Adding new hobbies (Blaugust Post 9)

…and then she was gone.

I did quite well with Blaugust and then decided to take a few days off. I have several drafts with ideas on what to blog about, but I just didn’t feel like blogging at all recently. The reason is pretty simple: I started a new hobby. Starting anything new is always so exciting for me that I usually neglect everything else.

Sewing project: BagBookahnerk is not here for two weeks. On Monday, after work, I went downtown and then decided that I should find something to keep me occupied because I’d probably feel lonely otherwise. ;) Ever since I got my mum’s old sewing machine, I had thought: Hey, one day I want to try this thing! – Can’t be too difficult, right? As it turns out, it is far from easy. I thought the hardest part would be to get the thing running properly, but after getting some dust out of the machine, that wasn’t the problem. Of course, finding a manual was more a problem since this machine is so old, you cannot even find a PDF manual online. I only found one for a similar machine. Either way, I did get it to work. But I can’t even draw a straight line let alone sew a straight seam.

For the very first item I ever made with a sewing machine, this bag actually turned out really good! But you can see the awful seams up there… Some other things also went wrong, but not all of them can be seen. And it is a fully functional little bag.

I now bought more cloth and will try to make another bag, but in a bigger size as this one is rather small and thus, not too useful. However, I am mainly updating you all about this, because it is Blaugust and I told myself to publish 31 blog posts. But that was before this new hobby appeared and now I will have to see how I can fit gaming, blogging and sewing into my evenings. :)

Don’t worry, though. This blog will neither become a cooking/baking nor a sewing projects blog! The focus will turn back to gaming with the next post.

Gaming without the internet

So on Tuesday while working from home, the internet stopped working. We figured it may be our modem, but the company wanted to test some other things outside first. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening without internet. I decided that it’s time to check out which games I can actually play while being offline – and to write a “diary” of my offline gaming time.

Day 1

Of course, all MMOs are out. Doh. I had started playing Van Helsing Final Cut lately and really wanted to continue with it. The problem is that I had never been able to decide for one class, so I played the starting map countless times already. I finally decided to go with the tanking class. The good news first: You can play Final Cut offline! But you do not have access to your cloud-saved games. Well, this is quite logical, of course. The problem is just that I didn’t know the games were saved online only! So the only saved game was of a level 1 character. That is a bit useless. I could have started another character but this would have been the 10th time or so I would have seen the beginning of the game. No thanks.

Anno 2070 is an Ubisoft game. Do I need to say more? Okay maybe… I have it on Steam, but when I wanted to start the game, it told me that it can’t connect to the key server. So no Anno 2070 for me. To be quite honest, I mainly started this game to see if it works offline and not so much because I felt the urge to play it. Still, it would have been nice!

I then decided to play Venetica. I bought the game not too long ago and I thought that without the internet, I could finally concentrate on the story of a roleplaying game. We usually have a stream open or watch a series on Netflix etc., so I never really pay too much attention to the story of a game or at least don’t feel immersed – other than MMOs. The problem is that this game was rather buggy. I am not sure if it’s Windows 10 maybe, but when I exited a map and entered another, I had half of the loading screen on top and only restarting the game fixed it. That’s when I decided to not play this game for now… or until I can figure out if there is anything I can do to make it run better.

For the rest of the evening, I played The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. It is a kind of “hack & slash” game where you control one character and have two NPC companions with you. So in total, there are three characters: A male man, a male dwarf and a female elf. Of course, I forgot all of their names. ;) I chose to control the elf, because she has a staff and can fight in melee. I love staff-wielding melee classes and would really like to see this more often in games, actually. Yes, I was the weird person running around with her female orc warrior and a staff in World of Warcraft who ended up really crushed when her boyfriend told her that while warriors can wield a staff, there are actually none for the warrior to choose later on (it was a white staff and a low level character at that point), because all staves had caster stats on them…

Lord of the Rings War in the North

Anyway, my verdict on The Lord of the Rings: War in the North: It’s not a bad game. It’s not a good game either. The problem with this game for me is that all levels seem to be on rails. In fact, you enter a (small!) map, fight off several waves of orcs and/or goblins, get some story piece (the voice overs are actually really good if you ask me!), get to choose some of the dialogue you want your character to say and then move on to the next map. Oh, and you collect better and stronger equipment pieces, of course. Before transitioning to the next map, you even get a pop-up telling you which character did the most damage, used the most special attacks and so on. You can play the game with other players instead of those companions – if you can go online, that is. But taken together, you have a small-map hack & slash game in Middle Earth with a not very interesting story. At least, not in the beginning. I fail to get excited here.

Day 2

On day number 2, while enjoying my morning coffee before work, I decided to see if I could play Fragmented. This is an online game, but you get the option to play offline or even host your own server. It’s still in Early Access on Steam, so I didn’t really think it would work – but it did! I could continue playing my character on the offline server. This was a very nice positive surprise! But it was early and I had to get to work, so I could not play.

After work, we found out that the company had not done anything yet and we still had to wait for them to actually do their tests. So, no internet that evening either.

Bookahnerk went to meet some friends and I stayed behind (my own decision! I could have joined him, of course, but I preferred being a lazy potato at home). I played some more War in the North, but that did not change my opinion on the game. It was nice, but nothing amazing. I also started up Demonicon (a “The Dark Eye” game), but after reading some Steam reviews (on my mobile phone), I had ruined the fun for me. Lots of reviews mentioned constant crashes and other issues and I just did not want to spend my “precious gaming time” with that game. Maybe another time. For the record: There were 0 crashes during the 30 minutes I did play the game. :p

By the way, Prison Architect also stores the games offline, so I did have a look at my little prison for a bit and checked on my prisoners. They’re all still there. Good girls. :p But as soon as I had started that game, I realized that I could also try Civilization: Beyond Earth. I had played the game during a free test period on Steam and had liked it so much that I bought it not too long afterwards. Unfortunately, I had soon realized that I just did not get the game. I assume it’s not complicated at all, but the last time I had started the game, I remember I tried to google quite a lot. Still, I wanted to give it a try again. Unfortunately, no matter how often I clicked the “play” button, nothing happened. That’s when I decided it’s time for Civilization V again instead.

Diablo 2 got tested at some point as well. It loads. Thankfully, it doesn’t rely on the battle.net-launcher to be online. In fact, it doesn’t need the launcher at all!

Day 3

The company had made their tests and had confirmed that it’s nothing outside into our house and that, in fact, they need to send a technician over. Not on Day 3, though. But at least, we had it scheduled for Day 4.

I immediately settled for Civ V after work. I also spent an hour in the kitchen preparing dinner which I had thought would be fast to prepare. Apparently not. ;) I usually have streams, music or Netflix on in the background when cooking. It was actually not bad not to have any background noises. I should do that more often after work. In case you’re wondering about what I had made for dinner: Chicken marinated in soy sauce with fresh vegetables and saté sauce (not self-made, though. I still had some left that I bought a while ago which only needs to be poured into boiling water).

Civ V Austria

Civ V is great, but I soon wondered: Wouldn’t I want to give Diablo 2 a shot again? I did, oh yes, I did. Don’t get me wrong: I really like Diablo 2 and would love to finish playing it one day (I never did, because once I had discovered it, it didn’t take long and bookahnerk gave me World of Warcraft…). The major downside was that I did not think about “forcing” the game into windowed mode. Tabbing in and out did not always work flawlessly the first time. So I tabbed in and out several times to get back into the game – and then tried not to tab out again afterwards. ;) I also got a slight headache from the graphics. So I only played for a bit before I decided – just one more turn! Back to Civ V until it was time for my bed.

And in case you are wondering: Yes, I know it reads like I have “gaming-ADHD”. I do the same with MMOs, only with less games  to choose from (currently it’s only Wildstar, Guild Wars 2 and Rift). But hey, there are so many choices for me, it’s really hard to decide and one moment I feel like playing a roleplaying game, the next I prefer a turn-based game. It could also be that I just get more and more tired the later the evening gets and turn-based games are easier to play when you’re tired. :p

Day 4

The technician was said to arrive between noon and 4 pm. He arrived exactly at noon! Not one minute later. I was shocked, actually, but very happy about it. Only thirty minutes and a new modem later, our internet was finally back up. Just in time for the weekend – and for me to be able to finish work without having to drive to the office as I actually had some important emails to send which I never want to do on my phone. The screen is too tiny and uncomfortable to send longer emails if you ask me.

Anyway, I started Steam and it updated 10 games. I also logged in to my favourite MMOs and immediately got stuck in Rift again. Summerfest has started. Since there is no summer to speak of here, I guess Rift’s summer will have to do for now. ;)

Nerdy Bookahs and their travel guide: Freiburg & Strasbourg

It is once again time for a real-life related blog post. Back to this blog’s roots, basically, but in real life instead of wandering through virtual worlds. This time we did go to a part in Southern Germany, to the wonderful town called Freiburg, and on our way back home, we made a detour to stop in Strasbourg, a town in France.

We did not encounter anything gaming-related like we did in Koblenz. However, both towns are still so pretty and picturesque that we wanted to share the scenery with you anyway.

Freiburg is a town located in Southern Germany (not in Bavaria, though, but in Baden Württemberg). I will spare you its history, as you can read all about it in the Wikipedia entry anyway. It is an old town, but that should not come to you as a surprise. This is Germany, not the USA, after all. ;) We also spent our time there (3 days) in the old town with only taking short glimpses at the rest of the town. We visited three museums, but did not take any pictures in there. We also went shopping for new small pillows as our hotel’s pillows were horrible (huge ones) and we had both woken up with stiff necks after our first night. And we stumbled into an Irish pub right before the Champion’s League game of Bayern München against… some other team… started. We had only been there for Guinness and burgers, so we ate and drank and then left again. The only time I’m a fan of watching football games is when it’s the World Cup. Maybe a couple of games for the European Cup, but not even that most of the time.

I guess we could have looked at everything in half the available time, but it was good that we had that much time since my hip is still “injured” (not really injured per se, but for the lack of a better description, let’s call it like this) and walking has to happen slowly. I had originally hoped to use the gondola lift to get up to “Schauinsland“, a mountain (with a very weird name, I might add). But with my hip, we didn’t even consider this – which doesn’t matter, as I just saw that the lift is down for maintenance at the moment anyway. Instead, we used the best day with lots of sun to slowly walk up the path until we were at a platform from which we could see the town quite well already. So we had decided to stop there and then walk back down again. I guess this means that we will have to go back to that region some day to use the lift and go up there!

What’s special about Freiburg is their little “Bächle” everywhere. We did wonder how many small dogs probably fall into them every year… :p Oddly enough, we saw an exceptionally large amount of large dogs in Freiburg, but hardly any small ones. Coincidence? I don’t think so…

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On our way back home, we made a detour to France to visit Strasbourg. I have always found countries’ borders fascinating. I remember asking my parents lots and lots of questions about borders when I was young. I knew what border controls were as we had passed through them regularly when going to Italy for a summer vacation, for example. But what confused me was: So there is this one border control here on this road… but… couldn’t we walk off-road and just walk into another country that way? Either way, there is no border control between Germany and France. You just drive on the road over a bridge connecting the German town Kehl with Strasbourg, without stopping and you’re there. The transition from Germany to France was noticeable by one thing mainly: At first, the street signs were in German, then they were in French. Yes, as easy as that. We spent the morning and early afternoon in Petite France. What shocked me was the complete lack of knowledge of the French language on my part. I had taken it for four years at school, but have not used the language at all for about 17 years or so. We understood enough to get around, though, and lots of people there even speak German. In fact, because of the city’s history, a lot of things sound very German over there like street names and so on. It was definitely interesting as I have never been to that part of France and I wouldn’t mind going there again. Especially because they have great tarte flambée.

Before I bore you even more, though, I will end this little report with pictures of Strasbourg, as mentioned, mainly from Petite France.

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Apple pancakes

GW2_Plush Tybalt Backpack_13Our regular readers may already know about my urge to change this blog’s content to one focusing on cooking recipes. This year is no different. The urge returned! But I thought this time, I would give a little nod to our past as a blog focusing on games. So, I figured I would give a small tribute to Tybalt (*sniff*) and dedicate this recipe to him.

Apple pancakes!

Light and dark apple pancakesWhen I was a kid, I actually never liked pancakes or crêpes. There were two exceptions to this rule. Number 1 was crêpes (with Nutella) when it was freezing cold outside, usually when I was at a Christmas market with my family or later with friends, but only one each year or so. And number 2 were my mum’s apple pancakes. I refused to eat them when she had not put apple in them. Yes, even if there was chocolate. There had to be apples. A few months ago, I remembered those apple pancakes and really wanted to make them, but did not have my mum’s recipe. In the past, when I had asked my mum for recipes, she often said: Oh, I don’t remember! – So, I went to the internet and searched a recipe database until I had found a recipe I really liked. I altered it a bit to fit to our tastes and now I can share it with you.

The ingredients should be enough for two people. I think it was something like 6 pancakes in total. You will need:

  • 3 eggs (fresh ones!)
  • 190 g flour
  • 190 ml milk (I use low-fat)
  • 190 ml mineral water (with gas)
  • 2 apples (unless they’re big ones, then one – or still two if you really like apples)
  • oil for the pan (I usually use about 10 ml here that I put on a paper towel which I use to “wipe” through the cold pan)
  • 2 g sugar (really, just a bit)
  • a bit of salt
  • baking powder (as much as you need for 190 g flour)

About the apples: We use red ones, usually Braeburn or Pink Lady, though Braeburn is better if you ask me.

Peel the apples and cut them into slices or smaller pieces. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Add a bit of salt, the sugar, flour, baking powder, milk and water to the egg yolks and mix it well. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the stiff egg whites to the dough. Be careful, though, as the “fluffiness” should not be mixed away. Then put in the apple slices.

Heat up a pan. Add the oil. Wait until the pan is reasonably hot (not too hot, but not cold either – this depends on your oven). Add some of your dough now (about 1/6, but this also depends on the size of your pan… you could also make mini pancakes, after all). Wait until the pancake is “stiff” on one side and doesn’t stick to the pan’s surface anymore. Then carefully turn it around and wait again until it’s “stiff”. These steps can’t really be “measured” in time as every pan and stove is different. Also, some people like their pancakes a little darker than others. So it comes to personal preferences. I usually wait until I can safely turn it around with no issue because the pancake is loose in the pan.

As an additional warning: “Fresh” eggs are preferred because depending on how much heat and time you give the pancakes, the inside can still be a bit more liquid. So it’s safer to have eggs that are as fresh and possible.

I hope you enjoy these April pancakes! Bon appetit!

Easter gaming holidays!

I am looking at five days without work. Surprisingly, other than an afternoon spent with my family, there are no plans at all – that I am aware of right now, at least. Which means that I will try not to act like an adult with lots of responsibilities and things that “should be done” and will try to get lots of gaming done!

The biggest question is: What do I want to play then? There are – as always – too many choices.

Throughout a usual work week, I always get the feeling that I want to play something in the evening once work is done, dinner is cooked and eaten – and then I realize just how tired I am and I end up choosing something that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. So when I now do get some time to play while my brain is working at “full speed”, I think I will rather play a game that I usually neglect. Or parts of a game that I usually don’t play.

This leaves out Cities: Skylines, Prison Architect and Mad Games Tycoon. It also means that while I’ve recently started to love working on my housing projects both in Rift and Wildstar again, I will not do too much of this either. It would seem like wasted time. It’s such a fascinating game and even though I am not sure how I feel about the “forced” open world “everybody can kill everybody” feature, I also know that there is so much to do in the game that I probably won’t even notice. ;) Let’s see if I’ll get a good enough look at Black Desert Online to post my impressions about the game here in the coming weeks.

Black Desert Online Velia

What I will definitely be playing is more Guild Wars 2 again, though. Even though I previously said that I would put aside my warrior and play my engineer instead, she recently snuck back into the picture. I just feel that the engineer would require too much of my time right now to even get anywhere near as far as my warrior. On top of that, I tried out the berserker with my warrior and I really love that specialization. To be honest, I never really played it until last week. I had just looked at the skills and figured it’s too boring. She also still needs a few more hero points to fully unlock the elite specialization and she is also very close to world completion. So maybe I will be working on that a bit more in the coming days.

It’s just nice and feels like a complete luxury to think about which games I want to play instead of worrying how much work I have left to do – yes, I have, and I don’t know how much overtime I will have to be doing once semester starts again, but for now, I will relax and enjoy Easter.

GW2 Warrior Berserker