Nerd Girl Goals – January 2021

Can I just say it felt so good to type 2021 up there? Oh, 2020, I am not sad to see you go, despite all the big plans I had for myself at the start.

So, new year, new style graphic, same kinds of goals. Here we go!


Subscription MMO – World of Warcraft

I feel sort of like a broken record, but I’m still 100% in for Shadowlands. Stands in Bad starts raiding for real on the sixth, and I’ve managed to slowly crawl my way up to a 185 item level, so at least I have that going for me. I’m back on track to pay for my game time with tokens, but I think I’ll have to dedicate some actual time to farming if I want to keep it up.

I’ve got my legendary item made for three out of four of my max level characters, and I’m about to begin working the second set of four. A Twitter poll has indicated I should start with the priest, so she’s abandoned her spot in front of the engineer-only auction house to actually explore more of Shadowlands than just Oribos and start working her way up to 60.

Although gearing felt slow and painful in the early weeks of Shadowlands, now that we’ve unlocked several chapters of the covenant campaign, alt-gearing to the point where you don’t feel totally underpowered doing basic wizard chores is a breeze. This is fine for me, since I’m not overly focused on group content, especially with minor alts. I expect to have at least two more level 60s fully kitted out from covenant gear by the end of the month.


Community Game-Along: #PuzzleGameMonth

I’ve decided to play Outer Wilds during January for #PuzzleGameMonth. This is a game I’m either going to absolutely love or it’s going to frustrate me to no end. That is, in fact, the main reason I’ve been putting off picking it up, but one of my lovely WoW-guildmates sent it over as a Steam Santa present. Whereas I would normally lose track of it in my library and maybe fire it up for the first time in 2025, I thought I’d put it on the front burner and give it a whirl.

As usual, I want to have a couple games on deck, in case I get into a fit of not knowing what to play (or in case my main game-along game doesn’t work out). This month, I’m going to choose a few different type of puzzle games as back up. Figment is a narrative puzzle adventure game, SpaceChem is a challenging logic-based puzzler, and Road Not Taken is a puzzle-focused roguelike.

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.


Outside of my MMO time, and my puzzle gaming, I would like to pick something else that’s non-narrative to dabble in this month. A couple of months ago, I picked up Megaquarium, but I haven’t even installed it yet. This feels like the right combination of engaging gameplay with a low-brainpower requirement to be my side game this month.


Other Nerdstuff

I’ve managed to squeak by on my GoodReads reading challenges the past two years, so I’m upping it to 48 books in 2021. I’m already a handful of books (and therefore podcast episodes) behind for The Pike Cast, but I also have oodles of other things I’d like to read or re-read, and I’d really like to redirect my energy there instead of just browsing Reddit on my phone while lying in bed.

I also want to make a plan to get back to more hands-on crafty stuff. My in-laws bought me a HUGE box of colored pencils for my birthday, so I’m dying to make myself a space to work and bust into those. I also can’t remember the last time I picked up a yarn project, or cross-stitch, or pretty much anything craft related. Although there are definitely home improvement projects that need to be done in order to have a decent space for myself for these kinds of things, I need to find a way to make it happen in the meantime.

I’d also like to restart an art journal of some sort this year. I’m comfortable with being pretty awful at all things related to drawing, and I don’t expect vast improvements, but I still enjoy doing a doodle every now and then.

#RacingGameMonth – A Story in Three Parts

Want to know more about #RacingGameMonth? Check out the Community Game-Along page!

Racing games really aren’t my forte. There are genres I am … not so good at, but I am just downright dismal when it comes to operating a motor vehicle on a computer screen. My inability to (virtually) drive is the reason I never got very far in L.A. Noire, and the only reason I can tolerate driving in games like the Saint’s Row series is that there’s absolutely zero penalty for demolishing car after car trying to get from Point A to Point B.

Still, in the spirit of community, and due to the fact that I have a handful of racing games in my library from various bundles through the years, I decided to give it a fair shake.


Part One – Table Top Racing: World Tour

I’m not sure why I thought this would be a super-casual, extra-easy-for-total-noobs racing game experience. Maybe because the it’s little toy cars, and how hard can that be?

Hard. The answer is hard, at least if you’re me.

There are six cars in the first race. Which means I came in dead last.

Now, I didn’t just come in dead last once. Nope. I came in dead last over and over, even after using the pity money to upgrade my adorable little truck multiple times. I was not getting the hang of this. Not with the keyboard and mouse. Not with a controller. Not for anything could I manipulate a toy car around this little itty bitty race track. It wasn’t even an overly complicated track.

I set it aside, figuring I’d go back and push through later in the month, but as usual, I got distracted. Since I picked this up in a Fanatical bundle way back in 2018, it doesn’t make me particularly sad to leave it mostly unplayed.


Part Two – Forza Horizon 4

Yes, I fully appreciate the flying leap I took here. But I promise, it wasn’t my idea. I picked up XBox Gamepass for PC this month, and got a recommendation from one of the Community Game-Along organizers via Twitter.

Accessible. Accessible is good. Well, I turned everything all the way down to see how I’d do. If it was a cakewalk, I could always turn things back up.

Want to guess how many cars were in the race? Did you guess 12? If you did, you would be correct.

This is me. Taking out a stone wall. Clearly, this is going very well indeed.

In all fairness, Forza Horizon 4 is gorgeous. Given enough time, I probably could have started to get a handle on things with all the training wheels fully engaged. But I figured, if I was going to wreck stuff anyway, shouldn’t I play something where at least that was the point?


Part Three – Carmageddon: Max Damage

Carmageddon: Max Damage is … the ultimate antidote to racing games!!

from the Carmageddon: Max Damage Steam page.

Why I didn’t just start with a game that rewards me for driving badly, I will never understand. I’m still playing on the easiest difficulty, mind you.

I’m a fan of alternate win conditions. Especially ones that don’t require me to stay on the track. And first race in?

Yep. Crash into the other cars over and over to profit. This I can do.

Initially, I was a little surprised how much I was enjoying Carmageddon: Max Damage because it is still actually a racing game, and let’s be real – it’s totally cheesy. But it totally scratches my mayhem and destruction itch. Usually it comes via shooting things – a lot of things – but I also can do the whole demolition derby thing.

I will likely play this well into next month when I feel the chaos itch. I assume it will get harder and I won’t win every event the first time out, and that’s okay. It’s got a 15+ hour main story, and I picked it up in the dollar tier of a Fanatical bundle almost two years ago and proceeded to forget all about it.

Finding little nuggets of gold in the back of the library is why I have one, after all.

A Bit of Setback

It’s been a frustrating few days. For awhile now, my computer has been doing some really weird random crashing – sometimes just the game I’m playing shuts down, but more frequently, the whole thing locks and I have to hard reset it.

When it first started, it only happened while playing DMC: Devil May Cry and only if I forgot to shut down Discord before I started playing. Since then, it’s been happening in quite a few games (the remastered version of Borderlands, Civilization VI, Sunset Overdrive, and Spyro Reignited Triology). Sometimes it takes awhile to happen, sometimes, I’m lucky if I get to play for 15 or 20 minutes before everything freezes.

I’m not entirely surprised. I am by no means a computer wizard, and although I’ve managed a few minor upgrades, this system is over six years old, and wasn’t exactly cutting edge when I bought it. The downside of having a double gamer household on a fixed income is that it’s rarely feasible to put aside a couple thousand dollars to purchase new computers (and owning an old house means every time we get close, something more pressing breaks down on us).

It’s all Greek to me, but I found my parts list from when I ordered this PC in March of 2014.

Since I’ve previously replaced the cooling system, hard drive, and graphics card (as well as installing extra RAM), I’m guessing at this point, the motherboard is just showing its age. I’ve pulled the whole thing apart and cleaned it all out, as well as reseating all my components and checking my wires, and to be honest? That’s the extent of my ability to diagnose hardware, and the typical software issues I looked for aren’t the cause.

I think my computer is just ready to retire, but I’m not quite ready yet to let it go. So for the foreseeable future, it looks like I’ll be playing mostly lower-spec games in shorter stints and saving often. I’ll also probably be spending more time on other hobbies, because my frustration threshold has been so very very small.

Struggling With Skill-Cap

Every time I hear my husband tell one of his friend that’s I’m the “real gamer” in our house, I am never sure whether to laugh or cry. Sure, I play a lot of games, across a lot of genres, and there’s a fair few I’m even reasonably good at.

But.

Every time I start a new game, I start on the easiest setting. This is a big part of why competitive multiplayer games never really last for me – difficulty settings aren’t a thing, and you have to be better than some other person playing to make any kind of meaningful progress. I call this hitting the skill-cap, and I tend to hit it early and often.

Recently, I hit this point in Warframe, and although I could still play – going back to completed missions, just for the pure joy of space ninja parkour with big guns, the fact that I cannot make progress down the game paths I’m most interested in have made the whole package far less appealing. The next quest I need to complete requires a mission type that I cannot wrap my head (or possibly just my fingers) around, and let’s be real, I have enough frustration in my life without pounding my head up against something that’s not only not enjoyable, but actually very frustrating.

With Warframe being a multiplayer game, I know I could probably wheedle a friend into helping me over the hump, or try queuing public to see if I can get some stranger to carry me without unleashing a torrent of abuse in my general direction. Neither of these seem like good (read, fun) choices, so I’ve shelved the game for the time being.

Now I’m running into this problem in DMC: Devil May Cry – the second game I’m attempting to play through for #CapcoMonth. For the most part, the “Human” difficulty level hasn’t been too frustrating, but I’ve found myself rage-quitting out of the game a couple of times now due to a particular jump sequence I just couldn’t seem to master. Yes, I’ve tried it with a controller. Yes, it was worse – I only find some assistance in switching to controller for 2D games.

Each time, however, I’ve been able to come back to it and eventually push through the rough spot. I don’t even mind the fact that I have to look up guides for the major boss fights because I find the combat so unintuitive – it’s a game far out of my normal comfort zone, and I really am on this ride mostly for the story.

Now, my failure to comprehend the combat in a meaningful way might be the end of the line for me – I have made it to mission 14, which is a long, repetitive boss fight. Because of the length, I cannot manage to keep myself alive long enough to complete it. I have no healing items, and although I’m consistently making it to the last phase, I can’t complete it. I’m not even sure if I can go back to a prior mission and grind out currency to purchase healing. This skill-cap might be a brick wall.


ETA: Shortly after hitting publish, I gave it one more whirl and with a well-timed cool down, I managed to end the fight early and am able to progress again!

Getting Over The Hump

You might think that with everything that’s going on, I’d be way ahead on my gaming goals, or at the very least, deep diving into my library to pluck out some long forgotten gems.

You would be very very wrong.

Each day has been a cycle of loading up a game, playing it briefly, and walking away irritated. After several days of this, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the games, but something going on with me that’s making pretty much everything not feel fun.

It might be a bit soon to say for sure, but I think I might be pushing past it.

Last night, I installed Majesty 2, and played a few scenarios. I’d poked at it a bit in the past, but never managed to adjust my strategies from the first game enough to get through the tutorial levels.

This time, however, I managed to make the leap, and in doing so, hurdled myself over the hump of nothing being enjoyable. I wouldn’t have guessed that a mediocre sequel that came out in 2009 would be the game that did it, but sometimes, you have to just go with whatever works.

#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.

A (Micro) Transgression

I knew I was going to have issues with Low-Spend 2020, and just over a month in, I’ve made my first forbidden purchase.

I’ve been on a kick for mobile slot machine games lately – more so since I discovered that some evil geniuses have decided to add quests to the mindless game play loop.

Normally, this would be just another guilty pleasure, nothing worth even mentioning, because despite these types of apps being absolutely infested with microtransactions, I’m pretty good at resisting the lure of “free money” (which isn’t actually even money!)

But here’s the thing – I also fully believe that if you’re enjoying a free-to-play game, no matter how inane, it’s actually a good thing to throw a couple of dollars at the developers, just as long as you never go over what you would have paid for the game if you had bought it outright.

Last night, I got home late, I was tired, and was unwinding with a slot-machine focused quest or two, and one of those amazing deals popped up. And I thought, I’ve been playing this game every day for over three weeks now, I should toss a couple of dollars at it.

And without any more thought than that, I did.


Obviously, I’m not going to waste a lot of time lamenting that I failed in my low-spend goals over a measly $2.11. I’m still in it for the year, but I wanted to make a short post in the interest of full-disclosure.

Sometimes, Procrastination Pays Off

I have had the itch to go back to World of Warcraft for a bit now, but I’ve been procrastinating on actually re-activating my sub. Sure, I could let you all in on some of my MMO neuroses by listing off a bunch of reasons, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there was one that was stronger than the rest.

See, when I re-upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of months ago, one of the things I forgot to back up was my World of Warcraft addons folder. I have always run a ridiculous amount of addons, and I had some deep dread about having to figure out my UI from scratch.


Well, a couple of weeks before the big upgrade, I thought that my harddrive was starting to go, so I had bought a replacement and cloned it. However, once I fiddled around with all the cords in there, all of the hard disk ridiculousness seemed to resolve itself, so I’m thinking it was a loose cord or something, and I promptly put the whole thing out of my mind.

Well, some oddball glitch caused my computer to boot from the wrong drive last night, and after a few very panicky moments trying to figure out what exactly had happened, I realized that this was a blessing in disguise. My addons folder was on the cloned drive, and I could simply copy it to the drive I am actually using!


After a little more fiddling, and safe removal and storage of the backup drive so that I could avoid any more odd rebooting shenanigans, I have all of my addons back, and updated, and well, I guess I’ll be dabbling in some World of Warcraft this weekend.

Low-Spend 2020: Putting a Halt to Impulsive Game Purchasing

I’ve known for awhile that I have a problem with impulse purchasing, but I try not to think about how big of a problem it actually is.

I have not actually played anywhere near that many games – I do tend to idle for cards, which makes at least that portion of my calculator very very wrong.

Of course, bundle buying absolutely throws the account value out of whack. On the other hand, this is only games I own on Steam, and it’s still way too many. So I’ve decided to slow my roll next year, and stop buying things just because they’re cheap or they look interesting or I’m having a bad day.


Low Spend 2020 – Allowed Spending

Subscription Spending

I’m allowing myself the full 12 months of Humble Choice, as well as one paid MMO subscription and one paid gaming subscription service at a time.

Non-Subscription Spending

I am allowed to spend up to $50 gifting games to others during the Summer and Winter Steam sales, and I am allowed to purchase non-Collector’s Edition expansions for World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online. Additionally, I may elect to purchase one new co-op game or MMO to play with my husband if something comes out he’s excited about.


Other than what I’ve indicated above, I will not be purchasing any new games, or making any cash shop or micro-transaction purchases in 2020. This includes purchasing any bundles other than the Humble Choice subscription.

While I acknowledge that I’m still allowing myself a massive budget, I still feel like this will be an improvement over what I’ve been doing – which is just making game purchases without a whole lot of thought behind them. It’s not really about the money – although I love to shop, I don’t spend to the point where it strains our budget. But by always chasing the next great deal, I am not really enjoying the things I buy.


While it’s not restricting myself to only five games for an entire year, I am hoping it’ll encourage me to play through some more of my library, as well as better evaluate the worth of the various gaming subscription services that are out there.

One Year / Five Games

Oh, this is diabolical.


I might have missed this one entirely if Naithin hadn’t posted about it (and I read that right before bedtime too, so you bet I was thinking about it while I was waiting to fall asleep). Let’s be real – I probably couldn’t stick to this and would just take my beating. And I’m not so organized as to worry myself about categories – I’m just going to look at potential play times here.

Game One: World of Warcraft

I would definitely want an MMO, and this one was super-close. Like, I had already started writing about the Elder Scrolls Online close. But every time I’ve take an extended break from WoW (like, for example, now), I come back recharged and excited and ready to Do Stuff. Plus there’s pet battles. I can spend a LOT of time on pet battles. And I haven’t seen the Horde side of the last three expacs, so I probably wouldn’t run out of stuff to do, even if it wasn’t always the most exciting things.

Besides, I have a guild that’s been around for a good 10 years, and I miss those folks like whoa.

Game Two: Rimworld

I’ve been away from Rimworld a long time, but I haven’t forgotten how easy it was to lose myself in. Sure, all the changes since I played last would be overwhelming at first, but I don’t think it would take me too long to get caught up. Plus, I’m pretty sure there’s like 80 bazillion new mods I haven’t even looked at since I played last.

Game Three: RollerCoaster Tycoon Triple Thrill Pack

Another building game, you might be thinking. Yes. Another building game. There is SO MUCH content in this game, and I may even someday learn to build my own coaster that doesn’t kill people. This has the added bonus of being extremely low spec, so if something happened to my regular gaming rig, I wouldn’t be left game-less.

(this is where it gets really hard)

Game Four: Tales of Maj’Eyal

I’ve played enough of ToME to know I enjoy it, and there are currently over 1700 achievements to strive for. I can see this one holding my attention for many many hours.

Game Five: The Sims 3

Replayability and longevity have to be considered, and what game has more to do than Sims 3? I’ve played hundreds of hours already, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Add in a whole bunch of self-imposed challenge modes like the ones here, and I would probably never get sick of it.


Well, that was uncomfortable. My interests are so varied and my library so vast. Cutting down to a single MMO and giving up all manner of mobile gaming were probably the biggest sacrifices.

Thank goodness this isn’t a thing I actually have to do, although it certainly makes me less apprehensive about my plans to seriously limit my gaming purchases in 2020 (more info on that soon).