Guild Wars 2 Character Progress

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If you watch my videos or follow me on Twitter, you probably know that my current obsession is Guild Wars 2. What I thought would be an MMO that I would occasionally log in to on weekends for an hour or two has consumed me in a way I haven’t experienced since I started playing Lord of the Rings Online. The quality of the game really took me by surprise. In the past month since I started playing, I have already sunk more hours than I would care to admit into leveling, cosmetics, crafting, and general exploration of Tyria.

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The 5 Stages of Game Burnout

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I’ve played Lord of the Rings: Online for nearly seven years now. That’s a long time to be playing any game. Back in 2011 just after the Anniversary event (the one many refer to as the Grindaversary), I experienced my first strong, true burnout from LOTRO. For a year afterwards I would log in occasionally and try to get back into the game but it was never the same. I finally started logging in again regularly with the release of Riders of Rohan. My playtime has been steadily increasing since then however with the release of Update 15 I’m beginning to feel the tell-tale signs of game burnout once again.

I know many others are feeling the same way about LOTRO and other games at the moment so I wanted to outline the stages of game burnout. These stages are especially prevalent if you are playing a time-intensive, long-term game like an MMO.

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52 Weeks of Writing

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It’s impossibile to write 52 bad stories in a row.

Many of you probably know of November as NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word rough draft within the month of November. It’s pretty nifty – you can use the official site to track your progress and earn badges. There are pep talks and events and lots of cool support networks to help you with ideas and motivation. Unfortunately, novel writing just isn’t for me, at least not at this point in my life. And even if it is, 50k words in 30 days isn’t my thing. It’s just too specific of a goal in a direction I’m not super interested in taking.

So instead I’m going to start something I’ve been intending to do for quite a while – since I was still in university. I’m going to do the Ray Bradbury 52-week short story challenge.

There’s a famous Bradbury quote that goes, “It’s impossibile to write 52 bad stories in a row.” The idea is to write a short story once a week for 52 weeks – an entire year. It’s definitely a much longer term goal than NaNoWriMo, but I feel like this challenge is much more within my wheelhouse than a crunch-time novel. I’m going to try to have each story be around 2000 words. If some are shorter and some are longer, that’s fine. Especially if they are shorter, I’m okay with that. The point is to write short stories so as long as the short story is complete then that’s it.

Some of the stories I’ll post here. Ones I think are really good or ones that I want some feedback on, probably. It’s going to be a long year. Wish me luck!

City 2048 – The 2048 game of my dreams

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I periodically browse the Play store hoping to find previously unknown (to me, anyway) gems – whether they be games, productivity apps, or anything else doesn’t matter. I’ll spend ages flipping through pages of apps looking for the next shiny new app. It was in one of these sessions this weekend that I found City 2048 and it has sated my app hunger, at least for a while.

Like any 2048 game, the goal is to combine like-tiles to create higher-tiered tiles. You continue to combine these tiles to get a larger score. However the challenge is to combine tiles in such a way that you don’t run out of board space and get a grid-lock. Endlessly swiping the tiles back and forth can prove to be quite an addicting time waster and there’s heaps of copies and variants on the web and anywhere simple, time-wasting games can be found.

City 2048 stands out from the sea of autumn-toned number pushers like a beautiful, vector lighthouse. Instead of the usual number tiles, City 2048 features an isometric grid of tree and house tiles. The tile that would normally be represented by a “2” is instead a lovely grove of trees.

How have I never seen or heard of this game before?

The “4” tile is a small group of houses. As you combine the tiles, the buildings get bigger – a mansion, a block of townhouses, high-rise apartments. The art style is truly superb in this game and makes what is usually a visual simplistic game gorgeous. The downside is that it does take a bit extra time to get used to the tiles. Numbers are straight forward and easily to follow but different building configurations is another thing.

I was surprised by the music as well. Cool jazz overlaid with the sound of birds chirping and wind blowing. Combined with the art style it really makes the perfect, high-end 2048 variant. And it’s free!

“How have I never seen or heard of this game before?” was my first thought upon finding City 2048 in the Google Play store. My second thought was, “This is exactly what I want.”

The only downside I’ve come across while playing is responsiveness. Occasionally the game will lag out on my Nexus 7 tablet – usually when the game tries to render a cloud over my little city. The game also occasionally freezes up and halts after I’ve grid-locked my board. It can take quite a few seconds for my final score board to show up and allow me to restart. Generally though it’s not a prohibitive problem. I also concede that my tablet is nearly three years old, which could be part of the problem.

While it’s not anything ground breaking or innovative, I highly recommend City 2048 as a beautiful new take on 2048 puzzle genre. You will not regret it.

City 2048 is available on Android and iOS devices.

Keep your eye on “The Flame in the Flood”

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“Travel by foot and by raft down a procedurally-generated river as you scrounge for resources, craft tools, remedy afflictions, evade the vicious wildlife, and most importantly, stay ahead of the coming rains.”

Roguelikes and survival games have been insanely popular the last few years. The Flame in the Flood, being developed by The Molasses Flood games studio, takes these two genres and blends them together with the expertise of some seasoned ex-AAA game developers. You play as a girl named Scout and her dog Aesop and your goal is to navigate the harsh river delta while staying ahead of the incoming rains.

Currently on Kickstarter with 17 days to go, The Flame in the Flood has already raised over $180,000 which is $30,000 more than its initial goal. I think this is the highest budget roguelike I have ever seen. To date there has not been a AAA roguelike or roguelite or procedural death labyrinth – even the most popular, modern roguelites like Binding of Isaac and Dungeons of Dredmor are independently developed titles.

And technically speaking, Flame in the Flood is also an indie game – the developers may have come from AAA studios, but they started their own studio and set out on their own. The developers and designers have experience working on series like BioShock, Halo, Rock Band and Guitar Hero. These developers definitely know what they’re doing in the game industry.

Obviously the project is still in its early stages. The game is not set to release until July 2015, so there’s still quite a bit of time before we see much more than the Kickstarter trailer. While I probably won’t personally contribute to this Kickstarter campaign, I will be keeping a close eye on the development and news surrounding this game. It looks and sounds gorgeous – which I definitely expect from something that is already so well-funded and has so many resources already dedicated to it. While technically indie, these resources and funding mean that The Flame in the Flood is the first roguelike/procedural death labyrinth anywhere near AAA game studio levels.

I’m interested in seeing how all of these resources will make The Flame in the Flood stand out. There’s already some obvious points – the soundtrack utilizes acclaimed musicians writing songs just for the game; even the concept art is very high quality. This increase in quality makes sense. What I’m really interested in seeing is how the game mechanics stack up against other, less-funded indie roguelikes. Will the balance be better right off the bat? Will there be heaps of updates to tweak items and add new game modes? Will the level design be more manageable (even though it will be randomly generated, of course)? Should we expect this game to be ‘better’ because it has more funding?

I’m not sure what the answer is. But that’s why I’ll be keeping my eye on this game, and you should too!

I survived 22 hours and 19 minutes – The Long Dark Alpha Impressions

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Day One

My eyes slowly open. Stingingly bright snow and cold blue trees everywhere. Looking in a circle around myself I find nothing but more snow and trees. Some rocks. A frozen creek.

I had just been in my plane… where? I was flying north and then a storm hit. Where is my plane? I look around helplessly. I only have on my warm clothes I had on the plane and my emergency backpack. I struggle but can’t remember much else beyond that.

Not knowing what else to do, I start moving.

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November of the Soul

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It’s October now which means Fall is really starting to kick in in the Northern Hemisphere. Falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins – the whole bit. Meanwhile here in the Southern Hemisphere Spring is just starting to wake up. The tiny pink blossoms on my peach tree are starting to bloom and little green leafy buds are visible on trees everywhere.

Despite all this growth and green, it’s a terribly depressing time of year for me. Fall is my favorite season, hands down. It’s time to break out the sweaters and boots and make everything apple-cinnamon-pumpkin-spice-whatever flavored. If there’s a Yankee Candle that combines the smell of decaying leaves and wood fires, please send me five of them. And don’t even get me started on all the wonderful turkey-cranberry sandwiches that pop up around this time, too.

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Gaming as Reward

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I’m the kind of person that stays motivated with rewards. Some people find better motivation through more nebulous rewards like “knowing I did a good job” or “getting it done is its own reward”, stuff like that. Me, I need something. A new lipstick. A fancy coffee with all the whipped cream and whatever-syrup on top. That pair of shoes I’ve been eyeing for the past month. Or… a nice long session with the game I’ve been craving all day.

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Recent Reading Material

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While I was away in the States I got back into comic books.

Every so often I go through a phase of being really into certain mangas or comic books or graphic novels. This used to happen with much more frequency and I blame my comic decline on New Zealand. The closest comic shop is about 4 hours away and usually doesn’t have the comics I am interested in getting into. The alternative is, of course, Comixology, however I really enjoy having physical comics. There’s something that just feels nice about watching your small stack of thin little comics grow.

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