In Review – August 2020

Community Events and Projects

Yet another month where I’ve struggled with focus, and more specifically, with sitting my ass in the chair to write. Thank goodness for Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020! Although I didn’t do nearly as many prompts as some people, I posted four entries from the available prompts.

I also managed to complete (and write about) the single player story mode of Injustice: Gods Among Us for the Community Game Along. Although it didn’t get me jazzed about the fighting game genre, it was a fun way to spend a couple of evenings.

I took another set of turns for Long Live the Queen this month, and hoo boy, am I way in over my head at this point. Collectively, we’ve passed the 300 turn milestone, and I don’t expect it’ll go around too many more times, but at least we’re on track for victory. I think.

I actually put a lot of hours into SMITE this month (both on my own and with friends), but I found myself struggling to figure out how I wanted to write about the game. I started a couple of posts, but didn’t get very far. Hopefully, I’ll start to get all of that figured out in September.


I did lose most of a week this month to an expected (but suddenly rather urgent) home improvement project, so I didn’t do even a fraction of the other stuff I had planned on this month.

Other Gaming

I started out the month with Little Big Workshop, a game I had owned for awhile but hadn’t thought much about until it showed up in the August Humble Monthly. I played through the majority of the game twice, losing interest only after unlocking the final set of goals (but before completing them as they felt very anti-climatic).

shapez.io is another game I had picked up on a whim awhile back – I like the idea of logistics management games, but I usually don’t find them very compelling. shapez.io is slow – you actually need to produce a ridiculous quantity of items for each level after the first couple, but it kept me well engaged through most of its available levels, giving me a little more than 10 hours of playtime before I felt like it was starting to play more like an idle game than an active one.

I had been excited about Ruinarch since playing the demo back in June, and I picked it up as soon as it was available. It’s still in very Early Access – at this time, you cannot even save the game – but I’m enjoying it nonetheless, and look forward to seeing how it all comes together in time. I probably won’t even play through all the available scenarios before shelving it for a few months, but I have no regrets being an early supporter.

There were a couple of games I dabbled in this month that just didn’t do it for me. Book of Demons just felt dull – maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance, but nothing about it drew me back after a single short play session. Krystopia is a perfectly serviceable puzzle game with a mostly forgettable story frame, however, it relies heavily on the “connect up the circuit” type puzzles, which I don’t particularly enjoy.

Lastly, I played an embarrassingly large amount of the mobile game Match 3D on my phone. I tend to gravitate towards very repetitive, mechanically simple game experiences when I’m stressed out (or otherwise all caught up in my own head), and this absolutely fit the bill. I spent $3 to get rid of the ads in between each level, but otherwise, haven’t felt that the optional in-app purchases were even the slightest bit necessary to enjoy the game.


Indie Arena Booth 2020

I cannot resist a virtual game conference, although I tried to use some restraint this time around since the Indie Arena Booth at Gamescon was around for only a few short days.

I definitely spent the most time with To the Rescue!, but I also really liked the whole vibe of Lucifer Within Us. I also made sure to check out Gamedec since I had backed it on Kickstarter, but I spent just enough time with it to confirm that I’m far more interested in the complete experience than a short demo.

The rest of the demos I tried out didn’t really grab me, but I really am loving the resurgence of demos, even if they are only available for tiny windows of time.


All in all, August was a pretty intense month, even if I didn’t do much of … well, anything … that aligned with the goals I set at the beginning of the month. Still, I think I’d rather have a plan I don’t follow than no plan at all!

Promptapalooza #14 – Getting Excited

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”. I’m a little bit late on this one, but the prompt I’m writing about today comes from Heather over at Just Geeking By:

What are the things that get you excited in life?

Promptapalooza (August 13, 2020)

I don’t think of myself as a particularly excitable person – after all, if I get too excited too often, where will I get the energy to be an anxious mess about everything? But there are a few things that I know make my whole face light up and bring me a special kind of joy, and if that’s not excitement of a fashion, I don’t really know what is.

Dogs

Most specifically my dogs (that’s Dakota on the left, and Charley just chillin’ there on the right), but really, it’s just dogs in general. Despite realizing that yes, I am a dog person, a little bit later in life, I’ve rarely met a dog I didn’t immediately fall madly in love with and want to spoil rotten. I follow my groomers on Facebook because they do daily photos of all the dogs that were in that day. I follow WeRateDogs on Twitter. I stan Coconut Rice Bear in all her floof-y glory, and I can lose hours to watching pretty much any kind of dog video.

Sure, dogs can be kind of high maintenance as far as pets go, but god, they do bring multitudes of joy to my days.

Over-analysis of pop culture

More specifically, applying critical thinking to the kind of popcorn entertainment that people tend not to think too much about. There’s a certain subset of horror movies that fascinate me to no end, and I was downright giddy when I discovered there’s a text book out there with scholarly papers about exactly that type of thing.

I haven’t picked it up yet, because well, it’s a textbook and therefore ridiculously expensive, but it sits on my Amazon wishlist, waiting for me to be able to snap up a reasonably priced used copy or for me to decide that I’m okay dropping $35 for an ebook.

I’m most particularly interested in the paper by Ian Conrich on the elaborate murders from both the Saw & Final Destination franchises, which I have analyzed endlessly in my head. I am both shocked and delighted by the fact that someone else has actually thought about them even more than I have.

I feel like there’s not enough deep analysis of the fluffier parts of pop culture, outside of a few really intricate fandoms, and I’d love to find more of it.

Well-Constructed Mysteries

Regardless of the medium, nothing gets me jazzed like a plot that comes together perfectly in the end but that I also didn’t manage to figure out before the denouement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that feeling of when the pieces all fit and I have figured everything out myself, but it’s a million times better to be surprised, and then to realize that yes, I did have all the information and the answer is completely logical but I didn’t see it coming.

Unfortunately, as someone who’s loved mystery stories for many years, it’s a rare thing for a story to get one over on me in such a way, but when it does? I will not rest until I get someone to read, watch or play that story because it’s a damned high bar, and I appreciate creators that can fly right over it.

Giving a Perfect Gift

As much as I go into full-on Grinch mode during December, I actually like spending time trying to figure out just the right thing to gift to someone I care about. I find most actual holiday gatherings, whether family, friend groups, or workplace-related, put far too many restrictions on gifting which makes the whole thing a chore rather than a fun experience.

But when I have time to really think it over, shop around, and find or create precisely what I think the recipient will love? Giving gifts is such an incredible rush for me.

This is also why I play Steam Sale Santa twice a year – sometimes, I do just pluck things from wish lists, but there is no better feeling than giving someone their newest favorite game that they didn’t even know existed.

Promptapalooza #11 – A Space to Create

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”, and today it’s my turn!

Tell us about your physical creative space, and how it influences your content creation.

Promptapalooza (August 10th, 2020)

I’m going to ‘fess up here. I wanted to throw this prompt back. I almost resented it – obviously, Bel doesn’t know anything about my creative space and the prompts were distributed randomly. I wasn’t being called out, but it sure felt that way for a hot minute. But I realized the fact that I reacted to it so strongly is exactly why I should write about it.

Because of this, I’m going to tell you now that tomorrow’s prompt will be presented by SDWeasel over at Unidentified Signal Source, in case you don’t make it all the way to the end.

Apologies in advance for my lack of pictures on this one. This is going to be hard to write, possibly hard to read, and I just don’t feel like I can illustrate it for you as well.


I really don’t feel like I have a “creative space”. I have a space where, sometimes, somehow, almost in spite of myself, I manage to write. My desk is small and cramped. My computer and all of its peripherals have seen better days. The floor in here isn’t level, so I am forever listing slightly to the left, and my chair actually partially blocks the access to the hallway leading to the other side of the house.

To top it off, it’s never quiet here. There’s no door I can close. I’m frequently trying to block out the television, a barking dog, half a conversation taking place on Discord, or all of the above. I do have a headset (and use it when I really need to), but extended use tends to give me a headache, and I’m clueless about how to find something more suitable.

Basically, my creative space is everything I don’t want it to be. But I make it work because the alternative – giving this up until I can get my space in order – is untenable.

I’ve said it before – I don’t really write here to build a following. In fact, self-promotion past an automated Tweet and an occasional link drop on a Discord channel or Facebook group would likely be the end of what I’m doing. No, as much I as love the interaction of blogging when it comes, it’s not why I do it.

For me, writing here about whatever strikes my fancy is structure and purpose and one of the few things I do for my own satisfaction, and I’m not ready to give that up.


Sadly, this is sort of a recurring theme for me. When we moved into the apartment we lived in before this house, I was determined to prioritize making a “writing nook” for myself. It was full of books that I loved, and good intentions. However, I was still learning how to balance a job, domestic responsibilities, and adjusting expectations due to a chronic illness, and instead of being a source of solace, it ended up being a constant reminder of my failure to prioritize creativity.

I realize now I’m going kind of far off prompt, but it’s a recurring theme for me. There’s always something more important to do, something else that space needs to be set aside for, and I couldn’t possibly make that kind of commitment.

We live in an old, poorly maintained home, and are trying to make it into a space that works for us – slowly, with limited funds, and even more limited DIY-ability. Both my husband and I struggle with different disabilities, and there are days that we can only manage the bare minimum as far as housework goes. The dogs get taken care of, and we make sure we eat something. On the better days, we struggle to get caught up, and it’s rare that we have the energy and the finances required for the bigger projects we want to tackle.

We are about four and half years behind on our five year plan, and every time we manage to squirrel away some savings, something critical breaks. This year, the savings account is going to get emptied out to replace the heating system. We do have a room, currently being used for storage, which is allocated to be my quiet place, but it basically needs to be gutted first, and that particular project is going to take a huge allotment of energy, so it keeps getting put off.

At this point, I cannot fathom just … waiting for the right type of space to create. I’ve hit a point in my life where I feel better about making do than not making anything. I may not have a creative space that speaks to me for another five years, but that doesn’t mean I should neglect the part of me who wants to write, and craft, and paint, and draw. Right now, I can’t dedicate space in my home, but I absolutely must dedicate space in my life.


I know this whole post is pretty far outside what I normally write about, and for those of you who made it this far, I have a small reward in the form of a picture of my adorable dogs. They’re also not really into the idea of me having a quiet space to make things, but they’re fantastic for my mental health, so we’ll allow it.

Promptapalooza #4 – Underrated Content

Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020 is this crazy year’s crazy twist on the August blogging challenge cooked up by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. Instead of writing every day, a whole bunch of us have committed to being “prompt-bearers”. Today’s prompt comes from Roger over at Contains Moderate Peril:

“What type of content do you feel is severely underrated?”

Promptapalooza (August 3, 2020)

My answer is simple: written game guides / walkthroughs.

Video is great for a lot of things, but I absolutely despise the video format for game guides. There are a lot of reasons, but primary among them is the fact that metrics of video content creation demand that the creators not respect the watcher’s time.

If I’m playing a puzzle or adventure game, I want to be able to jump straight to the place where I am stuck, so I can get over the hump and get on with my gaming. Guide videos tend to be long, to the point where watching one could eat up the majority of the time I have to game, and there’s doesn’t seem to be any simple way to skip to the portion you need other than randomly fast forwarding and hoping you don’t go too far and spoil yourself.

I mean, I get it, it’s a digital world now. The days of buying chunky Prima Game Guide books is over, although I will miss those books dearly if The Elder Scrolls 6 ever makes an appearance. There were never going to be bound books for anything that wasn’t AAA anyway.

But I honestly believe that the written word never goes out of style, and I am grateful every time I can find a text (or text and screenshot) game guide in between the plethora of videos.