Throwback Thursday 7/17/2014

I was digging through old screenshots and I found one of the earlier screenshots of my husband and I before we started dating. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any of the Zul’Aman screenshots from before we guilded him; That would have been closer to when we first met. WoW isn’t a perfect game and we had our share of in-game drama but we sure did have some good times.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

I feel mildly ashamed that I let Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons sit in my Steam library for over half a year, fully knowing that it was a very good title that does not consume too much time (it is about 4 hours in length). Brothers is a third-person adventure game developed by Starbreeze Studios; It follows the journey and adventures of two brothers as they struggle to find a cure for their ill father. You can play technically Brothers with either a keyboard or a controller but I would highly recommend using a controller.

Single player co-op is probably the best wording that I can use to describe the gameplay: You control two brothers simultaneously to solve puzzles and progress within the game. The left stick and left trigger are used for one brother, the right stick and right trigger are used for the other. It is a control scheme that feels unique and is used to full advantage narratively to the point where Brothers is probably one of the few games to offer a near perfect marriage between narrative and gameplay.

One of the beautiful aspects about this game is that it tells a story with zero dialog. There is no flavor text, there is really no user interface, and all voices in the game are spoken in a fictitious language (ala Simlish). Aside from 2 or 3 diagrams showing the player how to use the controller, there are no in-game explanations and very little plot exposition; The entire story is dictated through action, body language, and tone of voice.

It is a gorgeous looking game with a stylized cartoon aesthetic, meaning that it probably run on just about anything. I guess if I had any criticisms it would be that the puzzles are satisfying to complete but not entirely that difficult, probably at least partially due to many of the puzzle mechanics being repeated quite often, such as the climbing puzzles, and the lever puzzles, etc. The controls are a bit awkward when the camera shifts around or really, any situation where you are forced to use the left stick to control the brothers on the right side of the screen and visa versa. I did not feel that the this detracted from the game experience, but it is worth noting.

If you can catch it on sale, Brothers literally costs a couple of dollars at most. It is still well worth picking up even at full price.

Clash of Clans [iOS]

After hearing about Clash of Clans on and off for about a year or so, I finally gave in and downloaded it (free-to-play). I guess what I expected was something akin to Rage of Bahamut or Guardian Cross, in that I was assuming it would be yet another thinly-veiled in-game purchase money making scheme with mechanics no more complicated than tapping one or two buttons every x seconds/minutes. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found instead: Clash of Clans is a decently polished and well fleshed out free-to-play resource management/base building strategy game. It’s kind of like a multi-player tower defense game.

There are 3 resources to manage: Gold, elixir and gems. The latter of which is available for in-app purchase (also obtainable in small amounts via unlocking achievements). Units, buildings, and upgrades cost a x amount of either gems or gold to build on top of a build time. Gems can be used to refill your gold and gems or to complete buildings instantly; That is, at least to my understanding based off of 3 days worth of play, the extent of the monetization in this game. There’s no invite referral bonus and there really isn’t any player tradable in-game currency or economy. I also don’t feel like I am being pushed to buy gems since everything within the game at this point is easily achievable by just playing the game or waiting for upgrades/buildings to finish. I guess, the mere fact that I felt compelled to dedicate an entire paragraph to basically say that this game doesn’t feel like a scam says something about the state of mobile gaming, but whatever.

I don’t know what the Clash of Clans end game is like since I have not yet joined a clan. As of now it’s a pretty fun game. So if you are looking for something like this, I would highly recommend giving Clash of Clans a try.

The 2014 Steam Summer Sale


Another Steam Summer Sale has come and another Steam Summer Sale has gone. I used be be super jazzed about the Steam sales during the first and second iteration but at this point, I am fairly certain that I have graduated past the point of caring beyond checking  Steam once or twice a day. I highly suspect that this newfound lack in interest is mostly in part to me already owning virtually every sub $5 title that I could really ever want and well, not really having that much free gaming time.

There is a Steam library calculator floating around on the internet somewhere that is quite good at depicting the sad reality of having purchased hundreds if not over thousands of dollars worth of games and not having played many of them. On paper, my played status isn’t too bad; The site stated that about a third of my library has not been played. If you factor out all of the games that I have played for under 10 minutes, then it is probably  closer to half of my library, which isn’t too great. I did end up buying two things. So this year’s haul:

Borderlands 2
I stopped playing Borderlands 1 about the time that I realized that it was effectively, a cheeky FPS non-massively multiplayer version of World of Warcraft; grindy questing mechanics and all. That said, it is clearly a game that was designed to be played in co-op versus single player and I probably should have played it as such but the disadvantage of picking up multiplayer games way past the peak is that there is frequently no one to coop with. Dave and I picked Borderlands 2 up during the Steam Sale: More of the same but more fun with other people.

To The Moon
I didn’t know too much about this game other than a handful of the YouTube streamers that I watch had said that the story was pretty decent if not kind of sad and that it was made using RPG Maker. Technically speaking, I am unsure if I can really classify To The Moon as a game in the traditional sense since I am not sure if it even has a failure state at any point. Regardless, this is probably one of the only games that I played and finished immediately after purchase. Gameplay is pretty basic to say the least, but I really enjoyed the story and the music. It was also only around $2.

Wildstar: Days 1 and 2

One of my awesome friends gave me one of her Wildstar guest passes, which has been allowing me play without having to drop $60. I am a human exile medic, soldier path. To be honest, I really don’t know what any of these character choice mean or imply in terms of leveling or end-game, but I figured that I would just roll with whatever and then reap the consequences of my decision later, assuming that I even choose to purchase the full game.


The character designs are a little too much on the cartoony side for my tastes, but that it a personal nitpick at best especially given my WoW background. That said, the game as a whole especially the outdoor environments look very well polished; Everything is vibrant and smooth with lots of detail to the point where many of my screenshots look like they were taken straight out of a concept art book. Pretty awesome.


Questing so far seems pretty typical to what one would expect from a modern MMO; I am unsure if there is much else to say about questing other than I am not sure that it is a good thing that quest trackers are pretty much a default feature in all new RPGs. Is this really what questing has come down to? Following the arrow? …but that’s more of a criticism of the genre as a whole than of the game itself.

The combat system has an action RPG element that is pretty fun. Most abilities are “free-form” in the sense that you don’t have to click and select a target to attack. Instead, most attacks are AoE spells using something called the telegraph system. When you cast a spell, the area of effect will be layed out on the battlefield in the form of a colored shape, which will also indicate casting time, channeling, spell type, etc. The unique thing is that, when targets attack you can see their telegraphs as well, allowing you to move out of the way.

All-in-all there seems to be a much greater focus on action (light platforming, no auto attack, sprinting, etc). I look forward to exploring this system further. From what I hear, status effects will actual effect the way you play the game in the sense that when you are blinded your area of visibility is greatly reduced and so forth (versus being a statistic on the screen).


Transistor (PC)

Two new games that I have been interested were released recently: Transistor and Watch Dogs. Transistor was cheaper so I picked it up on Steam. It is an action role playing game by Supergiant Games, the studio behind Bastion. Transistor and Bastion share a lot of common denominators and at the surface level, appear to be fairly similar: Same colorful isometric stylized cartoon aesthetic, same genre (action roleplaying), very little exposition, same style of narrative style in that much of the story is dynamically narrated but this time in the form of an actual character (err talking word).

Transistor diverges from Bastion in terms of gameplay and overall tone. Though they share a similar aesthetic, Transistor is more technological noir in contact to Bastion’s apocalyptic wild west vibe if that makes any sense. Bastion was more or less, twitched based action whereas Transistor is fairly strategy oriented. Combat gameplay is split into two parts: There’s a real time combat aspect typical to any action game and then there is a planning mode that allows you to pause combat, queue up actions and moves, then resume combat to execute your plan.

As a whole, it’s a great game so far. But that said, it’s just not a game that grips on to me and makes me yearn to play it for more than about 30 to 45 minutes at a time. I am unsure if it is the game or of it is just me and my increasingly small game attention span/free time. I don’t know. Regardless, definitely worth a play.

Odds, Ends & Good Causes: May the 4th

First off: I guess this really isn’t within the wheelhouse of topics that I usually post about on this site but if you can spare some change, a donation to support Team Ashely for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation would be very much appreciated. It’s a good cause to support a good friend.

The 4 games that I have been playing recently are: Diablo III and FTL: Advanced Edition on my computer and then Threes and Neuroshima Hex on my phone (damn fine strategy board game available for both iOS and Android if anyone is looking for one). Diablo wise: I kind of want to switch back to my stun build because of the bracers that dropped last week, but I kind of don’t want to give up the movement speed bonus from the Tempest Rush build despite the fact that I’m not sure it really is all that damage efficient. Well, that and the fact that it is a kind of a squishy build as I am almost completely reliant on movement speed bonuses, which is fine and dandy until I get jailed or teleported into the middle of a green/arcane/fire poo pile in between seven sided strike cooldowns :/.


  • In between books at the moment. Deciding between either Wool by Hugh Howey or The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Complete Edition) is now on Netflix. It’s a great movie to watch if you can ignore things lot plot and physics.
  • Yesterday was a bachelorette party of sorts and well, a good time was had by all (beer, friends, and games). Also almost done with wedding stuff so, yay!

Site wise: I changed the layout/format of the seldom updated image gallery a bit and added a new category (I like birds and apparently they occupy like half of the photos that I take).

FTL: Advanced Edition


So FTL: Advanced Edition is pretty great and I am pretty sure that it has semi-offically replaced Diablo III: RoS as this week’s gaming fix (possibly in part to the servers being kind of messed up the other day). But anyway, it’s a pretty beefy update adding in new systems, a new race, new events, new weapons, UI improvements amongst other things. The new systems and new race and a decent level of strategy and depth to the existing game (yay clone bay + reconstructive teleporter combo). If for whatever reason you want to disable the new additions, you can go vanilla with an option on the new game screen.

So if you are like me and had forgotten that this game existed, it is definitely worth picking up again, especially given that Advanced Edition not only adds an expansion pack level of content to the game, but does so at no additional cost. If you don’t own it, FTL only costs around 10 dollars if that. It is also now available on the iPad but not iPhone T_T. Overall, new additions or not FTL is probably one of the most fun that I have had getting blatantly and repeatedly screwed over in a game.

MMO Superstitions

Dave and I were reminiscing about WoW the other day and got on the topic of MMO superstitions. For whatever reason back in OG Naxxramas, it was a pretty widespread belief that killing or not killing Mr. Bigglesworth would alter the loot drop quality, rate, and/or the boss difficulty to the point of guild drama outbreaks.

We used to have a weird superstition about loot seeding back in Vanilla and part of the Burning Crusade. Basically, loot drops aren’t determined upon boss death but are pre-determined when the instance ID is created. We strongly believed that whoever created the raid ID would in turn seed the drops that would appear (I am pretty sure that there was a blue post stating that a time stamp was used to seed the RNG and that there wasn’t anything that a player could do within the game to influence the outcome of the RNG). So every raid, we would intentionally have certain ‘lucky’ guild members create the raid and the raid ID.

Anyway, there was a period of time at around late Molten Core and early-ish Blackwing Lair where we would literally get almost nothing except for Warlock gear. I am pretty sure there were 3 consecutive weeks where Razorgore dropped double Nemesis bracers. Double warlock tier piece dropped on at least 2 other bosses. For whatever reason we correlated the bad RNG luck with the same person ‘seeding’ the raids every week. I guess looking back, it was kind of a silly thing to believe.

ACNL: Bunny Day


I have fallen out of habit of playing Animal Crossing daily for the sake of fawning over Diablo III: ROS when I have spare time. So the fallout of not having played ACNL for two weeks? Cherry moved out and there were a few weeks to pull, otherwise not a whole lot. Sadly, now that I have all pictures from all current Chulak residents thanks to April Fool’s Day, I really don’t care. (Cherry least of all, I wanted her to leave).

I did remember to turn on my 3DS for the Bunny Day event. The problem with the egg event was that you needed a wetsuit in order to obtain one of the six eggs which I did not have. Luckily the island had one on sale. Unluckily I had zero badges and the only tours that were available were the ones that I disliked the most. It took about 40 minutes or so to farm all 40 badges. Yay completionism.