Looking Towards Lower-Spec Gaming

While I’m still not sure exactly what’s wrong with my PC, in an attempt to minimize frustration, I decided to figure out what I might want to play that probably won’t result in a whole bunch of random crashes. I figured the best way to go about that is to look for some games that will run on machines significantly less beefy than mine is supposed to be.

And, of course, get that a nice little boost of happiness that comes from buying stuff.

Humble is currently running their spring sale, through May 21st, and with my extra discount from being a Humble Choice subscriber, some of the prices were way too good to pass up. My intention was primarily to only pick up games I could play right now, but I grabbed Lake Ridden anyway, even though its system requirements may be a little steeper than what I can necessarily handle at the moment.

My other two pickups were perfect for my current situation. Shortest Trip to Earth is practically being given away, so I was willing to take the risk that I might find the difficulty and RNG annoying. I expect to dabble in it when I don’t have a lot of a time to put in.

My other purchase – Din’s Legacy – was still a little more than I usually spend on a whim, but the combination of it’s bargain basement system requirements and the fact that I’ve been obsessively collecting Soldak games for awhile made the choice easy for me. Each new title they release adds a new, really interesting mechanic, and this time, it’s mutation.

As you level up, you get both random effects added to different abilities, as well as mutation points, which you can use to grab random abilities from other classes. I’m pretty sure this will make every single character notably different, and since everything is also procedurally generated and dynamic, the replayability here is off the charts.

There are 39 base classes (although the majority of them need to be unlocked through game play), and I expect that, like its predecessor Din’s Curse, this game is going to eat up a whole lot of my time. I put over three hours into it on day one, and I don’t even feel like I’ve really gotten started yet.


Of course, I’d still like to poke away at things already in my library.

The first bit of good news is that – again, just going off of system requirements – I should still be able to play Distortions for #MusicGameMay, and now that I’ve finally knocked out getting BfA flying in World of Warcraft, I plan to start that up in the next few days.

I’m optimistic that I will still be able to participate in the Long Live the Queen! blogger succession game of Civilization VI, but I expect my intention of learning more about the game on my own time is probably off the table for the time being. I should be able to get through 10 turns without locking up my system (especially if I shut down everything else and turn down the graphics a bit), but I’m not entirely sure I want to try to play for extended periods.

A few other things I’ve downloaded from my library to play around with are Saint’s Row 2, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 / OpenRTC 2, Rocwood Academy, Mutazione, and the Framed Collection.

I don’t expect that having to go somewhat low-spec for awhile is going to be too awful – rather, I feel like it might pull me towards spending time with both some older titles and some less graphically intensive indie games I’ve been picking up along the way.


For those keeping track at home, and my own accountability, I’m currently at a total spend of $34.28 of my $100 budget for Stay-At-Home game spending.

Achieved It! – Pathfinder Part 2

After a lot of complaining, and an absurd amount of character death considering it was all open world content, I have finally managed to finish up Pathfinder Part 2.

I’m sure a lot of this would have been less annoying if I did the content when it was fresh, but of course, with Impressive Influence on, it also would have taken twice as long. My pre-8.2 gear didn’t do me any favors – each and every trash mob seemed to hit like a boss, and if I pulled an elite without the assistance of other random players in the area or my earth elemental, I was running back to my body.

In fact, just as this achievement popped, I was frantically running away from a herd of mechanospiders with just a sliver of health remaining. This was not an uncommon occurrence.

Note the lovely red tinge indicating I was very very close to a corpse run.

I still have 13 days remaning of my 30 day subscription, and I will likely go back and see if I can scrounge up some extra gold before my sub runs out.

For now, though, I’m not going to think about naga or mechagnomes for a couple of days.

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.

Recommendations from the Indie MEGABOOTH Steam Sale

The Indie MEGABOOTH Going Away (For Now) sale on Steam is running through May 12, and although it’s a fantastic sale on a bunch of great indie games, the reason for it is a little sad. Although I’ve only ever attended one gaming convention, I loved the experience, but I can’t blame anyone for wanting to take a hiatus until the state of the world is a little less uncertain.

The Indie MEGABOOTH is a traveling showcase of passionate creators working together to bring independent games to the forefront of the gaming community and conference goers’ minds. Our mission is to give thoughtful, atypical games exposure to new audiences. Since 2011, we’ve created a network for developers and creative communities to support each other and connect these dev teams with fans, publishers, and platform holders in mutually beneficial partnerships.

https://indiemegabooth.com/about/

Without hitting any duplicates from my LudoNarracon2020 recommendations, a few games that I think are worth picking up on this sale if you feel so inclined to toss a few dollars towards some indie developers during this sale.

Reus – 75% off – $2.49

Despite being one of the most played games in my Steam library, I’m always a little apprehensive about recommending Reus. Because sadly, it’s not a very good god game, which is what drew me toward it initially.

What it is instead is a really fantastic puzzle game. If you enjoy figuring out how different elements work together, and unlocking a bajillion unlocks, you will probably enjoy playing Reus. Despite having played it for over 100 hours, I still haven’t managed to unlock everything that’s available (although, that’s probably because I keep resetting all my unlocks after taking extended breaks from the game).

It’s been cheaper in the past, and it’s been bundled quite a few times, so it might already be in your library collecting dust, but on the off chance it isn’t, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys puzzlers (and doesn’t mind doing a little out of game research or muddling through the process of discovery).

Cook, Serve, Delicious 2 – 75% off – $3.24

Although it might be hard to believe about a game that is so fast-paced, I actually find Cook, Serve, Delicious 2 to be almost meditative once I get into it. It definitely requires your full attention to complete the levels, but it also gives you practice levels and zen modes for you to work up your muscle memory without so much pressure. It’s another game that’s not for everyone, but if it’s up your alley, there’s a lot of game here.

Catlateral Damage – 75% off – $2.49

Some cats just want to watch the world burn. Oh, who am I kidding? That’s all cats! Catlateral Damage lets you be the cat, and you get to run around, knocking over anything and everything you can get your paws on. Sure, it’s silly, but it’s also weirdly satisfying.

Probably not a good fit if you don’t like cats, collectibles, or wrecking stuff, but for most people, it’s worth a pick up just to mess around with.

Star Crawlers – 90% off – $1.99

I can’t say too much about this one yet, as I just picked it up myself, but after an hour or so I can say that it’s a solid little sci-fi dungeon crawler being sold at a fantastic price. It’d been on my wishlist for a very long time, and I couldn’t resist the deal.

It’s got a first person perspective, grid-based movement, and two different types of combat. Although you’ll have plenty of things to stab or shoot, you also have to keep up with your hacker deck, which is a secondary sort of combat necessary to progress through the story.

With multiple classes and difficulty levels, it looks like it could be pretty replayable, but it’s got a pretty lengthy story, and you could easily get upwards of 50 hours for your $2.

Social Isolation Together: The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology

This post is part of a new series that I plan to keep up as long as we’re still seeing recommendations to socially isolate in the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I prettied up the basic graph depicting the player types & their motivations.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about multiplayer gaming experiences, and how we interact with each other in virtual worlds. I am still adamant in my belief that I don’t really want to play games with others. At the same time, I’m watching my husband struggle with limited gaming interests, but an overwhelming social one.

So when I saw something about the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology on my Twitter timeline, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take the quiz, even though I was pretty sure I already knew how it’d come out.

Explorers delight in having the game expose its internal machinations to them.  They try progressively esoteric actions in wild, out-of-the-way places, looking for interesting features (ie. bugs) and figuring out how things work.  Scoring points may be necessary to enter some next phase of exploration, but it's tedious, and anyone with half a brain can do it.  Killing is quicker, and might be a constructive exercise in its own right, but it causes too much hassle in the long run if the deceased return to seek retribution.  Socializing can be informative as a source of new ideas to try out, but most of what people say is irrelevant or ol dhat.  The real fun comes only from discovery, and making the most complete set of maps in existence.

The paper on which the quiz is based is a bit dated now – games have evolved quite a bit since 1996 – and because of this, I don’t think the result is as applicable to modern multiplayer gaming experiences as it could be.

But it also makes sense. I mostly treat MMOs as single player games with a chat box. I almost never take advantage of “optional multiplayer” content, and I am resentful of games that don’t allow me to progress in the main game without calling in back-up. I am slightly more achievement-obsessed than my results would indicate, but I think that has more to do with me being a goal-motivated person in general than any real comment about what part of the game is actually the most fun for me.

I guess it’s no surprise then that I prefer to socialize by talking about gaming rather than playing games together. Connecting with other gaming-centric bloggers is a way for me to say “Look at this cool thing I found!” while letting others tell me about the cool things they found.

I’m also wondering what contemporary games best service these diverse player types – where can I get my primary need for exploration met while allowing someone else to meet their primary need for socialization? Is there a game that would allow an explorer and a killer to play together and both walk away satisfied. And if these games don’t exist, is it because it’s not marketable to put extended effort into making everyone happy, or is it because it’s just not possible?

Nerd Girl Goals – May 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

I’m fairly sure this most recent bounce off of Borderlands is permanent. I’ve hit a point where my level, gear and solo ability leaves me nothing to do but grind forever or get a co-op partner, neither of which I have any intention of doing.

So for May – at least to start off – I’m going to take my first dive on into Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and see how that goes for me. I’ve never gotten particularly far in any AC game, but I’m optimistic since this one is sort of a soft reboot, I might be more successful.

#MusicGameMay – Community Game-Along

I always try to pick a game for the Community-Game-Along before it starts for the month, but with the understanding it might not work for me, so I should probably have a backup (or two, or three). But I’m going to ‘fess up – Distortions sounded so neat I booted it up the other day just to take a quick peek, and I think I’m going to like it.

I hope. Fingers crossed.

I did make a Dynamic Category on Steam for games that are tagged “Music”, and I have a couple of good back-up options, including Conga Master, Rock God Tycoon, and Brutal Legend.

Other Gamestuff

World of Warcraft: With an active sub through the majority of the month, I want to finish out Pathfinder Part 2, and see if I can scrounge up enough gold to replace the token I used. I may even put some time into leveling my paladin & priest, who are both in BfA content since the experience buff is still active, but if I’m being real, I’m likely just going to fly around and pick flowers on my druid for money.

Civilization VI: With the collaborative game I’m part of at the moment, I’d like to spend some more time with this solo as well, so I’m maybe not going to get us obliterated the next time my turns roll around.

In general, I really just want to make a deal with myself that I’m going to spend more than 10-15 minutes with a game before tossing it back into the pile of things un-played. And also, that I will play the things I’m letting myself buy under the stay-at-home exception to Low Spend 2020.

Watching

The final episode of the first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is airing this weekend, so next week, I’ll be settling in with some popcorn and a box of tissues to watch the final two episodes back to back.

I’d also like to keep on with watching Grimm, because I’m both enjoying it and making really good progress on my cross-stitch while I’m doing so.


I am expecting the entire month of May is also going to be spent in social isolation, and as such, I’m going to – more than anything else – set a goal to be patient with myself. Things that usually come easily to me are feeling more and more like monumental tasks.

I’m usually pretty good at dispensing nuggets of wisdom, now I just have to learn to remember that they apply to me as well.

Long Live the Queen! Turns 41-50

The Project Explained

Long Live the Queen is a collaborative Civilization VI base game play through and blogging project conceived of by Naithin at Time to Loot. We have 8 players, and each player is responsible for taking 10 turns and writing about our progress. I drew fifth in the randomly generated line-up, which leaves me to work on the grand empire of England for turns 41-50.

The Story So Far…

Turns 1 – 10: Naithin Gets Us Started

Turns 11-20: Rakuno Does Some Exploring

Turns 21-30: Paeroka Has an Eye Towards Expansion

Turns 31-40: Tessa founds Leeds


The first thing you have to know about me is that when I play Civilization, I play lazy – usually on the lowest difficulty, lots of exploring & automated movement, and since I’m almost always headed for a science, diplomacy or culture victory, I make just enough units to not get murdered while rushing research and making more cities than I can reasonably handle.

For this project, however, I’m trying to play somewhat more meticulously, and even still, ten turns goes by super fast.

However, if you are a lazy gamer, like I am, you might have the option to auto-end turns set to on. I usually pay very little attention to such things, and when I run out of things I can do, I’m fine with the game pushing me forward.

With having to end at a specific point, I had to turn this off. Oops. Thank goodness for autosaves.


The map state when I started playing.

I took a minute initially to panic over the barbarians in Leeds before I examined them more closely and discovered that they were actually warriors belonging to Carthage, which is decidedly less of a scary situation. Leeds is going to be working on that archer far longer than I’m going to be here, so I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that slinger I have in the neighborhood is enough to keep the city safe while I focus on a few … side projects.

On turn 42, I am able to get us rolling with a Pantheon, and while there are many choices that probably maybe could be beneficial, I’m going to look a little more big picture. I choose to go with Religious Settlements, as there are a lot of appealing looking tiles just outside the borders of both of our cities, and expansion leads to population growth, and it’ll be no time at all before everyone is wearing our blue jeans and listening to our rock music, right?

Barbarians are starting to poke their heads up from the area just south of Leeds, so I send our slinger over to dissuade them. There are also barbarians coming up from the southwest of London that our lone scout almost walked into. I grab our newly created archer from London proper, and go to help out the scout. Considering how much coastline there is nearby, I decide to set London’s production to a galley, for some faster, safer exploration.

I think we’ve got a solid little empire going on, but then Gilgamesh pops up to throw some shade our way.

We are true friends with the smaller civilizations. We appreciate that you recognize this fact.

Gilgamesh, circa 2200 BC

While still trying to deal with barbarians (who aren’t much of a threat, but are kind of annoying), our Civic research finishes. I’m given the option to change our policies, but decide not to mess with things I don’t much understand at this juncture. However, it does fall on me to decide what to research next. After a few minutes of … um … having no idea what to pick, I finally went with Early Empires.

This civic will increase our production towards settlers, make purchasing tiles less expensive, and allow us to negotiate open borders with other civilizations, and fits in nicely with my expansionist tendencies.

On turn 47, my galley is ready to start exploring, and I start production of a builder. True confession: I don’t 100% get builders in this game – with the new “three build” restriction in this iteration of the game, my normal tactic of make them and set them to automate obviously isn’t going to be useful. While I’m glad I didn’t have to decide what to do in regards to builders this go around, I figure UnwiseOwl will probably make good use of one.

Another turn of exploring & beating up barbarians. Our slinger gets offered a promotion, and although I suspect our archers have made him mostly redundant, I take Volley (+5 ranged strength vs land units).

In turn 49, two things happen. First, we finish researching horseback riding, and yet again, I have to choose our next research. I go with mining, as it’s the last one we haven’t researched from that tier, and nothing else available feels so urgent as to skip over it entirely. We also meet our fourth (last?) companion civilization leader.

Pedro II of the Brazilians seems nice enough, but I tell him that I’m much too busy to chat right now.

My brief stint as the ruler of England was basically pretty chill, and I leave our empire the in the capable hands of UnwiseOwl. The save file is available to download here.