My First MMO: Megawars III

Today I’m going to take you way, way back, to my first MMO experience.

Megawars III was a game that ran on the Compuserve Information Network. At least, that’s where I played it. It was a space conquest/exploration game. This was the mid-1980s so if I get some details wrong, please forgive. I have trouble remembering games I played last month, let alone 25 years ago.

The game ran as a series of wars. It would reset every so often. I want to say maybe quarterly? At the start of a new war everyone had a scout ship. First order of business was to find and claim a planet. Planets varied in value and getting a good planet was key to getting a good start in a war. But there was also a time factor, so it was that balance of “Do I spend the time to keep looking for the ideal planet, or do I take the one I just found.”

Once you had a planet you could start producing more or better ships. I genuinely can’t remember if you’d ever own more than one ship or if you just build a better ship. Either way, from there on it was gather resources, build bigger ships, send them out to find more planets to colonize.

There was PVP of course, and other players could attack and take over your planets. You had to build planetary defenses, or be online at the time of the attack to defend a planet.

There were guilds but I think we just called them teams. You pretty much had to be in a team to do well. Often a team would organize around the best few planets of all the planets owned by that team’s members.

At the time I was rocking a 300bps modem, as were most players, but some few were logging in from their fancy offices using *gasp* 1200bps modems. There was a lot of discussion about whether or not these players were cheating by using technology that normal people couldn’t afford. Wikipedia says there was a graphical UI introduced eventually but I remember it all being text-based, so I’m not sure why we thought a faster modem gave you an advantage.

This is what combat looked like!

I got really into this game as did a lot of other players. At the time I was working nights. I’d get home at 1 am or something and start to play, which gave me some value since I was online and monitoring our team when a lot of players were sleeping. I had a list of other team members’ phone numbers. If one of our choice planets was getting attacked (teams would plan attacks ahead of time and often when they thought a planet would be lightly defended), I would log off (because I was using my only phone line to play) and call a team member. Yes I’d call some person somewhere else in the country at 2 am to tell them we were getting attacked. Crazy, right? Then I’d hang up and log back in. The person I called would then call another person, then they would log in. And so the chain went and I’d see account after account logging in to defend the planet that was under attack.

It is crazy for me to imagine myself doing that. I didn’t have the social anxiety I have now, that’s for sure.

What is even crazier is the cost. Compuserve was not cheap. I think at the time it was around $6/hour after 6 PM. On top of that, the semi-long distance phone call to log on worked out to $4 or $5/hour. I paid for Compuserve via direct access to my checking account (I had no credit card in those days…they weren’t nearly as common as they are now) and Compuserve would cut me off when my bill hit $300 in a given month. I got cut off a lot, and eventually got a 2nd Compuserve account for my non-Megawars III activities.

I had a grand old time but man, I wish I’d invested all that money in the stock market or something. I’d be rich today if I had!

OK so I went looking for some kind of image for this post, and in doing so I found a great description of MegaWars III that is much more accurate than my memory of the game. I’d forgotten so much.

After reading that post I got the itch to play again and found this: Megawars3. I got all excited but the link to the original text-based version of the game is dead. There’s a spin-off called Galaxicus built in Unity that I may check out at some point but I think I’d miss firing torpedoes by typing in a firing solution. 🙂

The images in this post are from the PDF of the original manual that someone at put online. Jeez I love the Internet.

Marvels’ Avengers: War For Wakanda

Marvel’s Avengers got some new (free) content this week with the launch of War For Wakanda, which adds a new biome and of course, Black Panther as a playable character.

This is the post where I should be telling you about how great (or how bad) the new content is, but there’s just one problem. I never played the earlier two content drops, featuring Kate Bishop and Clint Barton. Of course I could skip that content and go right for Wakanda but I’m a little bit OCD-ish about things like this. I must do things in order, anything else is madness!

When Marvel’s Avengers came out it was met with mixed reviews, I guess. I liked it, but then I like a lot of games that others don’t (looking at you, Anthem!), mostly because I’m there for the campaign and then I generally bounce out, satisfied. I think these looter-shooter, games-as-a-service titles get (rightfully) dinged hard for promising a “hobby game” but offering a title with a solid 20-30 hour campaign and then an endgame that just doesn’t satisfy the folks that want to stick around. I’m long gone by that point, though.

Anyway, I haven’t really played Avengers since finishing the (very solid, IMO) campaign arranged around Ms Marvel. Returning was a pleasant surprise. First, there’s now a “next gen” version [how long will we call these machines ‘next gen’ I wonder] of the game for those of us on Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X|S. On the PS5 the game supports the DualSense controller’s haptics, which is a nice touch. For PC gamers, I hear that the game runs a lot better than it did at launch, though I don’t have first-hand knowledge there.

For everyone, they’ve made a lot of quality of life changes. I’m not sure which of these came in Wakanda and which debuted earlier but if you haven’t played since launch, you probably don’t care.

One change that is new in Wakanda is a revamped character sheet that makes scanning a hero and tweaking gear so much more convenient. You can also access the vault from anywhere, can mass deconstruct items rather than doing it one of a time, and in my opinion it just looks better.

You also no longer have to run all over whatever base you’re in to talk to NPCs that give you faction quests. Instead there’s a terminal, usually pretty near the war table, and you can access it to get these quests from both factions. Man I hated having to run back and forth across the base to access those NPCs. To actually buy from the faction vendor still requires getting in your daily steps, though.

I guess this post is mostly a PSA for folks who bought the game at launch and have long since forgotten about it. There’ve been 3 free content additions since launch, the game runs better (& looks better if you have a new console), and the ‘out of mission’ gameplay has been streamlined quite a bit.

If you’ve never picked up the game, I personally think it is worth getting just for the story of Ms Marvel. I still can’t speak to whether it is worth continuing to play for hundreds or thousands of hours but there is a solid 20-ish hours of campaign content to enjoy. So far I’m enjoying the Kate Bishop storyline too, but I haven’t completed it yet. Assuming it and the next two additions hold up, bump that up by, what? 10-15 more hours?

YouTube Channels I Support

I watch a lot of YouTube. Since we “cut the cord” I surf YouTube the way I used to flip through channels watching TV. We pay for YouTube Premium so we’re not constantly watching ads (@partpurple watches a lot of YouTube as well).

Just to change things up for today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite YouTube channels. Maybe I’ll do a few of these posts but to get started I’ll cover the cream of the crop. Or at least, the three channels I support monetarily through Patreon or through YouTube itself.


Probably of most interest to readers of this blog is NoClip, a channel that focuses on documentaries about video games. With Final Fantasy XIV being so hot right now, maybe a good first watch would be their series on that game. The 3-part documentary is 4 years old at this point, but if you want to see how FFXIV came about and was then reborn as FFXIV A Realm Reborn, get comfortable and give it a watch:

Here’s links to Part 2 & Part 3.


Next up is Townsends. Townsends is a store that sells items for historical reenactment, specifically the 18th and early 19th century. The channel started as a way to promote the store’s products but took on a life of its own. Lots of the videos are about 18th century cooking, like this 300 year-old fried chicken recipe cooked outdoors over an open flame:

I just kind of randomly grabbed that video; I don’t really have particular favorites, I just find this a very relaxing channel and I’ve learned a bit about our history from watching it. Host John Townsend refers to himself as a history enthusiast rather than a historian. The store was started by his father and John just enjoys research and reenactment and shares that with us.

Food Wishes

Last up is a more traditional cooking channel, Food Wishes. Chef John covers all kinds of recipes, from the fairly complex to topics as simple as his recent tips for reheating French fries. He makes everything seem really easy and has a genial nature that I find very enjoyable. He also isn’t afraid to share his failures, like this one. I mean, the title (“Baked Cauliflower Fries – How to Waste a Day Making Crappy Cauliflower Sticks”) pretty much says it all.

Just to be clear, MOST of his recipes come out great, but I appreciate his honesty when they don’t.

Actually I feel bad just sharing one of Chef John’s failures, so here’s a recipe that is decidedly more mouth-watering (to me at least, vegans probably won’t be nearly as impressed)

I’m always on the lookout for new YouTube channels to watch, so please share your favorites in the comments!

Weekend Recap for August 16th, 2021

I don’t normally do this kind of post but I figured I’d give it a try. Some folks do a post about what their plans are for the weekend (or even for the month) while others do them after the fact. I’m a terrible planner so I’m going with the latter.

So with another weekend in the rear-view. and the happy fact that we’ve made it half-way through August (I hate summer since moving to the south), let’s recap!

Movie Night — Saturday night is our movie night and for the past few months we’ve been re-watching the Marvel superhero movies in the chronological order they take place. This weekend we finished that with Spiderman: Far From Home. Technically we still have Black Widow but I can’t really justify $30 to watch a movie so that one will have to wait.

It’s been a pretty fun ride since I have a terrible memory and watching the movies one per week meant I did a better job connecting the dots. We both really love Tom Holland as Spiderman, and after watching Endgame the week before it was nice to see something a little more upbeat.

Family TV@partpurple and I finished up Season 1 of The Bad Batch on Friday, which we really enjoyed. And Star Trek: The Lower Decks is back so we watched that. I remember before we watched Season 1 of that show I was SURE I would hate it because I’m pretty serious about Star Trek, but turned out I love it. I most be getting soft in my old age.

Then last night we watched the first episode of What If…? on Disney+. This is like an ‘alternate reality’ series. The first episode posited that Peggy Carter, not Steve Rogers, got the super serum and she become Captain Carter. It was really good and had us both smiling ear-to-ear. Now I want an entire Captain Carter series, though. Oh, and they got Hayley Atwell to voice Peggy Carter, thank goodness!

Now we’re in search of another series to watch. We’ve been ‘filling in’ days when we have nothing new with a re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which has been fun, though there are some really dated aspects to that show at this point.

Reading — I’m still reading the Saxon Stories books by Bernard Cornwell, and will be for quite some time. I’m on book 6, Death of Kings. I’m a terrible book reviewer so I’ll just say that I really enjoy Cornwell’s books and this series is no exception. If you’re not familiar with the books you might be familiar with the TV series, The Last Kingdom. There are 13 books in the series, though, so I’m not sure that I won’t need a break from 10th century England at some point.

Gaming — Friday evening and Saturday were devoted to finishing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris. I think I’m ready for a break from Valhalla now although there’re still plenty of things to do in the game.

With that put to bed I finally got around to trying Hades, which hit the Xbox and Playstation last week. I’m playing on the Xbox Series X thanks to it being in Game Pass. So far it’s been fun though I’ve kind of hit a wall. I think it’ll be a game I play in short spurts now and then because I know myself enough to know that just trying to power through will lead to frustration, which in turn leads to playing worse, which leads to more frustration, etc etc.

Lastly, Bugsnax. I mostly knew Bugsnax from the trailer that was making the rounds last summer, and in particular the catchy jingle:

Bugsnax was a Playstation Plus game late last year; I think it may have been the first PS5 game on PS+. I figured it was about time to try it out and either play it or delete it from the (small-ish) storage on the PS5. I had no clue what kind of game it was. Turns out it’s a first person puzzle-adventure. It is both super-cute and super-weird. You are basically tasked with catching these little creatures (the titular Bugsnax) that are all animated food, then feeding them to these weird furry townsfolk. Alive of course. When someone eats a Bugsnax a part of their body morphs into that kind of food. So if they eat a Bugsnax based on a French fry their arm will turn into a French fry. It is not clear what impact this has; it seems to be just a visual gag. I like the weirdness of Bugsnax, but I am not a fan of the cute aesthetic and I’m not a big fan of puzzle-adventures either. I’m not knocking the game; it actually got decent reviews. I just pretty quickly decided that it wasn’t for me. To be very clear, I spent less than an hour with it so PLEASE if you’re interested in the game, don’t take this as a knock on it, and do seek out actual reviews from someone who put some time into it.

And that was pretty much the weekend, aside from some random TV. The English Premiere League season has started, so I watched a replay of a game on Peacock TV (which I subscribed to just for these games because generally that service is pretty terrible). I’ve been kicking around (pun intended) the idea of re-subscribing to YouTube TV or Fubo TV for EPL and other sports, just for a month or two. My interest in sports rears its head now and then but never lasts more than a few weeks. I’m a terrible multi-tasker so when I’m watching a game I am JUST watching the game while thinking about all the other things I could be doing with that time. NFL games are the worst for this: three hours out of my short weekend just to watch a game? That’s hard to justify.

Anyway I hope everyone had a great weekend. Back we go to the salt mines!

Final Impression: AC Valhalla: The Siege of Paris

Well that didn’t take long. Not sure I’ve ever written a First Impressions one day and finished the content the next.

So nothing has really changed. The rat swarms continued to bug me. I guess the Francia countryside grew on me a little more as I got farther from Paris. Paris itself was a place I didn’t want to spend my time in. I still haven’t done another Rebel Mission (there is a quest to rank up to level 3 in them which maybe I’ll do).

I’m not really too much of a fan of the new abilities. There’s one that summons a swarm of rats to a spot, and another that creates a poison that causes enemies to start vomiting all over the place. I haven’t used either of them…they just seem dishonorable and don’t feel like something my Eivor would use. There’s a head-butt ability I do use, though. It’s kind of fun. And while also not super honorable, an ability that places a sticky bomb on your enemy is pretty useful.

Narratively, the story felt rough. There are individuals who are urging for peace and for sparing the lives of women and children in one scene, then cheering maniacally at their leader’s urging to burn an entire city and to ‘leave none alive’ in the next.

Eivor’s actions seemed chaotic as well. She goes to Francia at the urging of another Norse clan, but then tries to broker peace just to convince the Francia king not to invade England, and even after being double crossed she continues to try to make deals with her double crosser. Basically she felt like she’d say “Yes” to anything anyone suggested.

I guess Eivor is now a diplomat rather than a warrior. In some sense that’s OK and while it wasn’t really satisfying, the ending felt kind of authentic in that no one really got what they wanted. Isn’t that what diplomacy is all about? Everyone compromises. No one really wins but everyone is grudgingly accepting of the final situation.

Also worth noting that the game did do what Assassin’s Creed games often do: they make me interested in the historical characters they depict. I had never even heard of Richardis (or Charles the Fat) before playing the game and now I want to learn more about what actually happened with these characters.

So bottom line, I didn’t enjoy The Siege of Paris as much as I did Wrath of the Druids, but I’m still happy that I played it. I have the Season Pass for Valhalla, though. It seems like Ubisoft is selling this DLC for $25 as a stand-alone, and that price seems quite steep. I started playing it Thursday evening and finished Saturday evening, and I wasn’t playing for marathon sessions. I’d estimate it took me 8 hours to rip through the storyline. So if you’re interesting in playing, at least wait for it to go on sale. You can play through it in a couple of evenings.

First Impressions: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Siege of Paris

The other day I talked about how much I’ve been enjoying Ubisoft’s post launch content for Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion. Now DLC #2, Siege of Paris, has dropped for Valhalla. So is it as good as these other DLC packages?

This post is 100% First Impressions. I’ve only had time to put a few hours in and my opinion may well change, but sadly so far I’m not as impressed as I am with Wrath of the Druids.

Most of my issues are very personal and things that bother me may not bother you.

First let’s talk about Francia. It appears to be a smaller region than Ireland is, which is a little disappointing. But the bigger issue is that it just kind of feels like England. Ireland felt like a different region in some way that I find hard to quantify. It felt faintly magical. Francia’s countryside is fine, it just doesn’t feel very unique.

Paris, on the other hand, is just squalor. There’s a plague ravaging the city and it is wall-to-wall corpses and decay. It is quite convincing but just not something I relish spending time in and around.

Welcome to Paris. Quite glamorous, isn’t it?

Then there’re the rats. In various sewers and dungeons you’ll encounter swarms of rats that are basically a living DOT. You can attack them but at best that shoos them away; you can’t kill them. The idea is you’re suppose to herd them into a drainage grate or something and then they’ll vanish, but the process is super cumbersome, particularly if you’re using a big slow weapon. My first death in the expansion (and the first death I’ve had in Valhalla for a long time) came from a swarm of rats. I was trying to open a chest to get some loot and the rats kept coming back and attacking me.

Again, personal preference. While having an enemy you cannot kill is an interesting mechanic, it is not a mechanic that I personally find fun.

There’s a new game mode called Rebel Missions which is in some ways similar to the River Raid system in England. I kind of ignore River Raids and will probably ignore Rebel Missions too. In both cases these feel like content for content’s sake. You play through them to get rewards that make you better at playing through more of them. If Valhalla is the only game you want to play these modes are probably welcome but I am more driven by narrative and exploration. I’m not really interested in this kind of ‘endless mode’ content. That said, so far I’ve only done a single Rebel Mission and maybe they do unlock some narrative content so I guess I should give them a chance.

So those are some of my issues, but there are aspects I like.

They’ve introduced more assassination content, which given the name of the game is probably a good thing. Missions where you have to uncover clues and figure out a way to get to your target and then take them out seem very on-brand and like a move in the right direction. Unfortunately the one mission like this I did had kind of a non-gameplay finish where the actual assassination was literally a menu choice.

You’ll now encounter enemies on horseback and which tend to remain on horseback. In the base game there were baddies riding horses but at the first whiff of damage they’d fall off. In Siege we have soldiers who’re much better at remaining on their steeds (though oddly their horses seem immune to damage). It’s nice to have a new enemy type to fight.

They’ve added a new weapon type: scythes. I haven’t played around with these too much yet, but new weapons are always fun. There are new skills as well but again, I haven’t used them enough to comment.

In summary while I’m happy to have more Valhalla content, I’m just not quite as excited about Siege of Paris as I was about Wrath of the Druids, which I absolutely adored. Maybe Siege still has some secrets to reveal, though. I’ll post again when I’ve played it more.

My Gaming History

This week in Blaugust is supposed to be about introducing ourselves. I am old and telling you all about myself would bore you to tears, so here is my ‘gaming story.’

I was raised in the 1960s-1970s. There were no video games when I was a kid, but I really liked boardgames, even if I had to play them solo since there were no other kids in my neighborhood. I have a brother 10 years older than I, and he and my father would play a game called Yacht Race. That was my introduction to more ‘adult’ games (y’know, moving past Chutes and Ladders). I still have that copy of Yacht Race around here somewhere.

Somewhere in my teenaged years I discovered wargames; the ones with the paper maps and cardboard counters. I LOVED those things. I subscribed to a magazine called Strategy & Tactics that came with a game bound inside it (and articles about the conflict covered by the game). At the back of the mag they always had a survey to judge interest in future projects and I remember when they started asking their audience if they owned a personal computer and would they be interested in using the computer to play games. I was still playing solo and the idea of a computer being an opponent was thrilling!

My first computer was an Atari 400 that I bought just to play Star Raiders, though of course I quickly branched out from there. I also bought a 300 bps modem and learned about online services (back then the nascent Internet was only available through colleges or the government). I got involved with Compuserve and particularly GEnie, where I wound up working as an (un-paid) assistant to Scorpia. I guess in today’s terms you’d say I was one of her mods, though my title then was “Assistant Sysop.”

Through my verbosity on the Games RT on GEnie (I assume) I was approached by a fellow named Clayton Walnum who asked if I’d be interested in reviewing computer games. Well duh, of course I would. I wrote some stuff for ST Log, a magazine dedicated to the Atari ST computers. I also ghost-wrote a chapter of one of his books called something like “Secrets of the Video Game Masters” where I did a walk-through of Bionic Commando.

Eventually I moved on to PC gaming, and though I can’t remember exactly when or why, I started doing reviews for Strategy Plus Magazine. From there I got the offer to come onboard as an Associate Editor, which of course I did. My beat was strategy and wargames.

Proof I was there!

Fun fact: Strategy Plus started as a magazine in the UK, but the owner of Chips & Bits, a mail-order game store, bought it and moved it to the US. The reason the publisher bought the magazine was because advertising was so expensive in other mags. By owning the magazine, he got to advertise for free. It’s weird how the magazine business works. When you pay for a subscription, that basically covers the cost of getting the magazine to you. All the real revenue comes from the ads inside.

End digression.

So that was the best job I’ve ever had to this day. I traveled all over the country to do previews on upcoming games. Went to the first couple of E3 shows (and a few CES shows before that). Geoff Keighley, who now does The Game Awards, was one of my freelancers (I had no idea he was like 16 at the time!). At the first E3 I was forced to meet with a bunch of kids who were walking around with a laptop showing off their new game. They didn’t have a booth or anything but had approached the publisher who sent them to me. I was annoyed since I had a packed schedule. Turns out the game was Unreal and in this crowd of kids was a scrawny geek named Cliff Bleszinski plus this mouthy guy name Mark Rein. Man, I should’ve asked them to hire me.

Eventually I was promoted from Associate Editor of Strategy Plus (by this time called Computer Games Magaine, if I recall correctly) to Executive Editor of a sister publication called Interactive Entertainment, or IE. IE came on a CD and was way ahead of its time. Instead of reading reviews, you could watch video of gameplay with a voice over. The CD also had demos of the games. Trust me that this was a BIG DEAL at the time. There was no YouTube, no Twitch. You could download some demos from GEnie or Compuserve or Delphi but it took forever and it was costing you $6/hour to do it.

The only problem was, IE was bleeding money. It just cost too much to send it out. We tried various methods but, particularly in winter when it was cold, many copies arrived damaged (the CDs would get brittle in the cold and then they’d get bent and would break) but in the end we never made it work and IE shut down.

By then “demo disks” packed in with magazines were on the up and up and I was put in charge of the one that came in Strategy Plus. My title was “Demo Wrangler” which remains my favorite title to date. Ironically sliding the CD into a bag with a magazine was the perfect way to protect it. Plus since it was a ‘freebie’ if it did get damaged it wasn’t quite as big a deal.

Then I met a woman who lived in another city and I bid farewell to gaming journalism and moved to be closer to her. I am no longer with that person and while we had some nice times together, I often wonder what would’ve happened if I’d stayed in gaming; so many of the editors from those days when into game design/development. Thus ended my gaming career.

Sort of. I did run a gaming forum, call The Jaded Gamer’s Pub, for many years. Remember when forums were a thing? Before reddit? That wasn’t a paying gig but it did make me feel connected to the community.

These days, and for the past 25 years or so, I’m just a schlub who enjoys playing games. I haven’t done anything interesting in the gaming world since the 1990s, and I am LONG forgotten by the industry. So sad!! LOL I coulda been a contender! (Though probably not.)

Let me finish by leaving us all with a good solid cringe. Look at this ad I found when searching for copies of Strategy Plus online (since dumb-ass me never kept copies)

I mean, really?

Ah Derek Smart. I spent a day with him once, working on a preview of Battlecruiser. He was living in Miami Beach at the time. He was a very nice guy. Super smart, very geeky but so not the abrasive personality he presents online. Or presented…I haven’t seen him mentioned in ages.

Wrath of the Druids and Bloodlines: Ubisoft Post-Launch Content

Last year Ubisoft was in a strange situation (weren’t we all?) where they had a bunch of delayed games hitting the market more or less at the same time. Fenyx Rising, Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla all launched in something like a two month span. That’s a LOT of open world to cover.

I’ve so far bounced off Fenyx, but I played Legion & Valhalla to completion of their storylines. They were both OK. I mean, I enjoyed them enough to finish them.

Time passed, and both games got DLC expansions. Bloodlines for Watch Dogs and Wrath of the Druids for Valhalla. I played through both of those too, and in both cases I liked the DLC much more than I liked the base game.

Bloodlines brings back familiar characters from the first two games in the series. Aiden Pearce was the protagonist in Watch Dogs 1, and Wrench was a main NPC in Watch Dogs 2. Instead of the ‘recruit anyone’ gimmick of the main game, you play the DLC as Pearce and Wrench. This makes for a more compelling narrative (presumably it’s a lot easier to write a story when you know which characters are going to be in it) and WAY better voice acting. Bloodlines kind of redeems the main game in a lot of ways.

Wrath of the Druids keeps you playing Eivor, your character from the main game, and instead gives you a new area to explore. You’re in Ireland helping High King Flann try to unite the realm. He’s being thwarted by a sect of druids, who take on the role of the shadowy cabal usually occupied by Templars or Order of the Ancients in AC games. The DLC also adds some new game systems, including some very light strategy/economic game aspects, and one very charming new NPC in the form of Ciara, a poetess voiced (and sung) by Julie Fowlis, who is a Scottish singer.

Have a listen:

Damn I loved Wrath of the Druids, though every time Ciara started to sing I’d stop playing just to listen.

So to finally get to the point, I wonder why in both these cases the DLC are so much stronger than the main game, at least narratively speaking. Was it that the teams had more time to devote to the storylines, or was it just because they weren’t trying to fill 100 hours of content?

Today the second DLC for Valhalla, The Siege of Paris, launches, and I’m really interested to see if it is as good as these other two DLCs have been. (There’s more Watch Dogs Legion DLC coming too, I think.) Maybe Ubisoft would be better served to just release anthology titles with lots of shorter storylines rather than trying to make one story that struggles to hold the player’s attention for 100+ hours?

I Beat the Cleric Beast

My first “Souls-like” game was the first Souls game: Demon Souls for the Playstation 3. It launched in 2009. I bought it and played it for a couple of hours, got frustrated and put it somewhere that I didn’t have to look at it. There it still sits, forgotten in some box in the back of a closet. I think.

Then came Bloodborne for the PS4. It launched in 2015 and, demonstrating that I don’t learn from my mistakes, I bought it, played it for a couple of hours, got frustrated and set it aside. (The one downside of digital games is you can’t fling the disk into a dark abyss when you get frustrated.)

Since then I’ve felt vaguely salty about “Souls-like” games and their popularity since I always feel like I’m missing out. Envy I guess. Damn the FOMO!

The other week I was sorting through the external hard drive that hangs off the PS5. It has my library of PS4 titles on it and I was going through removing games I know I’ll never play. There was Bloodborne. I felt like the icon was looking pretty smug so I hovered over DELETE and then for some reason clicked PLAY instead.

And died, died, and died some more. But for some reason I didn’t get so frustrated. Maybe age has mellowed me, I dunno. But I kept playing. Not for hours at a time. I’d do a run or two then set it aside. Maybe THAT is why I didn’t get frustrated. I got a little better. I got to where the villager ‘trash mobs’ in the first area were of no real concern to me. I explored, found my first shortcut. Found a boss: The Cleric Beast. I got smooshed.

I actually remember the Cleric Beast from 2015 and that it was why I quit. This time instead of quitting I just ignored it and kept farming to get my character stronger, at the same time getting myself a little better at the game. We’re not talking a straight line improvement. Some days I did well, other days I just had to accept that this wasn’t a day for Bloodborne. On average I was getting better though. Every so often I’d have a go at the Cleric Beast. Failed. Sometimes spectacularly, other times I’d do well enough that I could visualize the day I would succeed.

Monday, on the last day of my vacation, I finally beat the damned thing and it felt pretty good. Now I absolutely KNOW that for skilled Bloodborne players, the Cleric Beast is hardly a speed bump on the path to whatever waits further into the game. But for 60+ year old, slow-reflexed, arthritic-fingered, poor-eyesighted, failing-hearinged me, it felt pretty good.

Find someone who looks at you the way The Doll looks at your Hunter once he becomes a bad-ass boss slayer.

And it also felt like I was done. At least for now. I wanted to leave Bloodborne while I was feeling good about it, and I had some other things I wanted to play.

Now I have the itch to try another Souls-like. Bloodborne is, frankly, a gross game. The environment is oppressive and the gore-factor is very high. Also the game runs at 30 FPS. None of these aspects thrill me so I’m thinking of trying a different one; there are plenty out there. It’d be really nifty to be able to add “Souls-likes” to my quiver of gaming genres I enjoy.

One of the drags about getting old, for me at least, is that your world keeps shrinking. There are fewer and fewer things you can do. Adding something, even something as trivial as a game genre, really feels like a win. I’m pretty happy I gave Bloodborne one more try.

Checking In On Blaugust

We’ve made it to Day 10 of Blaugust. One-third (roughly) of the way through! Although I originally said I wasn’t going to try to blog every day thus far I have, and as expected it is starting to sour me on the experience. As predicted I’m starting to see writing a blog post as a chore I have to get out of the way before I can get to the enjoyable part of my day. At least I know myself and knew this would happen!

What I didn’t expect was the social fatigue that has gone along with this. I’m an introvert. I’ve been trying to stay current on the Blaugust Discord and have been trying to read (and share/re-tweet) as many Blaugust posts as I can and I’ve gotten to where I’d like nothing more than to go to an island somewhere and not talk to another human being for a month. People exhaust me! I need some quiet days now.

Also I’ve been on a mini-vacation which means finding a couple hours to blog, read & share has been pretty easy to do. Trying to shoe-horn that into a regular work day (those start today) seems daunting.

So expect fewer, or shorter, or fewer & shorter, posts for the rest of the month.

All that bummer stuff done, I’m really glad I joined. I’ve discovered a handful of bloggers I really enjoy reading, and it has felt good to write something other than code, emails and tweets for a change.

I will continue to do what I can to support the other Blaugustians out there! Y’all are young and strong and I know you can do it!