Quick Look – Kraken Academy!! (#JustOnePercent 85/100)

Developer: Happy Broccoli Games
Release Date: September 10, 2021
MSRP: $17.99


My experience with time loop mechanics in games continues to be all over the place. Just over the last few months, I’ve had one experience that was fantastic, one that was downright awful, and now, I’ve played a bit of Kraken Academy!!, which has just left me feeling kind of meh.

I did get off on the wrong foot a little with this one, as the contrasting art styles of the actual game space and just about everything else in the game definitely was a turn off for me. I know a lot of people really like low-poly pixel art, but I’m not one of those people. I can overlook it sometimes, when the rest of the game is solid enough, but having to be constantly reminded that this game could have had a far more aesthetically pleasing style just made me resent walking around the game world. And I did a lot of walking around the game world.

The storyline is pretty out there, without actually really reaching the level of being comedic. Your parents have dropped both you and your sister off at Kraken Academy, a run down shell of a “school” divided into four clubs, where it seems the students do just about anything except go to actual classes. The character you play as is part of the music club, and one of your fellow club members invites you to a costume party in a couple days time. Only problem is, you don’t have a costume! So she sends you to the nearby lake, because of course that’s the best place to find a costume, right? Or at least a giant monster that tasks you with saving the school – and the world!

Apparently, there is a traitor somewhere on campus, and they’re planning to destroy the world by Thursday. All you need to do is solve the problems of four students – one per club – to release the spirits of the school to help fight off the coming apocalypse. Maybe also find out the identity of the traitor. But since there’s no way you could possible do all that in just three days, you’re given an amulet that rewinds time.

The accessible parts of campus – at least during your first loop – aren’t overly large. In fact, I think the pacing was probably the biggest issue that I had with the game. I felt like I had too much time for how little I knew, and there were very limited ways to speed things up. There are, however, a lot of side quests, but several of those seem to be blocked off behind time loop progression – I feel like I scoured all the available areas, with no signs of the required items. Sure, I might have missed something, but it seems unlikely that I would miss everything.

The three day cycle culminates in the costume party, which once you enter the area, stops the clock. You can take as long as you need to figure out what you need to do to free a spirit before you rewind time. I had planned to play completely through the first loop of the game, but partway through the mission, I felt stuck. I know there’s an item I need to retrieve, but I’m not quite sure how the game intends for me to do so. Did I miss something I needed to bring into the area with me? Did I miss something already in the area? Do I already have what I need in my inventory but I’m just not clever enough to figure it out? I have no idea.

I considered looking for a walkthrough to just get through it. The idea of having to replay the first three days if I missed something was irritating me even without knowing whether or not that was the case, and it was at that point I realized that this particular game just wasn’t working for me in any way.

There are quick time events throughout the game, but for me, they didn’t add to the experience. I set them to easy, so it’s not that I was struggling. Rather, it felt like the developers thought they needed something to make the game more game-y, but this just takes the game’s glacial pace to somewhere ever so slightly more draggy. I don’t much care for games that feel like the play time has been padded, and you can see the padding sticking out all over the place in Kraken Academy!! – there’s some interesting stuff here, but it takes far too long to get anywhere near it.


SteamDB estimates that Kraken Academy!! has sold between 8,500 and 23,300 copies on Steam. It has gotten only a handful of negative reviews, so my opinions definitely aren’t the popular ones. It is ranked 384 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – The Artful Escape (#JustOnePercent 84/100)

Developer: Beethoven and Dinosaur
Release Date: September 9, 2021
MSRP: $19.99


Going into The Artful Escape, I really had pretty much no idea what to expect. If I had a million years to make guesses, however, I don’t think I ever would have come up with anything close to what it is. It’s part coming of age story, part psychedelic platformer, with musical Simon-style mini games. Even after an hour of play, I still have no idea how to feel about it, because for me, none of the elements are strong enough to recommend the game by themselves, but when you put it all together, it’s really something rather strange and lovely.

Since I’m playing this one through XBox Game Pass, I’m playing with keyboard & mouse at my desk. However, it’s a “controller recommended” game, and it’s easy to see why – some of the key press combinations you do pretty frequently are a bit awkward on keyboard. Unfortunately, the game is currently listed as being Unsupported on the Steam Deck (which, I think for me would be the absolutely perfect vehicle for it), although there are reports of it working well on ProtonDB.

While the opening tutorial section of the game is outright dull, it picks up pretty quickly. And by picks up, I mean gets super duper weird but in all of the best ways. Both the writing and the voice acting is very well done, but the art is where The Artful Escape really shines. In fact, I’m grateful that most parts of the game aren’t too challenging, because I’ve lost count at the number of times I’ve stopped to just gawk at the scenery.

I think I’d like to go back and play more of this one – it will likely take less than five hours to finish – but it’s days on Game Pass are limited, as it’s already listed in the Leaving Soon section. At that length, it doesn’t bother me much that it feels very gameplay-light, but if you’re looking for something that has stimulating or challenging game play, you should probably give this one a pass. However, if you’re intrigued by the trippy aesthetic and a bit of an exploration of strange worlds and personal identity, this one might be worth putting on the wish list, or playing through on Game Pass before it’s gone.


SteamDB estimates that The Artful Escape has sold between 19,400 and 53,500 copies on Steam. Reviews are almost all positive, with the few negative reviews primarily focusing on lack of game play elements. It is ranked 341 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Tiny Robots Recharged (#JustOnePercent 83/100)

Developer: Big Loop Studios
Release Date: September 9, 2021
MSRP: $3.99


I probably wouldn’t have bought Tiny Robots Recharged – after all, it’s free-to-play with ads on mobile, and in all honesty, it’s probably far better suited as a mobile game than a PC game. However, it was given away with Prime Gaming in October of 2021, less than a month after its release, and I admit that I don’t look too deeply into Amazon’s freebies past clicking “Claim Game”.

Tiny Robots Recharged is a diorama point & click puzzler. Although there’s no visual indicator for what can and cannot be interacted with, I never found it too difficult to figure out. Each level has three bright blue batteries to collect, as well as one more traditional style puzzle to complete. The levels are timed, and when you finish them, you’re awarded stars on the basis of how fast you completed them.

This isn’t really the kind of game you play for the story – although there is the barest whisper of a plot here. Your friends have been kidnapped, and you’re on a mission to save them. Every so often, a level is marked as a “boss” level, and although the puzzles are slightly more involved, and the visuals look more menacing, you never are in any real danger throughout.

The traditional puzzles are hit and miss. Each level has a screen which you interact with to activate the puzzle. Some are incredibly simple, like the Simon-style memory puzzle, or the one where you move a circle around a grid that only stops at walls. At least one puzzle type, I still have no idea what the game expected me to do – the two times I’ve encountered it, I’ve used the “skip puzzle” button since nothing I do seems to have any effect on the board state. A brief description of the puzzle type would have really come in handy here.

There are forty-nine levels in the story portion of the game, with seven of those being boss levels. Tiny Robots Recharged also has two other modes. The first is the puzzle room, where you can just solve a bunch of the traditional puzzles which increase in difficulty as you go. The other mode is called Outrun, which gamers of a certain age might recognize as a 3D Frogger game.

While I enjoyed the story mode, especially the cutesy 3D art style, I don’t feel pulled to continue playing, and unless you get really into the Outrun mode, I don’t anticipate it being particularly replayable. It’s fine for what it is, but there’s no denying the mobile game feel of it all.


SteamDB estimates that Tiny Robots Recharged has sold between 200 and 700 copies on Steam. The few reviews it has are positive, but it seems likely the the combination of being free-to-play on mobile devices and a large-scale giveaway less than a month after release didn’t do its sales figures any favors. It is ranked 2415 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – Milo and the Magpies (#JustOnePercent 82/100)

Developer: Johan Scherft
Release Date: September 7, 2021
MSRP: $1.99


Milo and the Magpies is a game that I almost passed over entirely after playing the demo back in 2020. Partially it was because I struggled with figuring out what I was supposed to do, but I admit, part of my hesitancy was that I basically expected the game to be priced far above what I would have been willing to pay for it. However, when I spotted that it was half price during the most recent Steam Summer Sale – and that the full price was only two dollars – I decided to give it another chance. I’m glad I did. It was a short, but very lovely experience.

You play as Milo, a cat on his way home across the rooftops – it’s just a normal day until you get scared by some birds, and have to abandon the roofs and make your way home through the yards of the neighborhood. Each area is it’s own chapter – you need to figure out how to get across the yard safely by manipulating things in the environment, solving some puzzles, and avoiding the magpies which seem to be trying to hinder your progress.

The backgrounds are detailed and beautiful, but they ended up making me switch over to my PC, rather than playing on the small screen of the Steam Deck as I had planned. It was hard to see all the details on the Deck, and the details very much matter. You are only occasionally allowed to zoom in on things, so at least for me, this was a game much better suited to a large monitor than a handheld system.

It’s also not always readily apparent what you can and cannot click on, nor is it obvious what clicking on things will do. For example, instead of moving Milo to a place of your choosing, clicking on your kitty avatar will cause him to move in a scripted pattern, which may have be nowhere near where you wanted him. This wasn’t a problem once I got used to the idea, and took my hints from those movements instead of trying to solve puzzles independently.

There are “secrets” to be found in each chapter, and I managed to get a few, but I’ll admit that I didn’t spend much time hunting for them. I would have liked to see an in-game hint system rather than being directed to a video walkthrough or the game’s Discord, and in the end, I settled for a text guide from the Community Hub on Steam when I found myself stumped, which was less often than I expected to. Overall, there’s only a couple of obtuse puzzles – most of the game makes sense, at least in that “adventure game logic” sort of way.

If you like adventure games, and you’re looking for something charming and (mostly) family friendly, Milo and the Magpies might be right up your alley. There is one scene which small children might be frightened by near the end, and there’s one pretty blatant drug reference in one of the yards you pass through, so bear those things in mind if you plan to play alongside children. The whole game probably won’t take much more than an hour to complete, but it’s really a very lovely hour.


SteamDB estimates that Milo and the Magpies has sold between 34,200 and 94,100 copies on Steam. Reviewers have almost all recommended it, and with the gorgeous art, adorable main character, and low-risk price point, it’s not hard to see why. It is ranked 38 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

In Review – August 2022 [#Blaugust2022]

  • At least 31 posts during the month of August & get the Blaugust 2022 Rainbow Diamond Award
  • Obtain the Blaugcheivement Platinum Trophy
  • Write at least 12 #JustOnePercent Project posts
  • Write at least 2 game-specific non-project posts
  • Do not forget this is all for fun and do not burn myself out
  • Read / listen to at least four books

Well, there’s another Blaugust in the rearview mirror, and what might be my first full crossed off list since I started using this format. I’m not going to say that I low-balled my goals for the month, but they were pretty focused, so I feel like this month was almost more of a pass-or-fail system than usual for me. I do think I got more of a feeling of satisfaction out of writing and scheduling ahead than I would have if I actually made it a daily practice, so I think that’s likely to influence how I put things together going forward.

Being a procrastinator in recovery is really weird sometimes.


GAMING

Data taken from ManicTime.

I toyed with the idea of dropping the chart entirely until I wrapped up the #JustOnePercent project, as jumping around to as many different games as I do right now makes the whole thing kind of meaningless. But with only three more months in the project, I think I’m going to just stick to it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was really looking forward to seeing what these look like from December on.

#JustOnePercent

The twelve games I covered in August were Lawn Mowing Simulator, Black Book, Life is Hard, Space Scavenger, Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery, Twelve Minutes, In Sound Mind, Tinytopia, The Big Con, Cloud Gardens, Lake, and Kitaria Fables. Only Kitaria Fables didn’t see a full hour of play time during August (although I played for several hours in July).

By some metrics, this may have been my most successful project month yet. Sure, there were a few games this month I didn’t much care for, but overall, I think I chose well for myself this month. I did scramble my schedule a bit to get my post out on In Sound Mind considerable earlier to participate in UnwiseOwl’s group Humble Choice review, but I felt like I had made and stuck to my schedule better than in previous months.

I saw credits on two games this month – Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery, and The Big Con – but most of the games I don’t feel like I need to go back to.

Non-Project Gaming

My non-project gaming also felt more focused this month, with only three additional games played on the Steam Deck (Zuma Deluxe, Going Under, and Magicmaker), and three on PC, including Card Hunter, which has been our co-op game night choice all throughout August. I feel like I’ve about exhausted the available content in Clanfolk; I have successfully unlocked almost the entire tech tree and managed to get through a winter well set-up for continued success. I expect this is a title I’ll revisit as it comes further along in its development.

The real wild card this month was Saint’s Row: The Third. This is a game I’ve played to completion in the past, as well as dabbled in a few times. A bit past the midpoint of the month, I found myself just really craving something chaotic and silly and brainless. While I considered a handful of titles, Saint’s Row ended up winning out, and I played it obsessively for a couple of days until the craving was satiated.

Gaming Related Spending

While August was an incredibly spendy month for me, very little of that was for gaming-related expenses. In fact, other than my regular subscriptions (Humble Choice and XBox Game Pass), I only made one other gaming related purchase. I picked up a couple of build your own bundles on Fanatical, where I nabbed a bunch of stuff that looked interesting at really good prices, but mostly, I wanted Aquarium Designer from one set and Unmemory from the other, and added other things that looked good to fill out the bundles. Total gaming related spending for August was only $35.


EVERYTHING ELSE

READING: I got through four more books in the 87th Precinct series, but this wasn’t a heavy reading month, at least not as far as books go, but I probably made up some of it in the sheer quantity of blog posts read. These audiobooks have been averaging about 5 hours, and this month, I found myself listening more often while cooking or baking as well as while crafting in order to meet my goals.

BLAUGUST: I managed to put out 31 posts during August (and only a couple of them were absolutely fluff). I also systematically worked my way through the Blaugcheivements, earning my first ever platinum trophy! No, seriously. While there are many nerdpoints to be had on PC, I think that Platinum Trophies are pretty much a console exclusive, and since that’s never been my jam this is my very first. I also think I did a better job of reading, Discord participation, and general networking this time around, so I am overall pleased with how I tacked this event this year.

That said, I don’t know how many more days I have in me for this streak; I’m perfectly happy with my 3-5 per week posting schedule, with occasional periods of less activity, for the other 11 months out of the year.

Nerd Girl Goals – September 2022

This is my 31st post for #Blaugust2022, and hooboy, am I glad that’s over. In all fairness, this was probably my easiest Blaugust yet, but trying to figure out what to write about every single day is harder for me than the actual writing (and that is taking into account how much easier it becomes when you’re looking at a minimum of twelve project games, as well as five themed posts). My ideal blogging schedule is somewhere in the vicinity of 3-5 posts a week, so going forward, I think I’ll try to keep that in mind when planning out my calendar.


GAMING

#JustOnePercent

Planned games for the #JustOnePercent Project for September are Milo and the MagpiesTiny Robots Recharged, The Artful Escape, Kraken Academy, I Am Fish, Gas Station Simulator, Gamedec, Guild of Ascension, If On a Winter’s Night Four Travelers, Embr, Dandy Ace, and Heliopedia.

This is probably the batch of games I swapped around more than any other. On my initial list, September was almost entirely made up of XBox Game Pass games. I ended up switching out some of those titles I was personally less interested in for things I’ve picked up here and there over the past few months, but for some reason, this batch still feels a bit overwhelming.

However, I now have the schedule as firmed up as it’s going to get through the end of November when I’ll finish up the project, which means I’ve got 36 more games on my list, and 81 behind me. If you add in the other dozen 2021 releases I wrote about before starting the project, that means by the beginning of December I will have played 129 of the 10,967 games released on Steam in 2021, or a whopping 1.18%.

The games I’m planning to play on the Deck for September are Milo and the Magpies, I Am Fish, If On a Winter’s Night Four Travelers, and Embr. For the goal list, it’s going to twelve project posts again this month.

Other Gaming

I’ve really been all over the place gaming-wise lately, but the one thing I am sure of is that I’d like to renew my World of Warcraft subscription. However, before I do so, I’d like to have a much better idea of what I plan to do with it, so I want to sit down and make up a list of pre-expansion goals. I’ve already pretty much decided that I’m unlikely to return to raiding when I’m more than a full patch behind as far as gear progression goes, but as long as I go back in with enough other things I’m interested in finishing up (or even working on from past expansions), I’ll probably get my money’s worth out of it.

With everything else I have on my plate in September, I’m going to avoid making any other game-specific goals this month. However, I would like to keep up with my more regular blog schedule, so I’m going to shoot for six non-project posts in September, which will put me in comfortably in the 5 posts per week zone. I just have no idea what they’re going to be about yet.


OTHER NERDSTUFF

Still keeping just a smidgen ahead of my yearly reading challenge on GoodReads.

Reading

While I’ve been enjoying my 87th Precinct Audiobook Reread, I think it’s time to start mixing it up a little bit. My Scribd audio TBR (and print TBR) list just keeps growing. While I’m a bit concerned that switching back to longer listens will hinder my ability to finish as many books as I’d like to, I’m also really ready for something different. In the spirit of compromise, I’ll task myself with only three books this month, which will give me a little more wiggle room for some listens longer than a few hours.

I’d also like to grab a couple of core rulebooks for TTRPG systems I’m unfamiliar with from DriveThruRPG, and start poking around in them. I’m ever-so-slightly toying with the idea of setting up some sort of short campaign to play online over the winter months, but most of the ideas I’m tumbling around with aren’t a great fit for any of the systems I have passing familiarity with. I’d like to pick up at least one “rules-light” system corebook that’s appropriate for more contemporary stories, and go from there.

Stitchcraft

Due to being over ambitious, I’m still working on a pair of rather hefty projects, but the deadlines I had set myself are already in the rearview mirror. Still, I’m probably about halfway through one of the two projects now that I’ve scaled it down in scope a little bit, so I’d like to have that one finished by the end of September.

However, since I know that I tend to get antsy when I don’t know what’s next project-wise (it’s a personality flaw), I’m going to try to get my next two projects picked out, and supplies ordered this month as well. I do have a little extra fun money burning a hole in my pocket, so while I’m ordering stuff anyway, I’ll probably pick up somewhere between a third and half of the supplies I’m going to need for my giant project, even though I’m still several months off from starting it. It’ll give me a little burst of joy to get some of that stuff actually in my hands (and will help me avoid being outrageously annoyed late on because this way I won’t have to card 90 colors of floss all at once).

Television

Although I almost always ignore my watching goals, I’m finding I’m starting to miss watching stuff, and my list of shows that I’m interested in never seems to stop growing. Of course, being forever behind has it’s advantages – sometimes the wait means that something I’ve been interested in gets cancelled, which means I won’t be stuck waiting for more seasons, but also, that there aren’t going to be any more seasons, which usually leads to unsatisfying endings.

Yes, I’m talking mostly about The Wilds, and no, I’m probably not going to bother watching it now.

However, the itch to re-up my Netflix sub to watch The Sandman is starting to be really difficult to ignore, which I realize is the absolute opposite of patient watching. At the very least, I’d like to look through other new-to-me stuff that Netflix is currently offering, and if I feel there’s enough value for a month or two of subscription cost, I’ll likely focus my watching efforts there until I’m satisfied and feel ready to cancel again.

Krikket’s Clubhouse

So far, I’m reasonably pleased with how my Discord server is shaping up, but I would really like to be more diligent about planning different sorts of activities. So, rather than setting goals related to the growth of the server – which I only have a little control over – I’m going to set myself a goal of planning at least six events during September, at least one of which will be something other than a watch party, craft & chat, or Codewords Online.


IN SUMMARY

Having typed all that out now, I realize I’m at risk of overloading myself to make up for all the stuff I got a crazy urge to do in August that I shelved to focus on #Blaugust2022. However, we’re also heading into the time of year that my interest in doing things surges, as the really hot days start to be the exception rather than the norm. I’m okay going a little bold with my goals this month.

  • Twelve posts for the #JustOnePercent Project
  • At least six posts unrelated to the #JustOnePercent Project.
  • Work up a list of pre-expansion goals for World of Warcraft.
  • Reactivate my World of Warcraft subscription.
  • Read / listen to any three books.
  • Pick up at least one core rulebook for a rule-light TTRPG system.
  • Finish up current stitching project.
  • Decide on my next two stitching projects and order supplies.
  • Figure out if there’s enough new-to-me stuff on Netflix to justify restarting my subscription.
  • Plan at least six Discord events, with at least one being a new type of event.

The Road to Platinum – #Blaugust2022 Blaugcheivements

Blaugcheivement Unlocked!

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.


As much as I love collecting achievements (or nerd points, as I started calling them soon after they were introduced in World of Warcraft back in 2008), I’ve never been particularly interested in trying to 100% most things. Even in games I’ve really loved and played to death, it seems like there’s always that one achievement that feels impossible, or forces you to play in a way that you don’t enjoy. I’ve mostly elected to collect nerd points only so long as I’m enjoying the process, which fits right in with my Play to Satsifaction theory.

Now, Blaugchievements are different. I knew when I started that I wanted the top trophy, and I was going to do whatever I could to get it. Now, just one day from the end of #Blaugust2022, I’m going to sum up my personal Road to Platinum.

(In all honesty, I was going to do most of this stuff anyway…)


The Post-Specific Blaugcheivements

Tips & Tricks for Staying Productive and Avoiding Burnout – August 2, 2022

Welcome to the Club(house) – August 5, 2022

The Spirits of Hobbies Past – August 12, 2022

Your Summer Safari – Five Photo-Snapping Games – August 7, 2022

Pay No Attention to the Nerd Behind the Curtain – August 9, 2022

Quick Look – In Sound Mind – August 15, 2022

Blaugust Reviews Humble Choice August 2022 – Unwise Owl – August 29, 2022

The Joy In Everything That’s Not Blogging – August 16, 2022

Pushing Through the Rough Spots – August 23, 2022

The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along – August 29, 2022


The Non-Post-Specific Blaugchievements

The non-post-specific Blaugchievements fall into one of two categories. About half are of the you played the game, have nerdpoints variety, and most of the rest are nebulous and harder to point to the moment of completion. Suffice it to say, that all of those I feel I completed over the course of the month, but there’s a couple I wanted to highlight.

Two folks signed up for #Blaugust2022, and explicitly gave me the credit for this achievement. If you haven’t popped in and said hi to Jaedia at Dragons and Whimsy or DarksydeTed at Dispatches from Darksyde, it’s not too late, go do that now.

Okay, this one specifically talks about sharing pet pictures in the Blaugust Discord, which I did, but you all deserve dog photos as well!


And In The End…

What would a series of achievements be if there was not a “Platinum Trophy”. This one is gained by completing all of the achievements above during Blaugust.

As of yesterday’s post, I completed the Going Platinum Blaugcheivement, and tomorrow, I will earn my Rainbow Diamond Award for the year with my September goals post. It’s been a wild ride again this year, and I am glad to have shared it with so many friends, both new and old.

Lessons Learned – Week Five – The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along


Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.


This is WEEK FIVE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Lessons Learned. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Lessons Learned Blaugchievement.

This will be my third Blaugust even where I paid attention to the themes and talked a little bit about what I took away from the experience. In 2019, I was mostly just glad to be writing again, and little bit relieved it was all over. Then last year, I reminded myself that getting the words out was the important part, and I needed to let go of that part of me that desperately needs everything to be done absolutely perfectly.

Well, my big takeaway from 2022 is almost as revelatory – everything is easier when you take the time to prepare yourself.

The Boy Scouts of America may not be the best example to follow for most things in life, but “Be Prepared” is a pretty excellent motto nonetheless.

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Because of the limitations of my energy, and my constant skirmishes with brain fog, I already have a pretty good focus on preparedness in the rest of my life. If I have a bunch of things I need to remember to take with me in the morning, I make sure to get them all together the night before. I make sure I have everything I need for the meals I plan to cook between grocery deliveries when I put in my order. Heck, I don’t even like to start a craft project until I have all the supplies I’m going to need for it.

Why did it never occur to me to apply this to my blogging before?

Sure, it didn’t stay this neat as I came up with new ideas and moved things around, but I never stumbled over thinking about what I was going to write for the entire month.

I have been keeping a content calendar – this was on my to list even before I decided to start up the #JustOnePercent Project, but it’s proved absolutely invaluable afterwards. None of my other series or projects had really stuck before this, but sitting down once a month, installing the games I planned to play the following month, and putting all the project posts onto a schedule has – mostly – kept me on track. I even started adding random post ideas that popped into my head, and adding things to the calendar after I’d already written them. I didn’t need to, of course – I could always look at the blog itself to see the posts I’d already made – but I liked the visual reminder of what I had accomplished.

Since I set my goals pretty high for #Blaugust2022, I decided to take it up a notch. What if, instead of just pre-planning my content, I started pre-writing it as well? I was already in the habit of scheduling posts; stuff that goes live in the morning tends to get more views than posts that go out when I tend to write in the evenings or at night. I gave myself a couple of dedicated blocks of time per week to work on posts, and thought I’d be very pleased to be 1-2 posts ahead at any given time.

A snapshot of my scheduled posts from August 7th, 2022.

It worked out better than I ever imagined. For the majority of the month, I’ve had somewhere between 5 and 7 posts scheduled at any given time, with usually one or two in progress in my drafts. Because I was working so far ahead, I didn’t feel rushed or pressured into playing games when I wasn’t in the mood, which I credit with both improving my enjoyment of and disposition towards my project games this month. Being ahead motivated me to stay ahead, and this was – without question – my easiest #Blaugust yet.


While what I learned about being prepared might be a good lesson for anyone, the other thing I learned this year is more personal. That is: the posts I write that are – in one way or another – very personal to me, are about 1000 times harder to write than any post I write about games, crafts, or anything else. The time spent actually writing is significantly longer, I do a ridiculous amount of editing and revision, and I find the whole thing emotionally exhausting.

I mean, sure, there’s some me in every post I make – as soon as you voice an opinion, you’re revealing something about yourself. But all of my life, I’ve been drawn to things that make me feel included without making me feel like the center of attention. I never auditioned for main roles, content to hang out in the chorus or, even better, behind the stage. I’d volunteer to photograph events so I wouldn’t have to be in the pictures. With very few exceptions, I’ve lived my life in a way that it was easy for me to be acknowledged, without every feeling like I was been seen.

I’m not 100% clear on where I am going with this, except to say, I plan to (mostly) continue as I have been, and as far as this blog is concerned, personal posts will continue to be the exception, and not the norm. I know this potentially diminishes my reach – after all, if I’m not giving you any compelling reason to come back for the person behind the keyboard, you might as well just read anyone else’s discourse on gaming and nerd stuff as mine. I can respect the desire to inject yourself into your work, and I do read quite a few blogs that are at least part personal journals, but it’s not what I want to be putting out into the world at this point in my life.

Quick Look – Going Under

One of the things I have been trying to do with my Steam Deck is to play games that are really best suited for using a controller. Sure, I have a controller for my PC, but it always seems like a hassle to dig it out, plug it it, and remember to unplug it before playing something I don’t want to use it for. I’m also not competent enough with the trackpads just yet to want to play anything with fiddly sorts controls intended to be done with a mouse. Because of this, I’ve been dipping into my collection of action roguelites that I’ve picked up in bundles and never even launched.

Going Under puts you in the stylish-but-comfortable shoes of an unpaid intern for Fizzle (a subsidiary of Cubicle). The job you applied for was in marketing, but the work you end up doing is in monster slaying. You see, underneath the offices of Fizzle are the remnants of failed start-ups past, and someone needs to get the basement cleaned out. That someone, unfortunately, is you.

Since Going Under is as much a scathing commentary on start-up culture and its profits-over-people mentality as it is a dungeon crawling game, it probably won’t be too much of a surprise to learn that you aren’t given the tools to do your job effectively. Instead, you’ll need to pick up whatever you can find in the bowels of this corporate hell and use it to bash in monster faces. In keeping with the game’s themes, the items you do manage to get your hands on will break very quickly – after all, those companies also had to cut costs wherever they could!

After the first tutorial-style run, each time you return to one of the defunct companies beneath your offices, you’ll be in for a three-floors-plus-a-boss run. Run out of health, and you’re onto another day at the office. Your co-workers will hand out tasks for you to complete during your crawls – some will need to be completed in a single run, but most are cumulative. Finishing these will open up mentorships with the different departments, which will grant you some kind of helpful boon on runs when you have that mentor equipped. More completed tasks will level up your mentors, increasing their helpfulness.

You’ll also pick up different skills during your runs. Some are available right from the start, others you’ll need to purchase from the front desk for one of the game’s currencies in order to be able to have a chance at finding them. Once you’ve used a skill enough times, you master it well enough to be able to lock it in at the employee kiosk (which is the same place you change your active mentor), which means you’ll start future runs with it already enabled.

I was a couple hours in, and starting to find that the game was wearing on me – there was so little margin for error, and the speed at which weapons became unusable was sucking all the joy out of finding a really good thing to smash with. The next time I loaded up the game, however, I noticed something I hadn’t before.

Assist options. Sign me up for some of that

I realize for a lot of people, using assist option like this is just sanctioned cheating. I also really don’t care what those people think. I started a brand new save, this time with 2 extra hearts, as well as higher weapon durability and lower enemy health. The game changed from something I was on the verge of shelving completely to something that I personally was finding very satisfying to play. I mean, I’m still not good at it, but using the assist options means I’m actually learning how to play the game instead of just being a dead, disappointing intern all the time.

Quick Look – Kitaria Fables (#JustOnePercent 81/100)

Developer: Twin Hearts
Release Date: September 2, 2021
MSRP: $19.99


Kitaria Fables is actually a game I picked up during the most recent Steam Summer Sale, because it looked adorable and like it’d be a great fit for the Steam Deck. I’m kind of a sucker for a game where you save the world, but also take care of your home & your farm. Make no mistake, it is absolutely adorable, but man, it’s a chore to play.

The story is fairly generic. You are a soldier tasked with protecting the citizenry of Paw Village from the monsters that have started coming back, years after they were believed to have been permanently defeated. You were given this specific assignment because your grandfather once lived in the town, so conveniently, you get to live in his house. Very early on, you’re introduced to a sage who gives you a book to read, and in this way, you discover you come from a line of magic wielders, but since magic has been outlawed, what’s a small kitty soldier to do?

My answer was shooting fireballs at things, while retrieving relics from dungeons and putting down the monster uprising.

This would probably be a pretty great little game, except for one thing. Absolutely everything about it feels like it exists solely to pad play time. You don’t gain experience and level up like in traditional RPGs – instead, you grind like mad for obscene amounts of materials to craft weapons and armor and spells and anything else you could possibly thing of. This is the only way you get stronger, through gathering materials and crafting.

I may have been able to get on board with the grindiness of it all, except for one thing. The walking. Dear god, the walking. There are – very limited – teleportation shrines available, but even the walk from the town shrine to your home to sleep feels like it takes an eternity. Add in the loading screens between each and every small map segment, and it becomes very tedious, very quickly. Most places you go will necessitate walking through several areas, which of course are full of monsters, and it wasn’t long before I was attempting to just stroll right past pretty much everything because it was all taking far too long.

Even the farming elements are nothing to get excited about. It’s just more side content in a game that feels like it’s already got more side content than anything else. Sure, you can grow things to gain the good will of the townsfolk, or to cook things to replenish your health, but it’s not all that interesting, and if you like breaking boxes, you could probably just buy food throughout the entire game and not feel the hit to your wallet.

While the art & music is good, everything else about Kitaria Fables is bland. It’s not a game that will leave a bad taste in your mouth, necessarily, but rather one that feels like you’ve eaten nothing at all.


SteamDB estimates that Kitaria Fables has sold between 18,100 and 49,800 copies on Steam. More players were happy with this title than not, but negative reviews tend to focus on the excessive amount of grinding required as well as a not-very-coherent storyline. It is ranked 3141 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.