of goodness because you're going to take a few hits while you summon your army, but after that . . . forget it . . . ALL WILL FALL TO YOUR MIGHT!

Check out how full I got this map while I was playing the Necromancer class.

I couldn't place any more land cards down.

It was also while playing the Necromancer that I beat the second expedition boss and opened up the third expedition.  Come to find out the second boss is a master of mirrors that also is a spiritual leader of some sort. I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I won't tell you what he's doing there and why his appearance is pretty important plot wise.

I will say that after I defeated him, a space dog thing gave me a good howl from outer space . . . also, I discovered a weird bug. 

Look at that beautiful game presentation!

Yeah, if you let your computer go to sleep mode while playing and come back to the game, it comes back shrunken like the above. It's highly annoying . . . especially egregious since this is an idle game where leaving the computer should be expected. Anyway, a quick restart fixes it, and you can still play while it's shrunken down like that. It's not the end of the world, and in Loop Hero the end of the world already happened at the start of the game . . . therefore . . . let there be bugs!

So there you go, I've beaten chapter's one and two now in Loop Hero and have established a pretty nice town. I finished 3 more achievements and continue to enjoy playing this game! I'm still uncovering surprises now that I'm 16 hours in.  Good stuff.

Happy Dueling!