A while back I bought some of the old The Settlers games off of GOG. Tonight I finally tried to play them. Settlers 3 had some challenges under Windows 11 but the GOG community had sorted them out and I got up and running without too much bother, but this one might be a bit TOO retro for me. At first I was running it at 640×480 because I forgot that back in the day there was a separate .exe file you’d run to access things like resolution!
So I went from this:
Definitely an improvement. I couldn’t figure a way to run it in Windowed mode though, and it didn’t much like being Alt-Tabbed out of. There’s also, as far as I could tell, no way to zoom in/out and it just felt like a lot of the UI was going to take a bit too much brain-rewiring.
I decided to move forward a few years and try The Settlers IV which runs at a glorious 1280×1024! Which, OK, doesn’t look that much better in a blog post but when actually playing it felt a lot easier on the eyes.
It also has a much nicer UI, mouse wheel support to zoom in & out (the header image is of my baker, zoomed pretty much all the way in), and most importantly a time skip button. Neither game lets you adjust game speed as far as I can tell, but Settlers 4 skips head some amount of time (10-15 seconds, maybe?) when you tap the F12 button.
I also have The Settlers: Heritage of Kings, which is effectively Settlers V, but I haven’t installed that one yet. (I bought them all as a bundle for a bit less than $6 US.)
I’m not usually a retro gamer but I guess I’ve just been feeling nostalgic for the old days when I was all about the strategy. Not sure how far I’ll go with any of this but just installing them and booting them up and watching the low-res intro videos and stuff has been oddly enjoyable. For $6 I feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.
Another short recap. The bad times I mentioned in my January recap ran into February and only in the last week or so have things really started to ease. I’m trying to appreciate the lack of crisis.
This was the month I pulled way way back on social media. I am not missing it, at least not now. I do maintain a Twitter account which I use mostly to follow games. I’ve been gradually unfollowing actual people. I deleted Mastodon, deleted Discord. I’d delete a bunch of others if I ever used them but remembering them and logging in just to try to figure out how to delete the account just seems like too much effort.
Even when work and stuff was just crushing me into a paste, I could feel this one parcel of my brain was feeling lighter thanks to avoiding the toxicity and toxic positivity of social media. The free periods I used to spend doom scrolling I’m now devoting to reading, which feels like a much better use of my time.
The one exception is Facebook, of all things, where I’ve found a small enclave of folks I’ve known for literal decades and who’re mostly content to exchange pleasantries now and then. It’s super low volume and hopping in once a day even feels like overkill. So that suits me pretty well for now. But damn is Facebook creepy. I bought a pair of windshield wiper blades from Amazon and literally within 5 minutes my Facebook feed was full of ads for wiper blades.
Anyway, on to the recap.
Last Month’s Games
Genshin Impact has been taking up like 90% of my gaming time. Still really loving it (obviously) and it’s been the perfect escapist kind of game for these trying times.
The other 10% is a bit of The Witcher 3 and a tiny slice of Persona 3 Portable which, in theory, I’m playing on the Steamdeck in bed. Except I’ve been staying up so late I tend to just collapse into sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. It’s a great fit for Steamdeck though, considering it was originally designed for a portable device.
Pillars of Eternity is, I guess, dropped.
New Games This Month
The Last of Us has been incredibly enjoyable for us. I, of course, have played the game. Angela has not. I think we both enjoy the show about the same amount.
The Bad Batch isn’t grabbing us as much as the first season did. We are in season 2, right?
Poker Face is a new kind-of detective show, I guess? It’s about a woman (played by Natasha Lyonne) who has one ‘supernatural’ ability in that she can always tell when someone is lying. But she is on the run from some bad dudes and from the cops. She keeps stumbling upon crimes and opting to solve them. We, and a lot of others, are picking up kind of a Columbo vibe.
And we’re still grinding through Star Trek Voyager. On the last season and I feel like you can just watch the writers running out of ideas/interest.
Oh and Picard S3 but that’s just barely started. So far we’re digging it.
I’ve also been watching a lot of soccer. EPL and US Women’s National Team, plus MLS just started.
Lola was having some health issues in Jan/Feb and wasn’t up to walking much, but still wanted to be outside. So I was standing around a lot, and started back on The Expanse novels, reading via the Kindle app on my phone. It feels good to be reading something again. Nemesis Games is the book I’m on.
And that’s the recap. Maybe my last recap; I’ve been thinking a lot of turning off the blog. But I won’t go into all that just now.
The last couple weeks of January have been a hellscape for me so this month’s recap is gonna be short because my brain is just absolutely fried. And I better post this early over the weekend because I might not have time during the week.
Last Month’s Games
Genshin Impact is what I’ve been playing most. It has become, for me, that familiar comfort game that is just a way to escape from the world when you’re too wired and too tired to sleep and your brain is going 1000 RPMs and you just feel shattered and disconnected from the world. Which is how I’ve felt most of the time since mid-month. I’m back to doing some exploring and there are just some wonderful things to discover in this game. Lately it has been The Chasm which I thought was just a small area but oh boy, was I wrong. It doesn’t look that big on the map but the map doesn’t show how far down it goes. Great design. Loving it. Loving Genshin again.
The Witcher 3 is still sitting there waiting to be played and I keep saying “I’ll play that as soon as I’m done with Genshin for the day” but then I never get done.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is dropped. It just doesn’t grab me the way I need to be grabbed just now.
Final Fantasy 1 completed. Steam says I spent 23 hours in this game. About the first 8 were on PC, the rest was all on the Steam Deck, mostly playing in bed. Unpopular opinion: it wasn’t that good. At least not for me. I quickly became over-powered due to the constant random encounters I had to fight through while stumbling around lost. For the 2nd half (at least) of the game nothing could really threaten me, until I got to the last boss. There the difficulty spiked hard and I wiped a few times (first time I’d wiped in the game) until I read a guide. Beat the boss, now I can say I played it. Uninstalled and moving on.
Wasteland 3 dropped, just because the console version wasn’t great. The game itself seemed solid but the console port had some technical issues with button presses not registering, or sometimes registering twice. Or I’d think it hadn’t registered so I’d press a couple more times trying to get it ‘take’ and they’d all register at once and I’d confirm something I didn’t want to confirm. Still want to play this one, just not on console.
New Games This Month
Shapez was a random discovery that I had a good time with. Good enough to generate not just one, but two posts!
Pillars of Eternity landed on my plate this way: as mentioned I tried Wasteland 2 on console and it wasn’t great, But I really had the urge for a party based RPG. I tried the Pillars of Eternity Console Edition and it actually plays really well, but its a text-heavy game (if you dig into the lore) and I hate reading text from across the room. So then I decided to start it on Game Pass PC. Why didn’t I go back to Wasteland 3 if I was going to the PC anyway? Because I’m flighty, that’s why! Anyway I was really enjoying this until the January shit-storm landed on me; I hope to get back to it if/when things ease up.
Mythic Quest S3 ended, leaving me sad. Glad to know it has been renewed for a 4th season. This is one of my favorite shows of the past decade. I just adore it.
The Witcher: Blood Origin got so much hate and so many bad reviews but we enjoyed it. Sure it wasn’t life changing or anything, but it was a fun fantasy adventure. I mean, it has Michelle Yeoh in it. That alone makes it worth watching. It told the story of The Conjunction of Spheres in a way different from what I’d sussed out of the books I’ve read (I haven’t read them all), but that’s OK. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be flexible about how stories are told in different mediums or at different times. A fresh, somewhat different, take on a familiar tale can be fun. Granted, younger me would shake his fist at the screen and yell “That’s not how it was in the books!” but younger me was a punk.
Star Trek Voyager still plodding along. Thank goodness they added Jeri Ryan to the cast as Seven of Nine or I dunno if we would’ve made it through. We’re late in season 6 with one more to go after this.
Willow was a big disappointment. I really enjoyed the first couple of episodes from the point of view of it being a classic “fellowship heading out on a quest” tale, and I loved the music. The first episode ended with Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” sung by an artist I’m not familiar with: Sir Jude. I was pumped after episode 1 but the show got worse and worse after that and turned into a very CW-like show. Perhaps it was popular with young people but I cared less and less about the characters as they developed. I’m really sick of teenagers in all my fantasy shows. A better show featuring Hurdy Gurdy Man is Britannia.
Doom Patrol was a hit in our house for seasons 1 & 2 but we’re in season 3 now and neither of us have a clue what is going on. Really the only reason we keep watching it is that it is SO damned weird we just want to see what comes next. But it’d be great if at some point (we’re on episode 7 of S3 at the time of writing) they pull a plot together from all the threads floating around.
I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube. I’m finally appreciating “Let’s Play” content when I kind of want a gaming fix but I’m just too tired to play myself. Granted I tend to fall asleep while watching, but that’s OK too.
Not a thing. 🙁
So there ya go. January done, February to come. Hoping life can go back to normal soon.
I mentioned that I’d stumbled upon a game called Shapez over the holiday break. It was my first factory, or automation, game and I really enjoyed it for quite a while. I feel like I’ve played it a ton but Steam says it’s been less than 13 hours. Still, for as much fun as I’ve been having, it might be time to move on.
What I enjoy about the game is figuring out the layouts to make the various required shapes. Building these elaborate series of cutters and painters and mixers and layer-ers is really fun. What I don’t enjoy is then having to duplicate these “machines” over and over in order to generate the numbers of items required. For instance right now I’m on level 17, and I have to deliver 20,000 of the requested shape. I either have to just leave the game running like an ‘idle’ game, or I need to duplicate my assembly line a bunch of times.
I’m currently generating 1 of the required shapes/second, which if my math is right, means the game would have to run for about 5.5 hours to meet my goal.
Here is what I have to make:
Here is the machine I have built to make these. I can’t fit the whole thing on one screen. I’ve added arrows pointing to the finish shape rolling off the assembly line.
That’s not even the whole thing, which I have to zoom way out to show:
Now to be fair, this ‘machine’ is wildly unoptimized. Given that I’ve generated about half the required number, I’m going to assume I’ve been playing for a few hours since I built it, and I’ve learned a lot about optimizing machines since then. I could probably at least double the output but still, that’s 2 hours & 45 minutes of running time even if I’m generating 2/second. [Edit: I fired up the game to take some screenshots and in fact did quickly optimize it to 2/second.]
Thing is, now that I’ve gotten a taste of this kind of game, I kind of want to move on and try some others. I don’t really have any issues with Shapez, aside from one.
Check out this image:
In a still image you can see that there are 2 similar but different shapes running on these belts. But look at it in motion:
When the game is in motion, my poor old eyes can’t tell these shapes apart, and there is no Pause option. [Even without all the artifacting that snuck into this video.] This wasn’t an issue early on but as I’ve earned upgrades the belt speed has increased considerably to where it is now hard for me to follow what is going on. This probably isn’t an issue for most gamers (who’re generally younger than me) AND there IS a mod that adds a speed control, apparently.
But again, this ‘factory game’ world is like a brand new candy shop and I don’t want to stick to just eating grape lollipops when there are so many other flavors to try. So I think this is the end of my time with Shapez for now. The developer is trying to secure funding for Shapez 2, and if that game becomes a reality I’d definitely be back for it.
It’s really a spiffy little game and well worth playing. It’s $10 on Steam and there’s a free demo.
Razer has a new Android/Cloud gaming device coming out. At first glance, it looks like a cell phone with one of those game controller adapters clamped on, but in fact it is an Android tablet with a game controller adapter clamped on. 🙂
I think it’s pretty cool.
Logitech has a similar device and when it came out many people told me I was a FOOL for being interested in it. A FOOL! The nerve. “Just get a Steam Deck” they said (this starts at the same price, $400 US). Kidding aside, for a lot of people (maybe even most people) I would concur, but the benefit of this device, for die-hard cloud & Xbox gamers, is (presumably) longer battery life, it’s lighter (401 grams vs 669 grams), and the screen is 2400×1080 (vs 1200×800 for the Steam Deck).
I love my Steam Deck but like 90% of the time I use it as a cloud device, streaming from my gaming PC or the Xbox. I can definitely see enjoying something like this, assuming the controls are top notch. (The similar Logitech device apparently has some iffy analog sticks.)
Would I trade my Steam Deck for one of these? Nope because I have gone from a cloud gaming enthusiast to someone more cautious about it. But for someone who doesn’t have a gaming PC or a library of Steam games, but who does have Xbox Game Pass and plays a lot of Android games? Then this might be a great fit.
Heck now I’m actually thinking about watching YouTube TV in 4K on it. That would be sweet. But surely I don’t need TWO handheld gaming devices. Wait, make that 3; I keep forgetting I own a Switch.
I might have been a bit over tired when I came up with that headline but I’m leaving it, by gum!
So a while back I bought a 2 TB SSD for the Playstation 5. Why? I have no idea. Because I’m dumb. I don’t need that much space but it was on sale. This was back last summer. Anyway I bought it, and swapped out the 1 TB that I already had in there. That 1 TB SSD has been sitting on my desk ever since.
My gaming desktop, in the meantime, has a .5 TB SSD and a 1 TB HDD. Whether it is because games just expect an SSD these days, or if the PS5 and Xbox Series X have spoiled me, loading times for games I was running off that 1 TB platter drive just seemed dreadful. Obvious solution, repurpose the 1 TB SSD that I’d pulled out of the PS5.
It could have been as simple as opening the case, plugging the drive into an available m.2 slot and be off and running. But it wasn’t that simple. My motherboard didn’t have a 2nd m.2 slot. Turns out you can get a PCI card that provides an m.2 slot so I ordered one. It came and I opened the case again and… hey wait a minute, I don’t have a PCI slot either. Well, not one that I recognized. Apparently motherboard design has changed in the maybe 15 years since I last cut my knuckles on the guts of a PC.
It turns out I had a “single lane” PCI slot, but I’d purchased a “4 lane” PCI card. Fortunately it was like $13. Back to Amazon I went and found a single lane adapter card (this one was like $8). That worked. Mounted the SSD on the card, stuck the card in, turned the system on and…. nothing.
OK let’s check the BIOS. Restarted the machine, held down DEL. No BIOS. Tried again holding F2. No BIOS. F1? Nope. F10? Nope. How the hell do I get into the BIOS? New learning opportunity. You can access it via Windows when all else fails, by using Advanced Startup in the System->Recovery options.
Finally got into the BIOS and yup, the drive is showing in the BIOS so what could be wrong… oh wait, it’s formatted for the PS5. Duh. On to the Disk Management app. This at least still looks the same as it used to look, once I remembered that it existed. Took a few minutes to format it, create a partition and assign a drive letter and voila! Now I have 1.5 TB total SSD space.
But here’s the dangerous bit… doing all this was, dare I say it? Fun. And kind of satisfying. And now I kind of want to do more. I’ve been seriously considering building a PC. I figure part of the frustration of working on a PC is that while you’re working on it, you don’t have a PC, right? But if I build a SECOND PC it should remove all that stress and frustration and it could be fun. I mean there was a time in my life where I really enjoyed tinkering in the guts of a PC. It’d be really nice to learn about all the new tech and stuff.
Really the only drawback is that everything tech-related is so damned expensive these days. Like I guess I could build a really cheap gaming PC just to build it but then what? Stick it in the closet? So I’d really want to build an upgrade to what I have (an i7-9700F @ 3.00GHz and an RTX 2070 SUPER GPU) which I’m assuming wouldn’t be cheap.
So I probably won’t do anything other than live vicariously through watching YouTube PC build videos. Maybe when I hit those lottery numbers…
A long time ago in a galaxy… well, in this galaxy actually, I was ‘strategy gamer guy.’ Before we had home computers I entertained myself playing SPI and Avalon Hill wargames (y’know, the ones with a paper hex map and cardboard chits) so I guess the transition to strategy games on computer was pretty natural for me. In fact at Strategy Plus Magazine, during my stint there, I was Associate Editor of Strategy and War Games.
Somewhere along the way, I kind of dropped my strategy things and turned into RPG guy. I guess I’ll blame MMORPGs for that but the point is, it’s been quite a while since I dabbled in strategy games. But again, now I have a Steam Deck which means on some level I’m a PC gamer again, and I’m watching a lot of “Best Games on Sale on Steam” videos and I learned there are whole new genres of strategy games, including factory games. I realize I’m the last one to learn this, but bear with me. I was finding these games intriguing but kind of daunting.
Then I learned about Shapez. Well actually I learned about Shapez 2 which is in early access, but this led me to Shapez which is a super minimalist factory game… I think. If I’m understanding what a factory game is, anyway. It’s also a puzzle game which I guess most factory games are?
Anyway, it’s pretty darned wonderful. I mean I’ve only played it for a few hours but given that it costs $2.99 US until January 5th, if I never go back to it again I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth. Also there’s a demo if you just want to give it a try for $0.00 US.
So basically you have a “HUB” and arrayed around it are piles of various shapes. Squares, circles, stars, etc. And you are given the task to move X of shape Y into the hub via building conveyor belts. It starts really simple, but then you get tools to do things like slice shapes in half, spin them, paint them, combine them and so on. So maybe you need a 1/4 blue circle and it has to be the top right quarter of the circle. So you start with a circle, run it through a slicer, run the resulting half circles through a second slicer, maybe rotate the resulting quarter circles to get them to be top right corners, and then run that through a painter. Or maybe do the paint first, then slice it up. You figure it out!
This might be a case where a quick video is worth 1000 words. Here’s my “machine” in motion:
You can see that painting really slows things down, causing quite a few backlogs. I’m still trying to figure out a way to improve that.
While you’re achieving whatever goal has been set for you, you can also unlock upgrades, such as faster speed, via delivering other shapes to the hub.
I don’t think there’s a fail state so it’s all pretty chill. There’s no economy to worry about so you can erect and tear down conveyor belts to your heart’s content. It’s almost more a toy than a game, but I’m finding it super fun, particularly for $3. And I feel like I’m getting my feet wet so I can take on more elaborate factory games in the future.
Recommended! Oh, and if you miss the Steam Sale, the regular price is $10 which still feels like a good deal.
Ha, that title got you, didn’t it? Well it’s true but there’s a lot of context around it.
I’m on my last day of an 11 day break from work. It has been lovely, even though I’m still a little miffed that I had to use vacation time to get the time off. And I am NOT looking forward to going back tomorrow.
But I’m already digressing, so let’s table that talk about how much I hate my job and how depressed it makes me.
Over the break I did a lot of gaming (though somehow I don’t feel like I made much progress in any of my games). Thing is, there was definitely a little bit of unhealthiness in why I was playing. It was almost like I swapped in work responsibilities for gaming responsibilities. Like maybe I just wanted to take a nap, or watch TV or something. But that didn’t feel “productive” so I’d boot up a game instead.
Which, logically, is ridiculous. Gaming isn’t productive. I mean I guess if you’re a “content creator” it is, but for folks like me who game strictly as a hobby, it’s not productive and not SUPPOSED TO BE productive. It’s supposed to be relaxation and enjoyment. And if my brain is craving a marathon of old Cheers episodes instead of playing Genshin Impact, I should go and watch Cheers. But I don’t because that would be “wasting time” whereas playing Genshin isn’t (but of course it is…at least on the same level as watching TV is. I’m not sure EITHER is really wasting time if doing that activity is bringing me enjoyment).
So I need to figure out how to manage this. How to let this huge backlog of games sit and collect digital dust if what I really want to do is go down a YouTube rabbit hole or just sit out in the backyard watching Lola chase squirrels.
But the other side of this equation is that there are SO MANY games I WANT to play, and time is so very limited. I am really struggling how to balance this huge pile of games I want to experience with other things I want to (or have to) do, given a finite amount of time to do things in.
I used to be a terrible “game grazer” in that I’d flit from game to game and make little progress in any, and almost never finish a game. Then I decided this was wasteful. Of money, or of content, I couldn’t really articulate. So I started making a much more concentrated effort to finish the games I started, or at least commit to putting a significant amount of time into them so I could get the ‘full experience’ that the game offered. And for a while that make me feel better.
But maybe I’ve taken it too far. Given that new, interesting games come out all the time, there literally are not enough hours to complete all the ones I am interested in. Like maybe if the game development industry screeched to a halt TODAY and never published another game, I MIGHT have time to finish all the games I wamt to play, before I die or lose the capacity to game. Might. I’m not sure. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow or stay alive, sharp and alert for another 20 years.
So I gotta figure this out. After all I don’t owe anyone anything, and no one cares what I do. I could really quit gaming as of right now and it wouldn’t have any impact on anyone but me. So I dunno why I obsess over it like I do. Maybe it’s that I have no other hobbies and being a gamer is so much of how I self-identify? Like sometimes I wonder “People who don’t play games… what do they DO with their time?”
I also kind of think these subscription services like Game Pass and PS+ Extra might not be good for me. There are SO MANY GAMES waiting to be played with more added all the time. I might be better off if I had to purchase every game I wanted to play, since I’d think longer and harder about whether I REALLY wanted to play that game. Of course I come to this conclusion at a time when my Game Pass subscription is pre-paid into 2025!! LOL
But for sure I need to find a way to let myself watch Cheers with my free time if watching Cheers is what my brain wants to do.
By the way, I can’t remember that last time I saw an episode of Cheers; I’m not sure why I decided to use that as my example. 🙂
For a number of years now I’ve been a console gamer. I mean I have, and always have had since buying my first Atari 400, a computer capable of decent gaming but at some point I started finding the simplicity of turning on a console and flopping down on the couch much more enjoyable than tinkering with settings while spending another few hours per day in an office chair.
The Steam Deck has really shaken up my life in some positive ways. Honestly I don’t even USE it a ton but I love the damned thing and the knock-on effect of having it is that I pay more attention to the PC gaming world. There are (as y’all know) just a ton of games that come out on PC that never make it to console, and for some genres mouse and keyboard is just so much better than a controller. (I know for a lot of you a controller is always inferior but I’m talking about my personal preferences and a controller at this point just feels totally natural to me.)
The Deck also has me reevaluating my opinion of Valve. I have never liked that Steam dominates PC gaming like it does. This isn’t a feeling really specific to the company; I just didn’t want any single entity to have so much control over gaming. But with the Deck, Steam’s benefits start to outweigh those concerns.
And finally, with the Deck being so hot it feels like finally “controller support” isn’t an anomaly in Steam games any more. Maybe this change isn’t new but it is new to me. I used to try, once every few years, to bring PC gaming to the TV to get the best of both worlds but it has always come with its own set of issues, generally having to do with winding up with a keyboard and mouse on the living room table cluttering things up.
The other day I dug out the Nvidia Shield, which I had purchased for GEForce Game Streaming (which Nvidia is about to drop, by the way). Back then Steam Link was kind of a glitchy mess (for me at least) but Game Streaming worked pretty well. It didn’t really stick at the time, though, because too many games required me to jump up and run upstairs to the host PC to click a button or type something in. Also the controller that came with it wasn’t great and I had trouble getting 3rd party controllers to pair and stay paired with it. It didn’t take long for the Shield to wind up in the Closet of Forgotten Tech.
Fast forward to today. GEForce Game Streaming is being phased out, but Steam Link has gotten so much better. I will say I attempted to use the Link app on my Samsung TV, which was terrible, and even tried it on my Chromecast With Google TV, which worked better but suffered from input lag. But on the Shield, which has a pretty beefy CPU for a streaming device, it works great. Somewhere along the way 3rd party controller support got better so now I can use an Xbox controller. Steam Link now offers a “virtual mouse” option for those games that require a mouse click here and there (I wouldn’t want to play a whole game using it) and generally everything just works really well. My only real complaint is that my PC runs stuff at 1080P and when that gets blown up to a 65″ 4K display it looks a bit ‘soft’. I need a better monitor because my PC is capable of more than 1080P but I don’t have a monitor with better resolution.
The other thing I want now is Steam Controller 2.0. Basically a controller that replicates the track pads on the Steam Deck, and maybe the back paddles too. I think this is something that Valve wants to eventually offer (I think I read that somewhere) but for now they’re so focused on the Deck that there are no concrete plans.
So now I have an ecosystem where I can play a Steam game on the PC, or on the TV in the living room, or on the Steam Deck. Same game, same save file. To be fair this isn’t really new, not even to me (I can do the same with Xbox or Playstation via in-home streaming), but it is new for me for PC games and it makes the whole experience more appealing. At least in theory. I’ve spent a lot of my holiday break getting stuff set up and watching a ton of YouTube videos about PC gaming but so far I haven’t really PLAYED many PC games. I have some ideas about why that may be, but I think I’ll save them for another post.
December has been a bit of a strange month. I guess that may be true for a lot of people, what with the holidays and all. But I feel like I’ve just kind of flitted around and haven’t really gotten deeply involved with anything. Having the Steam Deck has been a pleasing distraction as I’ve messed around with it a bit, and the knock on effect is that I’m paying attention to PC gaming again. I haven’t really PLAYED many PC games but over the holiday break I started watching a bunch of YouTube videos about great deals in the Steam Sale, as well as watching lots of gaming-related tech videos.
Genshin Impact is back in rotation but once again I’m ruining it for myself by being fixated on the “Battle Pass” and playing to advance that rather than playing to enjoy the game. Not sure how I can break myself of this habit. I still haven’t started Chapter 2 of the story, for example.
Dying Light 2 got an update that includes a ‘prevent motion sickness’ setting, which led me to reinstall it. The setting in fact helps, so after making a huge announcement about how I am DONE with that game…I’m back to popping into it now and then.
Gotham Knights is, I guess, dropped for now. Haven’t played it at all recently, but I DO want to get back to it. I was liking it well enough, I just get so easily distracted.
Spiritfarer I guess I have to admit, is dropped. This was an Indie darling in 2022, I think, and I kind of like it but the pace is just so slow.
New Games This Month
Steamworld Heist completed. I’ve been poking at this on the Switch for months. Maybe years. It’s kind of a space opera. You control a crew of Steambots on a series of missions. Movement is turn-based but shooting requires aiming a wavering gun at the enemy. It was a pretty good game that, for me, overstayed its welcome a bit. Might have been due to how I play games, since I kept trying to keep all the characters leveled up which meant replaying missions over and over. Once I started getting bored I just focused on 4 characters and moved through the game fairly quickly. I ended up finishing at something like 26 hours when Howlongtobeat says it should take 12.5. So yeah, just me being me.
The Witcher 3 got that Next Generation update so I decided to start it up again. I’m TRYING not to get distracted and do a ton of side quests because the last time I had a go at The Witcher 3 I got bored out of my mind because I became so over powered. That said, I noticed there is now an option to Scale Enemies and I don’t know if that is new or just something I never noticed before. As I write this I’m in Crookback Bog so still pretty early.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a game I bought at launch since it was made by the team who made Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a game I simply LOVE. But Fenyx is a lot more puzzle-based which I wasn’t expecting, and I bounced off it pretty hard. Now I’m giving it another go, starting fresh and knowing to expect the puzzles. I just got going with this one in the past week so we’ll see if it sticks or not.
Wasteland 3 is a game I’ve started a few times but never made a lot of progress in. Giving it yet another go. I mentioned I’ve been watching a lot of PC gaming videos on YouTube and they’ve created an itch to play something turn-based and tactical and Wasteland 3 seems to fit the bill. I’m playing it on the Xbox, but it is on Game Pass for both Xbox and PC and I’m a little conflicted. It definitely plays better with mouse and keyboard but I spend a lot more time gaming on the TV than I do on the PC so… we’ll see.
Final Fantasy, the pixel remaster, is my first Steam Deck game. I actually started it on the PC a while back and picked up where I left off but, boy howdy they don’t make this easy. There is no kind of quest log or anything and so I have NO idea what I’m supposed to be doing. I finally had to look at a walkthrough and I’m using that as my external quest log. You forget how hard these old games could be in unexpected ways!
The Peripheral (Amazon Prime) was really good. It’s run by the same folks who did West World on HBO and has kind of that same trippy vibe. But it’s also the kind of show I don’t want to say much about because you should discover it all for yourselves!
Mythic Quest S3 (Apple TV+) has been quite enjoyable. Love this series.
Star Trek Voyager continues plodding along as our lunchtime viewing. I find it all really uneven. Some episodes are decent, some are super cringy. But you probably know this already. Who hasn’t seen Voyager?
The Essex Serpent (Apple TV+). It’s (I’m guessing) late in the 19th century and the fishing village of Essex is in a panic over a mystical/mythical serpent which may or may not exist. Meanwhile in London, well-to-do Cora is freed from a horribly abusive marriage by way of her husband dying. An amateur naturalist, she gets it in her head to go to Essex to determine if the serpent is real or not. She finds a village still in the throes of dark age religion, with the exception of a handsome vicar who tries to re-assure the villagers that the serpent is not real. He is constantly undermined by another religious figure (I was never sure of his rank) who preached fire and brimstone and claimed the serpent was sent from god to punish the villagers for their sins.
This is a 6 episode limited series that quickly turns from an interesting mystery to a painful romance. The first 5 episodes are grim, but it doesn’t take long for the serpent to be forgotten in favor of watching Cora be horrible to the people around her, all of whom, for reasons that I never understood, seem to be in love with her. She encourages them all before friend-zoning all but the one married man in her circle of influence, breaking hearts left and right with apparently no awareness she is doing so. Then in episode 6 all the bad stuff goes away and suddenly it is rainbows and butterflies. Even the people who die seem to get a happy ending somehow. It’s all very bizarre. I loved the first couple of episodes that focused on Essex and the serpent but it quickly went downhill from there, with many mysteries just being dropped along the way and a very unsatisfying ending. I’d skip this one.
Bocchi The Rock (Crunchyroll) was a delight. Thanks to Rakuna for recommending it. It’s about a painfully shy girl who decides to learn to play guitar so she’ll be popular. She ends up joining a band. I found the show laugh-out-loud funny at times, but even though the main character’s social anxiety is the source of much of the humor, it isn’t mean, which is quite a feat. In the end it’s a funny, heartwarming show and I found every character very likable. I sure hope we get a season 2. This was my favorite show for this month.
See (Apple TV+) posits a post-apocalyptic future where (almost) everyone is blind. Sighted people are considered witches and are killed, because it was sight that caused the end of the world. We’re in the last season and for me I’m kind of hate-watching it, though PartPurple enjoys it more. It just seems really implausible. Every character seems to have some kind of sonar or something. It’s also super violent and has some really detestable characters. Jason Momoa stars and he gives it his all and kind of carries the whole show. I was happy to see Joe Flannigan and David Hewett are both in the cast; they were both Momoa’s co-stars on Star Gate Atlantis, which was, IMO, a much better show than this.
The English Game (Netflix) is a period piece about the beginnings of football in England. It was recommended by Bree TruLove or I’d never have found it. It was created by Julian Fellowes, who was also behind Downton Abby and The Gilded Age, so if you liked those you’ll probably like this. Good stuff.
Conversely The English (Amazon Prime) is a western starring Emily Blunt so I was pretty excited for it, but after I sat through 2 episodes I was done. It’s just one long trope. Skip it.
Aside from my annual re-reading of A Christmas Carol, no reading this month. 🙁
And so we charge headfirst into 2023. What new disaster awaits us this year? My Resolution this year is not to make any resolutions so I don’t have too much interesting to say about 2023…yet.