Nerd Girl Goals – June 2020

GAMING

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.

Elder Scrolls Online

While most people dipping back into ESO at this point are checking out the new content in Greymoor, I’m going back in for (what I hope will be) a satisfying single player experience. At this point, I’ve seen almost all of the base game stories, but I’ve missed out on a lot of the DLC and expansion content.

I plan to focus on two of my lower level characters – both magicka based. The first is my Breton Necromancer, and the second is my Dark Elf Dragonknight. I’d like to take my necro through the Elsweyr content, and then head over to Murkmire. My Dragonknight will quest through the entire Morrowind – Summerset arc.

Having a plan of which content I’d like to do (and knowing that much of it requires ESO+) makes it a lot easier to justify the sub cost for the month.

Subscription Gaming

I have been struggling quite a bit with what to play lately, as well as with the need for NEW STUFF (which I don’t need at all, actually), so re-upping my XBox GamePass for PC seems like a no-brainer. There’s still a handful of things on there I meant to try out before letting my subscription lapse, and although there’s no firm date just yet, No Man’s Sky is expected to hit the service sometime in June. Hopefully, giving that a dabble while I’m subbed will quash the grabby hands that pop up inside me every time it hits a half price sale, because I don’t really believe it’s something I’m going to love.

There’s also a handful of games on Utomik I’ve been meaning to try out, but for whatever reason, just haven’t fired up just yet.

#RacingGameMonth – Table Top Racing: World Tour

I’ll fully admit I am rubbish at racing games, and I don’t know that I’ve ever played one on PC, so I decided to go with something a little bit frivolous.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

Overall, I’ve been disappointed with this project – I played one game to satisfaction, and the next three titles, I’ve decided weren’t for me. But since I’m starting to get the zombie-slaughter itch, I’m going to play some Dying Light on Story Mode & see how I feel about it.

Other Gaming

I realize I’ve already put a lot of options on my plate, and it’s not really that big of a plate, but I’ve been poking deep into my Steam library, and have found a few other things I’d like to sneak on there.

With the weather getting warmer (and travel still out of the question), I think I’d like to give ABZU a shot and go on a virtual dive. It looks like it’ll be chiller than Subnautica (the other contender for this spot), and is also pretty short, giving me a better chance of completion.

After realizing that I had plenty of options in my library to scratch my space station building itch, I downloaded The Spatials: Galactology to finally give it a fair shake at making me lose hours upon hours managing tiny people in space.

I didn’t think I’d like Saint’s Row with aliens, but I totally did, so it’s time to find out how I feel about Saint’s Row in hell.

Although I still haven’t gone back and tried out SR2, I’ve decided to keep pushing forward with Gat Out of Hell.

WATCHING

May turned out to be a month where I retreated deep into the comfort of books and of low-engagement television. I’d like to finish out my watch of Grimm this month.

But before that, I’d like to spent a few evenings with Interrogation on CBS All Access. When I had to replace the Fire Stick in the bedroom, I grabbed a Roku stick instead, and got a few free months of CBS All Access, and have yet to watch it once, so I’d like to check this one off the list before my free time runs out. It’s only 10 episodes, but I still probably won’t spend as much time with it as I originally planned, but I’m fascinated by non-linear storytelling, and this is so far up my alley, it’s actually in my backyard.

Steam Summer Sale – June 25 – July 9

There is very little that gives me the same oomph of excitement and distraction as the Steam Summer Sale every year – I even enjoy it more than the Winter sale, despite them being very similar.

In an attempt to make more conscious buying decisions, I’ll be preparing my shopping list ahead of time (completely with minimum discount to purchase), as well as plotting what gifts I want to send to others. I’ll likely blow through the rest of my Stay At Home budget here, and I’ll have to take another look at how I want to proceed with Low Spend 2020.

In Review – May 2020

I can’t say I’m sorry that May is over, because it’s been one of those months that’s felt eternal, not in any sort of ethereal sense, but in the sense of getting a tooth drilled at the dentist when the Novocain isn’t quite working, and that’s being kind, I think.

Most of the early part of May saw me struggling with weird and difficult to diagnose computer problems, while also battling insomnia and a bit of COVID-inspired existential crisis. The whole experience was pretty much a 0 of 10, strongly do not recommend.

The second half was a pretty substantial improvement, but it’s only been here, in the final week that I’ve started to feel like myself again, and like I am at all capable of maintaining a semblance of normalcy in a world off-kilter.

Crashing to Black Screen

I realize I never did get around to blogging about the resolution of my computer issues, probably because I was just so relieved to have them behind me.

Although my hardware definitely needed a good clean out, as it turned out, it was not a hardware problem. A couple of days into attempting to trouble shoot software issues, I discovered that the only games that crashed on me were games that used the Steam launcher, and they did so regardless of how much (or how little) else was actively running at the time.

Now, I had recently installed Corel’s PaintShop Pro Ultimate, hoping it’d be an adequate replacement for Photoshop, since I had to let my Adobe subscription lapse. While muddling through background processes, I discovered it was constantly running a check to see if updates were available. Uninstalling the program completely cleared up 98% of the problems I was having, so I expect that something about that process and Steam couldn’t figure out how to get along when a game was actively running.

I’m okay with the money wasted on the program (purchased through Humble in a very reasonably priced bundle), and relieved that I did not have to replace significantly pricier hardware. However, this put me drastically behind in other things I wanted to accomplish this month.

Community Game-A-Long – #MusicGameMay

With everything else going on, I almost forgot about the Community Game-A-Long this month. I was so very excited for Distortions, but it ultimately ended up disappointing.

With only a few days left of the month, I decided against starting another new-to-me game this month, and elected instead to play a few rounds of Chime Sharp to keep in the spirit of things.

Other PC Gaming

I managed to meet my goal of unlocking Battle for Azeroth flying. I’d hoped to take advantage of the buff to start working on the bee mount, but unfortunately, that was one BfA rep where the bonus wasn’t applied, so after a couple of very very tedious farm sessions, I let the last 10 or so days of my sub just run out. I did manage to pick up a cheap token to replace the one I had used, however, so I ended the month even.

The big success of the month for me as far as gaming was concerned was a kind of impulsive decision to pick up Din’s Legacy when I thought my PC problems were a hardware issue. During my frequent breaks when troubleshooting got to be too much, I put over 25 hours in.

However, it is also my biggest failure of the month, because all of those hard crashes seems to have corrupted something in my save data, and as of yet, I have been unable to find a way to fully clear that out and start fresh. Although now I can play most anything without issue again, this game still crashes regularly.

It only took me a little over two hours to complete Varenje, an odd little hidden object adventure game with some seriously tone-deaf cut scenes in between. I’m not sure what pushed me to finish it (except maybe that it was so very short).

I have kept up with my commitment to Long Live the Queen! in Civilization VI, although I was definitely responsible for a bit of delay of game this month. We’re really starting to get deep into it now, and seem to have a collective drive towards a science victory, and I find myself eagerly awaiting each new blog detailing another 10 turn effort.

I also played one other hidden object game to completion – The Fog: Trap for Moths. It wasn’t stellar, but it was solid enough, and it was just nice to finish something for a change.

From there, I tackled The Room, a game that’s been sitting in my library forever, and that I played the first chapter of once upon a time. I’m not sure I am in love with the almost pure puzzling of it all, but again, nice to have another game completed.

Stay-At-Home Gaming Spending

It’s no surprise to me (since I’ve known myself a long time now) that the worse I feel, the more I want to just buy things because new things are good for at least a spark of joy. However, I’ve been trying to make smarter purchases in general, and for the most part, I made sure my purchases were well thought out and reasonably good deals.

I picked up Warlock 2 on the strength of Paeroka’s recommendation, Sonic Adventure DX to have something to play during #SonicTeamSept, and Agents of Mayhem because I have low expectations, and will be content with even a fraction of that Saint’s Row spirit.

The lowest tier of the Asmodee board game bundle had three games I was intrigued by, all of which have a single player mode and two of which have Remote Play Together, so seemed like a good way to spend a dollar. Even with these few small purchases from the Humble Summer Sale, I’m still below the halfway point of my isolation budget at $44.31.

I did a lot of waffling about picking up CHKN, and early access title that’s been on my wishlist for awhile that gives off some very strong Spore-vibes. Ultimately, it was a decided for me when a dear friend gifted it to me after I asked Twitter to talk me out of purchasing it.

I played around with it for a few hours, and there’s a lot of potential in this one, but it’s still very very rough around the edges. It’s something I’ll check back on every now and then, and probably spend some more time in the creative mode, but I don’t know that the main survival mode has enough going for it just yet to be truly enjoyable.

Good Reads Challenge (30/36)

When I can’t sleep, I tend to read. A lot. Which means I blew through a lot of books this month, absolutely making my Kindle Unlimited subscription worth every penny.

BR Kingsolver’s five book series about Rosie O’Grady’s Bar & Grill was a great story with a kickass female protagonist, and I’d definitely read more by this author.

I had read the first nine books in the EA Copen’s Lazarus Codex back in August of last year, and on a whim, I decided to check if any more had come out. To my delight, not only were the last three books of the series available, but also a five book series featuring some minor characters. I zoomed through them all.

I’m currently working my way through Brad Magnarella’s urban fantasy series which revolved around the wizard Professor Everson Croft in a alternate universe’s New York City. The insomnia has mostly resolved, but I find myself back in the habit of reading a few chapters before falling asleep each night.

But probably the highlight of my month as far as books were concerned came very close to the end, when a dear friend of mine made two of her books available for Kindle for the first time. I’ve read them both in the past (and even had a small hand in the editing), and I couldn’t be more delighted that these are now available to a far wider audience.

5 Fandom Friday- Favorite Book to Movie Adaptations

Thanks go to Heather of Nerdy by Nature for the fantastic topic idea!

For the most part, I am a “read the book before I see the movie” person. That is, of course, if I know it’s an adaptation. And for four out of five of these, I absolutely read the book first, but my number one book-to-movie was from my childhood, and I didn’t realize it was based on a book until many years after I fell in love with the movie.

5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Not only was this a great adaptation of a really excellent book, the casting was spot on. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Marsha Gay Harden and Laura Linney – all of them playing their parts to perfection. I was so psyched up for this movie when it came out, I went to the theater by myself to see it.

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey

This one isn’t an easy watch by any means, but it is as powerful as the source material. The characters really draw you in, and the cruelty of mental health care in the not so distant past becomes impossible to ignore.

3. The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

For me, Stephen King adaptations are more miss than hit – it’s hard to distill several hundred pages into less than two hours. The Shawshank Redemption manages to avoid a lot of those issues both because of the brevity of the source material and the length of the movie. In fact, the movie version manages to make the story even more powerful with some new plot points, and it’s done well enough that you may not even realize what parts were just added for the film.

(and if you don’t already know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to be the one who reveals that little secret.)

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a book I sought out deliberately once I knew a movie was being made of it, and I thought that at least the first book-to-movie translation was pretty damn excellent.

  1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

When I was young, I rented this movie over and over, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I read the book for the first time. It’s beautiful, terrifying and heartbreaking all at once, and I still watch it regularly. If I had to guess, this would be my most-watched movie of all time, and it holds up.

Re-buying the Same Game With a Different Name

I’ve been sorely tempted by Space Haven since it released into Early Access last week. Reviews thusfar are pretty stellar for a game still in Alpha, it looks like a game I would love, and I’ve been craving a great new base building experience.

Screenshot courtesy of the Space Haven Presskit – https://bugbyte.fi/spacehaven/

Instead of making an impulse purchase, I decided to instead muddle through my library to see what else might scratch that itch, and I realized that I’ve picked up several games that – at least at a glance – are pretty similar and played almost none of them.

Screenshot courtesy of the Meeple Station PressKit – https://meeplestation.com/

Meeple Station came out of Early Access in April of this year, but it’s been sitting in my library far far longer. I initally backed the Kickstarter for this one (along with the long-delayed Starmancer), but when the campaign failed to make its goals, I instead picked it up on Humble for $15.29 back in January of 2019. While the reviews on this one aren’t nearly as good, it does have the advantage of being something I already own.

Screenshot courtesy of The Spatials: Galactology PressKit – https://thespatials.com/

Going even further back (but looking no less similar) is The Spatials: Galactology, a game I received for free for purchasing its predecessor The Spatials back in 2016. I confess to not being wild about the first game, so I figured I’d wait until full release of the sequel, but um, that happened in April of 2018, and the few meager hours Steam shows for it were spent idling for cards.

Screenshot courtesy of Ludeon Studios – https://rimworldgame.com/

Those are just the most visually similar examples. I also own an unplayed copy of Oxygen Not Included, and a bunch of other colony sims and base builders in various settings that I’ve never touched. That’s in addition to Rimworld, which I played obsessively for over 200 hours, and the classic space station colony sim, Space Colony, which I have now purchased three separate times.

Screenshot courtesy of Firefly Studios – http://www.spacecolonyhd.com/

Putting aside for a moment how bad I am at actually playing the things I buy, I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who keeps searching for what basically amounts to the same game over and over. Sure, the details are different, but I expect the play style and process behind all of these titles is pretty similar. This one I can clearly trace back to its roots – the hours upon hours I put into Space Colony when it was fresh and new.

Is there any game you keep buying different iterations of?

Quick Look – Distortions – #MusicGameMay

I picked up Distortions in a $4 IndieGala bundle back in March of 2019, added it to my Steam library because it looked cool, and promptly forgot all about it until I was looking for something to play for #MusicGameMay. Sure, reviews were mixed, but I can forgive a lot of rough edges on an otherwise lovely game. And watching the trailer, it looked like it was going to be absolutely lovely.

However, a little over two hours in, and I have to officially say I’ve given up. This was such an ambitious undertaking for a small indie studio (only four people according to the dev in a discussion thread on Steam), and knowing that, it’s not surprising that it didn’t completely come together. But what they did right, they did so very very right.

I was absolutely willing to trade a somewhat clunky character model for the breathtaking vistas you get throughout the game. I took so very many screenshots while playing because it was just that pretty. The music, and honestly, the sound in general, is also spot on, which made it easy to forgive the rough patches in the translation.

I went in being most concerned about my ability to keep up with the actual musical part of the game. I can’t sight read music, and my rhythm chops are … well … basically chop-less. However, once I overcame the initial awkwardness of the keybinds, even playing the violin felt good.

Unfortunately, not much else did.

Movement is mostly hindered by the constant perspective changes – from first person to third, then to top down, and occasionally even to 2D sidescrolling. The camera is adjustable, until it’s suddenly not, and control is wrested away (and given back) almost randomly. You can sprint when necessary, as long as it’s not necessary for more than a couple of seconds, because your character gets winded fast. It’s almost never clear where the game expects you to go next.

And yet, I wanted to keep playing. But as you enter into the second part (of how many, I cannot tell you for sure), all of a sudden, this linear adventure with light platforming and even lighter rhythm segments goes in a more open-worldy sort of direction, and I was lost.

I knew I needed to collect more music fragments to learn more songs, but I couldn’t figure out where I needed to go. Now, I have no sense of direction, so I fully admit this might be a me problem. I managed to navigate a section which I believe was the Shadowy Forest and unlock the ability to play notes in the wild to solve puzzles, but only narrowly. I bumbled around, eventually finding another song, but once I played it, I couldn’t figure out how to use the wall that it summoned. I was both flummoxed and frustrated and I knew I’d had enough.

Once I exited the game, I did something I almost never do. I went looking for a commentary-free play through. Sadly, I found that the same things that make Distortions un-fun to play also make it not terribly enjoyable to watch (not to mention, the need to pause the video when journal pages are discovered, since neither play through I found left them open long enough to actually read).

Usually, I have no qualms tossing a game a side when it isn’t for me for whatever reason, but this time, I’m doing so with a small measure of regret and disappointment. This could have been great – I think it would have absolutely found an enthusiastic audience if it were a more linear walking sim, maybe sprinkled with music puzzles. I want to read all the journal pages (and am actually considering picking up the reasonably priced DLC on offer to do just that).

I feel like the creators of this game had a very solid vision of how the story should be told, combining exploration, collectibles, puzzles, stealth, and platforming, but when it all comes together, it doesn’t hold up. It’s heartbreaking, because the art and the sound are so well done, and the story was – at least for me – compelling enough that I want to see it through, but I just can’t.

I will, however, keep an eye out for whatever Among Giants does next, assuming they don’t let poor reviews keep them down. And I may still watch the cutscene movie that YouTuber TheBlueDragon put together, and just relax into it and watch it an arthouse film in a language I don’t speak.

Tackle Your Backlog with GamesGraph


I will admit, I am spoiled for choice with my gaming library, but that’s not always a good thing. I frequently spend more time poking around looking for something to play next than actually playing anything. So I’m always intrigued by sites that claim to be able to help me decide what to play.

Enter GamesGraph – you link your Steam account, set a couple of quick preferences, and it’ll point out games in your library you should consider playing next.

There are 6 questions that you can use to set your personal preferences. I tend to take reviews into consideration, but occasionally really enjoy games with awful reviews, so I set that just a bit above neutral. I care nothing for popularity or playing the newest thing, so I set those two really low. I nudged the slider for favorite genre loyalty down a notch, and favorite graphic styles all the way down, so my preference page looks like this.

Once I had GamesGraph linked to my (public) Steam profile, it imported all the games in my library directly to my backlog, as well as making note of my wishlist. Jumping to my backlog to take a look at its recommendations, this was my top ten.

Interesting, but other than setting my preferences, I hadn’t really given it much to work with, so these initial recommendations seem to be mostly reliant on reviews and popularity, and none of them have particularly high confidence scores. However, as soon as I rated the first game in my library that I had played in the past (in this case, Rimworld), my top 10 changed pretty significantly.

There are multiple ways to sort your backlog, and I found sorting by time played was the easiest way to find a good sized chunk of games I have played enough to feel comfortable rating. Your most played games will be shown at the top, and it doesn’t seem like a reverse sort is possible at this time, nor can you easily skip to later pages.

Rating a game is simple, but also, a little weird. If you have something in your library you don’t want to show, you can click on “Remove and Forget” and it’ll be like it was never there. However, if you want a game to continue to be eligible for recommendation, you need to check the box for “Will Replay” and you need to do that before choosing a rating. Once you click on one of the colored boxes to give a rating, the game immediately will jump to your library. You can go there and edit your rating (and at that point, select things like “Will Replay”), but if you know you’re likely to replay something, clicking that box before making a selection is simpler.

The more games I gave opinions on, the more information the algorithm had to draw on, and the better the confidence scores became.


GamesGraph is still in beta, and there are still a lot of things it doesn’t do. For example, you cannot rate games you own on other platforms, nor will it recommend them. If it could draw things you owned on other launchers, or even allow you to add them manually, I think it would be insanely useful, both for tracking owned titles and choosing what to dive into next.

They have, however, recently added the ability to allow the engine to recommend any free to play game on Steam, but that is turned off by default. You can also allow it to recommend games you indicated you would replay, as well as games on your wishlist, both of which are also off by default.

I am definitely planning to play around with GamesGraph some more – the more time I put into rating and marking off games I am unlikely to ever return to, the better results I expect I’ll get from it. If nothing else, it gives me something new to play around with when I can’t decide what to play.

Long Live the Queen – Turns 121-130

Check out the Story So Far on Time To Loot!


Although I am beyond relieved that all that pesky war stuff was done with before the game came back around to me, I found myself kind of flailing and clueless about what needs to be done now.

Both Pedro and Catherine are still pretty miffed with us, but there’s not much I can do to keep them from just sulking. I do try to send a delegation to Catherine to improve relations since our new, oh-so-tiny city is just outside her territory, but she shuts me down.


There’s a few other outstanding issues that I want to deal with – the first, a settler slowly making his way to somewhere, and the second, the barbarian camp to the southeast of Leeds.

On turn 124, the settler arrives at his destination. I’m not entirely sure what it is about this spot that made this a city-building destination, but I don’t question the monarchs that came before, and settle Bradford. Although production here is low, I figure the best way to boost that is with some improvements, so I start the very very long process of summoning a builder.


Things don’t go as well with the barbarians. All of my troops in the area are pretty early game units, and they have spearmen and swordsmen and although I’m sure it’s going to get pretty ugly over here, I’m going with what I’ve got handy before they get even bigger. I manage to lose a unit of warriors before even getting close to their base, but kept working away at their units with my remaining warriors and my closest archers, while some of my other troops mosey their way across the tundra.

I do briefly wonder if I’m dropping too many resources into this, when barbarians also spring up near Bristol and Stoke-Upon-Trent. I manage to defend both cities with nearby troops without losing anyone, but for the moment, those military units are just going to hang out nearby and heal up – I decide it’s more important to keep some protection for my cities than to find out where the barbarians are coming from.


In the meantime, I focus primarily in improving our scientific studies. When Construction finishes up, I elect to go with Printing as our next tech. We get a boost to Military Engineering, so I work on that after Theology. I manage to send multiple envoys to Sweden to take advantage of the science boosts available from them.

On turn 129, we receive a Great Scientist, who I activate for a random Eureka moment. We got a boost to Stirrups, which was a boost we didn’t have, so ok, I guess?

Although I feel like I didn’t make a lot of progress, we are in the lead for both Scientific and Domination victories, so we have to be doing something right. There is a rogue builder somewhere around London – I couldn’t figure out how best to use him, but there is iron nearby that I’m fairly certain we’ll want to improve as soon as its available to us, so I was fine with leaving him on an extended coffee break for the time being.


I’ve uploaded the save game here & hopefully UnwiseOwl will be able to clean up the mess I feel like I’ve made.