Weekend Gaming

phantom_lancerIt’s been a while since we’ve discussed what weekend gaming plans you have, so here’s a weekend gaming thread to plan out your weekend!

For me, I am about 3 hours in to Divinity Original Sin and I’m starting to get into a comfortable groove with it. I like the turn-based RPG mechanics, I like the setting and the story doesn’t make me roll my eyes (even though it took a weird turn early). I plan on putting some serious time in with Divinity.

I’m also hyped because this weekend is the finals for the Dota 2 Championship, The International 4. It may be a sign of things to come, but ESPN will actually be broadcasting the Finals and showing a Dota 2 Special Sunday night on ESPN 2.

So ya, in addition to playing Divinity, I’ll be watching Dota 2 as well.

I also dusted off my 3DS and plan on visiting my Animal Crossing town, which almost certainly has fallen into disrepair. I hope the animals recognize me.

What will you be playing?

Hearthstone and Sucesses in Fatherhood

Parenthood. Ain’t it something? I am 6.5 years into my parenting venture now. Never before have I valued quiet as feverishly as I do now, nor have I before been aware how frustration can reach such a severity that vision will actually blur. When I was a young man I’d giggle whenever Homer Simpson would grab Bart by the throat: “Why you little…” – tee hee, such a silly cartoon. I can now attest that those feelings are real. So, so very real. But, this post shall not be a sounding board for the ills and hardships of parenting. It shall instead be one of gratitude and praise to a collective experience I share with my 6.5 year old.

Mitchell and I play Hearthstone. We play Hearthstone a lot. We’ll pull up chairs and play it on the desktop. We’ll crowd around on the floor and play it on the iPad. We may play separately. We may play together, tag-teaming against our foes. One may play while the other spectates, then we’ll switch seats. Sometimes we quibble about what card to play next. He gets upset when he loses a match. He is a sore loser, a trait he gets from his old man. But, for a kid who is only weeks away from entering the first grade he sure can hold his own in a given match.

Yes, Hearthstone has been a terrific learning tool for Mitchell. I see him calculating basic arithmetic on his fingers, making sure he can eliminate the highest threat priority while still maintaining board presence. He is developing the skill of knowing when to strike face versus minion. His reading and vocabulary skills are honing; he now and forever knows what ‘adjacent’ means. Not only is he working on comprehension of card functions but he also devises strategies from these functions. Sometimes the strategies work. Sometimes they do not.

The game is helping him develop analytic skills along with emotional skills. I made the mistake of showing him the Concede button in the options menu. So, every so often whenever his strategic idea blows up in his face, he wants to bail on the match: “I’m gonna lose anyways!” I feel his frustration because, when I am playing, I too so often want to throw my arms up in early, bitter defeat. When Mitchell get this way I try to raise above this – above my own tendencies – and be that idyllic wise father and salve his angst, to encourage him to take another turn, draw another card, to work with the surprises and upsets that come from luck and randomness. You can’t control everything, but you can certainly choose to control what you do have.

One night a couple of weeks ago I was working as a stagehand for a local awards ceremony. It was overall going to be an easy gig because these types of programs practically run themselves. Knowing this beforehand I brought the iPad with the intent of situating myself in utility room, close enough that I was able to maintain a presence should I be needed but far enough away that, when the time was right, I could inconspicuously play some Hearthstone. The program began a couple minutes late at 7:05 PM. I performed my light responsibilities during the early parts of the program and then retreated to the utility room. At 7:30PM tapped the Hearthstone app. I was few turns into the match when Battlenet disconnected me and presented this message, “This Battle.net account just logged into Hearthstone from another device. This client was disconnected because only one connection is supported at a time.” I grinned from ear to ear. I looked at the clock and inferred from the given time that everybody at home had finished dinner, finished chores: Now is the leisure hour before bedtime, and Mitchell is playing himself some Hearthstone! I didn’t want to interfere. I closed out the Hearthstone app. Some twenty minutes later my wife texts me:

 

Mitchell excitedly explained

to me how he won

and all I got out of

it was 16 healths and 6

something’s. He also

just asked me to pray

he could beat somebody.

I told him we don’t do

that, but he won anyways :)

 

I gushed with pride at this. GUSHED! This text is the perfect summation and confirmation of one of my few successes in fatherhood. It also shows a work in progress. For as mind-numbingly frustrated that this little boy can make me I am glad that he and I find common ground in Hearthstone. I probably wouldn’t play it as much if it wasn’t for our collective experiences with it. The experience for me is more than just playing Hearthstone – more than just playing the same game as Mitchell, sharing it with him – but it is in standing back, keeping an attentive distance and just observing my son’s brain grow and develop in both hemispheres. I am grateful that Hearthstone can provide so much for us.

In My Digital Hands

divinty_original_sin

I missed this when it was being Kickstart’ed, but have been hearing great things about it.

I’m hoping to do a live stream and hopefully turning that into a Let’s Play video. The first of hopefully many such video endeavors. Check back for more info, hopefully later this evening!

Polite Declines During the Steam Summer Sale ’14

As of Monday, 30 June 2014, 1 P.M. EST, Steam returned to its normal self, and so swiftly too. It is odd seeing the storefront as it once was, and with nary a sign of the frantic ten days of summer sales. There are no more little green discount rectangles, no more timers counting down until the next flash sale. The dust has settled. Seeing all these games without a discount tacked next to the price tag seems profane. Nonetheless business moves forward, and life moves on. While Valve retreats to prepare the world for The International so, too, do the Steam gamers retreat to their little cubbies and nuzzle up with all their new games.

I continue to do my own nuzzling, yes. I am pleased with my purchases and with my overall behavior during this sale. Indeed. I practiced discretion, deliberate purchasing, and had only a single instance of impulse buying. My wishlist was the framework for what I did and what I did not purchase. Yes, I acquired a few games that were on my wishlist and a handful of others that were not.

But there are a select few which I decided not to buy – I could have, but I didn’t. With games made available at such a heavy discount, why the devil not? The answer to this varies from game to game, and it was not because I thought the prices would go lower. Below are two of the more thoughtful lines of considerations among the group of games I decided to pass up.

EU4

 

 

 

 

 

At a 75% discount EU4 would have cost me $10.00. That’s very attractive, not to mention generous. And considering the robust number of hours that I have logged into EU3 proceeding forward to its successor only seems like a logical step. In due time, I will. But when EU4 popped up in a flash sale last week, the time was not time and I did not purchase. I attribute two factors to this decision. An admirable quality of Paradox Development Studio is their focus on community; the developer acts on suggestions made by fans. From these suggestions expansions are developed and released – Expansions that do just that: They expand and add worthwhile content and mechanics to the base games, adding new layers of strategic experimentation and implementation.

EU4 was released during August last year. Since then, two expansions have been released (with a mini-expansion soon the land). On the other hand, Crusader Kings 2, released by Paradox during February 2012, has had the benefit of time to mature and expand. To date, there are seven expansions for CK2. Of these seven I own four. Of these four I have truly burrowed to the mechanical guts of only two. I have much to do in CK2 (and the game’s concept is slowly percolating in my mind as one of the awesomest in the universe ever). To jump into EU4 – even if it is only the base game – from my standpoint would be premature. I like the idea of showing up late to the Paradox party and branching out to different expansions at my leisure and readiness. Perhaps in a year I shall be able to do so for EU4.

Transistor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let it be said that the decision to not buy this was never based on the price tag; I am totally willing to pay the twenty bucks for Transistor. I would be willing to pay more. Even at a 20-25% discount during the summer sale I still felt perplexed, like I was in a sort of quasi-ethical quandary. Why? Part of the perplexity stems from recalling my experience playing Bastion, Supergiant’s previous game, and how I loved nearly everything about it. It maintained a singular stylistic vision and the gameplay was a blast. There was something honest, almost pure, about Bastion. The game made me feel like a kid. I have all the trust in the universe that Supergiant will deliver another well-directed, focused effort.

This is why I passed on Transistor during the Summer Sale; I do not want to betray this focus of Supergiant by crowding Transistor together in my attention with all the other games I just bought. The act of buying, downloading and installing Transistor should be an event all on its own. I recall the afternoon when I had finally saved enough allowance money to buy Super Mario Bros. 3. After I bought the cartridge, I made my Dad run red lights because I was so freaking excited to get home to play it – nothing else mattered. I want to feel the same focused anticipation as Transistor slowly trickles its way from the Steam servers onto my harddrive… and perhaps get a ButtonMashing review out of it.

July Releases

Summer is traditionally a slow time for video game releases, but this July is pretty threadbare. Unless you like shooting people with sniper rifles (and honestly, who doesn’t?), this month has pretty slim pickin’s. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of July 1st
Sniper Elite III

Week of July 1sth
Far Cry Compliation
Sniper Elite III

Week of July 22nd
Wii Sports Club

Week of July 8th
One Piece Unlimited World Red

Week of July 29th
Scooby Doo & Looney Tunes Cartoon Universe: Adventure

Week of July 29th
Metro Redux
Metro 2033 Redux
Metro: Last Light Redux – Updated, up-rezzed versions of Metro aren’t a bad way to spend your July gaming budget…

PS4 Banner

Week of July 1st
Sniper Elite III

Week of July 29th
The Last of Us Remastered

Week of July 1st
Sniper Elite III

Week of July 8th
One Piece Unlimited World Red

Week of July 29th
LEGO Ninjago Nindroids

So yeah, not a whole lot to be had here. What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

It’s Gonna be a Showdown: Steam Summer Sale 2014

In this way gales have their own [characteristics]. You remember them by your own feelings… some cling to you in woe-begone misery; others come back fiercely and weirdly… others, again, have catastrophic splendour; others are severe like a visitation; and one or two rise up draped and mysterious with an aspect of ominous menace. In each of them there is a characteristic point at which the whole feeling seems contained in one single moment

Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea

Brothers, sisters. The Steam Summer Sale event is near – so, so very near. Its nearness can be felt, measured. Just the same as the moon causes the oceans to heave and roll, so the proximity of the Summer Sale affects us, churning about all sorts of emotions. A Steam sale is indeed a mighty thing. Each sale carries with it its own intricacies and ingredients, systems and patterns, facets and surprises. We may perhaps recall our experiences with a specific sale – how we braved or floundered – and share them with other salty dogs of the PC master race.

The universal effect of Steam sales on the community’s pathos fills me with wonder and awe. The leveling factor can and should be studied. It is a freaking phenomenon. And here we are now, en masse and anxiously awaiting for this king mother beast to drop. You and I may have different playing styles and game-type preferences, different attitudes and tendencies – These differences may create a rift, or chasm, case depending, between us during any other time of the year. But it is during this time of anticipation that you and I are not so different. I can thereby declare with certain confidence that we are experiencing a similar wash of emotions as we await this summer’s bounty.

The first is excitement. Such giddy, child-like excitement. Oh, isn’t it precious? All those little green boxes next to the title’s price tag. There are so many, and the numbers are so close to 100. Steam will even do the math for you, will strike-through the original price and shade it while the discount price gleams like a promise. Let us envision ourselves skipping and tra-la-la-ing down the digital lanes, fancy-free and grateful for this marvel, this digital mana. Add to cart. Add to cart. Add to cart. Add to cart. Purchase for myself. Purchase for myself. Purchase for myself. Purchase for myself.

But, stop! Cease this ignorant dream of economic distress. The sale has yet to come and we are already mindlessly adding to our gaming backlog. When the Summer sale dawns let us be more measured in our purchases. Yes. The second emotion we feel is resolve. This is prompted by our reminisces of certain sales’ past, as we shudder coldly at our behavior. For shame. Look at that transaction history; Look at your library backlog – What a stain on your dignity. Let us resolve to be more deliberate in our purchases this summer. How badly do you want this title, really, truly? How will this title add to the patchwork of your gaming preferences, styles, and experiences. Yes! How will this sweet, succulent, Flash Sale discounted title further define you as a gamer?

But, that involves too much thinking! The Steam sale is a cultural phenomenon, an event! Look at all those youtube videos. Scroll through /r/pcmasterrace/. I mean, why should we have to practice discretion? Look at those discounts! Soooooo many games. Part of what makes these sales so awesome is the collective (playful) despair we feel. This is one of the reasons we are PC gamers in the first place. While the console peasants claw over each other in Gamestop stores and Wal*Mart electronics departments to use their allowance money to buy used copies of last year’s major titles we delight in the delicacies of heavily-discounted games without ever having to leave our plush computer chairs. So, nuts to deliberate purchasing – I mean, WTF, man? The third emotion is tactlessness

Once you have regained some composure from that last little outburst, you take a deep, cleansing breath. Your mind may still be abuzz with aswirl of emotion but you nonethess take an objective look around. It has been six months since the winter sale. There are mysterious “Mystery Trading Cards” all of a sudden floating around the Steam Marketplace. E3 has concluded; the meta-table is clear. This week’s list of Weeklong Deals contains a mere seven titles, a trite count compared to the regular 25-ish sum. Gaming blogs and websites are fidgeting with anticipation. Yes. Forces are in motion, brothers and sisters. The fourth emotion you feel is acceptance. However you conduct yourself when the time comes, the sale is indeed coming – like, this Thursday.

And so, lastly, we shall not cower in the face of this mighty force. We shall not crumple under the weight of our own personal shopping decisions. Now is the time to celebrate the possibilities and to steel ourselves against… ourselves. May we stand on the bow, with arms thrust to either side and greet this Steam Summer Sale headon. The fifth and final emotion is exhibited below.

I’ll see you on the other side…

June Releases

Well, this is rather embarrassing. It has been over two months since our last post. That means I’ve missed two monthly release posts and even though I have been mashing buttons, I haven’t written anything of substance. (More accurately, I’ve been mashing the right button on my mouse, because Dota 2 still has a stranglehold on my gaming time). But with that said, let’s get on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of June 3rd
Murdered Soul Suspect

Week of June 17th
UFC – Nice to see EA eschewing adding a number to each one of their franchises. Sometimes simple is better.

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark – The last Transformers video game got some decent sleeper-status buzz. Will Rise of the Dark Spark get it, as well?

Week of June 3rd
Murdered: Soul Suspect

Week of June 10th
Enemy Front

Week of June 24th
GRID Autosport Black Edition
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 3rd
Tomodachi Life

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark
Farming Simulator ’14 – If it was like this (questionable content alert), I’d be in on Farming Simulator for my 3DS.

Week of June 3rd
Wildstar
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Legends of Persia

Week of June 10th
Enemy Front
SPINTIRES – The description of this game includes the sentence “Fasten your seatbelt and become the driver of unique vehicles that have been based on Soviet off-road classics.” I don’t think you can get a nicher than a driving game based of Soviet off-road classics. The audience is narrow with this one.

Week of June 17th
Black Gold Online – I’ll take games I’ve never heard of for 500, Alex.
MotoGP 14
Tropico 5

Week of June 24th
GRID Autosport

PS4 Banner

Week of June 3rd
Murdered Soul Suspect

Week of June 17th
UFC

Week of June 24th
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark

Week of June 3rd
Murdered: Soul Suspect

Week of June 24th
Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland
Xblaze Code:Embryo
Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark
GRID Autosport Black Edition

Week of June 3rd
Hyperdimension Neptunia PP – Nope, this title wouldn’t make ten-year old me laugh at all. Not at all!

Week of June 24th
Xblaze Code:Embryo
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Weekend Gaming

After a week away from gaming while on a family vacation, I’m ready to get back at it. As you surmised from my latest “what I’ve been playing” post, I have been spending the bulk of my time playing Dota 2. I can see that progressing for the foreseeable future. I’m now “competent” with four or five heroes and I’m looking forward to dabbling with a couple more this weekend. So ya, I’ll be playing Dota 2 this weekend.

But in talking with my fellow bloggers, we are looking at ways and topics we could write about on the topic of Dota 2. When we pull ourselves away from the “crack”, maybe we’ll get something up. No promises.

What are you playing this weekend?

What I’ve Been Playing

dota2

That should clear up any doubts.

(In all seriousness, my gaming time has pretty much been all consumed by Dota 2. I hope to actually write some words about it one of these days. Maybe their servers will go down for a period of time and I can come up for air.)

Weekend Gaming

Weekend Gaming posts are normally Tony’s shtick. For this weekend’s post he explained that he meant to write it last night but somehow mysteriously ended up in a couple DOTA 2 matches instead – just the same as a gambler says no more for the night but somehow mysteriously ends up cranking slots for two more hours, or the struggling chocaholic who somehow mysteriously finds his cheeks stuffed with whoppers. So this morning, while in the throes of fighting this personal demon, Tony assigned the Weekend Gaming task to me.

And well-timed, too! Should he have asked me to do this next weekend – or even tomorrow – there’s a strong chance that I would be unable to write this post as well because I somehow mysteriously have slipped ever-deeper into the realm of Dark Souls 2. I anticipated this game so much that I actually bought it on launch day (this past Tuesday), which I have never done with any other title. Several months ago there was a stir within the Dark Souls community when game co-director Yui Tanimura made mention that DS2 would be more ‘accessible’ than the first game. After seeing the buzz that his comment made he quickly issued a statement clarifying his meaning. For what it’s worth, I here now testify that ‘accessible’ does not mean easier. Not in the slightest. The same expectations on the player as the first Dark Souls are in place, perhaps even more pressing: Souls have more value (retrieve yours!); your HP is penalized the longer you play and die as a hollow; fall damage is more severe; the areas are gnarly and confusing. And yet, battered and bruised I press forward, along with so many other players.

If you have to ask, you don’t need to know.

A harder reality must be recognized. I am playing Dark Souls 2 on the PS3. And our family has only one HDTV. And my kids wanna watch stuff. And my wife would rather the kids watch stuff than me play Dark Souls 2. And these are enemies far more powerful and frightening than anything I will ever encounter in the game. So I must relinquish the TV at times. When this happens I do believe I shall resurface to join Tony and James and any other ButtonMasher in a nice, level-headed round or two of Dota. I am glad that Tony has been on a 2-month Dota kick because it has gotten me to gravitate back to the game as well. I’ve learned to take the losses along with the wins. I better understand the strategy, the items, the skills. When to use what, what to use where. Chatting with fellow ButtonMasher about the game is fun! But, more than anything, I no longer feel like I’m a slippery n00b.  Or as Major Payne once said to his squad:

MajorP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you playing this weekend, turd?