BARRICADEZ plays sort of like someone took a look at Craft the World and decided to make it a whole lot darker, slim down the craftable items, and get rid of some of the most annoying mechanics. As someone who has put over 70 hours into Craft the World, in spite of it’s many many flaws, I knew I had to pick this one up as soon as I discovered it.

Your avatar is a little robot, who has somehow ended up with what could quite possibly be the last human baby in the world. There are demon things who want to destroy it, but you need to do whatever it takes to keep the screaming little bundle of joy safe. Thankfully, you don’t also need to worry about meeting its normal, human-type needs, just keeping the baddies off of it.

For me, the tutorial was above average and didn’t overstay its welcome. It gives you a reasonable approximation of what is going to required from you during the main game. Collect resources and build up your base during the day, and hope it all lasts through the night when the zombies show up.

The story mode pops you into a randomly generated world with rudimentary defenses set up that will likely get you through your first few nights. Every day you receive a “report” on what to expect that evening, and for the first few days, you only have to worry about shoring up one side of your base. However, neglecting the other will have pretty dire consequences on the seventh night – I lost my first two games on night seven because I didn’t add nearly enough to the previously unbothered half of my base.

The game does give you option of replaying from a game over state while keeping your previously purchases upgrades (called engrams here), but I elected to start over twice, and the third time, having just barely been breeched, I loaded that morning’s autosave. This is not a roguelite; you are given multiple manual save slots as well as three rotating auto save slots.

It feels like choosing the proper upgrades early on can be critical – getting harvest bots online early will save you a ton of time in the gathering of basic materials. You also only start with the most basic beginner traps and walls, and all improvements have to also be purchases with your engrams, earned from defeating monsters at night, or occasionally from things you find while exploring the caves. You can pause time while building, but your harvesters and crafting machines will pause as well, and you cannot repair in build mode, so this is really only useful if you like to take your time building a crafty kill box. Which you probably will absolutely need eventually.

There doesn’t seem to be any actual manual combat – your traps and defenses need to take out the monsters when they show up because there’s very little you can do about it at that point. During the night, you won’t be able to repair things or build too close to where the creatures have already gotten. However, it can be a good time to make sure all your workshops, forges, and chemical labs are producing, and you can still reload your supply chests if you’re running low on ammo or trap fuel.

There are multiple difficult levels, and at least two separate challenge modes to be unlocked. Add that to the procedural world generation, and it looks like there’s a lot of replay value here if the mining, crafting, and tower defense loop is up your alley. About 10 hours in, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

However, the deeper into the game I get, the more I feel like some things aren’t well enough explained. It took me probably too long to figure out that steel bars come from putting iron bars through the forge a second time, and the deeper you get into exploring the caves, the harder it seems to be to do everything you need to do between nights. BARRICADEZ may not be the most polished experience, but it both looks and sounds great, and I’m finding it a lot of fun to figure out as I go.

Steam Next Fest – October 2021 Edition

When virtual game festivals became the big thing last year, I jumped in with both feet. The first few, I made an attempt to try out absolutely everything that even vaguely interested me. After all, I loved the idea of having all these demos I could play right from my home computer! No crowds, no travel, no waiting in line.

And obviously, it something that has been working out – at least well enough – for the developers, because it feels like these events are happening more often, and each time, there are oodles of games that had managed to fly beneath my radar. However, my demo-consumption pace turned out to be unsustainable. I went from choosing upwards of 20 demos to try out, to restricting myself to a dozen, and finally, in this iteration, choosing only a handful. One seemed to me to be broken, which left me with only five games to report on, but on the upside, all five were pretty great in their own way.

Beasties was actually on my wishlist prior to this iteration of the Steam Next Fest, but to my knowledge, this was the first time a demo had been available. It plays a bit like a fusion of the Pokemon games and Puzzle Quest – instead of your standard turn-based monster battles, you get turn-based match-3 battles instead. The demo is short – my 21 minutes played saw the available content through to the end, but I like the idea, and this one stayed on my wishlist.

Prose & Codes is a game of cryptograms – classic letter substitution puzzles. However, it takes its phrases from the pages of classic literature that is in the public domain and available to read via Project Guttenburg. In fact, there are links directly in the game that will take you right to the book in question, which is honestly pretty great. Even better, a portion of the game’s sales will support Project Guttenberg. The demo only had a handful of puzzles, but the full game is supposed to have over 350, so – at least for me – price point is probably going to be the determining factor of if I grab this one right away, or wait a bit. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it is the only demo I went back into after closing it the first time. I do like a good puzzle.

If you ever wanted to play a time-management game in the universe of Sweeney Todd, you’ll want to keep an eye on this one. You control both the husband and wife team, who have just opened up a combination tailor shop and pub. He kills customers, tosses their bodies in the basement, and repurposes their clothing for sale, while she grinds the meat, cooks the pies, and serves the customers. In its current state, Ravenous Devils suffers from some translation issues, and it was unclear from the demo what the failure conditions might be. Still, it’s definitely a unique game idea, and I’ll be interested to see the finished product.

I might have passed over this one entirely if I hadn’t read Magi’s thoughts on it in his second Next Fest review post, and I’m so glad I did because this one went immediately on the wish list. You wouldn’t think a game about identifying plants and reading letters would be quite so riveting, but I was all in from the get go. Primarily, it’s a puzzle game – you need to figure out which plant is which from customer descriptions while also unraveling a much larger mystery. Only the first few days of gameplay are available in the demo, but if it maintains the level of interesting things happening, it’ll definitely be one I’ll struggle to stop playing.

Wytchwood is a crafting-focused adventure puzzle game. You play as a witch, who awakens from a nap to find a goat has eaten her recipe book, and it just gets weirder from there. The early game (and store page) hints at some farming-sim type content, but I mostly picked up ingredients from the ground, used my special sight to figure out environmental puzzles, and wandered around, gawking at the gorgeous art work. Unfortunately, the release year for this has already been pushed back a few times, but the demo felt both playable and rather polished, so I’m going to remain optimistic that this game isn’t too far out now.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to trying these demos out until the Festival was just about over, however, I’m glad I found the time to play this handful of games, because every one of them now has a spot on my wish list. However, I’m hoping that some of these demos will stick around for a bit after the Festival’s official end!

Nerd Girl Goals – October 2021

Is it weird to say that I love a month? Because I absolutely adore October. I’m sure a part of it is that Halloween was always my favorite holiday, but as I get older, and less likely to go out and do things, it’s more about the weather. By October, fall is (usually) here in earnest, and I don’t yet (usually) have to think about snow. I dig out all my sweaters, shop for fancy teas and cocoas, and get ready to hunker down through the colder months.

Paid MMO Subscription – World of Warcraft (Retail)

Still not super excited about the day-to-day business of playing World of Warcraft, but we’ve started up alt raids for the tier, which means I’m raiding once a week pretty consistently. This is probably also going to be the case throughout October, although an early drop of 9.1.5 might invigorate me to do more than just log on for raid.

Community Game-A-Long – #HorrorGameOct – Call of Cthulu

Call of Cthulhu has been sitting in my library for quite awhile now, and I had been under the assumption that it was a long game. Long games right now are a turn-off, as I rarely have the attention span to get all the way through. However, a quick check of How Long to Beat tells me that even a completionist play through is only 13 hours or so, and just like that, this one shot up to be my top choice for #HorrorGameOct.

That said, I tend to embrace Spooktober pretty hard every year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if another creepy game or two makes an appearance this month.

Subscription Gaming – XBox Game Pass for PC

Despite not getting a whole lot of use out of my last half-month or so, I still have plenty of games downloaded I want to try, so I’m keeping this one going until at least mid-November. I really haven’t been into much of anything I’ve tried out lately, but there’s also value in taking things off of my wishlist after trying them out.

Spooktober Watch Plans

Normally, I fill up my free time in October with a lot of horror movies, and initially, this had also been my plan for this year. In fact, I even grabbed an infographic from Horror Queers with the intent of following along, but the time spent with American Horror Story over the past couple weeks reminded me of how many horror TV shows I’ve been interested in and never gotten around to watching.

I’m not doing this one, but if you want to broaden your horror movie horizons, you can do worse than follow the Horror Queers October 2021 Watch List.

Some of these I’ve watched a season or more of, some I’ve never even started up, but I’ve really been into the more long-form horror offerings out there lately, so I think I’m going to spend Spooktober with some (or maybe even all of) these shows. Plus I still have several seasons of American Horror Story to watch, and an awful lot of stitching to do.

In Review – September 2021

Data pulled from ManicTime.

I know it has a lot more to do with the chaos in my mundane life than anything in the nerdisphere, but September rammed right through like a bullet train that didn’t care if it ran anyone over. I started it off with some gaming comfort food, then there was a patch of pretty severe burnout somewhere in the middle, and the last two weeks have been so busy I’ve been mostly too tired to game when I’m done for the day. This meant a lot of things I had thought I would do during September got blown off, and I just sort of ran with whatever was working for me.

One of the things that mostly fell by the wayside this month was the Community Game-Along. I did manage to open up Atari Vault for about 10 minutes, most of which was spent browsing through the games I could play rather than playing any of them. I did get in a few rounds of Centipede, but my real takeaway was how poorly it felt to play on a keyboard. I had planned to dig out my controller when I went back in, but it never happened.

Most of my gaming time this month was spent on Cook, Serve, Delicious 3. I have now reached the point where I’m starting to really struggle, but still not quite in the impossible-feeling way. There is a chill mode that will enable me to work my way through the remaining levels, and I’m getting far more comfortable with silver and bronze medals than I normally am.

World of Warcraft and Factorio came in second and third, respectively, and are the two games I play as part of weekly scheduled social events. Otherwise, I dabbled a bunch, with most things I tried out not making it past the one hour threshold that gets them added to the pie chart.

Over the past week or so, I’ve also been hit hard by a double shot of FOMO. Many of my friends have started playing Diablo II Resurrected, a game I have no nostalgia for, and that I’m fairly sure I’m not overly interested in on its own merits, but man, watching everyone else has made me want to play. Then, just in the past couple of days, New World fever has exploded across the blogging community, and I’ve felt a mighty tug, but there just is no room in my life for another MMO.

However, probably the biggest reason my gaming time was down this month was that I took a deep dive back into cross-stitch, working on three different projects, and re-watching an awful lot of television while I was doing it. I’ve flown through the first five seasons of American Horror Story, catching me up to where I’ve previously seen. I’ve really been enjoying the change of pace, and giving my eyes a break from staring at a screen all day. I currently have three different projects in process, and thanks to all the reasonably priced patterns I’ve picked up on Etsy and a few impulsive supply orders, I have enough in queue to last me through the entire winter if the hobby sticks this time.

Quick Look – Cook, Serve, Delicious 3

I’m not overly surprised that the first game that really captured my interest coming out of a bit of a slump was part of the Cook, Serve, Delicious franchise, but I am a little surprised that it was the third installment this time around. I added Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 to my library sometime last summer, and although I tried it out almost immediately, I bounced off of it hard. I hadn’t played any of the games in awhile, and the changes to the formula felt impossible to handle right out of the gate.

Since then, however, I have spent an awful lot of time playing the second game, and perhaps my muscle memory is a little bit fresher this time around. Yet again, Vertigo Gaming has managed to take the formula, twist it around just enough that it feels fresh and interesting, but still has the satisfying core mechanics which have been integral to all three games.

The first game focused heavily on your own restaurant, with improving it the main impetus of the game. In the second, you still have your own place, but the meat of the game is in the many chef-for-hire levels, where you need to work with a given set of recipes. Now, in the third game, you are running a food truck in post-apocalyptic America, with the help of two droids. Whisk is the perky one, who drives the truck, and Cleaver serves as your kitchen assistant.

Each level is themed in some way, which allows you to choose your daily recipes from a set pool. Holding stations have become super important, as most of your customers will be served from these. Cook-to-order foods will need to be prepared while the truck is moving, and stored until you reach your stop. Once these “special orders” are sent out, all remaining customers will order from the menu of items that can be put in a holding station.

If you’ve played the previous games in the series, customer patience feels obnoxiously low, and that’s the hurdle players will need to get over. Customers expect their food to either be ready to serve or already cooking when you reach your stop. Planning ahead is a huge part of being successful. Thankfully, the game gives you a list of how many orders are expected and – mostly – sticks to that list, so on most levels you can absolutely set yourself up for success while on the road.

Side dishes, however, are gone – every item you serve is ordered individually. Because of this, the new “tipped” mechanic is that all correct orders after you’ve reached a certain streak are considered to be extra delicious and will result in you receiving more money per order. This makes keeping up your perfect streaks (and striving for gold medals across the board) even more important, because making a lot of money is key to leveling up, and acquiring the parts you’ll need to upgrade your truck.

Each recipe is also assigned a value from 0 to 5, with higher values leading to more money per serving, but also being more difficult or complex to produce. Many of the recipes will be familiar to anyone who has played the previous games, but some of the default keybinds have changed, mostly to provide more consistency across recipes. Overall, at least to me, the changes feel like they’ve mostly lead to a smoother experience, at least through the first half of the game, although there are still some recipes I just can’t seem to master. Balancing recipes that can be completed quickly, accurately, and give the most points is a mini-game in itself, but frequently in the later portions of the game, it feels like you are forced to take specific high level recipes to meet the point requirements of certain routes that don’t allow you to bring much variety.

Outside of the base gameplay loop, you will need to make sure you upgrade your truck as much as possible. Later levels will have you dealing with impatient customers, angry customers, and attacks from other food trucks that can take out your holding stations or force you to reroute, changing your incoming orders. Available upgrades will add prep stations, holding stations, increase customer patience, and increase other things like numbers of servings or length of freshness. The game seems to be balanced around getting as many of these upgrades as quickly as possible, so it’s worth making sure you complete all the available routes before traveling into a new area to increase your level and allow you to make more upgrades.

I honestly don’t know if I’m going to want to beat my face against the hardest levels of this one, but I’ve been enjoying my time with it so far. The voice acting of your robot companions is kind of fantastic, if a bit repetitive after awhile. The new recipes fit right in with the recipes I’m used to, and although the changes in mechanics took a bit of getting used to, they’re already starting to feel natural. It’s a solid entry into a quirky but fun series, and I’m glad I gave this one a second chance.

Where I’ve Been

I am not sure how it’s come to pass that it’s been almost three weeks since my last post. I don’t even have any great excuse – everything just sort of got away from me for a little bit. Part of it is that I haven’t been doing a whole lot of gaming (although that seems to be picking up again), and part of it is that I’ve just been busy with a whole bunch of super-duper mundane stuff.

I’ve actually been spending a good chunk of time working on crafty stuff – more on that in a bit – so I’ve decided to get my spook on a little early this year. I spent a whole weekend watching my way through all five Final Destination films. I’ve also zoomed through re-watching the first three seasons of American Horror Story in hopes that I’ll continue right through to all the seasons I haven’t gotten around to yet, getting myself all caught up.

While I’m finding myself actually enjoying television again, I mostly picked it back up because I joined in on a Stitch-A-Long with some of my crafty friends. I had hoped to get started around the beginning of the month, but my supplies were delayed in the mail, so I spent a whole lot of time over the course of a few days trying to get my frame completed before the patterns started releasing on the 17th. Since then, I’ve managed to stay (mostly) caught up, although I do still have some decorative frame parts to finish up.

Since I rarely do anything halfway, this has lead me to spending way too much time on Etsy, picking out other patterns to play around with, and then ordering a whole bunch of supplies, so I really hope cross-stitching sticks for a bit this time. We’ve run into a few issues with the renovation projects, which have resulted in further delays into getting back into a dedicated crafting space, so having projects that are relatively compact that I can work on pretty much anywhere has been fantastic. I’d mostly stopped stitching because it seemed like on the days my eyes were ok to do it, my hands were killing me or vice versa. I’m pleased to report that so far neither are giving me too much trouble, provided I remember to put my damn readers on while I’m working.

Otherwise, the majority of my actual gaming time has been spent on co-op endeavors: I’ve been attending weekly raids in World of Warcraft (main raid every other week, and then alt raids on the off weeks as of last week), and playing Factorio with a friend on Tuesdays. When I’m on my own, I’ve had trouble sticking to much of anything since wrapping up Psychonauts 2.

I did spent a few days replaying (almost all of) Ghost Master, since that’s one of my go-to comfort games. I’ve probably run through the first 2/3 of the game about 20 times, and finished it at least half a dozen. If whatever deity is responsible for deciding on remasters is reading along, please give this one some consideration. The game is so great at its core, but it’s coming up on being 20 years old now, and man, it has not aged well at all.

I still have a few chaotic weeks coming up, but things feel like they’re starting to return to normal, more or less, so I’m optimistic that I’m going to be playing – and therefore writing – a little more. The weather is already getting cooler, and I’m starting to plan ahead for another cozy winter of not doing much that requires putting on pants.

Quick Look – Craftopia

Craftopia is, perhaps, what happens when someone tries to smoosh together too many other popular games. It borrows heavily from Breath of the Wild, then tosses in bits and bobs from other survival-focused crafting games, takes a little taste of monster-catching games, before finally adding just a pinch of insert-your-favorite-farming-game-here. Let’s be real – it even sounds like a bit of a hot mess. Still, I have been a little bit fascinated for awhile about just how it all comes together, so when a “Game Preview” showed up on XBox Game Pass for PC, I had to give it a whirl.

No, really, they’re trying for ALL THE GENRES!

I’ve given it about three hours now, and managed to level up my tech era twice and travel to a new island. My character is level 16, and just about the only things I feel like I have down are mining, chopping wood, and shooting arrows. The rest is all kind of hit or miss.

Character creation is currently super basic and a little buggy, because hair colors really don’t match what’s shown. Once you create a world, you’re presented with a big red button to push. Pushing it blows up earth, and then you get a cut scene where a pretty lady knows what you did. I’m not sure this is one that’ll go over big with the story focused gamers among us.

Then you’re on a deserted island – well, deserted except for like 10 tutorial humans and a bunch of animals. The first time you do something, quests start appearing willy nilly in the upper right hand corner of your screen, for you to either work on or ignore. Really, you can do pretty much whatever you want – hunt treasures, chop trees, craft some basic tools, murder some farm animals. The world is your oyster.

That said, at least if you choose to play a female character, it’ll look like you’re doing it all in your underwear.

I am playing on the easiest difficulty currently available; there is a pure “creative mode” planned to release around the end of the month, but so far, nothing is terribly hard. I did almost get eaten by a bear early on, but since acquiring a bow, I’ve noticed most things won’t chase you if you shoot them from far enough away. You level up by doing absolutely everything, and you’re given points to spend on skillssin whatever way most suits your playstyle.

There are dungeons on each island, although I think using the term “dungeon” is a bit of a reach, at least for the first island. It’s a long corridor with some stuff to break, some stuff to kill, and a boss fight at the end. They probably get harder, but I am not sure if they get any more complex or atmospheric. Honestly, my entire experience with the game over three hours has led me to keep my expectations low.

But it’s also kept me playing. I am the type of gamer who loves ridiculous checklists that contain items like “Chop 10,000 trees”. If you feel like you don’t know what to do, the mission list is there to guide you (although the auto tracker could use some help with prioritizing). Usually, you have to make something to progress. There’s tons of stuff to craft, and the interface is pretty simple, so crafting feels like less of a chore than it does in some games. Building doesn’t feel great yet, but it also just dawned on me that I need a furniture factory for complex items like doors.

I have, however, discovered that you can put cows in a toaster and milk comes out, so there’s that.

Craftopia is definitely not a finished game, and I’m fairly certain it’s trying to do too much and is therefore also not very good, and yet, I still want to keep playing. It’s pretty, it’s not very demanding either mentally or physically. I like to have a low-mental-effort game that can be played in short bursts, and I’m thinking I’ll probably pick this one up next time it goes on sale.

Some Blaugust (After)Thoughts – Lessons Learned Week – #Blaugust2021

Now that Belghast has posted the official Blaugust 2021 wrap-up, I wanted to tidy up some of my thoughts on Blaugust in general, and talk about my experience with this year in particular. I reluctantly made the decision before the beginning of August that daily posting was probably not something I was going to be able to attain this year, and attempted to adjust my expectations accordingly. I hate backing down from any sort of challenge, and Blaugust is precisely the type of challenge that works well for me.

But I had to balance my desire for productivity and shiny internet awards with the knowledge of the toll that productivity can take on me. I set my sights on achieving silver, and managed to – just barely – eke into the next category up, hence the lovely gold Blaugust 2021 award.

I also made the choice to focus more on keeping up with my gaming interests than keeping up with the community, and in retrospect, I think that was not the best choice to have made. I made this years festival about me, and I’m not even sure that I can say it made blogging easier. Over the course of August, I spent almost 90 hours gaming, and as a result, managed to make posts about eight different games over the course of the month.

However, since I didn’t dedicate a whole lot of time to reading other blogs, and interacting with other bloggers much past dropping the occasional like on a post here and there, I definitely feel like I missed out on a significant part of what makes Blaugust so great. I didn’t even realize this until I read Pete’s final #Blaugust2021 post. Despite there being so many more blog posts to read, I read less in August than any other month in recent memory. Because of this, I missed out on being able to build posts of my own on the back of posts from other Blaugust participants.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the interactions I get from blogging and social media and Discord with like-minded folks, but I don’t need it. It’s not a goal for me. Getting my thoughts down and sending them out into the world like baby birds is the goal; everything else is just gravy. I forget that for many bloggers, connection is the whole point, and I did not give back this past month the way I would have liked to do.

Community is the point of Blaugust after all, and this year, I just completely missed the point.

However, in my own way, this month was a huge success for me. I managed to carve out space for myself in my life, and that’s something I am forever struggling with. I didn’t waste gobs of time unable to decide what comes next. I (mostly) proceeded cleanly from idea to execution. I made time, and then I made damn good use of that time, and as ridiculous as it sounds, that’s huge for me. Even though I think I didn’t necessary succeed at Blaugust in its own intention, I needed this as a kick in the pants to remember why I do this, and why I love doing this.

I feel like this has been an issue in my life for a long time now – balancing the things I do for my own edification, joy, and recharging my batteries with the mundane life stuff that needs to be kept up with, and the things I do because other people need or want me to to do them. Living with a basically completely unmanaged (and therefore unmitigated) chronic illness, both mental and physical energy feel like scarce resources, and I don’t always use those resources in the best way. No matter what I decide, I almost always am looking back and worrying about missed opportunity costs.

I won’t try to say there weren’t a couple of times over the last four weeks where I pushed when I should have rested, or when I wasted time I could have manifested just a bit more energy and made better use of. Overall, I did pretty okay finding the balance, and I’m counting that as a win.

Nerd Girl Goals – September 2021 (#Shmuptember)

How the heck is it already September? I cannot be the only one for whom times has gotten very weird. The days are long, but the weeks fly by. The months are either eternal or over in a flash with nothing in between. I find myself using the phrase “just the other day” and then describing things that happened weeks or months ago.

As someone who is deeply connected with the ideas of planning and scheduling and then actually adhering to those things, the ever-moving goal posts in both my personal life and the world at large are giving me some epic fatigue. I don’t know when I am or what I’m supposed to be doing and it’s really starting to wear me down.

In response to all the things I have no control over, I am very likely to over-schedule my leisure time, which will either prove immensely satisfying as I check things off my list, or lead to a nasty case of burnout.

Most likely, with nothing in between.


Play to Satisfaction - For me, saying "Play to Satisfaction" gives me explicit permission to drop a game that's not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I'm really loving something.  I'm trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction - no more, no less.

World of Warcraft

I definitely spent more energy over the last month or so debating whether or not to re-up my subscription than the cost of the subscription warrants. You see, for the past few expansions – almost as long as the option has been available to me – I have “paid” for my game time with in-game gold instead of my credit card, and found it very satisfying to do so. However, my nearly non-existent interest in WoW for anything other than our bi-weekly raid nights means I’m not making much in the way of gold, and will need to spend actual real life money in order to continue on.

Ok, typing it out sounds ridiculous. It’s $15 a month, which might have been a significant amount of money during some of our leaner years. However, this is somehow not one of our leaner years, and the fact that we’re still not going out to do things means we have ample space in our somewhat generous entertainment budget. So I can certainly afford the sub cost, I just wanted to make sure I was feeling good about this decision.

The bottom line is this. I am enjoying our team’s raid nights. While that should be enough in and of itself, the things that really pushed me over into spending the money (and gladly!) was the tragedy of losing two members of the WoW community in the past week. Neither was anyone I had any personal connection to, but I definitely have personal connections to people who were close to both @Epic_Insanity and @Rades. I’m not going to let my cheapskate tendencies keep me from spending time with people who bring joy to my life.

Community Game-Along – #Shmuptember

I frequently need to look up what exactly constitutes a given genre in order to prepare for a new month’s theme, and Shoot ‘Em Ups (or shmups, as they are sometimes abbreviated) was no exception. Although I’ve managed to accumulate more than a handful of games in my Steam library that have the tag, this is really not my genre. So I’ve decided that I’m going to go as old school as I comfortably can, and dive into Atari Vault this month. There’s bound be a shoot ’em up classic or two hiding in there, and I think it’ll make for an interesting hit of nostalgia. Probably.

Subscription Gaming – XBox GamePass for PC

I’ve done that weird thing that never seems to work well with a monthly structure – I renewed my GamePass subscription mid-month in anticipation of the release of Psychonauts 2 on August 24th. While I anticipate hitting my satisfaction threshold with that title sometime before my renewal date, I think I’m going to keep my subscription for another month, as there’s still more than a few titles of interest I have not yet had a chance to try out. I don’t think there’s anything left I’d call top tier must plays, but since I feel like I got a ton of value out of the mid-August to mid-September subscription, I’m willing to cut myself a little slack on the next one.

Other Gaming

Although it is by no means guaranteed, I am anticipating that my weekly co-op Stardew Valley game will have wrapped up before September does, and we’ve already decided the next game we’re planning to dive into together is Factorio. I bought this one ages ago, loaded it up, and played for approximately 10 minutes before getting completely overwhelmed. I always intended to give it another go, but … well, it’s not the first game I bought and then forgot I owned.

I’ve actually done very little co-op gaming outside of MMOs over the years, and while it’s also been just a good time and a nice way to make sure we hang out once a week, I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying actual cooperative gameplay.

I still have my list of games I’ve pulled to the front of my library that I want to give at least an hour to, which has gone basically untouched for two months now, as well as some more recent purchases I’d like to dive into. Still, I’m most likely to prioritize the games of interest on GamePass since my personal library isn’t going anywhere. Any of these titles could be on the table for this month, but clearly, the theme here is that I want to build something.

Miscellaneous Nerdery

This has not really been a great year as far as reading is concerned, so because I thought I was back into it, I am even further behind than if I hadn’t upped my goal. Ooops. I’m also seriously behind on The Pike Cast, and I’ve been adding a bunch of audiobooks to my library, so I feel like things will pick up as soon as I’m able to make some progress towards having a quiet space again. In the meantime, I’d like to read through something this month, but I have no idea what just yet.

I’ve also signed up and bought the materials to do a Halloween sampler-style Stitch-A-Long, so I’d like to finish up the last bits of the project I have in progress to free up my frame for that when the pattern parts start dropping mid-month.

Honestly, as much as I liked working through multiple games and all the Blaugust shenanigans last month, I’m looking forward to some diversity in my leisure time in September.

In Review – August 2021

Data pulled from ManicTime.

August felt like an eternity. In fact, when pulling up my gaming numbers, I was sure there was some kind of mistake because surely that long ago had to be July. But no mistake, real life has conspired to make this month draw out seemingly forever.

I did manage to complete – like actual cut to credits complete – four different games this month, which is a lot for me. It was actually good timing too, since this was Blaugust and all, because that was four more posts on the way to hitting the Gold Award. This is the first time I haven’t gotten the Rainbow Diamond, but I did do more than my original goal of 15 posts for Silver. Once I hit publish on this post, that’ll be my 25 entries for the month. I realize that’s just barely squeaking by, but I’m satisfied with it considering how much else is going in my my orbit right now. I’ve done far worse with far more available time.

I only made a handful of Blaugust-themed posts, but I also managed to write up a bit about what has and hasn’t worked for me during the life of this blog, as well as a Have You Ever? and a Would You Rather? question and answer style posts. I filled out the month with some Quick Looks, Game Overs, a little bit of the MMO life, and sure, a few filler posts.

I’m not sure that this is going to lead to more regular posting – I will admit to being pretty burned out on anything that even looks like it might be tangentially related to responsibility at the moment. I don’t, however, put that down to my increased writing output this month, but rather to have been running at full throttle in the rest of my life for most of the past month as well.

The one place I kind of failed and kind of didn’t is that I never even launched the game I had originally selected for #SciFiGameMonth for the Community Game-Along. I did however play both Ticket to Earth, which was deeply and completely sci-fi, and Psychonauts 2, which in my opinion also definitely fits the theme. I may very well hold off on Eliza now until #VNNovember.

In the next week or two, my co-op play through of Stardew Valley should be wrapping up – we’re working on the Perfection Tracker now, and the list of things still undone is getting fairly short. I’m also still working my way through the Sanctum of Domination raid in World of Warcraft, although I’m doing very little else in game, I’ve decided to see it through at least another month’s sub. We’re currently 5/10N, and pounding our faces against Painsmith for the past two raid nights. Considering we only raid one night every two weeks, I’m pretty pleased with the progress we’re making.