In Review – March 2020

We’re now in our third week of semi-voluntary social isolation – I say semi-voluntary because I was ALL ABOUT THIS before it was pretty much state-mandated.

I have learned that yes, I am among the most introverted introverts, and you would think that would have lead to an increased amount of time spent gaming but instead it’s been sort of unruly chaos as I try to deal with two energetic pups and a decidedly extroverted husband.

Low Spend 2020

Did I mention unruly chaos? Like everything else in my life, this has been kind of beaten and bruised by the inability to do things with others in any way other than virtually.

So there was a purchase of Tabletop Simulator times two. I’d be lying if I said I was unlikely to play around with it, but mostly, it was for the D&D game that went virtual. We also took advantage of the bundle containing Citadel: Forged With Fire for less than $2 on the off-chance we could get a couple evening’s fun out of it.

I also managed to convince myself that it would be A-OK to spend a few dollars on the Origin Pack for Warframe, since I wasn’t paying for an MMO subscription or a game subscription service this month. Lastly (and within the parameters of last month’s revision), I picked up Photographs for about a buck for my phone, only to discover that I’m very very bad at that sort of puzzle.

All in all, not what I’d call a raging success, however, I am reconsidering that I should revise again to say “paid MMO subscription or equivalent in-game purchasing”. This is harder than I thought it would be, but not for the reasons I originally expected.

The Nope List

Destiny 2: I actually really enjoyed the intro to this one, but as soon as I ended up in some random scenario with strangers, I was out. Unfair? Perhaps, but I just wasn’t inclined to figure it out.

Iris and the Giant: I wanted to like this game, but the rogue-like aspect of it really killed it for me. There’s only so far you can progress on limited turns, and I wasn’t patient enough to slowly grow my power.

Community Game-A-Long – #MitsudaMarch

Unfortunately, my Screen Time app doesn’t save far enough back for me to have tracked my time in game since I mostly played this over the first week or so of the month, but I would guess I easily got somewhere between 12 and 15 hours out of it – and that’s without coming anywhere close to finishing.

That said, the comparative ramp up in difficulty in Chapter 10 required a lot of grind leveling alternate characters, and it kind of turned me off. I stubbornly kept on until I managed to beat that boss, but I wasn’t particularly enthused to continue after that point.

I’m not saying I’ll never ever go back, but I’m also perfectly satisfied with the time I spent with it.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

I hit a big zero in this category this month. I played a couple hours of Far Cry: Primal, and then … forgot about it, and have yet to start on anything else.

Other Gaming

There’s not a lot else to say here. The majority of my gaming time in the later 2/3 of March went into Warframe.

Sure, some of that time was spent AFK or with just the launcher open, but it’s been a hot minute since I put that kind of time into any single game. Over a couple of weeks, I got a few warframes built, and got up to sixth mastery rank. Mostly, I ran around and destroyed stuff. Lots of stuff. It gave me an opportunity to spend some time gaming with my husband and friends, and although I don’t think it is going to have too much more staying power for me, I’m glad I gave it a whirl.

I also dabbled in some demos during Steam Game Festival.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time on any of them, but I did confirm that both Quench and Spiritfarer absolutely have a place on my wishlist – not like that’s an exclusive club!


Basically for the me, the first week of March was pretty normal, and everything after that was a smattering of this and that with a big ol’ Warframe binge in the middle. I didn’t even pick up a book. I watched a lot of completely unmemorable television. I struggled with pretty much everything.

But #Blapril2020 has already started, and this is – at least for the foreseeable future – the new normal. I’m optimistic that things will start to smooth out now.

#MaybeInMarch – Portal

Obviously, I procrastinated. And, I haven’t finished it, so I still am lacking that gamer cred. But at least now I can say “Oh yeah, I’ve played Portal.” right?

No spoilers here – although if you’ve somehow both never played Portal and have managed to avoid spoilers, kudos to you. I played for just short of an hour, so even though part of me is feeling super clever for clearing 14 tests in that time, part of me knows that there is still way more game in front of me than behind me.

Here’s the thing – I just don’t have the brainpower for these kind of puzzles (especially since spatial relations aren’t my strongest suit to begin with). I started to get frustrated when I could clearly see how everything worked, but I kept missing (really really easy) jumps. Finally moving through that test to one I couldn’t figure out told me that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the game for the moment.

Which is okay, really.

I’m glad I gave it a whirl, and I definitely plan to revisit it on a day I’m in the mood to just figure things out.

#Blapril2020

I don’t think it’s going to come as a huge surprise to anyone who reads this that I have been struggling, not just with blogging, but with gaming in general for awhile now. Although I’ve had a chronic illness for enough years now to have mostly adjusted my life & my expectations, my health has been somewhat worse than usual the past few months, and when I combine that with my social & household obligations, I’m finding it’s not leaving me with a whole lot left over for anything else.

In fact, I was just starting to consider putting this blog on some sort of official hiatus when Belghast announced that, in light of the social distancing requirements of a global pandemic, we’re going to do Blaugust early this year.

Now, I can appreciate just how fortunate I am that in a lot of ways, I am far less affected by the threat of COVID-19 than your average person. We are able to continue paying our bills, we are food secure and at zero risk of losing our housing. Even still, there is so much awfulness in the world at large, how can I not get on board with celebrating the oh-so-nerdy things that keep us going when everything is kind of awful and you need an escape?

So, I’ve signed up for Blapril. I’m going to make this a priority again.

Warframe – The Game We Didn’t Know We Needed

As far as video games are concerned, I’m almost scandalously open minded. There isn’t a genre I haven’t or wouldn’t try. Mobile games are games. Idle games are games. If you think it might be a game, I’m probably going to agree with you and ask if I can play it.

My husband, however, really only likes a narrow slice of the bigger gaming pie. Co-operative multiplayer is an absolute must-have, although he is less concerned whether the main focus is PvE or PvP. He is happiest when there’s a need for some base skill level, but the biggest determination of player performance comes from knowledge and research. He’ll tolerate a grind, as long the majority of the grinding is “fun”.

Over the years, we’ve tried almost every major MMORPG that we’ve come across, and although some stuck for a considerable amount of time for him, finding a game that will actually hold his interest for the long term has been quite the challenge.


It’s been awhile since we’d had anything we wanted to play together. He spent some time with WoW Classic, while I played ESO for awhile. Other than a rushed set of raid finders to get a mount just under the wire during the recently World of Warcraft Anniversary event, we probably hadn’t gamed together in six months or more.

Still, I’d been even before the talk of COVID-19 and self-isolation, I had been checking out different games, hoping to find something that would draw him in. Given my own self-imposed purchase restrictions, that basically meant poking at any free-to-play game that had passable to good reviews.

At least for the time being, the game we settled on is Warframe.


In the past 10 days, I have put about 50 hours into the game, but I almost didn’t make it past the first play session. When you’re just starting out, it feels like the game is unnecessarily obtuse. If you’re unwilling to do any research outside of the game (or have a friend teach you the finer points), Warframe probably isn’t for you.

That said, it is ridiculously fun. I’ve really been enjoying games that do interesting things with movement lately, and the movement in Warframe feels fantastic. Shooting stuff is fun, melee is quite possibly even MORE fun, and missions are a reasonable length. If you just want to run a mission or two to blow off some steam, you can easily have a 20-30 minute play session, but there’s plenty to do to keep you online all night.

Despite having released seven years ago, this game had barely even hit my radar. I’d heard of it from other gaming friends, but I never thought it would be anything I’d play, but now it’s something I could see myself playing faithfully for a bit, and then going back to at some indeterminate future point.

But the best part is that I’ve found something my husband and I can enjoy playing together, and we have a couple of other friends who just started playing again as well, so it’s keeping us in touch with them during this time of social isolation protocols. It turned out to be just the game we needed right now.

Stuck at Home With Nothing to Play? Try These Itch.io Titles.

True confession – one of my mental quirks lately has been taking a close look at the “altruistic” things big businesses are doing in the face of this current crisis, and trying to figure out how exactly they expect to make a profit off whatever they’re offering. But I’m always impressed when small businesses, like indie game developers, do something generous when they have to be worried about their own livelihoods.

If you’re stuck at home, and looking for something new to distract you from the panicked social media posts and the deluge of news, check out some of these games, being given away free on Itch.io for a limited time.


Click on the images to be taken straight to the itch.io page for each game!

Art Sqool
Fidel Dungeon Rescue
Far Future Tourism
The Sands of Voltark
Quiet As A Stone – Download Only / Not Claimable
Shuffs
Historia Battles – Rome
monad

I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface, so please let me know in the comments if you’ve found any other hidden gems.

Quick Look – Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space (#MitsudaMarch)

When it comes to mobile gaming, I tend to gravitate towards very casual games, which usually leads to having half a dozen different match three or hidden object games to choose from.

However, for #MitsudaMarch, I downloaded something with a little more meat on its bones, and I’m really loving Another Eden so far. Sure, it’s pretty far outside what I normally play on any platform, and I am 100% bumbling through it.

I can’t tell you for certain how much time I’ve played it overall (I did poke at it when I first downloaded it last month, and I started playing it fairly regularly a couple of days early), but my iPhone’s Screen Time setting tells me I’ve already put in almost six hours this week.

I think what’s surprised me the most so far is how meaty the game feels. Just about everything you do earns you Chrono Stones, which can be spent in the Gallery of Dreams to unlock more characters for your party. A full party (including backline) is only six characters deep, so it doesn’t take that long to get a full party together as a free player.

The core game play is full of random encounters with simultaneous turn-based combat. It’s necessary to pre-select your party, and when you run into an enemy (or more often, a group of enemies), you can choose what each front-line party member does before activating your turn. It’s not a combat style I’ve overly familiar with, but I think it works well for a mobile game.

Another Eden looks great, it sounds great, and once you get into the swing of things, it plays great.


As with any free-to-play game, there are microtransactions, and things that can only be bought with premium currency. So far, I don’t feel like I’m at any sort of disadvantage by not spending, but I assume at some point, the story will run out, and making a purchase will be necessary to continue. At this point, that’s really just an assumption, though – so far it seems that the only things that cost to unlock are additional characters. Based on the prices of Chrono Stones in the app, and the costs of character unlocks with free Chrono Stones, it looks like you can expect to spend anywhere from $2.40 to $5 to unlock a single premium character.


Overall, this is a nifty little package of fun, and I’m grateful to the folks at The Community Game Along for #MitsudaMarch, because I never would have discovered this little mobile gaming gem otherwise.

Nerd Girl Goals – March 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.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

Going to keep plugging along at Far Cry: Primal.

#MitsudaMarch – Community Game Along

I got ahead of myself a little and started playing Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space on my iPhone already. I was surprised how good it looked for a mobile game, and since the theme this month is a composer, I made sure to leave the sound on, and yup, the music is pretty damn great.

This is a free game, and yes, you can spend money in it, but it’s super playable without any financial investment and I have yet to see an ad. If you’re struggling to find something to play for #MitsudaMarch, here’s your no-spend option. I wasn’t entirely surprised that I didn’t have anything in my library to play this month, but I still wanted to participate.

I do get the impression that this game is basically endless, so I don’t expect to do anything that even resembles completion, and that’s okay with me.

Other Gamestuff

This month, I am expecting to lose a lot of time to things that keep me away from my computer, so that probably means I will spend twice as much time gaming as I have been lately.

Since Portal has a super-short playtime, I’m going to put it here and see if #MaybeInMarch is an actual thing I will do.

I listed XBox Game Pass as my subscription for the month, but I have no idea when (if?) I’ll actually reactivate it. Yes, there are games there I want to play – a bunch of which I’ve actually even installed – but I also don’t see the point in putting money down until I’m actually ready to play something. This will come back to bite me at some point when the subscription price goes up.

I don’t think I’m really going to plan anything more intensive this month, because I’d really like to make a dent in my ten games list, even though I have no idea which one I’m going to tackle next.