Chasing The Flow

I’ve been playing a game on my phone again. Shocking, I know. I’ve been very vocal in the past that I’m not really into mobile gaming, particularly games that have a shit load of ads, RMT, and lack in fulfilling gameplay. Ports of Facebook games are the worst. Virtual gambling? No thanks. Catching Pokemon? What’s a Pokemans? For the most part, mobile gaming has been very much a thing I have avoided. Not only have I not owned a flagship phone that has the power to really run most of the games out there (they seem to be more designed for top end phones or tablets), most of the gameplay mechanics just don’t appeal to me. When it comes to something like Hearthstone or a game that I can buy on steam but has an Android version, I’m not bothered because these feel like “real” games. Others feel more like they’re in the realm of the Facebook game, complete with shared post features and needing friends to do things for you to progress. That’s garbage time if you ask me, but you probably didn’t ask.

screenshot_2016-09-28-12-16-27You’ll probably remember a few years back, I was playing the game Star Wars: Tiny Death Star. It had just released, and was from the same company that made Tiny Tower and Tiny Tower: Vegas. Being a star wars fan, I downloading it on a whim, and I found that I really enjoyed the game, despite it really just being a skin for an already existing game (which I had never played to that point). I got to thinking about it the other day, because there are times at work when it’s slow so a game on my phone sounded like a no-brainer. I also go places at times and would like a distraction that isn’t Twitter or Facebook. However, being at work or with others means not having a lot of down time, but sporadic spurts where I might be able to play a game, but only for a little while. Tiny Tower is perfect for times just like this, where I might have a moment or two to stock a store, move bitizens to the floors they need to go, or do some other management of the tower. I can perform a couple of actions and then get back to whatever else I happen to be doing.

screenshot_2016-09-28-11-13-56When it comes down to it though, The game is really just mindless repetition. Moving the elevator up to the bitizen’s desired floor, stocking floors, and micro-managing the happiness of your bitizens. They love being put into their dream jobs, and they will ask you to do things for them at times. There are some additional random events that will happen and usually result in some “bux,” which seems to be often. Instead of in-game ads plastered all over, there is a nice feature where you are bribed to watch them in video form, and receive 20 bux in trade. When I am multi-tasking, this is an easy thing to click on and set my phone down. I haven’t been watching these ads, but I’ve been racking up the bux anyway. I wish more games that relied on ads and RMT went this sort of route. Compared to Tiny Death Star, this version of the game feels less buggy and easier to progress through. I do miss the Star Wars theme, but there are enough easter eggs in this title that continue to surprise me (including storm troopers).

Despite being an exercise in mindless repetition, there is a zen-like quality to the title. I was curious as to why things like this would appeal to me when I am so typically critical of simplicity and/or lack of depth. This thought pattern moved on to why I enjoy Diablo so much, or why I’ve let WoW get it’s hooks into me, despite being a repetitive quest-grind, killing ten rats hundreds of times along the way. I ran across this article, where a concept known as “flow” is explained. It seems that we are not hard wired to multi-task, and our brains can’t differentiate between a 10 o’clock meeting with our boss and being attacked by a tiger. Stress manifests the same way and we are unable to control that, particularly with our fast-paced deadline-based culture. Repetitive tasks that are found in this particular mobile game, or the titles I mentioned above actually trick your brain into focusing on the task at hand and ignoring everything else. It eliminates stress and lowers your heart rate. It’s like meditation in a way, and I’m slowly coming around to this being a good thing, rather than needing the added stress of depth. I’ve got my PvP oriented games for stress when I’m at home.


What do you guys think? Do you prefer repetition in your games, or emergent gameplay that requires deeper thought? I think there’s a time and place for both, and I’m seeing the value in both more readily as of late.

State of the Game: Fusion


Hello folks, and welcome back to another round up post. Honestly, having taken a step back and not being as “plugged in” so to speak has really done wonders for me. I’ve been doing that pesky “adulting” more and more as of late, but still finding time to squeeze in some games and that’s been great! Part of my lack of posts as of late (and the extremely late 100th episode of Couch Podtatoes) has, I think, been due to having a budding relationship but it’s also be a product of getting older too. I’m more focused on real world things. It’s really easy to get caught up in the culture of the internet, to get lost in a game, to watch too much TV or rant about politics on Facebook. Being always “on,” and always “in the know” are tiresome things. This isn’t to say having all of the hobbies I do are a bad thing, but for a couple of years there I was really plugged in and I needed to slow down. Playing games, buying the new games, talking about them, tweeting, posting, podcasting, it really becomes a job and less of a hobby. I love writing, don’t get me wrong. I love podcasting, and the show most certainly will go on. But taking it easy on posts and only posting when something comes to me (even if it’s just a “hey, I’m still alive” type) has helped lower the stress of the self-inflicted pressure to keep current. Not stressing about getting a recording done and put out each and every week, on top of everything else I do (and want to do) has been a relief. I appreciate the patience of those fans we have left. We’re gonna keep trucking on around these parts, but I have to limit myself from making it a job until I start getting paid for it. /rant off

So what have I been playing? I’m glad you asked.

My first month of being resubscribed to WoW resulted in an approximate 10 hours or so of play time. Yeah, that month plus the entry fee for Legion was definitely worth my money. But hey, I said I wasn’t going to unsubscribe, because I know if I did that I’d just not play it and the $65 would have just been toilet paper at that point. So I stayed subbed, and lately I’ve been trying to be more money-wise. The result is I’ve been steadily playing more often, and I’m actually starting to let WoW put its hooks into me. Yeah, I’ve done this before and it’s lasted for a while, so perhaps it will stick long enough for me to do the things I’d like to do, but I’m not holding my breath. Really, I just feel the need to play more than 10 hours in a month’s time. Much of that was the way I got back into it, drug my feet and all with the server picking and whatnot. Now that I’m set on a server, I just need to level and then get the boosted animals that make up my squad (you know, the 100 boost, the DK and the DH) to cap. Maybe see what this end game is all about. And definitely do some PvP. But for now, I’m working on my Warlock, which was my main years ago, on my long lost account. He’s 15 in Silverpine Forest, and the climb seems manageable.

I picked up a PS4 game that was on sale the other day called Trials Fusion. It’s been on PC and console for a couple of years now, but it’s still the latest in the series, and I played the first two on my friend’s Xbox 360, so I’m a bit of a fan. I also played and talked about it’s bastard cousin, Urban Trial Freestyle, which was a pretty blatant ripoff. Suffice to say I’ve enjoyed the physics based time trials, mini games, and over the top levels of the prior games so I knew I’d enjoy this one. Apparently there was a season pass with several DLCs, and this one had a track creator to boot, so there’s plenty to play with. I’ve been working my way through the campaign and have loved it. A great little time waster. If you’ve never seen Trials before, here’s one of my runs from earlier today:

Lastly, I’ve still been plugging away at the quests introduced in the latest SMITE patch that I talked about last week. I had some gems lying around that I spent on a loading border from this year’s Odyssey event, which earned me a healthy chuck of Odyssey points, along with the quests I completed (and some bonus ones from the past weekend). Tomorrow I’ll have enough for another chest, and it seems like you can earn most if not all just by playing that game, which I’ve been doing anyway. Sometimes I play solo, and sometimes I play with my friend, but either way I get those quests done and earn free goodies. Can’t complain about that.

Overall I’m happy with my newfound groove. Happy gaming friends, wherever you find yourself.

By The Numbers: Week 3, 2016


Ouch. That didn’t go as expected. With Teddy Bridgewater injured and Sam Bradford only two weeks into the Vikings system, and I was expecting an easy victory for the Packers. Honestly, two road games in a row and shitty indoor stadiums with their artificial noise pumped in could mean defeat for most teams. The Vikings defense has always been pretty good too, so that helped. But shooting yourself in the foot with all of the penalties and dropped balls/turnovers isn’t helping anything. The offense is slow starting again this year, and that doesn’t bode too well, but the fact that our defense is #1 against the run right now is a very good sign. Champions are born when defenses are stout, but the offense needs to get its act together if we’re going to the playoffs. I still believe this team has what it takes to go all away, even if they dropped on the power rankings from #1 to whatever… fuck these critics man.

But hey, it’s only week 3 and we’re 1-1. That’s not a terrible start, and the Lions don’t have Calvin Johnson, or their starting running back. So I like our odds. But I said the same thing last week and that didn’t get me very far. Still, I can’t root against my team. Here’s my picks for my team, and the rest of the league for week 3:

Packers 24, Lions 14
Patriots 24, Texans 10
Cardinals 31, Bills 7
Panthers 20, Vikings 10
Broncos 30, Bengals 27
Ravens 21, Jags 17
Dolphins 20, Browns 3
Giants 23, Redskins 20
Raiders 17, Titans 13
Seahawks 30, 49ers 14
Rams 16, Buccs 13
Chargers 27, Colts 24
Chiefs 24, Jets 17
Steelers 28, Eagles 20
Cowboys 21, Bears 10
Saints 31, Falcons 14

Xing Tian’s Mountain

One of the reasons I’ve been so addicted to MOBAs, is like their MMO brethren, there are consistent patches that add in new content, and bring new limited time events that keep you playing the game, far past your normal limits. Some people can’t get past the toxicity of these communities, but I find more often than not, that I’m finding quality teammates and wreaking havoc on the opposition. Still, it’s an interesting thought. The parallels between the two genres are certainly there, but not immediately clear. Having played most titles on the market, I’d like to think I have the experience to bridge the gap, considering many similar metas and systems between the two. Patches bring with them nerfs and buffs, item tweaks, advance the meta, and give incentives to keep playing the game, even if the rewards are more virtual crap that you don’t really own. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you must be a tourist. Of both genres. But I digress.


The newest patch to hit SMITE brings with it an epic journey of a questline, and also introduces the first PvP experience I’ve seen in a MOBA since Guardians of Middle-Earth’s Suvival mode (which I would absolutely love to see in both SMITE and League). The quest spans four months, and each patch will introduce a new God, along with each Pantheon’s own unique questline. These quests amount to simple things like getting 2 wins, or playing as a Japanese God, but reward Odyssey points that will grant chests and other goodies. These are the things you want to be doing if you ever want to unlock skins and other cosmetics for your account for free, rather than having to spend ridiculous amounts on RMT Gems. I love having these to-do lists; much like the trophies for the game that I’ve been slowly acquiring.

The new limited time game mode is called Xing Tian’s Mountain, and is a PvE 5 vs AI brawl lasting 5 rounds. Each round is a minute long and pits your team against a random encounter. After beating five of these encounters, you get points and a chest (lockbox). I have yet to do so, but have made it to the last round once. As this patch just dropped, I haven’t had a bunch of time with the new mode, but I do intend to keep at it. I’m also planning to attempt to complete all of the quests, and am looking forward to trying the new Gods. I actually played the most recently released God, Izanami, and she was a blast. A high mobility hunter is right up my alley. I have no idea what the new ones will be like, but each time a new God releases I’ve enjoyed them.

I recorded my first few rounds with the new mode and spliced them together so you can get a feel for it, rather than a shitty attempt at describing it in my rambly style. Check it out:

State of the Game: MOBA Madness


It’s been a very long time since I’ve done one of these, but with my lack of posts as of late, I thought this would be a handy catch-all for the gaming I have been doing, which has been focused mostly on MOBAs, once again. That isn’t news, but it’s still surprising that the genre has been able to keep its grasp on me for so long. It’s also surprising that I’m pulling this column from the grave, after nearly a year (the last time I wrote one, it was December 2015). With that said, let’s jump into it.


Normally I’d be writing about League of Legends right about now, but I haven’t really been playing it all that much. I started off loving all of the changes that came with Season 6, played some random game modes, played some ranked, and then sort of fizzled out. I still love that game, but I go in waves with it. This is one of the periods where I put it down. I can’t seem to quit playing MOBAs altogether though, and I’m always trying out the next new thing, along with keeping up with my usual suspects. Outside of LoL, the usuals are SMITE and Awesomenauts. Yeah, I still play the latter, and it’s finally happened where the PS4 version of the game is nearly on par with the Steam version, which wasn’t something that was happening with the PS3 version of the game. Awesomenauts Assemble launched caught up, but then fell behind for quite some time, and has recently been patched, so I’ve jumped back into it head first. I already had the Overdrive expansion on Steam from a few months ago, but hadn’t really touched it. I hadn’t intended on purchasing it for my Playstation either, but it was on a deep discount and I knew my best friend IRL still played, so it ended up being worth it. Most of the expansion stuff was included for free, though a small $6.50 donation was required to open the Overdrive characters on PS4. No biggy. He sucks at the game though, so that can be a drag at times, but I still have fun playing with him.

I also got him into SMITE a few months back. I’ve explained how I started that one too on PC but didn’t really care for it, and then somehow got hooked once I played it on the console. With that reiterated, I’ve been focused on earning the trophies for the game, and once those were patched in sometime after the official release (I started playing in the console beta) I had a nice chunk of them already earned. An irritating side note- the PS4 automatically captures a screenshot when you earn a trophy; the waterfall of trophies earned once they were implemented netted a bunch of useless screen shots. Back on point, I have been working my way through god mastery. Having 5 of any of the classes mastered is a trophy each. There’s one for 10 gods mastered. 30, 50, 70 gods mastered. There’s also a multitude of random trophies that I’ve also earned along the way, but as of right now I’m working on the 5 Guardians and 5 Warriors. I have 5 each of Mages, Hunters and Assassins mastered. I think I’m around 17 total gods mastered. Then there’s a trophy for leveling one to mastery 10. So yeah, my work is cut out for me, but it’s been fun playing the game with my friend (and even solo). I should also note that my prior scathing review of the cash shop was slightly unfounded. It turns out you can earn gems by doing the daily log ins, and certain quests, and some skins are also earned through seasonal events, such as the recent summer event where I unlocked a skin for Bacchus, and it was easy to do. So honestly if you’re patient you don’t really have to spend any money, you’ll end up with some cool stuff. And in the event that you do spend money on gems, avoid the damn lock boxes and just buy skins direct.

Other Games:

As I mentioned previously, I am subbed to WoW and I’ve purchased Legion. I’m still standing behind my thought that boosting a character and missing out of much of the content isn’t a great idea for players like myself who never really put much time into the game. The hype train left the station and within hours of Legion’s launch I was basically bored already. I feel like I enjoy the leveling more than I enjoy the end game grinding, but I still want to do some of that as well. My brain tells me that I want to play this game. I want to play Destiny. I want to beat the Witcher 3, and the plethora of other games I have. Then I end up playing SMITE instead, and just go to bed. Having a girlfriend doesn’t help these matters either, because when the opportunity to hang with her arises, I’m not playing games. I’m not complaining about that either, it’s a great problem to have, but I really probably should have avoided adding more to the pile when I should really be playing the shit I paid for months/years ago. But that hype train had me, and I was stuck. I’m still subbed, I haven’t canceled. I don’t intend to either. I am going to play more, but by the time I’m relevant people will be quitting in droves because of the infamous Blizzard content droughts. Like I said before, don’t expect much written about it, but you can definitely check my blog roll for people talking all about it.

I’ve also purchased a few games over the past couple of months I haven’t really mentioned. One of those is Halcyon 6, which is an indie Starship command sim. It’s recently come out of early access and during it’s full release they released a big patch that is supposed to wrap everything up nicely. It’s had good reviews and what I played of it while it was still in early access was fun. It mixes some captain of the ship scenarios (on the bridge), JRPG style ship combat (which sounds weird but works fairly well) and other tidbits that are quite interesting. If you like pixel art indies with a fun spirit, you’d probably like this one.

The other recent indie I picked up is called The Curious Expedition, and that was a title I had on my wishlist for a while, but picked up because it had a minor discount. It’s a rogue like exploration game, and though I’m not really too huge on exploration, it has a fun premise. It’s sort of like Oregon trail, in that you start in one area and move along, but you have more direct control of the path  you take. When you come across settlements or monuments, you’ll get some story bits, some dialogue options, and some opportunities to trade/rest/etc. Once you’ve found the end goal for that particular expedition, the game ends, and you get points that you can use for perks. You then head out again, and this series continues until a winner is determined due to finds. You’re actually in a competition with other great explorers, and they will randomly earn fame each round. Each expedition is random, so there’s some replay-ability there as well.

On The Horizon:

Outside of WoW, and probably more time spent on those pesky MOBAs, I have a few other games lined up that I want to play. I downloaded Hi-Rez’s new game, Paladins, as it’s entered open beta and it looked interesting enough. I haven’t played it just yet though. I also downloaded Duelyst, which I had been following for a long time but hadn’t tried yet, and also due to some of what Eri had said on several episodes of the podcast. It looks great, I just haven’t played it yet either. During the Steam Summer Sale I also picked up the Bioshock trilogy because I haven’t played through any of them, and the remastered editions were just released. From what I hear they’ve been having some bugs and issues on the PC version of said upgrade, so I’ve only downloaded them, I haven’t played yet. Hoping it’s all worked out soon so I can run through them, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’m also craving some Destiny… as I’ve not really played it much either, and it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time now… the new expansion also releases very shortly, so perhaps some of my friends will actually be playing. But will they want to help me level up? That is the question.

That’s all for this edition. Looking back on that, it seems like I’ve played a lot, but when I sit and think about it, I don’t spend nearly enough time gaming these days.