Six years… wow

Today marks our 6th anniversary of the blog. We have posted a total of 593 published posts (594 as soon as I hit “publish” on this one) which means that we have about 100 posts per years which translates to one post every three to four days. This is not bad!

I often wish I could write down more posts here, but real life happens and it’s been hitting us with lots of non-gaming content lately. I will definitely not complain, though, because I still love my job and I love writing my dissertation thesis. We are also in the middle of preparing our wedding come August. And even though I have fallen asleep more often than not recently while trying to play a game in the evening, I still do have some time left for gaming. It just means that there isn’t a lot of energy left to write down my thoughts on the game I’m playing.

Elder Scrolls Online Dragonknight

But just to give you some information on what I’ve been up to lately: I started playing a magicka Dragonknight in Elder Scrolls Online and a stamina Dragonknight together with bookahnerk (well, we will play together once he’s not in a different part of Germany most of the week with only his non-gaming laptop accompanying him). Thanks to Wildstar offering a free level 50, I have jumped back into the game to check out the Dominion side with my new chua esper. In Rift, I am thinking about starting a new dimension-building project. Not that the first one is finished or even anything spectacular, but I’d really like to have something else. I haven’t really decided what exactly I want, only that its focus will on the training dummies that are available. Kind of like a fighting/training arena, but with some more style… :p And then there is Trove… a game I have neglected quite a lot lately, because I had some weird performance issues and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I think my issue may have come from enabling multithreading in the options and as a result, I had quite a lot of stuttering in the game. After disabling this setting, the stuttering hasn’t appeared anymore, so I hope that this really solved the issue because I would love to jump into Trove again.

Chua Esper Wildstar

Other than MMORPGs, I’ve been trying out Folk Tale again recently. A game that’s been in Steam’s Early Access for a few years already and which has received lots of negative reviews because of that. Once I’ve gotten a good enough impression, I will report here about the game, but I will not focus on the past, but instead I’ll look at what you get if you buy the game now. In general, I’ve gone “back to the roots” with some city-building games like Folk Tale, Cities Skylines etc.

I also got Total War: Warhammer in Humble Bundle March’s bundle, but to be honest, the game felt very overwhelming!

Either way, even after six years, there are no plans to stop blogging! Real life is keeping me from blogging as much as I’d like, but that still won’t stop me from blogging once in a while, at least. :)

Personal Top 9 of 2016

I have seen several people and gaming sites make their “top x games of 2016” and when wondering which games I would put on my list, I thought: “Oh well, why not publish it here?” Maybe you’re already sick of seeing these lists, but stay with me for a bit longer… my list is a very subjective one, so it’s certainly not what most of the other top 10 lists have. In fact, I did not choose “the best games” to put on this list, but instead chose the top 9 of games I enjoyed playing in the last year. Not all games were released even in 2016. There are just some games that I enjoyed playing so much that I decided they had to be put on this list, but all at least added something new in 2016!

I’ll start with my top 5 games that – some way or another – released in 2016.

Number 5: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (Release Date: June 10, 2016)

Sherlock Holmes Devil's Daughter

This game could have gotten even higher on my list, but there were a few things I did not like, so it only ended up as my number 5. I bought “The Devil’s Daughter” on sale for 18 €. I finished the complete game within 16 hours according to Steam. I found all the clues for each case and usually spent quite some time considering how to put the clues together. 16 hours is an incredibly short game if you ask me, especially as it has no replay value. There are no clues left to find, so there is nothing else to explore. Playing the game again would not add anything new at all. There are only the story missions, no side-quests or anything else. At the same time, some of the puzzles annoyed me. One mission (no spoilers, don’t worry) was much too action-y considering it was all Sherlock imagining something and it seemed like one big sequence of action-puzzle after action-puzzle. I, however, prefer solving the cases! Taking both these things together: A too short game and parts focusing on things that had nothing to do with actually solving a case is the reason it does not get placed any higher. The game that is actually there, however, is good. So don’t get me wrong! I really enjoyed this game altogether which is why it is on my top 9 list. And for 18 €, it’s a good deal (not for its regular price, though, which is 45 €)!

Number 4: Project Highrise (Release Date: September 8, 2016)

Project Highrise focus on restaurants

Project Highrise is a game that I had not noticed at all until it got released. Their publisher is “Kasedo Games” which somehow belongs to Kalypso, one of the few publishers whose newsletter I subscribed to. I have been following Kalypso mostly for news about the upcoming title “Urban Empire” and simply could not memorize that game’s name properly. No idea why, but there you go. And for some reason my mind confused “Urban Empire” with “Project Highrise” – both titles have two words, you see? Anyway, I did notice the difference between these two games, as they both look completely different. ;) I am usually not the one to say this, but I do not like Project Highrise’s graphics too much. Other than that, it’s a fun “city”-builder – only that you have a skyscraper that you fill with apartments, supermarkets, offices, restaurants etc. The point of this game is not to create a pretty skyscraper, but one that works. You need to balance between offices, restaurants, stores and residents. The latter prefer a quiet environment, but they also want restaurants and stores nearby. Obviously, these aren’t quiet! So far, it has neither been too easy nor too difficult to play, but I have also not yet tried out the difficult scenarios. There is also the “free play” option where you just build as you wish without having to fulfill certain requirements.

Number 3: Gremlins, Inc. (Release Date: March 11, 2016)

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

I am a big fan of board games and card games! I really enjoy playing these games with friends when they come over for a visit. Several board games have also gotten a digital version (e. g., Talisman). In this case, Gremlins, Inc. is a digital board game with no “real world” counterpart (you can read about my first impressions here). The developers are even hosting online tournaments, though I have only played the game against AI so far. I think it’s more about luck than strategy, because whenever I try to follow a certain strategy, the dice rolls will make sure to ruin that for me! ;) The atmosphere of the game is great, though, and so is the soundtrack.

The developers even made a card game (non-digital, you know, the “real” kind :p) for Gremlins. I bought it because I really like the board game, but I’ve got to admit, the card game was even more fun to play! Probably because you get that direct interaction with the other player.

Number 2: Atlas Reactor (Release Date: October 4, 2016)

atlas reactor su ren shifting winds

I admit, it was difficult to only put it as my number 2 here! The reason it did not get number 1 is that I’m currently not actively playing it (of course, right after typing this paragraph, I hopped back into the game and played several matches!). I absolutely truly love this game! And I’m not even playing against others. Well, with and against AI, but not against other players. So my opinion is very subjective and narrowed down to that of a casual PvE player. I cannot tell you if the community is “toxic” or not, because I don’t know it. The lobby is usually full of friendly chat, though. At least, when I take notice of it. ;) But what I really like is that the PvE fights aren’t easy. Again, very subjective. I don’t know what experienced PvP players would say, but that’s not the point here. If you play once in a while and you enjoy PvE and you like this kind of game (MOBA, but with simultaneous turns), then this is truly a gem. It has also gone 100 % free to play recently. Before the switch, without buying the game, you couldn’t enter rated PvP matches and you always only had a limited option of freelancers that rotated regularly. Now, you can unlock all freelancers by playing the game if you want. And you can join these ranked PvP matches. You can find my – probably slightly outdated by now – first impressions review of Atlas Reactor here.

Number 1: Civilization VI (Release Date: October 21, 2016)

Civilization VI playing as France

My personal number 1 goes to Civilization VI. As I said about Atlas Reactor, it was a tough decision. When I first saw the announcement, I really wasn’t a fan of the new look of the game (when did I become a graphics snob, by the way?), most of all of the way the trees look. But after playing, I have to admit that I do not even notice the graphics anymore. Not like that, at least. I can clearly spot the important and special buildings and resources on the map, though. I like the changes they have made and even after playing the game for almost 60 hours, there are still things to explore and figure out (I did not read the manual or any wiki pages etc., so there is a lot for me to discover and figure out). Also, around Christmas, bookahnerk and I played a game together and I really love when a game lets us do that for hours while still leaving us enough brain capacity for chatter!

So these are my “top 5 of games released in 2016”. The following four games are more “honorable mentions” as they are games that I really enjoyed playing in 2016, but that weren’t actually released in 2016 – although all of them received at least some updates in 2016.

Number 4: Wildstar

Wildstar Arcterra

Wildstar just barely made this list for several reasons. For one, it actually released in June 2014 and went free to play in September 2015. Both are clearly not 2016. ;) However, with the game turning free to play, I started actually playing it a lot! So it dominated the beginning of 2016 gaming-wise. It’s quirky and it’s also got an amazing housing system which I only dipped my toes in so far. My enthusiasm for the game dropped lately which is actually not so much the game’s fault. I am just scared it will close in the near future, what with all the news about there not being a lot of players left. Still, I really like the game and hope they do have a future ahead of them. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2017… news for upcoming features have arrived, at least! :)

Number 3: Cities: Skylines

cities skylines destroyed city

My first city-building game was Sim City 2000. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent in that game… So when I started playing Cities: Skylines, I was really happy to finally have a game that feels like Sim City 2000 again. But one thing was missing: Random events that could destroy your city! Cities: Skylines had no disasters at all and it ended up feeling a tiny bit boring at times. Of course, handling the traffic is more than enough to do, but still… when they finally announced that disasters were coming, I was so excited and started playing Cities: Skylines again the minute this DLC got released! Still, it’s number 3, because even though I really love the disasters, sometimes there are a few too many of them one after the other. It’s just no fun going bankrupt, because the tsunami was followed by an earthquake was followed by a meteor, was followed by a tsunami, was followed by another earthquake and so on (yes, one long disaster-chain – bookahnerk sat next to me and watched, being very amused at my growing despair when I saw my beautiful city get destroyed and flooded until hardly anything was left…). It did add that randomness in that I was missing, though!

Number 2: Prison Architect (2015)

Prison Architect

The last update in 2015 added women, so you could finally build a prison for women only. But 2016 was no less exciting if you ask me! They added temperature and the need to build heaters in your prison early in 2016. More exciting was the patch in December 2016, though: Guards have needs as well now! No longer do I look at the pretty little staff room regretting spending money on all the furniture in there when the guards don’t actually use any of it. Now they want food, toilets, sofas as well. And breaks! Those guards demand breaks, so they can consume said food and go to the toilet. Thankfully, in a recent patch they also fixed the issue of unhappy guards beating up prisoners. And here I was wondering why so many of my prisoners died… whoops.

Number 1: Rift (2011)

rift starfall prophecy broken head statue

The oldest game on this list is Rift with its release date in March 2011. However, they actually released their expansion “Starfall Prophecy” last year. Now this expansion is not without critical reception and for good reasons, too! Some features were not released on time, some are still not delivered (but being worked on). At the same time, I still prefer having “most of the expansion” as opposed to still having to wait for the whole expansion. Anyway, let’s focus on the positive side: I really love the new maps, the look of them and even the story is much more enjoyable for me than the one of the previous Nightmare Tide expansion. I am having a lot of fun playing the game again. They have also been adding new items for dimensions (the game’s housing system), so there is lots for me to do!

***

Crypt of the NecroDancer

Last but not least, to even the numbers, bookahnerk asked me to add a 10th game to the list: Crypt of the NecroDancer! I can only tell you about this game from the outside as I have not played it myself. I know it would drive me crazy. But the soundtrack sure is catchy and once bookahnerk’s sister’s boyfriend bought the game as well, it turned out to be hilarious. There were those two guys, both playing the game, both bobbing their heads to the tune of the song in order to help with their movements. Too bad you couldn’t see that. Priceless. So the “honorary award” for our game of 2016 goes to Crypt of the NecroDancer!

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. ;)