Seriously. I cannot believe that last post was a year ago.
I found out the week after that post that nothing in the training I was doing was in any way, shape, or form useful. Other than maybe just the standard accruing time and learning from experience. I went into a live raid on Woods and realized (rather belatedly) that the engagement range in Tarkov is generally much more than 25m, and I don’t have terribly steady hands anymore.
Anyway, long story short that led to a decent amount of playtime with The Cycle: Frontier, which I did enjoy, other than the fact that their amateur coding made me redownload the game with every update in Steam. And that got old fast. So then I journeyed into Lost Light, which I also really enjoyed. But then it took off and I was get insta-capped in every match I logged in to. So began my journey in Marauders, where I have a regular group to play with and the the downtime between raids is much shorter. I really like it.
But then I had an itch a few weeks ago to jump into MMO’s again, after a long long break. I think part of it was losing TERA, which I had a decent history with, and then losing Elyon before I had even had a chance to explore it. Combined with the double disappointment of New World and Lost Ark, I was feeling a bit nostalgic.
In the last month I’ve cycled through play time in Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft both, and will probably log into a few more in the coming weeks.
And with that, I also got nostalgic for writing. I do a lot of writing these days, just not for fun. And I thought, since I’ve been experiencing some burnout and block in my vocational writing, maybe some recreational writing would help.
So I ducked into here, and its been a year to the day. You could say it was creepy, but I’ll call it a sign.
So expect more ramblings here in the future. And probably not just about games. We’re going to broaden our horizons some around here.
Until then, have a couple of stale screenshots from a game a) I played for one month last year and am debating another month of (but not to play) and b) my absolute favorite game over the last three years.
I finished the three days for my first week, went on a short trip (there are fewer and fewer Spring Break trips with my kids these days, so I will take what I can get), and then started up week two of training. Without any confidence, I decided instead of moving to Medium AI, to spend another day on Easy. The only thing I got from that was confidence that everything I had learned was sticking, because I racked up the nearly the same number of headshots and kills in two raids on that fourth night as I had in all the previous matches.
But Medium…that was the real revelation. The first match wasn’t bad. Riding high on confidence, I motored around the map doing fairly well for myself. And then the confidence got a little too high. In the next three matches I 1) died to the first person I saw, 2) got blasted right off the bat, swarmed, and killed, and finally I 3) grenaded myself missing a doorway bounce.
Thoroughly disgusted, I took a break and gathered my composure for one last attempt. I did better, though I extract earlier than I should have and lazily body sprayed more than a few baddies with multi-clicking.
I decided to change things up by doing an Offline Customs raid, which I had been doing as training previously, to see if my success in the Factory arena was paying any dividends in the larger game. The answer was – not really. I still had a bit of time left so I did a Scav run and got pretty much nothing for my troubles.
Last night, I decided to make one change. While Factory is mostly small and tight, the two big rooms is where I’ve been trying to fight, so I can learn movement and medium ranges. And the truth is, at that range, in the murky low light arena Factory is I died to someone I couldn’t even see to shoot back at, and my attempt at moving and hiding failed because, again, I couldn’t see them. So I made the decision that going forward, I would use a sight of some sort on my weapon. I tried my Spector variable but it was too scoped. So I’m sticking with Holosights from now on. That and my previous night’s learning, brought me some peace of mind, and a much better tally:
I ended the night with a Scav run where I had some fun VOIP interaction with another player doing his Scav run as well. I will say for as brutal and cut-throat as the game is, the player base has far fewer jerks than I’m used to from other PvP experiences. Ultimately, Tarkov can quickly humble even the best player.
So that’s technically it for Week 2, since I only committed to three nights a week. But I technically still have two nights left in week two, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I squeezed in more action before the real challenge hits next week – tackling Hard AI!
Two things happened in last night’s rounds. The first is that a basic layout of the map clicked in my head. I went from never having played on the map to knowing the two always open extracts. Its incredible but matching map to visual instead of the other way around really is the way to go.
And secondly, while my total kills didn’t go up all that much, I got way more comfortable. Maybe that’s because of the repetition, or maybe its because I immediately embarrassed myself when I first logged in, and pushed myself to make up for it.
You can tell that, either way, I’m worn down by match number four. My accuracy dips, I forget to loot, and I miss visual/audio cues. I noticed the same thing in World of Tanks years ago, and I locked myself into 10 battles per night and then worked my way up to feeling good about 20. Here, it explains why just dipping into some ratting feels good after the intensity of being chased around a small map for an hour.
I oopsed the first two matches because I forgot to pull the holo-sight off of the AK-104. As I learned, I didn’t really need it, because I was able to duplicate the results from E2 in E3 without it. But I did feel more comfortable with the AK and its bigger round. Or maybe just more confident. Either way, it was a win. I’ll keep changing guns each night, which should be fun.
I’m making a few small changes to account for things I’ve encountered. The first is I’m not going to play by match necessarily. I took a 5m break after match 3 last night, because that was the one that put me over the 20m mark . I’m sure eventually I will play and survive a single match for 20m, but until then, or if I get smoked early like last night, I’m going to just push on immediately. Because its offline raids and the loadout is restored after the match, I can just dive right back in without having to kit up.
I have a feeling that’s a good learning for real matches as well. Spend less time worrying about the kit and more time in the game. Which has also forced me to clean up my inventory. If things really go out the window after 2 matches or so, there is no reason to keep guns I don’t have ammo for, or parts for guns I haven’t yet grabbed.
For tonight, I’m committing to playing through on my PMC. I need to be grinding the XP and the experieinces, and most of the daily XP comes from scav kills and successful extractions – and those can really only be done on your PMC.
After that, I’ll probably be out a few days. It’s Spring Break around these parts, and I need to get these restless kids out of the house for a few days. 😄
You know how the phrase is “ready, aim, fire?” Well, I have learned in my life that I am a “fire, aim, ready” person. Which is why I dove directly into the post yesterday and Day 1 of training last night. After my last meeting. Which ended at 9:30pm. And ran directly into some issues. First, lets look at results, then we can talk about what went wrong…and right.
Day #1 Results
As you can see, I started strong. I have been playing the game for a month, and I felt confident that easy AI was easy, when I had taken on both hard AI and real players before. But I still died, in part because I ran out of medical supplies and ran out of ammo. So that was my first learning – the little first aid kids I’ve been carrying into raids aren’t really enough to survive if things go sideways.
The less said about the next two matches the better. I learned that “high amount” means just that, and that gunfights in the big open room bring a lot of friends to the party. I died to 5 scavs shotgunning me at point blank range as I dodged around machinery trying to reload. It was kinda like that opening scene from Robocop, And the third one was even worse. By this point, whatever confidence I had started the night with was gone, and I was getting tired, fast.
But training is training, so I rallied for one last run and managed to do decently. I’m not sure how I got away with that many non-headshot kills though. I ran with a scavenged STM-9 the entire time because the 9mm ammo is trash at dealing with armor unless burst out in high quantities, and the STM, by the training rules, is capable of semi-auto fire only (ie, 1 trigger pull = 1 bullet).
I did all this, I should point out, having never been on the Factory map before. I hadn’t even looked at a map online. This was another part of the video, which noted that map knowledge seems to come faster if you play, take note of surroundings, and then try to line it up with a map, rather than starting with a map and hoping you can put that visual aid to your surroundings while under pressure.
So, what did I learn?
Well, I learned that some people call Tarkov a “horror survival” game rather than a “shooter survival” game because of the sound. In Factory, everything echoes, and enemies can sound like they are next door, even if you are in no immediate danger. So this is working as a kind of exposure therapy for jump scares as well – in game and probably in real life too.
Second, I learned a lot about how mobility functions as a critical aspect of fighting. Its something it took me a long time to appreciate in World of Tanks. And if you re-peek the same corner, even an Easy AI can headshot you, so don’t try that against real players.
Speaking of, my night ended on a less exciting note. Tired and spent, I took the easy way out and ran one and then another Scav raid to look for quest items. Reminder to self to save the stats for those going forward as well.
We’ll see how tomorrow goes. The one bugaboo is my potato. I can’t just log out and chill for 30m or I will have to restart the computer to clear the memory (Tarkov is a hog in that department), and the raids don’t actually take 20 minutes yet – or at least, I’m not surviving that long (that’s the practice time goal for the regimen). So I will have to make some adjustments there.
Yes, I haven’t posted anything in nearly four years. But we can talk about that later.
I have recently gotten into Escape from Tarkov, and I watched probably the best “real talk” beginner advice video yesterday. And believe me, I’ve watched a lot of them, because I’m bad at this game. I’m going to show you the TL;DR version below the link, along with a schedule I’ve ironed out that I will be following over the next advice to put this training to the test to see if it really, actually works.
Now, to break it down briefly for everyone (though I recommend checking out the entire thing at some point), here are the basics:
To Get Gud: Play Factory Offline, with a High amount of Easy Bots
Use These Training Rules:
1) Single fire only, iron sights first
2) Headshots only
3) Timing – 20m, 5m, 20m. Rinse and repeat, then 30m break, and then do a real Raid.
Next Add Variation:
Gun Game – kill each Scav with a gun looted from the Scav before. Survival is still priority though, so don’t stop and loot if it means you will die to an incoming or still active Scav.
Start doing this more times a day.
Start doing this in Online Raids
Add in Some Advanced Learning:
Active vs Passive Engagements (when to push and when to ambush)
This set up acts as Exposure Therapy for Gear Fear, but if you want to push it, consider using gear for only two raids anyway, whether you come out with it or not.
Record yourself with OBS/ShadowPlay to see your mistakes.
Now, with all of that in mind, and a few things I wanted to work on for myself, I came up with this training regimen, that I intend to follow for the next five weeks. The only part I can’t follow is the recording. I play on a potato (GTX 1650, 8 Gb RAM, external SSD), so recording while playing is not going to happen.Now, there may be some variation as I discover things while playing – like I may need to tweak difficulty or what have you, but here it is.
Oh wait, almost forgot, I’m committing to this 3x a week minimum, with more if possible:
Tarkov Training Schedule
(3 Nights Minimum)
Week 1: 4 reps Offline Factory (Easy, High) with 5min breaks between. (Last one Tagged/Cursed)
1 rep Online Raid (Goal: Dailies)
Week 2: 4 reps Offline Factory (Medium, High) with 5min breaks between. (Last one Tagged/Cursed)
1 rep Online Raid (Goal: Quest advancement)
Week 3: 4 reps Offline Factory (Hard, High) with 5min breaks between. (Last one Tagged/Cursed)
1 rep Online Raid (Goal: Level 15)
Week 4: 8 reps Offline Factory (Hard, High) with 5min breaks between. (Last with Bosses)
1 rep Online Raid (Goal: Hideout Advancement)
Week 5: 4 reps Online Factory with 5min breaks between.
1 rep Online Raid (Goal: Team Play)
I’ll do check ins every couple of days to let you know how things are going. Last but not least, I’m the best person to test out this training advice on, because I am a rat who spends more time playing inventory tetris than raiding, and because I’m now residing in the 40+ age category of life. So, if this can make me a better player, it definitely has merit for the general Tarkov population. So, embarrassing as it is, here are my starting stats. Check back later and we’ll see how I’m doing ::gulp::
So my second chance at life, granted to FFXIV after so many people testified that it is a game that sometimes takes a second chance to grow on you, has taken root. I am currently an active subscriber to Final Fantasy.
That’s the Official Brother of Harbinger Zero ™ standing in the background there. We’ve been running through the main storyline quests together as a Lancer and Arcanist, although when we hit the patch of storyline dungeons thought I switched to conjurer to get us into a group faster.
I wasn’t too sure about that at first – forcing players to do instanced group sessions is a tricky sell I think – but I have to admit it worked out pretty well. While we decided afterwards we would not have wanted to tank those dungeons (they seem a bit twisty and turny for breaking in new guys), it worked out well in giving you some mechanics and a few minor twists to work out.
And I thoroughly enjoyed healing again. Its been a long time since I’ve had to work at the heals, and I’m happy to say that no tanks were lost in the making of this screenshot.
I also discovered that FFXIV builds in some tools that normally required mods and add-ons. You can see in the picture above that there are numbers/letters next to our group names. A for whoever has the aggro, and 2/3/4 for the ranking the rest of us are holding.
I also am appreciative of the target of target window on the left hand side, which allowed me to move quickly back and forth between healing and dropping the occasional DoT.
I still haven’t figured out the Limit Break stuff though, I need to spend time time in the Wiki puzzling that one out.
And of course, how can I not compliment the Job system? It keeps the game fresh to know I can log in and with a button click change my playstyle while keeping my character and progress. I enjoyed watching the Bard in the dungeon screenshot up there going to work, so when I get tired of casting spells, I port over to Gridania and work on my Archer skills. In other MMO’s, that would feel like time lost down the black hold of Alts-ville, but here it seems added value. It may not actually be any added value – after all, its not really any different than leveling an alt in another MMO, but for some reason, I don’t have any of the angst or hand wringing about whether or not I should be playing my main instead. So whether psychological hand-waiving or genuine difference, I don’t know, but either way, it works for me.
In any case, its good to be back in a fantasy world, carving things up, enjoying quest text, and generally being a hero. We’ll see how long it lasts, but so far, its looking very good.
Yeah, its a little late in coming. And arguably not worth it, since we are very soon for April showers in this year. But it also occurred to me this post format is a good way to catch everyone up on what I’m playing and where I’m at in it. And when times are turbulent…well, its a good memory keeper for myself.
What’s Coming Up?
Doodling around in Dreadnought.
I just discovered this gem a week ago. I had read about it and had interest back when it was only on the PS4. But I’m not a console gamer anymore (I still have a PS2, does that count?) and I didn’t keep track of the PC release progress. In any case, the game has hit Open Beta. I played for a couple of days, enough to know I was hooked, before buying their generous $5 welcome package. That included two weeks of premium time, a tier two (there are five tiers total) premium dreadnought, and some customization options for my ships and avatar. There are also $15 and $60 buy-ins for those who have not yet been burned by paying for beta development. But $5 seemed about right for me for the time being.
The gameplay is similar to World of Warships, or the now defunct Cloud Pirates, which I enjoyed, but with more options (missiles, pulses, secondary batteries, warp jumps, etc). It clicks and is interesting in a way that title have not been for me. One of the reasons is the lore of the game. Each time a map pops up and is loading, you get a bit of information on the location’s history and some hints as to why you might be duking it out over this location. And the locales are beautiful – some are planetside, skimming above the waves and around islands. Others are in space around giant structures, or near orbit, with the planet’s surface glinting down below.
And while the game has a Z axis (up and down) its not nearly as intimidating as it is in other games, like Star Conflict. Which is good, because I’m not Ender Wiggin!
Final Fantasy XIV.
When I tried it last time, I stalled out big time. But I did want to like the game, and others told me it might take more than one attempt to really get it. So armed with that information, and a desire to have a fantasy MMO of some sort running, I….tried lots of other MMO’s.
In the last month I’ve put time into Elder Scrolls, Black Desert, and Everquest II. None of them quite fit. Elder Scrolls is good, maybe in general the best designed MMO I’ve seen since Rift’s release, but the extremely limited character development is chafing me at every turn. I went back to BDO and was overwhelmed again by all the systems and options, coupled with gameplay that really doesn’t vary all that much from class to class, if you are simply doing PvE adventuring. Everquest was a mess. I spent several nights cleaning out my bags and toolbar on my level 95 necro. When I finally went to adventure, I got my ass kicked repeatedly by single mobs. My tank pet was dying before I could heal him. So that got old quick.
Long story short, I decided to heed the advice and try FFXIV again. I had used an old alt email for the free trial last time. This time was my final push though, so I started the trial on my actual email, going for broke. And its great. My primary issue was XP gain and the pace of the game. I don’t know if I missed it before or what, but preferred servers are giving double XP under level 60, and that was just the ticket. I am leveling and pacing comfortably through the content. And I do seem to have a button or two more to push which is also great. To drive home the point, I played half the hours I did last time, and I am 50% higher on levels in that time.
So I think I will be rolling along another month. It also fits some bills with character options, subsystems that are not overwhelming, and just a hint of that nostalgia (oh man, when the FF them plays in the background…)
What’s Going Down?
Shroud of the Avatar
I didn’t back it and I haven’t followed it. But the launch information got me hyper excited. Launching with four modes – including limited online and entirely offline play, is something I have been hoping for, for any MMO really, for a long time.
If they have success with this and pull it off, it will be a great change for the genre. When Wurm Online started to sell with the ability to host your own server, it was a revelation for me. Why not allow everyone to do that? And if you can do that, why not bring back old games?
Think about it! It could be a new generation of emulation, much like when the old NES and Sega emulators hit so long ago. Would you pay a few bucks a la GoG.com for a copy of your favorite, now defunct (or classic or vanilla version) MMO if you could play it the way SotA or Wurm Online is offering? Particularly if some of WO’s options are included – basically, console commands for customizing the server or your character.
In any case, I will have to buy in and try SotA, for no reason other than these novel options, and the hope that other games will pick up on it and offer it as well.
This game may pull me offline for a bit. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I like the developer, I like the subject matter, and I like the format. Basically, I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to reasonably emulate tabletop Battletech on the computer, and I think we may finally have it.
Thanks for reading along. I hope to update on Fridays going forward from here, with maybe an extra post on Wednesdays from time to time. And thanks to all of you who are still writing after all these years! I never tire of reading your thoughts and hearing of your adventures.
Yep, that’s my legendary reward. That I worked six months to obtain. In a borderline unreasonable grind that was deliberately scheduled over holidays and formatted in such a way as to force players to play daily to meet the objectives.
That’s my legendary reward. That is being given away for free in contests and obtained from freely distributed loot boxes. And before you ask about the odds – no I don’t know what they are, but yes I do know that players have been receiving them, so the odds can’t be bad at all.
But, in any case, this is how you kill any game, from Star Wars Galaxies on down the line to Armored Warfare. Its a recipe for failure that is certain and sure:
Take your most invested and dedicated players, lie to them, and then stab them in the back.
I figured this was as good a place to start as any!
If 2016 was the year in gaming I wanted to forget (due to a dying and then dead laptop), 2017 was not everything I was hoping it would be either. Not because of technical issues, but real life ones. In July, we made a personal move as a family, away from pretty much the only life my kids have known. It was for a lot of good reasons that we did so – some family medical issues, a chance to be closer to family, and some other things.
It was a tough process. Moving for me involves a deep set of interviews set down from above that help with matching openings to pastors – and it takes about six months. So for the first half of the year, I was traveling a lot, and stressed a lot, trying to make the decision. The last six months was the move itself, also stressful and busy. So any gaming I did in 2017 was low commitment and in-and-out, adding a second year of limited gaming.
Anyway, enough of my sob story personal stuff, lets look at my life in gaming, such as it was!
What I Was Looking Forward To in 2017
Exploring more of Black Desert Online.
Unfortunately, I got bogged down after about two months. I was second guessing my character choice, I ran into a new town and collected some 30 odd quests ranging from crafting to combat to trade, and just…got paralyzed. And, of course, having limited time didn’t help with the sorting out process. I updated the client last night though (30 gb of updates in one year, ugh!) and I think I may dip my toes back in.
More World of Tanks Tournaments.
Well, this didn’t happen either, but this time it wasn’t my fault! With the esports season opening again, WoT stopped offering all of their 1v1 and most of their 3v3 tournaments. I expected them to return after the season, but they never showed back up. And then a few months ago, word came down that WoT was getting out of the esports scene (good, finally!) and out of the tournament scene altogether, which was being outsourced to third parties, which is only just now getting ramped up and involves less prizes and more hoops. As a result – no more tournaments for me.
Launched in February, died in like…October? I don’t remember when Mail.Ru (…oh sorry, Mail.com) pulled the plug, but it was way too soon. The game was just coming into its own. Not that they didn’t make a host of mistakes, because they did (a small one – the global chat was international, and thus mostly useless), but the game itself was solid and fun. The bright side was after a month long fight with customer service, my $40 buy in from the Collector’s Edition was shuffled over to Armored Warfare. And more on that trainwreck below…
My Burning Questions For 2017
Will Star Citizen finally go supernova?
Apparently not? I mean they did get sued, but not for being vaporware, so I’m not sure that counts. But I’m not really sure it went anywhere at all this year either. Big surprise.
What of my depressing Steam Back Catalogue?
Its still depressing. But I think I made some progress. With the whirlwind of activity, I did not actually track this. However, some sleuthing reveals that my Recent tab has gone from the 66 I recorded it at last year to 89, so on paper that’s 23 more games played. However, my total catalogue increased by about 20 as well. In the nitty gritty though, two of those were games that ended up not being functional for me (Endless Legend and Wurm Online), several were nostalgia pickups that I had already played, and probably another half dozen were free games I grabbed just because or part of a package where I didn’t really have an interest in the game.
So the end result is that I probably played about 15 games, and it looks like 5 of those were new. So that puts me at 10 games caught up on. I remember the ones I didn’t like: Hand of Fate, Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Killing Floor, Valkyria Chronicles, Total War: Warhammer (I know, I know, but I suck at RTS. I’ve played like, 6 battles, and I’ve lost every single one of them).
Most of the ones I enjoyed were new games I picked up this year: Five Nights at Freddys (deserved the hype), Fairy Fence F: Dark Advent Force (hilarious, tugs on a bunch of RPG/JRPG tropes), Pathfinder Adventures (amazing, can’t wait for more DLC), and Divinity: Original Sin (fun, but waiting to do a co-op campaign with my brother).
So, as I thought, about half and half on the thumbs up vs. thumbs down!
What of Armored Warfare’s Balance 2.0?
Well, it launched. But I’m not sure it really solved anything. I mean, its a different game for sure, but I’m not sure its any better. I played long enough to finish the 5 Episode Storyline Campaign that took place over the course of some 9 months or so. And I got the final rewards.
But after that, I tapped out. The PvE is just boringly repetitive, and the PvP is non existent. They launched on Steam, which was a major suggestion from the playerbase, but they did it without a shred of advertising or build up. And even worse, they dropped an epsisode of the campaign, and made the goals high tier only, and set it to overlap with the Steam launch. So the existing playerbase wasn’t able to rub elbows with the new people and boost the queue for games, and most people quit after a day or week of not being able to consistently get matches. As a result, despite the fact that I had some $40 of credit moved from Cloud Pirates to AW with its closure, I haven’t spend it. I can’t figure out their game plan or if they even have one. Or half a brain to run it. Very frustrating for a game that was so good.
And don’t even get me started about the hostile takeover of the game that left Obsidian out in the cold. Both they and Mail.ru share the blame in the game’s failure, in my opinion.
Bonus: More MOBA’s?
Nope. I barely had time for the MOBA’s I did play.
Where Will I Go In 2017
World of Warcraft?
Nope. I never came back. I dipped in and out of a bunch of games, but never spent anything more than a month or so in any of them.
Something On Cooldown?
Several games made it out of the Cooldown folder and back onto the Desktop, including brief runs in Secret World: Legends (enjoyed it better than the original), TESO (finally figured out how to skill my Templar, which lead to a month long run there), and SWTOR (with shutdown fears, I subbed up to try to finish the storylines…and again became bored out of my mind, if not outright outraged with how bad the storylines actually are).
3rd Person Paradise?
I…don’t think I played a single third person game this year. Unless you count some of the traditional MMO’s. Oh well.
Anyway, that’s it. I’m back. I’m (mostly) settled. And if any of my bloggings buddies are ever passing through the A-T-L, send me a message and I’ll buy you lunch.