Jabbing and Poking

Health continues to be what it is, though work has continued to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I’ve got another week or so before my leave is due so for the most part I’m trying to get the various plates spinning for while I’m away. I’ve got a couple of appointments due while I’m off, but in the meantime, I’ve had blood tests and my covid booster – leaving my left arm both prominently bruised in the crook of the elbow and sore in the shoulder.

This jab seems just to be replicating the effects of a heavy cold today – but that could be that everything else is masking stuff. I’m choosing to interpret that as nothing getting any worse. My flu jab is due in a couple of weeks, so at least any covid effects should have faded by then.

I wish I had more energy right now – I seem to have spent most of it on the drive to Portsmouth and back today to retrieve Lady J and bring them up to stay with the boy for the week – bursts of activity seem to be fine, it’s just extended activity that knocks me out. Oh well, it could be a lot worse.

On the gaming front I’ve been largely enjoying the anarchic Festival of the Lost in Destiny – which is their Halloween analogue event. Lots of decorations, tongue in cheek spookiness, and a great excuse to rollercoast through the various playlist activities while wearing silly masks. It’s been good for dipping in and out during the evenings since it started on Tuesday.

Tomorrow we have the DDC – hopefully the tech will behave better this week.

Thoughts on the New Destiny Season

We’re just about three weeks into the new storyline in Destiny – the Season of Plunder – and what a contrast there is to the previous one. The Season of Haunting traumatised our little fireteam with tales of loss, regret, and the healing of old wounds. By contrast this is a bright and merry jaunt into space piracy – even down to music that wouldn’t be out of place in Pirates of the Caribbean. No more gothic horror with merciless ghosts, now we have big explosions and jumping between spaceships to capture treasure…

And yet…

The lorebooks unlocking are tales of the Eliksni diaspora after the fall of their civilization when The Traveller abandoned them in the face of The Darkness. We have narrators wondering if it would have been kinder to kill their offspring, and stories hinting at cannibalism and the pillaging of less capable craft just to survive – of the emergence of a harsher and crueller nature needed to survive.

The mighty Eliksni hero Misraaks (known to the people of the Last City as Mithraks because they can’t pronounce his name properly) has taken centre stage this season, and his daughter who acts as the historian/scribe of his people is starting to ask questions about his past. Like our superficial reaction to the new themes of the Season, she is caught up in the romance and drama of pirate life – and the more she digs into history, the more Misraaks is trying to deflect her attention.

On one level this is a much-needed change of pace to the gloom of last Season, but thematically we’re rapidly closing in on the end game of Destiny, and the next expansion is called Lightfall. We look to be heading towards a new Collapse of human civilization as the forces of The Witness gather around our system – and I wouldn’t be surprised to find these seasons foreshadowing and preparing the ground for the turmoil to come.

But that’s to look forward as the story unfolds. I’ll even stake my tinfoil theory right now that the Darkness-infused relics we’re recovering are remnants of the mythical Nezarec scavenged by Eliksni during their pirate rampages and it was the experience of drawing on Darkness from them that inspired Eramis to seek Stasis powers in the first place. Given I just unlocked an ornamental piece meant to be Nezarec’s robes, and we also have his helm as an exotic armour piece, and his glaive, we’re having a lot of breadcrumbs dropped.

With all that, yes we’re enjoying the new Season and all the explosions and mayhem that comes with it.

How Bungie is Breaking My Partners

A regular part of the week is where boy s, Lady B and myself team up to play Destiny, usually streaming it on Lady B’s Twitch channel. It’s usually a bouncy fun experience of teasing, mindless shooting, and putting the world to rights.

Then Bungie released its latest Season of Content and started telling a harrowing story that confronts major characters with loss and regrets in the form of embodied nightmares of people who were important in some way to them. As players, we assist in their attempts to bream free of the grip of these taunting entities.

So far, so normal, but the dialogue and pace and beats of the story have been making my partners cry, and occasionally making me wince, as attempts to sever links fail and instead the characters have to come to terms with accepting these dark shadow sides of their regrets and fears. The nightmares are unrelenting in their taunting and harsh observations, in a way that anyone who has wrestled with their own demons and regrets in the small of the night will find arresting familiar.

Through a mix of cut scenes and in-game dialogue we’re being taken on a harrowing story of the need to forgive ourselves and come to terms with the people and events of our past that still hold on with fierce grips. It’s like being beside people doing deep therapy work, and it’s an unexpected rollercoaster that has been deeply affecting us.

Who would have thought that the new weekly chapters of a shoot and loot game all about space magic would turn out to have some of the deepest and sympathetic treatments of loss and regret across a whole slew of popular media currently available, and would be doing so in an engaging way that keeps us coming back for more and caring ever more intensely for these imaginary figures as they reflect our own fears and doubts back at us.

As the saying goes: “I came here to have a good time, and honestly I’m just feeling so attacked” – and as entertainment that pulls us out of our comfort zone, I can’t think of a better summation

Oops

Time flies sometimes and this week has been a case in point, to the extent that I completely lost track of time this week and forgot my regular counselling session this evening. I have duly made my apologies and acknowledged my status as a doofus.

Most of my tiredness today is self inflicted, but being the consumate geek that I am it has been through games rather than debauchery. Lady B, boy s and I have been regularly playing Destiny 2 together, using Discord to chat while we do, and we decided this week to have a go at the Grasp of Avarice Dungeon. This is a term for a high end adventure with challenging mechanics that isn’t quite as challenging as a 6 man raid event.

We spent about three hours earlier in the week making our way through the earlier stages of the scenario, and found ourselves cursing the developers as much as we were laughing for the traps, fake-outs, and fast-paced challenges that faced us.

We died, a lot, but kept at it, and cursed loudly when network issues meant we had to call it a night. Last night, we agreed to stream another attempt and were delighted to find that we had triggered a save point at the beginning of the boss fight.

A recording of the shenanigans can be watched here: https://www.twitch.tv/jedileah/v/1271300640?sr=a&t=1s

And we won, eventually, but it was the best part of four hours to do so, with some minor odds and ends at the end…

It was a huge effort and the first time any of us had done this type of activity, so small wonder that today has been generally reserved for quietly pootling around.

Clanning Together

The last few nights I’ve been playing Destiny with boy s and Lady B. We’re each one different platforms due to the wonders of cross play. I’m on an XBox, Lady B on a PC, and boy s on a PlayStation. We’re using Discord for voice comms and it’s turning into a nice semi regular end of an evening bit of fun.

We’re using a Clan I set up back in the first Destiny game to help organise our Roster, and it’s another good example of how tech can be tangled in new combinations to bring us all together – albeit this time united in the desire to shoot aliens in the face and dance in the middle of battlefields.

Admittedly it’s now one in the morning but as I had my Moderna booster shot this morning my arm is currently very stiff and sore so I can’t settle anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I spent a fair chunk of this afternoon dozing on the sofa.

So, that’s why I’m blogging a little later today as I try to switch my brain off and curl up with Lady M. Here’s to a quiet day off and a body that continues to more or less behave for a bit

More Creativity

The days have been blurring a bit, not helped by the persistent trapped nerve pain in my leg and lower back – but going into one of my branch libraries has given me a bit more exercise as a change in routine and does seem to have helped with the worst of it.

In the meantime I’ve been continuing to draw and play around with software so there’s at least something constructive going on.

I also finally managed to solo complete a legendary list sector in Destiny2 to retrieve the Four Horsemen exotic before the option disappears with the new season later today. There may have been some quiet swearing involved.

Right, back to work…

Why I Won’t Be Buying The Taken King

I’ve been deliberating over whether to buy into the latest expansion for Destiny: The Taken King for a while now, and on reflection, barring a major price drop, I’ve decided that I won’t.

There are two factors that swung it for me. The first was the price, which was only just short of buying the original game again. Even worse was the fact that there is no way to buy the expansion without also re-purchasing the original game and the two previous expansions.

These are items of content that I have already bought, and that are already installed. For there to be no option to patch to upgrade feels like blatant gouging, and I have many other games to experience without this burden on my time, wallet, or integrity.

The second consideration is that the expansion has inflicted a bit of a first in gaming history. It has actually removed content from players who have not upgraded. The types of matchmaking and game types have been slashed, only to reappear as options for people who have bought the game again.

This is not an expansion, this is extortion. I’m not playing.

New Destiny Content Has Landed

The Dark Below just went live on the Destiny servers, so I just had to have a wander on to take a first look. If you had any illusions that you could wander into the missions as, say, a mid-20s level character and solo the new material, then you can forget them now. You may be able to solo them if you are already a 30th level hardass, but you’ll almost certainly be wanting to team up with a couple of people and take some extra ammo.

Missions can be got from Eris, who appears on the laft hand side of the main plaza in the tower. You can’t miss her, she’s on a balcony just before the entrance to the area leading to the Speaker, with a spaceship tethered behind her. Similar to the Queen’s Wrath mission setup, she not only has equipment and consumables for sale, but missions and bounties. The missions also take up bounty slots, so you may need to use up some of those patrol missions taking up space to clear the decks a bit.

The first mission dropped me into the area where you fight the Walker in the Earth Strike mission (being deliberately vague in case people haven’t done that content yet), starting where the Walker was and fighting your way back into the buildings. From there, you’re into the Hive warrens that you may have discovered while doing Cosmodrome patrols – and the big bad in there is… tough.

As befits a beefed up Crota agent, he has a big sword and he knows how to use it (oo-er ma’am). He’s not just a bullet sponge, but he deals out heavy damage too, and sends out a pulse that negates your double-jump/glide abilities, so prepare to adapt to slogging around the scenery to avoid him and the inevitable zerg rush of allies when you’ve really cut into his hitpoints.

I’m going to enjoy this expansion, but I’ve definitely had to stop to get reinforcements…

Game Write-Ups

I’m a bit behind, it’s just been a busy couple of weeks with work and general chaos – so I’ve only just got round to writing up last week’s game. I’ll aim to get this week’s one done this weekend.

In the meantime – well, Destiny. I’ve been playing both solo and with a widening circle of friends, and have even set up an XBox Clan called PessimistChic today to give us a shot at some of the clan-based achievements. Give us a shout if you’re passing – we’re mostly casual and enjoy working out what fits where.

Impressions of Destiny? Well it’s very, very pretty – I think Venus is the most astounding location so far, simply for the lush palette and vistas that open up around every corner. How does it play? Very like Halo – and for me this is a huge bonus. Is it the best story in the world? No, it’s sort of there but I’m not gripped, I’m just in a hurry to get to the next sprawling level or to get out there and explore the massive patrol areas.

It definitely isn’t an MMO, and it doesn’t easily allow for general chatter, making it rather lonely if you’re playing solo or casually… but if you have formed a party with friends and a wider fireteam, well then the game transforms. I’ve been doing missions and strikes and a bit of Crucible PvP with friends and playing socially like that has been great fun. I suppose the advantage has been that we haven’t been exposed to so much of the casual idiocy and profanity so common in online games  – at least no more than we manage among ourselves. Paradoxically then, it feels more social to me as a game, because I’m playing with friends I generally already know or who I’ve made contact with over time.

So – Destiny – gets a big thumbs up from me – I’ll write some more specific odds and ends shortly, going into different areas of play.

Tech, Games and Gaming

There’s some small game or other come out this week by the name of Destiny and I’ve been greatly enjoying it. I’ve also been back in the swing of writing articles. For some reason, at least one client seemed rather surprised that the speed at which articles were produced had not been compromised by my playing it – I’m rather proud of that (quietly)

Well, I would be if I actually had any great problem with keeping some degree of discipline and time-keeping but fortunately I’ve developed enough little tricks over the years to reward myself to sticking to the keyboard. It’s not perfect, especially on days where inspiration is running a little thin, but I get by.

So I’ll write a bit about Destiny soon, now I’ve had a chance to get my teeth into it. I’d say I’m a distinctly average and casual gamer, so don’t expect exacting under the hood comparisons and tales of ‘l33t’ braggadacio. There may be the odd wry chuckle however.

Meanwhile, I’ve surrendered the controller to Lady M so that she can start playing it while I type up this week’s D&D Eberron game. One of the ways that I could tell this game would be good was how she enjoyed the Beta much more than playing Titanfall. It’s good to be an inclusive gaming household again. With any luck we’ll be able to hook up with Lady P as she plays on her console, and indeed with a number of our other friends to get some regular nights going.

I’m looking forward to this.