Let’s talk about quests, shall we?

But before that, no chapter this week, as predicted. Moving on.

I’m not at home, so I can’t grab anymore screenshots, so… wait, I think I still have one I haven’t posted…

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…Yeah. Ok. Moving on again. Before it kills me. :\

So, remember back when I was discussing quest levels in Horizon: Zero Dawn? I mentioned how the suggested levels for the quests, and levels in general, didn’t really mean anything in that game. Damage was determined by the type of weapon, and how it was modified; while leveling up did increase your hitcpoints, it was fairly easy in the early game to not get attacked at all, making the increase fairly meaningless. You also got one skill point per level, but it wasn’t exactly game-changing — especially since you could also receive skill points for completing quests and hunting grounds. I guess what I’m saying is, depending on how you play the game, you could take on quests well before the suggested level, and be just fine. Similar for fighting machines: if you know the method to fight them, you can take them on whenever you want.

I bring that up now, in order to contrast it with Nier:Automata, which kind of has the opposite. When you receive a side quest in Nier, there is no indication of what an appropriate level to accomplish them. Case in point: there is a quest where you have to protect a parade of peaceful machine lifeforms from hostile machine lifeforms. (Don’t ask.) Now, the normal enemies in the area are currently around level 20, as is my character. But the enemies that spawn to attack the parade are level 35.

Now, it is completely possible to defeat machines well above your own level. Depending on the machine, it might even be simple. But it is difficult to do so quickly, so in a situation like this particular quest, it becomes hard to win. Fortunately, you can repeat the quest until you succeed, but still. It would be nice to have some idea of what to expect from the quest, so I could plan efficiently.

I suspect this is a deliberate design decision, given the tone of the game; there are a lot of systems that are deliberately inefficient, and make things… not so much harder, as annoying. But we’ll see where it goes, eh?

By the by, Horizon is going to be my gold standard for comparisons to other games for the time being, so yeah. Just quick like, let’s talk about my new Switch games.

Breath of the Wild… as expected, it’s excellent. Very much an open world game, albeit with slightly more reason to follow the main quest line than Horizon had, since many abilities will only be unlocked by following the main quest a certain distance. The camera function, for example. Well, I’ve got the Sensor+ now, giving me a way to finish collection quests, although I can’t use the phrase “quickly”… well, never mind.

I’d say the one thing that bugs me in BotW, which I think Horizon did well, is bow combat. It’s kind of an obvious thing, since the bow was the main weapon in Horizon, but the controls made a sort of intuitive sense: hold down one trigger to raise your bow and begin to aim, hold down the other trigger to draw back the bow, and release that trigger to let the arrow fly. Here’s the main point: if you release the ‘aim’ trigger, even while holding the arrow fully drawn, Aloy will put down the bow without firing.

On the other hand, BotW has you draw your bow, aim, and pull back the string all by holding a single trigger, and you fire by releasing that same trigger. On the face of it, it seems more streamlined, which befits a game where you have so many options, but… to cancel a shot without firing, you have to press the B button. It’s the same button to put away your melee weapon, or cancel anything really, but… it really doesn’t feel natural like Horizon’s control scheme did. Chalk it up as a personal preference thing, or that Aloy is simply a better archer than Link is. (In exchange, her melee abilities are fairly crap. (Except stealth kills.) Take that for what it’s worth. 😉 )

Setting aside Zelda, Super Mario Odyssey. It doesn’t really compare to Horizon at all, though… except that both are very fun. So whatever. It’s fun. Let’s not overthink it. 😉

In fact… I think I’ll go play it now. Later, everyone! 😀

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Merry Day-After-Christmas!

Because posting on Christmas itself is too mainstream. 😛

So, I hope everyone had a happy holiday, especially those of you that don’t celebrate it commercially, as it is celebrated in the United States. 😉 But, speaking of consumerism, my wife got me a present that, unfortunately, I really, really wanted — a Nintendo Switch.

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Featured here with the iconic TyrannaMario Rex. Er… I probably shouldn’t have taken this picture in a dark room… That is a Switch, I swear… ^^;

I have yet to figure out a convenient way to post screenshots, since the system won’t let me copy to my USB drive, and I don’t have a microSD card. Seriously, what are the USB ports on the docking unit even for…? :\

Setting that aside, it’s a really nice system. My wife got me both Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, which are both enjoyable in different ways, so if I get tired of one I can Switch (pun intended) to the other. I’ve mostly used it as a handheld so far, but the docking works very well. The only thing is, I only have two HDMI ports as I have mentioned in the past, so I’m currently switching out the PS4 and Switch, and leaving the video player alone. I figure I’ll leave the PS4 plugged in most of the time, since the Switch has its own screen, but it is nice to play on the big screen as well… Well, I want to get a new monitor for my computer, maybe I can find one with an HDMI port and hook one or both systems up to that, in my room… but that would require money. Damn you, money! 😛

Well, now that I’ve got an entirely new system to play on, as well as all my other PS4 games, your probably wondering how this is going to affect my writing. Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s true that the time I have to write is shared with my time to play games; basically, the four hours a day that I have no kids in the house is my potential writing time, and also the time I have to play games that I wouldn’t want to play in front of them. The thing is, those games are entirely on my PS4; neither Zelda nor Mario is a game I can’t play with my kids around. Plus, I don’t occupy the TV while on the Switch (or I don’t have to, anyway) so I can have a movie running for the kids while I play. It doesn’t work for writing, since 1. my daughter likes to sit in my lap while I’m working; 2. I need a lot of focus to write, or it doesn’t happen. Neither of which affect my gaming. (Well, OK, that’s not completely true, since my daughter jogging my elbow tends to affect my ability to game successfully, but you get the idea.) It’s easier to pause a game and come back to it than a line of thought, you know? 😉

That will be next week, however. This week, both kids are still on winter break, leaving me very little time to myself. Oh, well. At least they’re cute. 😀

Anyway, all that aside, I don’t anticipate having a chapter of Anubai done by Friday. I’ve been teasing out an idea, and if it comes together, I’ll be able to post something by New Year’s — but frankly, don’t hold your breath. Chances are I won’t be ready for anything until a week from Friday, with the next Anubai chapter. BUT! After that, regular updates! This is a writing blog, dammit! I will write stories! Roar! 😀 😛 😉

Ahem. Sorry about that. Happy Holidays again, and I leave you with a picture of completely-not-disturbing-at-all Amusement Park!

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Does anyone else feel like that heart was actually ripped out of the castle? Brrr… 😐

Oh, that reminds me. Nier:Automata is fun, too. 😉

What I did on my winter vacation

Once again, I went with my family to see the Bentleyville light display in Duluth. It was a perfect night for it, too: not too cold, but with a light snowfall to really bring home the holiday spirit.

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…I’m not exactly sure what #ONLYINMN is supposed to mean, in this case. I mean, it’s not like the rest of the country doesn’t have big light displays over Christmas? Well, whatever. It was fun.

Oh, and there is pretty much zero chance of me releasing any chapters this week. To give you some idea, this particular post was supposed to done Wednesday morning… but yeah. Can’t get any time to myself. 😦

Anyway, here’s a picture of a girl riding a giant pig… wow, that sounds even more horrible than last time. ^^; Continue reading

Sunday Digest: It’s a writing blog, I swear.

As proof, I did actually post Chapter 20 of the Anubai Hero on Wednesday. Go me! Now, I’d like to keep that up… but my children are on Winter break from school, and as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely can’t write with my daughter home. (Something about how she sits in my lap and randomly presses the keys… 😛 )

So, I’ll try to get another chapter out in the next two weeks, but no promises. Come the new year, though, I will be pushing a heavier writing schedule on myself, so I think I can guarantee at least a chapter a week in January. Possibly. I hope. ^^;

Setting that aside, I finished Horizon: Zero Dawn, and I seriously can’t recommend it enough. If you get a chance to play the game, you should. Seriously.

As for Nier:Automata, it’s definitely very different from Horizon, despite both being set after the end of the world. The combat systems are very different, the art direction is very different, and the protagonists’ motivations are very, very different. I’d say the biggest similarity between the two is a certain sense of melancholy, that something important was lost, and will never come back…

…Well, I haven’t pushed far into N:A yet, so I guess we’ll see how long that lasts. 😉

Have a wonderful winter, everyone, and thanks for reading! (Unless you live south of the equator, of course, in which case have a wonderful summer. The thanks remain the same, though. 😀 )

…Er, I thought I had a picture of 2B handy, but it looks like I forgot to copy it. Uh, ok, here’s Aloy instead.

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Oh, I guess that’s another trait she shares with 2B: neither smile very much.

And, done.

I have completed Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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This was the only screenshot I took during the main quest line. I had a hard time framing it, but in retrospect it actually looks pretty good.

The main story line turned out to be excellent, and I might do a spoiler-intensive review of it at some point. Sadly, I spoiled myself a bit on the big surprising part of the story accidentally, and I kind of regret not going into that portion without expectations. It was still a very moving story, in a lot of ways, and I was actually tearing up a bit in the final cut scene before the credits.

Well, I’m not going to talk about the plot, but I am going to say a few words about my experience with the game. For the most part, it was entirely positive, as my final playtime of just under 84 hours will attest. 😉

Naturally, after playing a game for such a long time, various cracks will begin to show, especially in a game as complex and beautiful as Horizon. As time went on, I encountered various glitches, such as the picture I posted previously of the corpse of a Stormbird that teleported from directly in front of me onto an inaccessible mountain after it died, preventing me from looting it. I also managed to grab a short clip of a Glinthawk enemy completely glitching out and spinning end over end, but sadly I don’t have a convenient way to post it right now. 😛

Other than that, I noticed some graphical issues, especially with dynamic lighting and the like. But honestly, all these problems were pretty minor, and things you only notice if, like me, you play the game exhaustively.

Oh, and speaking of playing exhaustively, I was quite pleased when I finished the game and found that I only had one trophy left to collect, so almost every trophy I was able to acquire just by playing the game and doing all the side quests. Naturally, some of those quests were more irritating to complete than others, but it’s all entirely doable, so I was able to pick up my platinum trophy relatively easily. So, yay. 😀

Now, as for what’s next, I’m afraid that I’m going to set Horizon aside for a while. There is a New Game+ mode, as well as an expansion pack available (each with their own trophies to acquire) but my shelf of PS4 games keeps expanding, and I’d really, really like to finish a few more of them. (Hmm? When am I going to write? Hush, you. 😛 )

So I’ve got a tentative game schedule arranged, starting with Dishonored — or it was first, before my wife gave me my birthday present after I posted the chapter of Anubai yesterday:

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I love my wife. Not only do I have the game I really wanted, I have a model to work on as well.

So yeah, my next game will be NieR: Automata. I wonder if it has a photo mode… ^^;

Incidentally, I already installed it, and downloaded a fair huge (3+ gb) update file, leaving me slightly close to running out of hotspot data for the month. But don’t worry, I will continue to post! Somehow. 😛

For now, though, I’ll be saying fairwell to the Horizon. Thanks, Aloy. You were pretty awesome.

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What with the whole “pet T-Rex” thing, y’know?

The Anubai Hero, Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Both creatures hissed in unison, continuing to retreat from Kahen Sera’s suddenly revealed martial aura. The woman from the Green Wildness Sect stretched minutely, and the tension in her body seemed to melt away. Incongruously, even though her aura had increased exponentially, to Bi’er’s eyes, she seemed to be getting… harder to grasp; as though, even standing there with her full power on display, a single breath of wind might disperse her presence and form.

“Will you still call me mere ‘food,’ beasts?” demanded Kahen Sera. Even her voice had an eerie, wispy quality to it.

“Tsssk, the human is calling us beasts, brother,” hissed the monster on the left. Continue reading

Finally…

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After collecting all the flowers, figures, and “vessels”… finding all the vista points… clearing all the corrupted areas… overriding every tallneck, and incidentally every other (non-corrupted) machine in the game… clearing every cauldron… clearing every bandit camp… clearing nearly every sidequest in the open world… reaching level 50… gaining all but one skill…

…after over 65 hours of play, I am finally visiting the main hub city to continue the plot. 😀

Incidentally, my favorite collectibles are the metal flowers. Not only do they grow other flowers in an odd triangle pattern, each one contains a poem about nature. Very cool. 😉

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Sunday Digest: For some reason, a dream journal?

Hey, everyone! Once again, a week with no chapters, sorry about that. I’ve learned that it is completely 100% impossible to write while my daughter is home, so I’m reworking my schedule to take that into consideration. Tentatively, a new chapter of Anubai next Friday, if I can control my impulse to write a dark Super Mario fanfiction. 😛

So, that leaves me with nothing to do but discuss Horizon pictures today… or it would if I hadn’t had a seriously crazy dream last night. Like, seriously crazy.

First of all, I was completely aware that it was a dream. Like, I was lucid to the point where I actually felt like I was really awake. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a dream that intensely real, and it was pretty cool.

But here’s where it starts to get strange: I was completely convinced, in my dream, that I was having a prophetic dream, and that what I was dreaming about was going to happen in the future. For instance, my daughter was wearing a dress that we don’t own, so I thought that she’d get that dress in the near future. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember what it looked like. 😛 )

Incidentally, I tried to explain to two women whom I was sitting at a table with, eating a meal, that it was actually, currently, the past, and I was simply dreaming about the future. Unsurprisingly, they looked at me like I was crazy. Kinda hard to blame them. 😉

But wait, it gets crazier. It seems my dream was drawing on elements of some stealth assassination game like Assassin’s Creed or Dishonored, or possibly Hitman? Anyway, I don’t think it was a game that actually exists, but I definitely snuck into some people’s mansion disguised as a… chair. (!?!)

Naturally, no one saw through my clever chair disguise (!?!) despite the fact that the chair kept moving when no one was watching it. Well, until one old guy came into the room, took a long hard look at the chair (!?!), and naturally came to the conclusion that someone was hiding inside it.

Oddly, he wasn’t too upset about it, since he figured that it was me, and that I was there to help them out. See, the whole family was suffering from some sort of curse, and he thought that I could sort the whole thing out. Er… either that, or I already had, and that’s why he wasn’t upset that I was skulking around. I can’t quite remember which. It does sort of beg the question of why I had to disguise myself as a chair (!?!) to get in, but yeah, dream logic I guess.

I have a feeling some other stuff happened, but I don’t really remember it. No matter how lucid the dream, it still becomes fuzzy afterwards. Either that, or it’s because I whacked my head on my bookcase in my sleep twice last night. (Don’t ask.) (Also, ow.) :\

Anyway, enough of that. How about a Stormbird? 😀

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Look at those sparks… So cool… But you know what isn’t cool?

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When your hard-fought loot ends up landing on an inaccessible part of the mountain. That isn’t cool at all. ;_;

See you next week, everyone! 😀

Up in the sky! It’s a bird! (And it’s coming to kill us!)

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This is probably my favorite machine in the game, the Stormhawk. Hmm, this picture doesn’t really help grasp just how huge it is, though.

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So here’s a picture of Aloy STANDING NEXT TO ITS FROZEN CORPSE for scale. 😛

Surprisingly, I actually like fighting these guys. Just… not more than one at a time. That gets a bit rough. ^^;

I don’t have a picture yet, but my least favorite machine to fight are the Rockbreakers. Those things suck. 😦

And just for kicks, here’s some pretty scenery. See ya tomorrow! 😀

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