2020 Partly in Review

Switch

Nintendo sends out a summary of games played and so forth:

The bulk of my hours was split between Slay the Spire (which I also own on Steam), Fitness Boxing, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.

StS is fantastic and my total combined time on Steam and Switch is approaching 300 hours. My favorite character is the Defect, whose mechanic is summoning and evoking orbs for various effects: lightning for damage, frost for shield, plasma for energy, and dark for damage (scales up over time). On Steam, I’m at ascension level 6, whereas on Switch I’m on ascension level 2. The game has randomness, but allows skillful choices to steer towards an improved/better outcome. It is easy to pause and resume, which really helps.

Playstation

I remember getting these kinds of summaries for Playstation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So… not sure, maybe it is still coming? I’m curious what my numbers look like there. It’ll be mostly God of War, ESO, some Ghost of Tsushima.

PoGo

Over in Pokémon Go, I hit level 41:

I have the XP for level 42, but lack 2 of the achievements: using berries to catch 200 pokémon, and evolving each of the eevees. The latter is the reason I’m currently walking a flower eevee – getting in 10km for a future flower Umbreon (and later, flower Espeon). The Glaceon and Leafeon evolve with special lures on pokéstops, while the Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon are random (which is extremely annoying). Playing the odds I evolved 2 flower eevees into a Flareon and Jolteon, but producing a Vaporeon is now just a 1/3 chance so I’ll just do regular eevees since they are more plentiful.

I’m evolving flower eevees for this (except for the Vaporeon as noted above) because I already have a set of shiny and regular eeveelutions. I’ll work on a different set, flower eevees instead – and I don’t have enough party hat eevees for a set of those. I already used the naming trick or I’d be able to guarantee myself a flower hat Vaporeon. I know, I know, #firstworldPoGoproblems.)

Disc Golf

I took up disc golf midway through the year, as a way to get some social distance outdoors fun in. I found out that a few friends also played, without any of us knowing the others did. I also introduced 2 friends to the game (and am working on another) so once it warms back up I’m looking forward to playing a round every week or so.

Of course there is an app for that, and I’m using UDisc, the official app of the Professional Disc Golf Association. It’s pretty handy, letting you keep score, and often displaying a map of the course. It utilizes the phone very well, letting you measure how far you threw a disc with GPS (subject to GPS accuracy).

I’m a RHBH thrower (right hand back hand) and a good throw for me is a little over 200 feet. I’ve tried forehand and it feels really weird. So, something to work on here and there. I can improve my distance by at least 50% (i.e. throwing for 300 feet) so there is huge room for improvement.

I’m also working on accuracy, throwing the direction I want to go. 😉 I am fairly accurate, so my favorite courses are wooded or lightly wooded, since those tend to have shorter distances from tees to baskets, favoring accuracy over distance. Worst case for me are wide open courses, because those tend to have large distances involved – after all, if there aren’t many obstacles the only way to increase difficulty is to lengthen the holes.

MMOs

I’m going to try a round robin system in 2021. If left to my normal scheduling, I’ll tend to “split” time between 2 games in a 80-20 proportion, which is pretty far off of 50-50. 3 games comes down to 70-20-10 or even 80-10-10 – basically one game is dominant while the others get a cursory log in.

But I like 3 games… FF14 has a fun storyline, smooth mechanics, and above all hassle-free grouping. Which is the point, otherwise I could be playing a single player game. I’m nearly at Ishgard and looking forward to unlocking Astrologian.

LoTRO of course is my very long term game, which I wander away from but come back missing it. I left my Boerning partway through Vol 1 Book 3, Defense of Trestlebridge as I recall, and want to move him along. I somehow have not managed to meet up with the coworker who also plays, but that’s fine, I’m poking along with a different character than the one I used my Valar boost on. Maybe I’ll just give up on meeting up with my coworker and look for a kinship to join.

ESO’s action combat feels a lot different, but the variety is nice. Now that I switched over to the Stadia version, I can play while visiting family (and also freed up nearly 100 GB on my gaming PC). I have a friend also playing via Stadia, so there is the possibility of questing together with someone I know, maybe even doing some basic dungeons. I don’t think we’re interested in hardcore modes, veteran modes, any of that stuff…. just the basic XYZ Dungeon I version would be a ton of fun.

So, I was thinking about some kind of day-pinning rotation: ESO on Tue/Fri, FF14 on Wed/Sat, LoTRO on Thu/Sun (with Mon off since that’s currently Zoom boardgames night). I’ll schedule ESO first as that’s the game I have a friend actively playing, and try to sync up. So this overall plan is a 33-33-33 split without emphasizing or ignoring any particular game.

Or maybe be more flexible and try for something like ESO Tue, FF14 Wed, LoTRO Thu, and then whatever for the other 3 available days. Worst case one game gets 2/3rds of the attention, but at least play each game once a week.

I know, probably overthinking this but that’s what this end of the year planning time is for. 🙂

Cyberpunk 2077

I checked my Stadia account this evening, and noticed the play button was live for Cyberpunk 2077. Hm… perhaps the midnight Dec 10 launch was in Europe so here in the U.S. we get it hours earlier the evening of Dec 9. Nothing to download and no day 1 patch… instead I could just launch and play. 🙂

However I couldn’t play long – only about 30 minutes before needing to do some other stuff. I might be able to play another hour or so before bed… we’ll see.

So I’m obviously not getting 4K graphics, even though I think I’m eligible (being on the Stadia Pro trial). Maybe current conditions are forcing a downgrade to 1080p (I’m not even sure how to tell what resolution and fps you are running at, without in-game support or some extra tool that queries your graphics card). But it is certainly playable.

This game is clearly designed with controllers/consoles as first class citizens, because all the dialog choices so far can be cycled via up/down arrow or mouse selection. Confirming a choice is ‘F’, moving and driving is WASD – fortunately the driving section was brief because that is one game mechanic where a controller is far, far superior to a keyboard.

The plot so far, which I do not believe contains much in the way of spoilers given I’m a paltry 30 mins into the game, is that my character, a Nomad, takes on a job to deliver a package to Night City. This section of the game is basically a tutorial and I think it’ll open up now that I’ve arrived. Kind of like exiting the cave after Skyrim’s intro dragon attack sequence.

I mostly just wanted to post this because while ESO on Stadia was a major draw, the Cyberpunk 2077 deal over Black Friday was irresistible (again, that was preorder the game and get a free controller and Chromecast Ultra, for an overall $10 savings). And now it’s here!

EDIT: How could I leave out a screenshot of the game… played on my phone?!

So I suppose that’s my apartment or base, when you are loading up… my phone is a Pixel 3XL and the game does work. Granted, my eyesight isn’t good enough to want to play this way for any amount of time, but the game does run. It’s like magic almost.

The virtual controller (you can see faint outlines around the edges) is a nice touch. Tapping the screen makes the virtual controller light up and become active – hot zones on the screen work like a controller. It does work, although I do fat finger quite a bit; however that would improve with practice.

Ok enough fiddling, I should either actually play the game or get some other stuff done. Over the weekend I’ll try doing dailies in ESO (grab daily reward, train horse) on my phone. Because I can. 😉 And mostly just to see how viable that is.

Triple Dipper

I’ve double dipped (buying a game I already own) too many times to count. Sometimes in order to get a higher def or remastered version of the game, sometimes to play on newer hardware, etc. Example of this include the Ratchet & Clank series I owned on the PS2… well when the all-in-one PS3 remaster came out, I bought it.

Sometimes it is to play on additional hardware. For example, Slay the Spire. I have this on Steam and like the game so much I bought the Switch version too.

This folks is but the tip of the iceberg. I’ve double dipped so many games I’d need to audit various game libraries to count them. Heck, half the stuff I’ve bought on GoG are games I loved from the 90’s (Descent, Syndicate Wars, Magic Carpet, Planescape Torment, etc) so those count. Never mind I’ve barely even started any of them up… I just wanted access to a copy of those games since my originals are long gone.

These days it is easy to double dip, various Humble Bundle tiers often make sense to buy the top level, which includes the lower levels and possibly (probably) games already owned elsewhere. I went in on that crazy itch.io’s 1500 games for charity bundle – I have no idea about um… 80% of what that even included so it’s possible I’ve double dipped another 50 games (just guessing and that might be conservative) without even knowing it.

I’ve got other douple dips too: Dark Souls (PS4 and Switch), lots of indies like Supergiant Games (Bastion, Transistor, Hades – I have for both Steam and Switch), Klei games (Don’t Starve, Invisible Inc – I have for both Steam and Switch), etc. What can I say… other than I do try to catch good sales. 🙂

But the triple dip, now that is rarer. And I realize I’ve done that twice now. Both are MMOs…

One is, *drum roll*, Elder Scrolls Online. Yes, I bought the Stadia version in a Black Friday sale. Base game, Morrowind, Summerset, Elsweyr, Greymoor, for $20?! Heck yes. And I’ve been playing on my chromebook and it is fine. Well, mostly fine. It’ll be much improved when I get a mouse and/or the Stadia controller. Trackpad… not ideal for this use case.

First dip was my original Steam purchase. Second dip was the PS4 version. Third was the Stadia version.

I linked the Stadia purchase to my ESO account (which also linked the Steam version, as I found out when I went trolling through my account info) so I had access to my existing chars. I could have restarted since I wasn’t all that far along, but I had collected the $100K daily reward, been training a horse, etc. I figure I’ll continue my Templar and then also play a Warden now and then.

Second MMO I’ve triple dipped is… Final Fantasy 14! Yes, I bought this on Steam years ago (and bounced off it). Then my second dip was the PS4 version, but didn’t like the controller option. I think the controller is fine for actual combat and selecting skills, but so much stuff in an MMO is sorting inventory, open various journals, using a map, and all of that didn’t feel as nice on the PS4. (Whereas the UI for ESO has been progressively streamlined and more and more controller-friendly starting years ago with the single player games. Plus ESO is more action-combat rather than tab-target.)

Third dip into FF14 was back on PC, taking advantage of the play-for-free-through-Heavensward content, and for that I had to create a new account and eventually went on to sub and buy Stormblood and Shadowbringers. I’m still really enjoying the game this time around and plan to keep on chugging through the MSQ, and enjoy the frictionless grouping for content.

LoTRO is only a double dip for me, but those two purchases were for two lifetime accounts. 🙂 I’ve gotten my money’s worth there for sure.