Category Archives: Rants

GOG Fall Sale and guilty pleasure games

I have just made some wintery cookies (with chocolate and hazelnuts) that taste a bit like (German) Lebkuchen. This hasn’t been my intention, by the way. It does make me wonder how Lebkuchen is made… I’ll have to look for a recipe.

Anyway, this isn’t why you come here, right? My gaming rant of the day… Okay, no rant, but news that gog.com has started its fall sale and you can currently get “Mount & Blade” for free. Just have a look at their main website (gog.com in case you were wondering) and scroll down a bit until you see “Free game: A special gift for everyone“. This offer lasts for 44 more hours.

Gog.com is a bit like a guilty pleasure for me. I’ve been buying games on there simply for nostalgic reasons. Let’s have a look at them: The Cultures games (part 1 and part 2), for example. I would love to see some similar game nowadays. Maybe a bit faster as it was a bit slow. And having women for more than baby-producing would also be nice. But in general, I really loved those games. They’re similar to the Settlers, but you each of your villagers can be named, can be given a profession and so on. It’s just more micro-managing. At the same time, combat was very boring. At least in the first game. They redid the system later and it worked much better.

Oh… I just wanted to write about my second guilty pleasure, Summoner. I bought it on gog.com despite knowing I’d never play it. But it was my first RPG with such graphics (and not text-based, for example ^^). I bought it on gog even though I did feel guilty spending money for it. However, I am rather glad now that I did so. Back in August, the publisher has taken the game off gog.

One of my favourite games when I want to kill some time is Triple Town, though. It’s not one of the old classics like the ones above. Triple Town got released at the end of 2012. It’s basically a “match 3″ game, but the graphics are cute and it’s got a nice puzzle aspect to it. If you want a more complicated puzzle game, try Reus. With the latter, also make sure to listen to the soundtrack. It’s amazing!

Are you concerned about getting spoilers?

Heads-Up: I’m trying to be as vague as possible when I touch the area of the story and will not talk about the actual content!

When the latest piece of the Living Story was released last Tuesday, I knew I would not have the time and patience to go through it in one go. On Wednesday, I usually listen to the GuildNews podcast, and I really appreciated them warning their listeners/viewers about spoilers when they started talking about the living story. One day after release, I assume there were still quite a few who hadn’t played through it yet. I quit the podcast at that point, because I did not want to know what would happen.

The funny thing is: I did get spoiled about the ending right before the patch got released. I just didn’t know that this piece was the important new story bit until I reached it myself in the story.

GW2_combat_silverwastes

So, did I get annoyed? No. Surprisingly not. I hadn’t known about it until the end, after all. ;)

I think I just watched too many episodes of Columbo as a kid. I remember a friend who made fun of me liking Columbo. He said: How can you like watching that show when you already know who the murderer is within the first minute? I replied: The point is not finding out who the murderer is. The point is finding out how Columbo finds out!

In games – or MMOs rather -, it’s a bit different, of course. Especially in Guild Wars 2, I am not sitting there watching how anybody finds out something. My own character is in the middle of the storyline. It’s not made to be like Columbo. On the other hand, games aren’t like watching TV either. You’re not passive – which may make you get bored when you already know what’s going to happen next. You are actively playing. The fights against the NPCs can still be challenging. There may even be a few good loot drops (spoiler: No, there most likely aren’t. Unless you’re very lucky with the RNG :p). And, of course, there are friends to play with. The latter is probably true for movies as well. I may even have had the most fun watching really bad things on TV with friends, because we would just laugh about it and make jokes. But I digress. The point is that while I’d appreciate not knowing what’s going to happen in advance, it doesn’t bother me much in MMOs. The story and its plot has never been the reason why I’m playing an MMO, after all.

GW2_combat_silverwastes

Having said all that, I still very much appreciate all those who start their blog posts with spoiler warnings or say loudly that they will be talking about the story in a bit in their podcast, so you can turn it off in time in case you do not want to get spoiled!

NaBloPoMo 2014

NaBloPoMo_NovemberJust as I did last year, I have joined November’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again. Just as last year, I would not have the time for National Novel Writing Month, so I’m going to substitute it again with this initiative.

I had wanted to make this “announcement post” yesterday, but then the Trove developers published their unlimited access key and I figured that it was more important to spread the word than to tell my readers about NaBloPoMo. I find it quite funny that last year, I did the same. I had published a different post on November 1 and only talked about NaBloPoMo on November 2. ;) I sense a pattern there! You may also go back to November 2013 and see what the last post was… you may or may not expect something similar for the end of November this year, depending on how busy we’ll be by then in real life.

I still remember how last year, I didn’t think I could make a blog post every day without using some lame short posts with no real content, but in the end, everything had turned out fine.

Of course, November is also going to be the busiest month at work with several projects and a research meeting that I am organizing with colleagues. All exciting stuff that, unfortunately, keeps me from gaming and blogging sometimes. ;) We will see how it’s going to turn out.

You can expect me to write about the usual stuff. I have been playing Rift and Trove a lot more than Guild Wars 2 recently which is why the focus has turned towards those two games here in the blog as well. However, I haven’t left Guild Wars 2 and I don’t intend to do so! I am also looking forward to the return of the living story and while I do know that the game will very likely not get the features that I want in an MMO (like housing – I’ve got Rift and Trove for that urge now :p), I am expecting some cool fights because for me, the combat system is still where Guild Wars 2 shines the most. Being able to move while fighting, having to use dodge and all that. I also miss fights like the marionette one (yes, despite its flaws it was by far my favourite… especially when the people on the lanes did manage to fight together and coordinate).

 

Summer break for Nerdy Bookahs

GW2 Skkia in Divinity's Reach

Skkia, my thief and 4th asura who made it to level 80.

The days are getting warmer and warmer and summer is fast approaching. But unfortunately, this is not the reason for this post’s title. For the next month or two, both bookahnerk and I will be very busy in that thing called “real life”. Additionally, we are going to move to a new flat which also needs some renovating first. We decided it’s finally time to switch our basement flat to one with more sun coming in! :D

I just thought our regular readers should get a heads-up on why it’s going to be really quiet here for a while. We’re still here, we’re still invested in Guild Wars 2 and we’ll continue blogging once we have finished moving. But for the time being, we decided that the little free time we’ll get, we will use for gaming instead of blogging. ;) I’m not saying we won’t post anything at all in the next weeks, but it won’t be much. So, don’t worry, we’re fine and we will be back in a bit more than a month (if all goes well… especially with the internet provider!).

Rebuilding Lion’s Arch…?

GW2 Lion's Arch rebuilt crafting stationsWhen the latest patch got released, I headed over to the forum to read the patch notes as I always do, but when I read the part about Lion’s Arch, I logged into the game to see it with my own eyes. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was – and yes, I may have ranted and raged a bit here in front of my PC. But let me explain what happened.

When, before the patch, I had read that the Zepyhrites would be offering their help to rebuild Lion’s Arch, I had imagined that we, as players, would be helping as well. I thought that this meant that with the next few patches, this would be part of the living story content. Imagine this: helping the citizens of Lion’s Arch out and with the next Living Story release, the bank would be back in place. After that, the lion statue, then the Trading Post. Up until in the very end, the portals would finally be back and fully working!

Or why not let us all collaborate? Make it a race between the regions: EU and US servers – which region gets Lion’s Arch back on its feet first? Different challenges, activities, etc. drop and award different special materials that are needed for the rebuilding process. Make it a game, give us a mini lion’s statue that is placed in our home instance as a reward. Make it fun!

GW2 Lion's Arch rebuilt mapInstead, after logging into the game, I found that everything we need is already back. Yes, Lion’s Arch itself is still in ruins! But it’s fully functional again. 3 crafting areas, 4 banks, 4 trading posts, the portals, mystic forge, etc. One could say that it’s better than before – or more convenient, as you can choose which area of Lion’s Arch you want to spend your time at while putting items into the bank. This isn’t “helping rebuild”. In fact, I fail to see why they would need any help from the Zephyrites or anybody else. The amount of vendors, banks, trading posts (just think of all the trading post fees we’re paying!) should be more than enough to pay for the rebuilding of the rest of the city.

This was a swoosh with a wand and some fairies granted us a wish and made it flawlessly perfect. But at the same time, at least for me, utterly boring. I had been looking forward to getting the rebuilding process as content, to tell all the future newcomers: “I was there. I saw this city before it was attacked, I saw it and defended it while it was attacked, I saw it when it was in ruins and I was here helping rebuild it! This is partly my doing!” Instead, I was handed everything on a silver platter within a few minutes.

We can maybe help make the city look pretty again, but for me, there’s no sense of urgency to it. And yeah, while it may be good to give citizens back their homes, I have to admit that as long as I don’t get my own house, I don’t care where the NPCs are living either. ;) At the same time, I do hope that we will be asked to help out in some way in a future patch and get to rebuild something. Maybe not a trading post or the portals, but at this point, anything would be nice.

And this is probably also why I shouldn’t assume and imagine things. Expectations can lead to great disappointment…

The excitement of getting an expansion

MMO shelfIf you’re following Rift, you may have noticed that they’re handling their second expansion, Plane of Water, differently than they did the previous one or than what other MMO developers are usually doing: Instead of giving you everything at once, they are giving us the expansion piece by piece. The reason they stated is that they don’t want their players to wait until every last thing is done and release all features together, but instead, they want to give us the features when they’re ready. The first part was a new crafting profession, Dream Weaving, together with new dimensions. The profession mainly makes items for your dimensions and it can also craft the keys for the new dimensions. The second part was the PvP dimensions feature which got released with the last patch.

The next part will be the four new souls (something like “skill trees” for the non-Rift players) which we were told would arrive some time in May (but not late May!). I’m excited about that, because it means my warrior will get a healing soul and bookahnerk’s mage will get a tank soul. So, we can be an unconventional healer/tank duo!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is really great to get those features as soon as they are done. I am slowly levelling up Dream Weaving and others are creating their first PvP dimensions. It gives us something to do and I have had those short moments of excitement when logging on after a patch knowing there will be something new in the game. But at the same time, I am not sure I really prefer it over the “traditional expansions”.

I still clearly and fondly remember my very first MMO expansion: World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. Bookahnerk, his cousin, a friend and I drove to a city nearby for a midnight sale that a shop was having. We went out for dinner first, then went to that store. They had us wait in front and at first, I felt a bit silly. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and here we were, in front of a store, at night in cold January 2007, waiting for them to open the doors, so we can buy an expansion and it would be very late until we got back home. The employees of the store actually walked along the line and handed out free hot beverages (coffee at 11pm – smart idea! :p).

While waiting there, we started talking with some people behind us. As is usual, we first checked who played which faction (For the Horde!), then we talked about which servers we played on, which classes were our mains and so on. At some point, I had a look behind us as I had not paid attention to the line and I was shocked: The line that hadn’t looked too long in the beginning had grown huge. I had not been able to see the end of it. All those people were there only for one expansion? After they opened the doors, I think it took us 20 minutes until we finally got to buy our expansions.

After that, we still had about a one hour drive back home. I installed the expansion, downloaded another patch and created my blood elf mage at which point I fell into bed. But to be honest, it had not been about playing in the night. It had been about going there, meeting other players, and doing something with friends. This is something that I miss with the digital expansions only. But while it is a nice memory, this post isn’t about digital or physical expansions. It’s about the lack of an “all at once” expansion (or, in ArenaNet’s case, developers considering not doing an expansion at all).

The next morning, I was ready to get into the expansion. Finally! I did not even know where to start: Blood elf starting area with my mage or should I rather take my main character to the expansion region? Or did I actually want to make a short trip to Alliance side and see what the Draenei were all about? Did I want to check out the new crafting profession? There were so many things I wanted to see and check out! I felt the magic again that I had last experienced when I had first set foot into World of Warcraft. The feeling that I always get when I explore a new MMO for the first time.

And this is the reason why I’m sad that we’re not having this with Rift (and maybe Guild Wars 2 as well). As nice as it is getting expansion content piece by piece and not having to wait, it also takes away this magic moment of feeling like the game is brand new again.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen_onions and baconUpdate April 10: I forgot to edit this post to say that this is, of course, just an April Fool’s Joke, but to be honest, I did not expect anybody to fall for it anyway. ;) I just remembered that last year, I had posted a nice recipe on April 1 already and wanted to continue with this tradition. The recipe is real, though! :oD

We had to wait 1,5 years for  ArenaNet to announce quite a lot of the  features coming on April 15 that the community has been asking for. Is it a coincidence that all of them are ready for release at the same date? I don’t think so. Instead, I am absolutely certain that they postponed all of them to shove that stupid Living Story down our throats. You may have noticed it, but the content here in this blog has become about so many other games recently and we hardly ever write about Guild Wars 2 anymore. It’s just not a game that I enjoy playing anymore. I’m sorry, but here it is. The truth is out. The decision was made even easier for me, since our guild has recently decided to move back to Guild Wars 1.

But what about our tiny little blog here? I had previously tried to add some more flavour to this blog by adding a baking recipe. The truth is, while I can bake cakes and muffins, I don’t do it often nor am I really that good. But I can cook! So, from now on, I will concentrate on other things that I enjoy more. For example, my new gaming addiction: Sim games. I’ve tried out a pig sim which was fun enough. Then I tried out a railroad sim and the last game I have gotten addicted to is a cooking sim which even lets you add your very own recipes! This is perfect and lets me combine my two hobbies! I will try out cooking recipes in this sim and if my sim people like it, I will present the recipes here. So don’t worry, I will still be writing about games here, but it will only be about the cooking sim from now on!

The Flammkuchen recipe will make the start. That’s tarte flambée in English – although I’d prefer calling it “flame cake” instead. ;)

Dough
250 gr flour
125 ml water
2 spoons of oil (vegetable oil preferably, nothing like olive oil as the taste is too strong)
a bit of salt
Sauce
100 gr sour cream
100 gr crème fraîche
salt and pepper
Toppings (can vary)
1 big onion (sliced in rings)
200 gr bacon (pieces)

Pre-heat the oven (250°C). Get the flour, add the salt and the oil and then carefully add the water. Try adding less than the amount mentioned above first. The resulting dough should not be sticky! Depending on your kind of flour, you may need less or more than the water mentioned above. Also, taste if there’s enough salt in your dough. It shouldn’t be too much, but the dough shouldn’t be „tasteless“ either. Then roll out the dough very thinly on baking parchment. It’s important that it’s thin. This is not a pizza! ;) You may find that the dough is actually enough for about 1,5 baking trays. That depends on how thin you actually manage to make it. Now mix the sour cream and the crème fraîche. Add as much salt and pepper as you like. Coat the dough with it. Add the onions and the bacon on top. Put everything in the oven (~ 7 minutes, 250°C). The amount of time it needs depends on your oven, so stay there and watch it! Take it out if it’s getting too brown.

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheeseThe toppings can vary according to your taste. Get creative here! What I mentioned in the list above is the Alsacian tarte flambée, but really, you can add just about anything you like. Use e.g., tomatoes, mozzarella, rocket, mushrooms, leek, brie,… – even olives and feta work quite well! Just never overdo it with the cheese. As I said above, this isn’t a pizza. In the picture below, you see a variation made with rocket and goat cream cheese. An important tip: Keep the rocket off the dough until it is finished baking! I had a brainless moment once and had put the rocket into the oven. ;) Only put the goat cream cheese on it and when it’s finished baking and out of the oven, add the rocket. We also experimented a bit with the sauce. The Flammkuchen on the picture below was made with sour cream and low fat curd cheese which makes the whole Flammkuchen a lot lighter and thus, allows for things like goat cheese without feeling bad about all the calories in it. ;) It does taste a bit differently than the original recipe, but it was still really good!

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheese 2

That’s it for today. Just remember: From now on, this blog will feature cooking recipes and my reviews of first person shooters. :D