So this was Blaugust 2015 – Blaugust Day 31

I did this kind of challenge the first time back in November 2013. I tried it again in November 2014, but did not reach my goal and in fact, gave up on November 13 already. :p The latter is also why I decided relatively late to join Blaugust. My first thought was: Yeah, no way will I have the time or the energy to do it! But I like challenges like this one and when I was told that getting to 15 will already be a milestone (the title “survivor”), I thought to myself: Yes, this is something I can realistically do!

Never did I think that I would be able to write this many blog posts in a record time (for my own standards). And on top of that, Blaugust couldn’t have had a better timing. My job situation changed in the middle of August giving me more hours of work per week (hurrah!), so that I have your standard usual full-time job now. Getting Blaugust done together with my job without neglecting anything was exactly the kind of motivation boost to show myself that when I want to achieve something, I can do so!

I have finally started writing my dissertation and yes, I know that blog posts about PC games and a scientific dissertation cannot be really compared. But both are about writing and both are about something I feel passionate about! Also both require sitting down, focusing, and motivating yourself. Blaugust also means that I have to let my inner censor go. No more “Is this post really worth to be written?” and no “This post sounds like rubbish, better delete it again”. The same goes for writing in other settings. You always have your inner censor and depending on what you are writing, there is also some kind of deadline sitting in your neck.

So, what I take out of Blaugust for me personally is that I do have the determination, that I can motivate myself, focus and that I have the will to go forward and reach my goal. Yes, compared to that other big project, this seems tiny and irrelevant. But for my mind, this was a very important goal to reach!

I also want to say Thank You to everybody who read my posts, liked them and/or commented on them! Getting feedback is a nice thing and reminds me that while I like rambling in here, there are also actually people out there who “listen”. Weird concept, isn’t it? :p

On top of that, I found a whole lot of blogs that I either paid not enough attention to before or that I simply didn’t know existed. I will have to go through the list of all participants and see that I can get them added to our blogroll here. This may take a while, though, because now, I’ll go on a mini vacation. In other words: You will be spared from reading my blog posts for a few days until I return. :p

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Posted in Blogging Months, Fun!, Rants

Guild Wars 2: Now Free to Play!

Just a quick note to say that Guild Wars 2 is free-to-play as of right now! Yep, they turned the switch immediately. :)

There are some restrictions, as was to be expected. Those are mostly to discourage spam (in mails, whispers and so on) and to encourage you to buy the game if you like it. That is, if you buy “Heart of Thorns”, your account will be upgraded to a standard account and the expansion will be unlocked. You will not have the chat and mail restrictions anymore then and you will have the regular amount of bag slots as well as 5 character slots just like everybody else.

GW2_Free to play

Trying out the free version – as did lots of others, apparently.

If you want to give the game a try, you can sign up here.

Oh, and welcome to Guild Wars 2! :)

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Posted in Gaming News, Guild Wars 2

Valhalla Hills: Impressions from the outside (Blaugust Day 30)

Just a quick warning: I will start with Valhalla Hills and detour to Cultures in the end. :p But there is a very good reason for this: The developers of Valhalla Hills are “Funatics“. The very same Funatics that made the Cultures series. There is only a German wikipedia article, but the table of the games they developed is readable either way. The first Cultures game was released in 2000. The add-on followed in 2001, Cultures 2 came out in 2002, as did Cultures: Northland. The last of the series, 8th Wonder of the World, followed in 2003. The Cultures versions after that were mostly bundles and one new mission if I remember correctly. But let’s not forget about the Settlers games! The guys working on Cultures – and now, Valhalla Hills – are the very same who worked on Settlers II and some of the following Settlers games. Their website also has an “About us” (and it’s in English). If you want to read more, head to their website. :)

Now Funatics is “back” (they were never really gone, it seems, but I thought they were as I hadn’t heard from them) and they are working on “Valhalla Hills“. The game is also already available on Steam Early Access. As the title says, I can only tell you about my impressions from outside the game. I just recently wrote about “backing games” and since it’s in early access, this is a perfect example of a game that I follow, quite intensely even, but that I have not decided to back yet.

They launched on Steam Early Access on August 24, so only a few days ago, and there is already an abundance of information available in German, but not as much in English. I found a handful of videos. The first one I’m embedding here is from the developers talking a bit about the game and showing it in the process.

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So in short, it is a game inspired by and thus, in a way also related to the Settlers and Cultures. You have your little vikings and build a village/settlement with them. In this case, they wanted to enter Valhalla, but Odin did not let them in. Now they are trying to prove they are worthy enough to get in there! You cannot directly control your vikings, but you can tell them to build something and so on.

The second video shows… some guy playing and commenting. I don’t know that YouTuber. I just tried to find any reasonable video in English, to be honest and his is what I found. :p

A German Twitch channel was streaming yesterday and the guy there had two of the developers in his stream. Of course, it was German only. They answered several questions, but the most important one for me was about the DLC. I don’t know if they have made the information available on Steam as well by now. I would certainly hope so! The most expensive of the game versions you can buy on Steam comes with “the first DLC for free” whenever they are going to release said DLC. The developers were asked what this DLC will be and they said that they haven’t planned this far ahead yet, but that it’ll be more “expansion-like” and less “here, have another costume, give us 3 € now!”.

While I liked hearing that – and the stream in general – here is why I haven’t bought it yet: I am skeptical of where the game is heading! Quite a lot of things are still “not decided” by the developers, for example.

Don’t get me wrong. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they know what they are doing… The Cultures series is my favourite game series ever and I played these games for so many hours. They were my trustworthy partners while I studied for university. I should probably add here that the Cultures games are rather slow sometimes and you can easily play them while reading texts, making notes, memorizing said notes and so on. :p They brought me the right amount of entertainment and distraction. But from what I have seen so far, it looks as if Cultures is the “better” game (for me). I like that I can choose which of my Vikings does what, especially as I gave them surnames in order to find my Baker, Miller etc. again later. But there is more than that. The graphics of Valhalla Hills remind me of a game made for a tablet or something and I do wonder if we will get as many features as we had in Cultures. How big will the economy be in the end? Will there be bigger maps than the ones we have seen so far? Also, you cannot rotate the camera freely. You can move some way to the left and the right, but you cannot get “behind” the island. Buildings can’t be rotated,…

Of course, those things could turn out to be rather minor and the game could still be great fun. Their FAQ list does not actually help to lift my skepticism, though: No map editor, no free building mode (you can continue playing on a map once you have finished your mission, but that’s it), currently no multiplayer mode – but they are thinking about that one, at least. But here’s the biggest issue: Why should I pay 16 € (20 when it’s not on sale anymore) for a game when I have the full set of Cultures (re-bought it on a few months ago) and the games all still work flawlessly? A new game should give me more than the previous ones and that is what I’m missing at the moment.

By the way, Cultures is on sale on Steam until August 31: 3,59 € for 8th Wonder and Northland. 1,99 € for each if bought separately. If you prefer, you can also buy them on there (DRM-free even): Cultures 1 + 2 for 8.79 € (currently not on sale) and Northland and 8th Wonder also for 8.79 € (not on sale). Recommendation? Yes! I know the subject line says “Valhalla Hills” but I just have to write about Cultures at this point. Those games released years ago, so it’s quite safe to say that they are what they are, while the Early Access game could still change in direction. They are old, yes. But they work perfectly on my machine (Windows 7, 64 bit). In fact, while they don’t have a windowed mode, you can choose your monitor’s resolution, at least. Or so I assume since I can choose 1920*1080 and I know that back in the early 2000s, I did not have a monitor with such a large resolution. ;)

In fact, I reinstalled 8th Wonder yesterday and started playing the campaign again. Cultures has a campaign mode, single player maps, a map editor (Valhalla Hills won’t have one as maps are generically created), multiplayer mode,… As I said, those are feature-complete. I also like the soundtrack and the 8th Wonder has a nice setting: There is a dark threat looming. Some children stopped growing for unknown reasons. You arrive on the new land which gets shaken by strange earthquakes and you are asked to help rebuild the Seven Wonders of the World and stop that dark threat. I can’t actually say more about the story, as I never got that far in this game. I’d lost my save games at some point and then didn’t want to continue playing anymore, because I’d been too annoyed with myself. ;) But here I am now, playing Cultures again! So, if this is your kind of game: Go for it! The sale lasts until August 31.

Also, don’t let me keep you from investing in Valhalla Hills. I don’t want to talk bad about an unreleased game that is still in development. I am just sharing with you why I haven’t bought it yet, even though this is the kind of game I should buy without thinking twice (especially as it is from the very same people who gave me Cultures). It is on my wishlist, though, and I am following their development steps to see if it turns out to be a game I want to have. :)

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

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Posted in Alpha, Blogging Months, Gaming Companies, Indie developer, Other Games

GW2: Dyes and staff… (Blaugust Day 29)

What an exciting week for Guild Wars 2!

This week, Guild Wars 2 turned 3 years old and to celebrate this, from this point on, all characters will get a very special birthday presents on their own 3rd birthday (yes, this means the character has to be 3 years old, not your account): The Celebratory Dye Pack. This lets you choose one of the rare dyes in the game that were previously only available as a random drop from dye packs bought in the gem shop. Some of those dyes are priced above 200 gold even with the most expensive one being 1000 gold (if you want to buy it from somebody directly via the Trading Post). Of course, that most expensive one, Electro Blue, is the one I took from the pack now. :p It’s just a nice coincidence that only a few days ago, I wrote about the dyes I still need to buy and how expensive some of them are. Now I just need to wait for my characters’ birthdays and I can get some of them at least.

There is also another booster item that buffs your character for a certain amount of time, some “teleport to friend” items and another level-up scroll. Only that it’s not level 20 like the ones from the first birthday, or level 20 from the 2nd birthday (mentioned separately here, because they – still – don’t stack with each other despite being identaical). This year’s item boosts your character to level 30. Nothing there that I really need or use. But the dyes are awesome! :)

Daredevil teaser image

We’ve gotten another elite specialization reveal this week. After seeing the teaser image for the next elite specialization on Twitter on Monday, I had gotten rather excited! But I decided to remain calm until we’d get more information…

Then I had seen the datamined skills for the thief. The blog post today just confirmed what I already knew: I am very excited about this specialization! Thief is my third favourite character. But what I saw about the warrior specialization didn’t interest me much at all. To be honest, the warrior is a very solid profession that can withstand a lot of damage, and she’s convenient to play, but at the end of the day, I actually think it’s a rather boring profession. The thief, on the other hand, is a lot of fun! Seeing the staff and reading about the specialization, I know I want to try her out! Maybe when/if we get back from our vacation on time, I can hop into the beta for an hour or so on Sunday evening.

GW2 Skkia asura thief

I also cannot wait to see the thief in action in tomorrow’s livestream. Because what I’m still missing is seeing the animations. Because I actually like the style of having a melee class fight with a staff. Warning: Anecdote incoming!

Back in my early World of Warcraft days, I had made a female orc warrior, Grola. She ran around the Barrens, rather clueless on what to do next, when she found a staff (probably swallowed by a lion there). Even though it was stat-less, it was better than the weapons I had carried (she was very young and inexperienced). The animations were so good! Fast, agile, and just generally fun to look at. I turned to bookahnerk and told him excitedly how much I loved the staff with my warrior. Unfortunately, he had to tell me the truth: While a warrior can wield a staff, there were no staves in the game with non-caster stats. And in a game that heavily relies on the stats on items, there was absolutely no way I could have a viable staff-wielding warrior.

So now I’m sitting here, all excited, because I can get my little agile, sneaky staff-wielding thief. I just hope I’ll like the animations. But… we will see tomorrow. :)

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

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Posted in Beta, Blogging Months, Fluff, Guild Wars 2, Heart of Thorns

Excited for “Fall 2015” – Blaugust Day 28

I was just listening to the latest Rift livestream on Twitch and it seems that “Fall 2015” will be a very busy season for me this year. Rift, Wildstar, Cities: Skylines, Van Helsing: Final Cut and maybe/probably Guild Wars 2 will come with new content.

Trion will release another content update for Rift introducing the new calling (= class), the Primalist. This calling has to be bought. There is a rather expensive pack that includes the class for 99 €, but I’m not that rich, unfortunately. Ocho revealed the separate credits price now, which is 5250. If you buy the 50 € credits pack (giving you 11050 credits), this equals about 24 €. Almost the price of a full expansion. So, I don’t think I will get that calling, because I’m not sure I would have the time to even play it. On top of that, those 24 € are only for 6 skill trees. The remaining 4 (all callings have 10 skill trees by now) will have to be bought separately. Still, the patch will come with new content and that part is free as always. So even if I may not even want to get the Primalist, I will at least be able to poke around in the Planetouched Wilds.

Wildstar is changing its business model to “free to play”. This one is what excites me the most currently, as it means I will be able to stop paying a monthly fee without having to say goodbye to my dear Medic (yes, Medic. Who said I would be playing a Spellslinger? Certainly not me. Oh no). Free to play is not the only thing coming. There will be an apparently rather big patch accompanying it. New housing items, bigger housing plots – that’s all I needed to see to get excited. I haven’t gotten far enough into the game yet anyway, so understand exactly what all the upcoming changes mean or how certain things work at the moment (except for the AMP unlocks… I finally understood those, mostly, and I think it’s a good idea to have them all unlocked automatically).

Wildstar Gechi Medic

Cities: Skylines will receive its first expansion “After Dark” at the end of September. The developers announced the release date (September 24) and the price (14.99 €) a few days ago. For such a low price, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist. ;)

Van Helsing: Final Cut is being a bit vague. I couldn’t find anything more specific than “September 2015”. This could be as early as next week (on another note: *squeals like a little girl* – My birthday is coming closer which means our short vacation is coming closer!), but this post from August 24 saying “one month left” suggests that it’ll be later in September. And late September means: “fall”.

GW2 HoT Chronomancer

And then there is XCOM 2 which will release in “November 2015”. Unfortunately, we also do not have a more concrete release date than this. We saw a short video presentation about the game at gamescom and since then, bookahnerk has been quite excited about it. Hopefully, the game will be as great as it seemed and he’ll enjoy playing it. :) I am not sure yet whether I want this game or not, so I’ll wait for his “review”.

Last but not least, there is Guild Wars 2. The game that has gotten its expansion announced in January 2015. We still don’t know a release date other than “this year”. So I hope it’ll be this fall, but there’s no guarantee… although, considering how autumn ends shortly before Christmas and I doubt they’re going to release the expansion on Christmas, it’s quite safe to say it will launch this fall. Either way, when I look at the list here, I don’t think I would mind waiting for “Heart of Thorns” until late this year. There is plenty of stuff coming this fall either way and I’m very excited about it.

 This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

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Posted in Blogging Months, Expansion, Guild Wars 2, Rift, Wildstar
Heart of Thorns LaunchOctober 23rd, 2015
1 month to go.

All of my posts this month belong to the Blaugust 2015 event. You can join at any point during August if you like!

Trove has officially launched! (Referral link)

Here is my latest review of Trove and here are some helpful tips for Trove to get you started. :)

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