Author Archives: countstex

The return of the MMO

Since we escaped our WoW addiction back in 2008 we’ve tried to get that same itch scratched by other games. Borderlands has come close, but actual MMOs have left us rather cold. Most are so instanced that you lose all feeling for the world they create even when they look as beautiful as the likes of Guild Wars 2.
Strangely though a game that suffers from all the same flaws of these alternatives, and which is a long way from the polish and grandure of WoW has managed to pull us in.

That game is Neverwinter. The difference with this game? Simple.

It’s on a console.

This not only grants the ease of playing from a sofa, but with a controller in everyone’s hand the opportunities for enhancing the combat scenarios are far greater than any PC based MMO I have tried. I haven’t actually played Neverwinter on PC so I can’t fully compare the two but the console implementation feels so right it’s hard to fault. I’ve never had my character moving around a battle arena anywhere near so much as I do in Neverwinter.

The game itself does suffer in many other areas from being controller based. Inventory handling is a real pain, and you are limited to how many different potions you have ready on quick draw. Also many other aspects of the port feel under tested or just plain ropey. We’ve even joked amongst ourselves, this being a free to play game, that you have to pay for the ‘high frame rate pack’.
But it says something for the pure mechanics of the game and it’s capturing of the usual MMO hooks that Linda and I our both actively grinding our toons up to level 60 pretty much everyday. We’re popping in to check on professions even when we’re not going to quest. We’re grouping with friends and getting that social fix of chat and laughter that MMOs often excel at, despite that never really being a design point, it’s just part of the DNA of the up and down times questing systems create.

That gaming bug has a habit of finding you right where you weren’t really looking.

Not my Destiny

We bought heavily into Destiny. We finally broke our absence from the next-come-current gen and picked up a couple of PS4s and a digital copy of the game itself. We dived in to the world and have been playing it pretty much every night since launch, and even one full day when we had a rare day without work.

However, like many others, we’ve found the world, or perhaps I should say solar system feeling a little bland, the story hidden away on Bungie.net via some cards you can’t access from the game. The universe they have created is actually quite interesting, but the way it is presented in the game is just all wrong. However I find myself thinking the whole set-up could have been handled so much better, and the game is even suited to it!

You see Destiny is a game of two halves. The first has you leveling up whilst playing the story. By the time that is over you either are or close to level 20, the max standard level in the game. You then start the second half where you are running and re-running missions to grind out gear to level you past that 20 barrier.

So how do I think the game should have been laid out? Well…

The game should start at the end of the golden age. The Darkness has come and humanity is fighting a loosing battle. Of course they hard thing with a war you must lose is how does the player ‘win’ within that context. Well I would have had the players fighting to clear the lands that the Traveler was going to protect. Your guardians clear the zones of Fallen, Hive, Vex and Cabal, introducing you to the races. You’re winning battles as you hear of the loses of the war, first Mars falls, then Venus. Finally you hear that the Moon has been taken too just as you secure the lands where they say a Tower will be built to shelter what remains of humanity. Withy only the Tower and the Cosmodrome left you are sent to The Wall to make a last defence of the cosmodrome, a sort of horde mode where you inevitably die.

Only then are you awakened by ghost, back from the dead in the now wasted lands of twisted metal and human remains. And so begins the fight back. Continuous Strikes, Raids and Patrols holding off the Darkness ready to begin the strike back.

This would have opened it up for a set of DLC packs, each one detailing the fight back across the 3 none earth zones. Moon, Venus & Mars.

To my mind that split of the story and grind sections would fit perfectly with the gameplay and feal more natural. The repetitiveness of the late game grind fitting nicely with an eternal struggle to just survive rather than defeating the Darkness and then for some reason still fighting the same battles again and again.

All thing said though, Linda and I are still enjoying our time with destiny, the mechanics are without question fun and engaging. And I think provided you have a constant team available to you you can have a lot of long term fun with Destiny.

Exhausting

Not my usual lookTwenty plus degrees, little wind, clear skies, humidity often upwards of eighty percent. Perfect for a holiday island, unless of course you’re not here on holiday and in fact must clean, vacuum and mop houses and apartments all over said island. Then what you have is way too much warmth. I’ve spent most of the past few weeks pretty much soaked, so much so that I’ve had to purchase some bandannas just to keep the sweat from out of my eyes. I’m really not sure I’m the sort of guy that can pull off wearing one, but given the option of that or a head band I think it’s the saner choice! It’s also not a bad ploy to ensure people become used to me wearing one, so, should I ever go bald I can hide it whilst I lose enough to move onto the fully shaven head look 😉

There seems to be a lot more work this year than last. I guess people are starting to feel more confident about spending their savings on holidays again, but playing a little safe and sticking to local countries.

If ever we needed to hear
Winter is coming
it’s now

Thus we’ve been working seven days a week pretty much straight throughout the summer so far, and from what we can tell it will follow through right into September. Frankly we’re both starting to become rather exhausted. That slow creeping exhaustion that comes from working that little bit harder than you body is fit enough for, whilst lacking the sleep due to warm muggy nights. Even with a little help from the heat pump running on cool.

If ever we needed to hear ‘Winter is coming’ it’s about now.

On the plus side, we now get fortnightly visits from Hjem-Is (Home-IceCreams) and he’s making a pretty penny off of us! But damn are they worth it, even their Ben and Jerry’s knock off Cookie Dough is rather nice.

IceCreamTruck

First World Cup in Denmark

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For the first time I’m viewing a World Cup from Denmark. This means no more Gary Lineker for me, nope now my football presenting is being handled by another legend, Peter Schmeichel.
It’s somewhat odd hearing that same voice but speaking his own Danish and not English. Thankfully my understanding is high enough, along with my knowledge of footballing phrases, that I can follow the analysis fairly well.
Everything is different, everything’s the same.

Back in the saddle

Screenshot 2014-05-22 14.56.23-smallYesterday was my first real riding day of the year. I haven’t been out since August 2013, I’m not sure why I stopped so early on. I think maybe I used the cycling as relaxation from the seven days a week work, and once that slackened off it lost the draw. But is certainly felt good to get out again and test the legs, which thankfully held out and haven’t caused me too much discomfort the day after.

One of the very best things of being on Bornholm is this ability to just go out, cycle, and be surrounded by great scenery the entire time. It helps you to forget the effort you are putting in and just enjoy the rolls of hill and valley, the fresh sea air, or sometimes the more ‘vitamin rich’ freshly fertilized fields 😉

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The fields of rape seed are still in full bloom right now, covering the land in it’s golden shine, though I assume they are soon to be harvested and replaced with another crop. I believe much of the second crop is usually corn, which is used in animal feed for the great many pigs that also live here.

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Along the coast between Bølshavn and Listed, the waves crash into rocky outcrops rather than the soft sands of the south. I’m always amazed at the drastic change in terrain from place to place on Bornholm, often feeling like a zone from an MMO were so much variety has been crammed in to so little space.

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I did take a bit of a rest stop down on Balka beach. The sand was soft and warm, but sadly right now the water is closed due to reasons yet unknown but something to do with waste 🙁

Still, plenty of time for getting my feet wet this year yet!

Growing

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Last autumn, one day in pouring rain, we planted a new hedge having previously ripped down the old overgrown one. The cold winter and strong winds had us fearing some would have perished however not a single one has died. A few centimetres of damage at the tips but they are all now growing strong. Will be nice for the house to not look so exposed from the road once it’s all thickened up.

Garden of Bubbles

It was to be their first time in the HealthBubble. Symon entered the airlock section first, ducking his head to avoid the rather low frame. Cilla however had no such issue, especially since removing her heels to avoid damaging the perspex flooring, though the company had assured them it would be fine. The flooring was cool on her feet so Cilla slipped passed Symon and into the main chamber with it’s rugs, whilst Symon closed the outer seal before following her through and closing the inner also. The moment the seal locked in the biofilters started up, but the faint hum faded quickly until it was barely a murmur.

“I guess we should just get into bed then?” suggested Cilla.

“Yeah, I guess so, not much else to do really.” Symon replied and smiled briefly.

They spent a couple of minutes undressing down to the company provided underwear and getting into the bed. Cilla started to laugh as she snuggled into Symons arm and lay her head on his chest. Symon looked down at her and started to laugh too.

“I guess the filters doing it’s job then.” Symon said, and laughed again.

“Yup” Cilla giggled “It doesn’t take long to get going. Very efficient”

They both cuddled and laughed as the outside world darkened through the dome above them

“So off to sleep we go, a nice big sleep.” Symon’s voice was beginning to slur a little. Cilla laughed all the more though her eyes were already heavy and remained closed.

The laughing subsided and the only sound above the filter was their breathing. Slowing with each breath. Heart beats fading away.

Outside the dome the sky was filled with stars. The moon hung low to the horizon, then over the next two minutes it rose to directly overhead it’s light glinting on the HealthBubbles that lined the gardens. The horizon too began to glow with the blue light of the interplanetary drives and the moon slipped away out of view, leaving only the glow and the darkness of deep space.

If Only I Had

She warned me to be careful. But then she always did, I’m not sure if it was that she didn’t trust me, or just knew how trouble seemed to seek me out. Either way I didn’t, and so it was I ended up here.

The worst part was the not being able to see, I’m sure my eyes are fine but no matter how hard I strain only inky blackness comes back. The sounds however, the sounds never stop. Scratches, growls, slithering of scales, they haunt my waking hours, or at least what feel like hours and torment my broken sleep. I tried walking one.. I’ll call it a day. My feet became sodden with something that was far from water, it oozed between my toes and sometimes seemed to try to pull me down. But I never felt the landscape change, nor did I walk into anything despite tiring my arms in some zombie like blind walk. An unrelenting plane of gooey ooze it would seem. And so since then have I sat, occasionally standing the stretch out my aching bones, but mostly just sat and listened.

She warned me. She knew, as I did, the dangers of the summoning. Without following the texts to the letter the gateway of Malodine is just as likely to pull you in as to spew forth a servant. A shadow slave. Perhaps now my fate is to await another’s summoning, and see again only as one bound by unseen shackles to serve another.

She warned me to be careful, she warned me. And I could have been, I could have checked one last time.

If only I had.