Skylanders Superchargers screenies #IntPiPoMo

Although I’ve been playing PS4 for some months now, I’ve not written much about it, nor shared many screenshots. Unlike PS3 at least it is pretty easy to take a screenshot on this generation of the console.

The fancy light air vehicle

Typically for Sony, although there’s a built in screenshot button on the controller, and I have a Playstation Plus subscription for cloud backups of saves, the obvious link between the two is missing – my screenshots are not available via the same account on my PC via the website.

Collect the figures and, in Superchargers, the vehicles too

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to copy screenshots to a memory stick – but it seems a bit last decade to be doing so.

Water vehicle level

I kind of thought Superchargers would be really gimmicky, I was not a fan of vehicle quests in World of Warcraft – forcing you to play with different abilities than those of the character you were invested in leveling and playing.

An air level

Either my tastes have broadened or the way the vehicle levels are implemented in Superchargers has kept me engaged more than the equivalent in a MMORPG.

Side-scrolling water level

It helps that Superchargers has the improved graphics of this console generation, a real step up from what we were used to on the Playstation 3. Also the humour is spot-on, it’s a charming game.

Whimsy in spades
Interesting NPCs abound

It also helps that Superchargers introduced some really colourful an fun new base skylanders. I love Dive Clops to bits for his characterisation and sound effects.

Dive Clops is probably my fave now
Fiesta is really charming too

Fiesta is another fun character to play, but not as effective from a mechanics perspective.

This post is my final contribution to the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. This rounds out my picture total to the target of 50/50.

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Rift to receive a new update Q1 2022? #IntPiPoMo

I just watched a Youtube video analysing the most recent Gamigo financial report. In the video KiraTV discusses that the report mentions that Rift has not received any updates for a “longer period” but that it is due to get a large update in the first quarter of 2022.

My cleric main in Rift

That’s actually a pretty surprising and exciting prospect if it can be believed. I always loved Rift, and have returned several times to the game to play it casually. If the game starts receiving new content updates I would be attracted back for sure. Emphasis on content, however, if this update just ends up being a “season” or “fresh start server” – basically a way to keep players engaged by incentivising replaying the old content again, then I’d not be that interested.

PUG raid fun in Rift’s “Intrepid Adventures”

As is mentioned multiple times in the Rift Forum discussion on this: it is one thing to make vague promises to the playerbase in a Dev Letter or other marketing communication, but investor reports are held to higher scrutiny. So, promising new content in 2022 in that context leaves me a little more hopeful it may actually be on the cards…

A sky full of stars

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 41/50.

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Virtual tabletops – ups and downs #IntPiPoMo

Since 2018 I’ve been using Fantasy Grounds 2 to run tabletop roleplaying games for friends over the Internet, a so-called virtual tabletop. Back then it was a necessary evil to allow us to play at least some roleplaying sessions remotely because it had become so difficult to schedule even semi-regular meet-ups in person.

We’ve used the software for a number of different campaigns using different rule systems. Some rulesets offer more automation than others: you can use the system just to share maps and show locations of tokens, or you can layer on initiative order tracking, full digital character sheets or even combat roll adjudication and the automatic application of damage or status effects.

Fantasy Grounds can measure ranges for targets

I’ve read many different opinions on this: whether the software adds value or conversely takes away from the authentic “round the table” roleplay experience. On the one hand a VTT can take a lot of the heavy lifting of mental arithmatic and leafing through manuals for obscure rules references.On the other hand it can almost end up feeling like some quirky turn-based strategy game because so much is automated by the system.

A lot of dice rolls in a few clicks of the mouse

During the pandemic our VTT sessions became the only possible roleplay sessions. Whats more the one game and group became three different games with overlapping groups of players to suit different schedules. We collectively had more freetime, for a while at least, due to the complete absence of normal social activities.

Expanding virtual horizons

Fantasy Grounds was a bit of an unsung hero for me personally last year, as it also was the platform through which I could test the modules I have been writing since 2019. Getting real feedback from a trusted group has helped in bringing said modules to publication-ready status. Though there is of course a flipside to this – prepping my own modules by hand for running in the system is no simple feat.

A segment of one of my modules within FG

I still often feel like a complete newb with the software, and some of the systems I run. We played Starfinder again recently for the first time some months. Once again I was reminded of the double-edged nature of the heavy rules-automation. It allows us to play our campaign in the system without needing to know the rules that well, with items, spells and ability descriptions all hyper-linked for easy access. It automates a lot of the details of combat for us. But does that also mean we never really learn the system that well because we are so used to relying on the VTT’s support? Also a recent patch seems to have radically changed or added bugs to some features, which left us rather in the dark on how to access and play with those character-specific features (e.g. drones) – if you are dependent on automation and suddenly it is broken or missing, how do you play effectively?

Skill bonuses and rolls all at the click of a mouse

Like any software VTTs and the content that can be purchased for use within them needs updates and patches regularly to keep pace with both new releases and the need to fix issues. Sometimes it’s just a time to wait for an issue to get fixed, this has happened in the past (e.g. with the ‘RP’ bug in an earlier release of the Starfinder ruleset for FG), so hopefully the latest issue will get improved or fixed soon.

A buggy last session

I could wax lyrical about returning to pen and paper gaming of yore, but then that would be ignoring the time wasted trying to remember or find rules in the dozens of manuals I own. I personally do not miss drawing maps by hand on paper, and trying to track ammo, inventory and other resources on smudged character sheets or scraps of paper.

Drawing a circle for fireball, and then erasing it again, always messed up any map

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 38/50.

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Heroes meet Pandas #IntPiPoMo

The latest weekly quest in Everquest 2 for the Pandas, Pandas, Pandas event saw my character commerorating the Heroes Festival in the Sinking Sands zone.

Some parts of the zone are very familiar to me, but it isn’t a zone I’ve ever quested through properly at level.

Events or trade questlines have brought a character or two through this camp.

It makes a change to fly around the zone taking screenshots, and, to not notice the giant spiders in the desert – usually whenever I come here I have that twinge of arachnophobia…

This time it was just the towering sand dunes and the odd restful oasis to soar over!

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 30/50.

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Gloomhaven: a win and a loss #IntPiPoMo

Our last Gloomhaven campaign session was a particularly tough pair of dungeons, one win and then a loss. It was our first encounter with a proper ‘boss’ opponent. It really felt like an MMO with the nasty special actions he was taking (double add summons, giving all adds a second turn).

Said boss had a lot of starting health and condition immunities – thankfully we realised early on that using the doorway as a bottleneck could make this fight *much* easier.

I was playing my favourite mercenary of Cragheart. He has a great mix of healing, area attacks and obstacle-related utility powers

And boy did we need the healing. So many opponents means a lot of damage to heal through…

The second dungeon lacked a boss but was hard-wearing on our mercenaries due to shielded opponents and large groups in each rooms. Gloomhaven often has an element of “planning to last long enough to win” due to the mercenary’s deck shrinking in size each time a rest is taken.

Towards the end heavier hitting elementals showed up just as we faced the inevitable loss of a team member to card burn/loss.

The dungeon kept pushing harder regardless of our predicament as we encountered our first trapped chest!

Last room and first opponent down…

That painful moment where a heavy hit forces your mercenary to burn another card or be defeated.

It was a very dramatic evening’s gaming overall. I didn’t get a screenshot of the team’s last-second defeat (one hero and one monster both on a sliver of health) as I’d had to go get ready for an early start for work the next day. Hopefully we’ll get this dungeon on a second attempt!

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 24/50.

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Flying over Steamfont #IntPiPoMo

Another weekend has gone with next to no gaming, we’ve suddenly become rather busy with socialising and travelling to see family. That means this busy time of MMO events and seasonal holidays is slipping by me rather…

I did do another weekly Panda, Panda, Panda quest before the weekend, this time in Steamfont Mountains. I imagine it to be a lot warmer there than it currently is where I live. Granted there’s no seasonal variation to speak of in EQ2 or most MMORPGs, but regardless I appreciate the visual warmth of this zone at the moment.

As a technologist by career, I can’t help but identify with Gnomes as they are often portrayed in MMORPGs. The use of technology to solve problems appeals to me, although given the chaotic nature of such inventions, I’d certainly not want to be a Gnomish tech support specialist!

Despite the size of their inventors, some of their buildings and installations have a particularly grand scale.

That appreciation doesn’t extend to robotic giant spiders, I had a bit of shock when I stumbled across it again – I’d forgotten about their presence in the zone. Strangely I referenced such a monstrosity when I first quested here without complaint back in 2013

More bitesize fun had and I’m busy sorting my Overseer missions in game as I type this up. Have fun all!

Bonus picture: no seasons but a lovely nightime sky when I revisited just now

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 15/50.

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Lavastorm lights #IntPiPoMo

The weather has turned pretty cold of late, especially overnight, so I was glad to be warming my Inquisitor up in Lavastorm for the Pandas, Pandas, Pandas event in my most recent session.

For the longest time my main in this game had the magma armour appearence slotted as his default look. I’ve fond memories of questing through this zone.

The zone taxi mounts are suitably over-the-top on-fire steeds as well.

It’s not everyday that you quest in and around an active volcano. I’d almost be tempted to start levelling one of my lower alts again so I could replay through the zone once more!

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 9/50.

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Gloomhaven’s campaign – initial thoughts #IntPiPoMo

While we were away recently, Gloomhaven digital’s campaign mode was released as the game left early access and launched fully. From what I’ve read this is directly ported from the original board game, though I only am experiencing it through the PC release. I’ve read that the original is rather a time hog, something that, thankfully, having the computer set up the board and run the rules for you this game avoids. We’ve noticed the subtle impact of this between the two Mysterium board games – the original takes a lot more time to set up, as it has more components, so we’ve tended to play more Mysterium Park since that released as it is simply quicker.

Campaign mode in Gloomhaven is rather different to the ‘Guildmaster’ mode we played up until now. It has a much stronger narrative and more restrictions on which mercenaries you play. It’s been like starting over on a new server in a MMORPG as none of the progress from Guildmaster mode applies. I think we’ll stick at it, since the story is nicely animated with some good voice acting, but I do worry the forced retirement of mercenaries will rather sour my enjoyment longer term. I find that a bit of a bizarre mechanic to put in a game and it is tied to unlocking new mercenaries so there is a cost to refusing to progress these…

Some rare good luck!

The game has some extra polish over the last pre-launch version, in particular a slick animated map that provides a backdrop to the story-telling.

As an in-game tip mentions, campaign mode has difficulty turned up to eleven from the start. We are facing monsters with high health and aggressive attacks right from the first dungeons. Thankfully as experienced players of the game it merely requires us to plan and play in a coordinate fashion to triumph – we’ve not reached an impasse yet. I was slightly surprised that the campaign is basically what I would classify as hard by default. For a veteran it’s no big problem, but for a new player who decided to wait for the release before buying, I would imagine starting the campaign is the expected first step, not playing hours of story-light guildmaster first. I found out after the fact that we are playing on ‘normal’ difficulty – I didn’t host the game so didn’t see the selector. I can’t imagine how challenging the game is if set to “hard” setting.

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 5/50.

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IntPiPoMo 2021 #IntPiPoMo

We are on the cusp of November, and in the MMORPG blogosphere that means it’s almost IntPiPoMo time! International Picture Posting Month in full or IntPiPoMo for short is organised again by Chestnut of the Gamer Girl Confessions blog. To learn more about this blogging event and how to take part, read this blogpost on the 2021 edition. I’ve just signed up via the linked sign-up form on this post!

IntPiPoMo logo courtesy of gamergirlconfessions.com

I’ve taken part in this blogging event every year since 2016 according to my own blog archive, not counting last year as the event didn’t run for very understandable reasons. It’s one of my favourite blogging events since I love taking screenshots when gaming, and the expectations are easy for me to meet – posting every day was a stretch way back when I started blogging, but posting once or twice a week with a bunch of pictures is *very* achievable still.

Here’s hoping for a fun and picture-filled November!

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Visions of Vetrovia and levels of engagement #EQ2

I see via my blog feed that the next expansion for Everquest 2 has entered pre-order phase, with a release date in December 2021. As I wrote previously, we’re looking at an exploration themed next chapter for EQ2’s Norrath, and I’m excited to see what this brings.

Normally with EQ2 expansions I have always bought the Standard edition, the one exception being when I won a Collector’s edition to Terrors of Thalumbra in a competition. I find now that I have a different perspective brought about by my engagements with the game and may actually opt for the Collector’s edition.

I am back actively playing EQ2 again but even when I wasn’t I did still log in for a variety of reasons with some regularity:

  • To set off or collect rewards from Overseer missions
  • To set off training on active mounts and mercenaries
  • To set skill training going
  • To do the daily tasks, if its a combo I want to do

The per character claimable items in the second-tier edition of the expansion have a secondary benefit or purpose because of the activities outlined above. The new Svarni Painted Stork familiar would be useful for Overseer missions to decrease the chance of a critical failure. The mercenary, likewise, would be useful for increasing the crit success chance. Both the mercenary and mount can also be trained up as well as a background character development task.

The key point overall, personally, is that I log in if I remember and feel like it. I appreciate the variety of character development options available in EQ2, and the different levels of engagement that I can choose to take in a given session. Yes there are the genre-stalwart dailies to do, but that isn’t the only thing bringing me into the game. At the moment my main focus is still on the gear-up Pandas event, as I do enjoy just flying around a zone looking for quest objectives.

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